OOC: Jam with me and Mr. Peanuts.IC: Gaargl & Mars & ??? (Le-koro Dark Walk)Hunger. Darkness. Hunger. Pain. The arm was at it again--another week and he might not be able to use it at all. If he had that long.No. Do not think in that manner. There is only life. There is only survival.The Po-Lesterin reached into his pack, but found only crumbs. He licked them hungrily from his fingers, before the sound of clattering stone made him whirl around. "What--? Ah!" He shoved his left arm into his mouth, biting down to distract himself from the pain he'd caused himself. He mentally cursed himself for his foolishness. It is dangerous enough down here without giving away your position. He was not adept at stealth, but life in the tunnels did not favor those who failed to even try.Gaargl looked around, but saw nothing. What I wouldn't give for a Ruru. Or better yet, someone wearing one. Six months without any intelligent contact--well, if one didn't count the Rahkshi. Gaargl didn't; contact with them was not, after all, the intelligent sort, and he had tried to avoid it as much as he could. Still, he couldn't help but notice their numbers increasing after he found himself entering the larger tunnels, along with the number of subterranean Rahi--mostly wounded, but that just meant the dangerous ones made less of a threat and the non-dangerous ones easier prey.Today, though, he had seen three, and as far as he was concerned, that was three too many. He sincerely hoped that the number was not about to increase to four.His hope was in vain. A distinctive hiss grew louder, and Gaargl began backing towards the tunnel wall. Feeling the comforting sensation of his hand against the stone, he edged left--the direction he had been traveling before he heard the noise--and hoped the Rahkshi would miss him in the dark. He squinted his eyes, as much to reduce their visibility as to avoid seeing those of the Rahkshi.The next moment three things happened: first, Gaargl's left foot came down on a loose stone, which shot out from under him with a loud clatter; second, the Po-Lesterin went down with a cry, his knee crying out in pain; third, the Rahkshi spun to face him, its all-too-familiar silhouette framed in the glint of a light behind it--Wait, glint of light?!?The silhouette's sinuous body flitted towards Gaargl without a sound, furtive to a fault; in spite of the lightstone it carried, he found its dull color and slow manner to nearly dispel his gaze without concentration. Two ice-blue points of light promptly affixed their stare to his face. Now pinning his eyes to their kanohi, Gaargl could begin to examine the being before him."Name, race, rank, status," The silhouette whispered, greeting the Lesterin in the traditional military manner.Gaargl feebly scuttled a short distance away, trying to put distance between him and his assailant, but his wounded limbs didn't take him far. He curled his arms and legs up in a defensive position for several long seconds--in his panic, it took him a few seconds to realize that the being hadn't killed him yet, and that it had actually spoken. He opened his mouth to speak, but it took a few tries before his voice would work. Fortunately for his later pride, the other being could not see this through his face-concealing helm. "Gaargl. Lesterin." He swallowed, then coughed, his throat dry from lack of water. "Second-in-command of--well. Doesn't matter. They're all dead anyway." He shakily climbed to his feet, leaning heavily on the wall for support. "Status--"HIIISSSSSSSSSSSS...Gaargl tried to drop into a ready crouch, but just ended up losing his balance again. He instinctively lurched toward the mysterious figure for support--Oh, good one, lunge for the suspicious, possibly-armed stranger!--but whether fortunately or unfortunately, he fell short.Gaargl's voice came out in a rasping, hoarse whisper. "Please. I've been lost down here for who knows how long, and I've already seen three Rahkshi today. I can't fight, I don't even have my proper weapons, all I've got is--" Gaargl's hand touches his staff, and the hissing comes to a sudden and conspicuous stop. He looks around, wondering what had just happened.------------The creature looked on with interest. Two now. But prey? Or something else? Something more? A chill ran down its back, quickly suppressed. It skulked further back into the shadows, still watching...Always waiting.------------The figure slipped its hand around Gaargl's, feeling its form and running over its contours as it analyzed his existence. It stepped back. With the slightest hiss of expelled air, it hauled him to his feet. He caught a glimpse of a drab, mildly feminine Kaukau and soon heard a name to go along with the face."Mars, Le-Matoran, Gukko Force," The assassin rattled off. She peered up at the gaunt Lesterin through light blue eyes. "Tracking a Rahkshi within this Dark Walk. Care to explain your own situation, mahi?"Her hands hung loosely at her sides in an inconspicious configurement of limbs. In this stance, poised on the balls of her feet and hands centimeters away from her tomahawks' hidden sheathes, the special operative was prepared. Mars had heard a bump in the perpetual night of the cave, and true to form, she was ready to draw her blades and fall upon it. She would ally with this Lesterin and terminate the vermin nearby. All she required was the opportune moment to strike--easily provided by the lure of two distracted sapients--and she would be able to achieve the latter. So she stalled with words lacking import as she mentally calmed before the storm, watching and waiting.Mahi? Dark Walk? Just how long have I been down here? "I've been trapped down here for a long time. Months. Trapped in a cave-in, had nothing to do but dig myself out. My team is dead. I'm injured, badly. All I have left is this staff." Gaargl unlimbers his staff, leans heavily upon it, and activates its power, closing his eyes in deep concentration. The device thrums softly, and the Lesterin points out a crack in his leg armor that slowly begins mending itself. The edges of the rest of his armor begin growing at a slow but irregular pace, and tiny spurs of metal seem to grow out of odd places--thus explaining their jagged, unkempt appearance; Gaargl's concentration was disrupted by his injuries, resulting in improper repair to his armor.A noise in the dark breaks it entirely, prompting both beings to look around for the source. There is nothing there, save for the sound of faint hissing...------------The dark being shrank back--it seemed there was little friendship between the two strains of the sons of Makuta. For now, the being relented and withdrew, the attention of the Turahk that had ambushed it drawn by the movement in the illumination of the lightstone. As the dark being drew nearer to the den, its--or rather, their--thoughts were, for the first time in a long time, unrelated to basic needs.The den. The Lesterin. The Moon. Sleep. The images were disjointed, but the host knew it was from excitement, not inexperience--and he had been linked to the parasite long enough to recognize their meaning anyhow. He shuddered again--this time too strongly to be suppressed. He sent a message back: 'Fear. Retreat.'Glee. Wickedness. Chains.The host crawled into the den and curled its limbs around itself. It could not suppress its thoughts, could not hide them from the parasite even if it wanted to. 'Fear. Death? A sword suspended by thread, dangling above the neck.'The parasite's thoughts were soothing--irritated, but somehow still soporific. Sleep. Peace. The Le-Matoran. Prey.The host nodded, drifting off to sleep. It did no good to argue, and besides, what would it hurt to agree?He needed food just as much as any other Matoran.------------"Ah, mahi, but you really should look how you use that thing...," Mars sighed facetiously, keeping with the nickname she had decided best fit the Lesterin. "Your armor is a tumor and you its host, as long as you use that staff in such a foolish way. Of course, who's to say you can change that..."Gaargl coughed again. "Not much of a choice. No supplies...and many dangers underground. Have to...survive. For...their sake.""I suppose."Mars nodded slightly. She supposed she could not understand the sentiment of the Lesterin regarding his wish to carry on for his comrades' sake, regularly being without others, but she had seen it many a time before within regular Ussalmatoran. She had dedicated herself to Duty and not Unity, rarely seeking company of any kind, and so she didn't bond with many other people. She truly detested few persons. On the other hand, it was exceedingly rare that she talked to any--With a blood-curdling hiss, the Turahk leaped from the darkness at the pair of conversing sapients with staff lunging for the matoran's abdomen. Mars smirked at the sight. At last. Her hands reflexively shot to her tomahawks, drawing her two blades. In a millisecond they flew before the staff, crossed for additional leverage, and blocked it. Mars' visage flickered to gritted teeth as she stood against the overwhelming force. Then her expression returned to a smirk. Leaving one tomahawk to continue catching the staff alone, she lunged forwards with the other, intending to cleave the creature's head from its body. But her slice only managed to open its throat. Her eyes widened at the realization of her failure, and as she noted the Turahk's speed to be higher than other Rahkshi, its staff whipped around and blasted her with its power. The assassin crumpled to the ground. Another heartbeat after the duel of milliseconds, the Turahk turned to hiss at Gaargl, staff brandished in both arms as it prepared to attack...Gaargl held his staff in front of him in a defensive posture, but the Turahk swung its own staff low, clubbing the Lesterin in the face with his own weapon. The followup strike sent him flying, and he bounced off the wall and the floor with two sharp cracks.Normally this was the part of the fight where Gaargl would concentrate his mental energy into activating his staff, his battered armor taking blow after blow while repairing itself until some other threat distracted the Rahkshi long enough to get away. However, concentration requires one to be conscious, something Gaargl wasn't at the moment. He lay where he fell, helpless, as the Rahkshi advanced for a killing blow...Even as the bolt of Fear hit her, even as her darkest terrors sprang from nightmare to the forefront of her mind, even as she fell before the weight of dozens of those fears, Mars smirked.The only thing she had ever known to be worthy of being feared was herself. There was only one power she, a mere matoran, could ever control, and that was the power of her soul. She may have used tomahawks, chakrams, and balisongs in battle, but they were but appliances of a greater ability. That ability was her decision to make decisions. With the responsibility of her own life came its strength. As with all in the Ussalry, the strength of her life--her Prosperity--was a weapon she treasured more than any blade. Blades couldn't convert information into damage. But her mind could. Scientia est potentia was her creed. Knowledge is power. What a given being didn't know could hurt he, she, or it. For example, Mars considered, if a Turahk didn't know that its Kraata power alone could not cow an attacking Ussalmatoran, it would find itself soon faced by said Ussalmatoran returning to finish the fight as it distracted itself with another enemy. The Rahkshi would be pestered by its lack of information regarding the capabilities of military persons in the surprise assault. The Ussalmatoran, meanwhile, would be able to pester such a creature with little trouble as it hit and ran. But a better example still might be found had the Ussalmatoran previously damaged the Rahkshi so as to leave it confident in its ability to yet emerge victorious, but lethal when presented with another strike. Mars believed this latter case would make the pestering of a matoran more irksome as the Rahkshi was forced to fight or die. However, in this case, the Ussalmatoran was still able to attack only with her two held weapons. The Rahkshi would easily be able to block such strikes and rebuff its assailant.Now, what if that Ussalmatoran also has other weapons within reach which she can use in conjunction with her other weapons in rapid succession?, Mars thought. She smirked again, silently unclasping the sheath around her wrist with two fingers as her scope zoomed in on the Makuta-spawn's back. She was about to find out.As the Turahk's staff blurred into the air above, ready to deliver a final blow to the Lesterin and head off with its meal of two, Mars threw both her tomahawks towards its spine. To the Rahkshi's credit, it recognized both that the whistling sounds of two chucked blades were those of weapons capable of braining its Kraata and that the confines of the tunnel prevented it from dodging. So it spun, staff deflecting the axes with all the deft movement of the machine it was built to be...And a more subtly launched ring of protosteel cleaved through the hole in its neck and into its slug's spine.The creature shuddered horribly, staff spasming in its death throes, then collapsed in a heap of blood and metal.Mars got up and retrieved her weapons, cleaning them idly. She sheathed her collection of pointed objects and looked now to the Lesterin named..."Garbage"? "Gargle"? Gaargl. A mahi, indeed, if a decent one. He's weak at the moment, but he'll be up and running soon enough.The matoran picked up the Turahk's staff and slipped it between her pack and armor. She'd need it where she was going. These days, the staffs were more obtainable, but each still retained its ability to validate the pro-Koro alignment of its wearer. She clipped her lightstone to her scope for illumination. Then she grasped Gaargl and lifted him from the ground. She nodded at the sensation. Although he was a Lesterin, he was critically malnourished, and she could tell what little weight he possessed was primarily due to his overgrown armor. She need not drag his body through the Dark Walk.At last, the mismatched duo of small assassin and tall repairman turned and began to walk towards Le-Koro. Only one thought was on Mars' mind as she carried the unconscious Lesterin to safety: Amazing what you can do when you relax a few assumptions.OOC: Thanks again, Mr. Peanuts! Mars and Gaargl to Le-koro, Gaargl open for interaction in the Le-koro hospital. If any evil-aligned characters want to interact with ??? (so he can get a proper introduction), PM me.