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Kasimir Rheinallt

"Why yes, I *am* the brains of the operation. Thank you for noticing."

0 · 987 views · located in Kanto Region

a character in “Pokémon: Atonement”, as played by Aethyia

Description

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xxImageImageImagexxxxxKasimirRheinallt
xxxxxxxxx◙◙◙◙* Male xxxxx◙◙◙◙* 26 xxxxx◙◙◙◙* 6'6" xxxxx◙◙◙◙* 195 lbs. xxxxx◙◙◙◙* TR Exec: Raikou

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--Image- TECHNOLOGY good with computers; TR tech specialist
MARTIAL ARTS former competitive fighter
GENIUS excellent memory, can quickly read and absorb info, extremely intelligent
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Image I'm breathing in / I'm breathing out
- - - - - - - I'll cut the ties that hold me down .


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Kasimir's an odd personality, in some ways. Technically speaking, he's the 'nerd' among the Three Beasts—that is, the one in charge of the technical aspects of their work, including communications, cracking, and security. He certainly has the skill for it; though he lacks a formal degree in computer science, he's received a lot of training, done a lot of his own learning from other sources, and has an estimated IQ approaching 180, and as such he's become quite excellent at it. He can talk the talk and walk the walk as well, and this does go along with a certain stereotype that he completely fails to live up to.

He's actually, on the surface of things, probably the most socially-adept of the Beasts, too, and in great physical shape, both of which are obvious and go a long way to causing a lot of confusion. He's been mistaken for Ryk by new people quite a lot, because he just seems like the fearless leader type. It's bad enough that he's taken to wearing a pair of fake, thick glasses around the office to look more like 'the tech guy.'

Of course, no one in their right mind would actually put him in charge of anything, and this is because of his other obvious personality traits: Kas is both lazy and an obvious flirt. In fact he can seem highly superficial to people who interact with him only casually, and this is something he cultivates on purpose. He's honestly not really fond of being taken too seriously, and thinks that his current spot as the number two guy on the team is the perfect one to be in. He can't get bossed around by too many people, and he doesn't have to make the big decisions. He just gets told what they're doing, and helps make it happen.

The charming, frivolous personality is part-truth, part deception. It works as a pretense because it's close to the truth, but it also very effectively masks a number of important things. The most important, of course, is that Kasimir is in fact a mole: a member of the Kanto Pokémon Special Forces (KPSF) planted in Team Rocket for long-term espionage. The KPSF hopes to accumulate sufficient evidence of wrongdoing and illegal activity to shut Team Rocket down forever. For this, petty thefts and the like simply aren't going to do—Team Rocket has bought enough of the international justice system that they need something huge, and it falls to Kasimir to find it. As one might expect, that's a lot of pressure, and he's constantly lying to everyone around him, which is exhausting.

It's also more than a little guilt-inducing, which is not a great sign. Kasimir hates to admit it, but he doesn't hate all of his coworkers, and he learned pretty early on that while Team Rocket is indeed corrupt as hell, most of the lives that will end up completely ruined if it's taken down are relatively innocent office worker types, people who believe in the stated mission and know little to nothing about the unsavory parts. He tries not to let that get to him too much, but...


Image Soon, kill the myth
- - - - - - - I'll begin / be the first to witness.


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There’s honestly nothing too special to recount about Kasimir’s early years. He has a relatively functional family unit, he supposes. His parents are divorced, and he’s lived with his old man for most of his life, but his folks are still on friendly terms, and so he sees his mom pretty often, too. He’s the middle child of three, with an older sister and a younger one both. He and Crystal are pretty close in age—she’s thirty now, if he remembers right, but his baby sister Harper is only about twenty still, and actually not related to his mother at all, being only his half-sister by his father’s second wife.

There’s never been any crazy drama; they all get along pretty well. His father, Victor, is a dojo master, and runs the one in Fuchsia City now, though Kas was born in the Orange Islands. His mother Sheena still lives there, and runs an inn for tourists, as well as a restaurant. Crystal has since returned there to take over, while Harper and his stepmother Michelle, a highly-regarded attorney, mostly live in Saffron City after his dad’s second divorce only a couple of years ago. Kas was always a pretty independent kid—his grades in school were not fantastic, though he was generally acknowledged to be a very good student… just not the kind who turned his homework in when he was supposed to. He was always good with pokémon, and did the traditional journey thing at eleven like most kids do, returning at the end of a couple years to finish out his education. He’d considered making a run at the League, but never bothered with it, uninterested in the prestige or the challenge, in all honesty.

He entered a magnet high school for science and technology, one founded and sponsored by the legendary Steven Stone. It was about then that he started to take things a little more seriously, and was known for hanging around the computer labs after school hours whenever possible. He was also a fixture at his dad's dojo, though, which at the time was in Cerulean. He was a competitive fighter at the junior level, and won his fair share of tournaments, including a couple nationals. Though he had a lot of prospects for college and the like, a bad experience with Team Rocket in his youth led him down a rather odd path.

After he finished school, he enrolled in the Orange Islands Police Academy, entering basic training at the age of roughly eighteen. He excelled, his natural deductive skills, intelligence, and athleticism serving him well, and his savvy with both technology and pokémon making him stand out even among his peers. He was scouted into the Kanto Pokemon Special Forces right after graduation, and entered their ranks as something of a specialist in covert operations and tactics. Over time, he accumulated an impressive track record, and out of all his peers, he was chosen to lead an important operation—the long-term infiltration of Team Rocket, for intelligence.

His cover was deep—he really had to join the organization, work his way up through the ranks, and prove at every turn that he was cut out for the work Team Rocket did, including pokémon theft. While most of the other moles in the organization were weeded out over time, Kasimir has never been so much as suspected, as far as he knows. So far, he's been able to avoid getting too close with anyone in particular, having a large network of friendly acquaintances rather than any friends, as such, even eight years in.


Image I'm breathing in / I'm breathing out
- - - - - - - I'll be the enemy .


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ImageImagexx--ImageImageImageImagePRINCESS C. CHARIZARD 
----ImageImage RASH

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ImageImageSIGRÚN LUCARIO 
-ImageImage ADAMANT

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xx--ImageImageImageImageWIDGET FLYGON 
----ImageImage SASSY

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ImageImageLANI VAPOREON 
----Image CALM

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xx--ImageImageImageImageNORA TYPE:NULL 
----Image BRAVE

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ImageImageMEEP MAREEP 
----Image QUIRKY

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Cyrilla
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I'm so fucked.

He shouldn't have slept with her. He can't say he regrets doing so, because it was—well. It certainly isn't helping his muddled, uncomfortable feelings that he could feel how different this was even in the middle of something like that. Sex has always been mechanical for Kas. Fun, yes, but very dependent on things like skill and knowledge. With Cyrilla, he... felt. Feels, even now. And it's the last thing either of them needs.

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Eryk
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AARivalry xxx ▌▌▌▌▌▌▌▌▌▌
AAAttractionx ▌▌▌▌▌▌▌▌▌
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This line is here to take space.
You know, I really do admire the guy.

Of all the things Kasimir ever expected to discover about Eryk, a certain sort of innocence wasn't at all on the list. The guy's a Koga, for fuck's sake, and he's done shit for missions every bit as dirty as Kas has. And yet there's some part of Eryk that's just fundamentally untouched by all of that. Some part that hasn't turned cynical, disaffected, done with it all. Kas has to fake that. For Eryk, it's real, and that's amazing.

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Anastasia
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She's such a good kid.

It's not really fair to call her a kid—there's a certain world-weariness to Ana that suggests she knows more about hardship than she lets on. She's sure as hell miles more mature than he was at nineteen. But there's also a curious kind of... something like innocence about her. It's a striking contradiction, and sometimes he finds himself wondering where it came from. Also her crush on Ryk is obvious and hilarious.

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Aidan
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AARivalry xxx ▌▌▌▌▌▌▌▌▌▌
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I'm going to come out of this owing him too much.

It's not just the training or whatever, though he has to admit he's found his discipline again, as well as maybe, some little touch of ambition he thought he'd lost a long time ago. Maybe it's just because as he is now, he knows he's outclassed by Aidan in every way: as a trainer, as an athlete, but most importantly as a human being. The guy's just fundamentally decent, in a way Kas really doesn't think he is. Go figure.

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Nevena
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What a dork. Gotta love her.

Nev's making a lot of progress, socially, though Kas isn't sure his pointers really have much to do with it. Still, it's nice to see. She's a brilliant scientist, but contrary to popular opinion, having a healthy social life isn't going to impede that. Work-life balance, one step at a time. Also, he's pretty sure she has a thing for boss, and he kinda wants to see what happens with that.

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Coding by Aethiya, inspired by maccotango's guide to the same.

So begins...

Kasimir Rheinallt's Story

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Eryk Nero Character Portrait: Kasimir Rheinallt Character Portrait: Cyrilla Niav Character Portrait: Aidan Klein
Tag Characters » Add to Arc »

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April - 25th
Field Office 9 - Morning - Warm
Eryk Nero


Eryk smoothed out the front of his suit, grimacing slightly at the color. They were required to wear the standard executive uniform which consisted of a white suit jacket, a pair of white formal trousers, and a black shirt underneath it. It was void of the symbolic R that used to cover a breast pocket, but Eryk supposed that had a lot to do with the reimagery of Team Rocket. Now called Neo Team Rocket, but it didn't matter to him. He pushed a heavy sigh through his nose as he made his way towards the foyer. He and the other two executives were being summoned for a meeting. He knew one of the two; Cyrilla was his childhood friend, and current fiancée. A ruse he planned to keep up for as long as he possibly could, however; he did not know who the third member of his group, was. All he had was a name: Kasimir Rheinallt. It sounded familiar, but he couldn't really say.

They were all officially meeting for the first time, today. If he remembered the e-mail correctly, they were going to be given instructions of some sort. Eryk didn't really bother paying too much attention to it, though. He would be given the info he needed, and then he could do whatever job they needed him to do. It was the only reason why he was in Cinnabar. He didn't like the heat much, but he supposed there were not a lot of things he did like.

When he made it to the foyer, he glanced around and noted that he was the first to arrive. He'd always been a punctual person, but perhaps he was a bit early. Shoving his hands into his pocket, he waited for someone to arrive. Cyrilla would be around soon, he thought. She was never far from where he was, but perhaps she'd got caught up in something? Perhaps neating her uniform or some other aspect of her appearance? Unlike Eryk, she always made a point to look her best. He supposed it had a lot to do with what she did. He didn't like it, but that's just how things were.

Pulling in a soft breath, he blinked slowly, listening to the clock behind him tick ever so loudly.

Before long, he could hear a jaunty whistling from down the hall, growing closer at a brisk, but not hurried pace. The whistler was clear and tuneful, but the song wasn't anything he recognized. Not much afterwards, the door opened, and someone else stepped into the room. The man was very tall, with a warm brown complexion and deeper umber hair, which was slightly longer than Eryk's own and pulled into a low tail. He wore the same uniform, but not properly—the jacket was open and his shirt appeared to be only half-tucked, the top three buttons all undone.

The man glanced the other way into the room, then towards Eryk, grinning lopsidedly when he spotted him and stepping in, a slim laptop computer carried loosely in one large hand. "Ryk. Long time, no see." Letting the door shut behind him, he nodded at another beyond it. "We're actually in the conference room up this way."

“Kas," he spoke the man's name without realizing it, realizing belatedly why the name sounded so familiar to him. He'd undergone the same introduction to Neo Team Rocket with Eryk. He wouldn't say that they were exactly friends, but Eryk didn't dislike him. At least not yet. Glancing towards the door Kasimir had nodded towards, he blinked again, but moved forward. He wasn't late, by any means, but he supposed being in the proper area would be a good start to something. What? he didn't know. Didn't really care.

When they arrived to the conference room, Cyrilla was already waiting for them. She grinned in Eryk's direction, raising a hand to wave before she set it back down. It seemed she'd opted to wear the executive uniform skirt with the ridiculously short length. He could almost see it riding up her thighs, however; it seemed she was sensible enough to wear a pair of black shorts underneath. Perhaps to help deal with the heat, but what did he know?

“Took you long enough, Ryk," she spoke, offering him a smile before her eyes landed on Kasimir. She arched a brow in his direction, before she turned back to Eryk and grinned. He resisted the urge to roll his eyes at her statement, and instead, speared a hand through his hair. It wasn't as if he'd bothered to style it. It was loose, shaggy, and just fell in a way that he didn't really have to bother. He could see Cyrilla roll her eyes, though, before she took a seat at the table. Glancing towards Kasimir, he took the seat to her right, facing the wall where the television was situated.

"Ah. You must be Cyrilla. Kas; nice to meet you." He adjusted the rimless glasses on his nose—Eryk didn't remember him having those before, but for all he knew he'd worn contacts during training.

Kasimir moved to the other side of the table, back to the screen and at the far end, but he did extend a hand for Cyrilla to shake, head slightly tilted in an inquisitive manner.

“Pleasure to meet you as well, Kas," she replied, taking his hand into her own in what seemed to be a firm handgrip before pulling away. Eryk rolled his eyes slightly, and shook his head. “Any idea what this meeting is about?" she asked, head tilting slightly as she waited for one of them to answer.

“I don't fucking know," Eryk stated, brows furrowing slightly. He just wanted it to be over with already. Cyrilla arched a brow at him, her face smoothing out as she sighed. “I don't know," Eryk stated once more, perhaps a little softer this time around. If they had known what the meeting was about, Eryk doubted the three of them would be gathered in the conference rooom for a meeting. They could have simply e-mailed it to them, and he'd be back in his office dealing with whatever it was they wanted him to.

"I've got an idea," Kasimir admitted, crouching on the floor to pull several cables from retractable recesses out towards his computer. "Only because I'm running the visuals for the meeting, though. We've got a mission, apparently." Hooking the cables into a few of the ports in the laptop, he pulled out one of the chairs and flopped into it, pulling his legs up under him and crossing them as he opened the lid and woke the machine up.

The screen behind him flickered to life as well, though as of yet it didn't show much of interest. Only the first panel of one of those presentation things, whatever they were called.

Before he could much elaborate, though, the door opened again, and in stepped a different man, this one recognizable rather easily. Aidan Klein was well enough known within Neo Team Rocket that there were few people who didn't know his face, or at least the hair—bright red and unkempt. A cigarette dangled from between his lips; he crossed the room to crack a window first thing, before he faced the group.

"Good. You're here. I'll assume you all know each others' names at least." He removed the cigarette, flicking the end of it into a nearby glass ashtray and stubbing it out. Exhaling a last cloud of smoke, he dropped into a different chair, scrubbing a hand through his hair. For a man titled after a legendary firebird pokémon, he looked rather... indifferent. Perhaps even tired, though that was harder to say.

"And two of you have already read each others' files." He didn't indicate how he knew that or who the two were, only blinked slowly and sighed. "For the one of you that hasn't, let's get caught up. Who are you, and what are your skills? Go." He waved a lackadaisical hand as if to prompt them to speak.

“Infiltration specialist and intelligence gatherer," Cyrilla spoke first, perhaps in a more professional tone than she'd meant to. “And also a decent chemist," she added, though Eryk knew she was more than just decent. Her eyes went to him, next, though, and Eryk furrowed his brows. He didn't know how to answer that, honestly. His skills were vast, but that didn't make him a specialist of any sort. He could do things, well enough that they managed to get whatever job done, and that had been enough.

"I'm just the nerd," Kasimir said with a little shrug. He nodded at his computer. "I do technology stuff: security systems, the NTR firewalls and information databases, occasionally a records request from the local jennys, that kind of thing."

Aidan nodded, reaching into his pocket and withdrawing what seemed to be a set of ID cards, each with a clip at the top, the kind of thing that would attach to a pocket or lanyard or the like. He slid Cyrilla's and Kasimir's across the table to them, and then Eryk's to him. As befit his promotion, he had a new designation: E01, indicating that he was first-ranked among the executives of Neo Team Rocket. Kasimir's would be E02, and Cyrilla's E03. "What about you, Nero?"

Eryk shrugged his shoulders. “I do a little of everything. Mostly the manual labor aspect of... things," he answered. It was about as best a summary as he could give for his particular set of skills. “A jack-of-all-trades, if you will," he clarified. It wasn't like he needed to be particularly good at one thing. If he could do something well-enough, he didn't think it was necessary to be the best at it. It served its purpose, and that was all he needed. He took his ID card and clipped it to the breast pocket of his jacket. He'd have to get a lanyard for it, or some other sort of thing to keep it attached on.

"All right." Aidan was either satisfied with the answers or didn't care, because he nodded at Kasimir, who returned his attention to his laptop.

"So you three are now effectively in charge of this field office. Technically you answer to me, but I've got my own projects, and for the most part I won't have a lot to say about how things run here. That's up to you. You also, however, have a long-term mission to do. Boss wants intel on a local—anything and everything you can get."

He paused expectantly, and Kasimir struck a key on his computer, filling the screen with a photo. It seemed to be of the identification sort: the young woman in it was not smiling, and seemed vaguely distracted by something slightly past the photographer. She had soft pink hair, long enough to fall out of frame, and a face that seemed to be an assemblage of pale, delicate features, from large blue eyes to the sharp point of her chin. She looked about as nonthreatening as anyone Eryk had ever seen.

"This is the target," Kasimir said. "Her name's Anastasia Asher, and as you might expect from that hair, she's a Joy relative. She runs a pokémon shelter and hospice on the island—it's not more than two miles from here. From what I was able to find in public records, she's up to date on all her licenses—unusually for one of her family, she has one for training as well as one for the shelter, but she's not on record as owning any badges or anything. The shelter was established in town about a year ago; at that point all inspections indicated the place was up to code for thirty pokémon." He lifted his shoulders and let them fall.

Aidan elaborated. "Boss says recon. She's of interest as a possible volunteer for a project of his, but we're not sure she has the right qualifications. You'll know them if you see them, and there's a high chance you will. In the meantime, you're supposed to get close. The idea is that if she qualifies, she'll want to volunteer, so make friends. Or whatever works. That's the mission."

Cyrilla's brows furrowed, but she didn't say anything. Eryk felt something vaguely uncomfortable in his stomach as he narrowed his eyes. They wanted the three of them to get close to this young woman because she was a potential volunteer? Eryk wasn't the brightest person, he knew this of himself, however; why would they need to get close to a target to have her volunteer for a project of their boss? Why not just ask her to volunteer her services, whatever they may be? If he remembered correctly, they could very well compensate her for her services, if that is what it took. It wasn't until the last of Aidan's statement finally caught up with him that Eryk understood something.

Get close so that they don't have to compensate her. So that she'd be willing to do it because they were her friends. The thought left a bit of a sour taste in his mouth. Eryk was not the type of person to make friends easily with people. Cyrilla could; she just had that natural charisma about her, he supposed. Kasimir looked like he could without much effort, but Eryk couldn't be too sure.

“Very well," Eryk spoke, nodding his head in Aidan's direction. Cyrilla glanced at Eryk from the corners of her eyes, but nodded her head as well in agreement.

It was nothing more than a job, and they would all do their parts, he supposed.

"Gregorovich expects written reports monthly, to him directly. I'm assuming that won't be a problem." Aidan stood, withdrawing a box of cigarettes and a lighter from his breast pocket and lighting one before replacing the box. "Anyway, if you need anything, I'm around I guess. You've all been secured an apartment at the nearest complex. I recommend checking out the facility when you get a chance. Hayley's the point person with the local grunts; she won't give you any trouble."

Neo Team Rocket could be a competitive place; it wasn't uncommon for petty grudges held between grunts to last years, and Executives were seen just as often as obstacles to surpass than authorities to be obeyed. Aidan was probably referencing this fact. "Good luck and all that. There's a training exercise at the end of the month, so get to know each other a bit so you don't humiliate yourselves. Maybe Nero can even figure out what all his trades are." The corner of his mouth twitched; Kasimir snorted softly.

Without further input, Aidan exited the conference room.

Kasimir blinked. "I've got maps and more information on the mark if anyone's interested?"

Eryk pursed his lips together. He had a feeling he'd been insulted somehow, but he couldn't be too sure. He turned his attention towards Kasimir, though, and smoothed out his expression.

“I think that's a good idea. The more info we have on her, the easier it'll be to approach and assimilate ourselves into her life," Cyrilla spoke, but there was a slight crease in her brows from where they furrowed.

“Agreed. The more we know, the better our chances at a successful mission," Eryk added, though he doubted that it would be the case. “Let's get to it, then."

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Eryk Nero Character Portrait: Kasimir Rheinallt Character Portrait: Cyrilla Niav
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#, as written by Aethyia


April 25th
Field Office 9 - Noon - Warm
Kasimir Rheinallt


Kas idly cracked the knuckles of his left hand as he walked, using his thumb to push down each finger in sequence until he heard the satisfying pop that was the joint releasing air. It wasn't great for them, but of all the bad habits he could have picked up he figured this was one of the least terrible. At least he didn't smoke like a chimney like their new boss. Or so office gossip claimed, anyway.

He felt he'd gotten through that first encounter okay, honestly. Jangling the keys in his hand, he started up the stairs, assuming the others were following, since he'd said he knew the way to their new offices. There was something inherently terrifying about being in the same room as Aidan Klein a.k.a. A01 a.k.a. Moltres a.k.a. the human lie detector. At least if you had something to hide.

As secrets went, Kas's was pretty fucking huge, so naturally he'd been about terrified. Fortunately, he was very good at not making that obvious, and if Klein had picked up on it he'd probably just put it down to, well, new job and new boss nerves. As it happened, Kas didn't really have those as such—he wasn't typically the type to let those kinds of things intimidate him. In nearly a decade embedded in NTR, he'd never found himself unable to keep up with the people around him, and this fact had allowed him to give himself a certain mask of—well it wasn't incompetence exactly. More like laziness, and overspecialization. He was just the nerd, as he'd introduced himself, and no one had questioned that, because no one had any reason to.

All for the better, of course, even if it did get old after a while.

"And here we are," he said, injecting a sort of bumbling, cheerful friendliness into his tone. He fit the key into the door, which bore a plaque that read EXECUTIVE OFFICES. When it swung open, he held it for both Eryk and Cyrilla to enter first, smiling benignly, and stepped in behind them.

The suite consisted of a central lobby area, with a currently unmanned secretary's desk, and three different office doors, which had apparently already been prepared—they read NERO, RHEINALLT, and NIAV in that order. The lobby was tiled in polished black granite, the counter in front of the secretary's desk was the same, while the wood was in a rich teak. The heaviness of the color scheme was saved from being overpowering by cream walls and a few cheery plants; the chairs in the waiting area were upholstered in deep maroon.

"I wonder if we have to pick our own office furniture," he mused, separating the other keys on the ring and tossing Eryk and Cyrilla the ones that matched the numbers on their doors. "All this red and black is..." he tilted a hand back and forth. "Very 'cold corporate intimidation,' no?" He doubted anyone would appreciate his colorful island sensibilities, but there were more than three colors, sheesh.

Cyrilla huffed lightly, like she was trying not to laugh at the statement but rolled her eyes in what seemed to be in good nature. Eryk, however, remained as passive as he'd been when the meeting started. Face pulled into a neutral look, though his was more of a glare than anything. Cyrilla shrugged her shoulders, though, and glanced in Eryk's direction.

“I'm sure they'll let us choose our own if we really wanted to. It's not like office furniture can't be swapped out for something a little more comfortable," she replied as Eryk narrowed his eyes somewhat.

“What's wrong with the way things are, now?" he asked, earning a flat look from Cyrilla. She sighed heavily and shook her head.

“That's not... it's bland, Ryk. And it feels like everything else is drowning. You have to make your office look at least somewhat comfortable. You'll be spending a lot of time in it, after all," she stated as Eryk pursed his lips. He didn't seem too convinced about it, but he didn't offer any other statements.

Kas hadn't really expected anything different. Three months he'd spent with the guy in training, and not once had he ever seen him crack a smile. It wasn't the kind of thing that really bothered him, though. While Eryk had a hell of a glare on him, it was the fact that he'd been on the other end of it a few times that had alerted Kas to the fact that his normal grumpy expression was just in fact a chronic case of resting bitchface, which he found more hilarious than anything.

"It's fine, Cy," he said with a grin, opening up his own individual office. At the very least he should put his computer down. "Can I call you Cy, or should I stick to Cyrilla? I don't think Ryk would know comfortable if it hit him in the head. That's my guess for why he always looks like he's trying to pass a kidney stone, anyway." He winked, then ducked inside the office to set his laptop on the desk.

“You can call me whatever you want," she replied, a grin on her face before it disappeared, and she just looked like she was smiling. Eryk, however, was actually glaring at Kas, perhaps for the statement. Cyrilla glanced towards Ryk, though, and huffed at him. “And you're not wrong. We should probably take the initiative and fill his office with all kinds of comfortable things. That way he can't complain about it, later," she spoke, causing the furrow in Ryk's brow to deepen.

“Stay away from my office. I don't need help from either of you to furnish it," he stated, voice low as if to sound intimidating. Cyrilla rolled her eyes again and shook her head. If I require assistance," he began, his eyes narrowing further, “I will ask the appropriate designers to furnish it. For now, it'll be as it is."

“You haven't even seen it, yet, Ryk. How can it be as it is, if you haven't even gone inside?" Cyrilla deadpanned. Eryk just shrugged his shoulders. He really didn't seem to care about his office being any particular way. “Ugh, you're hopeless."

Kas laughed softly, leaning back against his doorframe and smiling lopsidedly at the two of them. He tilted his head, too, flicking his eyes from one to the other. They were, according to their files, engaged, but unless he was very mistaken, there was an edge of something flirtatious in the way she'd said that—you can call me whatever you want. It hadn't seemed to produce much of any reaction in Ryk, either.

He wasn't sure what that meant, but he took it to at least mean that a little light flirtation wasn't off-limits, which was good. Kas was a fan of light flirtation, even the kind that wouldn't ever really go anywhere. Banter was fun, after all. Could certainly lighten up the atmosphere a bit too. It didn't hurt that both of his new coworkers were extremely attractive. If at least one of them was receptive to that kind of thing, he might not mind this assignment at all.

"I bet between the two of us we could break in and leave things. See how long it takes him to notice a rug, or a vase of flowers on the windowsill." He shifted one hand to square his glasses on his face, and shot Cyrilla a grin he knew looked good on him, one half brightness, one half mischief.

“Oh, I've done it before," she replied in a non-chalant fashion, grinning at Kas before her eyes turned towards Ryk. “Took him nearly a year before he realized there was a pink ring on his keychain," she stated. Ryk glanced down at the keychain in his hands that he was fixing his new office keys too, and it was, in fact, pink. He shrugged.

“It's a keychain and serves its purposes. Why should the color matter?" he asked, arching a brow in her direction.

“Because it's supposed to be embarrassing for you. You just..." she sighed through her nose and shook her head.

Kas snickered. It was such a Ryk way to think. It wasn't even embracing the color, or choosing it on purpose, as Kas might well have done. It was just... giving exactly no shits. It seemed the eight years between training and now really hadn't changed his core personality much at all.

"All right, well, we know where our offices are now." He pulled the door to his shut behind him and locked it—conventional locks alone wouldn't keep out Ryk or someone with Cy's credentials, so he'd have to consider additional security measures later, but for now he was confident it wouldn't be necessary. "Do we want to scope out the rest of the place, or what?"

“It would be best to familiarize ourselves with the facility," Ryk spoke, his expression smoothing back out into something neutral.

“So that you don't get lost, right? We all know your sense of direction is shit, anyway," Cyrilla spoke, a large grin on her face as she tilted her head in Ryk's direction. His eyes narrowed as a result but he didn't say anything. Perhaps because he knew it was true, or perhaps of something else.

“That, and it will be useful to know where everything is, Cyrilla. My sense of direction has nothing to do with this," he finally spoke, shaking his head before turning as if to leave. Cyrilla chuckled lightly and followed after him.

“Oh, well since it's already noonish, we should probably go get lunch," she suggested. “Kitchen sounds like a good place to start," she stated, perhaps as a first destination suggestion.

"About the most important place I can think of," Kas agreed with a smile, following her out the door. "Either of you cook?" Somehow he didn't see it as a Ryk skill at all. Cy he was less sure about.

“Unless you want to be poisoned," Cyrilla started, snickering softly as if to herself, “I suggest you don't let Ryk do any of the cooking. That is up to yours truly." She grinned at Kas for a moment and then towards Ryk. “So if there's anything in particular you want, I can make it. Peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, lasagna, curry, whatever you think you want," she stated, listing off a few things that she was, apparently, able to make.

“My cooking isn't that bad," Ryk mumbled softly, as though he were only speaking to himself. Cyrilla snorted softly.

“Ryk, you managed to give almost everyone food poisoning the last time you cooked. And I don't even know how you managed that," she shot back, arching a brow in his direction. She turned towards Kas, after that. “So, what'll it be?"

Kas was easily able to cook for himself, but if someone else—particularly a pretty someone—was offering, he sure as hell wasn't going to say no. "Surprise me," he said, padding down the stairs next to the other two. "My mother refers to me as the industrial compactor of eaters, and I like most everything foodwise, so I'm easy to please as long as there's a lot of it." He certainly hoped she didn't think of this as her obligation as the lowest-ranked team member or the only woman, but something told him Cy would happily stab someone for suggesting as much, so for now he wasn't going to make a big deal of it. If it seemed to be a problem, he'd check in with her at a later date.

The kitchen was on the first floor, a pretty big space, which it likely had to be considering that around twenty or so grunts worked here, plus another ten staff like secretaries and janitors and such, and everyone needed to eat. No doubt many brought things from home, but he was willing to bet both microwaves were well-used. It wasn't a bad kitchen, though, mostly stainless steel in that ruthlessly modern style that the entire interior of the facility seemed to be going for.

Kas parked himself on a stool against the island, curious to see what Cy was going to do.

She laughed at his statement, at least. “That's nothing new; you share that in common with that one," she stated, jabbing a finger in Ryk's direction. She moved around the island, heading straight for the pots and pans and pulled a couple of them down. The ones that it seemed she would need for whatever she was going to cook. “Don't mind me; you two have fun conversing, or whatever it is that you do with new coworkers," she stated, grinning at Kas and Ryk before she went to work, grabbing various vegetables, spices, and a meat of some sort. Looked a bit like chicken.

Eryk, however, didn't seem all inclined to talking, something he didn't do even eight years ago. He merely stared at Kas for a moment before narrowing his eyes and glancing back towards Cyrilla, as if to watch her make whatever dish she was going to make.

Kas shook his head slightly. "You've condemned me, Cy. You might as well have just left me by my lonesome, or told me to talk to the wall. All Ryk has for me are insults and glares." He placed a hand over his heart in a mockery of sincere bereavement. "Woe is me, for I have left such a bad impression already that the cruelty compounds itself in such a way."

Cyrilla snorted softly, but she didn't turn away from what she was doing. “Ryk, play nice and talk to your coworker. At least say hi," she stated, glancing over her shoulder once as if to give him a stare before turning back to the food. “It's going to be about thirty minutes before everything is done," she stated. Ryk sighed heavily, and turned towards Kas, as if he were actually going to obey her.

“You've nothing interesting to say, and we've already introduced ourselves eight years ago," Eryk stated in a deadpan voice. Cyrilla huffed a light laugh as she shook her head.

“Ryk, that's not what I meant. Fine, fine, I'll give you an example," she stated, turning around and placing a hand on her hip. “You already know my name, Cyrilla Niav, but what you don't know is that I'm the best cook you'll ever have and probably the best at anything," she stated, her grin turning a bit mischievous as if she were implicating something else. “Ryk over there seems like a grumpy ursaring but he's more like a mareep: cute and cuddly."

Eryk glared at her for a moment before his eyes went to the pot of food she was making.

"A tall claim," Kas replied, arching a brow in playful retort to Cyrilla. He hadn't really expected Eryk would want to talk much; he'd never been the chatty type, and that was honestly just fine by Kas. "Since my mother and sister are professional chefs and everything. As for anything else..."

A grin stretched across his face; he leaned forward on the counter, resting his chin in his hand and flicking his eyes rather pointedly over Cy. He figured she'd invited it with the comment and he was almost certain he was dealing with the type of woman who wouldn't hesitate to tell him to back off if he crossed a line. "Was that an invitation to find out for myself, or do I just have to take your word for it?"

There was a sense in which her confidence might really have crossed the line into arrogance, but he interpreted it more as playfulness and banter. Besides, it was interesting. And there was a distinct lack of interesting anywhere else at the moment.

Ryk made a vague disgusted noise, causing Cyrilla to laugh at him. She arched a brow at Kas, though, in what seemed to be a very suggestive way. “Well," she started, staring at him for a moment before she seemed to come to some conclusion, “as for anything else, we'll just have to see whether or not it was an invitation."

“Food, please, before I no longer have the appetite for it," Ryk spoke suddenly, his face pulled into a light grimace. Cyrilla chuckled lightly, spooning the contents of the meal she'd made, into a bowl.

“Thai coconut chicken curry, a la Cyrilla style," she stated, placing a bowl in front of Ryk before grabbing one for Kas and then herself. “It has a bit more heat to it so if you can't handle it," she glanced at Ryk, “there's milk in the fridge." She turned her full attention towards Kas, though, and arched a brow. Almost as if she were daring him to say something bad about the food she'd made.

Kas recognized a matter of pride when he saw it, and paused in annoying the shit out of Ryk for a moment to properly taste the food. He was a fan of spice himself, being from a region where heavily-spiced food was the norm. Careful to let the flavors settle on his tongue, he chewed slowly, then swallowed. "I'd adjust the coriander to ginger ratio, personally," he said honestly, "but that kind of thing's a matter of taste. It's really good, Cy, thank you." It wasn't in fact the best dish he'd ever had, but he didn't hold that against it.

Well, not actually, anyway. He would certainly tease her about it. "I don't think I'm convinced though. About the 'best I've ever had' thing." He grinned. "Perhaps next time?"

Without so much as a warning, Ryk stood abruptly, taking his bowl with him, and heading in the direction of his office. Cyrilla nearly fell out of her chair laughing before she shook her head. Kas was laughing, too, all but doubled over with the force of it. Getting to him was to much fun, really.

“He'll get used to it," she stated, turning her attention back towards Kas. “Well it's a good of a start as any, I suppose. I mean, you did say your mom and sister were professionals. While I might not be a professional cook," she continued, grinning lightly as she leaned to catch her chin in her hand, “I would say next time. Then you can decide whether or not it's the best you've ever had."

"You know, Cy," he replied lightly, "I think you and I are going to get along just fine."

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Eryk Nero Character Portrait: Kasimir Rheinallt Character Portrait: Cyrilla Niav
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April 25th
Field Office 9 - Late Afternoon - Warm
Cyrilla Niav


When they finally managed to find Ryk, he was holed up in his office, sitting in his desk and staring at his computer screen. It seemed he didn't have too much difficulty navigating it, but Cyrilla knew he was not that good with computers. Or anything technology-related. Despite his claim at being a jack-of-all-trades, he really didn't know much about technology. That didn't bother her, though. She was there to help him in any way he needed it. She'd promised herself that much, at least, to always be there for him in any capacity. She owed him a great debt that she'd never be able to repay. Shoving the thought from her mind, for now, Cyrilla leaned on his door frame, crossing her arms over her chest as she stared at him.

“Ryk, it's time to go meet in the front foyer. They're going to be giving us our keys to our new place," she spoke, glancing behind her towards Kas before turning her attention back on Ryk. “And I'm sure you'd just love to check out how boring that's going to be, right?" she stated, feeling the corners of her lips tug upward when he glanced in her direction. His eyes narrowed somewhat, and to anyone else it might have been seen as him glaring. Cyrilla knew all he was doing was contemplating what she'd just told him, though. She'd learned to read Eryk's facial expressions years ago.

“Alright," was the only response he gave before standing from his spot. He glanced at the empty bowl near his desk as if to contemplate it. Cyrilla rolled her eyes.

“Just take it back to the kitchen, Ryk. It's on the way, anyway," she spoke, watching as he grabbed the bowl and ushered her out of his office. She huffed lightly and glanced towards Kas. “You're not going to be anything like him, are you?" she spoke mostly in a teasing manner. Kas had proven, so far anyway, that he was nothing like Ryk. If the way he'd responded to her flirtatious banter earlier was anything to go by.

Kas huffed half a laugh, tilting his head a little as though feigning to consider it. He'd lost the jacket in the last couple of minutes—probably left it in his office—and rolled up the sleeves of the black shirt to his elbows. One of his forearms seemed to have part of a long, serpentine tattoo of some kind on it. He was certainly better-built than the average nerd, but the way he stood slightly slouched didn't make it too obvious.

"Arceus, no. There's only one Ryk, and that's probably to everyone's benefit, including his." He grinned, bright and naturally a touch lopsided. "I think I could manage 'stoic badass' for about ten seconds before I gave myself away for the goofy smartass I actually am. So no, nothing like him. Sorry to disappoint." He tipped her a subtle wink, as if to suggest that he didn't really think this was all that disappointing. Oddly he didn't really seem to be putting Eryk down at all—even all his teasing earlier hadn't had that feel. If anything, he seemed to like him, and to banter accordingly.

“Good, glad to be disappointed," Cyrilla replied, grinning back at Kas. She almost could hear Ryk roll his eyes, causing her to laugh. She tilted her head a bit and shook it at Ryk. He just glowered at her and began walking in the direction of the kitchen and foyer. When he'd successfully managed to drop his dishes off, they made their way towards the counter where a young woman, probably around the same age as Cyrilla, if not a year older, sat behind a desk. She had a beautiful shade of blonde hair curled past her shoulders and a pair of deep blue eyes. Cyrilla grinned, leaning over the counter as she continued to regard the young woman.

“Oh, you must be Nero, Rheinallt, and Niav. I'm Hayley, nice to meet you!" she stated in a cheerful manner and extended her hand out. Cyrilla took it, noting how soft they were, before she squeezed softly and released it.

“Nice to meet you, Hayley," Cyrilla spoke, grinning with a light wink. Hayley coughed lightly but turned her attention towards Ryk and Kas.

“Here's your keys to your new place. It's at a complex known as The Cloyster. It's a rather nice area, so it shouldn't be too difficult to find." She handed the three of them a set of keys, each, and Cyrilla purposefully let her fingers slide across Hayley's hand before she glanced at the keys in question.

“Much obliged, Hayley," she stated, earning a narrowed expression from Eryk. She only grinned at him as she leaned away from the counter and twirled her keys on her finger. “Let's go check it out, yeah?"

Kas snickered, clearly well aware of what she was up to. When he accepted his own keys, though, he just gave Hayley a little smile and a nod of acknowledgment—he'd clearly introduced himself to her already, from the way she grinned a little as she handed his over.

He returned his attention to Cyrilla and Eryk though, and gestured for them to precede him. "Pretty sure I know where it's at. Been looking at island maps for the last three days." He rolled his eyes a little, then followed them outside.

It was possible his choice to rid himself of the uniform jacket was not purely aesthetic; they were immediately swamped by a wave of heat, at least compared to the inside. Kas's glasses fogged; he simply took them off his nose and settled them into the vee of his shirt. "Turn right up here; we're downtown, but it's still got that new-building stench, if you know what I mean."

Cyrilla didn't really mind. She and Ryk were used to all sorts of living conditions. From the super well-off lavish mansions to the grittiest down-trodden houses that provided no more shelter than a cardboard box would have. She shrugged her shoulders, though, and glanced towards Ryk. He didn't seem to have any particular feelings about the situation, but she supposed that was just the person he was now. Pushing the thought out of her mind, they walked in comfortable silence towards their new place. It wasn't too far from the facility, perhaps a good tweny minute walk. It was good exercise that way, she supposed, however; she glanced at the apartment complex, and whistled lightly.

It was like looking at a four star hotel. The building was tall, perhaps taller than the Old Mansion was, and could easily fit a few hundred people. It branched off, though, with smaller units off to the side that looked like townhomes, but still as luxurious as the tall building.

“This is too much. They could have easily fit us into a motel," Ryk stated, furrowing his brows. Cyrilla snorted softly and shook her head.

“Ryk... that's not the point of being here. We have to look and play the part of regular town people who aren't doing whatever it is we're doing," she stated, earning a flat stare from Ryk. He was never comfortable with things that were nice, but that might have been due to the fact that Ryk never liked attention on himself, to begin with. Cyrilla knew why, but they were as much a part of him as hers were. There was no healing those: physical or otherwise.

He merely continued forward, pulling out his key, perhaps, to see which apartment was his. “I have apartment 613," he spoke glancing towards Cyrilla and Kas. She blinked mildly and glanced at her own set.

. “Me too," she spoke, but it wasn't that surprising to her. They were, after all, on file, engaged. It made sense that they would group the two of them together. She glanced towards Kas, though, and tilted her head slightly. . “Does that mean you'll be our neighbor?" Chances were that they purchased two separate apartment units for the three of them. One for her and Ryk, and the other for Kas.

"Uh..." Kas looked a little perplexed for a moment, but then he pulled his key as if to double-check. When he did, he snorted. "Unless someone screwed up somewhere, I think I'm your roommate." The snort became a cackle as he looked over at Eryk, and he shook his head. "Man, I think someone in HR was making a statement about me being a third wheel or something. Sorry guys—we can always do ground rules if you need your, uh, alone time."

The way he said it sounded almost dubious, as though he wasn't entirely sure that was actually a concern.

Cyrilla blinked before she started laughing as well. Honestly, she didn't care. It's not like she actually planned to do anything with Ryk. The thought alone made her reflexively gag. He was like a brother to her. Their engagement was mostly for appearances sake, but that was something she didn't need to tell Kas. He wasn't part of their family so he wouldn't understand.

“I think it'll be kind of nice to have a third wheel, don't you think?" she stated, grinning in Ryk's direction. He narrowed his eyes at her, and she knew he was glaring at her, however; she merely laughed. “Ryk, you need to lighten up and just let loose one day. You might actually smile," she joked.

“I think not, but our arrangement isn't at all an inconvenience, Kas," he stated, his eyes sliding towards the other man.

“I think what he means to say is it's not necessary for ground rules. And also, he looks forward to you being his roommate. Well, our roommate, but who's really keeping track of those things?"

Kas arched an eyebrow, but shrugged amiably enough. As they entered the building, he bypassed the elevator and headed for the stairwell—or he seemed to be, until it became pretty clear that there wasn't one around. "What the hell?" he asked, shaking his head and backtracking to the elevator and pressing the call button. At least there were several.

"Not ground rules people, huh? That works for me. I promise I'm pretty clean, at least." He eyed them for a moment, then nodded slightly. "I figure we'll be fine."

The elevator arrived on the sixth floor, and Kas led the way to 613, unlocking the door and pushing it open to admit the both of them first.

Cyrilla shrugged at Kas's statement. “I doubt any of us will be using it very often, anyway. Ryk is a work-a-holic, and I'll be spending a lot of time out doing reconnaissance on the island for a few days," maybe a few weeks depending on how things went. It would be good to know the layout of the island just in case something happened. Cinnabar wasn't a particularly big island, but if Cyrilla could find blind spots on it, that might come in handy one day. It was always good to be prepared, be one step ahead of everyone else.

“Plus, I'm sure these guys," she began, pointing to the pokéballs that were hooked to her belt, “don't want to be cooped up in an apartment all day. Or inside their balls all day. They need to be able to stretch their legs." And she would never dream of keeping her pokémon in their pokéballs for longer than they needed to be. Of course, she knew that they were required to be inside their pokéballs when in certain public places, but at home, or walking in the park would be more than fine. Her pokémon were mostly well-behaved to begin with, except for Diva. She'd probably try and go pick a fight with someone.

When she finally took the time to glance around the apartment, she felt her lips curl backwards. It was so... spartan. The walls were mostly white, a light grey rug in the middle of what she assumed was the living area, and a white couch. She could see the kitchen from where she stood, mostly stainless steel appliances with a black and light grey checkered back splash. These people were really going for psych-ward appearances. She shuddered to think what the rooms look like.

“Alright, new plan," she began, turning towards Ryk and Kas. “This is... just ridiculous. We need more color than this. You," she stated, pointing towards Ryk, “need to go find something to brighten this place up. Kas, you and I are going to go to the nearest furniture store and get different furniture for this place. I don't even want to know what the rooms look like, yet."

She'd refurnish the apartment herself, really. Ryk just furrowed his brows.

“There's nothing wrong with this," he spoke, causing Cyrilla to sigh.

“Of course you wouldn't find anything wrong with plain."

"Oh, furniture shopping. Count me in." Kas sounded a touch wry, but no more than that. He grimaced slightly, though, when Eryk asserted that the apartment as it was was fine. "Honestly I don't know if we can trust him to find something like that. He'd come back with a navy blue tablecloth and think that counted." He grinned a little, shifting past them to check out the side hallways. It seemed, oddly enough, to split into three different rooms, two kind of next to each other and a third, probably the biggest, on the other end.

It was probably intended for Cyrilla and Ryk to occupy the big one, Kas the furthest one, and the middle one to be used for guests or an office or whatever else.

“I call the big one!" she stated, glancing towards Ryk and grinning. He merely shrugged his shoulders, causing her to roll her eyes. One of these days she was going to get him to do something other than just... nothing.

“I'll take one of the other ones, then," he spoke, moving towards one of the rooms.

“Really, now. You're hopeless," she muttered to herself before glancing towards Kas. “And you don't have to go furniture shopping with me. I can take care of all of it if you give me a list of things you're looking for in particular. Comfort, style, et cetera, et cetera." Honestly she wouldn't mind. It would give her the opportunity to get a head start on scouting the area out. And she wouldn't be hindered by a second person by having to wait for them.

He considered her for a moment, eyes slightly narrow. "If you'd actually rather go by yourself, that's fine," he said with a little shrug. "But in that case don't worry about me—I can get my own stuff." He shot a glance at Ryk disappearing into his room and snorted softly. "Guess this means I'm on the end."

She grinned at him. “I wouldn't say no to the company," she began, arching a brow at him, “because I'm sure nothing beats the company of a rather attractive person and sightseeing, no?" She shrugged her shoulders, though, and turned in the direction of her room. She wanted to see what she had to work with, first, before deciding on any furniture, after all.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Eryk Nero Character Portrait: Kasimir Rheinallt Character Portrait: Cyrilla Niav Character Portrait: Rocket Files Character Portrait: Aidan Klein Character Portrait: Nevena Solomon
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#, as written by Aethyia


April 29th
Field Office 9 - Afternoon - Muggy
Kasimir Rheinallt


Too bad the punch wasn't spiked.

Kas had considered doing it himself, actually, but then he'd have to go to the trouble of procuring the booze, erasing the footage, and like it or not there was always a chance of someone having a bad time if they drank alcohol unknowingly. Consent was important and all that.

Still... this had to be one of the worst parties he'd ever been to, and considering the fact that he'd been to more than one cheap-beer-fueled rager in his Academy days, that was saying something. Dear arceus, these people were just so fucking stiff.

This morning there'd been a block of seminars designed to welcome the new staff to the building and provide refreshers for everyone else. It wasn't awful to know how the basement intake room worked and stuff, except Kas had been down there for two minutes yesterday and already figured it out. And the rest of the stuff had been so general it might as well have been the basic training he and Ryk had done eight years ago all over again.

Now everyone was awkwardly standing around in the large foyer, most of them clustered in small groups or around the snack table, while a few more solitary types held up their wall of choice. He could have wandered around socializing—he was more than capable of striking up a smooth conversation with even shy people, but it seemed HR wasn't done with them yet.

The building's local rep, Tanya, was a willowy woman in her mid-thirties. Nothing wrong with that, of course; the trouble was that she was absolutely vapid. Kas couldn't recall the last time he'd been this bored by a pretty face. Or well, it actually happened a lot, but he was typically able to exit those situations, and he really didn't want to make quite that bad of an impression just yet. He preferred to ease people into not expecting much of him rather than slacking too often from the get-go.

“All right everyone," Tanya declared, clearing her throat for attention. She was the kind of woman used to getting it whenever she so desired—that much was easy to tell. Next to half the male eyes in the room had been on her already, for very different reasons than his, and this was a room in which a lot of pretty women were standing. “We're going to do an icebreaker. This one's called Heads Up!"

Kas resisted the urge to groan. That was the one where people picked random cards from a deck to wear on their foreheads so people could help them guess who they were.

“We'll be using our NTR pokégears for this; the app should already be on your new devices. If you'll all break into groups of three, we'll start by putting pairs of groups together and we can rotate when the rounds are done!" Tanya smiled with cherry-red lips, beaming at all of them.

He really wished he'd spiked the punch.

Someone clicked their tongue behind Kas before the person walked to his side and into his field of vision. It was Cyrilla, and she glanced up at him from where she stood, arms crossed over her chest. Her hair was pulled back into a tail, it seemed, a little more professional, but there were still a few strands at the front that hung loose.

“I suppose it makes more sense for the three of us to be grouped together, but..." she trailed off, glancing in a direction where Ryk was. He was staring at a person who seemed to be trying to make small talk with him. Eryk didn't do small talk, from what Kas remembered, and his eyes were suddenly on them. Immediately, he walked towards him and Cy before standing on her other side.

“Well, I guess that means he agrees," she spoke, snickering softly at the expression on his face.

Kas snorted, quirking an eyebrow at Cy. "What? You mean spending your afternoon with me at this scintillating soirée isn't your idea of a good time?" He asked the question in jest, because no sane person would really want to be here, but that didn't mean he couldn't rib her for making it sound like being in his group in particular was something that 'made sense, she guessed.' Hardly a ringing endorsement, which he only found funny.

Opening the requisite app on his gear, he ignored Tanya giving directions. It was obvious—the app had a timer, after which the screen would display his 'identity,' meaning he should have it out of sight by then.

This presented its own conundrum, because Kasimir was tall enough that not everyone would be able to see his forehead, so he set it to his shoulder instead, angled so he couldn't see. Cy's screen identified her as Lt. Surge, funnily enough, and apparently Ryk was 'a drunken chansey.' At least the cards were kind of funny.

He looked up, curious to see who would be in the first group of three to match up with them.

Cyrilla huffed a light laugh at that, and shook her head. “Hm, I couldn't think of better company, really. It beats just being with that one all day," she stated, jabbing her thumb in Ryk's direction who looked to be having a bit of difficulty with his pokegear. She rolled her eyes before she took it from him, and set it up. “I swear you can't operate even the basic things you should know. What would you do without me, really?" she stated, though from the tone of voice she'd used, it sounded more like an older sibling scolding a younger one, even though Ryk was the older one, here.

“Whatever," he finally spoke, narrowing his eyes slightly in her direction. She just shook her head. “I don't understand the meaning behind this. Why can't we just do what we're here to do? There's no need to bond when we likely won't be here for very long," he muttered beneath his breath, causign Cyrilla to hard roll her eyes.

“Because you need to be able to work with your coworkers, and not against them, Ryk. That's why they are called coworkers," she responded, however; before she could say anything further, her attention was taken by a group of people that approached them.

“We were grouped with you," a young woman spoke. She was dressed in formal attire. A black pencil skirt with a white blouse tucked into it. Her dark hair was pulled back into a bun, and thick square glasses sat on her nose. “I'm Lorraine," she introduced herself. Another one stepped forward, this one a man probably in his late twenties. His hair was a bright flame orange, slicked back, and his eyes a dark brown. They were narrowed slightly before he shrugged his shoulders. He was wearing something that mirrored Lorraine's color scheme, though he was wearing a pair of slacks and not a pencil skirt.

“Name's Niko," he stated.

The last was a thin man nearing forty, Kas would guess, with a native islander's complexion. For some reason he was wearing a tweed jacket despite the temperature outside. Kas supposed the air conditioning in here did work a little too well sometimes. He very much had the look of a pencil-pusher about him, the kind of logistics wonk that Kas pretended to be, save for the precise undercut of his floppy black hair. “Nice to meet you," he said in a mild alto, much higher than even his thin frame would suggest. “I'm Luke." This prompted a second look, and Kas realized his throat was smooth, free of the prominent cartilage bump. Ah.

"Well welcome to our corner of the room, guys," Kas said, shooting all three of them a winning grin. Luke smiled back, at least. "I think we're supposed to take a look at what you have here... let's see."

The pokégear Luke was awkwardly holding to his forehead read 'Steven Stone.' Lorraine's said 'confused tauros,' and Niko had 'pro battling cheerleader.' Well that should be interesting.

Sticking his hand out towards Niko, he offered a shake. "So what color pom-poms do you prefer, and does the skirt chafe?"

Niko furrowed his brows a bit before taking Kas's hand and shaking it. Cyrilla snickered lightly, though Eryk merely looked unamused. “Dunno, depends on whether or not you're offering to do a check-up," Niko replied, giving Kas a clue into his identity, perhaps. That or he was flirting with Kas.

"Always happy to help, though I'm sure people in your profession have to stay in tip-top shape." He winked, not yet sure whether that was flirtation but willing to run with it either way.

“Well, there are worse things on a warm day than whipping yourself into a frenzy," Cyrilla stated, arching a brow in Lorraine's direction. The woman merely glanced at her, an expression to match Ryk's, before she narrowed her eyes slightly.

“Hm, yes, well I suppose it is better than being a paranoid trap maker," she replied in a deadpan voice.

“Oh, I didn't know you knew that about me. It's quite fun, really," Cyrilla stated, clearly either ignoring the clue, or not really caring much about it. Eryk had yet to say anything, and just merely glanced between the other people.

“You look a bit like you could stand a bit of medical attention yourself," Luke told Kas with a small smile. “Are those bags under your eyes?"

"Damn," he said with a feigned-heavy sigh. "If only I were a pokémon I could ask Ryk over there to help. Though he might break a few eggs in his state."

Luke laughed, clearly catching the thread of the joke. “Are you sure? Wasn't there a movie about you? Pokémon House?"

"Wait, I'm a frat dude? A... tired frat dude?" At Luke's nod, he checked his screen and found that it did indeed say 'sleep-deprived frat boy.' Huh. Maybe Niko was flirting after all, because that had nothing to do with doctors.

Eryk merely narrowed his eyes slightly at Kas's statement. “He's not wrong, Ryk. If you have any more, you'll just end up passing out, and you'd be no use to anyone, really," Cyrilla added.

“Considering that he's required to assist at any given time, I'd do the same if I were in his position. Thankfully, I'm not a pokemon, so I don't need the help," Niko stated. Eryk looked like he'd rather be doing something else, but sighed heavily.

“You collect rare rocks," he spoke in Luke's direction. Cyrilla shook her head.

“Ryk... that's not how... you know what, never mind," Cyrilla stated before turning her attention towards Lorraine. “As for you, Lorraine, perhaps you should avoid battles until your condition gets better. Otherwise you won't know where you're going, and with those three little whips at your back, it'll only increase your anger," she spoke. Lorraine rolled her eyes in what seemed to be good nature.

“Perhaps, but then again being out and about beats being couped up all day receiving challenge after challenge, and only specializing in one thing," she stated.

"Speaking of," Kas added to Cy, "shouldn't you have been promoted by now? Colonel or something? Or do your superiors think you're too much of a live wire?"

“Surely that's not it," Luke put in with a little grin. “I'd be shocked!"

Kas offered a hand for a high-five. "Stunned, even?"

Luke clapped his smaller hand into it with respectable force. “Nay, paralyzed."

She must have found it funny because she started laughing. Even Lorraine cracked a small smile, then. “Well, considering that I am stunning," she spoke, running a hand through her ponytail and pulling it over her shoulder, “I guess I must be a poor excuse of a Lieutenant Surge since I don't have the trademark golden hair."

“There are worse things to be missing," Niko stated, shrugging his shoulders a bit. “You could be missing an important egg used for treating patients because you were too busy blacking out to remember shit," he continued, glancing at Eryk with an arched brow.

“Oh for the love of..." he stated, checking his screen to see what it said. “I'm a drunk chansey," he stated, causing Cyrilla to sigh heavily.

“Just ignore him; he's a kill-joy," she stated, turning back towards Niko with an arched brow. “You at least seem to be having a lot of fun at major competitions. Know if they could use another able body? I promise to bring a pom-pom style oricorio with me as back up" she stated, blinking in an innocent manner, causing Niko to snort.

“I dunno, I mean, you have great legs for a cheerleader, but not as great as mine," Niko replied, holding out his leg as if to prove his point. Cyrilla laughed again.

Kas and Luke laughed, too, but then the bell at the front of the room rang, signaling that it was time for the groups to rotate. Niko, Lorraine, and Luke shuffled off elsewhere, and a new trio approached, including one surprisingly-familiar face.

"Sis!" he enthused, grinning broadly and sweeping down to pull the blonde scientist in for an ursaring-hug. "I haven't seen you since I transferred out of Mahogany Town! How have you been?" He'd only been there for a short while a couple years ago. The last few months of his time there had been Nev's first with NTR; as the guy in charge of the outpost, he'd sort of made it his responsibility to help her out, at least until he'd been transferred to Celadon for a while.

Aidan was with her, too, his pokégear nowhere in sight. "We can just not with the icebreaker," he said, rolling his eyes slightly. "I'm calling Admin privilege on that one."

“Thank Arceus," Ryk muttered as he folded his arms across his chest. Nev, however, looked slightly surprised to see Kas, and she'd managed a small squeak of surprise when he'd hugged her.

“It's nice to see you, too, Kasimir," she replied, pulling out of his hug with a light pink dusting her face. She cleared her throat softly as she glanced towards Cyrilla and Eryk. “And it's a pleasure to meet you..." she trailed off, as if expecting them to introduce themselves. Cyrilla stuck her hand out, smiling in turn.

“Cyrilla Niav, and this grump here is Eryk Nero. Don't let his face fool you, he's really just a big cuddly mareep," she stated, earning a light glare from Ryk. Nevena didn't seem too bothered by it, though, and nodded her head with a smile.

“Well it's a pleasure to meet you both. I'm Nevena Solomon, but please do feel free to call me Nev," she spoke, earning a nod from Cyrilla. Eryk kept his arms crossed over his chest, though, and seemed to be staring off at the other groups. Probably really just staring at nothing in particular, since it was Ryk.

The third in their group introduced herself as Penny, giving Kas what he suspected was an attempt at being subtle in her once-over. He fought not to grin, and mostly succeeded. Some trace of it must have made it to his face though; she flushed and darted her glance away.

Aidan sighed. "I don't know why HR insists on this," he muttered quietly. "It's not like we have a friendly, collegial atmosphere atmosphere around here."

He wasn't wrong; Kas had been genuinely surprised by the last group being at least personable. Very often, Neo Team Rocket offices were cold, inhospitable places, where everyone was clawing their way towards the top of the organization and the bigger paychecks and chunks of prestige and influence that went with. The mission statement did attract some do-gooder sorts, but the shadow of the previous iteration of Team Rocket loomed. So did the organization's extralegal nature, outside the typical justice system of any government but enforcing its rules regardless. Those tended to draw ambitious people of a certain competitive stripe.

“Probably because they're trying to change that," Cyrilla spoke with a shrug of her shoulders. “Even though it really won't change a thing," she added, earning a confused look from Nev.

“Why do you say that?" she asked. Cyrilla arched a brow.

“Isn't it obvious? A lot of us don't really require working together, and if that's the case, then we'll likely only be getting in each others way. Why bother getting to know people if you won't be around very long to actually care?"

“I guess I didn't see it that way since I'll be constantly working with a team," Nev stated as she furrowed her brows. “But in the mean time, it wouldn't hurt to at least get to know some of you," she continued, smiling at them. Cyrilla huffed lightly and shook her head.

“Well, you shouldn't get to know us too well," she began, something of a pained expression crossing Cyrilla's face. It was gone as quickly as it had appeared, as if it had never been there at all. “We don't want you to miss us too much when it's finally time to leave."

Nev chuckled lightly at that. “I'll do my best. Besides, I have Kas to keep me company, too, right? How's Meep by the way?"

"Adorable as always," he replied with a grin. Meep was in fact his youngest pokémon, and had barely hatched when he met Sis. "Speaking of, didn't your last email mention a Floof? We should get coffee to catch up and let them play."

“Oh, gosh, you're right!" she stated, eyes wide with a large smile. “I was just telling Aidan about her, yesterday. I plan on taking her to the park later on today so she can get some exercise in. If you want to join us, I'm sure Floof would be more than happy to have a playmate. In all honesty, she could use it. You all should come, actually. It would be nice to let all of our pokémon get together to play, if you'd like."

Cyrilla snorted softly. “It sounds like it could be fun." Ryk, however, didn't seem to feel any particular way about the invitation. He lightly shrugged his shoulders, which could have indicated anything.

Fortunately Kas had enough enthusiasm for the both of them. "Sounds great," he replied with a grin. "I admit I'm curious about what pokémon a former undefeated champion keeps on him." He quirked an eyebrow at Aidan.

"A brat, an idiot, a big baby, and assorted doofuses," he said dryly.

“At least yours doesn't try to hypnotize you," Eryk muttered lightly beneath his breath. Cyrilla snorted softly at Aidan's statement, though, and glanced at Ryk.

“Yeah, but you also have Runt, Ryk. He pretty much symbolizes the definition of idiot," Cyrilla stated lightly, earning a flat look from Ryk.

“I reiterate. Doesn't try to hypnotize you at inconvenient times."

“Oh, this is going to be fun. I look forward to meeting all of your pokémon, and getting to know you better," Nev stated excitedly.

“The feeling is mutual."

Maybe this wouldn't be a typical NTR workplace, after all.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Eryk Nero Character Portrait: Kasimir Rheinallt Character Portrait: Cyrilla Niav
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April 30th
Field Office 9 - Mid Morning - Clear
Eryk Nero


Eryk sighed heavily.

Why did they need to prove that they could work together? He already knew he could work well with Cyrilla. They'd managed things, together, before. With Kasimir, Eryk thought that he could work rather decently with the other man, but it was hard to know for sure. Eryk wasn't really a people, person, but he figured, in the end, it didn't really matter. The purpose of this exercise was moot, at best. Smoothing out his uniform, he raked a hand through his hair and sighed through his nose. He really didn't want to do this, but if Gregorovich wanted to see them work together, Eryk supposed he didn't have much of a choice.

He exited his office, turning slightly to walk towards Cyrilla's. He knocked on it lightly before opening her door, narrowing his eyes slightly when he spotted her. She was at her desk, typing something, it seemed before she glanced up and noticed him. She smiled softly in his direction, and Eryk felt a ghost-like smile appear on his face, but that was absurd. He didn't smile. He'd lost that a long time ago, and when she frowned at him, he knew he hadn't smiled at all.

“We're supposed to be meeting in the field. Let's go," he stated, watching as she rolled her eyes.

“Give me a second to finish this," she stated, pointing to her computer. She typed a few more things before she stood, smoothing out the skirt to her uniform and pulling her hair back into a tail. “Is Kas already waiting for us?" she asked, glancing up at him. Eryk rolled his eyes, but shook his head.

“Probably," he shrugged. “I'm not his keeper." He may have been the leader of the three, but that didn't mean he had to keep tabs on his teammates. They didn't need to watch each other, or keep track of who went where. If that were the case, Eryk was almost certain that he'd never hear the end of toilet breaks, or some other kind of break he didn't care for. Cyrilla snickered softly, though, and shook her head.

“Yeah, yeah, whatever you say, boss-man," she spoke, causing him to roll his eyes. He forgot how immature she could be, sometimes. Shoving his hands into his pockets, he walked towards the back yard of the research facility. They had set it up the day before with a few maze-like structures. He wasn't entirely sure why, but he supposed he'd find out when they were given their announcement. Or assignment. Whatever it was going to be. He should probably pay more attention to his emails.

When they reached the meeting area, Eryk glanced around for the third member of their group, pursing his lips softly when he didn't see him. Maybe he just missed him? A difficult thing to do considering Kasimir's height, but Eryk didn't really care too much.

A moment later, he spotted him, holding court with a group of grunts, as the expression usually went. He seemed to be rather unconcerned with whatever the exercise was that they were doing, and was laughing in a rather carefree fashion at something one of the other had said. Probably Luke, from the way he clapped him on the shoulder a moment later.

The smaller man noticed Eryk, though, and nodded in his direction, prompting Kasimir to glance his way. With a word to the group and a wave, he took his leave, sliding his hands into his pockets as he headed over. They hadn't been required to wear the uniform for this, and Kasimir definitely had not, dressing instead in tan cargo shorts and a bright blue shirt with a pattern of white palm fronds. He looked more like a vacationer from mainland Kanto than a Rocket Executive.

"Morning, Ryk," he greeted, not excessively enthusiastic but clearly in a good mood. "How're you?"

Eryk shrugged his shoulders, causing Cyrilla to roll her eyes. “That's universal for, I'm fine, Kas, how are you?" she stated, shaking her head in the process. Eryk supposed she could interpret it however she wanted to. It's not like he actually cared if Kas was good or not. As if sensing this, Cyrilla elbowed him lightly in his arm, causing him to furrow his brows.

“What?" he stated, rubbing his arm. It didn't hurt, but it was slightly uncomfortable.

“So, did you read the email about the details?" she was looking at him when she spoke, as if she knew Eryk didn't really read his emails. He pursed his lips together.

“We're doing an exercise of sorts," was his reply. Cyrilla sighed heavily.

“Mind filling in the blanks for him, Kas? I can't with him, right now."

Kasimir grinned. "And good morning to you, Cy," he said, as though they didn't all live together. Though they did conduct themselves separately, so it was possible Cyrilla and Kasimir had not, in fact, seen each other yet today. "As for what we're up to here, it's a little exercise in coordination and skill. As you can see, we've got a system of mazes here. There's a flag at the center of each, and we're racing the grunts to get them. The catch is, when one of us enters the maze, we have to blindfold ourselves. They don't."

The mazes, as far as Eryk could see, were tall enough to reach about Cyrilla's shoulder, so it was possible to see over them, but not all the details of the maze at once. Still, sight would be a significant advantage.

"Beyond that," Kas continued, "our strategy is entirely up to us. Whichever team gets their five flags first is the winner. We're allowed to physically confront each other to prevent that, but no pokémon, no weapons, and no actually trying to hurt anyone."

“Well that just takes the fun out of it," Cyrilla murmured, though she was grinning so Eryk wasn't entirely sure what she meant by that. He studied the maze for a moment, and pursed his lips together. He and Cyrilla had good memories, but even he doubted that they'd be able to remember every detail to which turn, and what to do, next. And if they were turned around by a grunt, then that woudn't be good. He narrowed his eyes in Kasimir's direction.

“There was nothing in the email that said one of us couldn't stay behind and direct one another," he spoke. He had, in fact, read that much, at least. The only problem was, who would be the one to stay behind? Cyrilla was, perhaps, the faster of the three. She'd probably be able to maneuver with a little more ease, though she did lack a bit in the physical department of strength. He knew she could probably work this maze with relative ease, even while she was blindfolded, however; the objective was to work together as a team.

“Since you're the tallest of us, you stay behind and direct us," he stated, side glancing towards Kas.

“And here I thought I'd never see the day that Ryk would put his trust in a complete stranger. Wow," Cyrilla stated, grinning in Eryk's direction.

“Oh, shut up, Cy." She only snickered softly.

"Height," Kasimir said with a shake of his head. "A certified genius and technological wizard, and you want to use me for my height." He sighed dramatically. "Well fine. Run separate mazes. I can handle both of you at once, I promise." He arched an eyebrow and winked, though it seemed to be a joke aimed more at Cyrilla than Eryk. Perhaps because he expected her to appreciate it more.

And appreciate it, she did, apparently. The grin on her face was more a cheshire grin than anything. “You sure about that, Kas?" she stated, clearly amused, however; she shook her head, chuckling as she moved towards the entrance of one of the mazes. “Well, come on, Ryk, we don't have all day. Let's get a move on!" she stated, motioning for Eryk to follow her. Eryk rolled his eyes, though. They were both... too similar for his tastes. The way they acted around each other was something Ryk could have done without. He was here for business and nothing else. Cy and Kas... well, he didn't really want to care.

“Get her lost if you can," Eryk grumbled as he glanced in Kas's direction. With deep sigh, he made his way towards the entrance of one of the mazes. He glanced towards Cyrilla, who was apparently already blindfolding herself before she'd even entered the maze, and grinned in his direction.

“Good luck, Kas! Make sure Ryk doesn't get lost!" she stated. Eryk had half a mind to tell her to fuck off, but she'd likely take it the wrong way, and he really didn't need to hear any retort from her. And knowing Kas, he'd probably fuel the flame. When he stepped through the entrance of the maze, he took the offered blindfold, and covered his eyes with it.

“Whenever you're ready, Kas," he spoke loud enough so that Kas could hear him. He could hear just about everyone else moving around already, but he was putting his trust in Kas to get them to where they needed to go.

Kasimir was still chuckling, but Eryk could hear him moving around, possibly dragging one of the picnic benches set up along the maze to a place he could stand on it. The grunts were moving about as well, but for the moment they were probably just trying to get their own flags. "Ryk, get in there and take your first right, and then the second left after that. Cy, you're gonna want to hang two lefts and then go until you hit the end and take a right."

Shrugging his shoulders, Eryk decided to follow Kas's directions. He took the first right, sliding his fingers along the edge of the maze to ensure he was going the proper distance before taking the second left. He could hear the grunts moving, and talking about something, but he was focusing on Kas's directions. He couldn't hear what Cy was doing, but that was likely because she'd always been the silent one.

“Alright, Kas," he stated, waiting for the next set of directions. It didn't take them long at all before Eryk found the first flag, and he could hear Cyrilla for a brief moment, finding the second one. They hadn't run into a grunt yet, which was good. He could hear them, though, getting closer. They were likely going to try and take his flag from him before he could reach the next one.

“Kas," he stated, waiting for a response in which way to go.

"Yup. You've got a couple coming in from your right. Head out at 2 o'clock from your current position, then hang an immediate left." To his credit, Kasimir's words were clear, loud enough without shouting, and precise. "Cy, you're gonna want to speed up. Grunts incoming at four and six o'clock. Exit to your left, then book it until you hit your third right."

“Got it!" Cyrilla shouted, perhaps doing what Kas had told her to do. Eryk, pursed his lips together, and nodded. He moved as quickly as he could, trusting Kas to guide him in the proper direction. To his credit, Kas hadn't led either of them into a direct conflict with the other grunts. Eryk would have been thoroughly impressed if he wasn't currently blindfolded. He'd preferred to not have been, but he couldn't do much about it.

“Which way, Kas," he spoke with a little more urgency. There wasn't too much time to linger. The grunts would catch up to him if they weren't quick.

It was here that the clip of Kasimir's words accelerated, each new direction fronted with a sharp Cy or Ryk to make sure it caught the right person's attention. He always kept them aware of at least their most likely next two moves, but sometimes adjusted in light of the way the Grunts reacted to their strategies, something that Eryk could be certain they were doing but definitely did not see.

Still, somehow, he and Cyrilla made it out of their mazes at about the same time, unscathed and carrying their flags. Eryk lifted his blindfold only to see that Kas was donning one. "I've memorized the center maze," he explained. "Should be able to get in and out really quick. If you two want to get started on yours, I can help untangle anything that goes wrong when I'm done."

It did seem to be the most efficient way to handle the fact that there were three mazes left. The grunts had brought back two flags already, too, so it seemed like the faster they could make this happen, the better their chances.

As promised, it wasn't more than three minutes or so after Eryk started his second maze that Kas's voice reappeared, guiding himself and Cyrilla to the centers of their own. There was less chance of avoiding the grunts this time, as the narrowing number of relevant mazes meant there were more of them in each.

Eryk supposed that they were going to run into a bit of a problem now that there were more grunts in the mazes. He could already hear Cyrilla getting into a scuffle with one of them, now. “Hey, now that's no way to treat a lady!" she shouted. There was a quick succession of muffled sounds before it sounded like she continued onward. Eryk would have rolled his eyes but he didn't.

Kas directed them a few more times, and Eryk found himself in a similar situation that Cyrilla had, however; he wasn't as gentle as he thought she was. It wasn't a lot of force, he didn't think, because he wasn't supposed to harm the grunts. But exceptions had to have been made for this, right? He pushed forward, and managed to grab another flag. Between them, they had four flags. The two he had, the one Cyrilla had, and the one Kas had managed to get.

That left them with only one more.

“Kas, get me out of here," he shouted. He would have to rely on Cyrilla to get hers, but he also had to keep a hold of his own at the same time. He could hear her getting into another scuffle with a couple of grunts, but he couldn't focus on that right now. He needed to get out with his own flag before he ran into other grunts.

"Hang a left, Ryk," Kas said. "Grunt incoming, three o'clock!"

There were a few more collisions on the way out, but he did manage to get free of the maze, in just enough time to see Kasimir bodily hauling a grunt away from Cyrilla, who was just emerging from her maze as well. "Get those to the finish, quick!"

Ryk didn't need to be told twice. He nodded in Cyrilla's direction as they both took off towards the area they needed to get to. To finish this ridiculous exercise so he could go back to doing what he needed to do. When they'd reached the finish line, he handed the flags over to the necessary person and glanced back towards Cyrilla. For some strange reason, she was laughing. He didn't even want to know the reason behind that, but she seemed to be having fun if anything.

“Oh well, here comes the man of the hour now," she stated, glancing in the direction of Kas, who was, indeed, making his way towards them. He supposed a lot of this was due to his help, but... he merely shrugged his shoulders.

“That's Ryk for, thanks, Kas," she spoke, as if supplementing the word for his actions.

"I'm learning a whole new language," Kasimir quipped with a grin. "And hey, no thanks necessary. Just doing the job boss-man told me to do." He saluted in a way that could only be intended humorously, more a lazy flick of his hand than anything approaching a serious attempt.

“Well," Cyrilla started, grinning up at Kas as she placed a hand on her hip. “If you stick around Ryk and I for awhile, I'm sure there are other languages you'll be learning," she stated. Eryk furrowed his brows deeply.

“Oh, for the love of... can you not start?" he stated, narrowing his eyes in displeasure in her direction. She blinked at him, almost innocently at first, but Ryk knew better.

“And where would the fun in that be, Ryk?"

He really wished he didn't share an apartment with them.

"You sure?" Kas asked. "I'm fluent in body language already, y'see. Though I don't mind expanding my dialects." He seemed to be entirely ignoring Eryk's protestations as well, but then he grinned a little more broadly and shook his head.

"Let's get Ryk inside outta this heat before he combusts on us, huh? Boss's gotta be happy with that result, so maybe we can all celebrate later or something."

“Oh, definitely, we should celebrate."

Ryk shook his head, but he welcomed the reprieve, anyway. He needed to be away from these two as quickly as possible, and like Kas said, the boss had to be happy with their results.

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Character Portrait: Eryk Nero Character Portrait: Kasimir Rheinallt Character Portrait: Cyrilla Niav
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May 2nd
Field Office 9 - Mid Morning - Warm
Eryk Nero


Eryk glanced between Kas and Cy. They were both in his office, Kas taking up a majority of his chair while Cy seemed perfectly content on the bean bag she'd ordered for his office. It was pink with light purple dots on it, and was the only real thing of color here. He didn't understand why she'd felt the need to order it in the first place, but she currently sat in it with Siri, her noibat, and Icarus, his espurr, in her lap. Icarus was content to lay in her lap, though the espurr never really made any facial movements. He wasn't quite sure why that was, but Icarus was a strange creature to begin with. Siri, on the other hand, was munching happily on a berry of sorts, before she left Cyrilla and landed near Kas. It looked like she was offering Kas the rest of her berry, and Eryk just shook his head.

He didn't understand any of their pokémon, but he supposed it really didn't matter in the end. They all had their own unique personalities. “Alright, so," Cyrilla stated, calling the attention towards her. “What's the plan now that we've managed to scout the area?" she spoke, causing Eryk to rub his temples.

“It is my impression that the boss wants us to interact with her," he spoke, furrowing his brows lightly. He didn't understand why, but he couldn't exactly say no. “He wants us to befriend her."

"Seems that way," Kas agreed, accepting Siri's berry remnants with a large, bright grin. "Why thank you, m'lady," he said with a wink, rubbing carefully at the pokémon's large ears. "Perhaps you might be willing to accept a token of my gratitude?" With a flourish and a bit of sleight-of-hand, he presented the noibat with what seemed to be dark blue berry jelly, delicately formed into the shape of a flower. Siri seemed all too delighted, and took the jelly flower from Kas, making her way back to share it with Icarus.

Turning back to the others, he shrugged. "Sounds like pretty typical fieldwork to me, no? Difference is she's not a politician or something. Probably best not to overwhelm her at first."

“We do this small, then," Eryk stated first, running a hand down his face. “We'll each do a round, and then gradually assimilate ourselves. It'll be easier for me and Cy because I can introduce Cy as my..." he paused, furrowing his brows a bit. Cyrilla narrowed hers, too in his direction.

“How about we leave that part out, for now, alright? The both of us already know that we need to play every angle to our advantage. If you introduce me as your fiancée, well..." she trailed off. Eryk pursed his lips together. What did that matter? The boss wasn't asking him to sleep with her, or even seduce the young woman. All he'd asked was that they make friends with her. That was it.

“Since you're more impressionable, Kas, why don't you start, first?"

"Impressionable?" Kasimir looked highly amused. "I don't think that's quite the word you're after, Ryk. Do you mean to suggest I'm more personable, perhaps?" He tilted his head, then tipped one of his hands side to side. "I dunno if that's a good idea though. I'm the computers guy, remember? I don't mind helping out, but this isn't exactly my specialty. I could always let something slip on accident."

His tone was strange—it was unclear if he was joking or being serious about that. "Besides, aren't you guys the ones who've done missions like this before?"

“He has a point, Ryk," Cyrilla spoke, rubbing the back of Icarus's ear. “We can't afford to have anything leaked out so soon, and besides," she continued, leaning a bit to her side as Siri tried to climb back into her lap. “She's a cute girl. You could always work your charm on her if it makes it easier," she arched a brow in his direction, a slight grin pulling at her lips. Eryk resisted the urge to roll his eyes.

“If you're so interested, why don't you do it?" Eryk retorted, narrowing his eyes slightly in her direction.

“Because I still have scouting missions to do, Ryk. I can't just put those on hold to befriend someone, and other than that, you need the practice. Arceus knows how lucky you've been so far in seducing other targets knowing how bad your people skills are. It can't be that hard, can it? Just talking to her?" She glanced at Kas as if he'd reinforce her statement somehow.

"Honestly, man, you should run a class in that. I don't even understand how you do it. It's like a cactus succeeding at seducing someone. Not a cacturne, a cactus." Kasimir was smiling, his words lacking any bite but having more than a little playful disbelief in them. He turned to Cyrilla and continued. "I mean, we'd know a thing or two about being so pretty people just approach, but I don't think even we could pull that well being half as prickly. I kind of want to see it happen."

Cyrilla snorted softly, while Eryk just narrowed his eyes at Kas. “Another good point, Ryk," she stated, grinning in Kas's direction. “But in all seriousness," she began, turning back to him, “you really should be the first one to approach her. Not only will you be doing yourself a favor, but if you're at all something she's looking for, well... I don't see why that couldn't be allowed to flourish."

Eryk knew what she was talking about, however; he shook his head. “No, it cannot. I will, however, take the first introduction." He glanced at Kas, next. “Before I do... you will at least help me with introducing myself." Cyrilla huffed a soft laugh.

“Ryk, we all live together. You should have been able to pick up on some things, you know."

Kasimir chuckled, though not as obnoxiously as he might have. "Oh my, Ryk, are you telling me you want me to help you learn to talk to pretty girls?" He looked rather like the meowth that had got the canary, with that jagged grin on his face. "I mean... they're people too, you know. How would you normally introduce yourself?"

Cyrilla snorted in an attempt not to laugh, it seemed, and in that moment, he regretted even asking Kasimir for his help.

“Never mind, forget I asked," he spoke, causing Cyrilla to laugh. “And you, hush," he stated, only to cause her to burst into a fit of laughter.

“Oh, come on, Ryk, it's not that bad, honestly. How about you get some practice in while we all go get lunch? You can place the order nicely, and then go from there, alright? What do you say, Kas?" she spoke, glancing down at Icarus who trilled lightly, as if agreeing with her. Ryk rolled his eyes.

"I'm in favor. We have yet to celebrate our victory from the other day, after all." Kasimir leveraged himself out of his chair and huffed at Cyrilla, still with two pokémon on her lap. Hand-to-heart, he bowed in an exaggerated fashion and offered a hand to assist her to her feet. "May I?" No doubt he was well aware she could easily manage for herself. He wasn't actually an idiot, after all. But he was strange.

"What do we feel like eating?"

“Why thank you, Sir Kasimir," she responded, taking his hand and standing up. Siri had flown to the empty chair, then, and curled into it, falling asleep almost immediately. Icarus, however, crawled over to her shoulder, and slid down her side before making his way towards Eryk. He blinked up at him, and Eryk rolled his eyes, but pointed to the bean bag Cyrilla had occupied. A small smile appeared on Icarus's face as he made his way to curl up into it, seemingly satisfied before falling asleep as well.

“Why do they have to be so cute?" Cyrilla stated, causing Ryk to shake his head.

“There's a place just down the street we can go to. They have your favorite: kalosian toast" he stated, watching as Cyrilla's face lit up for a moment.

“Brunch sounds really good to me, and it's simple enough, I suppose," she replied, shrugging as if she weren't as excited about it as Eryk knew her to be.

“Then brunch it is."

"Oh, brunch. Sounds like there are mimosas in my future; excellent." Kasimir mimed bringing Cyrilla's hands towards his lips but did not actually make that kind of contact. He released her then, though, stretching his arms up towards the ceiling, which he wasn't too far off being able to reach, between his height and armspan.

“You would like mimosas," Eryk murmured softly, and shook his head.

He studied Cyrilla from the corner of his eye. "Kalosian toast, huh? Sweet or savory?"

“Oh, definitely savory. I eat for taste," she replied, grinning up at Kas. “If it were sweet, well... as much as I love sweet things, I also enjoy eating food that's not just sugar," she continued. Her favorite foods, Eryk knew, were spicy things, after all, so it made some sense, he supposed.

“Ryk, here, actually enjoys things that are a bit bitter and not so tastey," she continued, though she leaned in closer to Kas as if to tell him a secret. “He likes oatmeal cookies," she whispered, but it was loud enough that Eryk could hear it.

“I can hear you."

Kasimir, who had obligingly leaned down as if to receive the secret, gasped theatrically. "Quelle horreur," he murmured, widening his eyes and clutching slightly at his chest. "I bet he likes carrot cake then too, right?" Even as he asked, he started them on the way out.

"I dunno, Cy, he might be beyond even our considerable talents to properly socialize."

“So what if I like oatmeal cookies and carrot cake. It's not like either of you asses have to eat it," Eryk stated, narrowing his eyes as they made their way down the road. Cyrilla looked offended, and to her credit, Eryk actually thought she was. He was half way to apologizing when she started laughing. He really hated her, sometimes, when she did that.

“Eryk, there's nothing wrong with liking things that other people don't. We're just having fun at your expense. You need to learn how to take them as they are and roll with them, because people will do these things with you. It's what friends do, right, Kas," she stated, smiling up at him before turning her attention back to Eryk. He just rolled his eyes.

"Right you are, Cy," Kas replied, flashing her a grin just as bright.

When they arrived at the place, they were greeted by the waiter who smiled in their direction. Cyrilla glanced at Ryk expectantly, as if waiting for him to initiate the socializing bits. He sighed.

“Hi, welcome to Emile's," the young man stated, causing Eryk to grimace slightly.

“Table for three," he spoke, swiftly. This was going to be a pain in his ass, wasn't it?

"Okay so lesson one: please and thank you. We really are starting at the beginning, aren't we?"

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Character Portrait: Eryk Nero Character Portrait: Kasimir Rheinallt Character Portrait: Cyrilla Niav Character Portrait: Anastasia Asher
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May 6th
Ana's House - Afternoon - Warm
Cyrilla Niav


Cyrilla was almost certain she'd died of laughter, yesterday. After the whole debacle with introducing himself—she and Kas had followed to make sure he was doing alright—Eryk came back with an update. Anastasia Asher sounded like a very interesting person, and the fact that Eryk had made things awkward and she still hadn't chased him off, well... that was a special kind of person. Anastasia still hadn't called, though. Cyrilla had her phone and Eryk's because he was horrible with anything related to technology. How he managed thus far was something Cyrilla attributed to herself. It was why she had convinced Eryk to take her and Kasimir to go volunteer their services to Anastasia so they could see for themselves just who she was. From what he'd told them, it was something she and Kas apparently did when they were moving around.

Taking a glance over, she nodded her head, satisfied with her attire. She'd chosen to wear a pair of black capris cargo pants that were, perhaps, a little form fitting. It was comfortable for Cyrilla, and she knew they would be doing some kind of physical labor today. And to be outside, well, it was why she'd chosen a light grey tank top. Comfort over fashion, most people would say, but Cyrilla had managed to make it a bit of both. Her hair was pulled comfortably in a tail, but it was currently settled over her right shoulder. Maybe she should have it cut to deal with this heat?

Casting her eyes towards her companions, she couldn't help but smile softly at Eryk. As usual, his face was pulled into his grumpy look. His brows were furrowed, his lips were pursed, and his shoulders were hunched forward a bit. He'd chosen a pair of dark grey pants and a white shirt as his work attire. One of these days, she was going to throw everything in his closet away, and get him an entire new wardrobe. The man could not dress himself even if his life depended on it.

Kas, for his part, looked more like a native islander than either of them did, and it wasn't just his complexion. He'd worn a casual linen shirt in soft pink, sleeves rolled and a third of the buttons undone, with a thin white t-shirt beneath, over khakis. He looked kind of like he'd stepped out of a catalogue, but also ready for work. His mareep hopped along happily next to him, not venturing far but evidently curious about her new surroundings.

She shook her head to herself and huffed lightly. “I can't believe you almost screwed it up, Ryk. I mean, she gave you cookies, and you couldn't even stay to eat them with her. You're losing your touch, old man," she stated, grinning at him as he turned his eyes towards her.

“Whatever, Cy. It's not like I did it on purpose. It was just intense," he stated, furrowing his brows deeper. She laughed softly, though. Eryk was hopeless, sometimes.

“You mean awkward, Ryk. You're looking for awkward."

"I dunno," Kas drawled, a slow smile dragging over his face. "It might have been kind of intense, too. I'm looking forward to seeing for myself." He cocked an eyebrow at Cyrilla in a way she was beginning to recognize, one that invited conspiracy. "If Ryk's not up to the job of making friends, I guess we could always step in after all, right? Her picture's pretty cute; it's not like it would be a hardship."

Cyrilla grinned at Kas's statement. “He's got a point, Ryk. He has a lot of those, actually, but still. Her picture is pretty cute, and from what you said, she sounds very interesting," she continued, watching as Eryk's brows furrowed deeper. There it was. The glare. He was glaring at her right now, and it only caused the grin on her face to inch up a bit more.

“Oh what's this? Is Eryk jealous? You've only known her for a day, and you're already jealous? Be still my black little heart. I think he's jealous, Kas," she stated, glancing back in Kas's direction.

“Shut up, Cy, I'm not jealous," he replied, shaking his head as he walked a little further in front of her. Cyrilla leaned in Kas's direction.

“I think he's jealous."

Kas snickered, obviously entertained by her ribbing of their third team member. "What an unforeseen complication this makes," he lilted, laughter trailing off into a soft chuckle.

They seemed to be drawing close to the location, however; there was a wrought-iron gate and fence around the property; the arch of the gate marked it as CINNABAR POKÉMON REHABILITATION AND HOSPICE in neat block letters. It was unlocked; the yard appeared to have a few lounging or playing pokémon in it, with a few more in the pool, but the operator was nowhere to be seen.

Or at least not until she emerged from the building towards the rear of the property. Her wardrobe was rather unique, consisting of dark black work pants with rather a lot of buckles and zips, and a sleeveless black shirt with a band logo emblazoned on the front. A pair of red suspenders crisscrossed her back, but the bubblegum-pink of her hair gave her away for the woman they were looking for.

"You know, if I'd had to guess Ryk's type..." Kas murmured with a soft laugh. "She wouldn't be far off."

At that point, the little woman spotted them, or perhaps more specifically Ryk, and her eyes widened. "Eryk?" Disbelief colored her tone. "You—you came back?" She blinked, eyes moving from Kas to Cyrilla. "And—with your friends?"

Cyrilla huffed lightly at Kas's statement. If Eryk had a type, she supposed Kas was right. Eryk glanced back towards Cyrilla and Kas, giving them a stare that Cyrilla knew meant behave. She arched a brow, and smiled in Anastasia's direction. Eryk turned his attention back to the pink-haired woman, and gave her an awkward wave. It was difficult to not laugh at him, really.

“I did," he stated softly, perhaps a touch softer than Cyrilla wasn't aware of before. This was definitely interesting. He'd never been one to be nervous or embarrassed, or any of those sorts of feelings, really, but maybe he was just that good of an actor? Cyrilla couldn't really say. She knew him as he was before, but she was still getting used to the person he was now. She pushed the thought from her mind, though, and waved at Ana.

“I see Ryk told you about us. He couldn't stop talking about you, yesterday. I presume you're Anastasia?" she stated, trying to keep the grin off her face when Eryk turned his glare back towards her.

Anastasia only looked more surprised to hear that, her cheeks pinkening softly before she shook her head. "I uh... well I'm a bit odd I suppose. I'm sorry if you were uncomfortable?" She said the last to Ryk, but asked it like a question.

Kas looked like he was very poorly trying to contain a laugh. "That's not quite it, but never mind him. I'm Kasimir," He stuck out a hand, flashing a bright white smile.

She looked for a moment vaguely dazed before she blinked, extending her own hand forward much more carefully. It was thin, as was the rest of her really. Not quite so much as to look malnourished, but definitely very slender. Honestly she looked a bit like a doll, all big eyes and delicate features and soft hair like that. If she'd been dressed differently, it would be even worse. Kas seemed to shake her hand very gently.

"Hello," she said softly, pushing a strand of hair behind her ear. "I'm Ana, but you probably already knew that." She offered her hand towards Cyrilla as well. "Eryk said you were colleagues? Do you clerk at his office too?"

“I'm more of his secretary," Cyrilla spoke, glancing in Eryk's direction. He told her he was a clerk? Of all the things he could have told her he did... he chose clerk. She wanted to laugh, really, but she smoothed out her expression and took Ana's hand in her own. It really was delicate and soft. Not like Cyrilla's hands which were a little more calloused thanks to her work. She pushed that thought out of her mind, though.

“I'm Cyrilla, but you can just call me Cy. It's easier on the tongue," she stated winking in Ana's direction before glancing back in Eryk's direction. He looked like he wanted to roll his eyes, but refrained from doing so. “So, Eryk tells us that you don't have very many volunteers to help you out. We're all free today if you'd like some help, now," she stated, tilting her head to the left.

Ana's eyes lit up, a smile, small but genuine, blooming softly over her face. "Really?" She glanced back and forth between all three of them, as if waiting for someone to back out at the last moment. None of them did, of course, and so the smile remained. "Well, um, if you don't mind then, today is bedding change day for everyone, which is why they're all outside, and then I need to feed them and then I have to drain and clean the pool."

"Sounds like a lot to manage on your own," Kas remarked sympathetically, either genuinely feeling it or an extremely good actor.

Ana certainly believed it, shaking her head as if to banish the concern. "It's usually not as much; bedding gets cleaned every day but only changed once a week, and the pool only needs a big clean twice a month. I usually make sure those things happen on different days but sometimes I have to work around deliveries." She cleared her throat. "Sorry, I'm rambling. Anyway, um. If you want to follow me to the shelter building, I would really appreciate the help."

“Oh, but it's adorable," Cyrilla spoke, feeling her own smile smoothing out a bit. Eryk rolled his eyes at her, but followed after Ana. It really was adorable the way she rambled like that. She could almost find it endearing, however; Cyrilla quashed that feeling as soon as it appeared. They were here to not make friends in that way. Ana was a target; not a friend. The smile on her face did not falter, but she had to close her eyes for the smile did not reach her eyes. She knew that. She followed behind Eryk as Ana led the way towards the building, glancing around at the scenery.

“It's a really nice place you have here, Ana," she spoke, feeling that the use of conversation was a good way to learn a bit more about her. “How long has this been something you've wanted to do?" she asked, though she wasn't quite sure if it was something Ana wanted to do. Maybe this was a first step to something else?

"Well," Ana replied, humming slightly as she opened the large door into the shelter building. It was a cozy space, lacking cages or anything of the sort. Rather, the divides between areas seemed to be much more organic, with the spot for bird pokémon having a large fake tree for roosting and so on. She took down a couple of pitchforks and handed them to Kas and Cyrilla. "I've been running it for about a year. I was on my journey before that—well, not really a proper one or anything, just traveling with Luna and Nova. We started kind of considering it then, and when we'd had enough of moving around all the time, my aunt told me this building had opened up. I put in a bid, which was accepted, and then we got it all fixed up."

Removing a large hose from one corner, she started dragging it in the stand, at least until Kas stepped in to grab the thing with his free hand and a smile. "D'you mind?" he asked.

Ana shook her head. "Uh, no. Thank you. I'm really not used to having help, sorry." As they maneuvered the hose outside and she put one end of it in the pool, she sighed quietly, taking a brace of pokéballs from her belt and recalling all the swimmers that could not climb out on their own. The rest vacated as if on some unspoken signal—probably used to the routine. "The hardest part was getting the pool up to code. It wasn't before, and Neo Team Rocket has a lot of regulations for facilities like this, to protect the pokémon. It makes it hard for a small place like this to stay out of the red, but that's okay. We manage."

She started to drain the pool, opening a tap which apparently worked in reverse. "Um so if two of you don't mind changing the bedding, there's a wheelbarrow I can show you in the shed. And then maybe someone can help me scrub the pool? There's more regulations for that so I have to be here to make sure it's up to standard and everything."

Cyrilla turned her attention towards Kas and arched a brow at him. “The two of us can take care of the bedding while Eryk helps you scrub the pool," she stated. Eryk made a face, and looked like he wanted to protest for a second, but Cyrilla fixed him with a gaze.

“I can help with the pool. It won't be a problem; just tell me what you need me to do," he spoke in that neutral tone of his, but there was a hint of grumpiness to it. Cyrilla tried not to snicker at him.

“See, even he agrees. Alright, as far as changing the bedding, it sounds pretty straight forward. Is there anything we should be aware of or anything like that before we get started?" she asked, grinning up at Kas for a moment before turning her attention towards Ana.

"Just that there are three kinds," Ana said. "They're color coded so it shouldn't be hard to figure out. Red gets the hypoallergenic kind, blue gets the normal sort, and yellow gets the sandy one." She smiled again, still a small one, still to all appearances genuinely pleased. "And thank you so much, all of you. Really."

“You're very welcome, Ana. It's no trouble at all, really. We're glad we can help out, isn't that right, Ryk?" she stated, watching as Ryk shrugged his shoulders. She rolled her eyes. “That's Ryk for sure, you're welcome," she spoke. One of these days she was going to get him to use his words and not his actions to tell people things. Some of the things he did could be misinterpreted as harsh or mean. She didn't need him to do that.

“Alright, Kas, let's go have a little fun," she meant it in the most innocent of ways, for once.

He laughed softly, but gave her a nod, gesturing forward with his pitchfork as if in invitation. "After you, m'lady."

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Character Portrait: Eryk Nero Character Portrait: Kasimir Rheinallt Character Portrait: Cyrilla Niav Character Portrait: Anastasia Asher
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#, as written by Aethyia


May 6th
Ana's House - Evening - Warm
Kasimir Rheinallt


They'd asked for work, and they'd certainly gotten it. It had taken several hours to get through Ana's list of shelter chores, which included feeding the pokémon, administering medication, and giving everyone basic health checks. Apparently their mark was a registered pokémon nurse, unsurprising for someone related to the Joy family. Kas might have wondered if that was what the boss wanted with her, except there was a perfectly serviceable pokémon center in town, and more than one nurse in the Rocket ranks, and for some reason, it was this girl he was specifically interested in.

He couldn't quite figure it out. Biting into a chocolate chip cookie and chewing it over, he studied the young woman across the table not with a lecher's eye but with an analyst's. One afternoon working for a person wasn't enough to get a full read, of course, but he could tell several things about Anastasia Asher right now. Firstly, she actually gave a shit. She had no idea they were from NTR, and yet every single regulation, no matter how onerous or difficult, was followed in both letter and spirit. Hell, she went above and beyond. Kas had done a few facility inspections in his day, and while he could tell the place was underfunded, he also knew that the pokémon here were looked after as well as pokémon could be. Ana's personally-registered battlers, an espeon and umbreon, were no different in that respect.

So it wasn't that there was possibly some violation going on, and he doubted very much that Ana was secretly connected to some trafficking ring or shady breeding operation, which might have demanded the undercover work. She was also just an incredibly nice person, and it made him feel bad for the fact that they weren't in this to actually be her friends, because dammit if he couldn't tell she was a little lonely, too.

It might have been the way she'd invited them for tea and cookies after the shift was over. Chocolate chip and oatmeal raisin, and some kind of orangey tea for him. It was honestly very good, and somehow it made him feel like a horrible human being.

Not that this feeling was ever too far away.

Setting her teacup down on its saucer with a soft clink, Ana exhaled, as though a little weary. Understandable; that had been a reasonable amount of labor even for the likes of the three of them, and she was, well... rather frailer than they were. Not to mention all the medical stuff she had to do by herself, since none of them were certified for it. She smiled, though, at all three of them.

"Eryk said yesterday that the three of you hadn't been able to see much of the island yet," she said quietly. She was very quiet, in general. A little shy, despite the bold way of dressing. "I could take you three on a little walking tour this evening, if you like? As a way of saying thank you for the help?"

Cyrilla had set her cup down as she shook her head. “Oh, we were glad to help! I haven't had a work out like that in..." she paused, glancing up as if she were trying to remember how long it'd actually been, “I'd say a year or so. And that would be actually very nice of you. We haven't had a chance because we've been so busy with work, but since we're actually free, I'd say now is as good a time as any. Wouldn't you say so, Ryk?"

Eryk, who'd been munching quietly on an oatmeal cookie, eyed Cyrilla warily. She was grinning much too broadly for his liking, apparently. “It would be nice, yes," he stated softly. “But you shouldn't feel obligated to do so, Anastasia. We could consider this as our thanks," he stated, motioning towards the drinks and cookies.

“You're so hopeless. I, for one, would love to see the island and get acquainted with it," she stated, arching her brow in Kas's direction. “Wouldn't you say so, too, Kas?" Eryk narrowed his eyes, but sighed.

“I suppose it couldn't hurt," Eryk seemed to relent.

"I'm in favor," Kas said, polishing off his cookie and tea both.

Ana smiled, and collected everyone's dishes before they headed out. "Oh. If it's not too much to ask, where are you all living? I don't want to show you the things you've already seen." She pulled on her boots at the entrance, pausing for all of them to re-don their shoes as well before stepping out and locking up behind them.

Kas didn't see the harm in sharing, so he shrugged a little. "The Cloyster? Metal monstrosity downtown."

She nodded, wrinkling her nose a little in what seemed to be amusement at his description. "It's very... distinctive, yes," she demurred. "In that case, you've probably seen a lot of what passes for downtown around here, so maybe we can start with the back side of the island. It tends to be where the locals go when they don't want to deal with tourists, and if you're interested in swimming or surfing or anything like that, it's the place to go."

Cyrilla snickered as she glanced up at Eryk. “Ryk, here, can't really surf for his life, but I'm sure he'd like to go swimming," she stated, earning a pointed gaze from Eryk. “And I haven't been surfing since the last time I visited Alola. That was... about three years ago, now," she stated, nodding her head slightly to herself, it seemed.

“I can surf well-enough, Cy," he spoke, narrowing his eyes at Cyrilla as if he were offended somehow by her statement. She merely arched her brow at him.

“By well-enough, do you mean falling off your board every ten seconds? If that's well-enough, I'd hate to see what good, is," she replied, smirking slightly at him. Eryk rolled his eyes before turning his attention towards Ana.

“If you'd be so kind as to show us, anyway," he muttered. It almost sounded like he was embarrassed that, that tidbit of information was out.

Kas was pretty sure he was going to have to find an excuse to see this in action. As an island kid himself, he'd spent a large chunk of his childhood in and around the ocean, first year-round and then at least during summers after the divorce. That included surfing to be sure. He wondered how someone with Ryk's innate sense of balance could be that bad at it.

Ana, though, smiled slightly. "There's lots of other things to do, of course. Restaurants, and a less-touristy boardwalk, that kind of thing. You can even rent boats and scuba gear if you like." She locked up the gate behind them as well, and took them the opposite direction from the one they'd used to reach her place.

The streets were fairly unremarkable residential housing for a while, mostly one-story properties with thatched or terra-cotta roofing. Many of them were brightly-painted stucco, yellow and green and light blue sticking out amongst the more traditional, well, cinnabar.

But it didn't take long at all for Ana to veer aside from the sidewalk, taking a path that didn't seem to belong with any property in particular and leading them through a cluster of palm and similar trees that eventually spat them out onto a stretch of beach. There were a few people minding their own business on the sand, but it was far from crowded.

"The locals sometimes just call this the Backisland, or Backisland Beach," Ana explained, looking rather incongruent in the harsh black of her clothes. The sand was almost white, it was so pale, and there was a bit of glare from the sun on both the water and the beach. Kas, well prepared, dropped his sunglasses onto the bridge of his nose and ceased to worry about it. Arceus he was with a bunch of pale people, wasn't he?

Ryk, at least, was somewhat tanned, but Cy and Ana were about as pale as could be, especially Cy. She was practically an albino. “Oh, it's so beautiful," she stated, smiling just as bright. It almost looked genuine in that moment, as if she truly thought that, but it disappeared a moment later. “We really should come back, maybe when the sun's gone down a bit more. I'm sure the pokémon would love to run around here and stretch their legs," she stated, blinking mildly before turning towards Ana.

“Can they do that, though? I know some places don't allow pokémon outside of their pokéballs, or if they are, they have to be kept on a... leash depending on the type," she stated, her brows furrowed lightly.

“That's what the park is for, Cy," Eryk stated, arching a brow in her direction. He still managed to look grumpy even with something as simple as that. “Besides, you can come at night to do that, too, when there's hardly anyone around." Cyrilla smirked, then.

“So does that mean I can go skinny dipping, too?"

Eryk merely furrowed his brows. “Not what I meant, Cy. Now you're just twisting my words around."

“Oh, come on, Ryk. You should loosen up a bit and enjoy yourself every once in a while. I'm sure Ana, here, would do the same, right Ana?"

Kas had to stifle a laugh, because he was pretty sure that shift in color happening on Ana'a face was a spectacular blush. "U-um. N-no, I can't say that I have," she said, very obviously trying to remain polite in the face of Cy's rather blunt declaration. "B-but you can in fact release pokémon here, if they are legally releasable on Zone 3 areas. Just not the tourist beaches."

"One more reason to prefer here, I suppose," Kas said, grinning and deciding to take a little mercy on the poor thing. "What else is around the back side of the island?"

The relief on her face was so obvious he couldn't help but chuckle.

"Oh, um. Well there's a few places to go, like the bowling alley, a couple of bars and restaurants, an arcade, and the skating rink. Er, roller, not ice."

“Oh, we should defintely check out the bowling alley," Cyrilla stated, turning her attention towards Eryk. He shrugged his shoulders, though, as if he were not too interested.

“I think the skating rink would be better," he murmured, causing Cy to raise a brow. He shrugged again. “They're calming," was the only thing he said.

“Of course you'd find going in circles, calming," she stated, but she chuckled anyway. “What about you, Ana? When you're not taking care of the shelter, what do you do for fun?" she asked, her head tilting in a curious manner towards Ana.

"I... don't have a lot of free time," Ana admitted. "When I do, I like to read, or bake—there's a library just down the street." she pointed in the right direction, and Kas followed her trajectory for a moment before deciding it wasn't in view yet.

He couldn't help but notice that her hobbies were the kinds of things a person could very easily do alone. He wondered if she had any friends at all, or if the loneliness he'd suspected might be there was in fact deeper than he'd expected. It was... well, a little sad, honestly. She seemed like a perfectly decent human being.

"Well," he said, letting none of it show. "Maybe if we help you out a bit more often you'll have some more time, and we can con you into showing us all of that stuff." He grinned, keeping most of the flirtation out of it. A light touch was probably best here, especially with Cy being Cy at the moment.

"Oh, I—well you definitely don't have to do that," she said, clasping her hands in front of her with an adorable earnestness. "But if you'd like to I'd be happy to accompany you all. Um. Sometimes it takes a little time to get to know the locals. If I'm with you they might be a little... less inclined to mistake you for tourists."

“We wouldn't mind," Eryk stated, glancing in Ana's direction. “Helping you out at the shelter more often," he spoke as if clarifying what he meant. “You do a lot at your shelter, and it would be a way of... repaying you for showing us the island and whatever else there may be to it."

“It's a win-win situation for everyone here, really. We get to learn more about the island, and you get help out with your shelter. And it won't be any trouble for us. As Ryk told you, we like doing this kind of thing. It makes us feel..." Cyrilla paused for a moment, as if she were trying to think of the word, “useful. And I for one like feeling useful to someone." She sounded extremely genuine in that statement with an odd touch of melancholy in her tone.

“Indeed," Ryk agreed. “Besides..." he paused, narrowing his eyes slightly as he glanced back out in front of him, “I enjoy working with the pokémon."

Kas wondered how much of what they'd just professed was true. He suspected most of it, actually, which was interesting information that he carefully filed away into the back of his mind. He wished he could say it was just one friend wanting to remember things about the others, but... well, he had multiple reasons to feel bad today, it seemed.

Ana managed a shy smile for all of them. "Then you have yourselves a deal." she said, blue eyes lit with excitement.

He really hoped she wasn't signing herself up for something terrible, but he had no way to know.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Eryk Nero Character Portrait: Kasimir Rheinallt Character Portrait: Cyrilla Niav Character Portrait: Aidan Klein Character Portrait: Nevena Solomon
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May 9th
The Cloyster - Morning - Hot
Eryk Nero


He blinked.

She stared.

He blinked once more, hoping that when his eyes opened, she wouldn't be there.

“I'm not leaving, Ryk. I don't have to be a telepath to know what you're thinking," Cyrilla spoke, pulling Zephyr, her meowth, from her shoulder and settling it into her lap. “Are you going to tell me what you think of her, yet? I'm interested to know," she continued, rubbing the spot between Zephyr's ears, earning a soft purr from the creature. Eryk merely pursed his lips together, his eyes narrowing as he tried to discern her true intentions. The grin on her face, he knew it well. Well enough that she was either up to something, or going to try and embarrass him one way or another.

“No."

“Oh, come on, Ryk! You have to say something. Kas, help me out here, buddy," she stated, tilting her head backwards over the couch so she could see Kas. He was in the kitchen, currently, either getting something to eat, or something to drink. Eryk didn't know, nor did he care. He narrowed his eyes, though, in Kas's direction.

“Don't involve him. He doesn't care," Eryk stated, pursing his lips together.

"Ouch, Ryk. That hurts my feelings. Of course I care." There was a little bit of shuffling around, then the sound of the cabinet being opened, and a few moments later he'd returned from the kitchen, handing Cyrilla a glass of apple juice and leaving himself with water. He didn't give the impression of being concerned with his health, but living with him had made clear that in addition to being tidy, he habitually took care of himself.

Falling softly onto the other end of the couch, he pulled one leg up towards him, propping the other on the coffee table. He always gave Cyrilla more space than she really needed, for some reason. "Besides you should know I'd never pass up any opportunity to mess with you, so." He took a couple swallows of the water and placed it on the small table near his elbow.

"Was I right about the type thing?"

“Type?" he asked, immediately regretting it when Cyrilla grinned brightly at him.

“Oh, definitely his type. I mean, look at him," she spoke, taking a drink from her apple juice while pointing in Eryk's direction. “He's all flustered already and he doesn't even know why. I mean, it's alright to admit that kind of thing, Ryk. For instance," she paused, glancing in Kas's direction.

“Kas would be my type if he weren't so..." she trailed off as if she were unsure of the word she wanted to use. “Hm, actually I take that back, he is my type," she stated, grinning in Kas's direction before turning her attention back towards Ryk. He narrowed his eyes in her direction.

Kasimir huffed a laugh, raising his glass as if in salute. "Always flattering to hear you're maybe almost a pretty lady's type," he replied benignly.

“We've already been over this, Cyrilla. This isn't a seduction mission. I'm not interested in her that way," he stated, putting an emphasis on each word so that it would get through to Cyrilla. He knew it wouldn't, but he wished it would.

Kas hummed, either unconvinced or unconcerned. "Okay then, so if you're not into Ana, what do you like? No reason you have to live like a monk while you're here, you know. I hear the island nightlife's pretty good. Locals mingling with tourists—excellent if you're looking for something fun to relieve stress. Would probably work if you wanted something more long-term, but you're that kind of 'why bother when we're gonna leave?' sort, both of you. I can tell." He nodded sagely, as if this was indeed something he knew.

"No reason not to have a bit of fun though, right?"

“See? He gets it, why can't you?" she stated, arching a brow in Ryk's direction. He sighed heavily. She knew why; they both knew why. He only did so for missions's sake. What Cyrilla did, she did on her own accord. He had a certain reputation to uphold. Honestly, he was a bit surprised SHE hadn't said anything about Cy's infidelity, or so she would have called it. She probably didn't even know, really. He supposed Cyrilla could write it off as part of the mission, of getting information from the locals. People often were a little more loose-lipped during those kinds of situations, he supposed.

“I don't have to explain myself to the two of you," he spoke, shooting Cy a glance. Her brows furrowed, her eyes faltering for a moment as she sunk back into the couch. She smoothed her hand over Zephyr's back. “Cyrilla," he began, but she shook her head.

“No need to explain Ryk. I know," she replied, offering him a small smile. He stood from his place on the loveseat and grabbed his keys. He wasn't sure if they'd be there when he returned, but he couldn't be around the two of them at the moment. She would recover from his statement, and continue trying to prod him with Kas. And Kas certainly wasn't making it any better. Perhaps, the professor, Dr. Solomon, would be better company. Or even Aidan. From his understanding, they both lived in the same complex, just further up.

With that in mind, he left his shared apartment and took the elevator three floors up. They were on the 6th floor, and Aidan and Dr. Solomon were on the 9th floor, if he remembered correctly. As he exited the elevator, he spotted Solomon exiting her apartment, placing her key inside to lock it, he supposed, as her bayleef stood behind her. It almost looked like the bayleef was acting as a guard before it spotted Ryk. She used a vine to tap Solomon's shoulder, catching her attention which shifted towards Ryk.

“Oh, hello, Mr. Nero," she greeted, smiling at him. “Is there something I can help you with? Or did you come to see Mr. Klein?" she asked, tilting her head to the side.

“You can call me Eryk. It's fine, and I was here to see if you're busy," he stated. She seemed to brighten at the prospect of being helpful in some way.

“I was actually about to head out on a walk. I wanted to see more of the island before I head into the office," she began, “you can join me if you'd like?"

At that point the door next to Solomon's opened, and Aidan stepped out, wearing a sleeveless black shirt and black jeans. His wardrobe seemed to be even more monochrome than Eryk's. There was a pair of sunglasses nested in his unruly red hair; he looked entirely unfazed to see Eryk.

"Joining up with the Doc's sightseeing club, Nero?" he asked, locking his apartment door and dropping his key into his pocket. "I think we're headed—what?" he glanced at Solomon with the query. "To the park today or something?"

“The park would be nice, I suppose. And if there's something you'd like to talk about, that would be the place to go," she stated, nodding her head softly in the direction of the elevator. Eryk wasn't entirely sure he'd call it joining anything; he'd seen some of the island with Anastasia's tour, but he supposed he could join them for this.

“If I'm not going to be in anyone's way, then yes, I suppose I am," he spoke, his eyes narrowing slightly at nothing in particular. It was just how his expressions were. Vague, pointless sometimes, and other times they insulted people, somehow.

“Great, now, let's get to it," Solomon stated as she made her way towards the elevator. Eryk realized, belatedly, that she was dressed nothing like the previous researchers would be. When they'd met her, she was dressed in a suit and pencil skirt, with a coat; typical attire for a researcher. Now, though, she was wearing what looked like a pair of khaki shorts and a plain white t-shirt. It was something he'd expect Cyrilla to wear around the apartment as pajama's more than anything. His own attire was, perhaps, not suited for the heat, but he supposed it really didn't bother him as much as it did the others. He couldn't really say.

He followed them into the elevator as Solomon pushed the button for the bottom floor. “So, Eryk, tell me about yourself. What do you do?" she asked, curiosity evident in her voice. He arched a brow at her. He glanced in Aidan's direction.

“I have his old job." It was, essentially, true.

"Upkeeps a proud tradition of people called 'Entei' having shaggy hair," Aidan agreed flatly, as though this was the only requirement of the job. His hands rested comfortably in his pockets; it was hard to say for sure, but this seemed like it might be sort of a routine for him. Perhaps they regularly walked around the island before going into the office, or something.

"More seriously, Nero's the Executive in charge of Field Office 9. The other two are too, kind of, but where rank distinctions are necessary, you're looking at the boss." The other man arched an eyebrow, studying him with apparent interest for a moment. "Disagreement with the roommates, huh?"

“Not so much a disagreement," he began, shrugging lightly. “They are being insufferable, is all," he continued, which was mostly true. They were teasing him about something that wasn't true, and he'd be damned if he had to sit through that shit. It was bad enough that they assumed she was his type. It was bad enough that they thought he'd be able... he stopped that train of thought and quashed the feeling it produced. He had a job to do.

Nev, however, arched a brow in his direction. “Isn't one of them your fiancée, though?" she asked, and Eryk pushed a heavy sigh through his nose.

“Doesn't mean we don't have disagreements from time to time," he supplied easily enough. Marrying someone out of love wasn't something everyone could afford. He was doing it for his own reasons, but there was, he supposed a familial reason, nonetheless.

“Well, I suppose that makes sense," she replied as if she didn't know, herself. He wondered about that, but he wasn't going to pry. She was, in all senses, an appealing person. Not particularly someone he'd be interested in, but there was an appeal, there.

They reached the outside, then, the sun and heat making their presence known right away. Aidan took the sunglasses from atop his head and put them on his face. "You had breakfast yet?" he asked. "There's a little place on the way we like; they can do you something portable pretty quick so you can walk with it if you're hungry." He didn't seem to be interested in prying into either Eryk's or Solomon's business, but there was something odd about the question.

He wasn't making eye contact with either of them, seemingly preoccupied with something off to one side, though it was hard to say what, since the street was mostly empty at this time of day.

“I have not, no," Eryk replied to Aidan's question about breakfast. He was going to eat breakfast with Kas and Cy, but he'd left before he could actually eat. Solomon seemed to brighten at his answer, though, an extra hop to her step as they continued to walk.

“Oh, then you'll love this place," she stated, smiling brightly as if it were her favorite thing to do. Perhaps it was? Eryk knew that some people didn't stop smiling, each for various reasons. He just knew he couldn't do it. At least not in the same way he used to. “They have the best kalosian toast, and they even have galarian muffins. I think the best thing they have, though, is their biscuits and gravy with eggs. It's so good," she continued. Eryk huffed lightly at her enthusiasm, and turned towards Aidan.

“She always like this?" he asked.

There was a faint flicker of a smile over Aidan's face as he turned back to address Eryk's question, but it was gone in the next eyeblink. "Pretty much," he said. "Except at work. She can get really hyperfocused there. I have to remind her to do basic shit like eat and take breaks. I'm basically a scientist-sitter these days." He made sure his volume was sufficient that Solomon could hear as well, perhaps not wanting to speak about her without her knowledge. Though what he said could have been a complaint, he didn't seem to mind.

She huffed lightly, a light pink dusting her cheeks. “And I said I was sorry about that," she murmured lightly. “But he's not wrong. I do forget things like that, and I feel bad because he's supposed to be my supervisor, not caretaker. I used to have Basil do that," she stated, pointing to the bayleef that was trailing behind them, seemingly enjoying the sun.

“But she's not allowed outside of her ball in the room," she continued. Eryk could see why that would be a problem. Basil was a large creature, and she would likely get in the way of the other scientists working. He nodded lightly.

Aidan rolled his eyes. "I'm not criticizing, Doc. And I told you you don't need to apologize for stuff like that."

“I suppose there are worse things to be in our line of work," Eryk stated as he glanced back towards Aidan. “You could be babysitting the other two idiots," he continued, referring to Cy and Kas. Honestly, he'd probably prefer scientist-sitting than dealing with those two at the moment.

He huffed softly, lifting an eyebrow as they headed into a small building that must have been the breakfast place. It seemed to have a menu for sitting and a menu for takeout, which focused on portable things like sandwiches and wrapped crepes and so on.

Aidan dug around in his back pocket for his wallet. "Yeah I've heard Rheinallt can be a handful. Seems like a decent guy though. You'd know more about Niav than I do." His tone sugested he'd heard some things about Cyrilla nevertheless, but he didn't bring them up for whatever reason. "What do you guys want? I'm senior so it's on me this time."

“Biscuits and gravy, please," Solomon stated, tucking Basil's ball back onto her belt. She'd recalled the bayleef before they'd entered the establishment. Eryk, however, glanced towards the menu, his brows furrowing slightly. He didn't need Aidan paying for him, but he had a feeling that if he were to object, Aidan wouldn't let him.

“I'll try what she's having," he murmured. He supposed it wouldn't hurt, and if Solomon thought they were good, then he'd give them a try. Everything else didn't really sound appealing to him, after all. This, at least, was a bit nicer than being with the other two. If only they could be more like this... he wouldn't mind so much.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Eryk Nero Character Portrait: Kasimir Rheinallt
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#, as written by Aethyia


May 11th
Field Office 9 - Evening - Muggy
Kasimir Rheinallt


Kas closed the lid of his laptop, breathing a heavy sigh and setting it aside. He was supposed to expect a call from Steele in the next couple of days; he wasn't especially looking forward to it. His real boss was on his ass a lot lately. He couldn't blame her, exactly; eight years he'd been at this, and this new assignment was the best chance by far he'd ever had to catch Team Rocket out at something. It was perfect placement, really: on the executive team with a bunch of people who didn't know him from Adam, close to some kind of top-secret project that apparently required civilian cooperation.

The thing was, Steele would want an analysis now, of how likely this was to yield what they wanted, and Kas just didn't have that. He had no idea what this project was, and while he expected his connection to Nevena would help him figure it out, he sure as fuck couldn't lean on that too fast or it would look beyond suspicious. He needed these people to have the right impression of him first. And he needed them to trust him, to a certain point.

It probably didn't require making friends, exactly, but he needed them to not be on guard with him, and he wasn't sure he could have landed in the middle of a more challenging group for that. Aidan was scary-observant, so much so that Kas was wary to be the sole focus of his attention for any length of time. Cyrilla clearly didn't trust anyone but Eryk, nor he her, but the relationship was oddly fraught, too. He was pretty sure he'd thought it before, but he'd eat his shoes if they were engaged for anything beyond convenience, which was a whole other set of questions.

Who did marriages of convenience anymore?

The trouble was, he had no idea if getting into that kind of tangle was something he even needed to do. Ideally he wouldn't, but it seemed to be really tied to whatever fucking weird companionship issues they had in general, and if he was ever going to be anything but the stranger living in their apartment, that meant getting at least kind of into the mire.

Plus, he actually did feel like an ass for making Ryk walk out like that the other day, even if he still had no idea why the fuck that had happened.

Standing, Kas gathered his things to leave the office. Cy had taken a half-day to go hang out with Ana, he was pretty sure, but Ryk was still in. Now was as good a time as any to try making some amends.

Locking his office up behind him, he approached Ryk's door. It was partly open, so he knocked on the frame and stuck his head in. "Hey man, we could've left an hour and a half ago. Do you want to go get a drink or something?" They had the next day off, so it didn't strike him as an unreasonable thing to ask, even to someone considerably more dedicated to the work.

Kasimir was a workaholic, but this was part of the work.

Eryk glanced up from his paper work, his brows knitted deeply as he arched a brow. He glanced back at the paperwork in front of him, signed it, and set the pen to the side. “Sure," was his curt reply. He took the pair of glasses resting on his nose, off, and placed them into a drawer before he stood.

“Any place in particular that you have in mind?" he asked. Eryk didn't get out much, that was obvious. He was either at work, at Ana's helping her out, or at home. He didn't seem to go anywhere else.

Kas shrugged. "There's a decent dive not far from here called Marna's. A bunch of options, some food, nothing too fancy, no tourists." It was the kind of place you went to when you didn't want to be bothered, which was a sharp contrast to where Kas spent a lot of his off time but was something even he needed more than occasionally.

He'd noticed Eryk's general lack of much social activity, and while at first he'd just put it down to the guy being an introvert—which was entirely fine—now he wondered if there wasn't something more to it, really. Heading down the stairs first, he paused at the entrance to the office to let Meep out of her ball. "They allow small pokémon in, if it's not disruptive," he explained, sliding his hands into his pockets and leading the way.

"I didn't know you needed reading glasses. Is it for everything or just screens?"

“Mostly for the small print. And I usually don't wear them because..." he paused as if he were trying to think of the word, “they get in the way, too often. I can see just fine without them, but when it comes to reading anything too small, I need them." He shrugged his shoulders, though, before he let them drop.

“What's the sudden interest in getting drinks, though?" he asked, his eyes narrowing slightly, though not in a way that conveyed suspicion. More like curiosity, but that was it.

Kas didn't feel any particular need to hide his intentions. Ryk was a direct kind of guy, and seemed to prefer a direct approach, and that was honestly something of a relief. Kas could do pretty much any style of socialization someone wanted, but some of them were exhausting even to him. This wasn't.

"Well it's partly an apology because I was actually an asshole the other day," he said plainly, offering Ryk a shrug. "Which I really am sorry about. The joy of meeting new people: figuring out all the ways you're gonna screw it up before it goes right." The last part was obviously sarcastic, but not in any sort of way really aimed at Eryk. Self-deprecating.

That was part of his actual personality, so there was that, at least.

They'd reached the bar, and Kas pulled open the door to let Ryk in first. Marna's was pretty well-lit, the windows open to the island air outside. Someone played an old piano in the corner, but not loud enough to really detract from the obvious peace and quiet of the place.

Marna, the owner, was an elderly woman with braids in her white hair and deep wrinkles pressed into the leathery brown skin of someone who'd never believed in sublock and spent most of her life outside. Familiar, to him, in a sort of general, homey way. She grinned at his entrance—they'd made fast friends when he'd wandered in a few weeks ago—and greeted him in a thick Cinnabar accent.

“Kasimir, welcome back. Who've you brought?"

"Marna," he replied, returning the grin. "Good to be back. This is my friend Eryk. You got room for us up there at the bar?" It was sort of a joke since there was no one sitting there at all, but she took it as intended.

Gesturing widely at the whole thing, she shrugged. “I saved you a seat. Think you can fit all those beanpole limbs or should I have left more room?"

Eryk huffed lightly. It almost sounded like he wanted to laugh, but either didn't know how to, or was refraining from it. It was likely the former, though, since his brows furrowed lightly, and his lips were pursed.

“I think it should be sufficient room," Eryk stated, taking a seat at one of the stools. He glanced towards Kas for a moment before he turned his attention towards Marna. “I'll take the strongest thing you have," he spoke, resting his forearm against the counter. He took in a soft breath and seemed fixed on the display behind the bar.

Marna nodded, immediately reaching for a bottle on the top shelf and pouring a pair of shots, one of which she gave to each of them. Kas sat down next to Eryk, stopping the woman when she went to replace the liquor.

"We'll take the bottle, thanks auntie."

She huffed a little and shook her head, but left it between them on the bar anyway, and went back to polishing glassware.

“You don't have to apologize, Kas," Eryk spoke finally once everything was settled, shifting his gaze towards Kas. “You weren't being an asshole. There are just... certain things in which Cyrilla and I are not..." he pursed his lips together as if he were trying to figure out the right way to say what he wanted to.

“It's fine. You weren't being an asshole," he seemed to reiterate. He probably didn't know how to explain their situation.

"I have to admit," Kas said, throwing back the shot and setting the glass back down. It was a rum, apparently. Not bad, but definitely stronger than anything he usually bothered with. "I've kind of been... wondering about that for a while." He poured himself another, motioning for Ryk to tilt his glass so he could refill his, too.

"Now I'm not exactly an expert on being in love, but uh... you and Cy don't even seem attracted to each other. So... can I ask why the hell you're engaged, or is that too personal?" He was conscious of the fact that something like this could be difficult subject matter for anyone, but that there seemed to be even more weird complications in their particular case, somehow. "If it helps sweeten the deal at all, you can ask me something outrageously personal afterwards." He grinned, not because it was entirely a joke. More to... ease the sting, if there was any. Booze was good for that too, hence his choice of venue.

“It saves her life in more than one way, and keeps me from marrying someone I don't want to," Eryk replied almost immediately, downing the second shot Kas had poured him. He stared at Kas a moment longer, as if he were trying to figure out just how much to tell him about that statement. “Our engagement is mostly a clan thing. Her parents wanted her to marry me; mine wanted me to marry someone else. Logical choice was to choose her." He poured himself another drink and downed it again. He didn't seem too bothered by how strong it was, and poured another.

“It would have been better if she'd been able to leave the family, though," he muttered softly, as if he hadn't meant to say that. He pushed a heavy sigh through his nose, and downed his fourth shot.

That was... a lot.

Kas mulled for a moment, taking a sip this time rather than the whole shot, though he nudged the bottle towards Ryk. Seemed like the kind of thing with an edge that needed taking off.

Leaving aside the fact that the 'clan' thing meant they were distantly related—distant enough that it wasn't an issue apparently, but still—the whole cold nature of it was kind of unexpected. It wasn't like Kas was some great romantic by any means. He had zero plans to ever be married himself because love was a con and no one went a lifetime tied to the same other person without getting bored, he firmly believed. But even he found something altogether too ruthless in the way Ryk's family seemed to handle it.

"Guess that's making the most of a bad situation," he demurred. If ever there was a good reason to marry someone, getting them out of an even shittier arrangement was probably it. "Sounds pretty dire, though. Saving her life in more than one way, better if she left the family. They don't like her or something?" He made it sound like Cy might've been suicidal or something, which was alarming but probably not his business. Still, though—the whole thing was tangled, and Kasimir was curious by nature. It couldn't hurt to ask, he figured.

Ryk was always free not to answer.

“No," he replied, taking another shot. He seemed to be downing them pretty fast, but on his sixth one, he seemed to just stare at it. “They don't like her. They don't like what she means to me, and they..." he narrowed his eyes a bit, as if he were glaring at the shot glass. He pushed a heavy sigh through his nose, once more, and shook his head. “It's a complicated mess."

He side-glanced Kas for a moment, his eyes narrowing in a contemplative manner. “If it wasn't me, she'd be engaged to someone else, someone worse," he spoke softly, as if he truly believed that. Maybe he did, with the way he was making their family out to be. “She's..." he paused a moment, “a lot more fragile than she appears to be. If you knew her as I do... nevermind." He shook his head softly and downed his drink, setting the cup down a little harder than he'd meant to if the way he flinched a bit was anything to go by.

“What's done is done. There's no undoing it," he spoke, staring at his empty shot glass. “You don't look like the type to have a complicated family history, though," he stated, arching a brow in Kas's direction.

Maybe it was the drinks, but Kas found himself genuinely sad, a strange sort of sympathetic sorrow settling over him like a heavy cloak. He brushed an errant drop of rum from the lip of his glass with a careless movement of his thumb. What a shit situation. He didn't really understand how rich people did things, but he knew the Kogas were rich as hell. One of the oldest-money families in Kanto. The world, honestly, right up there with the Hugheses and the like. Even the Stones were new money by comparison.

And he sort of already knew that in that world, arranged marriages and things weren't entirely uncommon. People used them for political and business ties, that kind of thing. He suppose it was how they stayed rich. He made a little mental note to go digging, see what he could find. If nothing else, the Koga finances would be interesting to see, and the family was intimately tied to the old and new Team Rocket, so it wasn't like it was an unworthy angle by Steele's logic, either.

The question about his own life drew his attention, and he huffed softly. It wasn't even really a proper query, just a statement. "Is that your attempt at asking me something outrageously personal?" he asked, mouth ticking up at the corner as he poured himself another. He was drinking more slowly than Ryk, to be sure, but his head was starting to fuzz a bit anyway.

Eryk furrowed his brows slightly, shaking his head. “No. I... wouldn't know what outrageously personal would be." His lips were pursed into a fine line as he stared into his shot glass. He swirled it a couple of times, as if he were trying to think of something. He didn't seem to find it, though, as he set the glass down.

“What... is considered outrageously personal?" he asked, seemingly serious about the question.

Kas laughed softly, trying to figure out how to answer a question like that. "I suppose it depends on the person," he admitted after a moment. "For most people who've only just really started getting to know each other, questions about things like money, sex, politics, personal history, or religion could all be considered too personal to ask about. Anything that might be awkward or embarrassing, or feel invasive, or like exposing a weakness. But I'm a little different, I guess. I don't really keep secrets, and I don't get embarrassed, so you can pretty much ask me whatever you want to know." He shrugged.

There were, of course, questions that would be bad if answered truthfully, but Ryk didn't even know to ask those, and if he randomly hit too close, well... Kasimir was an excellent liar.

“I wasn't aware those were considered too personal. I suppose that makes sense as to why most people were off put by me when I asked them," Eryk spoke, almost huffing to himself. “I won't ask, Kas. Your business is your own. Maybe another time," he stated, pouring himself another shot and staring at it. He downed it a moment later, though, and his tense posture seemed to relax a bit.

“This place isn't bad, though. I'll give you that," he stated, making a vague gesture around him. “Perhaps this can be... normalized," he continued as if he were unsure that was the word he wanted to use. He shrugged, though, and poured another drink.

"I'm almost offended I'm not interesting enough to ask about," Kas replied, using a light tone so it would be obvious he was joking. "But if you want to normalize, sure. Why don't we invite Aidan next time and make it a guys' thing?" Something told him Ryk hadn't had many friends before, and while Kas wouldn't have minded inviting Cy or Sis at all, it might be... different, this way.

Plus, he told himself, it would be an excellent way to ingratiate himself with both of them, while keeping some of the heat of Aidan's scrutiny off him. Or something.

“I don't see why not," he replied easily enough. His eyes narrowed in Kas's direction for a moment, though, as he seemed to contemplate something. Whatever it was, he shook his head and turned his attention back to his shot glass, filled once more with rum. “It might... be interesting."

That, Kas supposed, was one word for it.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Eryk Nero Character Portrait: Kasimir Rheinallt Character Portrait: Aidan Klein
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#, as written by Aethyia


May 17th
Marna's - Evening - Muggy
Aidan Klein


He'd been more than a little surprised to receive an invitation to join Rheinallt and Nero for drinks at the local bar, but hadn't seen any reason to decline. He figured it was as good an opportunity as any to check in with them and see how they were finding their arrangements, such as they were.

He'd reached the place first, ordering himself a beer to get started and taking up residence at one of the tables on the small covered deck. Marna, as he supposed the elderly woman must be, had hung windchimes at the edges of it, and they caught the breeze and rang with pleasant sounds, some of them wood, others glassy or made of shells, even. It was pretty late, but the sun was still barely around, casting the island sky in deep oranges, reds, and streaks of violet. It smelled a little like there might be rain tonight, though there weren't many clouds in the sky yet.

The wind was nice, though. Broke through the oppressive humidity enough to stir the shaggy ends of his hair.

“Something to eat, Ula?" The voice, and the unfamiliar word, broke him from his staring out towards the ocean, which was a ways out from here but not so far that he couldn't see it. He turned towards her, laughing grey eyes and crinkled skin.

He considered it for a moment. "Sure, thanks," he said after a moment. "And something for Kasimir and Eryk as well; he said you know them."

From the way she snorted, she clearly did. “You got it." Shuffling back towards the bar, she entered the kitchen through the door behind it, leaving the place empty but for him. At least for the moment.

Nero arrived a moment later, looking vaguely confused for a moment before he spotted Aidan. He shook his head and took a seat across from Aidan, eyes pulled just into a soft narrowed expression as he glanced out the direction Aidan had a moment ago.

“Aidan," he greeted. Aidan had learned that was just how Nero greeted people. He didn't seem to find the need for pleasantries, and always seemed to get straight to the point.

"Nero." Aidan nodded back, unconcerned. He'd been accused often enough of being brusque himself; there was just a certain type of person who didn't talk a lot, and that was fine. He didn't really tend to mind, whether they were mostly quiet like Nero or near-constantly rambling like doc sometimes got. "Plans for the weekend?" It was only Thursday, hence the emptiness of the bar, but the office had a long weekend. Sort of impromptu, but necessary since the ancient air conditioning unit had given out this afternoon.

Aidan hadn't been too interested in making people come to work in this heat just for one extra day, so he'd made the call to shut the place down for the long weekend and get the damn thing fixed. He could probably do it himself, but for some reason Gregorovich had a weird thing about him doing that kind of manual labor. Aidan wasn't so fussy, but if the boss would rather the professionals handled it, that was fine too.

“Not particularly," Nero responded as he nodded his head towards Marna who'd brought him a beer. He took a slow drink of it, apparently not too inclined to down it. “Unless you consider volunteering at Ana's as plans for the weekend," he added, holding the beer out in front of him as if he weren't too interested at the moment.

“One of the doors isn't closing properly; I planned on helping her fix it," he stated as if he were explaining why he was volunteering. “And you? Plan on taking Solomon on another walk?"

Aidan, who'd been about to swallow, snorted, and had to fight to down the beer before he lost it. He coughed a bit, striking the center of his chest with the side of his fist, but it trailed off into an odd sort of chuckle. "You've really got to work on your phrasing," he remarked, shaking his head faintly. "Rex, I would take on a walk. The Doc, I would go on a walk with."

He figured it was an honest mistake, so he explained it. The other possible explanation was a pretty sexist one, and he didn't judge Nero to be that kind of guy. Nor Rheinallt, for that matter. He'd not have accepted the offer if he had. Nero made an expression that seemed more like an 'ah' and nodded his head as if he understood the statement.

"As for whether we will, I dunno. Would you like to come with if we do?"

Nero's brows furrowed in thought as he seemed to contemplate Aidan's offer. “If I'm not busy, I don't see why not," he finally stated, taking another drink from his beer. “It would be a better evening than spending it with the other two," he muttered into his drink before he set it down, perhaps, referring to Rheinallt and Niav. “There is nothing wrong with them, they're just... a bit much," he continued, shaking his head softly. He took in a deep breath, though, and remained quiet after that.

Aidan could certainly see that being the case sometimes. They were both rather... energetic, by comparison to Nero, and in a very particular way. "I'm sure they somehow manage to get exponentially worse around each other," he noted, quite certain of it.

As it happened, though, the front door to Marna's opened a moment later, at the same time as the woman herself emerged from the kitchen carrying the food on a large tray. She swung to greet him, only to unluckily catch her foot on a barstool someone had left too far out. The tray and everything on it would have gone flying, but fortunately Rheinallt reacted quickly, snatching the tray up with one hand to the bottom of it and steadying Marna by the should with the other. Aidan would eat the contents of his half-pack of cigarettes if that guy didn't have formal martial arts training, or at least something similar.

"Easy there Auntie," he said, grinning in a manner that could easily be described as carefree. He wasn't quite that though. Or at least Aidan didn't think so.

After Marna had sorted herself out, he handed the tray back to her, and they both approached the table. “Sorry about that," Marna said, dishing out the food. Aidan's appeared to be a spicy poke bowl, which he was more than fine with.

He accepted the dish with both hands. "Not a problem," he said softly. "You all right?"

“Just fine, thank you," she replied, smiling broadly at all of them and setting Rheinallt's drink down last. “You boys all take your time now, and just give me a shout if you need anything."

Nero, for his part, didn't look concerned, but there was a furrow in his brows that conveyed otherwise. He wasn't very good at expressing himself, it seemed. He nodded his head, though, in Marna's direction, as she left. He turned his attention towards Rheinallt, then, and narrowed his eyes.

“Kas," he greeted, nodding his head in Rheinallt's direction. “Enjoying the break?" he asked, arching a brow in Rheinallt's direction.

"Now, see, Ryk, that question's a trap. You're asking me, in front of our boss, if I'm glad I don't have to go into work tomorrow." He shot Aidan a grin. "And my answer is, 'obviously.'"

"Now you've done it, Rheinallt. Gonna have to tell Gregorovich your team's got a slacker," Aidan deadpanned in reply, taking a large bite from his bowl.

The other man laughed. "Oh good. You do have a sense of humor. I was worried when I got over here and Ryk seemed to be comfortable."

“I deal with you and Cyrilla on a daily basis; it's obvious that it'd be more relaxing in Aidan's company than yours," Nero replied easily enough, though from the sounds of it, he didn't seem to be joking. He took another drink of his beer before setting it down and reaching for his own food. It appeared to be nacho supreme minus the jalapeños. He motioned towards them, though, and furrowed his brows.

“Feel free to have some if they suit your tastes," he spoke, as if he were offering to share his nachos.

Rheinallt readily took him up on it, bringing a small cluster of the nachos towards himself. Aidan's dish wasn't really easily shared, but the other man too pushed his plate towards the center. It seemed to have a sort of flatbread on it, sliced into small pieces, with various things topping it. From the smell alone it was fairly spice-heavy.

"We're not that bad. At least I don't steal your food out of the fridge or leave a bunch of mess laying around, right?"

"Low bar," Aidan noted, but not without a flicker of amusement.

“Neither of you do, really," Nero responded, taking a bite out of his nachos before turning his attention back towards Rheinallt. “You both just make too much noise, especially when you both get excited over something. Point in case was yesterday when you were both energetically talking about how cute Meep is, or something of that sort," he added, taking one of Rheinallt's slices and staring at it.

He smelled it as if he were checking for something before he took a bite out of it. “A little more quiet would be appreciated."

To his credit, Rheinallt looked like he was taking this at least mostly seriously, crunching over his nachos with a thoughtful expression. "I did offer to do ground rules, you know. We could work it out so that we have to shut up after a certain time if you wanted. Or, because you probably won't go for that, I can just try to be quieter."

He shrugged. "I guess I never noticed. Grew up in kind of a noisy household."

"Big family?" Aidan asked, trying some of the flatbread and finding it pleasantly flavored. Definitely spicier than his poke, though.

"Compared to some, maybe," Rheinallt replied. "Lot of big personalities, though. I have two sisters, my mom, my dad, my dad's second ex-wife, a handful of aunts and uncles, and enough cousins to lose track of. They weren't all around at the same time, mind you, but I wasn't ever really alone, either. Sometimes it got kind of claustrophobic."

Aidan could almost see that. If his file was to be believed, Rheinallt wasn't just 'really smart' but an actual genius, and if Aidan had his guess, there were actual sensitivities that had come with that, ones he'd probably learned to suck it up and ignore. He wondered if his family had understood or not. Not the kind of question he could ask, at any rate. He didn't seem to think poorly of them overall.

"What about you, boss? Brothers or sisters?"

"Only child," Aidan replied. "And don't call me boss."

Rheinallt grinned.

Nero looked entirely unsure if he should join the conversation in the way it seemed to go. He took another, slow bite of the slice he'd taken from Rheinallt's place and chewed it. He seemed to make up his mind, though, as he washed the bite down with his beer before turning his attention back towards Rheinallt and Aidan.

“I'm an only child in a large, complex family. You both know the Koga family; not much else to say about that," he stated, his eyes narrowing towards his drink almost as if he were angry with it. His expression smoothed out, after that, though, and he took another drink, finishing it off.

Aidan knew enough to know not to press the topic much further than that. He'd been on a team with a very angry, very talkative Koga for several years, not to mention other things he knew simply because he was the closest thing Gregorovich had to a confidante. He polished off his own beer with a shrug.

"And now we both know why Rheinallt can't stand to hear himself think, and we want him to shut up at least fifty percent more often."

Good-humored as always, the other man took the joke on the chin, chuckling softly and shaking his head. "I swear other people like me this conversational."

Nero huffed lightly. “We're not other people," he responded, taking another bite of his nachos, almost frowning when he ran out. He simply took another one of Rheinallt's slices, though. “But... I suppose right now isn't so bad," he added, slightly arching a brow.

“Eventually we'll find a balance. For now, though," he paused, taking a bite out of the slice, “this is fine." He shrugged lightly.

Aidan huffed softly. He supposed it was, at that.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Eryk Nero Character Portrait: Kasimir Rheinallt Character Portrait: Cyrilla Niav Character Portrait: Aidan Klein
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May 24th
Field Office 9 - Early Afternoon - Humid
Eryk Nero


Eryk pinched the bridge of his nose as he stared at the computer screen. A mass email had gone out about the grunts wanting to partake in some kind of event. A battle event if he was reading the email correctly. He wasn't required, per se, to join the event, but... he also knew that if he didn't, there would be some words said and he wasn't really in the mood for that. Before he could turn the computer off, a knock on his door caused him to turn his attention towards it. Cyrilla was standing in the doorway, arching a brow in his direction.

“You read the email?" she asked, waiting for his response. He merely nodded. “Well, come on, then. We're supposed to go help set up the staging area for the grunts so that they have a somewhat viable arena to use. It won't take too long; just have to set up a perimeter for them," she stated. Eryk sighed heavily. Didn't they have other people to do that?

“Yes, we do, Ryk. But it's supposed to be more impactful if the leaders help out, too," she responded as if she'd read his mind. She wasn't a telepath, not like he was, but even then, he couldn't form strong connections with people. He didn't mind, though. It wasn't like it was a helpful or useful gift. From what he could remember, his own father had been a telepath. Not quite a psychic, though.

“Fine." He stood from his chair and followed her out the door.

“We're meeting Kas in the foyer, by the way. He should be there already, but you never know." He supposed that was true enough. It wasn't like they all did their work together, after all.

As it happened, their third was in fact in the foyer, seemingly in conversation with that woman who ran the HR department. At their approach, though, he smiled amiably. "And here they are now. Told you they'd show." There was a glint of amusement in his eyes; he crossed his arms over his chest and arched a brow above his glasses. Eryk couldn't actually be sure he needed them; he only seemed to wear them at work, even though he sometimes worked on his computer screens at the apartment, also.

"I'm kind of interested in seeing what a shitshow this is gonna be. How about you guys?"

Cyrilla chuckled lightly, perhaps, at Kas's statement. “Oh, it's not going to be that bad. A few of the grunts want a chance to have some fun, and apparently they think a battle will help them do that," she replied, rolling her eyes in what seemed to be a goodnatured way.

“There are other ways to have fun on this island, are there not?" Eryk stated, furrowing his brows slightly. He wasn't entirely sure why they thought this was a good idea. Maybe they were trying to see who was particularly strong, and a battle was a good way of doing that? Eryk couldn't be too certain, but he thought it was a waste of time. There were other things they could be doing.

“And there's the grump we all know and love. That may be true, there are other things to do on the island that constitute as fun, but to them, this is a way of bonding. It would do you some good, too, Ryk. Let Runt have a go at some of them. You said he's been restless lately, right?" Cyrilla replied, arching a delicate brow in his direction. He supposed she had a point, but he didn't want to participate himself.

“Are you going to be participating?" he questioned, glancing in Kas's direction. If Kas joined, then maybe Eryk would, too.

"I was kinda hoping to get out of it," he admitted. "But then Luke and Niko challenged me and I couldn't really say no, so I guess I'm stuck going for a round or two. I figure Meep could use the exercise or something." He shrugged, as if to indicate he wouldn't be taking it all that seriously in any case.

"I'm not really a fieldwork guy though, so don't expect too much."

“I already don't," Eryk replied a little quickly. Cyrilla huffed lightly before shaking her head. “I suppose Runt could use it as well, or Icarus," though he wasn't too sure about the espurr. Icarus wasn't particularly inclined for battles. He liked to sleep or hang out with everyone. At least that was the impression he got from the espurr.

“Since you and Ryk are participating, I'll be in your cheer squad, then. Now, let's go help them set up so we can get this show on the road!" Cyrilla stated, causing Eryk to purse his lips together.

“You're going to participate, too, Cyrilla. You're not getting out of this so easily," he stated, narrowing his eyes in her direction. She pursed her lips at him, and placed a hand on her hip.

“But... alright, fine. Diva hasn't had a good battle in awhile, anyway. Mr. Grumps, always bossing me around," she muttered the last part as if she hadn't intended for Eryk to hear. From the smile on her face, though, it seemed to be the opposite. Eryk sighed and rolled his eyes.

Kasimir snorted softly, and led the way outside. The grunts, or some subset of them, were already putting the finishing touches on the ring, it looked like. Stakes had been hammered into the ground and ropes tied to create an informal fence, encompassing a wide area that would give most pokémon at least the ability to run around quite freely. Luke seemed to be taking registrations, and constructing a bracket based on the number of entrants.

He looked up and waved them over.

“You guys in, or just here to watch? It's a single-pokémon competition, because some of us only have one and it'll keep things nice and quick that way."

"Sure," Kas said. "Put me down as entering with Meep."

If Luke thought it strange that he was entering with a very young, first-stage pokémon, he gave no indication of it, merely nodding crisply and adding Kasimir's name to a list.

“I'll be entering with Diva," Cyrilla spoke as she smiled in Luke's direction. She glanced towards Eryk, though, almost as if she were expecting him to back out last second. He narrowed his eyes at her, though.

“I'll be using Runt," he spoke simply, watching as Luke added both of their names to the list.

“Hey, Luke, Cyrilla, Nero, Kas," Niko greeted, seemingly excited as he approached their group. “Already signed up?" he asked, as Cyrilla nodded her head. He sighed a bit dramatically, and glanced in Luke's direction. “Put me down with Rocky," he stated, opening his mouth to say something before he was interrupted. Lorraine appeared, eyes narrowed slightly before she turned her attention towards Luka and gave him, her entrance.

“So, the three of you are participating doesn't seem quite fair for us grunts," Niko stated, grinning as if he hadn't challenged Kas. “But fair seems overrated, right Lorraine?" he stated, grinning in her direction. She didn't look impressed, and if anything, seemed to be focused on the area around them. Eryk didn't blame her, really. He didn't want to be here, either, but some part of him was a little... excited? He quashed it, though.

"You say that now, but I only have this job because I know how to work Porygon Office," Kas quipped.

Luke snorted. “Even the spreadsheets?"

"That's what they pay me the big money for, Luke. So I can make the boss's spreadsheets do fancy shit."

After a soft chuckle and a shake of his head, Luke straightened. “All right. Bracket's done. Should be able to clear it in three rounds. First match is Eryk versus Niko, so have at it, guys."

If Eryk didn't know any better, he would have thought Niko bounded away quite joyously. Was a mock battle really that exciting? He mentally sighed, and made his way towards the makeshift ring. He blinked in slight surprise as he spotted Aidan. He didn't seem to be part of... whatever this was, but he was standing by the middle of the ring. Was he supposed to be the referee? From the looks of it, he probably was.

Runt, behave yourself, he spoke to the tyrunt as he released him from the ball. Runt shook his entire body, head first followed by his torso and then tail. Like a stoutland might do after a bath. Eryk rolled his eyes as Runt glanced around the area. His eyes landed with Eryk's, and for a moment, Eryk could have sworn Runt smiled. In front of him, Niko released Rocky, a rhyhorn. It roared lightly, causing Runt to imitate it, or at least as well as a tyrunt could mimic a rhyhorn.

“Any particular rules?" he decided to ask before they began the battle. He didn't think there could be many, but... he'd rather be certain.

"Don't be an idiot and don't be a asshole. Try not to destroy the building." Aidan shrugged, lighting a cigarette as the battlers prepared themselves, then stepped well clear of the pokémon. "Whenever you're both ready."

They were simple enough, the rules, and Eryk nodded his head towards Niko. He grinned, though, and didn't seem to waste much time, starting with a tackle from Rhyhorn. Runt stood there and lowered his head, meeting the Rhyhorn head-on. The force was enough to send him back a bit, but not enough to topple him over. If anything, Runt had the spine of a rampardos, and probably the balance of one, too. Niko looked vaguely surprised, glancing in Eryk's direction. Eryk merely shrugged his shoulders, though, and he could have sworn he heard Cyrilla snickering.

“Tackle," he stated as Runt jumped back. He pawed the ground with one foot before charging the rhyhorn, head lowered in what looked to be a headbutt. Eryk sighed heavily as Rhyhorn dodged it and Runt kept going. Runt, come back this way, he connected with Runt telepathically to keep him from going too far. How did he end up with such a... special tyrunt?

The battle went on for at least ten minutes with the same thing happening. Runt would end up going too far for a tackle, and Ryk had to call him back. The battle itself was mostly trying to wear each other down. Rhyhorn didn't seem too tired, and neither did Runt. He supposed that was because Runt was just happy to play.

“Stomp," he spoke, watching as Runt jumped into the air to perform the move. It connected with enough force to roll the rhyhorn onto its back before it regained its feet.

“Alright, Rocky, let's stop playing around. Use Ice Fang!" Niko stated, clearly attempting to end the battle. Ryk wouldn't have minded, exactly, but there was something beneath his skin that bubbled. That refused to lose on purpose.

“Dragon Claw."

Runt's claws glowed as he charged Rhyhorn, and when both attacks connected, it was enough to produce a small explosion, covering the arena and pokémon in dust. It took a moment to clear, and when it did, Runt and Rhyhorn were still standing, though the both of them were doing so on shaky legs. Niko, however, held up his hand, and shook his head.

“I concede," he spoke, pulling Rocky's pokeball from his belt, and recalling the rhyhorn. Runt seemed rather pleased with the win, and hopped towards Ryk with what looked to be a large smile on its face. It wasn't particularly a satisfying, but he could understand why Niko forfeited. Both pokémon weren't in particularly good shape to continue, and it would have been a bit cruel to force them to.

“Well, that was entertaining. Thanks for that, Nero!" Niko stated as he approached Eryk, sticking his hand out in what seemed to be a friendly handshake.

“This is the part you also shake his hand, Ryk!" Cyrilla shouted from the side. Eryk rolled his eyes and took Niko's hand into his own, giving him a firm handshake before they walked off the field. Runt trailed behind him, making a noise every so often until he spotted Cyrilla, and ran towards her. She stretched her arms out to take the tyrunt's large head into them, and gave Runt a good head shake.

“Congratulations on your win, Runt," she stated, before glancing up at Ryk. “And you too, I suppose." Eryk huffed.

Dusting off his hair, Aidan flicked some ash off the end of his cigarette, apparently unperturbed by the debris of the collision. "Who's next?"

"That'd be Luke and I," Kas said, ambling up to the ring. Luke's pokémon was a snorunt, which meant neither had the obvious type advantage; when Kas released Meep, the little mareep hopped about with obvious happiness to be participating.

Despite Kasimir's protests about not being a field agent type, the match was over fairly quickly. As if to be contrary to her youth and inexperience, Meep appeared to be quite strong, with a suite of moves that covered her bases quite well, and Luke ceded the match not a minute into it, shaking his head with a soft chuckle.

“Spreadsheets my ass," he said, though it seemed to be amused rather than angry.

Kas only shrugged. "I'm telling you, mine are great."

After Kas's match with Luke, it was Cyrilla's turn who was facing off with Lorraine. The woman had the type advantage, sending out a croconaw, however; Ryk knew that Cyrilla covered for most of her weaknesses by teaching her pokémon moves that were not naturally learned. And it was a well placed thunder punch that managed to make the win for her. Diva looked pretty pleased with herself, howling as if she'd just defeated some great opponent, however; Cyrilla ran her hand through the lycanroc's mane and shook it a bit. Diva huffed as she trailed behind Cyrilla as she approached the group.

“Alright, so... does that mean we all advance? If so, I'm dropping out. I'm going to hang out with Luke and we're going to cheer the both of you on while the others continue their competition," she stated as she grinned in Luke's direction.

“Hey, don't forget about me, short stuff," Niko stated as he placed a hand on his hip and furrowed his brows. Cyrilla snorted softly and motioned him over, along with Lorraine. She didn't appear too happy to have lost, but she wasn't immediately sour about it. If she was, she was doing a good job hiding it. As far as Eryk knew, he always looked to be in a sour mood, so he couldn't be too sure.

“See, now you have a cheering squad," Cyrilla stated.

“I mean, I told you I had great legs for this." Niko popped out his leg once more, causing Cyrilla to laugh. Eryk only rolled his eyes.

Cyrilla's forfeit required a bit of bracket reshuffling, but Luke didn't complain. After another round, it had narrowed to the two finalists, unsurprisingly Eryk and Kasimir.

"Aw man, can't I just forfeit?" Kas whined, lifting his hands to fold them behind his head. "I've seen Runt go at it—he's got a lethal case of stupid and I don't wanna get caught in the crossfire, yanno?"

"If stupid was lethal I'd have at least one dead pokémon, and I don't," Aidan quipped by way of reply. "You guys gonna battle or what?"

Eryk supposed Kas had a bit of a point. Runt was a little stupid, but he was a good pokémon regardless. He shook his head, though. “I agree with Kas, though. Don't want to put him through that kind of trauma," he stated, a little surprised by how it sounded. Did he just joke? That's what it sounded like, even to himself.

“I'll concede this match to Kas," he stated. He'd be losing, in a sense, but he didn't mind too much. “I guess that means you win, Kas."

"Hey," Kas said, frowning in an exaggerated fashion. "I already said I forfeit. You can't steal my forfeit from me!"

Aidan rolled his eyes.

Eryk shrugged his shoulders. “I just did."

"Ass."

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Eryk Nero Character Portrait: Kasimir Rheinallt Character Portrait: Cyrilla Niav Character Portrait: Aidan Klein
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#, as written by Aethyia


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June 1st
Aidan's Office - Morning - Hot
Aidan Klein


The recently-repaired air conditioning unit hummed in a labored sort of way, no doubt taxed by the task of trying to cool an entire building, including a temperature-sensitive lab, in the burgeoning heat of a Cinnabar summer. If anyone had asked Aidan, he'd have suggested a different central unit for each floor, considering the work they all had to do, but of course no one had asked him. So for the moment he made due with the standing fan next to his window and didn't say anything about it. It was working well enough, at least for now.

"Your written report indicates that the last month was mostly spent in lab setup, yes?" Gregorovich had a copy of the thing in front of him, no doubt printed from the email, but of course anything especially sensitive would be conveyed directly, so it wasn't hard to puzzle out why he was asking.

"Yeah," he replied, pulling the sweating water bottle on his desk towards him. "Dr. Solomon had a lot of materials from previous research; Dr. Greene and Ms. Parker wanted to at least go over those so they were caught up on the relevant information, so she spent a lot of the last month getting them up to speed." The benefit to this was that, having sat in on the lessons, Aidan himself was pretty up to speed, too. Apparently Doc's research had a lot to do with psychic pokémon, and the limits of their mental capacities. The exact nature of telepathic connections, and so on. It was pretty interesting stuff, if a little fringe. He sort of wondered where she'd gotten the idea to study it.

Gregorovich's expression remained neutral; he only nodded once. Still, Aidan could tell he'd been hoping for more of an update than that. "I suppose at least it means they can properly get to work this month," he noted with something of a sigh. Sitting back in his chair, he removed the cigarette from between his lips to tap it over a crystalline ashtray. "What about those three? Their reports indicate they've made contact with the target?"

Aidan nodded. "They have. As you know, she runs a shelter. They apparently decided that was the best way in, and spend a lot of their time outside working hours volunteering." Reading Gregorovich's skepticism, he shrugged. "As I understand it, Ms. Asher doesn't really differentiate much between this and socializing; she'd invited them to do that with her as well, so I'd say they're doing about as well as we could hope for on that front." He left off the part where he knew Doc had been down that way, too—technically it probably wasn't allowed, due to the possibility that it would compromise the mission, but it was a bit late for her to suddenly stop. He knew what Gregorovich would recommend in that case, and was planning to do it anyway.

"Hm. Satisfactory, I suppose." He half-smiled a bit and shook his head. "They say age is supposed to make you patient, and here I have to keep reminding myself that things take time. I suppose... I just want everything to be in place before I'm gone, you know?"

Aidan's brows arched. It wasn't really like his boss to muse on something like that, and immediately he couldn't help but wonder if something had happened. "...sir?"

The older man chuckled. "Ah, sorry. I suppose that was a bit unlike me. I only... hm." He paused for a long moment. "It's nothing. I'm just at the point in my life where I'm starting to think about legacy, I suppose. And succession. I wonder when that happened?"

"Wouldn't have thought you were old enough for that kind of shit, Gregorovich."

As he'd intended it to, Aidan's smart remark drew a smile and a short bark of laughter from the other man. "You're right. I'm being a presumptuous bastard, aren't I?" His amusement faded a moment later, not entirely dispelling Aidan's suspicion that something else was behind this. "In any case, the file I've sent you could make a very effective bit of legacy for you, should you carry it out successfully. I know the cause is near to your heart. I expect of course you'll need some help, as yours is still a rather famous face in some circles."

"Yeah, the version of it from ten years and a whole lotta piss and vinegar ago."

Gregorovich grinned a little. "I liked that you. He's still recognizable, in any case, so the point stands." He stubbed his cigarette out. "If you have need of the Beasts, feel free to commandeer them. It shouldn't take so much of their time that they can't stay involved with Miss Asher. Perhaps if they're clever they can find a way to integrate things. She has the right kind of heart, no?"

Aidan supposed the kind of person who ran a pokémon shelter and hospice was likely to. "Thanks, boss. Will do—they've got some talent." Nero and Rheinallt especially, in this particular area. Niav's talents were a bit different, but they were going to be just as useful, if not moreso.

"Good. Keep me updated, Aidan." With a small nod, the boss's image disappeared from the screen.

Aidan pressed the button on the device that hooked him into the secretary's desk. "Hayley, can you do me a favor and tell Nero, Rheinallt, and Niav to meet me in the conference room in half an hour?"

The young woman's voice came back through immediately. “Of course, sir!"

A few minutes later, she confirmed that they'd all been told, and he spent the next half-hour preparing copies of the folder for all of them. Probably something he could have had an assistant do, but Aidan had never really gotten used to asking other people to do things for him that he could do himself. Relaying messages was about as much as he ever used the front desk.

Half and hour later, he was seated in the conference room with a stack of folders in front of him.

Nero and Niav were the first to arrive. They seemed to be having a conversation of sorts, but it died once they approached Aidan, and took a seat. Nero glanced around as if looking for something, but turned his attention back to Aidan.

“Good afternoon, Aidan. Hayley said you wanted to see us?" Niav spoke first. Nero rolled his eyes gently, and shook his head.

Aidan nodded, but didn't elaborate, since he wanted all of them to be present. He couldn't admit to any fondness for repeating himself.

Rheinallt wasn't late or anything, arriving right on time and taking a different seat, leaning back in the chair and propping his feet on the table. Aidan didn't give a shit, so didn't bother to reprimand him for it.

"Good, you're all here. New mission." He handed out the folders, which were all identical to his own save for the personal note from Gregorovich that had accompanied the assignment. "Boss gave me lead on this one, but it's big and we're all going to have to run it. It shouldn't detract from your other job, but it'll at least get you away from your desks now and then."

"I'm not really—"

"—a fieldwork guy. Yeah, so you've said. You'll do for this, though. It's a large-scale kind of thing, and we're gonna need all competent hands on deck." Turning to the first page of the folder, he glanced over the statistics some analyst had compiled. "These are estimates on the use of performance-enhancing substances on competitive battling pokémon. We're not talking about kids wandering around between towns, here. These are the pros. Problem is, the things are already illegal, so it's not like anyone's just going to fess up to using them. The boss suspects it's not just a bunch of isolated cases, either."

Rheinallt, who'd looked like he was about to complain, was suddenly much more interested. "What, you figure there's big money involved?"

"Most likely. There's big money in professional battling, after all. Some of these trainers have heavy-duty machinery behind them: sponsors, agents, their own trainers, huge fanbases, that kind of thing. Battling is the most lucrative sport in the world, and the stakes get pretty big."

Rheinallt nodded. "I wouldn't be shocked to learn people were doping their pokémon at that level, but what exactly does the boss think we can do about it?"

That one was simple enough. "Undercover infiltration," he said simply. "Nero and Rheinallt, you're going to get your asses sponsored as professional battlers. Niav, you're going to be their agent."

Nero's expression smoothed out almost to the point it looked like he was expressing something. Shock, maybe, or confusion. “What?" he finally spoke, narrowing his eyes slightly in Aidan's direction. Niav, however, seemed delighted at the prospect, a grin forming on her lips. She leaned her cheek on her hand and tilted her gaze towards Nero.

“You heard the man, Ryk. You and Kas are going to go under cover as professional battlers," she spoke, perhaps to clarify to Nero. He merely narrowed his eyes at her. “There are worse things to be going undercover, Ryk, and you know that. Plus," she paused, glancing in Rheinallt and Aidan's direction before shaking her head. Nero seemed to know what she was going to say, though, and rolled his eyes.

“Kas and I aren't professionals, though. They'd see right through that guise," Nero finally spoke. “How are we supposed to convince someone to sponsor us if we're not what they're looking for?"

Aidan almost snorted. Wasn't this guy supposed to be experienced with fieldwork? Still, he answered the question as it had been asked: seriously. "Well, that's the thing. To pretend to be a professional battler, you're going to have to... become a professional battler. Sponsorship is going to be interesting, but the best way to do it is to draw attention to yourselves by winning, and letting your manager rub elbows with potential sponsors. You'll be wanting to look at local regional tournaments to start out with. Amass enough wins or good placements, and you'll qualify for bigger ones. You've got what it takes to get there—I've seen you battle and I'm pretty sure."

They'd been practice matches against grunts, to be sure, but the likes of Luke and Niko weren't half-bad, and the heads Nero and Rheinallt had shown for strategy—as well as the fact that they'd both won with such young pokémon—were dead tip-offs as to their abilities.

“There's a qualifying tournament happening in September," Niav spoke casually, glancing between Nero and Rheinallt. Nero gave her a somewhat questioning look, causing her to shrug her shoulders. “People talk," she stated as if explaining how she knew about the tournament. “Anyway, if you train for the next few months, I'm sure you'll have no problem getting qualified into a tournament league. Of course, that requires you actually working," she directed that statement towards Rheinallt. “But if Aidan says you've got the moxie for it, then it shouldn't be too bad, right? Plus, I like rubbing elbows with people. They spill all of their little secrets that way."

“We spend most of our free time helping Anastasia out. When will we have time for training?" Nero questioned, glancing towards Niav. She rolled her eyes at his statement, though.

“Ryk, we don't have to go there every time we have free time. It just makes you look a bit desperate, and she might take it the other kind of way, you know? She might think you like her in that kind of way. Keeping a bit of distance is good for you. Besides, if you're training, I'm sure she'll understand. Hell, if it bothers you that much, you can just tell her you'll be spending some of your time between things. Maybe she'll even want to help you out." Niav shrugged then, and leaned back into her chair, crossing her arms over her chest.

Rheinallt snorted softly, but offered no further comment on the matter of Asher, though somehow Aidan would have expected something. Ribbing, perhaps.

But nothing of the kind was forthcoming, and so with a slight arch of his eyebrows, Aidan continued instead. "I mean, not to tell you how to run your op, but if it were me I'd just integrate the two a bit. Tell the mark I planned to break into pro battling. People like giving advice, and they like being confided in." He shrugged. "As for the training bit, I can help out with it. I'm not just leaving you to run this yourselves; I'm still in charge of the op. I'm just too recognizable in some circles to pass for a neophyte trying to break into the scene. I can help you train, though, and put in a word with the right people when the time comes. Might help draw you some attention."

It had been years since he was active in that world, and in all honesty he liked to pretend he was something like anonymous and forgotten now, even if part of him knew it wasn't true. He was occasionally recognized on the street, though thankfully it hadn't happened here of all places. At least not in any way that he'd noticed. He was perennially grateful to the people who could keep that kind of recognition to themselves instead of approaching him about it. Made his life a lot less awkward.

“See? This is why Aidan's the boss; he gives you good, sound advice. You should take it, Ryk," Niav spoke, arching a brow in Nero's direction. He merely rolled his eyes, though, and shook his head.

“Whatever, Cy," he murmured softly before turning his attention towards Aidan. “Fine," he finally spoke, sighing softly. “We can notify Anastasia about this, and see if she... wants to help, too," he didn't seem especially certain, though. Niav merely grinned at him and pat his shoulder.

“Good. It'll do you some good, Ryk. You have to learn to be a little more sociable, in these cases, especially if you want to land a sponsor. It's all about making the right impressions; everyone knows that," she stated, causing Nero's shoulders to slump a bit. “Is there anything else on the agenda for today?" Niav turned her attention back towards Aidan when she asked that question.

"Well it's also about battling well," Aidan replied in a deadpan. He appreciated that Niav was good at PR, but there was really no reason to suppose it all came down to that, and he had to wonder if she wasn't making it seem worse to a guy like Nero than it really was. "As for anything else today, no. The September qualifier's a reasonable goal to shoot for; we'll keep that the target and adjust if we need to. I'll check in in a few weeks with a training plan. Get me a roster of your pokémon and their movesets by Friday so I can work those up. Any questions?"

"Seems pretty straightforward to me," Rheinallt replied with a shrug, glancing at Nero.

“What he said," Nero replied, nodding his head in Rheinallt's direction. “Shouldn't be too difficult," Nero muttered more to himself than anything, it seemed.

Aidan nodded. That was that, then.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Kasimir Rheinallt Character Portrait: Aidan Klein Character Portrait: Nevena Solomon
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June 12th
Field Office 9 - Morning - Hot
Kasimir Rheinallt


Kasimir sighed, leaning back in his office chair and pinching the bridge of his nose between his forefinger and thumb, dislodging the glasses he didn't really need.

Sometimes he almost managed to convince himself this wasn't all a ruse. He needed to be able to do that, if he was working under the likes of an arceusdamn human lie detector. But it made every reminder of what was really going on here that much starker, and sometimes he wondered how much longer he'd be able to handle it. He'd have thought, when he started this, that nothing would be as bad as those early years, when he watched every other mole, from the execs to the janitor, be removed from NTR. That maybe after a while he'd get used to this, to lying through his teeth with every breath, because even when he wasn't saying something outright false, he was pretending.

Somehow, eight years in, it was as difficult as it had ever been.

Rheinallt,

Your last report was pretty sparse. I want more details on this 'Project Nebula.' If Gregorovich is this interested in something this vague, it's big. Dig it up. This isn't a request.

-S


Sighing again, heavily this time, Kas deleted the message, then scrubbed all evidence of it and only it from his machine. He was lucky enough to be the IT guy in this office, but that was no reason to get lazy about removing evidence. Gregorovich was paranoid enough to bring in outside help if he got so much as wind of the possibility of unsanctioned outside communication, and Aidan was good enough that he might well get one eventually. He had to stay calm, and stay prepared.

And, apparently, find out exactly what he wasn't supposed to know about the boss's latest brainchild.

Well, he knew where to start, at least. Pushing back from his desk, he headed to the second-floor coffee machine and brewed up three cups' worth, doctoring one heavily with sugar, the second with cinnamon and cream, and leaving the third black, before carrying them all carefully up the stairs to the lab floor.

As expected, Sis looked to be in the middle of something, while Aidan sat at a desk in one corner of the room, apparently reading the newspaper. He couldn't see the other two scientists who used the floor; they might not be in this early. He probably shouldn't be in this early, considering the reputation he'd spent the better part of the last decade cultivating, but he supposed miracles did happen occasionally.

Taking a deep breath, he pushed the door open with his shoulder and plastered a lopsided grin on his face. "Mornin' Sis! Mornin' boss—er, Aidan." He let the grin stretch a little wider, as though he'd just recalled that Aidan didn't like to be called boss. He set the black coffee down on the desk.

Aidan looked at him a little strangely. "Who put you on coffee delivery, Rheinallt? Don't they make interns do that or something?"

Kasimir could tell just from the question that Aidan had always just gotten his own.

"Eh, I made a whole pot, and Ryk and Cy aren't in yet. Figured I'd not let it go to waste." Technically true.

He set the sugared one down on the empty surface nearest to Nev and arched an eyebrow. "Can I ask what you're doing, Sis?"

Either she hadn't heard him, or even noticed he was in the room. She seemed to be staring intently at a piece of paper, a pen lodged behind her ear as she rubbed her chin in a thoughtful manner. She reached over, though, to where he sat the coffee cup down, and seemed vaguely surprised that there was a cup there. It caught her attention, at least, as she turned towards Kas.

“Oh, Kasimir," she stated, eyes blinking as if to bring them back into focus. “Sorry, I didn't hear you come in. I was distracted," she stated, smiling at him as she glanced at the cup. “And thank you for the coffee. As for what I'm doing," she started, moving the cup towards her and setting it down closer. She glanced in Aidan's direction for a moment before turning her attention back towards Kasimir.

“I'm going over the logistics for a particular diagram. Remember when I was in Johto?" she spoke, arching a brow. “I was studying the soundwaves that the former Team Rocket used in the Lake of Rage. I can't get it quite right, but if I do, then I'll be able to get it reconfigured to be used via a psychic pokémon's abilities and it won't be harmful. I haven't got much else other than that, though, so I'm still a bit ways off." She pursed her lips together, though, and furrowed her brows.

“What about you? What brings you in so early? From what I remember, you've never been an early pidgey," she questioned, smiling at Kas.

Soundwaves and psychic pokémon? As Kas remembered, the Lake of Rage project had been an attempt to communicate with pokémon that usually couldn't directly convey information to humans, and then to force them to evolve. The results had been... bad, to say the least, but the iteration that NTR had undertaken was at least on paper more communication and less control. Still, he made a note to look those files up—if there was that much of a similarity, it was worth having the details down pat.

He couldn't risk poking too much deeper with Aidan sitting right there, so he pretended he'd just been asking to be polite, and answered the query in turn. "I didn't sleep that well last night," he said with a shrug. Which was true, largely because he'd known to expect some kind of communication from his actual boss today. He'd sort of figured she wasn't going to be happy with his last report, but all he could do was give her the information he had. He wasn't so well-established here yet as to be above (or beneath, as the case would most likely be) suspicion.

"Figured I'd show up a little early and maybe take the afternoon to go hang out at Ana's or something." He took a drink of his own coffee, pleasantly spiced as he liked it, and glanced briefly at the paper in Nev's hand. He'd probably be able to interpret it with a bit of time, but he was well aware that he didn't have that right now, so he just memorized as much as he could get in a single glance and resolved to think about it later.

“Oh, that reminds me!" she stated, placing the paper down and turning around in her chair. It was the kind on a swivel, perhaps to make it easier to move around. She reached down into her bag, though, and seemed to rummage through it. Once she found what she was looking for, she pulled a small card from it and turned back towards Kas.

“Will you give her this? It's one of my old colleagues from back in the day. I told him that she needed some supplies for her shelter, and he's willing to donate a few of the ones he has. The small wind turbine and rain barrels he's willing to donate under the guise of being a prototype. He'd like to use whatever data she collects from it, such as how it's working, if it's doing what it needs to, and so forth. It'll really help him when he works on the next generation, and I know that she said it would be out of the way for someone like her, but..."

She tended to get a bit long-winded about things like that, Kas knew. She took in a soft breath, though, and smiled. “She doesn't have to accept it if she doesn't want to. You tell her that, too. I just... I thought it might help because her shelter is... well it's really nice compared to most I've seen and I'd like to help her out if I can."

Kas turned the card over in his fingers before nodding slightly and placing it in his back pocket. "I might leave it a bit," he observed. "She's not the type to accept generous gifts from strangers, and honestly I think we're making her a bit suspicious, coming on as strong as we are." He took another gulp of his coffee. "But I think if we give it enough time and bring it up later we can convince her to accept."

He was, after all, conscious of the fact that this was a mission first. Sis didn't have to be—it wasn't her mission. As long as she didn't actively compromise it, it'd be fine.

Turning to Aidan, Kasimir leaned back against the wall behind him and tilted his head. "Have you met her yet? Ana?"

The other man turned a page of the newspaper with a shuffle. "No. I'm not really the charismatic type, and I don't want to crowd her. Especially if she's already suspicious of her influx of new 'friends.'"

Oof. Trust the boss to make the scare quotes around that word audible and vaguely accusatory at the same time. Kasimir showed none of the slight sting he felt, though, only smiling and shrugging. "Well, maybe once we're not new anymore you should consider it. She's a sweetheart, and she seems to like Ryk just fine. He's got the charisma of an ursaring, so I think you'll be fine."

Sis chuckled lightly at the statement. “I don't know about that; Eryk seems like he's really nice albeit awkward. I suppose I should trust your assessment, more, though, considering you all share a room together," she stated, shaking her head softly. She took a sip from her coffee and smiled again. “And I suppose you're not wrong about the... well, coming on too strong bit. I don't want her to think we're just..." she pursed her lips together as if she were trying to think of the proper word she wanted to use.

“Well, I've never really had friends before so I don't know if you are really coming on strong. But I wouldn't want her to feel crowded, either. You're a sweetheart too, Kas, always helping her out. You even help me out from time to time. Just like... well I wouldn't call you a sweetheart, Aidan, but you're also very kind." She took a longer drink of her coffee this time, her cheeks turning a bit pink at the statement.

Kass was torn between rolling his eyes and bursting out laughing. That was the way of it with Sis: rambling sometimes past the point of making any sense and managing to embarrass herself along the way somehow. He shot a momentary, curious glance between her and Aidan before dismissing the thought. She was just awkward, honestly, and probably didn't mean anything in particular by it.

Chuckling softly, he shook his head. "Actually you're the one who's coming on strongest, Sis. Hence the waiting on the turbine and such. But don't worry, it's fine. I think Ana's a pretty understanding kind of person." He gave Nev's shoulder a playful, mock-consoling sort of pat, mischief glimmering in his eyes.

"Of course if you'd like to compliment us further, please feel free. I certainly won't mind—would you, Aidan?"

The other man sighed. "Go easy on her, Rheinallt."

Sis nearly choked on her coffee, some of it spitting out of her mouth as she reached for the nearest napkin. Or in this case, paper. Luckily, it was a blank sheet as she tried to wipe her face with it. Once she'd managed to wipe some of the coffee, she looked for a proper napkin and cleaned her face further.

“I, uh," she began, blinking slowly before her brows furrowed. “I compliment you enough, it seems," she murmured softly, before placing her coffee cup down. “And I don't come on strong, do I?" she asked, arching a brow in both Kas and Aidan's direction.

Kasimir snorted. "I'm not sure I know how to go easy on a question like that," he remarked, throwing a glance at Aidan.

Aidan folded the newspaper down and rolled his eyes quite visibly at the same time before turning to Nev. "By some standards you probably do," he explained patiently. "Depending on topic and context you can get very enthusiastic, which means you ramble a bit and tend to ask lots of questions. It can be overwhelming for people who don't expect it or aren't sure how to handle it, but it's not a bad thing, either." He shrugged.

Kas figured that was a very kind way of putting it, which was good because honestly it was one of Nev's better traits and he really liked it about her. "Nothing wrong with getting excited about things you like," he added with a little grin.

“Oh," she stated lightly. She pursed her lips together, almost as if she were lost in thought for a moment before she turned towards Aidan and Kas. “Please stop me if I ever get that bad. I don't... I don't want to chase people off or come off as strong, or something of that sort. I like a lot of the people here." She had a very serious expression on her face, or about as serious as she could make it, it seemed.

Aidan frowned. "Doc, relax. We like you just fine. The fact that you get carried away is part of your charm."

Kas nodded readily, downing a bit more coffee. "What he said. Besides: no one pleases everybody, and if you spend a bunch of time tying yourself in knots trying to appeal to people who wouldn't get along with the real you, you might lose it." He of all people knew that feeling all too well.

She didn't seem readily convinced, but her shoulders did ease a little. She sighed softly and took another drink of her coffee. She set it down and glanced back at her papers for a moment before something seemed to startle her. “I completely forgot!" she stated, nearly falling out of her chair, trying to turn in Kas's direction.

“We were supposed to let Meep and Floof play today, weren't we!?" she asked, eyes wide as she glanced at Kas.

He snorted, more than a little amused, and nodded slightly. "I do believe that was on the agenda, yes. If you're busy now though, I can come back around lunchtime as originally planned." He arched an eyebrow, not really concerned with choosing one opportunity over another; his work was flexible enough for the moment that he could plan around hers.

Sis glanced in Aidan's direction for a moment before turning back to Kas. “We can go now, if you'd like. I've hit a bit of a stump, anyway, so maybe letting the two play will help me clear my mind?" she stated, gathering her papers into a pile before setting them to the side.

“Oh, and if you'd like to join us, Aidan, you're more than welcome to. Unless... well, unless you have other things you need to do, of course." She continued putting all of her things away before standing to meet Kas.

He appeared to consider this a moment, but eventually shook his head. "You two have fun," he said simply, inclining his head slightly.

Kas grinned. "Somehow I always do."

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Kasimir Rheinallt Character Portrait: Cyrilla Niav
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June 18th
The Cloyster - Evening - Hot
Cyrilla Niav


“Mm," Cyrilla stated as she grabbed a bowl from the shelf. Eryk was out for the night, probably doing last minute work at the office, which left her and Kasimir by themselves. That seemed to be the case more often than not, and she had a feeling it was because she teased Eryk too much. It was a little much, she knew, so she'd made him one of his favorite dishes. It was, perhaps, the only spicy dish he actually liked. Chicken Tikka Masala wasn't hard to make for her; she'd made it countless times for him. She'd made enough food for the three of them, though. Enough for Eryk to get seconds if he'd liked, or even Kasimir.

“Hey Kas," she called out. She didn't know where he was, and she was busy spooning her food into the bowl. “If you're hungry, food's done," she continued, turning around and shooing Noctis away from her. The zoroark made a face, but trudged back to her room, probably to lay down with Diva, Siri, and Zephyr. She always left them out of their pokéballs when she could. She made her way towards the couch, though, and set her bowl down, before heading back to the kitchen to grab a soda.

“There's also naan bread if you want some. It's in the breadbox," she added before making her way towards her food.

Kas emerged from the side hallway where their bedrooms were, yawning broadly. One hand ran through his disheveled hair, the other scratching almost absently at his abdomen. He blinked bleary golden eyes at her, perhaps only just registering what she said, then made a sort of humming noise that tended to pass for agreement when he wasn't yet feeling as chatty as usual.

The sounds of her roommate making up his own bowl of dinner followed from the kitchen, and when he emerged into the living room to join her, it was with a heaping bowl of food and a large glass of water, which he set down on the coffee table, comfortably folding himself onto the smaller of the sofas and throwing his legs over the armrest, settling his back against the other and balancing his food against his chest.

"Thanks for dinner, Cy," he said, digging his spoon in. He always did that, actually. No matter how often she made him food, or whether it was really any extra effort or not, he always thanked her for it. Maybe it was just a habit or something. After he swallowed, he glanced around, obviously noting the absence. "Ryk out or something? Didn't figure him for the night life type." The soft snort at the end of the statement gave it away as a joke.

She huffed lightly before nodding her head. “He's putting some finishing touches on the upcoming team build back at the office. There's still a few things that need to be worked out, but I also need to make a submission for an event or some other thing," she murmured before taking a bite of her food. She chewed it over thoughtfully before turning her attention back towards him.

“It has to be something that's going to be a team effort, of course, but it also has to be something that everyone can enjoy," she continued, smiling just a bit. She, of course, had a suggestion, one that she knew wouldn't be exactly something Eryk enjoyed. But she figured it would be a good way for him to at least blow off some steam. He was a little tense, she could tell from the way his shoulders were just a little too stiff, and the way his jaw seemed to click every once in a while.

Kas scoffed slightly under his breath, tearing off a piece of naan before replying. "I'm hurt," he said, obviously not actually hurt at all. "I didn't get asked to contribute an event!" He chewed over the naan, arching an eyebrow as he rolled his head aside to catch her eyes directly.

"So what fresh hell are you going to be inflicting upon us, dear Cyrilla?" he inquired, an amused half-grin already creeping onto his face.

She snorted softly. “I'm sure they did; did you check your email?" she asked, arching a brow in his direction. She took another bite of her food, though, before she answered his question. “Nothing too bad, I assure you. In fact, I think all... well you and Ryk will enjoy it the most," she stated, grinning slightly before taking a drink of her soda.

Kas gave her a flat look. "Cy, you might not know this, but I run the entire NTR server for this region of Kanto. Trust me, I check my email." He stuck his tongue out, entirely ruining any seriousness the statement might of had, but went back to eating so she could finish her explanation.

“How do you feel about dodgeball?" she asked, arching her brow again as she set her cup down. “I know it sounds a bit childish, but think about it. How often do the grunts get the chance to try and beat a couple of executives? I'm sure they might actually find it fun in some ways, even if, in the end, they'll get their asses handed to them."

She, after all, wasn't going to go easy on the grunts. She might not have been strong like Eryk, or even Kas, but she could still throw a ball decently enough.

He waved a hand. "Childish is basically how I roll, if you hadn't noticed," he said, grin stretching to take over the other half of his mouth as well. "And dodgeball sounds hilarious. Those poor grunts. That's gotta be six kinds of illegal under the Johto conventions." He waggled his eyebrows, but was momentarily distracted by the appearance of Meep, who seemed to have wandered out from his bedroom.

Shoving the last spoonful of tikka into his mouth, Kas set the bowl aside and swallowed. "Who's a good girl?" he asked the pokémon, who responded with one of her soft, chirpy little bleats. "That's right, it's you!" he declared, picking her up and rolling back into place to settle her on his stomach. His fingers carded through her static-laden wool without any hint of discomfort, and he turned back to Cyrilla.

"I doubt we've even got the right kind of equipment in storage. Might need to make a run to the sporting goods place. Been meaning to check out their boards and stuff anyway."

“Ugh, she's so adorable. Why is she so cute?" Cyrilla muttered beneath her breath. Meep was the cutest thing she'd seen next to Nev's wooloo. Maybe it was just a round, fluffy thing for Cy? She huffed lightly at Kas's statement, though, and nodded her head.

“I planned on stopping by tomorrow to see what they had if you want to join me. That way you can check out their boards and stuff, too," she stated, shrugging her shoulders in a nonchalant fashion. She took another bite of her tikka before setting the bowl down in front of her. She leaned back into the couch, though, and let out a satisfied sigh.

“So, what do you say? Wanna hang out with me tomorrow to go see what kind of mischief we can cook up for the grunts and Ryk?"

"Sounds good to me," Kas replied easily, still sifting his finger carefully through Meep's wool. The pokémon seemed to enjoy the attention, making a soft sound not entirely unlike a purr and half-closing her big dark eyes. He rubbed at one of her ears, smiling softly at her in a way that wasn't in his usual repertoire of smarmy grins and smirks and such.

Almost like he'd caught himself doing it, though, the expression soon faded, and he shifted his attention back to Cyrilla. "You heading out tonight, or...?" The both of them spent a fair few nights out, though they'd only inadvertently run into each other once thus far, at a club near the beach. Club Casablanca, it was called. Kas had apparently been on a date at the time, so they hadn't spoke much even then, but both of them were a bit more similar than either was to Ryk's habits, to be sure.

She considered it a moment before shaking her head. “I think I'm staying in tonight. I want to make sure Eryk eats something when he comes home. He tends to forget that, sometimes," she stated, allowing one of her rare smiles to cross her face. She wondered, for a moment, if she and Kas were alike in that aspect, too. Showing only certain sides of themselves to people they trusted. While she didn't trust Kas, no fault of his own, she didn't exactly go about trying to. They got along well enough, and that was enough for Cyrilla.

She pushed a sigh through her nose, though, and glanced back at Kas. “I take it you are, though? If you do, have fun," she stated, grinning somewhat as she nodded her head in Meep's direction. “And if you need a babysitter for Meep, I'll gladly volunteer."

He huffed quietly, the shook his head. "Wish I wasn't, but I got handed this new assignment by the boss yesterday. Gotta keep an eye on someone, and he wants the monitoring pretty close till we know what we're dealing with." With another look at Meep and a sigh, he lifted the pokémon off his stomach and into the air so her face was near his.

"Now you listen here, pretty girl," he said, affecting seriousness. "I probably won't be back home tonight so you need to be good for Auntie Cy, okay?" At the soft bleat that followed, he chuckled. "She's not any trouble, really. She and the others have their food set out already, but she gets lonely the easiest so if you don't mind letting her hang around with you, I'd appreciate it. If that's too much to do I can always go drop her off with Sis, so don't let me force you or anything."

Cyrilla wasn't going to deny the slight giddy feeling she had when Kas was apparently agreeing to let her babysit Meep. She was smiling, perhaps a little too brightly before she shook her head.

“It wouldn't be a problem at all, Kas. She'll have Diva, Zephyr, Siri, Noctis, and myself for company. We'll make sure she thoroughly enjoys herself until you get back," she stated. She was, oddly enough, looking forward to it. Meep was, like she said, adorable, and she would cherish any chance she got to play or look after her. Maybe she should think about getting a mareep of her own? She pushed the thought out of her mind. No two mareeps were the same, and well... she wasn't really in the market for another pokémon. Not yet, at least.

Kas smiled a bit and set Meep down. "All right then. I've gotta shower and stuff, but I should be out of here by nine so you can have girls' night. Or not, I guess, if Zeph and Noct will be there." He picked up his empty bowl and hers as well—that was another thing he always did. If someone else cooked, he did the dishes, apparently.

"You need anything while I'm out? I can stop by wherever on the way home tomorrow morning."

“Oh, I think you just insulted Zeph," she replied, smiling a bit. “Zephyr's a girl, but I can see why that'd be confusing," she stated, but she was more amused than anything. He was probably still waking up from his nap. “But no, I think I'm good for the time being. Oh, if you can," she stated, reaching over to grab her wallet. She always left the thing on the table. Easy to find and easy to grab when on the go.

“Will you stop at the little pokémon shop that has those frozen yoghurt treats that Nev gets? I promised I'd get the girls and boys some today, and I forgot. You can get something for Meep and the others, too, courtesy of me," she stated, pulling a few pokédollars from her wallet and handing it towards Kas.

“I think that should cover it."

"Ah, thanks," he said, accepting the bills and folding them over in his hand. "I think I must've confused Zeph for Zero or something." Grimacing, he shook his head. "Better wake up before I do this mission or boss'll have my hide, huh?"

Without waiting for much by way of response, he wandered back to his room. "Have a g'night Cy. See ya tomorrow an' all."

Oh, now that she had Meep for the night, she planned on having a very good night with the cuddly-looking pokémon. “You have a good night, too, Kas."

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Eryk Nero Character Portrait: Kasimir Rheinallt Character Portrait: Cyrilla Niav Character Portrait: Aidan Klein Character Portrait: Nevena Solomon
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#, as written by Aethyia


June 23rd
Cinnabar Recreation Center - Afternoon - Overcast
Kasimir Rheinallt


It hadn't been the most spectacular day for a picnic—hot and overcast and occasionally spitting a light rain—but that was what backup locations were for, and so NTR had rented space at the local rec center, which was sort of a combination gym, arcade, and go-kart track. Those participating in the team build had eaten their food in a sullen silence broken only occasionally by the more outgoing and friendly of their number, and now they were lining up across from each other on opposite sides of the gymnasium.

Kas had a feeling this was meant to look kind of unfair: it was himself, Ryk, Aidan, and Cyrilla against literally everyone else on staff, from the admin assistants to the grunts to the scientists, a good twenty-some people. And it was decidedly unfair. Just not in the way most of them were expecting.

Because what that amounted to was him, two actual ninjas, and Aidan against a bunch of office workers and assorted nerds. While he'd happily count himself among the latter kind of people on most days, he was rather more like the ninjas for this particular purpose. And today was apparently the day that the grunt team figured that out.

"Y'know, Cy, I'm aware competition is encouraged in NTR culture, but I think this is just going to piss off a lot of people," he said, watching as Tanya the HR manager distributed red rubber and foam balls about the size of his head around the gym. About half the people total would start with one, including all four on the so-called 'executive team.' Kas caught the one lobbed for him in one large hand, rolling it along his forearm and launching it off his elbow, only to catch it in his other hand.

Cyrilla huffed lightly as she arched a brow at Kas. “You'd piss people off either way, even if it wasn't dodgeball. The lesson, here, is that they at least have a chance at hitting us. I mean, they'll fail, but if it's in their head that there is just the slightest chance they could win? I'd count that as something," she spoke, shrugging her shoulders lightly.

“It's not like it was a particularly bad idea, though," she added. Eryk looked about as pleased as the grunts did, his brows furrowed and lips pursed thinly.

“Why'd you even suggest this, Cy?" he asked, arching a brow at her. She arched hers right back at him, though.

“Dodgeball? Because I thought it would be a good way for you to lose some of that tension you have. If you're really against it, you can let one of the grunts hit you, and you can go sit out, you know. You don't have to take this seriously, even if the grunts will."

Kas somehow doubted there was any chance of Ryk losing on purpose. He wasn't really that kind of guy. Sure he might forfeit a thing before it started if he had no interest, but once he was in, he was in. He was less sure about whether Aidan would bother taking it seriously, but the other guy had at least picked up one of the balls, glancing over at them with a raised eyebrow.

"You'd piss them off less if you could make it look like it was close. Almost get hit a few times, juggle some catches, miss some shots. Up to you though. Not like I give a damn if the whole office wants your heads." He shrugged.

"Thanks, bossman, that's real encouraging," Kas replied, though it was obviously a joke. Aidan rolled his eyes at the nickname, but offered no further rejoinders. "So... what's our strategy here? Total decimation? Lose on purpose? Make them think they have a chance? Somewhere in the middle?"

“Depends. Do we want the grunts to hate us more than they already do, or do we want them to at least feel better about themselves?" Cyrilla asked. Eryk furrowed his brows lightly as if he were contemplating the options Kas had mentioned.

“We're not losing on purpose," he spoke, slumping his shoulders a bit, “but the whole purpose of the team build is to reinforce the bonds is it not?" He arched a brow in Aidan and Kas's direction for a moment. “I suggest we do something in the middle. Make it look like they have a chance, but also let them know that we're not going to go down without a fight."

“There's the competitive Ryk I know," Cyrilla stated, smiling softly before shaking her head. She held her ball against her hip as she arched a brow in Kas and Aidan's direction. “I guess we have a strategy, unless you'd like to do something different."

They both shrugged. Kas was fine with not being hated, and he suspected Aidan really didn't care, so that it was.

Tanya, self-appointed referee, blew a whistle, which apparently signaled the start of the match, because a bunch of red projectiles came flying in for them. This was going to be the only reasonably challenging part, actually—surviving the initial barrages, which would at least be dense enough to be interesting.

Kas immediately fired his own ball, catching one of the admin assistants on the shoulder, knocking him out, then ducked under a few and plucked one out of the air—getting your shot caught was a way of being knocked out also. It appeared to have belonged to one of the grunts, who joined the assistant on the side of the ring next to Tanya.

Aidan just used his ball to block a few initial shots, then lobbed it for a knot of grunts, who were clearly not expecting it to be that fast. It managed to hit two of them, then ricochet and narrowly miss a third. Shrugging, the other man stooped to pick up a second ball.

Eryk and Cy spent most of their time dodging, not really throwing or catching any of the balls. It seemed they were assessing things before Ryk finally threw his ball, catching a grunt in the gut. It wasn't hard, at least it didn't seem to be thrown with too much force, but it was enough that the grunt dropped his ball before grumbling and walking off the floor.

Sis seemed to be doing alright on her own, but she was smiling as she tossed a ball towards the group of executives. She dodged a few balls seemingly well, but it didn't appear that she had enough arm strength to actually throw the ball very well. Cyrilla managed to catch two other grunts, narrowly dodging a ball herself. Whether it was on purpose or a grunt had come really close to hitting her, it was unclear.

Eryk managed to hit another two grunts, and caught a ball just as it soared near him. He hadn't been looking, either. He shook his head softly before throwing the ball back into the fray.

Between them, they whittled down the numbers, weaving in a few 'narrow misses' and things that caused the growing audience to groan in the distinctive way of a sport fan narrowly thwarted, which Kas figured was a good sign. Of course, should any of the four of them actually get hit, about a quarter of the Grunts would be able to return to the floor, so no few of them were shouting for their remaining teammates to take out their preferred target.

But sure enough, it wasn't too long before the grunt team was down to the final five, at which point Aidan caught one of Sis's weak tosses, taking her out of the match that way instead of by direct hit. That left Niko, who was probably the most athletic of the lot, Luke, who was probably the smartest of those left, Hayley, and Lorraine.

From a field of twenty-five-on-four to an even match.

Niko struck first, aiming for Kas, who knocked aside the ball with his own, aiming it a little towards Cyrilla. "Hey Cy! Catch!"

Cyrilla caught it and chucked it straight for Lorraine, who managed to knock the ball aside. Lorraine threw her ball at Cyrilla, who narrowly dodged it. Either Lorraine was fairly good at throwing things, or she was intently focused on taking Cy out. Eryk, however, threw his ball at Luke. He had done a fairly decent job of mostly taking out grunts with catching their ball rather than hitting them.

Lorraine seemed to mouth something at Hayley, though, and it seemed that they were going to focus their efforts on him.

Luke almost managed to catch the thing, juggling it awkwardly for several seconds before losing grip on it, putting him out of the game. That left Lorraine and Hayley, who were indeed focusing on Ryk. Kas waited until they were both committed to their throws before launching a quick one of his own, catching Hayley in the hip.

Aidan caught her toss, leaving only the one for Ryk to deal with.

Ryk and Cy shared a glance, something knowing between the two of them as he lifted his ball in Lorraine's direction. He made to throw it, however; Cyrilla threw hers first. Eryk's ball quickly followed after. Lorraine only had enough time to block one of the balls headed her way before the ball Ryk threw caught her in the shoulder.

That signaled the end of the game, and Lorraine mumbled something beneath her breath as she walked over towards the group of grunts. Sis came over to the group, shortly, and smiled brightly at the four of them. “That was a lot of fun," she spoke as she glanced at the group. Cyrilla snorted softly and shook her head.

“I don't think I've ever participated in a dodgeball game since middle school," she continued. Eryk tilted his head slightly but didn't seem inclined to say anything.

Aidan huffed quietly. "I think probably elementary school for me," he noted. "Guess I wasn't too rusty, though."

Kas grinned at the both of them. "You guys did pretty well for old folks," he teased. "What was that, like twenty-five years ago?"

"C'mere and say that to my face, you little punk." Aidan's deadpan was accompanied by an exaggerated step forward, and Kas barked a laugh, taking a similar step.

"I said you're old!" he teased, at even greater volume.

Aidan's brows knit, and he tilted his head slightly to the side. "Yeah, no, that's accurate," he replied in the same flat tone. "Can't get mad when you're right."

“Almost twenty years for me," Sis replied, not at all put off by the statement, it seemed. She merely chuckled, followed by Cyrilla. Eryk merely arched his brow before his eyes narrowed slightly.

“You'll be their age soon enough, Kas," he spoke, folding his hands into his pant pockets. Cyrilla rolled her eyes and nudged Eryk slightly in the arm.

“So will you, Ryk. All of us will, eventually, but that's not the point. Point is we all had fun," Cyrilla stated as Ryk shrugged his shoulders. Sis chuckled and shook her head.

“Maybe we should all go get dinner after this? You know, as a bit of a celebratory 'we all had fun despite our ages' kind of thing?" she suggested.

Aidan shook his head, but seemed amenable enough. "There's a couple places around, sure."

It sounded like a plan to Kas. But first...

"In the meantime, why don't we mix up these teams a bit and try again? Should be reasonably fair if it's only one ninja per team, right?" He grinned at Ryk and Cy.

Cyrilla scoffed lightly. “I don't know about that. We can always give it a try, though. What do you say, Ryk?" Eryk seemed to contemplate the statement before shrugging his shoulders.

“Should be fine," he replied simply.

“Well, then let's see what happens." The grin on Cyrilla's face was almost malicious before it disappeared.

Kas immediately stepped towards her side, moving to sling his arm around her shoulders but pausing before he actually touched her, to make sure it was all right for him to do so. "I'm with this ninja," he said quickly, smiling broadly at the other three.

She didn't seem to mind as she leaned towards his hand. Her brow was arched in Ryk's direction as he merely shrugged his shoulders. “Guess that means you're stuck with Ryk, Aidan," she spoke, turning her attention towards him. Eryk huffed lightly, though, as if he were somewhat amused by the thought.

“There are worse people to be stuck with, Cy," he stated.

“You won't be saying that when you lose. And I know how much you hate losing, Ryk." Eryk's brow arched almost in a challenging manner, though.

Kas settled his arm down, grin growing a little. "We're gonna have to work on your trash talk, Ryk. But first, we're gonna kick your asses, so you have that to look forward to." With a wink, he turned himself and Cyrilla to face the rest of the crowd. "All right, grunts, assistants, and nerds! The half of you that would like to be on the winning team can come hang out with me and Cy here. The rest of you have to be on a team with those two shaggy guys, so take your pick!"

There was an immediate shuffle, new teams forming up, and Kas patted Cy's shoulder once before he stepped away to prepare.

All in all, not a bad idea.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Eryk Nero Character Portrait: Kasimir Rheinallt Character Portrait: Cyrilla Niav Character Portrait: Anastasia Asher Character Portrait: Aidan Klein
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June 29th
Field Office 9 - Afternoon - Warm
Eryk Nero


Eryk glanced at the others around him. Cyrilla was fidgeting somewhat next to him, a frown marring her lips as she stared out ahead. They were going to be doing a raid at a local breeding facility. Word had reached NTR that the facility wasn't up to date on their papers, and there were some concerns there, as well. Conditions were not good for the pokémon, and supposedly they were being crammed into small cages and areas. One report said they'd witnessed one of the workers beating on some of the young pokémon. That had been enough to get under Eryk's skin in a way he didn't quite like. He knew it bothered the others, too, in some capacity, but something about it struck him in a different way.

He couldn't explain it.

“Do you have everything you need, Cyrilla?" he asked, trying to get her focused on something else, for the moment. She glanced up at him, and pursed her lips together before nodding her head. He returned the gesture, and motioned for her to lead the way to the conference room. They were being summoned to go over what they were going to do. Apparently Aidan had the information from the boss, and it would be Eryk, Cyrilla, Kasimir, and a handful of the grunts who were going to the facility.

“Do you think it'll be bad?" she finally spoke, keeping her gaze outwards as they headed for the conference room.

“Conditions have to be bad enough if they're asking us to interfere directly," he answered. Cyrilla winced slightly as they approached the door. Before they walked in, Eryk placed a hand on Cyrilla's shoulder, and regarded her through narrowed eyes. “Will you be fine?" he asked. She took in a breath and nodded her head.

“Good. Let's go in," he stated, opening the door to let her in.

Aidan and Kasimir were already inside, the latter's laptop open and connected to the conference room's projection screen. They were discussing something, it seemed; Aidan's expression was sharper than Eryk had ever seen it, and though he usually didn't smoke indoors unless he was standing next to an open window, there was one in his mouth now. He looked tense, though the reason for it was unclear.

At the sound of the door opening, his eyes flicked quickly to them and he sighed, expelling a cloud of smoke and gesturing them in. "Address is 416 Marigold Street," he said curtly, apparently all business. "This isn't a check-in visit, it's a raid, so get in and out quickly or someone's bound to call the local pigs and cause you problems." He tossed two dossiers onto the table before Eryk and Cyrilla had even had a chance to sit down.

"Looks like a facility specializing in fighting and poison types, so don't be surprised if some of them have behavioral issues. I want every last one of them cleared out and at intake two hours from now. I don't care if they look fine. If any of them need emergency medical care, get them to the nearest certified professional. You know how this works. Don't fuck it up or we'll be dealing with cops and paperwork for three years."

Kas wore a serious expression befitting the circumstances, but didn't seem to be as agitated as Aidan, picking up the explanation smoothly even as the projected image changed. "This is the blueprint of the facility on file with the city," he said, gesturing at the map. It appeared to show a large single building with only one floor, and then a big yard. "Of course, as sometimes happens with these things, be on the lookout for, uh, unregistered rooms and compartments. Basements, that kind of thing. I'll be coordinating things for all of you from one of the vans. We're bringing two, just to be safe. The facility has a registered total of ten breeding pokémon, but we're expecting more than that, to account for young ones, and, well... the fact that these sorts of places aren't always keen to do the additional certs they'd need to keep more than ten, so. Make of that what you will."

He paused, then shrugged. "Any questions?"

Eryk only shook his head. He didn't need to ask anything; he'd been given the information they'd need for this raid, and that was all that was needed. Getting in and out wouldn't be a problem, especially for him and Cyrilla. They were trained for these kinds of things, however; it was going to be a bit difficult getting the pokémon out without some issues. If Aidan was right, and some of them had behavioral issues, that meant that noise was bound to be made one way or another. He could try to keep some of them calm with his telepathy, but even that had its own weaknesses.

Tapping with a pokémon was different than with a person. He'd learned that the hard way. “It'll get done," he finally spoke, his brows furrowing slightly. Cyrilla nodded her head as well, agreeing, it seemed. It was going to be a bit more difficult since it was still bright outside, but he and Cyrilla could accommodate for that. They weren't exactly stealing something, after all. They were simply removing pokémon from a facility that was no longer up to standards.

“The sooner we get this done, the sooner we can see what conditions the pokémon are in," he spoke simply. He wanted to get this done as quickly as possible. Mostly so that the pokémon in the facility were able to get the treatment they needed, even if some of them might be healthy as Aidan speculates them to be.

"Good." Aidan expelled another breath, hard and sharp, and nodded. "Then I'll leave you to it."

Taking that for a signal, Kasimir closed the lid of his laptop and unhooked it from the wall, wrapping the cords up quickly and tucking it under his arm. "To the vans, then." He tossed Eryk a key ring with a single key on it, then led the way down to the mansion's large garage, where several nondescript vehicles of various sorts were parked. There was even a motorcycle, though from the quality of it probably belonged to one of the individuals working here rather than the organization, which tended towards less-flashy vehicles.

The vans were a basic grey, with tinted windows and sliding side doors. Kas opened one of these and hopped up inside, apparently getting himself set up at a small workstation inside. "Pokémon-handling equipment's in the other van, but if you need to stack cages in here, I don't mind company. Address is in your Pokégear's GPS already."

“Thanks, Kas," Cyrilla stated as she climbed into the other van. Eryk didn't know why she was thanking him, though. Maybe for the address being set up in the GPS? He pushed the thought aside, though, and nodded in Kasimir's direction.

“If we need more room for cages, we'll load them up inside with you," Eryk stated before glancing in the direction of the van he was going to drive. “Let's get going, then," he stated, nodding once in Kasimir's direction before climbing into the other van. He supposed one of the other grunts was going to drive the van Kas was in.

It was another twenty minutes before they arrived at the facility. From the outside, he could see two people standing near a cluster of rose bushes. They seemed to be talking about something, but Eryk didn't know what. One of them was smoking a cigarette; it seemed they were on a smoke break of some sorts. Judging by the length of the cigarette, they had at least ten to twenty minutes to get in without being noticed. Of course, that also meant there was a possibility that there were more workers inside. He pulled the van around the back, stopping at least a block away before parking.

He placed an ear piece into his ear and tested it before calling Kasimir. “Kas, what's the best point of entry from this way?" he asked. If they could sneak around the back and secure a route, they'd be able to get this done quickly.

"Well since there are people outside, I'm thinking you'll want to hang a left from here and hop the fence into the yard," Kasimir replied, his voice clear and calm over the connection. "They've got a few security cameras going, but I'll have you erased from those in no time, so don't worry about it. There might be a few pokémon in the yard you'll want to scoop up first; I'll send some of the grunts over with the cages. Back door looks pretty standard—might be locked but I'm sure you're handy with a pick, right?" That kind of thing was pretty standard field training for NTR.

“Alright," he spoke before glancing towards Cyrilla. “You take care of the ones in the yard. I'm going straight to the doors. Join me once you're done," he spoke. She nodded her head, pulling her hair back into a quick bun and pulled on her gloves. He had his own set of gloves, mostly as a precaution of leaving evidence behind. Once they were prepared, he opened the door to the van and stepped out, glancing around momentarily to ensure there was no one around before hoping the fence. Cyrilla followed behind him, and immediately, they were both moving quickly.

Just as Kas said, there were a couple of pokemon in the yard: a stunky and an ekans. Even from this distance, he could see that the stunky was malnourished. Its fur looked slightly matted, and the cream colored parts of it were dark. Eryk didn't need to know why it was like that. It was curled up near a bowl of what looked to be water, however; there was algae inside of it, and didn't even look remotely drinkable. The ekans was curled on a rock, but it too looked malnourished. Some of its scales looked like they were falling off, and it had a rather large scar on its head.

“Cyrilla," he spoke low enough that she could hear him, and immediately nodded her head. He continued his way towards the back door, though, knowing that she would take care of the two poison-types.

“There's a riolu, too, Ryk. He's hiding in the bushes," Cyrilla spoke over the ear piece. Eryk pursed his lips together and furrowed his brows.

“Get it out with the others, and be gentle. They're stronger than they look, Cy," he replied. She made a vague noise over the earpiece, perhaps an agreement before it was silent again. He pulled a lockpick set from his back pocket once he reached the back door, and went to work at the lock. When it opened, he carefully set the pick back, and opened the door cautiously, checking to see if there was anyone around. Satisfied that there was no one at the moment, he entered, leaving the door slightly ajar so that the others could enter as well when they were done outside.

“Kas, what's the first room?" he asked. He didn't want to accidentally walk into a break room, after all.

"Second door on your left is marked as a holding room," Kasimir replied, still even and calm. "You'll want to sweep it for anything not on the map, too, but the pokémon you can see are the first priority here. Your two guys outside are still there. Smoker's lit another, so you should be all right for a bit."

Eryk pushed a sigh through his nose. He took the second door to his left, opening it cautiously as well. There was a bit of a smell in this room, and when he fully entered, he could see why. There were carcasses of dead pokemon on tables, most of them almost skeletal in appearance with fur. There was a skuntank that looked like it had its fur pulled out, and another that looked like it had eaten most of its paw off, probably because its paw had been infected. There was a cut on it that didn't seem healed right. Eryk felt his lips pull back, but a noise caught his attention.

There was a stunky underneath a pile of dirty rags, and even from this distance, Eryk could hear its breathing was raspy. It looked like it was on death's door. Part of its ear looked like it had been cut off, probably from a failed attempt at tagging it properly. He moved over towards it, removing the rags that kept it buried, and ran a hand through its fur. It made a vague wheezing sound as it leaned into his hand. Carefully, he lifted it from the pile and tucked it into his arms. It seemed to curl up, it's breathing becoming more rapid as he tried to calm the stunky.

“Cyrilla, where are you? I need you to get this one out, ASAP," he spoke hurriedly. The stunky wasn't going to have much of a chance if they didn't get it the help it needed, soon. It was barely hanging on through sheer will, and it was young at that. How it ended up in the Holding Room was beyond Eryk. Perhaps the skuntank on the table had been its parent?

“On my way, Ryk," she replied. It wasn't a moment later that she'd entered the room, her eyes wide before they settled on Ryk. Slowly and carefully, he handed her the stunky that seemed almost reluctant to leave him. When the stunky was secured, Cyrilla left, and Eryk did one more sweep around the room just in case. When he was finished, he moved on to the next.

It took a total of thirty minutes to get a full layout of the building. In total, Eryk had only come across three other workers. Five people to work the facility didn't seem quite as well-staffed as it should have been. It might have been that there were more during the evening shift, but Eryk didn't want to take any chances.

“Kas, where's the room they keep the newly hatched?" he asked. It was the only room he hadn't found, yet.

"You mean that last one wasn't it?" Kasimir sounded incredulous. "Uh... hang on." Eryk could hear the sound of rapid typing, and a soft hum that had to be the sound of Kas thinking about something. "So you've been to all the rooms in the facility marked as containing pokémon, but there's an office here in a weird place. Back up three doors, open the one on your right, go down the hall and open the door on the end. And you'll want to be quick about it—the workers are headed back in."

A pause and then, just as levelly: "Hey Cy, can I get you to run around the front and distract the workers for a couple minutes here? Ryk's got one more room to check and there's still grunts coming back with cages."

“Easily done," Cyrilla replied before it was silent again. Eryk moved towards the door Kas had directed him to, and opened it. It was mostly empty inside, however; there were a few over turned cages. He could hear heavy breathing coming from somewhere, though, and immediately, Eryk felt something collide with the back of his legs. It was hard and heavy enough that it sent Eryk to the ground. Quickly, he rolled to his side to avoid a small fist from colliding with his head. He grabbed the wrist, surprised that it was fur-covered, and immediately released it.

When he managed to get to his feet, there was a wild-eyed mankey staring at him. It was breathing heavily and looking frantically around. It jumped around the room, knocking things over in the process. It was creating too much noise, and Eryk needed it to stop. He did the only thing he could think of; he tried to connect to it telepathically, however; he was met with a strong resistance. It was painful, and it caused Eryk to wince slightly. Relaxing his posture as much as he could, Eryk tried to make himself look less-threatening. He could see mankey grabbing things and flinging them in his direction, however; he merely stayed still.

“It's alright," he finally spoke, keeping his voice as level as he could. I'm not going to hurt you, he continued, trying again to connect with it. It allowed the connection briefly, and for a moment, it paused in its tantrum. Its eyes narrowed once more, though, and immediately, it charged him again. Eryk knew it was trying to intimidate him, but he couldn't let it.

He had to remain calm.

After several minutes of trying to calm the mankey down, it finally made its way cautiously towards Eryk. He could see clearly now that it had a broken tail. Probably when one of the workers tried to get control of it. One of its wrists even looked broken. Eryk furrowed his brows as he kneeled down so that he was at an even level with the mankey. He held his hand out gently, trying his best to earn its trust. Mankey took his hand, and sniffed it, holding on with a vice-like grip. It pulled itself closer to him, climbing onto his back before Eryk was finally able to hold it. One of its arms reached over Eryk's shoulder as he brought another hand to its back, securing it.

Once he was holding it properly, he left the room, and exited the building as quickly as he could. He made it to the van where Kas was, and pursed his lips together. There were a couple of cages in the van with him. Eryk didn't think there would be this many at the facility, however; he shook his head. “Kas, where's the closest facility we can go to? A couple of these need to be checked out immediately."

Kasimir clicked his tongue against his teeth, gesturing for Eryk to hop up into the van with the mankey. "Get in. I'll drive. The closest place is Ana's. That gonna work or should I try for the center instead?" It was clear he was asking the question of Eryk as the head of their team, and the one who had to decide how much Ana was allowed to know. It would be pretty obvious they were NTR if they showed up like this, and Kas didn't know Ana had in fact guessed as much already.

He still gave it some thought. “We'll take them to Anastasia's," he finally answered. If they took the pokemon to the center, it was likely they'd have some explaining to do. That would likely get them involved with the police, and that was the one thing they were trying not to do. At least with Anastasia, they could explain the situation. She might even be a little more sympathetic to the cause, considering her own shelter functioned as a hospice.

Kas nodded, putting the van into gear and pulling out into the street. He took a slightly circuitous route first, so that they would not pass the breeding facility a second time, but as soon as he could get them there, they were pulling to a stop in front of Anastasia's shelter. It was regular business hours for her, so the gate was open, several of the pokémon out and about.

Killing the engine and jumping out of the van, Kas pulled the sliding door open for Eryk, then moved to the other vehicle to do the same, just as Anastasia emerged from behind the house, brows furrowed. It wouldn't be surprising if she'd heard screeching brakes outside her property, actually.

Her expression morphed into one of alarm, though, as soon as she laid eyes on Eryk, or rather the mankey. "This way," she said immediately, her tone brisk. "My medical supplies are in the main shelter building. What can you tell me?"

“Newly hatched, broken tail and wrist," he answered. It was direct and to the point. He knew age had a lot to do with how a pokemon was cared for, and that there were certain medicines and antibiotics it couldn't be given quite yet. “There should be a stunky on the way as well, same age," he added so that she could be prepared for that one, too, when it arrived. “It's having difficulty breathing."

Mankey's grip on Eryk tightened, though, as if it knew it was going somewhere it did not want to go. He ran a hand through mankey's fur, though, trying to keep it calm. I'm not leaving, he spoke to it. It seemed to relax a bit, but it did not move its face away from where it was buried. He was going to have to set the mankey down, eventually, though, so Anastasia could check it over. When they reached the main shelter building, Eryk glanced towards Anastasia.

“Where should I set him down?"

"Right over here," Ana said, gesturing to a clean examination table. She crossed quickly to the other side of it, donning an apron and scrubbing her arms and hands clean in the sink before snapping on a pair of gloves. The box label said 'hypo-allergenic'; it seemed she wasn't taking any chances.

When she approached mankey, though, she was very careful, her motions steady and calm. She met its eyes carefully and smiled. "Hello, little guy," she said gently, carefully extending one arm towards the mankey with a soft smile. "I'm Ana. I know it's hard to believe, but I promise you're safe here, okay? We're going to take a look at where it hurts so we can get started on making it better, all right?"

She seemed to be waiting for something, head tilted, hand still hovering a respectful distance from mankey.

Mankey turned to regard her for a moment before turning its eyes up at Eryk. He nodded to reassure the mankey that it would be fine. Slowly, it reached out its hand towards her, taking her own before it slid down Eryk's arms. It hopped slightly towards Anastasia and regarded her a moment. Mankey made a soft grunting noise before it seemed satisfied to let her do whatever was necessary to make it better, as she'd said. Eryk pursed his lips together, though. None of the pokémon should have been in that condition, however; he pinched the bridge of his nose.

“Kas and I need to head back to the office, but I'm entrusting mankey to you, Anastasia. Cyrilla will be by in a moment with the stunky and another pokémon that will require assistance. Is that alright?" he asked. He didn't want to overburden her, after all. That, and he needed to report back to Aidan that the raid was successful.

Anastasia nodded slightly, already beginning her examination of mankey. "I understand," she said. "I'll do everything I can for them, I promise." She asked no questions, at least not at the moment.

Perhaps that was for the best.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Eryk Nero Character Portrait: Kasimir Rheinallt Character Portrait: Cyrilla Niav Character Portrait: Rocket Files Character Portrait: Aidan Klein
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#, as written by Aethyia


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July 2nd
Field Office 9 - Morning - Warm
Kasimir Rheinallt


After the raid, they'd needed to leave a total of four pokémon with Ana. Two of those, the ekans and the riolu, had since been cleared to be held in ordinary NTR intake while the group assessed what the best course of action was for them, along with the others that had been seized from the breeding facility.

As expected, the local police had been called, and an official inquiry had been sent up to the Field Office, but by then there were pictures and documentation indicating the abuse and maltreatment of the pokémon at the facility, and Aidan had been only too happy to cite to the officers the exact pieces of legal code that allowed NTR in Kanto to seize pokémon in such conditions. As they usually did, they officially maintained that they'd seen evidence of the maltreatment through a window, which had then given them probable cause to conduct the raid. Technically, they hadn't really had it, only the vague suspicion, but it wasn't like anyone could prove otherwise, so the law was on their side and there was nothing to be done.

One of the cops had looked pissed, but some of them were like that. Didn't like NTR edging into law enforcement territory. Kasimir's own feelings on the matter were kind of complicated, but he really didn't think they were in the wrong here. If there'd been no evidence of mistreatment, they'd just have left. It had happened on raids before, misinformation or reports given falsely sending them to places that were actually aboveboard, but what had been in there... well, he for one was glad that place was getting shut down, and with all the evidence they'd collected, the legal system would likely jail the owners for a while, even if some beat cop didn't like it.

Stunky and mankey were still at the shelter; according to Ana, mankey was so young as to need constant supervision while he recovered, and stunky's breathing issue was likely to be permanent, and so she'd offered to take her in, since that was where she was likely to end up even if NTR did its own assessment. No one had seen any reason to suggest otherwise, so official custody of those two pokémon had been signed over to Cinnabar Pokémon Rehabilitation and Hospice.

Today, for some reason, they had all been summoned to the conference room. It had to be for the beginning of the month executive meeting, but oddly Kasimir hadn't been asked to prepare anything for it. Usually he had maps or dossiers or some other kind of information to organize detailing whatever the month's projects were, but apparently those were coming from somewhere else this time. Maybe Aidan was making them? The other man was already seated at the conference table, but it didn't look like he'd brought much of anything with him. At this point they were just waiting for Ryk and Cy, he supposed.

It wasn't much longer when they arrived. Eryk entered the room first, slight bags under his eyes indicating he hadn't slept much in the last couple of days. Cyrilla trailed behind him, though, and they both took a seat near Kas. He regarded Kas for a moment before turning his attention towards Aidan.

“Good morning, Aidan. Good morning, Kas," Cyrilla murmured softly as Eryk nodded his head as if to say the same thing without actually saying it. Cyrilla sighed softly but didn't say anything else, and they both turned their attention towards Aidan. It was as if they were waiting for him to start the meeting, or something of the sort.

Nodding briskly, Aidan lifted a small remote control from the table in front of him and turned on the screen at the back wall of the room. Without any further ado, the entire group of them was presented with the image of their boss, Stefan Gregorovich. Kas's eyebrows shot up in mild surprise; it wasn't completely unusual for people of their rank to hear from Gregorovich directly, of course, but then he hadn't been at this particular rank for very long. It wasn't like he'd had dinner with the guy.

"Good morning, everyone," the boss said, his tone neutral with a faint hint of warmth to it. "I suppose you might be a touch surprised to see me, but I asked Aidan not to disclose that I would be present at this meeting. I didn't want to cause any dread of it, or anything like that."

In a way, Kas supposed that was a legitimate concern. He'd definitely have worried about it if he knew it was coming—the problem was he was now internally scrambling, trying to remember if everything was in order that needed to be. It was, of course—he hadn't lasted this long by being an idiot. But damn if seeing the boss didn't ignite anxiety in him anyway. There was just something vaguely terrifying about the possibility that he'd been found out and this was how they delivered the news.

But Gregorovich only smiled slightly. "I would like to begin by commending your work at the end of last month—I've read your reports of the incident and can only wish we'd known about the facility sooner. That doesn't discount the good you did, though, and I'm relieved to see the pokémon in question are now in much better hands."

If Eryk and Cyrilla were as surprised as Kas was to see Gregorovich, they didn't show it. Instead, Cyrilla smiled a bit at Gregorovich's statement as Eryk nodded his head. He'd been back to Ana's to check on the stunky and mankey the most after the raid, and had seemed rather attached to the both of them for some reason. He never said anything about it, and didn't seem inclined to, either. He kept his attention on the screen though, a frown marring his features.

“Sir," he stated, though it wasn't in a way that conveyed he wanted to ask a question. It was in a way that was simply acknowledging what Gregorovich had stated. A way of thanks, perhaps. Eryk's brows furrowed, though, before he shook his head lightly.

“But there is more, is there not?" Eryk stated. It didn't seem to be in a condescending way. It was as if he were merely stating an observation or a fact, maybe.

"Naturally," Gregorovich replied, waving a hand vaguely as if to say he'd get to it in its own time. No hurrying the boss, naturally. Fortunately, he was a pretty businesslike individual.

It wasn't hard to tell: even if the immaculate monochrome of his expensive, bespoke black suit didn't convince a person, there was the remarkably keen look to the pale grey of his eyes. He might not be reputed to be a human lie detector, or be as impressive in height as Kas or as naturally intimidating-looking as Ryk, but there was a certain obvious, quiet authority and dignity to him. Gravitas, really. This was the man who'd resurrected Team Rocket from the ashes of organized crime and made it the single most influential organization in the world.

Even if Kas's real boss was sure he'd stuck his fingers in just about every dirty-money pie to do it, it was still impressive.

"I'm calling today to get your updates on Project Nebula," Gregorovich said simply. "As there were raid reports to write, I understand the monthly updates not being finished for that, of course, and thought I'd save you the trouble of rushing those by simply hearing the reports verbally."

Kasimir felt another flicker of surprise at this, but like the last he didn't much let it show. Gregorovich could say what he wanted about convenience—he'd just convinced Kas that this project was even more important than he'd previously thought. Why else seek an update this close to in-person when their reports would be in by the end of the week?

"You've all made contact with... Miss Asher by now, as you've said. How are you finding the task of befriending her?"

Eryk pushed a heavy sigh through his nose, almost as if he wasn't quite sure how to respond to that. It was obvious to those around that Eryk wasn't the type to befriend people easily. That seemed more like something Cyrilla, or even Kas could do. But it had fallen on Eryk to make the first initial contact, and he had. Kas and Cyrilla visited the shelter when they could, but Eryk was the one who spent the most time there.

“It is... not difficult, but it isn't quite as easy as expected. She's not exactly trusting of new people, but," he paused, his brows furrowing deeper, “progress is being made, I believe. It will still be some time, yet, before anything comes of us befriending her."

Gregorovich seemed to consider this a moment, tilting his head slightly to the side. From offscreen, he retrieved a cigarette and a metal lighter with something engraved on it, flicking it open and holding the end of the cylinder to the flame. Flipping it closed, he returned it to its position beyond their line of sight and sat back in his chair, the padded leader creaking softly. "And what exactly do you believe will come of it, as you say?" he asked, seeming genuinely curious.

Eryk seemed to contemplate something before he sighed softly. It was Cyrilla who answered, though.

“We're not entirely sure, sir," she spoke softly and calm. “From our initial report, it's that you want us to see if she's a viable candidate to be a volunteer for a project of yours. The only things we've managed to learn about her, so far, are the obvious: she's a relative of the Nurses Joy, and she owns and operates the Shelter and Hospice."

Gregorovich nodded slightly, though Kas thought he saw some form of... disappointment, maybe? Something like it flashed briefly across his features before it was gone. "I see," he said simply, taking a drag from the cigarette. Kas was pretty sure it was one of the imported sort from Kalos, papered in brown rather than mostly white, and a fair bit longer than standard.

"What of you, Mr. Rheinallt?" He asked quietly, fixing his eyes on Kas through a thin haze of smoke.

"Me, sir?" he asked, blinking as if confused. It wasn't far from the truth, really.

"Yes. Aidan has informed me that you're a particularly clever sort. What do you make of Miss Asher?"

Kas expelled a breath, then shrugged a little. "I think she's smart, and bighearted. I'm also pretty sure she has a secret of some kind, which is why when I fixed her computer, I also installed some spyware in it, so I can monitor her internet use."

Gregorovich exhaled a quiet ha, something that sounded quite amused. "Excellent. Anything of interest so far?"

"She likes classical music and probably knows how to dance, and she's closest with an aunt she refers to as Miranda, who runs the Pokémon Center in Lavender Town. She also likes looking up new baking recipes and cat pokémon videos. So... not much of use, no."

It was sort of a risk, being deadpan and pretty flippant with the boss, but it only seemed to entertain Gregorovich, who nodded slightly. "Very well then. I suppose I'll count that as satisfactory progress, though if you could also monitor her phone, I'm sure it would help. Continue to get close to her—that's your only real task for this month. Questions?"

Kas shook his head.

Eryk and Cyrilla both shook their heads. They didn't seem to have anything they wanted to ask or say, and Cyrilla spared Eryk a glance. His brows were furrowed lightly, but he didn't look upset or anything. Something must have come to him, though, and he turned his attention back towards Gregorovich.

“Is there anything in particular we should monitor her for? A particular skill of some sort?" he asked.

Gregorovich considered this for a long, drawn-out moment, then nodded slightly. "Yes. In particular, I am interested to know if the girl is a psychic. A telepath, in particular. Of course, I understand that this is not the kind of question one can simply ask someone, and it would be preferable if she divulged this to you of her own volition, if it be true. But do be on the lookout for evidence of it, if possible."

He exhaled, and the smoke momentarily thickened. "I understand you have some talent of this nature yourself, Mr. Nero, but according to people who know about such things, if she were one as well she would likely be able to detect it if you attempted to discern this with your own abilities, yes? It is paramount not only that we find such a person, but that we do so in a way that endears us to them. So handle with care, as the saying goes. You're not the only team attempting to locate a likely candidate, but you are the one I have highest hopes for, probability-wise."

Kas didn't bother to hide his surprise at this news, figuring there was no reason to. He noted, though, that Aidan didn't seem to have any. He must have already known, but did he know why they were looking for someone like that?

“Understood," Eryk stated simply. His brows were furrowed deeply, and Cyrilla placed a hand near his forearm before dropping it. “I will do what I can to see," he added, turning his attention briefly to Aidan and then back towards Gregorovich.

The boss nodded. "Much appreciated," he said simply, smiling faintly. "Best of luck, as it were. She seems like a nice young lady, but some nuts are tougher to crack than others."

The screen went dark. Kasimir blew out a breath. "Damn," he murmured. "That was intense."

Aidan snorted softly. "Might want to get used to it, Rheinallt. You're an executive now, not just the IT guy."

“It does come with the territory, Kas. Being an executive means you have to see the boss every once in a while," Cyrilla spoke. She didn't seem amused or anything. She looked mostly concerned, though it seemed to be directed mostly at Eryk for some reason. He shook his head lightly before turning his attention towards Aidan and Kasimir.

“Is there anything else we should be made aware of besides surprise visits from Gregorovich?" he stated, though there was something fairly light in his tone. Almost as if he were joking about something. But Eryk didn't joke; he didn't seem capable of it.

Aidan shook his head slightly. "I had to work to get him to tell you that much. Sorry for springing it on you, but that was the condition."

Kas, who had rolled his eyes slightly at Cy—it wasn't like he was an idiot, though maybe he should be grateful he was playing one better than he thought—looked at Eryk with some concern. Still, he wasn't about to ask in a room full of people, so he only sighed slightly and stood.

"Well in that case I guess I better go write some more spyware," he grumbled. He'd seen Ana's phone only once, but knew the model. Should be doable in a few days' work, though getting it onto the thing would be a different trick.

“Hm, you'll do a good job, though, Kas. You're the IT guy, after all," Cyrilla stated with a light huff. Eryk rolled his eyes, though, and turned towards Aidan.

“If there's nothing else, I will be taking the rest of the day off," Eryk spoke, his expression smoothing back out. “I'll be making a stop by Anastasia's today to see how the two pokémon are doing; it has made her a little more inclined to talk that way. If Gregorovich wants us to be her friends, this is one way to do it." Cyrilla's lip twitched slightly upwards, but she didn't say anything to Eryk.

"You won't hear me complaining," Aidan replied simply. He paused, then, tilting his head a little. "If you don't mind letting me know if anything changes with them? I know how the others are doing, but I've stayed away from the shelter for the obvious reasons."

“Sure. I'll have Cyrilla send you a message once I've found out," Eryk stated, causing Cyrilla to huff lightly.

“He can't work his phone very well," she offered as way of explanation. Eryk merely shrugged his shoulders. He didn't seem to deny it.

"Works for me," Aidan replied, apparently less bothered than Kas by the fact that a grown man didn't know how to work a cellphone.

Technological incompetents. Just... everywhere.

And he was stuck being the IT guy.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Kasimir Rheinallt Character Portrait: Cyrilla Niav
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#, as written by Aethyia


July 9th
The Cloyster - Evening - Humid
Kasimir Rheinallt


“Thank you; have a nice day sir!" The cashier beamed at him; Kas shot her a wink more by reflex than anything, grinning right back.

"Thanks, Gabby; you too." He wasn't the kind to make a pass at someone on the clock; they were paid to be friendly and even if she was into him she couldn't escape the situation if she changed her mind and he didn't want to harass anyone even if purely by accident. He was conscious of stuff like that, and frankly thought everyone should be. It was basic courtesy, but pretty rare as far as he could tell.

Shifting his purchases to one hand, he pulled his phone out of his pocket with the other, hitting the seventh number on his speed dial and bringing the device to his ear. When the other end was picked up, he grinned, even though the person on the other end wouldn't be able to see. "Hey Cy, sorry for the call, I'd have texted, but it'd have taken too long. You have plans tonight?"

He supposed this could sound like he was asking her out. But he was pretty sure she wouldn't take it that way. Cy didn't ever seem to mind flirting and goofing around, but he had the feeling he wasn't really her type—just sort of a vibe she'd given off. Honestly he doubted she'd even call him a friend, despite having lived and worked together for months now. He had to admit that one stung just a tad: he could handle not being her cup of tea no problem, but he'd figured he was at least fun enough to rate friend status. Yet he always sensed a distance with her, under the playful exterior. In any case, he was pretty confident she'd interpret it as it was meant: a casual invitation from one coworker to another.

“Ah, hey Kas," she replied easily. She seemed to shuffle around from the background noise before she spoke again. “And actually, I don't have any plans tonight. Do you?" she asked, a bit of curiousity in her voice, leaking through. He could hear her on the other side of the phone, though, speaking to someone. Or something when she mentioned Diva. Apparently the lycanroc had something she shouldn't have.

“Sorry, Diva's trying to eat my shoe."

He laughed softly; that sounded about right for the pokémon, honestly.

"Well, I dunno if I'd go so far as to call them actual plans, but I did just stop by the store and get some stuff. Including some rum and punch," He knew it to be her preferred mixed drink, so he'd picked up the ingredients—easy enough to mix on the fly. "I figure you probably hadn't done the whole 'get drunk on the beach at night' bit yet, but everyone who lives on an island has to do it eventually, so I thought if you were up for it you might be so kind as to bring a couple things to drink out of at meet me at the backisland beach?"

He paused, and then: "oh and feel free to bring your pokémon. The rules about which ones can get let out are kinda relaxed at night and I doubt there'll be much of anyone around."

He could hear her huff lightly, but it was easy to tell she was laughing, too. “Sure, Kas. Sounds like it'll be fun," she replied. More movement in the background could be heard as it seemed that she was rummaging through the cabinets. Probably to look for glasses or cups of some sort. “Alright, got what we need; I'll meet you there in a few minutes, thirty tops," she stated, the other end of the line clicking to signal the end of the call.

It took him about ten minutes ambling at his slowest to reach the spot; he took off his sandals immediately. Shoes on the beach were a crime against humanity. He'd come from a run, so he was still wearing loose athletic shorts and a brightly-colored rashguard, breathable and patterned in blue, green, yellow, and even a bit of orange. The sleeves were fitted, but only to his elbows, exposing some of his ink, especially the tribal-style black and green on his left arm. He wasn't concerned about it though—NTR wasn't really fussy about stuff like that, even in the office.

The beach was nice, even compared to walking around in town, fresh air in off the ocean helping to alleviate the thick heat of the fading summer day. It was almost like being home again.

Someday, maybe.

True to her word, it had only taken about twenty minutes for Cyrilla to arrive. She'd been perched on Zero's back, probably using him for transport. She slid off his back, and placed a hand inside of the arcanine's mane, pulling out what seemed to be a bag of sorts. It probably had the cups inside of it. She turned towards Kas's direction and waved. She was dressed for the humid weather, it seemed. A dark, hunter green short-sleeved cardigan over a white tank top and a pair of black capris that had some tears near her thighs and one in her right knee. She was wearing slip-on canvas shoes, too, that were white.

“Hey, Kas," she greeted, Zero trotting behind her before he took a seat when she stopped. His tail was wagging in an almost excited manner, and his tongue lolled out of his mouth. Cyrilla rolled her eyes at him, though, before turning back towards Kas. “Brought the cups."

"Excellent. I brought the booze." He grinned, holding up the bags in his hand. He'd been conned into the reusable ones because he was a sucker at heart. Normally he'd have just done paper, but they'd been out and plastic was an affront to someone who'd occasionally cut them loose from around the necks of ocean pokémon when he was a kid.

With his free hand, he pulled the pokéballs from his belt and let his team out, unsurprised when Lani headed immediately for the water and Widget took to the sky. Princess took her time looking around, satisfying herself that there were no challenges to be had, though she did eye Cy and Zero dubiously for a few long seconds before huffing and turning away from them. The massive charizard was taller than he was, and pitch-black by way of coloration, the flame burning on her tail casting her in deepening hues as the sun lost its last bit of grim on the horizon.

Sigrún and Meep stuck a little closer, as they were inclined to do, and he paid little mind as he dug out the rum and juice to hand over to Cy, trading her for one of the cups, into which he poured some of the extra things he'd brought for mai tais, which were not usually his favorite but suited this setting very well.

The cheap version of this activity was done with cans of beer, but he'd figured Cy had a bit more class than him, so he'd sprung for the best stuff the little local grocery had. Parking himself on the sand, Kas mixed his drink by swirling it around inside the glass and took a swallow, stretching his legs out in front of him. "Now this—this is the life." He grinned sideways at Cy, as if inviting her to agree, though he didn't seriously expect her to think so. They were sitting on the sand with no chairs or blankets, drinking supermarket alcohol on a sweaty night. But for Kasimir, it was nostalgic, in a way.

“Is it, now?" she asked, arching a brow in his direction as she pulled the pokéballs from her own belt, and gave them a toss. Noctis immediately made his way towards the water, jumping straight into it, perhaps, to enjoy the cool waters. Zephyr, however, climbed into Cyrilla's lap when she'd taken a seat next to Kas, crossing her legs so that the meowth could be more comfortable, it seemed. Siri made her way towards Princess, though, and stared up at her. There was something like wonder that crossed the noibat's expression before she made a small chirping noise. Cyrilla huffed lightly.

“Seems Siri's fond of Cinders," Cyrilla stated softly, a small grin on her face. Diva huffed lightly as the lycanroc sat on Cyrilla's other side, occasionally glancing in Kas's direction, though the reason wasn't clear. She seemed to be narrowing her eyes, if anything. Zero curled up behind Cyrilla, though, and she leaned back into his side, using him to prop herself up.

“I'll give you that it is nice, especially the way the colors reflect on the water," she stated, taking a drink from her cup.

They were mostly gone now, as it happened, the evening passing past sunset and into full dusk, but there were still some purples and indigos remaining, and they were pretty on the water, it was true. Kas flopped partly backwards, propping himself up with one forearm and elbow, keeping hold of his glass with the other. He huffed a little when Princess blinked back at the noibat, as if trying to decide what to make of this smaller creature that chirped at her, but in the end she made sort of a grumbling snort that Kas recognized as allowing the other pokémon's presence. He hadn't named her that for nothing.

"Ocean's my favorite thing in the world," he replied simply. "Always has been." He didn't feel any particular need to push his instinctive love of the sea on anyone else; he figured it was probably partly in his blood and partly in his upbringing, and that was fine. But he was going to enjoy being assigned to an island for as long as he possibly could.

Taking another swallow of his drink, he changed the subject. "Dodgeball went pretty well, I think. As nefarious schemes go."

Cyrilla snorted slightly, shaking her head. “Hm, well I think it did the job," she replied, taking another drink from her cup. She sighed, though, and pursed her lips together as if she were thinking of something. She didn't speak for a few minutes, and instead, seemed to be either enjoying the silence, or lost in thought.

“Speaking of nefarious schemes, though," she finally spoke, turning her attention towards Kas. “I may have another one that might... well," she paused, her brows furrowing lightly. She was either a bit uncomfortable with the idea, or she didn't know how to put it into words. She pushed a sigh through her nose before she glanced back towards the water.

“I may have found a way to speed things up like the boss wants," she finally answered, keeping her gaze out at the ocean, and throwing back the rest of her drink.

Kas lifted an eyebrow, unsure whether he was more intrigued by the idea itself or the fact that he was sensing some reluctance about it. "Care to let me in on your brilliance?"

Her brows furrowed as she swirled her empty cup in her hand. “Well, you know how Ana has that large facility, right?" she began, finally glancing back towards Kas. “I was talking with her the other day when I went to visit, and... well, she's thinking about renting out one of the rooms she has. She needs the income; we all know that, and as much as I'd like to help with that, she won't accept it without being rightly suspicious. And I don't want to foist anything upon her that she won't accept or will make her uncomfortable."

“We also both know how uncomfortable Ryk is at the apartment. It has nothing to do with the both of us, but..." she hesitated, there, her eyes narrowing at Kas as if she were trying to read something off of him. If she found it, she didn't say, but she did continue, “I know he doesn't like being in places like the Cloyster. They make him uncomfortable and it stresses him out more than he lets on."

“I was thinking that, we convince him to see if Ana will rent out a room to him. I think he might be comfortable there. You've seen how relaxed he is when he's helping out there, how he doesn't seem so stressed, right?" she questioned, arching a brow in his direction. It was obvious these were things that she wouldn't necessarily be saying about Eryk unless she was at least comfortable enough. And she seemed to be enough so with Kas at the moment. That or she was a light drinker despite all of her bravado, and she was already being influenced by it, a bit.

Kas considered this. It was definitely true that Ryk didn't seem totally comfortable in a swish, modern place like their apartment, and even though neither of them had really brought their lifestyles home, so to speak, they had a certain... busy way of being that he recognized probably wasn't ideal for a total introvert like Eryk was. Kas didn't think that was a flaw with any of them, just a personality difference. He'd sort of figured they'd all muddle through it doing the best they could not to complain or make things worth complaining about, since that was what they'd been told to do.

But... if Ana was really looking to rent out space in her place, that might actually work out. From a mission perspective, which Cy seemed to barely be paying lip service to at the moment, it'd be a hell of a gamble if they made it happen. There was a chance the simple closeness afforded by domesticity would give them the answers they were after much faster—hell, he knew way more about Cy and Ryk both than he would have if he hadn't been sharing housing with them. Even just incidental shit could be useful, but some important things he'd learned that way, too.

In a way, it would make his mission harder, since he still wasn't sure what his in was going to be with all this Project Nebula stuff and as his technical superior, Ryk was a good angle to have cultivated, but... it probably wouldn't hurt if the guy loosened up a little, either.

Humming, Kas drained the rest of his drink and picked up the rum bottle stuck in the sand between them, amused when Diva tracked the motion, as though she were waiting for him to try pouncing on Cy or something. Some pokémon were like that, though; he could hardly be offended. He didn't bother to mix his drink this time, just drinking the rum straight instead.

"That would either work really well or completely blow up in our faces," he noted with a trace of amusement. "It does make you sound a bit like a matchmaker, though." He knew, of course, that this wasn't Cy's primary intention, but he did wonder, sometimes, if she might not have the seed of a thought in the back of her mind shaped that way.

She barked a short laugh, then, surprising Diva a bit as the lycanroc stood almost ready to fight. She tapped the lycanroc's nose lightly, causing Diva to twitch her nose. “Behave, Diva. He's not going to do anything. It's Kas," she spoke, as if to reassure Diva that he wasn't going to do anything. Diva rolled her eyes, but obliged, and curled up on the other side of Zero, perhaps to be out of sight.

“If it blows up in our faces, I'll take the blame for it and say it was my idea. It technically is, after all," she muttered softly, her brows furrowing as her lips pursed. She seemed to shake some thought from her mind, though, and a light smile at least planted itself on her lips. “But I think it might be worth it. They're both so awkward that they just might mesh well together. And I don't mean from a matchmaker's perspective. She said she's never really had friends before, and neither has Ryk. I'm... basically the only one he has," she muttered the last part softly that Kas almost missed it.

“I think it'll work really well in that sense. They compliment each other and I think they can both appreciate that about each other. They might even become..." she paused there, her eyes widening for a fraction before she shook her head. “It might achieve the effect the boss wants."

"Would it be so bad?" he asked quietly, quite confident he knew what she'd been about to say there. "Don't get me wrong; Ryk's mentioned some stuff about your family and I think I've guessed some other things, so I don't say this lightly." He wasn't an idiot—he knew the signs of an abusive childhood when he saw one, and he was willing to bet theirs had been particularly hellish. Was probably still ongoing, in some ways. But he hadn't made it through a bunch of law enforcement and analysis training not to pick up on what it meant, when they trailed off at certain times, maintained a certain level of distance with people who weren't each other. They were trying to protect everyone involved, likely because they really believed their family would interfere if anyone got close.

Hell, for all he knew, it would happen that way. And in any case he had no intention to push. Only to try and understand as well as he could. "But to just... have a friend or two, you know? It doesn't have to be a big production—you could pass it off to the family as coworkers, or a mission, or whatever. But I really don't think human beings can live as alone as you two seem to be trying. Not anything worth calling a life, anyway."

Kas was aware that might sound harsh, so he used a soft tone to say it. He wasn't trying to crticize or offend, after all, and the last thing he wanted was to make her feel bad.

There was a wry smile on her face, then. “A life?" she stated, huffing almost as if she were in slight disbelief. “I don't think we've ever really had one, Kas. Don't think we've ever had a choice," she murmured softly, taking a deep breath as she did. “But... I think you're right. It wouldn't be so bad for him. He's... Eryk's the kind of person who thrives when he's allowed to actually care about people. It's part of who he is, but..." she trailed off, her lips pursing into a fine line.

“He doesn't have very many people to care about except for me. And even that hasn't been good for him, all things considered. I think I've just made things worse for him by being his fiancée," she stated, turning her attention to Kas for a moment. She was regarding him with a strange look, something almost melancholy and hopeful before it disappeared. She seemed to drop the subject, though, when she next spoke.

“So, if the plan succeeds, and Eryk manages to rent one of Ana's rooms, what should we do with his?"

Kas accepted the change in topic, even as he noted that she hadn't included herself in all the talk of friends being good for a person. He'd decided he wouldn't be pushy, and he meant to stick to it. None of this was really the kind of thing he should be getting involved with anyway.

"Jungle gym," he declared jokingly. "Oh, or we can get one of those inflatable bounce houses in there."

She arched an eyebrow at him in what seemed to be disbelief, but there was also some humor behind it if the smile on her face was anything to go by. “You do realize that if we did get an inflatable bounce house in there, you wouldn't fit, right? You're too big," she stated, chuckling lightly.

“And I don't want to be the one to explain to the firefighters why my friend is stuck inside of the bouncy house. Or why we even have one," she stated, clearly joking with him.

Kasimir harrumphed with false offense, entirely ruined by his grin. "I might be part palm tree, but I'm flexible, you know. I could fit into a room-sized bounce castle. I'd be more concerned that Diva here would chew on it while I was inside, deflating it on purpose and leaving me to suffocate." He waggled his eyebrows at both trainer and pokémon.

"And that'd be tragic. I'm too pretty to die so young, you know." Tsking, he shook his head mournfully, as if imagining the prospect.

Cyrilla's cheeks puffed lightly as if she were trying to hold back a laugh, but ended up failing. She was laughing, perhaps a bit too hard, that she snorted a few times, bringing a hand to her face as it turned a bit pink in embarrassment. Diva merely nodded her head as if agreeing with Kas about the deflating it on purpose part.

“I can almost see the headlines now, Genius pretty boy dies by suffocation in a bouncy house. It is pretty tragic when you think about it," she stated, grinning lightly in his direction.

Kas nodded, trying for solemnity but failing. Rolling over onto his stomach, he refilled his glass again, this time offering the bottle over to Cy as well. Taking a sip, he added: "Kasimir Rheinallt, 25, noted local philanderer, died Tuesday when an overenthusiastic pokémon owned by his roommate and coworker, the sly and charming Cyrilla Niav, 23, chewed through the side of the bounce castle they'd recently had installed at their apartment. Local authorities believe the death to be accidental, saying Mr. Rheinallt, who was a spectacular idiot, though also spectacularly handsome, suffocated after attempting to exit the castle through an opening he really had no business crawling through in the first place. When asked to offer comment, the stunning-yet-merciless Ms. Niav only said: 'I told him he was too big for bouncy houses.' More at 10."

He winked, adding to the ridiculousness of his fake news report, and knocked back another swallow of rum. "Must've missed my calling in journalism, you think?"

Cyrilla was laughing through most of his fake news report. She took a deep breath once she was able to, and shook her head. “I don't know about that; I think you still have a chance," she stated, taking the bottle of rum and pouring herself another drink. Diva made a light huffing noise, though, looking slightly displeased, but was interrupted when Zero dragged his tongue across her face. She growled at him, causing Cyrilla to shake her head softly at the two.

“But I did tell you, you were too big for bouncy houses. We should definitely get one." She offered up her cup, though, as if toasting him. “To us, always scheming with or against each other."

He clinked his against it with a soft ha. "For my sake, I'm hoping it's mostly with."

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Eryk Nero Character Portrait: Kasimir Rheinallt Character Portrait: Aidan Klein Character Portrait: Nevena Solomon
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#, as written by Aethyia


July 17th
Downtown Cinnabar - Afternoon - Sunny
Aidan Klein


It wasn't entirely unlike watching a train wreck in slow motion. Or maybe bacteria bumping against each other under a microscope or something.

Apparently at some point, Nero had decided he needed help with his social skills. Not an entirely unreasonable thing to want help with, sure, though typically Aidan would have recommended... well, not this. Maybe therapy or something—shit knew the kid could probably use it for other reasons, too. But somehow Rheinallt had been appointed to help him out. On its own this wasn't that weird either—the guy was charming in a way Aidan could recognize but not emulate, and his facility with people probably came from understanding them, rather than pure unexplainable instinct or something, like some people had. It meant he'd be able to teach.

But then Doc had wanted to be involved, too, and since it was work hours that meant he was along for the ride, and here they were downtown and he wasn't exactly sure what was going to happen. Kasimir had suggested lunch first, which seemed reasonable, so they were all arrayed around an outdoor café table now, working their way through food and drinks.

"Okay so I know I agreed to help with this and all," Rheinallt said, gesturing vaguely with a cheese-covered french fry, "but if I taught you everything I know about getting along with people we'd be here... longer than any of our patience would tolerate. So maybe you could both explain to me exactly what you're hoping to work on here?" He took a large bite from the fry and glanced back and forth between Doc and Nero.

Nero was regarding Rheinallt with a flat look, one that probably meant he was thinking. Doc, however, seemed to furrow her brows as she chewed thoughtfully on one of the fries. “I guess I'd like to know how to not make a fool of myself," she spoke softly, pursing her lips in Rheinallt's direction. “For instance, I mistook Aidan for a Farfetch'd driver when we first met," she murmured, dropping her gaze somewhat as she shifted in her spot.

“I think that's a good start, right?" she stated, looking somewhat hopeful. Nero, however, shook his head.

“Not to be so blunt," Nero finally responded, taking a bite out of his nachos.

Aidan took a bite of his sandwich, flicking his eyes back to Rheinallt, who sighed. He could understand why—those were one very vague and one very specific—but hard to act upon—direction. Not to mention Doc and Nero were wildly different cases. Not opposite, exactly, but definitely not the same.

"Good grief," he muttered under his breath. "Okay, uh..." He pinched the bridge of his nose between his forefinger and thumb. "Both of those problems fundamentally start with observation. You need to be able to figure out what people are like basically, and you need to be able to pick up on nonverbal cues in the moment that will tell you how they're reacting to what you're doing. So you have that much in common at least. Sort of. I guess we can start there."

That made sense. Bluntness was relative—knowing when he was being too blunt with someone would probably help Nero. Should also help Doc remember to stop rambling, if she recognized the signs that the other person wanted to say something. Though really he thought both of them didn't have 'problems' with people so much as their personalities were just a little different. Neither of them bothered him any, for instance.

"Okay so... Sis. What, exactly, made you think Aidan was a Farfetch'd driver? I have to admit I'm... not really seeing it." Rheinallt grinned to take any edge out of the comment, but it seemed to be a genuine inquiry.

“Oh, well," she sputtered a little as she glanced down at her hands. “I've used the service before and most people who've picked me up always sort of looked like Aidan," she spoke all in one breath. Her face tinged a bit with a pink hue, but she took a drink of her water and laughed a little nervously.

“I think it was mostly just the shades and cigarette, really. I didn't expect him to be... well, him," she continued.

Aidan snorted softly, swallowing his bite of sandwich before he inadvertently choked on it or something. That was her whole basis for thinking so? It was kind of funny to him, actually, somehow perfectly characteristic of who Doc was—she was an absolutely brilliant researcher, he had no shred of doubt at that, but she seemed to have trouble turning that native sharpness to other enterprises.

"On a surface level that's not terrible," he admitted. "I don't dress like what people typically think of when they picture an NTR administrator, but I don't look like most grunts, either, and that was what you were expecting." He tilted his head. "But that there's half your problem. You were expecting something in particular, and so you got into a mode of thinking where you were making comparisons between what you were actually seeing and different sets of archetypes in your head. Everyone does it, but the trick to being good at observation is to only ever do that on purpose, and to try and look at important things with fresh eyes all the time."

He glanced at Rheinallt, lifting an eyebrow. "You mind?"

"Not at all," the other man said with a grin. "Even I'm interested to hear what the human lie detector has to say about observing."

Aidan rolled his eyes. "That's a dumb name," he said simply. People did call him that, though. He chose not to dwell on it. "Anyway." Fishing his packet of cigarettes out from his pocket, he took the sunglasses from off his head and laid both on the table. "Looking a little closer at the same things... what do you see?"

Rheinallt smirked, seeming to know the answer, but left it a moment to see if either of the others would say anything.

Doc stared at the sunglasses a little, head tilting to the side as if she were inspecting them. Nero merely looked like he was glaring at them. “Your cigarettes aren't from around here. You can't get those here. I've seen them mostly in Saffron and Celadon City, though," he spoke, finally. He didn't seem to know much about the glasses, though, as his eyes stayed glued to them.

Doc looked vaguely surprised, as if she hadn't known that. Given that she didn't smoke, or drink, she probably didn't. “The glasses, they're Flygons, right?" she stated, arching a brow in Aidan's direction. “A lot of professional battlers and gym leaders wear this type. Especially the ones who are specific to fighting-types and water-types," she stated, listing off the things she knew about the glasses.

Aidan was surprised she knew of the pro-battling connection; he filed the information away into his own set of observations about Doc herself before nodding. "You're both exactly right. So now you have to put it back in context. You've just been approached on the dock by someone who seems to know who you are, on your way to a new job with NTR. He's not dressed any particular way, but he imports his cigarettes from elsewhere and wears the kind of sunglasses professional battlers tend to like. What's he most likely to be?" He shrugged, picking both items up off the table and replacing them where they went.

It was not, of course, impossible that someone like that could drive for Farfetch'd, but there was a subtle implication in both observations taken together: the person in question was financially comfortable in a way the average Farfetch'd driver wasn't. That might not be fair, but it was fact. And observations inherently dealt in statistics like that.

Rheinallt nodded. "And as it happens, noticing stuff like that can sometimes provide good topics of conversation, too. You seemed to know a lot about the sunglasses, Sis. That's the kind of thing you can chat with a stranger about in a casual setting like a bar or party or whatever. One of the tricks to stuff like this—and Ryk, you can use this too—is to ask questions instead of making statements. So even if I had a pretty good guess that Aidan here was the Aidan Klein, undefeated former pokémon champion of Kanto, I wouldn't just go up to him and say as much. I could get at it less bluntly. Something like..."

He turned to Aidan, body language clearly asking him to play along. "Hey man, are those the Flygon F9s?"

Deciding to humor him, Aidan nodded slightly. "Good eye; yeah, they are."

"They work as well as everyone says they do? I've been looking to get a new pair. Island's damn bright, but I don't want to lose them in the water on day one."

"Haven't had any issues," Aidan replied. "Water, though—you surf or something?"

Rheinallt grinned, then turned back to the others. "See, Aidan just did one of the things everyone should know how to do. He turned the conversation back around on me. Supposing he's not too enthusiastic about getting fawned over, it's exactly the right way to redirect before I manage to ask him about battling. Plus, it's flattering. Generally, people like it when you show interest in them, and let them talk about things they care about. Only if you can make it seem genuine, of course, but that's pretty true of anything."

“Oh, but that was brilliant, though. I couldn't do something like that even if I tried," Doc spoke, but she was smiling a bit. Nero, however, rolled his eyes lightly, and took a bite of his nachos. “I don't think I'll ever get to be that savvy, but I suppose I don't have to be," she continued, her smile brightening a bit.

“Hm," it was more of a grunt than anything coming from Nero, but it sounded as if he was agreeing with Doc.

“I think I just need to be more comfortable, and... learn how to not ramble so much."

Nero shrugged. “There are worse things than rambling, Solomon," he spoke, arching a brow in her direction. She huffed lightly, and nodded her head.

“I suppose you're right about that, but it would be helpful. Sometimes I just keep going and say things I shouldn't," she murmured, taking a drink of her water. “Like when I told Aidan he wasn't necessarily a sweetheart like you were but... and I'm doing it again," she stated, turning pink in the cheeks as Nero arched a confused brow in her direction.

Aidan rolled his eyes; Rheinallt burst out laughing.

"I guess recognizing it is the first step," he said, wiping an imaginary tear from the corner of one eye. "Look, Sis, it's like... conversations have a flow, right? That's what makes them conversations, as opposed to lectures: both people participate. Remembering to ask more questions will help if you also remember to wait for the answers."

Shrugging, Aidan added nonchalantly: "One of the things I used to do was pause for a sec every time I was about to start talking. Helped me catch myself from saying stupid shit a few times. Sometimes you just need to give your brain time to catch up with your mouth." He took another bite of his sandwich.

"That's a good one for you, too, Ryk. But even more importantly, you've got to learn the difference between a true thing and a thing you should say. They're not completely the same."

Doc chuckled lightly as she grinned at Rheinallt. “Then I suppose I have a bit of work ahead of me," she stated, causing Nero to roll his eyes.

“Not as much as I do," he muttered, taking the last bite of his nachos and washing it down. Doc chuckled again and nodded her head.

“I think we have a good chance, though, Eryk. Between the both of us, we'll get it right," she stated, sounding a bit optimistic. Nero arched a brow at her but shrugged his shoulders. His way of agreeing, perhaps. He shrugged a lot when he did.

"I've got more work to do here than the both of you put together," Rheinallt grumbled, but he didn't try to conceal his good humor about it. Aidan got the impression a lot of his demeanor was kind of a facade, but at the same time there was something at least basically genuine about it, and here he thought they intersected a bit.

Personally, Aidan wouldn't be surprised if he'd had to learn a lot of this the way they were. Social grace wasn't something everyone could perfect by any means—he'd learned enough to get by and been uninterested in anything further. Not that he didn't see the advantages. He just didn't think they were worth the sacrifices.

"It's not that bad," he replied, washing down his sandwich with a swig from the glass of soda sitting next to it. "You don't have to make them as good at this as you are. Shit, I don't think most people could be."

Rheinallt shrugged. "Was that a roundabout way of saying I'm charming?"

"No, but I don't reject the implication, I suppose."

He barked a laugh. "And that was what we in the business call 'damning with faint praise.' Way to shoot me down, Boss. Breakin' my heart over here."

"You'll live. And I told you not to call me boss."

“But you are charming, Kasimir," Doc replied after she'd manage to recover from the small bout of laughter. “Very much, so," she added, causing Nero to roll his eyes and take another drink of his water.

“You shouldn't tell him things like that. It'll go straight to his head and you'll never hear the end of it," Nero murmured against his glass. Doc seemed confused by his statement before it dawned on her that he wasn't being serious.

“Oh, well, still. I think Kasimir is very charming albeit a little silly sometimes. But again, it's part of his charm and it works very well for him," she continued, smiling as if she were proud of the things she'd just stated.

"Aaaaaaand there it is again. Y'know Sis, most people are satisfied by saying a thing once, instead of twice and with extra," Rheinallt was looking at her with amusement.

It was, in fact, a thing that Doc did. In fairness to her the reassertion wasn't always needless, but for the most part it was fairly extraneous by most standards. Then again, most conversations were full of extraneous things. Filler words, pauses, repetition. It wasn't a terrible thing.

"Why are the both of you doing this, anyway?" he asked them, fairly sure he knew but wanting to hear it in their own terms. Maybe that was why Doc's redundancy didn't bother him much: for him, most conversations were redundant to things he'd already picked up from observation, but that didn't mean that people actually saying what was on their mind was bad.

“Well, mostly so I'll stop doing things like that," she murmured softly, eyes falling to the table for a moment before they shifted to her cup. She picked it up and held it in her hands for a moment before taking a drink from it. “And I thought it might be useful to know how to get along with people. I know Kasimir said that no one pleases everyone, and I'm not trying to. I just thought that if I knew how to approach people better, I wouldn't necessarily make a fool of myself. I'm notorious for doing that," she stated, twirling the cup in her hand.

Nero shrugged, though. “Mostly so that I don't unintentionally screw things up by saying something that'll offend someone. Certain people, at least," was his simple reply.

Nero's reasons, he could understand, with a sensitive mission like his still ongoing. His file had... overstated his people skills considerably. Aidan wasn't sure why, because it certainly wasn't something he'd misrepresent himself. That guy was a lot of things, but generally speaking dishonest and overambitious weren't among them.

Something better thought about later, though. It probably came back to what it always did: the Kogas pulling strings.

He could only scratch his head a bit, though, when he considered Doc's answer. "I dunno where you're getting this idea that you 'make a fool of yourself,' Doc. Everyone one makes the occasional observational error, and there's really nothing wrong with the way you talk or anything." He shrugged. "If you're in it for yourself, go for it, but if you're worried about offending people or some shit, I think that's all or mostly in your head."

"He's not wrong," Rheinallt replied. "Some people even find mannerisms like yours to be cute for their own reasons, and prefer someone earnest and excitable like that."

Doc's face turned a deep shade of red, and she turned her attention towards the cup in her hands. She seemed more interested in staring at it than anyone else. “I'm not so sure about that," she murmured softly, but shook her head. Nero glanced in Doc's direction but shook his head. “But this was interesting and a little fun," she stated, smiling a bit. She still didn't look up from her cup, though.

“Interesting, I'll give you that. Fun... perhaps for Kas," Nero spoke, turning his attention towards Rheinallt and regarding him with a flat stare.

Rheinallt only smiled, in a way he supposed was meant to be vague and mysterious. Aidan saw right through it—he was more than a little amused, to be sure.

"Who knows?" he said, lifting his shoulders in a nonchalant shrug. "Finish your lunches, and we'll move onto actually talking to people."

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Eryk Nero Character Portrait: Kasimir Rheinallt Character Portrait: Cyrilla Niav Character Portrait: Anastasia Asher Character Portrait: Nevena Solomon
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July 19th
Ana's Home - Late Afternoon - Warm
Nevena Solomon


Nev was all too happy to lend a hand with Eryk's move. Apparently he had decided to leave the Cloyster and found a room at Ana's place. She thought it was rather adorable that she'd offered Eryk a room. Nev might not have been observant, but she didn't have to be when Eryk expressed his discontent whenever he entered and left the Cloyster. He looked happier when he wasn't there, even at the office he seemed to prefer it.

They were lucky that today wasn't so hot and humid. It might have been warm, but it was tolerable. Nev had dressed for the occasion; a pair of khaki cargo capris and a plain white t-shirt. She'd worn a pair of slip-on shoes so that the laces wouldn't get caught on anything. Eryk, however, seemed to be dressed in a simple linen shirt that had sleeves down to his elbows. He never seemed to like exposing much skin, it seemed. From the scars on his face, Nev could only assume that he had more that he didn't like people seeing, or just wasn't comfortable with exposing skin in general.

His pants were a dark grey, though, almost smoky in color and a pair of work boots. He was currently lifting the mattress to his bed along with Cyrilla. She didn't seem to have the same reservations as Eryk did. She was wearing a grey racerback tank top and a pair of black capri leggings. Like Nev, she'd opted for slip-on's rather than laced shoes.

Kas left the truck carrying the small dresser by himself; Aidan had wanted to come, but he had to work today, and he seemed a little hesitant about meeting Ana, too, for whatever reason. "Up we go, I guess," he said, shifting his grip a bit. It seemed to be more awkward than heavy, though. He'd opted for a sleeveless shirt with wide armholes and athletic shorts, hinting at a large number of tattoos. His whole arm was covered by what seemed to be a tribal-style Rayquaza, snaking up the length of his limb. Its head disappeared beneath fabric, though, so she couldn't see the full design.

Ana, not really suited for carrying heavy things at all, was still doing her best to help, holding a few small loose items. She wore a slightly-oversized t-shirt dress with a cubone graphic on it, and artful rips on one side near the hem. Her boots seemed to be new, a lot like her others, but with a slight heel to them, and her hair had been pulled forward into braided twintails with black ribbons tied into delicate bows.

"There's a couple bags left in the truck," she said, nodding to it, "but I think this can be the last trip."

Huffing lightly to herself, Nev moved towards the moving truck to peer inside. Eryk didn't have a lot of things, surprisingly enough. Most of his furniture was new; he'd had it moved in the day before, but he still needed to set it up. And put the mattress on the bedframe since it was the only piece of furniture he'd brought with him. He didn't seem to have very many clothes, either, which were piled into three duffle bags, it seemed.

Those, Nev could carry. She wasn't physically strong like the others seemed to be, but that didn't stop her from wanting to help.

Once they were done moving all of Eryk's things in, Nev smiled a little to herself, wiping off the beads of sweat from her brow. “I think that's everything," she stated, peering back into the moving truck to ensure they had taken everything down. Eryk nodded his head as he glanced towards Kasimir and Cyrilla.

“Thank you for helping," he stated, glancing back towards Nev as well.

“Not a problem, Ryk. It was worth it since we get to have some of Ana's cookies and tea," she stated, grinning up at Eryk. He rolled his eyes and shook his head, causing Nev to chuckle softly. Sometimes they reminded her more of siblings than anything, but she wasn't going to say anything. People fell in love with the strangest people sometimes. Not that Nev could even say that she's loved someone before. She'd crushed on people, but nothing really came of it.

She blinked, though, and pushed the thought away. Now was not the time for her mind to wander. “It was no trouble at all, Eryk. I'm glad these weak muscles could help out somehow," she stated, earning a light snicker from Cyrilla. Eryk merely pursed his lips together in confusion before shaking his head.

"I think you've still got me beat," Ana said with a little smile. "Come on then; cookies are almost done." She looked a touch winded, cheeks pink from exertion, but she led the way down the stairs with a light tread, and ushered them all into the kitchen, where the smell of baking cookies permeated even more heavily than through the rest of the house.

There were enough stools at the island for everyone, and Ana flitted about her kitchen, bringing down a full set of cups and saucers to match the teapot sitting on a small towel on the island. Steam curled from the spout; it seemed to have a softer, richer scent, not overly sweet.

Their hostess was stymied, though, when she opened one of her cupboards to bring down a serving tray for the cookies. "Oh, um... I don't suppose one of you tall people would mind helping me get that down?" It was ludicrously higher-up than she'd be able to reach—maybe she normally used a step-ladder or something.

"I was born for this moment," Kas declared dramatically, hopping off his stool to retrieve the item, carefully stepping around Ana to do it before handing the thing over with a wink. "And hey, you have your very own live-in tall person now, too. Think of the convenience."

Ana gave him a gentle whack with the serving tray. "Now you're being silly," she accused, glancing at Eryk and smiling with a touch of the awkwardness that never seemed to leave her. "I promise I won't make you do that kind of thing all the time."

Nev chuckled at the antics about the same time Cyrilla did. It was cute, in a way. Eryk didn't seem to mind, though, and shrugged his shoulders. “I wouldn't mind," he responded casually, causing Cyrilla to huff lightly.

“Ryk lives to help, Ana. It's fine," Cyrilla stated shaking her head lightly. Nev smiled, though, and regarded the four others. They were much younger than her; it was kind of hard not to think about it, but it was also obvious in so many ways. The way the seemed to joke with each other so easily was interesting. It was nice. Eryk rolled his eyes, but he didn't seem to deny it, either.

“It's nice, though," Nev stated as she glanced in Eryk's direction. It was sweet of him to offer her the help when she needed. Some part of Nev wondered if he was like that with everyone, or if it was just Ana in particular. It was probably a little of both.

Ana had turned away to retrieve her cookies from the oven; it looked like she'd made several different kinds, including chocolate chip, oatmeal raisin, and something a little more exotic that smelled a little... spicy?

"Oh, what are those?" Kas asked, clearly picking up on the same thing as he made his way back to his stool, between Cyrilla and Nev.

"Brown butter bourbon spice!" Ana replied, smiling brightly. "I thought I'd try something new since I know some of you like more... adventurous flavors, I guess. But I also made these other ones in case they weren't very good," she admitted. She transferred the cookies to a cooling rack first, then poured everyone's tea, setting out sugar, milk, honey, and so on for those that wanted to doctor their cups.

"By the way, does anyone here actually prefer coffee? I can keep that in mind for next time, or even just make some now; it's not an inconvenience or anything."

"Either's good with me," Kas replied with a shrug. "But if we're having cookies with whiskey in them, I wouldn't mind some coffee with."

Eryk shook his head, seemingly fine with the tea. “I wouldn't mind some, either. Please and thank you!" Cyrilla stated, smiling brightly at Ana.

“None for me, thank you. As delicious as they smell, I'm afraid I can't eat anything spicy. I'm not... well, I can't handle spicy very well," Nev replied, smiling a little nervously. The last time she'd tried eating something spicy, it felt like her mouth had lost all feeling to it and it felt like she was going to pass out. She wasn't so accustomed to pain that way, even if it wasn't particularly painful. Just unpleasant, really.

“Oh, but Nev, you're missing out! Spicy things are the best," Cyrilla stated, her brows raised in what looked like surprise. “But I don't think they're that kind of spicy. You should give them a try," she stated, glancing in Ana's direction. “Right, Ana?"

"Well it's supposed to me more of a warm sort of spice, like gingerbread kind of," Ana said, pulling down a small bag of coffee beans and grinding them with what seemed to be a hand-grinder into a different container. "But there's plenty of other things to eat if you'd prefer not to risk it. I'd understand completely," she added, offering Nev a sympathetic smile.

"I can handle some spicy flavor, but past a certain point it starts to feel a little like dying and I'd—" Abruptly, her eyes widened, and she coughed a little into the crook of her arm. "Ah, sorry."

Kas, brows furrowed, tilted his head a bit. "You okay, Ana?"

She nodded, turning back around to fit the ground beans into the coffee machine. "Yeah, just kind of choked on air. I'm uh... kind of an idiot, but I promise you don't have to worry." Turned away, it was impossible to see her face, but her voice sounded a little wry, playful self-deprecation if anything.

Nev pursed her lips together, though. She was a little concerned, but if Ana said there was no need to worry, then Nev wouldn't push. She didn't want to come off too strong or anything. She was taking the lessons Kas was giving her and Eryk fairly seriously. And she remembered that one thing, at least. She smiled, instead.

“Well, if it's more like gingerbread, then I should try it. I can't handle the hot kind of spicy. The spice spicy, though, I can," she stated. It was strange, though. They were in the middle of July. Gingerbread she would usually attribute to winter time. They were still in the beginning of summer. Cinnabar had a way of feeling like it was always summer, though. Something crossed her mind, then.

“Oh!" she stated suddenly, “I just remembered something! I've seen these flyers around town about a summer festival called the Camellia Festival. Have any of you ever been? It sounds like it might be nice."

“I saw those, too, actually. Never been to this one, but I'm sure it can't be that much different than the ones in Fuschia or even Celadon or Saffron," Cyrilla spoke, shrugging her shoulders lightly.

"It might be similar," Kas said in a teasing tone, "but this one's going to have the beach. Summer festivals are a million times better with beaches. Real ones, not that little strip of imported sand that passes in Fuchsia." He grinned.

The coffee finished, so Ana poured cups for Cyrilla and he both before setting the cookies on the tray and pushing it towards all of them over the top of the island. She took up a stool herself next to where she'd stood, reaching forward only once everyone else had taken something and breaking one of the spice cookies in half, offering one to Nev.

"This way it's not a big deal if you can't eat it," she explained with a small smile. "As for the Camellia Festival, I know they put on a pretty big one here compared to others I've seen. I hear the fireworks are really top-notch. There's a lady who makes them here locally, she and her daughter. I've never been, though."

“Oh, but it sounds like it could be lovely," she stated, taking the offered cookie. “Thank you," she stated before taking a bite out of it. “This is really good," she spoke once she'd chewed her piece and swallowed. Cyrilla huffed lightly as she took a bite as well. “And I love fireworks. They always have the most interesting shapes. They're mostly different shapes of pokemon, but they're still interesting to watch."

“Why don't we all go, then?" Cyrilla stated, arching a brow in Eryk's direction. He furrowed his brows at her, though. “Ana's never been to one, Nev probably hasn't either," Nev nodded her head at that statement. She'd never been to a festival before, but she had seen fireworks and the like. “And Kas says that the better ones are ones with a real beach. I don't see why we couldn't all go and enjoy it together."

“It sounds like it'd be really nice. What do you three say?" Nev spoke, turning towards Kasimir, Ana, and Eryk. Eryk merely shrugged his shoulders.

"You're seriously asking me like I might refuse?" Kas asked, lifting an eyebrow and hiding his smile behind his cup as he took another sip of his coffee. "Of course I'm in. What about you, Ana?"

"Oh." Vague surprise registered on Ana's face. "You're asking me too? Uh..." She fidgeted a bit where she sat, looking down at her lap and then back up at the others. "I wouldn't mind trying, but... I'm not very good around crowds. I might have to leave early or something, if I get too... is that okay?"

“I don't think it's a problem, really. Eryk's like that, too. He can't stand crowds so if you need to leave early, I'm sure he wouldn't mind leaving with you and walking you home," Cyrilla stated, but it didn't sound like she was teasing Eryk. She had turned in his direction, arching a brow at him as daring him to deny what she'd just said. He rolled his eyes but nodded his head.

“It's true," were the only words he spoke before taking a bite out of one of the cookies.

“This is going to be fun! A summer festival with friends. It sounds really nice," Nev spoke, smiling a little as she took another bite of the cookie. Cyrilla huffed lightly as Eryk narrowed his eyes.

“We'll just have to see, now won't we?" Cyrilla stated, briefly making eye contact with Kasimir before turning her attention towards Ana. “And you'll need to get me a copy of your recipe for these cookies, Ana. They really are good and I'd like to try my hand at them!"

"I can do that," Ana replied. "And I'm glad you all like them. They were sort of an experiment." She seemed to relax considerably once it had been made clear that her discomfort wouldn't be getting in the way of anything.

Retrieving a notepad and pen from a drawer in the kitchen, she started writing down the recipe in elegant, almost calligraphic penmanship, though it was fairly quick, too. "Oh," she said after a moment. "This might be silly of me, but a lot of people wear yukata for this kind of festival. If Cyrilla and Nev would like, I have a bunch of them from various members of the family in a trunk in the basement. I'm sure there'd be plenty of options for either of you, if you wanted to try them out. Er. If you don't already have your own. I guess you probably would, huh?" She winced.

“I don't, actually," Nev laughed nervously. “I've never really had an occasion to wear one or even purchase one. I suppose I should have, though," she stated, smiling at Ana, though. “I would love to see what you have as far as they go. Oh, and... well, I don't exactly know how to wear one, either," she murmured softly. She didn't know how to wear one mostly because she'd never owned one.

Cyrilla, however, looked quite amused by the whole thing. “I would love to see what you have, Ana. I only have one yukata and it's currently stored away somewhere. I can't remember where, exactly," she stated, waving a dismissive hand in front of her face. “The festival isn't for another few days, though, so that will give us plenty of time to get everything sorted out."

Ana, clearly enthused by the prospect of helping, smiled broadly. "Then we'll do that! We can teach you how to put one on, Nev, don't worry. It's nowhere near as complicated as a kimono or anything."

Kas sighed dramatically. "Man... now I'm sure I'm just dreaming. Shame, because this has been such a good day, too."

At Ana's quizzical look, he chuckled. "Hey, don't blame me. I'm just a man, you know? Hearing I'm going to be going to a festival with three beautiful women in yukatas is kind of..." he gestured vaguely, a wolfish grin filling in the rest of the sentence.

Ana turned crimson, sputtering into her teacup with a soft squeak.

Nev coughed lightly into her hand, feeling her own face heat up at Kasimir's statement. Cyrilla, however, seemed to have found it amusing since she was laughing. Eryk merely furrowed his brows, though, and shook his head.

“Don't worry, Ana. He's harmless, really," Cyrilla stated once she seemed to calm her laughter. “And you and Eryk will be in yukatas, too, Kas. Not just us," she stated, shaking her head lightly. “We'll all be stunning, I'm sure, but for now," she continued, reaching over to grab another cookie, “we should be enjoying Ana's homemade cookies!"

Nev smiled and nodded her head, taking another cookie for herself, this time. Maybe she should tell Aidan about it, too? He might want to go.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Eryk Nero Character Portrait: Kasimir Rheinallt Character Portrait: Aidan Klein
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July 25th
Cinnabar Island - Early Evening - Clear
Eryk Nero


Eryk narrowed his eyes slightly. He didn't understand why he couldn't just wear the one yukata he had in his closet. According to the others it wasn't acceptable attire for the festival, and he needed something different. It meant that he had to go buy one, and he was currently with Kasimir and Aidan. He didn't have much of a choice, really. He was told that he needed a new yukata because apparently his had holes in it. And that just wasn't acceptable to most people. He could have had it tailored; there were enough people in town that could have mended them easily enough. Cyrilla said that he needed a new one to match, though.

Match what, he didn't know.

“Couldn't you have just picked something out for me?" he decided to ask. Eryk wasn't picky about what kind of yukata he wore. He'd had to wear different colored ones, styles and what not for other missions he'd had to partake in. Whatever Kas would have picked, would have been fine by Eryk. Even if it might have been a loud color since Kasimir seemed to enjoy things like that.

"Oh come on, Ryk, where's your sense of adventure?" Kas protested, though it wasn't much of one, really, considering the broad smile on his face the entire time. "This is all part of the festival experience, you know?" He opened the door to a shopfront, ushering the other two inside.

Aidan blinked. "And why am I here again?" he asked, lifting an eyebrow at Kas.

"Because Sis thinks it'd be nice if you came along, and I know you don't own one of these."

The other man sighed quietly.

Eryk sighed heavily as he shook his head, walking inside of the shop and pursing his lips together. “I don't have a sense of adventure; I thought that was obvious," he deadpanned before glancing around. There was material strewn about on tables, a few already-made yukata, and a few other things he didn't pay much mind to. Eryk would admit that Aidan was at least free to have said no. It's not like this was his mission; he wasn't the one asked to get close to Anastasia.

“Is there some particular way we have to do this? Can I just choose the first thing?" he asked, though he wasn't entirely sure why he was asking. He could, technically, just grab one of the made yukata and be done with it.

"Aw, c'mon man. If you're stuck doing it, you might as well try to make the most of the experience. Besides, we're probably going to have to check what they have in for tall people. Day of isn't ideal for buying, but if we just need quick adjustments I'm sure they can do them here." He flagged down a shop clerk, explaining that two of them needed new yukata for the festival.

The older man running the counter seemed to measure them with his eyes for a moment, and nodded slightly. “I've got a few ones left that should be in the right size range," he explained, bobbing his head amiably. “Wait right here."

He disappeared into a back room, returning with armfuls of fabric. Traditionally, menswear for this kind of thing was more subdued, in darker, stronger colors, but some of these had patterns to them, too. “Feel free to take a look. There's a few more back there with slightly different colors or patterns, so if something's close but not quite there, just ask!"

Eryk furrowed his brows, but inclined his head when the old man gave them some options to choose from. The darker colors all seemed to be decent enough, but Eryk pursed his lips together when he took a closer look. Briefly, he wondered if he was supposed to match the people he was going with. Turning his attention towards Kas, he decided to ask.

“Are we supposed to match with everyone else for festivals like this? The ones back in Fuschia didn't really have those kinds of things, but not every festival is the same," he stated. That much, he at least knew. Had to know given that some of his missions required it of him. Cinnabar was, perhaps, one of the few places he hadn't known about. He didn't think Kas would, either, but he supposed it didn't hurt to at least ask.

Kas shrugged. "To my knowledge, the only people who match on purpose are dates. Never seen a group do it before, and it's definitely not mandatory for anyone. Hell, there will be plenty of people there in normal street clothes, just not you. Since you're doing this properly." He flashed another broad smile before turning to the third member of their little group. "What about you, boss? See anything that strikes your fancy?"

"Uh..." Aidan was looking at the material in front of him like it was completely foreign to his experience. "Red's probably out. I look stupid in it." He pointed at his hair. "Other than that I've got no clue."

Eryk supposed Aidan had a point, but he couldn't say for certain. He didn't know how things like that worked, after all. He wasn't exactly fashion savvy, and had left most of that to Cyrilla or someone else who was. His entire wardrobe, actually, had been recently updated by Cyrilla when he'd moved into Anastasia's place. Something about needing new clothes or something like that; he couldn't exactly remember. Shrugging his shoulders, he glanced back at the options.

“Why not just do a dark blue or stick with black?" Eryk stated, keeping his eyes on the choices, but directing the question at Aidan. He did, after all, wear mostly black. Eryk supposed it wouldn't be exactly a difficult choice if that was his choice of color or style.

Aidan nodded. "Was sort of thinking I might," he agreed after a moment, Shifting through the options before pausing. "Er... I can touch these, right?"

Kas laughed. "They're just clothes, guys. Different style, for sure, but we're not talking ancient wedding kimono here or something. They're made to be worn; your hands aren't going to do anything bad."

Nodding, Aidan resumed his shifting, Kas checking his phone briefly and then sending a text, it looked like. Casting his eyes over the pile, he hummed and pulled a deep purple one from the stack. "Feeling bold?" he asked with a grin. "It's mostly black, I guess, but this aubergine is nice." It was a subtle striping, of sorts, the purple so dark it nearly matched the black, but would be visible as different in any amount of light.

"You would use the word aubergine," Aidan replied with a snort. He squinted at the garment, though, and shrugged. "But sure, that's fine."

That seemed easy enough, Eryk supposed. Now he just needed to find his own yukata. The problem was, nothing really seemed to be catching his eye, so to speak. He wanted something plain that would do; the one he currently owned was a dark grey color void of any patterns. But there was something about the grey itself that he actually liked.

His eyes scanned the pile trying to see if he could find something similar. Furrowing his brows when he couldn't he sighed somewhat. Grey was not option, it seemed. There was, however, one that looked like a navy blue color. It was dark enough and if Aidan was going with a variation of purple, then Eryk supposed it would be fine if he had a blue. He picked it up and held it out in front of him.

“Will this do?" he asked, turning towards Kas.

Oddly, Kas checked his phone briefly before replying. "Hm. Blue's pretty standard, I suppose. What about a dark red, though?" He pulled another from the pile; this one did have a fair bit of grey to it in addition to the red. "Should bring out your eyes, if you're into that kind of thing." He winked, clearly having much more fun with this than either of the other two.

Eryk narrowed his eyes at Kas. “Ass," he spoke before taking the yukata into consideration. It was much nicer than the blue, but he wasn't entirely sure about it. He considered it for a moment longer before finally shrugging. It wasn't a bad choice, really, and if it was something Kas picked out, then he wouldn't have to worry about finding something himself. And it also meant that Kas couldn't poke fun of him for it since he was the one who chose it.

“Fine, it's nice enough," he stated, taking the yukata from Kas. He held it out in front of him to ensure that it was at least the proper length, frowning slightly when it was a bit too long. “Do they do adjustments here, too?" he asked. Kas might have mentioned it, but Eryk wasn't too sure. He was going to need to get it shorted just a bit so that he wouldn't trip over it if he decided to purchase it.

"Yep. Basic stuff can just be done while we wait." He flagged down the shop owner again, explaining what they needed done, and the old man happily collected the garments and the necessary measurements before shuffling back to the room in the rear of the store.

"So... this the first time you guys have done something like this? Ryk said Fuchsia ones are different, but what about you, boss?"

Aidan sighed. "Don't call me boss," he replied automatically. "And uh... yeah, I mean I've been to a few street festivals. Plainclothes, though. Nothing fancy." With a shrug, he crossed his arms together and leaned back against the wall, seemingly not impatient for the garments to be fixed. "I'm guessing you must've, though, because you didn't get one for yourself."

"Yeah, mine's back at the apartment," Kas said. "couple different shades of green, kinda bamboo-patterned."

"What? No hot pink?"

"No, but I do have a bright orange happi. You wanna borrow it?"

"Pass. Orange looks even worse on me than red does."

Eryk rolled his eyes at the conversation but... it felt oddly nice, he supposed. He wasn't sure how or why it did, but it did. “This is the first time going to a festival with friends, I suppose," he stated, shrugging his shoulders lightly without paying much thought to what he'd just said.

Maybe that's why it felt nice? Because... they were his friends in a way. Not that he'd ever fully acknowledge it; it was too dangerous of an acknowledgment and he was not going to do that to them. He didn't... he wasn't entirely sure, actually.

“And are you saying hot pink would look better on you than orange?" Eryk asked, turning his attention towards Aidan.

Kas barked a laugh, but Aidan rolled his eyes. There was a little smirk playing at the edges of his mouth, though. "You idiots don't understand. You both have dark hair, and that goes with anything. Now me, I can't wear anything in that family. Pink, red, orange... hell, even some shades of green look stupid. Why else would I wear this much black?"

"Honestly? I kind of thought you were emulating Gregorovich," Kas teased.

It was Aidan's turn to laugh here, though it was only a soft chuckle. "I guess that's a fair guess. The guy is the one who taught me to dress. Y'know, to look like a responsible adult instead of a member of a biker gang or something. Used to be a lot more chains involved."

Kas looked him up and down, expression thoughtful, but also clearly attempting to hide a grin. It wasn't working very well. "You know, I could see it. Is that bike in the mansion garage yours?"

Aidan nodded. "Yeah, actually."

Eryk huffed lightly and rolled his eyes. He supposed he could also see it, Aidan belonging to a gang of sorts. The bike, though, was interesting. Eryk mostly walked every where, never really seeing a need to drive. If he needed to get somewhere, he just used Orion in the spaces he could. The pidgeot was certainly big enough to carry Eryk, but it was very rare when he did.

“Suppose you'll be dressing up like it again when halloween rolls around. Might make for a good costume," Eryk chided, though it was in a good natured way, he supposed. “Though you might give Solomon a scare if you did," he added. He wasn't entirely so sure about that, though. She was a bit oblivious to some things, but he didn't think she scared easily. Nor would she find Aidan's chains or biker look intimidating.

"If Doc was busy, I could walk into the lab in drag and she wouldn't notice," Aidan replied dryly.

"Now there's an image."

The stream of banter was interrupted by the owner, who returned their adjusted garments to them, asking them to check for fit again. Everything seemed to be in order, though, so they paid, leaving with paper bags and slightly lighter wallets, metaphorically speaking.

"Hey boss, can we write this off as business expenses? You know, for the mission and all?"

"No."

“You didn't even buy anything, Kas. What are you complaining for?" Eryk stated. It was only Aidan and himself who bought something, and it wasn't like he needed to be reimbursed for it. “If you want to charge a finder's fee, I can pay you for that," he stated with a light shrug of his shoulders.

"Dear arceus, I think Ryk actually just told a joke." Kas looked up at the sky, making a show of squinting as if looking around for something. "I'm expecting flying piloswine next, for the record."

“Ass."

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Eryk Nero Character Portrait: Kasimir Rheinallt Character Portrait: Cyrilla Niav Character Portrait: Anastasia Asher Character Portrait: Aidan Klein Character Portrait: Nevena Solomon
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#, as written by Aethyia


July 25th
The Camellia Gate - Evening - Clear
Aidan Klein


As it turned out, wearing the yukata wasn't too hard. Aidan had elected for a pair of shorts underneath, but more than that wasn't necessary. The fold naturally sat about as low on the chest as a v-neck t-shirt would, and he'd never been one to really care about that sort of thing. The geta were different, but simple enough to walk in, so it wasn't like he could complain much.

Presently, he and the other two were standing off to one side of the arch that marked entrance into the ground that had been set aside for the festival: several blocks' worth of streets, from the look of it. Tourists were out in force, but so were the locals, and the attire ranged from the traditional, like their own, to t-shirts and khaki shorts to sundresses to business casual, from a few of the office workers who seemed to have just ended their shifts. There were all kinds of people, too: old, young, families, couples, groups of teenage friends, and so on; he supposed the composition might change a little as the night wore on, but at the moment it was quite the interesting mix.

Aidan passively filtered details as people passed; Nero and Rheinallt were talking about something, but he was only listening with half an ear right now. The smell of the flowers next to him was a little heady, but he didn't want to smoke or anything this close to the arch. He really needed to quit, anyway, as he periodically reminded himself.

It was easy to notice that they were drawing attention; he'd even seen a few female tourists snapping pictures that he thought were probably supposed to be discreet. They weren't, but it wasn't worth the effort of stopping them. He was nominally 'famous' and sometimes recognized. He supposed in this case it might be more the other two's fault than his, though, for the obvious reason that they were good-looking young guys in traditional clothing. The kind of thing a certain type of tourist would take a picture of, especially if they could claim the arch was the point.

Hopefully it wouldn't be too much longer until the rest of the group got here. He hadn't been sure about meeting the target, but if he was going to do it, this was about the most organic way to make it happen, so he'd figured he might as well get it over with. If she was ever part of Project Nebula, he'd have to then anyhow.

It wasn't much longer until they arrived. Doc looked to be chatting amicably with Niav who was grinning. They both turned their attention towards the other woman of their group, and waited on her reply for something. Niav rolled her eyes at the answer, but Doc seemed to find it funny. When she glanced in Aidan's direction, though, she waved excitedly as did Niav, though less excitedly.

“Hi, Aidan," she greeted, once they were close enough. “And you too, Eryk and Kasimir. You all look so nice!" she stated as she glanced in Nero and Rheinallt's direction. “Oh, wait, um, Ana, this is Aidan!" she introduced him as Niav chuckled lightly. “He's my supervisor."

Nero rolled his eyes, though, as Doc smiled at them.

She was tiny, Aidan decided.

Of course, this bit of information had been in the dossier. Intellectually, he'd understood that she was five foot one and a hundred pounds soaking wet, if that. But there was an inherent sort of fragility to her appearance, too, one that took something more than just being a small woman to produce. He wasn't sure what it was, but he set the thought aside for a moment when she made hesitant eye contact.

"Nice to meet you, Mr....?" She seemed unsure it was appropriate to address him as Doc had introduced him. Arceus, he was getting old, wasn't he?

Shaking his head faintly, Aidan extended his hand. "Doc's got it right," he said. "I'm just Aidan. Nice to meet you too, Ana."

She smiled, then, a bit of tension loosening in her frame, and she put her hand out in return. He took it very carefully, still quite cognizant of that impression she gave off. He'd heard people use expressions like 'dollfaced' for women before, but didn't think he'd ever met someone for whom it was so appropriate. Poor kid looked like she'd snap in half if you breathed too hard in her general direction, paper and porcelain. But her grip was firm, if far from aggressive, and when they let go, she was still smiling a little, as if she knew he'd been especially careful and was the faintest bit amused by it.

"You all clean up nice," he observed, nodding to Niav and Doc. "Mind the tourists, hey? Couple of them seem to be a bit too enthusiastic with the cameras today." He figured it was fair to warn them—a couple of giggling women snapping shots of them just standing around was one thing. Statistically, men were much more likely to get pushy about it, and while he had no doubt Niav could handle herself, he was less sure the other two would really know what to do.

Doc tilted her head in confusion as if she hadn't quite understood what Aidan had meant. “He means that if some of them get a bit pushy, it's okay to tell them no. And if they can't take no for an answer, well..." Niav started, trailing off at the end before arching a brow at Doc. “You have four capable people here to help you out." Doc's eyes widened as Niav explained before pursing her lips together.

“I don't think that'll be a problem, though," Doc stated, causing Nero to roll his eyes. Niav did the same before shaking her head.

“Well regardless, we all do look nice, and since it's Ana and Nev's first time at a festival, how about we go enjoy ourselves, hm?" Niav stated, crossing her arms over her chest.

“You do look nice, by the way, Anastasia," Nero stated as he moved a bit to the side, as if to allow the women to move in front of them.

Aidan had to suppress a soft snort as the girl's face went pink. "Th-thank you. You too," she replied, stride hitching slightly awkwardly as the group shifted. She clearly wasn't sure where she was supposed to walk, comparatively, but the streets were pretty wide, so eventually the group became a sort of amorphous blob.

Rheinallt took a couple broader steps to wind up next to Niav, leaning down to say something Aidan couldn't hear. That more or less confirmed that the two were in cahoots for some reason. He supposed it probably had to do with Nero; the guy was the target of at least half of their nonsense, with the other half being rather widely spread.

The festival itself had all the staples and then some: food stalls, games, souvenir stands, places to sit or congregate, and a lively atmosphere, backgrounded by a general buzz of noise given vague rhythm by street performers of various sorts. A few small pokémon were about as well, the generally harmless types that weren't required to be leashed at public events like this. Paper lanterns supplemented the dying light of the sun; the smell of frying things was strong on the air.

"Anyone have any preferences for what to do?" he asked, figuring he might as well inquire. Ana shook her head a little; Rheinallt only shrugged.

"You can pretty much see the options," he said. "Food at these is usually pretty good. I recommend the funnel cake if you have a sweet tooth, and the soft pretzels are aces even if you don't. They also do takoyaki, of course, and stuff like candy floss or whatever." He ticked the food off on his fingers; Aidan figured he must be hungry or something. "There's also lots of games, of course. Sometimes they have this weird one where you try to catch a magikarp with your bare hands, but there's more traditional stuff like ring toss too."

“Wait, how would you do that? Magikarp aren't very bright and they tend to just stay in one place. Wouldn't it be pointless? Doc asked when Rheinallt mentioned the game with magikarp. Nero arched a brow at her, though, and tilted his head slightly.

“Catching one with your bare hands isn't as easy as that," Nero seemed to explain. “They're slippery, and sometimes their scales can be a little rougher than normal. They don't have quite the same texture as a sharpedo would; that's more like sandpaper," he continued, furrowing his brows lightly.

“Oh, that sounds like it could be fun!" Doc stated, earning a light chuckle from Niav.

“Well we're here as a collective group, enjoying the festival together, so... maybe we should decide on something to do first. Maybe we can save eating for last and take a look at some of the games?" Niav suggested. Nero shrugged his shoulders as if he didn't care either way.

Considering that no one else had indicated a strong desire in any direction, Aidan was willing to go with it. "Works for me. Looks like over here we've got... darts, ring toss, some kind of speed-eating challenge, apple-bobbing, one of those things were you swing a hammer really hard to hit the bell... coupla guessing games, too, apparently." He shrugged. "Quick, someone pretend we have interests."

Anastasia giggled. "Um... I don't know if I'd be very good at any of those things. What are the guessing games about?"

"Usually the number of gumballs in a jar or something like that," Rheinallt replied. "If you get the closest of anyone on the night, you win the grand prize, which looks like it's... a gigantic stuffed azurill." he pointed, to where there was indeed a stuffed pokémon plush about the size of Ana herself.

Her eyes widened. "Well, I'll put in a guess, I suppose. Does anyone else want to?"

"I will, sure."

“I'll give it a try!" Doc stated. Nero shook his head, though, and didn't seem to want to participate.

“Eryk and I have always managed to get ourselves banned from things like that. We're really good at guessing things, apparently," Niav offered as way of explanation, shrugging lightly. “But by all means, do feel free to take a guess on my behalf," she stated, grinning in Ana and Doc's direction.

“You'd still be taking a guess, Cy, even if they did it on your behalf. Besides," Nero stated as he glanced over towards the stall, “they only get one guess. You'd have to make one yourself if you wanted to win that azurill." Niav rolled her eyes but was smiling as if she didn't really seem bothered by it.

“I'd still like to know what your guesses are, after I make my own, of course," Doc stated as she made her way towards the booth.

The rest of them sort of followed, stopping close enough that Aidan could see the thing they were guessing about: in this case, it seemed to be a large jar of marbles. The jar itself was about five gallons; Aidan did a little mental math that was bound to be less accurate than Rheinallt's, especially considering there were several sizes of marble involved. Still, he managed to ballpark it, and wondered how far off he was. Past a certain point, it was luck, of course; the margin of error was too big to get precision even if you knew the exact dimensions of the marbles involved.

The three that had elected to put in a guess each paid a small fee to do so, then wrote their guesses down on slips of paper, along with their names, and passed them in to the stall attendant. Unsurprisingly, Rheinallt was squinting at the jar, trying to measure diameters and ratios as accurately as possible, no doubt, before shrugging and scrawling a large 5300 on his paper. Ana's handwriting was too small for Aidan to see what she'd guessed, but she didn't seem to be attempting the actual math in the same way, which was fair enough, honestly.

Doc seemed to take a little bit of extra time with her guess. Her lips were pursed and it looked like she was chewing her bottom lip for a moment before her brows furrowed. Taking a breath, she finally seemed to write something down. She'd written 5877 down as her guess before handing the paper to the stall attendant. Smiling to herself, it seemed, she made her way back towards the others and arched a brow at Niav and Nero

“So, what were your guesses," she asked. Niav arched a brow before turning her attention towards Nero. He merely shrugged though, causing her to roll her eyes and gently tapped his forearm.

“Fifty five hundred," he stated, furrowing his brows in Niav's direction as he rubbed his arm. It didn't look like she'd tapped him too hard, though.

“Fifty one hundred and some loose change," Niav replied with a light grin. “What, it was a big jar but there were different sized marbles in there," she spoke when Nero gave her a questioning look.

"I think I went a little too high," Ana said with a rueful smile. "I guessed six thousand and one."

That probably was high, at least as far as Aidan could tell, but not outlandishly so.

"Anyway," Rheinallt said, stretching his arms up over his head. "What's next? Looks like they've got three-legged races going on over there. If we want to do that we should probably make it happen before all the light's gone; I can't imagine they'll stay open after dark." He grinned, waggling his eyebrows at the others. "What do you say, guys? Wanna live a little?"

"That's teams of two," Aidan noted. "We've probably got the best chances if we arrange by height."

"Yeah, but that's boring," Rheinallt replied, shooting a glance at Niav. "Don't optimize the chances of winning. Optimize for the most fun."

“What Kas said," Niav replied, a small grin pulling at her lips. “And if we want to optimize for fun," she continued, pausing only to glance at Aidan and the others, “then we should do it in pairs. That means you and Ana," she pointed to Nero and Ana, “you and Nev, and then Kas and myself. I think it'd be pretty fun that way." Nero furrowed his brows before glancing in Ana's direction and shrugging.

“I'd be okay with it," he stated in a nonchalant fashion.

“I don't know. It seems a bit unfair?" Doc stated. “I've never done a three-legged race before. At least not since elementary. I wouldn't want to..." she trailed off a bit as if she were unsure how to finish that sentence.

“But that's the point, Nev. You're doing it to have fun. You shouldn't worry about whether or not you'll be good at it. It defeats the purpose," Niav spoke, causing Doc to purse her lips together.

“Is that okay, though? I mean, the two of us against the four of them?" she asked, glancing in Aidan's direction.

Aidan snorted softly. "It's not like they're all a team against us, Doc. I think we'll do fine, if you don't mind having your ankle tied to mine." He arched an eyebrow, perfectly willing to opt out if she was less than comfortable with the idea. "I know you're not especially coordinated, if Balthazar's recent deaths are anything to go by, but something tells me we'll be okay against these losers."

"Hey," Rheinallt protested, then paused, glancing down at Niav. "That's probably kind of true actually." He shrugged.

Ana smiled, on the edge of a grin. "How about the actual losers have to buy the first round of snacks?"

"I like the way you think, kid."

The smile inched a little wider. "I like my funnel cake with cinnamon sugar, so you know what to get. You'll probably be full just from eating our dust, though," she declared.

Aidan couldn't help himself—he laughed outright. Something about the smack talk coming from such a tiny person was just too funny. He shouldn't be surprised, though—if she wasn't scared off by Nero's permanent grumpy face, she probably wasn't too intimidated by the way he looked either.

Niav started laughing too, and there was a strange snort that came from Nero. “Well, Kas, I guess we should be looking at getting some funnel cake with cinnamon sugar on it," Niav stated as if she were expecting the both of them to lose. Doc chuckled lightly at Ana's statement, but giggled a little when Aidan laughed.

“I'd like a deep fried twinkie, if the losers are already taking orders," Doc stated, earning a snort from Niav.

“And apparently deep fried twinkies. What about you, Aidan, what do you eat?" Niav stated, glancing in Aidan's direction and arched an amused brow.

"Well assuming I'm not stuffed with Ana and Nero's dust, I wouldn't mind a pretzel," he said. It wasn't too surprising that those two had accepted their inevitable loss. They were the worst height match by a fair margin, and unlikely to take this anywhere near seriously.

Normally he wouldn't either, but he figured it'd be rude to let Doc down, so making an effort it was.

The group headed over to the event booth, making their entries and receiving the scarves with which they were instructed to tie their ankles together. Perhaps appropriately, the one he was handed was purple. "You got a preference for sides, Doc?"

“Oh, um," she began, glancing down at her feet for a moment. “Well, I suppose since I'm left handed... I should do the left side?" she questioned as if she were unsure of which one to pick. She furrowed her brows, though, and shook her head. “I mean, the left side should be fine, right?" she stated, smiling a little awkwardly. Nero was already tying his and Ana's ankles together, it seemed. Niav seemed to be tying her's and Rheinallt's scarf around their ankles, probably due to her being the shorter of the two, and making it easier on them.

"Works for me," Aidan replied easily, moving to her right side and moving into a crouch. Carefully, he nudged her ankle over towards where his was, shifting a little to make it easier to tie them together, and wrapped the scarf firmly around several times, knotting it securely. It would actually be better if there wasn't too much give in it, after all.

Standing, he caught his balance. "This'll be easier if you put your right arm around me," he observed. "You don't have to, though. Would you mind if I put mine over your shoulders?" Their heights made that the best option, and they wouldn't jostle around as much if they weren't awkwardly bumping arms or whatever.

“Oh, sure, that's fine! Whatever will make it easier," she stated, seemingly having no qualms about either or. She wrapped her arm around him as best as she could before smiling a bit. “Like this?" she asked, adjusting her grip on him before moving a bit so he could, perhaps, do the same.

“Okay, so all I have to do is make sure I'm a little more coordinated than usual. Unlike with Balthazar," she stated, grinning up at him. “Let's make sure we don't have to eat Ana and Eryk's dust."

Despite himself, Aidan was a little surprised by the ease of her acquiescence. Not that it was really that extraordinary—Doc was a pretty agreeable person in general. Still, he blinked a moment before settling an arm around her shoulders, setting his hand on her bicep. "Right, so the trick is just to make sure we step together, at about the same pace and length. I'll shorten to match you, so just jog as normally as you can and I'll take care of the rest."

He felt himself smile a bit, wry as the expression had to be. "Gonna make the kids pay for my food this time." Gently, he nudged her towards the starting line, doing as he'd promised and letting her decide the pace. It was a little awkward at first, but not so bad.

The other four were already lined up at the start, and after making sure everyone was ready, the attendant running the attraction dropped the starting flag, and they were off.

Doc stepped forward first, holding a little tightly on to Aidan as they moved. Nero and Ana seemed to be in the lead so far, but Doc had a strangely determined expression on her face. “Oh, no, you're not getting ahead that easily. Come on, Aidan, let's show those losers what we've got," Doc stated as she seemed to move just a bit faster. She was smiling, though, and it seemed like she was having a bit of fun.

He huffed a chuckle, moving apace with her and encouraging her to go a little faster once they'd found their rhythm. It was a balance, trying to increase their pace enough to catch up but not so quickly that they fell out of synch. "All right, little faster," he said. "We're catching up."

Behind them, the other two hit the ground, Rheinallt laughing in such a way as to suggest he was having more fun losing than he would be winning, which seemed about right for him somehow. Nero and Ana were a little more determined, and they moved surprisingly well together, but there was no getting around the fact that the girl was tiny, and Doc's longer natural stride helped them close the gap, passing the finish line just ahead of the other two before one of them—he honestly wasn't sure which—slowed down too fast and they collectively tripped.

"Ah—" Reflexively, Aidan shifted aside, winding his other arm around Doc so he hit the ground on his back and she landed on him, which was probably... a little softer, at least. Not that the ground was too bad here, really. "You okay?" he asked, loosening his arms and snorting softly. "Glad we managed to save the falling till the end."

Doc seemed to be fine, though, if the laughing was anything to go by. “That was so much fun, I could kiss you!" she stated, her laughter forcing her eyes closed for a moment, unaware of what she'd just said, it seemed. She moved, though, so that they could both sit up, and began untying their scarf, huffing a small laugh every time she tried to undo the knot.

He didn't take her seriously, at any rate. "Don't traumatize the kids, Doc," he said with a half smile. Aidan leaned down to help with the knot, managing to loosen it and unwind the thing from around them, though he had to stifle a few chuckles in the process. He lost hold of one when he spotted something irregular and reached over, plucking a few pieces of grass out of her hair.

"Pretty sure these aren't as intentional as the flowers," he said, showing her one so she'd understand what he was doing. He set one of the flowers back the way it belonged, too, then stood, offering a hand down since she was still laughing.

“At least we didn't lose," Nero muttered softly as he glanced down at Ana. He moved his gaze back towards the field, though, where Niav and Rheinallt were still lying where they'd fallen. They were still laughing, it seemed, though whether it was at Aidan and Nev or at themselves was hard to tell.

"Sorry," Ana said, rolling her eyes in what Aidan figured was a self-deprecating fashion. "I'm too short to be that fast." She didn't seem too troubled, though, crouching to untie them before returning to a stand. "Thanks for running with me anyway. I've never done one of those before—it was fun."

Eventually, Rheinallt and Niav got their asses more or less in gear, accepting their loss and paying their penance in snack foods, as agreed, and the group spent a while just wandering around, trying out anything that looked interesting. Though he'd poked fun at them for not having ideas or opinions before, it seemed to get a little easier, as everyone relaxed into the dynamic that the group had. It was an interesting, one, Aidan thought, and oddly... comfortable. He'd been a little worried wither he or Ana would stick out a bit, but it honestly didn't seem to be a problem. She was a sweet kid, and the longer he spent with them, the more convinced he became that none of them were really acting when they reacted to her in the ways they did.

It probably should have concerned him more than it did, but even he was human, and the festive atmosphere wouldn't allow him to dwell on it for long.

It was shaping up to be the best night he'd had in... he wasn't even sure, and it had only been a few hours.

Setting

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Character Portrait: Kasimir Rheinallt Character Portrait: Cyrilla Niav Character Portrait: Rocket Files
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#, as written by Aethyia


July 25th
The Camellia Festival - Evening - Clear
Kasimir Rheinallt


Kas was still grinning to himself as he and Cyrilla stopped at the food stalls to grab whatever they wanted. It had been a pretty successful group split, if he did say so himself. At first, the plan he and Cy had hatched just involved maximizing the time Ryk and Ana spent alone, but then Aidan and Sis had taken that fall on the three-legged racecourse and there had just been something about it. One look at Cy confirmed that she'd noticed, too, so onto the list of mission parameters it went.

And with a very successful ploy, they'd made it happen. He was pretty proud of himself and his co-conspirator, and planned to spend the rest of the night being smug about it.

Deciding he could always come back, he limited his purchases to a stick of bright green rock candy for the moment, and joined Cy where she was finishing up with her own. "Important question," he said, licking the rock candy before continuing. "Are we brilliant, or are we geniuses?"

“Definitely," she replied, though it was vague as to which one she meant to answer. Maybe it was for both? “I was not expecting that last tumble, though, in the three-legged race. That was just an opportunity presenting itself and, well..." she trailed off, glancing up from her candy floss to regard him with a smug grin.

“Who are we to not take it?" she stated, chuckling before she took a bite from her snack. She hummed a satsified note before glancing back at Kas. “Although I do have to say this is what we get for trying to get everyone else to match," she stated, pointing between both of their yukata.

He had to grin at that; it was true that they'd inadvertently wound up matching as well. Green had always been Kas's favorite color, which he was sure was probably a bit surprising for someone like himself, who intentionally wore brighter shades and presented himself fairly flamboyantly in a certain sense. It wasn't that he actually disliked other colors or anything, but green was by far his favorite. "Must be karma," he said, shrugging to convey his lack of concern. "Looks good on you, though—really makes your eyes stand out."

Breaking off a chunk of his rock candy, Kas popped it into his mouth and moved it to his cheek, where the sugar could slowly melt without interfering too much with his ability to speak. "So since our job is basically to stay away from the others for now, what do you want to do?" It would have been fun to tail them, of course, but there was about a zero percent chance that Ryk or Aidan didn't notice they were being followed, and that would ruin the point of the whole exercise.

In fairness, he supposed Cy might prefer to go off on her own, but if she did, he was sure she'd say so.

“Hm, that's a good question," she state, taking another bite of her candy floss. “Well, being good at a lot of things has taken some of the fun out of it, so no games," she stated, huffing lightly as she glanced around. She must have seen something, though, because her eyes widened and she turned her attention towards Kas.

“Oh, look! They have a feebas plush!" she stated, seemingly excited about it, for some reason. “I have to go win that. C'mon Kas, you're coming with me," she stated, reaching for his hand as if she were going to drag him with her, before she stopped and shook her head. Instead, she made her way towards the booth and glanced at the other available plushes. There was the feebas that she seemed to want, a magikarp, an umbreon, a mankey, a luvdisc, a growlithe, and a couple of other ones.

“Alright, so, I need that feebas; I'm getting that feebas, but we have to get one for the others, too. Which ones should we get them? Umbreon for Ana, of course, but Eryk, Nev, and Aidan all need one, too. And you," she stated, glancing up at Kas.

"Well I'm gonna have a giant azurill by the end of the night," Kas said confidently, folding his arms into his sleeves. "So I guess that leaves everyone else." He scanned the hanging plushes with an eye that looked more discerning than it really was, a slow smile spreading over his face. "Ryk should have the mankey, don't you think? Sis was talking about magikarp catching, so we can get her that one, and the—" he snorted, suppressing a laugh. "The growlithe kind of looks like Aidan, right?"

He looked over at the game in question. It seemed to actually be a team thing—from the looks of the way other people were playing it, the two partners had to run a small, three-part course. The first part involved keeping a large rubber ball between their backs with no hands and getting from one side of a short track to the other. The second part involved passing an egg between spoons held in the mouth, and the third was apparently just a straightfoward sprint, with one person carrying the other. A large signboard displayed the time to beat, with a certain amount of tickets earned per second under.

He calculated quickly. "Looks like if we can manage thirty seconds faster than that time, we can get all the prizes in one shot. Challenging enough, miss good-at-everything?" He winked. "Probably more because you have to put up with me slowing you down."

Cyrilla laughed and rolled her eyes. “I said a lot of things, not everything. There is a difference, you know," she replied, shaking her head before she glanced back towards the course. “And you won't slow me down, trust me. I can work with... this," she stated, making a vague gesture in his direction.

“So, let's go see if we can win all of those prizes in one shot, hm?" she stated, arching a challenging brow in his direction before walking towards the stall. She paid for their entry before he had a chance to, and grinned up at him as she handed him the ball. “Timer starts once we pass the line. Now, in order to do this so the ball isn't on your ass, which I'm sure you wouldn't mind, I'm going to have to place it further up on my back. Again, I can work with... this, but the question is, can you handle it?" She was grinning up at him almost in a micheivous way.

It was hard not to laugh, really, but Kas kept it together. This kind of thing was why Cy was so fun to hang around. It wasn't simply that she was quick-witted, though that certainly didn't help, but she had such an amusing way of talking about things, and that hint of flirtatiousness that never seemed to leave her was pretty hilarious. "I think I can handle it," he replied, lifting an eyebrow. "And I'll make you a deal: I'll even do the first half the egg run, and then literally carry you to victory on the last part of the course, how about that?"

His grin widened. "While I'm sure you could drag me across the line if you had to, I'm not sure how much fun this would be in that context." He repeated the gesture at himself. Kas wasn't a particularly heavy guy for his height, but his height was about eight inches taller than the average guy, so that wasn't saying a lot.

“Ha, sounds like a fair deal," she replied, huffing lightly. “You're not wrong, though. I'm not sure how much fun this would be to drag across the line. It'd be hilarious, but we might lose a few seconds if that were the case," she added, rolling her eyes at herself, it seemed. She moved towards the starting line and motioned for him to meet her.

“Alright, turn around so I can put this in place so it's comfortable for the both of us. Otherwise we'll probably drop it as soon as we moved over the line. I don't think it should be too difficult, though," she stated, grinning slightly. “We ninja have perfected the art of balance."

She moved so that she was behind him, then, and placed the ball on his lower back. She placed her back against it, moved for a second, before seemingly settling on a spot. “Alright, oh lofty one. Ready?"

"You got it, short stuff," Kas replied. They turned so they'd both be moving sideways, the much better bet for keeping the ball between them and when the starting flag was dropped, they started to shuffle over the field. Fortunately there weren't any obstacles or anything on this part of it, so the trick was mostly just leaning back into one another enough to keep the ball in place, which he left mostly to Cy, since he didn't want to knock her over, and matching pace, which he mostly took care of since he was the one who needed to clip his strides.

They wobbled a little near the end, and he couldn't seem to stop laughing—there was just something inherently ridiculous about krabby-walking sideways in a yukata back-to back with Cy while trying to win pokédolls for their entirely grown friends, but he'd take this over just about anything else he could be doing tonight.

Once they cleared that portion, he handed Cy her plastic spoon so she could get to the change point, then stuck his own between his teeth, trying to keep it as level as possible, then rested the egg on it. Choosing speed over caution, he took large strides, trying to keep the upper half of his body still so the egg wouldn't roll right off the spoon. Ducking down to meet Cy's was a bit of a trick, especially when he accidentally caught her eye and started laughing again, huffs of air gusting from his nose at the look of concentration on her face as they tried to maneuver the pass.

It looked like she was trying not to laugh, too, her eyes focused on the egg as she tried to get it. She almost looked to cross-eyed for a moment, and huffed. “Oh my Arceus, Kas, stop laughing," she muttered between teeth as she continued to maneuver her spoon. It didn't help that she was laughing, too, apparently having as much fun as he was. “Ah, got it," she muttered when she did, in fact, manage to get the egg onto her spoon.

She made her way through her portion of the run, taking small strides as she did. She was, after all, quite a bit shorter than he was. She did seem to have a good balance for it, though. The egg barely moved when she made her way across the track and placed it on the panel it needed to go on. Removing the spoon from her mouth, she glanced in Kas's direction.

“Alright, Kas. Don't you dare drop me. Trip if you must, but don't you dare drop me," she stated, grinning at him still.

He was already jogging over, and swept her up on his way with no problem, shifting one of his arms under her knees, and the other around her back. They could have arranged a piggyback, maybe, but this was easier on her yukata, and took less time, which he figured justified it given their aims here.

This part did have a few obstacles, or at least things in the way, but Cy's weight was pretty negligible to him, and he hopped over a few, dodging sideways around the rest and breaking into an outright sprint for the last part, carrying them across the line to, he realized, a scattering of applause from a few gathered onlookers. Amused, he took a bow, still holding Cy, and carried her over to the front again.

"All right, ninja-girl, claim your prizes. Looks like we get an extra—we were thirty-five point two seconds under goal time." The booth attendant indeed looked vaguely stunned by their speed, but considering the people now lining up to try the same, Kas figured she'd recoup the loss in no time.

She was still laughing when he'd spoken, however; she cleared her throat and tapped his shoulder as a way of telling him to put her down, it seemed. She glanced at the booth attendant and listed off the prizes she'd wanted, but paused when it was time to claim the extra one. She grinned lightly and pointed towards one in particular, shifting to grab it, first, and turned towards Kas.

“And this one is yours because you remind me of one," she stated, handing him a snorlax plush that seemed to be a bit smaller than the other ones. It looked like it was supposed to be a charm of sorts since it had a key ring attached to it. “They're adorable," she added before scooping up the mankey, umbreon, and feebas, leaving the growlithe and magikarp for him to grab.

"Sleeps a lot and eats a lot, yep sounds like me." He grinned, hooking the plastic d-clip to his obi and carrying the other two plushies under an arm. "Of course you realize now that we're going to be stuck carrying these around until the end of the night, right?" He didn't really mind, of course, but it was kind of ridiculous nevertheless, the two of them wandering over the festival grounds laden down with pokédolls like bizarre collectors.

“Hey, I'm perfectly fine with that. I have my feebas plush, a mankey for Eryk, and an umbreon for Ana. You have Aidan's growlithe and Nev's magikarp, so it works out well," she stated, burying her face into her feebas plush. “And it's so soft, too," she added with a large smile on her face. She looked genuinely pleased with it, over all.

“And fluffy," she giggled, before shaking her head at herself. “Alright, I chose something, now it's your turn to choose. What are we doing next?" she asked, arching a brow up at him, seemingly curious as to what he was going to say.

He wasn't sure what her particular fascination was with feebas, but it didn't take a particular stretch of his intellect to pick up on it, that was for sure.

It was his turn to pick something to do, though, so he considered his choices, breaking off another piece of rock candy with his unoccupied hand. "Hmm, how about—" the words cut off as he caught sight of someone he didn't really want to see right now.

"Shit—hide!" he hissed, ducking behind the counter of a stall that had been closed for the night and crouching there, shifting his grip on the stuffed pokémon so they wouldn't get dirty.

Cy did as he said, ducking behind the counter on his other side and looked vaguely confused. “Uh, is there a reason why we're hiding?" she asked quietly enough that he was the only one to hear her. She'd adjusted the three plushes she was holding, folding one into her left side, and stacking the other two on top of each other and tucked into her right side.

"Yeah uh, so you know that mission the boss is having me do?" Kas asked, shifting up slightly to peer over the counter. Dammit, she was still there. He should probably figure out which way she was headed so as to minimize the chance of running into her. "It involves... getting close to this journalist. I was originally planning to take her to the festival, but then everyone wanted to go together so I said a work thing had come up. Apparently she showed up anyway."

Motioning with his head, he pointed the woman in question out to Cyrilla. Tall, slender, and blonde, Rosanna Miller still looked like the high-fashion model she'd previously been, though at the moment she was dressed in a pink and red yukata, arms linked with some fellow Kas vaguely recognized as a business associate of hers—maybe her editor, he'd double-check later.

"Obviously I don't want her to know I ditched her to hang out with you guys." He made an exaggerated face at Cy.

Cyrilla snickered softly, her shoulders shaking a bit as she tried to contain a laugh. “Kas... did you forget you're with a ninja-girl? If you wanted to disappear, all you had to do was ask. As much as I'd like to give these to the others, I can just sneak them into their places later on with a note or something," she stated with a light shrug of her shoulders.

“There are places we can go to watch the fireworks at the end if you still wanted to see them, but..." she paused for a moment and arched a brow at him, “that's all dependent on whether you'd like to stay, or if you'd like to leave. We could also just go get drunk on the backisland beach, again. I know one supermarket that's still open right now where we can get some drinks. It might be a bit difficult with the yukata, but hey, there's a first time for everything, right?"

He had to admit, that genuinely surprised him. Not that she could disappear, of course, but that she was offering to do so, with him. Before he'd even thought about how he should react to that, a bright, almost boyish grin had spread across his face, entirely without his permission. "You'd... do that?" he asked, clearing his throat when his tone came out much more sheepish than he'd intended.

Pull it together, Rheinallt, you're not fucking sixteen anymore.

"I mean, if there's other stuff you want to do here, I don't want to stop you from enjoying it," he added, tossing another glance out into the passing crowd. Rosanna and her date had evidently stopped at one of the food stalls across the way.

She snorted softly and shook her head. “Of course I would, Kas. You're my..." she paused as if she were uncertain she should say the next word, “friend. And as your friend it is my duty to take you out of uncomfortable situations. So, all you have to do is say the word." She was smiling softly at him, but it seemed a little melancholy at the same time. It disappeared, though, as it seemed she remembered something.

“And don't worry about that; I'm enjoying it with you tonight, so if you want to be elsewhere, then I'll go too. I'd still be enjoying myself either way you look at it." The grin returned to her face, then, as she offered her arm towards him. “Just say the word, and the world will forget Kasimir Rheinallt and Cyrilla Niav were ever at the festival tonight!"

He snorted. "I don't think they'll quite forget that blazing record we just set," he pointed out. "But in that case, I'd hate to stop you from doing your friendly duties, so let's ditch this joint. The fireworks should be visible from backisland anyway, and supermarket booze sounds great."

Kas knew it wasn't a good idea to do this. He wasn't here to make friends, and the flare of excitement that came of hearing her name him such was a very bad sign. It was good from a mission standpoint if she thought of him with fondness of some sort, but that was only true if he didn't. Somewhere in the back of his head, a voice that sounded suspiciously like Steele's reminded him that he was going to put all these people in prison eventually.

Still, he ignored it, taking her arm and rising to his feet.

Just for tonight.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Eryk Nero Character Portrait: Kasimir Rheinallt Character Portrait: Cyrilla Niav Character Portrait: Aidan Klein
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August 3rd
Field Office 9 - Morning - Warm
Eryk Nero


Eryk sighed softly, running a hand through his hair to get out what tangles there were as he made his way towards the conference room. Another month meant that there would be another meeting. It was routine, or it should have been, but Eryk didn't feel that way. He was, partly, surprised that Cyrilla hadn't walked with him to the conference room. She usually did, but she hadn't been in her office when he stopped by. He supposed she might already be there, waiting on him and possibly the others.

Would have been fucking nice if she'd told me, but he supposed there was no point on dwelling on that. They weren't attached at the hip, he supposed, so she was free to do whatever she wanted. Well, not entirely so.

He entered the conference room, and he blinked when he spotted Cyrilla and Aidan.

“Still, sorry about that. I meant to leave the growlithe with you and the magikarp with Nev, but I guess I got them mixed up in my drunken stupor," she spoke, turning her attention towards Eryk when he'd taken a seat. “Morning, Eryk. Sleep well?" she asked, grinning slightly at him as he rolled his eyes.

“Not gonna justify that with an answer," he muttered. Kas wasn't there, yet, but Eryk supposed he wouldn't be too far behind. He wasn't the type to be late, after all.

Aidan, meanwhile, snorted. "I wondered about that. Still I wasn't just gonna ask. The note was uh... very heartfelt. I think she likes it, though, so I guess she can have 'em both." He didn't seem to mind that a plush toy had been left on his doorstep with a note attached, apropos of nothing. There had been two outside of Anastasia's house as well, the morning after the festival.

Their conversation was interrupted by Kasimir's entrance, though only minimally. He yawned broadly, only making half an effort to cover his mouth. He was carrying his mareep under one arm as if she were a parcel, and held his laptop computer loosely in the other.

"Mornin'. I see all the cool kids are already here. What's on the docket, boss? More surprise visits with the big cheese?"

Rolling his eyes, Aidan shook his head. "Not this month. I think he's satisfied with the progress from last time. He does want me to talk to you about that other mission, though. The one I gave you a heads-up on the month before. The high-end pro-battling circuit's gonna be going on its season break here pretty soon, which means the next couple months are going to be the best time to get you guys set up as hopefuls for next season. The championships this year are in Cerulean, so the first thing we're gonna do is watch those, so you have a better idea what you're getting into."

"Nice. Does that mean we get your color commentary?"

Aidan arched an eyebrow. "I'll be teaching you, but I'll leave the 'color' commentary to the professionals. It's on the 17th. Doc and I are hosting so behave." He considered something a moment, then shrugged. "And bring Ana, if she's interested. Two pidgeys with one stone, or whatever."

"You know this is sounding more and more like hanging out to watch sports instead of training, right?"

"That's because the real training comes after, Rheinallt."

Cyrilla chuckled lightly at Aidan's last statement as Eryk contemplated his other one. “I can see if she'd like to come," he answered with a shrug of his shoulders. It's not like it would be an inconvenience to either of them. They'd be among people they tolerated more than others, and it might actually be comfortable. He pushed a sigh through his nose, though, and glanced in Kas's direction.

“It won't be that bad," he muttered, earning a soft snicker from Cyrilla.

“Ryk, you do realize that it's Aidan who's going to be training the both of you, right? Former Champion of Kanto, Aidan," she stated, arching a brow in his direction. He shrugged.

“So?" Why did that matter?

"Thank you," Aidan grumbled. "It's not like I'm a monster."

Kas snorted. "No, but if the rumors are to be believed, your training regimen's from hell, so forgive me if I'm not too excited to be dragged through that."

"Can it, Rheinallt. I've seen you lifting. You're not as allergic to hard work as you want everyone to think."

"But my pokémon are!" He lofted Meep in both hands, holding her out over the tabletop as if to hand her to Aidan. "Look at that face! The only thing hardcore about Meep is how much she sleeps, and I like to take my lessons from her."

Aidan sighed.

“At least it's only temporary, Kas," Cyrilla stated, shaking her head softly. “It'll only be for a few months and then you'll be able to go back to lazy mornings sleeping in with Meep," she added, smiling just a bit. Ryk shook his head, though.

“You don't have to train with Meep if you're so worried about her," Eryk stated, giving Kas a flat look. “She can be your... what do they call those people..." he trailed off, furrowing his brows as he tried to think of the word.

“Mascot, Ryk?" Cyrilla stated. He nodded.

“She can be your mascot."

"It's really not polite to call me out on my excuses, guys," Kas replied with an overdramatic sigh, slumping back into his chair.

"It was bullshit anyway," Aidan said with a soft huff. "The pokémon likes to battle, and so do you. You can suck it up and deal." Glancing between Eryk and Kasimir, he pursed his lips a moment. "This is for work, so we'll do it on the clock. You both okay with the first couple hours of the morning?"

Kas made a face, but he did in fact nod.

“I don't see a problem with it," he spoke, before he remembered something. “I'll just have to let Anastasia know that I won't be able to feed the pokémon that are usually up around that time, but it shouldn't be a problem," he stated. He did some things for Anastasia in the morning so she could at least sleep in a little longer, but he supposed it wouldn't interfere too much. If anything, he'd just wake up an hour earlier to ensure the food was ready to go for her so she could do it easier, and perhaps go back to sleep.

Cyrilla smiled, something a little soft and a tad too genuine than he'd known her to make, before she rolled her eyes. “If it'll help, I'll make everyone breakfast so you're not training on empty stomachs," she stated, glancing in Kasimir's and Aidan's direction. “What do you guys like to eat? And don't say not to worry about it. I got this," she added, almost as if she were expecting a protest of sorts.

"I'm not picky," Aidan replied with a shrug. "Also, I've pulled a lot of material for you to read on the inner workings side of the pro-battling industry, especially about sponsorships and the role of an agent. I think you should watch at least most of the practice. You need to be almost as much of an expert on what these guys can do as they are, because your job is going to be selling that potential to people who might be skeptical."

“I can do that during the time you are all training so that way we're all training at the same time," she stated, nodding her head. “Especially if we're doing this on the clock. I can take a look at what the library in Cinnabar has to offer on it, as well," she added, glancing in Eryk's direction.

“If he's not picky, and neither is Kas, you might as well just make a breakfast burrito for everyone, or even a breakfast sandwich of sorts," he stated, shrugging his shoulders. She mimicked him and shrugged her shoulders.

“Alright. I suppose it'll be good since you don't want to eat anything too heavy in the morning. Might make you sick," she stated, furrowing her brows before grinning. “I'll have to go make a library card, then, if that's the case."

As if it reminded him of something, Aidan started to pat himself down, searching his pockets until he pulled a small white plastic card from one of them. "Already done," he said simply. "That one's a duplicate, so you can keep it. Don't go forgetting to return anything on time, or it comes out of your wages. It's a company account." Deftly, he slid the card across the table to Cyrilla, then looked all of them over.

"Anything else?"

"Not from me," Kas replied.

“Thank you," Cyrilla stated as she took the card from Aidan. She shook her head, though, and glanced in Eryk's direction.

“No. I believe we are all aware of what's going to be happening for the next few months," he stated, pushing a sigh through his nose. It was going to be an interesting next few months, he supposed.