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Mel

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About Mel

Year 14
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    Exo-Armored Toa
  • Birthday 07/28/1992

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    she/her/hers
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    The Forgotten Mountains

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    ulia_darkness_toa

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  1. A conclusion, of sorts. but never do we give ourselves to them, for we know they do not love us, for we are not their children.
  2. Odaiba, At the Edge Far away from the sword and the gate, another pair of eyes watched the summit, unknowing but still drawn to them. They were very dark brown, the color, one Imperial Merchant had acidly remarked, of a freshly-manured rice paddy. The warm darkness of potential. The ancient Taajar, it was said, had no concept of Zataka. They divided darkness into different kinds, positive and negative. It was both death and life, creation and destruction. There was a warm darkness at the beginning of time, and from it emerged The Sky and The Sea. They were the only beings in existence, and such they loved each other with a great and terrible love. Though their love had borne many children, so fierce was their embrace that they were kept inside the womb of the sea. Wait, the sea is female? Shouldn’t it be the other way arou-- Scattered hushes. Not until the end. For long the children of The Sky and the Sea were kept in the depths ever growing in number, until one child was conceived, one stronger and larger than all the others. They were neither male nor female, but at the same time both, and They were called The Land. So big They were that Their siblings complained about Them taking up too much room in the womb of The Sea. So The Land decided They would make room for everyone. They rose up from the womb of The Sea and pushed apart The Sea and The Sky, with such force that the two could never embrace again. For many eons the space between raged with Her anger and His Loss. But then they looked upon their children spread out before them and their anger quieted, at least for a time. Kuychar Hatchi’s gaze flicked away from the mountain, and back to the three dashi walking along the beach, their laughter fighting against the sounds of the brisk autumn waves. There was still enough summer warmth in the air that Hatchi felt comfortable on zir beach chair, nestled in light furs. Myzru wrestled with an oyster nearby, his irritated squawking providing a counterpoint the rising and falling of tides and laughter. Hatchi looked at Sedskar, Semraed and Falki, called out to them, watched their faces bloom into smiles as they turned toward zir. Wondered how much of their smiles were for this meeting and not each other. Hatchi stopped zirself--when had this jealousy flared up, and why should it? Hatchi should be happy for them, and it was hard not to be. Falki took advantage of Sedskar’s momentary distraction to send him into the water with a yelp, and there was enough sunlight left warm in the water for him to sputter only momentarily from the shock before lunging up to pull her down with him. Semraed, ever the level headed one, resisted long enough before giving in with a woop and expertly dunking the two of them. So tired was The Land after this that They fell into a deep sleep, and in that sleep They dreamed. They dreamed of deep green forests and waving grassy plains and the wingbeats of birds, and these dreams took form, and rested on Their body. And The Land smiled in Their sleep, for although these creatures had not the strength of Their siblings, they were beautiful. The Sea, when She gazed upon these creations, felt her anger flare up again. What right had this child, who had caused Her so much pain, to delight in Their creations? The Sea found She still had enough of The Sky-- Muffled giggles, silenced by a hard glare. --within her to create a last few children. They were not as great as the children She had borne before, but they were made with purpose--fierce and proud, with a will to rule. They were favored by both The Sky and The Sea, and so had complete mastery of these domains. The Sea declared that these children would rule over the world The Land had dreamed, and the The Land despaired, for nothing They had dreamed was as powerful. No, it was not these three koshi zrupgar--content in their youth and love and strength--that made Hatchi feel so frayed, so stretched and anxious. It was the Astyzyar Jahagir talking to zir, it was Plangori Soraya and her curiosity--it was whispers of a land far away, where the people were the color of janu birds, like they had been in times long ago. That traitorous hope against hope that beat around the inside of Hatchi’s skull like a crazed bird had shredded the contentment, the carefully built facade constructed of years of not allowing zirself to feel, to remember that zi was not a woman--nor really a zrupgar. That crazed hope that something of the stories told to zir by the old grandfather had been right. Then, looking at the last children of The Sea, The Land caught sight of their brilliant, textured scales...and They dreamed of a people with faces like those scales, of as many colors that there were in existence. They were small, for The Land had not the power of Their parents, and so at first The Sea did not notice them. But although The Land had not the power to give Their children the strength of the air and waters, They dreamed them minds that could think and reason--and even dream, as Theirs did. And dream they did--and their hands brought their dreams to fruition. The Children of the Land began to the bounty of the earth around them into gleaming tools and sturdy houses that would stand against the rain and wind. Suddenly, the sky above Hatchi lit up—lightening? A storm? Even the Kuychar, who kept a nervous truce with the unkind sea, had never seen something like this. The shouts of confusion from the fisherwoman returning from their watch confirmed zir hunch. The lightening, it arched back and toward the mountain, seeming coming forth from the roiling cloud of cloud of darkness at it’s peak. Hatchi had just enough time to consider the possibility of an eruption before the it struck. The Sea saw this, and Her anger flared once again. She lashed out with waves so high that they reached The Land’s heart and filled it’s spaces with poisonous water, so no more dreams would escape into the world. The Sky whispered to His children and told them to guard the place where The Land’s heart lay waterlogged, so that His other child could never dream anything that could challenge the children that the Imperials call The Kanohi Dragons. It is very hard to scare a well trained soko. From the day they are foaled, their trainers and their heard teach them to remain steadfast in the face of danger, whether that danger be the clash of crystal or the smell of smoke. And as Kuychar Ilykaed looked out on the smoking fields, she gave thanks the wisdom and good sense of generations of sokomasters for their guidance. Her contemplation was interrupted by the arrival of another zrupgar, concern written across the face of her mask. She didn’t mince words. “Something’s moving on the top of the mountain. A great force, and fast.” The Taajar had used such techniques in the past—seasoned warriors on sure-footed horses, coursing down mountains to overwhelm a foe. To the Imperials, it might seem crude and barbaric—a show of brute force more than tactics—but Ilykaed has studied, knew that there was always a plan. Always. She met the other women’s eyes squarely. “Tell them to bring out every last boat, even the canoes. The dashi and the artisans, anyone who can’t swing a sword or shoot a bow, they must take the dried food they can and go as far out into the sea as the boats will carry them. I will take care of the rest.” As the trees on the mountaintop began to shake, she let Maki take her towards the other warriors. But no matter what winds He sent, the sturdy homes of The Land’s Children did not falter. He sent his children to kill them, but The Land’s children had grown too numerous for the dragons--and though they killed many The Land’s children were many more, and together they pushed back against the dragons--finally slaying some with the weapons they had forged. The Sea and The Sky feared to see their children dying, so they called them back. Hatchi was accustomed to the chaos of uprooting—the lowing of animals and the questions of children and scramble to put things away. Never like this, though, never into the sea, on a moment’s notice. Still, it was easy to pretend that this was just another camp change, especially with the familiar faces around zir. Another woman flagged zir down, and zi guided Myzru in that direction—there was no time to greet her, only to catch the message and turn back towards the beach, firmly guiding Myrzru to the collection of boats that was being loaded. It was almost as if someone else was inquiring which boats were the surest, asking the fisherwoman where zi should direct the assorted people on the beach. It was easy to float in this place between events, just before the wave crashed. But Hatchi was practiced enough at sensing a situation that would soon erupt into violence, as were a great number of the people here. Zi caught sight of Sedskar dodging similarly between the refugees, his gaze firm and focused, his earlier joy gone. Semraed and Falki would be with the other warriors, preparing for whatever strange foe came down the mountain for them. As the last of the sturdy fishing boats pushed off, leaving only the fastest canoes for the warriors if they had need of them. When they had need of them. Hatchi dismounted from Myzru, urging him to swim into the waiting waves, and stood leaning on zir cane, on the edge of the sand. And that is why we do not worship The Sky or The Sea. We plead for their favor, and acknowledge their might, but never do we give ourselves to them, for we know they do not love us, for we are not their children. We are not born of Sea and Sky, of power and terror. We are born of The Land and Their dreams, our hands and our minds. “What are—“ “Focus.” The flat, firm voice of the Sokomaster cut off the murmurs of dismay from the younger warriors. There were too many of them, Ilykaed thought. Too many Zrupgar who hadn’t seen a true battle, and too many of those things steadily becoming more clear on the horizon. They looked like some twisted take on a lizard, but they walked upright, and they gleamed impossibly. Like metal. Ilykaed may have been a general, the rightful leader of the Kuychar clan, but when it came to archery, she was second to the steady hand of the Sokomaster, waiting for her signal as one of the creatures drew closer. And then, suddenly it was not there. The soko next to Maki screamed as the warrior next to Ilykaed frantically reached for her weapon, but Ilykaed had already let the bow fall to her side. She had really hoped not to tap into the power of her mask so early, but this was no time. Not enough save the soko. The creature was made of metal, gleaming and resilient, but it splintered beneath the weight of Ilykaed’s great kris all the same. She saw something soft and wriggling split beneath the blade before Maki drew back and the creature’s shell teetered. Ilykaed spoke clearly, above the fears and whispers of her warriors. “They can die.” Then Maki dodged to the side as the ground next to her exploded. As she seated herself, aware of every last position in her peripheral vision, Ilykaed turned to lock eyes with the Sokomaster, an understanding flashing between them. The creature before had used a mask power, but these things had power beyond that, power they did not understand. “Retreat! Focus on the ones with range!” One of the creatures, the brown one, ducked under the pepper of arrows that clanged off its carapace swinging around to cause another roaring explosion just in front of the retreating Soko. In the next volley, however, the Sokomaster’s keen eye send a bolt punching through it’s eye, skewering the writhing worm inside. Luknan, the warrior who had been unhorsed, ran alongside them, but she was falling behind, and she knew it. Still, she kept in rhythm with them, facing the creatures that were now quickly advancing on them. She had not been greener than any of the others, not less skilled, simply unlucky. But there would be time to mourn later. They settled into it—this rhythm, this tedium of war. One creature tore up the battlefield with a raging wind, another seemed to direct a swarm of small, humming bees. Their powers were strange, but they still had body language—still could be read. One fell, then two. The warriors knew where to aim now. But there were too many. Luknan felled one of the creatures as it approached her with a well-aimed throwing knife, but another drew close and Ilykaed watched as the warrior seemed to move in slow motion, her blocks too late as the staff pierced through her chest. And then they hit the village, and broke into a full run for the canoes. The creatures were almost as fast as Soko, and it was harder to hit them without the benefit of an open field. Illykaed lost sight of some of the force, saw one of the creatures envelope a horse and riders in darkness, before staggering and falling as the koshi zrupgar punched a katar through its head. The training against sighteyes had payed off, Ilykaed thought even as she noted the two others that were missing. But there was no time. Ilykaed dismounted from Maki, throwing herself into a canoe even as the other warriors slammed into them. She saw Hatchi take Maki’s reigns before the question in her mind fully registered. But there was no time. She had to row, with fast, calix powered strokes as she watched Hatchi pull herself clumsily onto Maki’s back. The couldn’t take the Soko—they were good swimmers, but not in the depths of the ocean. And that looked like how far they were going to need to go. Then even Ilykaed could not keep a gasp from her lips as one of the creatures began to float above the water, toward them. For a moment, they hung on the precipice of despair. And then the Sokomaster put an arrow through the thing’s eye once again. No more of them came then, instead turning their anger on the village, tearing it apart with haunting screams that seemed just on the edge of speech. Ilykaed watched Sednkuy burn, watched the village she worked to build vanish in the space of minutes. But the people were still here, the hands that had built this place. They had lost three warriors, and a caravan leader. And that only maybe. As Illykaed watched Maki lead the heard away, a streak of dappled brown with a dark blue splotch clinging onto it, she thanked whatever powers may have lived in the skies that these metal monsters were only almost as fast as Soko. Then she picked up her rowing, back to the fickle sea. For The Sea and The Sky still grow jealous sometimes, and they send nightmares deep into The Land’s dreams. These nightmares have no trouble passing through the poisonous water, for they are made of poison. But that is a story for another time.
  3. [Sue, The Stray Tach, Lower Reaches] Since Tallik seemed inclined to head off as soon as possible. Sue took the opportunity to stash her resignation note in a stack of tips left for Psan. She grunted in assent to Tallik’s statement. “Most people know me here,” translated TK “surprised you didn’t catch my name. It’s true what they say about not remembering the bartender, I guess.
  4. [Sue, The Stray Tach, Lower Reaches] The growl from the wookiee relaxed in a deep, contented pur. “Excellent,” came the translation. “Just let me finish my ale and I think we’ll be set to go.” Her eyes moved over to Tallik. “Unless you’ve got anything else to take care of, hun?” Privately, Sue was kicking herself for not trying to talk the spacer down a couple more pegs, if this was how fast she gave in. Ah well, the reputation of wookiees would survive a weaker haggle then this. She had a win, which had improved her mood considerably.
  5. [Sue, The Stray Tach, Lower Reaches] Sue drummed her fingers on the table as the pantoran woman talked. Peculiar eye color that--she had encountered a fair number of pantorans in her time as a smuggler, mostly as something to get around--they weren’t the greatest fans of spice and the people who dealt in it--and she’d never seen one that ventured outside of yellow. Still, with such a small sample size she couldn’t really be sure. Then there was the smell of something around Captain Kaal, a smell hard to identify, which was infuriating, because identifying smells was Sue’s specialty. It wasn’t even a smell really, but the suggestion of one, like an odor that had faded but left behind some small incomplete chemical component. Pride and apprehension struggled in Sue’s consciousness before pride won out. She was a wookiee, bark and leaves, and she was not going to leave without throwing her weight around a little. It would be more suspicious if she skulked off into the night meekly. Sue didn’t miss the way Kaal’s eyes flickered toward her suitcase, and as they returned upward, she leaned in closer, resting a hairy arm on the table and staring intently as the captain finished her . The growl that followed wasn’t loud, per say, but it was deep. “1800 credits, Captain Kaal,” TK said, voice as flat as ever. “1000 up front.” Sue took out the required credits and placed them on the table, watching to see how the woman would react.
  6. [Sue, The Stray Tach, Lower Reaches] Tallik sounded very sure of himself, which sounded like trouble to Sue. Then again, maybe it’s not the place she thought. Maybe it’s me She’d tried running, and a fat lot of good that had done her. She shrugged. “Sure. Dantooine’s fine,” TK translated.
  7. [Sue, The Stray Tach, Lower Reaches] Sue glanced at Talik, and the robot translated her series of low growls. “Just two, I think. Pretty careful--but not too careful, that tends to attract as much attention as being not careful enough.” Sue called one of the servers over and ordered a round of Tarisian Ale. It was from her last batch, and was one of her best. She sipped thoughtfully while watching the pantoran woman. “As for where too?” came the translation. “I’ll pay for your best hunch. You seem to be good at avoiding trouble.” Sue gestured at the hole in the wall with a soft chuff. “I’d trust you more than myself at this point.”
  8. [Sue, The Stray Tach, Lower Reaches] For all the visual disguises he tried to put on, Sue smelled Tallik a second before he approached her. Her replying growl was higher and sharper than usual, and totalled disregarded his question. <<Tallik. You shouldn’t be here.>> Sue kept walking down the stairs toward the bar, until she realized the young twi’lek had stopped and was looking at her. He smelled worried--and afraid. Her next growl softer, almost a pur. <<But since you’re here, you might as well come. You’ve saved me a difficult confrontation.>> Sue opened the door to the Tach, locking eyes temporarily with her apprentice behind the bar counter. Luckily, with the hole in the wall and rumors of imperial activity the clientele was significantly reduced, so Psan probably would be fine. Probably. She was going to leave him a big tip. Sue had spotted the bounty hunter a couple days ago--she had somehow been able to avoid the chaos of the last day, which was a point in her favor. And she also appeared the perfect combination of bored, desperate for money, and confident for Sue’s purposes. The Wooki strode over to the woman’s table, taking a seat on her suitcases. She reached into her shoulder bag and turned TK on, setting its volume to moderately low. “Would paying for a round of drinks be considered proof of seriousness?” the droid translated Sue’s inquisitive growl.
  9. In her dreams. It was her hands. A little goodbye for the Talli of this arc. She was stuck in one place for a while, and now she's finally moving.
  10. [Ga-Koro, Eastern Residential District (Talli)] In her dreams. It was her hands. Everything was the same, the blasted buildings and the twisted walkways and that thing, wedged between the metal and wood that couldn’t be her brother, because Chahlu had been (no no not was) so alive, so animated and warm and cheerful and solid. He would never, never leave them. But this time, it was her hands that commanded the waves, their reflections stretched and distorted until they covered the sky and her voice, throwing mocking echoes back at her as she tore the world apart. This is what you were meant to be. There was never any easy respite from these dreams. She had to struggle back to consciousness as if from underwater, until the real world crystalized, dully, around the space of another headache. She was looking at the grain of the kitchen table. She’d sleepwalked again. S##t. “Talli?” The Ga-matoran looked up in the face of her younger brother, concern knitted across his brow and a warm cup of tea in his hand. He slid it across to her wordlessly, and she took it, inhaling the lemongrass-scented steam. They had formed a routine by now. The first time he’d tried to wake her and received a bruise on his cheek for his troubles, which he’d promptly gone and lied to their parents about. Talli had hated how it sounded, hated herself for not being able to own up to it later. She looked back up at him again, taking a careful sip. Nahlu wasn’t like her or Chahlu had been, animated and gregarious. He was...careful, his speech softer, his longer-limbed movements slower. “Mom came an hour ago--checked on her and dad and they’re out cold. You’re fine.” She wasn’t fine. But she couldn’t keep this from him. “I have something to show you.” * * * Nahlu turned the stone in his hands. The pale light of their jellyfish lanterns caused the patterns carved on its surface to refract the light into phantom waves on the table. But it didn’t glow for him. It didn’t send slow pulses of light outwards, like a heartbeat. That only happened when she touched it. It only glowed for her. “This means…” she was relieved to see a mixture of confusion on his face. No joy, no assurance that she was crazy. She wasn’t crazy. “How can I?” She barely kept her voice from rising into a shout, far about the soft murmur of her brother’s voice. “I...I--hit Jumah yesterday, yeah he was being annoying, but he’s ten--that’s what he does.” “Talli--” “I’ve hurt you so much already--I don’t want to--” “Talli.” Nahlu’s voice was louder that she’d ever heard it, firmer. That alone made her pause. He was looking at her straight on, with a gaze so intense that it stopped her out of sear surprise. “Talli, maybe you should quit the marines.” The silence between them hung in the air for a long, long time. The jellyfish lights continued their circular, luminous lives. “You can’t be serious.” “Talli, you need help. Maybe you can’t admit it, maybe you want to believe that we can’t get on without you, but we can. We’re our own people, sister. We don’t need you.” Oh, that hurt. Tali struggled not to shout--what did he know? He had seen their brother all laid out and peaceful and surrounded by flowers. He had… Talli watched the hot, salty water as it drip-dripped onto the surface of the table. It was only after she started speaking and her voice came out ragged and breathless that she realized it was her own tears. “Why...then? Why am I here?” Her brother had his hand across hers now, his voice soft again but just as earnest. “I want my sister back. I want you to laugh again and go out with your friends and tease me about how cute the guy who serves shaved ice in the market square is but...you need help.” “Nahlu…” Talli looked back at him, his face purplish with the hint of a blush. “I’m tired of watching you try to be the only karz-cursed strong one. Maybe this is a sign from Mata Nui that you need to stop. To be yourself again.” “I can’t go back...Nahlu he’s...gone.” Gone like her trust in toa and the power they wielded. His eyes never faltered. “You think I don’t know that? We’re still here, Talli. We’re your family too.” Talli looked past her brother, to where the stone was placed, slightly to the side. Her stone. “I...I’ll talk to them when I go into work tomorrow. Or today.” It was definitely early in the morning. She got up, and he watched her as she padded back toward her room, taking the stone with her. “Love ya, sis.” “Love you too, smallbro.” “Hey, you can’t call me that again yet.”
  11. [Ihu-Koro, General Vicinity (Ranok)] Ranok had always been a wanderer, so wander he did. Within the bustle of the makeshift Ihu-koro hospital tents, he flitted around, carrying whatever messages he could for the promise of a warm hearth to sleep next to. Another de-matoran, in fact, most de-matoran, would have preferred the wind and the near-silence on the edge of town, but Ranok had grown up around the constant sound of music and chatter and laughter, and silence was a disturbance to him, not a refuge. Occasionally, when he had a moment, he would play his harmonica. The wounded wanted sad music mostly, but he would get the occasional request for a bawdy tavern song. He fit between the spaces of people’s lives, as he always had. That was his life--to play and to listen and to remember.
  12. [Ga-Koro, The Great Takea (Lucira/Talli)] The rest of the interviews were more of the same. Talli hardly registered words the other witnesses were saying as her iStone recorded them. The Ta-matoran was last, and Talli felt the dread settle in the pit of her stomach as the older woman looked straight at her. But her interview was uneventful, plainly told and practical like the personal giving it. It was only after Lucira had finished signing the testimony that she reached in her bag. Talli had let her guard down, and she might have twitched a little. Stupid. It was the little opaque bag that Lucira had removed some soaps from earlier, now drawn around something heavier. “I...don’t need--” “Listen,” Lucira said, “I know this may be a lot. You’ve got a lot on your plate, it looks like, and this is going to be a shock. But I don’t need this.” “I can’t… I’m…” But Tali could already feel herself leaning toward the back, wrapping her hand around the object. At least it didn't glow this time. Lucira shrugged. “Mata Nui has his own ideas about how to run things. Maybe it’s less about what that will turn you into and more about what it makes you do, knowing that. I don’t know really...but you might need this in the future. Maybe not. But I think if someone meant to hold onto it, it’s not me. Now if you’ll excuse me--I’ve got a hotel to check into.” She laid down a few widgets on the counter. “Something for the marine, for all her hard work. Don’t worry,” she said before Talli could open her mouth to protests. “I’ll give the guy in charge a heads up.”
  13. [Ga-Koro, The Great Takea (Talli)] Talli frowned at the matoran. “Where have you been that you can just ask anybody on the street if they’ve seen someone that looks like any normal person?” She once would have known the pubs and houses and marketplaces that the corporal mentioned, would have frequented then. But most of her nights now were filled with ill-conceived attempts at getting to sleep early. She’d tried copious amounts of alcohol, but they only made the mornings worse.
  14. I think this is always a good thing to bring up. @The Forge of Artakha A lot of us enjoy playing with Zyrgak--he's a fun villain to fight, and we appreciate the enthusiasm you're bringing to the table with him. However, his extra powers essentially boil down to be really strong, so he doesn't have the vast flexibility of the Toa or other beings that are going to be set against him. It's okay if he doesn't notice this--it's one of his character flaws, after all--but you should realize that Ta-koro is filled with people that can teleport, see through walls, summon fireballs, and a vast number of hobbits which will immediately go for the knees. And they don't just have knives.
  15. [Ga-Koro, The Great Takea (Lucira/Talli)] After the toa had finished his testimony, Talli turned her iStone towards him. “I need you to sign here for records.” She tried not to glance sideways at the Ta-matoran, who was rearranging her luggage between bites of burger. She had apparently found the sheith to her knife and was emptying a bag of what appeared to be soap. “Okay, who’s next!” she said, looking around before the other guardswoman caught her stare.
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