Plan of the Plates
A slender young woman yawned expressively, fully rested from a long nights sleep as she walked passed the shimmering glass doors of the Pokemon Centre. Rubbing her sore amethyst eyes from the bright sun overhead, negative feelings of her current problems seemed to drift away into the cool winds of the small town she had slept in for the last few nights.
'Ahh! I love this air!' Tori mused as she inhaled the rich scent of grasses while overlooking the small town of Verdanturf. Fixing her long raven strands to her liking, she walked in whatever direction the wind took her. It was a late morning as a few residents seemed to be drifting by along with the pleasant breeze that seemed to roll endlessly throughout the peaceful town; securing the ever fleeting feeling of tranquillity that could never be disrupted.
Tori glanced down before smiling to her long time friend. The fire fox seemed to be enjoying the luscious air around her as well as she trotted happily beside her Trainer. "It's been a long time." Tori whispered, petting Ninetales gently before a familiar road caught her eye.
Her smile wavered. She was supposed to be back at the base. Yet, coming back here, a certain scenery grasped at her and kept pulling her back. "Last time..."
A sense of nostalgia washed over her as she and Ninetales paced forward through the town, walking by quiet homes, the street was bare. Only the endless kiss of rich wind soothed their ears as they moved towards a destination they knew all too well; though it was a feeling that struck at her heart with a dull sadness, she could never fully repress those emotions.
This was her hometown after all.
The same hometown where she had been forced to live in an orphanage, after the passing of her late father; her heart thumped heavily within her, each step bringing her closer to a large abandoned playground at the end of the street. Ninetales by her side, she stopped in front of a small two-story house at the end of the weed infested grasses of the playground.
It was barely noticeable. The mountain towering over the orphanage, it cast a shadow over its small wooden frame. Walking up to the door that creaked peacefully in the morning breeze, she stood there, eyes never leaving the words that were now fading from a sign that was bolted to the doors of her childhood.
'Family...' The seemingly shallow word echoed in her mind relentlessly. Thinking back, she had never known her mother, a vague image of the woman flashing in her mind as she continued to stare at the door of her late orphanage for answers.
Thankfully the female Admin could clearly remember her father.
Tall, slow in some regards, but forever smiling; Tori's hands clenched slightly, pulling at her white shirt, that hugged at her waist, low to her black jeans as memories of her time with him clouded her thoughts. She bit her lip, fighting the urge to curse out loud in frustration. "W-Why-"
Something soft suddenly rubbed against her fists. She smiled, already knowing Ninetales was trying her best to cheer her up, she let go of her rising anger. "If only dad was here to see how beautiful you've become." She snickered, scratching the fox's neck gently before glancing back at the empty building.
When she had lived at the orphanage, she knew that everyone tried their hardest to bring some form of happiness into her dejected personality, but it was hopeless. With her last gift from her father, a small Vulpix, Tori spent every day of those 3 long years together with her Fire Pokemon.
She peered into the eerie darkness that loomed beyond the door, unsure whether to go in or not. But that was childish.
It was not until she hit the tender age of 13 that Holland finally took her under his wing. That was first time she had truly smiled to the bewilderment of her caretakers who thought she would never change.
'Why do you want this girl?'
'She doesn't like to play with anyone but that Vulpix...'
'There are plenty of other girls that can fulfil the true role of a daughter...'
Amethyst eyes hardened from the words; she never let anything slip by her. She never talked, but always listened. 'Holland...' Tori truly believed that when that man in front of her so many years ago chose her, her of all people, she would have a family again.
Someone who accepted her...for her...
"Team Magma." Ninetales suddenly growled, the vibration making her arms tingle with goosebumps. She hushed her quickly, kissing her crown of creamy fur.
Happiness always has a price. And that price was for her to go with Holland, her adopted father, but join Team Magma when she was just beginning to bud into a teenager. He had chosen her, but not for a real daughter-
'Of course that wasn't the reason...He only wanted me because of what I could become.' Yet, she did not refuse back then. She never complained. Always listened to her orders. Smiled whenever he would talk to her. The overpowering happiness of finally having someone to love easily washed away the responsibility that was ahead of her.
Holland just wanted her to be his tool for the future.
'A weapon.' If she continued to stay with him and Team Magma, she would have her family.
That was her only reason.
Turning away from the scene of her locked past, Tori's eyes widened once she noticed a tall figure, brimming with a bright smile, beyond the infested grasses, coming out out of a house from across the grassy street. Eyeing his greying beard, Tori held her breath as the man was waving a goodbye to another man, stubby in comparison, before turning around to leave the large wooden house. She watched his black coat flutter at his knees as he jogged down the stone steps onto the grassy street, his dress pants hugging at his frame professionally. Tori frowned to herself, already recognizing the small wrinkles that lined his face that accented his common smile.
She finally exhaled, memories of the Oceanic Museum racing back to her in a heartbeat. The same Jin that she had first met weeks ago was now fumbling with a few papers, slowly putting them into a folder, unaware of her creeping presence as she moved towards him.
It was also the same Jin that had defeated Cole and could have discovered Team Magma's attempt at resurfacing onto the lands of Hoenn once again. Exact same person. She pressed forward, determined to learn his motives. '...Should I take him down?' Clenching her fist, she usually didn't need to think for these kinds of questions. If they were an enemy to Team Magma; eliminate them. Easy as that.
"Hello, Jin!" Tori greeted, her voice sweet as she caught up to the man and playfully tugged at his coat.
Jin turned around with a confused look before his eyes brightened at the blooming woman and silky smooth fox beside her. "Ah, Ms. Ellis!" Jin greeted, a delighted surprise on his face, easily identifying those childish purple eyes. He quickly stuffed the rest of his papers into his folder, oblivious to her soft giggle, before shaking her hand.
"Call me by my first name, Simone." Tori insisted, smile widening at her fake name as Jin happily petted Ninetales, earning a small coo in return. "What brings you to Verdanturf Town?" She asked, peering at the folder with curiosity.
The middle-aged man rubbed at the few bristles that graced his cheek. "I'm sorry about that, Simone." He corrected himself, his smile unwavering. "I came to Verdanturf to take a break from my travels and watch the Pokemon Contest this afternoon."
He then leaned in. Tori held her breath from how close he was to her ear. "Did you hear the news yet? Since it seems like the police had no luck in finding the thieves that attacked the Oceanic Museum last week; my colleagues at the museum decided to call it off."
Tori's smile faded, "I see...So you visited the museum?" Ninetales sat silently, eyeing the man as he leaned back, he forced a smile.
His voice was quiet as Tori's own expression dimmed. "I was just told by a colleague that someone stole the Ocean Plate, so this really puts me back to square one. But don't worry, I'm sure those thieves will get what they deserve!" He assured, raising his free hand to make a mock fist of justice.
Tori giggled, not for the man's actions, but for his words. 'If only you knew...' All of Hoenn was in complete chaos when Maxie and Archie were on the loose two years ago. They may be gone, and she and Cole may not be on par with them as of yet, but they could certainly handle whatever pesky challenges came their way. Especially this 'secret agent', Jin.
"I hope so." Tori snickered, the tension of the robbery finally beginning to fade.
Jin then checked his wristwatch over Tori's growing laughter before cursing to himself. Catching her attention, he bowed slightly. "I'm sorry Simone, but the Beginner's Contest is just about to begin. I'll have to take my leave now." Turning away from the young woman, he stopped midway after he caught a glimpse of her face that flashed, just for a second, with sadness.
"...Have a good time." Tori waved before turning in the opposite direction. Ninetales watched her friend carefully as her face quickly reverted back to its usual detached expression, making her way towards Rusturf Tunnel. Tori's steps were getting faster, making Ninetales whine from the sudden change of pace.
'Holland...He must be pissed...I should have called him sooner...' She was about to take out her cellphone to call her superior on her whereabouts before a warm hand gently wrapped around her wrists.
Turning sharply, expecting an attack, she raised her fist to strike before stopping with a small gasp. "J-Jin?"
"I-I..." Jin's face was plastered with mock fear, small beads of sweat beginning to form as he realized his actions towards the young woman. "S-Sorry..." He flinched, his hand dropping in an instant. "...That was rude of me, I should have just called you." Tori couldn't help but smile slightly as he scratched at the back of his head, his cheeks tinged pink. "But I completely forgot...I have an extra ticket to watch the contest today. That's what I was just leaving my buddy's house for."
Tori's face revealed obvious confusion before slowly forming into an even more perplexed look. "...Y-You're inviting me?" She couldn't mask the surprise in her voice from his actions. Ninetales only cocked her head to the side, she had never seen Tori like this, or was she just 'acting'? That was the word right?
"Yes, If your free to join. We can also discuss some more information I found out about the Dragon Plates."
Those words hit Tori dead on.
She suddenly felt a strange flutter in her chest as the man in front of her gave her another serene smile. '...He...He looks like such a dork.' She avoided his piercing green eyes and gentle face as he awaited an answer. She didn't know what it was; but it was something as she glanced back up to him once her racing heart slowed.
"...I'd love to join you." She managed to mutter before Jin's smile brightened from her answer. She needed some time to cheer up. For now that is.
Sitting down on one of the small benches that lined the floor leading to the main stage for the contestants, Tori shifted slightly to get a better view. The arena was dark, jittery with anticipation as an announcer's voice rang over the bustling crowd. Looking beside her, she could see Jin smiling eagerly for the start of the competition.
Tori's amethyst eyes narrowed at her target. The young Admin knew that she needed to get as much information out him before she returned to Meteor Falls. Lightly grabbing onto his black coat, she leaned up to his ear, whispering softly. "So..." Her voice sweet. "What will you do, now that you don't know where the only Dragon Plate is?" She questioned as a spotlight shone down onto the stage ahead of them.
"It's best that I don't have any of the plates."
The young woman's eyes bulged. She couldn't believe what her ears just registered over the sudden deafening cry of the crowd. The first Coordinator came onto the stage for their debut. 'He doesn't want them?!' She nearly fell back once Jin suddenly stood up, eagerly clapping for the first contestant as they released a beautiful large black and purple snake onto the stage. The crowd erupted into excitement as it breathed a surprising Flamethrower that circled around its coiled body, flames dancing around sparkling scales that mesmerized everyone.
Everyone but her.
"W-What do you mean?" Her voice was almost drowned out by the growing crowds but Jin turned to her, his eyes soft in the darkened atmosphere.
He shifted uncomfortably, catching her attention quickly. There was always one sure way to get answers from a man. Taking her hand in his, earning a bewildered look in response, she pouted slightly, as seductive as she could muster. "Please, Jin?"
He gazed at her softly, his face expressionless. 'Crap...He's just like Cole!'
Those thoughts quickly vanished once he smiled again before sitting down, although seeming forced to her. "...If you're from Hoenn, you should know about the two worst organizations that disrupted our country two years ago. Team Magma and Aqua."
'Duh...' She almost laughed at him, but nodded her head instead.
"I'm using information that I found out about the Dragon Plates to lure the remaining cast out." Jin explained, a conceited smirk forming on his face.
Tori managed to respond with another nod, finally concluding the man's motives. "You really believe that Magma and Aqua are still out there? I haven't seen them in so long though?" Her words seemed to stop after that, quickly noticing the dark look on the man's face before he glanced back onto the stage where the first Coordinator's Pokemon was finishing their display. 'He's hiding something...'
"What a beautiful performance by Seviper and Coordinator, Sasha from Fallarbor Town! Our next entry will be the newcomer from Slateport City, Jeremy and his partner, Marill!"
"I'll explain." As the announcement faded into the cheer of the audience, Jin motioned for Tori to follow him outside of the arena.
Cautiously taking the man's lead, they walked into the main hall, a few citizens were watching the display from large television monitors that hung from the walls. She stopped mid stride, noticing a young man with his daughter, eating a parfait together. She stared longingly at them before a deep voice suddenly spoke up.
"We should be able to talk freely here." Jin started before pointing towards a couch that sat by a large television that displayed the Beauty Ranked Contest. "I should have told you this the first time we met..." Jin started before a heavy sigh escaped his lips.
The young Magma Admin forced a small smile, she really wanted to punch him right now. He was such an idiot! "So...Everything you told me about the Dragon Plates...A lie?" She questioned, almost begging for his answer as she placed a hand on his thigh.
Jin nearly laughed, earning a bewildered look from the young woman. "No, no!" He shook his head softly. "Your too sweet to lie to." She glared at him, earning a hearty laugh in return. "Everything that I told to you back in Fallarbor is true...I just withheld some information-"
"Liar-" She pouted, but quickly realized the fun was over once his dark green eyes hardened, almost gleaming like solid emerald.
"The Dragon Plates are extremely dangerous."
"Yes. Collecting all three...will bring chaos."
'I'm pretty sure you tell someone that FIRST!' Veins now bulging, she held back, hesitating before speaking up.
"...But didn't you say that they would only be able to bring Rayquaza back?"She asked hesitantly. Tori mentally cursed herself now for what she had gotten her team into. Jin was playing her the whole time! He was letting rumours about the Dragon Plates slip out into the open, so that he could catch the remaining groups of Team Magma or Aqua. 'Idiot!'
Unfortunately for her, she was the one that had willingly fell into his damn trap. 'That's why he was at the museum. It was all a trap-'
"Yes...That's why the Dragon Plates are active." Jin's smile snapped her train of thought before he looked back at the screen. A Marill shooting loops of water over its body and Coordinator.
Tori held her breath once she noticed that he was staring at her once again; she felt her knees buckle from how intense he looked right now.
She needed to sit down, but was already doing that. "Since I can trust you...I might as well come clean." His soft words made her heart skip a beat.
"Everything that I told you before about the Dragon Plates is true...But...I used you." He looked away this time, avoiding her wide eyes.
Nothing but guilt filled his chest, the urge to come clean with her was too strong. "I just wanted you to spread the word, in order to hopefully snag one of those organizations into believing you. That way, I could catch them sooner." He turned back to her now, but his usual smile had faded. "If all three of those plates are brought together..." He hesitated but she waited eagerly for him to continue.
"Whoever does that, Rayquaza's power will somehow link to them...That's what I learned when I visited Sky Pillar."
"Doesn't that mean control? Why are you happy that Magma or Aqua might have one of them right now?" She didn't get it. It was like he was basically handing the Ocean Plate to whoever had the balls to take it. Ironically it was her.
"Who will really be in control?"
The young woman was speechless. She had been played, like a flat-out sucker. "What will the Dragon Plates do then?" Her voice was rising, earning a bewildered look from the man. "Please, tell me!"
"...In order for the Jade Orb to be activated, the Dragon Plates need to be brought to Sky Pillar...But with the Ocean, Earth and Sky Plates each holding their own supernatural power, whoever tries to access that power will become completely overwhelmed; or so the scriptures at Sky Pillar say. That person cannot let that power control them...or they'll die. Since no one has done it..." His hand grazed her own before clasping it gently.
"One person can't handle the Dragon Plates. "
"B-But..." Her hands were beginning to tremble against his own. 'Cole's in-'
A roaring cry from inside the arena snapped Tori out of her thoughts before Jin suddenly stood up.
Nerves ready to crack from under the pressure that she had placed on Team Magma, she nearly jumped up in order to follow Jin, but he stopped her. His eyes were kind as his hand gently landed on her shoulders.
"I'm sorry that I got you caught up into all of this because of my selfish ambitions...But you know the truth now." He shook his head gently, another thoughtful smile sent her way. "I shouldn't have used you...So please, don't get involved with the Dragon Plates. They're too dangerous." Jin pushed her back slightly to stop her but she slapped his hand away.
"This is the only way to finally stop Team Magma and Aqua." His own voice was rising, quickly reacting to the angered look in her eyes. "They'll pay for the crimes they committed over the years."
"But you're putting unsuspecting people in danger!" She shot back. "What about-"
"Too many people!-" His voice was stern, cutting her off before he held back, his face dark. "...Too many people...died because Groudon and Kyogre were resurrected. If everything goes to plan; Magma will hunt for the Earth Plate, and Aqua should try for the Ocean Plate. I know the leaders of those teams won't be able to handle them and easily get overpowered. Once they fall. I know the teams won't have the will to go on!"
'That's why Cole could hardly stand back at the museum...That plate was controlling him?!' She was beginning to panic. Tori didn't have the same calm personality that Cole had in these kind of situations. As much as she did not want to admit it, she wished she and that silent boy traded places right now. He would have been able to deal with this-
"Please...I want you to promise me that you won't tell any more people about the Dragon Plates, I don't want you to get harmed because of something I told you. I want you to be safe."
Tori did not say another word, her lips pursed, suddenly interested in the shiny floor.
Assuming her silence was proof of how horrified she must be, Jin turned to leave, but stopped himself before looking back at the young woman. He gazed at her softly, finally snapping her out of her thoughts, before turning to the display on screen. "Have you ever tried a Pokemon Contest before?"
"I-...I...Well, no..." She replied, her words losing strength as she glanced at the television. Those kinds of things were for someone who wasn't exactly trying to take over the world.
Jin's smile faded slightly from the response. "That's too bad. You would look very beautiful on stage with that Ninetales." Her eyes narrowed at him as he smirked at her.
"...Why are you asking me this?" She finally blurted out, unsure of how to respond to the man's words.
Jin just shook his head before emerald locked with amethyst as he eyed her somber expression.
"Because my daughter was a Coordinator...She looked just like you..."
Tori was about to respond to his strange words before she bit her lip. "...Was a Coordinator..." A sinking feeling tearing at her insides as Jin's eyes glimmered from the lights above, catching onto a tear that threatened to fall.
The hatred for Team Magma and Aqua...The reason he wanted to finish them off, even if it involved using innocent people.
"...My daughter was travelling to Lilycove by sea for a Pokemon Contest two years ago." Jin started, his fists clenching.
Her mouth suddenly felt dry as her thoughts turned to the worst; but she dare not interrupt him as he glanced back at the screen.
"There was a terrible storm that raged throughout the ocean that day...Every single ship that was out that day sank. No one survived."
"Now do you know why I never want Magma or Aqua to ever show themselves again? They were the ones who brought Groudon and Kyogre upon Hoenn...I...I lost my daughter in that storm!" His voice cracked, shoulders trembling as some onlookers turned in his direction.
The Magma Admin was completely mute, eyes downcast as Jin turned around, fighting back more tears. "I'm sorry..." Tori mustered softly, but Jin just shook his head.
"It's not your fault...I can only remember her through these contests now." A small smile managed to form as he turned to Tori, "...You have my number, right? So if you hear anything about Team Magma or Aqua, make sure you call me or the authorities first...I...I don't want you to get into any danger because of me." And with that, Jin disappeared behind the robes that led into the Pokemon Contest arena, leaving Tori in a sickening silence that rivalled the mixed chatter of the Contest Hall.
A wallowing sadness pulling at her chest, she could only stare where Jin once stood. '...I didn't even stop to think about the lives that were lost.' Back then, battling with Cole and Koji by her side, earning their way to the top ranks of Team Magma; she was only trying to protect the few people she tried to call family. They were like older brothers to her, Koji the annoying one of course, but the actions of her 'family' had taken real family away from Jin.
Was that end result of her selfish thoughts? How many family's did she ruin then? All for the sake of helping Team Magma?
'He lost his daughter...' Shaking her head violently from the dreadful words, Tori bolted for the doors.
It hurt, her chest was heaving now as she ran from the Contest House, straight for Rusturf Tunnel. "He lost his daughter!" Each step trampling the thick grasses, hot tears began to burn at her cheeks. "I'm a damn monster!"
'I need to tell Holland!' Fighting off the conflicting thoughts of running away from everything, Tori continued forward towards Rusturf Tunnel. If she told Holland...Maybe...Just maybe he would stop the project for Rayquaza.
Tori had dived straight into the enigma that was the Dragon Plates.
And now she found her answer.