IC: Gunner - Infernavika"Deal me in as well, Lasi," I added, back from my trip down to the storerooms, crouching down on the deck, so as to be at the proper level to play blackjack.Immediately after that, I snapped a look at Floria that was so venomous, Doom Vipers would be jealous, "And you. We make port in three hours, approximately. When we do, you will leave this ship. Permanently."-Void
IC: Tellus"Deal me in!" The Toa joined the group of card players. "So, Cap'n, where are we bound for?"
OOC: The following is a(nother) jam between EW and I.IC: Dorian/Brykon (Underground, Xa-Koro)Brykon's hand drifted from behind his right leg with a metal rod that suddenly was in his form grip. He twirled it once, relaxing himself in the flourish. He tapped his left palm with it twice as he stepped forward towards Dorian. Stopping a few steps away, he held the weapon like a bat. Then he charged. The bolt was swift, uncannily quick for someone of his size, and he heaved the weapon to strike at Dorian's side.Okay, so yeah. Brykon was big; I’d known that all along. What’s more, he was fast, not as fast as me, but he definitely had a few reservoirs of speed going inside that muscly body of his. While I may not have had a Calix, I was still more limber than most, and my agility was almost Calix-level anyway, so I moved in the same direction as the club, flowing to the right and ending up to Brykon’s southwest. The Bard didn’t have time to turn around before I had hooked my left foot around the inside of his ankle and yanked it to the west, sending him towards the ground and into the path of my other foot, moving upwards in a kick towards his right temple.Brykon's mask glowed slightly as the big toa unexpectedly turned the fall into a handspring and easily leaped away with the same speed and grace as his dash. Dorian's second foot met nothing but air at first before a suddenly standing Brykon swung his weapon with great speed and intercepted Dorian's kick, slamming his metal club into Dorian's ankle with a solid clang.Abruptly, Brykon stepped away after the move, keeping a distance from Dorian.“Backing off so soon, Bry?”I, on the other hand, conjured a club and then closed the distance between us as soon as I could, popping my ankle into place as I stepped forward. Brykon went to crush my sternum with an upwards thrust with the club, but my own club blocked the blow while it was still high in the air; the open space between us gave me the chance to thrust my outstretched fingertips into the soft underbelly of his upper arm, into the chasm beside his bicep. The muscles were deactivated for a minute, and the club block broke, giving me the chance to thrust my club forward with a quick jab into Brykon’s diaphragm. He wheezed twice, distracted, which was all I needed to swing my club towards his temple.But Brykon's club rose and met Dorian's symmetrically, parrying it neatly as Dorian twirled with his attack. A second club followed its path a split second later, meeting the back of Dorian's neck in his spin. Dorian seemingly shook it off as he followed through in his spin and tried to strike at Brykon again, but Brykon's granite grip hit Dorian's weapon dead on with a powerful ring. The club in his left hand came down and struck Dorian's right shoulder with savage force, sending the younger warrior reeling backwards and crouching. Brykon again stepped away and entered a guarded stance. But no word was spoken by the grizzled colonel.“What? Not even a stanza for me? No drawn out contemplations on bloodshed and battle and the sorry state of the world around us? I’m disappointed, Bry.”The colonel didn’t respond to my barbs, which, far from throwing me off my game, revitalized me, made me want to make him respond. I circled him like a shark, looking for a weak point, throwing a feint or two; the first two times, he made a move to defend himself before realizing I was screwing with him, and after that he was still as stone. Machinery whirred; Grokk oohed and ahhed as attacks were parried and sent out, but otherwise, the world was silent, the only blotches of life inside it dueling away, blood cells inside its heart fighting off infection.Finally, I whipped out a tomahawk behind Brykon and hurled it at his spine. As I expected him to, he whirled around and caught it, but when he did, he was staring at empty air: I had already slithered behind him, like a snake, and drawn another tomahawk, slamming the blade viciously into the notch in the older fighter’s collarbone like a ball into a socket.One did not survive hundreds of ring duels without learning about all the tricks in the bag, and Brykon mentally mocked the sad attempt at fooling him. Brykon may have been older than Dorian, but he wasn't senile, he was weathered. Brykon whirled a full 180 before the first hawk clattered to the dirty ground and the batted the blade away with his clubs like windshield wipers sliding a bug off the glass. But Dorian was almost fast enough to do be effective, which surprised Brykon just a little; a faint trickle of blood could be felt warming his back from the first millimeters of Dorian's weapon grazing his back before being ripped aside, tearing the naked tissue a little. Still, undeterred, Brykon fought back and cut off Dorian's footwork with his own and came up close to smell Dorian's minty breath. Without hesitation he slammed the pommels of his twin clubs on Dorian's chest with all the force of two comets.Humiliating Dorian's skills again, Brykon backed off a third time, giving Dorian space to get up again. Despite the heat of the fight it dawned on Dorian that Brykon wasn't intending to truly physically overpower Dorian. Something else was at work.“Okay, what? Are you trying to teach me a life lesson? Trying to invent a new persona for yourself? Colonel Brykon Senegal? The Murderous Monk?”As I stood again – the iron armor I’d created just earlier this morning blanketing my chest and absorbing most of the blow – I cocked my head like a cat when confronted with a helpless mouse, caught in a trap. Brykon’s deep blue eyes held the truth inside them, shining like a beacon through a haze of experience and weariness.“That’s it. This is all another lesson for you.”Brykon paced in a circle and Dorian mirrored him, neither man surrendering their guard or advancing to the other. Dorian wanted answers and Brykon was more than happy to give the lesson he needed to give. "I know what you have been doing since you left, Dorian," he said, his tone low, almost menacingly so. "So many adventures, so much to be thankful for. But you didn't learn anything from the lessons life gave you."“Right, and your life has turned out so well?” I retorted, not wavering from the husky voice of the cage fighter. “I’ve just adapted. I’ve stayed true to the tenants of nature at its most primal: at the core, you stay the same. Everything else, though, you change. You never stick to a single gameplan, you always change this up. Predictability is death, and learning lessons is just the final step before adopting them, which in turn leads…”I let my voice trail off and waved the club downwards, making it very clear where exactly I thought predictability led. Brykon snorted, but said nothing; I took this as a sign that I might as well continue on.“Even without a Mark, I have the vivaciousness of youth, the ability to adapt, and, most of all,” I finished, “I never, ever stop to talk to an opponent for too long.”I charged, ducking under Brykon’s leaden swing, and slammed the pommel of a club into the back of his elbow, sending out a crack and a roar of pain that I took as a sign of his temporary incapacitation. Brykon’s left knee went next, kicked out from under him, followed shortly by its compatriot on his right. I didn’t give him a chance to get up, instead taking my club and swinging it, baseball bat style, into his heartlight."ENOUGH!" Brykon roared as he reached up with his good hand and grabbed the club solidly. Dorian's face turned ashen as he realized the older, seemingly battered warrior stopped his onslaught with little more than one hand; his attempt at moving the club were futile. "You talked more. Practice what you teach, young'n." A sphere of iron materialized from his weaker hand and shot out, striking Dorian's chest at the near point-blank range and launching the younger toa backwards. Dorian crumbled to the ground from the unexpected hit.Brykon propped himself upright with the club he collected from Dorian and then tossed it aside; one of his own fluttered back to his fingers as if attracted by a magnet. "I breath violence and change, Dorian. I know the stage you're going through, but don't compare yourself with me. I grew out of the petty mistakes you make all the time."Brykon resumed his stalking. His guard was close and he waited for Dorian to spring to life again. When he did, he would stay guarded and deflect the blow at the last opportunity and flick small strikes at Dorian when he crouched from his leap. For now, however, he spoke. "Your mind is foolish as before, Dorian. You meet one of the most lethal beings to walk this island and you somehow feel compelled to walk with him?" he said, referring to his meeting with Heuani in the temple. "Only a fool will think anything good would come from such a meeting. And a bigger fool would try to play a game with a servant of the Makuta like you did. You may be able, Dorian, but you don't understand everything. Even your duty as my deputy was rife with errors and mistakes."“I still won the game. I’m still standing,” I groaned weakly, pushing myself up and rolling the club around my hand. “And no. The TEAM was rife with errors and mistakes, because you, as leader, failed to do your job and lead them. A deputy’s job is to enforce the leader’s word, but as long as I stuck around, you remained mum, Brykon, and you left me to manage the team in your place. Two traitors. Two. That’s how many I rooted out in the space of weeks. Who knows what else might have happened if not for me?”I stopped then and tilted my head.“Aurelia. She put you on blast quite a bit while I was gone, didn’t she? What, Brykon, have you guys been snuggling and watching my little escapades? Is THIS what you take the time to do while your team withers and dies like a flower in a locked up closet? No, Bry, I’d say it’s you who doesn’t understand everything, and for starters, I’m going to help you understand this: I am NOT a teenager.”I spat the last word out like a cyanide pill and looked up at Brykon, probably a bit more ballsy than I should have been."So you think you were doing me favours when you murdered Naryth to prove a point, did you?" Brykon asked."Have you seen an insurrection since?" I replied with a smirk. "I mean, really. Even if I HADN'T slept with Illicia, she still would have fallen into place. If you didn't know my methods when you appointed me deputy, then it seems like you're the one who's racking up errors and mistakes, Bry."Brykon shook his head. "Killing Naryth was a mistake on your part, Dorian. I promoted you to help keep order and inform me of what you suspected was going on, not terminate employees based on your premature suspicions.""Naryth was spying on us for NEX--""And was informing me of NEX's activities, too! What, you think I would have allowed a traitor in my midst if I didn't have a use for him? How do you think we were even aware of NEX's existance in the first place, Dorian?" He let that point sink in. "Now all we know from Naryth last transmission to me is that NEX is on the rise again, which was expected. But infoirmation was cut off because you killed Naryth. Now we have a threat and no way to know about it -- all because of your punking around.""So we go back and we finish the job. You're building an ARMY, Brykon. What's the point of Bad Company being here, really? To blow Xa-Koro to kingdom come? Any amoral Matoran with a week's worth of demolitions training from one of the Guards can do that. If you were really that concerned, you would find someone expendable to make the final moves in the Peers' little game, and then we would go and take out NEX or the mainland or any other real threat to our security. But no. And speaking of traitors...""What?""Tell him, Illicia. Tell Brykon about your grand little scheme to get Grokk and I publicly gunned down by hospital security staff for your questionable employer. Go ahead, tell him about how well his master plan to keep track of every traitor, ever, is going for him. I'll wait."Illicia, however, remained silent, and I turned back to Brykon."I expect better of you as a leader, just as you expect better of me as a deputy. Glad to see we've reached an understanding."Brykon laughed quietly to himself. "Your pragmatism deceived you, Dorian. NEX grows in power and we don't know anything about it. In time it can become the threat it was before and we can't fight it head on. We spent a long time builting the relationship with Naryth and you flushed it like trash in a canal. And do you think our mere presense as a team doesn't have a meaning? We are here because we have to be, because it is best to keep the best people at their jobs in one basket and on the good side of someone's law, or else they become enemies. We're the bad eggs of Mata Nui, Dorian, and we're here so that we stay together. We're here because we are an army in and of itself, a team that can crack any wall for a goal. We're the enforcers for those who know better. That's what wetwork teams are for, in case you were wondering. The little people are doing their jobs, too, expendable as they are. Your point is moot as it is stupid."Brykon played with his club's handles as he continued his circling. "And Illicia? You think I wasn't aware that she was a loose cannon? Likewise I knew you and Grokk would be able to handle the matter, and if you didn't then you weren't good enough to stay employed. Further, I could have followed Illicia's leads to Reichenbach and root him out, but you can see now that The Final Problem is the last of our problems now. I placed trust in the two of you because leadership is based on trust and you gave me a dead body and a romping across the city. I watched it with my own eyes as you took matters into your own hands instead of telling me. And now you come back to me feeling justified and relevant, but you have done me no favours. Or our employers. I expected better of you as a leader. I have not failed, only your ego tells you so. Do NOT bypass the filter. -B6"-Teezy
IC: LasiniaLasinia began to deal out the cards to Lohkar, Gunner and Tellus.
IC Yasurek- Infernavika:"Hey now," Yasurek said, a bit annoyed that Lasinia hadn't dealt him in too. "I'm here too you know."
IC: Lasinia"Sorry Yasu," said Lasinia sheepishly, dealing the other being cards as well. "I'll make up for that by buying you an apple."
IC: Floria"You can see the future? No way! All the more reason for me to stay!"IC: Gunner - Infernavika"Deal me in as well, Lasi," I added, back from my trip down to the storerooms, crouching down on the deck, so as to be at the proper level to play blackjack.Immediately after that, I snapped a look at Floria that was so venomous, Doom Vipers would be jealous, "And you. We make port in three hours, approximately. When we do, you will leave this ship. Permanently."-Void
IC (Lohkar)"I'm takin' us ta Po-Koro," Lohkar replied, as he received his cards. "I've got somethin' of a plan..."
IC Yasurek- Infernavika:"You mean Po-koro, the place where, from what I hear, Raknar lead the crew to kidnap Turaga Onewa from?" Yasurek commented, picking up his now dealt cards. "Captain Lohkar sir, may I ask if your plans ever actually involve us not going to places where people want to capture or kill most of the crew?"
IC (Lohkar)Lohkar winked at Yasurek."Don't worry," he said. "Y'see, I want ta find out just exactly what their perspective on the whole kidnappin' thing is. Undercover, o' course. An' I've got an idea..."
IC: Lasinia"Yay ideas."
IC: Gunner - InfernavikaI snatched up my two cards (a Queen of Spades and a Three of Clubs), with a grimace on my face."Yes, ideas, hooray," I added sarcastically, before asking, "So, what are the wagers this time?"-Void
IC: FloriaPo-Koro?She could punch someone there.
IC (Oreius)"Beach the boat north of the city. The map seems to indicate that the stone is outside the city and it will do us better to remain out of the public light." Oreius nodded, and gently altered the boat's course, aiming no longer for Xa-Koro, but for a stretch of beach north of the city. Before long, the island loomed above them instead of before them as the boat slid by imposing cliffs upon which the waves dashed themselves.The boat approached the shore; Oreus stopped the vessel about six metres out and tossed a small weight, with a rope attached, overboard. He waited for it to hit bottom, then began to pull it up, measuring the length of wet rope to figure out the depth of the water. Apparently satisfied that they wouldn't beach themselves, he allowed the boat to move closer to the shore until they were only about two metres out.“We'll have to get out here if we don't want to be beach the boat,” he announced. The other Matoran nodded, and began to gather their things. Sulov helped Oreius pull a larger anchor over the edge of boat; it hit the surface of the water with a splash and sank quickly to the bottom. Oreius tied the rope tight to the boat; it wouldn't drift off without them now.Before long, the Company was ashore, all of them wet, but mostly unperturbed. The jungle lay before them: vast and wild, but perhaps less dangerous, Oreius thought, than the pit of villainy that was Xa-Koro.They were one step closer. The next Stone was within their reach. Oreius had taken them as far as he could; now it was up to Reordin or Stannis to lead the Company to their next destination.
IC: TellusTellus took his cards. "Hit me."He turned to Lohkar. "Sounds like a plan, Cap'n! Can't say I much care fore the desert, but it'll be good ta get out of Xa-Koro."
IC (Jin)I'd thought I'd seen it all when I'd watched Dorian battle Heuani in the jungle. Not quite. Heuani had had the temper of a cat playing with its food; he hadn't taken the battle seriously until the very end, and then he had crushed Dor with ease.Brykon, on the other hand, was deadly serious. He didn't play around; he didn't waste time with banter or unnecessary flourishes. He fought like a man who knew what he was doing, and didn't have the time nor the inclination to do anything else. Every blow, every parry was efficient, calculated to conserve energy and maximize performance.It was a style completely opposite to Dorian's, I noticed. Dor was all about the flamboyant attacks that left you staring open-mouthed as you got shredded by a billion iron spikes or something. He moved fast and struck faster, and threw all his energy into every attack.If I had to place bets, it would be on Bry-Bry. Dor was good, but it looked like he was battering at a brick wall: no matter how many blows landed, Brykon absorbed them stolidly, and remained standing, rebuffing his attacker without blinking.Then it was over. Dor lay on the ground, breathing hard, while Bry stood, strong and hard as ever. Then the exciting fight morphed into a debate, and I sorta stopped paying much attention. Hopefully there wouldn't be a quiz on who was a traitor or not.
Ic: The map the team had indicated that the stone was at a position just north of the city of Xa-Koro, so Stannis led the team there. Stannis was flanked by the others once more, though in a different pattern: The four soldiers took opposite compass points, though Sulov remained in the back. Lepidran, the only other scolar in the team, was in the middle with Stannis. It was what The Wanderer wanted, too; if he were to ever fail to "mortality's knife," Lepidran was the last one who could possibly unravel the final prophesy, the last one from the Wanderer's Company. Stannis directed the team to a specific spot that concurred with the map, but there was nothing, simply a swamp and cypress treets that jut out like fat fingers from the muck."So where's the stone?" someone asked."Here," Stannis answered."Apparently not."From a certain point of view it had seemed as if the wandering didn't work and Stannis himself seemed a little perplexed. He looked at the other members, thinking if there was one among them who could know the path better, someone more qualified, but there was none. It was on Stannis. "The stone is here, just not here here. We have to go underneath." The thought of entering the catacombs underneath Xa-Koro was daunting. There were many rumours of what was truly hiding below, reams of artifacts from previous villages, traps beyond history, even arcane things. Spines shuddered at the idea, but Stannis remained astute in his leadership. "Come, let's go get this stone."The team left the scene and meandered by the swamp before coming to the outskirts of the city. It looked nicer than advertised; even outside the walls the streets seemed civilized and houses were more than banana leaves on curtains. Still, the angry faces of the few locals in their suburban huts and cottages that dotted the countryside were unfriendly to the travelers; they weren't as nice as the dirt they trod on, Stannis observed. The locals seemed even less hospitable when asked where the nearest entry point to the catacombs were. Their spite towards the apparent treasure hunters was palpable. The six found the point they were directed to, a mine entrance that clearly had been used by many dozens of feet and even some machinery, and entered. They were soon enveloped in darkness...
IC: LasiniaLasinia dealt Tellus another card.
IC (Lohkar)Lohkar peeked at the undersides of his cards."I'm stickin'," he said with a wry look.
IC:Soon the darkness in the passage became too deep for the Wanderer's Company to see without aid. Sulov, ever the utilitarian, had two small lightstone lanterns in his backpack. He took them out, holding one of these and handing the other to Stannis. Reordin, still carrying Takua's satchel, dug around the inside of it and pulled out the beautiful bamboo-framed lantern that had been inside it when he'd first found the bag. These three shone their lights around the inside of the muddy passage. Leah got lucky; in the illumination of Sulov's lantern, she spotted an old, clunky lightstone lantern half-buried in the damp earth; it had probably been discarded by a would-be excavator who had lost his nerve so soon. She bent down and extracted it, wiping the mud off its surface. It worked well enough, so she kept it. Any help against the oppressive darkness was welcomed.The ceiling of the tunnel was low, propped up by molding wooden beams, and the ground was wet. Ahead of them, the passage angled downward into absolute blackness; all of the company felt the foreboding of the unknown. Some kind of rustle, or soft clang, echoed up to them. Oreius could feel his hair stand on edge. He felt suddenly compelled to dig in his bag, and he pulled out the Essence Stone. He may have been imagining it, but the stone seemed to be warm, like a comforting fire. He held it close to his chest, feeling somewhat reassured."Stay together," Stannis said, addressing the crew behind him. "We don't want anyone to get lost in this darkness." The others nodded; while the path was straight now, they could not know what lay ahead. They started down into the earth, Reordin took the lead, his superior-crafted lightstone held aloft, and Sulov, as was by now a habitual comfort for the others, took the rear guard position. The tunnel stayed straight for a few minutes of trudging, but then branched in two. Stannis stopped, as did the rest."We should take the right path," Reordin reminded him. "We're headed south, and the stone is to the northwest of Xa-Koro. The right fork probably curves around to where we need to go.""We can't know that," Stannis countered. "After all, the method to these tunnels remains unseen. It could very well be madness.""I think we should try the left one, first," Leah chimed in. "See if it's a dead end, or something."As the others debated, Oreius, still holding the Essence Stone to his chest, idly paced around a bit. As he did so, he noticed something strange, which almost made him drop the Essence Stone; suddenly, the temperature of the thing spiked, and perhaps odder still, Oreius felt rhythmic pulsing in the stone; pulse-pulse, pulse-pulse. Surprise quickly replaced by curiosity, Oreius held the stone again, felt it warm against his palms. Its pulse continued, reminded him of a beating heart. He held the rock to his chest, felt the throbbing slightly out of synch with his own internal beat. He slowly started to walk again. The stone felt warmer, and then colder, and then warmer again as he crossed from left to right and back. The intensity of the beating fluctuated as Oreius paced, too."This is strange," Oreius finally said.
IC: Gunner - InfernavikaI glowered even more than I usually did, glancing over at Lasinia, "Hit me."-Void
OOC: When is Infervanika going to Po?IC: Ketru (@Wheulp)Command: Speak/Those sound good. I think I'll buy a couple. How much?
IC: Takari flexed a finger, and a second later his power of mind deflected the spike, before he opened his whole hand, a telekinetic blast powerful enough to send his foe flying coming next. A large stone spike erupted further back, directly in the flight path of his foe.Tirax landed safely, though his legs stung. Matatu, meanwhile readied himself, preparing to dislocate the shoulder with his Kanohi namesake the second he landed. For Ziraul, there was no need to wait on an attack, and he unleashed focused sonics on the Ve-Toa's ears, hopefully enough to stop him from using his Kanohi.IC: HeulrakWith a tug, the gigantic Ve-Toa's sword was ripped out of the ground, spraying sand into the air, possibly blinding his opponent at the same time. Heulrak wasn't going to wait for that, though, and used his Calix augmented relfexes to lean out of the way of the electric punch. At the same time, he felt his throwing ax get pulled from his hand, and instead of trying to fight it, Heulrak simply let it go, the ax burying itself in the sand. Noting that the being had excaped his quickly made prison, the huge Ve-Toa decided to switch tactics.As Tirax came down with his Matatu-enhanced strike, Heulrak side-stepped at the last minute, the ax just barely scratching his protosteel-alloy armor. While his armor was golden, Heulrak wasn't stupid enough to wear completely gold armor, as just walking in that much material alone would be work. Because the Ve-Toa waited until the last possible moment, redirecting the being's fall would be a lot harder, especially sinse energies were being used to make him go down.Continuing on with his sidestep, Heulrak used this movement to get in closer to Takari, and a wooden spike erupted from the massive Ve-Toa's now-empty hand, the hard spike driving its way towards Takari's chest in an attempt to impale him. Meanwhile, Heulrak kept his broadsword up, prepared to use it as a way to channel his elemental power should any other attacks be thrown at him.
IC (Oreius)Oreius's first -and most striking- impression of the catacombs was darkness. This wasn't a surprise: when you go underground, you're likely to find less light than above ground. The reason he noticed it, however, was because he hadn't made a habit of going underground. Having spent most of his life in Ta-Koro, he was most comfortable standing on the familiar earth, not walking beneath it. As the Company entered the abandoned mine entrance, the Ta-Matoran tensed, his senses going to high alert, wary of dangers that lurked unseen in the darkness.His second impression was of the faint, slightly sour odour of natural gas. It was a good thing Reordin had stopped smoking: striking a match down here would likely ignite an explosion that none of them would have a chance of escaping.Sulov produced two lightstone lanterns, giving one to Stannis, and Reordin followed suit, pulling a lantern from Takua's bag. Not long after, Leah found an abandoned lantern on the rough dirt floor of the tunnel, which still worked well enough. Oreius and Lepidran alone walked without their own source of light.This wouldn't usually have bothered Oreius: he was used to walking with several companions on patrols and the like, and everyone always had their own job. Sometimes it was your turn to carry the torch, sometimes not. When it wasn't, you had to trust that one of your companions would light the way for you.But down here, beneath the earth, it was different. Oreius felt himself begin to sweat as the darkness closed in around the Company's fragile bubble of light. They were not meant to be here; this deep, dark place was dangerous: it was Makuta's domain. They were wandering in a place they should never have come. The darkness was the enemy's domain.Adding to his sense of unease was the palpable sense of being buried alive; as the Company trudged deeper into the earth, Oreius was uncomfortably aware of the tons of earth and rock above, a tremor away from falling and burying him here, like Aurax had been buried. Fear clutched at the Ta-Matoran's throat; he had always prided himself on his staunch courage, but it was failing him now. Desperately, almost unconsciously, he pulled his pack open and took out the Stone.It might have been his imagination, but he could have sworn that the Stone was warmer than it had been before. It reminded him of a comforting campfire, surrounded by comrades with whom he could laugh at any danger. It warmed his hands, and as he held it close to his chest, it warmed his spirit. The cold touch of the darkness was pushed back, and Oreius felt his courage return.The Company soon arrived at a junction; one tunnel turned to the right, the other to the left. While the others discussed their options, Oreius idly paced around a bit. As he did so, he noticed something strange, which almost made him drop the Essence Stone: suddenly, the temperature of the thing spiked, and perhaps odder still, Oreius felt rhythmic pulsing in the stone; pulse-pulse, pulse-pulse. Surprise quickly replaced by curiosity, Oreius held the stone close again, felt it warm against his palms. Its pulse continued, reminded him of a beating heart. He held the rock to his chest, felt the throbbing slightly out of sync with his own internal beat. He slowly started to walk again. The stone felt warmer, and then colder, and then warmer again as he crossed from left to right and back. The intensity of the beating fluctuated as he paced, too.Oreius wasn't a poet; he was a soldier, and his next words reflected that. He didn't try to dress this weird event up; he simply stated it.“This is strange.”His companions turned from their debate at his words. They had been spoken calmly, matter-of-factly, but no one could miss the wonder on Oreius's face.“The Stone,” he began, holding up the carved piece of jet. “It gets warmer when I walk closer to the left tunnel, and colder when I walk to the right. It's pulsing, too, almost like it has a heartbeat.”The Ta-Matoran paused, then drew the conclusion that hovered in the breathless silence.“I think it's connected to the other St- to the other ones. It can lead us to them.”The others said nothing, either awestruck or suspicious. Oreius took a deep breath, then began to walk towards the left-hand-tunnel.The stone grew warm once more in his hands, as though he were stretching his palms out to feel the heat of a fire. Once more, he felt the “heartbeat” that pulsed within the Stone, echoing his own. Looking closely, Oreius sought for and quickly found the tiny glow of red light that he had seen before, shining faintly in the centre of the Stone. As he walked underneath the wooden brace that held open the mouth of the tunnel, he was surprised once more: the light grew brighter.It was still faint, but now it was discernible without close examination. The jet-black stone, its glass-smooth sides perfectly cut, was glowing very faintly. Not enough to cast any light on Oreius's path, but bright enough to see. The light pulsed gently in time with the Stone's heartbeat, growing ever so slightly brighter as the Stone grew warmer.The Ta-Matoran looked back at his companions. “This way.”Then he was walking deeper into the earth, his fear forgotten in the heat of the moment and the heat of the Stone. The darkness no longer pressed against him; instead, he half fancied that it fled from him as he walked, unwilling and unable to hinder the courage that blazed within him, brighter than any lantern. He didn't draw his sword; his staff was strapped across his back; he did not fear whatever lay ahead.The rest of the Company followed. Stannis came first; he walked quickly and caught up to the Ta-Matoran, his lantern casting enough light for them both to see by. Reordin, Leah, and Lepidran came next, with solid, dependable Sulov bringing up the rear, as always, guarding their backs.The Company descended ever deeper into the earth, the tunnel twisting and turning through the soil and rock. Every now and then they would come to another crossroads; Oreius only paused for a few moments at these junctions, walking from one side of the tunnel to the other before choosing the one the Stone chose. With every step he took, Oreius felt the Stone grow warmer. Were it not for his natural resistance to heat, Oreius had no doubt that the Stone would have soon grown too hot for him to handle; as it was, he still found its warmth comforting.The pulsing had quickened as well. The Stone's heartbeat still beat on time, its regular rhythm almost hypnotizing, but it had gotten faster. The crimson glow in the centre of the Stone had grown as well; it was still dim compared to the lightstones, but it was noticeably brighter.This was how Oreius knew they were on the right track, and so he continued to trust in the Stone, and tread ever deeper in the face of his fear. The Company continued on their course, following the Ta-Matoran without complaint, even as he placed all his faith in the Stone.He could feel it. They were close.
IC: Wuelp"And what do you have....to trade?"
IC: Reordin (Underground, Kumu Islets)Man, oh man, he hated being underground.Though his stoicism, his dependable sharp wit, hid his discomfort well, Reordin felt buried alive down here. Ko-Koro had been sky, wide open sky beneath a blanched landscape bereft of elevation, a tundra where you could depend on the ground being flat a majority of the time. This place, this hellhole that reeked of natural gas and left you unable to see, unable to lay out under the stars, form shapes of them, let them burn through you with the aura of warmth that only stars held, lacked that same dependency, and it made Reordin long to be above ground once again. It took him a second to realize what this was: claustrophobia.He'd never experienced it before, since he'd never been underground for more than an hour or two, but this place, these feelings...he wanted to scream, more than anything, wanted to tear the saperka from Sulov's wrist and dig his way up to the surface. Instead of attempting that, however, Reordin put his lantern in between his teeth for a second and ran his hands over his head, letting them snake down the back of his neck and towards the insides of his shoulder blades. He pressed his fingertips lightly into the notches, massaging them and trying to alleviate tension, but to no avail. The jumpy feeling in his chest remained, his muscles were still tight and hard, and his vocal chords were still working up the resolve to yell for help.Reordin met Leah's eyes momentarily and saw the understanding look inside the orbs; gradually, as the Ko-Matoran followed Oreius, the fist loosened from around his heart and began to back away, as if it were being scorched by stars.-Teezy
IC:Oreius, occupied by the vibration of the stone, almost walked headlong into a big, black hole that opened up at the lip of the path. Before the others could grab him and pull him back, he inadvertently windmilled his arms to keep balance; with a cry of dismay that echoed down into the hole, Oreius watched the Essence Stone fly from his grip and down into the darkness. It fell for a few seconds into the black - they could hear when it landed with a splash-thud.But they also saw its internal light, the one that had grown brighter and brighter as Oreius had led them, brighten still more, enough so that its red glow was actually visible through the thick black of the vertical sinkhole. After the splash its light warbled, as though it was under a foot or so of water. The hole looked to be about sixty feet deep, a straight plunge down.Stannis approached the lip of the pit and shined his light at it. Across from the void, the horizontal path they were on continued, but it was clear that was not their intended route. On the side of the tunnel were some rusting metal rungs, a ladder. Stannis probed one of these with his foot, and it squealed in protest."We'll have to find another way down," he said. "Who has rope?"Reordin had one from Takua's bag, and Sulov was never one to disappoint. The Onu-Matoran walked over to the edge of the pit, held one end of his rope and let out the other end into the pit, listening for the it to hit the water below. When it did, and left him some slack, the Onu-Matoran searched for somewhere to tie the other end. There was only thick muddy walls, under which some stone glistened in the lamplight, and some wooden supports, which did not look very trustworthy."How did Takua do it?" Lepidran mused."There's nothing in his bag that could be useful for this," Reordin answered, "Just a normal rope."Stannis examined the lip of the tunnel with renewed interest. He felt the earth above the first metal rung and noticed, beneath a buildup of mud, a jagged metal edge. "One of the rungs of the ladder is missing," he said. "Help me look for it."Sure enough, the bar they sought was wedged solidly between a stone-reinforced wall and a wooden pillar some feet away. The connection looked dubious, but the company was reassured by the knot of rope still tied to it, the other end frayed like it had been cut. The rope was the same color and thickness as Reordin's. Sulov examined the bar from a few angles, then tied it in a solid-looking knot with his hefty rope. He gave a sharp, strong tug, and the bar didn't give at all. He leaned back against the joint with his full weight- still nothing. "Safe," Sulov assured in his deep voice. "But we should go down one at a time."
IC: Reordin (Underground, Kumu Islets)"I'll go first," Reordin said after a moment of silence. The Ko-Matoran's face was hardset, the lines of his jaw and cheeks resolute. The other Matoran could almost hear his teeth clenching and unclenching from time to time."Reordin, you don't have to--""I'm fine, Sulov. I'll go first.""If you want a nightlight or a hand to hold, just let me know and I'll be right here.""Are you trying to make a joke, Sulov?" Reordin asked, turning to face the Onu-Matoran; though Sulov didn't reply again, a small smile tugged at his features, and Reordin rolled his eyes, trying to bury his fear of going deeper underground, and put the lantern between his teeth again, putting his hands on the rope and going down. Soon, the Wanderer's Company was out of his sight, and it was black. The only iota of anything besides complete, utter, inky midnight darkness was the small sphere of light around the lantern, illuminating Reordin and the rope in his hands and nothing more.After what seemed like an eternity but in reality was less than a billionth of that, his feet hit ground, and he bent down to pick up the Essence Stone. Now, for the first time, did he know exactly what Oreius meant about the Stone, and the almost heartbeat-like consistency it had when you held it. Reordin's fears dissipated, replaced by resolve, and he looked up towards the edge of the pit, which, suddenly, seemed much more visible, as if darkness itself recoiled away from the purity encased in the stone."I got it!" he called out, his voice muffled from the lantern in his mouth. "Come on down! The sewage is fine!"-Teezy
IC: Ha ha. At least he knew it was a joke. I gotta improve my humor.The others look scared. They need rope and lightstones. But I notice this only in the back of my head. My senses are better down here. I see everything, and I feel each vibration in my bones. And my watch is up.No fear. Not really. Only caution enough to catch any danger. This is just another place to move through with its own set of traits. I wait for everyone to use the rope. Then I climb down and stand at the back by it, alert. I'll follow them in my usual position.
IC:Once everyone made it down the rope, the light of their lanterns - and of the Essence Stone, which Reordin handed back to Oreius - illuminated the tunnel branching through from the shaft they had just descended. This one was round and stony, and had about a foot of water sloshing around in its bottom. The water was rank and thick with sediments, and probably worse. The Wanderer's Company pinched their noses as Oreius led them onward.Eventually, they reached a large cavern with rounded, sloping sides. This too was somewhat flooded at its base, and the stalactites above contributed to an ominous, echoing dripping noise that defined the darkness. Torches, long deadened by the moisture, stood wonky in the water on long poles. In the middle of the cavern were a few mud huts, squat with roofs caving in. They were made for Matoran-sized beings. Some more tentative observation with the lanterns revealed primitive augers and drills, a few disks, a loom, and other various devices. Leah poked her lantern cautiously into one of the huts, and found it, to her relief, to be empty. Lepidran winced as he stepped on something roundish underwater that cracked under his weight. The sound reverberated unpleasantly through the cave.It seemed that there were things in this cave with ears.At the sound (or perhaps the resonant vibration) of the crack, countless movements began to rustle the water. Something was surging into the dark cavern from the continued tunnels at the far side. Gradually at first, then faster and faster, the things approaching under the water illuminated, a ghostly bluish luminescence showing their bodies and casting the whole cavern in an eerie blue glow. They were jellyfish-like Rahi, about the size of Sulov's calves, with far-reaching, swirling masses of tentacles. Their bodies seemed to hold inside some kind of dancing light source that shone through their electric-blue membranes. Soon the whole cave was illuminated with ample sub-lighting from their phosphorescence. They were Lightfish, like those in lanterns in Ga-Koro, only far larger, and evidently far deadlier.The company watched the Lightfish approach, unsure of the best course of action. As one of the forefront Lightfish advanced, its tentacles whipped behind it, and a stinging electric current suddenly shocked them. The flex of another one's trailing fibers had the same painful effect."Climb up on the walls!" Reordin cried as another jellyfish sent one of its horrible currents through the water. As quickly as they could, the Company heeded his advice, clambering onto the slippery slopes of the cave's walls, clinging to stalagmites for purchase and pulling their legs as far away from the water as they could. They watched the electric Lightfish spread out in the water, until the whole pool of the cave was overrun with slowly writhing, glowing jellyfish, their tentacles tying knots, their blue bodies rubbing against one another in passing. The water danced with deadly energy.By the illumination of the pool, Leah, sitting in the crevasse between a large stalagmite and the wall, noticed something on the far wall of the cavern. It was a circle, carved wide and deep into the rock, and it was made visible only by the light of the jellyfish. She squinted at it, trying to discern its meaning. Oreius noticed her looking. Could it be? He held the Essence Stone out in front of himself, towards the circle in the rock. The stone felt as hot as it ever had, and the heartbeat inside it accelerated.The circle was a Matoran letter "O." Onua's stone was in this room.
IC: [The Seventh]"Well, here's our boat ride outta here."
IC: Jellies. Negotiation-out of question. Fight or flight? Group: Recommendation flight. Minus rope, arsenal near full. Terrain's home. Allies five matoran. Objective Onua's stone.I scan the submerged cavern again. Jellies in water, huts, stalagmites/stalactites, 'O' on rock. Objective nearby. Retrieval flight. Okay.I look at the others. Opinion, distraction, escape, whatever. I'll give it.
IC (Oreius)“Onua's Stone!” Oreius shouted, so the others could hear him over the thrashing of the jellyfish. “It's here!”The Stone in his hand blazed like a falling star, its scarlet heartbeat pulsing fast and strong. It was so hot now that none but him could have touched it without being burnt. It cast a bright crimson light, the only source of illumination in the cave besides the rippling blue light of the jellyfish and the feeble glow of the Company's four lanterns.The Ta-Matoran cast his eyes around, looking for a way out, a safe place, the Stone, anything. Aside from the carved circle on the far side of the cavern, there was no indication of where the Stone might be. If it lay in the half-submerged village, then it was out of their reach until the jellyfish left, and who knew how long that would take?The Matoran were safe enough as long as they stayed out of the water: Oreius had spent enough time in Ga-Koro to learn a little of the bioluminescent jellyfish that most of the village used to light their homes, and he knew that the creatures couldn't survive outside of the water. These Rahi seemed to be the same sort of creatures, only bigger, and much deadlier.They couldn't simply hang onto the walls of the cavern forever, though. Wherever the Stone was, they would likely need to leave the safety of the walls to locate and retrieve it.Looking up, Oreius noticed the abundance of stalactites that grew downwards from the cave's ceiling. Several members of the Company were already clinging to some of the longer ones, finding perches where they wouldn't slip off into the churning blue water. Perhaps, with a better vantage point, they could make sense of this riddle.“Leah! Lepidran!” The Ta-Matoran called. The two Le-Matoran were much more at ease with climbing and heights in general than the rest of the Company. If anyone could climb up the stalactites and find a better position, they could. He jerked his chin up, gesturing to the ceiling of the cavern. “See if you can climb up and get a better look!”
IC: Lepidran was suppressing an internal sigh. This all seemed rather needlessly pointless to him. Trying to keep the stone away from the clutches of the dread Makuta was fine, but were electric lightfish really going to stop him for more than a few seconds? Couldn't he control Rahi? The entomologist was sure that was one of his powers. And keeping it in this dark and definitely sinister place would only give him more clues as to where it was, surely. He was the darkness after all. All it was doing was proving an obstacle to the Matoran who were trying to find them right now. It was almost like the Makuta had placed them rather than Takua...Oh now that was a worrying thought. What if the Takua they knew was just...an avatar, or something, for the Makuta. It would certainly explain how he'd survived so long, and why the Rahkshi's arrival in Ta-Wahi had been so swift.But then why the ruse with the stones at all? What would he gain other than the deaths of seven Matoran who he could easily dispatch without a care or thought anyway. And in one case already had. Lepidran considered that he was probably over-thinking. That this was probably some test of moral worth, or faith, or any of those other things Stannis liked to talk about. The lightfish were the problem at hand right now, and there wasn't much he could do about them. They were one brand of invertebrates that he hadn't studied extensively, he had no idea what their patterns of movement meant other than they were probably angry.“Leah! Lepidran! See if you can climb up and get a better look!”"Aye-aye!" he replied, trying to inject a little levity into the situation. He risked taking one hand off the wall to get a hold of his butterfly net, its tough mesh could snag and hold outcroppings and give him some much needed reach. He didn't need it for his first hop, which was just onto a larger stalactite hanging down, but his second leap was more ambitious. He sprang through the air with all his strength, using the net to catch a spike on the opposite wall to where he'd started. He kept hopping along, making sure to get higher, since not only would there be less space between the stalactites closer to the ceiling, making jumps easier, but they'd be much stronger. leaping from tips would only shatter them and dump him in the roiling waters below
IC:Leah watched Lepidran move skillfully around the cave. Aside from having the good eyes needed to ride Gukko that had helped her spot the letter in the wall, she had not done much to help yet. Mostly because being underground was one thing she was not used to. At all. She was used to being in air-high Le-Koro, with the open sky above and a long way to the ground beneath her feet. Now it was practically the oppostie, with who knew how many feet of stone and earth above their heads.So this slightly more open area was much more to her liking, as far as underground caverns were concerned. So with that in mind, she followed Lepidran's example and rose from the crevasse she had been sitting in, pushing against the face of the stalagmite. However, instead of going the same route as Lepidran, she jumped towards the nearest stalagmite rising from the water. Staying low, she made sure she would be able to help out her companion in case Lepidran missed a jump or needed help. She landed safely on the stalagmite's side and wrapped one arm around it, pacing her hand on the tip. With her free hand, she pulled out her bo-staff. Then she eased the wooden pole down into the water below. The wood wouldn't conduct the electricity from the jellyfish. The weapon sunk in a few centimeteres into the muddy bottom, then it hit hard rock.Leah grabbed onto the top of it and placing her foot over the leather-straps she had wrapped around the center. The she took aim at the next-closest stalagmite and pushed herself away from the one she was currently holding onto. When she reached it, she stopped her movement with her foot first, so she wouldn't put too much pressure on the tip of the stony pillar. The she secured a hold, before taking aim at the next stalagmite. Repeating the process several more times it wasn't long before she was halfway across the water. She paused for a moment and looked up to the ceiling of the cave. "How's it going up there?" she called out.--------------------------------Rhow listened to Viloz' tale with much interest. So the scum of the Island had reared their ugly heads and actually attacked this ILS-group? That didn't exactly speak for the ILS, but it also meant it was time to really get in on the action. She stepped closer to her fellow Skakdi."How many of the followers of Makuta were present during the attack?" she asked. "Lots." was the reply. "No Rahkshi though..." Viloz replied.Rhow nodded, thinking for a moment. "Alright then." She looked at the other Skakdi around. "It seems Makuta's pets have decided to ransack a rather neat village. I say, we should return the favour, while they are out, burning down huts and whatnot. As the friendly man behind the counter tells me, there's a place in town the Matoran avoid like the plague. Sounds like a good place to start looking."She crossed her arms, looking confident. "So, drink up me hearties and let's make a visit."
IC: TellusTellus groaned, putting down his cards. From his reaction, it was pretty obvious that he wouldn't be winning the current round.
IC: Lasinia"So why are we going to Po again?"
IC Yasurek- Infernavika:"We're going to Po for the same reason we do anything- namely, that there's no reason at all. Frankly I think we have even less than usual reason not to go to Po-koro, but whatever. I'm not actually wanted there, so I don't have as much risk as most of the crew. Hit me" He picked up the card, frowning a bit upon receiving it. "Hit me again." Another frown. "One more ought to do it." He took the new card and seemed annoyed, but content enough with his cards.