Where were we?
I had just returned to Aether House in what I thought was triumph, only
to find Gladion there, screaming at everyone in the vicinity.
Something tells me this is not going to be the low point of my day.
After a rage-fuelled battle in which my
Raichu and Toucannon narrowly manage to overcome Gladion’s powerful Golbat,
Sneasel, and whatever the hell “Type: Null” is, Gladion calms down enough for
me to figure out what the hell is going on.
In perhaps the single cleverest feint ever executed by a Pokémon villain
in the history of time, it turns out that Plumeria’s abduction of Yungoos was a
ruse, intended mostly to draw me and Acerola away to Po Town. In our absence, Lillie and her adorable
little cosmic nuke were left with no one to protect them but Hau. Now, Hau is admittedly not without his
strengths. Indeed, if anyone ever finds
a way to convert optimism and doughnuts into a sort of tactical high explosive,
Hau will overnight become the foremost military power in the known universe. However, given the way reality has currently
chosen to manifest itself, he couldn’t win a battle against the Rotomdex, much
less Plumeria, and she was able to double back as soon as no one was watching
and kidnap Lillie and Nebby. Gladion is
decidedly unimpressed, both at the fact that Cosmog was with Lillie all along
(he apparently knows her), and at Hau’s failure to protect both of them. If nothing else, his desire to keep Nebby out
of the hands of his own employers seems to have been sincere. Luckily, he not only seems to know where
they’ve gone, but actually has a way to get there: he has a boat waiting in
Malie City, and orders me and Hau to meet him there posthaste. I momentarily consider the possibility that
this is all some kind of complex bluff on his part – perhaps Gladion has been
working with Lillie all along and is now luring me into a trap? By this point I’m about 90% sure they’re
brother and sister, so he could well be involved in her treacherous plot to
rule Alola… but I also don’t really have a better plan than “spring the trap
and use Hau as a human shield,” so I agree to go along.
When I arrive at the Malie docks, Gladion
is there already, waiting for Hau. Our
previous meetings have actually given him a sort of grudging respect for Hau
and his determination to forge his own path independently of Kahuna Hala –
enough so that Gladion is prepared to count him as an ally in our upcoming
raid. I’m about to ask for more details
when we’re interrupted by none other than Nanu, the grouchy old guy from Po
Town, who has… come to see us off, I guess?
Nanu announces, with zero fanfare and even less enthusiasm, that he is Ula’ula Island’s Kahuna, and offers me
an impromptu Grand Trial. You know, just
while we’re standing around waiting at the docks. Whatever happened to the solemnity and
sanctity of- oh, screw it; we all know I don’t care. Unfortunately for my Decidueye, who happens
to be at the front of my team, Nanu trains Dark-types, but Decidueye is at
least strong enough to bring down his first Pokémon, Sableye, with a couple of
Spirit Shackles. When Nanu switches to
Krokorok, I send out my Toucannon, who is immediately hit by Krokorok’s Swagger
and subsequently reduces it to a smoking crater with Beak Blast. Nanu’s final Pokémon, an Alolan Persian, is
strong enough to survive even the boosted Beak Blast and wreck Toucannon with
Power Gem, but its poor physical defences and weakness to Bug moves make it
easy prey for Golisopod. Nanu smiles for
the first time since I’ve met him, and presents me with his crystal, the
Congratulations or whatever,” he says, returning to his customary
mirthless, dead-eyed stare, and goes to leave as unceremoniously as he arrived
– but decides, seemingly on impulse, to give a few parting words to
Gladion. “Tell me… If you’re really
trying to get stronger as you say, then what’re you depending on Team Skull
for?” He leaves without waiting for an
answer. I shoot a glance at Gladion, who
just snorts and turns to look out at the sea.
A few minutes later, Hau arrives, and
Gladion reveals where we’re going: Aether Paradise. He ignores our demands for an explanation,
even as we get on his boat and set a course for the Paradise, unwilling to
provide any more information than a characteristically terse “I just
know.” On the way, I quietly take Hau
aside and reassure him that we can always stab Gladion in the back if this
turns out to be a mission to sabotage the Aether Foundation. He gives a nervous gulp, but agrees to watch
for my signal. Interestingly, when we
reach the Paradise itself, Gladion’s boat – black, with Team Skull livery –
doesn’t seem to raise any eyebrows, and we make it to the docking bay without
incident. That’s… strange, do they regularly get Team Skull vessels through
here? I decide to go along with
Gladion’s plan for now, so the three of us take out the Aether Foundation
guards on the docking level (surprisingly powerful trainers, many of them with
Dragon-type Pokémon) and make for the elevator.
Gladion quickly finds that elevator access to the research level, where
he believes Lillie and Nebby will be, has been locked down, and instead takes
us up to the administration level to find someone we can trick, bribe or coerce
into giving us access. Just such a
person is conveniently waiting for us: Mr. Bean.
“I, Faba, am the Aether Branch Chief,” he
introduces himself smugly. “The only one
in the world, I’m irreplaceable.”
“Yeah, that’s not what ‘Branch Chief’
means,” I comment. “By definition there
should be one of you for each branch.”
“Ah, but you see, there only is one branch
of the Aether Foundation at present – here in Alola – and even when our
organisation expands, I shall remain the most senior of the-”
“What do you even need a Branch Chief for,
then?” I ask, genuinely confused. “What
exactly is your job, anyway?” I hear a strange nasal sound to my left that
might be Gladion stifling a laugh. Mr.
Bean splutters indignantly.
“Wh- what do you mean by questioning me
like this? By coming back here
“Like you don’t know why,” Gladion says,
glaring at him. “You of all people
should know everything that happens in the Aether Foundation.”
“Living out in the world hasn’t been kind,
has it?” Mr. Bean responds acidly. “But
I’m still not telling you anything! And you of all people should understand
why…” Gladion shrugs theatrically and turns to me.
“Hey, Chris. You know why being a trainer is so
great? Because when you’re battling, it
doesn’t matter if you’re a kid or an adult.
Everyone’s equal in Pokémon battle!”
I snort, and pull my Decidueye’s Pokéball from my belt.
We’ll just see about that.” Mr.
“Is that what you think? You wish to battle me? The man who is called
Aether Paradise’s last line of defence is to battle a mere child!?” His
incredulous laughter subsides into a steely resolve. “As you will!” Mr. Bean’s only Pokémon, unfortunately for
him, is a Hypno. One-on-one, Decidueye
nails its soul to the wall in ten seconds flat.
As Mr. Bean stutters in disbelief, Gladion delivers one of his signature
as I said, Faba,” he says menacingly, “you of all people know what I’m here
“Indeed… If you’re looking for Cosmog, I suppose it might be downstairs…” Mr.
Bean replies with exaggerated casualness. “I’ve heard experiments are held down there…
experiments aiming to tear the very boundaries of the world apart.”
“So nothing too fancy then?” I quip. Mr. Bean just gives a resigned sigh and
unlocks the elevator controls for us, leaving us free to descend.
Aether Paradise’s underwater research level
is a much darker, more sinister place than the rest of the facility, with more
grey than white, and eerie fluorescent blue lighting. Hau, for his part, is his usual effervescent
self. Gladion is a little annoyed by
this, but seems to be gradually coming to respect Hau’s unique brand of
courage. The three of us quickly
dispatch the paltry Aether Foundation scientists guarding the place and begin
to look for Lillie and Nebby. Gladion
makes it clear that we are in a hurry, knowing that Mr. Bean is probably
mobilising the Foundation against us while we search, and discourages us from
looking into any of the Foundation’s research – better just to get on with
finding Lillie. He makes it doubly clear that Hau and I are not to
enter the first of the two labs, where his own Pokémon, Type: Null, was
created. Naturally, I ignore his
instructions completely and do as much snooping as I possibly can – I’m
starting to like Gladion, but we are a long way from anything I would describe
as “trust.” Although Cosmog itself is
nowhere to be found, the second lab contains extensive notes on the Aether Foundation’s
experiments with it. The Foundation
believes Cosmog to be a species of Ultra Beast, and has discovered that when
placed in great peril it has the power to open Ultra Wormholes, consistently
with Gladion’s cryptic warning at our previous meeting. Clearly he knew all of this because of his
apparent past association with the Aether Foundation – and the same must be
true of his probably-sister, Lillie. Her
plan to summon Lunala and conquer the Alola region in an age of infinite night
must have arisen from the Foundation’s research on Cosmog.
As for Null… once Gladion returns to the
elevator, I have a few moments to slip into the other lab and swipe as much
data as possible. The results are…
enlightening. Null is an artificial
Pokémon, engineered by the Aether Foundation with the explicit purpose of
fighting and killing Ultra Beasts, based on research materials gathered in Sinnoh,
at the Canalave Library. That’s…
strange. The Canalave Library is
world-renowned for its history and mythology collections, but in the biological
sciences it’s average at best… The files go on to explain that Null, which was
originally designated Type: Full, was supposed to have the capability to change
its element at will by focusing on eighteen special “memories” that the
Foundation gave it, using a technology they called the RKS system.
RKS, Ar-Kay-Ess. Sinnoh, Canalave. At-will type change.
Oh my god.
No, literally, oh my god. Surely they wouldn’t-? The Aether Foundation was trying to engineer
an artificial Pokémon that drew power from the distilled essence of Arceus, the Original One, the Pokémon
said to have created the universe! And they almost
did it, the mad bastards! I don’t
know how, but they successfully built
their Type: Full Pokémon, three of them in fact. The RKS system was a failure though; the
Pokémon couldn’t control their power and went berserk, necessitating the creation
of control masks – like the bronze helmet that Gladion’s Pokémon wears. Unfortunately, the masks also inhibited the
functioning of the RKS system, leading to the Pokémon’s re-designation as Type:
Null and their relegation to permanent cryogenic stasis. Until, apparently, Gladion decided to steal
one… I wonder, as I catch up to him and Hau at the elevator, whether he has any
idea what his partner is. Null is, in a
very real and very troubling sense, divine… ideal for fighting demons from the
Endless Void, I’ll give it that, but the thing about gods is, they can be
terribly fickle, even towards their favourites…
Back on the administration level, we find
Lusamine’s aide, Wicke, who greets Gladion as “young master.” She tells us that Lillie is probably with
Lusamine in her private quarters, but Mr. Bean has sealed the doors leading to
that part of the complex, and mustered as many employees as he can to stop
us. He greets us with a confident
chuckle as we approach, and crows that he only let us into the labs to buy
himself time to gather more of his staff.
“So, uh, Mr. Faba, do you have the key to
the president’s rooms?” Hau asks him.
“Indeed!” he replies triumphantly. “I have it right here!”
“So… if you’d just stayed hidden, we
would’ve been stuck here anyway, right?”
Hau bursts into laughter. Mr.
Bean stares at him, dumbstruck.
“Dude, you just got outsmarted by Hau,” I
observe. Gladion’s face tenses up as he struggles
not to laugh. “This is just not your
day, is it, Mr. Bean?”
“STOP CALLING ME THAT!” he screeches.
“ALL OF YOU, GET THEM! GET THEM
NOW!” His minions fall quickly enough,
but Mr. Bean himself has decided to bring his A-game this time, using three
Pokémon of his own and enlisting another Aether Foundation worker to run
support with a Ledian. My Slowbro and
Hau’s Raichu focus-fire the Ledian to keep it from providing him with too many
protections, then turn to Mr. Bean’s own Slowbro – between its own Amnesia and
the Ledian’s Light Screen, it takes a while to wear down, but two-on-one it’s
not too bad. His next Pokémon, a
Bruxish, quickly finishes off Hau’s Raichu as I switch in my Golisopod, but
then folds to a single strike from First Impression. Finally, against Mr. Bean’s Hypno, Hau sends
in his partner Pokémon – now in its final form, a slender, long-haired sea-lion
Pokémon called Primarina. Its Hydro
Vortex and my Golisopod’s Leech Life finish the battle almost before Hypno can
act. Mr. Bean fumes for a minute when
beaten, but faced with Gladion’s barely-contained rage, Hau’s wide-eyed grin,
and my stare of utter disdain, he relents and hands over his key, muttering
“this is why I can’t bring myself to like children,” as we pass him by.
The rear section of Aether Paradise’s
administration level is taken up almost entirely by President Lusamine’s
opulent mansion and its gardens – which are swarming with Team Skull
grunts. Huh. I guess Gladion was telling the truth; they
are working with the Aether Foundation.
But… why? No time to figure that
out; Gladion is already dashing past the grunts to confront Guzma. Hau engages the ones closest to us, leaving
me to fight my way forward. Two grunts
in my path give me little trouble. The
third… is B. We stare at each other in
silence for a moment.
“So…” he begins.
“…yeah…” I continue.
“…this is mad awkward, yo.”
We pause, hands inching toward our Pokéballs. “You could
have told me the whole thing with the Yungoos was a distraction.”
“I didn’t know! I didn’t even know we was workin’ with these
wack Aether Foundation guys til today!”
“Well, maybe now would be the moment to
switch sides then, if you’re going to do it,” I suggest, with a jerk of my head
towards Guzma and Gladion, in the midst of a battle that Guzma seems to be
winning. B hangs his head.
“I ain’t gonna fight a battle I can’t win;
takin’ on Guzma, the odds are way too slim.”
Get out of my way, then,” I reply sharply. He hesitates.
“What, you’re afraid of Guzma but you think you can beat me? If you’re not going to help, then step
aside.” After another moment’s
hesitation, he does. “That’s what I
thought.” I kinda feel bad for him, but
Gladion’s already beaten – I need to fight Guzma myself. Guzma laughs as I approach.
“You little misfits keep getting up in my grill, like a cloud of smoke that I
can’t brush away. It’s time I put out
your fire at the source!” I frown.
“You’re a Bug trainer; don’t you think a
fire metaphor is a bit of an inauspicious choice?” Guzma roars and sends out his Golisopod. “…fire it is,” I agree, opening the battle with
my Toucannon’s Beak Blast. While not
strong enough to outright defeat his Golisopod, that does trigger its Emergency
Exit to bounce in Guzma’s next Pokémon: a Masquerain, who quickly falls to
another Beak Blast. When Golisopod comes
back in, Toucannon is too weak now to keep fighting, so I use my own
Golisopod’s First Impression to finish it off.
The Pinsir that comes in next is able to bounce my Golisopod with
X-Scissor, but that just leaves an opening for my Salazzle to power up with
Nasty Plot and then roast both Pinsir and Guzma’s Ariados. Defeated, Guzma grudgingly steps aside and
lets me into Lusamine’s mansion. I
glance at Gladion, who is still treating his Pokémon’s wounds and waves for me
to keep going. Well, here goes nothing.
Most of the mansion, decorated all in
Aether Foundation white, gold and black, is sealed off; the only open path
leads to Lusamine’s private quarters, where she and Lillie are engrossed in an
argument. As I burst into the room,
Lusamine looks up at me, surprised.
Chris… it’s been a while since we last saw you,” she says, quickly
regaining her composure. Lillie spins
Y-you came!? You actually came to
“Help you!?” I ask incredulously. “I’m here to stop you!” I look over her shoulder at Lusamine. “Ma’am, I have reason to believe that Lillie
is plotting to destroy the Alola region by using the abilities of the Pokémon
she stole from you to take command of a mythical Ultra Beast known as
Lunala! We have to work together to keep
that power out of her hands!” Lillie and
Lusamine both stare at me for at least ten seconds without saying a word. Lillie opens and closes her mouth uselessly
like a fish. Lusamine’s face appears to
invent an all-new emotional state that somehow hybridises intense amusement
with chronic constipation.
“Oh, my… If this is what you were pinning your hopes on, my dear,” she says to
Lillie, “well… what can I say? How
disappointing.” Lillie, panicking now,
looks back and forth between me and Lusamine.
“I-I-I don’t need your help!” she declares
to me. “Or your approval, Mother!” she continues, turning back to
Lusamine. “I will save Cosmog!”
“Don’t listen to her!” I warn
Lusamine. “Cosmog is an Ultra Beast;
it’s dangerous, and so is she!” Lusamine
smiles at me warmly.
“Your concern is touching, but I can handle
myself. I know how to deal with those
dear, sweet, darling beasts.” She turns
to Lillie, and all her warmth evaporates.
“I could have sworn you just called me ‘Mother.’ You must be forgetting that I don’t have any children! Certainly not any wretched children who would
run off and reject my love!” Lillie
flinches, and Lusamine laughs. “What can
you do, Lillie? The only thing that
you’ve ever done on your own is steal
someone else’s research!” She turns her
back to us. “You’re not beautiful enough
for my world…”
“…okay, that’s a bit harsh,” I suggest. “I
mean, she is literally your daughter,
right? Errare est humanum and all that?”
Lusamine ignores me, and gives a shrug and a sigh.
“Well, since you’re here anyway, you can
watch me summon my sweet beast. And
then… you can leave.” She walks over to
a wall mirror at the back of the room, and touches it gently. The mirror vanishes, revealing an alcove
containing a teleport pad. “Maybe if you
really had been a daughter to me, I would have listened to you,” Lusamine says
as she steps onto the pad, then gives Lillie a final sneer and vanishes.
“Wait – summon?” I gasp.
Lillie must have tricked her mother somehow – Lusamine wants to protect the Ultra Beasts; she doesn’t
realise how dangerous they are. She’s
going to do her daughter’s bidding and summon Lunala herself! I run for the teleport pad. “Ma’am!
Lusamine! You’re making a
mistake! Whatever she’s told you, you
have to stop!” Just behind me, I hear
Lillie give an exasperated scream as she follows me through the teleport.
Tane the Decidueye
Male, Timid nature, Overgrow ability
Steel Wing, Razor Leaf, Synthesis, Spirit
Rhea the Toucannon
Female, Lax nature, Keen Eye ability
Screech, Roost, Beak Blast, Brick Break
Ashley the Psychu
Female, Timid nature, Surge Surfer ability
Discharge, Hidden Power (Ice), Nasty Plot, Psychic
Hypatia the Slowbro
Female, Hardy nature, Own Tempo ability
Psychic, Yawn, Slack Off, Scald
Joanna the Salazzle
Female, Timid nature, Corrosion ability
Flame Burst, Nasty Plot, Sludge Bomb, Toxic
Sigourney the Golisopod
Female, Careful nature, Emergency Exit
Brick Break, Payback, First Impression,