"I've got a really important battle up this afternoon," Sapphire said as we walked up her front steps into the house, "so I may need you three to help me out. That okay by you?"
Shelly was first to respond. "Ooh, cool, we get to battle in a gym battle," she said, rubbing her hands.
"Who's the challenger?" I asked.
"Believe it or not, Ray Osinshyne."
"You're not serious," said Glacier, "The same Ray who bought our egg?"
"Bingo," replied Sapphire, "He was let out of jail two months ago, and I've heard he's got quite a few Pokémon again."
We all groaned. I couldn't believe it. Him again. The first and last time I'd battled him, I lost. Could I win this time? At least he wouldn't have that Gengar again.
"I'll do it," I whispered. I wouldn't let this guy win against me twice in a row. He was in for the battle of his lifetime.
When we arrived at the gym for the second time that day, Ray was already there.
"You know, I didn't book this for nothing," he sneered, "I was expecting you to be here."
Sapphire didn't say anything. She just walked to her end of the gym with the four of us plus Jewel in tow. She stood with her legs braced and I could see a storm brewing in her deep, usually sparkling blue eyes. The five of us lined up behind, each looking menacingly at Ray. Even Ruby caught the look from her mother.
"Can we get this moving now?" scorned Ray.
Sapphire sighed, "Four Pokémon each, if you defeat all four of mine, you win the Snowflake badge. I may also remind you that I am undefeated as a Gym leader."
Ray laughed. "But, my dear, may I remind you that in our first meeting, I defeated you."
Sapphire turned her head to Glacier. "You're first, Glace."
Glacier nodded his head and stepped elegantly into the arena, head held high and ruby red eyes blazing.
"Oh, looky looky, it's the little Articuno who couldn't beat the big bad Gengar," Ray taunted. Glacier flicked his tail in annoyance.
"Just pick a Pokémon and let's get it over with," Sapphire growled through her teeth.
He sighed dramatically, "If I must," he said, casually tossing a ball into the arena. There was a bright flash of light and Ray's first Pokémon appeared, stubby pink ears twitching.
Sapphire burst out laughing. "You plan on beating an Articuno, with THAT?" she cackled.
Glacier turned to us. "I could make the poor thing faint just by stepping on it."
"Okay, okay, that's enough now," Ray was getting impatient, and he seemed embarrassed by the tiny pink ball he had chosen to battle with. "Cleffa! Zap Cannon!"
"Careful, Glace," Sapphire mocked, "May as well just peck it."
Glacier took off and glided to the hapless Cleffa, who was quivering with fright. It got a hold of itself and began sending out tiny sparks, no bigger than static jolts, but before it could send out the wrath of the zap cannon, Glacier's purple beak came hurling at it at such a speed that it was knocked back several meters.
I whispered to Sapphire, "I thought this was going to be tough."
Sapphire shrugged, "So did I. He mustn't have had enough time to get any really powerful Pokémon. You want to go up now?"
I shrugged back, "Sure, why not."
The rest of the battle was a bit of a non-event; we were put up against a Pichu, an Igglybuff and a Smoochum, which Shelly insisted she wouldn't battle, even though it was her turn. So, not surprisingly, the badge remained safe.
After the battle, Sapphire asked Ray why he was using baby Pokémon. He looked rather sheepish. "I'm a breeder. I'm breeding Pokemon, so that's why I bought the egg, I wanted to breed the rare Pokemon of the world, and I could only do that by studying the eggs. Then you had to come along and say I was purchasing stolen goods. How was I supposed to know it was stolen? By the way, where is that Articuno?"
I could feel a tear in my eye, so I turned away and blinked it out. Sapphire cleared her throat. "Er, he was, um, captured, out of his own will. At least, that's what they told me. They decided not to get him back because he, um, chose to go. Sorry about the jail thing, but you did kinda deserve it."
"Oh, come on. You saw how I kept the egg, and all my Pokémon. They loved it there! I'll be back, Iyse, don't you worry about that." And he stormed out the door, Pokéballs in hand.