With the refreshing sound of crystal waters erupting from a lone lake, two pokemon jumped with excitement as a feminine figure appeared before them.
"Ahhh! The water is amazing!" Elisa beamed, shaking the droplets of water from her drenched strands before squinting her eyes up at the afternoon sun. Sealeo was by the shore of the lake, with Riolu sitting atop its thick back as their Trainer made her way back to them, her movements effortless with each stroke. Her grace in the water was no surprise to them though, she was a natural born swimmer after all.
As she neared them, her expression changed to one of uncertainty before she glanced at the small campground for their group of 4. "...I thought they would have been back by now..." Elisa mumbled to herself as her own pokemon continued to splash playfully by the shore. With Mauville City just an hour away now, the group had slept in rather late from the long journey the night before.
As the young researcher dried her hair and pulled out her usual attire for the road ahead, Elisa couldn't help but glance at the large aquamarine tower not too far from their campsite, nestled in the mountainside.
'I guess Cole and Kyra are still battling those Trainers...' I small smile crept onto Elisa's lips, remembering Kyra's face when she had spotted the building earlier, completely star struck as if she had met Steven Stone herself. But what surprised her the most was Cole's face that nearly matched his sisters.
'I've never seen him so happy...He looks so cute when he laughs...' The smile on her lips grew before she hurriedly covered her face with a towel once she noticed Riolu grinning at her.
"Ri, Ri, Ri!" The Emanation pokemon snickered, earning a confused look from Sealeo as they made their way back to the shore.
"Riolu stop that!" Elisa cried through the cloth. "Just because you can read what I'm thinking, doesn't mean you can-"
Pulling the towel from her damp locks in fright, Elisa shot up once the still waters of the lake erupted into the sky not too far from them. "W-What was that?!" Tensing with fear, thoughts of her encounter with Team Aqua and Magma washed over her mind as large waves crashed against the shoreline.
Before she could even utter a word, Sealeo and Riolu were by her side, in battle positions as the shore was shrouded by crystal clear droplets of water and debris. Focusing her eyesight from where the explosion came from, Elisa gasped once she noticed a small boy running for his life. He was clearly hurt, cuts and bruises lining his body as he hobbled away from a lone figure that neared from behind him. The boy cried out, struggling to run as the unknown figure growled deeply at him.
"That's a pokemon!" Elisa gasped once she identified the large figure as a large boulder-like pokemon. It had two short arms and a protruding head peeking from its massive spherical body, along with two thick legs, each step resonating a powerful shake that made the boy tremble with more fear.
"G-Get away from him!" Elisa felt herself calling out before she clasped at her mouth. Still wide-eyed at her sudden outburst, the researcher felt her legs shake once the massive pokemon gave her a hard glare. This was enough for the boy to make a full on sprint for her.
"Y-You saved me miss!" The boy cried, his light brown hair hiding his face as he clung onto Elisa's leg for support. "That Golem is after me!"
"Wait, I didn't-" But before she could even respond, the alleged wild Golem let out a roar before withdrawing into its body. A resounding crack signified that it had retreated into its spherical form before it crashed into the earth, picking up speed as it made its way towards Elisa and the young boy, trampling through the soft earth with each passing second.
Sealeo obeyed instantly from Elisa's sharp command, slapping its flippers together before a powerful gust of icy wind slammed into Golem's stone body. Elisa felt her heart race once she heard Golem scream out, popping out of its spherical form before grasping at its thick body. Just as Cole had taught her on their way back to Mauville, Sealeo's Ice type attacks were very good at slowing enemies down.
The wild Golem growled angrily as the Powder Snow attack continued to keep its body in check. With all of its strength, it lifted one frozen leg from the ground, quickly catching Riolu's attention.
"It's going to use that attack again!" The boy cried out.
The wild Golem suddenly opened its mouth before a thick slab of rock erupted from its mouth and zoomed through the icy winds towards Elisa.
"Quick Riolu, Force Palm!"
The boy, still clinging to Elisa's leg watched with awe as the strange dog-like pokemon leaped into the air before striking the stone slab, shattering it in one hit. The pieces landed harmlessly in front of Riolu as he growled angrily.
"Finish it off with Force Palm!" Riolu nodded eagerly before leaping into the air. The wild Golem, already frozen in place could only take the full force of the attack directly in the face. It cried out again, this time with even more agony as it rolled back before slamming into a thick tree. Stray leaves and pieces of bark rained down on the Golem as it grumbled in pain.
"Great job guys!" Elisa cheered, overjoyed that the training with Cole was actually paying off. Not only did they defend themselves from danger this time, but they actually protected someone!
'Just wait until they hear about this!' Elisa smiled to herself before the Golem rose to its feet, an angered look on its bruised face. Riolu and Sealeo both growled at the hulking Megaton pokemon, ready to strike as the air was still tense. What almost felt like hours seemed to roll by between the three pokemon before the wild Golem let out a hard grunt before turning away from the trio and disappearing into the thick woods.
"You did it miss! You saved me!" The boy cried out in joy, snuggling against Elisa's leg to her surprise as her pokemon made their way back to them.
"It was nothing really..." Elisa twiddled with her fingers, still quite shy about receiving such praise as her pokemon fought back their own laughter. But before they could start, their Trainer's expression quickly changed to a serious one.
"Why were you attacked by that Golem? Better yet, why are you all alone out here?!" She scolded the boy, earning a teary-eyed look as he avoided her glare.
"I-I'm sorry mam!" He apologized repeatedly, clinging to Elisa's leg.
Elisa's brow then furled in thought. "...Now that I think about it...I've never seen a Golem around here..."
The boy gave Elisa a solemn look. "Sometimes...I...I usually come out here to look at the wild pokemon. They're all really friendly, b-but this time-" His voice cut off, catching the trio's attention.
"What is it?" Elisa asked.
The boy closed his eyes as Elisa watched him closely. 'What is he...' A few moments passed before she noticed it. Hazel eyes widened with surprise as they turned in every direction. The sun was high above them, the lake was crystal clear, and the trees were still. Yet everything was...
Elisa shivered once the realization hit her. The forest was eerily silent today. Thinking back to when Cole and the others had left, she did not pay much attention to it, but the air felt kind of off to her in a sense. When they first ventured up Route 111, remnants of the sandstorm would hit them along the way, but the forest was still full with life from the cries of the pokemon.
"Why is it so quiet..." Elisa breathed. Sealeo and Riolu also seemed to catch on, sniffing the stagnant air faintly to find clues for themselves.
"I live with my mommy and daddy here..." The boy started, getting to his feet as Elisa helped him. "I go out sometimes to see wild pokemon...but the sandstorms scared the pokemon away. All the pokemon are all weird now!"
"Weird?" Elisa repeated the word with confusion before taking in the view around her. The boy was right for the most part, not a single bird pokemon called from the canopies, nor any pokemon popped out from the bushes to observe them. Turning to look at the waters of the lake, Elisa swallowed a knot in her throat as the water remained still, void of life.
There was only one reason...
"You should go back home right now..." Elisa started, catching the boy's attention. "Stay with your family, I think its pretty dangerous out here."
"Mhm!" The boy nodded quickly before hugging Elisa one more time. "Thank you so much! My mommy is waiting for me!" He waved quickly before he sprinted back onto the main road beyond the bushes.
Elisa and her pokemon watched with small smiles as the boy disappeared, but the creeping silence that pulled at her senses brought her back into deep thought.
'When we got the Ocean Plate...There were rainstorms in the South...' Spinning on her heel, Elisa dove into her grey backpack to reveal her PokeNav. Turning on the electronic device, she shook the machine impatiently as her pokemon took a peek at the device as well. They were still quite confused as to why she was acting so impatient today.
'...I have the Earth Plate now too...Could it-' She gasped. In bold letters across the screen, Elisa felt her heart do a back flip once the headline struck her.
SANDSTORMS ACROSS RUSTBORO CITY AND FALLARBOR TOWN
"I knew it!" Elisa took in a sharp breath as she read the report from her PokeNav. It had just started recently, just about the same time...
"When we battled Regirock..." The words slipped from her mouth as the nightmarish experience shook her very core. "Since we activated the Earth Plate...Its power must be affecting the Hoenn region, just like the Ocean Plate did-"
"...Do you wish for power..."
Elisa clasped at her mouth to prevent herself from screaming. Whipping her head around, hazel eyes widened with fear.
Both of her pokemon cocked their heads to the side as their Trainer continued to gape at them. Sealeo called out to her, confused by her look. It was only a matter of seconds before Riolu gasped as well.
"...Power will get you everything human...That power can be taken...from us."
"I don't want it!" Elisa shouted defensively before jumping in front of her pokemon to their surprise. Her hands stretched out to protect them, her body still shaking violently, glaringat the sky. Something...or someone was communicating with her.
"You will set us free...soon enough...Power will be...yours...You...power."
Before Elisa could even respond, a sudden wave of green light washed over her, entangling rays clinging to her exposed skin. She tried to scream out, but the light was so dense and thick she struggled to breath. A familiar sound hissed in her ears and her hazel eyes widened with fear as memories of that voice resurfaced.
'L-Let go of me-' She struggled to fight it, but the light forced her to the ground. She kicked, clawed and attempted to scream. Anything that would free her and allow her to grasp for life, but it was too strong.
Was she really going to die now? After making it so far?
"No...No!" She screamed, using all of her strength, Elisa pushed herself from the ground before she opened her eyes.
"I want to live!-"
Elisa's lips stopped halfway through her scream, quickly realizing that she was not in the forest anymore. Beginning to panic, she whipped her head around to take in her surroundings.
"...Where am I?" Gazing at the strange scene before her, the researcher seemed to be in the sky. She gasped, her legs tensing with fear once she noticed that she was literally standing upon a cloud. All around her, patches of evaporated water hung in the air, drifting idly by as she clung to her only support. A gentle warmth filled her from above and she slowly glanced up.
That voice...it was different than the one she heard before. Hazel eyes squinted up at a large shadowy figure above her, but she could not make it out. Was it a pokemon?...Some unearthly God? Despite the desperate screams in her legs to get up and run, her shaking lips mouthed a few words before they finally slipped out.
"Who... Who are you." Elisa was surprised that the figure seemed to stop its descent midway to her before remaining stagnant. With that response, Elisa felt a little more courage seep into her. She cleared her throat nervously before attempting again.
"RELINQUISH THE PLATES!"
Elisa screamed, rolling back on the cloud as the voice sent shock waves through her body. The sound resonating from the flying figure was so strong, the hanging clouds around her vaporized to her surprise. The air literally vibrated from the creature's deep voice, as if stopping time itself.
Was this the feeling of absolute power?
It's voice...A voice so deep and intimidating, it sounded like it could erase her from existence. She suddenly felt small, incomparable to this being...Like nothing she did would ever faze it. This is what it felt like to be at the absolute mercy of something higher than yourself...
"The three plates of Land, Sea and Sky...do not belong to the humans. Trifling with our power will destroy you."
"B-But we've come so far!" Elisa surprisingly shot back at the unknown figure.
"If...If I find out the secret behind their powers, I'll finally be acknowledged as a Pokemon Researcher!" All her life, she wanted to achieve this goal, to know everything about Legendary pokemon! To be the one to turn to when someone needed to know about their mysterious existence. Why should she stop now? Why would she stop now?! She had Cole, Noah...and now Kyra to help her.
"I don't want to stop! It's my dream!"
Elisa finally screamed up to the heavens. Panting for air, she clutched at her chest as the figure continued to hover above her. She couldn't see the strange being, but she could clearly tell that it was watching her, analyzing her like a specimen. That feeling of powerlessness washed over her again before the figure seemed to let out a sigh.
"You humans...are all the same."
Those words seemed to silence Elisa as she breathed in. The figure then drifted lower to her, surprising her before she huddled back in fear.
"Grasping for our powers, without knowing the consequences...Yet you fear to trifle with us eye to eye...Your weakness will be...our downfall."
"What-" Elisa attempted to open her eyes to the figure, but froze on the spot when she looked deep into the eyes of this monster for the very first time.
Bright like the sun.
Golden eyes pierced into her very being before the pupil dilated in front of her. She could feel her very spirit slip as the eye continued to penetrate into her being. She felt...naked, vulnerable, as if completely stripped of everything she had. Elisa lost her voice as the eye truly reflected her own loss of words.
Hazel continued to stare into gold, completely lost for what felt like an eternity before the eye blinked, making Elisa scream out and rollback further. Her scream of surprise turned into a deafening cry for help once she slipped off the cloud, falling deeper towards the vast land and raging seas below her.
As Elisa continued to fall, screaming for her life that felt like it was slipping away, she reached out to the figure. Its shape finally became clear to her as she shredded through the air further towards demise. Four pronged horns surrounding its reptilian face, Elisa felt tears brim along her eyes as she quickly recognized the creature that she made contact with.
"Wait-" She was falling, edging away from reality and slipping into fantasy.
It was not the stifling presence of this Legendary pokemon that made her entire existence shake, but the look of disappointment in its piercing eyes before it turned away from her, banishing her from trying to bridge a link between human...and pokemon.
"You will suffer the same as the ones before."
...Gasping for air, Elisa clutched and grasped the dirt in her hands before something warm touched her cheek.
"-Elisa! Elisa, it's okay..."
She looked up, hazel eyes trembling with fear before they noticed a male figure. His messy black hair and calm brown orbs were a sight for sore eyes as he watched her. As the rest of the world finally fell into place around her, she quickly noticed Kyra and Noah looking down at her with surprise and worry etched on their faces as well. Just below them, Sealeo looked on the verge of tears, but it was Riolu that looked like he had seen death itself.
"You were mumbling in your sleep." It was Cole's voice that snapped her out of her trance. Allowing the young woman to lean on his arm, Cole gave her a small smile. "Did you have a nightmare?...We just came back, and you were like this."
"...I..." Her lips stopped midway before she glanced at her pokemon. She could tell, Riolu must have felt the same thing as her.
'You will suffer the same as the ones before...'
"We should get going-" Elisa abruptly stood up, catching Cole and the others by surprise. Wobbling on unsteady feet, she was grateful that they had already packed while she was asleep/trapped in that dream world. She couldn't possibly tell them what she had seen.
This was the second time now...
That she had seen Rayquaza.
"You sure you don't want to talk about it, Elisa?" Noah started, leaning in from the group of three as they watched her desperately try and stuff her backpack with her now dry clothes. "You look pretty upset."
"Geez Elisa, we leave you alone for five minutes, and you're already paranoid." Kyra scoffed, earning an annoyed look from the young researcher. Before Kyra could laugh at her, Elisa quickly tossed the PokeNav in her pocket to the younger girl.
Cole and Noah sweat-dropped as Kyra snatched the PokeNav with ease.
"Pfft, at least put some punch into the throw!" Kyra smirked, but stopped once she noticed the desperate look in Elisa's eyes.
"We...We need to get that last plate. Now."
Cole and Noah both blinked in confusion from Elisa's words before Kyra's sudden gasp caught their attention. Turning to her, they noticed that the usually bright and fiery girl lost all colour from her face. Her dark brown eyes were fixed to the screen, shaking with disbelief.
"...There's...There's a sandstorm over Rustboro and Fallarbor right now."
"What?!" Cole cursed before grabbing the PokeNav from his sister. Reading the bold headline with pure shock, Cole hissed his teeth before closing the device shut. "It's because I activated the Earth Plate back in the desert... The plates are still affecting the weather patterns." He swore to himself as Noah and Kyra dropped their heads, both deep in thought as the air between everyone suddenly became tense.
"...Shouldn't we stop this."
Everyone turned to Noah, who looked up from the sudden attention upon him. "I mean...ever since we got the Ocean Plate from the museum...the weather has been really messed up..." He held his breath as both Cole and Elisa narrowed their eyes at him, but he fought back the urge to bow down now. They were both desperate to get the treasures...But...
"...And now a sandstorm came out of nowhere too..." A bead of sweat ran down his forehead before he dried it with the sleeve of his t-shirt. "What do you think's going to happen when we get the last one?"
"I'll be able to stop them-" Elisa's sudden words earned an unsure look from Noah, but she gave him a brave smile. "I can read the words now, remember? The Sky Plate should have the last clue. Then I'll be able to figure out what they really do...and earn my spot as a Pokemon Researcher." Elisa then walked over to Noah and surprisingly placed both hands on his shoulders.
Kyra, watching the older girl with sharp eyes, clenched her fists. Elisa may have been smiling, but her words weren't sincere.
"I need you to get to that last Dragon Plate, Noah."
Kyra watched, a frown already forming on her lips as Noah blinked continuously, unsure of his next move. "Where is this last plate anyway!"
"Mt. Pyre." Cole reassured. Looking at his group of friends, the now Ex-Magma Admin took a deep breath before hoisting the backpack that carried the powers of the sea and land on his shoulders. "...I'll finally be able to see Rayquaza."
Aqua blue eyes widened, Elisa's hand squeezed his shoulders, but before he could say anything the young researcher turned around.
"Yup!" Elisa nodded quickly before running over to her backpack. "...I'm sure everything will be alright once we get that last Dragon Plate!"
As the two older group members wrapped themselves in a conversation, Kyra turned to Noah who had the same look as her. Playing with the tinted goggles that dangled from her neck, the brunette watched Noah closely. He was staring at something behind Cole and Elisa.
She frowned, "What's the matter?"
Noah jumped, his eyes wide before he noticed Kyra staring at him. The solemn look on his face seemed to quickly disappear before he flashed a smile her way, earning a disgusted look.
"N-Nothing! Just can't wait to get back to the sea! I haven't seen my boat in years!"
Even she could tell, he was hiding his true thoughts. "Loser." She scoffed before heading for the main road first. "Let's just that plate already, I want to bring Cole back home, he has work to do!"
Watching the cute young girl brush by him, Noah fought back a smirk. "Or do you just want Cole for yourself-"
"Shut up!" Kyra turned around, her ponytail frazzled as Noah clasped at his mouth, faking a laugh.
"Come on everyone!" The young hothead roared, catching everyone's attention as she pointed down the dirt road.
As Kyra stomped off, followed Cole, Elisa and her pokemon, Noah glanced back at the small camping area. He only told Kyra that to stop her from trying to pry into his own thoughts. He had noticed it earlier. The ground was clearly damaged, specks of rock and debris littered the thick grass. A clear sign of a pokemon battle.
What surprised him though, was that Cole didn't seem to notice, or care for it. 'Some pokemon must have come through here...' Yet, with the pokemon Elisa had with her, he doubted that they could do this much.
"...Is she really hiding something from us?" Only time would tell him the truth.