I should really just get out while I’m ahead.
I got this sparkly bracelet thing, I got a bunch of weird voodoo crystals with a variety of dubiously magic powers, I got a bunch of… arguably cool Pokémon that I’d never seen before. Some of those things’d have to fetch a decent price if I just left Alola and never looked back, right?
And if you’re with the police, no, obviously I’m not talking about the Pokémon; they would stay with me back in Kanto and I would do my best to give them all a good life.
(If you’re not with the police, look, I know a guy who knows a guy, okay? Just be cool)
I mean, the day started fine. I get to Hano Grand Resort early and just hang out on the beach all morning. See, this is what I pictured when I decided to come to Alola: me, the sun, the sand, the water, a cold glass of Pinap juice, cute topless guys, and no one thinking that I have to solve all their problems just because I’m a half decent Pokémon trainer. Not that the attention is always bad, but I came here to relax, you know? And I do, for a good few hours. I look around a bit, too. The beach at Hano has this… haunted pile of sand, I guess? A Ghost/Ground haunted pile of sand, called Sandygast, which I guess is going to evolve into a… Sandgastle? So that’s weird. There’s also this weird spikey sea cucumber Pokémon – I’ve seen them before, living behind Hala’s toilet back on Melemele Island, but didn’t know what they were. They’re called Pyukumuku, they’re Water-types, and they mainly fight with retaliatory moves like Counter. Like real sea cucumbers, Pyukumuku’s most unique skill is its ability to confuse and dismay attackers by expelling its internal organs through its anus. It knows what it’s got, and it works with it. I can respect that. After I feel sufficiently rested from my time on the beach, I wander up to the beachfront hotel to meet… um… whatever his name is. The Aether Foundation scientist-looking guy.
“You may call me Faba.”
Like… like the bean? Come to think of it, his glasses do look kind of like beans. Sure, whatever, let’s go with that. This way, he can be played by Rowan Atkinson in the movie adaptation.
“I told you before that I would show you someplace astounding, right? Well, that wondrous place is… Aether Paradise!” I look at him blankly.
“…should I have heard of it, or…?”
“Just as the name suggests, Aether Paradise is a veritable paradise for Pokémon that floats far out in the sea surrounding Alola,” Mr. Bean explains. “It is an artificial island, made entirely by human technology, for the protecting of Pokémon! And our Foundation wishes to offer you a tour of Aether Paradise – you will come, won’t you?”
“A chance to see a state-of-the-art Pokémon conservation facility? Sure, how can I pass it up?” It’s not exactly what I had in mind for my time in Alola, but I’m pretty sure this counts as sightseeing on some level. Olivia and Professor Kukui show up to drop off Hau, and give us both a nice send-off from Akala Island, since Mr. Bean says we’ll be able to travel directly to Ula’ula Island once we’re finished at the Aether Paradise. Hau, as usual, is practically bouncing off the walls with excitement and can’t wait to see the Paradise, so the three of us board a small Aether Foundation ship and set off.
The Aether Paradise is everything it’s talked up to be – a huge, gleaming white building on a platform floating in the middle of the open ocean. Mr. Bean is tight-lipped about what exactly holds it up; according to Hau, it’s rumoured to be supported by powerful Pokémon, but Hau is an idiot. It’s impressive, regardless. The ship drops us off on the docking level, where several Machamp and a few particularly burly humans are shifting huge wooden crates. Everything is the same pristine white as the superstructure. Mr. Bean explains that below us, beneath sea level, there are research labs where Aether Foundation scientists are working on new technologies to assist in Pokémon conservation, including special advanced Pokéballs, and also warns us that, although there are many wild Pokémon in the facility, we cannot use our own Pokéballs due to a special jamming signal. I ask to see the underwater labs, and am told that, although I can take the elevator down to the research level if I want to use the observation windows in the lobby, the labs themselves are off limits. Well, that’s… a little suspicious, but I guess the Aether Foundation is a privately-run organisation with a lot of sensitive new technology, so it’s not unreasonable. The conservation level, on the other hand, is ours to explore. Mr. Bean is apparently far too important to show us around himself, though, so he quickly fobs us off on his assistant, a friendly purple-haired woman named Wicke. Wicke gives us a brief tour of the parts of the administration level that aren’t off-limits, before zipping us up to the real attractions on the conservation level.
The conservation level is truly spectacular – a carefully balanced mix of woodland, river and hillside habitats, criss-crossed by walkways and tended by numerous Foundation workers, filled with rare Pokémon, and all enclosed in perspex so the climate can be controlled. The whole thing must be the size of a small town.
“We keep Pokémon that have been targeted by Team Skull here,” Wicke tells us, directing our attention around the different parts of the conservation area with sweeping arm gestures. “And we also try to support Pokémon that need a little extra protection. Like Corsola, for example. They are quite terribly overhunted by a Pokémon called Toxapex…” (the evolved form of Mareanie?) “I hope you don’t mind if I read a passage from my Pokédex.” She pulls out her ‘dex and quotes a passage: “Toxapex crawls along the ocean floor on its 12 legs. It leaves a trail of Corsola bits scattered in its wake.” I frown.
“Yeah,” Hau says, “my grandpa’s always saying nature’s got its cruel side, sure as it gives us blessings.”
“Well… isn’t that all part of the balance, though?” I question Wicke. “Toxapex are native to Alola, aren’t they? It’s not as though they’re an invasive species… and they have the same right to life as the Corsola. Protecting endangered Pokémon from human action is important, but why should the Aether Foundation interfere in the Alola region’s natural food chains?”
“That’s right…” Hau says thoughtfully. “Can the Aether Foundation really protect all the Pokémon that’re out there? Even from each other?” Wicke nods approvingly at our questions.
“Nature does have its own balance, of course. It can be difficult to judge just how much we humans should try to affect that. But that’s part of the reason the Aether Foundation employs so many scientists and research assistants – so we can make sure our actions sustain the balance, rather than tipping it too far in another direction. If you’d like to know more about what we do, I could introduce you to President Lusamine,” she offers. “She should be here in the conservation area now…” I glance at Hau, who has switched to a total wide-eyed grin as he looks around the habitats.
“If she’s not busy, then sure, we’d love to,” I answer.
We find Lusamine in the north part of the sanctuary. She is a slim, beautiful woman, with shoulder-length platinum-blonde hair and a poufy yellow-and-cream dress. Her eyes… her eyes are the same piercing green as Lillie’s. Hmm. She wears a large, sea-green jewel at her breast like an amulet. It looks a little like a Z-crystal, but I can’t quite tell. When Hau and I first see her, she is surrounded by wild Pokémon, talking to them gently and softly. When Wicke approaches her, she beckons an attendant to lead the Pokémon away, speaks to Wicke for a few moments, then turns to us.
“You must be Chris and Hau,” she says in her soft, dreamy voice. “Welcome to Aether Paradise. I am the president of the Aether Foundation… but please, just call me Lusamine.” Hau and I introduce ourselves, and we exchange mundane small talk about the Island Challenge before Lusamine reaches the meat of the conversation. “I’m glad there are people like you, who travel the islands to learn more about Pokémon… But there are also unfortunate people who harm Pokémon for their own selfish reasons. And that is why I am here. I will be like a mother to all of those poor Pokémon and shower them with love. Even Pokémon from distant worlds, far from the Alola region, are worthy of my love.”
“That’s… a noble sentiment, ma’am,” I say carefully. “But not even an organisation as advanced and powerful as yours can protect every Pokémon in Alola from harm… much less distant worlds. Isn’t the Aether Foundation’s mission in this region a bit more nuanced than that?” She gives me a motherly smile.
“Didn’t I tell you to call me Lusamine? There’s no need to be so formal. And… we may not have that power yet. But the Aether Foundation is an organisation built on love, and love cannot fail to grow from love… Do not let your preoccupations with what is blind you to the possibilities of what might be.”
“Wow, Miss Lusamine!” Hau exclaims. “I don’t know how you do all this! You’re, like, not even that much older than us!” Lusamine giggles.
“Oh, you sweet boy! I’m already over 40!”
“You are?” Hau asks, a little sceptically. Lusamine says nothing, just smiling at him, until he realises she’s perfectly serious. “Wait, WHAT!?” She giggles again.
“Oh, you! The right style does wonders, you know. And Hau… your style is a bit wanting, hmm?”
“Well, she’s not wrong…” I murmur quietly, earning me a hurt look from Hau and another giggle from Lusamine.
“I’ll have to take you out sometime and help you pick a smashing outfit.”
“L-like what you wear?” Hau stammers. I do believe he’s a tad smitten. “I don’t think anyone else could pull off that kind of look! Except maybe Lillie…” Hau is too preoccupied to notice, but when he mentions Lillie’s name, Lusamine’s eyes widen a little and she breathes in sharply. It takes her only a second to regain her composure completely, but there’s definitely something going on there. She knows who Lillie is.
“Oh, don’t you worry,” she reassures Hau. “You just leave everything up to me. Trust me – children would all be much happier if they’d only listen to the adults around them.” There’s a hint of exasperation in her voice – as though the last person who heard her say that ran off to become an international terrorist, and is now out past her bedtime. Before I can think of a subtle line of questioning to finagle more information out of her, though, the entire facility shudders violently on its nonexistent foundations. Speak of the-! Lillie and Nebby must be trying to blow up the lower levels of the facility! I should have known she would try something like this, after she acted so ‘frightened’ of the Aether Foundation! There can be no other possible explanation for-
…well… or, I mean, I guess it could also have something to do with the glowing white vortex, crackling with unknown eldritch energies, that just appeared in the middle of the conservation level.
But it’s probably Lillie’s fault.
“Hold onto your butts…” I mutter to no one in particular. The Ultra Wormhole – for that is what I assume this is – swirls, sparks, and ejects a large blue-white jellyfish that floats gently towards us and comes to a stop, hovering a few feet above the walkway. Lusamine, transfixed, reaches out with her hand and takes a step forward.
“Did you come… from another world?” she asks it.
“Miss Lusamine, stand back!” Hau warns her, trembling as he speaks. “That thing’s… not right!” Lusamine shakes her head sadly, apparently not hearing him.
“You poor creature…” she says, taking another step. I clear my throat.
“For once I agree with Hau. So, uh… we fighting this thing?” Hau takes a step back.
“Aue! Don’t look at me! I need to, uh… keep our flank secure in case more of them show up!”
“…sure.” Okay, I guess I’m fighting this thing. Because of course I am. When everything’s fine and dandy, Alola thinks I’m a meek little novice trainer who needs his hand held every step of the way to come out of his shell and embrace his talent, but the moment there’s a goddamn demon jellyfish from outside the universe to fight, suddenly I’m the only one in a ten kilometre radius with Pokémon and a backbone. Fine!
So, problems: there is a demon jellyfish. I have no idea what powers it has or what type it is, or whether “type” is even a meaningful category here. Is… is it even technically a Pokémon? Let’s assume yes, for the moment? It has a powerful totem-like aura that is protecting it from physical damage. Also its creepy extradimensional voice is whispering around my ears and will probably drive me insane if this takes too long. Solutions: TRUMBEAK, USE ROCK SMASH! RATICATE, HYPER FANG! NO, I THINK IT’S A STEEL-TYPE, USE CRUNCH! KEEP HITTING IT! DO SOMETHING! I keep screaming, mostly to drown out the sound of whatever Lovecraftian nonsense this thing is drip-feeding my psyche. Luckily, the demon jellyfish doesn’t seem to have much in the way of damaging attacks beyond Headbutt and Psywave. When it starts flickering in and out of existence, I conclude that we’re onto a winning strategy and hit it once more. With a final string of eldritch clicks and beeps, it twists the space around it into a folded pocket and vanishes. As everyone else breathes a sigh of relief, Lusamine starts talking to herself quietly, contemplatively.
“So, it’s true… I still need that Pokémon. I need to get it back.” I have a dreadful feeling I know what Pokémon she’s talking about.
“What? Miss Lusamine, did you say something?” Hau asks. For just a moment, a strange, almost predatory grin flickers across Lusamine’s face.
“That creature we just saw was undoubtedly an Ultra Beast… an unknown being from another dimension that suddenly appears from the Ultra Wormhole… It looked like it was suffering… like it pained it to be in this strange place…” She clenches her fist. “I can’t bear to see that happen! I will save it! And I will love it!”
…what a nice woman. It’s a good thing she’s not doing anything suspicious.
This apparently concludes our tour of the Aether Paradise. I suppose I can’t exactly blame them for cutting things short; they probably need to get to work on new security measures against extradimensional threats. As we leave, Wicke gives the two of us some gifts: a box of malasadas for Hau, and a copy of the TM for Psychic for me.
“…huh,” I say to Hau, as Wicke leaves and we climb onto the boat to Malie City. “Does it seem to you like there’s sort of… a disparity in the quality of our gifts, at all?” Hau laughs.
“Well, yeah! But don’t worry; I’ll totally share some of these malasadas with you! What are friends for, right?” I open my mouth to give a snarky reply, but then just sigh.
“…you know what, Hau? You do you, buddy. You’re gonna be just fine.”
“Duh!” he exclaims, as we take our seats on the ferry and he begins tucking into his food. “I got these awesome malasadas!”
“…yeah. That is exactly what I meant.”
Ula’ula Island is equivalent to the “Big Island” of Hawai’i in the real world, the island from which the whole archipelago takes its name, and its main port, Malie City, matches up with the real town of Hilo. Malie is one of the largest cities in Alola, comparable to Hau’oli City. Like Konikoni City, it has a very strong Japanese aesthetic in its architecture and general culture (courtesy of settlers from Johto), but has a sort of stately grandeur to it, that both Konikoni and Hau’oli lack. Hau insists on a battle the moment his feet touch solid ground, and as it turns out, he’s really making progress. Not only does he have a third Pokémon – a Flareon, to complement his Brionne’s Water abilities – but his Pikachu has evolved into a… a…
Well, I mean, it’s clearly a Raichu, but it’s… well, it’s surfing in mid-air on its own tail, and its eyes are glowing blue, and… it has psychic powers!? It’s a Psychic Raichu? A Psychu, if you will!? Props to Hau, this thing is adorable and awesome! And a neat tie-in to the old “surfing Pikachu” idea. And the discoveries don’t end here: once I defeat Hau, my Trumbeak – already high off our defeat of the demon jellyfish – reaches her mighty final form, Toucannon. I had more or less inferred the existence of a toucan Pokémon from some of the merchandise in Alolan souvenir shops, and guessed that it might evolve from Trumbeak, but I hadn’t predicted how awesome it would be. Not only do I love things with “cannon” in the name, Toucannon has a cool signature move to back it up: Beak Blast. At first I think this is a two-turn move like Solarbeam, and not a great one at that, but I soon figure out that it works more like Focus Punch; it has two stages, but both occur in the same turn, one before the opponent’s attack, and one after. But unlike Focus Punch, instead of cancelling the move if the user takes any damage, Beak Blast inflicts a painful burn on any opponent insolent enough to hit Toucannon with a contact attack while it’s charging!
According to Professor Kukui, who meets us in Malie City, the next trial site is up at the summit of Mount Hokulani, one of the two big mountains in the centre of Ula’ula island. At the moment, though, I feel less inclined than ever to march to his tune, so I just hang out for a while in the Malie Gardens, training a bunch of my B-team Pokémon and discovering new evolutions. My Rockruff and Morelull evolve into Lycanroc and Shiinotic, which I’ve already met, but more importantly, there are a few completely new ones. My Cutiefly evolves into a fairy-like Ribombee, and, like Toucannon, gains a neat signature move: Pollen Puff, a nifty little dual-use Bug-type special attack that can either do heavy damage to an enemy or restore health to an ally. My Dewpider evolves into an even more menacing and alien-looking Araquanid, but despite its fearsome appearance, the Rotomdex assures me that Araquanid is a gentle, caring and protective Pokémon. These assurances do not, unfortunately, hold true when my Stufful evolves. Stufful’s evolved form is Bewear. Bewear is… a creepily quiet, expressionless and unmoving stuffed bear Pokémon. It weirds me out a little at first, and then I learn from the Rotomdex that Bewear has a reputation for accidentally killing its trainers by hugging them too hard. I promptly send Bewear off to the Poké Pelago so Mohn can deal with it. This day has been way too long already without having to think about this $#!t.
Ridiculous quote log:
“Master Chuuster! This is your first vacation in three years! Please forget that you are a famous star, and just enjoy being a regular Pikachu for once!”
…the Pikachu… has a butler… and is a celebrity… and has come to Alola for a vacation. This… makes perfect sense.
Tane the Dartrix
Male, Timid nature, Overgrow ability
Tackle, Razor Leaf, Synthesis, Pluck
Rhea the Toucannon
Female, Lax nature, Keen Eye ability
Screech, Roost, Beak Blast, Rock Smash
Ashley the Pikachu
Female, Timid nature, Static ability
Volt Tackle, Hidden Power (Ice), Nasty Plot, Nuzzle
Hypatia the Slowpoke
Female, Hardy nature, Own Tempo ability
Psychic, Yawn, Headbutt, Scald
Soot the Raticate
Female, Hardy nature, Hustle ability
Crunch, Tail Whip, Hyper Fang, Focus Energy
Joanna the Salandit
Female, Timid nature, Corrosion ability
Flame Burst, Sweet Scent, Dragon Rage, Toxic