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Fanfiction When The Sun Sets

Discussion in 'Literature Library' started by Wings, Jun 11, 2017.

  1. Wings

    Level 100
    Jun 11, 2017
    Hi! This is a fanfiction that I've already started posting on fanfiction.net and I'd really appreciate some constructive criticism, particularly on how to make the story flow better and how to make my characters feel more believable :) Click on the spoiler to read each chapter!

    Edit: Recently, WSS went through a massive edit on my ff.net account, so I've replaced the old chapters here with the new, updated ones.


    "She's in the ocean, somewhere."

    Green light bounced off the man's odd spectacles and gathered in splotches on his white lab coat, flickering when he moved. He stood at attention in front of the Foundation's President, holding a sizeable stack of papers in his gloved hands. "The Pokémon she took was not strong enough to teleport her to land, and they ended up in the sea, according to our reports," he stated, coolly, devoid of emotion, like a programmed machine.

    "Wonderful," the President muttered sardonically, narrowing her sharp eyes. "Faba, I want you to drown her."

    "But Madame President," Faba started, sentiment slowly creeping into his voice, "none of our reports were accurate enough to pinpoint her location! All we know is that she's floating, somewhere… or already drowned. And it would be impossible to drown her quietly without attracting the attention of news channel helicopters." The Branch Manager pushed his spectacles up, awaiting the President's response. When she spoke at last, she smiled cruelly, picking simple words.

    "Kill her."

    "Madame, I am not sure you understand what I just said–"

    "Drown her, for Mew's sake! Weak, pathetic, disloyal… traits like those will taint the family name. Do you see any reason to let her live? I don't, Faba." The President curled her lips into a vicious grin, tossing her long blonde locks behind her shoulder, descending into a hysterical bout of laughter as Faba looked on, his eyes widening behind his spectacles.

    "Madame!" he interrupted, but the President continued to speak over him.

    "She stole from me, she took my greatest joys, and now, she runs off thinking she stands a chance in the real world! How will she ever survive, the pampered child? Shouldn't we just put her out of her misery, before she realizes what she's done?" The President smirked, flashing a row of perfectly whitened teeth, thanks to the use of light technology Faba had developed custom to the President's liking. "She can't possibly be too far away from here, can she? She should be headed towards Poni Island at this rate—that's where the wind is blowing."

    The Branch Manager scowled. "I do not approve of this unnecessary violence used to eliminate a child who may already be dead. Furthermore, she is your daughter, for Arceus's sake! Lus–"

    "Hush, hush, Faba," the President whispered, giggling. "Never mind what she is to me, and I'll give you a raise. Besides, no flawed creature is a child of mine."

    Faba sighed reluctantly, rearranging the stack of reports in his hands. "Very well, Madame. But I'm not doing it because of the raise–I'm doing because I know you'll continue to insist that we drown your chil–, I mean, the girl."

    The President smiled, twirling a piece of her platinum hair. "Now that's what I like to hear from you, Faba. I knew I promoted you for a good reason!"

    The old scientist didn't mention she had promoted him years ago, and left the office silently—as he always did, before he ordered a kill. Nothing would stop the President at this rate.

    Not even her own children.


    Clouds swept across the sky as if they were ushering something along, bearing their dark underbellies towards the sea and emptying torrents of rain towards the sea. None of it made any sense. The skies had been perfectly clear, and the weather was supposed to be ideal for sailing. According to weather reports, there should've been at least two more days of sunshine, but instead dark clouds approached the Alolan ocean at an alarmingly fast rate and the Perseus floated in the midst of it all.

    The boat was smaller than most, but contained some of the most precious goods inside it that couldn't simply be found online, or in a regular store. The Perseus was a sea-merchant boat, and carried exclusive goods from regions all over the Pokémon world. Not only that, but alongside its cargo, it carried a family: a man, his wife, and their two daughters who were below deck, blissfully unaware of the storm.

    "Nanea!" the man called out, running across the deck. "We need to leave!" Lightning sprung from the clouds and thunder roared as a rotating whirlpool ripped up the sea, heading towards their most beloved boat. The trip to Poni Island should have been smooth, and it had been for the past couple days, all sunshine and happy sailing for the family of four. The dark-haired man muttered a curse under his breath as he watched the storm worsen, and called out to his wife again.

    "Sharpedo, prepare to swim," his wife Nanea shouted from the deck, tossing her PokéBall into the ocean. "I'll get the children, go harness Lapras and Sharpedo!"

    The dark haired man quickly threw his PokéBall into the ocean as well, and grabbed a hefty, substantial saddle bound to the wall of the deck of the ship with ropes. Unfastening it swiftly, he threw it onto his Lapras and began to secure all the straps, ensuring it wouldn't slip. Then, hurriedly, he did the same to his wife's Sharpedo, placing the saddle behind its fin for easy steering.

    "NANEA!" he called again, through the pouring rain. The cloud was undoubtedly much closer than it had been five minutes ago, and he could've sworn he saw a figure flickering in the clouds. It seemed small from so far away, but the man knew that only a creature of colossal stature could survive a storm like this one–or cause it. Suddenly, Nanea kicked open the door that led below the deck, grabbed the arms of each of their two children and assigned them each a Pokémon.

    "But aren't you coming with us?" the younger daughter sniffled, wiping wet tears from her face. Her efforts were in vain, the rain from above raced down her cheeks more swiftly than any tears could.

    "Of course! I'm steering the Sharpedo," Nanea replied hastily, watching a wet strand of brown hair fall front of her eyes. "Get on Sharpedo, sweetie. We have to hurry up."

    The older daughter climbed frantically onto the Lapras with her father, securing herself into the upper portion of the saddle. "Mom!" she cried out frantically, "What about everything on our boat?"

    "It'll be okay," her father said urgently, "Mama can't hear you right now. The ship isn't going to survive the storm. We have to get out of here as soon as possible."

    "B–but I left something there!" The older daughter put her head in her hands. Her wet hair fell in locks over her forehead, tangling in her fingers. "Aquarius is still playing on the deck because I thought we were coming back!"

    Her father looked back at his ship, which was now merely meters away from being destroyed from the swirling vortex and black clouds above them.

    "Aquarius will find his way home," he reassured her, not fully believing his own words. "But we have to leave." Lapras, comprehending his last phrase, swam off in a hurry. Following her was the much faster Sharpedo, darting furiously across the ocean until the black cloud was a considerable distance away. They would have to keep going, of course, until it was out of sight…

    How long would it take? A couple days, or a month? The older girl already felt as if she had aged some years while riding on the back of the Lapras, and quietly sunk into the harnessed seat, too tired to scream at the ocean. Too tired to think about her abandoned Aquarius, the poor Staryu. Too tired to cry.

    Behind them, a crack of lightning split the side of the Perseus, allowing the ocean waves to swell into the boat, sinking it slowly but surely. And in the whirlpool vortex, a Staryu laid limp and lifeless, being pulled into the forceful current until it disappeared into the depths of the sea.

    Live from your Eevee-ning News! Meteorologists are calling this the storm of the year, comparing it to storms caused by ancient powers! Some scientists wonder if this storm was churned from the wrath of an island deity, but one thing is for sure: it's wreaked havoc across Alola. Several ships that set course for Poni Island are now stranded or sinking in the ocean, with few to no survivors. There is some hope though: a couple families washed up on the shores of Ula'Ula and Poni, but it'll be a while until they can receive government aid. A young girl, age thirteen, also happened to drift onto Heahea City's beach. Stay tuned for updates on the storm!

    Stop hovering to collapse... Click to collapse... Hover to expand... Click to expand...
    #1 Jun 11, 2017
    Last edited: Jul 13, 2017
  2. Wings

    Level 100
    Jun 11, 2017
    Chapter 1 of When the Sun Sets.
    Desperate Times

    Three months later…

    Rain pummeled on the worn-down roof of the Skull Mansion, the rhythmic beats of the water sending stray brick-red shingles skidding down towards the gutters. This was commonplace, but even people foreign to Team Skull could tell that by just looking at the rooms on the upper floors. Water stains creeped in through the ceiling, irreparable damage that was too costly to fix anyway.

    The red velvet carpets lining the stairs were torn and smelled of mold and mildew, and the railings of the stairs were equally disastrous in condition–the wood was broken down and rotting.

    Perhaps the only decent room in the Skull Mansion was the Boss's room, but no one could know for sure since no one entered the Boss's room except for Plumeria and the blonde, snot–nosed brat feeding off their money. Being a Grunt was hard enough, but being treated close to dirt while watching a strange, prissy teenage boy receiving cash straight from the Boss was too much. Mabel snarled at the thought of him, storming up the mansion stairs with renewed confidence.

    "Is this… his room?"

    Mabel didn't turn around to face her companion. Instead, her eyes were glued on the Boss's door. "Yeah. I hope you're prepared. Boss is gonna turn you into dirt if you don't have the skills to be in Team Skull." Mabel knocked harshly on the wooden door. Though almost everything in the Skull Mansion was eroding away, the Boss and Plumeria's door were the only doors in the mansion that looked stable. But with all the blasting hip–hop the Boss played, the door was bound to explode out of the doorframe one day.

    "The hell?" A deep, hoarse voice shouted from inside the room. "Plumeria, I told you not to mess with me until three o'clock! Also, I bought you that Pokémon Princess Dolls set–you owe me one!"

    "One Princess dolls set?" Mabel's visitor laughed weakly, even though she knew the Boss hadn't meant it that way.

    "Shut up, punk," Mabel grunted, "or I might change my mind and beat you up for real."

    The laughter, although already halfhearted, ceased.

    "Boss, we gotta new recruit and Plumeria's outta town!" Mabel shouted back through the door.

    "Stupid Grunt! Ain't there someone else you can take the recruit to?" The Boss shouted, then under his breath he muttered, "Damnit, Plumeria."

    "No, Boss! We don't have any other Admins, and the br–I mean, Gladion isn't here either!"

    The hallway was silent for a moment. Then: "Well, let her in, numskull!"

    Mabel opened the door and shoved the other girl inside the room as hastily as possible. And then, without warning, Mabel whispered, "Good luck," and slammed the door.

    The Boss was every bit as terrifying as Mabel had claimed he would be: shades rested in his monochromatic hair, caught in the Fearow's nest of tangles and knots. His eyes were an intense shade of grey that matched the lighter sections of his hair, and his style consisted of baggy, black sweatpants and a hoodie adorned with skull chains. His unnerving get-up was completed with a sneer, and a worn down throne decked with what looked like Z-Crystals. His watch was obviously designer made and exclusive, not to mention definitely stolen.

    On the other hand, across from him stood a petite, flat-chested trainer who looked like she cut her hair herself–it was all chopped off right to her ears, and her dark bangs were swept out of her eyes and pulled to the side. Her eyes were wide and brown, innocent and lighter in hue. Her skin was olive-toned and drained of health, and her clothes were the only thing the Boss approved of. She was decked out in an all-black outfit, from head to toe, and the only way anyone could tell she was a girl was the way her hips curved out in her dark jeans–otherwise, her chest was relatively flat and her hair was cut like a boy's.

    She was naïve and young looking, a questionable candidate for a Team Skull Grunt. The pay was low, and the job was risky and unfit for a trainer like her. But the real question remained:

    Who in their right mind would voluntarily visit Po Town?

    Sure, Po Town used to be a tranquil village, home to many amiable merchants and tradesmen—until Team Skull took over. Now, the town was habited by low-lifes and thugs, and the only reason grunts were still living here was because the housing was dirt cheap. Even Guzma, the Big Boss, was sitting on a decaying throne and his clothes reeked in the same way a Grimer, fresh-out-of-the-sewers would. But a recruit was a recruit, and even if Team Skull was running low on grunts, no weakling trainer was going to be admitted to Team Skull.

    "Hey kid!" Guzma barked suddenly. "You think you're tough 'cause you wear black like us?"

    "I wear black because it's convenient to wear and matches every color out there, including more black," the girl replied, trembling.

    Guzma growled, biting his lip. "You wanna know why we wear black in Po Town, kid?" He grinned when his question was met with lingering silence. "We wear black because it's convenient to wear and matches the bloodstains in our clothes."

    The girl bit her lip and refrained from commenting that his shirt was white (well, a faded yellow due to sweat stains and a lack of washing. Team Skull had yet to establish a proper laundry schedule) and would not be hiding any bloodstains anytime soon.

    Instead, she mumbled to her feet, "That was clever."

    "Clever?" Guzma snorted, kicking his feet up onto the armrest of his throne. "Course I'm clever. Haven't you ever heard of me? My name is Guzma, kid, but it's boss to you!" He laughed some more, but quickly broke out into a heavy bout of wheezing—not many people knew that the feared leader of Team Skull was an asthmatic.

    "So I'm a Skull Grunt now?" the girl asked, staring at him dubiously.

    "What, kid? I ain't never say that you were—"

    "You told me to call you boss."

    Guzma abruptly stopped coughing. "Excuse me?"

    The girl stared back blankly, knowing she had made a considerable mistake. It was time to leave, she decided, but there were no particularly effective escape plans coming to mind. Out the door? There were Skull Grunts guarding the mansion. Through a window? This room didn't have any windows. Break a hole in the floor? Her strongest Pokémon on hand was a Cottonee, so it wasn't likely to be effective. If only she had caught a fighting-type Pokémon on her way…

    "You know what, kid? Why'd you even come to Skull Mansion? You tryna waste away your youth, huh?" Guzma snarled. He swung his feet back down to the ground and stood up, glaring down at the child beneath him. "What made you think this was a good idea?"

    "Money," the girl insisted, in a spontaneous outburst of emotion. She clenched and unclenched her fists frantically, something Guzma used to do as a kid when he was about to start a fight. But the way this girl did it, she only looked panicked and anxious, like she needed to go for a good run.

    "Money?" Guzma repeated dubiously. "Look, kid, your clothes ain't tailor-made but they ain't rags. You look pretty well-off to me, kid. I'm gonna have to call up Mabel to kick you out… what's your name, kid?"

    "Piper," the girl replied hastily. "But you can't kick me out!" Piper desperately continued to fiddle with her hands, realizing Guzma wasn't buying it. "I'm not rich or anything, I swear it! I need money! It's just…" Piper glanced towards the door. She knew her time with the infamous boss of Team Skull was coming to a close, and she definitely wouldn't be making it out of Po Town in one piece.


    Piper shook her head. She couldn't give up now, not when she had come so far. Three months ago, she had watched her boat—or rather, her home—crash in the middle of the ocean, sinking along with all of her family's greatest possessions. Three months ago she had pulled her eyes away from the sight of the Perseus, praying to Arceus that her Staryu would make it out alive.

    Only ten weeks ago, she had watched her family move into the Malie City Pokémon Center, with nowhere else to stay. She had watched her father and younger sister search for jobs all around the city while she and her mother stayed home, trying to figure out their next steps. And two weeks ago, she cut her hair and sold it to a wig salon for the money, hacking off her braids until her dark hair barely brushed her ears. And one week ago, Piper had met Mabel, a Team Skull member who told her Team Skull supported the struggling, the weak, and the needy.

    Piper told all of this to Guzma, forgetting where she was and finding herself more and more absorbed in telling her story.

    "I need the money," she pleaded, abandoning her dignity and pride. Piper had been avoiding Guzma's gaze out of sheer terror, but chose this moment to look up to see if she could spot the slightest glimpse of pity, belief, or emotion in Guzma's eyes. Of course, she only expected the Skull boss to be at least half-asleep, if not snoring away in his red velvet throne.

    But to her surprise, the rugged young adult was focused intently on her, unaware that Piper had finished her story. His grey eyes had turned cold and hard, but he clenched his fists, as if he was contemplating something deep in the back of his mind.

    When his eyes finally returned back to their normal state, Guzma leaned back into his throne and cleared his throat. It was a while before he decided to speak, in his gravelly, broken voice.

    "Welcome to Team Skull, kid."
    #2 Jun 11, 2017
    Last edited: Jul 13, 2017
    Mandriel likes this.
  3. Wings

    Level 100
    Jun 11, 2017
    Chapter 2 of When the Sun Sets.
    Small Towns for Bigger Dreams
    Growling in frustration, Piper tugged on the bandage on her arm, willing it to become secure. This was nothing new to her—Piper had been tying bandages on boats since she was eleven, wrapping the limbs of injured Pokémon with cloth. The only problem was, Piper had never learned to tie a bandage on herself.

    After a couple more minutes of trying, and failing to secure the bandage, Piper tore the fabric away from her skin and rolled down her sleeve, deciding she would find a medic later. Her cut wasn't that deep anyway.

    Piper's "battle scar" was earned not from another Trainer, not from a wild Pokémon, but from a ridiculously placed fence Piper had to climb over in order to reach the Hau'oli Town Pokémon center. Unbeknownst to Piper at the time, there was a loose nail in the fence and when she jumped off, well… she left with a shallow, but long cut in her outer arm.

    Nevertheless, Piper continued to the Hau'oli Town Pokémon Center and had managed to obtain some free bandages from the Nurse Joy there. Unfortunately, the Nurse was also busy, and couldn't attend to Piper, so she was left to manage by herself in a bedroom she decided to rent out for the day.

    Most people assumed the rooms the Pokémon Center were free courtesies offered to traveling trainers, but they were actually marketed at a fairly cheap price, so that the Pokémon Center could use the money to continue operating their free Pokémon healing services to trainers around the world. The single bedroom for one night had cost Piper 500 Pokédollars, less than a value pack of Roserade Tea. That didn't mean Piper wasn't being conscious about her money—her weekly paycheck was 100 Pokédollars.

    Guzma had promised to give her a raise after Piper completed her first mission, but it had taken her a month to get to the destination of her mission: Melemele Island, home to the renowned Kukui Laboratories. Her new boss had been generous enough already, providing her with a ride back from Po Town and letting her work as a travelling grunt. Most grunts stayed put on one island working for an island squad leader, but Piper loathed the idea of having to work under a squad leader. Travelling grunts were, for the most part, independent and free to travel however they chose.

    Dragging herself to the PC, a staple in every Pokémon Center room, Piper pushed a couple buttons before typing in a phone number she knew by heart. She sat down, listening to the familiar sound of the PC ringing, before seeing an image focus on to the computer screen.

    "Mama!" Piper exclaimed. "Are you okay?" Piper wanted nothing more than to reach through the computer screen and hug her mother, to collapse in the arms of her family and to go sailing again on the murky blue waters of the ocean.

    "Piper!" Nanea was still bronzed and darkened from the sun. Anyone could immediately tell she was a native Alolan, from her dark, glossy hair to her warm brown eyes. Nanea was lithe and strong from swimming in the waves, lean and muscled from years of hard work at sea. She wasn't just physically strong either—Nanea was the smartest woman Piper knew, and although Piper wasn't receiving quite the same education her mother had, Nanea still made her read as many books as she could handle.

    "Piper, did you manage to get to Melemele okay? It's been a week since you talked to us, you know," Nanea chided her, narrowing her dark eyebrows. "You shouldn't go for so long without keeping in contact."

    "I know," Piper replied immediately. "But I have a job now, and I didn't want to waste time. It's inefficient, you know."

    "Piper, your family is not a waste of time. Even your employer would understand!"

    Piper thought back to Guzma and his uncombed hair and manic, wild eyes. "I'm not so sure, Mom." Piper had held back on letting her mother know who she was working for, since, well… Nanea wasn't going to be pleased if she found out Piper was a part of an infamous gang. Nanea had raised Piper strictly, but with caring intentions, making sure Piper was always holding herself to a certain standard that would allow her to be happy with and hardworking at the same time.

    "Well," Nanea remarked, "you let me know how things are going at least twice a week! Your father can't talk right now… he's busy in the tourism side of Malie City. He got a job as a waiter at a restaurant, and April is working with him!"

    "They let a ten-year old work at the restaurant?" Piper asked, frowning. "Isn't there a child labor law, or something?"

    "It's a special restaurant," Nanea assured her. "They have several fighting-type Pokémon there, and they let April take care of the weaker ones for some money. I'll probably end up working there too, in a couple days."

    Piper smiled. "I'm glad you're doing all right. I'll ask my manager about vacation days when I'm not busy… He wants me to travel around and gather some information about Pokémon for money. That's why it took me so long to call back: the travelling takes a long time."

    Nanea nodded. "Then get to work as soon as possible. Remember, Piper, we love you. And you're doing incredibly well for someone who lost almost everything and nearly drowned."

    "That was…uniquely encouraging," Piper said, smiling subtly. "I'll call you as soon as I can, Mom." Nanea smiled, and the screen flickered to black. Now, back to the mission…

    Piper unfolded a map from her back pocket, something she had taken from the Pokémon Center reception desk earlier. It was just a map of Melemele Island, but it was something Piper desperately required. There were only a few cities in Alola Piper was genuinely familiar with, like the port cities her family usually stopped at to sell items or load cargo. For example, Seafolk Village, or Konikoni City, which was easily recognizable thanks to the grand lighthouse that lit up the sky and sea. But Hau'oli City felt alien and intimidating, unlike any city Piper had ever walked in.

    The place Piper needed to go was the Kukui Laboratories. But the only problem was that the routes on the map were clustered together, as if someone had closed their eyes, picked up a pencil and scribbled random lines onto the paper, then opened their eyes and said, "Seems legit." Piper sighed heavily and shoved the map back into her back pocket. She would figure it out along the way…probably.


    Piper had never been more wrong.

    Piper frowned at the shabby, poorly constructed town in front of her. There were no cement sidewalks, no paved roads, nothing. And were those…mud huts? "This can't possibly be the right place," she muttered, biting her bottom lip in frustration. She had expected the laboratories to be more lavish, more futuristic. It was at times like this that Piper wished she had inherited her parents' uncanny sense of direction. They were sailors after all, and after a while it seemed as though the compasses they carried had become a part of them.

    Sighing, Piper crumpled the map in her left hand, and with her other hand waved over to a villager close boy. "Hey, you! Is this where the professor guy has his laboratory?"

    The young boy she had waved to tilted his head, shrugging his shoulders. "I think you're lost, lady. But the professor is down that way!" He pointed towards the back of the village, where there were no paths to keep track of or signs indicating street names (if Iki Town had any real streets).

    "Great," Piper said, running a hand through her dark hair. "Thanks, kid." Piper didn't want to see the professor, she wanted to find his lab—but for now, anything would work.

    The young boy dashed off in the direction of a couple of Pikipek, startling them into a clumsy flight. Piper cracked a small smile at his efforts, tossing the map (which was now a crushed ball) behind her shoulder, and strode in the direction the boy had indicated.

    But when Piper reached the end of the grassy stretch, there was nothing there except for some sort of forest, crowding the sky. There was a wooden sign with words etched in–"Mahalo Trail." A trail, in this town? What an absolute miracle.

    "Whimsy, come out!" Piper said, tossing her PokéBall in the air. In a dense forest, it was important to have backup in case a hostile Pokémon found its way onto the forest path. Her Cottonee chirped, hovering above Piper's shoulder. "Let's go find the professor." Together, they walked through the dense forest, which was surprisingly small compared to how it appeared from the inside of Iki Town.

    As promised, there was a paved trail, leading up several ledges and over to a grassy cliff. The stares of the eerie stone totems that lined the path provided a sense of hostile company, and Piper beckoned Whimsy closer and picked up the pace. She could already hear the sound of crashing waves at the bottom of the trail, and when she reached the top, she could clearly see the water that was causing the roaring cacophony.

    A large river was rushing beneath them, smashing into rocks and fallen foliage that had happened to fall in the ravine. And above the river was a wooden rope bridge, rocking unsteadily as a teenage boy ran across from the other side.

    "Sunne! Did you manage to beat them?" A petite, blonde girl who Piper hadn't noticed before was standing at the side of the bridge, calling out to the teenage boy with frantic urgency in her voice.

    "No," "Sunne" panted, crashing on to the grass. "Rowan wasn't a good match for the Spearow. I did lower their health and energy levels significantly, though." His black, wet hair was pasted down to his forehead with sweat, and his snapback hat was lopsided from sprinting back from the bridge.

    "You can tell a Pokémon's energy levels?" Piper interrupted, making both of the trainers whip their heads around. The girl's green eyes immediately hardened, and she clutched her white strap bag a little tighter. The boy, however, was friendly enough to answer despite his exhaustion.

    "Yeah. If you have a Pokédex, you can evaluate a Pokémon's health and energy, and even its level. For example, my Rowlet is level 5," the boy replied, in between dry coughing.

    "Excuse me, stranger, but it would be polite if you could leave," the blonde girl added, standing firmly. "I-it's not a good idea for you to stay!"

    Piper narrowed her eyebrows. "I'm looking for the professor, that's all. I'm not going to—hey, what made you think I was a dangerous person?" Piper began to wonder if it was too obvious that she was a member of Team Skull. For regular grunts it was okay to don a uniform, but for travelling grunts, the goal was to look as inconspicuous as humanly possible.

    "You're dressed in all black," the boy, Sunne noted. "Also, are you aware that you look like you look like a living zombie?"

    "I am not a living zombie," Piper snapped, resting her hands on her hips, "and black is my favorite color!"

    "It's not that," the girl in white interrupted, clasping her hands behind her back. "I-I just don't want anyone else to know! About Nebby, I mean."

    "Nebby?" Piper echoed. "What's a Nebby? Is Nebby short for something?"

    The blonde girl's green eyes widened, and she put her hands over her mouth as she realized what she had done. "P-Please forget I said anything!" Tears threatened to pour from her bright eyes, glistening in the soft sunlight.

    "It's okay," Sunne assured the blonde, patting her on the back. "I don't think this girl is dangerous. Just stupid."

    "I. Am. Going. To. Be. Very. Dangerous," Piper snarled, marching towards the teenage boy, pointing her finger at him. "You! Tell me where the professor is, stat!"

    "This is his assistant," Sunne replied, avoiding the question.

    "Sunne, would you stop giving out information?!" the girl sniffled, "At this point, she may as well know my name!"

    "Hey, professor's assistant," Piper said, "please stop crying and tell me where your boss is."

    "I don't know," the blonde mumbled, between muffled sobs. "I wanted to do something for Nebby…it wanted to come here for some reason, so I let it! But then Nebby wouldn't hide in my bag, and it hovered across Mahalo Bridge, and now…well, there were Spearow who had already claimed the bridge and now Nebby's in trouble!"

    Piper glanced back at the wooden bridge. Sure enough, a trio of Spearow were pecking and cawing at a small, fluffy cloud who Piper assumed was the aforementioned "Nebby".

    "Then Sunne came along, because he was looking for the island kahuna! I asked him to help me save Nebby, because I'm not very strong…I'm not even a Pokémon Trainer! But then you came along, and now everything is worse because now two more people know about Nebby!" The blonde choked on her own sobs, pausing for a minute to wipe her face from tears. "I may as well tell you my name. I'm Lillie, Professor Kukui's assistant. Do you…do you think you can help Nebby?"

    Piper stared down at the young girl, who was curled into a sitting position on the grass. She was probably only a year younger, now that Piper thought about it. And the boy was definitely no more than eleven, but from far away both of them looked like teenagers. An inexperienced trainer starting his journey, and a girl who wasn't a trainer at all. Piper sighed heavily. No one else was going to save them…

    "All right," Piper replied. "Whimsy, use Stun Spore on all the Spearow, and I'll carry Nebby back. Got it?"

    The small Pokémon nodded, speeding off in the air towards the middle of the bridge. Piper followed suit, placing her hands gingerly on the ropes of the bridge, trying to ignore the sound of the creaking, groaning wooden planks. To make matters worse, the wind had picked up in the time that Piper had spent talking to Lillie and Sunne, and Piper knew if she had gone when she had first seen Sunne running, the walk across the bridge would've been much easier.

    Steadying herself, Piper began to walk at a slightly quicker pace, looking straight ahead towards the Spearow as opposed to the rushing water beneath her. If she slipped…Piper imagined the rocks that were being pounded and slapped by the coursing waves at this very moment, and shuddered at the idea of her being one of those rocks.

    Whimsy had already paralyzed all three Spearow, being a nimble Cottonee. Stepping over one of the fallen Pokémon, Piper carefully picked up the sparkling purple "Nebby", which was surprisingly squishy, like a bowl of Jell–O. Piper giggled a little at the squishy Pokémon, which had two marine blue "arms" sticking out of it, like smaller Jell–O clouds, and then remembered she was walking across an extremely unstable bridge.

    "Whimsy, go back to Sunne and Lillie!" Piper said, but the wind and waves were so loud that she ended up having to shout it four or five times before Whimsy got the gist and hovered back to the other side of the bridge.

    "Pew…" Piper glanced down at the Pokémon in her arms and realized it was trying to tell her something. "Pew!"

    "Um," Piper stuttered. "What are you trying to say, little guy?"

    The Pokémon babbled, rolling out of Piper's arms in a squishy blob and landing next to the trio of paralyzed Spearow.

    "No! Don't go back there, Nebby! You know what, Nebby, why don't you get into my backpack—NEBBY!" Piper threw herself over the Pokémon, preventing it from almost rolling off the bridge, like a cosmic bowling ball. Suddenly, Piper's stomach began to feel a little warm. Opening her eyes, she glanced down to see what was going on when she noticed her stomach was radiating a warm, blue light. Dear Arceus, did I have something weird for breakfast? That was when Piper realized the light wasn't emanating from her stomach—it was coming from the blue cloud Pokémon.

    "Nebby!" Piper cried, clutching the Pokémon in her arms as the light formed a sphere of energy, blasting through the wooden planks of the bridge with ease. She felt the bridge collapse beneath her, watching it slowly crash into the river below, rippling down the current. Piper closed her eyes. She had already escaped death once this year, and now her consequences followed. She had lived on the water, and now she would die in it.

    Except she didn't. Her back hit something, but it wasn't water. Piper opened her eyes. The river definitely wasn't orange and yellow. In a grand swooping motion, the orange creature set her down on the grassy clearing next to Lillie, crackling with energy. It was a humanoid being, taller than Piper and faster than any Pokémon she'd ever seen. Letting loose with a majestic cry, it jumped and sped into the sky, far out of sight before Piper had any chance to conceive an idea of what the Pokémon might be.

    "Nebby! I thought we agreed not to use your powers again!" Lillie rushed to Piper's side, scooping the squishy Pokémon up with her fragile arms. "Last time you used your powers, you couldn't move for ages! I shouldn't even say that…you were in trouble and I couldn't even help you in return…"

    Piper groaned, using her bare hands to push herself up into a sitting position. Lying next to her was a small, translucent stone, rough and uncarved.

    "Hey, Lillie, do you have any idea what this rock is? Or what that Pokémon was?" Piper questioned, brushing clumps of dirt off her dark jeans. Lillie nodded shyly, blushing.

    "It must've been Tapu Koko who saved you…oh, I'm sorry, I don't even know your name. My name is Lillie, and this is Sunne. And my little partner here is named Nebby!" Lillie smiled weakly. "But…please keep Nebby a secret. I don't want anyone to know, and definitely not any strong Pokémon organizations. Only Professor Kukui and his wife know so far. And I guess Sunne, and you."

    "My name is Piper," Piper replied, rising from the ground. "Don't worry, I'll keep Nebby a secret. I swear it by Arceus."

    "But what's that stone on the ground?" Sunne inquired, pointing to the translucent stone by Piper's feet. "It's sparkling."

    Piper picked it up, tossing it in her hands. "I bet that Pokémon left it here. Tapu Loco?"

    "Piper! You can't make those kinds of jokes, or the Tapu will regret saving you!"

    Piper shrugged, cracking a smile. "Maybe the Tapu has a sense of humor, you know?" She swiftly threw the sparkling stone over to Sunne, who reluctantly, but nimbly, caught it, making a sour face at her.

    "Enough, you!" Lillie chided, but Piper quickly realized Lillie was referring to Nebby and not her. "Nebby, back in the bag!" Lillie zipped her bag back up once the small Pokémon had gotten a chance to slip inside, then turned to Sunne and Piper, blushing furiously. "I'm so sorry for causing you all this trouble, but I'm scared I won't be able to walk back to Iki Town by myself without fainting. Could-could one of you take me back?"

    "I will," Sunne replied immediately. Piper looked back at the ravine, watching the strewn pieces of the wooden bridge lying in the coursing river, floating absently, with no purpose.

    "I think I'm going to stay here," Piper said, chewing her bottom lip. "I need to think some things over. Hey, Sunne, make sure you get a professional to inspect that sparkling stone! It could be worth millions," she joked. It was probably just a dumb rock.

    Sunne rolled his eyes and turned around, leading the way back to Iki Town with his new companion, Lillie. Piper smiled bittersweetly, wondering if she could've gone on a Pokémon journey like Sunne if her parents hadn't been sailors. What was it like, collecting gym badges, contest ribbons, frolicking around fields of grass catching Pokémon? What did it feel like to have a rival, to have a goal in mind?

    The rushing water in the ravine sounded nothing like the waves at sea, but it could certainly simulate the experience if one closed their eyes and laid their head on the soft fern beds of the trail. Piper refrained from doing so, and instead stared into the depths of the ravine, wondering where the river led to. And wondering if Aquarius would ever find its way back from the churning depths of the sea, or if Aquarius was merely floating lifeless on the surface of the ocean.

    "I'll find you, Aquarius," Piper whispered to herself, closing her eyes and drowning out the cacophony of rushing water. "I'll find you and take you back home."
    #3 Jun 11, 2017
    Last edited: Jul 13, 2017
    Mandriel likes this.
  4. Wings

    Level 100
    Jun 11, 2017
    Chapter 3 of When the Sun Sets.
    Battles on Sacred Ground

    "For Arceus's sake, I don't want to be here either Rocky, but I'm not—hey, where are you going?" Julian scowled as he trudged through the soil of the lowly town, following his Rockruff. His white uniform had just been washed, and his boots were freshly polished—all for nothing. Julian should've remembered Iki Town was about as tidy as a Talonflame's nest and waited another day to go to the dry cleaners, but the Aether Foundation was dedicated to promoting the idea that each member was wholesome and pure-hearted, clean and immaculate, from the inside out.

    This was something Julian fully comprehended from experience based on years of living with his mother, who was so precise that she assured every room in their mansion was as cleanly as possible by hiring a group of foreign trainers and their Mincinno who swept the floors every day. While Julian could understand his mother's wishes, it seemed odd that a charity group had the exact same standards as his billionaire mother.

    Trekking up the trail, Julian reluctantly followed his Rockruff to what was hopefully, the site of the Tapu sighting. But the stone totems along the trail only led him to a stranger, sitting by the edge of the ravine rushing beneath a wooden bridge. Julian had rarely come here in his youth, except for a couple times to pay his respects to the local deity before he had started his education in Pokémon. He wondered if the boy was praying by the edge of the ravine, though he doubted it.

    The boy looked much too scruffy to be the praying type, and his hair was cut unevenly in the back. His shirt was tight and ripped and his jeans were soggy and drenched with mist praying from the rushing water below.

    But when the boy suddenly pushed himself to his feet and turned himself around, glaring, Julian quickly realized the boy, was in fact, not a boy. Her chest was nearly flat but her facial features were soft and babyish, from her round cheeks to her drooping eyelashes. She had to be at least fourteen, yet Julian couldn't help but think to himself that she was definitely a late bloomer.

    The girl narrowed her brown eyes, stepping farther away from the ledge of the cliff, which relieved Julian. It would be disastrous if Julian had accidentally startled the girl and she had tripped, falling to the bottom of the ravine. He wouldn't want to be demoted—most Aether workers started out as employees who worked outdoors and tending to wounded Pokémon, but the less competent workers could be demoted to cleaning employees that scrubbed the floors of the Aether mansion, day and night. While it wasn't the worst job in the world, it was still rather humiliating since it meant working alongside Alolan Grimer which were quite frankly, much better at tidying up than any human.

    "Tapu sighting?" the girl repeated, putting her hands on her hips. "Who told you about that?"

    "My Aether officer said someone reported a Tapu sighting at Mahalo Trail," Julian explained, smiling kindly. The poor girl was obviously uneducated, but it was lucky she had accidentally stumbled across someone as well-taught as he. "You see, the Tapu of this island is—"

    "Tapu Loco?" The girl cracked a wide smile.

    Julian's jaw dropped, unhinged.

    "Di—did you just call the island deity loco?" Julian sputtered, taken aback. "You can't call a sacred Tapu crazy! What are you, a high-school dropout?'' Julian clenched his fist, ignoring Rocky's furious barking. The girl's eyes, which turned a warm brown in the sun, seemed more threatening than naïve now, and Julian took a deep breath. "I'm sorry, that was rude. Dropout was not the word I was looking for. Even elementary school children know the customs of our local deities. I meant to say delinquent."

    "Oh yeah, cause that's real better?" the girl said, narrowing her eyebrows. "Who are you? Some kind of private school, gifted-and-talented student?"

    Julian shifted nervously, backing up from the girl who was now storming towards him. "I suppose I am more well-off than others…Rocky, would you shut up?!" He cautiously knelt by his Pokémon's side, trying to reason with his companion. "What do you want?" Julian glanced back up at the girl with an apologetic look in his eyes. "I'm terribly sorry, he's been barking ever since we came here. I think he wants to battle you."

    "And I think…" the girl paused, clenching her fists. "Oh, for the love of Mew!"


    "Just let me battle your dumb Rockruff and then I gotta head back to Iki Town. I forgot I had something to say to the professor."

    Julian carefully let Rocky out of his arms, allowing him to stand on the grass as if it was a battlefield. "My apologies. I came here to investigate the Tapu sighting, but I don't think Rocky will be satisfied until he battles you."

    "No problem," the girl replied, although judging by the tone of her voice, there was clearly a problem. "The only Pokémon I have with me right now is my Cottonee. Whimsy, let's go!"

    "Would you like the first move?" the girl added, crossing her arms in front of her chest.

    "Gladly," Julian replied firmly. "My name's Julian, by the way. I thought you should know before we initiate the battle."

    "Nice to meet you, Julian," the girl replied. "My name's Piper. I thought you should know before I win." She grinned, flashing a crooked smirk before Julian could scowl at her.

    "Tackle, let's go!" Julian shouted, determined to prove his strength to this peasa—err, commoner. His eyes followed his Rockruff, watching it gain a running start before leaping into the air, aiming for the puffy opponent.

    "Dodge it and use Razor Leaf!" Piper countered, pushing her dark hair back with one hand while the other remained in the pocket of her jeans. Her agile Cottonee—what was it called? Whimsy? — breezily dodged the attack, shifting slightly to the right and watching Rocky crash on to the ground next to it. Julian bit his lip in frustration, but it made sense that a Pokémon like Cottonee would be agile, considering it was so light and incredibly flexible.

    "Use Rock Throw to block the leaves!" Julian shouted, preparing for the Razor Leaf attack. Rocky snarled, regaining his footing before pounding his feet into the ground, forcing a large rock the size of his head out from the dirt soil. Growling, Rocky slipped his head underneath the rock and butted it towards the Cottonee, who was already generating a Razor Leaf attack. The leaves shot through the air like small birds, before they sliced through the Rock Throw attack, sending small chunks of rock down to the grass until the attack was rendered completely ineffective.

    Piper frowned, crossing her arms. "Whimsy, use Cotton Spore, quickly." The Cottonee had obviously been using some effort to generate the Razor Leaf attack, and seemed slightly more tired than before. Julian grinned, seeing this as an opportunity.

    "Dodge it, and then Bite!" Julian retorted, watching his Rockruff roll over to the opposite side of the Cotton Spore attack and jump into the air, ready to chomp down on the levitating Pokémon.

    "When it gets close, use Stun Spore!" Piper cried out. The Cottonee lit up with bright electricity as Rocky bit into the soft cotton fur, receiving a jolt of electricity in return. Whimpering, Rocky fell back to the grass, crackling with static electricity the Cottonee had forced upon it.

    Julian began to feel some light rain trickling down on them. It's probably nothing, he thought, but the Pokémon scholar inside him had a suspicious feeling that the drizzle was much, much more than rain. Nonetheless, the battle was going to continue. "Rocky, use Rock Tomb, right above the Cottonee!"

    "Whimsy, slice it with Razor Leaf!" Despite the Cottonee's frantic attempt to generate enough leaves to diminish the effects of Rock Tomb, only a few leaves were produced. In a regular Razor Leaf attack, they would've been sufficient, but as a defensive move they were flimsy and stood no chance against the boulders that fell from sky. A small boulder offset the hovering Cottonee, but the small white cloud managed to move out of the way before more could hit it.

    Rain began to fall onto Mahalo Trail, and more heavily than the slow drizzle from before. Fat water droplets rolled down from Julian's forehead to his chin, beginning to soak his uniform. Normal rain in Iki Town wasn't normally like this, Julian thought to himself, shivering from the cold. But Julian certainly wasn't forfeiting, especially not to a trainer whose Pokémon was literally a cotton puff.

    "Rocky, use Bite!" he yelled, shuddering as the rain became more frigid and icy. Rocky started to run, but halfway through his running start he collapsed onto the grass, tingling with yellow electricity. "Paralysis from Stun Spore," Julian muttered under his breath. "It's okay, Rocky. Just use Rock Tomb instead!" But the small canine was struggling to stand up, and it became clear to Julian he would have to wait a while before his companion got used to the effects of paralysis.

    "Whimsy, use Mega Drain!" Piper commanded, but the wind was blowing much too harshly for Cottonee to even aim at Rocky. "Um, use Razor Leaf for more accuracy!" Cottonee managed to form leaves for a Razor Leaf attack, but all of them were blown away in the gusts as soon as they were created.

    "Use Rock Throw!" Julian shouted, ignoring the rail pelting down on his head. Piper's hair was dripping wet and flying viciously in the wind, like a flag torn into strips of flimsy fabric.

    "Whimsy, use Mega Drain," Piper countered, desperate to land an attack that could do actual damage.

    Rocky hurtled unsteadily through the air, landing at a spot where he began to scuff at the ground, slowly raising a rock from the terrain. Then, he shoved it towards Cottonee, with enough force that it was entirely possible it would land a direct hit. Cottonee stiffened up and spread out its arm like leaves, creating a glowing, green energy that reached out to split the rock and steal some of Rocky's health when-

    A flash of lightning hit the ground between the two Pokémon, splitting the boulder and cutting off the Mega Drain attack, gone in a millisecond. Rocky whimpered, collapsing on the ground and the Cottonee, Whimsy, did the same, crying out over one of the arm-like leaves that had been burnt from the lightning strike.

    "Whimsy!" Piper shouted in fear, pulling out her PokéBall. "Whimsy, return!"

    "Rocky!" Julian rushed towards his companion, scooping up the canine in his arms. Julian lowered his head so his ear was on Rocky's chest, listening for a heartbeat. He sighed in relief upon hearing a steady thudding, a sign that Rocky was going to be okay.

    "What do we do?" Piper called out, gazing through the sheets of rain. "What was that thunderstorm?" Her eyes were dark and helpless.

    Julian hardened his face into a glower. "That was the Tapu, and you're lucky you made it out of this alive. It must've heard you calling it names before. Guardian deities do not take insults lightly." Julian stormed off down the trail, carrying Rocky close to himself without paying any attention to Piper behind him.


    Piper's eyes were dark and devoid of hope as she gazed back at the ravine, and onto the sky. Julian had stormed off, but Piper had paid little to no attention to the boy as he sulked back to Iki Town. No, her thoughts were occupied with storms. A storm so sudden; a storm that happened to throw a lightning bolt down to her family boat… Piper scowled, staring back up at the dark clouds, beginning to remember the swirling storm in the sky that day over the sea.

    She remembered the taste of the salty air as they rode to the shores of Alola on sleep deprived Pokémon, who had been swimming for nearly three days until they reach land. She remembered how it felt when the storm began to form, rumbling softly until it began to crescendo into an echoing bellow.

    What were the chances of getting struck by lightning?

    Piper pictured her longtime companion in her head. The red ruby center, the bronzy orange star. Her first Pokémon. She clenched her fist as she watching the rain pour down from the sky. Would a Tapu…would an island guardian dare strike down a friendly ship, crossing into Alolan seas? Piper's eyes darkened as she lowered her head, pushing back her slick wet hair.

    No ordinary lightning bolt was so precise that it would strike two Pokémon in the same battle. No ordinary lightning bolt was so precise that it would sink a small ship in the middle of nowhere, when the weather forecast had been clear for days.

    And Tapu Koko was no ordinary Pokémon.


    ...Alola, it's your local Eevee-ning News! We've interviewed some survivors of the storm of the year, and it looks like most of them saw something flickering in the clouds. Today we have newscaster Elio interviewing Penny, from Seafolk Village.

    "Hello, Penny. People are saying that they saw a dark figure flickering in the clouds...can you describe what it looked like?"

    "Yes, it was tall and largealmost like a Pokémon, but it was so hard to see through the pouring rain... Luckily, I was travelling with other sailors and merchants and we managed to make it out okay."

    "Thank you, Penny."

    While it's not clear what the figure was, scientists hired from the Aether Foundation are working to investigate the cause of the storm. Some people think that the figure could even be an island guardian, but there's no solid evidence to back up that claim. Additionally, a massive anonymous donation has been made to the government that will help fund the recovery of storm victims. This concludes tonight's Eevee-ning News!
    #4 Jun 11, 2017
    Last edited: Jul 13, 2017
  5. Wings

    Level 100
    Jun 11, 2017
    Chapter 4 of When the Sun Sets.
    To Make Amends

    "So she's the grunt you chose. How intriguing." A tall, blonde woman crossed her legs daintily, placing her white gloved hands upon her knee. Her hair was lustrous and various shades of platinum and honey, styled immaculately by her own hands that seemed to never touch anything but beauty itself. Her nails, concealed by her white gloves of course, were painted a lavish shade of ruby red, and her toes, peeking out of her creamy stilettos, were painted to match. It was a wonder that a woman like Lusamine, so pristine, so wealthy, so cultured, was sitting at a coffee table with—well, Guzma.

    The leader of Team Skull was looking slightly less scruffy than usual, because he had happened to take his first shower in weeks just yesterday. Lusamine had invited him to the Aether Mansion to discuss an important matter, but quickly realized Guzma's hygiene was the priority and ordered him to wash his hair, clean himself, and put some effort into his hairstyle. Although his clothes were still stained with dirt, Lusamine was in the process of finding an identical outfit for Guzma, and perhaps buying him some new shoes.

    "She's not someone I chose," Guzma retorted, slouching into the white leather chair he had been seated in by an Aether Foundation Employee. "Nothin' special. I just need grunts, you know?"

    "I can't say I'm familiar with the feeling," Lusamine replied smoothly, reaching out for a cup of tea. The Chandelure Tea Room was a spacious room in the Aether Mansion that Lusamine had designed specifically for drinking only the most luxurious varieties of tea. The cream-colored leather chairs and plush sofa lined with ebony complemented the glass tables before the pair, and even the tea cups were curated to match the chandeliers hanging from the ceiling.

    Today's special was a tea made from the leaf on a Chikorita's head, oozing with medicinal qualities and a sharp aroma. No Chikorita were harmed in the process of harvesting the leaves… at least, none Lusamine cared to know about. "Additionally, Guzma, please refrain from saying phrases like 'you know'. You sound less sophisticated when you do."

    "It's notmyfault," Guzma muttered, supposedly under his breath, but Lusamine heard every word.

    "Take responsibility for your mistakes, Guzma," she chided. "I can't introduce you to my other business partners like this, remember?"

    The rugged young man in front of her snorted, flipping his grey hair to one side. "Just 'cause I signed your dumb papers doesn't mean I have to do everything you say, lady."

    Lusamine sighed, setting her tea cup back down on the glass table. Engraved in the rim of the cup were four perfectly etched Meowth, carved into gold leaf. Meowth were classy and wealthy, something Lusamine admired about the Pokémon. It had made them a favorite among the Aether Mansion, in terms of decor. But Guzma would never be classy enough to worry about decor, Lusamine thought to herself, recrossing her legs.

    "Listen, boy. I understand your need for more workers, but that girl must leave immediately," Lusamine purred, resting her chin on the back of her manicured hand. "She's not fit to work at Team Skull. And I'm sure you know it, too."

    Guzma squirmed uncomfortably, trying to ignore Lusamine's magnetic gaze. Despite the fact that she was old enough to be his mother, Guzma knew Lusamine was undeniably prettier than any younger woman he had ever seen. Her slender legs and arms showed no signs of age, and her complexion was free of wrinkles. Botox? Probably not, he decided. The cunning woman probably had an entire laboratory designed to create anti-ageing products especially for her.

    "Well, Guzma?" Lusamine inquired, interrupting his thoughts. "I want you to fire that girl as soon as possible. She seems like a trouble maker."

    Guzma nodded absentmindedly, unaware of what he was agreeing to. His mind was still debating whether Lusamine used Botox or specially curated potions for her skin.

    "And remember," Lusamine added, pushing back a lock of platinum blonde hair, "I can always revoke your pay check, and destroy your town if you don't comply. But I won't have to do that. Right, Guzma?"

    Guzma snapped to attention at the word paycheck, and nodded vigorously. The last thing he needed was a lower income, and a wrecked house. Lusamine smiled charmingly, standing up from her elegant, ebony—edged sofa.

    "Well, then. I suppose we can depart." The two walked out of the room, one striding with grace and poise, and the other slouching into his striped bomber jacket. The odd duo was awkward and mismatched, but they shared one unquestionable trait in common: power.

    And it was only a matter of time before Lusamine would have all the power she needed.


    "A festival?!" Sunne sputtered. "But Rowan can't battle, and there's no Pokémon Center in Iki Town!" The eleven year old boy clutched his only PokéBall protectively, with urgency in his eyes.

    "There must be a festival!" a large, heavy-set man argued, crossing his tanned arms over his floral button down shirt. "The Tapu will not be at peace until we hold an honorary battle between you and my grandson, Sunne! Err… you know what I mean."

    "Sunne, Kahuna Hala is right, but we can let Rowlet rest for a day if you feel that he needs to recover," a muscled man next to the young boy spoke. His tanned pecs and abs were clearly visible through his sheer lab coat, which was obviously unsafe and against lab protocol (although his eyes were protected by tinted green shades). Of course, when you had the status of a Pokémon Professor, you had other people to do the lab work for you.

    Sunne frowned, staring up at the pouring sky above him, dark and stormy. Fat water droplets rolled off his face and down his neck, dampening the collar of his striped shirt. Tapu Koko had caused this storm, but why? Sunne had thought the Tapu was on good terms with him and Lillie and that girl… Piper. Shaking his head, he looked back up at the professor.

    "I'm gonna wait a day so Rowlet can have some time to recover," Sunne said. He glanced over at Lillie, who had been shivering in the cold rain this entire time. "Hey, Lillie. You can come to my house if you want. You know, to brave out the storm..."

    Lillie pushed her blonde bangs out of her eyes and her cheeks flushed gently. "I don't know…"

    The professor quickly stepped in. "Why don't we go to the kahuna's house, Lillie? You look cold, and you can decide there anyway." Lillie nodded, and the two began to depart on the muddy trail.

    "Well, then I suppose we'd better start the festival tomorrow," Hala said, punching his fist into his palm. "If the Tapu doesn't calm down..."

    "Excuse me! Excuse me, kahuna!" Sunne turned his head to see a teenage boy in a white, futuristic uniform sprinting towards them. Mud splattered around his industrial white boots, staining his tailored clothes, but he didn't seem to care. "The Tapu—I know who provoked it!"

    Kahuna Hala frowned, stroking his white beard. "Was it you, boy?"

    The boy halted in front of the kahuna, panting. "No! It's a boy, I mean, it's a girl named… for Lunala's sake!" He looked up at the kahuna with pleading eyes. "I'm sorry, sir, I forgot her name. But she looked young, and maybe around my age, or your age!" He gestured at Sunne.

    The kahuna grunted. "Young man, is that an Aether Foundation uniform you've got on?"

    "Aether Foundation?" Sunne repeated, peering closer at the teenage boy's uniform. The clothing looked more like lightweight armor to Sunne. The straps on the strange boy's uniform were adorned with gold-plated buttons, and he had several small pouches with a trident-like logo around his waist. For carrying PokéBalls? For carrying Potions? Sunne wondered if it was annoying to have so many pocket in his clothes instead of a real Trainer's bag.

    "Yes, kahuna, I'm an Aether Foundation Employee with a permit to investigate the Mahalo Trail Tapu sighting! But this girl!" The boy clicked his PokéBall, letting a limp canine Pokémon out. It was sprawled out in the mud, unable to stand up or move. "Rocky, my Rockruff kept barking at me until we battled her. So then we battled, but a strike of lightning tore the battle apart, and Rocky was majorly wounded..." The boy finished rambling, taking a breath for air.

    "Wait!" Hala commanded, before allowing him to speak another sentence. "That… that person, over there! Was it her?"

    A petite, boyish looking teenager trudged out of the forest leading to Mahalo Trail, pulling her backpack closer to her. Sunne's jaw dropped. It was—

    "Piper caused this storm?!" Sunne exclaimed in disbelief. He pulled his hat over his eyes and sprinted through the mud, squelching on the path until he reached her. "Piper! Pipes!"

    "Don't call me Pipes," Piper growled, kicking a puddle of mud which consequently splattered all over her black combat boots.

    "Pipe cleaner! Um, you gotta see the kahuna. We've been worried. A lot. You may have angered the Tapu and caused this storm," Sunne rambled, pulling her towards the center of town. "C'mon, Pipes!"

    Piper reluctantly walked with Sunne towards the kahuna, mildly seething, when she recognized something. Someone.

    "It's you!" the pretentious teenage boy sputtered. "You did this!"

    Piper refrained from replying, and instead resorted to staring at the dampened ground below her feet.

    "Hala, this is Piper, and Piper, this is Hala, and guy— I don't know his name, but—"

    "It's Julian," Piper said, interrupting Sunne. "We've met. Briefly."

    The Aether Foundation Employee, narrowed his eyes as he returned his Rockruff back into the PokéBall. "Rocky had a notion about you, and I guess he was right."

    "What do you mean?"

    "Well, I'm not sure, but he definitely didn't like Piper—"

    "That's called prejudice, you idiot," Piper snarled, looking back up from the mud. "Take an English class or something."

    "Oh, 'cause you're dressed like a genuine scholar, aren't you?" Julian sneered. "You look homeless!"

    "It's not my fault I'm not some rich idiot or something!" Piper growled, curling her fingers into fists.

    "BOTH OF YOU, STOP!" Hala stomped his foot into the marshy ground, sending flecks of mud splattering on to all of the young children. "I will not tolerate your hormonal bickering! If you could both be sensible and just listen for a moment, then neither of you will have to worry about your future concerning Tapu Koko." Fuming, the kahuna glared at both of them, ensuring their silence before beginning to speak.

    "As an offering to Tapu Koko, my grandson Hau will be battling Sunne tomorrow at noon. It will be a small festival honoring the Tapu, and I highly suggest both of you come if you want to show your respect."

    Julian nodded quietly, to Sunne's surprise. He had thought Julian would be much more outspoken against the kahuna. The Kahuna seemed pleased, because he continued to speak:

    "Julian, it is most likely too late to collect research on the Tapu, but you may go back to Mahalo Trail if you please. I can supply the Aether Foundation with my knowledge on Tapu Koko and the history of Tapu sightings as well. Piper, Sunne, I want you to come to my house. The professor, no doubt, awaits our return."

    Sunne followed the kahuna, but turned his head to watch the mysterious boy, Julian, head back towards Mahalo Trail. He had heard about the Aether Foundation a couple times at school before he moved to Alola, but he had never seen a member of the Aether Foundation up close. If joining the Aether Foundatino meant studying rare Pokémon and owning powerful beasts, then Sunne wanted to join. He would ask the professor more about the foundation when they reached the house.

    "Are you okay?" Sunne asked Piper, who, to his left, was shivering under the cold rain.

    "No," she muttered. "I'm hungry. And I need to see that dumb Tapu again."

    "Are you kidding, Piper? The Tapu got upset because you called it Loco! Imagine calling it stupid. Do you want it to destroy Melemele Island?"

    "Oh, for Arceus's sake," Piper said exasperatedly, "I said dumb for emphasis. It didn't mean a thing."

    Sunne raised an eyebrow. "Why do you want to see the Tapu if it hates you?"

    Piper wiped the rain from her forehead, casting a slick sheet of water onto the ground. "That's exactly why I want to see the Tapu again."

    "To make amends?"

    "Of sorts."

    The trio had reached Hala's house by now, and it was almost as if someone had taken three of the huts in the village and smashed them together into one big hut. The inside, however, was furnished beautifully, with palm leaves and tropical flowers. To the left of the entrance room was a modern kitchen, where Lillie and Professor Kukui were sitting at a wooden dinner table.

    "Piper!" Lillie exclaimed, her eyes wide with worry. "You were the one who caused the storm?"

    Before anyone could speak, or Piper could dare to argue, the kahuna intervened. "Perhaps," Hala said, hastily, "according to a boy's observations regarding his Rockruff. But nevertheless, it doesn't matter who did it, as long as we have the festival tomorrow."

    "Please, have a seat," the Kahuna added, after he saw the fire in Piper's eyes had died down.

    Sunne deliberately sat next to Lillie, and Piper pulled out a chair next to the professor. That left Hala, who moved to the head of the table, which had an extra-large chair designed to display his superiority as kahuna.

    "So, Sunne is going home to his mom on the outskirts of Hau'oli City, is that right?" Professor Kukui asked, rolling up his sleeves. Sunne nodded, glancing at Lillie. "But Lillie and I are going back to the laboratory because I need her to help me wire up some equipment. And I'm going to have to put all the Pokémon at the lab into PokéBalls by the end of the day. Don't wanna have the lab destroyed while we're at the festival!" The professor flashed a toothy smile, putting an arm around Piper's chair.

    "Say, Piper, where are you gonna go? You should probably come to the festival tomorrow… just in case, yeah?"

    Piper nodded, putting her hands in the pockets of her jeans. "Um… yeah, I'll go to the festival. I have a room in Hau'oli City Pokémon Center, I guess. I can stay there. They've got Roserade Tea on sale this week."

    "Don't Pokémon Center rooms cost a lot of money?" Sunne asked.

    "Well, yeah," Piper stammered, blushing. "But I'm sure I can earn the money back."

    "Don't be ridiculous!" Kukui grinned. "Just stay at the Pokémon Lab with Lillie, and cancel your room! Right, Lillie?"

    Lillie seemed startled, but nodded anyway. "I should just clean my room first, and Nebby can sleep on my sofa so that there's more space."

    "We can figure out the room arrangements later," Professor Kukui suggested. "Hala, what time do you want us to be here for the festival?"

    "Eleven is fine," the kahuna grunted. "In the morning, mind you. It's not going to be a big festival, so preparation will be less detailed."

    "Then I guess I'd better get going?" Sunne said, reluctantly. The idea that Piper was getting to spend more time with Lillie than he was made him slightly upset, but Piper seemed antisocial anyway.

    "Sure, cousin!" Professor Kukui smiled. "We'd better start walking too, before the storm gets worse. And your house is on the way to my lab, so we can drop you off."

    Sunne smiled. "Thanks, professor. And thank you, Hala." The four rose from the table, prepared to walk home in the heavy rain.

    Hala smiled through his thick moustache. "No problem, kid. And you, Piper!" Piper turned around to face the old kahuna, who looked at her seriously. "Don't go causing trouble that you can't fix, or next time, you'll answer to me—Island Kahuna Hala!"

    Piper nodded awkwardly, before turning back to face Sunne.

    "That was a joke," Sunne whispered loudly, smiling at her obliviousness.

    "Oh," Piper said, blushing. "Uh, thanks, Hala!"

    Professor Kukui laughed, putting his arms around the four kids like they were one big family. "Ready to go, future Champions?"

    "Yeah!" Sunne said, pumping his fist in the air. "I can't believe I'm gonna be in a festival!"

    "And I can't believe Piper's the reason we're having a festival," Lillie reasoned coolly.

    "Relax, pipe cleaner," Sunne said immediately, grinning at Piper. "Technically, if we're having a festival because of you, we're celebrating you!"

    Piper rolled her eyes, taking her hands out of her pockets as they walked out the door. Kahuna Hala smiled on, watching them stroll out of his house like a close-knit family. It brought back a sense of dejavú, as if he had pulled a memory out of the past and managed to recreate it in modern day.

    Now, where had he seen that before?
    #5 Jun 11, 2017
    Last edited: Jul 13, 2017
  6. Wings

    Level 100
    Jun 11, 2017
    What Family Means

    "Hey, Kukui! Wait for me!"

    A small, grey haired boy laughed as he chased after his friend, who pulled him into a warm hug as soon as he caught up.

    "Isn't this cool? I can't wait to start learning." The taller of the two, a darker, lean little boy pointed to the building up ahead of them. Though it wasn't as large as the city academies, the Hau'oli Trainer's School was moderately large in size and had vast expanses of open space meant for battling. "You can start learning too in a couple of years!"

    The grey haired boy giggled, pulling a flat, aquamarine Pokémon out of his hair. "Hear that, Wimpy? In three years we can visit Kukui! And then we can do the island challenge!"

    The two young boys smiled into the sun, absorbing the sights and smells of the city around them. One was five, and the other turning seven in only a couple of weeks. But age made no difference to the duo—they were inseparable, despite the various differences between them. And yet they were united, through only a few things: Pokémon, and a longing for friendship. The taller, darker boy put an arm around his friend, who might as well have been his brother. The smaller one giggled, hugging his Wimpod.

    All was well.


    "So, professor, what do you know about the Aether Foundation?"

    Piper rolled her eyes, folding her arms over her chest. "Sunne, you've asked, like, a million questions. Leave Professor Kukui alone." Still, Piper had to stifle a broad smile that threatened to break her somber glare. She had almost forgotten to locate the Professor in Iki Town, but for once, good luck was on her side and she had managed to get invited into his house. Thievery would never be so easy.

    Sunne flipped his dark hair back. "You can't tell me what to do! You're not older than me!"

    "I bet you one million bucks that I am."

    "Fine! I'm eleven. How old are you? Ten?"

    "I'm fourteen, you numskull!"

    "Wow, you're really dumb and short for a fourteen-year old!"

    "Shut up! Now you owe me a million Pokédollars!"

    Professor Kukui chuckled, attempting to separate the two. "I think we're at your house, Sunne. And what a relief—I don't need you two beating each other up a day before the festival!"

    Sunne walked up to his front porch, before waving goodbye to the remaining trio. "Bye, Lillie! Make sure you're cheering for me in the festival battle, okay?"

    "S—sure," Lillie replied, her cheeks tinted with a rosy hue. "I guess so…"

    "What about you, pipe cleaner? Are you cheering me on?"

    "Because you called me pipe cleaner, the answer is a definite no," Piper replied, pouting.

    Kukui laughed, waving back to Sunne. "Don't worry, I'll cheer you on in her place! Get some rest for tomorrow. And make sure Rowlet is ready to battle!" Sunne flashed them a cheesy thumbs—up and a grin, then rushed inside his house, probably to prepare for the next day.

    "He's quite energetic, isn't he?" Lillie murmured, clutching her strap bag tighter. "I think Nebby can feel his contagious energy."

    "It's impossible not to," Professor Kukui replied cheerfully. "Hey, Piper! What brings you to the Alola region?"

    Piper tilted her head. "What do you mean?"

    "Well, I don't mean to be rude, but you don't seem like most native Alolans. Lillie told me you didn't know who Tapu Koko was," Kukui explained. Lillie shrunk back, embarrassed. "At first, I wondered if you were from a different island, but then I realized that everyone learns the four Tapus in school. So then I wondered if you were from somewhere else."

    "Oh," Piper said. "Well, I am foreign. But my mom used to live here. I was born in Johto, like my dad. They're both sea merchants, and um… I guess we're going to be settled down here for a while."

    "That's cool, yeah!" Professor Kukui exclaimed, his eyes twinkling. "Tell us more as we walk!"

    Piper shrugged as they began to walk downhill, towards the laboratory. "Um…I have a little sister who was gonna start her Pokémon journey, but she doesn't really have the time now..."

    "Did you ever go on a Pokémon journey?" Lillie asked eagerly, her jade eyes wide and earnest.

    "Nah." Piper shrugged. "I always lived at sea. But my little sister is almost ten, and my parents wanted her to have a normal life. Y'know, a life on land. But right now we're kinda being held up in Alola for some time."

    The professor nodded understandingly. "Well, if your sister ever wanted to take on the island challenge, she could visit the nearest island kahuna and ask for a Pokémon! That's what Sunne did. And Hau, of course, is the kahuna's grandson, so he got a Pokémon the minute he turned ten."

    "Wait, the kahuna is the one who gives out Pokémon?"

    "Sure thing, Piper. It's a little different where you come from, yeah."

    "No kidding...in Johto, all the kids get a starter from Professor Elm."

    "Well, Sunne did get his Pokémon from me," Kukui admitted. "I wanted to hype him up before he came to Alola, yeah, so I sent him his Rowlet through a transport machine from my office. He's had the little guy for about a week now."

    "Sunne isn't Alolan?"

    "You couldn't tell?" Lillie asked Piper, curiously. "I thought you heard his Kanto accent. You're very fluent for a foreigner, so I thought you would know the difference."

    Piper shook her head. "My mom taught me from a young age, but I never really had to use my Alolan until now."

    "Well, you've got an accent, but here in Alola, everyone is family!" Professor Kukui remarked joyously. He flashed a toothy smile as they approached the laboratory. "Well, here it is! Home, sweet home!"

    The laboratory was nothing like Piper had expected. The outside looked exactly like a house, and the inside looked exactly like…well, a normal home. The walls were decorated with a blue, patterned wall paper and to their left was a kitchen, full of roaming Pokémon. Straight ahead was a magenta ladder leading up to a loft, and in the living room a couple of Machop were watching an exercise video. Piper frowned. At least the lab would be easy to navigate.

    "Whaddya think, Piper? Isn't it the perfect fusion between home and work?" Professor Kukui said, pushing up his tinted shades. "The ground floor is home, and downstairs in the basement is where all the official lab stuff goes on. I try to keep things separated that way so that my wife doesn't have to come home to a chaotic mess!"

    "Makes sense," Piper remarked. "Wait—your wife doesn't work with you?"

    Lillie shook her head, answering for the professor. "Professor Burnet works in Heahea City. She took care of me for a while before I ended up living here. The loft with the pink ladder is where I sleep. It's a little messy, so I apologize. But I'll be able to clean it up before you have to go to bed."

    "I'll help," Piper offered. "But if you don't mind, could I just make a call quickly? It's urgent."

    Professor Kukui nodded. "Do you need a PC? We have some downstairs in the basement. I'm sure Lillie could show you."

    Lillie nodded shyly, walking towards a flight of stairs. "It's just this way." Piper followed her, admiring the modern equipment around them as they descended into the basement. This is what she expected in a lab.

    Nearly everywhere, there was a Pokémon attached to some form of equipment, measuring the impact of their moves and the effectiveness of the moves. The highlight of the basement was a large, sturdy aquarium housing two Luvdisc in the middle of an intense, aquatic battle. Gathered around the tank were a couple scientists, keenly scribbling into their notepads as attacks collided and sent the tank shuddering under pressure.

    "Here," Lillie said, ignoring the researchers. She opened the door to a tiny, cozy-looking study. "There's a PC here for making calls. The walls are soundproof because the professor doesn't like it when the other assistants are listening to him—he thinks they'll steal his ideas."

    Piper thanked Lillie, then closed the door behind her and powered up the PC. She hoped the walls were genuinely soundproof, because now it was time to do some real work. She waited for a couple minutes before powering up the PC, just in case Lillie was still standing outside the door. But Piper doubted anyone would be able to hear her make a call, especially not with the battle going on in the basement.

    Dialing quickly, Piper inhaled in anticipation, listening the PC ring until someone answered.

    "Who is it?" a voice grunted. "How did you get this number?" The face camera was turned off, and all Piper could see was a black screen.

    "Skull Grunt Piper," Piper responded immediately. "Ula'ula Squad Leader Mabel gave me this number in case I needed help with my missions."

    The black screen flickered until it settled as a stable image, displaying the pale face Piper recognized from the Skull Mansion. "Mabel!"

    "Shut up, punk. What do you need help with?" Mabel was sitting in a dark room, probably in the Skull Mansion, with black tank tops strewn across the floor. Most of them were ripped and destroyed, unwearable and filthy. Mabel's pink, shoulder length hair was probably the cleanest thing in the room, although that wasn't saying much.

    "I'm in Kukui's laboratory, and I'm not sure where to start my mission," Piper whispered, in case Lillie had been wrong about the soundproof walls.

    "For the love of Mew, why are you in his lab in the middle of the day? Did no one ever teach you how to steal?" Mabel scoffed, rolling her eyes.

    "He invited me inside, because it was raining. There's some stuff going on at Melemele…Tapu-related stuff. But that's not the point. Where do you think they hide the RotomDexes?" Piper inquired, crossing her legs. Cold water rolled off her dark denim shorts, and suddenly Piper realized how cold and wet and muddy she was.

    Mabel whistled. "You got invited to steal? Maybe you can just ask him where he keeps the RotomDexes…nah, just kidding. I get the feeling Guzma knows his stuff about Kukui—but I'm not tryna get eaten alive, you know?" Mabel played with the black cloth hanging around her neck, designed to serve as a weak barrier for poisonous gases emitted by Pokémon. The bandanas had mostly been designed for show however, and were made from low-grade materials that barely stood a chance against poison attacks. Piper wondered if the cheap cloth would ever be incorporated into her own wardrobe—she hoped not.

    "Hey, I know!" Mabel started suddenly, a glimmer of excitement dancing in her dark eyes. "Look, kid. RotomDexes are fairly new, and if the professor's got any, I bet he's storing them in the attic before he starts assembling them. He probably only has a couple complete ones, 'cause, you know, you gotta have a Rotom to make the RotomDex. It's hard to find a Rotom. The extra Dexes are probably in the attic."

    "I'm not sure if there's an attic," Piper said hesitantly. "Although…there is a loft."

    "Then search the loft, for Arceus's sake! When you find the RotomDex, just go to the pier in Hau'oli City. There's a Melemele Squad Leader there, pretty weak, but he'll get the RotomDex back to Po Town. You hear me?"

    Piper nodded. "I'll get going then. Thanks, Mabel."

    "No problem, sis."

    "What did you just call me?"

    "Sis. It's a Team Skull thing. It's also kind of an Alola thing, though. We're all sisters and brothers, you know? We're not a super organized team, but we stick together 'cause we're family. Good luck on your first mission, kid. And don't mess this up, holy Mew. Then Guzma's gonna be really mad." Mabel hung up, and Piper was left staring at a blank screen.


    Did Piper's parents know what kind of a "family" she was partaking in? Arceus, no. But Piper was doing it because of them. Because she loved her parents, her sister, and her Pokémon. Or that's what she told herself as she strode out of the study, flipping her cropped hair to one side.

    Her parents, her sister, her Pokémon…her Aquarius. She would do the wrong things for the right reasons, and she was going to do her job well.

    Her family was depending on it, after all.

    Both of them.

    Okay. I have about fourteen chapters, but I think the first five need the most work since they're the base/foundation for the rest of the story. Please let me know what you think and how I can better my writing!
    #6 Jun 11, 2017
    Last edited: Jul 13, 2017
  7. Wings

    Level 100
    Jun 11, 2017
    Chapter 6 of When the Sun Sets. I decided not to wait to post the next couple chapters because I'm impatient :sweat:

    Sands of Time

    "You really don't have to do this, you know," Piper said stiffly, holding out the neat stack of clothes Lillie had placed in her arms. It had barely been a couple hours after Piper's PC call when Lillie decided Piper's clothes were completely ruined and unfit for travelling, and rushed up to the loft to search for some new garments.

    "I insist," Lillie replied quietly. "I don't mean to be rude, but you tracked mud into the lab, Piper. And your clothes are pretty worn down, don't you think?"

    Piper sighed, glancing down at her jeans, which were ripped and torn from traversing to Melemele, not from a machine in a clothes factory. As much as she hated to admit it, Piper was in desperate need of some new clothes. But she hadn't expected her new clothes to be so—

    "They're so colorful," Piper murmured, immediately feeling a wave of guilt that flattened any previous reluctance she had about the clothes. "I'm sorry," Piper said urgently. "I just meant…" She tried not to stare into Lillie's wide green eyes, brimming with embarrassment at Piper's response.

    "I should've known," Lillie mumbled back, anxiously fumbling with her hands. "I'm sorry. I'm not very good at choosing pretty clothes." The younger girl bit her lip as tears threatened to form in her bright eyes.

    "No!" Piper insisted, holding the clothes tighter. "This is perfect, really. I just expected them to be darker. I've never worn colorful clothes before." Her words seemed to leave no effect on the younger girl, except perhaps provoking more tears.

    Piper set the clothes down on Lillie's sofa-bed, and promptly realized she had no idea what she was doing. Piper wasn't very good with comforting people in general, much less people who were on the verge of bursting into tears. What did her parents do when she was upset?

    "Piper, stop crying!" Piper was only nine then, sitting on the edge of the Perseus, holding her tear-streaked face in her palms. Her darker-skinned mother sat down beside her, swinging her legs over the edge of the boat. "Crying will get you nowhere, my dear. Why are you crying?"

    The tears on Piper's cheeks glistened as the morning sun hit her skin, casting light onto their small fishing boat. "I don't want to leave home," Piper sniffled, wrapping her arms around her legs until she had curled up like a Squirtle inside its shell. "I wanna go on a Pokémon journey like the rest of my friends!"

    Nanea sighed, putting her arm around Piper's shoulder. "But dear...you're going on a journey already! You've seen more than they have...you've watched swarms of Gyarados swirl the ocean!"

    "Gyarados are gross and scary," Piper interrupted, rocking back and forth. "I want to go on a Pokémon journey on the land. Everybody else is going to go collect badges and battle real trainers and eat Apricorn pie and find legendary Pokémon! No one travels the ocean like we do."

    "That's what makes us special," Nanea said, gazing out to the crystalline waves. "No one here does what we do! Nobody else has already been to almost all the regions!"

    "I don't care," Piper said. "I just wanna stay home and take Aquarius on a Pokémon journey with all my friends."

    Nanea nodded, reaching for her purse. "This is something special, Piper. I think you'll like it. Call Aquarius out."

    Piper reached into her pocket, summoning her Staryu from its PokéBall. "What does Aquarius have anything to do with it?"

    Nanea pulled a small, drawstring bag from her purse. The tan leather of the pouch and the coarse, beaded thread holding it together told Piper whoever had made the pouch had made it from hand.

    "When Daddy caught your first Pokémon, he noticed that Aquarius was holding something. In some regions, it's called soft sand and it boosts the power of Ground-type moves. Sometimes Staryu carry this item, but no one know why. They aren't Ground-types, that's for certain.

    "When Daddy collected the sand pouch, he didn't think it was a good idea to give it to you. You didn't need it anyway, and we were almost certain that you would lose it. But I think you're old enough now to take care of it. Right, Aquarius?"

    Aquarius jumped, flashing patterns on its red center orb. Nanea took it to mean yes, and she placed the soft sand pouch into Piper's palms.

    "This doesn't change the fact that we're leaving home for the bajillionth time, you know," Piper pouted.

    "I know," Nanea reasoned. "But ever since Dad collected that soft sand, I thought it would be fun to collect sand in pouches from every beach and city we visit. Here." Nanea took another pouch from her purse, this time, a red leather pouch tied together with blue string. "Cherrygrove City sand. I thought it would be nice to have something from your hometown while we're away."

    Piper gingerly clasped the red pouch in her hands. "But when are we coming back? I don't want to stay on the ocean forever. Even if I'm not going on a Pokémon journey, I still need school supplies, right?" Aquarius jumped, emitting a variety of monotonous beeping noises in agreement.

    Nanea glanced down at the wooden planks of the boat deck. "Well. Your father and I will decide that. Go along, now. Keep your sister company. We should be departing any time now."

    Piper ran off to her quarters below deck, crashing into her room. "C'mon, Aquarius! Hey, April! We're gonna leave now!"


    "Yeah, really..."

    "Maybe next year you can go on a Pokémon journey. What if I'm the first daughter to go on my own Pokémon journey?"

    "Shut up, April, you're only five. I got plenty of time."

    "If you say so."

    Oh, Piper remembered: her parents typically just avoided problems until Piper had calmed down and in the meanwhile, distracted her with something sentimental. Somehow Piper had a feeling that it wouldn't work on Lillie.

    "The clothes are wonderful, Lillie," Piper said sincerely, "and I'm sure they look great on you. I just wasn't sure I could pull them off."

    Lillie stared back in absolute shock, letting the remaining tears in her eyes spill down her face. For a moment, she didn't speak, and Piper began to wonder if she should have just gone the parent route and distracted Lillie with something random in the room. But suddenly Lillie smiled half-heartedly through her tears, collapsing into a sitting position on the rug below them.

    Lillie's room in the loft was surprisingly cozy, quite the opposite of what Piper had expected. The bedroom was organized well-enough that it appeared more spacious than it really was, and the sofa-bed on the side of the room was plush and soft, draped with a thick duvet. Bookshelves lined the edges of the room like a picture frame around a picture, and the books inside them were marked with complex notation that Piper had never seen before. A couple of Pokémon dolls were laying astray on the floor, but Lillie didn't seem to mind as she smiled sadly at the carpet.

    "Do you know what's funny, Piper?" she said, wiping away a tear with the back of her hand. Lillie smiled, though her eyes were still melancholy. "When I first met you, I thought you were really scary. You scowled a lot. I thought you were going to hurt Nebby. Yet…" Lillie laughed softly, unzipping her trainer's bag, where her odd Pokémon was soundly sleeping. "You're actually really nice. That's something I didn't expect from you."

    Piper cracked a half-smile, sitting across from Lillie. "I'm glad you think so."

    "You know what else I didn't expect?"


    "That you would be so…tritely goth, I guess."

    "I'm not goth!" Piper said, feeling the heat rise in her cheeks. "I told you, I only wear black for convenience!"

    The young blonde smiled and rubbed her green eyes dry and she picked up the clothes from the sofa-bed. "I bought these clothes in Heahea City. It was my first outfit I ever chose for myself. But I'm not sure the clothes suit me."

    Piper tilted her head. "Suit you? I think they'd look fine." The garments in front of them weren't even too bright, now that Piper noticed. There was a wine-red t-shirt and a pair of soft black denim shorts, accompanied by a pair of red and black sneakers. Although the clothes certainly didn't go along with Lillie's white and lavender aesthetic, that didn't mean she would look bad in the outfit.

    "I don't know what persuaded me to buy this," Lillie murmured, folding a corner of the wine red shirt. "The clothes reminded me of someone else. Or maybe I just wanted to dress myself for once."

    Piper peered closely at Lillie's face, but her expression had gone blank, as if she was thinking about something much further off.

    "Anyway," Lillie continued abruptly, "You can try these on if you want. And if you don't like it… I'm sorry, it's just your other clothes were making a mess around the lab." Lillie blushed as if she had just said something ridiculously offensive and wished she could immediately take it back. Piper was intrigued and puzzled at this gesture, since Lillie had done practically nothing to offend anyone. Shrugging, she quickly slipped into the shirt and shorts, making sure not to let her old clothes ruin the clean sheets of the sofa-bed.

    "It fits well," Piper said immediately, after poking her head out of the t-shirt. "What age are you?"

    "Thirteen," Lillie replied softly, clasping her hands in front of her sundress. "You're fourteen, right?"

    "Yeah," Piper replied. "I'm a little older, but it still fits well, don't you think?"

    "It does," Lillie said, tentatively. "But… what's that?"

    Piper glanced down at her arm, where Lillie was pointing. Her cut from earlier that day had calmed down and stopped bleeding, but her upper arm arm was smattered with dried blood and smelled like…well, blood.

    "It's just a little cut," Piper assured her, "I can wash it off. It should be fine."

    "I don't know, Piper…" Lillie replied, biting her lip. "Those kind of cuts can get infected, quickly. Small Pokémon can die from those kinds of cuts in minutes, if they're exposed to the right hazardous substances in the environment. Cuts like those combined with Pokémon poison can be fatal and kill a Pidgey specimen within ten minutes and forty-five seconds."

    Piper stared back at Lillie. Arceus, was that what Lillie had stored in the multitudes of novels in her bookcases? Had Lillie memorized that absurd fact as a party trick? Piper had a feeling Lillie didn't go to a lot of parties.

    "I guess we'd better start preparing for the festival, then," Lillie mumbled, staring at the ground. Her blonde bangs hung over her face, shielding her gaze.

    "Of course!" Piper said, desperate for a change of subject. "I almost forgot why we came to the lab. I'll be downstairs in a minute."

    "Are you sure?" Lillie asked, starting towards the magenta ladder that led down to the ground floor. "If you need anything, just call my name." The younger girl began to descend, until her feet hit the tiles of the laboratory and began to walk away.

    Piper's eyes immediately went to the rustic bookshelves lining the loft, chock full of textbooks and mythology. Walking quietly, she passed a line of bookshelves until she came across a cardboard box between the wall and Lillie's sofa-bed, sealed shut with packing tape.

    Quickly and carefully, Piper cut a slit in the tape with a small knife she had received as a part of her "Team Skull Starter Kit": the knife, a Sharpedo ride back from Po Town, and a series of (hopefully sarcastic) death threats from Mabel, batteries not included. She pried the box open, and sighed in relief to see rows and stacks of shiny RotomDexes ready to greet her.

    Piper grabbed one and tossed it into her backpack, then pulled a roll of brown duck-tape out of her backpack. It was something she had always carried with her when she went sailing, just in case a temporary repair needed to be made. Stretching the tape over the cardboard box, then smoothing it down, Piper expertly sealed the box. The tape wasn't too noticeable, and Piper would be gone in a couple days, so what did it matter?

    Now, what did matter was that Piper would get a raise, and then she could send the money back to her family in Malie City. The young thief figured she would just head back to Hau'oli City and give the RotomDex to the Melemele Skull Leader Mabel had been talking about. She could mail the money at the Pokémon Center, and take the next ferry to Ula'ula. Perhaps Piper could make a pit stop at Malie City, and buy her younger sister a new pair of clothes.

    Clothes, dear Arceus.

    Piper looked down at her new outfit, clean and comfortable. It was still Lillie's, who had been kind enough to lend Piper her own clothes so Piper wouldn't have to embarrass herself in her all-black, mud-stained get-up. And how was Piper returning the favor?

    By stealing a piece of advanced technology from her room.

    Technically, Piper was stealing from Professor Kukui, but it was obvious that her thievery would eventually impact Lillie as well. What if Lillie got in trouble for the missing RotomDex? What if Lillie got fired?

    Professor Kukui wouldn't do that, Piper thought, and I only took one when there were dozens inside the box. So it can't affect the lab too badly. Shaking her head, Piper zipped her backpack shut and began to descend the magenta ladder adjoining the lab and the loft.

    "Hey, Piper!" Piper turned her head as she jumped off the last rung, to see Professor Kukui calling out to her. "Your Cottonee is doing fine! Ooh, nice outfit!"

    Piper had to abstain from rolling her eyes as she greeted the professor. For some reason, the Pokémon expert seemed to enjoy relaxing in the kitchen more than he did in the living room, but Piper assumed this was because Kukui was constantly snacking on some kind of berry. It made her wonder how he could eat so much and be so fit at the same time-he probably burned off the calories through training with his Pokémon.

    "Did you get any good data on Whimsy?" Piper asked, sitting down at the kitchen island. She had turned the Cottonee in for inspection right after she had made the PC call. Despite the fact that Whimsy was a real trooper, Piper doubted she would recover alone after being struck down by the Tapu.

    "We did," Kukui confirmed, taking a couple Pecha berries out of the glass bowl on the kitchen island. "You see, Whimsy will be healthy in no time-I estimate just a couple hours, with mild treatment-but we did examine her leaf, and my scientists managed to track traces of the Tapu on her scar." The professor smiled, tossing one of the blush pink berries into his mouth. "So in a couple hours, your little partner will be all set!"

    "Is that the only way?" Piper asked, leaning onto her elbows.

    "What do you mean?" Kukui replied through a mouthful of Pecha berries.

    "To trace Tapu Koko," Piper said, pushing a piece of dark hair out of her eyes. "Do you have another system to identify where the Tapu has been?"

    At this, the professor laughed. "Piper, Tapu Koko hasn't showed its face in years! We don't keep track, unless you mean through stories passed down through generations. That's why this festival is so special!"

    Piper stared off into the glass bowl of fruit, contemplating her options. She could pursue investigating the damned storm that had sent her life into turmoil, or she could continue completing her Skull missions which ultimately supported her family more. Piper shook her head, jumping down from her chair. Missions came first, but Piper felt a tug in her chest, ultimately conflicted.

    "Lunala's sake, Piper! What is that on your arm?" Kukui peered closer at Piper's upper arm. "Arceus, I can't believe I didn't see that before. There's a beach not too far off from here, and I heard salt water can help with cuts."

    Piper raised an eyebrow. "But what about preparing for the festival tomorrow?"

    "Pfft, don't worry about that!" Professor Kukui chuckled. "My assistants have everything covered!"

    Don't your assistants always have everything covered? Piper thought, wondering how often the professor actually worked. "I'm sure I can find the beach by myself. Sailor's equivalent of a sixth sense, you know?"

    Kukui nodded, popping an Oran berry into his mouth. "Don't go into any tall grass! Whimsy's still in the medical lab."

    Piper nodded, making her way towards the door. She hadn't planned on battling any new Pokémon. But a part of her hoped that if she could get closer to the ocean, she would feel closer to Aquarius. If Aquarius was still alive, anyway.

    She pushed open the door, feeling the salty breeze lightly kiss her face before leaving, rushing on. If Piper was going to find anything about the Tapu, it would be for her Pokémon's sake, not hers. She let her new sneakers sink into the soft, clean sand, leaving lightly dented footprints on the beach. It made her wonder the last time she had ever seen sand this light and silky, the kind of sand that could slip through your fingers and you wouldn't feel a thing.

    Piper closed her eyes, and tried to remember.
    #7 Jun 12, 2017
    Last edited: Jul 13, 2017
  8. Wings

    Level 100
    Jun 11, 2017
    Chapter 7 of When the Sun Sets.

    Psychic Encounters

    Julian missed Undella Town.

    More specifically, he missed his villa in Undella Town. It was spacious and absolutely grand, yet the decor was minimalist enough that the villa appeared classy, not boisterous and tacky, unlike so many other mansions. He missed how the salty breeze would ruffle his chiffon curtains that let warm sunlight pour into the window. He missed being able to battle the other children on the beach, defeating them one by one until there was no one left to battle, and celebrating his victory with a swim in the clear blue waters of the shoreside. His longing was only intensified by the fact that his mother, instead of letting him stay in Undella Town this summer, had sent him away to Alola to do some charity work.

    Julian scowled at the thought of having to engage in community service. His mother, very persistently, pointed out handing out 1,000 Pokédollar bills to poorly dressed students was not "charity work", and didn't count as a good deed.

    "You need to be involved in the community," she had said, standing in front of her mirror as she fixed her pearl earrings, "instead of being holed up in one of our houses. You don't want to lose connection with the regular world, do you?"

    "Mo-ther! I'm perfectly in touch with the real world!" Julian had retaliated, rolling his eyes. "Steven Stone is releasing a fashion line of limited edition suits decorated with evolutionary stones! The cheapest one is only 50,000 Poké—"

    "Enough!" His mother had turned around, placing her hands on her son's shoulders. "If you want to live a luxurious and frivolous life, I'll put in a request to the Aether Foundation. I have a friend who ranks highly there, and she tells me they're the perfect mix of sophistication and goodwill."

    And so Mrs. Mahi'ai had gotten in contact with an old friend and managed to place a request for Julian's summer employment, much to his dismay. He didn't even have to go to an interview—it seemed his mother had managed to bribe the Foundation with a "generous donation." But that didn't mean Julian was high up the ranks. In fact, he was essentially rock-bottom: just a normal Aether Foundation Employee, sent on various trivial missions to "insure the safety of Pokémon."

    Yeah, right. The safety of Pokémon had landed him in Hau'oli City Pokémon Center, stranded with nowhere to go.

    Okay, so maybe that was an exaggeration. But the Pokémon Center room was nothing compared to the room in his villa—scratch that, the Pokémon Center room was nothing compared to one of the closets in the villa. If only closets could offer healing facilities, and free food.

    Scowling, Julian slammed the door to his room and sulked over to the Pokémon Center desk. At least his room was free—just another incentive of working for the Aether Foundation. Because the Aether Foundation did so much charity and government work, all the employees got small discounts and incentives as a result.

    "I turned my Rockruff in for treatment last night," Julian said to the Nurse Joy in front of him, not bothering with any formalities as he usually would. "Is he feeling okay? We need to move soon."

    "Move?" The Nurse replied, startled. "What do you mean, move?"

    Julian sighed, brushing a speck of dirt off his otherwise spotless uniform. "Rocky and I have to leave before lunch, so I need him in top condition." This was just another thing Julian hadn't missed about Alola. Why was it that all the Unovan nurses seemed to be so much more astute and precise?

    The Nurse's eyes widened. "Oh, sir! You can't leave until after the festival! The entire island is blocking outside transportation for one day. Everyone has to celebrate Tapu Koko, see?"

    Julian wanted to punch a hole in the reception desk. "Is my Rockruff ready or not?" The Nurse's incompetence was vexing him, and only made him want to leave Melemele Island even more. Arceus, Julian just wanted to go back to a responsible staff and a comfortable home.

    "He sure is," the Nurse gushed. "He's got a small scar on him, but other than that, he's in perfect condition!" A rotund pink Pokémon waddled out from the back room, pushing a tray with a single PokéBall resting in the center. "Blissey had him all healed up," the Nurse said, passing the PokéBall back to Julian. "Thank you, and we hope to see you again!"

    Julian rolled his eyes and shoved his PokéBall into his uniform, smashing a couple of berries in his pocket by accident. He was just about ready to swim his way to Akala Island. First that ridiculously dressed girl with no class, and now lazy Nurses. It reminded Julian precisely of the reason why he had been glad to leave the Alola region in the first place. And then he was reminded of the reason why he had been forced to go back.

    The Aether Foundation was supporting a "noble cause," but Julian seemed doubtful of how effective the organization really was. The employees received hardly any training at all, and most workers just got by with the little background knowledge of Pokémon that they had. There was a small orientation video called "How to Approach Members of Team Skull," but it should've just been called "How to Harass Pokémon Abusers Until They Call The Police On You And Accidentally Get Themselves Arrested."

    Julian didn't want to disappoint his superiors, but there was almost no evidence Tapu Koko had shown up except for the loony trainers who claimed to have spotted it. That, and Julian's Rockruff, who had definitely been hit by an attack from the Tapu. Julian supposed he could just hold up his Rockruff, and they could examine the leftover scar. That was all the evidence they were getting.

    The only problem was actually getting the evidence back to his superiors on Akala Island. There was a small lab set up nearby Route 8, but boats weren't even leaving Melemele until tomorrow.

    It looked like the only thing he could do was wait.

    Julian half-heartedly tossed his PokéBall towards the door as he exited the Pokémon Center, letting Rocky out for some fresh air. His Pokémon had a small scar slashed into his calf, but Rocky seemed thrilled to be outdoors nonetheless.

    "Feeling better?" Julian was utterly relieved to have Rocky back. Sometimes, it felt like Rocky was the only person—well, only Pokémon—that he could be relaxed around.

    The two had met in Julian's hometown, Seafolk Village. It was humbling to admit he, the son of a self-made millionaire, was born in a small town on a desolate island, but that was where his family had got their start by making connections with the sailors nearby. His mother, Aria Mahi'ai had been good friends with a skilled Pokémon Trainer who had just bred his Lycanroc, and ended up with a litter of Rockruff. So nine-year old Julian picked out Rocky from the large litter, and they'd been together ever since. Of course, after six years they were undeniably stronger, but their friendship had remained intact and as close as ever. In that regard, nothing had changed.

    Nothing except Rocky's excessive barking, which was scaring the nearby Pikipek into a frenzy of fluttering wings as they flew far, far away from the Trainer-and-Pokémon duo.

    "Listen, boy, I'm gonna have to take you to a psychic," Julian said, kneeling down so that he was eye-level with his partner. "This aggressive barking thing is getting a little ridiculous, don't you think?"

    Rocky whined, flattening his ears. Although the two shared a strong bond, humans couldn't fully understand Pokémon without the help of some sixth sense, like aura or other psychic abilities. And as rich as Julian was, telepathy wasn't a skill that could be bought.

    Psychics usually charged a cheap 100 Pokédollars per visit, and Julian figured he could just saunter into the touristy area of Hau'oli to find a second-rate fortune teller. Rocky's unusual anxiousness was beginning to worry him, and he had a feeling it was about the obnoxious trainers back in Iki Town. It was utmost concern that Rocky was well-rested and fully healthy before they set off for Akala Island, otherwise they would make a bad impression on Reyna and the rest of the Aether Foundation Employees.

    Scooping Rocky into his arms, Julian strolled around the city streets for the while before he found a small corner store: Psychic Moira and her Kadabra. We also sell milk and groceries! Julian snorted and entered the convenience store, triggering a dingy wind chime melody.

    It was like any other small corner store: shelves lined with produce that was merely days away from expiring, a small cash register which had clearly seen many a customer, and cracks in the walls that were too expensive to be repaired. Behind the cash register sat a young woman with her hair knotted at her neck, absentmindedly drumming the counter. Her eyes were tinged with a hint of redness, and the bags underneath them were dark and sunken in. If Julian had to guess, he would say she was probably a college student, working a part time job.

    "Welcome to Moira's Grocery Store, how may I help you?" the young woman said, stifling a yawn.

    Julian strolled up to the counter and pulled out his PokéBall. "I heard that there was a psychic here, and my Rockruff has been acting rather… intriguing, lately. I'd like to hear what he has to say."

    The young woman nodded, clicking a PokéBall in her hand. "It'll cost you 150 Pokédollars. We're the cheapest psychics in town, me and Kadabra. Just wait a second, will you?" The woman fumbled with the capsule in her hand, until her psychic companion burst out in an array of bright lights. "Say hi, Kadabra." Her psychic Pokémon rolled its eyes and crossed its arms, letting out an indignant huff. Julian resisted the urge to roll his eyes back and settled for releasing Rocky's PokéBall.

    "Rrrruff!" Rocky pounced on the tile floor, sniffing Kadabra's feet and skipping around the tiles.

    "He's been acting rather odd lately. I was only wondering if you could tell what he's saying," Julian said, hoping the psychic would at least have a better sense of telepathy than she did in restocking her grocery store.

    Moira shrugged distractedly, putting her hands in the pockets of her store uniform apron. "Kadabra has to talk to him first, and then tell me. Just give me a second." The young woman stared directly at her Pokémon, silent and still, but the Kadabra reacted immediately. It glared at both of them, pressing its foot into the ground as a short and futile display of dominance.

    Then, the Kadabra sighed reluctantly and began to warble to Rocky, who listened intently. Rocky barked in return, and Kadabra closed its eyes, stroking its goatee. Julian watched Moira closed her eyes, and the trainer and her Pokémon began to glow faintly with a soft pink light, until it dimmed down and Moira opened her eyes again.

    "Your Rockruff has been extremely agitated," Moira started, "but not because of… the Tapu? I'm not sure if Kadabra heard that right. The Tapu only approaches worthy opponents, and I'm not sure your Rockruff is as strong as the Tapu…"

    "It's okay," Julian responded, in a pressing tone, "you can continue."

    "So anyway, your Rockruff said you guys had a run-in with a member of Team Skull and you battled her, and she's making Rocky upset. Actually, it's making him really upset."

    "A Skull grunt?" Julian echoed, pondering the possibility. "I guess that would have to be Piper. Skull grunts wear dark clothes and have a relatively lower intelligence than the rest of us. She seems to fit the bill…" From Julian's past years living on the island, all he really knew about Team Skull was that they were a bunch of high school drop-outs who didn't have the guts to finish the island challenge. Piper seemed like she was old enough to take on the island challenge a few years ago.

    Moira shook her head vigorously. "Oh—Rocky told me your name too. Team Skull is pretty dangerous, especially for people like you, Julian." She pointed to his clothing, sizing him up. "You're an Aether Foundation Employee. I'd be careful if I were you."

    "Careful? Why careful?"

    "Don't you know?" Moira asked incredulously.

    "No...?" Julian replied cluelessly. "What am I missing?"

    "Team Skull and the Aether Foundation have had the biggest rivalry ever since Team Skull rose up from the dust. Aren't you an Alola native, kid?"

    Julian nodded. "But I don't ever recall hearing about Team Skull fighting the Aether Foundation..."

    Moira shook her head. "Maybe you missed it. Just last year, a huge battle broke out between one of the top officials of the Aether Foundation and a girl from Team Skull. The lady from the Aether Foundation died from a Pokémon attack. It was horrible. That was all the news could talk about that week."

    Julian paused. "No. I never heard about that." For a while, it seemed as if he couldn't speak. Julian simply didn't know how he could respond to a statement like...that. When he did, he said, "I don't think Piper is a threat; she was an average battler and not very apt. Rocky will protect me. Right, boy?"

    Rocky growled protectively, nuzzling the feet of his trainer.

    Moira tilted her head. "If you say so. That'll be 150, less than a Potion. Of course, I can also predict your future. That's only an extra 50 Pokédollars."

    Julian thought he could detect a hint of condescendence laced into the psychic's voice. He had no doubt that she was at best, a mediocre fortune teller, and at worst, a college student in desperate need of extra money. Nevertheless, he handed over his spare change, admittedly a little curious about what she would have to say.

    Moira seemed shocked, but accepted the money graciously and closed her eyes again. "Kadabra, use Foresight and Psychic at the same time." The two began to glow again in that gentle pink light that engulfed them like a psychic cocoon, swirling in intricate patterns over them as if the mental energy was an oil spill of thoughts.

    When Moira opened her tired eyes after what felt like at least ten minutes, she seemed deeply troubled. Julian had prepared himself to take whatever she said with a grain of salt, since Moira did seem distracted and confused. Still, it worried him that she looked so uneasy.

    "I'm not sure how to say this," Moira started, recalling Kadabra back into the PokéBall, "but your future is very uncertain. Like an unstable bridge, for example."

    Like the bridge at the bottom of the ravine, relentlessly pummeled by the waterfall leading to Kala'e Bay? Julian wanted to say, but refrained.

    "Kind of," the psychic answered, to his bewilderment. "It is astonishing that the bridge to the Ruins of Hope was destroyed, but that does not necessarily mean you are going to die. I just meant you are going to experience a multitude of what seem like inconveniences in the next couple months."

    Julian bit his lip. "How did you know I was thinking about the bridge?"

    Moira smiled. "I'm much more skilled than you think I am, Julian. Anyway—take caution for the next few months. With the Skull grunt, and with your job, and with your Rockruff. I can't tell what's going to happen to you, but be prepared for the worst."

    "That's comforting."

    "Take a Fresh Water for good luck. It's free. No one has ever sat down to listen to me in a long, long time."

    Julian accepted the Fresh Water and strolled out of the corner store, thanking Moira before he left. With Rocky at his side, nothing could possibly go too wrong. Though he had told Moira that the presumed Skull Grunt Piper wouldn't be a threat, Julian had a lurking feeling left over from Moira's story about Team Skull. He had a feeling that Piper would be a persistent nuisance in his life, unless he somehow got rid of her.

    Got rid of her. All at once, the ideas began to click in Julian's mind as he paused in the middle of the crosswalk, ignoring the possible oncoming traffic around him.

    "That's it," Julian murmured, an eager grin creeping onto his face. "Rocky, I have a plan!" His companion tilted his head in curiosity, peeking up at Julian.

    "If Piper's a Skull grunt, then we can probably follow her to her boss. And if we find her boss, then we could turn in all of Team Skull and get promoted and never have to do any manual work for the rest of our lives!" Julian exclaimed, pulling his hair. "I'm so smart!"

    In an instant, a blaring noise pervaded the air and travelled through the winds of the city, slamming through Julian's head.

    "Move, idiot!" A man pressed down on his car horn, yelling out of the window of his smooth red convertible. "You're in the middle of the street!"

    Julian sighed, stumbling over to the other side of the road. It was going to be a long summer.

    Welcome to your local Eevee-ning News!

    The investigation for the storm of the year continues...scientists from the Aether Foundation are currently working on examining the details of this spontaneous storm, but a man named Colress has now joined them on the case. Colress was the former chief executive of the science department of Neo Team Plasma, an organization in Unova that was shut down two years ago.

    Additionally, a government aid program is finally being set up for the victims of the storm. Thanks to the recent anonymous donation, the Alolan government will finally be able to support survivors and their families in less than a month. There is no specified date as to when families can receive financial aid so far. We'll have more details next time on Eevee-ning News!
    #8 Jun 12, 2017
    Last edited: Jul 13, 2017
  9. Wings

    Level 100
    Jun 11, 2017
    Chapter 8 of When the Sun Sets.

    Battle at the Festival

    "I never thought the battlefield would be so big," Piper said, trying to raise her voice over the bumbling chatter of the crowd. Despite her and the professor's attempts to arrive at the kahuna's house early, it appeared that word had already gotten around about the festival. Iki Town was already hosting nearly twice their population, since people from all over Melemele couldn't resist a good battle. And Piper had to admit, even she was curious about the Alolan traditions.

    "Do you think Sunne's nervous?" Lillie asked, clutching the strap of her bag. Piper had volunteered to stand on Lillie's left side, in case Nebby somehow managed to escape from Lillie's bag. Even if it didn't, Piper had a feeling the mischievous little Pokémon would attempt to pop out every once in a while. And at a festival like this, Lillie definitely didn't need unwanted attention from overzealous PokéManiacs or inquiring scientists.

    "I don't think he's nervous," Professor Kukui said, folding his bronzed arms. "Excited, probably. Nervous? Maybe just a little." There were no seats around the battlefield, but the trio had managed to find a close enough spot to stand where they would be able to see Sunne and his opponent. "There he is! Sunne, my boy!"

    The awkward, yet-to-be a teenager stumbled up the steps of the platform, waving to the ever multiplying crowd surrounding him. When he spotted Lillie, he smiled warmly, and upon seeing Piper, stuck out his tongue and mouthed something that looked vaguely like pipe cleaner. Piper rolled her eyes and shifted on her feet, accidentally bumping Lillie's bag. Glowing eyes frowned back at her through a small pocket in the satchel, to which Piper merely shrugged, unsure of how to comfort a cloud.

    "Kahuna Hala!" a spectator cheered, and immediately the crowd stood a little taller, peered a little closer. The round, potbellied man stomped out to the center of the battleground in his traditional Alolan shirt, pounding his fist into his palm.

    "I hear that Hala used to be an impressive sumo wrestler," Lillie said, barely audible compared to the raucous crowd around her.

    "Oh, he was," Professor Kukui agreed, keeping his eyes on Sunne. "My old buddy and I used to watch him wrestle every day. We learned a little something from him, all right!"

    "Old buddy? Like a Pokémon?" Piper asked, standing on the tips of her toes to get a better view.

    "I had friends who weren't Pokémon, you know," Professor Kukui teased. "I had him, and Molayne, and…"

    Piper waited for the professor to finish his sentence, but he never did. It hardly mattered to her, since Hala was already stomping on the platform, demanding the crowd's attention.

    "People of Melemele!" he boomed, putting his hands on his hips. "Although there was a minor skirmish with the Tapu yesterday, it is of major importance! The island deities protect us, bring good harvest, and good weather… yesterday, that was certainly not the case. Nevertheless! The festival held today is held in the honor of the island deities, and to ask the forgiveness of Tapu Koko." The kahuna nodded firmly, motioning to Sunne, on his left. "Here, we have Sunne, a trainer starting out on his island challenge! Yesterday, in his encounter with the Tapu, he found a sparkling stone. The stone was meant to fit a Z-Ring."

    The audience immediately followed this with a round of applause as the kahuna presented Sunne with some kind of tribal bracelet made from stone. Piper was utterly perplexed as to why a rock bracelet was such a big deal, but didn't question it. If there was one thing she had learned, it was not to mock the Alolan traditions.

    "And now, fellow islanders! I present to you my grandson, who is also starting his island challenge! Hau, the best trainer in Iki Town!" A sun-tanned boy entered from the right side of the battlefield, flexing his arms as he took his place. His dark, evergreen hair was tied up in a ponytail, but messily enough that a few strands were falling out of his hair tie. As the audience applauded and whooped for him, he turned and tilted his head, grinning before he winked charismatically at the crowd. Piper had to smile.

    "Before we start, let us say a prayer to the guardian deities and remember all that they have done for our people!" Hala boomed, looking towards the sky. "Tapu Koko. Tapu Lele. Tapu Bulu, and Tapu Fini. We thank you for your service to the people of Alola, and all that you have done." When the kahuna finished, he grinned and leaped off the platform, making a striking motion with his arm. "Battle, begin!"

    Sunne didn't even hesitate as he drew his PokéBall from his back pocket. "Rowan, let's go!" His small, round companion flew out of the PokéBall and burst onto the platform, skidding to a halt just in front of the white dividing line.

    Hau smiled widely and tossed his own PokéBall to the center of the battlefield. "Siren, time to shine!" His capsule clicked open, revealing an odd aquamarine Pokémon, wearing a frivolous collar around its neck and clapping its flippers together, as if it was applauding the opponent.

    "That's… it?" Piper said, and she could hear similar thoughts and concerns being voiced by the crowd around her. An agile owl battling a puppet seal? It all seemed like a strange joke.

    "Don't be fooled," Professor Kukui said, arching an eyebrow. "Hala would never give his grandson a Pokémon that wasn't willing to work and give its best in every battle."

    Piper had to argue. "But what if that thing's best isn't enough for a decent battle?"

    "Popplio are typically less aggressive, but can be equally powerful as the other starter Pokémon in battle," Lillie interjected, frowning. "It looks like the only advantage Sunne has here is a type advantage."

    Piper shrugged, watching the battle avidly. Despite the fact that Hau was at a clear disadvantage, he smiled with every move, laughed (although not unkindly) every time his Popplio dodged an attack, and merely blew a strand of hair away from his eyes when Poppy failed to counter a Tackle. He was someone Piper felt inclined to talk to. He was magnetic and impulsive, and she could tell that everyone else in the crowd thought so too.

    Sunne, meanwhile, had a jagged and rough battling style—Piper couldn't tell if he was being awkward on purpose, or just bad at transitioning from move to move. Both trainers, actually, had no concept of strategy and were just yelling attacks at their Pokémon and reacting to missed moves and dodges. It was expected, since they were both fairly new to Pokémon battles.

    "Pokémon battles," Piper muttered, a thought surfacing in her mind. "Hey, Professor Kukui? I have to go for a couple minutes. I have something I needed to get in Hau'oli City. It might be best to go now, since there'll be practically no traffic..."

    Professor Kukui nodded absentmindedly, barely absorbing what Piper had said. "Hm? Yeah, go ahead. USE THOSE MOVES, SUNNE! YEAH, BEAT HIM!"

    Lillie sighed, and rolled her bright green eyes. "He didn't even hear you...but be back quickly, okay, Piper?"

    Piper smiled playfully. "Did you just roll your eyes for the first time?" Lillie shook her head, looking back down at the ground. "I'll be back in under an hour. Make sure nothing happens to the professor—he might try to turn this battle into a lab experiment if we're not careful."

    With that, Piper ducked to the side of the crowd, weaving through the onlookers and reaching the path leading out of Iki Town. She glanced carefully behind her back, making sure no one was looking as she pulled the uninstalled RotomDex from her backpack. It was time to get rid of her guilty conscience.

    Burdened with embarrassment from his faux pas at the crosswalk, Julian stumbled towards the Hau'oli pier to see if the Nurse Joy had been right about all transport being halted for the day. Sure enough, the schedules for all the boats were crossed out on the sign outside the pier. In fact, the only boat that remained was a jet black speed boat, painting with white and grey designs at the edges. Julian certainly wasn't going to be heading to Akala Island anytime soon.

    Sighing, he stared at the rippling, murky waves and imagined what life would be like if he was in Undella Town right now. He would be wading in the cool waters, cradled by the salty breeze, feeling the wind rush through his hair. He would be swimming through the ocean like a Vaporeon, and he would definitely be wearing something better than a stuffy employee uniform. The latest swimwear from the Viridian fashion line, perhaps.

    Of course, his mother had a home in Viridian City, too. As well as a home Goldenrod City, Undella Town, and a small mansion just by Route Two on Melemele. Julian had already decided that when he grew up he would buy a home in each region, so that they would have a house to come back to, no matter what.

    Suddenly, Julian was pulled out of his daydream by a sharp, high voice yelling at someone, though Julian assumed it was him. He quickly reached for Rocky's PokéBall, spinning around to face the offender. It was a pale, thin older teenager dressed in black rags, shuffling along the paved pier in his beat-up shoes. Julian snorted, but didn't lower his guard.

    "Yo, Aether scum!" the kid yelled, in his high pitched, glass shattering voice. "Get your eyes off my boat, dumb employee!"

    Julian sighed, running a hand through his hair. He didn't quite feel like fighting with a second-rate trainer, but at the same time, he didn't really want to get beaten up. So naturally, he did what any regular teenager would do: make up stuff until he found a way to escape the situation. "I merely was admiring the waves. Please understand that your flimsy speeder is nothing compared to the beauty of nature, the wonders of the worl—" Julian was harshly interrupted by an uppercut to the jaw.

    "You shut your face, kid! Do you know who I am?" the scrawny teenager shouted, pulling Julian's white collar to close for comfort. "I got major street cred, yo! And everyone in Team Skull knows it, yo!" The Skull grunt threw Julian back down to the concrete, dusting off his hands. "You stay out of my territory, and I won't hurt you and your Pokémon! Get it?"

    Julian struggled back to his feet and prepared himself to hold his ears to avoid listening to another cliché, poorly composed, half-hearted rap.

    "A Skull grunt! As a loyal member to the Aether Foundation… ah, I don't give a crap. I'm only in this for the good karma." Julian brushed a small scuff on his uniform, which annoyingly, wasn't coming out.

    "By any chance, you know a Skull grunt called Piper?" Julian added, looking up from his uniform for a moment. "She's somewhere in this area, I think."

    The grunt cocked his head. "Who?"

    Julian shook his head. "Never mind. I'll get going now." Not wanting to get into even more trouble with the thug, he set off to make his way back to the Pokémon Center. Still, there was something troubling him, and it was simply the matter of Piper's existence.

    If the local Skull grunt had no idea she existed, that either meant that Moira, the psychic, was incredibly wrong or Piper was just doing so terribly in Team Skull that no one could even remember her name. Either way, it didn't change the fact that Julian was still utterly frustrated about who she was.

    He was determined to find out who she was, and why she dressed so terribly.
    #9 Jun 12, 2017
    Last edited: Jul 13, 2017
  10. Wings

    Level 100
    Jun 11, 2017
    Chapter 9 of When the Sun Sets.
    Mission Accomplished

    Mission Accomplished: June 25th

    Piper pumped her fist into the air as she realized that she had managed to run all the way to Hau'oli City in less than an hour. If she could remember correctly, Mabel had told her that there was a Skull Squad Leader here running the station on Melemele Island. There was a pale, scrawny boy trudging back and forth along the pier, dressed in the traditional Skull uniform. What distinguished him from the normal grunts of Team Skull were the massive chains swinging from his neck, hanging just above his waist.

    "Hey, you!" Piper shouted, running up to the older boy without. "I completed my mission!"

    The pale boy pulled the cloth covering his mouth down to his neck, glaring at her with his striking blue eyes. "What do you want, kid?"

    Piper tilted her head. The older boy had the voice of a squealing Rattata, but nonetheless, he was definitely the Melemele Skull Squad Leader.

    "I completed my first mission with Team Skull! I just need you to deliver this to Guzma. He'll know it's from me." Piper eagerly unzipped her backpack, withdrawing the RotomDex from the front pocket and presenting it to the teenage boy. "See?"

    The Skull Squad Leader grunted, pulling the RotomDex from her hands. "You're going to have to battle me if you really think I'll deliver this to Po Town." He eyed her up and down, crossing his arms. "You sure don't look like a Skull grunt to me."

    Piper hated to admit it, but he was right. At least in her old clothes, she was donning an all-black ensemble, Team Skull's signature color. And while her current outfit had some black, Piper looked more like an amateur Trainer than she did a member of Team Skull.

    Nevertheless, she was determined to beat this teenage boy and force him to deliver the RotomDex. Her pay check was counting on it.

    "You're on," Piper declared, slamming her fist into her palm. "If I win, you take that RotomDex to Po Town and tell Guzma it's from Piper. If I lose… and I won't, then…"

    The teenage boy sneered, toying with the metal chains around his neck. "We'll see, kid. You leave the consequences to me. Zubat, let's do this!"

    Julian gasped. The thug standing by the pier… the eerily familiar unfashionable trainer…

    "It all makes sense," Julian declared, even though he had no idea what was going on. Why was Piper battling a member of Team Skull? Wasn't Piper a part of Team Skull? Why were they battling so close to the water, where one of them could fall in? And most importantly, why were they battling so loudly that Julian heard it almost a block away, and had to come back to investigate what was causing the awful cacophony?

    He rushed to the scene, frantic to catch both members of Team Skull. But instead of finding two thugs conspiring with each other, all he found was Piper standing triumphantly, pumping her fist in the air as her Cottonee hovered above a fainted Zubat.

    "You won this time. But it won't be the last you see of me, that's for sure," the opposing Skull thug spit out, shuffling over to his speeder boat. "You'd better run, kids. I'm out."

    "Wait!" Julian shouted, but it was futile, as the boat was already ripping through the sea. "You can't go anywhere today! The festival!" Julian turned urgently to Piper, grabbing her by the shoulders. "He had something in his hand! What did he steal from you?"

    Piper blinked, shocked by Julian's sudden outburst. "Uh… what?"

    Julian cursed, recalling Rocky back into his PokéBall. "He was a Team Skull delinquent! We could've caught him!"

    Piper frowned. "Team Skull? Why do you care? They're super dangerous and hard to catch."

    Julian put his head in his hands. "Exactly. The Aether Foundation, while it serves as mainly a Pokémon conservatory and rehabilitation center, is also responsible for catching Skull thugs with the police."

    Piper shrugged absentmindedly, although there were a couple beads of sweat forming on her forehead. Julian supposed it was from her intense battle. "He was pretty weak. I beat him in like, less than a minute and boy, did he scram."

    Julian exhaled heavily, crossing his arms. "That's too bad. I really wanted a raise. And maybe a promotion in status." He subtly glanced back at Piper from the corner of his eye, searching for sudden movement.

    Piper nodded meekly. "Then… I'm going to head back to the festival."

    Julian raised an eyebrow, folding his arms in front of his chest. "That Team Skull grunt stole from you," he argued, planting his feet on the concrete ground. "Unless you're in league with him, I don't see why that would be okay."

    "Right," Piper agreed feebly. "That's why… I'll turn him into the police later. I feel too weak to do it now."

    Julian sighed. "And to think I almost thought you were a member of Team Skull. Arceus, you don't have the guts at all."

    "Hm?" Piper said, stammering slightly. "W-why are you talking like that?"

    Julian shrugged his shoulders. "I just had a feeling… and Rocky thought he was sniffing you out. But you're too weak and fragile to be a member of an infamous gang, right?"

    Piper barely cracked a smile. "I guess…"

    Julian smiled. He wondered if the foolish girl had any sense of caution. Even if the Skull grunt from before had driven away without any friendly contact with his opponent, Julian suspected that was just how members of Team Skull acted towards each other. Piper had denied being a member of Team Skull, but Julian knew that wasn't the case. It couldn't be the case—he wouldn't have gone to the psychic otherwise.

    There was only one right thing to do.

    "Come on. Let's get your Cottonee back to health."

    "He thinks I'm not a part of Team Skull," Piper groaned wearily into the PC. "He though the Melemele Squad Leader was just a grunt, for Mew's sake. Speaking of which, I delivered the RotomDex to the Squad Leader... I just don't know his name."

    Across from her, Mabel tsked, tsked at the PC screen. She donned a heavy metal chain that looked remarkably similar to the one the Melemele Squad Leader was wearing, except hers had a solid amber stone pendant. Her uniform hadn't really changed much otherwise, and her hair was starting to look slightly cleaner. Piper sincerely hoped Po Town was more hygienic than her first encounter with the disregarded secret hideout.

    "I have to say, you're doing pretty okay for a first time, sister," Mabel said, twirling the heavy chain between her fingers. "You beat the Melemele Squad Leader, and you deceived an Aether Employee. Hey, wanna go undercover and infiltrate the Aether Foundation?" She laughed dryly through the bandana tied around her mouth. "Nah, it wouldn't work. The security is real heavy."

    Piper nodded in agreement. After her little encounter with Julian, he had offered to take Cottonee back to the Pokémon Center. Piper had agreed, if only to make a private PC call and pick up a fresh Roserade Tea. There were small, sectioned soundproof rooms that were used for emergency calls. Piper had managed to get a pass into one of these rooms by lying to the nurse and claiming that she was caught up in a "family emergency" and wished to elaborate no further. As far as she knew, Julian was still at the Pokémon Center desk, waiting for her Cottonee.

    "I think you should continue work as a travelling grunt," Mabel continued. "It suits you. By the way, what do you think of my new chain?" She lifted up the heavy, metal necklace and proudly displayed the amber pendant at the center. "Pretty sweet, right?"

    Piper peered closer at the PC screen. "Is that real gold?"

    Mabel smirked. "You bet. Guzma got it for all the squad leaders just yesterday—he must be doing something on the black market to get chains as expensive as these." Selling organs, was Piper's first thought, but she knew better than to criticize the Team Skull Boss out loud.

    "You'd better go, kid," Mabel said. "I have a raid in half an hour. If you want your next assignment, I'm sure Guzma will leave it up to me. I think you should head for Akala Island next."

    Piper nodded, and wished her superior luck before she ended the PC call. She would have to wait at least until tomorrow before she could catch the next ferry to Akala Island. If Julian hadn't been such a nuisance, she probably could've escaped with Lucian, the squad leader, and had him drop her off at Heahea City. If she had Aquarius, it would've been able to swim as far as the next island, surely…

    Julian was still waiting at the Pokémon Center's front desk when he saw Piper strolling over to him.

    "Dear Arceus, we have to get you some new clothes." Piper ignored his superficial comment and picked her Whimsy's PokéBall off the desk countertop. "They healed her up, though there wasn't much to do," Julian said, leaning back against the desk.

    "Thanks," Piper replied, curtly. She knew Julian meant well—he thought he was doing her a favor when he "saved" her from Team Skull, nonetheless Piper couldn't help but feel slightly ticked off. "I'm going back to the festival now. I need to see if Sunne won the battle." Truthfully, Piper didn't really care who won the festival battle, she was just looking for an excuse to leave.

    "Do you know what's absolutely absurd?" Julian said suddenly, to Piper's dismay.

    "What?" Piper asked, wondering if Julian was a fast runner. Piper had learned some interesting things, to say the least, in her phone call with Mabel. For instance, Piper had never known that Team Aether was extremely dedicated to hunting down members of Team Skull and would do nearly anything to imprison a Skull Grunt. Judging by Julian's tacky uniform, Piper assumed that he was in the same league with the rest of his coworkers.

    To put it into perspective, Julian was essentially a hunter, and Piper was his prey. That, and possibly a ticket to his promotion. Yet Julian was completely oblivious to the fact that Piper was a Team Skull Grunt, from what she could tell, and she could only hope it would stay that way.

    "I thought you were a Team Skull grunt," Julian said. Piper's heart dropped into her stomach.

    For the love of Mew! Piper glanced towards the sliding glass doors of the Pokémon Center. There was probably no way that she could outrun him, and there was definitely nowhere to hide in the Pokémon Center… she sighed lightly. Her only option was to continue lying.

    "Why in Arceus's name would you think that?" Piper snapped, putting her hands on her hips. "Did you think that just because I wasn't born with a silver spoon in my mouth that I would turn to a gang for a paycheck?" Yes, Piper thought. That's exactly what I did.

    Julian shrugged. "It was just a comment. I don't think you'd be getting that defensive if you weren't a member of Team Skull, don't you think?" Piper rolled her eyes. Her annoyance, though meant to put up a convincing act, was coming from an authentic sense of irritation.

    "Don't be dumb. I'm mad because you're assuming things and I have more important places to be," she said, with an air of authority. "I'm leaving to go to the festival now." Piper turned on her heel and moved for the exit doors, only to hear footsteps behind her.

    "What. Do. You. Want,"Piper snarled, clenching her fists as she turned her head to see the person she wanted to see the least. Julian smiled, but not kindly, as he followed her down the sidewalk.

    "I'm just headed to my old school," he informed her, lifting his head. "It's the Hau'oli Trainer's Academy, the very best school in Alola. Have you heard of it?"

    Piper scowled and kept walking down the road. She wanted absolutely nothing to do with Julian and his pretentious private school, but since she apparently lost the ability to read her map and didn't feel like asking someone for directions and sacrificing her pride, Piper had no other option but to continue her furious trudging on the sidewalk.

    "Ilima used to teach at the Trainer's Academy," Julian added, catching up to Piper. "Surely you've heard of him?"

    Piper had. Every so often, when the S.S Corinthia had been still sailing, her family would come to Hau'oli's harbor to offer goods to trade. Ilima had traded a couple of golden nuggets for a Pokémon fossil that her family obtained through an architect in Driftveil city. Back then, he was probably about twelve and Piper was seven. He almost certainly wouldn't have remembered the event.

    "He was the top trainer in his class. I was the top trainer in my class as well, and then I graduated. Say, what school did you go to, Piper?"

    Piper spun around. "It looks like we've reached the Trainer's Academy, so I guess this is goodbye." They were standing just outside the school's battle grounds, and Piper wanted nothing more to do with the pompous snob following her.

    "I mean," Julian continued, ignoring her, "you did get an education, didn't you, Piper?" The corners of his mouth twitched, turned upwards into a small sneer.

    "For Arceus's sake, if you're not going to leave, I'll make you leave," Piper groaned, reaching for her Pokéball. "I won our battle once, and I'll win again."

    Julian clicked his tongue, putting a hand in his bizarre uniform pocket. "As I recall, the Tapu interrupted our battle and we ended with a tie. I'm being serious. What school did you go to that didn't teach you about Alolan culture? Was it a boarding school? A private school abroad?" Julian shrugged. "It's all right if you didn't get an education…"

    Piper knew at this point that he was just egging her on, waiting for a reaction. "There are plenty of lower class people who don't go to school," Julian droned on, "Most of them resort to joining gangs, whether they be harmlessly small or infamously large. If I didn't know better myself, I would think you were in league with that Skull grunt at the pier—"

    "Why, you—" Piper pulled her fist back and shot her arm forwards, striking Julian squarely in the jaw, "—disrespectful piece of Trubbish!" She panted, catching her breath as she watched Julian's eyes widen in incredulity. He clutched his mouth, but Piper could tell it was more for stability than it was for comfort.

    "Well?" Julian said, blood dribbling down his chin. "What the name of the school that you went to?"

    "I didn't go to school."

    Piper's voice faltered, and her arms and legs felt limp and weary. "I never had time because of my parent's work. They were sea merchants."

    Julian pushed his cheek out with his tongue. "Merchants? How charming. No wonder that you are the way…you are."

    Before she knew it, Piper hurled a second punch and Julian was covered in dust on the ground, clutching his gut.

    "Children! Children! No fighting on the school grounds…oh, my." A young man with a head full of luscious, pastel pink hair was pinching the bridge of his nose as he walked towards them. "And to think that this was meant to be a relaxing walk past my old school."

    "It's not my fault!" Piper blurted out, taking in the sight of the newcomer. The young man was sporting a patterned brown vest over a crisp white shirt and polished shoes. Judging by the look of him, he was probably as well-off as Julian claimed himself to be. His lips were pursed into a disappointed frown, and his left hand was covered by some sort of odd fingerless glove.

    "You're Ilima, aren't you?" Piper asked tentatively, clenching her fists.

    "Of course," he replied curtly, putting his hands ever-so-elegantly on his hips. "And you, dear student, are in detention."
    #10 Jun 12, 2017
    Last edited: Jul 13, 2017
  11. Wings

    Level 100
    Jun 11, 2017
    Chapter 10 of When the Sun Sets
    Beasts of the Sun and Moon

    Lusamine strode across the tile floor in her creamy white stilettos, clicking the floor in such a way that her shoes created an entrancing rhythm audible to everyone. Everyone, being her assistants, of course. Her platinum mane reached her hips, which swung from side to side as she strutted towards her personal office. Her guards followed behind her, and Lusamine's special guest sat across from her desk.

    "Guzma," Lusamine purred, taking a seat in her black leather chair. Black was usually an accent color in her mansion, not a base, but Lusamine made an exception for this particular office chair. It was made from authentic leather imported from Kalos, and Lusamine couldn't resist anything from her motherland.

    "Guzma, darling, I called you here because I had a certain request that I did not feel could be made via email."

    Guzma seemed lost for words as he stuttered and stammered his way through an incomprehensible sentence.

    "I-I… t-thanks, m-miss—I mean, Prez—"

    Lusamine swiftly put a finger to her lips, signaling for silence. "There is no need to thank me, Guzma. I did not call you here to do you a favor. Yet."

    The young man nodded hastily, gripping the arms of his chair. Lusamine sighed. Although she had done her best to reform his boorish mannerisms, Guzma clearly still had a long way to go. Perhaps she would start increasing his visits from two per week to three.

    "First of all, it is of utmost importance that we discuss why that new recruit is still a part of Team Skull," Lusamine said coolly. "And then, we must discuss how to get rid of her."

    Guzma seemed taken aback at this suggestion, though he didn't start shouting nearly as loudly as Lusamine had thought he would.

    "B-but don't I get to pick and choose who comes in an' out of Team Skull? That's my business, right, Prez?"

    Lusamine resisted the urge to roll her eyes. "I'm afraid not, dear Guzma. I only say this because I've been sending out a few Pokémon to check on your new recruit, and I saw her with one of my… children." She tossed her glossy hair over the shoulder of her tightly fitted dress. "It appears Faba failed to kill her."

    "Her?" Guzma echoed, clearly not catching on to anything Lusamine was trying to convey.

    "Yes, Guzma. My last… child was a girl. Surely you can remember that?" A small nod from Lusamine's dainty head signalled for her security guards to leave the room as she stood up from her black leather chair. "I ordered Faba to kill her with an atrocious storm over the sea, but it appears my daughter is still alive."

    Guzma tilted his head as Lusamine slowly advanced toward him, her slender heels clicking to her own rhythm. "What happened to Faba?"

    "I dealt with him," Lusamine replied calmly, putting on hand on her hip. "He managed to avoid punishment, but his assistants...did not. He won't mind. He hated them anyway."

    "S-so you mean…" Guzma's hands quivered, though he seemed unaware of it as he tried to form a complete sentence. "They're dead?" Lusamine smiled down on her poor visitor. She was surprised he had not taken to throwing a screaming tantrum in her office yet, or hadn't said the word "ain't." She had seen him around her other employees, though, where his affected mannerisms disappeared and he reverted to his true form. It was a shame that it took her presence to raise his standards. But it was expected.

    "Don't you worry, Guzma. They have nothing to do with you." Lusamine took her hand off her hip and placed it on Guzma's shoulder, which was surprisingly devoid of dirt and filth. Lusamine seemed to have taken showering for granted until she had met Team Skull's leader, in the repulsive mud puddles of Po Town. She had managed to hire a temporary cleaning staff to tidy things up, but it would require at least a couple years to renovate the Po Mansion.

    "I need you to eliminate that girl you recruited, whether it be via battle, or through an execution. Oh, forgive me. You don't do executions in Team Skull, do you?" Lusamine purred, leaning in to Guzma's shoulder a little more. His cheeks were the crisp color of the fake apples in the crystal bowl resting on Lusamine's desk.

    "I'll send someone to beat her up," Guzma stammered, gripping the arms of his chair viciously tight. "She won't come back to Team Skull again."

    "Good," Lusamine murmured, tilting her hips ever-so-slightly forward. "And you'll send your strongest member to battle her, won't you?" Her hand travelled from Guzma's shoulder to his chin, which she gingerly lifted so that his eyes could meet her eyes. His cheeks were flushed with a violent shade of red, darker than before.

    "I'll send my best."

    Lusamine nodded. "Then I suppose you'll take care of your recruit, and I'll take care of my… daughter." Her hand slipped out from underneath his chin and went back to resting on her hip, and her creamy white stilettos clicked as she strolled towards the door. Guzma stood up, but Lusamine shook her head.

    "I want you to stay here while I discuss some things with Faba. If you need anything, the button on my desk will call the security guards." With that, Lusamine broke her pose, turned, and strutted out of the room, just like how she used to in her modelling days. She smiled absentmindedly, clicking down the hallway. Things were finally on the right track, but only for her.

    And that was just how she liked it.

    "You're letting her get away?" Julian was not so much angry as he was shocked that Piper could run so fast. The girl had hurried off in a sprint the moment Ilima had uttered the word detention, picking up her feet as fast as she could and darting away from the city. Julian sighed, feeling a thin stream of warm blood dribbling down his chin and dripping on to his uniform. Piper was really quite the troublemaker.

    "Detention was merely a false threat," Ilima sighed, waving the matter away. "It's an off-day for the summer school since the Tapu Koko festival is still going on…I was about to head there myself after I picked up some files from my old school office." The young trial captain turned to the younger trainer, as if just realizing that he existed. "You were a top student at this school, weren't you?"

    Julian nodded without hesitance. "Of course I was."

    "Dear Arceus! You're the young man who lived in that stately home on Route Two!" Ilima exclaimed. "It's good to see you, fellow graduate. But why on earth were you fighting that girl in front of the academy?"

    Julian stared sheepishly at the ground, shuffling his feet. "Well…as you can tell, I'm a member of the Aether Foundation."

    Ilima nodded solemnly, resting his chin on his hand. "Very honorable. They release very good scientific studies on Pokémon, you know."

    "They do," Julian agreed, though he had never touched one of their scientific documents in his entire life. "As you must know, it's highly commendable in the Aether Foundation to capture a Skull Grunt."

    "Why don't you just go down to the pier?" Ilima chuckled, tucking a strand of glossy pink hair behind his ear. "The town police are working on catching the thugs down near the boathouse. We haven't made any progress yet, but you might."

    "Really," Julian remarked, trying not to roll his eyes, "Well, I have my suspicions that Piper, that girl, is a Team Skull grunt. She's been acting suspicious ever since the day I met her. I tried to egg her on so that she would admit the truth, but obviously that didn't work."

    "She looked an awful lot like an island challenger to me. Team Skull doesn't take in island challengers, you know," Ilima said, resting a hand on his hip.

    Julian rolled his eyes. "It's probably all a part of her disguise. Do me a favor—if you see Piper again, give me a call." The pink-haired man before him gave him an odd stare with his piercing eyes, tilting his head so that his stray piece of hair hung away from his forehead.

    "With all due respect, young man, doesn't the Aether Foundation have criminals of a higher...err, significance, to be catching?" Julian paused for a moment, and realized that Ilima indeed had a valid point. Of course Julian expected the fellow graduate to have high intellect, but the previous remarks he had made seemed slightly airheaded and shallow. Ilima was only two years older, but had naturally been a trial captain even since he graduated. Julian wondered where all of that knowledge was being utilized, and if Ilima was even using it now. It couldn't be that the trial captain knew so little about Team Skull and the catastrophic feud between it and the Aether Foundation.

    "Yes," Julian replied, after a brief hesitation. "You're right. But you never know what she could become." The corners of Ilima's mouth tilted upwards into a slight smirk as he ran his bronzed fingers through his cotton-candy hair.

    "I suppose that's what they said about Guzma when he dropped out of school… well, never mind. You should head on to the festival, boy. It's a special day. Or, you can always drop by the library to read up on the Tapu. That would certainly make the deity content," Ilima said, putting a hand in his pocket. "I'll see you around, I imagine, if you're going to continue pursuing those Skull thugs. But if you ever want to do some light training, you should join us at the summer school. Think about it, alright?"

    Julian nodded, watching the young man saunter off towards the Pokémon Center. If he really wanted to hunt Piper down, his best bet was going back to Iki Town where she would be, no doubt, among the spectators of the festival. But Julian's head was spinning and full of questions with no room for answers, and he felt a strong urge to sit down at a quiet place, so he turned towards the library.

    Though Hau'oli City had a massive library, it was nearly nothing compared in size and content to the Malie Library, a famous tourist attraction all the way on Ula'ula Island. And even though Julian had seen the Malie Library several times with his mother, he felt much more comfortable and acquainted with the library in Hau'oli City, considering that he had been there many more times since he was a child. The musty smell of old encyclopedias and the dark covers of the books held a certain nostalgia for him, something that brought back the sense of childhood.

    Julian flipped through the pages of the books absentmindedly, knowing well that his own mansion probably held most of the books that the public library did. Growing up next to the city had been exciting, but at times Julian wished he had been raised in a region like Sinnoh, or even Johto. Piper had said something about travelling—Julian found it hard to believe that she had been raised by sea merchants.

    If Piper was raised by sea merchants, then she had to be travelling on the ocean all the time. But how could a sea merchant's daughter end up turning to Team Skull? Most sea merchants in Alola were fairly wealthy, and Piper clearly was not. There was always the possibility that she and her family were members of Team Aqua, a gang based in Hoenn, but they'd been stomped out years ago.

    So who was she?

    Julian took out his PokéBall and tossed it on the ground, releasing Rocky from the capsule. "Hey, buddy. You think you got any idea who Piper is?" Julian cringed at the sound of his own voice. He often spoke in such a formal tone that when he finally spoke to his friends and family, everything felt alien. But Rocky didn't know that, and Rocky certainly didn't care how formal he was.

    The small canine nuzzled his knee, leaving a wet mark on his uniform from his nose. Julian sighed and picked Rocky up underneath the arms, staring into the eyes of his jubilant companion.

    "I thought she would give in and tell me where she was from…but I guess I was wrong, right, buddy?" Julian continued, talking more to himself than he was to his Pokémon. "I guess she didn't know that Team Skull and the Aether Foundation weren't supposed to get along…I mean, she wasn't exactly friendly when we first met, but she didn't seem to be directly targeting us..."

    Rocky shrugged, wagging his tail. Julian smiled a somewhat melancholy smile, putting Rocky back down on the ground.

    "I wonder if there's an easier way to catch her...one that doesn't involve a lot of violence, preferably," Julian pondered, pacing through an aisle of bookshelves. "I wonder—" He paused, fixated on a volume resting in the bookshelf in front of him. The weathered spine of the heavy book had faded letters that were barely visible, spelling out the title. "The Origins of Alola." Julian gingerly picked up the massive volume, trying not to cause any damage to the already weathered volume. "This book was here when I was a kid, Rocky. Remember that?"

    The yellow pages were dog-eared and torn, but the ink was still (nearly) legible. So Julian flipped through the pages, and rested his hand on the first page of his favorite section. It was The Beasts of The Sun and The Moon, something his mother had used to read to him when he was little, provided that she was actually home and not in a stuffy building in the city, arguing her way through a conference.

    "In this world, there are two beasts, both equally powerful, yet rarely seen," Julian read aloud, sitting down on the floor beside Rocky. "One carries the strength of the sun, and the other carries the poise of the moon. When they battle, it is said to form an eclipse, engulfing the world in darkness.

    "These beasts would battle endlessly during the early days, when the islands of Alola were still rising from the ocean waters. From dawn to dusk, they would quarrel, but not aggressively—to these beasts, their battles were a way of enriching their friendly rivalry. But as the islands of Alola grew larger and other life forms began to take their place in the mountains and the desert, it became evident that the two beasts would have to leave Alola if they wanted to continue their playful quarrels. The days and nights were darkened to the point where there was no point in separating day from night. It was all dark, under the eclipse from the beasts of the sun and moon.

    "However, these beasts were kind-hearted and loved the Alolan tribes and their Pokémon. The people of Alola had built temples in honor of the beasts, in the hopes that their prayers would reach out to them. And so one day, the beasts retreated to their respective temples and began their search for another dimension where they could play harmlessly.

    "To this day, no one has seen the sun beast Solgaleo or the moon beast Lunala. But modern-day scientists like to imagine that the two have finally found a safe haven where they can battle 'til the end of their days."

    Julian cleared his throat, placing the book back on the shelf. He knew that the story wasn't finished there. There was a missing piece in the story that had been passed down from generation to generation, and the same was true in the Mahi'ai family.

    Before the Alolan beasts, Solgaleo and Lunala, left for their respective temples, they sent a message to the most powerful prophet in the Alolan Islands. Her name was Selene, and she foretold that one day, a hero would summon the beasts back to Alola to save the people from darkness.

    Julian wanted to be that hero.

    Who didn't? Julian had spent years at the Hau'oli Trainer's School studying the roots of Alola in the library all by himself, drawing (poorly executed) pictures of the hero and the two beasts. He had stacks upon stacks upon stacks of books in his room, all on Alolan culture and its influence on the other regions and the history and the tribal wars...

    "Excuse me?" Julian was pulled from his hazy trance and looked up to see a young woman, dressed in a tight black dress and a blazer jacket, carrying a clipboard in her right arm. "Julian, isn't it? Sorry, you're barely recognizable in your new uniform. I'm Claudia, your mother's assistant. I'd appreciate it if you could follow me."
    #11 Jun 12, 2017
    Last edited: Jul 13, 2017
  12. Wings

    Level 100
    Jun 11, 2017
    Chapter 11 of When the Sun Sets
    Unexpected Guests

    Piper had never ran swifter in her entire life.

    Down the road, through the tall grass, past the outskirts of the city-she had sprinted the entire length, all with red, watering eyes and shallow scrapes on her legs from thick, tangling berry bushes. But when she finally reached Kukui's laboratory, a tall stranger was blocking the entrance, waiting for someone... waiting for her.

    His mint green eyes were almost obscured by a wash of platinum hair swooping in front of his pale complexion, hanging almost as low as his nose. The harsh sunlight bounced off his reflective black sneakers, which were color-coordinated to his hoodie and jeans. He was thin, but certainly not frail. Immaculate angles seemed to be carved into his face, casting a shadow on his lower cheeks. He was overall, shockingly beautiful.

    That was, until he spoke.

    "I was expecting you," the stranger said, his voice giving way to adolescent voice cracks as his pitch dropped an octave lower. His porcelain cheeks flushed a gentle shade of pink as he recomposed himself. "I have strict orders to exile you from Team Skull. Forever."

    Piper stared blankly at the teenage boy, taking more than a few moments to process what she had just heard.

    "You can't do that," she said, finally. "You're not even wearing a uniform."

    "Neither are you."

    "Yeah? Well I just talked to the Ula' Ula Squad Leader and she said she was just about to assign me another mission."

    "The missions are just tests to see if you can truly make a living in Team Skull. After that, there are no formal missions," the boy sneered, his voice now high-pitched and crackling. His cheeks flushed again, to a harsher, more violent shade of pink. "Just Pokémon poaching."

    Piper wanted to respond a sassy retort, but she was more distracted on the fact that listening to his voice was like going on an audio rollercoaster.

    "How old are you, again?" she asked tentatively.

    "Stop asking me questions and let's just get this over with," the boy said, scowling. "This was a request from Guzma. Not me. So don't get it twisted."

    Judging from his posture and stance, the boy looked sixteen. Judging from his voice, Piper would've guessed thirteen. Sunne wasn't having problems with his voice, but the kid was eleven and Piper figured he was too young for that kind of stuff.

    "Are you even listening?! Battle me!" The boy scowled, pulling a PokéBall out from his hoodie. Piper merely stared back at him in shock. "Battle me, or else! Guzma told me to kill you. I don't want things to get too gruesome, okay?"

    All of this was too much for her to absorb. First Julian had ran into her life, aggravating her and pestering her and badgering her about her personal life and more importantly, trying to get her arrested. Now this pubescent stranger, telling her he was exiling her from Team Skull-Piper didn't believe that Guzma would issue such an order. So she sat down on the soft grass, beginning to contemplate the matter, but mostly, just wanting a break and also a nap.

    "Idiot," she heard the boy mumble, tossing his PokéBall into the air. "Null, use Tackle."

    A solid mass rammed into Piper's side, sending her flying across the grass. She glared at the offender, brushing off her new clothes.

    The stranger's Pokémon was, simply put, a beast. A webbed fin stood in place of its tail, and its front paws were replaced by green talons. On its head was a poorly constructed helmet, topped off with an axe blade. In an instant, it reared on its hind legs and charged at Piper once more, but this time Piper was prepared and narrowly dodged its attack.

    "Null, use Pursuit," the boy called out, crossing his arms in front of his chest.

    "Whimsy, let's go!" Piper fumbled for her PokéBall, which she had placed in her backpack minutes ago. "Use Stun Spore!"

    The agile Cottonee scattered spores over "Null", temporarily slowing its speed. Piper recalled Whimsy into the PokéBall quick enough to avoid a counterattack, but her own movements were jerky and uncoordinated. She could feel the back of her neck tingling with drops of sweat.

    "That's cheating," the boy stated, recalling his own Pokémon back into a PokéBall. "If Null can't deal with you, then perhaps I'll just deal with you myself." The blonde rolled his shoulders back and clenched his fingers into a tight fist, storming towards Piper. Her legs were shaky and unstable from running all the way from the Hau'oli outskirts, and she doubted she could run much farther.

    She didn't want to call out Whimsy against the other boy's horrifying Pokémon, and she definitely didn't want to fight him with her fists. She had her short knife from Mabel, but Piper wouldn't use that on someone in a million years. It was then that Piper began to realize she had exhausted all of her options.

    Out of the blue, a young woman rushed in front of her, intercepting the blonde boy. She drove a roundhouse kick directly at his gut, forcing him to the ground as he scowled through his choppy bangs.

    "Move it, Gladion," the woman hissed, folding her arms.

    The boy stumbled back on his feet and broke off into a run, shooting Piper his darkest glower before he ran off towards Hau'oli. But Piper was too busy staringat the woman in front of her, in awe of the trainer who saved her. In fact, the more she looked at her, the more she realized that her savior looked a lot like…


    Within only a couple moments, Mabel had managed to drag Piper away from the Kukui Labs (the laboratory wasn't safe anyway, especially since Mabel had arrived in full Skull gear) and led her through a network of tunnels and paths, through dark caverns and sleepy caves, until the duo entered into soft, warm sunshine grazing the tips of a lush green meadow.

    The spot Mabel had chosen was Ten Carat Hill, less than a mile away from the Pokémon Professor's Laboratory, but the path to the safe haven was intricate enough that if anyone felt the need to chase after them, they'd have a hard time making their way through the hollowed mountain. Piper settled into the leafy ferns and stared up at the sky, which was visible through what she assumed was an extinct volcano.

    "What did I give you that knife for? Decoration?" Mabel scowled, putting her hands on her hips. "Sit up straight. Just 'cause I saved you doesn't mean I like you."

    "What does it mean?" Piper asked, daring to roll her eyes.

    "It means I just hated that brat more, that's all." Mabel was decked out in a normal Skull grunt uniform, except for the giant gold chain swinging around her neck and the fact that her dark bandana that should've been tied around her mouth was hanging loosely around her neck. She had a heavy black backpack strapped across her arms, and she unclipped the straps and began pulling various items from her bag. Apparently, it could fit everything from money to PokéBalls to Roserade Tea.

    "Guzma told me to give this to you. For your completed mission." Mabel held out a stack of money, her fingers clutched tightly around the dollar bills as if she was afraid to let go.

    Piper reached for it with reluctance, just barely managing to pry it from Mabel's fist. "I thought Guzma gave orders to fire me. And kill me."

    "I know."

    Piper counted the dollars bills in silence as Mabel ripped open the plastic packaging of the Roserade Tea. It came in a six-pack of cans, like most sodas, but the intricate floral design on the pale mint can was what Piper was drawn to. The tea was just another sugary, floral, carbonated green tea. But the packaging was what made it special.

    "It wasn't his idea." Mabel took a sip of her soda-tea, tossing a can to Piper. Piper missed the catch but picked it up anyway from the misted blades of grass, fumbling with the can until she managed to pry it open. "He was ordered to get rid of you."

    Piper shrugged. "None of my business, I guess." She flicked her short hair back, glancing down at the ground. Her appetite for the tea had left.

    "Are you here to kill me?" The words barely made it out of Piper's mouth, hanging in the air like delicate, crushed flowers drifting on a breeze.

    "Arceus, no," Mabel said immediately. "I would've done it already if those were my orders." She clicked on one of the PokéBalls from her backpack, watching it expand to a normal size. "Guzma sent Gladion to battle you, and possibly kill you. But trust me, I wasn't going to let that happen."

    "Who's Gladion?"

    "…Piper, you're making me look smart. Gladion is the guy who just ambushed you."

    "I know that," Piper insisted. "But what's he like? Why was he so bad at battling?"

    Mabel shrugged. "He's been off his game for like, two months or something. More on edge than usual, you know?"

    Piper didn't know, but agreed anyway. "If he's off his game, why did Guzma send him? Isn't that inefficient?"

    Mabel snorted. "Trust me, Guzma didn't want to let you go. If you come back to Team Skull, he won't care. But his boss probably will."

    "Guzma is the boss," Piper insisted. "Who's stopping him, and why do they care?"

    Mabel shrugged. "Not even big sis Plumeria knows. Look, you wanna stay in Team Skull, that's fine. You wanna get paid? That's probably a different story from now on. We're gonna have to keep you under wraps."

    "But I need the money," Piper said, feeling the frustration rise in her from the bottom of her gut. "That's the only reason I joined in the first place. My family's in Malie—"

    "You have a different family now," Mabel argued. "I can set you up as a Pyukumuku chucker in Heahea City. Until then, you're gonna have to wait for me to talk to Guzma. I still gotta job on Ula' Ula, you know."

    Piper scoffed. "What about the Aether Foundation? What about Julian? He won't stop following me."

    Mabel sighed. "Look, kid. I can try to get some of my grunts to throw him off your trail—but all of my grunts are stationed in Ula' Ula."

    "Well, who's the Akala Squad Leader?" Piper asked. "Are there any grunts stationed in Heahea City?"

    Mabel shrugged. "Plume's taken over Akala now. The Skull who used to be in charge of Akala's squad has been gone for a long time now."



    Piper didn't know how to reply, so she took a couple sips of tea. Mabel looked so different in person—on camera, in the shadows of the Skull Mansion, her eyes were sunken-in and ringed with dark circles and bruises. In person, the sunlight was more forgiving and shone radiance onto her face, casting the illusion that she was vibrant, and lively, and maybe even happy.

    "I have to leave," Mabel said suddenly, cutting into the silence. "My grunts will be waiting for me on Ula' Ula. Can you manage your way out of Ten Carat Hill alone?" Mabel took one look at Piper's blank face and knew immediately that she wouldn't be leaving solo. "Oh, for the love of Lunala, I'll show you how to get out."

    The duo made their way back to the Kukui Labs, through the weaving network of tunnels and caves and out into the sunshine again.

    "Take this," Mabel said, handing Piper a small stack of Pokédollars. "Enough money to catch a ferry to Heahea. Don't waste it on something dumb, 'cause you can be sure I'll come back to kick your ass. Just like I did to Gladion."

    "Won't Guzma be mad?" Piper asked, pocketing the money.

    "About Gladion? Hell yeah, but there ain't nothing he can do about it because I've got Plumeria on my side. Don't worry about me. Worry about yourself kid. And for the love of Lunala, get yourself something to eat. You look like you're half starving to death."

    "Everyone in Team Skull is," Piper retorted swiftly, before she even knew she had said the words out loud.

    Mabel smirked. "Arceus. I can't believe Guzma hired you with thatattitude. Actually, yes, I can. I'll see you soon, numskull." Mabel turned on her heel and began to stride through the tall patches of grass by the side of the road leading towards Hau'oli City. "Don't do anything stupid without my permission!"

    Piper smiled, and didn't respond because she knew that that was a promise she couldn't keep.

    Piper knew that Mabel hadn't purposefully arrived in her time of need, kicking Gladion in the stomach because she was concerned for Piper's sake. But part of Piper wished that she did, and that Mabel had secretly timed her mission with Gladion's so that she could deliver Piper's money and kick the blonde's butt at the same time. Mabel wasn't going to listen to Piper's story and cry. Mabel wasn't going to comfort Piper just because she had seen some rough times. For all Piper knew, Mabel probably had it rougher.

    Everyone in Team Skull seemed to have it rougher.

    What about Guzma? The big, bad Boss of Team Skull? Piper had only heard rumors about the Alolan gang on her seafaring trips, but there were no naval divisions of Team Skull. In fact, the Quintilian family was lucky in that they never encountered any modern-day pirates. Her parents purposefully never stopped in Hoenn harbors to avoid organizations like Team Aqua and their remnants.

    Compared to all the other members of Team Skull, Piper was remarkably lucky.

    And yet, she couldn't stop thinking about everything else. Her ship, her home—the Perseus—was gone. Her family was nearly broke and living in a Pokémon Center with no assistance from insurance. And her Staryu was dead, floating lifeless somewhere in the ocean.

    All because of a stupid storm.

    Piper bit her lip. She couldn't go back to Hau'oli City, since Julian would be waiting there, hoping to outfox her in some cunning way so that he could turn her in to the police. It wouldn't benefit him even if he did—Piper had little to no intel on what was going on in Team Skull, seeing that she was traveling constantly and rarely met up with other team members (who weren't trying to kill her). Not only that, but Piper wasn't really working for Team Skull anymore. She was going to be a Pyukumuku chucker.


    The only other town Piper knew on Melemele was Iki Town. So Piper turned her back towards Hau'oli City and began marching up the path, spitting out a slew of curses every time she tripped over the rocky trail, exhausted and fatigued. Iki Town was only a short distance from here, but Piper knew that on the inside she still had a long, long way to go.
    #12 Jun 12, 2017
    Last edited: Jul 13, 2017
  13. Wings

    Level 100
    Jun 11, 2017
    Chapter 12 of When the Sun Sets
    Tide Song
    Julian hadn't seen his mother in a month.

    It had been around the end of June when she had walked him to the Driftveil City harbor, handed him a boat ticket and sent him on his way across the ocean. She waved to him from ashore before she rushed off to her next meeting, hurrying to talk to the city's best construction workers. Julian was surprised that she even found the time to say goodbye, especially when her schedule was packed with events and conferences. He didn't spite her for her crowded agenda, but sometimes he wished that she had found a different career. A doctor, maybe. A scientist.

    But the owner of the Tide Song Hotel?

    Julian had thought about her in the car ride to her office. The last time he'd seen her had been via his new Xtransceiver, about a week ago. Her dark brunette locks had been slicked back into a chignon at the nape of her neck, and a single curl had been draped elegantly over her forehead, expertly fixed into place by her personal stylist, Antonio. She had been wearing a black cardigan over an airy pink blouse, ready to go to her next meeting. Claudia, her assistant, had been in the background of the call, rushing to get everything in order for the next day: dinner reservations, hotel arrangements, and chauffeur services.

    When the Mercedes car parked on the curb, Julian propped his door open and stepped out into the sunshine, enjoying a couple breaths of fresh air before following Claudia into the corporate building he knew so well.

    His mother, Carmen, had never liked Hau'oli City—perhaps because she associated bittersweet memories with the capital of Alola—and so it often surprised Julian that she even had an office in Hau'oli. However, the headquarters of the Tide Song Hotel were located in Heahea City and now that Carmen was working on relocating to Unova, Julian knew that she would work on investing in offices there too.

    Claudia led him to an elevator and down a hallway towards an office, unlocking a door that read, "CARMEN MAHI'AI" in bolded letters. As she opened the door, Julian took in the sight of his mother sitting behind a desk with multitudes of paperwork spilling from a briefcase, her elegant wrist carving out signatures at the bottom of each paper. Her hair was still in a sleek chignon, her dress was a summery blue and her lips were red today, the color of Roseli berries.

    This was the Carmen he knew, and this was his mother.

    A hotel tycoon.

    "Julian!" Carmen exclaimed, standing up from her desk. Her voice had a warm, tenor quality that saturated the air, washed over the room. "Oh, Julian! You look so healthy! Alola's been treating you well, hasn't it?"

    Julian nearly flinched as his mother wrapped him in a tight embrace, hugging him close. He could smell his mother's Roselia petal perfume, her signature scent. It was dizzying and enigmatic in a way that made the room seem to be spinning or the floor to be dropping out from underneath, but that was what his mother loved best about the scent. She said it was her "lucky charm."

    "Mom," Julian said, cautiously. "I didn't think you were going to come to visit."

    "Me?!" Carmen exclaimed, clutching her pearl choker with a set of impeccably manicured nails. "Honey, why wouldn't I? I made sure that Quinn made an extra stop in Hau'oli City just for you."


    "My pilot. Remember?"

    "We have a pilot?"

    Carmen sighed. "Well, technically he's the Tide Song Hotel pilot. But…I figured he could spare a day to fly me from Castelia to Hau'oli." She peered down at Julian, though there wasn't much of a height difference between the two of them ever since last year. "You look so athletic now!"

    "Mom." Julian stared down his mother, forcing her eyes to lock into his gaze. Liars tended to have bad eye-contact. "Did you really came all the way out to Alola just for me?"

    "Julian…" Carmen sighed and sat down on the plush sofa next to her desk, gesturing for Julian to join her. Julian reluctantly sat down, but kept his distance. "Remember Lucy?" When her question was followed by silence, Carmen tried again. "You know, the Lucy who I went to high school with?"

    "You mean Lusamine, one of the most powerful people in the world?"

    "In Alola," Carmen corrected him. "Yes, Lucy's doing quite well. I always knew she would, and it looks like I was right. I flew in to Alola because Lusamine wanted to help me out with something small," Carmen smiled, "and because I also wanted to stop by and say hi to my favorite son."

    Julian was an only child.

    "Help you out with what?" Julian interrupted, ignoring her half-hearted attempt at a joke. "What's Lusamine doing to help you?"

    Carmen sighed again, crossing her arms. "Sweetie…it's really not something you should be stressing over…"

    "Mom," Julian insisted, clenching his fists. "Why are you really here?"

    Carmen inhaled sharply, and Julian could tell that she was trying very hard not to roll her eyes."It's not a big deal, sweetie. Lusamine is just helping out the Tide Song Hotel by offering a generous donation to get us started in Unova."

    "The Tide Song is moving to Unova?"

    "Mistralton City, to be exact. That's where we're thinking of setting up our Unova headquarters."

    "We? Is Lusamine getting a share of the money?"

    "Well, I'd imagine so! You have no idea how well Lucy and I used to work together…we did group projects for school together, we were on the same soccer team…" Carmen's eyes clouded over, and she sank into the cushions of the sofa as she began to reminisce about her childhood on the island. "We were the president and vice president of the student council..."

    "I get it, Mom," Julian said abruptly, interrupting her thoughts. "I…I just can't imagine having a Tide Song Hotel in Unova."

    Carmen smiled gently. "But I can. I think you'll be a lot happier when this whole project is finished. Just don't tell your friends about this, okay? I think Lucy wanted to keep this under wraps."

    "Tch," Julian muttered. "What friends?"

    "Don't say that, dear! If you weren't so ornery, maybe you would be able to sustain more friendships!" Carmen laughed light-heartedly, but Julian couldn't find the humor in her joke (if that had even been a joke) at all. Carmen seemed to notice his sullen demeanor, because she began to change the subject. "Speaking of sustainability, how's the charity work going? You look so athletic and healthy!"

    Julian rolled his eyes. "It's from running around the mud and tripping over stray palm trees."

    "But didn't you miss Alola?"

    Julian sighed. "I miss Unova more." He missed his summers in Undella Town… he missed the citizens, hardworking and much less laid-back than these Alolans…

    "You were born here, you know," Carmen said. "It's only been three years since we moved. I'm sure all your school mates would be happy to battle you again."

    Battle me, not see me, Julian thought, shoving his hands into his pockets. Despite his enormous status and immense popularity at school, only a couple students could actually stand being in the same room as him. He wondered if they were still in Alola, or if they had decided to follow up their education by studying abroad.

    Julian had moved to Unova only a couple years ago, but he had no intentions of furthering his academic pursuits at this point. At his age, most trainers were already lacing up their sneakers on dirt battlefields, traversing the region to challenge each gym or take on the island challenge. But complications from his mother's work had pervaded into Julian's life, and he had decided that everything would just be easier if he kept himself from going on a journey.

    "I'll be fine on my own," Julian said, looking into his mother's eyes. "I think I'm on to something."

    Carmen beamed. "Well, I'm glad you're benefitting from charity work. Being kind to others can bring happiness to yourself too, you know. And the higher up you work in the Aether Foundation, the more likely it is that you'll start getting paid…"

    Julian snorted. "We're filthy rich, Mom. We don't need money from a small-town charity."

    "Small region," Carmen corrected him. "I just want you to know what it's like to work hard for your money. I'm sure Lucy will be able to promote you if you put in your best effort—I could drop a hint while I'm visiting, if you want."

    Julian shook his head. "That's…"

    That's corrupt, he wanted to say, but he knew exactly how his mother would reply: No dear, that's business. Julian couldn't remember a time when his mother hadn't been so obsessed with business, telling him that they would "spread the wonders of Alola to the corners of the world" or some other ridiculous motto that she had dreamed up. Well, Julian didn't want any part in spreading the wonders of Alola to any part of the world when he had grown up here and felt just miserable.

    "That's what, dear?" Carmen prompted him.

    "Nothing," Julian replied quickly. "It's just… are you only staying here for a couple hours? Lusamine must run on a tight schedule."

    Carmen glanced down at the floors of her office, clutching her purse. "I know, honey… I have to leave soon. But I thought I could at least stop by and check on how you were doing…"

    "Right," Julian replied curtly. "Then I guess you'd better get going."

    Carmen shook her head. "Julian, sweetie, you know I wouldn't have chosen to live this way if I didn't want to support you…"

    He bit his lip, staring down at his uniform boots. "I know, Mom." Julian sighed and wrapped his mother into a warm hug, wondering how long it would be until he would be able to see her again. It often seemed as if they were constantly travelling, whether it be together or apart from each other. Summer vacations were no exception, either.

    "And I really do think that you should take my advice and visit some of your school friends. It's important that you don't get lonely," Carmen added as an afterthought.

    "I have Rocky."

    "Rocky isn't human, my dear. Go back to the Trainer's School. Tutor a couple of kids. They'll love you, I know they will."

    "But I have to get to my Aether officer on Akala Island as soon as I can!" Julian protested. "I already failed my first mission…I didn't get any information on the Tapu while I was in Iki Town."

    Carmen shook her head. "Sweetie, Akala Island can wait. You deserve to relax. Lusamine has volumes upon volumes of information on the island guardians, and certainly won't mind if she missed one sighting."

    "But it's the first time Tapu Koko has shown up in decades!" Julian insisted.

    Carmen shrugged. "Then tell your officer that you have something more substantial to do. The Aether Foundation hunts down crooks, right?" Julian nodded. "Then just tell your officer that you tried to obtain the information, but you're on the trails of a thug or something! There's plenty of crime near the harbor side of Hau'oli…why don't you start by investigating there?"

    Julian began to realize that his mother had a point. Nobody would care if he missed a Tapu sighting if he managed to lock up all the Skull grunts in Hau'oli City. Of course, that was a virtually impossible task in the first place and he had had little luck with just one Skull grunt.

    "I'll find a way," Julian sighed, walking outside of his mother's office.

    "There's no pressure, sweetie," Carmen reassured him, squeezing his shoulder. "If you have any problems, you can call me. I'm always here for you."

    "I know."

    "And I insist that you go back to school! Students absolutely love it when graduates come back to teach. Ilima will be thrilled to have you back, I imagine."

    "I know."

    Carmen smiled, and when her lips curved upward, it seemed as if her bright brown eyes began to sparkle too. "Claudia is going to drive us to the Pokémon Center if that's alright with you. I suppose that we can get a quick drink at the café there before I have to leave."

    Julian hesitated. "You know that the only beverage I take is Komala Coffee."

    "I assure you, it's been forty-seven years since I was born in this city and they still sell Komala Coffee."

    "Then the Pokémon Center it is." Julian smiled and strolled out of the office, lingering in the entrance of the building before he took a step back into the fresh air and sunshine. Claudia had retreated back to the car, notepad in hand, and was waiting for them in the driver's seat. Julian opened the door to the backseat, but in a flash he felt an icy shiver run up his spine, sending chills down his back. He turned around, but saw nothing. Perhaps the heat was just getting to his head.

    This is live from Eevee-ning news! Colress, a Unovan scientist hired by the Alolan government to research the storm of the year, has come up with some interesting evidence as to why it would be impossible for an island deity to have caused the storm.

    The superstorm was much closer to Ula'ula and Poni Island, so therefore either Tapu Bulu or Tapu Fini would have to be present to cause the storm. Additionally, Colress said that his team did not pick up any traces of Tapu energy in the waters around Ula'ula and Poni Island. However, energy from normal Pokémon moves were detected in the air and the ocean, but that energy may have been remnants from wild or trained Pokémon attempting to flee the storm.

    We'd also like to take some time to talk about Alola's richest woman, Lusamine Aether. The President of the Aether Foundation will be making a special appearance on our channel through a government broadcast, and she'll give us some insight on what she thinks of the Ultra Beasts, Alola's newest mystery.

    Stay tuned to hear her story!
    #13 Jun 12, 2017
    Last edited: Jul 13, 2017
  14. Wings

    Level 100
    Jun 11, 2017
    Chapter 13 of When the Sun Sets
    Festival Nights

    "Thank Arceus I found you!" Piper panted. "Sunne! Lillie! Oh, I'm sorry professor…I didn't see you there…"

    Swarms of people flocked around the mud huts of Iki Town, bumbling around various festival stands and food trucks. Stereotypical tourist shirts were seen in every color, and people of every nationality were gathered near the elevated wooden battlefield in the center of the square. A young trainer was battling another with her Totodile, trying to hold off a feisty Darumaka. Piper smiled at the scene, thinking back to her days in Johto.

    "Piper? That's the girl you were talking about?" A young, bronze-skinned boy stuck out his hand, gesturing for Piper to shake it. "I'm Hau. I can't believe that you were the one who caused all this trouble?"

    Piper shook his hand, trying to ignore the feel of her own sticky palm and the moist sweat rolling down her forehead. "It's so hot and humid in Alola," she complained. "I didn't even run here…I speed-walked and I'm still sweating."

    Professor Kukui let out a chuckle, resting his hands on his hips. "Yeah, kiddo…it gets pretty warm in Johto, but I bet you're not used to this. We should go back to Hala's house—he has plenty of water." He turned back to Piper with grin stretched across his face. "I can't believe you missed so much of the festival! Sunne was doing great up until…well… I guess the heat got to him, too!"

    "That's just an excuse for bad strategy," Hau protested. "He even had a type advantage!"

    "I haven't been training as much as you have," Sunne shot back. "It's not like my grandpa's an island kahuna!"

    Hau blushed. "I guess…"

    Piper shook her head. "You both fought really well for beginners—at least, you did when I was there."

    Kukui nodded. "Piper is right. You both deserve to feel proud of yourselves! Say, Piper, why did you hafta leave in the middle of the battle?"

    "Oh…I…um…" Piper stuttered. "I just had to go back to the Pokémon Center…"

    "Why?" Sunne asked, his eyes widening eagerly. "Did you get a Pokémon egg?"

    Piper shook her head. "I wanted to call my parents…" she lied. Piper had completely forgotten about calling her parents. How long had it been? Barely a couple days? Two days, maybe?

    "But you can just use the PC I showed you at the laboratory," Lillie muttered, scarcely audible. But Professor Kukui keen ears picked up on her mumbling, and he nodded in agreement.

    "Next time you can just use mine instead of walking all the way to Hau'oli!"

    "Right," Piper mumbled, "thanks." She shuffled sheepishly up the steps to the kahuna's house, following Hau as he let himself in. At first she found the gesture odd and slightly off, but then she remembered that he was Hala's grandson, and that he was probably used to just letting himself in anyway.

    "Hala!" Hau called out, "It's us!" His voice wasn't deep and strong like the kahuna's, but more musical and warm, like the voice of a warbling Trumbeak. Hau immediately fled to the kitchen, fetching a wooden pitcher filled halfway with cold water with lemon slices sloshing alongside ice. When he made sure everyone had a glass, he led them all back to the wooden table where Piper had sat before with the professor, before she had gone to visit the laboratory.

    "A toast to Tapu Koko!" Hau declared, holding his glass of water in the air. Murmurs of agreement followed, all except for Piper who muttered, "Isn't a toast supposed to be made with fancy alcohol?"

    "I'm so glad that we moved to Alola," Sunne gushed. "Mom and I have met so many kind people…"

    "Why did you move from Kanto, Sunne?" Piper asked. She had forgotten that Sunne was from Kanto, though his accent still peeked through when he spoke Alolan. It wasn't as though his accent was blatantly obvious—she certainly hadn't noticed upon first meeting him, or perhaps that was because she was more focused on saving Lillie's Jell-o blob Pokémon. But small hints of Sunne's Kanto background showed when he came across a particularly difficult word to pronounce. Piper, meanwhile, was just barely getting by with the Alolan that her mother had taught her when she was a child.

    Sunne's cheeks flushed to the color of a nearly-ripe apple. "School stuff, I guess…"

    "But you're not going to school anymore," Hau pointed out. "You're taking the island challenge, remember?"

    "That's enough." Professor Kukui smiled, though there was a faint undertone in his voice that made Piper think that asking any further questions would be a bad move. She gulped down the rest of her water, and didn't object when Hau moved to refill her glass. It amazed her that a boy his age—probably eleven—was so courteous and affable, especially after meeting the rowdy Sunne. But Piper supposed that the politeness came with being the kahuna's grandson. Hau had a lot to live up to.

    "I bet the festival is being shown on TV," Professor Kukui pointed out, interrupting the silence. "Let's take a look, shall we?" The three trainers and Lillie followed him to the living room and plopped down on the couch, right in front of the only flat-screen in Iki Town. Hau pressed a button on his remote and an image flickered onto the screen, glitchy and pixelated.

    "We might need to wait a couple seconds for the TV to load," Hau explained, setting the remote on the arm of the wicker couch. "There's not a lot of good reception here in Iki Town. We'd be better off just running to Hau'oli City—" He was promptly interrupted by the clear, ringing voice of someone speaking on the flat-screen, an image of a regal woman coming into focus. "Hey! That's not the festival!"

    "They must've interrupted the broadcasting for something urgent," Kukui said, folding his arms. "That's…that's not good."

    "…citizens, I present to you…urgent matter of the state…beasts are…Foundation will restore…" The poised blonde woman on the television screen was standing behind a podium, surrounded by masses and masses of political officials. Piper didn't know exactly who they were, but she could tell they were important people from the expensive clothes they wore, and the bodyguards around them. "…great news…islands will…" The television kept cutting the woman off, staggering her sentences into choppy fragments and blurring the screen.

    "We have really bad Wi-Fi reception," Hau apologized, but at this point, no one cared.

    "…beasts! Beasts could be…" The blonde woman was now commanding to the audience, gesturing with her hands. "Need…assistance…government will…nothing can fix…"

    Piper glanced around the room. Professor Kukui had his eyes glued to the flat-screen, his shoulders tense as he gazed at the podium's speaker. Sunne fidgeted on the couch, occasionally and accidentally bumping into Piper only to mutter a small apology and continue nervously squirming. Hau seemed troubled, not by the speech or the woman, but by the bad Wi-Fi reception. And Lillie…Lillie looked as if she had just witnessed a horrific beast rising up from its grave. Her skin was drained and paler than ever, and her fingers wrapped around her strap bag as if it would slip away from her if she loosened her grip.

    "Sunne?" Kukui slowly turned his head towards the young trainer, motioning towards Lillie. "Maybe it's best if you two go outside. Lillie has a hard time watching television."

    "I'll go with them!" Hau exclaimed, but the professor shook his head.

    "No, Hau, I want you to stay here." Professor Kukui's face had molded into a stone-cold glare towards the television, and Hau knew better than to ask too many questions.

    Sunne carefully guided Lillie away from the couch and to the backyard porch, leaving a disgruntled Hau back in the living room.

    "Why did you let Sunne go with her?" Piper asked, turning her head towards the windows, which were covered with wooden blinds. "He's not tactful at all…"

    Professor Kukui shook his head. "He's not the most poised of trainers, but I don't want him to see what's going on on TV tonight. It could hinder his island challenge severely."

    "Um, what about my island challenge?" Hau butted in, raising an eyebrow.

    "You've been training a little longer than Sunne has," the professor responded, "and I know that you've had more experience dealing with island catastrophes."

    "This is a catastrophe?!" Piper blurted out incredulously. "What do you mean?"

    Kukui narrowed his eyes. "Piper, please just focus on the television and I promise I'll answer your questions later."

    Piper clenched her fists, but kept her mouth shut as she reclined back into the couch. The blonde woman on the TV kept shouting, kept flickering and it was impossible to hear her complete any of her sentences. She wondered if her parents and her sister were watching the broadcast in Malie City, or if they were still working. When the broadcast came to an abrupt halt, Piper barely noticed since the pixels that flitted across the screen practically obscured the main image, blurring the TV until Kukui reached for the remote control and shut it off.

    "I'm not sure what Sunne and Lillie weren't supposed to see," Hau began, "but I don't think they would've heard enough in the broadcast to make any sense of it, anyway."

    The professor crossed his arms over his chest. "Even so, Sunne probably hasn't heard this kind of news about Alola before…"

    "What news?" Piper insisted, sweeping her cropped hair out of her face.

    "The Ultra Beasts, Piper. They're a series of creatures that come from a different dimension, to put it simply," Professor Kukui explained. "The woman on the TV—her name is Lusamine—has been studying those things for decades. Maybe even longer than my wife."

    "How can she study them if she can't see them?" Hau asked, jumping off his seat on the couch. "The Ultra Beasts don't even visit Alola. It's not like she can do tests on them or whatever if they're in another dimension."

    "You'd be surprised at what science can do nowadays," Kukui remarked bitterly. "I'll bet you that broadcast had anything and everything to do with the government funding her project for the Ultra Beasts."

    "Project?" Piper echoed.

    "Yes, project. Lusamine has been holding rallies all over Alola in an attempt to get famous politicians to support her cause for a protection plan for the Alolan islands—she says that every time an Ultra Beast enters to our dimension, the impact ruins our ecosystems and causes too much damage. She wants to be able to contain each and every one of them on her artificial island."

    Hau nodded. "It's kind of crazy when you think about it."

    "How do you build an artificial island?" Piper inquired, wishing she had read some more history textbooks before she had gotten stranded on the tropical region.

    Professor Kukui shook his head. "All classified…and for some reason, the government will give the Aether Foundation more money than they'll give me, the official Pokémon Professor of this region!" Kukui narrowed his eyes. "If they would fund Kukui Labs a little more, I'm sure that we'd already have the entire Pokédex completed. I feel bad for sending Sunne out on such a tedious journey. But he said he wanted to go…"

    "Wait," Piper interrupted, pinching the bridge of her nose. "Did you just say the Aether Foundation?"

    "Yes," Hau responded, answering for the professor. "Lusamine is the president of a charity group called the Aether Foundation. Besides research, they do all this good stuff like save Pokémon, help rookie trainers and they'll even give out scholarships to island challengers. Professor just doesn't like 'em because they're rich. Matter of fact, so are you, Professor. You're just humble about it."

    Kukui's cold expression slipped loose to reveal a sliver of a sheepish smile. "I try not to spend too much money so that we can use it for more Pokémon research. But thank you, Hau."

    "Can we come back inside?" Sunne yelled from the window. "It gets like, really cold at night."

    "Oh yeah!" the professor exclaimed, hitting his forehead with his palm. "I forgot you were out there! Come back inside, guys."

    Piper frowned. "Doesn't the Aether Foundation arrest Team Skull grunts?"

    "Aether Foundation?" Sunne echoed, shivering as he entered the room. "I wanna join the Aether Foundation!"

    "I'm sure that your talents would go to waste there, Sunne," Kukui interrupted him. "You'd make a much better Pokémon trainer, or perhaps a ranger if you really want to help Pokémon."


    "That's enough talk of the Aether Foundation!" Professor Kukui said, putting his hands on his hips. "For our next move in your Pokémon career Sunne, I think you ought to go back and learn the basics at the Pokémon Trainer's School."

    Hau frowned. "Can't he just learn all the basics from you, Professor?"

    Kukui shook his head. "Lillie, why don't you come further inside? It's cold by the doorway." In all their chattering, none of the trainers had managed to notice that Lillie was still huddled by the doorway, holding on to her Nebby for warmth. She blushed and settled over to the couch, smoothing the skirt of her dress down as she sat.

    "I think that Sunne should go to the Hau'oli Trainer's School because a certain trial captain is holding master classes at the summer school," Professor Kukui explained. "Hau, you should go too."

    "Trial captain?" Hau echoed. "You mean Ilima?"

    "ILIMA?" Piper shrieked, nearly jumping out of her seat. Her hands began to tremble. She didn't want to go back to that cotton-candy haired monster, who threatened her with detentions and went to school with Julian and all of that Taurus crap. Piper was determined to stay out of this one.

    Hau chuckled. "Boy, Ilima sure does have an army of female fans…" This received a boyish laugh from Sunne, who was forced keep his hand over his mouth in order to contain his laughter.

    "Female fans?!" Piper stuttered. "No! That's not what I meant!"

    "Don't worry, Piper. Ilima's pretty smooth about giving out autographs," Professor Kukui sympathized. "Although, I personally think that I have a better signature."

    Piper buried her hands in her hair, wishing that the world would just come to an end right then and there. "You guys, it's not what you think… We can't go to the Pokémon Trainer's School!"

    "Most of his fans get flustered just at the thought of meeting him," Hau whispered to Sunne, although not very quietly.

    "I AM NOT FLUSTERED," Piper shouted, punching Hau in the arm.

    "You're mean," Hau complained, checking his shoulder for a bruise. "You sure chose the wrong protégé this time, Professor."

    Professor Kukui laughed. "Well, Sunne is my new protégé. He's almost as good of an assistant as Lillie is—although, I don't think anyone can compete with Lillie."

    Lillie blushed, but refrained from replying.

    Piper sighed, massaging the bridge of her nose. She could only imagine what tomorrow would hold in store…

    "Hey, Aquarius!" Young, fresh and bright, Piper ran across the sands of Cherrygrove City, darting around seashells buried in the sand. "I found you a friend!" Piper held out the mentioned friend in her arms, unveiling a small Pidgey that she had barely managed to catch between her hands. It squawked and squirmed, wriggling its tiny body out of her grasp and fluttered away, getting off to an awkward start in the air but gradually building up a smooth flying pace. Piper frowned.

    "I was going to name it Pidge…" She kicked up a pile of sand, accidentally spraying dust in Aquarius's direction. "Sorry! I'm so sorry…I thought we were gonna make a new friend."

    Aquarius beeped, lighting up its core and spinning through the shallows of the water, casting ocean spray towards Piper. It was almost as tall as her, even though they were both nearly seven years of age. Piper's dark braids swung by the tips of her shoulders as she dashed into the waters, reaching out to hug Aquarius's star shaped body.

    "It's okay," Piper mumbled, the waves pooling around her bare feet. "We don't really need new friends." Aquarius's limbs folded around her in the closest thing to an embrace that it could manage, and leaned onto her shoulder.

    "Piper, make sure you're not too far out in the waves!" Nanea was standing on the sand, her arms folded across her floral blouse and her hair tucked up into a light blue scarf. The dimples from her smile were carved into her face from years of laughing, and her eyes were shining.

    "I'm not!" Piper yelled back, splashing Aquarius with a burst of water. "We're having fun!"

    Suddenly, Piper felt something cold touch her leg. She looked down, and found the silhouette of an aquatic Pokémon beneath the waves.

    "Aquarius, what is that?"

    Her Staryu moved its body as if it were shaking its head, curling on of its limbs around Pipers hand and pulling her away.

    "No, Aqua! I wanna see!" Piper reached down to pick up the Pokémon, but Aquarius was too strong for her and jetted them off to the shallower waters, skidding to a halt in the sand.

    "Piper! Get back to the road!" Nanea darted towards the waves, hiking up her ankle-length skirt and examining the Pokémon, limp in the water. "It's a washed up Tentacool. They don't appear so close to the beaches like this unless they're dead. I'll report it to a ranger."

    Piper peered closer at the dead Tentacool, hiding behind Aquarius. "Good thing you're here to protect me, Aquarius," she said, hugging onto her Staryu.

    "That Pidgey wouldn't've been able to pull me out of the water anyway."

    #14 Jun 12, 2017
    Last edited: Jul 13, 2017
  15. oghond

    oghond Black Belt

    Level 15
    Jun 10, 2017

    I. WISH. I. WAS. AS. GOOD. AS. YOU!!!!!!!

    Seriously, your writing is absolutely amazing, and in all honesty this has got to be one of the best things I have ever read. With that said, I would love it if you would please take a look at my fanfic, Pokémon Opal and Garnet. I would do anything for a comment or two on my story!
  16. Wings

    Level 100
    Jun 11, 2017
    Thank you so much!! It means the world to me that you love my writing so much! I'll go check out your story right now!
  17. oghond

    oghond Black Belt

    Level 15
    Jun 10, 2017
    AAAAAEEEEEEE!!! THANK YOU!!! Please check out and leave feedback for all 7 chapters!
  18. Wings

    Level 100
    Jun 11, 2017
    Oops, I read all seven and did one big review :sweat: I can go back and give you more specific details if you want!
  19. oghond

    oghond Black Belt

    Level 15
    Jun 10, 2017
    Sure! I would love that! You should see Hunchback- it's amazing! Chapter 7 will be up soon!
  20. oghond

    oghond Black Belt

    Level 15
    Jun 10, 2017
    Chapters 7, 8, and 9 are up! Go check them out!

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