Jewel of the Air

Thirteen
Changes

I could feel grass under my feet. I could feel the breeze on my face. I breathed in deeply and smelled the flowers. I smiled and opened my eyes. I was outside. I had finally gotten the right trainer. I was almost knocked over by a ball of brown fluff at my feet. Oh yeah, the one-eared Eevee.

"Here you are," I turned to see my new trainer. He was I guessed around fourteen or fifteen years old, with mousy brown hair and bright green eyes. His face was taken up by a beaming smile. "Articuno, welcome to your new home! Well, kinda, it's just temporary. See, my dad's really rich, and he said he'd buy me a really powerful Pokémon at the auction, and he got you and the Eevee! Isn't that great! So we'll be together for my whole journey! I just know we'll be the best friends!" The boy ran to me and hugged me. I wasn't used to this, what was I meant to do?

"I'm Thomas," the boy said, releasing his hold on me, "I don't know your name, so I'll make one up. How about Snowy?" I shook my head, "Okay, Snowflake?" Another shake. The boy frowned, as though in deep thought. "Glacier?" he asked innocently. I reeled back at the sound of my dad's name. He didn't come to save me, I never wanted to see him again.

"My name's Sapphire," I offered, even though I knew he wouldn't understand.

He frowned again. "Are you trying to tell me something?" he asked.

I nodded and said very slowly, "Sa-fiy-yer." Thomas concentrated very hard as I repeated my name over and over again, but eventually he gave up and shook his head.

"Sorry, boy, I can't understand you." Then his face lit up, "Hey, are you one of the Articuno from TV a few years back?" I shrugged. I had no idea what TV was, and besides, I wasn't born yet. "Oh, what were their names? Wait here, I'll be right back." Thomas ran into the house, who knows why.

"Who's that guy? Is he going to get me back to my mummy? I think he's really nice. Can we stay with him? 'Cos I think that he's going to give us food and maybe bring me home. I miss my mummy a lot. Maybe I can ask him to bring me home." Splotch paused for breath. "Who's that guy?"

I sighed and tried to be patient with the young Eevee. It wasn't easy. "That's the guy who bought us. He's going to train us to battle now, hopefully with good training methods."

"Oh, goody, goody, goody!" yipped Splotch, bounding around me.

The boy ran out of the house and plonked down beside me. He had an excited grin on his face. "Are you sure your name's not Glacier?" I shuddered and shook my head. "Are you Snowfall?" I shook my head again.

Thomas clasped his hands to his chest and pleaded with me. "Pleeeeease tell me your name is Sapphire?" he begged. I smiled and nodded. Thomas jumped up in the air and spun around. "Yes! Dad!" he called back to the house, "It's Sapphire, the egg from TV!" and he continued dancing around me, then sat back on the grass panting. "Wow," he gasped, gazing up at me. I did my best to look proud. Maybe there were humans who believed we were gods.

Thomas brushed his fringe from his eyes and called the young Eevee to him. "Now, what's your name?" he asked. Splotch reeled off about a dozen sentences.

"Splotch, he just wants your name, not your life history," I said to the Eevee, exasperated.

"Um, kay," said Thomas, "I didn't get a word of that. Let's see, what would be a good name for you? Spot?" Splotch shook her head vigorously, "Fluffy? Puff? Smudge? Splotch?" at the last name, Splotch leapt up and bounded around the boy, yipping all the time. Thomas laughed.

"Splotch it is then!" He laughed again and rolled over in the grass with his new Eevee. I felt a bit left out, but I guess I'd rather not have him ruffling up my feathers too much. While the pair played, I preened myself instead. Finally they finished and Thomas rolled over on his back, the Eevee on his chest, a big smile on his face.

"Come on, Sapphire, come down into the grass with us," he said, patting the grass beside him.

I shook my head. How would I ask him when we'd start to train? I wanted to know whether or not I'd gotten a good trainer. I cooed at him, to get his attention, and shot an ice beam to the sky, hoping he'd get the message. He propped himself up on his elbows and frowned at me in thought.

"Do you want to battle?" he asked.

I cooed and shook my head, then shot another ice beam to the sky. "Train?" I asked.

"Maybe you want to train," he wondered. I nodded. Thomas smiled. "Cool! But Dad said I had to get to know you, get your trust before we started training. He said that when you trust me, we could go battle gym leaders! I'm gonna be the best, and get my own gym, then I might even be one of the Elite Four!"

I didn't know what gym leaders, gyms or the Elite Four were, but they must be quite high titles.

"I've already got six Indigo badges, I just need the last three, then we can go to the Orange Archipelago. I've gotta get the Volcano Badge, the Marsh Badge and the Snowflake Badge. No-one's ever gotten that one, and I wanna be the first, but I've gotta be really good to go there. We'll do the Marsh Badge first, that's closest." Thomas talked just as much as Splotch, only he wasn't as annoying. I think it was because of his voice; it was far, far deeper than the high pitched squeal of the Eevee.

"Okay guys, back in your Pokéballs. I'll try and convince Dad to let me start training you tomorrow, then maybe we can leave for Saffron." He drew the Pokéballs from his waist belt and beamed us in. I was getting used to that.

Next day we were let free from the balls.

"Dad says I can start training you now only if I keep my room tidy," Thomas said, slightly unhappy, but his face suddenly lit up. "Now I can see what you can really do!"

"Me too," I mumbled. I was anxious to see his training methods.

He re-balled us, then released us in a forest.

"This is where we can start training. Wait until a Pokémon appears, then do the attack I tell you to do. Okay?" he said.

"Sure thing," I nodded. I wondered what kinds of Pokémon were in the forest. It wasn't long before a yellow thing with a ziggy tail and long ears came bounding out of the trees.

"Okay, uh, Sapphire, ice beam!" yelled Thomas, though I could hear him perfectly.

This yellow thing was so small that I couldn't be bothered wasting an ice beam on it. Instead I used a glowing aurora beam. The two attacks look quite different, an ice beam glows bright blue and an aurora beam has lots of different colours. As I expected, the yellow thing was blown over by this relatively weak attack.

I turned to Thomas, my chest puffed out proudly, but he was not exactly happy. "No, Sapphire, an ice beam, not an aurora beam, let's try it again."

The next Pokémon to arrive was a purple rat thing. That time I used an ice beam, blowing it into the forest out of sight. "Sapphire, I want to catch these Pokémon, not blow them into oblivion."

Hoi, this guy was picky. Eventually, I did the right kind of ice beam, on that didn't knock the Pokémon out, but didn't leave it in good shape either. Thomas threw a Pokéball at the fuzzy brown thing with a long skinny tail and tensed up. The Pokémon was reduced to nothing and the Pokéball started wobbling. Once it had stopped, Thomas let out a yell of joy and danced around crying, "I got a Raticate, I got a Raticate!" over and over again until I whacked him with a wing.

He grinned at me and withdrew me into the Pokéball. I guessed it was Splotch's turn now. I wondered when I would next come out. This guy didn't seem too bad, just a little loud and picky, but far better than that torturer, or the phoney. Thomas was looking like he was going to keep me, and keep me well.

It felt like I was in that ball forever. When I was finally released, I saw a green haired girl and a strange blue Pokémon with a green bulb on its back.

"Sapphire!" yelled Thomas, "Ice beam!" I sensed that this time he wanted me to knock the Pokémon out, so I did. The green haired girl was too stunned even to call out an attack, let alone hit me. I liked the impression I had on people, they just couldn't resist me.

"Great job, Sapphire!" Thomas said, and withdrew me again. I was a little disappointed. I wanted to bask in my own glory for a while. Oh well, maybe next time.

The 'next time' was very much the same. I was let out to do battle with a pathetic Pokémon, again that I had never seen before, and knocked it out before the trainer realised what they were seeing. But again I was withdrawn to the confines before I could show off.

After the fifth time this happened, I was getting a little ticked off. Was that the only thing Thomas was going to do with me? Send me out every once in a while to knock off some innocent Pokémon? I was getting very sick of that. I wanted a little more freedom that what he was giving me. After my tenth uneventful battle, I had had enough. I made a promise to myself that the next time he would set me out of the ball, I would escape. Easy as.

I felt like I had been in that ball for weeks before he finally released me again. As planned, I had my wings spread before I even reformed. But there was something very wrong. I was on a large platform, suspended over a glowing, red hot, gooey substance. Above me was a roof of rock. The room I was in was lit only by the hissing red stuff below my feet. I couldn't escape in here, no way. I'd have to wait until the next battle. Why was I in here anyway?

Only then did I notice my opponent. It was an orange glowing thing with a weird mouth and a flame on its tail. It's arms looked uncomfortably strong.

"Very nice," hissed the thing's trainer, "You must be an experienced trainer to have such a magnificent Pokémon with you."

"I am," said Thomas, "Let's battle. Sapphire!" he yelled, "Blizzard!"

He hadn't called on me to do that attack before. Maybe this guy was actually a challenge. I took off and hovered over my opponent, then fanned out a lovely cool blizzard. The flakes of snow pelted towards the thing and it shielded its weird face with an arm, but it was still looking like it stung. Strangely enough, it didn't faint.

"Magmar!" yelled the bald guy, "Fire blast!"

I knew that attack. Not from my own experience, but from Mum's. She said that was the attack that burnt her tail off. Well, no strange looking thing was taking my tail from me. I curled it around my body and dive-bombed the Magmar, just as it was getting ready to shoot. I hit it with a fair amount of forge, but not enough to knock it out. I wheeled around just as the flames streaked over my head.

Then I began to glow. I ignored Thomas' yell to do another blizzard and hurled myself through the air at the Magmar, sending it flying into the gooey stuff. It floated to the top and rolled over, its eyes closed. The bald guy returned the Magmar to its own ball and smiled evilly.

"You'll need to train that bird better if you're going to beat all the gym leaders," he sneered, "If you loose control of it, it'll eventually turn on you."

Thomas growled through his teeth. "He does obey me, he just, uh..." he trailed off.

"There are still two more to beat. Do you think it'll obey you for that long?"

Thomas growled again. "Just get on with it," he said through clenched teeth.

"If you insist, but I've warned you about that thing." He produced another Pokéball and tossed it into the arena. This one revealed an elegant looking creamy dog-like Pokémon with more tails than I could count.

"Ninetales! Fire spin!" bellowed the trainer.

"Fly up and dive-bomb it, Sapphire!" cried Thomas.

I spread my wings and flapped up to the ceiling, but not to dive-bomb. I circled around the rim faster and faster, avoiding the fire spin that was spinning around behind me. I curled my tail around me again, even though it made for slightly less comfortable flying. But the fire was gaining on me. I could feel its heat on my toes.

I quickly dove down, trying to shake it off. It worked too. My feet felt cooler and I couldn't see the glow of orange on my wings from it any more. I turned my attention back to the Pokémon known as Ninetales. I shot a sprayed ice beam at it, then dove down at it, spreading a little mist as I went. I think the Ninetales was thoroughly confused. It was whipping its head around, trying to say what was going on, but it didn't see me coming. I hit the Ninetales with great force, knocking it off its feet. I stood over it and blew one last ice beam in its face.

Only then did I notice Thomas' urgent yelling. "Sapphire! Stop it! I said just dive bomb, not all that other stuff! Stop!" I stopped, but only because the Ninetales had been recalled.

"Learn to control that thing, boy!" screamed Baldy, "It almost killed my Ninetales!"

"You should have thought of that earlier," I muttered to him, "before you tried to challenge me." Despite my success, I was recalled to the ball. I didn't know why, I'd beaten both his Pokémon without a scratch. Oh well, time for a little rest, I s'pose.

But I was let out again soon after, in the same place, facing a worn out looking Rhydon. I'd seen these in the mountains a few times. Despite their size, they were easy to defeat.

"Sapphire! Ice beam! And please listen to me this time!" begged Thomas.

I shrugged and turned away from the Rhydon. Thomas buried his face in his hands. I bent over and flicked my tail up, then shot a sprayed ice beam at the Rhydon between my legs. I liked to show off. I raised my head and smiled wickedly at Thomas, a glint in my eye. I felt the whole platform shake as the massive Rhydon drop to its knees, like a small earthquake.

Thomas looked up at the sound and a smile broke out over his face as he saw the fallen giant. I lifted and fanned my tail, just to show off some more.

"Congratulations," said the bald man, with more than a hint of malice in his voice, "But with such an appallingly trained Pokémon, you really didn't deserve to win."

"But I did anyway," said Thomas, with more than a hint of cockiness in his voice, "So, where's my badge?"

Baldy recalled his Rhydon and sighed, then walked over the platform to Thomas, reaching into his pocket as he did so. "Here you go, boy, the Volcano Badge. You don't deserve it, but you beat me." Thomas was beaming as a tiny orange piece of metal was placed in his hand. "Your Espeon's been trained well though. What happened to its ear?"

Thomas shrugged, "Beats me, she was like that when I got her, and I expected that when she evolved it'd grow back, doesn't look like it ever will though. Thank you!" And with that he withdrew me and I assumed walked from the arena.

I wished I could ask him what an Espeon was. The description was exactly like Splotch, only she was an Eevee, wasn't she?

Fourteen