Steel Your Heart Part III
His dark brown eyes were beyond fierce; almost...murderous. She had never seen him like this before. 'What happened to him?' Her knees were beginning to buckle under his glare, and her head was starting to hurt all over again. He wasn't even focusing on her, but the person, that somehow knew his name, behind her.
Elisa snapped her head back to the unknown man, a small grin forming on his dark face as he crossed his arms over his broad chest. He sneered at her, making her yelp before he tossed a Poke ball into the air. In a flash of light, a large, turtle-like creature materialized in front of them, puffs of smoke rising from its nostrils and rocky shell. It glared at them, huffing angrily as more thick clouds bellowed from its body.
“What are you doing here Cole? I’ll be getting the Earth Plate.” The man barked as Cole quickly snapped a Poke ball from his belt. “So run along now and get out of here.”
A dark sneer formed on the young man's mouth, his upper lip twitched as his dark brown eyes caught onto his sudden enemy. 'What the hell is he doing here!' He growled angrily as fire turtle Pokemon stepped forward.
Holland had told him, specifically, that he would be doing this alone. So how in Hoenn was Koji, his fellow Magma Admin, doing here?
The young man took in a sharp breath as Koji smirked at him. “Did you hear me? Get out of here, the Earth Plate is mine!”
“Like hell it is!”
“What was that!” Koji sneered once a blonde boy suddenly stepped forward out of the three near him, his fist raised defiantly towards him.
“We're the ones hunting those plates down!”
“Is that so...” Koji smirked as Noah gulped slightly, sweat running down his brow as he stood in front of the girls who were frozen on the spot. “Torkoal.” His voice was low, his Pokemon nodded as its closed eyes turned to the three.
Noah gasped once a sudden explosion erupted in front of him. He coughed roughly, the deafening crack of fire and ash nearly scorched his body. Rolling backwards from the force of the explosion, he slammed into Elisa and Kyra with a thud as they covered their faces in fear. “H-He really tried to...” His voice was suddenly lost, the smoke still rising from in front of his bewildered eyes.
Noah's body trembled as a cold glare emerged from the rising smoke. That glare was not directed at the sailor however. Noah slowly turned around, only to have his trembling eyes widen as a large fire hound growled menacingly behind him.
“Houndoom!” Kyra cried as the Dark/Fire type suddenly leaped over them to stand tall against Koji and Torkoal. With the slow reassuring feeling of safety rushing back into her mind, Kyra slowly turned back to Cole who did not take his eyes off the Magma member in front of him. “C-Cole-”
All three flinched as Houndoom's deep growl echoed in the stone chamber. They got up slowly, unsure of their decision as Cole's fist clenched angrily. “Did you hear me?!” He snapped, earning another flinch in return. “There's a path behind him. Go and find the Earth Plate!”
“What?!” Kyra barked, clearly the first one to disapprove. “I'm not just going to leave you here-” Her voice suddenly cracked. Looking deep into her brother's dark eyes, she quickly noticed the solemn flash of sadness, sending shockwaves throughout her body.
“Go.” His voice was almost pleading, but she did not dare argue. He glanced at Elisa's fearful face as his sister pulled on her arm, but she did not move.
Her once beautiful hazel eyes were now shaking, faded in colour as they stared right at him for an explanation. Did she put the two together? A sinking feeling crushed his heart, so deeply that he averted his eyes from the young woman before she could say anything.
“I'm not going to wait all night!”
The group of four snapped their attention to Koji who tapped his foot impatiently, his Torkoal puffing out more smoke in annoyance. “I'll be the one who obtains Groudon!” He quickly pointed towards Houndoom who snarled angrily, jumping in front of Kyra and the others. “Torkoal-”
“Use Crunch Houndoom!”
In one slick motion, the fire hound leaped forward and snapped its jaws around Torkoal's neck, earning a deafening cry before it was hurled across the dimly lit room and into the stone walls. A sickening crash echoed from the impact, earning a fit of swearing from Koji as Cole quickly pointed towards the lit pathway in the distance.
“Get out of here!” Cole roared. All three bolted immediately, running passed a swearing Koji that was too focused on his Pokemon struggling to get out of the thick rubble.
Sprinting for what she believed was her own life, she couldn’t help but glance back to the fading light where Cole stood alone. Her last image of the man she came to love was an ominous dark face that had a look of pure-blooded fighter.
It scared her, it really did, that face alone was the reason she was running away right now; not the danger of this Team Magma member that suddenly appeared, but the face of Cole, the usual bored looking, non-expressive Cole, now showed emotion, and it was nothing but anger ready to explode.
She felt her heart sink as she turned a corner along Kyra and Noah.
“Seems like you made quite a few friends.” Koji smirked as Torkoal finally blasted the rocks out its sight with a stream of fire. Cole's glare hardened as Koji looked back behind him. “Don't you think you should tell them the real reason you’re going after the Dragon Plates?”
Koji's sapphire eyes widened in shock once a stream of fire nearly torched him. Thanking his quick reflexes, Koji slid across the thick sands with a rough grunt before glaring at Cole's cold eyes.
“Hahaha!” He laughed, fist clenching angrily. “So we're going to play that way huh?! Torkoal, Sludge Bomb!” His Pokemon obeyed instantly, releasing a thick, purple ball of poison liquid.
His mind was already racing with a plan, “Flamethrower on that Sludge Bomb!” Houndoom swiftly turned on the sand, surprising Koji, before a powerful stream of fire erupted from the fire hound's jaws, blasting the thick blob in an explosion of fire and poisonous gases.
Koji took in a sharp breath as Houndoom quickly leaped in front of Cole, its deep red eyes reflecting the same anger as its Trainer. Torkoal finally made its way back to Koji, smugly eyeing down its long time enemy. “I almost forgot,” He smirked, catching Cole's attention, “You grew up in the desert, no wonder your Pokemon move so easily here!”
“Flamethrower!” Cole roared, catching Koji off-guard once again as another powerful stream of fire ripped through the air.
The explosion was deafening, flames and sparks of gold, red and orange engulfed the air, but neither Trainer was fazed. Sandstone met sapphire in a heated standoff as both of their Pokemon growled at one another. Cole could feel the hatred rising with each second. All of it directed towards him, engulfing his mind.
His fingers were pressing hard into his palm now, it was beginning to hurt, but he didn't care. One thought was knocking back and forth against his head repeatedly as he focused his boiling anger at those pools of sapphire. 'He has your Pokemon.'
'He has your Pokemon.'
'He has your Pokemon!'
Cole had never had a problem with Koji in the past. They were partners working for the same cause back then. Part of the Team Magma that would resurrect Groudon and control Hoenn. They had worked together, trained together, hell they had even shared laughs together. He was one of the first people to have a conversation with him, that nervous and weak boy, so long ago. Even though a superior back then, he actually considered Koji...a friend.
Indeed, that was in the past.
Now, standing before him was not a fellow Magma member that taught him the ways of Pokemon battling, and the importance of power. But instead, a conniving bastard, one that willingly took his very own Pokemon, one of his best friends without a care in the world, was standing in front of him arrogantly. A sudden pain rose from the pit of his stomach as Koji sneered at him, his sharp teeth flashing in the fading flames. He was his enemy.
And like all enemies, he only knew of one way to deal with them.
“You’re getting soft Cole! Houndoom’s Flamethrower would never get stopped by Torkoal so easily! Sludge Bomb!” Koji barked before Torkoal opened its jaw again, spewing a massive ball of purple ooze towards Cole to his surprise. But before Cole could even order an attack, Houndoom released another powerful stream of fire, countering the poisonous attack in another explosion of fire and gas.
The force of the explosion was strong enough to knock the young man back with a gasp, sliding across the sands as streaks of fire pelted his exposed arms. He swore angrily, increasing his momentum by rolling to brush off the flames. He finally stopped once he clinged onto the stone floor with a free hand.
“You were wasting your time in Lavaridge Cole!” Koji spat, earning a surprised look from the younger Admin as he stood up slowly. “How long has it been since you got the first plate?”
Dark brown eyes narrowed, waiting, as Torkoal blew out another puff of smoke at him.
“When you and Tori stole that Ocean Plate back in Slateport City, you should had been in the desert the very next day!” Koji smirked righteously once he noticed the knot forming in his fellow Admin's throat. “Yet you took your sweet ass time getting here didn’t you!! You're a disgrace to Team Magma!”
“What!” Cole snapped back. He cringed, a jolt of pain suddenly ripping up his right arm. Houndoom was already in front of him, snarling at Koji and Torkoal as they advanced towards them. Cole was about to counter the man's words before his voice suddenly fell from his lips.
He could not say anything. Memories began to replay through his mind: sailing across the vast ocean, the Oceanic Museum....That man, Mauville City, battling with Noah against Wattson....and Elisa. All of that time...
Koji was actually right...He knew of their locations from the very first time he touched the Dragon Plate. 'Yet I...I...' Anger began to rise within him.
Koji smirked to himself, sapphire eyes glinting from Cole’s silence.
“I knew it!” He barked, catching Cole's attention. “Soft, you’re finally losing your touch! You don't care about Team Magma,” He quickly glanced to Houndoom, “Or your Pokemon! You and Tori are useless! Holland should have used me-”
“Useless?!” Cole snapped, silencing the oldest Admin. “I was the one that started this hunt for the Dragon Plates! And I won't stop until I finish this mission!” Houndoom roared as Cole pointed towards Torkoal. “Faint Attack!”
Koji gasped, but it was too late as the fire hound disappeared, the room ominously silent to him as his eyes jetted back and forth. “Shit.” He cringed once he heard a sickening thud, Torkoal was sent rocketing into the stone walls again, slamming face first into the stone wall before crumpling to the ground, swirls in its eyes.
'He always does this!' Koji still didn't know why he was always surprised by Cole's quick moves; he had used Torkoal's slow reaction time to his advantage with that attack. “We're just getting started Cole. Aerodactyl!”
After a flash of bright light, Cole sneered once a massive stone-like dragon materialized in front of Houndoom. Its lower jaw unhinged, releasing a deafening screech that pierced Cole and Houndoom’s eardrums before quickly ascending above them, circling Trainer and Pokemon like a predator.
‘Aerodactyl...It’s fast, but not here if I can corner it.’ Cole swore as Aerodactyl circled him, waiting to strike. “Houndoom, Smog now!” The fire hound obeyed, spewing a thick cloud of gas around him, obscuring the Prehistoric pokemon’s vision.
Koji eyed the thick cloud of poison gas as Houndoom and Cole disappeared from his sight, but this time, no shock nor worry graced his rough features as Aerodactyl hovered in front of him. “I’ve been waiting for this battle for a very long time! I’ll show you why I’m the leader of the Magma Admins!”
Koji's sudden appearance meant only one thing to him. Holland had lost faith in him. Sending another Magma Admin to clean up his pathetic attempt to acquire the Earth Plate; Cole knew Holland was fed up with him now. 'He never trusted me...' The words stung at his very core before a piercing screech shredded his sinking thoughts.
Dark brown eyes widened in shock, “Houndoom-”
But it was too late.
Panting heavily, three frantic teenagers sprinted for their lives. The hurried tapping of their heavy footsteps echoed throughout the narrow hallways as their shadows danced against the rocky surface with each passing flame. It felt like they were headed nowhere, each turn in the winding tunnels pushing their fear further to its limit.
They were about to give up, their pace slowing before suddenly the ominous silence hit them.
Another stone chamber.
“We made it!” Noah exhaled, sliding to a stop on the sandy floor.
“This just looks like the same room!” Kyra complained, scanning the halls hastily before something caught her eye at the very end. She froze, catching Elisa's attention who was still catching her breath.
“Kyra, what happ-” Elisa’s voice slipped, hazel eyes wide once she caught sight of a woman at the end of the hall.
The woman was quite tall, easily a few inches greater than her as she folded her arms over her chest, eyeing them with a cold glare. A black tank top wrapping around her chest, exposing her abs. Light blue sailor pants descended from her hips, completing her outfit, it was easy to tell who this woman worked for. It was not her wild red puffy hair that caught Elisa's attention as her knees began to buckle. It was the skull shaped 'A' on the woman's deep blue vest that shone in the flame's light, sending cold shivers down her spine.
“I wasn't expecting visitors...” The woman mused, mahogany eyes sharp as she matched Kyra's glare. She had just finished investigating the room down the hall herself; with nothing to find, her temper was already boiling to lethal levels.
Now these three kids had conveniently shown up. “What are those idiots doing outside, allowing twerps into the Desert Ruins!” She hissed, unclipping a Poke ball from her belt to the three's surprise. “Now, now kids. You three are a very long way from home, aren't you?” She smirked, now eyeing the taller, brunette who was still staring at her.
“You must be Team Aqua's Leader.” Kyra growled, snapping a Poke ball from her belt, catching Noah’s attention.
“Someone’s sharp.” The woman sneered, walking towards them, her chest puffed out with pride. “I am Team Aqua's new Leader, Shelly.”
“I don't give a damn.”
The redhead gasped as Kyra glared at her. “E-Excuse me?!”
“You're all the same. Picking on weaklings to get what you want. I don't know why you idiots came back into the picture after what happened in Sootopolis. All I know now is that you're after the same thing we are.” Kyra glared hard at the skull ‘A’ on Shelly’s attire. She didn’t know whether it was anger...or fear, but her heart pounded harder in her chest like a jackhammer.
Shelly raised her eyebrow from Kyra's words before shaking her head with amusement. “You must be referring to Team Magma. Team Aqua will never wash away into nothing.” She scoffed, earning another glare from Kyra. “So...you must be the thieves of Slateport that I was informed about. If you’re looking for the same treasure, you guys must have the Ocean Plate then.” She eyed them, waiting for her answer. Shelly smirked once Elisa took a step back, answering her without saying a word.
'Cole was right, the other teams are really after the plates too!' Her legs buckled as she took another step back. Fear was beginning to consume her. This was the leader of one of the most evil organizations in Hoenn!
“So what if we do?” Noah asked quickly, catching Shelly's attention. “You really think we're going to just hand it over?”
The redhead laughed, “Why of course! You're so silly, it’s cute!”
The three gasped once a Poke ball was thrown into the air, opening in a flash of white light to reveal a sinister looking walrus Pokemon with massive white tusks. It growled angrily at the trio in front of it as Shelly smirked darkly. “Now.” She started, stretching her neck lazily. “Hand over the Ocean Plate, and you can leave here, alive.”
“As if!” Kyra stood up this time, raising her fist to the leader of Team Aqua with a scowl. “Come on out, Cobalt!” In a flash of bright light, a massive mud fish Pokemon materialized in front of Walrein, catching it and Shelly off-guard.
Dark brown eyes widened in shock once a small turtle on its hind legs landed beside Cobalt, wagging its tail back and forth as it glared at Walrein as well. Kyra glanced to her side to see Noah watching Shelly carefully. “What are you-”
“I’ll watch your back, don’t worry!” Noah quickly assured, sending his trademark smile her way. “This way, Elisa can go after the plate!”
The pair glanced back at Elisa who gave them a dumbfounded look. “Me? Alone?!” The young researcher took a deep breath before she turned to the last tunnel that would lead her further into the cavern. Could she really do this...alone?
“Hurry up!” Kyra snapped, earning a yelp from the older female. Elisa, legs still shaking gave a quick nod before she made one final dash for the tunnel’s darkness.
Shelly nearly laughed as she watched the young woman run with all of her might. They were all underestimating her? “What a shame.” She smirked before pointing towards Elisa’s frame.
“Ice Beam!” Walrein obeyed instantly, its massive head whipping back before a jet of freezing ice erupted from its jaw.
The smirk on the redhead’s lips though vanished once a sudden blur whipped across the sands, colliding with Walrein’s Ice Beam, sending shards of ice to splatter all over the stone floor.
“What the hell was that!” Shelly cursed, quickly turning back to her opponents before her mahogany eyes widened in shock. Only one pokemon stood before Walrein, the Swampert. “How did you...” She turned around again at the door to see the Wartortle, popping out of its shell with a small smirk on its face.
Noah wiped a bead of sweat from his brow before taking in a sharp breath. “Next time give me a better heads up before you throw my pokemon!”
Even with the pressing situation of facing the leader of Team Aqua racing through her mind, the young girl couldn’t hide the mischievous smirk on her lips. “It was the only thing I could come up with. Besides-” The smirk fell from her face as she glared at Shelly. “We have to deal with her.”
“I know...” Noah nodded, relief washing over him now that Elisa had safely disappeared into the darkness. ‘We’ll catch up with you soon Elisa.’
She could not take anymore! Her lungs were already burning, feeling as if they would burst any moment as she continued to fight her way through the darkness. Cole’s jacket was already weighing her down before her legs suddenly screamed for her to stop. “I can’t see a thing!” Elisa wheezed, her lungs filling with the cold sands of the cave. She then glanced back, a mix of shame and worry filling her as nothing but darkness leered back at her.
‘I should have stayed and helped them...’ Guilt yanked at her heart as she stood up slowly, sweat still running down her forehead. She reached for her belt, feeling the two Poke balls at her side. Just knowing she had her pokemon by her side gave her some relief.
She and Cole had trained together ever since they left Mauville City. “Riolu!” In a flash of bright light, a small jackal-like pokemon materialized in front of her. It yelped loudly, grabbing onto Elisa’s leg to her surprise.
‘That’s right...He can feel my emotions.’ This was no time for to be fearful. “Riolu, can you use your aura to light the area?” Elisa asked calmly, reaching down and petting the Fighting type softly. There was a short silence once Riolu nodded his head in her hands before a gentle glow of soft blue illuminated the narrow hallway.
Riolu had now become the beacon of light, its aura warming her and her spirits as she was finally able to see the path ahead. “Great job!” Elisa beamed, earning a wide smile in return. She then turned to her side, noticing strange carvings in the thick rock face. “More of the Regi language...” She closed her eyes, catching Riolu’s attention before she traced her fingers over the embedded literature.
Her lips dropped in a frown as she continued to graze the rock surface softly.
“Dig? What does that-”
Elisa gasped, a sudden jolt erupting from her feet. “What’s going on!” Riolu yelped, leaping onto Elisa’s shoulder as the very floor began to shake. The stone walls cracked and split as a deafening rumble rang in her ears.
“No!” Panicking from a sudden rock that fell from the ceiling, Elisa sprinted back the way she came as the floor began to give in from underneath her.
But it was too late. With one step, the stone floor gave way like a twig under her feet. She screamed for help, but the crash of the rocks and debris silenced her cry.
Grasping onto Riolu for dear life, nothing but despair enveloped her as the young researcher vanished into the darkness below.
Deep...deep into the heart of the Desert Ruins.