There was no mistaking it. Cole was frozen in place as the man watched him closely, piercing him with the painful memory of what happened at the Oceanic Museum. Did he know that he was once a part of Team Magma? He was the same man that he battled, the one that knew of the Dragon Plates.
Cole let out the breath he was holding in, finally snapping out of his stupor as a large hand was raised towards him. Remaining silent, Cole stared at it, as if foreign before glancing back up to Jin's calm features.
Upon closer inspection, Cole quickly realized something. No glimmer of malice nor repressed anger resonated from his features. It was as if they were meeting for the first time. '...He doesn't recognize me.' A wave of relief washed over him. Even though they had battled, it appeared that this man did not remember his figure or his voice for the matter.
"Cole," Elisa suddenly spoke up, catching his attention. "Jin here wants to help out too." Her hazel eyes flashed innocently between them as the two men eyed each other.
"...Hello." Cole's voice was barely above a whisper, but it was loud enough to get a polite smile from Jin in return. He didn't know what to think at this point. Was this man a part of Team Aqua? Or a part of another secret organization? Who was he working for? Did he actually know who he was, and was just toying with him so that he could-
"Well, the more the merrier!"
Wattson's booming voice cut through the tension in the air, catching everyone's attention. "All we need is some pokemon to fend off the wild ones while I fix the generator. Can you do that, my friend?" Wattson asked nonchalantly, waving his hand at Jin.
"I may be up in my years, but I can handle myself." Jin laughed softly, earning a booming chuckle from Wattson. "I really want to help out these kids here...No one should be in this mess..." Jin's voice lowered as he looked around at the beaten Trainers. "...I'll always protect children."
Elisa watched Jin carefully, a feeling of pain rising in the pit of her stomach as she took in his features. She didn't want to admit it...but he looked...terrible! Bags were under his eyes as if he had not slept for days. His hair seemed to be greyer as well.
'Everything that has been happening lately must be taking a toll on him...' Elisa realized, the patches of dirt on his expensive clothes, and the lack of energy in his stance. It was easy to tell, he was going through a lot right now, but bringing back the electricity to Mauville was sure to give him something to look forward to.
"We should get going now," Wattson started as he headed to the door. "One more night without power, and some people could really be in trouble. Follow me." The Electric Gym Leader waved with his hand for the other men to follow, Cole and Jin right behind him.
But before the Ex-Magma Admin slipped through the glass doors, he turned around.
"What is it, Cole?" The young researcher turned to her friend, but only managed to give him a confused look once a Pokeball was placed into her hands. She blinked at it with confusion before looking back to him. "...Why do I-"
"Just..." He glanced back, only to see Wattson waving at him from outside earning a smile from the Ex-Magma member. His dark brown eyes narrowed at the other man however, watching Jin carefully as he stood in the fading sunlight. "Just hold onto Houndoom until I get back. He can help you out in case any wild pokemon attack here. Once we're done there, we'll take Noah's ship."
"You don't want me to come too?"
"It's alright." Cole glanced back at her, a small smile on his face. "Your pokemon won't be much help against Electric types anyway."
"Thanks..." Elisa deadpanned, turning away from Cole to hide the pout on her face. She kind of knew he would say something like that anyway. "I'll meet up with the others outside the city and wait for you."
Cole nodded from her words before turning quickly to head out the door. Exiting onto the empty street that was bathed in the late sunlight, he felt relieved once he joined Wattson and Jin in what he thought was an odd combination of people. But with Houndoom in the caring hands of Elisa, he wouldn't have to worry about being discovered.
His secret needed to last.
The waters were unusually calm.
Cole remained silent as the group of three stood at the edge of the lake that would lead to New Mauville's entrance. From what he could remember, wild pokemon would always be in abundance here, especially if no people were around...
'The Dragon Plates must be really scaring the pokemon...' A pang of guilt struck him as the waters sparkled with the last rays of sunlight. Everything that he was doing, it was disrupting natural habitats...
"Okay," Wattson started, cutting Cole's train of thought. "I forgot to ask this before hand, but do you guys have any flying pokemon? I'm not much of a swimming person. Wahahahaa-"
His laugh was cut short once two Pokeballs were tossed into the air. Once two flashes of bright white light faded, a large bird pokemon and bug-like dragon materialized before the Gym Leader. A bead of sweat ran down his brow as Cole and Jin glanced at each other, while their pokemon did the same.
'No surprises here...These guys don't play around!' Wattson stifled a laugh.
The group of three made it to the small patch of land, the entrance to New Mauville, with relative ease to Cole's surprise. Hopping off of Flygon, he watched as Wattson did the same while Jin got off of his Pidgeot.
"Has the layout to New Mauville changed?" Jin asked quickly as he took out a Pokeball to return his pokemon.
"No, no. Everything is the same as when it opened. I'll just need help with any pokemon that might come our way."
"Good for us..." Jin breathed as he walked closer to the large entrance. "Alright we should get going-"
Jin gasped once a powerful stream of fire tore through the air in front of him. He fell back, his face wide with shock as Flygon's powerful attack exploded on contact with something into a fiery vortex.
"What the hell was that for?!" Jin swore, whipping his head around at the Trainer. He was about to open his mouth again before he froze. The 'teammate' that he was supposed to be working with had a sharp and calculating look in his dark brown eyes. He was never aiming for him...
Turning back to the darkness of the entrance, Jin gasped once he noticed three floating figures emerge. They droned ominously, electricity crackling around their steel figures as they watched Flygon shut his mouth, the flames that stopped their attacks snuffed out.
"You saw those Magneton before me..." Jin breathed in amazement as he got to his feet, his body still shaking from the surprise. "So they are really attacking people..."
"You're a cut above the rest Cole!" Wattson smirked as he took out a Pokeball as well. "Your Flygon will be a great help against their Electric attacks."
Cole nodded before one of the Magnetons droned loudly, sparks flying off in every direction. "Flygon, blow them away with Sand Tomb!"
The Ground/Dragon type roared, scaring the group of Magneton before it began to flap its triangular wings. A powerful gust of thick sand materialized from thin air before crashing into the wild pokemon with ease. They screeched out, spinning wildly in the sandy vortex before the attack flung them into the ground. Each one landed with a heavy thud, completely knocked out.
'I'm sorry...' Cole sighed while Flygon surveyed the area for more danger. It wasn't their fault for attacking people in the first place. 'The Dragon Plates must be provoking the pokemon around us.'
"Let's get going!" Jin suddenly spoke up, "Thanks for the help Cole, now its time for me to help too! Manectric!"
In a flash of bright light, an electric dog materialized onto the dry grass. It let out a loud bark, sparks jetting out from its fur before it glanced at its Trainer.
"WOW!" Wattson beamed, his face lighting up as Jin's Manectric glanced at him. "Electric pokemon always give me a jolt! Waahahaaa!"
Dark brown eyes narrowed once Manectric turned around to glance at Cole. As red met sandstone, Cole felt his heart race with panic as the Discharge pokemon watched him carefully. It growled lowly, sparks cracking from its fur before it flashed its fangs at him.
'What if it remembers my scent!?' Cole gave Jin's pokemon a dark look. '...But it was raining too much to get my scent-Damnit, why is it staring!'
"Come on guys!" Jin called, breaking the tension as he moved forward, stepping in front of his pokemon. "We need to get to that generator."
Cole watched carefully as Manectric and Jin took the lead, Wattson following along as he released his Electabuzz. It looked like Jin really didn't know who he was...but Manectric was one to watch out for.
One wrong move...
Cole shook his head, ignoring the thoughts as Flygon watched him with a worried expression. "Don't worry buddy." Cole soothed, patting the dragon's back before walking forward.
"This is the only time we'll be working with him."
Upon entering the main hallway; Cole, Jin and Wattson eyed their surroundings as the eerie sounds of droning machines echoed throughout. The bulbs above them flickered softly, accompanied by a buzzing each time the light flickered back on. The two Trainers turned to Wattson who remained silent before he noticed them.
"The place is usually in better shape..." Wattson started, inspecting the charred equipment lying around and the barrels of materials and supplies scattered on the floors. "It appears the pokemon have been having a lot of fights here.
"Wild pokemon hardly ever fight each other..." Jin spoke up this time, Manectric by his side as he walked closer to a toppled barrel. He leaned down, rubbing a finger against its damaged surface before turning back to the group. "It's still warm..."
"Then they're nearby-" Cole was cut off once he heard a loud screech from behind him. Flygon, alerted, was already in front of a group before a powerful jolt of electricity crashed into the dragon.
"Flygon!" Cole called out as the electricity splattered off of Flygon's thick wings before tearing through the tiled floors around them.
"Here comes more of them!" Wattson called as small group of Voltorbs and Electrodes rolled into the main hallway. He gasped once he noticed their faces, dark and menacing as if he were attacking their home. "Watch out, they're going to attack again!"
Suddenly, all of the wild Pokeball-shaped pokemon began to cry out, their bodies crackling with electricity as they prepared another attack. Wattson and Jin clenched their fists, bracing for the worst.
The dragon obeyed immediately, flapping its wings with powerful strokes before a heavy wind of dirt and debris slammed into the horde of pokemon. They screeched, trying their best to fight back against the winds, but it was too much as they flew back down the hallway, disappearing into the unknown darkness.
"Come on!" Cole called out, catching everyone's attention. "Which way to the generator!?"
"Down this hallway!" Wattson called back as he pointed the group away from where the wild pokemon came from. "We'll have to get through a few levels before we reach the main generator!"
"Got it!" Cole responded quickly, sprinting ahead to Wattson's surprise before he turned around. "Flygon can fend off any more pokemon that come from the front! Jin!" He quickly called out, catching the man's attention. "Can you defend the back for us!?"
"Will do!" He gave Cole a quick nod before the group of three made a formation with Wattson in the middle.
"Soooo…..How do you like my baby?"
A young girl stared dumbfounded at the object. It towered over her, blocking the view of the setting sun as a boy was perched atop the mast. Kyra had been adamant to Noah's story's of owning a boat, so finally seeing it in its glory definitely hit a nerve with her.
"This oversized bath tub is supposed to carry us to Lilycove?"
Noah nearly fell from his boat as Kyra and her Quilava stared at it with contempt. "I'll have you know that this bathtub carried Cole and Elisa all the way from Petalburg City! It can handle anything!" The young sailor boomed, hopping down from the mast to point a menacing finger at Kyra.
"Whatever-" She snapped back before turning around from Noah. "It gets harder and harder to look at you…"
"What's that supposed to mean!"
Kyra fought the smirk that rose from her lips. "You must be getting uglier by the day." A strange choking cry resonated from behind her, alerting her on her goal to crush the boy's hopes. She snickered to herself as Noah yelled angrily at her. Despite how annoying he was, she enjoyed tormenting him.
Suddenly footsteps could be heard in the distance, catching Quilava's attention. The Volcano pokemon nudged Kyra's neck before pointing at a woman's approaching figure.
"About time-" Kyra drawled before she noticed Houndoom at Elisa's feet. "Why is Houndoom with you?"
"...Cole….told me to hold onto him." Elisa panted heavily, slapping her hands on her knees as Houndoom gave Kyra a warm greeting bark. "He's going with Wattson to fix the generator in the city."
"What." A vein bulged on Kyra's temple, earning a meek cry from Elisa. "You made him go by himself?"
"N-No of course not!" The researcher shot back, avoiding Kyra's glare. "Cole told me it wouldn't take long!"
Crossing her arms in frustration, Cole's sister let out an exasperated sigh before stomping her feet. "...If you keep making him do things on his own, he's going to wind up dead!" Both Elisa and Noah shrunk back from the girl's words, but they knew she was right.
"If he doesn't come back by sundown, I'll turn on that generator by myself!" Plopping herself on the thick sands of the beach, Kyra closed her eyes in mock meditation, tapping her foot repeatedly. "Honestly, you guys can't do anything without me here!"
Elisa smiled awkwardly at the younger girl before glancing up to Noah who was leaning against the boat's side. Although he was laughing at the exchange, she could tell that he was worried too.
'Alright Elisa! This is the last time you're going to leave Cole on his own!' Her inner voice shouted, yet she hardly paid attention.
"Next time for sure…"
The three continued their way down the main generator, fighting hordes and hordes of wild pokemon that seemed endless to this point. As another bolt of powerful electricity made its way to Cole's form, Flygon slapped the wave of energy with its wings before it landed on the tiled floors. The dragon panting slightly from the constant battles.
"Hold on Flygon!" Cole called out before he pulled another Pokeball from his belt. 'I'm going to need your help now!'
Jin and Wattson turned around as a flash of light came from behind them. Upon seeing a large purple coloured pokemon, they watched in awe before it roared out its name, shaking the hallway itself.
Flygon gasped from Cole's choice, but shook it off once Nidoking smirked at him.
"Looks like he's not a rookie Trainer after all!" Jin panted as Cole's Nidoking glared at the large group of Magnemites that descended from the ceiling.
"Nidoking, Flamethrower!" Cole beamed once his long time friend nodded eagerly before releasing a powerful jet of fire towards the school of Magnemites. They all screeched out, receiving the full brunt of the super effective attack before dropping to the tiled floors like flies.
"Great job Cole!" Wattson cheered, sweat running down his brow. He was an old man after all, even if he didn't like to admit it. "We're almost there-" His voice was cut off once he noticed Cole's face. It looked like he was staring at a ghost.
"What's the matter with him?" Jin asked, but the ragged movement of the fallen Magnemites answered for him. They droned angrily, their steel bodies marked with burns.
"Why are they still...fighting?" Cole breathed in disbelief as Flygon and Nidoking watched with complete surprise. Once wild pokemon were defeated, they would never push themselves to go this far. Suddenly, the angered drones were silenced once their bodies began to flash with a bright light.
"No way!" Wattson gasped as the light continued to blind the entire hallway.
Cole and the rest of the group watched in complete shock as the remaining Magnemite formed into 3-pronged Magnetons, their bodies slightly healed before they released powerful waves of electricity towards Cole.
Cole suddenly felt a heavy weight on him before he was flung to the floor. Crying out in pain from the landing, he watched in shock as the Magneton's combined Thunderbolt attacks exploded on contact with the walls, sending sparks of electricity and flames to scatter over them.
"Their attacks are stronger after evolution; are you alright?" Sharp green eyes looked down at Cole's figure.
"...Yeah," Cole mumbled as he held his arm cautiously. Once he noticed it was fine, he quickly turned back to the battle. "I've never seen wild pokemon evolve so willingly before..."
"Wild pokemon would only evolve when they're in grave danger-" Jin started as he pulled Cole to his feet. "I knew something was off when those Magneton attacked me from outside. They're all evolving together."
"Yes..." Jin breathed as the Magneton droned loudly in front of Nidoking, Flygon and now Manectric. "I don't know what it is...but something is stressing the wild pokemon to the point of forced evolution!"
Dark brown eyes widened in shock once the words hit. They were forcing themselves to evolve? Cole suddenly clenched his hands into fists as the Magneton droned again, releasing another jolt of electricity that Nidoking managed to block.
It was the Dragon Plates, their energy must have started the storms...and the wild pokemon in those regions. They must have been spooked to the point of doing this to themselves. 'This is terrible!'Cole swore to himself. Who knew the Dragon Plates would have such a profound effect on the region of Hoenn; that wild pokemon would be in such danger.
He had to stop this.
"We need to get to that generator now! Nidoking, Flygon! Flamethrower!"
Both pokemon obeyed, taking in deep breaths before two powerful jets of fire slammed into the remaining Magneton. They screeched out in pain again, the flames tearing through their bodies before they slammed into the walls, exploding on contact.
Cole gave the knocked out pokemon another sympathetic look. He was doing this to help the weakened pokemon back in Mauville City. He repeated the words countless times yet...
To hurt pokemon that were just trying to defend themselves, from something he started...
'I can't stop now!' Cole drilled the words into his head before Wattson's voice suddenly reached him.
"It's this way!"
They finally made it.
Staring at the large generator that towered to the ceiling, Cole and Jin watched in silence as Wattson made his way to the main switchboard. Cuts and bruises laced their pokemon, who were standing guard at their side, but they remained vigilant despite the pain in their bodies.
"I've got to admit….You're a really tough Trainer, Cole." Jin's voice was almost happy as he turned to the young man. "You took down those wild pokemon with ease."
Instead of an expected smile of gratitude, a somber look washed over Cole's face to Jin's surprise. "This is not something that I should be proud of..." Cole muttered as he stared at the floor. "Attacking wild pokemon who are just trying to defend their homes, It's pathetic..."
"I..." The air between the two suddenly thickened. Manectric watched Cole closely from Jin's side while the Electric Gym Leader went to work on the generator. Aside from the sounds of Wattson tinkering with the machine's circuits, Jin felt himself at a loss of words as he looked at Cole's stance.
Even though he was young, Jin could see it in those pools of sandstone. He was someone that went through a lot. Perhaps Team Magma and Aqua may have...
'No...' Emerald eyes flashed with sadness as a young woman entered his memories. 'So many kids from this generation had to deal with those goons...If only we stopped them sooner...Then maybe...Maybe Simone would have-'
"HEY, LOOK OUT!"
Jin jumped from the words, but it was too late as a something heavy hit him from behind, sending him face first into the floor to everyone's surprise.
"Damnit!" Cole snapped as he turned around to see a group of three Electrodes glaring at them. His fear only rose once all three of them began to glow, electricity spitting off their bodies as they prepared their ultimate attacks.
"If they blow here, then the whole city's doomed!" Wattson cried as he fell back against the generator.
Not wasting any time, Cole snapped his attention to Nidoking.
Before the Electrode could even release their Selfdestruct attacks, a rippling wave of energy exploded from beneath the Electrode. They screeched out in pain, falling several floors deeper into New Mauville before they exploded at the bottom, sending shockwaves throughout the entire base.
Cole let out an exhausted sigh of relief once the shaking finally slowed down. Turning quickly, Cole placed his hands on Jin's back before attempting to wake him.
"Hey!...Hey!...Are you alright?!"
Wattson eyed the group of pokemon and Trainers as the room finally came to a stop. Blinking in disbelief from the entire ordeal, he clutched onto his chest once he realized the generator release a low moan before roaring to life.
"That Cole...Actually using an Earthquake attack in here..." He fought back the urge to laugh. Death was literally staring them all in the face, yet he was the only one to fight back so quickly.
"Thank you Cole..."
A sharp pain in his back, Jin groaned before he opened his eyes to meet a rough tongue that slobbered his face. Emerald eyes opened in shock before he noticed that it was his Manectric licking his face. "Hey, hey, I'm okay, I swear!" Jin chuckled as Manectric hopped into his lap.
"It's just a bump..." Cole breathed a sigh of relief before standing up. He then blinked once he noticed Jin smiling at him.
"Thank you Cole-"
He really didn't like hearing that so much… If only he knew.
"I should have seen those Electrodes coming..." Cole scratched the back of his head as Jin chuckled softly.
"Nonsense, I'm saying thank you for everything!" Jin waved off the apology before getting to his feet. Stretching his back, he grunted before hobbling over towards Wattson. "It's a good thing we had such a dependable Trainer like Cole here to use!"
Cole watched silently as Wattson and Jin eyed the generator that was singing with life, lighting the room in a bright glow. Despite all of this light, Cole felt lost in the darkness as he watched Wattson and Jin congratulate each other.
Mauville City wouldn't have been in such danger if it wasn't for you.
His mind continued to repeat, painfully reminding him of what he was doing. Of what he had done. Team Magma was the reason Hoenn was in such a mess right now...He had to fix this.
"I will." Cole said to himself, his fist clenching.
"I will fix this."
"You really beat those bad pokemon by yourself?!"
"Thank you so much!"
"You're our heroes!"
"You're sooo cool!"
"Can I have your autograph!"
"How are you so strong?!"
Jin raised his hands in defence as swarms of Trainers surrounded him, their eyes shining like stars as they greeted the alleged hero that returned the power to Mauville City. Manectric was whimpering from the contact as more Trainers pushed against his fur. "I-It wasn't just me, remember?" Jin chuckled as he was pushed back to the walls.
"You should all thank Cole too."
"Cole?" One of the Trainers asked as he joined the group, a small Plusle and Minun in his arms. "Wasn't that the guy who yelled at Gym Leader Wattson?"
"Oh yeah..." This time a girl pitched in. "Where did he go anyway?"
Jin blinked. They had just returned to the Pokemon Centre to check on its status. The power was restored, the building a beacon of hope in the dark night. Nurse Joy and her Chansey were busy, healing the remaining pokemon while Wattson fixed the last remaining machines.
But as for Cole...
"...I guess he must have went back to that young researcher..." Jin mumbled. He then shook his head before pushing through the crowds of Trainers. "I have to thank him once more!"
As the automatic doors opened with a ding, Jin glanced around as a slight breeze blew by. The moon was hanging high in the air tonight, a pure white as he surveyed the area for any signs of the young Trainer. He finally sighed to himself once he realized that he was long gone...
"I hope we meet again...Cole."