Jewel of the Air

Eleven
Another New Trainer

I came to with a splitting headache worse than the one I had begun with. I groaned and opened my eyes, but it hurt too much to see, so I closed them and groaned again.

"Hello there!" piped an annoyingly happy voice to my right, "I see you're awake! You had a nasty fall! But don't worry, we'll have you better in no time!"

"Where am I?" I croaked.

"You're in a Pokémon Centre!" said the voice. Mum and Dad had told me about Pokécentres, they said the people and Chansey here were really nice. I sure hoped they were right.

"Did you save me?" I asked.

"Oh, no! Someone outside is waiting anxiously to see if you are okay!" the Chansey squealed. "Oh! You're Eevee friend is okay too! She's in the next room!" and with that, she bustled out.

Eevee friend? Oh, she must mean, what was her name? Spotty? Spots? Splotch, that was it. She wasn't my friend, she was just there. I'd have thrown her off if I'd known. Looks like I'll be stuck with her. Great, just great. The last thing I need is a thing squeaking at me constantly about nothing for weeks on end. Oh well, it could be worse, I could still be with the trainer.

That thought brought me to another. Who had saved me? Was it him again? Or was it someone else, maybe someone nicer? I hoped it would be someone else, even if they were just as bad as him, a change of scenery would be good.

The door handle clicked and someone entered the room. I sat up and moaned at the pain in my head. I wouldn't be able to do that much more. The guy who had walked in was tall and worried, he was definitely not the guy I'd had before.

"Are you all right?" his voice was a great change from the Chansey and the Eevee, it was deep and smooth, a lot like Dad's, only human.

"Nuh, my head feels like I flew in into a wall," I answered him.

"That's good," I guessed he didn't understand a word I was saying, "you'll be out of here in a few hours, then you can come back to my place." The man stood up and smiled at me, then left the room. Maybe this was one of those humans who thought I was a god, that'd be about right.

I lay back on the pillow and fell asleep, thinking about the man. Would he care for me, or torture me? He could just be putting on an act, just to impress the nurses, so they'd think he was worthy of taking me home. For now though, I was just glad for some rest.

I was woken a few hours later by one of the Chansey.

"How's your head feeling?" she chimed.

I sat up. "Better," I replied, "still hurts a bit though."

The Chansey shrugged, "It'll be fine in a little while! Anyway, I've come in to tell you you're free to go! Your trainer will be in soon!" she said, then hurried out again.

So, a new trainer. I wondered what he would be like. Was he a good guy, or a bad boy? Guess I'd find out soon. He came into the room a few minutes after the Chansey left, a broad and happy smile on his face.

"Good to see you're doing okay there, Articuno," he said, "I've got a Pokéball here, I don't know if you've been in one before, but it's the easiest way of getting you around. Plus, it'll stop everyone from staring at you. Oh, I've got your Eevee friend here too. See you soon!"

I wished people would stop calling her that, she's not my friend. She's annoying, noisy and she just won't shut up.

I could hear lots of muffled noises inside the Pokéball, but they didn't mean anything to me. I heard rumbles, voices, a few clunks, but nothing significant for a while, until I was released.

I was expecting wide, open spaces, tall trees, grass, maybe a river. But I didn't get any of that. I got a huge hall lined around the edges with Pokémon in cages, all like my own.

The man who I thought was going to be my trainer was standing outside the cage, hands on hips. Hadn't he said we were going to his home? He couldn't live here.

"Articuno, this is where we find you a new trainer," he said kindly, "People will come up to your cage and look at you. If they like what they see, they'll buy you to train you. If you want to show off, feel free to shoot a few ice beams, but up, not out. Good luck, buddy!"

Great. Just great. The one human I'd come across who I might have liked, and he sticks me in a cage so people can buy me, whatever that means.

"What's buy mean?" Oh, even better. My 'Eevee friend' had come to share the journey. Fantastic.

"I have no idea," I replied curtly. Why did she have to be here?

I called over to the Pokémon in the cage to my right. It was a long, white snakey thing with two bobbles on its tail. "Oi! Why are we here?" I yelled.

The Pokémon lifted its head to reveal another blue bobble under its chin. It spoke with a smooth, soft voice, "Humans are going to come here and make a lot of noise, then pay money and take us home to train. We're here because we're rare and powerful. Humans seem to have a fascination with uniqueness. Drackon knows why, but they do," it sighed, lowering its head to its body once more. "May as well get some rest while you still can, Articuno."

"So, what are you?" I asked.

"I'm a Dragonair, an old Dragonair. Now if you don't mind, I'd like to sleep now."

"Fair enough." I sauntered to the back of the cage and nestled down for my own sleep.

"What's a Dragonair? Is that big white thing a Dragonair, 'cos I think she's really pretty and long and I bet she's strong. What's rare mean? Am I rare? I can't be rare 'cos I-"

"Siddown, shuddup and go to sleep," I mumbled into my feathers. Would that thing ever learn?

"Quick, quick! Wake up! There are lots of people here and I don't know what they're here for. Can I hide with you? Why are there so many people here?" no prizes for guessing who that was.

"For the last time, shut- woah!" The hall was a mass of talking people, all pointing and chatting to each other. There were ten people outside my cage, all pointing and staring. Oohs and ahs arose from the crowd when I stood up and stretched my wings. At least the cage was big enough for that. The tiny Eevee was bounding annoyingly around my feet.

I felt like relieving some of my stress, using the conventional method of the ice beam. I raised my head and shot a long ice beam at the ceiling, raising more oohs and ahs from the crowd. This must be what the guy meant by showing off. Well, if that was what he wanted me to do, I wouldn't do it. He betrayed me. I thought he was going to train me, train me well, but no, he sticks me in a cage so people can buy me.

I sat down and stared at the crowd with my piercing, red eyes. I looked around the room to find that most of the Pokémon were doing nothing or sleeping, only a few were showing off. I saw a burst of flame over the other side of the room and flying leaves a few cages down from me, but that was it.

Over to the other end of the room was a large flat platform, with empty chairs facing it. The chairs filled a little less than half the room. I guessed that was where they would do the buying. Hundreds of people walked past my cage, staring critically at me through the steel bars, running their eyes over a wooden board on a stand in front of my cage. I noticed too that all the other cages had these mysterious boards. Must be what Mum called 'writing'.

A thought suddenly struck me. If the Dragonair said that people were looking for rarity and power, I'd just have to do something about it. I couldn't change my rarity, but I could pretend I was the weakest bird on the planet. I opened my wings, raised my head to the ceiling and spat out the most pitiful aurora beam I had ever done. I dropped my head and looked proudly at the three people watching me. They all had disgusted looks on their faces and moved on. Yes, this was the way to do it!

Everyone who came past witnessed my pathetic aurora beam, and everyone walked on looking appalled. It was working. But what about the people who had seen my earlier performance? Oh well, I'd just have to hope they were planning on buying someone else, like the thing sprouting leaves, or burning fire.

Suddenly, a booming voice thundered through the air. I could see a man standing on the platform holding a funny black stick. "Ladies and gentlemen, we are about to start the bidding, so if you would like to take a seat, it would be greatly appreciated. Thank you."

At once everyone moved to the seats before the platform. There weren't enough seats for everyone and a fair few people were standing up the back. The man who spoke before was standing to the right of the stage behind a tall wooden box.

"Thank you ladies and gentlemen. First up today we have a very powerful Arcanine." Two men walked a giant orange dog up onto the stage. "This particular Arcanine was trained on the police squad in tracking down criminals. Note the beautiful shine of the creature's coat. This shows that it is a very healthy Arcanine."

Murmurs arose from the crowd. "I'll start the bidding at one thousand Pokéyen. Do I hear one thousand? Thousand over there. Any advances on one thousand? I've got one thousand two hundred. Anyone willing to bid more for this magnificent creature? One thousand four hundred up the back. I've got one thousand four, no six hundred.

"One thousand six hundred going once, one thousand six hundred twice, anyone willing to go any higher for this beautiful Arcanine, trained for you by the police squad, yes, I've got one thousand eight hundred, two thousand. Two thousand going once, two thousand going twice, sold, for two thousand Pokéyen to the man in the middle with the red shirt, congratulations sir."

There goes the Arcanine. Good luck to her. I watched all the Pokémon before me be bought, including a Machamp for three thousand two hundred, a Farfetch'd for one thousand, and at least ten other Pokémon that I couldn't remember the names of. I noticed that none of them were making any attempt to escape. Well, I was going to, no matter what they did to me.

When the Dragonair beside me went for half a million, I knew I was up next. The two men walked up to my cage and opened the door. Splotch bounded out and danced happily around the men's feet. One of them picked her up and rubbed her back. She looked happy. The other man came over to me and put his hand on my back. I felt a tiny pin-prick where his hand lay, but thought nothing of it. As soon as he led me out, I spread my wings and swooped for the door.

I heard cries from the crowd, who were all watching me, terrified. I had just made it to the door when my vision blurred. I couldn't see anything but smudges of colour, fading to black at the edges of my sight. I suddenly began to feel drowsy. No, no, I wouldn't fall asleep. I shook my head and forced my eyes to stay open. I could just make out the door, but before I had taken a step, the men had come and each of them grabbed a wing and led me to the platform. There was nothing I could do. I was trapped again.

I could hear the man calling out words about me, but they were muffled words. "Here we have the God of Ice and Snow, the majestic Articuno. He may not be powerful or obedient yet, but with the right training, this beautiful ice bird will be a necessity to your team. Not only do you get the Articuno, but this adorable young Eevee comes with it. This particular Eevee is even rarer than most, as it had a darker splotch on it's forehead and a missing ear, but evolve it and you'll have one powerful Eeveelution."

I struggled throughout to stay awake. I could hear that people weren't paying nearly as much for me as they were for the Dragonair. I decided to make them suffer a bit. I stood up, opened my wings and, despite my tiredness, I fired a pretty powerful ice beam to the ceiling. I lowered my head and swayed a bit. At once, the crowd was shouting out numbers, higher and higher.

The Pokéyen skyrocketed. I kept my wings open and flapped a gentle blizzard over the crowd. My final number was nine hundred and eighty seven thousand Pokéyen. It sounded like a lot. I figured that, since I was going anyway, I'd make them sacrifice more for me, so that maybe, just maybe, they'd treat me nicely.

I wished I could see, just so I could know who had ended up getting me, but my vision had blacked out completely, and I could feel myself reduced for the who knows what time to the red and white prison.

Twelve