In some ways, things never change. Everything stays right where you left it. The earth orbits the sun, the tides rise and fall, the moon waxes and wanes, the seasons come and go. Changes can come in cycles that repeat again and again. Changes also happen in an instant. Once a moment is over, some things truly aren't the same. You cannot simply just go back to the way things were. Sometimes this is devastating and can leave one to be wistful and nostalgic. Other times a life-changing event can be one of the best things to ever happen.
Hau Keaka sat in his homeroom class as usual, passively chatting with the neighbors he’s befriended over the year. In his hands was a comic book, the cover featuring a hero clad in a helmet with horns and a flowing fur cloak. He moved some stray hairs out of his face to get a better view of the images and text in front of him. Everything seemed same ol same ol until the teacher spoke up.
“Ahem! Alola class! Before we begin today, I would like to introduce two new students”
What? New students? You don’t get those everyday. Hau looked over in interest, eyeing two kids in blindingly white attire. The shorter girl had long blonde hair, two braids resting on her shoulders. She was clad in a large wide-brimmed hat, her hands clasped over a frilly white dress and stockings. “Joining us today are two new students, the children of the President of the Aether Foundation, Gladiolus and Lillie Schuttman”
“Um, actually, it’s just Gladion,” the male corrected. He had a genetic color pallet matching his sister, his bright green eyes behind a pair of rectangular white rimmed glasses. His hair was styled in a bowl cut, with only a singular ahoge sticking up stubbornly. He wore a plain white dress shirt and trousers. Even the tie conformed to this strict color scheme.
Hau had only vaguely heard of Aether before, but some of the classmates seemed impressed by this lineage. He’s heard the name tossed around here and there. A few campaigns and TV appearances, a few PSAs and a few petting zoos at the local fair. Things like that. He knew of the Aether Foundation, but not too much about them. Just a passing acknowledgment as he’d continue his day. “Gladion, Lillie, your mother tells me you have something you’d like to say to the class about The Aether Foundation,” the teacher prompted the new kids.
“Yes, as founded by our grandfather, The Aether Foundation is an organization dedicated to the conservation and protection of wild pokémon and their habitats.” Gladion began a seemingly rehearsed speech, taking turns with his younger sister to explain what their family did.
“We have various branches all over the region, and over 400 people are employed to help out with this mission. Our main base of operations, however, is known as Aether Paradise. As the name implies, it is a paradise for various pokémon to rest and receive treatment and rehabilitation. This is also where research and technologies are developed to help further our goals in maintaining the harmony between humans and pokémon.”
“Aether Paradise itself is a rather high-tech marvel. It is a VLFS, Very Large Floating Structure, far off in the ocean, away from the main islands. It’s essentially a man-made artificial island designed to help pokémon and create minimal disruption to the local ecosystem.”
The class marveled at what they heard. In just a mere minute, these new kids seemed almost untouchable. They were from a whole other world. Between their lineage, their parent’s occupation and manner of dress, their wealth was obvious. Hau leaned over to a nearby classmate, having cooked up a small plan. “Hey, Elio. Did you know that Aether Paradise is held up by pokémon?” he whispered.
“Really?” the foreign exchange student said in disbelief, causing a smirk to spread across Hau’s face. “I knew I could get a reaction out of you”
Lillie was seated next to Selene Hoshizora, an exchange student from Kanto and Elio’s sister. Gladion meanwhile found himself near the very back of the class, shying away from prying eyes. “Ne, Lillie is kind of cute. Do you think I would have a chance?” Elio whispered to Hau.
“What? No way, man. You’re a total dork~” Hau teased.
“Why don’t you try, hot shot? Because you are such a ladies man.” Elio flipped that comment right back at him. Hau looked over in the new girl’s direction, gauging his interest.
“Mmm, she’s a little cute. I’ll try talking to her later.”
Meanwhile Lillie, unaware of the gossip, was getting to know her own neighbor for the first time. “Hello. My name is Selene,” the girl in the red beanie waved.
“Oh, h-hi Selene. My name is Lillie...though I guess you already knew that…” the blonde stumbled in a sudden timidity different from how she appeared in front of the class.
“It’s okay. I was nervous too coming here. My English is still not very good, but I hope we can become friends”
“Why of course, i’d love too” Lillie smiled at her neighbor. “And if you’re struggling at all, I can help you out”
“Really? Thank you very much!”
An hour or so later and it was time for lunch. Hau held a tray of cafeteria food in his hands before scanning the room. Ah! There’s the new girl! Remembering his bet, he started walking over towards her. His heart pounded nervously. He was a decently smooth guy. A little clumsy, but still. However, he’s never attempted flirting with a rich girl before; much less someone with as much prestige as the Schuttmans. He hoped she would at least be as nice as she seemed. He’s seen more than enough movies to know the tropes.
But whether or not he’d get to confirm any of those tropes wouldn’t be happening today. As easy it was to recognize the new girl’s beauty, it was easier to notice the crowd forming around her. “You’re so pretty~” girls cooed to her.
“Why thank you” Lillie would try to remain polite about all the attention she was clearly getting.
“No, really. Miss Lillie, you are simply beyond beauty. Just breathtaking and lovely” Hapu, a very short and reserved 8th grader, praised as she held the new girl’s hand.
“Is that all you’re eating? Here, I made some extra this morning. You can help yourself” 7th grader Mallow offered part of her homemade lunch.
“Um, I’m not really allowed to eat anything other than what was packed for me….” Lillie very quietly muttered. She so quiet actually, that Hau couldn’t really hear this detail at all.
“Oi, yamero!” Selene spoke up. She was the youngest of all the admirers, but also the creepiest and most intimidating. Noone knew why, but neither of the Hoshizora siblings ever had more than one facial expression. It certainly helped in moments like these where Selene clearly intended to be intimidating and scary. “Lillie-sama wants to have space! Please give her space!” she barked at the other girls.
From a short distance, Hau watched this all go down. Spinning on his heel, he turned around and noped out of there. Nope. Nope nope nope. Nopity nope nope! NOPE!
Instead of talking to the new girl, he settled at his usual spot next to Elio. “Hey Hau. Why did you not go and talk to Lillie?” he asked, having seen everything.
“Dude! Do you see what’s happening over there!? That’s a lesbian harem! I’m not about to go and be the one sausage in a lesbian harem!” Hau exclaimed, gesturing towards the crowd of girls. “You can do what you want, but I'm staying out of it! Lillie’s cute, but I don’t like her enough to fight a pack of lesbians for her! They’re too powerful!”
Elio and a couple other friends snickered a teased Hau a bit for his fear, but they are foolish men. They do not understand the sheer power they are up against. The all-mighty force of a pack of lesbians. They have crowned Lillie as their waifu, and their will to protect her smile is unmovable. Hau is the only one man enough to know that he has no chance. Elio, you foolish boy, may the odds be ever in your favor.
Having endured being called a wimpod for the rest of the day, Hau was feeling just a tad bit down. He knew his friends meant no harm, but it still hurt just a little. Did he regret not talking to Lillie though? Absolutely not. Still, with the events of that afternoon replaying in his mind, the boy wasn’t exactly watching where he was going. Not until it was too late anyways. Eyes glued to the floor, Hau turned the corner and crashed right into someone
Both parties fell to the ground, dropping whatever possessions they were previously holding. “Ugh, ai…” Hau groaned, rubbing at his throbbing head. He may have considered himself a decently charismatic person, but one thing Hau was not very good at was not being a clutz. “I’m sorry” he apologized before looking over to the other person. It was the other new kid.
“Nnngh...huh?” the blonde boy looked up at last at the sound of Hau’s voice. When he saw nothing but blurred colors and indistinct shapes however, he looked rather panicked. “My glasses!” he realized, as those white frames indeed had fallen off during impact. “I can’t see without them!” the new guy exclaimed, already blindly feeling around for them.
“Oh…” Hau frowned, feeling bad for the mess he had caused. He quickly glanced over the items on the floor, which ranged from notebooks to pencils to various papers strewn about. He spotted the frames in question with quick ease, snatching them up for the new guy. “Found em” Hau announced. “Hold still, I’ll put em back on for you” he volunteered.
The Schuttman boy’s bright green eyes widened as the blurred mess of green and brown focused into a much clearer image, and he let out an audible gasp. “Um...th-thank you” he shyly adjusted his glasses. The blonde looked away from Hau, directing his focus towards picking up his things. Hau caught onto this and began to help, retrieving his own items and handing back the things that weren't his. And dang, even this kid’s notebooks were white. In an almost inevitable fashion, Hau’s hand touched his when reaching out for one book.
“Whoops! That one’s yours, isn’t it?” Hau laughed it off, moving his hand away. The new guy just quietly and swiftly retrieved the book, along with the last few papers.
“Thank you for your help” the new kid stood upon the completion of their task. He had a certain colder and distant look and tone to him that contrasted the shyness he displayed just seconds ago. His expression was neutral, but his body was turned away from Hau as he hugged his belongings close to his chest. He seemed a bit closed off.
“No problem! Sorry again about that, Glaaa….?”
“Gladion. My...my name is Gladion” he corrected Hau, frowning as he did so.
“Right! Gladion!” Hau repeated in confirmation, already chanting that name in his head in an attempt not to forget it again. “By the way, my name is Hau! Nice to meet you!” he introduced himself with a bright smile, holding a hand out to shake. Gladion shifted his belongings in his arms before taking his hand in his.
“The pleasure is mine” he politely said. “Aren't we in homeroom together?” Gladion recalled seeing this guy’s face amongst the crowd before.
“Oh yeah! That’s right! Didn’t you and your sister transfer in earlier today? Your mom owns Aether, doesn’t she?” Hau recalled
“That is correct” he nodded, confirming his status.
“Well, you two seem really nice. Oh yeah! You aren't hurt anywhere, are you Gladion? Do you need me to take you to the nurse?” Hau offered, looking the new guy over for any bumps or bruises from the accident.
“That won’t be necessary, Hau. Thank you” Gladion dryly assured.
“Oh that’s good. Anyways, see you in class tomorrow?”
“Sure” Gladion needed.
“Great! See you!” Hau smiled before he waved goodbye and walked off, concluding their conversation. While Hau was off to his next class, Gladion stood in that spot for a few seconds. He watched Hau until he had disappeared into the crowd, the boy deep in thought. It was with the ring of the bell when he snapped out of this apparent trance and went to class.
After school, Hau met up with his friend by the front gates. They always walked home together, since they lived close to each other. Elio looked around for his sister before spotting her hanging around that new girl; along with the rest of the lesbian harem. 「おーい！セリーン！もう家に行こうよ！」Elio called out, getting his sister’s attention. Without ever blinking or even faltering that smile, Selene huffed before excusing herself from the group.
“Goodbye Lillie! See you tomorrow!” she waved before meeting up with her brother and mutual friend.
“You became friends with that girl fast, didn’t you?” Elio asked his sister as the trio walked home. His expressions never wavered, but there was a certain passive aggressive air to him.
“Yes! She is really nice!” Selene responded with enthusiasm. “I think I like her. Maybe she like me too?” she wondered, causing her brother to be apprehensive.
“Maybe Lillie isn’t gay and you are wasting your time, little sister” he harshly commented. His sister whined in protest.
“You do not know!” she insisted.
“Heyyyyy~ nice weather we’re having, huh?” Hau nervously butted in. In spite of the twin’s perpetually smiling faces, the oppressive and antagonistic energy between them was starting to really freak him out.
“You don’t either” Elio spat back at his sister, completely ignoring Hau.
“I am….nngh! English!......私はもうリーリエの友達をなった！」Selene shouted, switching languages to better illustrate her argument. 「私もう進歩した。兄さんは怖すぎる。彼女と話せない。」she bragged.
「嘘！」Elio protested, his wide unblinking eyes starting to shine with held back tears.
“Guys! Guys!” Hau begged, interrupting yet again. “I don’t know what you’re saying but please stop fighting!” he begged. “It’s a nice day today, can’t we just relax and smell the roses? Eat some malasada...”
“Ne, Hau” Selene said coyly, her grin seeming to widen the slightest bit as she propped her elbow on Elio’s shoulder. “Lillie-san has many she can choose. Who do you think can win?”
“I-I-I mean…” Hau tried to think of a way to answer such a complex question. “It’s um...it’s true that she’s really popular, and she’s only been here for a day. R-really...it’s anyone's game at this point. I think you both have a chance, but you shouldn’t let a girl get in between you two…” Hau put in his two cents, twiddling his fingers in hopes that his answer will settle things and everyone can return to being peaceful as usual. Elio looked down at his feet, remembering things his friend had said earlier.
“Hau, I know you are trying to be nice but, earlier you said that I don’t have any chance. There’s too many lesbians…” he lamented.
“I-I was joking! You can still compete!” Hau fretted, trying to comfort his friend.
“It’s okay, Hau. I just….I wish I can make her love me and not somebody else…” Elio said sadly, a stark contrast to his unmoving smile. He rubbed his arm as his eyes glanced around. “I’m sorry. Please do not worry about me, I am fine” he suddenly snapped to a much more pleasant and polite tone. “Anyway, this is where we go different way. See you tomorrow, Hau” he waved. Indeed, the path ahead split, one leading to Hau’s home and the other leading to the twins’.
“Bye bye, Hau!” Selene loudly waved.
“Okay you two. Try to get along now. Alola!” Hau waved nervously as he split off from the siblings.
Hau walked by himself, his mind heavy with what had just transpired. He hoped things would work out in the end. Lillie was getting very popular very fast, and it was tearing his friends apart! How could he not worry? But just as his mind was beginning to relax into more innocent and mundane thoughts, a cackling laugh could be heard. Hau whipped his head around, grey eyes widening at the sight before him. In the distance, a figure flew around the sky with feathery black wings! From where he was, the figure was far away enough to where he couldn’t make out many details. Just a person in black and red. Dark angel wings carried them around as they fired arrows at a target. The young boy wasn’t the only witness, as other townsfolk gawked at the sight. Hau slipped out his phone, moments like these not happening every day. He managed to snap a photo before noticing this dark cupid flying over in his direction. Looking away from the screen and to the sky, the figure above clearly had his bow drawn.
“...uh oh.” Hau’s eyes widened.
Arrows rained, and the crowd screamed in terror. Hau ran, arrows landing right near his feet and with heart stopping speed. “You stay away from my dear Lillie! Only I can have her!” the villain roared. Hau dared not to look behind him. Instead he ran, heart pounding as he willed his legs to run fast enough to keep him alive. Whatever it took to place distance between him and this apparent attacker. He didn’t know when, but the arrows seemed to stop flying. Regardless, he refused to rest until he had already flown up the front porch steps of his home and slammed the door behind him. Hau panted, back against the door as his exhausted legs finally gave out under his weight. Just what was that!?
“Hau! Are you alright?” his mother fretted, running to his aid.
“It was crazy, Mom!” the boy claimed. “This dark cupid guy just started attacking me out of nowhere! I barely got out of there!” he reported.
“Dark cupid? You’re not talking about the young man on tv right now, are you?” the woman asked.
“On...tv?” Hau repeated, looking over to the screen in question. Indeed, his grandfather was already watching a live newscast of the ongoing incident. The reporter described a flying super villain shooting arrows at civilians and screaming about someone named Lillie. Now near the couch to get a better look, Hau took a moment to compare the live footage to the photo he snapped earlier. It was indeed the same person! And looking at him now, he could recognize many more details. This villain was clad in a black suit, with red stripes across his chest. On one stripe, there was negative space dividing the red line into two. This space was shaped like a heart. He wore red gloves and boots, with large black wings carrying the boy’s weight. His mask also followed this color scheme, coming down to sharp points down his cheeks; almost like tears. Interestingly, between this villain’s dark hair and monologues about Lillie, he seemed awfully familiar to Hau…
Wait a minute,
“That’s my friend! That’s Elio!” Hau shouted upon realization.
“What? Hau, are you sure?” his mother asked. Surely her son must be seeing things, right?
“No! That’s really him!” he insisted. He didn’t know how, but his best friend had transformed into a cackling flying supervillain!
“That’s really strange.” Hala commented from the kitchen counter, sipping his tea as the footage continued. Gray hair pulled into a half ponytail, the sumo wrestler of a man always wore a nose ring over his moustache. Been there as long as Hau can remember. Elio flitted around, looking for his next target. Amongst his flying, the big star on his back could be seen. “How could anything like that ha-” he stopped mid sentence. Gasping, the old man dropped his tea in shock.
“Tutu? What’s wrong?” Hau asked.
“Yeah um, i-it’s nothing Hau” the old man recomposed himself to assure his grandson. “Sorry about the mess, Kaleia” the kahuna apologized, wiping the spilt tea off the counter.
“No worries” she excused, collecting the dropped cup.
“Now, if you’ll excuse me” Hala got up suddenly before walking away.
Hau’s eyes followed the old man, who isolated himself in his room. He frequently did this, disappearing into his room for long periods of time. Hau hardly ever questioned it, as the old man usually passed it off as things like resting or reading. It wasn’t an unbelievable lie, as he was getting older. The Kahuna’s back tended to give out more than it used too. Still, the unease around his grandfather piqued Hau’s interest. He wondered if it had to do with the super villain. “Hau, sweetie” Kaleia spoke up, snapping the boy out of his curious trance.
“Huh? Yeah Mom?”
“Could you bring this to your grandfather? I thought he’d like a new cup” Kaleia instructed her son, presenting a tray with indeed, a steaming new cup of tea.
“Oh, sure!” Hau accepted the task, taking the tray and heading off to his destination.
“It’s been half a century, Master, why didn’t you find them sooner!?” a hushed voice scolded from the other side of Hala’s bedroom door. Huh? Hau didn’t recognize this voice.
“Well it’s not like I never tried, and a lot happens in 50 years you know!” Hala could be heard whisper-shouting back. “Ugh! Let’s just focus on fixing this instead of pointing fingers”
“I’m just saying, what you did was a very bad thing. You know a big enough mistake can have consequences affecting everyone”
“You don’t need to remind me, thank you”
What was going on? Hau couldn’t help but press his ear against the door, his curiosity peaked. Did Tutu have a secret friend?
“Well what’s the big idea then, hot shot? You can’t just play hero again and expect nothing to have changed”
“No, those days are over. We are going to need help for this mission. We need a younger and stronger man. Someone like maybe--”
“No.” the secret friend cut off. “Nonononono! No! Absolutely not!” they asserted. “Master, your grandson is a sweetheart,” Hau perked at the mention of him. “But he’s a little….”
“Enough, Tauro.” Hala silenced. “Hau can keep a secret, and we don’t have any better ideas”
“Then let’s come up with them!” the other voice protested, only to be ignored.
“My mind is made up.”
Hala opened the door, causing the spying Hau to stumble forwards. He barely managed to steady the tea, minimizing the spills. “Ehehe...hi Tutu” he greeted. “Mom wanted me to bring you some more tea…” he explained, not sure if he should acknowledge what he had overheard.
“....Hau, shut the door. I want to talk to you about something” Hala instructed. Well that solves that question. Hau nodded, his body beginning to brim with nerves as he closed the door behind him. He placed the tray on his grandfather’s bedside table.
“I’m guessing you overheard my conversation just now?” Hala guessed sagely, to which Hau confirmed shamefully. The old man thought for a moment before speaking again. “Hau, I want you to understand that what I’m about to tell you is a secret. You must swear to never tell anyone, not even your mother” he warned. The young boy felt like gravity had increased, this elusive and important secret weighing on him.
“Um, okay Tutu. I promise. I won’t tell anyone. What is it?” he promised. Hala sighed in thought.
“You can come out now, Tauro” he called. The other party hesitated before finally revealing themselves to the boy.
It was a tiny floating creature, no more than 10 centimeters tall. It highly resembled a tauros, but it’s body took on a bipedal shape rather than quadruped. Three grey marks on its forehead, large horns, a fluffy deep brown collar, it had the traits of the pokémon but lacked any hooves or snout. The three tails this creature had more closely resembled the feelers of an insect. Hau couldn’t help but stare wide-eyed, as he had never seen anything like it. “We are going to regret this.” the creature groaned before composing himself.
“Hau. I’d like you to meet Tauro. He is a long time friend of mine” Hala introduced.
“Alola Hau. I’m happy to properly meet you at last” Tauro introduced, waving his hands in a rainbow motion as the usual alolan greeting goes.
“A-alola, Tauro. Wait, ‘properly’?” Hau questioned.
“Yes” Tauro nodded. “You never met me until now, but I have known you since the day you were born” he revealed.
“Whoa…” Hau said in awe at this creature. So he’s had a tiny friend looking out for him since he was a baby? Awesome!
“Tauro here is what’s called a ‘kwami’” Hala explained, gesturing to the floating tauros.
“A kwami?” Hau repeated.
“Mm-hmm. We kwami are ancient beings, as old as this world itself” Tauro exposited, leading Hau further down that sense of awe.
“So, are there more of you then?” Hau asked, catching onto the plural.
“Indeed.” Hala confirmed, walking over to his closet. Hau watched as his old man slid a series of clothes and hangers aside, Hala reaching for some secret object while a wall of newspaper clippings Hau never knew of showed itself. They looked rather old, nearly all the text stamped on with typewriters. Most intriguing was the young man prominently featured in those old black and white photos. Hau recognized that figure. The hero whose round helmet had two large horns. There was a mask-shaped hole for the hero’s eyes, but the only part of his face visible was the nose ring. The hero wore a fur cloak as he saved citizens in times of peril, and fought bad guys with the use of a whip. Hau recognized this person from his comic book! It was Kenkoa!
Before he had much time to contemplate why his grandfather had collected old newspaper clippings of a 1960s superhero, the old man brought out an important and ornate looking box. “A long time ago, I was entrusted to care for and guard these powerful artifacts” Hala narrated.
“Artifacts? You mean like, old and possibly magic doo-dads?” Hau guessed, looking at the box in his grandfather’s hands.
“Exactly that. They are called the Miraculous” Hala nodded, opening the box to reveal some...pretty ordinary jewelry. Ranging from necklaces to earrings to hair clips, there were many accessories in their own designated drawer. Curiously, it seemed that 5 of these slots were empty. “You know those superheroes you see in comic books? These can turn the wearer into exactly that” Hala told him. Hau stared in awe at what was in front of him, but there was still something he needed to ask.
“Wait, Tutu…” he voiced, thinking to all the clues so far. So these magic jewels can turn the wearer into superheroes, and his grandfather has this tauros-like creature hanging around him. There were the newspaper clippings, and even the nose ring Hala constantly wore looked like the hero in question. “Tutu, are you Kenkoa?” he asked.
“You catch on” Tauro confirmed, arms crossed as he nodded.
“Yes, but that was a long time ago, Hau” Hala commented. “I know how we can save your friend, but I need you to listen carefully” he instructed. Hau nodded, though internally he thought excitedly over the prospect of his grandfather being a retired superhero. It was as if the old man couldn’t get cooler!
“You see...a long time ago...I made a mistake” the old man admitted, much to his kwami’s eyerolls.
“You have no idea” Tauro commented, arms crossed. Hala grunted in annoyance before continuing.
“When I was younger, I had lost 4 out of the 19 miraculous. One of them was of the Clefairy, which gives the user the power to grant wishes” Hala explained, his grandson nodding along in understanding. “However, when in the wrong hands, the wishes it grants can corrupt the receiver. There is not a single doubt in my mind that this is what had happened to your friend” the kahuna revealed. At this information, Hau remembered what Elio had said right before this happened.
“I wish I could make her love me and not somebody else”
A wish for love. A wish to eliminate competition. That’s what turned Elio evil!
No. It was the one who granted the wish that was responsible. The one who got a hold of something that wasn’t theirs and misused it. That was who to blame.
“Hau,” Hala placed a hand on his grandson’s shoulder. “I want you to think very carefully of what I am about to ask of you. This will be dangerous, and I’d hate to make you clean up your old man’s mess. But,...”
“Will you take one of the Miraculous, fight this villain and bring me back the missing miraculi?”