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BULiK

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About BULiK

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    Pahrak-Kal Melted

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    Tutorial Island
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    Bending reality to my will

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  1. IC: Knichou & Taku Crew, Zakaz Airspace, The Taku, Bridge The Vorzakh's sudden appearance was enough to make anyone on the bridge jump. The ship rocked slightly as Berys was startled by the collapse of the machine, the metal clanging loudly as the automaton's disjointed components scattered across the deck. Knichou sat entirely still for a few moments, blinking. How long had it been since he had slept? It had been... a long day. The commander struggled to find a way to spin this, because while Nale was quite used to waking up to (or being woken up by) another one of Knichou's unplanned materializations by now, none of his prior unanticipated creations had talked. Well, maybe? That one time was - nononon don't think about that. Awkward glances were exchanged. The Nynran looked as embarrassed as he was confused, and for a moment the engineer's demeanor was uncharacteristically distant. Nale hadn't seen him act this shy and guarded since their first days together near the end of the continuation war. It was clear the brief life and death of the robot had compounded her partner's stress and strife from the day's events and revelations. The Fe-Toa cleared his throat to get back on track. "Even better, Vahki: clean that up, and sort the spare parts by usable and junk," he ordered. Best to move on, for as much as Knichou wanted a distraction, he also knew it would only make the pain worse. The Nynran took a few moments to breathe, doing his best to stay calm and focused. Focused on what? Focused. Focused on the lies. Focused on the truth. Well gee, it's that simple. If only... "Where was I?" Knichou nervously chuckled. Everything's perfectly alright now, we're fine, we're all fine here, now. The commander shifted within his chair as he thought back to his conversations with the granite guardian. Their disagreements from earlier that day were still fresh, and Sorilax's revelations had only lead to more strife beneath the Fe-Toa's heartlight. The emotional wound was still fresh, and Knichou had, in his haste, cauterized the surface to quell the bleeding and moved on to more urgent matters. That left the poisonous bullet to embed itself deeper within his innards, tugging at the stray threads of one of his closest allegiances to unravel it into a contradictive limbo that only grew more incomprehensible the longer he avoided it. The Toa carefully walked through the events in question, speaking in a fashion that started out almost too calm, but would soon grow more impassioned as he neared the inevitable conclusion. "When you went ahead to the hospital I uh, met some people. I met Dume's assassin again, the other NUVA, y'know, whatserface. She's the military arm of some backwater swamp village and is Karz-bent on not cooperating with us. Anyways, I was taking samples of the energized protodermis that emerged when Kilo unlocked it's mech (like how it happened with Atamai) and there was an Aspect there. He's called Sorilax and he used the substance to make robotic bodies for Kraata to pilot, called Rahkshi. Very ugly, very dangerous. His are docile apparently, but only his, because, well, there's a lot to unpack with him... it's hard to..." Knichou gave a deep sigh, cradling his head with both hands as he leaned forwards in his chair, looking at the floor. "He... he said... he knew - he felt... he detected..." Knichou stammered, unsure how to describe it all. "The Stannis we met today isn't Stannis. Sorilax claims to have powers that prove that the Stannis we've seen today is... an Aspect of Makuta." Knichou looked Nale in the optics, the conflict within his mind immediately apparent. Every word was mournful, as if they held back tears of a missing friend whose fate was unknown, but could only be presumed to be unfortunate. There was no closure for this loss because it had yet to occur, but it also simultaneously had already happened, either the day before or as far back as the time before time. The darkness surrounding it all was overbearing and utterly claustrophobic. Grief without boundaries. A sickening dread, catalyzed by hope. "I don't quite know the extent of what's going on within Stannis, or how long this has been going on, but I think Sorilax spoke the truth. There are... documents... he has written that explain the ways of Aspects that make the story make more sense, and his goals lead him to undo his very nature and reject shadow for light. I've thought of... so many possibilities and it makes the most sense out of any of them. There is no logic that I can turn to for certain proof. It all comes down to who we believe..." Knichou's face contorted in frustration at the grim paradox that had been haunting the back of his mind. "I'm scared because I don't know who I believe anymore..."
  2. IC: Knichou, Zakaz Airspace, The Taku, Bridge In lieu of a chuckle, the Nynran sharply exhaled in a cheerful fashion at his partner's remark. She was right after all - if he had been in their place, he would have been just as eager to go out and do everything he could to help - and test his new powers in the process. Nale's wisdom also subsequently proved she knew her boyfriend was hiding something important from her, not that Knichou was a seasoned liar to begin with, or had anything to truly hide. In fact, far from lying, it couldn't be more apparent from a glance how the Fe-Toa was conflicted about how to best go about telling his girlfriend what she had to hear - it was clear the intention was compassionate yet he clearly lacked a solid plan for a painless execution. The Fe-Toa winced as the jig was truly up. There would be no better time. There probably was no such thing as a "good time" to reveal such a deception. Knichou squirmed in his chair for a moment before turning to the Vahki on the bridge with them, a sudden sternness in his voice. "Vahki, activate Maka-Vaiu protocol: mandatory access control, full confidentiality, critical priority - the works. Nothing I'm about to say is allowed to leave this room or else you will leave this room before I go on. Do you comply?" OOC: @Toru Nui
  3. IC: Knichou & Taku Crew, Zakaz Airspace Ostrox's protestations over the radio were met with silence as Knichou ignored the Mantaxian's crazed rambling. Even if the ex-Ghost's mind didn't want to tune out the ex-leaguer's voice automatically by this point, the confused commander's attention was drawn to Nale with her remark. "'What? No, why wou- Onaku's fine, or he will be better soon. Even us visiting him right after he got back really seemed to cheer him up. Something else is the problem, it's a long story." Even Knichou knew that she wouldn't be bringing their fellow Toa up if she didn't have reason already in mind. He thought back to their visit earlier that day, and how it had been abruptly cut short by the announcement of the Tahtorak's presence nearby. Knichou had resolved to leave quickly, and had dismissed the idea of Onaku, Kat, or Jutori following along, concerned for their well being. The Nynran remembered the Onu-Toa's solemn sigh before they departed. Perhaps he had been too quick and stern in rejecting their offers to aid? "Do you... think I was acting too callous by not wanting him and the others to come aboard for this mission or something?" Truth be told, Knichou was glad Nale didn't take his suggestion of going to the back to decompress. Her presence was always a comforting bonus to him, and the likewise was true as far as he knew. There wasn't any reason for her to not be up in the bridge, either. Both of them knew Knichou's earlier offer was a formality - to give permission Nale didn't need or ask for and wouldn't feel the need to ask for. Permission to excuse herself to not overwork herself, a habit the two defenders shared many times. Knichou quite simply wasn't sure how else to lower the stress that blanketed the room - he needed some way to start a conversation... and that was as good as any opening he could execute to distract them from the battle playing out on the bridge's viewscreens that they were flying away from. However, he wasn't lying when he said he would need to discuss something with her. Before Nale could respond, the Fe-Toa looked around the room, wondering if now would be as good a time as ever to explain his encounter with Sorilax. Berys was faithful as always, and didn't have any connection to any Aspects, however NU's presence was an unknown variable. The Vahki's programming might easily let such a secret leak. If the opportunity arose, Knichou knew he would need to inquire further before beginning any revelations.
  4. IC: Exuze, Zakaz Airspace, Tuyetmobile Exuze gulped. IC: Knichou & Taku Crew, Zakaz Airspace, The Taku The Taku sailed slightly easier as it distanced itself from the remains of the storm. As the rain died down, streams turned to puddles along the deck. The crew breathed a sigh of relief as any damage from the fight was surely evident by now, and they were still flying, mostly intact. Arnex left the turret and carefully walked along the upper deck towards the main enginers and generators, holding on to anything she could in case the floor fell out from under her. Reaching the station there, she shut off the damaged right engine and began rerouting power. The cut lines from the missing chunk of the cargo bay no longer occasionally sparked, and intermittent flickering of the lights in the rest of the ship slowly normalized. On the bridge, a few icons shifted from red to orange. Berys continued to pilot as the conversation picked up. After Rose voiced her concerns over the internal communications system, Knichou finally began to lift himself back upright and take stock of the situation once more. He had work to do. There never enough time for a minute of rest, was there? He flipped his microphone over to her station's intercom. "Skyra should be able to fly up to us once she see's we're moving out, don't worry. We don't have a way to contact her and it's too dangerous to go down for a closer look. She's not alone down there either, maybe once the NUVA kill that thing they'll give her a free ride back to town." Now, perhaps Skyra was already dead or unconscious down there, but Knichou simply didn't have a way to know. He could only hope for the best and control what little he had control over. Plus... Skyra leaping out was her choice, not his orders, and that took some weight off of his chest. There were so many ways to justify it if things truly had gone wrong. Even if they had, he was sure Vulimai wouldn't bark at him about it. Knichou settled back into his chair for a moment in the silence that followed. He tilted his head backwards and over his shoulder to glance at Nale. As reassuring as seeing her form nearby normally was... it was clear that the Fa-Toa hadn't let her guard down yet. Knichou turned back to watch the screens on the dashboard. From the cameras attached to the outside of the ship for navigation, those on the bridge could see the battle below. While the grainy, dark footage obscured detail, the Kaita ACRs looked to still have the upper hand. What a relief. While the commander watched, he thought on what to do next - not for the ship and its crew, but how to relieve Nale's stress. Like anyone who had survived this long, she had been through a lot. In particular, she had been on the front lines of so many of the unspeakable tragedies that had transpired since the last days of the great war. That war had brought her to her lowest point, she broke the rules she held dearest and feared the disappointment of her wiser Toa mentor that had saved her life at the start of that madness. She was ready to do whatever it took to save as many lives as possible, and felt like she broke herself in the process. All for naught, too. The greater defeat of the world's collapse was utterly crushing, making her doubt if she wanted to stay alive, or if those whose lights were cut short were luckier for not seeing the tragic aftermath. But a week after the impact, she found love... and that helped her push through the continuation war. Now there was a world to rebuild, a reason to stay alive throughout it all. She even had to confront her failures as she met her former ap- Wait, no. Nale saw the corpse of her former lover, Datrox. I met my apprenti- It was at that point that the Nynran accidentally figured out that the person with all that trauma and anguish he was describing was not his partner, but in fact, himself. Knichou's face twitched as he mentally cursed in frustration at the realization. If I don't know how to make myself feel better... how can I do the same for her? Well... how the Karz does she do it for me?!?!? The ex-Ghost sat still and took a few deep breaths, considering his options. Maybe if I- Knichou's optics shot open as a voice responded to the Taku's hailing. While the Nynran couldn't quite place the voice of the first pilot to respond, her tone was... eerily familiar. For a second Knichou had a sinking feeling like he had just awoken from a dream. As he blinked back to reality, the commander soon heard a new voice chastise him. This time, Knichou pressed a button on his armrest to respond himself. He wasn't quite sure who this person was, they must have stolen the airship from Stannis. Or perhaps they were someone Stannis was directing, and for all Knichou knew, perhaps Caedast had reasons for keeping a Kaiju alive. Reasons that may or may not be good, and that certainly would never be explained so that Knichou could decide for himself. Either way, their spirited broadcast was a nuisance and Knichou naturally responded likewise. "Ambling Alp, this is Taku Actual. Maybe it's not a fight you can win, but from up here, it looks like the NUVA are cleaning house. That lizard is a clear danger to matorankind and needs to be put down. If you don't think you can win then I suggest leaving the area, as we previously advised, capiche? Thank you, over and out." If it wasn't for this imbecile's complaints, Knichou would have clearly figured out the best way to comfort Nale, but now he knew he had limited time span that he had to make count before another volley of words was exchanged over the airwaves. The engineer predicted that the response from the other airship would likely incite more stress in himself and his partner. After all, everybody often seemed to be so adverse to seeing Knichou's side of things, it seemed, no matter how clearly he explained the situation. The pains of being in charge, he supposed. Knichou swiveled his chair around to face Nale and looked through the long, curved slits in the center of her Kanohi. "You, uh, want to go back and some rest?" He clumsily began, followed by many awkward hand gestures as he meandered to his point. "I mean, err, I've got everything under control here, if anything happens I can call you up, but I think we're all fine here. When we reach Ko-Pou we'll need to leave for Metru-Koro soon afterwards, so this is your best shot at getting some rest and relaxation in before then. It's... been a long day, after all. I'll get back there once everything's settled up here, there's some stuff from earlier today that I want to talk about, privately." Knichou, still oblivious to much that had occurred earlier that day, didn't even think of his proposal possibly relating to her prior conversation with Arki-Onaku. He hoped that she thought it was about the earlier proposition of new armor, and that Nale would find the thought of such a 'chat' exciting, appealing, and overall something she would look forward to, even if he knew that what he had to say about Stannis would not spark such joy. It was a half truth, but it was for her benefit. That's the selfless, Toa, thing to do - take on that burden to make her life easier. Right?
  5. IC: Exuze & Taku Crew, Kini-Nui Airspace, Tuyetmobile Exuze's robotic arm twitched, and his right arm grabbed the upper left arm and rubbed back and forth to play it off as not being casual and not freaking out because he definitely wasn't freaking out. "Do you want to go in it or to something on the other side of it? Why not go 'round it?" It was then that he heard a familiar Le-Metruan pilot's voice picked up by the radio. The Taku was broadcasting on an open channel to all in the vicinity. << Ambling Alp and unknown airship to the west, this is the Taku. Be advised, the giant monster and its storm that are moving south are extremely dangerous. We recommend leaving the area until the NUVA finish pacifying it. >> ~~~ On the bridge of the Taku, Berys cut the transmission as he finished his statement. He went back to piloting, now having fulfilled the orders that Knichou had given in a quiet, inelegant mumble. The motivation was less that it was useful information (After all, Berys was just stating the obvious) but moreso that they could begin to understand who else was in the skies with them. The last thing they needed was another surprise from this unknown contact or from whatever Caedast was planning. The commander continued to recline, sinking in his anxiety.
  6. IC: Exuze, Zakaz Airspace, Tuyetmobile The lesterin was properly flabbergasted. "Probably not?!? Then why are ya flying straight into it?" It was at that moment that the storm exploded in a spherical cloud of condensation. His stomach sank further as the mists separated to reveal two other airships inside what used to be the center of the storm. One familiar silhouette against the stars was leaking light out of many holes that Exuze knew were absolutely not supposed to be there. "####..." IC: Knichou, Kini-Nui Airspace, "Hold on... there are two airships near us," Berys updated as he scrutinized the radar. "That one's signature matches Stannis's airship from before." The Le-Matoran looked back towards the leaving behemoth, where Knichou's ocular attention was also focused. But the Fe-Toa's mind was on Berys's and Nale's words, and thusly his internals tumbled at the thought of what the deceptive wizard might be planning. Sorilax's revelations were still so fresh, not even Nale knew of Caedast. The ex-Ghost was unsure if it would be better or worse if the Fa-Toa knew the truth before their next encounter with their shared mentor. The commander pushed those thoughts out of his mind, resolved to heed his partner's advisement. After a few moments of considering his options, he spoke up, having reached the same conclusion as Nale. He didn't doubt the veteran's tactical assessment, however there was a reassuring wisdom that came from many voices that helped Knichou cope with the responsibility he carried. "You're right, there's nothing more we can do here - the NUVA will have to deal with this on their own. Either Ehlek will attack soon or we'll be springing Aurax's trap, and that's where we can be of most use." The Nynran shrugged, an exaggerated gesture that, in its honesty, failed to hide the strife he was feeling. "Probably both." The visibly tense Toa continued after another moment of deliberation. "We need to lick our wounds before that happens. If we're going to do that, a military outpost as opposed to a residential center is our best bet for safe harbor. We'll also be able to rapidly transport any troops there to wherever Ehlek attacks." The Fe-Toa glanced at the dashboard full of orange and red indications of the non-trivial amount of repairs needed to get the Taku back into shape. ...and I wouldn't want the refugees to panic by seeing us in this state, he thought. "We'll set down in Ko-Pou and take the Kahu over to Metru-Koro to meet with Aurax while the rest of the crew repairs and awaits word from the NUVA and Vulimai." With a practiced gesture, the engineer connected his armor's microphone over the intercom to inform the crew. "This is Knichou. Make sure everybody is okay. We're leaving for Ko-Pou." Berys wrestled with the controls, and under his guidance, the Taku began a slow turn towards the outpost, limping along at half speed with a noticable list to the stern. A layer of water smeared across almost every surface, sometimes mixing with leaking protodermis or oils. In the rear of the ship, sparks occasionally emitted from machines that were definitely not designed to spurt out sparks. Knichou leaned back in his chair, the flexing of fabric and churning of gears noticeable in the otherwise silent chamber. Knichou letting his body relax so it was only supported by the structure of the furniture was not out of comfort, but utter exasperation. It was clear the Toa was utterly drained from the rapidly evolving geopolitical and supernatural situations. The burden of command was bolstered by the weight of the knowledge to see through Stannis's lies. In a way, every moment he didn't tell Nale felt like as much of a lie as the Po-Toa's Aspect's own deceptions. For years Knichou had believed his suffering was punishment, that there was a natural consequence for his mistakes. He saw his failure to return to his homeland's aid and thought it demanded a debt that must be paid. He had resigned himself to his fate, thinking that his cowardice had merely delayed his inevitable sacrifice, as that was his only path to redemption. Yet now, he had a new family, a new reason to live, and such a death wish had become unappealing. He knew he needed to let the chase go, that continuing to fight Nektann was a useless attempt to prevent harm by choosing a fate that he longer wanted. He now had responsibilities. To a Kanohi that demanded the utmost care to prevent oblivion and the utmost caution to prevent abuse. To a populace threatened from all sides and within by the unknown. To a crew that Knichou needed to protect from the danger lurking in the wake of his path. To the friends he wanted to support. To the partner he could never abandon. Nale was right in assuming that the Knichou she knew would have wanted to follow the beast and continue the battle, despite the unflattering odds. But the Knichou she helped create did not have such an inclination.
  7. IC: Exuze, Zakaz Airspace, East of Metru-Nui Exuze shrugged with disdain as the time traveler dodged his question. Maybe he still was a hero, but she knew that if she told him that he was a hero, he would get too overconfident and less heroic, this dooming this timeline due to chaos theory. Entirely plausible. The silence in the cabin caused the anxiety to spike in the no-longer-distracted Exuze as the lesterin noticed that Tuyet was flying straight into the biggest storm he'd ever seen. Y'know, the one that appeared to be getting even bigger. "Miss... is it safe to fly in there?" IC: Knichou, Southwest of Kini-Nui, Bridge of the Taku "If I hadn't said anything, you lot would have gone on forever," Nale replied, shrugging. "When we're done here we'll discuss this more. Like you said: we have a village to save." As if the universe itself needed a reminder of the volatility of the situation, things immediately got worse. The drumming of waves of raindrops intensified throughout the airship. "And we're far from done here. Wasn't the sky just clearing up?" Knichou swiveled his chair back forwards to see what his audio receptors already revealed. The storm was worsening, and fast. On its face, this was just a return to the status quo of the recent past, but in that recent past, the Taku was distinctly more intact. No longer just assaulting all of those at battle stations with an open window nearby, the deluge utterly soaked areas near the stern that were left utterly exposed due to Nektann's attack. From the Taku's rearward list, small streams formed as water that found itself inside the airship flowed down the slight incline to trickle out the stern like a miniature waterfall. If it wasn't for the storm surrounding the entire affair, it might have even been beautiful. The turbulence was sharp and constant as the storm woke up again. The winds pushed the Taku around, no matter how hard Berys tried to correct the course. The lowered levitation power made it even harder to prevent the ship from feeling like it was bouncing on the clouds around them as wind currents shifted. It didn't help that visibility was nigh-nonexistent. Berys once more focused primarily on the ship's instruments, as they were the only way to have the slightest indication of what was going on. In the stern, there was a sickening groaning of metal and yelp of electricity as sparks flew out near the starboard main engine. Throughout the airship, the lights illuminating the decks flickered for a brief moment. When they returned a split-second later, yet another icon on the dashboard was displayed red. Just a scratch, just a scratch, just a scratch... A distinctive voice ringing out over the radio snapped Knichou back into focus. << Knichou! There's another riteborn! Get Kilo or Atamai over here... NOW! >> "What? How could? That's some Kane-Ra -" << Bossman, can we cease to cease fire already? >> He pressed a button to respond to Rose over the intercom. "No, keep holding your fire! There's another one at Kini-Koro already, save the ammo for it." While Knichou doubted that it would be any more effective on this new riteborn, at the very least there would feel like a reason to not shoot besides... shooting being useless. Speaking of, he knew he needed to inform those down below of the new situation. The commander worked the communications panel with both hands to rapidly swap to the Taku's loudspeaker. So many conversations were going on at once, Knichou didn't even notice the Vahki entering the bridge. "NUVA! ANOTHER RITEBORN AT KINI-KORO, I SAY AGAIN, ANOTHER RITEBORN AT KINI-KORO." The commander hoped it could even still be heard over the storm. Meanwhile, Berys glanced at a nearby dashboard panel, squinting in confusion as if that would help him separate the signal from the noise. "Is that... another airship on radar?"
  8. IC: Knichou, Kini-Nui Airspace, Bridge of the Taku As Na-Captain Vella took the initiative, Knichou glanced her with a curious expression that overrode the simmering fury from before. While Nale spoke, the Nynran thought back to his anger earlier that day, when possibly the only person to have directly caused more pain in Knichou's life than Aurax himself had invoked his rage. During and after that debacle, he wished Nale was there with him, to be that invisible force for good that he could rely on to keep himself levelheaded in the face of those who had lead to so much death. Oh what a relief that she was here now. Knichou wanted to protest cooperating with a backstabbing despot, to dismiss the thought of flying to Metru-Koro's ruins in what in his mind was undoubtedly a trap. His internals churned at the though of negotiating subservience to his rival in the shadow of his failures. The gall! Meet under the all-seeing dead eyes of the world he failed to save? Meet at the battlefield where, despite all of Knichou's efforts, the last war ended in a political defeat? Meet inside of a monument to the hubris of Matoran that Knichou had enabled? Meet near a memorial to the sacrifice of a Toa greater than Knichou could ever be who had actually given everything that he could to protect the Matoran? Knichou had thrown himself at certain death to save all of the Matoran twice over now, and his attempt at self-sacrifice for the greater good had been rejected each time. Yet Datrox went quietly into the night, without fear, for a mere farmer that Knichou had nearly flown into the jaws of a monster. Knichou's heartlight quivered at a nagging question. He did not know if he could have such courage and selflessness. That was why he needed Nale's wisdom guiding him. Her heartlight was not without it's scars, but it was still purer than most in Knichou's eyes. That was especially valued given Sorilax's troubling revelations... As much as Knichou wanted not to, the Fe-Toa kept silent, for he knew that he did not want to become the toa he had briefly been in Sidra's presence earlier that day. The engineer never wanted his beloved to see him like that, and if he could help it, she never would. This was but one step of the challenging test that had troubled Nale as long as she could remember. Was Knichou's anger the start of the same path that lead Datrox to break the Code, and more importantly, Nale's heartlight? Was Knichou's lust for vengeance the same passion that squeezed the trigger in Po-Metru? Nale had a new perspective now, yes. After crossing that line herself, she could empathize with her former lover in a way she couldn't when they separated long before Knichou's time. But that forgiveness came with time. It was not - and should never be - guaranteed, and Knichou could not risk letting it becoming an excuse. The rules still existed, no matter if both of their perspectives had changed radically in the past few months. It was important to mind oneself, not for fear of what could be done, but out of wariness of what could not be undone. That undertone running throughout the Code ensured it always had meaning. Knichou knew he had enough sins to atone for already. The commander leaned forwards in his chair, optics shuttered. His chin came to rest against his clasped hands, his elbows dug into the seat's cushioned armrests. The Fe-Toa calmed his mind, focusing on his breaths and the drumming of the rain against the hull that surrounded them. Without his vision, his mind instinctively reached out with his sixth sense and felt the metal around him. He couldn't feel Nale's warmth from afar, but he felt the presence of her armor, and that alone was more than enough to reassure him. The Nynran's optics returned to meet Nale's a few moments later. His mind was clear. The commander knew he could not risk any further hesitation. "I know... that you know... that I don't like this," he began with measured words and a thoughtful optical glow. Nale could feel the energy in the room between them, she could almost feel in her internals that Knichou had more to say as her partner chose his words with a rare clarity. It was the same clarity she heard in the engineer's voice and saw in his optics when the he was at work with his designs. A confidence not born out of his comedic coping mechanisms, but from achieving a flow state of focus and will that offered an indescribable peace amongst the chaos that he brought to order. "I also know... that you know... that I trust you more than anyone I've ever known. And that I know you made the right call. Thank you." His posture straightened, the Fe-Toa grasping the armrests and leaning back upright. He had pacified and structured his thoughts, and now was the time for action. "We have a village to save."
  9. IC: Knichou, Kini-Nui Airspace, Bridge of the Taku The Fe-Toa looked to Nale, his optics widening with concern as the conversation unfolded. Knichou was silent for several moments as he processed this information. His optics widened further than he thought possible as the Fa-Toa's voice reverberated through both the air between them and the speakers in his adaptive armor kanohi. Knichou gave a slight groan and then shrugged to his partner. "Of course it's not a good time. It never is." "Anyways, Aurax," Knichou quickly continued, not wanting to let the despot take the conversation off track after the sudden appearance of a third person on the call. "Is betraying one Barraki not enough for you? Why the sudden change of heart? Since when did the safety of other matoran matter to you?" Aurax may have been a Toa longer than Knichou, but the commander's only memories of the other ex-Ghost in person were from when they both were matoran. Aurax, like Knichou, was unethical enough to join a guild of supremacist weaponsmiths, yet Aurax's lust for power drove him to experiments that were too unethical for even the Ghosts to bear - a rare feat for which Knichou and his apprentice paid the price. That was the Aurax Knichou knew, and while the betrayer's voice was slightly different than Knichou's memory, that double-crossing matoran was who Knichou envisioned was on the other end of the call. The expression on the Nynran's face lowered to a scowl at the thought. "Did you just realize that ordering minions around is a bit too stressful, and now you think you need us to fight your civil war for you? Why would we do that?"
  10. IC: Exuze, Zakaz Airspace Exuze's swirling internals were slightly relieved at the sight of the storm clearing. Tuyet's glance and the question that followed didn't aid with relieving that turmoil, however. The Lesterin sat pensively for a few moments. What did Exuze want? Besides not dying in an airship crash, seeing Knichou taken down a few pegs, and Metru-Nui being rebuilt, of course. Over the past month, basic survival had become the top priority, so the thought of larger goals was rather eye-opening and felt unnatural. "If I 'ad three months to live..." he began cautiously, rubbing his chin while his optics nervously darted to whatever instrument the Ga-Toa was fiddling with. That wasn't a fuel gauge flickering, was it? "I'd wanna... make something, ya know?" Exuze continued. He gestured in front of him, as if moving his hands like he was molding some invisible clay made it make any more sense. "I'm a buildah, not a fighah, and I'd want to... build somethin' that helps people, that they can 'ppreciate. Make a structure that lasts after I croak at the end of those three mo-" Exuze paused, optics narrowing. "Three months is an oddly specific timeframe, miss," the lesterin interrupted himself with a raised eyebrow. "You know something about my future I don't? This ain't one of those time travelin' 'ero stories they tell in the vids, is it? Ya know, the ones where they do timey wimey mumbo jumbo and nunuvit makes sense 'til afterwards?" IC: Knichou & Taku Crew, Kini-Nui Airspace Knichou was both solemnly fearful and enraged as he saw Nektann emerge from the Taku's broadside with nary a scratch. The engineer was even further stunned as the beast's growl vibrated throughout his body. His optics blinked for a few moments as he lifted himself from the stupor. Berys looked nervously at the dashboard as the Taku's instrument dials shook in fear. "What now for plans? Shoot again?" "I... I don't -" The kaita mech's war club smashed into Nektann's head. The only thing more surprised by the strike than the tahtorak was Knichou, who was utterly confused at how that blow somehow caused the monster to bleed where his volley had not. "Right, so they can make it bleed. Noted." "If they can make that overgrown rahi bleed then lets leave killing it up to them. We have our own wounds to tend to," Knichou suggested. "Berys, keep a safe distance and altitude, let me know if it starts to focus on us again." Knichou then pressed a nearby button to make an announcement throughout the airship's intercom. "Everyone hold your fire and make sure nobody is hurt," the commander began with a sigh. "No point in wasting the ammunition. Keep the beast lit up to help them. If anyone knows how to help those titans, I'm all ears, but for now let's lick our wounds and let them fight." The engineer subsequently flicked a switch to begin broadcasting back to Vulimai. "Kini-Koro, this is Taku actual, we're holding position southwest of the beast and observing. Kilo and Atamai have engaged it, we'll keep you posted on the situation's status. Something weakened the storm but I don't think it was them. We've taken hits but we're still operational." The commander gave a pained heave and spun around in his seat, the stress of battle sinking in. His internals tingled as the numbing effects of his nervous system's heightened, intense state continued to flow through the rookie Toa. For the former Ghost, innovation, variation, and escalation in the application of firepower was the natural solution to any threat, but even the most destructive prototype weapons that came to his mind were probably only marginally more effective against this titan than what the Taku had already unleashed. It was both a relief and infuriating to the engineer that the beast only seemed to bleed from the primitive club of Patiwairutiki. The Nynran looked to his partner. This was her ship too. Who knows, maybe the Toa Rode had fought some giant monsters in their heyday? If superior firepower wasn't a viable solution, perhaps a change in tactics would be the most effective course of action. "'Any ideas?" Before Knichou's favorite seasoned veteran could impart her wisdom, a new transmission arrived over Knichou's personal frequency. << Knichou. You there? We need to talk. >> Knichou brought a hand near his audio receptor in a gesture that indicated to Nale he was on a call. As he responded to the wannabe Barraki with a frustrated roll of his optics, the Nynran patched Nale's adaptive armor components into the call. He wasn't sure what was going on but he had a feeling she'd need to hear this. "Aurax, is this a social call? 'Cause I'm kinda in the middle of a work meeting right now." ~~~ Closer to the stern, Arnex tried to calm her breathing and get out of the turret's seat. The Onu-Matoran looked through fresh holes sliced in the upper deck behind her to see that the deck below those holes was distinctly missing. The trembling crew member took stock of the damage, fresh memories of the cleanup after the Battle of Metru-Koro weighing down her mind.
  11. IC: Knichou & Taku Crew, Kini-Nui Airspace "Well, commander, it appears we've found it." Knichou looked into his partner's optics and saw his fear mirrored beneath the cool glow of her sky-blue diamonds. They both felt the same chill flowing through their internals as a sudden thought simultaneously crossed their minds; this could be the last flight for both (or worse: either) of them. The Nynran knew the same feeling was suffocating many others. It was the same for any of those who had trusted him with their safety aboard this ship, and a similar terror was shared by every matoran in the path of the beast's unnatural storm. The faith the matoran placed in Toa could not be allowed to falter. Not again. Knichou followed the captain closer to the dashboard, taking a seat in his rotating chair to get a better look at the myriad blinking lights indicating various deviations from acceptable baselines. It was all so... overwhelming. Her voice cut through the din once again. "What Kanohi told us must have been true." As Nale spoke, the Taku's bridge was filled with a chorus of responses to the commander's earlier inquiry. Every voice was another weight off of Knichou's chest. << Oh yeah, just PEACHY! >> << Rose is fine >> << This unit still remains functional >> Miraculously, so many were chiming in that they hadn't been hurt. Knichou could achieve a clearer focus as Nale continued. "Unless there's more than one giant rain monster loose on Zakaz, this must be the same creature that destroyed Po-Koro." << NO PATHETIC SKAK-BEAST CAN KILL ME SO EASILY!!! >> << I-I-I’m fine. Just fine >> << A-Okay, commander >> The ex-Ghost's sixth sense felt the former Rode turn to him, and as if on cue he looked back towards her. Their optics locked once again in a bright blaze of wordless understanding, but this time, the feelings they shared had a different message. The pair's hopes were restored and spirits were emboldened by a mutual confidence and trust so strong that it would make protosteel shatter. Both Toa knew that they had survived worse... "We are not letting it do the same here." ...and that was before they had the strength of their newfound unity. "You're ####### right," Knichou nodded. As if a great spirit had been waiting until the very moment Knichou finished his affirmation, with uncanny timing there was a shocking sound - or rather, the lack of it. The drumming of the rain lowered in intensity, and moonlight began to pierce the surrounding clouds. Instinctively, all of those on the bridge were enraptured by the view, with the edges of Nektann now clearly visible in the soft lighting. Soon the bright tungsten beam of Navu's spotlight illuminated the blue monster's face in frightening detail. There were intermittent flashes of light as charged lightstones from Achro's spray continued to harmlessly burst on contact with the titan's thick scales. Knichou looked into the giant's optics and his spirits dampened as he felt like it was looking right back at him. This was just the beginning. The commander watched the tahtorak, thoughts and heartlight racing, as he listened to a surprisingly calm voice that was hailing him over the radio. << This is the Tobduk-Koro radio tower, transmitting to Kini-Koro to relay information concerning how to deal with the Tahtorak. Come in, Kini-Koro. >> << Commander Vulimai speaking, we read you loud and clear Tobduk-Koro. What is this information? >> "Tobduk-Koro, this is Taku actual. Be brief," Knichou transmitted in response. They both needed to know that time was off the essence, and that the defenders were listening in. Meanwhile, Berys managed the dashboard with the speed and skill of a disk jockey, taking in the instruments' information and solving problems as they arose. One more button illuminated, to the Le-Matoran's surprise: RAMP OPEN. Who in Mata Nui's name just- Those on the bridge heard the roar of a jetpack beneath them and soon saw a green silhouette speeding straight towards the monster. Berys sighed and pressed the button to close the front ramp doors again since Skyra was... preoccupied. Of course. It became immediately apparent that said monster was lumbering straight towards them as well. Knichou turned to Berys. "He wants round two! Full port, climb!" The two pilots juggled the controls wordlessly, either out of confidence in each others' skills or sheer terror, and those on the Taku could instantly feel the movement sway their internals as the airship began to turn in the opposite direction. Instead of circling around Nektann, they would now be turning counterclockwise to put distance between them and the titan. The ship pitched upwards, using the main engine thrust alongside the levitation engine lift to gain altitude as quickly as possible. However, as quickly as possibly was not quickly enough. The two gunners on the lower deck had a front row seat to the sight of the tahtorak stepping ever closer, brightly lit by Navu's spotlight. Adding on to Achro's problems was not a frightening sight, but a frightening sound. CLACK. CLACK. KERCHUNK. The bolt of the lightstone machine gun slammed forwards into an empty chamber, and the Toa of fire instantly knew that he was out of ammunition. Instead of a belt of glowing projectiles crackling to the left of the mounted weapon, the other end of the expended ammo belt plopped unceremoniously out of the right side of the weapon after a light tug. On the floor to Archo's left were mounted three similar-looking cases. One was open and empty, the next was closed, and the third was closed and somehow warm. Achro was lucky that he knew how to operate machine guns. Achro was also lucky that the massive claws headed straight towards him missed due to the Taku's altered trajectory. Missed him, that is. The exposed Toa saw the massive razor-sharp claws slice through the airship's hull with ease, snapping pieces of the airframe behind it in twain. Nektann's slash began just to the right of Achro's station, mere bio away from him. The entire ship shuddered, aluminum beams crying out in pain as the claws of the Tahtorak carved through the Taku's belly. She listed hard starboard for a few brief, terrifying moments as the weight of Nektann's grasp threatened to capsize the airship. Those stationed on the starboard side held on for dear life, not wanting to slide into the kaiju's maw below them. << Everyone, hang on! >> Arnex, now at the controls of the starboard electro-rocket turret on the upper deck, braced herself inside of the turret's roll cage of a seat. As the Taku tilted toward's Nektann, Arnex had an even greater view at the monster, whose face was being illuminated by Navu's floodlight. But as the ship listed, the amber beam of light dipped as well to illuminate the neckline of the titan. << Don't stop shooting! >> Arnex was terrified, even moreso than the last time the Taku flew into battle. This time, she could see the glowing eyes of the enemy. But this time, she could fight back. Knichou's voice over the intercom snapped the Onu-Matoran back into focus. She flicked off the safety while using the joystick to rotate the turret until the sights lined up over the giant's neckline below her. Switching to burst mode, the Onu-Matoran screamed in rage and fired the entire salvo of four electro rockets one after the other in a launch that vibrated throughout the airframe. Even after the last rocket left the last tube, she didn't stop her screaming, her shaking, or her iron grip on the trigger. The weight of titan's claw finally overpowered the ship's hull with a frightful SNAP, and the Taku rocked back to port. It would wobble back and forth for several more moments before stabilizing. On the bridge, Berys saw three levitation engine status indicators flicker to red in quick succession. Three of the aft levitation engines weren't responding - two on the lower deck near the cargo bay, and one to the right of Arnex's rocket turret. The Le-Matoran turned to Knichou. "We lost something." Achro could have seen the tahtorak's claws swipe through the hull directly to his right and get caught in the beams for a few moments, causing the airship listed starboard earlier, but he just as easily could have been preoccupied by closing his eyes out of fear or to pray to any and all gods who might save him. If Achro turned to his right after the airship was free of the tahtorak's slash, the Toa would be able to see the dark rolling hills below, the moonlit ground far beneath the void where the airship's massive cargo bay doors used to be. Sparks flew and fluids leaked out of various cables and pipes interwoven within the airship's lower deck. He and Arnex weren't quite sure if the ringing in their audio receptors was a malfunction caused by all the machine gun and rocket fire, or if there were alarms and warnings blaring throughout the stern of the airship. Well, there were lots of flashing red lights, so maybe both. The Taku no longer needed any assistance from the pilots to be leaning slightly backwards - the 'redecorated' cargo bay and it's missing levitation engines were causing that to occur naturally. Luckily, lots of weight was lost as well, so the angle the ship listed at was manageable, albeit the aft's lone port side upper deck levitation engine was now working overtime. With the weather clearing and in order to buy time to further assess the damage, Knichou and Berys kept the Taku moving forwards and rising, the backwards tilt actually aiding in the ascent as the main engines helped propel the vessel upwards, at the cost of lateral mobility. That almost made up for the loss of a quarter of the Taku's lift from the tahtorak's swipe. In another fortunate turn of events, the jolt from Nektann's attack had turned the Taku enough to complete it's turn, leaving the airship was pointed westbound, towards the godhead. OOC: @Eyru mid-power kanoka of weakening, a volley of explosive lightstones, four electro-rockets (towards the neckline from above), one explosive zamor, and a Taku in a Bula tree fired at Nektann. @Tarn@NorikSigma@Toru Nui@Snelly, Current geography sanity check as I understand it: Taku pointed west, with Nektann to it's north-northeast. Both to the southwest (I think?) of Kini-Koro, outside of the Kini-Nui mountainline. Taku Damage Visualization:
  12. IC: Knichou & Taku Crew, Kini-Nui Airspace, The Taku The rain drummed against the Taku, the unpredictable winds causing the cacophonous beating to shift in intensity and direction from moment to moment. The only constant was that there was no pattern to be discerned. Berys kept his eyes on the panels in front of him, given the view outside of the windshield was entirely useless in the maelstrom. Knichou began to walk back towards Nale, the commander disappointed that he couldn't see anything through the thick fog of the cloud the majority of the airship was immersed in. Vulimai's response came in over the radio for all on the bridge to hear, her voice accompanied by lots of static interference. Knichou replied with his personal radio. "Alright, we'll be on the lookout for them. We'll see if we can get it to move further-" Everyone heard the first warning. "Incoming hand!" Rose's words resounded over the intercom, causing the internals of every crew member to rapidly sink from the terror of anticipation. Immediately after Rose's warning Knichou's transmission to Vulimai cut off abruptly. Meanwhile, Berys immediately panicked and raised the collective, causing the Taku to slowly accelerate upwards as its buoyancy increased. The pilot could only presume whatever (Hand? As in, actually a hand? How-) was incoming, going up further into the cloud would be the best way to evade it. On the lower deck, Arnex stood deathly still, locked in place as she gripped the handles of her floodlight, bracing for whatever came next. "ALERT! IMMEDIATE EVASION REQUIRED!" Knichou looked to Nale and reached out with his left hand. A bar of iron shot forth from both ends of his fist, impacting the deck and ceiling to create a makeshift pole for the two of them hang onto. His right hand reached near his audio receptors and and activated his armor's microphone to agree with Rose's warning over the ship's intercom. "BRACE FOR IMPACT!" On the lower deck, a new instrument joined the discordant soundscape of drumming rain and banging levitation Kanoka. A consistent metallic clanging sound erupted from Achro's lightstone machine gun as the weapon's speed Kanoka firing pin chucked round after round at the silhouette of a massive paw that was lit up in Navu's spotlight. CLACK. CLACK. CLACK. CLACK. The contraption spewed crackling crystals with mechanical regularity, each energized projectile following the last at an almost rhythmic rate. For every second Achro squeezed the trigger, four explosive lightstones were fired, laying down a beat for the battle with the mechanical precision of a metronome that felt to many like it matched how the increased pace that their heartlights were beating. CLACK. CLACK. CLACK. CLACK. While the actual propulsion of each round was silent without the explosive boom or supersonic crack of other types of weapons, the sliding of metal parts that recoiled backwards from the launch were surprisingly loud. Metal on metal at high speeds was by no means quiet. CLACK. CLACK. CLACK. CLACK. The barrel bounced around as the Toa of fire held down the trigger, and this variance lead to the shots in Achro's volley going in a wide berth before the Toa could see where the glowing projectiles were going and adjust his aim to compensate. Luckily for Achro, with a target this big that was getting uncomfortably close, precision was almost certainly not a priority. "Terrain! Terrain!" The robotic voice samples of a Ko-Matoran echoed throughout the bridge as the panels lit up in a dazzling display of warning lights with a chorus of alert noises accompanied by the rumbling thunder of radio static. "Pull! Up!" The Le-Matoran looked to the radar to try to discern any movement on the radar. The green line did another revolution, revealing a massive cluster of pings rapidly approaching that the Taku's computer system mistook for the ship flying towards a mountain peak. "Climb! Terrain!" There was a sickening screech as the gargantuan paw made impact. For several seconds that felt like minutes, the back of Nektann's hand pressed up against the starboard lower hull, pushing the Taku away from the beast like a child playing with a balloon. There was a crunching as the section of the hull between Achro and NU's turret stations buckled inwards to form a massive dent, and everyone on the airship could feel the creaking of the metal all around them as the force of the blow distributed throughout the vessel. Those on the starboard lower deck could see the thick skin of the beast's hand bulging against the hull nearby, and they were very grateful that it was a backhanded slap and that the sharp-looking claws were not reaching through the hull and into them. Yet. The Taku rolled harshly to the port side from the direction of the impact, staying at a forty-five degree angle for the duration of the push. Anything and anyone not secured to the ground was jolted to the port side and would slide in that direction until the Taku levelled out after Nektann's paw had pushed the Taku further than the Tahtorak could reach. The Taku continued to strafe to the east until air resistance finally put a stop to the inertia that the beast's blow had given it. With an almost equally jarring lurch, the airship righted itself, wobbling slightly for several sickening moments. Knichou had been gripping onto his makeshift pole, and with great effort he was able to remain upright until the ship had settled. Knowing he had precious little time to get everyone on track, he began rapidly spewing orders over the intercom. "Everybody, open fire! Teach it not to do that again! I want rockets on it ASAP!" The commander turned to his pilot. "Keep us in the air below the cloudline so we can keep an eye on it. We'll circle around it clockwise to until we're westbound, then we lead it away from the city." Berys nodded and pushed the throttle forwards, the Taku's main engines purring louder as they propelled the airship forwards to begin a large arc to starboard with a safe enough distance between the ship and where the beast probably was. The collective lowered and weight increase disks counteracted the levitation disks to bring the Taku out from just below the cloudline so that the gunners could have a clearer target. Given the storm they were still inside, that wasn't saying much. Navu's floodlight partially illuminated the beast and the explosion of Achro's lightstones could reveal parts of it, but only the occasional flashes of lightning were enough to fully reveal Nektann's silhouette. As his plan was set in motion, Knichou used the intercom once more, remembering that there was more he needed to keep track of. "Status report, is everyone okay?" Still dazed from the sudden movement, Arnex left her spotlight station and wobbled over to the starboard side, sticking close to the walls. She lowered the hull plating in front of the starboard rocket turret and subsequently began to climb inside its seat. OOC: Taku booped away from Nektann, lowered below storm clouds. Currently pointing south with Nektann directly to it's west, beginning a wide starboard turn to circle around Nektann and (eventually) end up pointing west.
  13. IC: Exuze, Zakaz Airspace, Tuyetmobile™ Exuze tilted his head back and forth with a degree of uncertainty. "Problem's I was nevah s'pposed ta be a soldiah... we were s'pposed ta deliva cargo but wound up on the front lines of two battles. That's why I've been staying away from town - at least if something happens out in the wilds, it's my fault, I'm not someone else's collateral damage."
  14. IC: Knichou, Kini-Nui Airspace, The Taku "Don't worry," Knichou said in an attempt to ease the tension, looking back at Nale with a grin. "Our walking compass will always be my favorite." In some ways, there was more truth to that joke than the Nynran initially realized - the Toa Rode always had a way of keeping him on track, moving forwards in the right direction. If her inner compass ever diverged from where he was going, Knichou would know he had done something terribly wrong. The commander listened carefully to Rose's words and immediately looked Berys in the eye and pointed upwards. The le-matoran was listening just as closely and the thought of them not being above the best was frightening. The Taku began to rise until it was halfway in the clouds, where visibility was even lower. At least they had a functional thermal sensor that could feel what their optics couldn't see. Rose, being in a turret mounted on the underside of the ship, was in the only part of the Taku that fully poked out from underneath the thick dark clouds. "Keep us posted, and everyone else keep looking," the commander broadcasted over the intercom, before switching to radio to give Vulimai a situation report. "Vulimai, this is Taku actual, the beast is definitely here, but we're having trouble acquiring it visually in this storm. We'll keep watching, but what's the situation in the village, over?"
  15. IC: Knichou, Kini-Nui Airspace, The Taku Knichou nervously chuckled at Nale's remark. While it was amusing, it wasn't enough to alleviate all of the commander's stress about the uncertainty and danger in this high-stakes situation. Something about the responsibility to do right by all those aboard and keep them safe - especially the newcomers - gave him chills. This was why he made weapons instead of using them back in the day - best to let the foolish Toa find out the best ways to improve his designs in the crucible of combat. Oh how the roles have reversed... The Nynran opened his mouth to respond - with something equally witty, no doubt - but was interrupted by a communiqué from the newest crew member. Skyra's wife was rapidly turning out to be the most responsive and disciplined person aboard, much to the surprise of everyone's instinctual assumptions upon hearing the words "Skyra's wife". Turns out that military training was good for something after all. Knichou loved how nice it felt to have another person on the ship who knew to walk the balance between following orders and thinking on their feet in a dangerous situation. "Berys, turn us to port so Arnex can light it up for us." The Taku soon began to rotate left in a slow, stationary turn, the pilot not wanting to accelerate any closer to the beast that they still couldn't quite detect. While this happened, Knichou walked to the right side of the bridge to peek out the windshield in the direction that the beast would supposedly now be in. All the while, he kept in contact over the intercom. "It should be out the starboard side now - Arnex, get some lights on it. Rose, how far away is it? I need altitude and distance." The commander looked out into the storm, view distorted by the many tiny rivers and waves washing across the sweeping glass viewport, as the beam from Arnex's floodlight slashed through the clouds and towards the eye of the storm.
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