near the last known location of regirock's tomb, several trainers have stumbled across an ominous opening. inside, they will find the ruins of the legendary titan, riddled with traps, treasures, and the mystical unknown. no one knows what awaits them but one thing is for sure — a new arc begins. despite the thin veil of peace, the public still faces unease.
after the ultra beast war, hoenn begins to heal. the megalopolan invasion may have failed; however, it is clear there is much more at stake. a prophecy revolving around a cyclical meteoroid, the appearance of necrozma and a dangerous and viral alien threaten the safety of the region once more.
with rocket's new boss, the resurgence and reappearance of the crime syndicate's presence is imminent. the league has done its best to repair its reputation, and with the victory of a war under their belt, perhaps it is enough. but the seeds of distrust have already been sown in the ravaged land of this region, causing many to wonder what will grow?
Honestly, even if he hadn't been a ranger, Orion would have jumped at the chance to help out when it came to improving quality of life on Slateport Beach. He felt sorry for the Pokemon who lived along the shores. They had to deal with humans, arguably the worst kind of garbage. Orion just hopes that his efforts, and those of the others he can spot walking along the beach and performing clean-up, can make up for it.
He's carrying lighter than usual; his starters rest up in their balls as the newest member of his team, a rather nefarious Shiftry, plodded along behind him and occasionally blasted the sandy beach with small HURRICANES in order to uncover some of the litter that had begun to be reclaimed by nature. He didn't know his newest partner well enough to get a read on it, yet, but it didn't seem unhappy at the work.
It's indifferent, if anything.
So he makes the mistake of leaving it to its own devices for a moment, turning his back to free a Goldeen whose fins had gotten tangled in some stray bit of plastic. He checks her over for any injuries before releasing her back into the water and turning around—
—to see that his Shiftry had taken advantage of the distraction to creep over to some poor woman in an attempt to PICKPOCKET her!
Orion rushes over and snatches whatever he'd grabbed from the Pokemon's leafy grasp, turning to her with a frazzled expression. "I'm sorry about him. He's new, he hasn't learned to listen yet." He casts a stern look in the dark-type's direction — Shifty looks unmoved — and hands back the woman's property. "Here you go. Sorry, again. You also here on clean-up duty?"
the beach brought pleasant memories. pleasant, and not-so-pleasant. [break][break]
but memories would probably be the wrong word - considering that she couldn't remember a thing. her only recollection of being on slateport beach was when she washed up ashore; past that, she had no memory of who she was nor where she was. thankfully, the locals were kind enough to show her around and help her attempt at getting back onto her feet. although she could barely remember anything, and she was a complete stranger, they had taken the time to help her. [break][break]
in the face of this kindness, it was unfair to lounge around and do nothing, right? it was improper and it was rude, wasn't it? if she didn't help.. she'd be seen as a nuisance, would she not? especially now that she's out of the hospital, and was capable of walking around. although, she'd still have to have a few rangers and have a doctor see her now and then; if not to examine her health, then it was to try and recover her identity. [break][break]
when she caught wind of volunteers being needed, she didn't want to waste any time in helping. at her side was a large, blue metang that hovered off the ground. the arms were large and long enough, such that they acted as cranes while picking up trash. it held the bag in its other claw, adjusting accordingly so that nicole didn't have to stress herself to drop it in. it wasn't until she looked forwards and saw a man with his shiftry blowing the trash and such around did she recall: she was supposed to have a partner, right? [break][break]
... she forgot. [break][break]
"excuse me.." her voice is soft, but her expression remained neutral and unchanging. she was subtle while approaching him, careful as to not disturb him or his pokemon while they were working. it seems like her voice was too quiet, seeing that he turned to tend to a caught goldeen. that's fine; she can wait, assuming she would remember to speak to him--[break][break]
...? what was that rummaging through her back pocket? [break][break]
she looks down to her hands. yup, her hands were where they are. her view. so.. what was trying to rummage her pockets? [break][break]
the weavile managed to grab a necklace; a simple silver chain that held a tear-drop shaped ruby. the same, leafy pokemon seemed more than happy with their haul. nicole on the other hand, hadn't properly processed or registered what happened until the gemstone was within the trainer's grasp. "ah.." she says, softly, then taking the stolen object. his question leaves her at a loss; what was she here for again? she was about to ask, then the metang at her side gently prods and gestures at the bag of trash. she nods her head. "yes. you are.. nicole's partner?" she refers to herself, putting a hand to her chest after tilting her head.
Orion's still mortified by the actions of his Pokemon, even if there was no real harm done, but at very least the woman didn't seem angry. She seemed almost... confused, if anything, but recovers before Orion can process this.
Nicole? He's fairly sure he doesn't know a Nicole, and besides, he's gay, what — oh.
He catches on as she gestures to herself. She didn't mean romantic partner; this was his mission partner, then, it must be. He thinks it odd that she's referred to herself in the third-person, but doesn't comment on this. That would be rude, and terribly awkward, as if his Shiftry's attempted theft wasn't uncomfortable enough!
"I — yes, I think I am," he agrees, nodding in return. "Orion. My name — it's Orion."
He shifts his weight from foot to foot, working off the excess anxious energy that had built up after such a concentration. It was all right now. They were all right. He thinks.
"I'm sorry I didn't approach earlier," he adds, stumbling a little over the words. "It's just — they never told me they were sending anyone. Or maybe they did and I left my phone off, shit..." Orion fumbles a little with his phone and sees that he did indeed have a text message left unread. Great. Now he feels like a jerk. "Ah. Yep. I guess we are. It's, uh... nice to meet you, Nicole."
He turns to her Metang and gives it a polite nod in greeting. It's half because he tends to treat Pokemon with as much respect as their human masters, and half because he wants to look away from Nicole before she sees his blush.
she didn't know why he was apologizing; especially when she was the one who was a bit more late. she dismisses the apology with the small shake of her head. "no.. it's okay." her words are soft and, though her attention was on him, she didn't look to be fully.. there. it seemed less like she was engaged in talking, or she had her focus elsewhere. she patiently listens to him, watching as he takes his phone out to fumble with the screen and take a proper read. indeed, the message was there. [break][break]
after a short pause, her metang raises its other arm into the air in greeting. thankfully for him, nicole wasn't the brightest (or the most observant) mago berry in the bush. rather, she gives him a subtle smile before shaking her head once again. "please don't apologize, or--" she pauses. what was his name again..? crud. he just told her a couple seconds ago, didn't he? uhm.. or, or.. o.. what was it? she couldn't put her inger on it. [break][break]
though quiet, she seemed to have a bit of trouble trying to get his name again. would it be an annoyance if she asked again? it.. shouldn't be, right?
She's quiet in contrast to his nervous rambling, and Orion doesn't know whether that should make him feel better or worse. He settles on ignoring the way his stomach twists and his heart pounds and he's suddenly wishing he could be anywhere else in Hoenn; they've got a job to do, he'd agreed to do it, and he wasn't going to back out on account of his own social ineptitude. So he does what he's always done to uncomfortable things: represses them, stamps them down and pretends they don't matter at all.
There's a distance to him, after that.
Nicole seems much the same. Like she's not fully there, even though she's looking at him and addressing him with her words. Or attempting to, for she seems to have forgotten his name.
"Orion," he repeats. "Shall we get back to it?"
He gestures around the trash-littered beach, sparing a moment to get eyes on his Shiftry and make sure the Pokemon wasn't wandering off to harass someone else. It wasn't, thankfully. "There's some netting tangled in the sand where the tide comes in. Mind giving me a hand getting it out? I don't want any Pokemon getting stuck."
orion. right. she needed to get to know his name, properly, lest she would like to ask again, and again. [break][break] "orion.." she repeats to herself in an attempt to keep it in her head. giving him a gentle and warm smile, she nods her head. she and her metang began to pick up the metal or glass scraps in the same - whereas the steel pokemon would be managing with the more dangerous materials and the trainer would deal with papers and torn labels. she gives him a sparing glance when he speak up about the net by the beach. right.. it really would be a hazard for the pokemon swimming around, right? [break][break]
with a soft nod of her head, she moves with the metang floating behind her. "so.. do we need to cut the net, orion?" she uses the chance to say his name. there's a difference between saying it in her head and outloud - and she prayed to arceus that she said it correctly. "if we need to cut it.. nicole's metang can help." she gestures to the pokemon that waves a meta arm into the air.
She says his name a few times, and Orion wonders if she's simply that bad with names or if there's something else going on. Maybe she has a short-term memory problem? He's heard of things like that before. He decides not to let it bother him too much; she's polite, and she's trying to remember, which was enough for him.
He nods in response to the question. "Cutting it should be easier than trying to pull it all out at once." It was hard to tell how deep the net had been buried, but an experimental tug reveals that it's not going to come loose easily. He's got a multi-tool on him at all times in case of emergency and he pulls it from his pocket, flicking the blade loose, but Nicole offers her Metang's assistance and he brightens at the idea. "Oh, good thinking. Yeah, that would help. You get that side, and I'll work over here?"
He sits down in the sand and takes up one part of the net, taking care not to nick himself as he saws at the thick netting with his knife. It's slow-going work, certainly slower than Nicole's progress would be with her Metang, but he thinks it's better to help than to simply sit around watching them do everything.
After a moment's consideration, he returns the Shiftry to its Pokeball. He needed to focus on this, and he wasn't about to let the shifty Pokemon rob someone else when he wasn't looking.
she smiles. thankfully, her idea had some merit and her metang seemed happy at the response. she motions to the steel pokemon to set the trash down, and tugs at the bag with a small smile on her face. she could carry it, probably. it'd probably be better for alpha to go and help with the net itself, anyways. she wasn't exactly the strongest banana in the bunch, and she didn't want to cause more trouble than she was willing to offer. hence, she tries to hold the bag. [break][break]
it was heavier than she anticipated, and her eyes widen in surprised when it drops into the sand. luckily, she kept her grip on the top so it stayed closed and in tact. on the other hand, she didn't think she'd be able to lug it around. "uhm.. o-orion..?" she perks up, motioning towards her metang. "nicole can help with cutting the--" ... the? right. "the net." how? well.. there were some sharp pieces in the trash, right? if she was careful, she could cut the net with it, too. [break][break]
her metang already hovered over to begin running its sharp claws through the net, hoping to saw and cut it with relative ease. it occasionally glances over to the other two trainers on the other side, making sure that the net wouldn't be washed away. [break][break]
nicole opens the bag a little bit, then pulls out a relatively large piece of broken glass with little caution. she walks towards the net with the intent to help.
They're making relatively decent progress on the net, he thinks, especially with the Metang's sharp claws to saw through the rope without issue. Orion himself is much slower, more careful, but every little bit helps as they slowly begin to work parts of the net loose from its sandy prison.
Nicole offers to help, and he's too focused on his task to realise the implications, at first.
"Oh, of course," he says absently, not wanting her to feel as if she wasn't allowed to assist.
It's not until he glances up to see Nicole with a shard of glass in her hand that the ranger drops the section of the net he'd been working on in his haste to wave his hands. "Oh, gosh, no, don't do that!" His voice shoots up an octave with the rising panic. Was she nuts?"Please, you'll hurt yourself with that! We're almost done, your Metang can handle the rest!"
"Mmm.." she begins to focus, intently, on the.. cutting of the net? The sport of the cutting of the net, no matter how grammatically incorrect it was. Her mentality was: glass sharp. Sharp good. Sharp cut net. Net cut.
That's about it, so she didn't understand much of why Orion suddenly piped up. It started her enough to suddenly drop the piece of glass into the water, and she seems slightly disappointed now that she couldn't see it. Maybe she could if she felt around for it in the water?
"Don't do what?" she asks, beginning to crouch and reach her hand into the water. She waves her hand around to look for the piece of the glass. She doesn't seem to pay Orion much mind, in spite of his warnings. "But Nicole wants to help Orion and Alpha, too." she rebuttals with.
She finds the glass shard after a few moments, but pulling it up causes the young woman to wince a bit as the shard makes a cut on her finger. The blood drips down a bit, and the open wound having contact with the beach's salt water made it burn. "Ow.."
"The glass!" He's frantic as Nicole gropes around in the water for the shard of glass she'd dropped. "You'll cut yourself if you're not—"
Of course, he's too late.
"— careful," he finishes on the breath of a sigh.
It doesn't look too bad at a glance, but who knew how long that glass had been lying out on the beach? All manner of bacteria could have collected on its sharp edges, and not to mention the sting that the saltwater must be causing.
Orion abandons his progress on the net and stands up, pocketing his knife and approaching Nicole like she's a wounded animal. Honestly, she alarms him. "Come on, let's go get you some medical attention, just in case."
She doesn't say much, but she knows he's worried. Even though he raised his voice while she was hurt, he seemed concerned about her.
Even her metang, who'd been doing what should have been her job levitated over with a slightly worried gleam in its eyes. "Nicole is fine, Alpha.." she tries to, weakly, console her pokemon.
She gives Orion a slightly puzzled and curious glance. It was just a small cut, which had a painful reaction to the salt water. Certainly, it wasn't anything too dangerous, was it? In spite of the pain and throbbing she felt from the small cut, she still chose not to think too much of it.
"... If it makes you not worry." She nods and straightens herself up, waiting patiently to follow.