The feeling of being inside a Pokéball was the weirdest feeling I had ever experienced, but soon enough, I was released from it. I was in a massive stone room with a stone floor. There were what Mum and Dad called ‘windows’ surrounding the ceiling of the building. The windows had steel bars running up and down them. A huge pool of water took up half the room.
“Right then, Articuno,” I jumped at the sound of the voice. I spun around and saw who would be my trainer, the same person who had captured me. “I want to see just how good you really are.” He pulled another Pokéball from his belt and held it up to me. “In here I have a Blastoise, a very well trained Blastoise,” a flash of light revealed the huge, blue turtle, “I want you to beat it.”
I turned from him to the Blastoise and back to him again. I blinked at the human. He expected me to knock out a Blastoise? I had seen a few of these in our river, but none this big. They were too hard to take down, just too big.
“Blastoise! Hydro pump!” yelled the trainer. That didn’t sound too good. The pumps inside the Blastoise’s shell rose into view, the hard steel glinting in the pale sunlight. A sudden gush of water hurled itself from the steel tubes. I had no time to get away; it was too fast. I was hit with such force in the chest that I flew back and knocked the trainer from his feet.
“You stupid Articuno! You battle these things all the time! Get off me!” screamed the trainer. I scrambled off the man and stood facing the Blastoise. I was beginning to think this wasn’t the greatest idea after all.
My trainer got to his feet and yelled at me. “Let’s get one thing straight, Articuno, you work for me now. When I tell you to do something, you do it immediately. I told you to knock out that Blastoise, not me. Now do it!”
I turned and threw an ice beam at the Blastoise. It wasn’t my most powerful, but I was hoping it would do the job. The Blastoise shielded its face with its arms and prepared for the impact. There was none. I missed. I couldn’t believe it. I had never missed a Goldeen or Magikarp before, what made me miss the Blastoise.
“You idiot!” screamed the trainer, “Hit the damn thing would you!”
I tried again, this time with a sprayed ice beam, the way Mum had taught me when I had perfected my ice beam. While I was forming the little glowing ball, the beginnings of an ice beam, I saw the Blastoise fold its arms and look smug. I let the ice beam loose and threw the Blastoise across the room. It landed with a great splash into the pool. I was very pleased with myself.
“Finally,” mumbled the trainer under his breath. “Blastoise! Get out of that water right now! Do another hydro pump! Articuno, blizzard!”
As the Blastoise was just getting ready to shoot another cannon of water at me, I fanned my wings and rushed cold hard snow at the turtle. I was sure this would get it, but even in the snow, its aiming with those steel tubes was amazing. I couldn’t see it, it couldn’t see me, but even so, the hard water hit me in the chest hard. I struggled to stay up, but with the force of the torrent of water, I fell back and skidded several meters across the stone floor.
“Get up!” screeched the man, “Get up and fight, you pathetic bird!”
I tried, I really tried, but I couldn’t, I just ached all over with the force of being hit so hard by the water and the rock on my back. The trainer must have realised I was defeated. The weird feeling of being there but not being there returned. I was back in the Pokéball.
When I was released, I was in a small room, much smaller than the one I had battled the Blastoise in, but similar in appearance, minus the pool and windows. There were five Pokemon huddled in the opposite corner of the room, all staring wide-eyed at me.
“Articuno,” said the trainer from behind the door. I could see him through the bars. “This is your home from now on. You will do exactly what I tell you to do, when I tell you to do it. Right now it is time for your dinner. Eat it. There won’t be anything more for the rest of the day.” And with that, he turned and I could hear his footsteps echoing down the long passageway behind the door.
I took in my surroundings. There were no windows; strange bright things at the ceiling lit the room. The whole room was bare except the Pokémon and some bowls of grey slosh. I had no idea what that stuff was for, but the Blastoise soon showed me. He gave a grunt and lumbered over to the bowls, then started eating.
I stared at the slosh. “We’re supposed to eat that?” I said, pointing with a wing.
The Blastoise wiped his mouth with a clawed hand and nodded, then went back to eating. I stepped over to one of the bowls and sniffed it. I reeled back at the smell of the stuff. It was disgusting. “I’d rather starve than eat this.”
The Blastoise shrugged. “Then starve it is. This is all he ever gives us, Articuno.”
“My name’s Sapphire,” I muttered, staring at my ‘food’.
“Nice to meet you,” said the Blastoise, holding out a hand, “I’m George.”
I stared at his hand, with bits of grey stuff stuck to it, then to his face in disgust. The Blastoise looked sheepish. He dropped his hand and finished eating, then sauntered over to the group of smaller Pokémon, none of which I recognised.
I ignored the slop I was supposed to eat and walked to the opposite corner to the Pokémon. I nestled down, hid my head in my wing and wrapped my tail over my eyes.
They’d come. They’d be too worried not to. Dad had experienced harsh trainers. Even though he was probably glad to see the last of me, Mum would easily be able to coax him. They’d come for me, I just knew it.