The Ice Badge

By: Theodore Leung

            "Woah!!" Lin gasped, staring down at Glacier City from her vantage point. Patterns of sparkling light shined from the city down below. Buildings of all shapes and sizes spread throughout, not too closely packed, yet also not too far apart. The roads were easily distinguishable by the road lamps that bordered them. In the far northern distance, boats of all shapes scattered in the ocean, the port obviously busy. A large structure stood out beside the harbour, but Lin never questioned what the building was. "You people must’ve spent a lot of time planning this city!" Lin commented. Sarpal nodded, also looking down. If anything else, the way down was a complete vertical climb on rocky terrain, something none of them could do.

            "Uh…how do we get down?" Charles asked, looking down the side of this obstacle. "I don’t think climbing is an option…"

                "Yeah…" Spark mumbled, looking over his paws, definitely not used to scale walls.

            "You aren’t planning to do that, are you?" Flare asked, looking up at her trainer. Sarpal still held the Flareon in her arms, tending to her wounds, whose were more severe then the rest. Sarpal nodded, putting the Flareon down.

            "Jewel, Vapour, Ice Beam," she told them. Both acknowledged shooting their beams of cold temperature over the edge, making two symmetrical pillars of ice, angled down towards the ground. Their trainer nodded, firing her own ice beam, filling in the gap between the two pillars, following the same path made by her two Pokémon. The end result consisted of a long slide that went all the way to the outer perimeter of the city. The trainers ice beam made the slide part, while the Pokémon’s ice beam acted as railings or walls to keep the sliders in.

            "You sure this is safe?" Ryna asked, kicking the ice just to be sure it was stable.

            "It’s as solid as ice, naturally" Vapour said, grinning a bit. He leaped onto the ice slide, the low friction and gravity bringing him down this massive slide.

            "Yeah, as long as you keep the fire types from burning it down," Jewel continued, the ruby in her body flashing. She ‘nodded’ then leaped off the side, flying down the cliff side. The five newcomers exchanged glances.

            "Well, guess there’s only one way to find out," Lin said, jumping onto the slide. "YAHA!!" she yelled out as she started her descent onto the waiting populous below. The two fire types now exchanged looks.

            "She’s got guts," Charles told Spark, scratching the back of his head.

            "Yeah, well, don’t be chicken about it," Spark replied, leaping onto the slide. He quickly disappeared from sight as he descended.

            "Who you calling chicken!?" Charles retorted, running after him, leaping onto the slide as well, also soon out of sight. The three trainers giggled.

            "Well, no point in waiting," Jolt told them, nodding. He trotted over to the slide and casually sat down, allowing gravity to be his speed.

            "Can you go down by yourself?" Sarpal asked Flare. Flare nodded, her trainer setting her on the ground. The Flareon took on step, wincing in pain, but managing. She slowly walked over to the slide, and set herself down, also letting gravity pull her. The three trainers left exchanged glances.

            "That’s steep…" Sam whispered, looking down the slide.

            "When you’ve done it once, you’ll begin to enjoy it," Sarpal assured, stepping onto the slide. "Just be sure to come down before it melts, okay?" Without waiting for a response, the sapphire-eyed trainer started her descent.

            "Melt in this weather? Yeah, right…" Sam muttered. She brushed some of her black hair from her face. "Well, no time like the present then, right?" she asked the other trainer. She also didn’t wait for a response and leaped down the slide, Ryna wincing when she heard the ‘crack’. Samantha’s maniac cheering, obviously enjoying the ride soon swallowed the cracking sound.

            "True, no time like the present," Ryna mused, doing the same as Sam and leaping onto the slide. Gravity took over as the trainer slid down the ice, her velocity increasing every second. "YAHOO!" she shouted out, realizing what Sarpal meant. She continued to cheer, before realizing the sky was passing by like a blur. Soon, her cheers become panic stricken, her velocity still increasing. She closed her eyes tightly, seeing the end of the slide coming near. "It’s over now, ain’t it?" she wondered. Her eyes still closed, but realizing she was slowing down, the slide leveling out with the ground. "Wha?" she asked to no one, soon coming to a complete stop in the slide. Ryna stood up, noticing the others waiting patiently.

            "What took you so long?" Lin asked with a smirk.

            "But…wha…what happened?" Ryna stammered.

            "Always love to have a psychic type Pokémon around, don’t we?" Jewel asked, her ruby glowing brightly. Ryna gave her a questioning look.

            "Jewel’s psychic powers allow her to slow one’s speed at the last stretch," Sarpal translated. "Like she said, ‘always love to have a psychic type’."

            "That was still scary though," Sam told them, brushing some precipitation off her forehead.

            "You get used to it after the first time," Sarpal told them. She looked over towards the horizon, the sun nearly out of sight. "It’ll get cold quickly," she said. "Let us rest at my house."

            "Oh yeah, you betcha!" Lin exclaimed, sneezing coincidentally afterwards, but proving her point. A circle of laughter erupted as the ten made their way towards Glacier City.

* * * * * *

            "Oh yeah, this is good," Lin said, rubbing her hands in front of the fire. Ryna smiled, turning back to face the other two trainers sitting at the table. The interior of Sarpal’s home was nice and cozy. The main floor was basically one large room, the kitchen appliances and such taking one corner of the room, the fireplace, TV, and such on the opposite corner. The back wall was lined up with three bookshelves, all loaded up with books. The books ranged from Pokémon to genetic sciences. The windows situated around the room showed signs of impending inevitable storm, the wind picking up as dark clouds began to block out the moonlight. The Jolteon lay beside Lin, sleeping peacefully. Vapour and Jewel were already asleep upstairs, Spark also heading up to rest. Charles followed behind him, noticing Flare staring out the window blankly before leaving the room.

            "So, what brings you to these parts anyway?" Sarpal asked, taking a sip of tea from her cup.

            "The Pokémon league of course," Ryna said, taking a sample of the juice provided to her.

            "Yes, I figured as much," Sarpal replied, putting her cup down. "That’s usually what trainers come here for." She stood up and headed over to the fireplace, and took a small box that lay on top.

            "What’s that?" Sam asked, looking up a bit to get a better view. Sarpal sat back down at the table, holding a small box about the size of her hand. She smiled and opened it, the top flipping open on a hinge. Inside was a small badge, in the shape of a white snowflake.

            "It’s the Ice Badge," Sarpal answered finally. She left the case open for the other two to examine. "You have to fight Simon for it."

            "I’m guessing he’s the gym leader then," Ryna said, Sarpal nodding.

            "From the environment, I’m guessing you know what kind of Pokémon he uses," the blue haired girl continued. "Of course I heard he had a special Squirtle, but when I fought him, he never used it. Oh, and don’t think that if you beat me, that you would beat him easily. His Pokémon probably are more powerful now." Ryna nodded, closing the small box and sliding it back to Sarpal.

            "Any advice?" Sam asked. The ice badge holder shook her head.

            "You’re on your own," she said, taking another sip of her tea. "If anything, just be prepared. That’s the number one rule of and Pokémon trainer."

            "I know," Ryna replied. She took one glance at the box, then faced Sarpal. "How many people know that you can use an Ice Beam attack?"

            "You, Sam, your Pokémon, and my Pokémon," Sarpal listed, counting down her fingers. "I intend to keep it down to as little as possible."

            "So, no telling anyone else then?" Sam asked. Sarpal nodded.

            "Don’t want any of those scientists on my case…" she said, shuddering a bit.

            "Scientists?" Ryna asked, sitting up on her chair, leaning forward a bit, intrigued.

            "There was a Pokémon science and research facility here once," Sarpal said, her voice shaky a bit. "It would be that large structure beside the port. Anyway, this facility was a large competitor of the Cinnabar Island research facility. The Glacier City one was very good, but a series of failed experiments caused it to shut down due to bankruptcy."

            "So, what’s so bad about them then?" Ryna asked curiously.

            "I heard last they were experimenting with Human-Pokémon fusion of some sorts," Sarpal continued. "They still occupy the houses in this city, continuing their research in and around." Sarpal shuddered again. "I heard they would go to any length to perfect their ‘fusion’ experiments. I even heard that they take people from the streets and use them in the experiments, but that has let to be proven by the police."

            "That’s insane," Sam muttered, internally shocked.

            "I’m afraid if everyone knew I could toss Ice Beams, as well as Hydro Pumps, these scientists would be going after me next…to determine the nature of my powers…" Sarpal said softly, shaking. She looked over her right hand, then shook her head. "It’s late, let’s get some sleep…" she whispered, standing up. The others nodded, also standing, though a bit shaken with the tale. "I’ll go and set your rooms for you," Sarpal said, heading towards the stairs.

            "I’ll help," Ryna offered, not waiting for a response. Sam followed also willing to help. Jolt raised his ear, hearing the commotion, opening one of his eyes. Upon seeing the disappearance of the trainers, he got up and trotted up the stairs. Lin, also seeing this, followed the fellow electric type, leaving Flare in the room all by herself, continuing to stare blankly out of the room.

            Time passed…the storm worsening every minute, but still the female Flareon sat there, staring out of the window.

            "You okay?" Charles asked, placing a hand on her shoulder. The Charmander came downstairs, noticing the Flareon has yet to come up. Flare glanced over and faced the Charmander. She blinked once, then placed her head on his shoulder, weeping. "Flare?" Charles asked, surprised by the sudden turn in events.

            "I can’t fight…" she stammered. "I-I-I’m weak…" she continued, continuing to cry.

            "Flare…" Charles said, dumbfounded.

            "My fire attacks are weak, I can’t fight straight, I can’t even take a flamethrower attack without going flying…" she told Charles rapidly, crying even harder.

            "Flare, why don’t you tell Sarpal?" Charles suggested, trying to calm her down.

            "I-I c-can’t…" she stammered. "I-I don’t want to disappoint her." The Charmander remained silent. "I-I wish I could fight like you…"

            "You aren’t weak…" Charles consolidated.

            "I am!" she said strongly, crying even harder. "I am the weak link in the team…I can’t even take out a grass type without taking serious wounds…"

            "Then you’ll just have to practice!" Charles said, taking one of her paws. "You need to train, get stronger. You aren’t weak. You have potential, you just don’t see it yet." Flare sniffed, facing the Charmander, disbelieving his words. "I can see it, you have the ability."

            "I-I don’t know…" she responded slowly, sniffing again.

            "I do," Charles told her with all the force he had. "I’ll help you find it, if you want."

            "You…will?" Flare said, surprised with the offer. Charles nodded, smiling lightly. Flare smiled back, wrapping her paws around Charles in a hug. Charles wrapped his hands around the Flareon, hugging her back. "Thank you…" she whispered.

* * * * * *

            Ryna stood outside the gym, the morning sky shining high in the air. Snowplows quickly removed the snow from the streets, and with three fire types around, it was easy to melt the snow in front of the Sarpal’s house.

            The gym it self was a large done shaped structure, a large crystal of ice stood high on top, the sigh ‘Glacier City Gym’ written on it.

            "He’s going to challenge you to three-on-three combat," Sarpal said. "You have two Pokémon. Who do you want as a third?" Ryna looked back at the other five Pokémon then turned her gaze the Charles. The Charmander nodded.

            "I’ll take Flare," Ryna said in a rehearsed fashion. Charles told his trainer the entire story, and Ryna took it under her responsibility to also help the Flareon improve. Sarpal didn’t seem surprised, but Jolt and Vapour were.

            "You can do it," Jewel whispered to Flare. The Flareon nodded and smiled, walking over to her new temporary trainer.

            "You coming to watch, Sarpal?" Ryna asked. The blue-eyed trainer shook her head. "If you insist then. Come on, let’s get this on the road." With those few words, Ryna and her three Pokémon entered the stadium, Sam and Spark following behind to watch. Vapour and Jolt looked up at their trainer, then followed behind, wondering how their ‘eon sister’ would be fight like.

* * * * * *

            "Three-on-three then," Simon told Ryna. The Gym Leader was probably a few years older then Ryna. He was about 4 inches higher, his black eyes showed signs of combat experience. He wore black jeans and a white long sleeved shirt, a blue vest over top of it. His hair was as black as a raven. The left hand of this trainer was on one of the Pokéballs attached to his belt.

            "When ever you’re ready," Ryna said, not nervous one bit. She stepped into a red, rectangle box, the area marked off with red tape. Simon was also in one. Between them was the arena, a large ice rink basically, with large ice rocks to act as shields or protection or whatever the Pokémon or trainer felt like. Near the top was a large room, with soundproof glass where spectators could watch. The spectators could hear what was going on through speakers, but the battlers wouldn’t know what the spectators are saying. "Okay Charles, let’s go!" The Charmander nodded, leaping into the arena, not losing his balance over the slippery ice.

            "Very well," Simon whispered. He took the ball he held from his belt and tossed it into the rink. In a show of read neon lights, a Jynx appearing.

            "It’s an ice type! Charles, Flamethrower her!" Ryna commanded. The Charmander acted instantly, throwing the energy wave of flames at the Jynx, smoldering her. After a few seconds passed, the flames disappeared, leaving only smoke.

            "Psychic!" Simon commanded. A blue aura came from the smoke.

            "Flamethrower it again!" Ryna commanded. The Charmander tried, but soon the blue aura surrounded him, picking him up. The smoke soon cleared, revealing the Jynx, although slightly cooked. She tossed the Charmander into one of the ice structures, smashing it to bits. The Jynx picked up Charles again. "Earthquake!" Ryna commanded. Charles inhaled, then with all the force he had, pushed for the ground, breaking the psychic hold and landing full power on the ground. The shockwave spread outwards, utterly destroying the ice the Jynx stood on, and knocking her away. The Jynx tried to get up, but failed. She was recalled in a beam of red light.

            "Well done," Simon commended. He placed the Pokéball back onto his belt, then tossed the next one out.

            "Lapras! Hydro Pump!" Simon commanded, the large water transport Pokémon appearing from her Pokéball and landing in the water that the shattered ice revealed. Lapras fired her Hydro Pump in mere seconds after she was revealed, taking everyone by surprise. Charles took the full blast, sending him sprawling backwards and out of the arena.

            "No…" Ryna muttered, looking back to where Charles landed, coincidentally nearby. The trainer gritted her teeth, although Flare began to tend to the Charmander. "Lin, your up!" The Pikachu gave a victory sign, the leaped into the arena. "Thunder Bolt!" The Pikachu unleashed the bolts of lightning, inflicting first hit and it did hurt.

            "Hydro Pump that mouse!" Simon commanded, pointing towards the Pikachu in the air. The Lapras fired her Hydro Pump at Lin, and would’ve knocked her out of the sky.

            "Thunder Shield!" Ryna commanded, the female Pikachu setting up the electric barrier. The beam of hydropower knocked against the barrier, pushing the Pikachu back. "Send it back to her!" Ryna commanded, Lin firing the electric charged barrier, using the Hydro Pump as a conductor. The attack took the Lapras off guard, knocking her unconscious.

            "Return!" Simon commanded quickly drawing his third ball. "Squirtle, go!" The turtle appeared from his ball, ready for combat.

            "Thunder Bolt that too!" Ryna shouted out.

            "Withdraw!" Simon commanded, the Squirtle retreating into his shell. The lightning made contact, but did little damage then to char the shell. The Squirtle revealed it’s self.

            "FLAMETHROWER!" Simon commanded, smirking.

            "What?!" Ryna shouted out. The Squirtle also smirked, then unleashed the torrent of fire at the Pikachu. Lin tried to stand her ground, but to no avail. The power of the fire was too much for her and she fell, sliding back towards Ryna’s feet. "Lin!?" she exclaimed picking up the burnt Pikachu in her arms. "But how?!" she shouted at Simon.

            "Genetic alteration," Simon replied slyly, smirking wildly. "Don’t think you’ll get this Ice Badge from me."

            "We will, you can count on it!" Ryna retorted. "Flare, let’s show this guy who’s boss!" Flare nodded, jumping into the arena. The Squirtle grinned, seeing his elemental advantage. "Flamethrower!" Flare nodded, throwing her own dose of fire into the battle.

            "Flamethrower it back!" Simon commanded, his Squirtle obeying. The two beams of fire collided, the energy smashed outwards. Both held the beams of fire. The Squirtle held it’s ground, not affected by the amount of heat. Flare, on the other hand, was slowly losing her strength, fighting a battle she was losing.

            "You can do it Flare!" Ryna shouted out. Flare was beginning to have her doubts, her flame being pushed back some more. "Don’t give up!" Still, the Flareon’s energy was being sapped. "I believe in you!"

            "You can do it, Flare!" Charles shouted out, although weak after the battle he went through. Flare shook her head, unable to stay any longer.

            "I’m going to lose again…" she thought. "I’m going to…I’m a disappointment."

            "You need to train, get stronger. You aren’t weak. You have potential, you just don’t see it yet," Flare thought, remembering Charles words. "I can see it, you have the ability."

            "I can do it!" she screamed out in her mind, surging with energy and tossing the flamethrower back at the Squirtle. He was taken completely aback by the turn of events and took the blow, sending him into the air.

            "Tackle it!" Ryna commanded. Flare needed no incentive she leaped up at the Squirtle, knocking him farther back. Both Pokémon landed on their feet, but the Squirtle was pretty much beat up.

            "Water Gun!" Simon commanded, the Squirtle firing the water beam at Flare.

            "Flare, Charger attack!" Ryna shouted out. Flare, never hearing the attack before, still did as told. Her body surged with fire energy, an aura of flames surrounding her. She brushed the ground with her feet, then charged forward. The flaming mass rushed through the Water Gun like it was nothing and slammed right into the Squirtle, burning him even more and out of the arena.

            The battle was over.

* * * * * *

            "Flare, I’m so proud of you!" Ryna praised, hugging the Flareon. Everyone was celebrating the victory at Sarpal’s house, Flare’s victory over an anti type being the key highlight of the party. Flare purred, licking Ryna.

            "I told you so," Charles said, hugging the Flareon next. Flare nodded.

            "Thank you," she replied.

            "Don’t thank me," Charles said. "It was all you." Flare shook her head, and hugged the Charmander. Ryna smiled, standing up and taking a step back.

            "Ryna, can I talk to you?" Sarpal asked, walking up to the new Ice Badge holder.

            "Sure," Ryna said. They went upstairs so they wouldn’t be disturbed by the party. "What do you want to talk about?"

            "I’m going on a Pokémon journey, to see if I can join the ranks of the champions," Sarpal said.

            "Hey, that’s great!" Ryna exclaimed.

            "I’d like you to take Flare with you," Sarpal said next, changing Ryna’s mood completely.

            "But, why?" Ryna asked, trying to refuse the request. "She’s your Pokémon."

            "I can’t…" Sarpal replied sadly. "After the way you commanded her today…as I have heard…you’re a better trainer. I do not deserve Flare…you do." Sarpal wiped a tear away from her face, sniffing.

            "Sarpal…" Ryna whispered.

            "I have no regrets. She’s yours," Sarpal said. Ryna, after a brief moment of silence, nodding slowly.

            "I’ll take care of her, don’t worry," Ryna replied.

            "I know…" Sarpal said softly.

* * * * * *

            Charles and Flare stood over the hill. Flare looked back at the town she grew up in, sniffing a bit.

            "Can…I really be as good as you?" Flare asked the Charmander.

            "I know you will," Charles replied, taking her paw. "Don’t worry, if you ever need help, I’ll be here for you."

            "Thank you," Flare said, nodding. Both faced each other, then ran to catch up with the others, who were already heading for the next city.