“The seeds of darkness are beginning to sprout.
Children of the Sun, it’s time to rise.”
In a time long, long ago, on a distant planet—
Or not exactly. Sunggyu’s story takes place on Earth, a planet so vibrant and teeming with life, yet shrouded in ascending darkness that is slowly taking over the world. It has been pretty crazy lately, with all sorts of shit happening, hundreds of thousands of people dying, innocent people getting killed for no reason... Earth may be a beautiful planet, but the hearts of those who live on it are not so much.
It is the Year 2018, and 2018 Seoul remains very much the city it has always been—on the surface, a bustling city with spirit and vivacity. But it is also where people are too busy with themselves to care about others. The strong thrive like never better, the weak are left to die. The lack of warmth in the city has been increasingly apparent in the past few months, like something has happened to disrupt the balance, like something has started to manifest.
Sunggyu is 17, in his last year of high school, and can’t wait to graduate. He is also handsome, charming, and sexy—he believes so, at least—and perfects the look of a high school delinquent with his flaming red hair. His tall frame and long legs do make him pretty swoon-worthy, since he wears his uniform like he’s modeling for some school uniform label, if there’s even such a thing. His shirt is half tucked in, and his socks are way too low.
Yet none of the teachers actually care, because Sunggyu is in Year 3 Class H—the bottom class, where all the supposed bad students with no future are relegated to. The others refer to the H in their Class H as Hopeless, so they automatically become the objects of ridicule. Being on the receiving end of taunts and jeers have become routine to them now that most of them have become apathetic.
But Sunggyu isn’t stupid. Oh, he’s far from it. Sunggyu is a genius, but he is also extremely lazy. He had given up trying to make an effort since he was done with the first year of high school, and hence very naturally got booted to the last class.
“Are you coming?” A rather well-built boy with stylish blonde hair says as he walks by.
Sunggyu had fallen asleep, leaning backwards in his chair, at some point of the lesson, though let’s be real, the teachers don’t care much about their class at all and they might as well have been reading from the textbooks from the amount of effort they put into teaching Class H. Sunggyu knows way more than they can teach them in a year. He opens his eyes without moving his head to look at Hoya.
Then a slightly shorter boy with flamboyant pink hair bounces into Sunggyu’s vision. “Let’s go!”
Sunggyu gets up with a huge grunt and stretches. “Okay.” He is really envious of Dongwoo’s boundless energy sometimes. But, no thanks. Too much effort.
Their only route out of school takes them past the rest of the Year 3 classes, from G to A, and they hear things like “the useless ones are here”, “such disgrace”, “you taint the Earth just by breathing”, to name some of it. Sunggyu has never cared, and never will care. Hoya and Dongwoo thought those remarks to be hurting at first—which they are—but they have also learnt to ignore them.
After all, it isn’t like Hoya and Dongwoo are interested in academics. All they need is dance.
Sunggyu doesn’t really remember how he became friends with Hoya and Dongwoo for their personalities are complete opposites. Perhaps that is also what makes them work.
Playing pool after school has turned into sort of a regular activity for them, and they already have a table claimed at the place. It is an unspoken rule, but people generally avoid their table anyway.
So there is nothing different about this day, as Dongwoo skips and twirls along, while Hoya and Sunggyu take their time strolling at the back. As they pass a small alley on their way, Hoya has already walked slightly ahead, and a dark figure suddenly gets thrown out of the alley and into Sunggyu.
Sunggyu stumbles sideways and has his cigarette hit out of his hand. He manages to regain his footing and reflexively reaches out to hold the person who knocked into him. Before Sunggyu can say anything, five huge dark shapes emerge from the alley.
Hoya and Dongwoo have realized what is happening behind them and have backtracked to flank Sunggyu’s sides as the big men approach him.
Sunggyu knows who they are. Everyone in school knows who the star players of the school rugby team are. And they’re standing right in front of Sunggyu right now acting like barbarians.
“You have one day, pretty boy. Or don’t blame us for getting nasty.”
Then they stalk away after one of them delivers that line to the boy in Sunggyu’s arms in a low, gravelly voice that could give Megatron a run for his money. They don’t even look at Sunggyu though he stares at them with a deep frown.
Sunggyu holds the boy up. “Are you alright?”
The boy nods but he doesn’t lift his head. Jet black hair that is a little messy and pressed white uniform that is rather crumpled after his encounter with the barbaric guys—Sunggyu figures he must be one of those academically inclined kids from school. But he always thought they just all band together to mock at Class H, he didn’t think they had so much time to actually fight among themselves.
“Thank you.” The boy says and tries to slink away.
Sunggyu grabs him by the wrist to stop him. “What’s going on here?”
The boy finally looks up and hot damn. Sunggyu is struck by how absolutely stunning he looks. His skin is smooth as silk, his nose so straight it could rival even that of the most beautiful gods, his eyes are dark and sparkling just like those of a kitten feigning innocence, and his lips, wow, his lips are a rosy pink and look perfectly kissable. Sunggyu is enthralled. Hearts sparkle and dance in his eyes and around his head.
“It’s nothing, but thank you.”
The boy manages to escape while Sunggyu is still lost in the enchantment. He doesn’t realize until Dongwoo waves his hands in front of Sunggyu’s face.
“Yoohoo~ Earth to Sunggyu, hello?”
Sunggyu snaps out of his trance and the hearts pop like bubbles. In a split-second his expression has reverted to the same bored expression he always wears.
Hoya is watching him with his brows raised.
“What? He’s attractive.”
Sunggyu struts ahead before any of them can say anything else.
The thing about being Sunggyu, is that it’s never too late to get out of bed. That’s why he’s strolling to school at ten in the morning, hours after when school is supposed to start. His red hair draws a lot of attention as he walks past the other classes, but also earns him the stink-eye from the teachers and students alike.
Well, he’s Kim Sunggyu, he’ll do whatever he wants to.
But Sunggyu subtly looks for the black-haired boy as he passes each class. He doesn’t see him anywhere in the Year 3 classes, so Sunggyu figures he is possibly a Year 1. Only Year 1’s can manage to look so neat and bright-eyed. Perhaps Sunggyu will run into him some other time, though hopefully not like how they had knocked into each other yesterday.
He accidentally meets the eyes of one of the Class A elite students on the way, and said student scowls before looking away haughtily. That’s Nam Woohyun, top scorer of the cohort, the hot favourite of the principal and all the teachers because he never fails to make the school proud with those straight A’s of his. His hair is such a vivid leaf green that Sunggyu sometimes thinks he resembles a Bulbasaur, but way less cute, of course.
Nam Woohyun, Year 3 Class A, Model Student, known for his academic grades now, but previously known as the boy who got rejected by Sunggyu after confessing to him with a bunch of beautiful sunflowers in the middle of the school field in their first year. Sunggyu had said no, because he wasn’t interested in relationships, and told Woohyun that he could definitely find someone better. Woohyun had taken it really hard, and had been trying to make Sunggyu’s life difficult since.
People have forgotten about it soon after, and now only know him as the straight A’s student, but Woohyun still regards Sunggyu with as much contempt as the day Sunggyu said no, or possibly even more than then.
Hoya and Dongwoo find the hate unjustified, but Sunggyu accepts it. There is just a fine line between love and hate, after all. What Sunggyu doesn’t accept, is that the two boys who are always with Woohyun, this lanky one with loud cyan hair who towers above Woohyun, and this one with flashing purple hair and a perpetual seductive expression—Sungyeol and Sungjong—have taken to insulting Dongwoo and Hoya whenever all six of them encounter each other.
Sunggyu is the one who rejected Woohyun anyway, and everything between them shouldn’t have anything to do with anyone else, but somehow Woohyun made it everyone’s problem. So Sunggyu tries to steer clear of his way, not because he is scared, but because he doesn’t want to stir anything up.
He feels the scornful glares of Sungyeol and Sungjong on him before he disappears out of sight of Class A, but takes no heed.
Sunggyu continues walking and steps into his class like he owns it. Most of his classmates don’t even look up, and the teacher pays no attention to him as well.
Dongwoo waves happily to Sunggyu as he takes his seat. “Thought you weren’t coming!”
Sunggyu ruffles Dongwoo’s bubblegum pink hair and smiles warmly. “Didn’t want to ruin my perfect attendance this year.”
Sunggyu ignores him and lets himself sink down in his chair, propping his legs up on the desk as he pulls a book out of his bag to read. Technically, reading in class is not wrong. It’s just that Sunggyu isn’t reading anything related to class. Despite his frivolous appearance and behaviour, Sunggyu is kind of a literary geek.
Class is a bore as always, and Sunggyu dozes off with his book on his face because the drone of the teacher’s voice is really hypnotic.
Hoya picks the book off Sunggyu’s face when the last bell goes off, and Sunggyu rubs his eyes before opening them.
“What’s the agenda today?” Hoya asks.
“The usual?” Sunggyu yawns.
“It’s Thursday. Nine Cues doesn’t open early.”
“What about drinks?”
“We can go after Dongwoo’s dance class, then.”
They don’t even make it to Dongwoo’s dance class.
Sunggyu spots the black-haired boy being dragged away the moment he steps out of the school gates.
“Uh...” Dongwoo starts. “Are we going?”
The three of them look at each other, then Hoya and Dongwoo both look at Sunggyu, who sighs.
“You guys go for the dance class, I’ll go take a look.”
Dongwoo shakes his head. “We can’t let you go alone. It might be dangerous!”
Hoya nods. “Dongwoo’s right.”
Sunggyu shrugs and leaves in the direction that the people have taken the black-haired boy. Hoya and Dongwoo follow him wordlessly. They reach the end of the path, which is surrounded by ominous-looking trees and has pretty much been abandoned for years judging from the overgrowth there. Sunggyu never knew this place existed right behind the school.
The burly athletes had thrown the black-haired boy on the ground and are surrounding him when Sunggyu, Hoya, and Dongwoo arrive.
“Five big men against one boy. Haven’t heard of the term ‘pick on someone your own size’?” Sunggyu says in a degrading tone. “Oh, right, I’m sorry, look at how petite and pretty you five look. Aww.”
All five of them have directed their attention to Sunggyu now.
“Mind your own business.” The one with the Megatron voice growls.
“Thanks for the concern, my business has been booming lately.” Sunggyu smirks.
“You Class H trash don’t deserve to speak to us.” Another one speaks up. Sunggyu thinks this one reminds him of Bebop.
Rocksteady steps up next to him. “Yeah, who are you to talk to us?”
Perhaps Megatron is Shredder.
Sunggyu turns to Hoya and Dongwoo. “Is it just me, or is there something speaking to us?”
Hoya shrugs. “Pretty sure it’s just the wind.”
“Voices in the wind! How poetic!” Dongwoo chimes in.
Sunggyu feels the withdrawal of air from the side of his face and swiftly ducks down to avoid the punch thrown by Megatron, driving his elbow into Megatron’s guts as he slips away.
Megatron sputters and stumbles backwards. His eyes are filled with fury. Bebop and Rocksteady, and the two others that Sunggyu will refer to as Weezing and Muk just because, stand alongside Megatron just to look menacing.
Hoya stands on Sunggyu’s left, and Dongwoo on Sunggyu’s right.
If they want a fight, Sunggyu will give it to them. It has been a while, anyway. Back in Year 2, Sunggyu is always caught in fights. That’s also how he has that one pool table claimed in Nine Cues. In his defense, Sunggyu only fought that guy because Dongwoo got to the table five seconds before him and the guy was angry so he pushed Dongwoo and called him names. It had made Dongwoo sad, so it made Sunggyu angry.
Megatron throws the first punch in this fight, and Sunggyu steps out of his reach again. Weezing and Muk have retreated to try to take the black-haired boy away, while Hoya and Dongwoo take on Bebop and Rocksteady respectively.
They may look like huge guys with lots of brawn, but that is also all they are—huge guys with lots of brawn. Sunggyu realizes they don’t really know how to fight. All they have is their strength. Hoya and Dongwoo fight so gracefully they seem to be dancing. Sunggyu isn’t so much about the grace. All three of them take a couple of punches to the face, to their stomachs, in their shins, but these things aren’t going to stop them.
Sunggyu rolls away after a particularly forceful punch that takes the air out of his lungs, and lays down for a while to regain his bearings. He notices that the black-haired boy is actually bound and gagged on the ground, and Weezing and Muk are standing over him like they’re guarding him. Then footsteps that grow louder alert Sunggyu to the fact that Megatron is almost onto him, so Sunggyu waits till Megatron is close enough before he kicks his leg out and sweeps it across Megatron’s feet.
Megatron falls with a loud grunt. Hoya and Dongwoo manage to subdue Bebop and Rocksteady at the same time. Sunggyu gets up and steps on Megatron’s chest, the heel of his shoe digging into his flesh and making Megatron wheeze. When he still doesn’t retaliate, Sunggyu knows they’ve won. He crouches next to Megatron and slaps his cheeks with the back of his hand. “Guess you’re a lot smaller than you think.”
Then Sunggyu gestures to Hoya and Dongwoo to keep Megatron in place as well, and walks over to where Weezing and Muk are.
“So...” Sunggyu raises his hand, and both of them scream as they flee. He runs his fingers through his hair instead. “Well, that was easy.” He watches them for a bit to make sure they aren’t coming back before he helps the black-haired boy up and gingerly peels the tape from his lips.
“Thank you.” The boy says softly without looking up.
Sunggyu unties his hands and feet.
The boy suddenly throws his arms around Sunggyu with a huge sniffle, burying his face into Sunggyu’s shoulder.
Sunggyu is taken off-guard and is at a loss for a moment. Then he slowly puts his arms around the boy and hugs him back, patting his hair gently. “There, there.” He hears Hoya and Dongwoo snickering behind his back and knows how awkward he must be right now.
The boy eventually releases Sunggyu after what Sunggyu thinks is close to five minutes. He steps away from Sunggyu bashfully—how cute!—and nods his thanks at him again. “I’m Kim Myungsoo, by the way. Year 1. I’m sorry for getting you into trouble, but thank you so much.” Then the boy pecks Sunggyu on the cheek and runs away.
Twenty question marks pop out around Sunggyu’s head as he stands rooted to the spot, blushing. What just happened?
Hoya wolf-whistles at Sunggyu while Dongwoo exclaims, “That’s so sweet!”
Sunggyu makes his way back to Hoya and Dongwoo, stepping onto Megatron nonchalantly as he does.
“Are you blushing, Kim Sunggyu?” Hoya grins.
“Not a word!” Sunggyu walks away without waiting for both of them.
That night, Sunggyu has to avoid sleeping on his right thanks to a huge bruise that has formed on the side of his ribs. The rain, however, provides a soothing lullaby so Sunggyu falls asleep almost immediately, pain forgotten.
Bright lightning pierces the sky and a particularly loud crack of thunder results in Sunggyu getting jolted awake. He lays staring up at the ceiling for a while, and that is when light starts streaming in through his window and flooding his room until it becomes blinding. Sunggyu sits up reflexively as he attempts to get out of bed, but he can’t do anything except shield his eyes with his arm because even closing them isn’t of much use.
Then the light fades into a dull, glowing sphere suspended in the middle of his room and Sunggyu opens his eyes tentatively. He wants to reach out to touch it but at the same time he is apprehensive about doing so. He has no idea what that thing does and he would prefer not to implode or explode before he finds the black-haired boy—Myungsoo—again and speak to him.
But the sphere starts talking.
“Child of the Sun, you have been chosen to protect this world against the rising darkness. You will henceforth be known as Prince Roseus, Protector of Love. Cleanse this planet of its evils, and lead them into light. Protect the Earth and its inhabitants. Embrace the love and be the light, Prince Roseus!”
Hoya and Dongwoo are whispering to each other when Sunggyu walks into class, and don’t even notice him until Sunggyu breaks their conversation by putting a hand between them.
“What’s with the serious discussion?” Sunggyu asks as he sits sideways on his chair. He accidentally brushes his bag against his rib and hisses, cursing under his breath.
“We had this weird dream last night.” Hoya starts solemnly. “There was thunder and lightning, and this ball of light—”
“—that spoke! It’s really cool! I thought I was in an anime!” Dongwoo chirps.
Sunggyu remembers now. He wasn’t too sure before if it was a dream or if it really happened, but now that both Hoya and Dongwoo mention it... “What Prince are you both?”
Both of them look at him as they realize it had happened to Sunggyu too. The silence isn’t too long-lived, though, because Dongwoo very enthusiastically shares his new name.
“I’m the Protector of Joy, Prince Corallius!”
Sunggyu looks at Dongwoo with his coral pink hair and the bright smile on his face. Well, that certainly fits him.
“I’m the Protector of Peace, Prince Aureus.” Hoya deadpans.
“Don’t make me hit you, I’m supposed to be at peace.”
Sunggyu puts up his hands in mock-surrender. “I will not stop you from protecting peace, Prince Aureus.”
Hoya narrows his eyes at Sunggyu. “What are you, then?”
“Protector of Love, Prince Roseus.”
Hoya laughs hysterically and Sunggyu pushes him.
“But what does this mean though? For us to all have had the same dream?”
Hoya shrugs, and Dongwoo shakes his head. This is getting really weird.
Life goes on as normal for them, as the three of them head towards Nine Cues again. Except this time Sunggyu gets sidetracked.
Myungsoo ambushes Sunggyu when three of them step out of school. But Myungsoo’s way of ambushing is really adorable, since he just quietly shuffles out from the side and plants himself in front of Sunggyu.
“Oh, hello.” Sunggyu says, for lack of a better reaction.
Myungsoo looks down shyly. “Hi.”
“Hi, Myungsoo. I’m Sunggyu.” He turns to gesture at Hoya and Dongwoo. “That’s Hoya, and this is Dongwoo.”
Both of them wave politely at the boy, who nods and waves back bashfully. And before Sunggyu knows it, Hoya and Dongwoo have already made themselves scarce by walking ahead and not waiting for Sunggyu, and when Sunggyu looks over Myungsoo’s shoulder at them, both Hoya and Dongwoo are grinning back at him. Idiots.
“I’m... I was thinking... Maybe we could...” Myungsoo wrings his hands nervously.
“Would you like to go somewhere together?” Sunggyu says.
Myungsoo glances up at him and nods, blushing. “I have yet to thank you properly.”
Sunggyu smiles. “Do you have something in mind?”
Myungsoo nods and holds Sunggyu’s hand to lead him away.
Sunggyu grips Myungsoo’s hand as he looks at him. This boy is too damn adorable.
Then Sunggyu suddenly feels fury that is boring into the back of his head, and he can sense an intense loathing from somewhere in his surroundings. He catches a flash of green, then blue, then purple, from the corner of his eyes, but when he turns to look, there’s no one anywhere. The sense of impending danger that is building up rapidly makes Sunggyu really uneasy.
But Myungsoo’s holding his hand really tightly, so Sunggyu forgets about everything else, and focuses on the attractive boy next to him.
“Are you new here? I haven’t seen you around before.”
“I just transferred here a week and a half ago to Year 1 Class A.”
“Ah, such a bright and promising future ahead of you. You shouldn’t mix around with people like me.”
Myungsoo frowns as he glances at Sunggyu. “What do you mean people like you?”
“I’m from Year 3 Class H. Surely you have heard stories about us?”
Myungsoo seems to ponder for a while, then nods. “Does that matter? You could have left me to die, or something, but you didn’t. I can’t say the same about some of those people from the other classes.” He pauses as if thinking back on past experience, Sunggyu supposes the bullying must have started from the day he arrived. Then Myungsoo looks at him again. “Your red hair... It makes you look sexy.”
Sunggyu laughs. “Just the hair?”
Myungsoo shakes his head. “The way you carry yourself. Your confidence. How you wear your shirt half tucked out.”
Sunggyu raises his brows. “You’ve been...”
Myungsoo stares at the ground as they walk. “I... I first saw you on my second day, but I never thought in a million years that we would meet this way.”
“It is a pretty fun story to tell, you have to admit. ‘Sunggyu hyung rescued me and we fell in love.’ You know, something like that.”
Myungsoo chuckles softly. “You’re just getting ahead of yourself now.”
“Am I? So says the one who kissed me the first time we officially met.”
“It was a kiss of gratitude! And it was on your cheek!”
“Still a kiss.”
“Why are you being so mean to me?”
“I’m not!” Sunggyu protests.
Then there’s a booming crack of static and both Myungsoo and Sunggyu fall backwards.
“What the—” Sunggyu stares up at the three figures who stand in front of him, shrouded in dark glows.
There are the flashes again—green, blue, purple—then the glows fade to reveal three huge boys Sunggyu is definitely familiar with. He had just fought with them yesterday. Except they look different.
“Hand the boy over.” Megatron says. He is clad in some kind of metal armour from head to toe, and when he speaks, Sunggyu can see that his teeth have now become metal spikes. His eyes glow blood red. Sunggyu can’t decide if he is imagining the scene in front of him or it could be reality that the bad guy has somehow managed to turn himself into exactly what Sunggyu had thought he resembled.
“No.” Sunggyu says calmly as he gets to his feet slowly, pulling Myungsoo with him and subtly makes Myungsoo stand behind him.
“Then prepare to die.” Bebop and Rocksteady step forward.
Sunggyu almost laughs. Megatron may have turned out a tad too terrifying, but these two... Well, Sunggyu can only say the nicknames he thought of for them are way too apt.
Bebop has two long tusks protruding upwards from his lower jaw and Rocksteady has a horn on his forehead. Sunggyu starts to think this is a nightmare. They look even more like Bebop and Rocksteady than they have before, except they are also wearing matching armours.
Myungsoo clings to Sunggyu’s back, and Sunggyu realizes this may actually be real life.
So how is he supposed to fight these things?
All three of them stick their hands out and suddenly weapons appear in their hands. Megatron holds a sword, Bebop and Rocksteady have clubs with spikes.
“Myungsoo, you need to run.” Sunggyu says in a low voice only meant for the boy hiding behind him.
“There are no but’s, just—” There’s a jingling sound and then sudden coldness on Sunggyu’s skin, just on the top of his chest, like Sunggyu is wearing a necklace. But Sunggyu doesn’t wear any. He reaches up to touch whatever it is, and that is when it happens.
A blinding white light engulfs Sunggyu, and he’s lifted off the ground, spinning around in circles as his uniform morphs. When he has both his feet firmly on the ground again, he reflexively stretches out his hand like he has done this a million times over. A staff about a metre long materializes in his hand and he assumes battle stance. The light fades into a warm glow.
“Protector of Love, Prince Roseus!”
Sunggyu points the staff at the thugs.
“We are the Children of the Sun, Protectors of Earth. Together, we command you to renounce this darkness and embrace the light!”
The glow fades and Sunggyu is left standing there wondering what the actual fuck in the world just happened. He looks down at himself, and finds that he is wearing the most ridiculous outfit to ever exist. There are so many things wrong about this that he doesn’t even know where to start. He’s like a prince from some olden day era except in shorts.
His shirt still resembles his uniform in some way, but it now clings far too tightly to his chest, and an unnecessarily long and puffy red ribbon is in the place of a tie. The short sleeves have a red trimming, and the vest has way too long frilly red shirt tails that are longer than his shorts and stick out in a way that makes Sunggyu seem like he has a bigger butt. The necklace that Sunggyu had touched to trigger this change presses against his chest coolly, obscured by the red ribbon.
The shorts are just slightly longer than mid-thigh length, and the straight cut makes them the most normal thing Sunggyu is wearing. Sunggyu supposes they are acceptable.
Sunggyu kind of likes the boots. They are high cut white boots that reach halfway up his calves, and there are wide red ribbons in place of the laces. Wings extend from the sides of the boots. Sunggyu wonders if this means he can fly.
Hold up a second.
Hold up a second.
Why is he even in such an outfit in the first place? How did he recite those weird lines when he has not heard them once in his entire life? What is happening? And there is just one of him, where did the ‘we’ even come from?
Sunggyu glances back and realizes Myungsoo is looking at him with—never mind, Sunggyu doesn’t even know what that look in Myungsoo’s eyes is. He turns back to find Megatron and his goons snickering at him.
They think it’s funny, huh? Sunggyu will vanquish them, he will... Then Sunggyu’s heart drops when he realizes he doesn’t even know what he can do or if he can even do anything. The sphere’s words reappear in his mind at that moment.
“Cleanse this planet of its evils, and lead them into light. Protect the Earth and its inhabitants. Embrace the love and be the light.”
If this isn’t a nightmare, then this staff had better fucking work. Sunggyu stares at the glowing staff in his hand. At the top of it is a red rose—love and respect—encased in a shining, gold spheric wire framing. To hell with the ridiculousness of it all, he might as well try something.
Sunggyu waves his staff and points it at Megatron. “Face my Flame of Love!” Sunggyu doesn’t know where those words come from, but an orangey-red blast shoots out from the top of his staff and hits Megatron so fast he flies backwards.
“Haha, what the fuck.” Sunggyu says aloud, clearly amused.
Bebop and Rocksteady give a loud bellow in unison and charge towards Sunggyu. Sunggyu fends them off with his staff, deflecting each hit, but there are two of them and one of him and he’s being backed into a corner. He doesn’t even know where Myungsoo is anymore, but he hopes the boy has listened to his words and run away.
A yellow blast hits Bebop and a pink blast hits Rocksteady and they both fall backwards as Sunggyu grabs the opportunity to throw them backwards with a mighty push of his staff.
“Don’t laugh.” Hoya says when Sunggyu sees him, but Sunggyu has no intention of laughing anyway.
Dongwoo skips on the spot a bit. “Isn’t this adorable?”
Dongwoo does look adorable. His outfit mirrors Sunggyu’s except whatever Sunggyu has in red, Dongwoo has in coral pink. His shorts are also longer than Sunggyu’s, up to his knees, and rather puffy. His boots are just high enough past his ankles, and there are obviously a gratuitous amount of shoe lifts in them. Dongwoo’s staff has a pale pink rose—joy and grace—instead of a red one.
Hoya’s colour is yellow, and what strikes Sunggyu first is that Hoya’s sleeves are way too tight because of his biceps. His shorts are the length of Dongwoo’s, but of a straight cut. His shoes resemble low cut running shoes, but are also complete with a yellow ribbon and white wings on each. Hoya’s staff has a yellow rose—friendship and new beginnings.
Sunggyu walks over to Hoya and undoes the buttons on his sleeves for him. “Whoever made these needs to take into account your huge arms.”
Hoya rolls his eyes.
“You insects!” Megatron roars.
Bebop and Rocksteady are back by his side.
“We’re not the insects here, neither are you. None of us are. But to harm a person like what you guys have been trying to do? That’s low. Way low. You guys are strong, but brute force is not the answer to everything. Sometimes you need to talk it out—”
“Enough of your bullshit! Attack!”
“Alright, here goes nothing,” Sunggyu mumbles.
He exchanges glances with Hoya and Dongwoo, who both nod. Then three of them charge towards the bullies and hop up high before aiming their staffs and unleashing the blasts again.
“Wave of Joy!”
“Sparkle of Peace!”
“Flame of Love!”
Megatron, Bebop, and Rocksteady attempt to fend off their attacks with their seemingly powerful weapons, but they fail appallingly against Sunggyu, Hoya, and Dongwoo.
Then, as if planned, the three of them touch the spheres atop their staffs together and yell, “By the power of the Sun, we, the Protectors of Earth, cast on you the Rainbow Light of Hope!” As its name suggests, a swirling rainbow beam shoots out from the centre of the spheres towards the three fallen thugs and envelopes them in a rainbow cloud.
Two seconds later, the rainbow cloud disperses like bubbles popping, and what’s left tumbled over each other in a heap in the middle are three dazed schoolboys who no longer resemble the monsters they had taken the form of.
“This means we won, right?” Dongwoo says excitedly.
“I think so?” Sunggyu lowers his staff.
The star rugby players now resemble themselves again, although they look like they have gone through hell. At least they are all unhurt, just frazzled.
“Are we just leaving them there?” Hoya asks.
“Would you like to take them home?”
“Then yes, we’re leaving them there.” Sunggyu glances around to look for Myungsoo, who is nowhere to be seen. His necklace suddenly feels way too cold against his skin again.
“How do we...” Hoya gestures to their outfits.
“Try touching the necklace again?” Sunggyu suggests and does it. Nothing happens.
“Maybe we need to say something? Like how they say ‘Mischief Managed’ in Harry Potter to keep the Marauder’s Map secret?” Dongwoo pipes in.
Sunggyu blinks then waves his staff around. “Earth protected! Darkness eradicated! Evil vanquished! I don’t know, nothing is working?” Sunggyu sits on his shirt tails in frustration.
Dongwoo sits next to him. Hoya joins them.
Then Sunggyu feels his necklace warming up, and he is about to start worrying again when he looks up and spots Myungsoo peeking out from behind a tree in the distance. He waves to the black-haired boy.
Myungsoo walks over. “You guys look amazing!”
“I know!” Dongwoo agrees joyfully.
Sunggyu and Hoya exchange glances and sigh.
“We look like some boyband destined for failure,” Sunggyu says.
Then as if on cue, all three of them touch the spheres on their staffs together and Sunggyu says, “Light restored.”
The next moment they are all back in their regular uniforms.
“How did you do that?” Myungsoo exclaims in awe.
Sunggyu, Hoya, and Dongwoo shake their heads simultaneously.
“Well, that was anticlimactic.” Hoya muses.
“This is actually really freaky.” Sunggyu says. “I don’t even know how I say these things or do these things. I haven’t even done them before in my entire life!”
“Do you think the sphere has somehow... managed to control our thoughts?
“Who or what even is the sphere anyway?”
“Why does it make us do this?”
“To do our part and repay the society?” Dongwoo says.
Sunggyu scoffs and retorts, “Why do we need to repay the society? What has the society done for us?”
“Ah...” Dongwoo twiddles his fingers and nods slowly.
“They treat us like scum.” Sunggyu states, his tone somewhat bitter.
“You do act like one sometimes,” Hoya says earnestly.
Sunggyu rolls his eyes. “Thanks for the input, Hoya.”
They are about to pick themselves off the ground when some students passing by yell insults at them.
“See what I mean?” Sunggyu glances at Dongwoo with a brow raised, then reaches for Myungsoo’s hand and pulls him up.
Myungsoo clings to Sunggyu’s arm and stares at him adoringly.
Hoya gives them a judgmental look. “You two are gross.”
Sunggyu sticks out his tongue at Hoya and turns to Myungsoo. “Why do they pick on you so much?”
Myungsoo chews on his lip and straightens even though he doesn’t release Sunggyu’s arm. “They wanted me to do their homework for them but I didn’t want to.”
“What?” Hoya blurts out incredulously.
“Yeah, they used to pay the other students to do their homework for them, but since I’m new and all, I guess they figured I would be an easy alternative. I don’t have any friends yet, I wouldn’t have any back-up if they did try to do anything to me.”
“Disgusting.” Sunggyu murmurs, then gently slips his arm out of Myungsoo’s grip and puts it around his shoulders. “Don’t worry, we’ll protect you from now on.”
Sunggyu, Hoya, and Dongwoo sit around in a circle on the floor in Sunggyu’s room. Myungsoo has made himself comfortable on Sunggyu’s bed and is reading a manga. Sunggyu was supposed to take him out on a date but due to their necklaces continuously emitting a muted white glow in pulses since morning, the Children of the Sun decided to have a discussion.
They have found their necklaces to have the same symbols as their staffs, which, admittedly, isn’t that bad because they are rather pretty. The more horrific part of the necklace, is that no matter how hard any of them try, they are unable to take them off. Therefore the three of them have lived with it for the past week, but the necklace didn’t do weird things during this time so they have pretty much been able to ignore the fact that they are part of something else, something big, according to what the sphere had told them.
It is now that the necklace is buzzing that they are reminded of this fact again.
Honestly, nothing much has changed for them since the first time they have transformed. School has gone on as usual, they still face a barrage of insults every day, they are still the useless bunch of students everyone thinks they are. The powers have not made them any different.
“I guess there must be something bad happening soon?” Dongwoo’s glance darts between Sunggyu and Hoya, his expression is one of worry.
“At least it seems to be giving us ample warning this time instead of throwing everything at us out of the blue like last week.” Sunggyu says.
“I don’t think we’ve quite figured out why... Shouldn’t we have some kind of mentor appearing to show us the ropes? Cardcaptor Sakura had Kero. Why hasn’t some cute cat appeared to us yet?”
The blinding white light from outside the window fades in and fades out within two quick seconds, then the glowing white sphere appears before them again. When the white sphere sinks to the ground, it pops like a bubble, and in the middle stands an orange mouse.
“Okay, that was so not what I had in mind when I mentioned Kero.” Hoya stares at the mouse in disbelief.
“Does this make us Ninja Turtles?” Dongwoo asks, “Sensei?”
“My name is not Sensei.” The mouse speaks. His voice is a lot deeper than they had expected.
Sunggyu notices how Myungsoo has put down his book and is listening in on their conversation with way too much interest. It probably feels like a scene from one of his favourite anime or manga.
“You can call me Sir Yeobby-Dobby.”
Hoya accidentally snorts, and apologizes quietly.
“I have been watching you, but you seem to be doing quite well without any help.”
Sunggyu refrains from scoffing. Instead, he says, “That doesn’t mean you can just ignore us. You can’t just give us these weird powers crap and just leave us with it. We honestly have no idea why we are the ones chosen for this, or how we can recite all those cheesy lines we have never heard before. That time we were just lucky. What if this bloody necklace makes us transform at the wrong time or what if it makes us fight some powerful monster? What are we going to do then? My—our lives have been perfectly fine before that night, I didn’t need this extra responsibility to do whatever this transformation is making us do!”
Sunggyu had not meant to say this much. In fact, he had no idea he had all these thoughts bottled up inside him until the mouse appeared. Sunggyu can now admit that the whole thing scares him, possibly more than it scares Dongwoo. Hoya seems apprehensive as well. The first transformation had been an incredible adrenaline rush, but if Sunggyu were to sit down and think about it, there were a lot of ways the fight could have gone.
They could have died. They might die in the future. They need to know who they are and what they are now.
The mouse scratches his head with his little paw. “Oh dear, I must apologize. It has been a while since I was a guardian. These have indeed not crossed my mind. But do not fret, I shall be with you from now on.”
“Well, we’re listening.” Sunggyu sighs.
“You have been chosen by the powers of the Sun, for your innate traits of faith and courage. Sunggyu, you possess remarkable love and respect in your heart. Hoya, you are gifted with an exceptional sense of loyalty and hope. Dongwoo, you are blessed with a big heart filled with extraordinary grace and joy. It is for these reasons, that you are worthy Children of the Sun.”
Dongwoo seems so impressed his eyes are twinkling.
Sunggyu and Hoya keep their straight faces.
“You said it’s been a while since you were a guardian? You mean this has happened before?”
“Centuries ago, the first seeds of darkness were planted on Earth. Three Protectors, very much like yourselves, were chosen to defend the Earth. Since then, I’ve been visiting many different Galaxies to guide the worthy in protecting their Planet from the forces of evil that have grown from the seeds sowed throughout the Universe.”
“And you’re saying it’s happening again?”
“Yes. Once again, a powerful adversary is starting to gather their forces, and darkness is coming soon. The Planet Earth needs you to fight to save it and everyone, everything, that lives on it. Without all of you, Earth will be overtaken by evil. We need you to restore the light to this beautiful planet before it’s too late.”
“Well, uh, that’s inspiring.” Hoya says.
“So how do we do that?” Sunggyu frowns as he runs his fingers through his hair. Myungsoo seems to sense his frustration, sliding closer to him and squeezes his shoulders.
“The same way you fought the three creatures last week! They, too, have been chosen to be part of a bigger army. But they are chosen for the darkness in their hearts—arrogance, vanity, pride, among others—and their darkness is enhanced, so they will terrorize and overpower the helpless. The three of you have shown that you have what it takes to stop these things, but slowly you must realize your full potential to stop the Commanders of Earth, as they call themselves. They are the Sons of the Moon, the Warriors who are in command of the rising darkness on Earth.”
Sunggyu and Hoya exchange cynical looks. First, Children of the Sun, and now, Sons of the Moon? This is getting more ridiculous by the second. Only Dongwoo seems to be enjoying this like it is all just a game.
It feels absurd that the three of them, out of so many people, would get chosen for such an important mission that concerns so many lives. They are but just useless Class H students who have nothing to contribute to society, students who are meant to live a life of mockery for they are deemed inferior, students who care too little to be anyone of import, students who will eventually be left behind.
“You honestly think we are capable of that?” Sunggyu finally asks after a long period of silence.
The mouse stops gnawing on his sunflower seed and looks Sunggyu in the eye. “I do.”
Sunggyu can’t explain how ludicrous it is to be looked in the eye by a mouse, but then again, with everything that is going on or beginning right now, that may already be considered normal. He remains silent for a while before nodding. “We’ll try our best, then.”
“We will?” Hoya echoes skeptically.
“We will!” Dongwoo punches the air in enthusiasm. “I’ve always wanted to be a superhero!”
Sunggyu smiles and pats Dongwoo’s pink hair. He can tell that Hoya still has his reservations, just like he does. At least one of them is raring to go.
The mouse clambers up onto Sunggyu’s leg and he holds out his palm to let the small creature climb on. “Sunggyu, the world may not think highly of you, but you have infinite potential and when you fully embrace your powers, you will realize there is nothing you can’t do.”
And so, there isn’t. So far, at least.
Sunggyu is already a seasoned fighter, his enhanced abilities only make him stronger as each battle enables him to wield his staff and powers more proficiently with the increased experience. Hoya and Dongwoo are both blessed with agility and grace, and their skills increase by leaps and bounds through these fights alongside Sunggyu.
In the fortnight that has passed since the first transformation, the three Protectors have transformed no less than five times, which averages to be one battle every two to three days. Their mouse guardian is right, there is a darkness rising and it must be stopped.
The first of the five fights was triggered by Class B’s basketball team captain, who got turned into a monstrous giraffe and shot basketballs out of his front hooves. Apparently he had been mad at the new first-years who defied his orders when the transformation happened. In any case, the fight had been rather amusing since Dongwoo had a lot of fun running after basketballs, and Hoya was just dribbling them around. Sunggyu had sat on one and waved his staff around to explode the basketballs aimed at him while they were still in the air.
The second fight was because of a second-year class chairperson who mocked the bad grades of his fellow classmates so much he became a giant mockingbird.
And the third might actually be Sunggyu’s favourite because it looked hilarious. The school’s resident pervert got turned into lips. He was literally just lips with two legs. Sunggyu had laughed so much he needed to sit down, and as a result almost fell victim to the lips’ poisonous kiss.
The fourth and fifth fights were less than a day apart, giving the Protectors no time to rest and recharge in between. The monsters had been similar too, likely related, both being horned creatures that resemble unicorns if there ever were evil versions of unicorns. The first one was purple, and the second one was blue. The one other thing that was common between the both of them, was how the three Protectors have noted that they both exude extreme jealousy.
Both of them had also sworn to get revenge after they had fallen to the Rainbow Light. However, they did not return to their original human form unlike the previous monsters. Instead, they were shrouded in a cheerless grey mist, and they had disappeared when the mist cleared. It was mind-boggling. Sunggyu wondered if they might be part of the Sons of the Moon that Sir Yeobby-Dobby had mentioned, because if they were, then they either have less battle power or they might be hiding their true prowess.
It is curious, though, how the darkness has been confined to the perimeters of their city, specifically, around their school. Sunggyu came up with the theory that the seeds of darkness were planted in their school, since the two unicorn monsters that he believes to be part of the leaders of the darkness had also appeared there. After all, that seems a more plausible explanation than Dongwoo’s “That always happens in the movies! The bad guys always only attack one city and they make it seem like the world will be destroyed!” as much as Sunggyu agrees with him.
Sunggyu had spent the past day scouring the school grounds with Myungsoo for any signs of the seeds of darkness, though none of them know if they are actually literal or just a figure of speech. They supposed there was no harm in looking around, anyway. Hoya and Dongwoo made up the team that searched the perimeters of the school.
Sunggyu was reluctant at first, because too much effort. But when Hoya and Dongwoo had suggested Myungsoo go along with him, Myungsoo had given him those innocent puppy eyes look that Sunggyu couldn’t say no to even if he tried.
It is evening, and they are about to call it a day when Sunggyu’s necklace starts burning against his skin. Myungsoo has already walked ahead of him, so Sunggyu reaches out and pulls him back.
“Wait.” Sunggyu says, bending over slightly from the searing pain as he clutches at his shirt.
“Oh my god, hyung, are you alright?” Myungsoo’s tone is filled with worry as he holds Sunggyu.
Sunggyu leans into Myungsoo for support and shakes his head. “Hoya and Dongwoo...”
The younger boy doesn’t need further prompting. He immediately reaches into his pocket to pull out his phone and presses the speed dial for Dongwoo.
Dongwoo picks up before the first ring can finish. “Myungsoooo! Did you two find it?”
“No, but there’s something happening to Gyu hyung! Please come quick!”
Sunggyu manages to hold himself upright after Myungsoo hangs up, but the beads of perspiration all over his face don’t stop Myungsoo from worrying. “Th... There’s something happening, Soo.”
Then there’s laughter, and Sunggyu spins around, putting himself between Myungsoo and the newcomers.
It’s the familiar dispiriting grey mist, and now there were three figures shrouded in it.
“It’s your turn to lose, Kim Sunggyu.” The voice is mechanical, as if it has gone through some kind of vocal modification software. But Sunggyu can’t shake the feeling that he has heard this voice before. There’s just something about it...
“Your friends can’t save you anymore.” Voice #2 also has a metallic tone.
“You can’t fight us.” So does Voice #3.
A stubby, crooked finger points out from the mist.
“Get him.” It’s the first voice.
Sunggyu thinks they have him, since the pain has rendered him almost powerless. Then Sunggyu realizes the finger isn’t directed at him. It’s aimed at Myungsoo. Damn it. With or without his powers, there is no way he will let them take Myungsoo.
“Hyung...” Myungsoo’s voice is unexpectedly brave.
Sunggyu nods to him without taking his eyes off the two shrouded figures who are gliding towards him unhurriedly. It seems that isn’t the reaction Myungsoo is looking for, because he suddenly cups Sunggyu’s cheek and tilts his head sideways as Myungsoo leans forward.
Then Myungsoo presses his lips to Sunggyu’s the same moment Sunggyu’s hand flies up instinctively to grab at his burning necklace. The temperature of the necklace drops to Sunggyu’s skin temperature instantaneously the moment their lips touch. The next second, Sunggyu’s enveloped in the white light he knows all too well now as his transformation begins.
He vaguely notices two sudden flashes of white light materializing on either side of him as he spins, suspended above the ground while his outfit morphs. Once he’s on the ground, Sunggyu makes an elaborate wave of his staff and hits the ground hard with its base. The vibration stirs up the dust and makes the trees shake slightly. “Protector of Love, Prince Roseus!”
Beside him, Hoya and Dongwoo emerge from their own transformations and step up to stand with him.
Hoya spins his staff like he is a martial arts professional from the olden days. “Protector of Peace, Prince Aureus!”
Dongwoo swishes his staff high in the air and causes a faint ripple across the cloud surfaces. “Protector of Joy, Prince Corallius!”
“We are the Children of the Sun, Protectors of Earth. Together, we command you to renounce this darkness and embrace the light!” The three Protectors announce in 99.9% synchronization. (It is actually perfect synchronization, but they like to give themselves some leeway for minor errors and also space for improvement.)
Sunggyu turns to look at Myungsoo, still surprised at how Myungsoo’s kiss had made the burning stop. Myungsoo smiles at Sunggyu, and Sunggyu doesn’t care anymore.
“Go get ‘em, tiger.”
Sunggyu grins and nods at the black-haired boy.
Hoya clears his throat loudly. “Leave the lovey-dovey stuff for later, please. We have a fight to get on with.”
Sunggyu turns back.
The mist in front of them slowly dissipates, and the three figures finally reveal their true faces.
“Woohyun.” Sunggyu says through gritted teeth.
“Why, yes. Did you miss me?” Woohyun says smugly. “But I go by another name now...”
Sungyeol and Sungjong stand in a line with Woohyun. Then they wave their dark wands in the same action.
Leaf green sparkles surround Woohyun. “Warrior of Pride, Lord Viridis!”
Blue dust the colour of Sungyeol’s hair hover around him. “Warrior of Strength, Lord Caesicius!”
Bubbles with a purple tint the shade of Sungjong’s hair rise behind him. “Warrior of Beauty, Lord Purpureus!”
“The Commanders of Earth unite! We, the Sons of Moon, will unify the world with darkness! Defy us and face our wrath!”
Hoya barely stops himself from snorting, and Sunggyu almost can’t too.
At least it finally occurs to Sunggyu why all it took was Myungsoo’s kiss for his necklace to stop hurting him. Woohyun represents pride, so he must have been the one to cast the spell that had made the Protector’s necklace bring pain to the wearers. Love must have been the only thing able to overcome that dark force.
Sunggyu glances at Hoya and Dongwoo after he makes that connection, wondering what they had done to not be affected. He can’t decide if the faint redness in Hoya’s cheek or the slight puffiness of Dongwoo’s lips mean anything... Alright, he knows they so do, but now isn’t the time to probe or make wiggly eyebrows.
The three Warriors are clad in rather stylish outfits, if Sunggyu may say.
Woohyun, despite his height in comparison to his tall counterparts, looks suave and charming decked in black from shoulder to toe. The outfit resembles army mess dress uniforms, except the colour scheme for Woohyun is black with green accents. The line of buttons in the middle of his coat are a dark green, and the form-fitting pants are black with a leaf green stripe on the sides. A classy nondescript pastel green bow completes his formal look.
Sungyeol and Sungjong wear the same uniforms, as if they are part of an army squad, except Sungyeol’s has blue accents, and Sungjong’s has purple accents. Their knee-high boots are polished so well they almost shine.
All in all, they look less ridiculous than the Protectors do, and they know it.
“What’s with the anime outfits? You guys cosplaying?” Sungyeol laughs obnoxiously.
Sunggyu rolls his eyes. “Let’s just settle this.”
Woohyun snickers. “You think it’s that easy, Kim Sunggyu?”
Before Sunggyu can get another word in, Woohyun waves his wand and around them, ten dark figures descend from out of nowhere. Then one of them grabs Myungsoo and everyone disappears at once. There is no mist this time, they just vanish into thin air.
Sunggyu stares at the spot Myungsoo was in, then at where the self-proclaimed Commanders were standing. Then he looks at Hoya and Dongwoo, eyes wide as he begins to panic. And Sunggyu never panics. "What am I going to—"
It is then that a dark fog rises around them, effectively trapping them.
"Oh, come on." Hoya mutters under his breath.
Dongwoo squeezes Sunggyu's shoulder. "Don't worry, hyung, we'll get him back."
“I’ll take care of this smokescreen,” Dongwoo continues, then he points his staff toward the sky, “With my Wave of Joy!” Dongwoo draws back his staff and twirls around in a circle.
During Dongwoo’s brief introduction of himself earlier, he had made the slight ripple in the clouds. This time, he harnesses energy from the setting sun and unleashes a whirlwind that clears the fog like a tidal wave sweeping across the land.
“What do we do now?” Hoya asks, glancing at Sunggyu.
“I... protect... my love?”
Dongwoo blinks at Sunggyu and Hoya raises his brows.
“I am the Protector of Love, right?” So Sunggyu raises his staff and looks up at the sky. “I need to find Myungsoo,” He says with utmost sincerity and faith.
There is nothing but silence that ensues, and Sunggyu supposes this is not part of his powers. He is about to give up, lowering his staff gradually as he sighs. But there’s a beam of fluorescent pink light that shoots out from the rose atop his staff, then the beam spreads until it’s shining in every direction in 360 degrees. Sunggyu takes it as his cue to hold up his staff as high as he can, and the rose continues to shine the light persistently for the next ten seconds before narrowing into a beam again.
It is showing them a direction.
Sunggyu, Hoya, and Dongwoo exchange glances, then Sunggyu nods and the three of them kick off simultaneously with their winged boots, leaping high into the air and bounding in the direction Sunggyu’s rose is guiding them.
“So, any ideas on how to take down so many of them?” Hoya asks loudly as the wind roars in their ears due to their speed.
“Cross our hearts and hope not to die?” Dongwoo suggests.
“That’s real joyful, Dongwoo.” Hoya deadpans.
“Didn’t Orange Sensei say something about full potential the other time?” Sunggyu knows the orange mouse goes by the name Sir Yeobby-Dobby but he can’t bring himself to utter those words, besides, it is such a mouthful that Dongwoo always trips over the words. One time Hoya refers to him as Orange Sensei and then the name just stuck.
“But he didn’t mention how.” Hoya states.
“We’ll figure it out. We have to.” Sunggyu speeds up before coming to an abrupt halt when the beam ends.
They’re in the middle of a huge clearing, surrounded by what seems like endless woods. The three Protectors stand back to back in a circle as they survey the situation.
The ten dark figures stand equidistant from each other at the perimeter of the circular clearing. Myungsoo is nowhere to be seen. Sunggyu assumes Woohyun has taken him.
“If you are.” Hoya answers.
“I always am.” Dongwoo replies.
“Then let’s take them down.” Sunggyu declares.
So they do. They run out a couple of steps from each other, but still maintain their positions so everyone’s back is covered. The ten dark figures charge at the same time, and each of them is left to deal with three, occasionally four, as they rotate around an invisible axis while fighting.
Flashes of red, pink, and yellow fill the area and are especially bright against the gradually darkening sky. It seems ominous that the dark is slowly blanketing the area, and their light flashes are far too lonely despite the constancy.
“Do this things even die?” Sunggyu yells above the racket, swinging his staff in a semi-circle to emit continuous short blasts at the dark figures nearest to him. They stumble backwards when hit, but none of them look even the slightest bit hurt.
“Shall we go for Rainbow Light right now?” Hoya proposes.
“On three!” Sunggyu shouts. “Two! One!”
The Protectors turn towards each other and tap the spheres atop their staffs together. “By the power of the Sun, we, the Protectors of Earth, cast on you the Rainbow Light of Hope!”
A rainbow-coloured light bursts from the centre of convergence and swirls around them.
“Now!” Sunggyu commands.
They pull their staffs away from each other and spin around to face their enemies again, the rainbow light that surrounds them shines ever so brightly as they aim the roses outwards. The three concentrated beams of colourful light hit the dark figures one by one, and they drop like flies to the ground.
“Are they down?” Dongwoo looks around cautiously.
The rainbow light has dimmed in the meantime, and the only lights left are now the glowing spheres atop their respective staffs.
Sunggyu stumbles backwards and ends up sitting on the ground, chest heaving. “I’m not sure if we have enough for a second Rainbow Light,” he admits.
Hoya and Dongwoo grab one of his hands each and pulls him up to his feet.
“You said we’ll figure it out.” Dongwoo reminds him.
Sunggyu sighs. “Myungsoo...”
“Yes, so get yourself together because we’ve got some villains to catch and your boyfriend to save.” Hoya pats Sunggyu’s back.
An evil cackle suddenly echoes in the woods around them.
“Catch us if you can,” comes Woohyun’s sing-song voice.
Sunggyu grits his teeth. “Nam Woohyun, you don’t even understand the meaning of love at all, this is why you don’t deserve it.”
“Oh, do I?”
Woohyun, Sungyeol, and Sungjong step out of the cover of the gloomy woods together, with Woohyun facing Sunggyu, Sungyeol facing Dongwoo, and Sungjong facing Hoya. The three Protectors subtly grip their staffs tighter as they prepare for the showdown.
Then Woohyun grabs someone from behind him and holds him in an elbow lock around the throat, his other hand yanking on the captive’s hair to show his face.
“Soo!” Sunggyu blurts out.
Myungsoo has his hands bound behind him, and a thick green tape covers his mouth. In the darkness, Sunggyu vaguely makes out the traces of blood that mar Myungsoo’s beautiful face.
“I’m the one you want, Woohyun. Let him go.” Sunggyu hisses.
“Nuh-uh.” Woohyun shakes a finger at Sunggyu and smiles. “That’s not how this game is played.”
“I honestly don’t have any patience for your games, you third-rate army general.”
“I what?” Woohyun gasps in an over-dramatic fashion.
“Should have added some shoe lifts in those shoes if you genuinely wanted to make yourself look intimidating,” Sunggyu shrugs.
There is steam spouting out of Woohyun’s ears at this point and his face is rapidly reddening.
“Oops, you already did? Oh, I’m so sorry.” Sunggyu snickers.
Success, Sunggyu smiles to himself as Woohyun gets distracted by his mild taunting and raises his wand for an attack, in the process leaving Myungsoo free to run. Of course, Sunggyu has no intention of just standing by and watching, so he swiftly waves his staff at Woohyun and unleashes his Flame of Love.
Woohyun is knocked backwards onto the ground by the impact from the surprise attack, and Sunggyu takes the opportunity to dash towards Myungsoo and sweep him off his feet and into his arms. He touches the green tape and the ropes with the sphere atop his staff and the constrains disappear with a red shimmer.
“Oh my god, Soo.” Sunggyu wraps his arms tightly around the boy.
Myungsoo smiles weakly and pecks Sunggyu’s cheek. “I’ll be fine, hyung. Go do what you have to.”
Sunggyu nods. “Just yell if you need me.”
“Go back there and win this, hyung.”
“Your wish is my command, love.” Sunggyu grins before charging back into the battle area where Woohyun is just recovering and getting back on his feet.
Woohyun doesn’t wait to attack this time. He flicks his wand in complex movements, releasing green bursts of electricity and sparks at Sunggyu.
Around them, Sungyeol is shooting blue fires at Dongwoo, and Sungjong is striking at Hoya with snake-like purple ribbons.
Sunggyu fends off Woohyun’s attacks by skipping around nimbly, awaiting a window of opportunity to hit Woohyun with another Flame of Love. But Woohyun advances on Sunggyu quickly and the distance between them decreases till they are in range for hand-to-hand combat. Sunggyu resists a smirk. No one can beat him if it comes to this. Stomping his staff on Woohyun’s foot, Sunggyu elbows him in the chest and follows up with a hard punch to his jaw. Woohyun wipes the blood off the corner of his lips before looking up to face Sunggyu again.
Woohyun looks different now.
The whites of his eyes are now completely black, and his pupils are a menacing lime green. There is also an aura surrounding Woohyun that had not been there before, and it makes Woohyun’s silhouette glow in a ghastly green. He appears to be some leveled-up main boss. Sunggyu risks a quick glance at how Hoya and Dongwoo are doing, and he sees that Sungyeol and Sungjong have also evolved into this higher-level version of themselves.
In other words, the Protectors are fucked unless they level up too. Problem is, how?
Woohyun aims a stream of green electricity at Sunggyu and he falls backwards, his limbs momentarily paralyzed. The Warrior of Pride smiles smugly. “This is what you deserve, Kim Sunggyu.”
Sunggyu snorts and spits a mouthful of blood to the side. “Deserve?” He laughs bitterly. “I’ve been told that my entire life, Woohyun. So, sure, I deserve everything I have coming to me because I’m nothing but a useless fucking piece of trash on this Earth. I’m not worthy of love, happiness, or bliss, because I am inferior. I am not one of you, who act so just and right, who ace all the exams, whose existence is such a great blessing to society because oh, look at all the prospective contributions you can make in the future!”
Sunggyu pauses, and he realizes that Sungyeol and Sungjong have also halted and are listening to him. Dongwoo and Hoya lay almost defeated on the ground just a few metres away from him.
“I am trash—We are trash for taking up the precious space on this Planet, and breathing the same air as all of you. But that’s fine. Because you know what, Woohyun?” Sunggyu clenches his fist, and finds that the paralysis is wearing off. He grips his staff but makes no other movements.
“We don’t need to prove anything. Not to ourselves, and definitely not to any of you. We don’t need your approval. We don’t need the society’s. All that’s precious and true in the world is love, and that’s what we need—what we all need. It’s not just romantic love too, it’s familial love, it’s the love between friends, it’s the love for everything that is good, and the love of life, of just being. When you truly understand that, then you will know...”
Sunggyu hears the flap of wings but he doesn’t know where it comes from, but the next moment he’s on his feet again, and Hoya and Dongwoo are standing with him.
Woohyun has regrouped with Sungyeol and Sungjong, though none of them seem affected by Sunggyu’s speech.
“You’re so full of shit, Kim Sunggyu. If you think you’re so high and mighty, then I’ll put you back in your rightful place when you die tonight.” Woohyun growls.
The Warriors rise into the air with the Moon as their backdrop.
The Protectors hold out their staffs in sync. “We are the Protectors of Earth—”
For the first time, they don’t get to complete their lines. All three of them are lifted into the air at the same time, and spun around in circles so fast Sunggyu can’t tell what is happening. When it stops, Sunggyu hears the wings again, and he turns, expecting to see feathers sprouting from his back. There isn’t any. Instead, Sunggyu sees the silhouette of wings casted on the ground by the starlight. They do have wings now, but they are invisible to the eye.
Woohyun and the Warriors wait no longer. “By the Power of the Moon, we command you to heed under the Advanced Supremacy of Darkness!” They combine their powers into a great crackling ball of electricity and hurl it towards the Protectors.
“By the Power of the Sun and the Stars, we cast on you the Extremely High Level Rainbow Light of Hope!” A huge ball of rainbow-coloured light emerges from where their staffs touch, and they launch it right back at the Warriors.
The two contrasting balls of light and darkness cause a massive blinding explosion at contact, and everyone is thrown backwards.
The dust from the explosion hangs in the air like a fog, and when Sunggyu opens his eyes, he can’t see anything.
“Dongwoo!” He calls out softly, unsure where his friends are.
“I’m here, hyung, hang on!”
Then a soft blue glow ripples through the fog until it dissipates completely.
That’s when Sunggyu realizes that he is still being suspended in mid-air, and so are Hoya and Dongwoo. It’s their wings that are holding them up, the gentle flapping audible to him again now that he’s aware of it.
“Can I touch it?” Dongwoo asks Hoya.
Sunggyu turns to look at them.
“Touch what?” Hoya asks, scandalized.
“Your wings, you idiot!”
“We can play with them in bed later—”
Sunggyu rolls his eyes. “Guys.” He will definitely have to find some time for some probing when they get back. How his two best friends have managed to get into a relationship without him noticing is very troubling. How they have managed to keep it from him for however long is even more troubling. Well, they have a lot of explaining to do.
But that’s alright, because they will have time.
Sunggyu glances at their enemies. Woohyun, Sungyeol, and Sungjong are leaning against each other in a daze on the ground, defeated.
“You will continue to stay with us, right, Orange Sensei?” Dongwoo asks.
“Yes, yes, the Sons of the Moon may have been defeated for now. But the seeds of darkness have not been completely eradicated yet.” Sir Yeobby-Dobby clambers onto Dongwoo’s lap and nibbles on the sunflower seed he’s holding.
The Children of the Sun are gathered in Sunggyu’s room again, exactly one week after they took down the Sons of the Moon. It doesn’t seem like they had been through that much, because nothing has changed for them. School goes on as usual, the mockery goes on as usual. But everything is normal, so that’s probably good enough.
The Protectors do, however, still have their invisible wings that can only be seen as shadows when illuminated by starlight. Sunggyu had had a lot of fun cuddling with Myungsoo because of them since no one can actually see them, but they are so warm and fluffy to the touch.
Sir Yeobby-Dobby disappears out into the garden for some suntanning, leaving the four boys in the room.
They look at each other for a long moment, touch their necklaces at the same time, and smile. The world may not think highly of them, but that’s okay, they know their place in it now.
Love, Joy, and Peace—as long as they have these in their hearts, nothing is too hard to overcome.
~ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ~
“Does it really matter who we are? Or what we are? We’re still us and we’ll always be us, the hopeless students of Class H, yet also the mighty Protectors of Earth.
We’ve been tasked with saving the world, but at the same time, we don’t need the approval of the world. Superheroes often do not get the acclamation they should, but does that stop them from doing what’s right? No. I don’t think of myself as a superhero, no, I’m not nearly as great as one. But what I am, is good. So this is what I’ve chosen to do for this beautiful Planet that I live in.
And that’s all that matters.
With these powers, with my friends, and with him by my side, I am already soaring.”