Beginner Run: Cosmo (Ruined Palace)
#1
Ranger Post #1

A low howl disrupted the stillness, accompanying the crisp breeze that brought life to the foliage lining the cobblestone path. Joe fumbled with the zipper on his red windbreaker, standard issue for the rangers of the park, before slipping off a black leather glove with a sigh of annoyance to close the jacket against the sudden chill. Sometimes it seemed to take summer long enough to warm up, yet fall wasn't hesitating at all to grace the island early: an arrival the former champ wasn't too happy to greet. Sheesh, how did he end up with this early of a shift, anyway? The darkness that veiled the gated courtyard of the Ruined Palace had yet to even begin receding to the dim orange glow of the sunrise. The old, weathered brick walls could barely be made out amongst the tall, spindly trees that surrounded the building. Once daylight would break, the structure would gleam with fabled history, reminding Joe of the two wondrous towers honored in his hometown of Ecruteak. The young ranger's surveying gaze stopped on a pair of glowing red eyes that broke the endless darkness, the light just strong enough to reveal a grin obscured by the gold casing around it.

"You enjoying this too, Angel?" Joe spoke, returning the Cofagrigus's cheerful expression with a pat on the Coffin Pokémon's head. "Feels like home, doesn't it?" The red glow flickered out of sight as Angel closed his eyes and gave off what could've almost been a purr made indiscernible as the sound reverberated against the inside of his golden body. "Don't cause too much trouble, okay?" Joe added, to which Angel responded with a nervous cackle and probably what Joe could only assume was a thumbs up as the ghost-type's translucent appendages blended seamlessly into the dark. With one more pat, he chuckled to his partner, knowing Angel was normally well behaved and didn't need to be told like that, but it was still fun to fluster the Cofagrigus from time to time.

But now it was back to business. Joe unhitched the bag hanging off his shoulder, the beret he refused to wear swaying haphazardly from a hook attached to the back. He procured a clipboard and flashlight from within, switching the light on to peruse the document. The form was particularly lacking in detail and even the answers that were filled in were done so in broken sentences, sometimes completely irrelevant to the question being asked yet close enough in one way or another that Joe figured it was due more to misunderstanding on his charge's part. This, along with the fact the entire thing was filled out almost illegibly by hand, led Joe to the conclusion the trainer he was meant to lead today must be a small child. Even so, shouldn't their parent or guardian have filled it out instead? They were coming with one, right? Even more unusual was the name. "Cosmo." Certainly not your everyday name and one that almost led Joe to believe he'd be dealing with a cartoon character, which should just be a laughable thought easily discarded. However, the attendant at the gate that handed him the form was forcing back chuckles and some of the other rangers seemed to give him knowing grins on the way out. Maybe he should've asked them what they knew before he came out here.

He stuffed the clipboard back into his bag and scanned the flashlight along the path to the deteriorated building. No use worrying about it now, and there were things he could do before the trainer arrived, which would probably still be a while anyway. Despite the shape of the building, the rangers took pride in keeping up the appearances of the different areas of the park for their visitors. Joe walked up to the doorway and grabbed a broom, proceeding to sweep loose dirt and pebbles from the walkway. He paused only to glance up at the gradually brightening sky for any hint of one of the park's carrier Dragonite, should the trainer have chosen to ride one here.


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#2
Cosmo was off to a bad start.

He'd spent entirely much too time - at least an hour - milling about and seeking direction regarding the process of participating in a park run. Truth be told, the brute didn't quite understand the concept in the first place. From what little certainty he'd established, this was a... training process? He'd grimaced at the repeated surprises cluing him in to the fact that perhaps this wasn't what he was seeking in the first place. For starters, there'd been virtually no appearance of any sort of school environment. The friendly signage and familiar uniforms - they'd been the same as that one old woman who seemed to lead the other trainers during the battle with the titanic monolith - suggested resources for newbies.

Fifteen minutes of that hour were dedicated to awkwardly occupying the real estate in front of the reception desk, struggling to explain to the patient-but-unnerved individual behind the counter that he wished to "learn pokemon." Said individual's attempts to suggest that "there's a school in the next city over" fell on stoically deaf ears, and a sigh of heavy relief was breathed when handing Cosmo a form and a tiny pen seemed to placate him.

He'd gotten used to the stares already, though. The brute was vaguely aware of the eyes on him even as he sat on the floor in the reception area, simultaneously working on memorizing the letters in the local language and attempting to reason what each field on the form required. "First name" and "last name" were easy enough, or so he'd thought. They'd be near the top of the form and share several characters due to sharing a word. Still, he'd managed to inadvertently confuse them with "address 1" and "address 2". At some point, he'd stood up and re-approached the counter, pointing to specific fields and attempting to sound the words out just to get a grasp on their pronunciation. It was at this point that the rangers on standby had started to snicker, having become entirely un-threatened by Cosmo's stature and seemingly medieval weaponry.

How he ever left the building with a comically small bag patterned to mimic a pokeball, let alone with supplies he needed for the run, still baffled him. It seemed fairly obvious what everything was for, but when Cosmo's thoughts drifted to how the hell a literal pair of possessed swords was supposed to benefit from a cookie, he had a slight panic attack. Could he even feed it to Caliber in the first place? What would that even look like? He'd been romping around with his first pokemon for several hours, and there'd been no sign of a mouth.

Cosmo would be heard well before he'd be seen, what with the heavy, tromping boots accompanied by the patter of little Tyrunt feet. Lily barks a gravelly greeting to grab the waiting ranger's attention, and she smugly grins at him as if to say "Look what I caught!"

Beside the "trainer", the latter portion of her name tumbles into uncanny territory. The shape beneath all of the black definitely isn't organic, even though the giant moves organically - much like a knight in a full suit of armor. The tail slowly swaying behind him distracts slightly from the bizarre mass of tape on his back, but none of it compensates for his size, nor the fact that the guy's accessorized with the tiny pokeball bag and not one, but two swords hanging from his hips - both in terribly dull condition. There's no doubt he'd had trouble squeezing through every door since he tumbled out of that portal. In a deep, clumsy tone, Cosmo simply says "Hello," with one hand passively raised in greeting. For some reason, he emphasizes the "e".

After a moment of awkward shifting on his part, he plucks a park ball from his pack, and gestures to Caliber, who hovers beside him, and Lily. "Beginner?"
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#3
Ranger Post #2

It hadn't been too long since Joe took to his sweeping that a dull, rhythmic thumping broke the calming silence that accompanied the breaking dawn on the palace grounds. The young ranger looked up curiously from his work to gaze down the level pathway leading toward the front gates. Among the Pokémon known to frequent the aging structure, there certainly weren't many heavyweights that could cause such a noise. With the recent buzz about wormholes emerging around the park, Joe's mind immediately summoned the image of a Guzzlord phasing into existence in midair amongst the trees surrounding the Ruined Palace.

With a labored groan, he returned the broom to its perch against the wall. Just great, an intergalactic being breaking onto the premises on his watch was just what the newbie needed. "Come on, Angel. We'd better check this out." He motioned toward the relaxing Cofagrigus before turning to make his way onto the grounds to investigate.

However, it appeared he needed exert such effort as a small grating bark rises above the approaching footsteps, drawing Joe's attention to the gated entrance of the courtyard. He jumped in surprise, quickly trying to gather himself as he made out the towering figure that more than made up more than the entirety of the door's frame. The cry that called his glance suddenly vanished from his mind, Joe began to wonder how he managed to miss a piece of the palace's suit of armor collection standing at the gate on his way in. No, it was too obvious to miss - was this some sort of prank on the new guy?

He was snapped from his pondering as he was startled yet again by the giant waving a massive gloved hand at him, following a deep "Hello," uttered heavily from its oddly shaped mask. Joe's eyes must be playing tricks on him. Yes, that's it. It was still pretty dark and from this distance he could barely make out the figure. But no, he realized as he strode closer, the suit of armor continued to jerk irregularly before pulling something from the small bag he carried. Focusing his eyes, Joe was able to make out the Park Ball in his hand as the voice spoke up once again, this time raising a question: "Beginner?"

Joe stopped abruptly as the giant pointed out the two Pokémon at his side. While his reasoning tried to tell him that this was the trainer he had been assigned, the sheer absurdity of the scene before him left him trying to figure out what else this could possibly mean. After all, how could that "child" he was expecting based on the unruly form he had been handed earlier turn out to be such a skyscraper of a person?

"You're... freaking huge!" he blurted out hopelessly, rudely pointing a finger up at his charge nearly twice his height. Out of nowhere, the voice of reasoning slapped him upside the head, reminding him he was on duty and needed to act professionally. Awkwardly lowering his arm, Joe straightened himself, cleared his throat, and gave the alien a wave of his own. "Y-yes, hello," he spoke, doing his best to keep his voice steady and confident. "You are Cosmo, correct? You're here for a beginner run on the Ruined Palace? I am Joseph Andersen, the ranger who will be guiding you on your journey today."

With that, the ranger turned to the side to allow the trainer in, assuming he even fit through the gate. He gestured toward the courtyard sprawled out untidily before them that slowly started to appear in the brightening blue hue that graced the lands as the sun now made its way above the horizon. The paved stone pathway leading to the building was still fairly prominent, but gave off a rather jagged appearance than what was most likely intended when it was once better cared for by a proper groundskeeper. Tufts of grass stood at odd intervals along the lawn from which long weeds stretched onto the walkway. Formerly decorate bushes that made up the underbrush around large tree trunks now had branches and leaves growing hither and thither. The scene was still quite silent except for the morning song of awakening birds hidden in the leafy treetops while foliage rustled on occasion where creatures began to stir. On the contrary, the Ruined Palace that stood above it all, with its peaked roofs and cracked windows, showed no life to speak of. However, the white-painted walls, despite being horribly chipped and faded nearly everywhere, held the promise of historic curiosities within.

"You're in charge, Cosmo," Joe continued. "Wherever you feel like exploring, Pokémon await!"

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#4
At the exclamation the ranger leveled towards Cosmo, he slightly jerked his head back, unsure whether he'd done something wrong or this was just a perfectly normal reaction to seeing him for the first time. Possibly both. His tense shoulders relaxed when the uniformed figure continued speaking, relieved at the tonal shift. Reciprocating his greeting was a good sign, though the giant made a note that he was probably pronouncing "hello" incorrectly.

"You are Cosmo, correct? You're here for a beginner run on the Ruined Palace? I am Joseph Andersen, the ranger who will be guiding you on your journey today."

He's pretty sure that "you" was a second-person identifier, and the uptick signified a question. Cosmo nodded and authoritatively repeated with his free hand on his chest, "Cosmo. Beginner." Then, slightly less sure, he pointed to the human and slowly regurgitated what he believed to be the ranger's name with an entirely questioning tone. "I am Joseph Andersen?..."

The stranger stood blinking for an empty moment before realizing the ranger was inviting him in to the courtyard. He leaned his upper body down and bent his knees to awkwardly crouch through the gate, an achievement he then deemed worthy of a full-body stretch. The ranger's words bounced off the back of his head as he took in the sight of the palace.

"You're in charge, Cosmo. Wherever you feel like exploring, Pokémon await!"

Lily's nose went mad with new scents, and she strutted ahead of her trainer, crookedly advancing towards the palace. Cosmo exchanged a brief glance with Caliber before following her down the unkempt stonework. He'd become increasingly sure that he'd signed up for the wrong activity entirely, eyes dancing over the crumbling structure with several new questions his lack of articulation dictated should be better kept to himself. What did this mansion used to be? Why were the uniformed people treating it like an attraction?

The giant ambled up to the palace doors, then turned his head to look back at the ranger as if seeking approval. Was he even supposed to enter the building in the first place? His eyes dropped to the Tyrunt beside him, who seemed to be bumping the door with her enormous snout and growling. To the Doublade, she whined, "Why won't he just open the door?"

Caliber's telepathic voice possessed the slightest hint of an uncharacteristic verbal smirk in return. "I don't think he even knows what he's doing here."

"That's silly! We're all here to make new friends," she declared.

"Judging by the ranger's reaction," Caliber said, turning back to look at the newest member of the staff, "none of us know what Cosmo's doing here."

The Tyrunt huffed. "Well, I smell everything," she replied, with 'everything' undoubtedly referencing the unfamiliar and exciting pokemon that had claimed the old building as their home. "And I'm gonna say hi!" She concluded by ramming the door with her snout.
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#5
Ranger Post #3

Round, black ears perked up at the smart rapping of rock on wood. The heap of long abandoned books fallen from one of the grand oak bookcases lining the library walls shifted in response, moving aside to reveal the culprit. A ball of brown fur, lined at one point in black stripes, rolled out from beneath it and unfurled into the Sentret that had decided to makes the literature its nest for the night. The scout Pokémon briefly pawed at its face with a yawn before pushing itself up onto four legs to stroll curiously out of the room of the into the parlor.

The broad hallway was adorned with a striking green carpet that stood out boldly against the wood planks it sat on, if only a little weathered with time. The Sentret continued its trek past steel-framed chairs with red, padded seats that were strewn every which way on either side. The order of their once meticulous rows had been continuously knocked out of alignment with each passing wild Pokémon that ravaged through. A pair of glass chandeliers hung precariously from the wearing ceiling. The copper chains that miraculously held on were, however, starting to rust, the process propelled from rain leaking through more and more.

The sound at the door paused shortly after it began, but the Sentret carried on, wondering if the perpetrator was still there. There was no sign of movement within the palace's entryway, so it must have come from outside. Arriving at the crooked wooden door, Sentret placed a stiff ear against the threshold in an attempt to identify the mysterious guest possibly on the other side. All at once, a much louder bang sounded, much to the small ferret's surprise. But even more shocking to Sentret was the fact it now found itself airborne in a shower of wood chips, its body hardly yet registering any pain from the abrupt impact.

Outside, Joe let off a small groan and held a hand to his forehead as the scene played out before him while he followed Cosmo, Caliber and Lily to the door. The smallest of the pack, the Tyrunt, appeared to take matters into her own hands while her trainer hesitated to go inside. Her latest assault on the aging woodwork proved to be a bit too much and shattered a two-foot wide hole in its wake and rocking the door. Lily stumbled inside and worked on regaining her footing while Cosmo followed suit, unprepared for the vibrations caused by his partner's attack to open the door for him.

Sentret regained her focus a short distance away from the guests crashing in as her peripheral caught a slight, attractive glimmer. The hilt of the blade holstered on Cosmo's right caught the growing sunlight just right to nab the scout Pokémon's attention. It bounded forth and lunged toward the dazed Lily, jumping off of her head to gain the height necessary to grab onto the weapon. Finding it wouldn't budge, Sentret began to gnaw on the thin leather that held it to the giant's belt.

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Encounter stats:

[Image: sentret.png]
Sentret / ? / ?? / ??? / 94%

[Image: tyrunt.png]
Lily the Tyrunt / F / Sassy / Strong Jaw / 100%

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#6
Caliber didn't find much of anything funny. He was always a bit too deep in his own hilts for humor. Yet, as he watched the woodland ball of energy use Lily's head as a springboard only to clamp its jaws around Cosmo's belt, he found himself resenting that he couldn't laugh. Knowing this was no longer his fight, he hovered passively away.

The Tyrunt, on the other hand, reflexively and uselessly nipped at the air as the Sentret embarrassed her - right in front of her trainer! - with an agile bounce. A couple of frustrated hops left and right later, she whirled to see the furry sphere furiously nibbling away. Her large eyes set alight - she'd not be outdone by this attacker!

Cosmo, however, was completely caught off-guard by all of the above. The door had shattered out of nowhere from his point of view, and he'd stumbled in from having leaned on its formerly intact surface. Then, the Sentret launching itself at him surprised him a second time - he hadn't grasped that he'd be attacked by anything! The shock subsided quickly, though, as he realized the mere Sentret was nothing to fear. He felt a little silly for having been caught flatfooted at all.

The giant's expression darkened at the prospect of having this bouncy little thing gnaw through his belt, but he was also ambiguous on whether he could just slap it away himself; that was probably against the rules that he imagined existed in this environment. Instead, he cast his gaze down to the Tyrunt, but he was too late. Her form was already squatted and her little flank was wiggling back and forth to rev up the pouncing engine.

"Get off of him," she angrily snarled as if defending Cosmo against something that would actually be considered remotely threatening. Lily's eyes popped open in a moment of clarity, however. She was supposed to wait for instructions. Her huge black corneas stared innocently up at her trainer.

Relieved that the two of them were making progress together, Cosmo lowered himself into a kneel to bring the Sentret closer to the ground. The tips of both swords gratingly scraped the floor. Staring at Lily, he brought one arm up, his hand held horizontally in front of him. He bounded it upwards, and the jaws of his fingers snapped in the air.
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