Snowdrift

Twenty-two
Stolen Property

We awoke early in the morning and glided out the window, high above the city. I was inclined to stay up there, away from the gasps and pointing fingers. I was getting a little more than tired of slack-jawed city people. But in order for Sapphire to see where exactly we were, we had to drift down to the roads so she could look at little signs with squiggles and co-ordinate it with her map.

We wheeled around corners, a few meters above the stinking traffic, slowing when Sapphire needed to look at more signs. I just had to know what they were.

"What are all those squiggles? I see them everywhere and they seem to have great significance, but I can't work out what," I told Sapphire.

"Oh, that's called writing. It's, um, the words you say put on paper."

"Wow!" exclaimed Shelly, ponytail streaming out behind her as we screamed around another sharp corner. "And you can understand all that?"

"Uh huh." She squinted again at the map. "Take a left here, then slow down. It'll be along that road somewhere."

We banked around the corner and took a bit of backwind to slow down as Sapphire peered at the numbers on the buildings. We came up to one with the same egg pattern as the website had over the door. I stuck my legs out in front of me and came in for a landing outside the building. Ignoring the people, we strolled inside.

The lobby was similar to the hotel, only not as crowded and not as classy. We walked up to the desk and Sapphire waved her hand in front of the lady behind it, who seemed a lot more interested in us than Sapphire.

"Uh, excuse me?" she said to the woman. Finally she looked to Sapphire.

"How may I help you?" she asked, her eyes still shifting to the pair of Articuno before her.

"I've just come to look at your mystery eggs. Item," she looked at the piece of paper with the address on it, "73 in particular, if you don't mind."

"No problem, Ma'am." She tapped away at a computer and read what was on the screen. Shaking her head, she said, "I'm very sorry, but that item has already been sold."

"Could you tell me where I could find it?" Sapphire was almost begging.

The lady shook her head again. "I'm sorry, that information is classified."

Sapphire's eyes darkened. Her voice was soft and deadly. "Listen to me. I am Sapphire Iyse, you may have seen me on the news over the past few weeks. See those Articuno behind me? Mystery egg number 73 is their egg. While they were hunting, your company came into their cave and stole their egg," she paused and leaned onto the desk, "We have the right to know where that egg is." Glacier and I breathed out a warning aurora beam to emphasise the point.

Unnerved by the intense stare, the woman took out a piece of paper and a pen and hastily scribbled down details from the computer screen then handed it to Sapphire.

Sapphire's eyes scanned the paper and she smiled sweetly at the woman. "Thank you!" she said and skipped cheerfully out the door. The three of us followed behind her.

We glided over the city for about half an hour before we reached the 'suburbs'. The buildings here had shrunken to the size of ordinary houses, except for the odd three-story mansion. Sapphire guided us to the biggest one of them all, a great big white one with carefully manicured lawns and meticulously trimmed trees.

We glided over the wall and landed on the front porch. Sapphire pressed a button by the door. It didn't take long before a tan-skinned man with long black hair tied back loosely in a ponytail and dripping with gold appeared at the door. He was looking very angry.

"How did you get - woah!" he stepped back when he saw us, his question answered before he finished it. His look changed rapidly from anger, to surprise and then to one of welcome. "Come in Sapphire, come in! I am honoured that you have chosen to appear at my humble home with your Articuno."

Sapphire glanced up and around at his 'humble' home, then stepped in through the open door. The three of us followed. The hallway of his house was larger even than the hotel lobby.

Attempting to look unfazed as the man showed us into his immense lounge room, Sapphire took a seat when he offered it to her.

"So, Sapphire Iyse. Wow!" said the man, more awed at us than we at him, "What brings you here? Come to meet the people?" He relaxed back in his lounge chair and clasped his hands together.

Sapphire was looking a little nervous. She cleared her throat and talked to him. "No, not exactly. I believe you have recently purchased a mystery egg from EggSale.com."

"That is true, yes. Why?"

Sapphire cleared her throat again. "It's their egg." She indicated Glacier and myself on the sofa.

"I believe you are mistaken," the man laughed, "I purchased the egg, one which no-one has been able to identify, for one million Pokéyen, and I'm not about to hand it over to a young woman who just rocks up with two Articuno and claims it's hers. How do I know you didn't search up everyone who bought a mystery egg?"

Sapphire was not prepared for this. "Just to make sure we're talking about the same egg, may we please see it?" she said.

The man sighed with frustration and got to his feet. "Very well, but I'm telling you, it's my egg."

The three of us blew out an aurora beam to the man's back and followed in disgust. He led us to a room with a big heavy door. He put on a jacket and handed one to Sapphire.

"They told me to keep it cold. Goodness knows why, but I don't want to disrupt it." He opened the door and flung it inwards. Glacier and I scrambled into the room. Our eyes were met with the most glorious sight.

There, sitting on a pile of snow, facets gleaming in the soft light, was our egg. We ran to it and hugged it tight. Then we stood back and beamed it closed with ice beams.

"What are they doing to my egg?" yelled the man.

Glacier paused for a bit to answer, "Freezing it," he said, then resumed his ice beam. Sapphire translated to the man.

"Now do you believe me?" she asked him, hands on hips.

The man folded his arms and watched us work. When we had finished, he asked us how long it would be before it hatched. I thought for a bit.

"Two days, I guess," I said. Sapphire translated.

"Let's say this is their egg. Do you expect me to just hand it over? Now that I know what it is, I'm not letting it go for less than two million."

"You can't be serious," said Sapphire. She rubbed her forehead and let out a sigh. "Imagine this. You've got a little baby in its cot. You know it'll be safe while you go and do the shopping. You come home and it's gone. You search for two months before you find out that it has been sold for one million. You track down the man who bought it and actually get to hug your baby."

Sapphire's voice was now at the same soft and deadly tone she had used on the lady at the counter. "You hug it and wrap it in blankets only to find out you have to pay. You have to pay two million for your baby." She was screaming now, "Just imagine that, you bastard! This is their baby! They were being great parents and it gets stolen! They've found it, and you won't give it back! You bastard!" She sat down and started crying. I came over to comfort her.

The man was silent. He sighed with exasperation and scratched his head. "Okay. I'll go and get a refund from EggSale and give your egg back. But it won't be as easy as you think." He pulled Sapphire to her feet. "I want a battle first. One on one. One of your Articuno against one of my Pokémon."

Sapphire rubbed her eyes dry and glared at him with hatred. "You're on. I can't begin to tell you how unfair that is, but you're on."

Twenty-three