OOC: This was fairly important CD, so I thought I'd repost it.
LICK (Merror and Korero)
Merror rose early, kicking off the sheets and splashing cold water from a basin onto his maskless face, his well-trained body clock having woken him an hour before the sunrise. He returned the Calix to its place, and the mask regained its rich burgundy colour as he clipped his armour on. Slinging his sword sheathes onto his back and buckling his belt on, he left the Inn, dropping his key on the bar as he walked out into the virtually empty streets.
In the pre-dawn hour, even the village of parties was quiet and dark. The occasional lightstone lamp poured its honey-coloured glow onto the walkways, but the dim blueish twilight filled most of Merror's vision as he made his way towards the Gukko Force's gym. The door was unlocked (clearly Korero had his own key) and he pushed it open gently, stepping into the large room.
The Toa Maru was alone in the gymnasium, and it would have been hard to miss him even if it were crowded. His lithe green form span and swung in graceful arcs as he soared through the air, hands gripping two wooden gymnast's rings suspended by rope from the ceiling high above. The skill with which he used them could not be the product of practice alone; clearly, the First Toa's essences were not purely spiritual gifts.
Seeing Merror enter, he let go of the rings near the peak of his swing, his remaining momentum carrying him in a parabola up, level, and then down to land in a crouch only a few feet from the Toa of Fire, who nodded with an impressed smile as Korero straightened up.
"You look like you've been practising," he observed.
Korero gave a grunt-laugh, the corner of his mouth tugging up.
"Ever since I got here," he said. "I come here most mornings."
"Even so, I've never seen someone get to this level of skill in that time," Merror replied. "You must have some talent."
"Huh, well, I can thank Lewa for that."
"No," said Merror deliberately, "you can thank Mata Nui for that. Even with Lewa's essence, your achievements are your own. Don't live in your predecessor's shadow - you're more than he was."
Korero's smile became a little more relaxed.
"Heh," he said. "Thanks, Merror. That's a good way of thinking about it."
"Any time. So, what did you want to meet for?"
Korero breathed in, nodding and scratching the jawline of his mask.
"I want training," he said frankly. "You're right, I've made a lot of progress. But there are some things you can't teach yourself. I asked around a bit, and...well, there's not many people on this island that can fight like you. I want you to teach me."
Merror folded his arms, eyebrows raised in a slightly skeptical look.
"You're a Toa Maru, Korero," he said. "And you're looking to an old Toa like me to teach you to fight? You and your brothers outfoughtMakuta."
"Come on, Merror, you know that's not how it works," he said. "I've got the raw...power, I suppose, of a Maru. But before I became one, I was just a little scholar. The others, they were all in militaries as Matoran. Even Stannis was in the Guard once. They've got the experience, the combat hardening - things I just don't have, even from Lewa."
Merror nodded, allowing him to continue.
"But you do," Korero pressed on. "You've got years of experience more than all of us. You're a veteran, Merror. That's something no fancy destiny can buy."
"All right," Merror conceded, "I suppose I can help you in that respect."
"Thank you," said Korero. "Now, I don't need much. Lewa's imprint gave me good enough reflexes and basic fighting ability, and the Guard gave me some training - I've got the foundations. I know how to fight. But you can teach me how to win."
Merror stared pensively at Korero for a short while. He hadn't taught anyone for a long time, much less the kind of skills Korero was asking for. But there was something about the young Maru...sure, he was one of the island's destined protectors...but there was a drive in his eyes and his voice, a determination, and it reminded him more than a little of himself.
"Yes," he said at last. "I'll teach you."
And suddenly, without any warning, Merror's fist was shooting at his gut. Korero instinctively moved to dodge, but nonetheless he was caught off-guard by the out-of-the-blue attack and it caught his side, winding him and knocking him away.
"What?!" he gasped, trying to pull air into his emptied lungs as he staggered away.
"Lesson one," said Merror, striding calmly towards him. "Be prepared at every moment, on every side."
Korero was ready for the next punch, ducking out of the way and grabbing Merror's outstretched arm, bringing it into a lock from a classic Mata Nui martial art, while shifting his weight to properly counter the Toa of Fire's. He smiled defiantly at Merror, less than a foot between their masks.
"Lesson two," the veteran continued. "Never expect your opponent to play fair."
Stars exploded in Korero's vision, and he fell back, clutching his head. The older Toa had headbutted him.
"What the karz are you doing?" he asked in shock.
Suddenly, strong hands were helping him back to his feet. As his vision returned, he saw Merror's face smiling apologetically at him.
"I'm sorry," he said earnestly. "But that was an invaluable lesson, and there are few other ways to teach it. Besides, it's out of the way now. Do you think you've learned it?"
Korero though for a moment, still frowning a little at Merror.
"Yeah," he said, his expression becoming calm once more. "I understand. And I won't forget that lesson in a hurry."
"Good," said Merror, smiling, and picked up a flask of cool water from nearby, handing it to Korero. "Take this to stop it swelling."
Korero pressed the flask to his forehead. Merror's 'lesson' had been a shock...but now that he thought about it, it was exactly what he'd asked for. This was certainly going to be an interesting morning...
Half an hour later, the two were sparring with Merror's swords - maskless, for greater gain, but more casually. Merror had already shown Korero half a dozen techniques the latter would never have thought of on his own, and was now describing the best ways to incapacitate members of various species.
"Toa, Turaga and Matoran are obvious," he said, parrying one of Korero's lunges. "Go for the mask."
Korero nodded as he writhed out of the way of Merror's riposte.
"Skakdi, aim for the spine," he continued. "Vortixx tend to rely on their tech to help them - find a way to disable it."
"What about Lesterin?" the younger Toa asked, sidestepping another jab.
"No powers, but they can use Kanohi and sometimes have foreign tech," Merror replied. "If they do, go for that first. Besides that, you just fight them the old-fashioned way."
"Right," said Korero, his quick mind absorbing the information as his body automatically blocked and followed up.
As the sun rose, the Toa took a break from their intense training, sitting on the edge of the platform that supported the gym. The last half-hour had covered various martial arts moves and tactics. Merror was summarily impressed with Korero. The ex-historian's fantastic memory seemed to have a physical side that had lain undiscovered as a Matoran; every motion, every technique that Merror demonstrated was absorbed and replicated with amazing precision. The Toa Maru of Air was the fastest learner he'd ever seen.
"Now, that mask of yours..." he said, as the two bit into meat-filled sandwiches as breakfast. "I've heard the basics. Give me the details."
Korero explained the workings and strictures of the Hiko as they ate; how he could control his orientation but not his momentum, could take up to twice his weight with him...et cetera, et cetera.
Merror grinned, shaking his head in what was more admiration than envy.
"Oh, the things you could do with that mask..." he said.
"Haha, you're telling me," Korero replied. "I've come up with some pretty interesting uses for it."
"I'm sure you have," said Merror, "but have you tried......."
Korero's eyes widened in comprehension.
"Ahhhh," he said. "Now that's an idea. And then I could..."
Merror nodded in approval. Korero had taken his idea and run with it in a way he hadn't foreseen. This boy would go far.
Over the next hour, they worked on throwing skill, tactics for multiple opponents, stealth, and element use. With every moment that they trained together, Korero's respect for Merror grew and grew. The myriad skills and strategies he'd picked up over the years were an edge in combat that was difficult to match. He felt uniquely privileged to have had them shared with him.
As for Merror, he was simply astounded at the speed at which Korero had picked everything up. Certainly he'd need to practice them again later, and he had a lot of strength and conditioning to build up, but the Le-Toa had retained every detail immediately. He hadn't had to repeat a single demonstration; everything was instantly ingrained in Korero's memory.
By the time other beings were arriving in the gym, the duo were already heading out of the door, towels over shoulders, definitely tired from the intensity of the session but far from exhausted; Merror had been saving a lot of energy in preparation for the likely confrontation the day would hold, and Korero was running on adrenaline. He turned to the Toa of Fire as they made their way back towards the Bright-Star, the platforms of Le-Koro already bustling with life and music as the day got underway.
"I can't thank you enough for that, Merror," Korero said.
"I think you may have earned it when you saved the island," he replied wryly.
"Well, when you put it that way..."
Merror nodded, giving Korero a comradely bump on the shoulder.
"I trust you'll put it to good use," he said. "I can see what kind of person you are, Korero. People with power as great as yours are rare indeed...and those with the spirit strong enough not to let their fight corrupt them are even rarer."
Korero was about to thank Merror for his words, when there was a tug at his elbow.
"Toa-hero Korero, Akiri Kongu wish-speaks your presence," said the Force messenger, with a salute.
"Where is he?" Korero asked.
"Heading to the Bright-Star Inn, I would think-believe."
Without further ado, Korero clapped a hand onto Merror's shoulder and activated the Hiko - and one white flash later, they were standing in the Inn's foyer, just in time to see Kongu address Joske and Cael.