The Forbidden Trio: Sail to the Sky Dragon

Steel Your Heart Part IV

"Nidoking!"

The bipedal pokemon, released from his Pokeball amongst the chaos glared towards his long time Trainer but no sign of happiness nor relief managed to shine on his face as he growled once more, clenching its sharp claws into fists. Anger...anger was boiling from within. Cole was the one that made him go through this.

"N-Nidoking!" Cole called once again, spreading his arms out. "Don't you recognize me?! I didn't want you to get captured by Holland and Koji! They stole you from me!"

"NIDOOOO!"

The young Magma Admin took a step back from the menacing roar before his long time friend pointed its head downward, revealing its piercing horn. 'No...No...you can't.' A sickening knot filled his throat as Nidoking began to scrape at the ground, its thick legs flexing with each step.

"...Please Nidoking...You'd never do this-"

"Alright Nidoking!"

Dark brown eyes flashed with anger once Koji's laugh reached him. "You'll see how powerful he's become since I got him! Go in with a Megahorn to finish him off!" But to his surprise, the poison pokemon did not move from its spot. Instead it turned around with a dark glare, earning a yelp in return before its massive tail swung in his direction.

"Damnit! What the hell are you doing!" Koji cursed as he barely dodged the attack, sliding along the sandy floor before Aerodactyl landed beside him. "Listen to me! I'm your Trainer now! I said attack him!"

"You don't own him Koji!" Cole yelled angrily. "I promise I won't lose you again Nidoking, just please come back to me-"

"NIDOOOKIIIING!"

Before Cole could even respond, Nidoking released a deafening roar that echoed throughout the chamber, sending both him and the pokemon back with a gasp. Walls shook, rubble collapsed from the roof as the Drill Pokemon's power amplified. Why should he listen to any of them? They all betrayed him!

Houndoom, pulling himself from the jagged rocks, gasped once he noticed Nidoking's towering form. He tried to call out to him, but the fire hound only whimpered a faint cry as pain surged through his beaten body. He was too low on energy!

"If you just stayed in your happy little world back in Lavaridge, I wouldn't need to use Nidoking! Attack Cole and his pokemon!" Koji ordered with a snarl. "I am your master!"

Once the poison pokemon's booming roar died down, he continued to let out faint growls, whipping his thick tail back and forth against the shattered floors as both Cole looked on in shock. Cole felt his heart sink once his pokemon looked at him in agony. "Don't listen to him...Nidoking!"

Suddenly an amazing light blue aura surrounded Nidoking's horn, crackling with sounds of ice before a powerful Ice Beam jet was fired towards Cole.

"Nidoking stop!" Cole gasped as the beam of ice slammed into a green aura, sending shards of ice to spiral into the rock walls of the Desert Ruins. Still in slight awe from Nidoking's sudden attack, Cole looked to his side to see Lairon holding his own, growling angrily as the Protect faded softly. Solrock droned its name, rotating beside Lairon as Nidoking glared at the two with pure rage.

Cole looked on as Nidoking continued to cry out in anger, whipping its tail repeatedly into the ground. Each thunderous movement continued to shake the entire chamber

'If we keep this up...the entire chamber will go down!' The Magma Admin then glanced back towards Houndoom who was still struggling on the charred ground behind him. Closing his eyes, he took a slow breath before turning back to his long lost friend. He needed to end this now.

"Lairon, Solrock!" Cole called, a commanding voice finally returning to his pokemon's surprise before they glanced back at him. "If Nidoking keeps this up, the entire ceiling will collapse on us! We'll need to slow Nidoking down, let's go!" He pointed towards the Drill pokemon as it turned towards him. "Solrock, Psychic on Nidoking! Keep him in place!"

The Sun pokemon obeyed, glowing a deep purple before its friend did the same, shrieking in pain from the attack as it struggled to break free. "Lairon, Metal Claw now!" The armoured pokemon hesitated with its glowing claws before it charged forward, trampling through the sands before it leaped above Nidoking's struggling form.

Koji looked on in shock as Lairon landed a direct hit, sending Nidoking back into the stone walls with a hard thud. Chunks and shards of rock fell to the floor from the deep imprint as Nidoking shook off the attack with a grunt before standing to its feet.

Koji's sapphire eyes widened as Nidoking scratched at his stomach, brushing the attack off with a growl. 'He's still holding back, even when his own Nidoking is trying to kill him. Soft!' Koji scoffed at the scene before him as chamber continued to rumble from the collision of Nidoking's body. "I'll use this to my advantage." He smirked as Nidoking roared once again before charging towards Lairon.

"Lairon, stand your ground! Iron Defence!" Cole yelled quickly before Lairon braced itself for the impact. Nidoking rammed directly into the armoured pokemon's head, earning a deafening ring to echo throughout the chamber as the two heavy weight pokemon pushed back and forth. Lairon panted heavily, pushing forward with all its might as Nidoking dug its claws into its armour.

The screech was deafening as his claws dug further into the thick steel. Lairon growled, enduring the pain as Nidoking bit down onto his grey armour. He really wasn't holding back against him. "Laiii!" He roared, forcing its head into his friend's stomach as Nidoking's weight was starting to crush him into the ground.

"Solrock, you need to keep Nidoking still-"

"Hyper Beam!"

Cole's eyes widened in horror once a powerful beam of condensed energy ripped into Lairon, exploding on contact and filling the room with a heavy cloud of smoke. Cole cried out in pain as he flew back from the force of the explosion, tumbling against the sands before slamming into the stone wall beside a horrified Houndoom. He gagged, coughing up blood as his head continued to pound in pain from the ear-splitting sound waves.

"Lairon! Nidoking!" Cole cried as the smoke finally cleared, revealing Lairon's tattered armour and panting Nidoking. Both pokemon were struggling to stand, leaning onto each other as Koji laughed in the background.

"Ahahaha! You let yourself wide open! Where's your skill now?!" The eldest Admin cackled as Aerodactyl hovered above him. "You should have just knocked Nidoking out on the first try! Don't get soft just because he's your friend! Your battle's with me!" Koji barked, pointing at Cole as he strained himself to look up from the floor.

"Aerodactyl, finish them off-"

His voice froze once his stone dragon landed onto the shattered floor with a heavy gasp. Panting for air as steam continued to escape its jaws. "Damnit...How are you out of energy already? You should be able to use it twice!" He spat. Koji was about to reach for his belt before he noticed a glimpse of light in the corner of his eye. He felt his body shiver in fear once he noticed Nidoking turn towards them, golden sparks of electricity danced from its horn as it sneered towards him and Aerodactyl.

"Damnit not that!" Koji panicked, sprinting for the exit before Nidoking released a blinding bolt of lightning from the tip of its horn, high into the air before crashing down upon Aerodactyl. The Rock/Flying type screeched in pure agony as the powerful current engulfed its body, twitching and twisting its wings in a contorted fashion as Koji shielded his face from the blinding light.

Cole looked on in, dark brown eyes a lit with horror before the Thunder attack finally stopped its electrified grip on Aerodactyl. "What did he do to you?!" He never trained Nidoking for this...They had really turned his friend...into a monster!

The Fossil pokemon dropped onto the floor, its entire body twitching repeatedly as the last few sparks of electricity escaped into the thick air. Neither Admin had anything to say as Nidoking roared angrily again before suddenly whipping its tail into Lairon. The armour pokemon let out a cry, blindsided by the furious attack before crashing into the fallen rubble.

"That Nidoking of yours is out of control!" Koji swore angrily, returning Aerodactyl before flinging a Pokeball in Cole's direction.

"What are you doing?" Cole groaned as the red and white sphere rolled to a halt beside him.

"Geez, who knew he'd get so fired up just by seeing you-" Koji quickly stuffed Aerodactyl's Pokeball into his pocket, panicking as Nidoking charged up another Thunder attack.

"You wanted him back? He's your problem now!" Koji ran, to Cole's surprise, back towards the entrance. He was actually running away!

Cole let out a dejected breath of air as Koji disappeared into the darkness of the retreating tunnel. 'So this is how I'm treated...after everything I've done for them! Lies! They're not friends at all...' A feeling of emptiness enveloped him as Nidoking continued to roar, sparks of electricity finally exploding from the tip of its horn and rocketing towards his still figure.

Team Magma really didn't care about him. He wasted everything trying to become stronger with them. The people that he once thought of as friends had stolen his pokemon from him...and turn him into...

A jolt of electricity snapped the Magma Admin from his thoughts. Looking up, Cole gasped at the brilliant shield of purple light that enveloped him, protecting his beaten form and Houndoom from the jaws of the Thunder attack. "S-Solrock..." Cole breathed as the electricity dug into the jagged rocks of its body. These were his real friends...To risk its life to save his...

"Stop...Please stop."

As if his pleas were finally heard, Nidoking suddenly stopped roaring, catching its Trainer's attention. It growled, deep black eyes flashing with hot anger. Solrock groaned, Thunder's attack taking its toll as sparks jetted in every direction. It only had one shot left to reason with him.

"Sooool!" Solrock, his last pokemon with enough fight to take on their dear friend hovered in front of Nidoking as it continued to stomp the floor. It then sent out a small trail of light towards the Drill pokemon's head.

"You're trying to communicate with him..." Cole's voice was hurt as Nidoking's eyes widened in shock, slowly taking its glare off of Cole before turning to Solrock. It blinked softly; he knew Nidoking felt hurt...betrayed...used. Nidoking would always reveal his emotions easily towards him and he could tell from the look in his black eyes that he was crying out to him.

"...N-Nidoking." Cole called softly. The Magma Admin then dropped his gaze, pain pulsing through him as he managed to lean against the stone walls. Sweat drenched his tattered shirt as he panted for the only sandy air that hung around him. "I...I don't know if you'll ever forgive me...But...I'm...I'm sor-"

Suddenly, the trampling of earth could be heard, earning a gasp from Cole. He looked up to see the Drill Pokemon charge right through Solrock, stabbing the Meteorite pokemon with its glowing green horn before it flung Solrock to the side, slamming into a panting Lairon before charging towards him. Deep brown eyes trembled with the earth as Nidoking increased its speed, its thick horn pointed directly towards him.

Who was he kidding?

No words would convince Nidoking what he truly meant to him. He could have ran right back to the base to fight and get him back...but he didn't. All he did was listen to orders and leave them behind, not knowing what would have happened to him...or Shedinja. What kind of Trainer was he? What kind of friend was he? As Nidoking roared, the impending doom reaching closer to take his life, Cole stepped forward opening his arms to Nidoking's surprise. What he did to them, breaking their trust...and friendship for the sake of orders could only be repaid by his actions.

Lairon, cried out in agony as he witnessed first hand, Nidoking slide into Cole, his thick horn thrusting into the young man's shoulder. Lairon's jaw dropped, its entire body shook violently as Nidoking stopped in its tracks. He had really done it...

Hot.

Everything suddenly burned. His ears felt like fire itself, his skin tingled feverishly. Slowly turning his now stiffening neck, he could see as Nidoking's horn slide out from his punctured skin before he dropped to the ground. His arms lay out beside him as he looked up to Nidoking's completely shocked expression.

It hurt...it burned! "-You know...Nidoking..." He smiled softly at his long time friend as tears blurred his vision. "I remember...that I always...always had to teach you with actions...You...You never...listened." He coughed roughly, earning a small whine from Nidoking who dropped to his knees. "Training you...was never easy...But we never left each other"

A feverish chill ran through his bones as Nidoking's wide eyes continued to stare at him. This was exactly what he deserved for abandoning them. Nidoking needed someone who'd never break his trust "..Words...never really got through to you...But I just...I just want to say..." He slowly reached up and touched Nidoking's face, he could still feel the nostalgic rough scales as his fingers trailed slowly, earning another smile from Cole as he closed his eyes.

"I love you, Nidoking."

"N-Nido..." Tears fell from the Drill pokemon's eyes. Even after hurting all of their friends, and Cole himself, he still felt the warmness of his Trainer...no his friend's words finally reach him. Cole would never leave him like that...The Drill pokemon cried out again, tears dripping from its eyes as Cole panted softly, the poison beginning to take over. From this day forward, he would never mistrust them again.

BOOOOM!

Cole's eyes opened slowly from a sudden intense heat. His vision still blurred from the poison that was beginning to circulate through his body, he turned his neck to see Houndoom limping towards him. Its deep red eyes were piercing with cold anger as a few trails of smoke escaped its jaw.

"...Why?" Cole wheezed as Houndoom quickly turned Cole over to tear open his black backpack with sharp fangs.

The fire hound did not respond to his Trainer, instead rummaged through his backpack before its head popped out with a vile in its jaw. Growling with frustration with the cork top of the bottle, Houndoom bit the lid off revealing a light purple liquid that glittered in the moonlight before leaning over Cole's still body.

Emerging from the hot rocks that were singed by Houndoom's fire, Nidoking watched slowly as the leader of their party slowly poured the liquid down Cole's throat.

A cooling sensation sank down to Cole's very core as Houndoom dumped the entire solution into his body. Blinking softly, Cole coughed as Houndoom tossed the vile to the side, the glass clanked against the sandy floor before Houndoom lowered himself under Cole and pushed him up softly. The Trainer cried out in pain, clutching at his left arm as the deep red blood continued to slide down his arm and onto the floor. Opening his eyes slowly in light of the severe pain that still radiated through his body, Cole looked forward to see Nidoking a few feet away from him, black patches along its armoured hide.

What surprised him the most was that Nidoking was still conscious, his eyes barely open as he continued to stare back at Cole. Neither Trainer nor Pokemon moved as they continued to look deep into each other's eyes. A few minutes passed and Cole finally felt energy return to his legs before he struggled to get up. Houndoom grunted softly, giving his body for Cole to lean on as he caught his breath.

"You could have stabbed me directly in the heart." Cole finally broke the silence, placing his hand on his chest as Nidoking stood up slowly, despite Houndoom's watchful glare. "Yet...you avoided that entirely." Nidoking nodded...tears beginning to sprout again as he called out softly to Cole.

Grabbing a small cloth from his torn backpack, Cole slowly wrapped his arm to Nidoking's surprise before he began to hobble towards him. The Drill pokemon shivered slightly from Cole's advances, but remained in place as he finally made his way to him. Leaning down, Cole dropped to his knees before he wrapped the Poison/Ground type in his arms.

"I'm so sorry Nidoking...I'm sorry...I'm sorry...I'm sorry..." He repeated the words into Nidoking's large ears while rubbing his back gently. Feeling his own body begin to shake as Nidoking finally broke down in his arms. "I forgot who my real family was after all this time with Team Magma...It was you. Please...forgive me for everything!"

Nidoking's eyes widened slightly from Cole's words before rubbing his face against Cole's head. "Nido...Nido..."

"Team Magma...I should have never joined them. I nearly lost you because of them." Cole choked on his words, the fear of losing Nidoking forever snatching at his heart. "I understand if you hate me...but I'll never lose you again. Please Nidoking..." The Drill pokemon glanced up to Cole as tears ran down both of their faces.

"This must be what it feels like to have Team Magma take someone away from you..." His fist clenched, all of those things he did to the people of Hoenn...Scaring their families, taking their pokemon...This is what it felt like. Pure agony.

"All I've done is take things away from people..."

Suddenly a soft poke was felt in his side. Cole turned around to see Houndoom and Lairon smiling softly at them. Solrock was conscious as well, although barely hovering above them as it hummed towards Nidoking, greeting their fifth member back into the family.

Looking at his family of pokemon nearly back to normal; Houndoom, Lairon, Solrock...and now Nidoking. Cole felt more tears roll down his eyes as Lairon and Houndoom nuzzled against Nidoking. They were almost all together again.

"Everyone."

The 4 pokemon turned to Cole, waiting for him to continue as he met their gazes with a determined look. The pokemon that he had grown up, the hardships and adventures they had all gone through together; this was true love. They were the only ones that truly understood one another, a real family that he was a part of. He was not going to lose this again. He was not going to separate them ever again.

"We're going to stop Team Magma."


"It's done!" Stretching her back tiredly with a relieved sigh, Kyra nodded her head in approval of their work as the final boulder was hurled to the side by Cobalt. The mudfish nodded along with its Trainer, a full view of the corridor that Elisa had ventured into could now be accessed again.

"About time!" A taller figure, Noah complained as he rotated his tired shoulders. "We could have been with Elisa this whole time if that weird woman hadn't shown up."

"And if that earthquake hadn't blocked our path." Kyra pitched in, returning Cobalt with a soft smile as she peered forward into the darkness. "That loser better not have gotten herself killed in there."

"She has pokemon. She's not that weak!" Noah chuckled, earning a glare from the fiery Trainer.

"Whatever." She brushed off his smile with another glare before she reached for her belt once more. "Backburner can light the way. Come on, we need to find her ASAP...Or else Cole is going to let me have it-"

Suddenly, the sound of something moving along the air was heard, cutting Kyra off as she turned around with a panic as the noise became louder with each passing second. Noah gulped, stepping in front of Kyra as both Trainers continued to wait for their next challenge.

"Do you think it's...Team Aqua again?!" Noah asked, sweat running down his brow.

"I'll be glad to kick her ass out of here for good! Backburner!" Kyra barked, tossing the Pokeball into the air to reveal a small rodent like pokemon with flames on its head and hide. Backburner growled softly, its flames intensifying as the whirling noise reached its peak.

"Flllyyy!"

In a whirlwind of sand and debris; Kyra, Noah, Wartortle and Backburner coughed heavily as a large dragon-like descended in front of them. Flapping its wings tiredly, Kyra gasped in shock once she identified Flygon and her brother riding atop the Ground/Dragon pokemon.

"You really beat that guy?! Badass!" Noah cried out in awe as Flygon landed with a thud, panting slightly as Cole quickly slid off its back. "I mean...I knew you could-"

"You're hurt!" Kyra pushed by Noah in a hurry, latching onto her stumbling brother as he attempted to catch his breath. She looked at Cole carefully as he hobbled forward. Inspecting his limp form, dark brown eyes shook as the blood-stained bandage caught her attention. His shirt was tattered with soot and sand, his black jeans were torn in various places as well. Did he fight the pokemon himself?!

"...Did...Did Team Magma do this to you?" A sickening feeling rose from the pit of her stomach as Cole's eyes darkened from her words.

"...No...I just had to-" He groaned, earning another gasp from his sister who clutched onto his form. He waved off her concern before pulling out a red and white sphere from his belt, scratches embedded along its dirty surface. "I got Nidoking back."

Kyra stared at the Pokeball in silent awe. He really got one of them back. "He wasn't all too happy to see me again...But we were able to make up."

"You really saved him...Nidoking." Kyra couldn't fight back her tears, earning a bewildered look from Noah and Wartortle who were watching from the sidelines.

"Got who back?...Why are you crying? And why are you injured?!"

"Where's Elisa?"

"Answer my question first!" Noah's howls went unnoticed as Cole and Kyra stepped by him towards the tunnel's now cleared entrance.

"We met a woman from Team Aqua here." Kyra started, earning a surprised look from her brother.

"So they're really trying to get the Dragon Plates too..."

"Yeah...Elisa went ahead to get that Dragon Plate while we battled her. But some weird earthquake blocked off the tunnel..." Her face was crestfallen as she looked forward into the darkness. Even if she hated that girls guts, making her go on alone still didn't feel right.

"I'll go after her." Cole pulled himself from Kyra's grasp to her surprise as Flygon stepped forward as well, leaning down next its Trainer. "This whole chamber looks like its going to go down soon. Take Windy and both of you leave now."

"Do you really think I'm going to just leave you like this?!" Kyra snapped, glaring at her brother as Noah scratched the back of his head. "You're hurt, you're pokemon are hurt I bet and this whole place is going to the dumps! How dumb can you get?!" She was about to yell at her brother some more before a massive stone suddenly broke from the ceiling and slammed into the cracking floors, shaking the chamber violently to everyone's surprise.

"We can all go together Cole!"

"Won't you need help down there?" Noah quickly interjected, looking up to the older male as Flygon began to flap its wings.

"As far as I know, the Magma members retreated from the ruins." Cole quickly answered, avoiding their eyes as he stared into the dark tunnel. "Did anyone go after Elisa?"

Kyra pouted slightly before turning away from Cole. "...No."

"And we did face the Leader of Team Aqua...so there shouldn't be anyone else." Noah added, earning a sharp glare from Kyra. 'He needs to know the truth!' The sailor shot back a glare to Kyra's surprise as Flygon began to glide towards the dark tunnel.

"You two need to get out of here first! Flygon can escape through the ceilings, but Windy will be trapped. Leave while the tunnels are still clear! Go!" His thought out words left Kyra speechless as boulders continued to cleave themselves from the ceiling. He was right after all. Without the tunnels, they would be trapped. Oh she hated it when he was right!

"Idiot..." Kyra mumbled, tossing Windy's Pokeball into the air as her brother and Flygon disappeared into the darkness.


Rumble.

Dark brown eyes narrowed cautiously. Venturing deep into the tunnel alone, Cole braced himself against the wall as he inched forward with each step. With all of his pokemon nearing their limits, he knew that once he found Elisa they would need to escape with Flygon before the ruins collapsed in on them. 'If the Earth Plate is nearby...then my arm should be reacting at least. I hope she found it already...'

Rumble.

A few stones clattered onto the uneven floor beneath him. Holding his breath, Cole traced his hands along the walls for support. "We don't have much time..." Glancing up despite the pitch-black darkness of the tunnel, he could hear the ceiling groan loudly with each step he took. The battle with Koji had crumbled the interior of the entire floor; every few minutes Cole could feel his entire body shake in unison with the walls around him.

'Anymore damage...and we'll be buried alive.' He let out a sigh as he inched forward once more. 'At least Kyra and Noah are safe-'

Suddenly the pressure beneath him gave way. Latching onto the edge of the floor for dear life, Cole grunted as he dangled from his uninjured arm. He bit his lip to prevent himself from screaming as the pain from the poison jolted him to the very core. One arm wasn't enough to hold his frame, sweat running down his brow as his fingers slipped one by one.

"Flygon!" In one quick motion, Cole reached for his belt despite the agonizing pain in his left arm and threw a Pokeball. In a flash of bright light, Flygon materialized, flapping its wings with a small growl before he dove under Cole. Dropping from the ledge, Cole landed on Flygon with a thud as the sand dragon maintained its balance despite the small space of the tunnel. Looking down into the darkness below him, a sickening feeling filled the Trainer. The tunnel ended here...

"...No...She couldn't-Flygon! We need to get down there!"

The Mystic pokemon retracted its wings as it dove deeper into the darkness. Its eyes wide in the pitch black, Flygon navigated by the sound alone as it slid further down. It did not take long before Flygon managed to reach a thick pool of sand at its feet.

"Solrock!" Tossing another Pokeball into the air, the Meteorite pokemon appeared from a flash of bright light. Cole could easily tell that the Rock/Psychic type did not have much power left, but this was a desperate situation. "Please Solrock, I need you to light up this area." Cole asked, clinging onto his aching arm before the Meteorite pokemon began to spin softly. A faint light gave the trio enough to see around them as the small chasm revealed itself.

Ancient markings were the first image that his eyes noticed as he examined the lower level of the Desert Ruins. "This is braille." Cole traced his fingers along the walls before he turned around, only to notice a dark brown object. A knot formed in his throat as he walked forward, quickly identifying the sleeve of his sand jacket underneath a pile of ruble that had fallen from the top floor.

"This is..."

Dropping to his knees, a coldness he thought he could never experience took over his entire body as he tugged at the torn jacket. "...She...She couldn't have." His mind refused to believe it. Throughout their entire journey, he had told her that he was the strong one that wouldn't get her into danger. He had done it again.

Failure.

"Elisa!" Cole cried, punching the jagged stones. The pain from the impact was microscopic to the regret and sorrow that filled his heart as he felt tears begin to build again. That same sickening feeling of leaving a loved one surged through his body. He began to shake as he clenched his fists into the sand, what would he say to everyone?

To her parents?

"...Why...Why did I bring you along!" He cried, punching the rocks again. "I'm so sorry Elisa! I couldn't...I couldn't-"

"Uhmm...Cole?"

He didn't just hear Elisa's voice from the dead, did he? 'So this is what it feels like to go insane...' Looking up, his face covered with dirt, sand and blood; Cole gaped at the jagged rocks for an answer. "...W-Who said that?!"

Suddenly a warm hand placed itself onto Cole's shoulder and he jumped. Whipping his head around, he fell back to see a young woman in a light grey sweater and dark pants. Despite the small amount of light that Solrock radiated, Cole could tell who this woman was on the spot from the way her hazel eyes glimmered.

He stared in awe at those hazel orbs as they reflected the same feeling of relief as he did.

"E-Elisa?!" He choked, a sudden sense of happiness washing over him. "...But...But-"

"R-Riolu was strong enough to brake the fall with his Force Palm attack." Elisa breathed, still at a loss at Cole's expression he was giving her. Riolu then appeared from the darkness, smiling brightly in the faded light as he clutched onto Elisa's leg. "If you hadn't trained him to learn that move...I probably would have-"

Elisa's words were cut off once a pair of shaking arms wrapped themselves around her small frame. She gasped, a rush of warmness engulfing her as he pressed himself against her cheeks. "C-Cole?! W-We're fine! Riolu saved me!" She squeaked, her face already beginning to burn from the contact. "I-"

"I thought I lost you."

She froze. The words felt so scared...void of hope. His whole being was laced with fear. Slowly, but surely, Elisa finally managed to wrap her arms around Cole's shaking form. "I'm okay now...I'm okay Cole...Thank you." She whispered into his chest, rubbing his back soothingly. She smiled softly once he stopped shaking and the feelings of fear finally vanished from her own mind.

'I didn't know he would be that worried about me...' Squeezing onto his frame a little more, she didn't want this moment to end. But that wish did not come true once she felt a warm light radiate against her back. "That light..."

"It's my arm..." Cole spoke softly, finally managing to release Elisa from his hold. He watched her carefully as her fingers trailed over the bruised skin of his forearm. It was glowing a soft red. "...Did you go further down this path?" Cole asked, avoiding the curious look she gave him when she caught him peaking at her.

"No, I was trying to read the braille on the wall. But it mostly read...'Begone' and..'Stay away'." The warnings did not seem to faze her now...now that he was here. She turned around, looking past Solrock and Flygon's tired forms into the darkness ahead. "The Earth Plate must be ahead then...if your arm is reacting, right?"

Cole nodded, inching forward only to be grabbed by Elisa again. "What's the matter?"

"Who did that to you? Was it that Team Magma man." She demanded, surprising Cole as she leaned into his left shoulder. The cloth was soaked with blood, filling her mind with dreadful thoughts before Cole shook off her worried expression.

"Elisa...It's okay, just a flesh wound." He shrugged it off, grateful that that was her only question. "I'll get fixed up once we get the Earth Plate." He smiled down at her, earning a solemn smile in return.

"Did you go through this much danger at the Oceanic Museum as well?" Elisa asked again, staring deeply into his dark orbs. "...You keep getting hurt."

"...I knew this would happen. We're going after the Dragon Plates after all..." Cole mumbled, avoiding her gaze before he stepped forward. "But I made a promise to you. That I would get you the Dragon Plates, and to keep you safe." He stared forward, a grim look on his face as Elisa looked down at the sandy floor.

"At least let me keep my word for one of them tonight." Hobbling forward, Cole patted Elisa on her back making her jump.

"We're so close now...Let's get the Earth Plate, and get out of here. We don't have much time."

Watching Cole hobble forward with Solrock and Flygon by his side, Elisa felt a chill run down her spine. 'You're putting your life on the line for these plates...' She knew that she could stop him right now from going forward, but the glory of finding the second Dragon Plate pulled at her cries against it. 'It feels like I'm just using you...' She felt her heart sink as she walked forward with Riolu at her side.

Was it really okay for her to do this? To use someone to obtain such a goal?

"...I'll find out." She whispered to herself before chasing after Cole's fading figure.


Streams of light...

Moonlight, peppered with grains of sand twinkled from above the duo as they stepped into an enormous underground chamber, easily bigger than a football field. Massive boulders stood erect from the sandy floor that dipped into a large pit below them as Cole and Elisa held their breaths at the sight. The eerie moonlight that rained down gave them enough light to see that the entire chamber was closed off despite the openings in the ceilings that watched them from above. Holding onto Elisa for support, Cole eyed the chamber wearily as he panted for air. His right arm was still illuminated in a red hue and getting stronger with each step.

"It should be in here." Elisa started, breaking the silence as their pokemon entered the chamber from behind them. "Look!"

Cole blinked as Elisa pointed down into the pit. 3 large boulders standing alone in a circle, he quickly noticed large italics carved into the stones that were illuminated by the moonlight. "I'll check out the writing on those boulders, you stay here." Her words only earned a glare in return.

"Who made you in charge?" Cole attempted to fight back, but the jab of Elisa's finger into his side answered his question as he winced angrily.

"You can barely move Cole!" Elisa scolded the Trainer. "No one could have entered this area if that tunnel was the only way inside. So it'll be fine. Just rest here." She then gave him her brightest smile, earning a blush from the young man. "I'll get the Dragon Plate this time."

"Take Flygon with you." Cole managed to spit out, looking away from her as Flygon nodded before walking beside Elisa. "And...Be careful."

"I know." Elisa reassured before sliding down into the steep pit. Her heart began to pound once she landed into the thick sand. Flygon glided down the steep pit before landing beside Elisa with a thud. The brisk cold sand that may have not moved for years fluttered from Flygon's presence, scattering around them in the silver light as they stared forward. Elisa noticed Flygon's eyes dart back and forth among the three boulders that circled the pit before she finally began to take cautioned steps. Everything seemed okay to her as she ventured forward slowly towards the first boulder. 'I'm finally going to get my first Dragon Plate!'

"Riiiii!"

"Ahh!"

Elisa screeched as she felt a small ball of fur land onto her head. She fell forward, landing face first into the sand with a thud as Flygon watched in awe. "R-Riolu?!" Elisa cried, forcing her face out of the cold sand. She turned around to her giggling friend before it hopped off of her back. He had literally jumped down from the entrance to surprise her.

"Don't scare me like that! Y-You know better!" She scolded, half whined which only earned another fit of laughter from Riolu.

"...You've been spending too much time with Noah." She huffed, the words falling on deaf ears as she looked up towards the tunnel's entrance to see Cole smiling down at her. The moonlight was bright enough to cast a coat of silver upon Cole and surprisingly Houndoom who was released from his Pokeball during the whole ordeal.

'He's making sure we're safe.' Hazel eyes narrowed, quickly noticing the injuries lined along the fire hound's body. 'That man must have been really strong to give Houndoom such a hard time...' Elisa realized before waving at the three figures and then turning back to the first boulder.

"Okay guys, keep watch please!" Elisa asked politely to Riolu and Flygon as they made their way to the first boulder.

"Ri!"

"Fly!"

Both pokemon nodded eagerly, giving Elisa a sense of relief as she examined the first scriptures on the boulder. Hazel eyes twinkled with surprise once she noticed that the writing was actually the same as Jin's. "...I thought it would be braille." She mused, looking over the letters carefully.

"We seal the power of Earth, Sea and Sky...Kyogre?" The words slipped from her lips before the boulder suddenly began to glow in a beautiful dark blue. Elisa and the pokemon gasped, stepping back from the boulder as Cole shot up from his seat atop the pit.

He glared at the tattered backpack as it glowed with the same aura as the boulder."The Ocean Plate is reacting, Elisa!" Cole called out to her. He let out a breath he didn't know he was holding once Elisa waved him off hurriedly.

"It's okay!" She called before turning back to the glowing boulder. "...These rocks must be keys then for the Earth Plate." Elisa determined, tracing her fingers along the boulder's surface. It had the same sensation as the Ocean Plate; cold and light. Shaking off the anxious feeling in her stomach, Elisa walked away from the first of the three boulders until she reached the second.

"Break the chains...and Hoenn shall...Rayquaza?" She cursed to herself as her fingers trailed over the missing texts.

Flygon and Riolu blinked curiously once the second boulder began to glow an emerald green. Its light blending with the light from the first boulder.

Cole felt his heart beat faster in his chest as the Ocean Plate began to hum, the resonance of its light becoming brighter as it synced with the second boulder. "Almost there..."

"Rayquaza..." Elisa's voice trailed as the second boulder shined just as brightly. "Then this last one..." She stepped forward, walking past the two glowing boulders until she reached the final one that stood alone at the very back of the pit.

"Relinquish this power...For we lock the...darkness of our guardians in these crystal walls...Groudon..." Hazel eyes widened with fascination as the boulder began to glow a deep red. "This must be...a scripture to activate the Dragon Plates!"

Cole's dark brown eyes widened with shock as the third and final boulder shone a deep crimson. The three lights then mixed with each other, dazzling his senses before coming together into a radiating orb of twirling colours. "...This better be good!" Cole breathed as the orb slid into the thick sand centered between the three boulders.

"This must be it!" Elisa whispered to herself in excitement as Flygon and Riolu cautiously stood in front of her. 'I really did it! The scriptures activate the plates!'

The light from the three boulders began to dim before, to her surprise before a small tablet began to rise from the sands. Elisa gasped, stepping between the two pokemon out of sheer excitement as a familiar tablet of stone was summoned from the earth. Shining brightly as it hovered in the air; it was a deep sandy brown, similar to Cole's eyes as the moonlight from above coated it in a brilliant silver hue. She could see the scriptures engraved on the tablet; stepping forward a grin etched onto her features.

"The Earth Plate."

Hiking through the thick sands, Elisa slowly reached out for their second Dragon Plate. As the light faded, and the tablet slowly landed into Elisa's open arms, she could feel her body jolt with new energy.

It was finally over!

"We have it...We finally have the second Dragon Plate!" Elisa cheered, jumping up and down with the Earth Plate in hand. Flygon and Riolu stood at her side, cheering along with her as Cole and his pokemon watched from the entrance, sighing in relief.

"Finally..." Cole breathed, his body slowly filling with fatigue. "...We can leave now-" He glanced at his arm. Dark brown eyes then narrowed suspiciously as he rose his arm to his face. Usually the red aura would have faded by now... "Does it react more now...since we found the second plate?" He asked himself, examining the red light.

"Hooounnn!"

Cole blinked, turning to Houndoom who snarled at the Ocean Plate. His eyes widened once a dark red aura resonated from the plate before zipping towards the Earth Plate in Elisa's hands.

Elisa nearly dropped the treasure as the light engulfed the Earth Plate. Suddenly it began to glow a dark red as well but then disappeared just as quickly. "What was that about-"

Clank

Cole's body froze.

"What...What is-" His eyes trembled in fear as they quickly noticed in the distance, stones beginning to morph in front of Elisa.

Clank

Elisa took a step back. Slowly...stones began to move on their own. Twitching slightly, they began to aggregate in front of her. Building on top of each other as they glowed a deep red.

Clank

They were still building...Clutching onto the Earth Plate, she felt the life being sucked out of her as the stones became boulders, random in shape and colour, rising higher above her.

Clank...Clank

Yes...She had seen it before as the rocky silhouette's front began to glow bright with seven red orbs of light, the shape of an H. Every rock and boulder twitched slowly as they leered into her very soul.

Clank...Clank...CLANK

Thick swaying arms...slabbed feet...Two jagged clay-coloured shoulders completed its form as Elisa fell back into the cold sand, fear radiating throughout her very core as the figure dwarfed her completely. She had only seen this figure on paper; memories of the days she wished to see it in real life. Her wish had finally come true...

"Regirock."

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