"So we let him go," I said to Sapphire.
"And you don't want to get him back?" she asked, concerned.
Glacier shook his head. "It's his life, we'll let him do what he wants with it. When he realises he chose the wrong trainer, he'll break out and come home. Anyway, what brought you here?"
"Just a minute." Sapphire stood up and collected a wooden box from the top of a chest of drawers on the opposite side of the room. She carried the box proudly over to us, her face beaming. She sat down and placed the box on the coffee table. She opened the box to reveal a beautifully laid interior, padded with rich, blue velvet.
"These are gym badges," she told us, referring to the tiny shells and shaped pieces of metal. There were sixteen pieces of metal and four shells, making a total of twenty badges. "I collected all of these by beating various gym leaders all around the country, while you were gone. These eight are from the Indigo League, the four shells are from the Orange League and these eight are from the Johto League."
While Glacier, Shelly, Ruby and I stared in awe at the badges, she stood up and carried over two golden trophies and a framed piece of paper from the chest of drawers. "This trophy I won from beating the lead member of the Orange Crew, and this one from the Elite Four, the four best Pokémon trainers in the world."
She held up the framed piece of paper. It was filled with writing. "I had to win all those badges and trophies to get this certificate. It says I am now a qualified gym leader!" she squealed.
I leapt up and hugged her with everything I had. I knew how important it was to humans to be gym leaders, and now Sapphire was one too! I let her go and sat back down.
"So is that gym next to the house yours?" asked Glacier.
Sapphire nodded vigorously and reached into her pocket. "This, my friends, is my badge, the Snowflake Badge," she said proudly, holding out a gleaming white piece of shaped metal in the shape of a snowflake. "I have been the holder of the Snowflake Badge for exactly two months, and so far I am undefeated. With me around, there won't be many new gym leaders for a while!"
"You go, girl!" cried Shelly, "Can we see a gym battle?"
"Sure, why not? I've got one booked in ten minutes, just enough time to get ready. Do you guys want to battle?"
I shook my head. "With two Articuno and a very powerful Jynx on your side, whoever it is won't have a hope. May as well give them some kind of a chance." vSapphire shrugged. "Fair enough," she said and went to fetch the Pokémon she would use for the battle. She emerged with four Pokéballs, each concealing a powerful Pokémon. "I've got Jewel, Dewdrop, Scarlet and," she gave us a mischievous look, "Deri."
"Who the heck is Deri?" asked Shelly.
Sapphire walked to the door and gave us the same mischievous look, "You'll see," she said, and walked out the door. Shelly shrugged and followed Sapphire through the door.
The gym was similar to a stadium, but there were no seats and no other people viewing. The soft winter sunlight shone through the glass ceiling and did well to illuminate the room. I smiled. At the rear end of the room was a huge painting of the mountains with an Articuno flying gracefully as the main feature. The tail of the Articuno was my own.
"What do you think?" Sapphire asked, looking proudly at the mural.
"It's beautiful," I breathed.
We waited in the gym for five minutes for the challenger to show. During that time, Sapphire set free three of her four Pokémon - Jewel, Scarlet and Dewdrop. After fond greetings (we hadn't seen each other for two years), Sapphire held the forth Pokéball in her hand and had the same funny look again.
"Okay everyone, meet Deri, the newest member of my team." The bright white flash revealed, not surprisingly, another icy Pokémon.
"Oh, Sapphire, you didn't!" I cried, shielding my face from the creature with a wing. Glacier did the same. "Oh how could you!"
"Oh come on, you two!" scorned Sapphire, "It's just a Delibird! For crying out loud!"
"Sapphire," Glacier reasoned, "All Delibirds think we're gods. The poor thing would rather worship us than battle for you!" I peered through my wings and sure enough, the Delibird was down on its knees, praying to us.
Suddenly, a young girl with fiery red hair burst through the doors. "Sorry I'm - woah! Do I have to battle the Articuno?" she cried, referring to the pair behind her opposition.
Sapphire laughed. "No, we figured it would be a little unfair if I had two Articuno on my side, doesn't matter that you're a little late either. Four Pokémon each, pick a Pokémon and we'll begin." Sapphire turned to Jewel, "you're up."
Deri was still worshipping us, Glacier and I were doing our best to ignore him.
It didn't take long for Glacier to give up. "Deri, please, we are not, repeat, not, gods."
"Yes you are, oh great one," insisted Deri, continuing to bow to us, "Your wish is my command."
"Oh, please!" I muttered, then a thought came to my mind. "Then our wish is for you to stop worshipping us and pay attention to the battle!"
"As you say, great one," and the Delibird sat and turned his attention to the battle, although he was a little unsure of the idea.
Jewel's opponent was not surprisingly an electric type, Sapphire had said that most trainers study the gym leaders before battling them and choose Pokémon with the type advantage, and most of Sapphire's Pokémon were weak to electricity. The redhead had chosen a Raichu.
As he had the first time I had seen Jewel battle, he pretended to be knocked out by the Raichu's first attack, and he looked pretty genuine too.
The redhead jumped up. "Way to go, Raichu! Woohoo!"
But as before, Jewel sprang back to life and slashed with his long, silvery claws at the Raichu, knocking it to the floor.
"Raichu!" yelled the redhead, "That's not fair! You can't do that!"
"Why not?" asked Sapphire, "That's what's known as a faint attack. Good work Jewel."
The redhead growled and threw another Pokéball. "Go, Vulpix!"
A young foxy Pokémon with many red tails sprang from the white light. "Flame thrower!" yelled the redhead. That was the attack that burnt my tail off, only that had come from a Moltres. The same stream of glowing red fire spurted from the Vulpix's tiny mouth and hurled itself at Jewel.
Jewel couldn't escape. He turned his back and tried to shield himself with his skinny arms, but the sheer force of the fire was enough to knock him to the ground.
"Jewel!" cried Sapphire, wanting to rescue her Sneasel from the onslaught, but knowing full well that it was against regulations to interrupt a Pokémon battle. Jewel coughed up smoke and collapsed to the gym floor. Sapphire ran and carried him gently to the sidelines.
"Dewdrop," Sapphire whispered, "spray him gently and cool him down a bit. Scarlet, do your worst."
Scarlet backflipped into the arena and whacked her feet into the Vulpix before landing deftly behind it. That was Scarlet's trademark entry to a battle.
"Go with a blizzard," said Sapphire, "if it doesn't faint after that, put it to sleep."
Scarlet fanned her hands out and forced out an incredibly powerful blizzard, aimed right at the Vulpix. I couldn't see how it would be able to stay standing after that, and sure enough, there was no need for that lovely kiss.
Shelly and Ruby clapped their hands. "Woo! Go Scarlet!" yelled Shelly.
"Sallet, Sallet!" cried the young Smoochum, imitating her mother.
The redhead growled again and sent in a steely Pokémon with magnets on either side. She called it a Magnemite.
"Sonic boom!" yelled the trainer. Scarlet just stood there and yawned as the Magnemite started vibrating. A funnel of wobbly air slowly made its way to Scarlet. She stepped aside and watched it go past. When it had finished, she raised an eyebrow to the Magnemite.
Her eyes turned blue, but the same expression remained on her face. The Magnemite spun around and cried out in great pain, falling to the ground.
"Don't get too cocky, Scarlet!" Sapphire warned, "She's probably packed a punch for her last one."
"Darn right I have," sneered the redhead, throwing her last Pokéball. It contained an Electabuzz. "Electabuzz! Thunder attack!"
A great bolt of lightning sprouted from the creature's antennae, but, as Shelly had said, it was an unreliable attack, and sure enough, it missed. "Do it again, Electabuzz!"
But before the sparks could form, the air around it shimmered and glowed a hundred colours. The Electabuzz screamed out in pain, clutching its head and roaring. When Scarlet had finished, it wobbled around clumsily and fell to the floor. The badge was still safe.