Snowdrift

Fifteen
The Training Ground

"Just one thing," I remembered just before breakfast, "I promised Glacier I would visit every day, so you don't mind if I pop over there after breakfast would you?"

"Oh, no, go right ahead. I'd very much like to meet him myself," Sapphire answered.

So we had breakfast and flew back to the Pokécentre, my imaginary tail fluttering out behind me. I landed and walked in. The nurses and Chansey were getting used to me now and greeted me with a smile. I knew where Glacier's room was now and strutted there with Sapphire by my side.

I opened the door and saw Glacier there on the bed, as he was yesterday, staring out the window at the trees and flowers outside.

"Glacier?" he turned over and smiled, sitting up, "I'd like you to meet Sapphire, Sapphire, this is Glacier."

"Honour to meet you Glacier. Um, I would shake your hand, but..."

Glacier laughed, "We just shake feet," he said and reached his foot out to her. She took it in her hand and shook firmly. "So, what in particular made you pick her, Snowfall," he said to me, no scorn in his voice.

"Well, Shelly and I were watching Pokémon battles from the stadium roof and when Sapphire came up, what surprised me was that all her Pokémon were out of their Pokéballs. She didn't yell at them like all the other trainers did, she congratulated them whether they won or lost, most of them won, so she must be a good trainer. What else? Oh, all her Pokémon are ice types."

Sapphire was blushing.

"That's quite a lot," said Glacier, approvingly, "Have you got a plan yet?" he inquired.

"We kind of do," answered Sapphire, "I searched up rare eggs on the Internet - don't ask - and I found a section for mystery eggs; your egg was one of them. I'm sorry, but I don't have anywhere near enough money to pay for it, so we plan to go and steal it back from them in their warehouse."

Glacier nodded his agreement. "So when are you leaving?"

"We're waiting until you're well enough to fly again," I answered, "and don't try to argue, I told you that yesterday."

"What do you plan to do until then?" he protested.

"Sapphire's going to use some of her delicate training methods on us, to make us stronger. You should have seen her Lapras' ice beam! It even looked better than yours!"

He shook his head in disbelief. Glacier was known for his ice beam. "Okay, go for it, and don't forget to tell me of your progress."

"Thanks Glacier," I said and gave him a big hug, then left the room with Sapphire.

On the way back, Sapphire told me the basic outline of what we would do each day. Start off with breakfast, then go to the Pokécentre to see Glacier, two hours of training, lunch, a rest, a battle at the gym, dinner and bed. Sounded pretty good

We arrived back at the house to see all the Pokémon playing in Sapphire's pool. It was pretty big, to be able to fit all those Pokémon, including Rock and Blue. I preferred not to.

"K guys, we're back, time for training!" Sapphire called and clapped her hands. The Pokémon clambered out of the pool and stood in a line before Sapphire. "You can start with target practice, I'll see how strong these girls really are."

The Pokémon waddled and ran through the gate behind the pool and into a rather large area, about twenty by twenty meters, to a small tree. They lined up and started shooting ice beams and water guns at a tree on the opposite side of the grass.

"Okay guys," said Sapphire as she too walked through the gate, waiting for us to follow, "Stand here and shoot an ice beam as high and for as long as you can. I'll time each of you."

Shelly raised her arms to the sky and opened them out into a fan shape, ready to start her ice beam. I raised my head and opened my beak. When Sapphire gave the cue, out two glowing blue beams hurtled to the sky. I put as much effort into it as I could.

My ice beam was just a little bit higher than Shelly's, but I had to stop before her. I had only ever used an ice beam for short bursts, for freezing fish or defending against Rattata, never for longer than a few seconds. When Shelly finally stopped, Sapphire gave us our times.

"Wow, impressive! Shelly, I'd say yours was about ten meters high and you went for thirty-three seconds." She turned to me, looking at her timer, "Snowfall, yours was about fifteen meters high and twenty-one seconds long. Great job girls. I'll just check on the others, then come back and check your power."

We sat down, puffing for air. It takes a lot of effort to shoot an ice beam for that long and that high.

"I like her," said Shelly, puffing as hard as I was, "if it were Jack, *puff* he'd have yelled at me *puff* for not doing better."

I nodded. "I'm sure we will get better!"

We saw Sapphire walking back through the grass, stopwatch in hand.

"All righty then. Come with me to those rocks there and we'll see how powerful those ice beams really are!"

There was a pile of huge rocks in the corner of the grassy square. Sapphire explained that we were to try and burst a rock with the ice beam.

Shelly and I stared at the rocks, then exchanged glances. "You can't be serious," said Shelly, turning back to Sapphire.

"You'd be surprised as to how good you really are," she said with a smile.

Shelly rubbed her hands, then faced them in the same palms out position as before. Face in a frown, a small glowing white ball formed in her hands and a powerful ice beam shot forwards to the rock closest to us. It didn't burst, but when she stopped the ice beam, we could see a kind of tube running into the rock.

Shelly walked forwards. "Wow! Did I do that?" she said, surprise filling her face.

Sapphire laughed, "You bet! Pretty soon you'll be able to burst it with little effort at all."

I pointed my beak to another rock. "Watch out everyone, my turn!" I opened my beak and formed the same glowing white ball, from which another ice beam shot forth. The rock split in two. It wasn't as dramatic as I had thought it would be; the rock just fell apart rather than bursting halfway across the green like I had expected.

"Way to go Snowfall!" cried Shelly, walking over to pat my back.

"Cool, I did it!" I cried.

"Well done Snowfall!" said Sapphire, "you've got some great power in that beak of yours! Ooo, I've just had an idea. Shelly, try breaking the rock with an ice punch instead."

"Okay, stand back everyone!" She walked over to the rock and drew back her left fist. Glowing the same bluish white of an ice beam, she brought it forwards with such force that a small portion of the rock did shatter. Shelly hopped around, eyes clenched and holding her fist tight with her other hand. "Ow, ow, ow!" she was yelling.

"Are you okay Shelly?" Sapphire and I chorused.

"Ow! No, I'm not! I've never punched rock before! God, that hurt!"

"Hold still and give me your hand," Sapphire said.

Still crying in agony, Shelly held out her throbbing fist to the girl. Sapphire drew a small pink bottle from her pocket and unscrewed the lid, revealing a sweet smell. She poured a few drops of the liquid inside on Shelly's hand and started rubbing it in. Shelly stopped yelling and looked down at her hand.

"Hey, it's stopped hurting. Thanks Sapphire," she said, smiling up at her new trainer.

"You're welcome. When I'm done with you, it won't hurt at all, not even if you punch a Rhydon."

"Really? You're serious? I'll be able to punch out a Rhydon?" she stared up at Sapphire, eyes wide. Sapphire just laughed and motioned to the rock and the small chips of it that lay on the ground.

"Cool! I did it!"

"Onya Shelly!" I said, patting her back the same way she did mine.

"Great job, Shelly! Next up, the blizzard," said Sapphire, walking to the opposite corner where a clump of dead tree stumps stood. "Work together and blanket them as fast as you can."

"Okay, Shelly, you can go over that side, I'll go over there and we'll freeze those stumps on that side."

"Right," she replied and waddled over to the side I had indicated. She opened her arms out and I opened out my wings. When Sapphire called out go, snow soon covered the area, generated by Shelly's arms and my wings.

"Good work girls. Eleven seconds and it looks like the mountains. You can barely tell where the stumps were! One last thing for today, your speed and dodging abilities." We walked to the middle of the area and Sapphire called the other Pokémon over from their target practice. She told them to stand in a circle with a five or so meter radius around us.

"Now," she said when she had everyone's attention, "these guys are going to shoot very mild aurora beams at you, and you have to try and dodge them. It's the weakest ice attack, and since it's your type, you'll have nothing to fear. It won't hurt a bit if you don't manage to dodge them. Okay, GO!"

At once pale streaks of ice shot from mouths, hands, horns and shells straight at us. I ducked my head and spread my wings and took off, away from the 'wrath' of the aurora beam.

"Don't go too high, Snowfall!" called Sapphire. I lowered down a little, circling in the sky, avoiding as many beams as I could. All the while I could see Shelly jumping and rolling below, pony tail swinging, eyes concentrating on where the next beam would come from. I think that by the time Sapphire called us in for lunch, I had been hit seven or eight times. We all collapsed to the ground after the invigorating session, panting and puffing for air.

Sapphire came over to talk with us. "Great job you two. You both got hit seven times. Good for a first try. You can have lunch now, then relax for a few hours, and head off to the stadium for your first trainer battle."

sixteen