The sudden halt of rhythmic waves stirred a young man from his sleep.
'We've reached Slateport already?' Cole pondered as he rubbed the sleep from his dipping eyelids. He slowly took in his surroundings as their boat softly knocked against another object that he could not identify. A crescent moon graced the sky as Cole's view turned up to the stars, the never ending flickering of small lights capturing most of his attention as he realized that they had not reached their destination, but instead were apparently against some large boulder. He looked over to the stern of the boat where Noah was at the wheel. The young sailor had dropped anchor and was bringing down the sails quietly as to not wake the others.
"Why did we stop?" Cole asked while getting up and walking over to Noah who had just brought the last sail down. A gentle creaking of wood on hinges was then heard between the two boys, looking over to see Elisa shuffle past the small sleeping cabin that she slept in. She looked around, trying to determine where she was as well.
"We should stop for the rest of the night." Noah pointed out, looking over to Cole with tired eyes. "I'm not getting enough wind to keep us going at a steady pace." He licked the tip of his finger and held it out into the chilling air.
"Yeah, I don't feel anything. It would be dumb to just try and power our way through if we still have such a long way to go." He determined, taking out his sleeping bag with a soft yawn.
"That's true," Cole looked over to the source of the voice as Elisa joined in on the conversation. "Noah should take a rest. We can't have him trying to stay awake the whole night; now can we?" She smiled at the young boy who returned his own before he went into his sleeping bag.
"You're right." Cole agreed to Elisa's surprise. He did not know that Noah had been sailing continuously since they left Dewford Town.
'Did he go on without sleep on the way to Dewford Town too?' Cole turned to Noah, "Alright, I'll keep watch for now unti-" he stopped mid sentence as he heard a snore come from the sleeping bag. The sailor was completely knocked out. Cole gave the sleeping figure a crossed look, he attempted to be nice, and this is what he earned?
"We should give him the rest of the night." Elisa giggled softly as Noah continued to snore loudly, breaking the quiet atmosphere of the night. "Are you going back to sleep?" She asked as Cole attempted to kick the younger boy but then stopped upon hearing her.
"No...I got most of my sleep back at the Pokemon Centre when I was waiting for you to come back." Cole said in a dull manner, earning an apologetic look from the researcher.
"I should have just woken you up myself back in Dewford." Elisa sighed with a smile as she headed back towards her cabin room. She was about to say goodnight before something caught her attention just behind the large boulder they were beside. Peering over the side she took in a sharp breath at the scene in front of her.
"What happened?" Cole quickly turned to Elisa, expecting some kind of danger before he noticed that she was signalling for him to come over. Cole leaned over along with Elisa as his dark brown eyes narrowed to take in the scene before him.
It was a ship.
A ship ravaged by time after its years of service for any voyage across the seas. It was massive in comparison to themselves, towering over the pair as the moonlight bathed the beautiful vessel in a haunting white glow. "This must be the S.S. Cactus." Elisa assumed, taking in the somber view of a ship that had long been lost at sea for many years.
"A lot of lives were lost on that ship?" Cole asked aloud, his attention fixed on the chilling feeling of the massive structure.
"Yeah, and I also heard that the captain of the ship had some very special items when it finally went down." Elisa replied, leaning over the boat a bit more to get a better view. "We should go over there and see if there is any lost treasure!" She could not control the excitement in her voice as her hazel eyes glinted with anticipation.
"People died on that ship." Cole replied in monotone, causing the young researcher to sweat nervously from his words. "There are probably powerful Pokemon lurking over there, it's the middle of the night and you want to go on a treasure hunt?" He stated dryly.
"But that's the best time to go!" Elisa argued softly, getting a blank stare in return. She was never really scared of dark places; that's where the most intriguing Pokemon resided. Her curiosity was getting the best of her now.
"Oh come on, please?" She pleaded. Just the feeling alone of finding something exciting on that ship was putting enough energy into her to resist the cry for sleep that her body was begging for.
"You can't be serious?" Cole crossed his arms in disbelief, looking back over to the rusted hull of the S.S Cactus. "It's too dangerous. Those Pokemon prefer to stay away from people." Elisa gaped at the young man, sounding just like a scolding father. "It's not safe, and you know that we have more important things to do other than this." He looked back at her, waiting for a comeback.
Elisa bit her lip, cursing his perfect explanation and quick wits. She knew that the hunt for the Dragon Plates was more important than some wild Zangoose chase through a dangerous ship, but she was too excited on the chances of finding treasure. She looked up to Cole who locked onto her hazel eyes with his dark brown ones. He was turning out to be very wise to her dismay, she believed with mixed emotions. Suddenly, a small smirk crept onto her lips, remembering a few key words he used back when they first met in Rustboro.
'Hehehe...!' Hazel eyes glinted in the moonlight, her own plan forming as Cole eyed her cautiously. "Okay, you're kind of right." Elisa admitted, getting a righteous smirk from the young man.
"But what if that ship was carrying information about the Dragon Plates?" His usual mask of calm breaking down into a frown of hard thought to her pleasure. "We should at least take a look, right? You did say that you would be my bodyguard on this adventure, didn't you?" Elisa could feel her own smile in the question.
Cole averted the smile that Elisa was blatantly attacking him with as he turned back to the S.S Cactus. Arms tensing slightly in the cool breeze, he knew that she was playing with his words. But the slim chance that any information on the Dragon Plates could be this close to them was beginning to get to him. The plate that they were searching for could have easily come from this area; he finally decided to willingly play along with her, which was surprisingly easy.
"We're only checking a few rooms. That's it." He questioned his choice of words though because he did not expect her response of jumping up like a school girl...Well she was a school girl...
"Yes! Alright let's go!"
The pair then leaned over the boat to see if there was any land, luckily there was. The small lapping waves washed over slippery rocks as the two jumped over and landed softly with the sound of stones and seashells chipping against each other. They continued their careful pace as the enormous ship increased in size before them. There was a steep staircase leading into the ship just ahead as the two stopped. They nodded to each other before making their first step up the darkening path.
"We're going to need more light," Cole determined as the pair headed up the stairs, each step leading to more darkness, "Solrock." the Meteorite Pokemon materialized in a flash of light as it greeted its Trainer and Elisa. "I'm going to need you to light the way." Solrock nodded and let out a very soft hum as it began to rotate and produce a magnificent light that lit up the dank and dreary hallway before them.
"Will Solrock be okay by giving off that much light?" Elisa asked, clearly impressed by how much she was able to see.
"Solrock can go on for hours like this." Cole answered simply as they continued down one of the ship's many hallways; he suddenly realized that his Pokemon was rivalling that of a lighthouse, he stopped moving his feet.
"Solrock you don't need to put in that much power." The Rock/Psychic type obeyed, slowing down its rotation, turning the bright light into a dim, candle-like state. "I don't want to attract any Pokemon while were here anyway." He informed to Elisa as he motioned for her to follow.
Elisa nodded in agreement as they continued down the eerie hallways, a pleasant silence between them. Cole carefully tracked their path as they continued on in the seemingly endless maze until Elisa finally stopped by a room, a twinkle of light catching her attention. It was glinting with each rotation of Solrock's body as she moved closer with Cole right behind her.
"I knew we could find something of value!" Elisa beamed as she picked up a beautiful blue stone with bubbles trapped within its interior. "We can sell this Water Stone for a-" Her voice was cut off as she suddenly gasped, the floor below her giving way with a loud crack.
"Hey!" Cole cursed as the floor then broke underneath the frightened woman, gravity pulling her towards the darkness below.
"I got you!" Cole grunted as he dove and grabbed the girl's arm while saving both of them by holding onto the frame of the door. Elisa panted heavily as the sounds of wood slapping against water could be heard down below in the consuming darkness.
"Solrock use Psychic to pull us back up!" Cole ordered as he gripped onto Elisa's slipping hand. Solrock stopped its rotation and glowed a light purple along with Cole and Elisa as the two began to float in the air and softly landed back onto the more stable hallway floors. Elisa sighed with relief as Cole thanked his Pokemon who then started to rotate again to illuminate the hall once more.
"Did you have enough fun yet? You nearly died!" Cole scolded sharply, glaring at the 'explorer' who fiddled with the Water Stone quietly, avoiding his dark eyes.
"S-Sorry." Elisa apologized softly before looking back up to him. "Hey, at least we got the Water Stone." She attempted to smile but that quickly faded as Cole's sharp expression did not change.
"We should head back now, you got your treasure." Cole spat, annoyed at himself for falling into her little game as he stood up.
"I guess you're right..." Elisa was about to argue before a low rumbling sound was heard just ahead of them. Cole and Elisa turned around cautiously, only to come face-to-face with a large blue creature with massive tentacles and a sinister red glare.
"Tentacruel!" They gasped as Solrock rotated in front of them and prepared for battle. Tentacruel launched several of its tentacles at Elisa as she tried to protect herself from the impact.
"Solrock Reflect!" A massive blue screen materialized in front of Elisa, she screamed as the tentacles slammed against the wall with an intense force. Cole grabbed Elisa's arm and dragged her down the hall as Solrock defended against the repeated strikes.
"Send it back with Psychic!" Solrock stopped its rotation once again and glowed a light purple along with a now surprised Tentacruel. The Water/Poison type cried in pain as it flew down the hall with a crashing thud into a vacant room. The continuous cry of Tentacruel echoed through the hallways as Solrock fended off the Pokemon's attempts to attack. Cole then called for his Pokemon as the three then rushed down the corridors of the ship, trying to get as far away as possible from anymore danger.
After what seemed like an endless marathon, the two finally stopped to catch their breath, Elisa panting heavily as Cole checked around the corner for anymore trouble. "We lost it. That Tentacruel must have a nest near that room you destroyed." Cole panted, his voice rough. "We should have stayed on the boat!" Annoyance mixing with his voice as he turned to Elisa. He was about to continue his scolding before his eyes narrowed, noticing a blotch of red along Elisa's shin as she finally looked back up to him.
"Look I'm sorry, okay?..." Her attempt at an apology came out rasp due to her lack of oxygen. She then became quiet when she noticed that Cole continued to stare at her. "What? That Tentacruel couldn't have caught up with us, right?" Elisa's hazel eyes softened slightly as Cole leaned down next to her and motioned for her to sit. It was not until she sat down did she notice a sticky feeling coming from her shin.
"You're bleeding." Cole stated as Elisa stretched out her leg, wincing at the sight. "It must have happened when the floor collapsed." He then reached for his back, but then sighed tiredly when his hands grasped at nothing. "I left my backpack on the boat." He looked at Elisa who averted his gaze with a small smile of amusement, she too had brought nothing on their way to the ship.
"I was too excited to remember..." Elisa muttered earning another sigh from Cole, even though both of them were to blame. "It doesn't hurt that much-" She attempted to get up but a firm hand stopped her and set her back down. She looked over to Cole who moved towards her leg, pulling up her grey sweatpants in one motion.
"H-Hey! W-W-Wait! What are you doing?!" Elisa panicked, slapping Cole's hand away with her own trembling one. Her cheeks tinted a light pink as the young man looked back over to her, his brow furled in confusion.
"What does it look like I'm doing? I need to stop the bleeding." Cole answered simply but that alone did not ease the young woman's blatant fear. He took off his sand-coloured jacket and then tore off a long strip of his light brown t-shirt. Elisa could barely keep eye contact with him as he waited for a response, a cocky smirk churning his lips upward. "I doubt you want to continue on in life with one leg so-"
"J-Just go already!" She snapped back, avoiding his sarcastic attitude. She remained quiet after that, eyes shimmering softly as his firm hands touched her open skin. She blinked, surprised by how gentle he was as he cleaned the dried blood and then firmly wrapping the exterior of his shirt around the wound. Elisa couldn't help but look back at him as he put the finishing touches to his work.
'Well he's not breaking his deal...' Elisa's cheeks warmed up again when Cole turned to her, his expression soft in what Elisa could only believe was concern.
"We should get out of here now." Cole stood up and helped Elisa up as well as she leaned against the wall for support. The pain was starting to settle in now, even though the cloth prevented any continuous bleeding.
"Okay." Elisa agreed, testing her leg against the floor only to wince slightly from the numbing sting. She then felt a warm arm wrap around her waist as Cole lifted her slightly off her injured leg. "I-I can walk by myself!" She attempted to argue but the Trainer just shook his head.
"We'll be able to move faster like this." He motioned for her to place her arm on his shoulders as she began to hobble slightly at a slow pace with him. Solrock continued to rotate slowly, lighting their path as they backtracked to the entrance. The wild Tentacruel was no where to be found, as Cole inspected every corner where Solrock's light touched.
Elisa remained quiet as she continued to hold onto Cole for support. Her thoughts elsewhere as she eyed the Trainer's expression; Solrock's gentle glow illuminating his calm face as his eyes traced every centimetre of the empty hallways.
'He's very protective.' She continued to observe him silently in the warm glow, his face firm but mixed with a gentle touch that she never knew he could display. Moments later, the pair turned another corner before finally seeing a familiar entrance that would lead them back to the salty air of the night's breeze; the sign above the door reading 'Exit'.
"Good, we found our way back." Cole broke the silence, pointing to the stairwell. He hoisted her slightly on his shoulder, earning a light gasp from her in response.
"Are you alright?" Elisa's heart skipped a beat as Cole turned to her, his expression filled with slight worry.
"I-I'm fine..." She replied quietly, suddenly interested in the creaking floorboards beneath them.
'How does he remain so in control when in danger?' She questioned herself, almost demanding an answer from someone, anyone. 'He can react to changing situations in a matter of seconds...and just know what to do so quickly.' Elisa's questions continued to flow as they neared their exit. Only her father had that characteristic, that calming presence that made her feel...well safe.
'Cole's like that too.' She smiled softly, suddenly in realization of her thoughts.
"We're in the clear." Cole's voice snapped Elisa's train of thoughts as she noticed that they were heading down the stairwell, a small bead of light and the rush of salty air signalling the outside world.
Cole and Elisa then thanked Solrock as it was returned into its Poke ball once they reached the rocky beach. Elisa nervously took in a soft breath, hesitating to start a conversation "...I'm sorry I couldn't walk by myself." Elisa started as the two began their way back to the boat that was nestled within a field of boulders. "You were really great back there with that wild Tentacruel." She praised softly, repressing the urge to peak at his face again.
"It was nothing." Cole replied, not taking his eyes off the path in front of them. "Let's just get you back to the boat so that I can clean your wound." The pair finally reached the ship after what seemed like hours to Elisa. Hoisting her up first, she landed with a soft thud before helping Cole up. The two sighed in relief, finally reaching a safe area. Cole then got up and reached for his single-strapped backpack where he took out a first aid kit and began to work on Elisa's leg.
She watched intently this time as the Trainer cleaned the wound, his eyes focused on the task at hand. She did not know how he was dealing with it at the moment, but the silence between them was starting to get to her.
"S-So...Are you a Trainer from Hoenn?" Elisa asked quietly, her attempt at a conversation rather weak in her opinion.
"I'm from Lavaridge Town." Cole answered, taking him by surprise that he would answer truthfully before brushing it aside as he began to wrap the wound, this time at a slower pace. "It's just a small village at the foot of Mount Chimney." Cole continued, remembering his hometown. It had been years since he was last there. The only thing coming to mind was the all out battle between Team Magma and Aqua at the top of the volcano two years ago.
Elisa nodded in response. "Yeah...I've heard great things about their hotsprings. I hope to go there one day because a lot of the people there know about and praise Groudon." The last word abruptly stopped the movement of the young man's hands, but went unnoticed to her.
"Maybe you'll see it one day." Cole replied as he put the finishing touches on the young woman's wound. He sat down beside her and the two of them sat there silently for a couple of minutes, the gentle lapping of waves drowning out the silence between them as the stars twinkled idly above. It was Cole's turn now to feel some strange annoyance in his stomach, urging him to continue the conversation with his travelling partner.
"So you're from Mossdeep, right?" Cole asked as the silence was broken again. The young researcher gave him a surprised look as she turned to him.
"I told you that?" Elisa asked in awe, she didn't know why she was happy that he asked her something, but she ignored the feeling. Her own thoughts now shifting to her hometown. "I must have told you back when I talked about the Dragon Plates," she smiled, "It's a very large island east of Lilycove. A lot of the people there are into surfing and the party lifestyle."
"Surfing and partying?" Cole interrupted, confused, "That doesn't seem like you at all." He joked but she took in a sharp breath, clearly annoyed. "If you're a researcher, I doubt you have much time for all of that." Cole assumed, looking back up to the shining stars.
"It's true." She couldn't help but smile, the thoughtful look in his eyes becoming infectious to her.
"We come from very different places. Don't you think?"
Cole blinked; he was the Trainer from the peaceful town of Lavaridge, and she was the researcher from the fast-paced lifestyle of Mossdeep. They seemed like quite a set of contradicting personalities and lifestyles in his own opinion. His eyes never leaving the starry sky, he knew of quite a few people that had actually gone their entire lives without meeting someone from the other side of the country. In their case though, he guessed that they were lucky.
"They say opposites make the best teams." Cole replied. "I think that I'm very lucky to have met you." The young man, sadly, seemed to be oblivious to the kind of effect his words were having on his companion as Elisa's face began to burn up again to her dismay.
"I think the saying is opposites attract." Elisa muttered the last word under her breath, her stomach a flutter to her confusion. Pegging the feeling as a result of losing too much blood, she looked away and quickly hobbled over to her cabin while Cole noticed her retreating figure.
"But I do like the team we've made," she looked over to the snoring Noah who somehow did not break the silence between her and Cole before. "with the help of Noah too." She giggled lightly realizing that they did have a third member in their group now.
Cole nodded in response before getting up and walking over to his sleeping bag. "I'll see you in the morning." He said his goodnight as he turned away from the girl who gave him a soft smile in return. His smirk dropped though as he closed his eyes and felt the cool winds of the sea send a shiver down his spine.
'She should be able to trust me more from this.' The corner of Cole's lips slanting upwards in a dark smirk.
'All I need to do is protect them in order to find the plates. When this is all over, I'll get my position back with Team Magma...' His words were fading though, the need for sleep finally grabbing onto him. They were finally going to reach Slateport City and the alleged first Dragon Plate that came to him in his vision; he would definitely need her help until all of the plates were collected. Then, just then, would Rayquaza be in the power of Team Magma and eventually Groudon as well.