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IC: Sir Dahkapa (Sanctum)

There she went. Dahkapa turned to face Joskander. "So, that wasn't too bad, was it? At least, I hope so."

He sighed, feeling tension leaving his body. Now there was little more they could do besides wait. In his mind, he prayed to Ak'rei'an so he would be allowed to learn more about Him.

OOC: @Endless Sea (Alaki Nuva)

still alive somehow

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  • 2 weeks later...

IC: Vakua - Ko-Koro Sanctum, Akiri's Office

The De-Toa coughed, clearing his throat as though he were about to talk. It was a quiet sound, but it overcame the small office; possibly because all other sounds were drowned out; matoran walking in the hallway, the wind outside, the hiss of Tarkahn's disassembled machinery, for a moment it was gone, replaced with an expansive stillness. Slowly, the quiet background noise returned, becoming a dull roar in comparison.

"I trust the Dasaka," Vakua signed, spelling the foreign term phonetically, "Out of all of us, I've been direct mind-to-mind communication with several of them. Individually, they're not so different than us; I think we need to treat them in equal measure as long as they remain our guests. Instead, we should reserve our worries for the Makuta."

He of course hadn't been on Mata Nui the last time the Rahkshi tore across the island, but unlike any of the other Kalta, he had seen the memories of those who had; madness and cruelty beyond measure. Even in the relative warmth of Tarkahn's office in his cold weather gear, the thought of touching the wretched mind of one of the beasts almost made him shiver.

OOC: @Visaru @Haman Karn: A Magical Girl @The UltimoScorp

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The times, they are a-changing...

 

 

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  • 3 weeks later...

IC: Joskander (Sanctum)

Joskander grunted.  "It's not the waiting that's got me uneasy, brother."

OOC: @Daniel the Finlander I wasn't actually originally planning to have Joskander respond here- it strikes me that I probably should have mentioned that to you a month ago, though.  xP

(In my defense, I still feel a little new to play-by-post forum RP stuff like this!)

It is not for us to decide the fate of angels.

Dominus Temporis, if you're out there, hit me up through one of my contacts.  I've been hoping to get back in touch for a long time now.  (Don't worry, I'm not gonna beg you to bring back MLWTB or something.  :P )

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IC

The guard returned with a Ko-Matoran scholar in all white armor in tow. As she wordlessly took up a position near the doorway, the scholar approached Dahkapa and Joskander with a soft smile. "Welcome home, Dahkapa. Your work as a scholar in this temple has not gone forgotten. I have ensured your request was approved, I'm sorry about all the paperwork these days. If you and your companion would like, I am happy to show you to the archives." 

--------------   Tarrok | Korzaa | Verak | Kirik   --------------

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IC: Muir (Wise Man’s Archive, Storeroom)

"I look forward to your next visit." With his Rode now inactive, Muir couldn't know for sure that the Matoran was genuine; and yet, despite all the trouble that he and Vrill had brought to Priicu's door, his instincts told him that the librarian was sincere.

"As do I, my friend."

With that, Muir returned to the other back room, there to find his partner left alone. "Syzygos. How about we step outside and compare notes?"

OOC: genuinely thought I made this post weeks ago – my sincerest apologies to @ARROW404 and @BULiK

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IC: Vrill [Ko-Koro's Most Peaceful Spot]

After a brief nod towards Priicu, the Cy-Toa was merely a smoke break away from the building's exterior.

As his heatstone fingertips finished lighting the rod on his tongue, Vrill looked up to Muir, who was assuredly on the brink of smoking himself, albeit in a much more metaphorical fashion. In a storm of lies, the Kanohi Rode was a lighting rod. Like the unpredictable, jagged paths of lighting bolts, those unveiled lies were indiscriminate in origin. Vrill couldn't be entirely sure how many bolts traced to him nor if any of their implications had cascaded into a wildfire - he would have to wait for the thunder and smoke to reverberate.

Vrill took a drag with closed eyes, focusing on the distinct tracker of obsidian within Cyrix's heatstone. That shape rippled on the edge of Vrill's mind as he felt that sixth sense - above to the side. Near enough to be sure that the Le-Toa was in the district, but far enough to not be in earshot. Leaning against the wall of an alleyway behind Wise Man's Archive, Vrill and Muir could speak freely. The alley offered some privacy in and of itself, but the real boon was the less biting winds than the wider streets of the Koro.

"What'd you ping?"

Edited by BULiK
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IC: Muir (Ko-Koro Alleyway)

"Every word out of Niici's mouth, and a fair few out of yours." Here, tucked out of sight and sheltered from wind in the shadows of the alleyway, Muir's lighter worked just fine. He took a long drag from his freshly-lit cigarette, and felt his shoulders finally begin to relax as he exhaled. As little a relief as it was, it was still welcome. "Cyrix, on the other hand, was just about the most honest Toa in the room – initial bluff aside."

His blue eyes remained cold as he studied Vrill's reaction, and waited for his response.

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IC: Joskander (Sanctum)

Joskander looked from Dahkapa to the scholar... and, after a moment, he smiled.  "Of course."

OOC: @Visaru@Daniel the Finlander

It is not for us to decide the fate of angels.

Dominus Temporis, if you're out there, hit me up through one of my contacts.  I've been hoping to get back in touch for a long time now.  (Don't worry, I'm not gonna beg you to bring back MLWTB or something.  :P )

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IC: Vrill [Ko-Koro, Alley]

"Surprising," the obsidian-coated agent casually remarked with a frozen demeanor, filing the confirmation away in the dossiers of his intuition. The events had been unexpected, but Muir's analysis was not. "Niici wasn't even on the list of backup I figured Cyrix would bring. He's desperate."

"When you were out of the room, he asked about how we're connected. Why Renaka's using PIs instead of sentinels. While now we know which parties we're dealing with, might need to make this more official to get closer to the truth, even if it means crossing paths with both of them more often."

"Someone in Ga told me once; 'to learn to swim faster, you gotta swim with the Takea...'"

The Cy-Toa withdrew his lesser vice, tapping away some ash that stained the snow beneath him.

"This thing just grew, and we need to adapt, roll with it."

Edited by BULiK
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IC: Muir (Ko-Koro Alleyway)

“Your deductive reasoning could use a little work, Vrill.” Muir smiled wryly as he spoke, but his eyes were still distant. “Desperate is a leap. What we really learned is that he’s a terrible judge of character.”

Edited by Goose
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IC: Vrill [Ko-Koro, Alley]

"A Toa who isn't desperate wouldn't try to find out what we're doing by pretending he already knows it, nor would he bring in someone nominally outside his team for backup."

Vrill paused to blow smoke, letting the unspoken implication note the further lines of inquiry: just how close were ties between the Kalta and the Cultured Gentry? By extension, how connected was Tarkahn to the Gentry and any of their numerous crimes, both provable and accused? Vrill's mind always traced back to the endgame; the Kalta, Antidermis, the Gentry... while intriguing problems, those investigations were subordinate to Vrill, means to his ends. At the end of the day, he had a job to do. That's why Korzaa relied on him for her riskiest and most discrete missions.

"Priicu only told us Cyrix was on our trail - now we know he's on his own, on a limb, and out of leads beyond direct questioning. What's important is now that we know how little he knows about our scope, and that we just set the narrative. His next leads are tailing us (a manageable risk) and Renaka's investigation, which is above board, and would more than likely waste his time, keep him out of our picture, if he chases it."

Another exhalation bridging a pregnant pause. The Cy-Toa watched as the hot bubble of gas leaving his respirator battled drifting snowflakes. The minuscule clumps of ice were pushed aside as it expanded. The collateral damage to the Wahi fell faster to the street below, accelerating as the singed crystals melted into denser, more aerodynamic droplets. Their structure had been holding them back. The unique crystalline fractals offered strength, but diminished their flexibility, creating the drag that lead to their aimless flutter. As soon as one snowflake melted, it brought the cluster down with it and began melting its partners, accelerating their impact.

"Benefits of getting Renaka's stamp of approval. Didn't even need to bluff on that one - good prep," he complimented with an appreciative nod. The benefits of working closely with someone with such different proclivities - more pathways to victory. Not that there weren't any downsides.

Edited by BULiK
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IC: Muir (Ko-Koro Alleyway)

Muir rolled his eyes and took another drag from his cigarette as Vrill described receiving an official remit as 'prep'.

"It's not just prep, Vrill; it's the job. I get that you have your own target, but Renaka will still want answers about Skorm, answers that I'm accountable for. That's why I mention Cyrix's poor judgment – well, that and the fact that I still disagree with your conclusion, given that there's another explanation for the clues you described. To be specific, that you're overestimating his intelligence."

Muir let the implication, and the smoke, linger on the air, before he gently waved some from his face. Nicotine addict though he might have been, his favoured pastime would always be breathing.

"He's smart, but not as smart as he thinks he is. Smart enough to get back-up, but not smart enough to get his facts straight before calling in – ostensibly – outside assistance. Smart enough to know he should bluff, but not enough to do it well. It fits his misapprehension of Niici, of you, and quite possibly, of Skorm." And there it was; full circle. "Cyrix believed every word he said, but that doesn't necessarily mean he was right – only that he was honest. I have a hunch about our Dark Walking friend, but I can't know for sure until I get a look at the Guard records in Ga-Koro."

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IC: Vrill [Ko-Koro, Alley]

I get that you have your own target.

Vrill's stare lingered. This was unfortunate. He stood through the speech, letting it pass over him without getting caught up in it; Fenn's strategy was shortsighted and less comprehensive, but any retort would be merely semantic. Besides, it didn't matter if Fenn risked underestimating the team's counter-intel opposites; as long as Vrill didn't do the same, there was some assurance of preparedness for any possibility. Regardless of how the cards fall, you're more likely to come out on top if you're playing two hands.

A beat passed after Fenn fell silent. It was true that from Stannis and Cyrix's testimony and the public records they had scoured, the duo didn't have a complete picture of what happened in between Skorm's rampage in Ga-Koro and his arrival on Stannis's doorstep in Po-Koro. Vrill understood that the official marine reports might elaborate on Skorm's last activity before he had the clarity to seek out the Maru monk as a spiritual healer...

But the special agent couldn't see what the missing piece was. The surrounding tiles all blurred together into the wider picture. Theories bubbled up to the surface, but Vrill didn't have a clue which synchronized with Muirtagh's perception of the possible.

"Elaborate," he ordered. The tone was mechanical - a procedural reflex.

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IC: Muir (Ko-Koro Alleyway)

"Entropy Beetles."

Vrill would survive the pause for dramatic effect.

"Zaktan. Echelon. Entropy Beetles. You seemed pretty excited about the potential of Antidermis, so I'm surprised you didn't pick up on this: it's a force for destruction, but it has more than one way to accomplish it. I'm not sure how it picks and chooses, but there's one thing I am pretty confident of: when it meets evil, it amplifies it, but good, it weakens. Zaktan turns into an indestructible swarm of bugs, but the people of Po-Koro are left bed-ridden. You seeing where I'm going with this?"

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IC: Vrill [Ko-Koro, Alley]

"Yeah, I think bugs are evil too," the Ko-Koronan wisecracked, arms crossing as he casually leaned back against the cold wall behind him. "But I see your theory now -  how transformative it is depends on the existing 'evil' aspects that it could amplify."

"I'm not sure how it works either, but that's plausible. A lot of good can come out of better understanding that process. As is, that certainly gives us some extra correlations."

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IC: Muir (Ko-Koro Alleyway)

"Not just the theory; its implications.” Despite himself, a familiar excitement had crept into Muir’s voice: that of a new pin being stuck into his corkboard. “Stannis described to us a Skorm who was weak, hospitalised, and he wasn’t lying – but when he met Skorm, he already had a gaping wound in his side. We haven’t spoken to anyone who actually saw what happened in Ga-Koro, but it was bad enough that everyone has heard about it, which tells me that maybe the injury had more to do with waylaying Skorm than the Antidermis. Touching as Cyrix’s testimonial was, the Antidermis found something in Skorm, and gave him the power to wreak an unspecified amount of havoc.

“I suspect Stannis withheld his knowledge of Antidermis’ effects to stop us from drawing this exact conclusion; his uncomplicated version of events made it sound more like Infection, where the victim’s will is wholly superseded. But if Antidermis only amplifies whatever’s already there – even if it does so selectively – then that raises its own set of legal and moral ramifications. But more importantly, it gives us reason to ask just who Skorm is and what he wants; if the evidence in Ga-Koro is of a super-powered rampage, and not just a regular Toa lashing out, then the only similar reactions we have are people who actively sought to do evil, and Entropy Beetles.”

Edited by Goose
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IC: Vrill [Ko-Koro, Alley]

Vrill nodded in agreement.

"That certainly explains why Makuta rarely used it as a direct weapon. And if Stannis kept it that close to the chest - who's to say if any of the Koro captains know?"

Like most things in his view, this had become a military issue. The Akiri were politicians, not commanders, and it was up to guardsmen to make contingencies for the potential uptick in supercharged psychos.

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IC: Muir (Ko-Koro Alleyway)

"We can be pretty confident that Renaka doesn't." Muir's brow was furrowed, considering the possibilities. "Odds are good the others don't either. Only one who might have is your last Akiri, given his friends in low places."

"Speaking of Renaka… for once, I'm inclined to believe we need to play my Antidermis theory close to the chest. Technically speaking, any criminal investigation into Skorm is now effectively over, given that everything we've worked out so far makes it unprosecutable. Even just in terms of partial defences, we're talking diminished capacity, involuntary inebriation – Karz, temporary insanity could even be pretty successfully argued, which means first degree murder is out of the question, and that's without even getting into the fact that he was under the influence of a psychoactive substance with an agenda to inflict as much damage and destruction as possible. Best case scenario, you manage to dismiss the claim that Zaktan exposed him to Antidermis without his consent, given that the only firsthand witness is Skorm himself, but then you'd still have to convince a jury that the Antidermis was part of a premeditated plan to lower his inhibitions in service of crimes he already intended to commit, and I just can't see that happening."

He choked a little on smoke as he took his next drag, the run-on sentence having taken its toll.

"Basically, what I'm saying is that this case is absolutely overflowing with reasonable doubt, which means that we're now working between the lines of Renaka's brief. I think it's safe to say that, despite what it says on the back of my badge, she doesn't want to know whether a prosecutor can make charges stick; she wants to know what we want to know. That is, whether Skorm is an Echelon, or an Entropy Beetle."

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IC: Vrill and Muir [Ko-Koro, Alley]

He listened to Fenn halfheartedly, more concerned with the deterioration of his Husa than with the minutiae of criminal prosecution. That was never the point of working with the Fa-Toa, after all. In fact, he could have stopped listening after Muirtagh's third sentence. He did, at least, let his partner say his piece before shifting to a tangent.

"Come across any good dirt on Ambages, by chance? Not that it would make a difference for him, but he has connections that haven't met justice yet."

It sounded as if he and "justice" were well acquainted. In fact, he probably had its caliber and muzzle velocity memorized.

Muir frowned. It sounded like Vrill and Justice were on the outs with regard to this matter, and he wasn't as comfortable as his partner was cozying up to Revenge. Still, Ambages was dead, and there was no reason to hide the little he knew.

"Never anything concrete, just the connections and convenient coincidences. I did try to go digging, back in the day, after I saw firsthand what he did to Pala-Koro." He took a long drag and closed his eyes. When they opened, they had an edge to them that Vrill had only seen once before.

"You know what I believe; justice should always be the will of the people, as found in a fair trial. So you know that I don't say this lightly: Ambages deserved far worse than he got, but I'm glad he's dead. Unanswered questions are a small price to pay."

"Yeah, Ambages wasn't a fan of leaving trails."

The chilling breeze picked up the weight of the conversation as another contemplative beat passed. If it weren't for Ambages's eventual outcome, Vrill's failure would have bothered him more. Though no investigator was a fan of the indecipherable.

Hmm…

Back to the present.

"You ever worked with a Toa Team before?" Clarify. "Not like this or a sentinel squad - the unemployed, vagrant, heroes-for-hire type?"

"I thought your background check would have been more thorough." It was only half a joke. "No, I haven't."

A pause.

"...Have you?"

"It just strikes me as odd," the Cy-Toa said, ignoring the question. "That Cyrix admitted he was tailing his own team member before any Antidermis was in the picture. Doubly so that those were his orders. Lack of trust in the team? Least, from the top down."

More ash pockmarked the snow beneath them.

"Usually trust issues go up the chain of command, not down, and not to the degree of internally spying."

Usually.

"It's definitely… unusual. Combine that with their selective memory loss, and it's hard not to find the Kalta suspicious."

"Curious when - if - they knew about the extent of this."

The butt twirled in the air before falling with the snow and promptly getting squashed into it. Vrill sighed, the deep breath vacuuming up a few lingering fumes in the process.

"Antidermis research, Gentry ties, marine reports, Aelied not trusting his own troops," the agent summarized, thinking the tag-up to be over. "Shovel enough snow in Ko and you'll hit dirt."

“There’s dirt everywhere, Vrill. You and yours just hide it better than in Po or Onu.” Muir eyed Vrill carefully. “I prefer having things out in the open. Sand may not be as pretty as snow, but it’s sure easier to avoid stepping in ####.”

Another drag, another glare. “Partnerships need trust. There are things you can’t say, and that’s fine – you told me everything I needed to know about who we’re really digging into when you first came into my office. But you also just told me that you didn’t mean to, and now I’m wondering what else you’re hiding from me.”

Optics locked on. The wind had died down, but the silence that replaced it was much colder.

“You're not unique in having a set of lines you won't cross. Our lines are different,” ‘Syzygos’ replied, extending the staring contest into the verbal battlespace. “We have work to do. That work is aligned. What you’re asking only brings greater risks.”

There was a momentary hesitation as Vrill considered his words.

“I have said all I intend to on that matter.”

His honesty was ####ing.

“We’re meant to be working this together. I’m your partner, not your ####ing asset.” Muir’s voice was almost scolding, coloured by exasperation just as much as anger. “I need to know what you’re hoping to accomplish with this. I assumed, because you came to me, that this isn’t just about gathering intel you can file away – so tell me that it’s not. Tell me that I can trust you, that I’m not some tool you’ll discard once you have what you need, because the man who was sitting with me in that backroom was ####ing mercenary, and I will not work with him. So I need you to tell me that I can work with you.”

“My goal is to get results, not just observations," Vrill snapped. "Prevent catastrophe, not witness the aftermath. Keep a Koro from falling any further from grace. From peace.”

For someone who had just said he had no more words, the spy suddenly spoke with measured irritation. Now with an axe to grind, he found even more ways to say the same things, while the point he was driving towards struggled to stay in front of his next breath.

“You saw the drift begin. Understand how insidious that slip can be. Deviation becoming norm. Guess the same reason I knew I could trust you is why you’re worried about what I could never say, isn’t it? ”

As with Cyrix minutes before, it had taken a confrontation to reconnoiter what he feared. But he never sought this one out, and this time, he knew his cover was truly blown.

“Well, yeah, you’re not my tool. We’re pieces on the same board, on the same side. But a bishop and a knight make different moves. That’s why what I did back there, you wouldn’t, and what you asked a minute ago, I can’t answer. What you’re asking now… well…”

“You can work with me. And I would prefer it that way. But sometimes, trust requires a little faith.”

“You think I don’t know that?”

Muir sighed, and tossed his cigarette to the snow. What didn’t die on impact, he smothered with the tip of his shoe.

“If I didn’t, I’d be using my mask right now. But I’m not, and I won’t. I won’t, because trust has to be more than that. But trust also has to be earned.” That cold steel was in his eyes again. Muir transformed when he was truly angry – not the anger of shock or outrage, but that of betrayal. His voice lost its passion, became a sussurance, even softer than before; his soulful blue eyes froze over. The soft thump of a closing book was practically audible.

“I want to believe you. But you’ve given me that speech before, and the last time, you lied. You used me. What’s different now? That it’s your Koro? Because that isn’t enough. I’m still walking in the dark, towards an unknown destination, and I can’t tell if I’m walking alone.”

Honesty was hard. Truth demanded a high burden, one that the lawyer had always sought to meet, but excitement was easy. Anger was easy.

Pain, he kept beneath the ice, consigned to the depths of those frozen lakes.

A studious elementalist, Vrill saw the structure of patterns all around him. Structure and repetition were the defining traits of everything. To analytically define anything, both were required. Minerals, objects, animals, people, events… they were distinct, but similar structures shone through, letting observers lump them into categories. Vrill was an observer of his own patterns playing out in front of him.

There was a reason Muirtagh had been just as angry the day Vrill swung open the door of the Fenn Legal Clinic. Before Ko-Koro had been recaptured, before it had fallen, there had almost been a different war. A war amongst the Koro. When there are almost wars is when Vrill’s expertise is sought most. The disguised Cy-Toa found the disgruntled Sentinel Muirtagh, who feared the path Hewkii put his city on. The perfect inside man. To Vrill, that made him an asset. To Muir, Vrill made him a pawn. It wasn’t long after deducing Vrill’s goal that Fenn went dark. Not just to the Ko-Koronan agent - Muir saw that the only ethical way out was to quit the Sentinels entirely. Having been dealt a hand that bad, folding was the smartest possible move.

An Akiri for an Akiri. A spy for a spy. A lie for a lie. While on the surface his goals and how they played out could be compared in like terms, they were less alike than the outside observer could assume. But Vrill’s intent, the key distinction that broke the pattern, was something only he could truly be sure of. A pen could hold two Mahi that, from the outside, appeared identical. If the observer asked the Mahi, they would understand how different the creatures were. But Mahi can’t talk, so all Mahi were the same.

Vrill knew this. He saw the pattern, and saw there was only one move he could make that could possibly break it, but he wouldn't know if he could do it until he did.

“What’s different? What’s different is this time I understand that because I have to walk in the darkness, it won’t make a difference if I tell you that we’re walking to the same tunnel exit. That we’ll only be able to prove it when we reach the sunlight.”

“When’s the last time you saw sunlight, Vrill?”

‘Syzygos’s crystalline armor rippled with his elemental influence. Its form shifted subtly, but its color remained the pitch black it had been since he and Fenn had been inside the Onu-Koro highway that morning. The only difference was a slight red glow deeper within as heatstones grew, preparing him for the night’s growing storm.

The Cy-Toa’s optics were shut, but Muirtagh had seen his partner’s elemental proficiency before, and knew this was not to better focus his powers. The undercover guardsman was no longer animated with frustration as he had been at the dispute’s apex. There was an eerie peace as it took worryingly long to reference the least-referenced dossier at the back of his memory’s filing cabinet.

“Before I had the will to fight the Enemy on his own terms.”

Vrill had long understood that ‘Syzygos’ could never convince Muirtagh Fenn to be a player in the same game that he lived in. The masked Toa whose glance met Muir’s before stepping into the snowfall of the streets had finally learned that Vrill never stood a chance either.

OOC:

 

Edited by BULiK
I HATE EMBEDS I HATE EMBEDS I HATE EMBEDS
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IC: Casanuva & Cyrix - Upper Ko-Koro

Screwing the cap back onto his thermos, Casanuva glanced away from the distant building he had been observing towards the Ko-Koro gates; there was a snowfall coming in. He distantly saw two toa exit the building before disappearing from sight into an alley. However, the magnetic signature of one of them lingered; for whatever reason, they weren't moving.

Casanuva sensed Cyrix approach before the sneak uncloaked. More precisely, he sensed the tracking magnets he had given him. "All's well that ends well?"

Despite his footprints being visible, the clouds obscured Cyrix's shadow and there was no crunching of snow beneath his feet; a vague shimmer was all the evidence that someone was there until the Le-Toa deactivated his Volitak. "Possibly. The two are Syzygos and Muirtagh; the latter is a lawyer from Po-Koro investigating antidermis on behalf of the Akiri there." Cyrix fished the tracking magnets out from under his vambrace and tossed them back to their owner.

The other Toa Kalta raised his hand, but instead of catching them the pair flew to a spot on his belt alongside several others. "He the Fa-Toa?"

Cyrix nodded, looking at the Wise Man's Archive in the distance, fading from view in the flurries of snow. "I don't know if he clocked your tracks; I'm going to assume he did. How did you know he was a Fa-Toa?"

"C'mon Cyrix, give me some credit." Casanuva flashed a wry smile. "I'm not just a pretty mask; I was sensing out the whole building to keep an eye out for a signal; he did something in the back room, not big, but it wasn't some dinky compass. As long as I don't lose the signature, I could keep an eye on his location from afar."

Cyrix narrowed his eyes. "They already know I was onto Syzygos. Does this go both ways? Could he track you?"

The blue-masked Toa shrugged. "Depends on him. He might sense he's being watched, but if he can trace it back depends on how good he is with magnetolocation." He glanced back at across the Koro, pausing before looking back. "If they're investigating Antidermis, shouldn't we be helping them?"

A biting wind picked up, and Cyrix adjusted his scarf. "They were asking about Skorm. I told them what we knew, but I have a hunch they didn't tell us everything. They knew I had been looking into them, too; track Muir. Try to avoid direct confrontation, but knowing we're keeping an eye on him will send a message that we're not ignoring Po-Koro acting surreptitiously.

"You didn't answer my question." The smile was gone by now. He wasn't frowning, but he looked skeptical. "If they're looking into Antidermis, they could find something that could help Soraph."

Cyrix rolled his eyes; he had to report to Aelied, he didn't have time for this. "Command code Merceon. Authorization: Cyrix."

Casanuva stood in the cold; for a moment, even his autonomous instinct to shiver was gone. His eyes were dull and motionless. After several seconds, the Fa-Toa moved again, a twitch of his fingers. His eyes rolled until they locked on the smaller Le-Toa. "What?" Same voice, but at a lower register.

"They're looking into Antidermis. Even if they're the good guys, Skorm is off in the Dark Walk; the only other eye-witness to its effects is loverboy's comatose girlfriend; in fact, its in a convenient flesh sack fused to her spine. They could hurt Soraph. Casanuva needs to think its his idea to keep an eye on the lawyer."

The Fa-Toa nodded slowly, taking the time to consider the information and internalize it. "Protect Soraph. Won't be hard."

"Attaboy. End command, authorization: Cyrix." He looked away as Casanuva came out of the stupor induced by switching personalities. He hated watching them come out of it.

Casanuva blinked a few times before he looked back at Cyrix as if nothing had happened. "You're right. And if they're asking into Skorm, they might be interested in Soraph; they might take the parasite on her spine."

"I hadn't thought of that," Cyrix lied. "I don't think they'd escalate to that level, but I can't get a read on these guys. Anyway, stay warm; I'm gonna go report to Aelied. What happened to Kalyss?" He had noted her absence, but because she had been simple back-up, he had assumed she was off getting food or taking a break."

Focusing his senses outward, Casanuva reacquired Muirtagh's magnetic field. "There was a dragon; she went to handle it. I haven't seen a signal, so I'm going to assume it went well. Maybe she fed it her soup."

Cyrix stared in silence before massaging his temple. "This ####ing island..."

OOC: @Goose

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IC: Muir (The Drifter's Inn)

It would be an understatement to say that Muir was relieved to see Ko-Koro's unofficial back-up cop bar still standing after the occupation. Drifter's was, for most people, a compromise; nobody's favourite, but everyone's 'eh, alright.'

Tonight, though, it was dead. Alrin, behind the bar as always, blamed franchising: the 'Pools had tried to buy him out, and when he refused, they found another location. It was a no-win scenario, and Al knew it from the start – 'Pools had name recognition, and enough money that they could afford to keep prices low, at least until the competition went under. He chose to die, if not with dignity then with honour, rather than sell another piece of Mata Nui's soul.

It was that suicidally screwed-in compass that made Muir trust Al with his notebook, and his weapon.

"I'll be back for them shortly."

The gnarled, hard-edged Turaga grumbled something that sounded vaguely like "Uh'ight," and Muir left through the back door.

* * * * *

The storm would soon set in hard. It was blowing in from the South, where it had no doubt let off some steam in the Drifts, but it remained unsatisfied. Muir hoped that any poor souls out there had found shelter in time; that icy desert was deadly enough without a blizzard to contend with.

Muir brought his coat in tighter to his chest. The darker it grew outside, the shared work of the stormclouds and the setting sun, the worse the cold became.

But this needed doing.

Elemental tracking required a certain level of physical proximity, and magnetism was no different. But whatever the Toa following him was doing was both more reliable, and more transparent, at least to someone as tuned into the metal on him as Muir. The walk to Drifter's had bought him time to try and source the intrusion on his person, and its unique signature. It was possible, perhaps even probable, that his tail had felt his trace. But the benefit of taking his time was subtlety, and if the Toa had eyes on him, Muir would have looked almost entirely oblivious – barring, of course, the over-the-shoulder checks anyone in their line of work was prone to make.

After all, the only time one needn't look for a tail was when they already knew they had one.

Meanwhile, leaving the magnetic items on his person with the taciturn proprietor of Drifter's had bought him the time he needed to find his way to the tracker, relying on more traditional (and less exposed) use of his element, while the darkness had covered his approach.

"Toa Casanuva, I presume?"

OOC: @Keeper of Kraata

Edited by Goose
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IC: Casanuva - The Capella, Ko-Koro

Once Muirtagh's magnetic field became fainter and began to approach Casanuva, he had decided to switch tactics. Getting out of the soon to be snowy streets, he had taken up at the bar at one of the restaurants that he had herd Skorm and Zueya recommend before they went off into the Dark Walk. He had taken up a post at the corner of the bar; it was off peak hours, so there were only a few locals and out-of-towners eating, mostly holding business meetings. He had relinquished Ferrite, which was held in a coat closet near the servers area; it wasn't locked, so it was only a few seconds away. And as much as the Fa-Toa admired the idea that Toa Tools were defensive tools, he knew that many were deadly weapons first, elemental aids second. He liked to think that Ferrite was a closer mix, but it was definitely on the "kill things dead" end of the spectrum. It was only slightly more of an inconvenience than pulling it from his back, really.

The local magnetic field shifted; too big to be a fa-matoran. The bartender, a well-dressed ko-matoran, handed Casanuva a martini in a crystal glass; just in time.

"Toa Casanuva, I presume?"

The Toa Kalta turned and smiled, sizing up the other Fa-Toa in a quick instance while he sipped the martini. Armor was slightly more weatherworn, slightly short, but what he had was put together well. "Lawyer Muirtagh! Please, just Cas. I was worried I'd be weathering the storm alone; come, sit. Whatever you drink up in Po-Koro, they probably have it here."

OOC: @Goose

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IC: Muir (The Capella)

Surprise was a rare expression to see on Muir's face, but here it was hard to disguise that he had been caught off-guard.

"In that case, just Muir will do fine." He gently pulled out the stool next to the Toa Kalta, and signalled the bartender as he took a seat. "Whiskey please, neat."

"So, Cas… may I ask why it was you were following me?"

His Rode wasn't active – not yet, at least. If this was to be an interview, it could afford to remain informal for now.

OOC: @Keeper of Kraata

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IC | Sanctum Archives
The white armored scholar led Dahkapa and Joskander down a narrow staircase carved into the solid ice wall of the sanctum, which emerged in a dim frigid room full of shelves and pillars, lit by old flickering lightstones. Their way was barred by a metal gate, but the scholar signed off at a guard's desk and led the two visitors through the shelves, which were filled with frost-covered books and thin stone tablets.

In a dark corner of the archives, he stopped and gestured silently to a bookshelf. "Our records on the Brotherhood are here. Please peruse at your leisure. Most of the items here can't be checked out by civilians, but you may try your luck at the front desk if you wish. May Mata-Nui guide you on your quest for knowledge." The scholar bowed, and left Joskander and Dahkapa to their studies. For a moment, it seemed as if they were alone among the old shelves, but glowing eyes in the darkness on the other side of the room betrayed a guard keeping them within eyeshot. 

OOC
@Daniel the Finlander@Endless Sea (Alaki Nuva)

Edited by Visaru

--------------   Tarrok | Korzaa | Verak | Kirik   --------------

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IC: Kalyss - Ko-Koro, Sanctum

The citizens of Ko-Koro gave the pair a wide berth as Kalyss and her guest made their way to the Sanctum. With one glance back to where Casanuva had been staking out, Kalyss led the way.

The creature was bizarre; closer to a rahi than a matoran in form, but Kaminari obviously possessed reasoning skills. Even if one might say they were lacking compared to a matoran, or at the very lease, maladjusted. A few quick words to the guards at the Sanctum cleared both of them for entry.

"The Sanctum; formerly a temple, but now the administrative, military, and spiritual center of Ko-Koro. I can get us into the Archives, unless you would like to check out the Wall of Prophecy first. Be sure to keep your voice down; in addition to some de-matoran working inside, it is still an important temple."

OOC: @Snelly

 

IC: Casanuva - The Capella, Ko-Koro

A crooked smile crept onto the blue-armored Fa-Toa. "Well, I wasn't exactly following you, I was keeping an eye on you;  Cyrix asked me to, in case you needed anything else, or to help if you ran into any trouble." Casanuva sipped his martini. "I picked your magnetic field before you left the Wise Man's Archive, and kept an eye on it. When I saw that you were on your way to meet me, I decided to get out of the snow."

He set down the still mostly full martini. Muir still wasn't using his mask; good, keep it conversational. "How is our fine Koro treating you, may I ask? What do you think of it?"

OOC: @Goose

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IC: Niici — Ko-Koro, The Wise Man’s Archive

The Chairwoman nodded to Cyrix as he exited the back room. Moments later, Niici also took her leave. She gave Priicu a smiling nod before also departing the store.

As she entered back into the brisk and windy atmosphere, Niici’s thoughts fell back into the establishment she’d just left. It certainly had potential. Perhaps, once it proved to be more successful financially, its proprietor would be open to an invitation. She’d first need to send a few of her colleagues to visit — see how the store runs when it’s actually open. Secondly, there was the personality and ambition of Priicu himself. It takes a certain type to be a Gentryman. Only by learning more about him and his wants would reveal if he would be a good fit.

Nonetheless, she would remember the Wise Man’s Archive, and its owner, for some time.


Cultured Gentry HQ

It had been a long day, but after hours of working, Niici completed her first major item on her to-do list as newly reinstated chairwoman. Her office had been completely cleaned up and organized. Files on current members and their ventures, along with a historical record of meeting notes, treasury documents, and other written correspondence, were now in protected cabinets within her office. Most disappointingly, Niici could find very little about her predecessor. Indeed, the High Vizier Ambages had been meticulous in his notes and observation of others — Niici learned things about the Elders and the current board members that would surely give her leverage — but Niici had learned nothing new about Ambages. Either the deceased Architect had been very diligent about the files he kept in his private office, or someone else had done some cleaning up shortly after Ko-Koro was liberated. Heck, it might have even been done even while Ko-Koro was occupied.

Niici sighed. Night had fallen at this point, and it had been a busy, yet productive day. As the Toa stood looking at the tidy shelves and cabinets around her, she glanced behind her on the ornate wooden desk, which was clear of all but a journal and a jewel-encrusted fountain pen. The open book revealed a page that only had the following text:

  • Antidermis (meet with the Good Doctor at Nuju-Marion. Get research going with him)
  • Syzygos; Muirtagh Fenn (Lawyer from Po-Koro). Also investigating Antidermis. Sent from Po-Koro?
  • Cyrix; Toa Kalta (meet with Aelied). Get read on Aelied. Toa Kalta: Friends or Foes?
  • Akiri Tarkahn. Set up formal meeting with him tomorrow
  • East Le-Wahi Trading Company - begin meeting with them. Perhaps they can help with A.D. search?

Niici took the journal, which hosted her daily agenda and quarterly initiatives, and locked it away.

The Toa of Ice was done with work for the day. Tomorrow, she would start presenting her new initiative to her team, and delegating new tasks. Niici turned off the lights, locked the office and departed the HQ, the shadow of nightfall accompanying her trip back home. 

Edited by Emzee
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"hey girl: here’s an idea, but… it’s up to you:

You’re the boss of this operation."

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IC: Sir Dahkapa (Sanctum Archives)

Dahkapa followed the fellow scholar closely, looking in wonder at the many shelves. He wondered if anyone had even broken in during Ko-Koro's occupation, or if all the classified and valuable tomes had remained safe. At least, the records about the Brotherhood remained untouched. Right now, he only cared about that.

He almost winced when the Matoran spoke of Mata-Nui, but retained his composure, especially because Joskander was beside him. "Thank you," he said and bowed in return.

After he left, he turned to Joskander, noticing at a glance that a guard was watching them. "It shouldn't take too long to find what I need. I hope so, at least. In the meantime, maybe you'd like to read a thing or two about the Brotherhood too? Though keep in mind the possible bias of the authors."

He then faced the shelves and scanned the rows of books, scrolls and tablets, examining their titles and trying to find one which was related to the subject matter he wished to learn more about. Finally, his eyes focused upon one particular tablet. He took it and began to read immediately in complete silence.

OOC: @Endless Sea (Alaki Nuva)@Visaru

Edited by Daniel the Finlander

still alive somehow

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IC: Joskander (Sanctum)

Joskander chuckled quietly.  "No one's free of bias, brother."  I honestly can't tell if you're messing with me or not.  "At any rate, hope you don't mind if I look over your shoulder."

OOC: @Visaru@Daniel the Finlander

It is not for us to decide the fate of angels.

Dominus Temporis, if you're out there, hit me up through one of my contacts.  I've been hoping to get back in touch for a long time now.  (Don't worry, I'm not gonna beg you to bring back MLWTB or something.  :P )

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IC: Muir (The Capella)

"Cold. But no surprises there."

The bartender slid his glass across the bartop, and Muir thanked him, before turning his attention back to the matter at hand. He didn't need his Rode to know Casanuva was lying, at least about his intentions; he didn't doubt Cyrix had given him the order to tail him.

"But I'll admit, it does make me feel a little philosophical. You can tell why this is where they built the Sanctum. Been working on a theory of how ******ters change by Koro – in Onu, for instance, they work in the abundant shadows. But here, where there's clean white snow as far as the eye can see, and everyone's bundled up nice and tight in their winter coats, it's all about covering up. Presenting that warm, lily-white façade."

He sipped his whiskey, and smiled accusingly at the Kalta.

OOC: @Keeper of Kraata

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IC: Sir Dahkapa (Sanctum Archives)

Dahkapa heard Joskander's words as read the tablet. He was right, of course, that even he wasn't free of bias. But did that mean he was blind to truth and reality? He hoped not, and after all, he did not outright reject the words of Mata-Nui's misguided followers, neither did he believe that Brotherhood was flawless. He wanted to give everyone their fair chance. Yet many did not want to give a follower of Ak'rei'an a fair chance. Perhaps Joskander did, or perhaps he was merely trying to appease him while in truth rejecting his beliefs outright.

He snapped out of his thoughts and continued reading. But soon he frowned. This wasn't good enough. After he placed the tablet back on the shelf, he took a scroll and spread it open. It appeared to be a map.

"I'm afraid I cannot find what I'm looking for here. I did find something else that could be useful," he said while examining the map. "Say, Joskander, have you ever been to Po-Wahi?"

OOC: @Endless Sea (Alaki Nuva)

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IC: Casanuva - The Capella, Ko-Koro

Smiling back and chuckling, Casanuva sipped his own martini. So this was how he wanted to play it.

"I suppose everybody sees what they want to see; I rather appreciate the minimalism; people are here to do what they need to do. Too few places encourage introspection; I've stayed at all the major Koros except for Po-Koro. If I'd came here as a matoran, I'd have settled in Ga or Ta. I loved the nightlife by the water, and the technological and metallurgical developments in Ta-Koro would have been great for my career. But as a Toa? I can respect a little peace... and privacy. But that's not for everyone." Another sip from the drink, not breaking eye contact with Muir until he was finished.

"Muir, that theory of yours. How do the ####ters in Po-Koro adapt? You'd know more than I."

OOC: @Goose

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IC: Muir (The Capella)

"They don't."

Privacy. It was an interesting choice of words, for a public figure. As far as he was concerned, the Toa Kalta had chosen the spotlight, and the scrutiny that came with it. "The desert sun is unforgiving, and shade is hard to come by. Even the moonlight is brighter in Po; no clouds to get in the way. And anytime you try to bury something, a sandstorm could sweep it back into view in a fraction of the time you spent covering it up.

"No, ******ters in Po, they get caught. Doesn't stop them from gaining power, just means they're an awful lot more brazen, and that fewer people are gullible enough to believe them."

He sipped at his whiskey again. It wasn't half-bad; he wondered if it was distilled somewhere local. He'd have to take a closer look at the bottle next time. It wasn't the wisest decision to order without naming a brand, but he found it often told you something about the bar, or at least its tender.

"Tell me, Cas – you into politics?"

OOC: @Keeper of Kraata

Edited by Goose
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IC: Casanuva - The Capella, Ko-Koro

"Oh, the best thing to discuss over drinks!" Laughing, Casanuva finished his glass. Clearly the man had ideals, and Casanuva found that reassuring. Shame those ideals seemed to have been inscribed on a wooden rod and shoved up somewhere darker than Mangaia.

"Yes and no; no, I haven't involved myself with the politics of Mata Nui since I got here. I'm a work hard, play hard kinda guy; I wanted to enjoy my time before Aelied brought us back together, so I traveled, but aside from a brief meeting with Akiri Jaller, I mostly kept clear. Currently, I work on behalf of Ko-Koro, so I have a vested interest in making sure the citizens here are safe and happy. I don't much care who is in charge, as long as we can all get together. If you want local politics, go talk to Vakua; otherwise, my biggest area of concern other than my duty is how we're going to handle the Dasaka that are coming in. You could say I have a vested interest."

The bartender took the blue-armored Fa-Toa's glass; Casanuva motioned to not refill, and instead the bartender poured the Toa a glass of purified snowmelt water. "Why do you ask?"

OOC: @Goose

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IC: Muir (The Capella)

"I think the people we work with – and work for – reflect upon us. But more than that, they shape the actions we take; even when they don't dictate our roles outright, they set the limits within which we can function."

Like Casanuva, Muir finished his drink; unlike him, he motioned for another. As the bartender went for the bottle, the lawyer's optics whirred; it was a Ko-Koronan. He filed the name away for future reference.

"Take Hewkii, for instance; he was a fascist demagogue, and everyone in Po-Koro knew it – especially his supporters. I was a Sentinel back then; keeping the citizens safe and happy was my job description. And yet, if I wanted to keep that job, I had to make compromises, because he didn't actually care about the safety or happiness of his people. So, had he perhaps begun to conscript civilians into mandatory service, and send them on dangerous missions with less than the bare minimum of training, there would only be so much I could do. Maybe I could accompany them on those missions, in order to protect them – but then, that still leaves them in a lot more danger than if they hadn't been conscripted to begin with."

He stared hard at the Kalta, and let the implication linger.

"But that was Po-Koro. If another such fascist demagogue tried his luck here, maybe he'd have the benefit of Ko-Koro's greater tolerance for ******ters. Maybe, when he started talking about making the city safe, and the dangers posed by outsiders, people would take his words at face value. Maybe some apolitical types would even work with him, for the sake of togetherness, without really considering the implications of his beliefs and policies. After all, your duty is to the people, even if you ultimately report to him. You don't need to worry about the politics. You're only an unelected public representative of the Koro with the authority of law and an unclear remit, after all. Nothing political about that."

OOC: @Keeper of Kraata

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IC: Casanuva - The Capella, Ko-Koro

His smile lessened, becoming more wry. "Don't get me wrong, I was against the mandatory militia training. Practically, I don't think its necessary; Legacy isn't going to make another hit on the Koro this soon after we beat them back, we're ready without a citizen militia, and the Koros are keeping clear lines of communication. Plus, y'know, the Kalta, but I'm a biased source." The smile crept back.

"We work for Ko-Koro, and yes, we work for Tarkhan. Aelied is a stubborn old oak and didn't want us integrated into the Sanctum Guard, but we train with them, I've made them new toa tools, and right now, a brother and sister are on a mission in the Dark Walks for them. But if Tarkahn needs to send someone to another Koro to get something done, escort someone, he can send us; we're more comfortable working outside the Koro, and we look better doing it." He finished by taking a drink from the glass of water; midway through, his index finger on the glass pointed at Muir, as he thought of something else.

"Karz, you wanna get on us for being unelected public representatives? Talk to Reordin, if you can find him. My workshop has a listed address, and Tarkahn was elected; if he leaves office, the Kalta go back to being independent if his successor doesn't see the need for the us to serve Ko-Koro. Reordin is all those things you described us as, except he has a bigger body count of bad guys."

OOC: @Goose

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IC: Muir (The Capella)

A satisfied smirk crept onto Muir's face as he saw that he'd gotten under the Kalta's skin; a nice confirmation that he wasn't speaking to a PR robot.

"Oh, I have my issues with the Maru, and I have every intention of speaking to Reordin. But I think you're missing my point – the allies you choose shape your actions, in both the choices you have and the way in which those actions are perceived and understood. Imagine you're a lawyer, working within entirely legal means, asking entirely reasonable questions. You're in a Koro where the authoritarian Akiri has his own special task force, a group of Toa with no known history or associates. And, as you're walking alone in the evening, you realise one of those Toa is tracking your every move.

"Now, when you confront him, this Toa puts on his best public relations smile and tells you he was just making sure you didn't get into any trouble. Tell me: would you believe him? What conclusions would you be inclined to draw?"

OOC: @Keeper of Kraata

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IC: Casanuva - The Capella, Ko-Koro

For the first time, Casanuva let his gaze harden; the smile remained, but it was the smirk of one whose patience was wearing thin. "Me, personally? I'd track him back, but only if I wanted to keep messing around. We're new to the island. We only showed up a few weeks, maybe a month before Ko-Koro was taken. We were scattered across the island; Kalyss briefly visited Po-Koro before heading to Ga after that big sandstorm. Vakua played music at the Great Takea; I had a few friends in Ta-Koro that helped me forge some specialized mechanical pieces for my sword Ferrite. You pretend you have your mysterious foreigners with an agenda. For the most part, the people of Mata Nui welcomed us as their own, and we saw first-hand what happened to Ko-Koro. We were on the walls when the Maru were running the hostages out, we were infiltrating on our own, and we were treating the wounded that had to be medevaced. We volunteered our service to help this Koro. Me personally? I just want to live my life, serve my Duty, and protect the people I love."

Casanuva leaned back in the stool and drank more of the water, letting the coldness of the liquid going down his throat calm him down. "Make all the accusations you want; Cyrix told me you're working on behalf of Akiri Renaka." He lowered his voice, leaning in slightly. "You're investigating something that's on the Kalta's personal list of #### to sort out; most information we have about Antidermis that isn't eyewitness observations of whatever jacked-up abilities its users have came from us. It's a personal black eye and bloody nose for us. And instead of approaching us like a reasonable person to share resources, you snoop around, prying into information that's sensitive. Not in the security sense, but in the 'people we know died' sense. And now, you accuse me, my brothers and sisters, of being secret police, for trying to know what's going on in our backyard, concerning us."

The smile dropped. "But maybe that's what I'd expect from someone that left their team."

OOC: @Goose

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IC: Muir (The Capella)

Muir chuckled wryly, and downed the rest of his glass with a grimace. Maybe the local flavour wasn't for him after all.

"Team player, huh? I get that." Unlike the Toa Kalta, he didn't even feign a smile. "Knew a lot of them, back in the day. Not a trait I admire."

"I stand alone because I have a code, and I won't compromise it. Not for anyone. You play the team with people you can't trust, you get the stain on you. I watched good men become bad cops, time and time again, because they played the team. You want to know why I didn't ask you my questions direct? It's because I'd be a ****** idiot if I let you and yours set the narrative before I even got my facts straight."

He stood up from his stool, and laid enough cash on the bar to cover his drinks and a decent tip. It was more than he could really afford to spend, but he at least had a paycheck coming from Renaka.

"Frankly, the fact that you were so willing to engage in intimidation after I had what I thought was a pretty open and productive conversation with Cyrix, tells me that my first impressions might've been pretty close to the mark. You can follow me if you want. You can hate me if you want. If I cared about your opinion I'd still be a cop, and if I was that easy to scare off, I wouldn't be a lawyer. Luckily for you, I'm here for the facts, which means that your posturing isn't going to bias my investigation against you.

"I'm going to do what I need to do. You and your comrades can either help me, or stay the ****** out of my way. Are we done here?"

OOC: @Keeper of Kraata

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IC: ??? (As Vrill (As Syzygos)) [Ko-Koro, Sanctum]

The Sanctum was never meant to be the fortress it had become. 

In its storied history, the temple had only been breached twice. First by Makuta, when Nuju was stolen. Those shadows had long since been purged by the time of the second intrusion at the hands of his fanatical followers. While the building’s wounds had healed, there were still scars from its subsequent defiling at the hands of the intruders.

Like a body, the skin that replaced the gash was different. Rougher. Stronger. The Sanctum had always been the headquarters of the eponymous Sanctum Guard, but their expansion in the wake of Ko-Koro’s rebirth had left its mark on the architecture. It gave the Cy-Toa mixed feelings as he walked through checkpoints and eyed murder holes, but then again, so did everything in Ko-Koro now.

The obsidian-armored toa followed a well-recited path through the public zones of the Sanctum until he reached an inner chapel. Sitting on a mat in front of a charred tapestry, he began a familiar meditation.

Edited by BULiK
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