Bare legs poked out from pulled up blue pants, the refreshing spurts of cool water gracing heated skin, a young woman groaned as she leaned back against a landed ship; the splinters poking through a blue t-shirt, the large wooden hull provided small relief from the relentless rays above. However it was not the sun that was making the girl's temper rise to new heights.
"...Yeah I know that I was supposed to call you if the proposal didn't go well but-" Elisa shut her mouth, her cheeks puffing out as she glared at the screen of her PokeNav.
"But you were too busy having so much fun with all those researchers that you just forgot about your loving sister huh?" A silky voice snickered back at the baffled young woman.
"It was not a vacation!" Elisa snapped back at the laughing woman on the screen. She inadvertently pulled back at her dark brown hair, the heat making the strands stick to her forehead. "The proposal I prepared didn't go well, but there was someone who offer-"
"Someone?" Her sister's wide blue eyes blinked curiously.
"Y-Yes...someone." Elisa replied, although looking away.
Sadly, they were talking on a PokeNav; her sister smirked coyly. "So...most of the researchers there are men, right." Her voice held a hidden agenda.
Elisa sighed, 'When does she ever not hold a hidden agenda.'
"A boy helped you."
'How did she know it was a boy!' Elisa mentally cursed, her sister's annoying talent getting to her again. Elisa then smiled slightly, "Y-Yes a boy, he was a little boy that knew where I could find some treasure to help me with my research!" In her opinion, that was her best lie ever.
Her sister's self proclaimed cute face did not waver. "Little boy huh..." The woman then played with her long locks of auburn. "My little sister finally has a man!"
"Emma please!" Elisa bawled, her body was already at its extreme in this heat, why did her sister have to call at this time, why now? The conversation had been going smoothly before, but now...it swerved for the worst. Averting her flustered face from the PokeNav's screen, Elisa wondered why she would believe that a normal conversation could ever exist between them.
The chorus of laughter at the other end of the PokeNav did not help ease the flaring blush on Elisa's face as her sister tapped her lip playfully. "Oh my, I've never seen you that red before!" Emma, Elisa's older sister, gasped, her cheeks forming small lines as she smiled. "You found a spicy one for your first huh? How was your first kiss?-Did you give him the business?-Pfft, I can't believe I thought you were shy haha!-Was he wearing prote-"
"I-I'm h-hanging up now!" Elisa snapped, earning a gasp from her 'beloved' sister before the screen went black, the home screen of the device once again filling the window. "Why would she ask such things!" The young woman cried, kicking at the waters repeatedly. That woman alone was one of the reasons she insisted on leaving Mossdeep for the summer, to avoid such lewd one-sided conversations with her sister.
She knew that she was getting older, being 18 now and all, but a boyfriend to 'give her the business'? Elisa sent a stone across the stagnant river; Emma was always teasing her about the weirdest things. "...If Cole was here..." Elisa chocked on her words, "and Emma saw him..." She shuddered. Only a horrible scene would unfold.
Elisa jolted up, her face still hot and muggy, hazel eyes narrowed once two young boys walked up to her from down the riverbank. "Um...Yes?" She muttered.
"The heat of the sun is begging for a flaming battle between Trainers!"
"E-Excuse me?" Elisa's voice quivered, the boy was taking out a Poke ball. "Oh no...I-I'm not a Trai-"
"You-me! Pokemon battle!"
"Flygon, Sand Tomb."
A young boy could only give a sympathetic cringe as a massive fly-like dragon beat its triangular wings before a booming whirlwind of thick dust and grass slammed into an exhausted green and yellow coated dog. The Electric type howled in pain as it spun in the cloudy vortex, tough patches of dirt relentlessly bombarding it as a young man, a loose Sevii Islands t-shirt draped over his thick figure, cried from behind the thick tornado. The battle had finished as soon as it started in the aqua eyes of the young sailor, watching the Mystic Pokemon roar to the sky in victory.
"Unbelievable!" Cried the voice of the defeated Trainer, pulling at the few strands that graced his balding head in frustration over a humiliating loss. The middle-aged man then slumped his bulging shoulders before slowly returning his knocked out Electrike while reaching into his pockets. Walking over to his opponent, he gave the victor of the battle a jealous glare before slamming a roll of bills into his hand.
"You should send your Electrike to the nearest Pokemon Centre." Cole stated simply as he thumbed through the Poke dollars.
"D-Don't tell me what to do kid!" The older man snapped before running back down the grassy roads that bridged the seaside port of Slateport to the big city of Mauville.
Dark brown eyes glanced in the direction of the retreating man, thoughts fading on the Electrike and Nuzleaf that Flygon had defeated earlier. He and Noah had been out for most of the day now, leaving Elisa with the landed ship on the riverbank as they, well rather Cole, went off to collect money for the group.
After three humid days on the gentle river of Route 110, the trio had finally made a frustrated stop due to the stagnant position they were in. With no winds to push their small ship forward, tempers were wearing thin for Cole and Noah, their close proximity leading to foolish arguments that soon boiled over, Elisa was the only negotiator that could get in between the two and scold both of them in an effort to get some order back into their lives.
"That's the fifteenth victory today..." Noah muttered in astonishment, walking up to the Trainer. He glanced towards Flygon; aqua blue eyes darkened once they noticed the obvious exhaustion in the dragon. Wings drooping to the ground, Flygon let out tired breaths through its small nostrils, the heated air splitting the thick grasses at its legs.
"Don't you think your Pokemon are getting a little tired?" Noah asked with slight concern, turning back to Cole.
"He's fine." The older man's words were sharp, earning an annoyed look from the sailor as he glanced back towards Flygon's sunken form. Cole did not even glance at his Pokemon as he returned it in an instant, surprising Noah. "They need the training..." Cole muttered, barely catching Noah's attention. The Magma Admin had been battling Trainers all morning and afternoon, his only explanation; they needed money for Mauville City. However the young sailor scratched at the bridge of nose, his brow furled in thought.
"Are you just putting your anger through your Pokemon?"
Cole's eyes widened, turning to the younger boy which only made him chuckle.
"You can't really still be angry about this morning?" Noah asked cheekily.
The Pokemon Trainer just gave Noah a blank look before he scoffed at the words, a memory he did not want to remember flooded back to him.
The bright morning sun was rising slowly.
Beads of sweat mimicked the sun's movements, raining down the face of a tired young woman that hopped off the side of a ship, avoiding the slippery rocks she luckily did not fall prey too,she landed onto the riverbank of Route 110. Sighing at the common scene of her two new friends continuing to bicker back and forth about something she could not hear, Elisa quickly offered to make the group of three a quick breakfast to quell the two raging males.
"Your cooking..." They droned in unison, only earning a glare from the only girl of the three. However, with their minds now fearful of what that girl would attempt to make for them, Elisa decided to let their constant bashing of her low culinary skills slide as she went back to the ship. She was trying her best after all.
Returning to the pair with a couple of pots that contained the remaining berries from Jonbi, she sighed again, this time with frustration as the two were at it again.
"That spot was mine Cole! Give it back!"
"You don't own anything."
"I own that ship!"
"Your daddy owns that ship."
Elisa could only stare at the two, her mouth parting in disbelief. These skirmishes were not exactly fights, she thought with a grimace as Cole now, somehow, had Noah in a headlock in which he desperately tried to escape from.
To her, it looked more like Noah getting on Cole's nerves whenever the boy tried to interfere with older man's activities, which led to said older man inadvertently speaking his mind about the young sailor, which then led to Noah's own comebacks that he had personally learned from Cole, that were actually quite funny, which finally led to Cole physically silencing him into submission.
"And repeat..." Elisa lamented, splitting the two up for what seemed like the hundredth time...that day.
"Cole can you please just get something to heat the pots with?" She asked, voice bordering towards annoyance due to the relentless heat that they were facing. She quickly turned back to prepare the pots as Cole nodded to her.
"Fine, I know.." The young man easily contained his composure, shrugging off the order before walking by Noah towards the grassy plains with his Houndoom, who had enjoyed the whole ordeal.
Nerves were pulled though, once Noah noticeably snickered at him but Cole ignored it. Those usual unmoving nerves however were stretched to their limit when he suddenly felt a slimy substance latch onto the back of his neck. Shoulders jolting up, Cole snapped back in the direction of the projectile, his Team Magma instincts boiled over as he locked onto the annoying blonde. The younger male was holding a handful of river grasses, an evil grin plastered on his face as he withheld his laughter at his target's stunned face.
"I thought you needed to cool down?" Noah suggested innocently before dropping the rest of the wet substance behind his back. That innocence sharply turned to fear once he realized that he went too far. Even by his standards.
Houndoom obeyed instantly, releasing a stream of roaring fire towards Noah who yelped in fear. Dropping to the cool rocks by the river, his life flashed before his eyes as the intense flames sailed over him.
"Ha! You missed!" Noah laughed, his cracking voice betraying his words as he stood back up, the back of his white t-shirt now a Houndoom-approved black and his small ponytail burnt off, although unnoticed to him. He was just about to send out his Wartortle for the battle Cole had willingly instigated but stopped midway of throwing his Poke ball once his blue eyes locked onto Cole.
Cole's eyes were expressing something that Noah had never seen in the older Trainer before...Fear? Shock? Whatever it was Noah gulped slightly as he turned around, finally beginning to think about what, or who, that Flamethrower attack had connected with.
There, just behind the two was Elisa. Hazel eyes wide, her usual expressive face held no emotion as she stared at a smouldering bag of the last remains of their food supply. Smoke slowly rising from the now uneatable food, Cole could not help but shiver once Elisa finally showed some sort of life by blinking once...very slowly while turning to him.
"...It was Noah?" He tried, he really did, but it was too late as all of Route 110 awoke with the uproar of a frustrated woman.
"If you just took that Flamethrower. I could have been out here by myself, without some kid to babysit." Cole snapped at Noah for reminding him of the earlier scuffle. The young man usually would not get riled up over a mere prank from another; he had dealt with those days back when he first joined Team Magma, being the newest recruit and with the lowest rank, it took him quiet some time to get respect in the organization.
But Noah was something else, Cole thought as he looked down at the sailor who was complaining out loud. 'What's the matter with him?' Without realizing it, Cole had put Noah into another headlock and was forcefully pressing his knuckles into his head.
"D-Do you really have to do that?" Noah cried as Cole finally released him. Panting for air, he sent a childish glare towards the older boy before fixing his new ponytail.
"I needed to see if you were hydrated." Cole replied coolly, a few beads of sweat running down his neck to his white t-shirt. Before Noah could even mount a comeback, Cole suddenly handed some of the Poke dollars to the childish sailor. The young boy could only gape in awe at the earnings as Cole placed some of his bills into his brown wallet before rolling the rest up to toss into his backpack. Glancing at wide eyed boy, Cole watched him as if expecting the kid to blurt out his thoughts but he could already tell what the younger male was thinking as his hands trembled with the surprising 'gift' he had just received.
"Most of the Trainers on this path are collectors, so they always have more than enough money." Brushing by Noah, he gave him a slight shove on the back to get his attention before walking towards the riverbank. "I got more than enough today." Cole answered the boy's silent question.
"With this much, we should be good for Mauville now." The Trainer then smirked, earning a noticeable jump in return, "Now come on, lets head back. Elisa really can't do anything by herself."
"About time, it's brutal out here!" Noah rejoiced, greedy eyes still drooling over the dough in his hands. Smiling slightly, he crammed the Poke dollars into his pockets before chasing after Cole. Even though he seemed merciless on the outside at times, Cole actually knew how to show some compassion when he needed to.
After some time of travelling through the dense grasses of the path underneath the Cycling Road, Cole and Noah finally returned to their campsite. Tired and parched from the experience, the two Trainers trudged through the stones lining the riverbank before finally reaching their destination, hopping onto the deck.
"We're back!" Noah sighed in relief as he collapsed behind a folded mast, avoiding the harsh sun that was beating down without end. Looking around, he noticed Elisa pop out from the lower level of the boat with a bright smile plastered on her sweating face.
Cole immediately noticed her cheerful expression. "What happened?" He ordered more than asked causing Elisa to jump at the sound of his voice.
"Huh? I-I'm just happy that you guys are back!" The young woman laughed nervously, waving her hands in mock retreat.
Her answer however did not seem to sway Cole as his eyes narrowed. 'She actually did something stupid...' He quickly concluded, walking towards the stairs that she was obviously blocking.
"W-What's the matter?" Elisa frantically asked as he neared her. The effort was clearly in vain though once Cole simply brushed by her without needing much force. Elisa's fake smile faltered, her face mixed with worry as the man did not say a word. She really did not want them to find out.
Noah stood up from his shelter from the sun, confused by the whole ordeal once Cole reemerged from the sleeping cabin, his face displaying a firm annoyance that made Elisa shiver slightly. "What happened?" Noah asked, scratching at his sweaty golden locks.
"The money that we had from Slateport." His voice was dry, eyes locked onto his target of Elisa who shifted uncomfortably in his piercing gaze.
"Where is it."
"I...I.." Her voice was weak with embarrassment as she fiddled with her fingers. "I-I kind of lost it..." She squeaked.
Noah cried hysterically, sprinting for the cabin that held their profits. Seconds later, he burst out from the cabin, eyes watering from the turn of events. "How could you lose twenty-thousand?" Noah dropped to the floor before punching at the wooden boards repeatedly. "I wanted that money to upgrade the ship!"
"I-I didn't lose it!" Elisa feebly argued back as Cole crossed his arms, awaiting an answer while Noah continued to wail in a puddle of his own tears. "You guys weren't here so some Trainers forced me to battle them; they thought that I was a Trainer too..." She apologized with her eyes as both Cole and Noah gaped at her in disbelief.
"I-I couldn't really beat them, so I had to give them money...right?"
"But you don't have to give up such a large amount from one battle." Cole started, voice soft with thought about her situation. He cursed himself for the events that morning which eventually led to have Elisa fend for herself.
"I know that but-" She played with the folds of her large blue t-shirt. "Well, you guys were gone for so long that some other Trainers also came by...and-"
"They forced you to battle too." Cole finished the rest of her sentence as she clasped her hands together in apology.
"Look what they did!" Elisa finally huffed in frustration, throwing two Poke balls onto the wooden floor in anger, her Pokemon materializing around her. Sealeo was panting relentlessly, X's replacing its eyes due to the amount of battles that one would imagine it had to go through by itself. Riolu on the other hand seemed to be about to burst into tears, but not one scratch plagued its body.
Sighing dejectedly from the picture of the two 'babies' crying in front of him by the names of Elisa and Noah, the Magma Admin pulled out one of his own Poke balls and observed it softly. 'Why did I agree to team up with them again?' Cole grimaced, instantly remembering, 'We were just lucky to get one of the three plates...' His thoughts started as the red and white orb reflected the sunlight onto his tanned skin.
'I was too carefree back then...That man at the museum got me and I could barely hold him off because of the effect of the Dragon Plate on my body...' He could not do anything, he reasoned, thinking back to when he could barely stand up in his fight against the unknown Trainer. 'Since he seems to know about the Dragon Plates...He'll probably find out about me if we meet again in the desert.'
Cole's grip tightened around the Poke ball. He expected Noah to have some reliability in terms of battling skills, but his hopes fell to a whole new low once he looked over to Elisa who was still sniffling away a few tears. 'She can't even defend herself from a few punks on the road... If Team Aqua is still around, then I'll really be in trouble. I can't rely on anyone from Magma...Holland won't give me any help...'
Dark brown eyes then glinted in the sunlight before turning to Elisa's Pokemon, an answer to his problems finally taking shape of a small blue jackel.
Cole's voice snapped Elisa from her self-pity before she looked up to the young man that was now eyeing her Pokemon from Sinnoh.
"I'm going to train him."
Soft hazel eyes widened with shock once the words registered in her head at Cole's sudden statement. Elisa quickly jumped in front of Riolu and cradled the small Pokemon protectively.
"B-But Riolu is just a baby!" She argued defensively, glaring at Cole who did not waver from her sharp voice. Elisa knew that she had made the painful mistake of trying to fend off the aggressive Trainers that shamelessly attacked their camp site; and perhaps it was her fault that they were able to get to her because she had sent her 'bodyguard' packing earlier that morning. But Riolu was too small to deal with these kinds of problems. She could not let him battle.
"What about your Sealeo!" Cole snapped back.
Elisa took in a sharp breath before snapping to the panting seal. Barely able to catch its breath, Sealeo rolled onto its back, flapping its tail repeatedly to fan itself. It was exhausted, beaten, and clearly frustrated by the way it glared at its Trainer.
"Since you lost pretty much everything, I'm going to assume that Sealeo had to battle every Trainer while Riolu sat back and did nothing!" His firm voice pierced the woman's ears. "You're picking favourites but every Pokemon should battle!" His fist clenched as he glared down at her.
"But battles are your responsibility!" Elisa finally managed to argue back, her arms still around the trembling Pokemon.
"I won't always be there to protect you!"
Elisa jumped as the young man's words cut through the tense air like a sharp knife. Looking up to him with an astonished expression, her lips quivered in an attempt to argue, but no words could form.
Cole looked away from her bewildered expression.
"...Everyone needs more than just one Pokemon to depend on. Sealeo cannot take on every danger that will come our way." He sighed, frustration rising uncharacteristically within him. "Let me train you and Riolu for now. If I can bring both of you up to a level that is worthy of assisting us, then we'll be able to get by any problems we face along the way."
A crestfallen face fell down to the small Pokemon in question. Was she really playing favourites? With her own Pokemon? Thoughts that were once set in stone now began to shake under the pressure of Cole's words.
Cole and Noah had been basically earning the money for this adventure so far by battling all of the Trainers that had crossed their path. And the Ocean Plate was not something she would willingly attempt to go after alone if it were not for them.
"...So... I'm not considered strong to you?" Elisa finally asked, eager for the young man's response.
Cole's expression remained unchanged as the young woman's shoulders dropped, eyes downcast as her dark brown hair fell over a sun beaten face. Fighting back a stinging sensation in her hazel eyes, she abruptly stood up before returning her Pokemon to Cole's dismay. The young researcher did not say another word as she swiftly retreated into the sleeping cabin, noticeably slamming the wooden door shut as it echoed over the river's surface.
Noah remained quiet as he glanced repeatedly between the cabin door and Cole who now seemed to be interested in the grassy patches of the riverbank. "You didn't have to be that hard on her..." Noah began, walking up behind the silent Trainer while scratching his head with thought. "Come on, she's a researcher. It's a miracle that she even has Pokemon to travel with her!" He joked on behalf of the woman, trying to lighten the tension.
"Then she should use that opportunity to make herself stronger."His body still turned to the grassy plains, Cole's words were sharp, sending Noah's arms to his sides in fear.
"Hehehe...Thought that was your job!"
As the young sailor ran off to work on the stagnant boat, Cole frowned from the words. An unidentified swelling feeling was in his gut; he actually felt somewhat bad for bringing the young woman to near tears. He should not have really put much thought into her in the first place. She was the weakest out of them anyway.
"Sheesh...You two have been going at it for days. That's some fiery passion!" Noah's joking words however fell on deaf ears as Cole remained silent, he now helped to prepare the boat to depart. Winds were beginning to pick up slightly from the South, bringing grey clouds in the distance not too far from them that indicated to the duo that they needed to sail to Mauville now.
Cole knew that he would attempt to persuade Elisa again a long the way. But for now, he knew that getting in her way would only push towards results that would not be in his favour. He was not actually angry about the money, he realized as he briefly glanced at the cabin doors from the corner of his eyes.
'I shouldn't have gotten angry so easily...' He realized his mistake, but he knew that showing a softer side now would not make any difference. He would need to be strong for everyone if they were going to make it through to Rayquaza. His Pokemon and his life depended on it.
As the two boys sat under a large mast, the winds long gone with only a scorching sun overhead, the taller of the pair glanced towards the younger one, earning a confused look in return.
"For the last time...I CAN'T. CONTROL. THE WIND."
The older one only smirked, earning a fearful look now from the younger boy.
"I want my money back."