Snowdrift

Twelve
The Search for the Perfect Trainer

With Shelly on my back, we flew to the roof of the big dome building that Shelly called a 'Stadium'. She told me that trainers take their Pokémon there to battle against other trainer's Pokémon to win money and badges. I didn't see the point. Shelly said that a lot of the Pokémon they battled have nice trainers who congratulate them, even if they lost, and even gave them treats, just for trying. I wanted to find a trainer like that. One with Pokémon that were familiar to me would be good too.

I landed on the roof and let Shelly off, then lay down and stared at the people below. There was a battle there between a Gyarados and a Pikachu. It seemed obvious to me who would win, I mean, look at the size of the thing! But that little Pikachu packed a punch. Its trainer yelled out an order to it and a great lightning bolt shot from its tiny body and knocked the Gyarados down to the floor.

It flailed around, trying to get up, but it couldn't. The Gyarados' trainer looked to be in great anguish. She shouted an order to it, but all the poor thing could manage was a slight trickle of water, then it lay on its side and went still. A man standing to the side I hadn't noticed before stuck his arm out to the Pikachu and its trainer.

The winning pair jumped up and punched the air with their fists, the Pikachu sending up a spark of victory. The trainer of the Gyarados stuck a ball towards her injured Pokémon and withdrew it from the area, shoving it onto her waist and stomping off. I didn't want her.

The trainer of the Pikachu withdrew his own Pokémon, but not with a ball. He crouched down and stretched his arms to it. The Pikachu bounded up to him and leaped into his arms, a big smile on its face. I liked him, but I figured we ought to wait a while longer; there were heaps of trainers there, we'd wait for the perfect one.

We sat up there all day, except when I popped off to get some fish for dinner on the rooftop.

"Did I miss anything?" I asked when I returned with a Magikarp.

"There was a guy who gave his Pokémon a treat when they were done, but the two that lost their battle got a very rough talking to. Other than that, nup."

"Do you think we'll ever find a good human?"

"I've had a thought. How about we choose someone who looks like they'd know a little about what an Articuno egg would look like."

"Sure, but how do we do that?" I answered, ripping off a piece of fish.

"Find someone who's got an ice Pokémon from the mountains." She turned her head back to the battle below. "Couldn't be too hard."

I gazed back down at the action below. A Venusaur was lying sprawled out on the ground to the mercy of a Pokémon Shelly told me was an Arcanine. Looked like a nice Pokémon too, but it was the human I was interested in. The winner was looking smug, the looser was looking distressed.

"I reckon it'll be harder than you think, Shelly," I said through a mouthful of Magikarp.

"Mmm, they'll be finishing up for the night soon. Wanna go?"

"I'll just finish this. Want some? Not great but better than nothing." I offered her a bit of Magikarp.

"Sure, why not? Hey, look at the gal up next. No Pokéballs, and they're all ice. I like her." She propped her chin up on her hands and stared at her.

I looked to the end where she was getting prepared. There was a determined looking girl with rosy cheeks and blue eyes and hair, tied into two tails similar to Shelly's. She wore a sparkling blue stone, much like a tiny Articuno egg, on a gold chain around her neck. She was fingering it nervously.

I knew each Pokémon there. She had a Seel, not quite ice, but give it a little more time and it'll get there, a Cloyster, a Sneasel, a Lapras and a Jynx. The Jynx must be what Shelly was looking at. I wondered vaguely if there was such thing as a male Jynx.

The trainer was standing before them, not yelling at them, but talking to them. It looked like she was encouraging them from the look on her face. I told Shelly that.

"How can you tell?" she asked me, "they're too far away."

"Cuno eyes." I replied. Shelly nodded and turned her eyes back to the human.

Each Pokémon got a treat, a bigger one for the Lapras, and a hug, then they lined up next to their trainer to start the battle. She gave another treat and words of encouragement to the Cloyster, who I assumed was first up.

I only just looked at the other trainer for the first time. She was looking aggressive. With great force he threw a ball to the field and out sprawled a Pokémon much like an Arcanine only cuter and smaller.

"Growlithe," Shelly told me, her eyes on the Pokémon.

The man dropped his arms to signal the beginning of the battle. This was where the trainer would show her stuff, show whether she was really worth it.

Rather than yelling out at her Pokémon, she calmly told it what attack would work best. At once a gush of water burst from the opening in the Cloyster's shell and knocked the little Growlithe on his back. He stood up and barked at the Cloyster, who looked unfazed.

The Growlithe's trainer yelled an order at it and a rush of flame shot from its little mouth. But the Cloyster closed it's rock solid shell and escaped from the attack completely unscaved. Another blast of water and the Growlithe was out.

No longer fingering the stone, the other trainer called back her Cloyster and, despite it's nobbly bits all over, gave it a big hug. That showed she cared. She gave it another treat and one to the Lapras, along with more words of encouragement, then sent the Lapras out to battle. Next up on the other side was a Bulbasaur. This was going to be an easy one.

But the Bulbasaur's trainer was faster than the Lapras', and a bunch of little leaves raced from the bulb on its back to the Lapras. It tried to dodge, but got hit square in the chest, cutting into its flesh. Bulby trainer was looking smug, arms folded.

The ice trainer called out to her Pokémon, who nodded its head, so I assumed she asked if it was okay. I like that in a human. She didn't look worried. She called out another recommended attack and the Lapras opened its mouth. A powerful looking ice beam hit the Bulbasaur head on, knocking it out in one hit. I dropped my jaw.

"That ice beam looked even stronger than mine!" I cried.

Shelly nodded. "You gotta admit, she's trained 'em well."

"Mmm."

The Lapras waddled over to its trainer, who hugged it, being careful of its bloodied chest, and gave it a treat. Bulby trainer had sent out an Arbok, next up on the ice team was the Jynx.

"Go Jynx!" whispered Shelly. I smiled as I saw her concentration.

Ice Trainer called another attack and the air started to wobble around the Arbok. I had felt the effects of a psychic attack, and knew the Arbok didn't stand a chance. It reeled around in pain, flailing it's tail all over the place, eventually hitting itself in the head with it. It hit with quite a force too. So hard that I think it knocked itself out.

"That's one powerful Jynx she's got there!" said Shelly in awe.

"I'll say. One hit without a scratch!"

The Jynx did a few backflips back to its owner for a treat and a hug, then it was the Seel's turn. She waddled out there to face an Onix. Ice Trainer began fingering the stone at her neck again. The other trainer was again looking smug. From the sheer size of the Onix, she felt sure she would win. But that battle I saw first up between the Pikachu and the Gyarados really opened my eyes.

Sure enough, a multi-coloured aurora beam from the little Seel had the Onix struggling. The Onix trainer was not looking smug anymore. She was looking very angry with her Onix. An order yelled from her saw the Onix wrap its monstrous tail around the Seel and squeeze it for all it was worth.

The Seel's trainer was really looking worried now. The Seel wriggled from the Onix's grasp, but it fell a long way before it hit the ground. The impact knocked the Seel out.

Sure it was unable to walk back to her, the ice trainer walked to the Seel and picked it up, stroking it and patting it's head. Instead of putting it down when she exited the area, she cuddled it for the rest of the battle. The other Pokémon came over to nuzzle it too.

The Pokémon up next to face the wrath of the Onix was the Sneasel, its feathery pink tail quivering with anger at what the Onix had done to its friend. It stood in a battle pose and glared, eyes narrowed, at the Onix.

The trainer turned her attention back to the battle and called out an attack to the Sneasel. It wrapped its arms close to its body, clenched its eyes shut and bent over. Then sprang to life with a cry, shooting ice and snow from the jewels on its head and chest. The blizzard wasn't as good as mine could be, but it wreaked havoc on the Onix, knocking it to the floor with a bang that shook the stadium.

The final Pokémon to come out was a Wartortle. I'd had experience with these Pokémon before and I knew they were tough. I wondered how the Sneasel would face up to it.

Each trainer called out an attack and the Sneasel gave a cheeky grin, but didn't attack. The Wartortle's bubble beam attack knocked the Sneasel to the floor, but the trainer wasn't looking worried at all. Puzzled, the Wartortle came over to investigate. When it bent its head down for a closer look at the damage, the Sneasel lashed its long claws on both hands and feet out at the Wartortle, making it scream out in pain.

The ice trainer called out one more attack and an ice beam shot from its forehead at the Wartortle, knocking it onto its back. It twitched a bit then fell still.

All the icy Pokémon shot a triumphant ice beam at the ceiling, even the little Seel who had just recovered from its own battle. Their trainer gave them each a big hug and a treat, then walked out of the arena with a big grin, the Seel in her arms and her Pokémon following right behind.

She had Icy Pokémon, she trained them well, she comforted them when they lost, she encouraged them, there were no Pokéballs, she cared about them, she didn't order them to attack. I liked her.

"Her," Shelly and I chorused together, then giggled. We watched her walk up to a desk and collect something, then head for a door. Shelly hopped on my back and we glided down to the main entrance of the stadium. I couldn't wait to see the look on her face when she saw the god of ice standing there for her!

Thirteen