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Everything posted by Zeal

  1. IC: Sohmak - The Battle of Fort Garsi Sohmak was a fighter, sure, but a warrior? Far from it. The brawler stood stock-still, panting heavily, dreading the wretched and bloody sight that would greet him once he dared open his eyes; a Skakdi soldier, or at least part of one, wrapped around his cursed iron fist. And yet, when he finally dared, there was nothing to see. Sohmak snapped out of his stance, turning over his shoulder to see the rider barrelling at increasing speed towards his comrades cowering behind the wall. On the far side more riders, of bike and beast alike, began to scramble over and engage. Jojax stood on the far side - on the far side - fighting with the fury of her forefathers. For a split-second Sohmak felt something like amusement, and perhaps a little swell of pride, before drowning in dread once more. Fort Garsi were giving far better than they were getting and the Spineless Slugger was stuck right out in the open, anticipating getting his head scooped off by a stray rock or explosive any moment. He looked to Zanakra out of a desperate hope that she would begin actually leading her thrall, reverse their rout and turn the tide of battle. Instead he found the warlord engaged in single combat with some four-armed maniac, thoroughly uninterested in the un-progress of their assault. Blinded by her bloodlust. Utterly insane. His gaze found T'harrak now, wagering she was the only Razorfish;Vaa Skakdi managing to keep her head amidst the chaos, and knowing that was a tall ask at best. She was... giving orders? to Seeker, who turned in their direction. Sohmak hoped the both of them could read his face from that far away, looking from the two back to Zanakra, the crazed warlord who lead them to this slaughter. This ain't worth our lives! She ain't! This was too much. Simply too much. It took everything he had not to just fall to his knees. His elementally attuned ears pricked up, finding a voice under all the havoc. Another day, Sohmak told himself. You can be a warrior another day. Before Seeker could even begin to fetch them, he had turned to his companions. "Gashril! Lookout! We're gettin' outta 'ere!" Without looking to see if they had chosen to follow or stay and fight, he broke into a sprint, in a direction halfway between "towards T'harrak" and "away from Fort Garsi". Even with the Sluggers strapped to his body, he could still outpace just about anyone in a short burst. Sohmak fought down terror and shame in equal measure, and prayed he'd escape to reconcile them both. OOC: @Snelly @Nato G @ARROW404
  2. IC: Sohmak - The Battle of Fort Garsi If not for Gashril and her companion, the earthen onslaught would have almost certainly buried the brawler; their slowing of the collapse gave Sohmak a literal fighting chance, batting away the smaller rocks with his mighty Protosteel exo-gauntlets and throwing devastating (if panicked) haymakers at the larger boulders that bore down on him, decimating them to more manageable chunks that piled around his feet. Still he didn't escape unscathed, battered, bruised and a smidge bloodied. But no less fighting fit; it would take more than the earth swallowing him up to keep the Sonic Striker down. Sohmak clanged the Sluggers together, sparks flying as he roared with a furor he'd not displayed before, in or out of the ring. As much an intimidation display as a desperate attempt to mask his growing terror. Dealing with the wretch in the ramparts would now have to wait, however. As Ahuum's magnet-trick on T'harrak's bunker threw the motorcycle assault into disarray, one of the riders-come-runners found their trajectory veering off from their squad, in an uncontrolled sprint towards Gashril and co. The two Tahtorak campers otherwise occupied with cleaning up the collapse, Sohmak allowed himself the focus of a singular opponent. And at once was his mind clear. No mad trapmasters, no imploding hillsides, no bloody fortress politics. A Skakdi, and another Skakdi, and a great violence building between them. The Sarke champion relished the feeling. This was bliss. This was-- Not Sarke. His mind clouded over again with new feelings. Dread and disgrace. Sohmak had seen what the Sluggers could do to great boulders and thick steel. He'd thought sparingly about what they'd do to flesh and Protodermis, what the act of killing, of breaking the second of the only two rules he'd ever lived by would feel like. He had about six seconds to consider the possibilities before the Garsi rider closed the distance. Sohmak planted his feet firmly, winding back his arm. The exoskeleton supporting the hulking metal fist whirred with menace, a metallic chunk sounding as the armature locked into place. The bruiser zeroed his foe, his mad dash leaving little room for evasive manoeuvring... and closed his eyes. As he loosed the ruinously powerful punch with a frightful yell, he wondered if the mechanisms would translate his holding-back-the-blow at all. OOC: @Mel @Geardirector @Visaru @Snelly @Nato G @Sparticus147 @Smudge8 @ARROW404 I didn't miss anyone right? 😅
  3. IC: Sohmak - The Battle of Fort Garsi Had the forces of Fortress Razorfish;Vaa been permitted to engage at a closer range, Sohmak would feel rather more optimistic about his present circumstances. As they stood, the bruiser could've spent a thousand years in the ring and not one second of it could have prepared him for the carnage unfolding; the Spineless Slugger finally found himself in an arena of combat that rendered him almost perfectly useless. The old clubhouse may as well have been in another universe. His Sonics-attuned hearing found Gashril and Lookout above the cacophony of explosives, firearms and eye beams, and he anchored himself to their efforts. Sohmak was almost perfectly useless, and he loathed the ways he could be useful. Any ability of his that didn't involve his raw physical prowess hadn't been exercised in years, rather by choice. Given the current situation, he would have to forgive himself the stain on his honour later, assuming he was still alive to do so. The Bite of Irnakk's Tooth screwed his eyes tightly shut, trying to remember how to flex this particular muscle. At once a wave of nausea washed over him, his eyelids snapping open to reveal tones of deep dark blue, temperate yellow-greens and fiery reds. He looked up towards the ramparts, wavering on his feet, and saw at once why Zanakra's Cordak missiles had fallen short; blistering white-hot lines cut through the air, ending in puffs of crimson where the projectiles had been prematurely detonated. Tracing directly back to Krex. "THEY'VE GOT HEAT VISION!" Sohmak shouted sort of at Zanakra, sort of at Gashril, sort of almost in a panic. "SETTIN' OFF THE EXPLOSI-OH IRNAKK'S PIS—" The brawler about keeled over, throwing his body to the ground in Gashril's direction in a vague attempt to take cover from the onslaught, his vision fading from Thermal to regular spectrum as he fought and won to keep days of fruits and Miracle Cactus down. "Oi… Shrill Blade," he finally managed to heave out between breaths, unaware her perspective was elsewhere. "You're a noisy rotter too, eh? How's about we flush the heu:nii out?" OOC: @ARROW404 @good grief there's a lot of us huh?
  4. IC: Sohmak - Spineless Bay, Tahtorak Encampment T'harrak, as she often did, had a point. But for once it wasn't sitting quite right with Sohmak. She was unable to see the forest for the trees, or whatever he overheard some other geek saying. The brawler came to a stop and looked back at her. To a distant observer, to Zanakra, Sohmak cocking his head back in her direction would read as "Let's get a wriggle on, boss is waitin'." To someone who'd just had the conversation they'd had with the fighter, to T'harrak, it read as "Wanna talk about personal pride and how it impacts us all? She's right there." She knew about pride, but he knew pride, and at least his didn't kill people. With that, he started off towards the scouting boat again. And with each heavy footfall towards the fledgling conqueror's craft (attempting a casual salute with the hulking metal mass on his arm as he boarded) it sank deeper and deeper in how dangerous Zanakra's own pride, her unchecked ambition, was; for would-be rivals, thralls and allies alike. Sohmak still didn't quite realise how sheltered he was from fortress politics in the bosom of Zakaz's capital, but he was beginning to get the foul taste of it. Despite his prodigious talent for incredible and passionate violence, the Spineless Slugger had never killed before; Rule Two: keep your opponent alive. Again he wondered if he had the nerve if things went south. He'd have the boat ride south to figure it out. OOC: @Nato G @Snelly
  5. IC: Sohmak - Spineless Bay, Tahtorak Encampment Oh how badly Sohmak wanted to snipe at the upstart, something like "If you ain't ready for 'em you'll never be one of 'em." United front, he reminded himself, save it for the fort. Looked forward to the fort. Instead he approached Gashril, raising a colossal mech-gauntlet to her in respect for her performance. "Bloody good show, lass. Showed our newbie how it's done, eh?" he said, pretending he'd been one of Zanakra's longer than Jojax had. Sure to get under the wrestler's skin, couldn't help himself really. He was about to ask if the Shrill Blade had ever made it out to the circles and clubhouses in Irnakk's Tooth when-- Sohmak's shoulders sank a little and he looked to the circle with longing, so close yet so far. Seemed everything was on hold until they made it back to the fort. Looked forward to the fort even more now. In helping where he could making preparations to leave (which wasn't much considering he couldn't grab anything, darn these good-for-nothin'--) the Spineless Slugger ended up alongside Zanakra's favourite geek, who was looking a little bruised after Jojax's impudent display. Sohmak had little time or respect for tinkerers like T'harrak, but thought it may be best to mend some bridges and straighten things out before they set off again. Sohmak shuffled closer to the engineer, lowering his rowdy voice for once. "Don't take it personal. We were all like her once, back in the clubhouses. Nothin' in Zakaz or Kino-Ur could take us down. We all get our reality check some day though, that kick-in-the-guts'll do her good." He snuck a look at the wrestler, sulking in the Sarke circle. "Kid's got spirit, no one denyin' that. And if she's anything' like her dear ol' dad..." lowering his voice even further, Jojax could not hear this now "...she'll be a fighter for the ages." A brief, vulnerable pause. "You were right to stick by her. We all need mates, in there and out 'ere." Sohmak broke away, moving for the boat before quickly turning back to T'harrak, assuming something of a civil-if-gruff tone. "And 'scuse my words at young Jojax before, don't mean nothin' by 'em," he lied slightly, it did tickle Sohmak a little to get her riled up, "she can't back that spirit though and everyone in Zakaz and Kino-Ur will take her down. Got a lot to live up to." OOC: @Snelly @Nato G @Sparticus147 @Smudge8 @ARROW404 Feeling slightly honoured to fall in the scope of your 10,000th post, Snelly! Feels like yesterday we were posting in Le-Wahi ☺️
  6. IC: Sohmak - Spineless Bay, Tahtorak Encampment And there it was; the blind desperation of a novice. Sohmak shook his head, shaking loose the errant thought that had been his budding respect for the wrestler. The Shrill Blade had her on the ropes-- --oh COME ON. Sohmak's feeling on draws were complicated. On the one hand, any two combatants that can fight each other to a standstill after such a prolonged bout must be fierce opponents indeed. On the other, a draw's... kind of a boring outcome? Maybe it's more about the journey than the destination or whatever he overheard some geek say. Sohmak groaned in dissatisfaction all the same. Then again, the Slugger mused, that was most definitely Gashril's fight to lose. Sheer bad luck her foot landed outside the ring. Still, it was over. Sohmak's muscles relaxed, tense as though he'd been in the ring himself. Seeing proper Sarke for the first time in a long time made him all jittery. He'd almost forgotten about the Sluggers until the clank of the crush-jaws closing, his fists clenched around their triggers, reminded him with a sour sneer. Surely one of these goons could free him of the blasted things. OOC: @Snelly @Nato G @Sparticus147 @Smudge8 @ARROW404 Also I do not share Sohmak's views on draws, it was a great fight! 😁
  7. IC: Sohmak - Spineless Bay, Tahtorak Encampment The brawler's long trek across Zakaz had clouded his living moments in a dreamlike haze. Even meeting Zanakra and her crew felt like playing out a campfire adventure story, the disgraced fighter given a second chance as warlord's muscle. Watching Gashril and Jojax duke it out in the circle was the most real thing he'd experienced in weeks. The two fighters embodied very different schools of combat, both equally effective and equally admired by Sohmak. Gashril's body language betrayed a caution and reactionary style the untrained eye might mistake for cowardice, but the Shrill Blade wielded a mind keener than her sword, her conservative technique allowing her to deconstruct her opponent mentally before following through physically. Jojax's frightful vigour was no less deliberate, however. If Gashril's style was to think on her feet, then Jojax's was to never give her a moment to think. This "attack-attack-attack" rhythm was not the blind desperation of a novice; the overwhelming force was considered, her incredible violence calculated. Even without the ancestral mask, she would be a terrifying opponent indeed. Sohmak let a smile crack across his great jaw. Perhaps there was something of the Demon in her after all. His mind strayed from the fight for a moment to finally regard the... wrongness that lingered in the corner of his eye. While Sohmak didn't regard Ahuum as a threat per se, there was something about the hooded wretch that made his skin crawl. Still, adversity makes strange bedfellows. He thought best to save introductions for back at the Fortress though, can't be losing his nerve out here. His fingers itched against the Sluggers' crush-jaw triggers. Glorious combat within his iron reach once again. OOC: @Smudge8@ARROW404@Sparticus147
  8. IC: Sohmak - Spineless Bay, Tahtorak Encampment Sohmak's own ego would be his undoing one day, and already he'd crept dangerously close to the threshold. Jojax's beef with the Sonic Striker had thrust his mindset back towards the cosiness of the clubhouse in Irnakk's tooth, where a fight was a fight and nothing more. Vicious words and more vicious blows were traded but everyone came out alive and, more often than not, on friendly terms. But the clubhouse wasn't a fortress and, as T'harrak had promptly demonstrated, the dynamic was very different indeed. The dependibility of your clansmen could mean the difference between life and death. Big talk meant jack this far from the city, and Sohmak annihilating a rock hardly demonstrated any measure of trustworthiness. It seemed he was loathe to admit quite a few things out here, the latest being that T'harrak had a point. Sohmak scowled like a scolded child, and got out of the wrestler's face. If Fortress Razorfish;Vaa was to present a united front to Gashril's encampment, he'd have to abandon his newly-fired blood feud with her. For now, at least. The fort should have a decent Sarke-circle, or he'd have to rethink his membership altogether. He huffed in capitulation. "Go on then, Demon's Daughter." It was the most intro he was willing to offer Jojax presently. "Make 'em cry." OOC: @Smudge8 @Nato The Whisperer
  9. IC: Sohmak - Spineless Bay, Tahtorak Encampment The brawler sneered as Jojax's request. He'd seen dozens, hundreds maybe, eager to make a name for themselves in the pits; few so brazenly as the young wrestler. "Word of advice, upstart," Sohmak growled in a low tone. "If you're having to ask for a ring introduction, you don't get one. You don't deserve one." He leaned in close, about pressing his forehead to Jojax's. "You ain’t earned it. Just like I'm sure you ain't earned that Bloody mask yet." He turned to Zanakra, but stopped himself short of saying. "Put me in instead, boss. She ain’t ready," fighting down the urge to bash some heads. Best not to make too many waves so soon after being recruited. Instead he only nodded sagely, like some kind of Sarke-based advisor. He still thought Jojax wasn't ready, but reckoned her ego could use knocking down a few pegs. If only the Spineless Slugger were as capable of introspection as he was with his fists. OOC: @Snelly @Nato The Whisperer @Sparticus147 @Smudge8 @ARROW404
  10. IC: Sohmak - Spineless Bay, Tahtorak Encampment The brawler had positioned himself close-but-not-too-close to Zanakra and, though he reckoned it had been about ten minutes since Fortress Razorfish;Vaa picked him up, tried his best to look for all the world like a long-time enforcer of the warlord's. Again Sohmak's ego had retreated and he couldn't help but feel vulnerable. A Sarke circle meant Sarke-fighters, any of which could again recognise him if they'd ever passed through Irnakk's Tooth. But for once, sport was far from his mind. Gashril's associates were larger in number and for the most part stature. If things turned ugly, if negotiations broke down, the circle would afford no honour and provide no sanctuary. The scant rules of Sarke would be out the window. Mortal combat. This was new and, loathe to admit it, a little frightening. This was fortress politics in action. It made his stomach turn. Jojax's red war paint blazed in the corner of his eye and he welcomed the distraction, allowing himself a glance at the wrestler. Her ancestral mask sent a bolt through his brain and dealt a body blow to his composure as he finally joined the dots. Sohmak remained a firm presence at Zanakra's side, but his mind reeled from the revelation. Her father was no amateur. He was only the Bloody Demon. OOC: @Snelly @Nato The Whisperer @Sparticus147 @Smudge8 @ARROW404
  11. IC: Sohmak - Spineless Bay, Fortress Razorfish;Vaa Once more his hearing picked up Zanakra's intonation, the quotes around "greet" dripping with venomous implication. She was a warlord, and this was her territory. "Aye, ma'am." Sohmak grinned viciously and held up a clanking claw. While he still didn't entirely agree with acquiesing to another outside the ring, he rapidly began to see the sense in it. Until not two minutes ago he was an intruder right on Razorfish;Vaa's doorstep, after all. Sohmak joined Jojax at the boat, catching her scowl as she made preparations. He flashed her a sneer. "You'll get your fight, rotter. See if you do any better then your dad, eh?" OOC: @Snelly @Nato The Whisperer @Sparticus147 @Smudge8
  12. IC: Sohmak - Spineless Bay, Fortress Razorfish;Vaa Three years, blimey that's a way back... Sohmak tried to recall, he'd fought a few Skakdi on the older side during his time. Though humiliation was never the aim of the game, he could hardly help it if his opponents didn't bring all they had to the ring. Jojax's father had obviously been one of those amateurish few. Still, he couldn't help but admire the fire in her belly; that ferocity and fighter's spirit could very well be what broke Sohmak free of his shackles. He decided to stoke the flames a little. "Think your boss has final say on that, upstart." The brawler cracked a wry smile and looked past Jojax to the warlord. His grin widened, looking back to the wrestler. "Looks like you'll have to wriggle over, eh?" He disengaged from her, joining Zanakra and the rest of her crew. His Sonics-attuned hearing picked up the emphasis on Spineless; Sohmak was well-aware of its original meaning, calculated it in fact, to make his opponents underestimate him. Every one of them learned what a mistake it was to underestimate a Skakdi who could fight that hard without the stimulus of a Spine Slug. He clanged the Sluggers together, sparks flying off their Protosteel cowlings. "You lot were off somewhere, boss?" OOC: @Snelly @Nato The Whisperer @Sparticus147 @Smudge8 I really have issues with brevity huh lol
  13. IC: Sohmak - Spineless Bay, Fortress Razorfish;Vaa Sohmak completely missed the boredom-borderlining-disdain in T'harrak's voice, flashing her a grin. He knew what he was and he was bloody proud of it. Jojax gave him pause. A part of him was hoping to keep his infamy to the East under wraps for the timebeing, and this loudmouth heu:nii had just blown his cover wide open. Another, much louder, part of Sohmak was glad to finally get the recognition he deserved all the way out here. He couldn't help but beam with vainglory. "The Bite of Irnakk's Tooth himself," the prize-fighter proclaimed. "You been 'round my circles then, eh? Don't think we've met in the pit before." He sensed a Sarke-fighter's fury in her, and knew he was in good company. If Zanakra decided he was, at least. OOC: @Snelly @Nato The Whisperer @Sparticus147 @Smudge8
  14. IC: Sohmak - Spineless Bay, Fortress Razorfish;Vaa Already Zanakra was speaking his language. "With pleasure, ma'am." The prize-fighter grinned with violent delight. The half-submerged boat made landfall with a pathetic thunk, Sohmak stepping ashore and standing tall, stretching his arms; the exoskeleton made stretching something of a redundancy but he thought the sight and sound of it in action, the servo-buzz of the mighty armatures, might help his chances with the warlord and her entourage. He clanked the Sluggers' crush-jaws for good measure too, like an angry Manas. Looking over their immediate surroundings, Sohmak spotted a convenience; a large carved stone, presumably leftover from the fortress's construction. He strode over to it, carrying himself with well-practiced bravado. To the Spineless Slugger, being a champion fighter was only half of Sarke; you had to look the part too, you had to be a showman. He tapped his oversized mechanical knuckles against the stone, making a show of lining up his shot. In truth it didn't matter where he hit it. Finally Sohmak planted his feet and wound back his arm, the exoskeleton locking back with a satisfying ka-chunk. A pause. Sohmak breathed deep. And with a short sharp exhalation and a loud rising whirr, the Slugger burst forward and cleaved through the stone like it wasn't even there, shattering it into hundreds of disparate pieces. Sohmak let out an involuntary "Ha!" of surprise and awe, his limited practice in the scrapper's workshop meaning he was still discovering the upper limits of the device. He began to wonder if there were any. Sohmak reached for one of the larger chunks of debris, the crush-jaws clamping down hard on the stone and straining for barely a second before further annihilating it, dust pouring from between them as they opened. "They... they don't grab well, but..." The prize-fighter sheepishly gestured to the pile of rubble beside him. OOC: @Snelly @Nato The Whisperer @Sparticus147 @Smudge8
  15. IC: Sohmak - Spineless Bay, Fortress Razorfish;Vaa The warlord's demand sliced through the gentle river ambiance. Sohmak didn't recognise the Cordak Blaster at Zanakra's side but saw it for what it was; large and lethal. For the briefest moment he considered paddling away, the next moment realising he'd be as good as dead if he tried. Can't show any weakness out here. In the next moment, he almost yelled out "I'm the Spineless Slugger, blockhead!" but caught himself. This far out from Irnakk's Tooth, he doubted he'd be recognised. And on the off-chance he was, he couldn't expose himself to humiliation so readily. Can't rely on reputation out here. It was a rare occasion indeed when Sohmak would show deference to another, and he pushed the scowl he felt beginning to form back down. Staring down the six barrels of a gun, however, he'd try anything once. Be useful. Sitting back up in the rapidly sinking rowboat and trying his best to ignore it, he waved a hulking Slugger and smiled in what he assumed was a cordial manner. "Muscle!!" Sohmak finally yelled back at Zanakra. "Need some?" OOC: @Snelly @Nato The Whisperer @Sparticus147 @Smudge8
  16. IC: Sohmak - Spineless Bay, middle of river Ancestors, I hope no one can see this. The brawler pawed pathetically at the river waters. The weight of the great gauntlets caging his arms made swimming out of the question, and meant the abandoned little boat he'd kicked from the shore barely kept him afloat, barely worthy of the classification "boat". He'd have used the oars but they snapped like twigs in his mighty crush-grip. For hardly the first time since wandering out this far, Sohmak cursed his luck. He cursed the Sluggers, and the scrapper that did this to him. It would hardly be the last time either. Sohmak sought battle. A warrior with power enough to destroy the Sluggers, to free him from the shackles that held his arms and ego in equal measure. He wondered if any such warrior existed in all of Zakaz. <<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<< Some Days Prior - Irnakk's Tooth, Sarke Clubhouse The smack of fist meeting temple. The thud of Skakdi meeting floor. The whayyyyy! of a crowd of onlookers. Sohmak panted for breath and rubbed his knuckles; a harder fight than he'd expected. He grinned down as his opponent, half out of respect, half out of well-placed pride. Every victory Sohmak earned in Sarke was all his own. He held a hand out to the downed Skakdi, pulling them up and into a one-armed hug, exchanging wishes to exchange blows again down the line. Another, slightly inebriated, Skakdi called out across the room, challenging Sohmak. But even champions had their limits, and it was time to retire for the night. "Tomorrow," Sohmak promised. Stepping out of the clubhouse, a little shack tucked away in the shadow of Irnakk's Tooth, Sohmak took a deep breath of the crisp air. His moment of peace did not last; he was suddenly aware of a presence behind him, a hooded shade lurking outside the door. Every time his fight-or-flight response kicked in, he'd never chosen flight. He spun around fast and grabbed the being by the throat, slamming their back against the wall. "I'm unarmed! I'm unarmed!" a feeble voice, but a Skakdi's voice no less, chirped from beneath the hood. "So am I," snarled Sohmak, his fierce grip tightening. "You've got nerve trying to jump anyone in there. Bad luck it was me, eh?" The hooded Skakdi could barely draw breath, clutching at Sohmak's arm uselessly. The brawler sighed disappointedly, seeing that they were pathetic and of no harm. Releasing his grip, the stranger dropped to the ground, sucking breath. "Beat it, heu:nii." The stranger panted and wheezed for a time before drawing himself to his feet, his hood falling back to reveal a purple face, though Sohmak couldn't tell if it was Gravity or asphyxiation. "I'm... Syntak..." Sohmak lowered his arms but kept them tense, his fists curled tightly. He'd been ambushed in the streets before, low-life Sarke-wannabes who fancied a go at the famed fighter, but no one had been so brazen to try and attack him right on the doorstep of the clubhouse. "Then beat it, Syntak. Ain't got time for rotters like you," he growled. "And you're... Sohmak..." the snivelling Syntak continued as though he hadn't been dismissed, raising his gaze to meet the brawler's. "...the Spineless Slugger." So Syntak was here for him. He wound up to clobber the pathetic Skakdi, who held out a hand in desperate protest. "No, please! I do not seek to quarrel! Though..." And here Syntak seemed to lost himself in thought. "...to be punched by the mighty Sohmak would be a high honour indeed! The Sonic Striker! The Bite of Irnakk's Tooth! He who forsakes all advantage! No weapon, no vision power, you deny even the rage borne of a Spine Slug! I-I've seen your handiwork, your dance oh-so-violent! From afar, of course, I wouldn't dare partake myself..." So he's a creep and a coward. Sohmak cut through Syntak's ramblings with a snap of his fingers, bringing the cloaked Skakdi back to the present moment. "My apologies, but much as you likely seek to visit violence upon my person, I do not come before you to fight; I wish instead to make an offer. One tailored just for you, Sohmak." The brawler rolled his eyes. The stranger was far too well-spoken to be another drunk. Heck, he was far too well-spoken full stop. The company Sohmak usually kept was far more blunt, or sharp depending on the weapons they brought to the ring. And yet, he'd caught Sohmak's interest. Syntak was aware of his reputation, and he hated to think that he was at least a little curious about the strange Skakdi's offer. Any funny business, and Syntak wouldn't last long anyways. Sohmak shrugged. "Screw it. What've you got for me?" >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>> Irnakk's Tooth, Syntak's Workshop "Hey, not so tight, yeah?!" The device's harness was tight, the myriad straps and buckles biting into Sohmak's shoulders and cutting in under his ribs. Mechanical armatures sprouted from a curious little engine on the harness's back and ran down along his arms, terminating in two altogether-too-big Protosteel gauntlets, themselves housing brutal three-fingered claws. Sohmak grunted in discomfort as Syntak almost skipped around him in excitement making final adjustments, and attempted to lift a heavy hand. "Not yet!" the scientist yelled in alarm, pushing the gauntlet back down. "You'll damage the exoskeleton!" "Then get a move on!" Sohmak roared back. "I could be having a nice little kip right now, instead I'm playing training dummy for some scrap-tinker geek who couldn't tell a shovel from a shovel hook!" "Test subject," Syntak corrected, missing the barb in Sohmak's stinging statement. "You're right, I don't have a fighting bone in my body. My technical prowess far outweighs my capacity for violence; your skill and brutality in unarmed combat make you far more suited to testing the apparatus than I." "And you reckon you should be proud of that?" Sohmak sneered contemptuously. "Surprised you still have all your teeth with that attitude, and if you don't hurry up I'll start playing dentist too." More silent fidgeting before Syntak finally stepped away. "There, how does that feel?" "Feels like you've strapped me up and weighed me down so you can have a pop at me." The brawler's patience was on a knife-edge. "The harness is a prototype, improvements to user comfort will be made in future iterations. Right now we're testing the gauntlets and exoskeletal support mechanisms. Allow me." Syntak went to step behind Sohmak, the fighter side-stepping and blocking his path. "No games, heu:nii." Syntak nodded, trying his best to suppress his frightful shaking. "N-no games." Allowed to move past, he started fiddling with various switches and knobs on the engine, a low humming rising in pitch until it became ultrasonic, ringing faintly in Sohmak's attuned ears. With a final dramatic flick of a big red switch, the device came to life. Instantly the weight that threated to pop Sohmak's shoulders from their sockets vanished. He looked back to Syntak in surprised, who was fastening a Protosteel shell over the engine. The scrapper beamed, returning a thumbs-up, and Sohmak cautiously lifted an arm. It moved as though the gauntlet wasn't there, the armature holding its weight steadfast and moving in sync with him. He raised the other gauntlet out in front, looking on them with bewilderment and a newfound appreciation. "What spell have you cast? Making Protosteel light as air?" Syntak grinned like an idiot, overflowing with glee at the initial success. "Not a spell, Sohmak. Not magic. Science. Engineering." "Call it what you want... it's a bit blooding brilliant." The fighter was starting to beam as well. Syntak became bashful. "I was wondering what to call them. The Exo-Fists, the Punch-Harders..." His eye lingered from the brawler. "I settled on a name in honour of you. I-I call them the Sluggers." This summoned a deep belly laugh from Sohmak, and he dared to think he was beginning to like the geek. Syntak joined in with a loud chuckle. "Go on then, throw a punch! A shovel hook or whatever you said! Show me how the Spineless Slugger does it!" The Spineless Slugger, still smiling with savage delight, cracked his neck and assumed a familiar fighting stance. "With pleasure." >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>> All the materials Syntak had laid out for testing stood no chance. Rocks turned to dust between the Sluggers' mighty crush-jaws. A boulder, rolled with great difficulty into the workshop some days prior, reduced to rubble. Sheets of steel, dented and cracked and finally punched clean though. More impressive still was the speed and elegance with which Sohmak moved, in spite of the heavy Protosteel encasing his arms. He struggled initially with the cognitive disconnect; he could see them, he could feel the rudimentary padding against his forearms and his fingers gripping the crush-jaw triggers. But throwing a punch felt like he was bare-knuckle, the familiar fluidity giving way to brutish power like he'd never known. It truly seemed there was no limit to the Sluggers' power. Which was a problem. Much as he was enjoying himself, Sohmak heaved a reluctant sigh. "...not really my thing." Syntak, guffawing like a fool not moments before, froze. The brawler's disapproval cut like a knife. "They're... n-not to your liking?" Sohmak saw the scrapper begin to quiver and rolled his eyes. "Hey, hey, don't take it personally, geek. First, you came to me so you know how I do things. And you know that what I do is more than just punching and crushing, there's... nuance." The word felt unfamiliar in his mouth, and he was unsure if he was using it right at all. He raised a Slugger. "These don't have nua... nu... that. I can't grab, I can't grapple. They punch, and they crush, and they're very good at that, but only that." Syntak slumped against the wall of the workshop, defeated. "I understand. Fine motor control of the crush-jaws was to come in a later iteration, but I see now that they're not fit for purpose. Your purpose. It was foolish to me to approach a weaponless fighter and ask him to take one up. Blinded by my pride..." For about the first time in his life, a pang of sympathy for a weedy runt like Syntak entered the brawler's stony heart. He went to lay a hand on the scrapper's shoulder before realising he'd tear his arm off if he did, and withdrew. "I think we're done here, Syntak. Get these things off me, yeah?" "Right..." Syntak pulled himself back up and began working at the sturdy mechanisms clamping the Sluggers to Sohmak's arms. Entirely too long had passed and Sohmak felt the scrapper almost tugging at the locks on the contraption. "I can't get them off..." Were Sohmak not a Skakdi of Sonics, he would not have heard the barely audible admission. His response was immediate, and more of a command than a query. "What did you say?" "I-I-I-" "What did you SAY, ROTTER?!" "Ican'tgetthemoff!" Syntak spat out, scurrying away from Sohmak in a panic to hide behind his workbench. The bench provided no obstacle for the Spineless Slugger, his crush-jaws tearing into the steel slab like tinfoil before flinging it across the room. He threw a hook, stopping millimetres from Syntak's head. "What did you say. Slowly." "I can't get them off... I-I designed the mechanisms securing the harness and gauntlets to the user to be robust, impregnable even. I guess I forgot to... d-d-design a way for the user to open them again..." "You forgot?? You've TRAPPED me in these blasted things! Imagine if I rocked up to a Sarke pit in these! ME! I'd be laughed right into Kino-bloody-Ur!" The crush-jaws snapped open and closed with a heavy clank, the armature tensed and ready to fire. "You've ruined me. Tell me why I shouldn't take your head off right now." "B-because... because you need me to release you, right?" Syntak rose slowly to his feet, the Slugger following his head all the way up. "I designed the locking mechanisms, I'm the only one who knows how they work, I can... f-figure out a way to unlock them, to get you out!" "Then do it, geek. Now." "No!" He yelled without thinking, covering his mouth in horror. Slowly taking his hand away, he gambled on his life. "Not now... I-I need time to think... tomorrow! Tomorrow I'll have something. Come back here tomorrow, and I can unlock the Sluggers and free you, yes?" Sohmak's eyes narrowed. He didn't believe the scrapper for a second, but he had no other option. Killing him now meant zero chance of getting the Sluggers off. Waiting to kill him meant a non-zero chance. "Tomorrow", Sohmak promised. >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>> As morning sunlight flooded the streets of Irnakk's Tooth, a hacked off prize-fighter pounded on a workshop door. "Syntak! SYNTAK, YOU ROTTER!" His patience long since depleted, he threw a heavy metal fist through the door, smashing it to splinters. The workshop was derelict, every sign of the scrap-tinker geek having vanished with him as he fled into the night. Heu:nii... >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>> And so Sohmak found himself here. In self-exile from Irnakk's Tooth in a desperate bid to preserve his reputation, trudging across the island for days and nights and sustaining himself on fruits and Miracle Cactus crushed in and summarily licked from the Sluggers' metallic maw, and finally paddling pathetically between the river deltas of the Spineless Bay in a leaky boat. He looked ahead, at his wit's end, and there in the distance stood a veritable fortress. A literal fortress, in fact. Fortress Razorfish;Vaa. No one so weak and snivelling as that scrapper could ever dream of having a fortress. Only the strong could take, could make, such a proud stronghold. Worth a shot. He paddled a little faster. OOC: @Snelly @Nato The Whisperer @Sparticus147 @Smudge8 and anyone else who's involved with Razorfish;Vaa, closing in.
  17. Sohmak Species: Skakdi Gender: Male Appearance: Athletic build, Sonics-grey armour bearing a few battle scars, lacking a Spine Slug. Abilities: Suppressed Elemental Power of Sonics Thermal Imaging vision power Skilled hand-to-hand combatant. Weapons/Equipment: Sluggers: A powered exoskeletal harness supporting two colossal Protosteel mech-gauntlets designed to punch and crush with devastating force. Foreign tech approved by @Haman Karn: A Magical Girl. Two metal vambraces for blocking melee weapons, currently unused. History: Sohmak made a name for himself as an exceptional Sarke fighter who forsook all advantage, infamous for using no weapons, no vision powers and even refusing to bond with a spine slug for its berserker rage; the latter of which earned him the moniker of the "Spineless Slugger". With only his cunning, brutality and bare fists, Sohmak came to dominate the sport. Approached one day by a rare Skakdi whose technical ingenuity far outweighed his capacity for violence, Sohmak became the first and only test subject for the inventor's latest creation; the Sluggers, named in honour of the bare-knuckle brawler. Quickly it became apparent that the clamps that secured its harness and great gauntlets to Sohmak's body were secure beyond reason, and quite impregnable; he was trapped inside the device. The cowardly engineer promised to find a way to release Sohmak from the Sluggers before fleeing for his life in the dead of night. Now in self-exile from Irnakk's Tooth to preserve his reputation, the Spineless Slugger seeks a warrior strong enough to break his shackles and return him to his former glory, before the exoskeleton inevitably breaks down from lack of maintenance and imprisons Sohmak in its cold, heavy clutches. Weaknesses: Big Meaty Claws: While the Sluggers make the already fearsome Sohmak an absolute nightmare in hand-to-hand combat, outside these circumstances they prove quite the burden; the great metal claws provide no fine motor control whatsoever, crushing anything Sohmak might care to grab. This makes basic tasks, including eating, far more difficult than usual. Pride Before The Fall: Due to his insistence on fighting in unarmed melee, he is utterly unskilled in the use of melee or ranged weaponry (a moot point as the Sluggers do not allow him to wield any kind of weaponry). Furthermore, due to the one-on-one nature of his Sarke bouts, he may find himself overwhelmed by more than one opponent.
  18. IC: For a being previously defined by his mastery of speed and motion, for once the Toa wasn't in a rush. The last few days had felt like years, and not just for all the walking. His muscles ached from the long trek and he had resolved not to use his Kakama, making sure he felt every bio, every footfall no matter how painful. He was on a pilgrimage of sorts to the one place on Mata Nui that might bring him some sense of peace and belonging. Kanae Bay, where he naturally gravitated when that need for tranquillity became overwhelming. A place to renew his focus and steel his resolve. The grasslands gradually gave way to denser and denser jungle as the silver Toa entered Le-Wahi, the crisp afternoon breeze giving way to warm humidity. Passing beneath the village of Le-Koro suspended high above he looked to the sun for direction, oriented himself south-east, and disappeared through the green. Kios to go before he slept. <<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<< "Is this seat taken?" The voice snapped Zeal out of his head and into reality, his eyes struggling to focus in the dim lights of the tavern, cloistered among the walkways and foliage of Le-Koro. Turning his head towards the voice, before him was a Toa of Air, a tired looking one at that. Not the kind that gets fixed by a good night's rest. There, he resonated with her. He shook his head with a little smile and the Le-Toa took her seat, gesturing to the barkeep for a cold one. His eyes more in-focus now, Zeal took another glance at the newcomer and saw that she was heavily scarred, almost from head-to-toe. A story in plainer view than most. Curiously, there was a mark-free patch on her upper arm. He minded his business. For a couple minutes at least, until the newcomer broke the silence again. "Weren't you in a musical a while back?" Synapses long-unfired were now ablaze, along with Zeal's cheeks. He laughed a laugh that betrayed deep embarrassment, and a tiny bit of pride. "You saw that?" Unbelievable. Of all the things to be recognised for on this island, it's the freakin' musical. The Toa nodded, returning the same slightly embarrassed laugh. "I thought I recognised you, the dashing assassin right?" The barkeep placed a bottle of Salamander's Revenge in front of her, she mouthed a thank you and took a swig. "I won't lie, it needed work in... a lot of areas... but it was genuine. Fun." It was fun. She remembered watching it with her head resting on her best friend's shoulder, felt a pang in her chest. Sharp, but far away now. She'd done her mourning. "To be honest, I think most of the troupe would agree with you there," Zeal replied with a chuckle, then more earnestly "I'm glad you had fun. Thank you." He thought on his "troupe", the Hau Karda, for a second. How they'd fragmented, how his angst and melodrama had driven away some good mates, how he'd carry that regret for a good while yet. They'd always have the musical though, the traditional pillow fights, the Epic Tea. The good times, even if they weren't together to enjoy them now. Looking now at the Salamander's in the Toa's scarified hand, he allowed himself a little curiosity. "Forgive me for prying, but you don't look the type who comes to a place like the Mighty Muaka for a social drink." She raised an eyebrow, meeting Zeal's gaze. The same tired look in his eyes. Two can play at that game. "Perhaps. You don't look the type who comes to a place like the Mighty Muaka for a glass of water unless you've had a bad experience with this stuff," she retorted, gesturing at him with her bottle. A pause, a wry smile. "I suppose we're both the type to dig where we probably shouldn't, though." Taken aback and honestly a little impressed with her accuracy, Zeal couldn't help but be mildly endeared. "This is beginning to sound an awful lot like a social drink." He raised his glass of water, his new companion's invocation making it somehow more conspicuous. She shrugged. Couldn't hurt. The Le-Toa raised her bottle as well. The previously sombre atmosphere of the tavern seemed almost friendly. "Zeal." "Reaver." Clink. >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>> He had not recalled the undergrowth of Le-Wahi's wilds being so thick, borderline unnavigable, and wondered if he was still on the right course. Drawing his Reverse Blade, he began slashing a path deeper into the jungle. At least the Rahi are keeping their distance. As though to punish his optimism, a horrific buzz rose above the ambiance and closed in on the Toa. He spun around towards the noise and threw himself to the ground just in time to avoid taking a Nui-Rama stinger through the mask. The lone insect ascended high into the tree canopy and hovered there, scouting for its quarry. The Toa erupted from the brush and thrust his hand out to torch the bug, but caught himself at the last second. If I miss, I incinerate half the Wahi. If I hit, I incinerate half the Wahi. The Nui-Rama zeroed in on him again, drawing back its stinger. Run. He focused, activating his Kanohi for the first time in a long time, picked a direction and allowed himself to be swallowed into the jungle depths. When finally the buzzing was far, far away, he stopped and took inventory of his surroundings. Green, lots of green. Utterly lost. <<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<< "So, what's your story?" The pair conversed late into the night. They bonded over their almost eerily similar tales of their time before Mata Nui, the last survivors of villages razed to the ground by the vile Makuta. Zeal told Reaver about the Le-Matoran he'd travelled with for a time, who called herself Sister. How they'd met when she treated his wounds after the Rahkshi attack on the Koros, though he still bore scars on his left forearm and lost his little and ring fingers on that hand. He told Reaver of the Mataraka that had robbed him of his Kinetic elemental power, his last link to Ve-Koro, and given him his Fire in return. How they'd near-annihilated the curious little orb trying to crack it open out in the Motara Desert, only for the energy within to reject Zeal; "We were not meant for you. You were never truly one of us." He eyed the label of Reaver's Salamander's for only a second and could barely stand to look at it. Better keep this part quiet for now. When Reaver asked to see the Mataraka, the silver Toa gave her only a slight chuckle. "If you can fish it out of the Tren Krom Break you're welcome to it." He shrugged. "Out of sight, out of mind." The only falsehood he'd told all night, to Reaver and himself. He thought on it often, turned the words over in his mind. Surely a trick, a conjuring of whoever created the infernal device. He was a Toa of Kinetics, never been more sure of anything. Yet the doubt had burrowed deep into his core. Zeal finally got the full rundown on the Mark Bearers he'd only heard of in whispers, learning that Reaver had once worn the Mark of Agony on her untouched shoulder. Among those she had considered kin, Reaver was the poster girl for pain and suffering, and gave herself wholly to the role. Once believing the Mark Bearers supreme on Mata Nui, Reaver fed the Mark again and again as proof of loyalty to her pack, most of all their leader Utu. All she had to show for her fanaticism, her perverse need for validation, were scars and shame. She recited all this as though it were someone else's story. There was enough distance between Reaver-then and Reaver-now that it may as well have been. It was only when she spoke of Emotia that the cracks began to show, the pain in her heart suddenly very close and real, her bottom lip quivering as her best friend's name passed over it. The best friend she'd put through Karzahni with worry, rebuked even when she said Reaver was like a sister to her. All the edgy attention-seeking and selfish melodrama and petty jealousy over her marriage to Tillian Juturna. With Emotia dead, murdered in the most wretched manner, she couldn't take any of it back. Couldn't tell her that she was right, that they were like sisters and that she had loved her just like one. It stung worse than any wound she'd ever carried. Zeal stared into his drink, parsing everything that Reaver said. Reduced to a pawn in a supernatural plot for ultimate power, defined almost solely by her agony, lashing out in the vain hope that something, someone, would make it all worthwhile. Going through all that, he thought it miraculous she was sitting in the barstool next to him. It would break lesser beings, Zeal thought, counting himself among that number. His mind kept returning to Emotia's gruesome end. "So your friend, Emotia, got married... pregnant... then eaten?" "It's so messed up, right?" Said like Zeal had, it sounded almost ridiculous. She laughed a little, if only to keep from crying. Zeal knew plenty of loss, but not like this. The loss of a home is a horrible thing, something they could both find common ground on. He'd lost companions too, mostly to his own self-importance. But the death of a friend, of family, was out of his league and he knew words wouldn't suffice. All he could do was lay a reassuring hand on the scarred Toa's shoulder, offering her a solemn smile. Reaver brought her hand up to his, meeting his smile with misty eyes. She hadn't walked into the Mighty Muaka intending to burden a stranger with her story, but she couldn't bring herself to regret it either. Whether it was the drink talking or she just needed to finally burst the dam and let it all flood out, it was a great catharsis, a weight off her shoulders that the silver Toa seemed only too happy to bear. They sat in silence and gripped each other's hands a little tighter, a wordless "I'm here." Suddenly Zeal's features hardened, focusing. Something in the back of his brain had rushed to the forefront at mach speed. In the dim light he hadn't even made the connection, and felt all the more foolish for it. "Sister was looking for someone. A Toa of Air wearing a Huna... that's you, isn't it? No sooner had the words left his mouth did Reaver's mind race with the possibility. But she'd seen her fall from their village in the sky, a deadly descent. It couldn't possibly be... "My sister? Where is she?" >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>> He panted and struggled to catch his breath; used to using his Kanohi in quick bursts, he hadn't run that fast or far for some time now. Looking to the side and through the trees, the Toa saw he was passing close to a clearing in the jungle, and not just any; where he had cried out for help after coming ashore and been answered by Skyra, his first real friend on the island. Back before Mata Nui settled into its rhythm, when things seemed so chaotic, a steadfast comrade was one of the most valuable things one could have. He regretted how the two had drifted apart, how he'd reacted so childishly to Skyra's rebirth in another body, an immaturity that frustrated him as he stared at the ceiling in the small hours. Still he hope she was well, and that the Great Spirit would afford him the chance to reconcile with her, let her know that he still thought of her as a friend no matter what. He took the clearing as a good omen; it meant he was on the right track. His breathing steadied, he allowed himself the faintest smile out towards it, and started off again. <<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<< "You're not coming with me?" There was a chill in the night breeze once the barkeep finally kicked the two out and closed up. With Reaver beginning to sway on her feet, Zeal had set her up at his former-favoured digs, the Top of the Tree Inn. Though Zeal himself was still banned for attempting to race a particularly hyperactive Lesterin through its lobby, they had no problem taking his widgets to give Reaver somewhere to stay. Zeal swallowed. Time to fill in the gaps. "When I saw her last, we were trying to find my..." he held his breath for a moment, finally exhaling the word "...friend. But after the Mataraka, I wasn't in a good way. Self-destructing. When we caught up to her in Po-Koro, I wasn't... I was a mess. Kai'lan kicked me out of the village and had me leave without Sister." A little laugh, laced with bitterness. "That's why I go to the Muaka for their water." "Well, you don't drink any more, right? Kai'lan should know! I can see my sister again, you can see your girlfriend again! Double reunion, woo!" While Reaver had only good intentions, tonight they were filtered through enough drink to stun an Ash Bear. Zeal winced at "girlfriend," already tense from letting himself be so vulnerable about such a sticking point. "Look, I don't know if Sister's still in Po-Koro. I don't even know if Sister's your sister! If I'm right, and I hope for your sake I am, then I wish you two long and happy lives together." He caught himself, drained the acid from his tone. "I'm sorry, but Kai'lan was very clear. Count me out." He hated saying that. He'd have loved nothing more than to ride Aki-Nui along the Path of Prophecies once more. But he knew Kai'lan and even Sister were right not to trust him. The apothecary saw how he was imploding, how his self-destruction could translate to actual destruction. Through a sober lens he saw she had made the right call, loath as he was to admit it. Zeal saw the disappointment cross Reaver's face and she felt it; she felt for him, and truly couldn't sense any trace of the self-loathing reckless drunk he claimed to have been. The scarred Toa leaned back against her room's door, resigning herself to disappointment and looking to Zeal with a cocktail of clarity, sympathy and gratitude in her stark yellow eyes. "Thanks for being a friend tonight, Zeal. Don't think I realised how much I needed one." Caught a little off-guard, it took some seconds for the words to sink in. Once they had, Zeal realised he didn't know how much he needed one either. He raised a hand to pat her shoulder awkwardly. "Likewise. And I hope you find your sister, Reaver." The silver Toa turned to leave, and heard his one-night friend's door open as he reached the stairs. A second passed. A die was cast. Karz it. Activating his Kakama, Zeal zipped back to the room, jamming his foot in the door just before it closed. Reaver peered through the gap, confused and by no fault of the booze coursing through her bloodstream. "Tomorrow morning, down at the stables. I have a mount that'll take us all the way to Po-Wahi." He could see Reaver processing what she said in real time as a grin began slowly spreading across her face. A gentle breeze followed her as she exploded her out of her room and towards Zeal in what could only be described as an attack hug. Once the stun wore off, the silver Toa laughed and returned the gesture. He'd sorely missed hugs. But it was time to go, the innkeeper yelling up the staircase about Kanohi use indoors and threatening to extend Zeal's ban. Sharing a promise to meet in the morning, the silver Toa was quickly out among Le-Koro's catwalks and gangways again. It was almost certainly a terrible idea, but it was better than the no-idea he'd been languishing in for what seemed years now. If Reaver was the right Toa, two sisters may finally be reunited. That made it worth the gamble. He wondered if she'd remember their agreement. She had drank a lot that night. Come morning and Zeal reached the stable just in time to see a Le-Toa frozen in the gaze of a snorting Kane-Ra. He focused, his Kakama glowing dimly as he dashed over to the pen, flinging the gate wide open before the bull could smash it to splinters. Standing between the two beings, he raised a hand to the Kane-Ra. "Whoa Aki, whoa. She's a friend, friendly." He slowly approached his steed, looking back to Reaver and gesturing with his head to follow. The silver Toa swung a leg over the saddle, gently rubbing the Rahi's flank. "This is Reaver, friendly friend Reaver, yeah?" The Kane-Ra, smarter than he looked, made a happy noise and dropped his head in deference to his rider's new buddy. Silver Friend new friend! Reaver hadn't realised how tense she'd been until she dropped her shoulders with a nervous chuckle, and at Zeal's urging placed a hand on Aki-Nui's nose, before joining him on the bull's back. It would be the first time in a long time Zeal had left Le-Wahi. Days and nights of arduous travel passed, but only as the sun set and they rode up the Path of Prophecies into Po-Koro did the gravity of Zeal's choice begin to dawn on him. Though the memory came to him through a haze of drink and bad decisions, Kai'lan's rancour was crystal-clear. He shook the image free and focused on the road ahead. They'd come this far. No going back. No sooner had he slowed Aki-Nui outside the apothecary's hut did Reaver leap off, sprinting for the door. Zeal hoped they could approach with more tact, but it was out of his hands now. Reaver pounded on the door like an excited child. She knew there was a chance the Le-Matoran Zeal described wasn't the one she hoped she'd be, and tried desperately to push the creeping doubt back down. "Coming!" came a little voice, the apothecary's assistant, from inside. It's her. It's her it's her it's her. Reaver's last ember of doubt was snuffed by the door creaking open. She knew the instant she saw the Le-Matoran's Rau, and couldn't help but well up. It had felt like æons and she swore death's icy grip had seized her away. But there stood her twin sister, seemingly unchanged by the years. The scars and gashes in the Toa's armour were enough that the moment wasn't as instant for the Matoran. The seconds crawled like hours, but finally the widget dropped. She too felt tears sting at her eyes. "Xanev?" She gave up blinking back the tears, letting them run down her face like Ga-Wahi rivulets. She could only nod, speechless, grinning like an idiot. Sister looked Xanev from toe to head, the wounds rent in her sister conjuring all manner of unpleasantries in her mind. A whirlwind of shock, elation and worry spun behind her mask. "I thought you were... what happened?" Her grin held steadfast and the tears kept flowing. "Zanev, I... it's a long-" Another figure appeared in the doorway, an unfamiliar blue-and-white Toa wearing a Calix, and shuffled Zanev behind her. The Le-Toa's ragged appearance made her wary. "Who are you, thumping at my door like a hooligan?" All at once the unbridled joy, the delight of having years and years to make up for, drained from Xanev's being as she felt who stood before her. There was no mistaking the feeling from years long past and almost forgotten, the terrible presence, the dread that rolled through the ruins like so much smoke and clung to her soul. She reached for her dagger and held it tightly. Rage bubbled up and boiled over. "You can see we're closed for the evening, you'll have to come back-" Kai'lan stopped as her focus shifted past Xanev's face and to the silver Toa behind her, who was doing his best to become invisible. "You-!" "YOU!" Driven forward by a powerful gust of wind, Xanev exploded through the doorway and seized Kai'lan by the collar, bowling her sister over as they went. She pressed the apothecary's back to the wall and the dagger to her throat. "Murderer! Defiler! Makutaspawn!" Xanev spat, a ferocity that she hadn't felt since she bore the Mark of Agony taking hold of her. She screamed in Kai'lan's face, ready as she'd ever been to spill another's blood. A firm silver hand clamped down on her arm. "Reaver, stop!" In only the blink of an eye did the tone of their meeting shift from jubilance to barbarism and though Zeal's grip was unyielding, the rest of his body shook violently, panicked out of his skull. He tightened his grasp on Xanev's arm. "This is Kai'lan, this is my friend! What are you doing?!" "It was her! She felled my village, she burned them all! It was her!" Tears streamed down Xanev's cheeks, snarling teeth bared, straining against Zeal's grip to take the apothecary's life. "What are you doing with my sister?!" Kai'lan made no attempt to resist, troublingly serene in the face of her own personal reaper. She welcomed the knife at her neck, surprised it hadn't come sooner. She met Xanev's fury with tired eyes. "I only gave the word." Again she looked past Xanev to Zeal. She was so tired. "He burned them." >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>> He stood at the edge of the jungle. He could see the sand through the treeline and hear the gentle rushing of the tide. He held his hand out and saw how it shook. It spread through his body and made his knees want to collapse. Oh how he wanted to collapse, curl into a ball and be swallowed by the undergrowth. It never would have been so easy, of course it wouldn't. He couldn't just take a trip to the beach and return absolved of his sins long past. He turned his hand over, lit a spark in his palm. It would be so easy to drop it, perish along with the jungle. He'd already summoned so many firestorms, one more would only be fitting. But he perished the thought, extinguished the spark with a shake of his hand. Still his chest tightened, his heart pounding in his ears, his breathing quick and shallow. He looked again through the treeline, to the waters that had brought him here. Gritted his teeth. Crossed the threshold. <<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<< "You... you killed them?" The dagger clattered to the floor and Xanev faced her friend, her foe, her she-didn't-know-any-more. She bore into his soul with surety and accusation and venom. "You killed them." Zeal's heart sank down to Karzahni. He froze like Xanev had in the Le-Koro stables, faced with a wild Rahi. He barely mustered the tiniest "I-I don't know what-" before Xanev loosed another feral scream and drove her trembling fist hard into Zeal's temple. His legs crumpled and he saw stars. The scarred Toa went to throw another punch into the dazed Zeal's head, but felt the palm on the back of her skull for only a second before she was racked with pain, her muscles seizing beneath her armour as Kai'lan's current ran through them. Xanev dropped to the ground, convulsing. Stunned by her sister's sudden savagery, Zanev finally managed to pick herself off the ground, slowly as though surrounded by vicious Sand Tarakava. She stumbled over to her long-lost twin, who continued to spasm on the floor, powerless to help. The Matoran looked to her long-time travelling companion, who struggled to keep his grip on consciousness. She began to hyperventilate. A voice called to her, distant though it was right beside her. "Sister. Sister, focus. I need you here, okay? Sister." Breathe, breathe. Kai'lan's words became clearer, the hut coming back into focus. She gulped and nodded. "Wh... what do you need me to do?" Zeal's head throbbed with pain and he wondered if he had concussion. Beside him Xanev had regained control of her body, though not before her arms had been roped up at her sides. At her other side sat Zanev, the diminutive Matoran's eyes fixed on her sister. The three occupied a waiting bench. Kai'lan sitting across the room from them, hunched over and looking down at her clasped hands. "I owe all of you an apology. I know it's not nearly enough but it's all I can do now." The Vo-Toa raised her head but couldn't quite bring herself to look any of them in the eye. An uncomfortable, viscous silence filled the room. Zanev's guilt was immense, Kai'lan having directed her to tie her sister up not five minutes after seeing her for the first time in long, lonely years. She reached for Xanev's hand, slid her fingers between her twin's. The Le-Toa's lips curled almost infinitesimally upwards. She finally returned the Matoran's loving gaze, and they gripped each other's hands a little tighter. A wordless "I'm here." "How about an explanation?" Zeal tried to sound brave, authoritative as a Toa should be. But his voice barely rose above a quavering, croaking whisper. For hardly the first time in his life, he was lost and afraid. Kai'lan's eyes swept the trio. It was to be a long and painful night for them all. <<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<< In the time before time, in far off lands, a great terror crawled from the shadows. A ruthless Alchemist, learned in the sciences and skilled in her manipulation of them, extending far beyond her intrinsic command of Lightning and Thunder. She took great delight in her dominion over, her perversion of, all forces natural and synthetic; without remorse in her demonstration of such terrible might. Where she walked, only ruin followed in her wake. Except for one curiosity. A Toa of Fire whose own village fell before the Alchemist; wiped from the face of the world with such efficiency, such calculated cruelty, that once his grief and lust for vengeance subsided he could not help but be impressed. He sought the Alchemist, following her trail of devastation, and offered her his fire. The destruction the pair wrought was legendary, and the Ta-Toa's inferno became their calling card. Once the Alchemist was satisfied with her experimentation, whatever eldritch agent or infernal device she had constructed to spit in the face of Mata Nui's creation, her new assistant would raze it all to the ground until nought but ash remained. An Air village held aloft in the sky by the energy of their Toa ancestors, brought crashing cataclysmically down by the shattering of their Stones. Lost and separated among once-glorious stonework and acrid smoke, a pair of twins mourned each other. The frightened sisters looked into the flames and caught a glimpse of the Alchemist, sensed on a primal level all her darkness and depravity, and could not fathom it belonging to anyone but the Makuta himself. The last village of Kinetics, hidden away in deep forest, in the most remote of lands. It was here that the Alchemist deployed her most insidious creation; a small silver sphere, smaller than a Madu fruit. But if one knew exactly the right points to touch on its flawless surface, and aimed it in just the right way, the orb could strip away the very essence of anyone caught in its terrible sight, as though tearing meat from the bone. A thief of spirits. The Mataraka. In the Alchemist's palm lay the last energies of Ve-Koro, and its people were powerless to stop her fiendish lieutenant as he burned and burned and burned. Every hut, every being, all reduced to cinders. But the Alchemist had grown tired of her loyal destructor, bored with his unceasingly simple methods. He would make a fine test subject. And as the flames rose high above the treetops and the smoke blotted out the sun, she had aimed the Mataraka at the Toa of Fire and opened it once more. What flooded from that device and into his being that day were not only the elemental powers of Kinetics, control over the motion of all things, but all the villagers had felt as their will was ripped from their bodies. Their terror, their sorrow, their torment. The last remnants of a civilisation swirled in his skull, their jumbled memories and emotions threatening to tear it apart. The new Toa of Kinetics, his silvered armour gleaming like mercury, sunk to his knees amidst the burning ruins. The frightened Toa looked into the flames and caught a glimpse of the Alchemist, sensed on a primal level all her darkness and depravity, and could not fathom it belonging to anyone but the Makuta himself. The name Zealokan, one of the many villagers, cried out from the maelstrom of his mind and he seized it and it was his own. Another name, Payiges, a lover buried in rubble. He grieved for her though she had died by his hand, affixing to her the image of the Toa of Lightning that gave the command. The memories of centuries, of a people powerful and humble, stamped out like a colony of insects. He clung to them and wept, for he had nothing else. >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>> "..." Silence settled over Kai'lan's practice as she finished. None dared to move. No one could tell if seconds or hours were passing. Finally Zeal held his hand out and conjured a small flame, a tiny match-light flickering in his palm. A Toa of Fire, as he had been from the very start. "We were not meant for you. You were never truly one of us." He extinguished the spark, almost ashamed that he had dared to summon it. An arsonist. A terrorist. A killer. He watched how his hand began to shake. Beside him the sisters were frozen, guarded from the apothecary across from them. They held her gaze and she held theirs, neither willing to move or speak first. "Then... what about you?" Zeal's question cut through the silence, again a whisper but loud enough to make everyone jump. After a moment's consideration, Kai'lan answered. "I was caught. I don't know how, I don't know who. But they had toys beyond even the Alchemist's ability to create. Managed to... I don't know, suppress her, her memories and persona. Packed me in a canister and fired me into the side of a mountain in Ko-Wahi." She turned to Zeal, and when he look into her eyes he saw nothing but tenderness looking back. "When you found me there, I was scared. When you called me that name, Payiges, I accepted it because maybe it meant not being alone." She managed a tiny smile. "And I loved our time together, Zealokan. I only wish we'd had more." She broke eye contact and stared at her hands again. "The lightning bursts, the loss of control, I guess were the Alchemist trying to seize it again. When we fought that Hordika-thing and I copped some Shadow from its Rhotuka, it must've... resonated with her, made her stronger. Her memories started becoming mine, and I had to fight hard to keep her down." Her features hardening, Kai'lan stood and looked between the three of them again. "She's gone, I promise you all that much. Nothing left of her in this Karzed-up head but ghost stories and some potion recipes." The apothecary strode across the room towards the trio, towards Xanev in particular. She plucked a dagger from the scarred Toa's belt, turned it over in her hand and studied the blade, a nicked and jagged reflection of its owner. She turned it towards Xanev, and for the briefest moment fear filled the Le-Toa's heart before she grabbed the rope, cutting her arms free of their bonds. Kai'lan began to struggle through tears, fighting them back with all the courage she could muster. Her voice came out quivering as she addressed the sisters. "I can't bring your home back. I can't give you the time you lost together." The Toa of Lightning turned to her former lieutenant, her former lover. "And I can't take back what I did to you. You have an entire village pulling your head every which way but you deserve a life all of your own." The facade broke for the merest of moments and Kai'lan let out a cry of grief for all who succumbed to her cruelty. "There's so many more I can't even begin to apologise to..." She closed her eyes, inhaled, exhaled, opened her eyes. She flipped the dagger and caught it by its blade, the hilt towards Xanev, the tip aimed at her heartlight. "If it would bring you even the barest of comforts to know the one responsible for every scar you wear is in a shallow grave out in the Motara..." Xanev peered through Kai'lan's mask to her misty eyes and saw the terrible burden that thundered behind them. She looked to Zanev and her sister looked to her, and she looked to Zeal and her friend looked to her, and they showed her all she needed to see. She gripped the hilt tightly. >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>> Breaking the treeline and staggering out onto the beach was like coming up for air, like seeing starlight after so long in the dark. And there were stars, twinkling in their millions from the night's canopy. The Toa fell to his knees and took deep gasping breaths, filling his lungs with salty sea air. He had not expected to see his hands, his armour, gradually turning red; the final exhalation from his soul of that to which he had clung for so long, that which was never his to cling to. The final acceptance of his true element. After a time he rose to his red feet, looking out over the Endless Ocean. Inhale. Exhale. Home. The Toa of Fire started towards the waves with measured steps. Knowing what he knew now, Kanae Bay was the closest thing he had to a birthplace. But his birth had been imperfect, a child clinging to the viscera of a people he'd never earned a place among. He dropped his Reverse Blade, the razor-sharp tonfa's protosteel making a dull thud as it hit the sand and he kept moving. He unstrapped his widget pouch and his ration pack and his canteen and let them drop to the sand too. The water lapped at his toes and he removed his Kanohi and felt the dizziness hit him immediately, looking down at the Kakama and tracing his fingers over its fine edges. He knelt down and placed the mask in the sand, facing towards the ocean. Standing up against a surge of weakness, the Toa waded into the water with waves breaking against his body. Deeper, deeper, up to his neck. He took a breath and let his legs drop out from beneath him, immersing himself fully. The Toa of Fire was entirely at home in these waters. He thought of the name Zealokan and it wasn't his any more and it never was and he released it to be taken away by the ocean currents. He thought of the Payiges, the Kai'lan he had selfishly claimed and released them both too. He let the memories of Ve-Koro flow from his mind like water and they mingled in the water and became one with the world where they had always belonged. The Toa's lungs burned for air and he surfaced, breathing deeply of the world, nameless and naked and new and entirely himself. He floated on his back, looking up at the million twinkling stars. When he returned to land he didn't know what he would choose to be or what name he would choose for himself or if he would choose to return to land. Such things seemed trivial. He was here. He was now. That was enough. His eyelids grew heavy and he did not fight it. Darkness. And the gentle bobbing of the waves.
  19. Oh shoot I totally didn't realise we'd be moving settings entirely... [scrambles to remember anything I wrote in excess of six years ago so I can bash out a conclusion to like four different character arcs lol] EDIT: is there a Discord or something to dive into? I remember the Skype group from æons ago, in spite of barely remembering Skype lmao
  20. Folks, this here is the fellow had my first BZPRPG interaction with back in October 2011 (eight-and-a-bit years ago what on Earth). Now it's a homecoming <3 But gosh, between then and now I've graduated high school, been through polytechnic (twice!), lost my childhood kitter (RIP Gary) and adopted another kitter just a few days ago. All things considered, I'm pretty content. But I missed you guys! And I can't wait to jump back in!
  21. Faintly, I'll go... Lord, I missed this place. I never had the heart to remove the BZPRPG from my bookmarks bar, sat there all those years. Clicked on it on a whim, sad to see the season's ended. To take this, head on... That second season came and I never really got too far into it, wasn't having a great time in the ol' noggin and I guess I just kinda... stopped, without wrapping anything up. Apologies to anyone I was interacting with (four and a half years ago o.o ) Soon I'll come around, lost and never found... I'd set up an arc for my characters, but because I never kept notes back then (because I'm an idiot) I've since forgotten the particulars. I'm better about that now. Waiting for my words, seen but never heard... I remember where I wanted them to end up ultimately though, and once this next arc starts I'm thinking I'll leap back into the fray post-plans, reveal the plot in reverse as it were. Welcome the boys (and girls, mostly girls actually) back home. Buried underground, but I'll keep coming. ...is anyone still here that remembers me or am I just being dramatic for no reason lol
  22. Blimey, been a while since I've visited here... I've seen things about this game popping up for ages now, broken betas and whatnot, and wondered what could've been. Now that we can actually literally download a mostly-complete beta and actually literally PLAY this holy grail of a game... I STILL wonder what could've been because this thing is a right pain in the backside to get running! However, with the Beaverhouse launcher I could finally patch it to run on Windows 10, and after some fiddling to get it running fullscreen... I could play... and S T I L L wonder what could've been because there's no bloody tutorial and keyboard mashing will not reveal any of the controls past walking and firing out those little energy ball thingies! Guess I'll wait for another patch For real though, thank you SO much to everyone involved in this project, those who provided and acquired this final build, and the dev team who have sprung up to actually finish the game. You're doing legendary work!!
  23. Good lord I'm really not good at keeping focus here am I? Hello again, lads/lasses.

  24. Big brother was kind enough to buy this for me today (okay I bribed him, shhh). Only complaints I really have are a lack of forward-back ankle tilts, lack of deeper elbow bends, and lack of a cape. This last one is fixable, we have spare fabric lying around
  25. IC: Zeal - Old Fusa Path He jumped in surprise when Hakari started yelling, then laughed it off. "Alright, guess we're nearly there. Yah!" Zeal whipped the reins and off they went again, down to the Village of Water.
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