Beginner Run: After, Sandy Beach
#1
1.

The outer edge of the Sandy Beach is pretty scenic; if it weren't a protected section of the Park, designated to the preservation of wild Pokemon and their habitats, it'd be a huge tourist trap. Most of the time, the place is gorgeous, with sunlight warming the sand and sweet ocean breezes cooling the beachgoers, while the waves lap, soothing and gentle, against the sands.

That is emphatically not the case today.

"This is nuts," Margo mutters as the wind practically blows her into the beach's outpost. Undertow, her faithful Swampert, looms behind her, his bulk providing a bit of shelter. There's no sunlight today; the clouds have covered the sky, turning it pale gray, and the waves are everything but gentle. Margo looks out the window and watches the roiling tides warily. The ocean won't reach the outpost, but it's gonna give Margo and the Trainer she'll be running with an interesting day.

Fortunately, things haven't quite broken into a full storm yet. There's no rain, and it doesn't look like there will be any for a while. It's still feasible for Margo to take her beginner on a quick tour of the beach, it'll just be cold. The fauna will be different, too - squalls will chase beachdwellers like Wingull right off, and the heavy current will drive a lot of shallow-dwellers either to the shore or the depths.

Undertow picks up one of the folding chairs and moves it aside to settle across from Margo, sitting on the ground instead of a chair that could never dare to hold his weight. Ignoring the way the old card table rattles beneath her - we really need to get management to replace these - she pulls out her phone and scrolls through her files for the day's run. This "Kouryu" guy is pretty much a kid, only fifteen years old, but he seems competent enough. She makes note of his team - they're not really adapted for beachside battles. That might create some issues, though it's nothing that a bit of care and creativity can't manage.

Margo sits back in her chair and casts a glance back toward the window facing the path inward. It's a bit of a hike from the front gate to the beach outpost, but not terrible; there were a couple of those goofy rental carts docked at the gate when Margo came in, so Kouryu hopefully won't have too much trouble getting here. 

But she's glad she got here early, so that she could take in the terrain. "Hey, big guy," Margo says, and Undertow gives her an expectant look. "I'm gonna let the Trainer take point, of course, but we might need your help actually scaring up some Pokemon for them to fight. You up for playing a bit of hide-and-seek with the wilds today?" The Swampert's sharp beak crooks in a grin and he nods. "My hero."
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#2
Intro - 1,879 characters

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Unfortunately for Kouryu, he trusted his own two feet far more than his driving skills, and as such he immediately opted to just walk quickly down to the beach instead. Though cold and windy, the trip gave him plenty of opportunity to gauge the shifting gray sky, which he watched with some unease. The beach had been an appealing option largely because it would be harder for an enthusiastic Fennekin to set anything important on fire, but if the weather worsened, they would be completely exposed.

Picking up his pace, he supposed he would just have to make the best of it for now. Trainers and Rangers couldn't always have their pick of the weather, and he wasn't about to back down just yet.

It didn't take long for the beach to come into sight. To no surprise, it was quite a bit windier out in the open than it had been at the entrance, and Kouryu's brow furrowed as he watched the roughened waves beating against the shoreline. Hopefully not all the Pokemon here are in hiding, he mused, otherwise this run really will be short.

And speaking of Pokemon... He reached back to pat the side of his bag and said, "You're still awake back there, right?"

There was a muffled yip in response.

"Good. We'll be starting soon, so try not to doze off."

Stepping onto dry sands, Kouryu adjusted his jacket and ran the rest of the way to the outpost, quickly ducking inside. He spent a moment to get his bangs out of his eyes but otherwise didn't bother fixing his hair's wind-tossed disarray; normal disarray wasn't much of an improvement anyway. As he caught his breath, he took note of the outpost's current occupants with interest.

"Ah... I hope I'm not late?" he said tentatively, facing them properly. "I'm... Kouryu Kisaragi. Are you the Ranger I'll be working with today?"

Please please PLEASE be someone I can deal with, he prayed fervently as he awaited her response.
After's Stats -|- Park: Kouryu -|- Sketchbook
Art Capture Hub -|- Art Cash Hub (TBA)
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#3
2.
The door bangs open, nearly blown off its hinges by the collaborative efforts of the winds and a young Trainer. Margo and Undertow both look up sharply to see a windblown kid in the doorway. Margo blinks - her Trainer dossier had mentioned that Kouryu was less than five foot by a fair margin, but she hadn’t quite expected him to look so young.

Still, he’s definitely the right kid. If Margo didn’t recognize him from his info, she does when he introduces himself pretty much immediately. “That’s correct,” she says, answering his question first. “I’m Margo Sterling. This big lug is Undertow,” she hooks a thumb toward Undertow; she glances back to see him offer the Trainer a courteous nod, “and he and I are going to escort you through Sandy Beach today. It’s good to meet you, Kouryu.” She stands up and offers a hand, aiming for a cordial shake.

Margo steps forward, zipping up her jacket - though she doesn’t bother putting the hood up, since the wind’s going to rip it away right off the bat. “You may have noticed that Rayquaza’s practically on the rampage out there,” she says drily. “This is gonna be a bit of an interesting run, but it shouldn’t be too bad. Just try to make sure you use your Fire-type attacks with the wind rather than against it - though I don’t expect you’ll have much reason to use them.” 

Undertow hoists himself up and holds the door for the humans, before squeezing his massive bulk back out through the doorframe. “See, winds like this are going to make most Pokemon go to ground, but I figure that’ll just give us an excuse to meet some different ‘mons than normal. The plan is to have Undertow go underwater and try and attract a few wilds. He won’t hurt them or provoke them - just get some of the curious and-or battle-ready Pokemon on the beach. We’ll need to go right down to the shore, though.” She gestures the group toward the slate-gray sea with a smile at Kouryu. “Ready when you are.”
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#4
2,223 characters

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Margo and Undertow. Got it.

"Good to meet you, too," Kouryu replied with a slight nod, relieved at Margo's demeanor. He hesitated for a moment when she offered her hand, but when he took it, his grip was firm.

- "This is gonna be a bit of an interesting run, but it shouldn’t be too bad. Just try to make sure you use your Fire-type attacks with the wind rather than against it - though I don’t expect you’ll have much reason to use them." -

He listened intently as Margo spoke, nodding a bit at her assessment. With Matsuri in his bag, she wouldn't be able to use most of her Fire attacks anyway - unless he perhaps turned and angled her so they would be going behind him instead of right over his shoulder - but he agreed with Margo; there likely wouldn't be an issue.

(So he hoped, anyway.)

She continued her explanation as they moved back out onto the beach. Blinking into the wind, Kouryu eyed the waves once again, still rough and unchanged from moments before. Undertow underwater... Kouryu had no idea how far out he would have to go, but he hoped that neither the waves nor the Swampert's namesake would prove to be a concern for him.

As Margo's explanation wrapped up, the young Trainer reached over his right shoulder and unzipped the largest pocket of his bag, just enough to leave a gap without the rest of it flopping backward. Matsuri popped up through the opening with an excited yip, peering over his shoulder and sniffing the air intently.

"You heard what she said. Try not to set me on fire, all right?" said Kouryu. "You'll mostly be backup for Sojiro today."

Matsuri yipped again and nuzzled his cheek. He gave her a light ruffle, then reached down to unclip a Poke Ball from his belt. Not wanting to take chances with throwing it in this wind, he released Sojiro manually, watching the resulting light take shape... then blinking at the fairly not-a-Zoroark Pokemon that formed instead.

"Krookodile, huh?" he prompted. "Feeling nostalgic, are you?"

The illusory reptile grinned, showing off rows of pointed teeth.

Kouryu gave a quiet snort. "Suit yourself. Just keep your illusions around you alone for now so I know where you are."

Sojiro nodded, and Kouryu did one last run of his mental checklist. His Pokemon were out, Matsuri wasn't in danger of running off into trouble, his supplies were within easy reach... He nodded to himself and looked to Margo once more, prepared to follow after her.

"All right, I'm ready."
After's Stats -|- Park: Kouryu -|- Sketchbook
Art Capture Hub -|- Art Cash Hub (TBA)
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