Waves crashed against a field of boulders as a man hopped off the back of a slender sea creature. His white shoes digging into the sandy shores, he surveyed the wreckage of the beach and what remained of one of Hoenn's oldest landmarks.
"...This must have been a battle beyond my imagination." Wallace, Gym Leader of Sootopolis whispered the words to himself as he walked forward, his neck craning upwards to the remainder of Sky Pillar. Like a tree torn by lightning, a few of the pillars jetted out from the top of the monument. He narrowed his eyes in the bright sunlight as a few bird pokemon soared overhead.
"From now on, we'll have to block off any access to this place unless given permission." He announced as his Milotic let out a soft cry in agreement. The tower was still tall, but it no longer reached to the clouds above. They were now disconnected from the Guardian of the skies. Now only a glorified skyscraper, Wallace combed through his silky hair, staring at the tower that overlooked the ocean's waters that was now enriched with new life of wild pokemon.
Flipping through a pile of stacked pages, a large man let out a huff in the security of his large office. With the recent events of Groudon, Kyogre and Rayquaza still fresh in his mind, the head researcher at Devon Corporation had been swamped with reviewing all of the new theories of why these pokemon would descend upon Hoenn again.
His fingers on automatic, he continued through the drivel of brash and unbelievable theories hidden in the bold title pages before something caught his eye. He blinked, his fingers crumpling one sheet as the letters materialized in his head.
The Forbidden Dragon Plates of Rayquaza
A Catalyst for Hoenn Climate Change
Eyeing the title with a faint sense of nostalgia, he gasped once he pulled the documents closer to reveal a name.
"...It's…that woman?!...She's the one-"
"It sure is nice out now."
The sky was spotted with clouds. A pair of teenagers looked on from a bench as ships erupted from the docks of Slateport Harbour for the voyage across the ocean. Her shoes rocking back and forth against the cobblestone beneath, Kyra hummed a tune to herself as Noah eyed the sailors.
"...Man." He groaned, fists pushing into his cheeks. "I could be out there!"
"Doing what?" Kyra asked, turning her attention to the blonde. "We're lucky to be alive and you want to go out there with Kyogre too? Idiot!" The boy merely laughed at her words before leaning back against the white bench oblivious to the worry in her voice.
"The more time I waste here, the longer it'll take before I become a great sailor!...Besides...I could at least give Cole a ride out of here." Sapphire eyes shifting to the right, he watched closely as Kyra stopped rocking her feet.
"...He would never ask for your help."
"W-What?! We're the best of friends!"
Kyra avoided the boy's ridiculous face, stifling a laugh. "...That's not what he tells me." Snickering from his enraged face, Kyra turned back to the harbour where members of the Hughes family stood, saying their goodbyes.
"...He's leaving us again."
"But-" Noah interrupted quickly. "You know where he'll be this time."
"This time." Her cheeks tinged pink from the words before a small smile crept onto her lips.
"...Don't worry so much Kyra. He has to do this….Not just for Hoenn, but for us as well."
"But he may have to fight people even more dangerous than Team Magma and Aqua!" She argued. "...T-They might even have legendary pokemon too!"
"Yeah...but he's the strongest guy I know!" Noah's words were genuine as he stared deeply into the girl's eyes. "Didn't you say it yourself? We'll have to believe in him."
"...Since when did you become an emotional speaker?"
"It's the sailor within me!" He smirked, slamming a fist into his chest. "I always have to keep my partners motivated!"
A sudden rush of wind slapped at Kyra's face, catching her off guard. "P-Partners?" Brushing the strands from her face, a tinge of pink stained her cheeks as she turned to Noah.
"Yeah, my crew! Blastoise and Wingull really like my speeches! But I don't think Carvanha has any faith!" He laughed, completely ignorant of the shocked look on the girl's face.
"...O-Of course, your pokemon…..Jeez Noah….What are you going to do now anyway? You don't have a ship."
"You know what-" He tapped his chin, deep in thought as a few people walked by. "...I have no clue!"
"Idiot." Kyra slapped her forehead before turning to the harbour once more. They sat in silence for a few minutes. Kyra played with her goggles, sneaking glances at the boy.
"What are you going to do now, Kyra?"
"Me?" She flinched from his words before turning to him. "...I-If Cole's going out there to get stronger, then I'll get stronger too!" She raised a fist to the air. "I still have four more badges to go!"
"You're going to challenge the Pokemon League?!"
"Obviously! How else am I going to get stronger?"
"But with all the outbreaks of pokemon….Isn't it kind of dangerous?"
"You think I'm weak?!"
"I-I mean to travel!" Noah raised his hands in defence. "...Like travelling alone."
A light bulb turning on, Kyra blinked for a few seconds before she dropped her fists. She opened her mouth, before shutting it quickly. Repeating the motion a few times before another tinge of pink graced her cheeks. "...Travelling together is more fun."
Noah blinked once before it finally hit him. A smile so grand, it rivalled the lighthouse.
She did not want to leave. She loved her home, despite their attempts to destroy it so many times.
Holding a small brown envelope between her fingers, amethyst eyes sparkled from the sun's rays as the woman moved towards a red mailbox. 'I want to find out about my past….I never knew my parents...my birthplace….or how I came to be Tori.'
Gazing upon the neatly written words, Hughes Family, Tori slipped the envelope into the gaping metal jaws before turning around to a familiar nine-tailed fox.
'...I've only had Ninetales and my pokemon to walk with me…..But Cole, you were always there, despite the way I treated you….I hope you're safe out there. I'll keep in touch. But for now….I'm going on a journey. For the first time, I don't feel alone.'
She smiled softly, the nourishing breeze of Verdanturf Town feeding her soul as Ninetales and Jin smiled towards her.
I have family now Cole….just like you.
A heavy metal door that blocked her from the outside world swinging open, sharp hazel eyes gazed up before widening with surprise.
"...How long has it been." His cheeks rising slightly, Albert took a seat in front of a woman who remained still.
"Ever since Elisa was ten I suppose…"
"You never really paid attention to them did you."
"I left that to you."
"Ellie..." Albert let out a small chuckle, gazing at Elizabeth for a few seconds before lifting his hand onto the the steel table to rest on hers. She did not look at him, her expression stone-like as Albert tried to find meaning within her cold eyes.
"She should have left me to die." A sudden warmth erupted from her hands. Blinking in confusion, she gazed up to Albert as he continued to squeeze her fingers tightly.
"You're her mother Ellie!" His voice boomed, echoing back from the walls of the cell. "You may have never loved them, looked out for them, or cared about their existence, but your daughters love you!...Even if you swayed from the right path….we'll all be there for you."
Elizabeth watched closely as Albert's tears splattered against their laced fingers. The warmth of his hand lifting memories from the depths of her mind. She smiled sadly at the man before squeezing back.
Only time would tell.
"Are you sure you have everything?"
"Your extra shoes? And what about the herbs?!"
"Did you make sure to check the pokemon again-"
"Mom!" Katherine flinched once a voice boomed from beside her, earning a hand full of laughs around. "He's fine," Kyra argued, folding her arms. "...Don't make this any harder than it already is."
"Your daughter is right." Smiling from the calm voice, Cole turned to his grandmother who gave him a warm look. "He's a man now...we can say a proper goodbye this time."
"Cole." Steven spoke up as he watched Cole return his Aggron and Flygon. "...When you reach your destination. Inform-"
Steel blue eyes flashed with surprise as Cole gave the man a strong nod.
"I'd like to keep this moment for them. If you don't mind, Steven." Catching onto his words quickly, Steven nodded before stepping aside for his family to give Cole one last group hug.
"Make sure you take care of him Houndoom!" Katherine cried through her son's white shirt.
"We'll visit once you get settled!" Cole nodded from his father's words.
"Be safe, I love you, Cole!" His mother again.
"Make sure you eat properly." Cole nodded, his grin never leaving him as Kenna squeezed his cheek.
"You better be ready to watch me in the Hoenn League! I'm going to be number one!" Kyra roared over the others.
"If I had my boat, I'd beat you to that region-"
"S-Sorry!...Travel safe Cole!"
"I'll see you all soon...I love you!" Cole called out as the massive ferry roared to life behind him. Hoisting a large brown duffel bag onto his back, he gave one long look at his family and friends before taking the first few steps upwards.
His legs felt weak, nervousness pulled at his chest but a smile was plastered on his lips as Houndoom trotted beside him onto the massive ship.
Waving their goodbyes, Kyra's smile faded once the ship began to move, waves splitting from its sides as it picked up speed.
"...Wait. Where's Elisa?"
Katherine and Kenna smiled to themselves as Cole's ship began to fade off into the distance.
A heavy thud as his large bag hit the floorboards, Cole let out a tired sigh as he closed the door to his cabin. Hearing the soft patter of Houndoom's paws against the wood, he pressed his head against the pine.
A nervous chill ran up his spine.
"...You can do this Cole…You can do this."
Cole repeated the words for a few minutes, his hands clenched into fists as he envisioned the next chapter of his life.
He knew he had to change.
An adult now, he now held more responsibility than ever before...To protect Hoenn...To protect pokemon...and to find answers to Rayquaza's questions. What would the future be like?...The battles ahead? What new pokemon would they encounter? Despite the encouragement and how happy he was to have his family see him off. There was still one thing missing…
"...Should I wait until you're finished?"
Dark brown eyes shot open. Whipping his head around, Cole felt the sudden urge to dive into Hoenn's waters once a pair of hazel orbs sparkled in his direction.
There it was.
"W-Were you here this whole time?!"
"...I-I-I wanted to surprise you!" Elisa jumped back, equally embarrassed as Houndoom wagged its tail happily.
"...Y-You said you would be leaving Hoenn too!" Cole shot back quickly, fighting his rampaging heart. "I thought you already left!"
"I already submitted my report on the Dragon Plates-" Turning around, she dove into a bag of her own on the bed. "S-See! I'm going to be researching legendary pokemon from now on!"
Cole blinked in confusion as a small sheet hovered above the girl's head. A bold title printed Research Assistant across the sheet. "So-"
"It means!" Freezing in place from her raised voice, Elisa squeezed the sheets to her sweater before gazing towards him. "...I don't want to repeat the mistakes of the past…So I'm going to research legendary pokemon in order to prevent others from misusing them!...I want to protect Hoenn, and the world too!"
"You're going to find all the legendary pokemon?"
"Yes. I don't want legendary pokemon to go through anything like that, ever!"
Cole felt his entire being melt as she smiled at him.
"S-So!..." She fidgeted with her fingers. "I would really…I would really appreciate a travelling companion. Y-You know...we did a pretty good job before."
"Elisa..." They were new to this. This feeling and connection.
Cole dropped his shoulders in mock defeat, getting the message. But they had more than enough time to find their own answers...together.
"I don't know what will happen from now on." Cole smiled before sitting himself down next to her, his fingers brushing across her soft skin.
"But no matter what. I want you by my side."