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?
These are words Orion's coming to regret as he stands in the office kitchen, opening drawers and cupboards and realising just how many steps of the recipe they were following required precise measurements. This is a space where tired government employees make coffee and microwave leftovers, not one meant for baking.[break][break]
"We'll just eyeball it, yeah?"[break][break]
The question is directed to his colleague and fellow councilman, ALEXANDER STONE, as Orion looks up from the cupboard under the sink. Nothing down here but a stray cobweb and some cleaning supplies, an old coffee maker someone's neglected to toss out.[break][break]
He stands up, frowns at the ingredients on the counter. Something's missing. It hits Orion in a real big brain moment:[break][break]
"Hey, weren't you going to bring the baking soda?"
[attr="class","stone i"]perhaps the two councilman should have been smart enough to realize that the office kitchen is not a suitable place for baking. it lacks the ingredients, equipment, space, and most importantly, someone who actually knows how to bake.
"are you sure we should be doing this in here?"
alexander shifts the ingredients on the counter about, moving them to create enough space for them to use. he's counting the eggs in the cartons before orion's question makes him stop with a sinking feeling.
"i...i thought you were going to bring it."
one quick glance at the ingredients tells him orion is right. they lack baking soda; its actual use remains a mystery to him, however. he pulls out his phone and quickly sends a text.
"that's on me. my assistant should be here with it soon. is there anything else we need?"
His answer is brutally honest: "No."[break][break]
Thing was, Orion hadn't seen much of a choice. This was a short-notice task given to the two when the previous bakers had pulled out last minute and the League couldn't afford the PR hit from cancelling a Littleroot fundraiser. It had been a scramble of finding time off and coordinating with Alexander and forgetting who was bringing what, apparently.[break][break]
Maybe it was him. He's not sure any more. Either way, it felt like one royal fuck-up after another.[break][break]
Orion groans. "An assistant. I need one of those."[break][break]
Silph had one, too, though Orion's interactions with her had been minimal outside of their misadventures in Ultra Space.[break][break]
Snapping back to the present, pressing issue, he stares blankly at the ingredient list. "Uh... measuring cups, maybe? Just in case... we've gotta start the first batch like, now, if we want to be going home tonight..."[break][break]
How hard could it be? His thoughts mock him as he cracks eggs over a bowl, frantically trying to dig out a stray bit of eggshell.
[attr="class","stone i"]something tells him that they will not be going home tonight. call it a gut feeling, or maybe acceptance that the both of them appear to be useless. not in the kitchen at least! chef stone just can't bake.
"they really do help."
assistants, he means. he sends out another text before placing his phone off to the side, discarding distractions.
"i don't think we can afford the delay. we'll just have to bear the risks..." he peers over at the recipe. "i can wing it."
the recipe calls for accurate measurements but desperate times calls for desperate measures. alexander reaches for the sugar, flour, cocoa powder, powdered sugar, chocolate chips, and salt, before mixing them all into one bowl. he estimates just exactly how much of each ingredient it needs, but he's confident he has it somewhat right.
"i do not think this mix is meant to be this lumpy."
"Not our fault they roped us in on short notice..."[break][break]
In spite of his grumbling, Orion's already organizing the ingredients on the counter and setting up bowls. Alex is right: there's no time. [break][break] He seems confident enough in his ability to eyeball it, and Orion doesn't want to look incompetent in comparison. He defers to a recipe for peanut butter cookies and nearly swears when he realises the jar he'd bought is half-gone. He'd taped a label to it, rather explicit: DO NOT EAT. That label currently adorned the top of the trash can, alongside the silver seal.[break][break]
"Ugh... add peanut butter to that list."[break][break]
He's scraping every last spoonful from the remainder of the jar and spares a glance over at Alexander's work when the other man comments. [break][break] "Maybe it just needs more force?" he reasons, hopes. "These guides are usually made with automatic mixers in mind, I'm sure."
[attr="class","stone i"]he's peering up from his bowl at orion's words, almost in disbelief at how unprepared they both seem to be. it's a little amusing, if he's being honest. "adding peanut butter to the list." he sends yet another text, feeling more guilty about using his assistant this much.
"i hope you had coffee, orion. it looks like we might be here all night."
what alexander says is meant to lighten the mood but by no means is it a joke. he's serious. they really might be here the entire night at this rate.
the mix is not thinning no matter how forceful he is, and the more he mixes, the more desperate he gets. so he sends another text, hoping to be saved.
"Well, at least we have a coffee maker — several, actually."[break][break]
There's the biggest, fanciest one that everyone prefers, several 'in-case-of-emergency' machines, and the busted one below the sink.[break][break]
His arm's already aching from the force with which he needs to mix the ingredients by hand. Alexander isn't faring much better. Orion's mixture looks fine to the naked eye, but he's sure there should have been more peanut butter added.[break][break]
In a desperate bid to salvage the taste, make it less bland, he grabs some chocolate chips and adds them in.[break][break]
"Well I don't know how they'll taste, but they're in."[break][break]
Now he just has to keep an eye on them and ensure they don't burn. At least he knows how to do this part right.
[attr="class","stone i"]alexander does what he should have done a long time ago: he abandons the disaster of a mix and starts on a new one. although he's still eyeballing it without measuring cups, the end result feels significantly better than the last mix, and it shows in how smooth the whisking is.
eventually, alexander gets his attempt at brownies into the oven as well. he sighs once the lid closes, taking a moment to compose himself.
"i imagine kim cole-essam is going to show up at the bake sale tomorrow and take all the credit." the thought has him chuckling. "which i am perfectly fine with. the man has his talents."
his phone buzzes a few more times and he spends a few seconds replying to them, smiling at the texts. he peers up at orion after that, and asks:
Whenever kim cole-essam is mentioned, Orion can't help but to recall his first impressions of the man: he'd sauntered into the council meeting with a Teddiursa strapped to him and proceeded to lay into Olivia as if he'd been paid to.[break][break]
The memory is humorous, fond.[break][break]
"He's more than welcome to take every ounce of attention away from me," Orion agrees, genuine, then jests, "especially if our baking leaves much to be desired."[break][break]
The cookies seem to be turning out better than he'd expected, at least. Peering into the smudged glass window, he sees that they're rising fine and the smell of them is phenomenal. Hopefully they'd taste even half as good.[break][break]
When work is mentioned, he winces.[break][break]
"It never seems to get any lighter, I'll tell you that." Which was his own fault, really: he could have stepped down as a Ranger in order to free up some extra time, but he hadn't the heart to. "I hope yours is less shit."
[attr="class","stone i"]"that might not actually be such a bad idea," he says, pausing to consider it for a moment. "let him take the fall for our horrid baking."
the orange light from the oven shows his brownies rising ever so slightly. it's honestly a beautiful sight, and alexander cannot help but feel a bit excited about how they'll turn out. probably bad, but still.
"mine hasn't changed much," and he wouldn't have it any other way. this is what's expected of him. still, it leaves little time for much else. "replacing olivia has been more work than i originally thought. but sootopolis is in a good place."
"Glad to hear it," says Orion of Sootopolis, eyes remaining fixed on the oven window. A watched pot never boils, and the watched cookies were taking far too long to rise. "It was a big void to fill, but if anyone's capable..."[break][break]
He leaves the rest unsaid. Stone was the former champion of Hoenn. Also unsaid: Orion prefers Stone's demeanor, so far, to that of Olivia Abiatti. Though they'd not worked together long enough for Orion to get a true picture of the man's character, he thus far seemed less likely to stir up the sort of controversy that had turned the New Years council meeting sour.[break][break]