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Krayzikk

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About Krayzikk

Year 11
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    BZPRPG Staff and OTC RPG Judge
  • Birthday 05/09/1997

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    New England

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  1. There's been a four year discussion on whether or not you were dead. Franco, welcome back.
  2. Yes. Back up to the point of departure. We're starting to engage in specific discussion, however, so I will take this to PMs in a few minutes.
  3. I'm not privy to exactly what was discussed already, only what I am explaining now. An imprisoned character is difficult to get out. That's by design, because village forces are under the direction of players as much as the PCs that lead them. It's not supposed to be easy to get out. A jailbreak isn't against the rules, but the manner in which you have gone about it does run contrary both to courtesy in dealing with village forces, and directly goes against the Common Sense Guide's section on NPCs. Neither of which do I think either of you intended to violate, you didn't know. Which is why I'm offering the choice to retcon it. As for Forge, he wasn't PMed by staff; he was PMed by a more experienced player who wanted to nudge things before I had to do something. It has been a day, the day after I finished my part in the sprint to finish this six year old arc. I was taking a frankly well deserved breather. You can retcon, or I can assume control of the Ta-Koro Guards.
  4. That's not what is primarily at issue. That is part of it, the wrapup topic is not intended for ongoing play as indicated in the first post. What is more at issue is that what you have been doing doesn't actually work. I was working up a PM to address the issue, but you've managed to get out before I could finish it. I can still finish it to explain in greater depth, if you would like, but presently your options boil down to retconning the departure from the cell, orrrrr I'll actually play out the Ta-Koro Guard end of things. Which won't go particularly well. I'm not trying to be unreasonable, but you've blazed through faster than I could address it. And I believe that one of your fellow players was already trying to warn you against this, as well.
  5. He's not back. I've been burned before.
  6. IC: .:Don't look for me. Please, Masa, do me this favor. I should...I should be back..:Don't look for me. Please, Masa, do me this favor. I should...I should be back. (I KNEW YOU'D COME FOR ME) I’m doing something reckless. I really am. Even for me, what I’m doing just barely toes the line between “necessary” and “treasonous”. I have no love for the Empire. Even less for the Rora. But Lord Rayuke and Desdemona, them I am loyal to. I wouldn’t be doing this if I didn’t. And I hope Rayuke will understand why. "I'll miss you either way," said a shaky voice, before the illusion abandoned her all at once. "I'll miss you either way," said a shaky voice, before the illusion abandoned her all at once. (NERA IS SLEEPING, UP ONE BACK OF CASTLE) "Pull yourself together, Korae." I rasp out, stalking towards the lion's den without waiting for a response. "Or do you want (DON'T TRUST INOKIO) to be the Battlemaster outdone by a cripple?" "We have a Chojo to save, and many, many Fursics (DON'T LET HER KEEP ME) to kill." I’m not a fool, no matter what Inokio thinks. He wants to save Desdemona himself, he wants to save his own life. Fool. It won’t be Desdemona that saves his life, I have already chosen to counsel mercy. Not the mercy he would hope for, perhaps. It might be kinder to kill him than inflict what I intend to advise. But mercy nonetheless. No, I won’t go along with his plan because of his clever misdirection. I will go along with it because despite his self interest, I cannot beat that particular Battlemaster. Not like this. I’m too tired. I’ve pushed for too long, I’ve had to maintain my strength long beyond is reasonable. The night’s rest was too brief respite, but it was all they could afford. It would have to be enough. I grab my ally by his good wrist, and pull him close. It’s true. For all the strength of a Battlemaster’s mind their bodies are weak. “Don’t lie to me, Inokio.” I whisper, a rough sound. “I will deal with Nera. Her execution is my responsibility. Free Desdemona. Help me get her out of here safely, and I will make sure you keep your life. On my honor as a warrior. It’s the only thing we can both respect.” "You do not need to dictate the same terms twice. I said, I will save her." I search his face a moment longer. I can’t see it the way he can see mine, but it’s important anyway. I don’t want to leave her life in anyone else’s hands. Not even Rayuke’s, if he was here. But if I can’t beat Sheika I must hope that he can. I let go of his arm with a quick nod and start on my way. Desdemona can hear me, I know she can even if she isn’t talking to me. So I tell her. I’m so sorry that I’m not coming to get you first. But if I do then none of us will make it. I will punish the woman who started this and then, I swear to you, I will come. My word is unbroken. So please, trust me just a little longer. I have not come all this way to let you down. You will walk out of here within the hour. The office of the Executioner has justice to dispense. My stride takes me quickly and easily to the stairs, and up one level. The compound’s defenders are outside, they are not prepared for invaders to bypass them so easily. Morning has only just begun, and many have not yet woken. I encounter little resistance until the next floor. My strides are low and swift, keeping my center of gravity low and my steps quiet. Four blades follow every move and flank my course, gleaming harbingers of imminent retribution. The first Menti I come across is warned, just once, to surrender in the name of the Rora. She doesn’t listen. One of the blades to my right strikes out once, and the Menti is silenced. But my presence is known, now. The short distance to the Toroshu’s quarters just became more hazardous. Lo and behold, the two guards posted outside are ready for me. I don’t hear what they say, but I feel when my perception changes. When footsteps begin to approach from other directions, and one set begins to charge from behind. Meant to inspire panic, no doubt, and for a moment it begins to succeed. The Fursics are masterful Sighteyes, it is the discipline they are best known for. My Arthron tells me that there is no one behind me. One of the two guards is approaching me weapon drawn and the other stays still, posted outside Nera’s door. An illusion. She cannot move while it is active. Her colleague will cut me down while I try to deal with the false assailant approaching from behind. If they are communicating further I don’t know it, the illusion masks the reality of my senses. But I go along with it. I turn, raising my weapon to defend myself while the Menti steps in close behind me. And my grip flips, my sword striking back to run her through. I never hear her cry. I never hear her partner’s response, though she drops the illusion to charge me and avenge her friend. Never does she even get close. My blades intercept her before she can, and I step over cooling bodies towards the door. My sympathy lasts for barely a moment. My quarrel was not with them, but their loyalties pit them against me. They could not have been unaware of what Nera had done, not so close to where the Chojo was kept. Their fate would have been the same, whether I swung the sword or Rayuke. For their crime, they died. It was as simple as that. If they wished for mercy they should never have attacked me. But ice grips my heart when I step inside, nevertheless. Death’s cold fingers squeeze the muscle, caressing it between beats. Those Menti pushed back against the same regime that the Dastana did, that I did. They had not harmed Des. The Chojo had violated their territory, it could be argued that they were within their rights to detain her. Especially after her attack on the Fursic people, the same invasion that had leveled me and Inokio on the beach. The clan would not have known what Nera planned to do, not known what Sheika had done to the previous Rora. These guards, now dead outside and a floor below, were blameless. I had invaded their home, cut down their friends, and marched straight to their Toroshu’s room. My aims were hostile, my reasons unknown. The two at the door may not even have heard me demand their clansister’s surrender. Had I relished it? So wrapped up in my anger, finally given an excuse to lash out at the world. That was what I was looking for, wasn’t it? An enemy? Someone to finally vent my rage at what had happened to me upon, an excuse to maim and to harm until maybe I could feel better because someone else had suffered as I suffered. The thought was like ice, it chilled me to my very bones. How had I never realized I was so insecure, so angry over never truly finishing in the Yards that I could strike down my fellow citizens? I was no better than Sheika, really. It was disgusting. To see how weak I was. No wonder Inokio was disgusted with me, no wonder my Lord Rayuke had stopped speaking with me. I was little better than a rabid dog, I should have kept to the position I was given. Somewhere peaceful, quiet. Somewhere my caring clan had placed me to honor the wrong that was done, to help me heal and still feel able to contribute. I should have stayed there. I threw it in their faces when I went with Rayuke, and now look where it had gotten me. What it had made me. No, not even that, that day at the Yards I should have- The blade lashed out towards my throat. No, no that wasn’t right. None of that was right, I- I felt the cold for what it was, writhing and burrowing deep into the crevasses of my mind like an insidious parasite. The blade stopped, shaking suspended in the air. The cold felt surprised. So that was what it felt like in earnest. I balled my fist and shoved it towards the Toroshu’s chest, hurling her bodily backwards before I ever even touched her. The older Menti caught herself gracefully in midair, and reached out again to continue her work. Despair washed over me like a wave, whispering reminders of my failures. That I should have let myself be swept away and forgotten, that I only shamed myself by trying to persevere in spite of my feebility. My will weakens, I drop to my knees. This is what I deserve. To dare to oppose someone so far above my station, to have forgotten my lot in life so utterly. I deserved to die for that. I would dispense no less, in the Toroshu’s place. The failure ‘Menti’, who had never even truly deserved the title. Given so many chances out of pity, and still unable to meet the plummeting standards. Worthless. Waste of space. Unable to save even my ward. No. No, I know your game now Nera. You should have finished the job the first time. You should have dispensed with subtlety and drowned my conscious in winter, you should have pushed until I was a gibbering mess. And then you should have struck. But you couldn’t do that, could you? You didn’t bargain on being resisted, you expected your little sucker punch to carry the day. You coward. You snake. You utter slime of a Dasaka, I do not deign to give you the title of Menti. Anger spikes red hot to fight the cold, an old friend come to the rescue. I knew anger. Anger could make you strong, if you channeled it right. Rayuke, Zuto Nui bless him, had set his aside. I fed on mine. He was right to teach me moderation, he was right to teach me restraint, but right now my anger was power. My anger was defiance of this woman’s games, defiance of what she had done to me and mine, defiance of what she had done to those of her own clan. This woman was the twisted, hardened heart of this clan’s corruption. It was my job to tear it out. I’ll kill you for that, witch. She was in my head to hear it but I had woken up, my will roused from its slumber like a wrathful dragon. A Willhammer’s game was to be subtle or powerful, and the reality was that this woman was not stronger than me. Her training, her will, her experience, all were formidable. But to resist a Willhammer all you needed was to be stubborn, and this I have in spades. We’re fighting, pushing back and forth in a bid to control my mind. I cannot concentrate enough to keep my mask active, I get only flickers of the room. But I don’t need them, Nera is as strained as I am. This is my mind she is fighting, my will, and my sense of self. Until she disengaged she was rooted to the spot, or she risked giving ground. But she would win eventually. I am not trained to resist, and spite only goes so far. So I change the game. I threw a book at her head. A book sitting on her nightstand, grabbed and chucked straight for her bitter, frownlined cranium. The object didn’t matter what mattered is that to avoid the blow, she had to disengage. She batted the tome aside contemptuously, but it was too late. I pushed back hard against her will and won back my control, following the book with a deft slash towards her knees. The Toroshu danced backwards, as quickly and easily as breathing, but I had created my room. “Toroshu Nera, you are guilty of treason.” I growled, shoving off hard to stab at her with my blade. “In the name of the Imperial Executioner, I will take your head.” Nera’s only response was a quirk of the mouth, a distasteful look as she stopped my blade with her mind. Dripping psychophysical energy whipped towards me and I twisted, bumping it off course with my forearm. The gauntlet on it complained, the star biting deeply into its crystal surface, but the armor held. For now. My blades rocketed at her, and she responded by catching each one with an object garnered from the room. The throwing star completed another pass, one I barely shifted aside from. The woman had barely made a move, simple flicks of her fingers to impose her will on the world around her. She was astonishing. Prowess on the mental plane and its intersection with the physical that I had never seen before, and might never see again. Or perhaps I had simply never seen a Battlemaster fight in earnest. Every move I made she countered and followed with her Soulsword, keeping me off balance. Here and there the attacks would falter, infinitesimally, and I would be forced to devote a little focus to staving off her intruding mind. When I did she would swap in an instant and start to wrest control of my swords, forcing me to change gears as quickly. And she was rested. Even if I had been her equal as a Mindarm, and it was hard to tell, she could outlast me. Easily. I was tired. Tired from rowing, tired from hiking, tired from fighting. I can’t see a road to victory, I don’t know how, I- Wait a tick. I played this game her way, and she couldn’t pull a decisive win. I was preventing her from trying again, and I was tired, yes, but… To maintain a Soulsword and contest my telekinetics was a truly incredible amount of focus. Of energy. And Nera is not a young woman, something I have on her even as tired as I am. Her mind is unparalleled. Her body had not been her strength, even when she was young. I’ve been playing to her strengths, like the fool I am. In an instant I drop my four blades, and with my freed focus lunge. I perceive shock for the first time from the traitor, even if I can’t really see her face. Her star whips towards me but off target; she gauges my speed wrong. It clips and carves away part of my visor, narrowly missing my face, but my first makes contact with her sternum. Her breath leaves her body, and she shoved me hard with her mind. I slide, but my own telekinesis keeps my steady. That broke her concentration. I step in again, catching her cheek with a swipe that she barely stepped back from. Nera grabs one of my swords with her mind, I ‘see’ it move, and I freeze it with my own. She disengages again, reach for another, but her desperation to find another avenue costs her ground. One of my sword flies to her hand and she blocks, but without grace; she tries to catch my blade head on, and her grip slips. My dagger flies from my waist and cuts a tendon inside her forearm on its path to my hand; I hear her gasp. I wonder how long it has been since she knew pain? I sense weakness and slam her to the wall. Her head strikes against it with a crack, and I feel the pressure on my mind abate. I pant. Every muscle in my body burns, my strength failing fast. I’m exhausted. “Jasik was right. You don’t learn to take a hit.” I rasp and pant, stumbling towards where Nera was pushing herself to her feet. All of that power, all of that training, and she couldn’t take a blow to the head better than anyone else. “Fursic Nera, Toroshu of the clan Fursic.” Her fingers move, trying to conjure her star. It doesn’t come, nothing more than wisps of psychophysical energy. She didn’t practice summoning it concussed, I suppose. Confusion colors her breathing, pace picking up little by little. She recognizes the danger she’s in, she’s searching rapidly for ways out. “You are guilty of treason in the conspiracy to kill the late Rora, you have conspired with the current Rora’s adviser to take control of the Empire, you have fomented dissent and betrayal. You have detained the Crown Princess against your will.” My voice drops, the edge of my blade coming to rest against her neck. “You made her cry. I can never forgive you for that. Your sentence is death.” “No, you-” I flicked my blade, and Fursic Nera fell silent.
  7. IC: It was a little unnerving to hear your own heart. Krayn always could, of course, but he learned not to. All Toa of Sound did, or Matoran, or Turaga. You’d go mad otherwise. Like knowing that you can see your nose. You always can but you never notice unless you’re looking for it. Krayn could always hear his heart, but it was filtered out. Dampened the way he dampened any other sound. Right now it was racing and he had much, much more time to think about it than he wanted. Kale’s ploy had bought them time and an ever diminishing cover of belonging, something reduced by the wounded Toa in their midst and falling with every passing second that they moved away from the fight and not towards it. It made him far tenser than any fight ever had or ever would, hanging in the infinitesimally small space between peace and war. He would’ve been happier if all Karz would break loose, at least then there was a release for the tension. Instead it continued to mount. Every pair of eyes that watched their progress, which felt glacially slow, considering whether or not they were suspicious. Whether or not they were a foe. And he could still hear their pursuers, nipping at their heels ever more closely. They had begun as whispers, barely heard through the din. The Gukko Force bombarded overheard each pass a report of violent fragmentation, a painful explosive chorus. But between their passes, in the moments that his ears were permitted to recover, he heard them louder and louder. Their words became discernible, their plans, their threats, their curses. Too far to determine their number, too close to be confident of escape. And this chase continued, and continued, and continued. Through the Koro, towards the gate, where uncertain fate awaited. If they arrived unharassed, they stood a chance of escape. If they arrived engaged in combat they were trapped, pressed between their pursuers and the men at the gate. If they moved beyond it they stepped into range of the heavy Pateros on the walls. They had stepped over enough bodies in that open tundra to know how that would fare. He could see the same tension in Kale whenever the Toa of Iron checked a new potential target, suspicion ratcheting higher and higher. The other military man knew as well as he did that their odds of survival dropped exponentially if they were forced to engage before reaching the village’s walls. Praggos would know, too, but he was preoccupied; he had a wounded man to support and keep stable, he was leaving tactical reasoning to the other Guardsmen. Krayn could only hope the others hadn’t figured it out themselves. There was no need for them to worry first. Plenty of time for that if the worst came to pass. The minutes stretched on and on into eons, every bit of sound given plenty of time to reach his ears and ratchet the tension up a little higher. The wall was in sight, now, but their pursuers were so close. They were trailing behind by mere moments. This far out from the battle, their presence became suspicious. Those furtive glances became hands on weapons, muttered discussions and every word was another stoke of the fire. The pressure built and built and built, and when it gave it would give explosively. But they were almost there. If they could reach the gates, they stood a better chance of surviving the Patero. Kale was fast. With his element they could block many of the projectiles, and the Maru had told them about the Gukko Force. If they could get out, just get out into the opening, they had a chance. The margin was razor slim and closing fast. Then the Madu hit. The unripe fruit struck the ice a few feet from him, and its explosion hurled him violently to the ground. Shattered ice rained down, but he couldn’t hear it. More fruit struck the ground, but he couldn’t hear it. The birds and their riders passed over head but their paths were so strange, moving in ways that couldn’t be natural. And he couldn’t hear them. That was more distressing than he wanted to admit, he heard everything. Always. He had to try not to hear, and now he couldn’t hear a thing. He could feel the vibrations in his hands, when they weren’t overcome simply with the feeling of the ice and snow beneath them. But the sound… His vision swam, he pushed himself roughly to his knees and saw that his luck has run out. The mercenaries behind them, or maybe they were cultists, or opportunists, it didn’t matter because they had arrived. And they were ready to kill. He could see it in their faces, even with how they swayed before his eyes, and with the violence that their lips moved in unheard shouts. His hand closed around his revolver again, brought it up, and he trusted that his Kanohi would allow him to hit the distorted figure. His eyes would not. The head of the Skakdi in front exploded, but he heard neither the shot nor the impact. Simply felt the kick and saw the result. He shouted at the top of his lungs for the others to keep moving. He was sure of it, but he didn't know. Krayn staggered to his feet, turning fully to face the hounds that had chased them through the village and retreating only in the stablest backwards steps that he could manage. Every move threatened to send him toppling to the ground, but he kept steady. The trickle out of his ear had already cooled and began to freeze, and he couldn’t hear his hurried breaths. Only the beating of his heart, faintly amongst the ringing. He heard them as they reverberated through his body, pumped harder and harder to keep him alert and alive. He fired another shot and dismayed to see it fly wide, powder puffing off of an icy wall. The whole world had shrunk only to what he could see, the foes in front and the icebound landscape. He had no idea how long he had been on the ground, moments before, or if the others had heard him. It was all confused. But he had to laugh at how he had gotten here. His old Force had spited him one last time. It wasn’t their fault, they didn’t know who was good or bad. But that they would be both his salvation and the ones that denied it to him was an irony too great to bear. The whole thing had been a wash from the start. From the second Skyra engaged they had wasted time, wasted time fighting, talking, picking up more and more strays because of course they would. Not one of them had it in them to begrudge someone in need. Even if it had doomed him. Another shot, clipping one of the mercenaries in their shoulder. His mask wasn’t working reliably. He couldn’t concentrate, and his eyes had betrayed him almost as much as his ears. Some were charging closer, but others were smarter; they began to fire at him with bows, with firearms, and with powers. Some of the attacks went wide, perhaps to strike at the group somewhere behind him? Others were near misses, and every time he moved to evade he staggered and risked falling into the snow. The Madu didn’t seem to be raining upon him anymore, thank Nui, but there would be no rescue from that quarter. They couldn’t land under siege. There was no rescue. The thought struck him like a hammer blow, sinking in from the rational to the emotional. There was no one coming to save him. His friends were gone, escaping or escaped. It was exactly what they had all agreed upon, it was exactly what was necessary. But the fact was little comfort. For the third time in his life Krayn looked death in the face. For the second time, no rescue was coming. For the first time there was no one to change their minds. It wasn’t a choice, it wasn’t a request denied, there was simply no one left. He was alone. He should have taken his retirement, let someone else deal with Ko-Koro. There were no Aggressors anymore. That was the last time that he could have taken on the world. He had a cause, he had allies, he had a purpose. That team was unstoppable, unshakable. Naona, and Tillian, and Skyra. Then he had met Kale, and Dehkaz, and the crew that would grow to be his friends. They had fought, they had won, and over time they just… Separated. He had still seen them, from time to time, but they were further and further in between. Until some of them simply dropped off. And then a few more, and then a few more, and now the scattered few that remained were alone. Naona and Dehkaz were on their own quest. Kale was doing his duty, and leading their friends to safety. The friends for whom he now bought time. At least until there was no more time to buy. A Vortixx closed in, sword raised, and he ducked gracelessly under the slash to put a round in their chest. They dropped, staining the snow. Another bullet fired, another moment purchased. Wasn’t that something. Shaddix had been there the first time he was about to die, too. Now a simple gift bought him a little more time to life for every cycle of the cylinder was a few more seconds to live. He was still going to die. Here, in this godless wasteland with ice under his boots and fingers so frozen he fumbled to reload his gun. Under a sunless sky, surrounded by enemies, in a Koro he’d never much liked. He wasn’t going to retire. He was never going to earn the respect he deserved. Krayn had decided in Ga-Wahi, so long ago now, that he would never die until he could walk proudly into Artahka and demand that the fool who had appointed Skyra to Commander apologize to him. Apologize for being wrong, and then finally give him the respect he deserved. What was he going to do now? This was no way to die. This was nothing worth his pride, this was an ignoble, ignominious death. Felled by a no name mercenary because someone got too trigger happy with their bomb. No one would know, no one would tell the story. … Not here. Not like this, he uttered silently. Go to Karzahni, Jaron. You gave up and died. I’m giving Daring that earful for being so stupid. I survived the Rahkshi. I survived pirates. I survived serving under Skyra. I survived the Mark Bearers. If Utu couldn’t kill me, I’ll be if these cowards can. His second revolver slipped from its holster, leather sliding across polished metal with soundless grace. He had filled the other’s cylinder. Between them he had twelve bullets, with twelve names fated for each. If he had to reload he was dead anyway. A report from each, soundless but punctuated by a growl within his chest that he could feel even if he couldn’t hear it. His heart was still pumping, and that meant that he wasn’t dead yet. The mercenaries were too close, now, he holstered a revolver and drew a knife. A shot over the shoulder of a charging Toa and the target reeled, while the Toa drew in close. He was too dizzy to evade. The blade meant for his chest bit deep into his shoulder instead, the twist giving him enough force to drive his own blade into the mercenary’s chest. The dying man took a crossbow bolt for him while he returned fire. He abandoned the knife and grabbed another when the Toa dropped. The pain drove away the last bit of clarity, and the next moments were a haze of smoke and violence. He fired until the revolver clicked empty, drew the second, and kept falling back step by step. If he could make it past the gate, he could risk the Patero. But he had to get there. Should he have arrived already? Was he still going the right way? He didn’t know. He couldn’t get his bearings. He realized, a little too late, that his heart rate was getting faster and weaker all the time. He’d been bleeding since the explosion, and the nicks and injuries since were adding up. No longer did clear thought come to mind, but he felt his back touch ice. The walls. The gate must have been somewhere, but… Krayn slumped, breathing shallow. He couldn’t find it. Even if he could, he’d never be able to make it to the Force’s evacuation point. Frozen fingers dumped the empty shells, and shook as they loaded six more. He would hold on, for as long as he could. Maybe a counterattack would arrive in time. He hoped it was before he couldn’t aim straight anymore. Because there were still bloodthirsty fanatics closing in. * * * “-what do you mean stayed behind?” The words felt hollow and empty even before he heard his own voice; Dehkaz knew exactly what was meant being said. It sent a shock of dread plummeting into a cold pit in his stomach. His ask of confirmation more an act of defiance to the truth than anything else. Krayn had made a choice, yet it was the only option they had. A decision born of necessity in the face of grim adversity, one that any of them would have made in his stead in a heartbeat. Only the one who it had come down to was Krayn. The look in Kale’s eyes as Dehkaz had met the rag-tag group as they had emerged from the fortress of ice haunted him now. As did the short, out of breath response that followed, the words sounding foreign coming from his silver comrade. They had scarcely made it out alive, at the cost of one life. Like Karz. His breath came short and sharp, the fatigue of having trekked up to the citadel in the mountain forgotten for the time being as Dehkaz had set off in nearly a dead run, an urgency brought forth by dire stakes. Past Kale and the assorted group of evacuees. Past the gate into the solid wall of ice. Past the assortment of buildings that made their claim near the edge of the village. Snow gave beneath his heavy footfalls, his eyes darting between buildings searching for friend or foe alike. He just needed more time. * * * Karz. It was getting awful hard to keep the cylinder loaded. Hard to say if it was the cold or the blood dripping, despite his best efforts to keep pressure on. When he wasn’t reloading. Which was taking a long time, now, his fingers just didn’t want to do what he told them. They either shook or just didn’t move the way he wanted. Probably not a good sign. Fortunately he was mostly being left alone. The people who’d been chasing him specifically were dead, or they were dying. But he could hear a couple coming. Someone coming, at least, and if someone was coming then enemies would be coming soon anyway. Hurried footsteps. Krayn fumbled the cylinder shut and shakily pulled the hammer back, blinking his eyes and willing them to see a little better a little longer. * * * Blood in the snow. Bright crimson that melted away into the whiteness that permeated the entire fortress. Unmistakable, like a beacon taunting the living as it escaped the lifeless shell sprawled out across the street. A lifeless shell that was not Krayn. Dehkaz quickened his pace as he stepped over the body of the Skakdi, the wound to its morbidly grinning skull not one from any of the riders above. It was a trail, one that told a macabre story of one final stand after another. The mortal wounds were fresh; some by projectile, some by blade; and their lifeblood stained the ground on which he ran. He was getting close now. The question was whether he would find Krayn in a similar state to those he left behind. The answer came as Dehkaz rounded a corner, the scene before him painting a grim picture of events that transpired only seconds before. Krayn, slumped against a wall. Surrounded by the remnants of those who had dared to end his time on this island. Splashes of red on the white snow, not entirely the De-Toa’s own. All was unmoving. “Kra-” A Skakdi dashed out from an alleyway directly in front of Inzaka, left arm limp from a bullet wound while the other raised high; clutching a knife with wicked intent. Dehkaz shouldered his rifle and fired two shots. * * * Half-lidded eyes sluggishly opened again at the feeling of fresh vibrations, the hand not pressed to his shoulder giving a slow, faltering wave. With the barrel of a gun. “Commander,” He greeted, the word coming out unevenly and slightly slurred, like someone bordering on a drink too many. Not that too much fluid was the problem, judging by the pale complexion beginning to turn the former Lieutenant from gray to blue. “Sir. M’sorry, I can’t…” He frowned a little, gesturing loosely at his ear. “M’not looking at a closed casket yet, am I?” “Not yet,” Dehkaz lowered his weapon, and while still weary of threats around, made his way over to Krayn. The relief that had washed over the Toa of Magnetism was short lived. Though he was alive and wisecracking, Krayn was not in much better shape than the bodies Dehkaz had passed over to find him. Taking a knee he continued, “We need to stop the bleeding, now.” He managed to lock eyes with the wounded Toa’s listless gaze for a moment, and the meaning was clear. They both knew what had to be done. Dehkaz turned his focus back to Krayn’s shoulder, the injury cut across it now exposed to the freezing air. Twin, brilliant blue lights reflected off the icy wall behind them as the Commander got to work. Laser vision didn’t hurt quite as bad as he might’ve expected, though that probably had something to do with lingering on the boundary between conscious and not. And only brought it down from ‘unimaginable’ to ‘excruciating. The smell of cooking flesh was much, much more disquieting, but he was too out of it to worry much about that, either. The De-Toa clenched his teeth through the whole process, letting out as far as he could tell a minimum of sound. Whether or not Praggos could ungrind teeth was another matter. When Dehkaz was done, Krayn let out a ragged breath he wasn’t really aware he’d been holding. “Can… Kinda hear you, sir. Kale out alright?” “Kale made it out fine; the others too. They’ll make it.” Dehkaz turned away for a moment, the sounds of the battle above at this point nearly masking what could be heard from anyone approaching. Now was not the time for an unlucky lapse in awareness. He glanced back at Krayn, “Now we need to get out of this Mata Nui-forsaken Koro too, and I don’t plan on losing any other friends along the way.” Taking hold of the Toa of Sonics’ uninjured arm Dehkaz heaved him up and onto his shoulders, Krayn leaving a disconcerting red-splashed impression in the snow where he had laid. It was a miracle that he was even still conscious, continuing on by nothing short of sheer force of will alone. One more check for hostile intent and Dehkaz started off, at a significantly slower pace than he had arrived, but with a far greater sense of urgency. Doubtless more inhabitants would be drawn to the sounds of fight just inside the citadel’s walls soon. One hand kept a firm grip on the half-aware Krayn, the slight hum of Dehkaz’s elemental power keeping him in place, while the other kept his rifle at the ready. They kept out of the open, Dehkaz sticking near the walls and alleyways of abandoned homes of those that once lived in this village. Now empty. A steely sense of resolve krept into the Commander’s conscious at the thought. They would deal with monsters later. For now, the village gate was in sight and Krayn was failing to stay conscious any longer despite his efforts. He wouldn’t be keeping an eye on much of anything, as removed from immediate danger the former Lieutenant succumbed to exhaustion and passed out silently.
  8. IC: Well that sucked Za- "That's unfortunate." I said, crouching to pick up the sticks. I still had to feel for them a moment but Inokio's consideration had made them easy to find. I appreciated it, as much as it pains me. It would be worse to have to fumble for them in front of him. "This is going to hurt. A lot. Hold out your hand, and stay still." I trusted my mind more than my hands, so I elected to set it with my discipline. I drew a length of twine out of a pocket, and at the same time pulled sharply on his wrist with my mind. I wasn't fond of the sound it made, but he would be even less fond of how it felt. The strongest of the sticks floated to him and braced against the Battlemaster's wrist, while I carefully tied them in place. It was a crude setting, but it would give him at least marginally better function than before. And make it easier for a real healer to treat, if we got out of here. The hard part was the realignment, the setting itself was easy so I considered our options. A frontal assault was doomed to failure. I can't fly, and neither can he. Nor can he climb with his wrist. So going over the wall was unlikely. Unless... "The last time you were here you came through the front door. We can't do that." I said slowly, turning my 'gaze' further outward. "But this area is wooded. One of these trees is likely to be taller than the wall. You can't climb, but I can. I can Mindarm you over. And once you've touched down on the other side, you can still see me and do the same to get me over." As for finding her, if she's still alive she can find me and tell me where she is. If she's not, it doesn't matter. I'll find her sometime during killing every soul in that compound.
  9. IC: Skri was the last to enter the room, and in a rarity, perhaps the quietest. It was amazing how quickly she got used to being around these Toa, these modern day titans. She was more curious about her surroundings than the other Maru. Their quiet reunion perhaps was undercut by the groan of metal but it was more likely that no one else could hear it. Or maybe it had just been the leather wrap ground against the hilt. The mercenary silently returned the weapon to her back, taking care not to hit anyone with its length. No one was behind her, it wasn't much of a risk. But who knew where Taleen would be standing. She elected to look around, padding softly around the room. Ko-Koro had never been her favorite place, Sanctum outposts even less. It was something of an opportunity to see one. An unnerving sight to see it disused, though, when it was so clearly lived in. The scuffs and wear on regularly used parts, worn and smooth wooden bunks reshaped over the course of decades. It may not have been home, but it was a sanctuary. A place where brothers and sisters in arms had lived, laughed, and leaped to the defense of their village. It had been abandoned quickly, with the intent of returning. Belongings still sat ready and waiting, though with a thin coating of dust now. She silently padded from bunk to bunk to look at each in turn, keeping a wide berth around the hostages and Maru. Let their heroes give them comfort, it wasn't what she was there for. Her fingers lightly traced over the surface of each pair of beds, feeling where it had been changed by repeated movements and where the tree's grain had once been. Where there were still knots in the wood, and which fixtures had been replaced or repaired over the years. The newer material was always obvious. Eventually she stopped to look at one when her fingers brushed against something carved, not worn. It hadn't been abandoned as recently. The small handful of objects left behind had been organized, considered, and left out when its owner packed. A spare knife, a few assorted knickknacks. A carton of cigarettes. She palmed the carton and turned back around to the rest, drawing one out and flipping it between her fingers. Maybe Ril could find the time to give her a light. Or... "I dunno. Beyond you or me." Skri answered Plagia softly, holding up the cigarette between two fingers. "Give it a zap?"
  10. IC: The Toa of Stone moved deftly and definitively, but without wisdom. His foe had been prepared for any eventuality, but not for so swift an end. Stannis flowed left, avoiding the strike only narrowly but escaping the blade unscathed. The movement was clean and practiced, the haft of his halberd following the path to connect with Eisen's leg. But it was here the trap clanged shut. The cloak at Eisen's right lashed around the staff, constricting into an unbreakable vise grip at the swordsman's mere thought. The weapon was locked, and with only one hand on the haft Stannis had not the strength to contest it. But Eisen had not been idle, as no true fighter would be; his stance ironclad he stepped in with his left foot with the surety of a Muaka's pad, his left arm still tight and coiled. It was here perhaps that Stannis' error became clear to him. In trailing his weapon it became locked on the outside giving his opponent absolute control over its movement. In his bid to outlast the same Toa that had felled his brother Stannis surrendered the only strength his polearm gave him, and gifted inside control to the southpaw who favored his left. Whether Stannis realized or not he wasn't given the breath to adapt. In close quarters the Fe-Toa was king, and his coiled arm drove the blade towards the completely undefended ribs on Stannis' right side, on a point-blank trajectory through his liver. The Maru's only free hand was nowhere to block, he could no longer disengage, and he could not force the halberd's blade towards Eisen's face with one hand. With two, perhaps, but he was out of time. And the dark Toa's own right arm was free to bar it even if he wasn't. In seeking to win the war Stannis had likely lost the battle in a breath. Once the conclusion ran its course, he would help Agrona finish the Toa of Air. Then they could collect Rorg and Karnakie and leave what remained of Ko-Koro to its heroes.
  11. IC: Sinshi nodded, slightly. That was what she'd thought Ayiwah could mean. The suggestion wasn't unwelcome, though she realized with a faint smile that her grandmother would hate it more than anything else she could do. That would, perhaps, be even worse than her granddaughter abandoning the Empire. .:I will certainly consider it, ma'am. It would be a good compromise. I have time to think about it, we won't be leaving just yet.:. She bowed very slightly, as a show of respect. .:If I remain, Commodore, I hope that you will not take it as a personal offense. I have nothing but admiration for you and the things you have accomplished.:.
  12. IC: "Defeat." Eisen laughed at the word he'd singled out, shoulders rising in a single shrug. The ceasefire had been offered and rejected, and nothing more need be said about it. Rather than dispirited the Toa of Iron's eyes came alive, any defeatism abandoned. There was a life to his motions that hadn't been there a moment before, a certain abandon in his step absent before. He stabbed his sword into the ruined ground, releasing its hilt and dropping his shield alongside it. A second blade swung out from his opposite forearm, the soft sound of smoothly crafted metal clacking into place and locking. Every movement was springy and relaxed, without a hint of stress. "You give me faith, Stannis. I knew you could never kill a God." An unseen force rocketed towards Korero's front like the fist of an angry god, intended to knock him towards Agrona, and give the witch hapless prey. Eisen himself blurred into motion. Both of the weapons on the Maru's person were polearms, a halberd and an ironic Rahkshi staff. Against a halberdier range was the enemy, they could control the ebb and flow. Strike with impunity, knowing the swordsman could not close the distance. Eisen had several defenses against this. But the basic fact remained unchanged; he needed to be close. Left foot first, steel-toed boot cracking down on the hard floor, with his arms pulled into a close guard not dissimilar to a boxer's stance. His cloak trailed behind him, flowing from his right shoulder. Right foot next, closing the distance and throwing his forward momentum into a right jab at the Toa of Stone's abdomen. His left remained in close, prepared to intercept the halberd on his still armored forearm if it came from that direction. Extended as he was his right was the weaker angle. If the Maru was as smart as he seemed Stannis would exploit it, and discover Eisen was smarter. He was open to attack during his approach, he knew; until he closed, Stannis' reach exceeded his own. He didn't care. His preparations would be sufficient. Or, perhaps, they wouldn't. It didn't matter. He would strike, and strike. He knew now, with every fiber of his being, that his Master could still see. And in the eyes of Makuta he would have no fear.
  13. IC: Through most of their conversation, Sinshi's eyes had been elsewhere. It wasn't Dasakan, as strange as it would be to the locals, to maintain eye contact during Ideatalk. It was fine to do so, but it wasn't rude to avoid it. Especially in the company of those who could not understand, it was best not to give the impression of a conversation they were not privy to. That wasn't to say she was avoiding the Commodore, she simply was permitting her eyes to tend to other concerns. Now, regardless of what the Toa or the Matoran thought, her eyes had firmly focused first on the insignia and then upon the Commodore. The Menti's head cocked slightly, the rest still. .:You seem to have a suggestion, ma'am, I wouldn't dream of interrupting you before you explained.:.
  14. IC: "You don't get to make that call. I don't even get to make that call. You have friends, and they don't stop caring because you do something stupid." The Ta-Matoran spun the key idly around a finger and pinched the bridge of his nose, thinking. "You think that Mata Nui's grand plan is going to get messed up by a couple of Ta-Koro Guardsmen? If you were supposed to be in the ground, you would be. Awful spiteful to try and put yourself there anyway." "But people screw up. You screwed up, big time. You can't fix it if you're dead." Jaller gestured to Agni. "He won't let you do anything that stupid, either." "You feel ashamed. Can't convince you not to, so make up for it. Pulling yourself together is gonna be the hardest thing you've ever had to do. Do it anyway." His mouth quirked a little. "And no, Agni's arms will do just fine. You can hate me, if you'd like."
  15. IC: .:If you have a third choice, Commodore, I would gladly listen.:. The Menti realized idly that she hadn't stiffened up when Ayiwah put a hand on her shoulder. She used to always do that when someone her better made any sort of contact, made sure to stand up straight and precise. When had that changed? Sinshi had no idea, but something in it seemed significant. Something about this place made her feel at ease. This long abandoned temple in a foreign land, with unfamiliar stars overhead. She chewed on a bite of her roll while she thought, looking for the words to give voice to her thoughts. .:I've never felt less alone here than I have at home. On the Ryu here, in all the time that we've been here, even up to this moment. There are fewer people around me since we left than have ever been there, and the mental plane has never been quieter. It was unsettling, at first. But I've never felt more connected to the world. Sado is so much more stifled. No one says what they mean, and I won't be able to either. And home...:. Waves lapped at the edge of her consciousness, threatening to suck her under the surface and steal her breath. .:I've not been home. My grandmother would not be pleased, regardless of what I have done. I have no desire to experience her... Displeasure.:. All of these things are surmountable, ma'am. I've dealt with them my whole life. But to never return here, that is not something I could live with.:.
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