The voice was barely audible through the thick cedar doors, but it was enough to catch the attention of an old man who was leaning back against a black leather chair. As the massive doors to his office opened slowly, allowing a heavy groan to wander in, the grey-haired man let out a tired sigh.
Usually, he was much more happier on the days when he was able to look out his full-scale window to gaze at the city's glorious concrete and stone structures; however for the first time ever since he started this company so many decades ago, his features were crestfallen. The sunny and vibrant city of Rustboro that beamed prosperity everyday was now shrouded in thick clouds of sand and debris. Beyond the window, Rustboro was dealing with a heavy sandstorm.
The winds shrieked from outside.
"Mr. Stone...Our doors are open to the public downstairs as you requested. And we are also allowing them to go up to the tenth floor-" The lanky figure that stood at the front door of the head office of the Devon Corporation hesitated with his next words before taking a deep breath. "...Um...Sir, perhaps you should take a break and-"
The assistant to Mr. Stone let out a yelp as his deep voice surprisingly held some anger in it. "I-I'm sorry that I-" Suddenly, the black chair swung around to reveal the aging man. His tired eyes shined at his long time assistant before glancing down at the large wooden desk in front of him.
"We need to let all the travelers that may be stuck out there into our building. It's the least we can do at this moment..." Rubbing his tired eyes for what seemed like the 3rd day in a row to him, Mr. Stone reached for his PokeNav and flipped it open. Glancing at the screen, his son's number flashed back at him. He had been trying to contact Steven for a couple of days now, but was only able to get through to him for a few moments before the call would cut off.
"Mr. Stone, Roxanne came by earlier; she told me that this sandstorm seems to be hovering all over Fallarbor Town as well, and continues to spread West out here...Our communication equipment also seems to be hampered severely by the storms."
Mr. Stone nodded slowly from the words. About a month ago, there were powerful rainstorms in Slateport, Dewford and Petalburg. Those types of storms had hit those cities before, so the thought of any danger never rose in his mind.
"Yes...What are the reports coming from the Meteorological and Pokemon Research wings?" He quickly asked, hoping for an answer.
"Our experts don't believe that the sandstorm is a natural cause..." He then pulled out a sheet of paper from the large folder in his hands before clearing his throat. "Actually, there was a hypothesis that suggested that one of the Legendary guardians of Hoenn may have something to do with these-"
"What?!" He cried, jumping from his seat. The chair spun all the way back to the window to bounce off its surface with a resonating bang. "Why didn't they inform the Pokemon League if a Legendary pokemon could be involved?! I thought the league wrote that into the latest laws for all citizens in Hoenn since the battle two years ago!"
"Well the report didn't come from us exactly sir..." The lanky man fought the urge to run away as he gave him a perplexed look. "A young woman by the name of Elisa Neville actually gave us this information...But the Pokemon Research team didn't exactly believe it..."
"So those storms in Fallarbor...It wasn't just a one-time occurrence." Mr. Stone, tired and weary from watching over the Devon Corporation for days since the sandstorm hit glanced at a few files on his desk before grabbing the PokeNav once again. Walking towards the glass window, he dialed his son's number as the pellets of sand continued to slam and screech from the outside world.
"If the Legendary pokemon really have returned...we'll need Steven and the Elite Four to help us now."
The winds were harsh, whipping her long strands backwards as she clung to a thick branch. Despite the howling gusts of the night and the agonizing frosty air nipping at her extremities, Tori could not lose her spot now. It was an order from Holland directly after all.
"Wow! It's freezing out here!"
"Yeah, I swear it got worse! Not even the Weather System can warm up the area!"
"...Do you really think the Legendary pokemon are back?" He shuddered with the thought.
"No...No way. We still have work to do tomorrow, let's just sleep on it tonight. We'll figure it out tomorrow."
"Yeah, I bet you're right."
Amethyst eyes watched carefully as the two remaining figures continued away from the large building, oblivious to her presence. She had waited all day for this, the very moment that they let their guard down, she would make her move. Once the last remaining researcher disappeared from sight, she turned back to her target.
Tori's dark eyes twinkled, like a predator spotting its prey, a small bolt of electricity descended from the canopy overlooking the entrance to the Weather Institute. Crackling softly, sparks danced off in every direction before the lights and security camera that showered the front entrance blacked out. Leaping down and landing silently in one motion, the Magma Admin quickly tied her long raven hair into a knot.
"Their security will most likely be tighter Absol, notify me if you sense anything." Tori informed her Dark pokemon as it leaped from the canopy, landing just as gracefully.
"Sool." It bowed to its master before following the Magma Admin to the front gate.
Staring at the glass doors, she quickly peered into the massive building. 'Empty.' She mused before sliding the door open with her gloved hands.
Upon entry, Absol began to sniff the air, its snout twitching every few seconds as the pair made their way into the main hallway. She had been here before, back when they invaded to take control of the Weather System. Amethyst eyed dimmed from the thoughts; she was a mere grunt back then, easily influenced and weak. Simply obeying orders without any idea of the consequences.
But that ignorance was now gone.
Sneaking behind a concrete pillar that supported the second floor, Tori surveyed every corner that she could lay her eyes on. It was a matter of seconds before she would find them.
"Absol-" She quickly pointed to a black object hidden in the corner at the far end of the building. "Thunder Wave."
With one flick of its long dark scythe, Absol sent out streaks of crackling electricity, shutting down the security cameras one after the other as Tori pointed out the mechanic eyes above. It was a matter of seconds before the entire first floor was silent if not for the howling winds screeching from outside.
Letting out a soft breath, Tori left her hiding spot before walking over to Absol and petting the pokemon's sleek white fur. "Good job." She smiled softly at her long time friend before her features steeled once again. "Now, track down Jin's scent for me, can you find it?"
"Ab!" The Dark pokemon nodded quickly before kneeling down to the tiled floor. Tori watched silently, following Absol as it moved towards the staircase. They continued higher up, the faint sniffling of Absol's nose the only sound until they made it to the second floor.
"Stay low." Tori quickly ordered out loud, even if her pokemon didn't need to know already. The pair huddled close to each other, peering down the hallway. Tori blinked once she noticed that the main hallway was completely clear, not one camera lining their walls.
'Could there be...sensors?' Amethyst eyes narrowed in thought. Stepping up slightly, she quickly caught Absol's attention.
"Absol, I need to use a lower power Razor Wind in here."
The Dark pokemon eyed her, not understanding her command before she pointed to the hallway. "Just build up a little dust."
Absol finally nodded before a glowing white aura began to emit from its body. Its fur danced slowly with the increasing power before a whistling screech rang throughout the building as sharp blades of wind materialized in front of Absol.
"I knew it." Tori watched as dirt and debris that lay on the ground began to rise with Absol's attack. Her speculation was finally answered once the debris-filled air revealed thin lines of deep red light. To her surprise though, the sensors were only surrounding one door; secluded at the end of the main hallway. It had to be there...the last remaining information about the Dragon Plates.
"Okay Absol, let's go."
The Dark type nodded, stopping its attack before they quickly moved to the end of the hallway. Upon arrival, Tori noticed the name that was etched on the front of the door.
Without a second to spare, Tori motioned for her pokemon to release another jolt of electricity against the sensors main box above the door. It crackled and screeched before droning to a halt. She smirked to herself as the red sensor lights disappeared. Picking the lock with ease, Tori silently opened the large mahogany door before peering into the dark office.
Aside from mountains of paperwork that caught her eye on the front desk that stood in front of a large glass window, Jin's office was fairly plain. Shelves lined the side walls, decorated with thick books and ornaments from around the world as Tori made her way in. Inspecting every corner with a finger as she made her way around the large desk, the Magma Admin blinked once she noticed a locked drawer with a keypad etched on its surface.
"You'll need better security than just electrical equipment." Tori mused before turning to Absol. Another jolt of electricity and the system died down to the pair's delight. Amethyst eyes twinkled before she quickly grabbed onto the handle and pulled slowly, revealing a row of files that held the last remaining truths that the man had hid from her.
"...Dragon Plates of Sky Pillar." Flicking the files through her fingernails, Tori sat down on the large leather seat before turning on the lamp that sat among the stacks of unorganized papers. Absol watched his master carefully, sitting in his spot as she continued to mumble to herself.
"Originally discovered the Dragon Plate's scriptures at Sky Pillar-then set out to find the first plate..." She continued to read, turning another page as the lamp flickered softly. With each page she inspected, her hopes continued to fade into the howling of the night's stormy winds.
"Anyone who comes into contact with the Dragon Plates..." She held her breath, attempting to fight back the fear that nipped at her throat. "Begins to experience debilitating hallucinations, memory problems...coma." Thoughts of Cole began to surface as she read forward. The power of the plates were connected to the beasts of Hoenn... "Interaction with the plates...Risk to human life..."
Absol cocked his head to the side as Tori crushed the pages in her hands.
"So he really is using them to take down Team Magma..." Tori's voice was barely above a whisper, a heavy feeling deep in her chest. "...He's doing all of this just for revenge." Skimming through the papers once more, she huffed angrily at the rest of the notes that followed the report.
"Why would he put this in a locked compartment? This is just the same information he gave me back when we first met-"
Tori gasped, jolting Absol from his seat. She quickly turned the light off before stuffing the papers in the drawer with enough force to break it. 'This was all useless! Telling me about the plates power, he told me that its all a trap to get us-'
Tori screamed once the glass window behind her shattered, spraying sharp shards over her back. Before she could even comprehend what was happening, Absol snatched her by the arm, driving them both from near death as a thick blade severed the desk in half.
Rolling across the carpeted floor, Tori groaned in pain before her eyes shot open from the eerie creature that stood on its hind legs. Wind began to howl into the room through the shattered glass, sending jolts of fear down her spine as the pokemon slowly turned from its clean cut attack to them.
Absol growled before jumping in front of Tori as she took a step back. Their enemy glared at them, its armoured body and thick tail glistening in the moonlight before another figure landed beside it.
Tori froze in her spot once she noticed a tall man hop off the large bird pokemon. The wind still howling into the office, throwing sheets of paper every way possible, a dark glare bore into her heart once she recognized him.
"This time Magma...I won't let you escape!"
A lone street lamp flickered ominously in the light, buzzing into the silence of the cold night as a trio of figures clad in red overcoats huddled together behind an older man. He was dressed in a slick black suit, finely pressed at a professional level. A gold emblem on his chest completed his attire, shining brilliantly in sync with his movements as he flipped through a folder that held a strange green symbol on its surface.
"...So more than seventy percent?"
"...Yes sir." A large man, overweight and stocky standing just below the suited man's height nodded. A woman and pokemon were by the man's side; her dark eyes observant as she watched over the 3 overcoats behind him. The muscular tadpole pokemon flexed its muscles menacingly at the 3, earning gasps of fright in return to its pleasure.
"We'll need you to make your move soon to cement the final thirty." The woman started this time, combing a slender finger through her dark brown hair that appeared black in the darkness of the night. "Only when we have perfection guaranteed, that's when I'll lend you my help." Her face was chiseled cold with years of experience. "We better not fail this time."
Deep red eyes flashed from the dull light above, taking in the woman's figure for a moment as her glare did not waver. An aura of pure strength resonated from her, peaking his interest further as the woman's Poliwrath glanced at him as well.
He was so close to completing it now, he could feel it. "That's not surprising. It's been so long, I can see why its going to take much more than just my words alone to be accepted." He sighed, rubbing his temples before handing the folder back to the large man. "If Maxie were still here, he would win them over easily-"
"Well he's not." The woman shot back, earning a snare in return. The tension seemed to rise between the group as the Poliwrath unfolded its arms, but was quickly silenced by a slap from the woman, keeping it in its place. "Maxie could only give us possibilities...We'll be the ones who actually achieve results."
"Yes...yes. The past is the past." The Leader of Team Magma sighed, easing the silence. "Tell the remaining few that we have secured the Ocean Plate and Earth Plate is basically in our grasp now. Once the location of the final plate is acquired, we'll begin the final phase there."
"Understood sir." The large man bowed slightly, along with the woman before turning away from the crimson-eyed commander.
"...Sir, shouldn't the Admins know of this?" One of the coated men asked quietly from behind him. He quickly regretted asking the question once fiery eyes bore into his soul. He then gulped, a sickening pressure building in his chest once he pulled out a Pokeball.
"There will be no need for the Admins once we acquire all three Dragon Plates." He smirked. "Those three have spent more time fighting between themselves than trying to help Team Magma. Cole, Tori and Koji have played their parts nicely-It's time for me to take over." Taking in a deep breath, Holland snapped his fingers to get the attention of his 3 henchmen. "Send out the order to have all of our men ready for this. I don't want them to be soft when we have to deal with every Trainer in Hoenn."
"A-All of them?!" Another cloaked man gasped, earning a sharp glare from Holland.
"We're going after the power of the dragon that can control the skies. I know for a fact that neither Steven nor the Elite Four will idly stand by and watch. Am I right?"
The 3 men nodded, although unsure as Holland cracked another smirk at them.
"Soon...Soon I'll have control of the entire country."
Tori winced, a deafening screech of pressurized water erupted from Armaldo, zooming towards Absol before she could even react. Luckily, the Disaster pokemon dodged the powerful jet by dropping to the floor with a heavy thud. The water attack pierce through the concrete walls to explode into the adjacent room, sending concrete flying off in every direction.
The howling winds were suddenly drowned out by an alarming blare from above, the security system had gone off in the other room, sending off a chain reaction throughout the whole building to Tori's surprise. She snapped her head back to Jin's pokemon once Absol sprang from the floorboards, slamming head-first into Armaldo's thick body.
"Counter it Absol!"
Absol's scythe and Armaldo's claw clashed with one another, like swords between warriors as the alarm continued to scream out into the night air. The two pokemon did not lose ground, growling and snaring at one another as their sharpened weapons hacked and slashed at one another.
"People died because of your foolish acts to control the Legendary pokemon!" Jin roared, his voice enriched with rising anger. "You have no right to take their power for your own!" He then snared once Absol quickly ducked from Armaldo's slash attack before kicking it with its hind legs.
"Once you get those plates, they'll kill you! Then no more Team Magma and Aqua!" The words sent chills down Tori's spine as Jin cackled. Once the three plates were gathered together, Cole would be its victim?!
"No-" Tori fought back the urge to scream back at him as Absol jumped back in front of her. "I need to get back to Cole-"
The Bird pokemon screeched violently, blending in with the alarm and howling winds before flapping its thick wings repeatedly. Absol yelped, clinging to the floor with its bare claws, the winds picking up with each intense flap. Tori screamed out to her pokemon, but her voice couldn't reach the Dark type before it was sent back, slamming into the walls behind her.
"Don't let up!" Jin bellowed over the screeching winds as he pointed towards the dark figure. "It stops here Magma!"
'We need to get out of here!' Despite the battering winds that continued to force her back into the walls, Tori threw a Pokeball into the air.
"...That's?!" Jin held his breath as the dark figure sent out a fox-like pokemon. Emerald eyes widened in shock once he recognized a pair of familiar red eyes glaring right back at him.
"...No...no!" His usual audacity now diminished, Jin struggled to speak as he pointed a wavering finger at the intruder. "W-Who are you?!"
Jin felt his throat tighten once the hoarse call of a woman hit his ears. A heavy realization struck him as Ninetales' ruby eyes shone a brilliant red before a wave of red light expanded across the room. Pidgeot cried out, the Hypnosis attack hitting dead on in the tight room, its powerful strokes slowed to a halt before it dropped to the floor with a thud, completely knocked out.
"...S-Simone?!...Simone Ellis!" Jin called hesitantly, all anger now lost as the thought of the young woman invaded his mind. Shielding his eyes from the battering winds as they continued to rip through his office, he could make out the faint figure of a young woman from across the room. His heart pounded painfully as no response was heard from the dark side of the room; the person remained silent.
"Don't get involved with the Dragon Plates anymore!"
Jin gasped once a powerful jet of fire erupted from the corner of the room. "Armaldo!" The elderly man ducked as his pokemon took the full brunt of the attack, groaning in pain as it shielded Jin from the flames.
"Simone! Is it really you?!" His voice cracked, a sickening bulge weighing him down as he tried to see through the flames. "Show yourself! Armaldo, Water Gun!"
The Plate pokemon obeyed, opening its jaws before a powerful jet of water cut through the Flamethrower attack with ease. It slammed into the corner of the room, pushing the flames further back to the intruders. As the flames continued to fight off the piercing Water Gun attack, Jin could finally see his opponent.
It was her.
Clear as day as the flames danced across her face, revealing her intense amethyst eyes to him. Suddenly, he felt the whole world crashing down on him as Armaldo stopped its attack, shrouding the young woman he thought he knew back into the pit of darkness.
All along, that sweet woman that talked to him back in Fallarbor Town. That same smile that eased his soul. It was-
"...It was you..." Jin mumbled as Tori backed further to the door with her pokemon. "The attack on museum...Asking about the plates-" He dropped to his knees, the shards of glass cutting through his pants as he continued to stare into the dark void ahead of him.
"You lied to me..." Jin breathed.
"Where is the final Dragon Plate!"
Jin's emerald eyes looked up in shock, Simone was glaring at him as she continued to ease back to the door. "...I...I don't know."
"You're only putting more people in danger if you keep hiding the information from us! How stupid are you?!" Tori shouted over the blaring alarm as her Ninetales remained cautious in front of her. "If you just give us the last plate, then no more people will be hurt!" Despite her cold words, Tori felt her heart breaking as Jin's wide eyes continued to shake violently.
She knew what was happening to him, betrayal was hard to accept; gazing at his broken figure, she bit her lip once Armaldo growled angrily from beside him.
"Tell me the location of the Sky Plate!"
"S-Simone! You have to stop this, whatever Team Magma is doing to you, I can help-"
Tori took in a sharp breath, Jin holding out a hand to her as the howl of the winds and blaring of the alarm pounded into her head. He shouldn't be looking at her like that...Not one glimmer of anger came from his eyes... only sadness. Did he really trust her that much? No, she shook her head violently before turning for the door.
"We've got an intruder!"
Tori gasped once two large men yelled at her from the down the hall, Hoenn's symbol glimmering from their chests as the flashlights beamed at her figure. "Ninetales Flamethrower on the ground!" The fox pokemon obeyed, blasting a powerful jet along the floors, lighting the entire hallway on fire to the guards surprise before they screamed, jumping out of the way as the attack spewed in every direction.
"-Simone...Simone wait!" Jin called out over the blaring winds as Tori whipped out another Pokeball to reveal a large clay-figure pokemon. "Don't go! I can help you!"
Tori turned back as the fires engulfed the air around them. The flames tore through the wooden floors, breaking the foundations and setting off more alarms as the Magma Admin gave the old man a menacing glare.
"You're too late."
Jin gasped, Tori and her pokemon vanishing from the flames before it consumed his sight. He jumped to his feet before the flames were doused by the overhead sprinklers. Standing in his now tattered office alone, soaked to the bone, cold and laced with cuts, Jin slowly clenched his frozen hands.
"Magma...Magma!" He slammed his fists into the severed desk, splitting the wood before another shriek of cold wind stormed into the office. "T-They must have gotten her...This is my fault. She must have gotten mixed up with them... Simone, you couldn't be working with them... out of your own free will?" Panting heavily from the mixture of emotions engulfing his body, Jin fell back to his knees as the two security guards from before bolted into the office.
"Mr. Rathore?! Are you hurt sir!"
"Did you see the intruder?"
Jin looked up from the soaked floors, his eyes still transparent. "I'm fine..." He punched the floor before finally getting to his feet. "The intruder was from Team Magma-"
The two guards gasped in shock, taking steps back from the news.
"...So the rumours were true? Why are they causing a ruckus all of a sudden-"
"HEY!" Jin snapped at the guards, grabbing the taller one by the collar of his vest. "Don't just sit here! Search the area for those Magma scum!"
"Y-Yes sir!" The two men bolted out of the room, leaving an enraged Jin to sit by himself beside his fallen Pidgeot and Armaldo.
"Simone's really with Team Magma...But she's just a girl..." He glanced over to Armaldo who was surveying the wreckage of the room silently. "Those cruel bastards would really fall as low as to use a young girl." Jin growled, clenching his fist tighter as the coldness sunk further into him.
"I'm not going to let another man lose his daughter because of them." The old man then got up and patted the Rock/Bug type, catching its attention before he turned to the shattered window.
"We'll need Team Aqua and Magma to destroy each other now."
Panting heavily from her long sprint, Tori finally slid to a stop before dropping into the thick grasses of Route 119. The blades of grass poked and scratched into her torn clothes, tickling her skin, but a deep frown only formed on her features. Her chest rising and falling with each tired gasp for air, Tori blinked softly, the stars overhead twinkling innocently above.
"Every clue he gave me...it was only information to lead me into a trap!" She swore, slapping her hands deeper into the thick grass. She didn't want to see him there, but he had waited for her to arrive, patiently for an unsuspecting member to get tangled in his web of deceit.
"Why does everyone lie..."
Her voice was answered by no one to her dismay as she sat up. Looking over the vast landscape of Hoenn's longest route, Tori let out a huff of frustration. "Why...why am I doing this..."
Once they found all three Dragon Plates, what would become of her? What about Cole and Koji? Would Holland give them apart of Hoenn to rule for themselves?
"I don't want that..." The wishes that she thought would be granted if she joined Team Magma did not come true. That was her only reason... Even with all of the people from Team Magma to freely control, the sheer numbers of men that would fawn over her, the ranking she earned with her own power; she still didn't feel anything...just loneliness. Thoughts of what Cole might be going through ravaged her mind as well, the guilt of leading him into a dangerous chase stabbed at her heart. Another cold breeze whipped by her head and she shivered, tucking her disheveled and frizzled strands into her shirt before getting to her feet.
If everything was going to plan, Cole would have the possession of the Earth Plate right now. She never wanted this to happen, she just wanted...
"When will I get my wish..."