"Hey...Loser...Mom said come down already...Everyone left already."
A door creaked open, revealing a young girl, dressed in light brown shorts and a white tank top. Sneaking into the large room without any thought of who might be trying to sleep this late in the morning, Kyra peered over her brother's bed to find Elisa snoring lightly beneath the white sheets.
A vein was already pulsing over her eye and she was about to 'wake up' the researcher before a crumpling sound caught her attention.
"...What's this?" Kyra mumbled to herself before snatching the pages from the wooden floor. Eyeing the paragraphs of writing with disinterest, she was about to drop it back where she found it until a few words caught her eye.
Earth Plate's translation-
Dark brown eyes brightened from the words. 'She must have been up all night with that treasure Cole brought back...' She quickly flipped the page over and skimmed through it until she found it, circled with a red marker.
The endless tides of the ocean shall not control my will. Sands that encase the land amber are the harbinger of my rebirth...God of the Lands-Groudon...
"Groudon..." The young girl shivered from the word before tossing the page to the floor. "Why the hell do you guys want to go after them so badly..." Kyra clenched her fists, memories of that battlestill fresh in her mind.
"...You better know what you're doing-" Fed up with feeling this angry, and she wasn't even halfway through the day yet, Kyra sent her foot onto the lump under the sheets.
A snort came back as a response.
"What are you, a Slaking?!...Hey! Wake up already!"
A sudden thump on the head earned a surprised yelp from a young woman. Swinging herself upwards, groggy hazel eyes glanced up, down, side to side before they landed on a fierce pair of deep brown eyes that glared right at her.
"...K-Kyra?" Elisa mumbled, fighting the urge to fall back into the thick bed as the younger girl continued to glare daggers at her. "W-What is it?...Breakfast?"
"How about a good morning first?!" Kyra snapped at her, crossing her arms over her chest. "You're sooo lazy!"
"...Hmm?" Elisa mumbled back, her body was already drifting from side to side. "I was up all night..." Elisa yawned in return, earning a vein to bulge at Kyra's temple.
"Whatever; just get up already!" Kyra ordered, yanking the weary girl from the bed. She blinked once she noticed herself being pulled back in. "Hey! I said wake up!" Kyra snapped again as she fell on top of Elisa with a huff. She was snoring softly, snuggled tightly under the sheets of Cole's bed.
"Five more minutes..."
"Get out of my brother's bed!"
"Nooo!" Elisa whined, increasing her grip on the sheets.
Kyra watched with envy as the young woman took a deep breath, inhaling the sheets with a deep sigh. Why did this random girl get to sleep in her brother's bed? It was supposed to be her!
"This...You little!" A low growl began to rise from Kyra as she watched Elisa hide under the sheets. Even if Elisa had the privilege of getting her brother's room, despite Kyra's own vocal pleas against it, no one told her how to treat Elisa once she had said room.
She loved loopholes.
"Oh...I'll give you five minutes. Five minutes of my foot up your-"
"Huh?" Opening one eye slowly, Elisa let out a small 'eep' once she noticed the dark smile rising on Kyra's lips.
"Stop! S-Stop! K-Kyra?! W-Whatareyoudoing!"
Two women sat silently, drinking tea casually as a thundering roar came from upstairs. Despite the desperate screams coming from one girl and the cackling laughter of another, Katherine and Kenna ignored the ruckus as they merely rolled their eyes.
"No-D-Don't take that off! G-Give it-AAAAAHHHH!"
Katherine sighed to herself, downing the last of her breakfast as Elisa's agonizing scream resonated throughout the house. Glancing out the window, she noticed some of the pokemon that usually played in her backyard look back at the house, their eyes wide with shock.
"How long do you think until Elisa learns that Kyra doesn't like anyone sleeping in?" Katherine mused, leaning on the counter top. Her mother-in-law merely smiled from the corner of her lips as took another sip of morning tea.
"They've been like this ever since they came back..." Katherine huffed to herself, turning to the sink as she washed up. "I thought a week of rest would calm her down but..."
"You don't know your daughter well enough then."
"Shut it!" Katherine shot back quickly, her face a rosy pink, she didn't need to turn around to know that Kenna was laughing. "They were all so tense when they came back from the desert...I can't believe Team Aqua is really trying to make a comeback..." Her dark brown eyes dimmed slightly as she looked down at her hands. "Cole and Elisa got themselves into danger too..."
"They'll be leaving Lavaridge soon."
Katherine's head shot up, nearly dropping the glass in her hands before catching it quickly. "They could still stay...for a little while longer..."
Her mother was right though, Cole had come back with that strange object, the Dragon Plate. It meant that they had succeeded. "He was able to get Nidoking back too." A small smile graced the woman's features before turning back to Kenna. "He's finally doing the right thing-"
"GET OFF MEEEE KYRAAAA!"
Kenna nodded softly, her face calm as another scream rang from upstairs. "This will probably be their last day..." She turned to Katherine who blinked in confusion.
"You think that they'll leave tomorrow?"
"Kyra as well." Kenna watched as her daughter took in a sharp breath. Although she did not want to admit it, Kyra wouldn't be staying in Lavaridge forever. Now that her brother was back, nothing would be holding her back.
"She's going to go with him..." Even with Cole's new goal about Team Magma, she knew that she could trust her son with Kyra.
"They'll be okay." Kenna started, giving Katherine a small smile. "Let's give her and the new one a goodbye present."
"I still can't believe he's so...big..."
Noah craned his neck further upwards, his nose poking towards the sky along with his pokemon as they continued to awe their newest teammate.
"He's still the same."
Silver armour sparkled brilliantly in the afternoon's sunlight as Cole polished the Iron Armour pokemon down, he fought back a laugh as Noah nearly fell over from looking up to highly. Once his hands finished at the tip of its massive tail, Cole gave Aggron a one over before nodding. "Even if he evolved."
"Aaaag!" Aggron's deep voice bellowed throughout the field, earning yelps of fear from the other pokemon around them.
Noah clutched at his ears along with Wartortle and Wingull who were sitting beside him on the lush grass. The past week had been rather peaceful since Cole recovered the Earth Plate in the Desert Ruins. 'He's really incredible...Taking on Regirock by himself!' The young sailor couldn't help but glance over to Cole who had made his trip over to a large purple pokemon.
"Niiiidooo!" The Drill pokemon let out a warm cry once Cole placed his hands on his back, cleaning his dirty scales that had not been cleaned since they were separated.
"He looks really happy to see you..." As Cole had told him before, the Nidoking was an old friend of his that was stolen by Team Magma long ago. Noah clenched his fists, guilt taking over for all of the times he would laugh at Cole's desperate attempts to search for the Dragon Plates. He wasn't doing this for himself after all. He was trying to rescue his pokemon from Team Magma.
"I'm never going to lose you again Nidoking..." Cole whispered into pokemon's large ears, earning a soft whine in return.
Noah watched silently as the Drill pokemon nuzzled its head softly against Cole's bandaged arms, it was easy to tell that they were really close.
'I've gotta get stronger too...' Aqua blue eyes dimmed slightly as Cole spoke softly in Nidoking's ear. Watching the young man smile at his pokemon with such kindness, Noah felt a pang hit his chest.'...Elisa was right. He was dealing with danger back at the Oceanic Museum as well...It must have been those Aqua and Magma members.'
Turning to his pokemon who were now laughing at Nidoking's antics of trying to hug Cole despite his obvious cries for help, Noah bit his lip. "My pokemon haven't been able to do much...I need to start training once we leave here-"
The young boy gasped, leaping to his feet only to see Ethon behind him with Houndoom by his side. The older man cocked his head to side before emphasizing the bundle of plants in his arms.
"You look bored son. Would you mind helping out here then?" Ethon started as Houndoom wagged his tail at Noah in greeting. "I need to get Kathy's herbs to the Hot Springs, so could you-"
"S-Sure thing! You can count on me sir!" Noah saluted before snatching the bundles of medicinal herbs from Ethon's hands to his surprise. Both man and pokemon blinked in confusion as the boy quickly dashed off to the entrance of the ranch, a trail of dust following behind him.
"I hope he knows where the hot springs are..." Cole sighed as his pokemon snickered from his words.
"I should hire that boy to work for me full time. I'll get a lot more time at home!" Ethon mused to himself before turning to Cole who was still struggling to free himself from Nidoking's bear hug.
The change in the man's tone was enough to catch the attention of both Trainer and pokemon before they turned to Ethon. Charcoal met sandstone as father and son eyed each silently. "How is the arm feeling?"
"Still a little sore..." Cole waved off his father's worry with a small smile before turning to Nidoking's saddened face. Tracing his right arm along his bandaged one, he gave his pokemon a small smile. "Nidoking wasn't away from us for too long, so his poison did not change significantly..." He petted the Drill pokemon who gave him a somber look.
"Mr. Walker already said the poison's out of my system. I'm good to go."
"How many more of these Dragon Plates?" Ethon spoke up quickly. Even with his injuries, he knew that wouldn't get in his son's way. Houndoom, wrapped in bandages from head to tail took a seat beside Nidoking, nipping at its tail as he watched the two men continue to talk.
"One more." Cole's eyes flashed with determination, earning a surprised look from his father. "If I can get control of all three plates, then..." He felt his spirits lift with each passing word, "then I'll have the power to become the new Leader of Team Magma."
Ethon's expression dimmed.
"It's not like that dad..." Cole waved away the idea that literally radiated from his father's look.
"If I become the leader, I can disband Team Magma for good! They all listen to people based on power. If I have the most power...then I can stop them for good." The realization that had dawned upon Cole back in the Desert Ruins was now beginning to manifest into his ultimate goal. By controlling the plates, he would be able to stop Holland once and for all.
Why didn't he think of this sooner?
"If they all leave, no one will be in danger anymore. I'll be able to come back home...to everyone, dad." Cole looked over to his father who crossed his arms, his jaw clenched with thought. "...I have to do this."
Ethon stared at his son. He could see it now, something he had not seen for the past 5 years radiating from his child.
"Cole. You know that you'll be targeted." He quickly raised a hand to silence his son's protest. "I never told you this growing up because I thought it would discourage you from being with pokemon..." Ethon took a long sigh before looking up to the clear blue sky.
"The weak are always envious of the strong Cole...People with the potential to battle like you do, that kind of talent and hard work; they're very rare nowadays...I can see now why Team Magma-" Ethon avoided Cole's eyes as the words escaped his lips. "I can see now...why they wanted you so badly when we were attacked that day..."
His son's work ethic to understand and study pokemon was amazing. Those very same qualities would be blood in the water to organizations striving for power. "Team Magma...or even Team Aqua could have lured you away back then." Ethon quickly placed his hands on Cole's shoulders to his surprise before giving him a stern look.
"You're strong Cole."
"D-Dad-" Cole felt his body begin to shake as his father continued to grip onto his shoulders.
"Listen to me. I want this to know this... I will always be proud of you, even if you make the wrong choices down the road. You have the strength to change Cole, and use your skills to fight Team Magma and Aqua. Don't put yourself, and especially your pokemon into too much danger!" A small smile graced the older man's lips before he pulled Cole into a hug.
"Be safe out there...and protect your pokemon, no matter what."
"T-Thank you dad..." Cole smiled into his father's chest before pulling him closer. He couldn't remember the last time he was this close to him.
"We'll all come back home. I promise."
Tying her long auburn locks into a messy bun, Elisa sighed to herself as she took in the scenic room before her. She had to admit, it was a very nice surprise compared to everything she had been through so far.
The main change room of the Lavaridge Hot Springs was beautifully decorated with all types of wood from the town; pine, maple, oak...she smiled to herself as a mixture of scents wafted into her nose, sending her senses to tranquility. Standing up from the cedar benches of the change room, Elisa quickly wrapped a white towel around her frame before she made her way into the hallways.
As the researcher made her way passed a couple who had come from the hot springs, a creeping thought etched itself into her mind. 'Once we find the last Dragon Plate...Will Rayquaza appear for us?...' The idea seemed vague to her.
'My assumption about the Earth Plate was right after all...It's linked to Groudon's power...but the scripture only speaks of breaking a chain...Will the power of Groudon be released now that we activated its plate?...Will Groudon and Kyogre also be summoned...What if...What if this restarts another battle of Hoenn?!' Thinking back to when they escaped from the Desert Ruins, Elisa had deciphered the only readable text that was etched on the Earth Plate's surface. Though the text this time to her seemed to be more of a warning.
"It'd be best if I don't say the scriptures out loud again..." Elisa's expression fell as thoughts of what happened in Cole's room not too long ago resurfaced. She quickly shook the horrifying moment from her eyes before noticing a large wooden panel in front of her.
"They really took a liking to Johto's shoji doors...So beautiful!" Elisa examined the thin panel as wafts of steam escaped from its cracks. The other side held the baths for the women.
Sliding the object out of the way, hazel eyes lit up with glee once they took in a surreal pool of steaming water. Streams of fading sunlight came in from the canopy, golden sunlight filtering through the thick trees as the chirps and cries of many pokemon accented the relaxing atmosphere. Residents of all ages had their own spots in the hot springs, mainly enjoying light conversations with one another beside slabs of sleek boulders that were scattered through the waters, completing her dreams of what a true hot spring would look like.
"Wow..." As Elisa made her way to the stone slabs that held cleansing rags, she tiptoed inside, as if not to disturb the tranquil peace of Lavaridge's most famous landscape. She brushed a strand of wet hair from her forehead before finding a spot at the edge of the springs. "It feels good..." She moaned, poking a toe into the soothing water. Instantly a surge of pleasure ran through her body. "I guess I should wait for the others first-"
As if on cue, the shoji slid open with a thud, earning gasps from the other women in the hot springs as they ducked under the water in fear of an intruder.
"There you are!"
And just like that, tranquility was gone.
Elisa dropped her shoulders along with a half smile once she noticed Kyra, standing in her bare glory at the main door."H-Hi...Kyra." Once everyone noticed that it was the fiery tomboy of Lavaridge, the springs seemed to relax themselves as she made her way over to Elisa, her bare feet splashing the loose puddles of cool water on the floor.
"Why didn't you wait for me!?" Kyra barked, earning annoyed looks from the other women as she took a seat beside Elisa. Dipping her long legs into the hot waters, Kyra let out a soft sigh of relief before she turned to the older girl. "...You're not going to hop in?"
Elisa blinked before taking her attention away from Kyra's surprisingly sculpted curves to look up into deep copper eyes.
"Y-Yeah! You told me that you were going to be in the springs before me, that's why I came here..." She didn't know why it was so hard to take her eyes off the younger girl.
'What does she eat in Lavaridge?!' Glancing down at her own lack of assets, Elisa screamed internally before clinging onto the towel wrapped around her smaller frame. She was completely outclassed here!
"I-I thought you'd be here, Kyra."
"Ohh?..." Kyra cocked her head to the side, her hair was no longer in a bun. Long strands of beautiful chestnut cascaded down her firm back, accenting her tanned skin perfectly before she slid into the water. She sighed again as her hair floated to the top of the steaming waters.
"Mom and the hag were hanging out at the sand baths outside, I went there first. Guess I forgot about you, ahaha!" She snickered to herself despite Elisa's obvious glare.
"I was trying to be considerate for you..."
"Aren't you going to take off that towel? What are you hiding?" Kyra suddenly poked Elisa's stomach that was wrapped under the fine material, earning a small yelp in return. She eyed the older girl softly, watching her face heat up to the same temperature as the steam around her. "I really don't get what Cole sees in you-"
"W-What?!" Elisa gasped, clinging onto her towel before hiding herself away from Kyra's blank stare. "...H-He doesn't see anything! We haven't even-"
"I thought he would always go after someone more fiery. You know; strong, brave, knows what she's doing. Someone like m-"
Blinking in confusion, Elisa turned around to see Kyra with her mouth open before her face burned a deep red. "...Like who?"
"L-Like...Uhh..Like F-Flannery! Y-You know, t-the Gym Leader!" Waving her hands frantically, sprinkles of hot water splashed onto the stone floors as she laughed off her words. "H-He told me that he really liked Flannery when we were kids. I-I mean who wouldn't want to be like her! She's everything a guy would want in a woman!"
"Oh...So he likes...those kinds of girls..." Elisa avoided Kyra's eyes before slowly taking off her towel.
'Crap...That was close!' Taking a sigh of relief, Kyra watched as Elisa finally removed her last garments. Deep copper eyes already examining the 18 year old, Kyra raised an eyebrow. "...I guess you look kinda cute-" Her words cut off once she glanced up to Elisa's chest. Cheeks puffing out, Kyra clasped at her mouth in a horrible attempt to hold back her laughter.
"...What?...What is it?"
"Your boobs are small-"
Cheeks flushed a crimson red, Elisa attempted to push Kyra's face into the hot waters to silence the younger girl's laughter. Kyra dodged the onslaught easily, snickering furiously as Elisa swung her fists at her repeatedly.
"I-I'm still growing! Nothing's wrong with small! T-They're fine!" Elisa's futile attempt to defend herself only came out as meak cries as Kyra's laughter resonated throughout the hot springs. It did not help that now all of the women were now staring at them, or more specifically...her.
A few seemed to give Elisa encouraging looks while others turned a blind eye to prevent themselves from laughing.
"...Kill me..." She finally gave up, sinking down to the level where her lips reached the crystal waters as Kyra continued to giggle.
"I think I remember the day a little girl tried to stuff her bra with Swablu feathers, attempting to get the attention of her father and brother. Do you remember that-Kyra?"
Kyra's laughter halted immediately once those words hit her ears. Paling at the sight before her, the fiery Trainer lost her spark once two older women slid into the springs beside Elisa's sunken figure.
"Hello new one." Kenna greeted, pouring a bucket of hot water over her silver strands. "Are you enjoying the springs?"
"Y-Yes mam." Elisa couldn't help but feel a beam of hope shine itself from the heavens as her two saviours came to the rescue.
"Elisa, I can tell you every dirty little thing Kyra has done if you want. She's really a sneaky little Absol." Katherine started, her mischievous eyes never leaving her daughter's panicked expression. "That way, she'll never bother you again. Like this one time she tried to ride the Camerupts on the ranch-"
Kyra gasped once she noticed Elisa peek from the corner of her eye. Heart beating heavily, it only hurt more not knowing what the older girl was thinking. She was definitely going to get her back now!
"It's okay!" Elisa laughed it off, earning surprised looks from the three Hughes women. "I really don't like taking advantage of people secrets. Kyra's...my friend, I would never do anything to hurt her." Hazel eyes dimmed slightly, unaware to everyone else though.
'...I guess that would mean Cole's not really a friend.'
Katherine smiled down to Elisa before hugging her tightly. "Wow, you really are an amazing young girl! You're mother must have raised you so well! You should invite your family here sometime!"
Katherine froze once she noticed Elisa stiffen under her arms. Pushing her away from her slowly, it did not take long to realize what was going on from the lost look in the girl's eyes. "I-I'm sorry...I shouldn't really be blabbering-"
"It's fine Katherine." Elisa cut her off quickly, avoiding her gaze. "I grew up with my dad and sister mostly. I haven't seen my mom in a long time..."
Despite the relaxing scenery around them and pleasing sensations of the hot water, a cold chill emitted from Elisa as she sunk her head lower into the waters. She didn't really grow up with the luxury of having a full family.
'So even she has problems...' Kenna observed the young woman before placing a soft hand on Elisa's shoulder. Elisa jumped, but Kenna smiled warmly towards her.
"You don't have to talk about it anymore if you don't want to."
Elisa felt her heart lift from the words before giving Kenna a warm smile. Gazing at the old woman, a sense of wholeness washed over her. "Thank you..."
"Hmpf!" Kyra finally broke the tension as she crossed her arms over her chest. "You should have taken that chance because I'm going to find out every little thing about you! You're not getting my brother!"
"...W-What?" Elisa blinked in confusion as Kyra made her way over to her. She gasped once Kyra pointed a soaked finger into her face.
"I'm...I'm going with you guys!"
"With us..." Hazel eyes widened in shock once the words finally hit her. "You?! T-Travel with us?! Really!?"
"Why else!" Kyra shot back. Although her shaking figure said otherwise with her mother and grandmother watching her, Kyra took a deep breath to calm herself. "I was sick of staying in this boring town anyway. I'm going with you and Cole...so that, so that you don't try anything funny with him!"
Elisa's face burned as a grin churned on Kenna's face while Katherine stifled a laugh. "We haven't done anything!"
"So you were planning on doing something with him?! Admit it!"
"N-No! I'll never do that with him!" Elisa punched the waters furiously, but hot water on a hot face wasn't exactly cooling her off.
"So he's not good enough for you?!"
"No!-I mean He's good-I mean!...ugh...ermm..." Tongue tied, Elisa fumed from Kyra's words as she grabbed her own hair in frustration. It was getting too hot in here, why did she always have to think about him-
"Kyra that's enough. Don't stress her out, how else am I going to see my grandchildren with you always pestering her like that!"
That did it.
"E-Elisa? Elisa! Oh my, are you okay?!"
"It was just a joke, jeez! Get a backbone!"
Kenna shook her head tiredly as the new one dropped face first into the water, her peachy cheeks poking above the steaming liquid as Katherine and Kyra attempted to pull her out. Watching their futile attempts to wake her out of embarrassment, the oldest member of the family smiled to herself.
'...She's perfect for the family.'
"...Oh? Good day young lad!"
Aqua blue eyes darted in the direction of an elderly voice. They beamed once an old man smiled at him, waving with one free hand while the other clasped a newspaper. "Hello sir. I came to deliver some herbs for the hot springs." He wiped his forehead free of hot sweat before placing the large stack of herbs on the glistening wood floors.
"This...These are the hot springs...right?" He asked hopefully. Running around the entire town to find it wasn't exactly his ideal way of ending such a tiring day.
"Haahahaa..." The old man laughed before placing the newspaper down on the front desk. "You're in luck my boy. You found it."
"Thank Latios!" Noah cried, falling over with a thud as he let out a tired breath. "You won't believe how many times I went to the Lavaridge Gym to ask for directions!"
The old man did not see the mischievous glint in Noah's eyes as he walked over to him. Inspecting the herbs with an experienced eye, he nodded before turning back to Noah. "Yes...they're all here. You look drained lad. Why don't you soak in the springs?"
"R-Really?" Noah gasped, fanning himself.
"Yes, yes! It looked like you really went through a lot of trouble finding this place." A small frown etched onto the man's face as he pulled one of the herbs from the stacks. "I keep telling Audrey that we should add more signs to help travelers; but never mind that. Come, come! It's on me for today!"
"T-Thank you kind sir!" Noah breathed as he clung to the old man's leg. "Finally, I've been blessed!"
Standing bare in the men's change room, Noah grinned from ear to ear before he slid open the shoji with a happy sigh. "I've never tried the hot springs before, I'm so lucky today! I can't wai-"
His smile faded quickly. Bumping into some old geezer wasn't really a great way to start a soak.
"Sorry sir-" Knowing that he had bumped into someone, he attempted to apologize, but the assumed man he thought he was going to encounter was not present. A sickening flutter in the pit of his stomach, Noah stared wide-eyed at two girls that he sadly knew all too well as Kyra and Elisa. Both fully dressed and clean from a soak in the hot springs, he could tell from the sleek wet strands that stuck to their faces, Noah quickly realized his situation.
"N-Noah..." Elisa breathed, she couldn't fight her eyes from looking down before her cheeks lit a rosy pink. She blinked, horrified before suddenly finding fascination in her fingers.
"You...You..." Kyra, face crimson, with anger Noah knew, only shook violently as he attempted to smile at her.
"I...I didn't know you two were here! I swear...I...I...It's not what it looks like-" His voice was cut off by a fist connecting directly with his temple.
"DON'T SHOW THAT THING TO ME YOU PERVERT!"