Titus Cloudraker (Saviorhuckmon) Nastrond While Goliath spoke with the Dragonlord, Titus remained in the far rear of the Realmless. He’d returned to his Saviorhuckmon form during the journey to Nastrond, despite his best efforts. Since entering the Khan’s presence, the silver knight turned tense and rigid with his hood and goggles up to obscure his face. Thoreau, his father, stood distinctly apart from the Realmless, but they were close enough to hear one another. The Slayerdramon studied the change in his son’s demeanor. In the short time of their reunion, the two had reestablished a sense of familiarity and spoke with comfortable ease. However, the Titus’s cold silence was jarring for those who knew him best. His golden eyes never wavered away from the Khan, a clawed hand curled in a tight fist. “Why did you leave the hordes, Titus?“ Thoreau asked quietly, remembering Titus’s connection to the old horde chief, Rheagos. “Surely, accepting Karrthus as your Horde Chief couldn’t have been that bad, the rest of the Imperia horde did.” “Rheagos took me in, when I thought I had lost everything,” the young dragon’s eyes flashed with old pain. “Why would I want to follow the dragon responsible for his passing?” “You would have been amongst family again, son.” Thoreau said slowly, as he finally spilled the reason for knowing the Dragonlord personally. “Karrthus is my nephew and in turn your cousin by blood.” Titus’s blood turned to ice. “Knowing that now changes nothing.” Titus said, quickly regaining his composure. The knowledge that his own flesh and blood was the cause for Rheagos ultimately dying left him feeling ill. “Rheagos was ancient, Titus,” Thoreau said with a sigh, trying to reach out to his son. “He shouldn’t have engaged Karrthus in Ankam, not when his strength was failing. And I’m sorry, I hadn’t realized how close you were to him.” “Maybe,” Titus admitted. In the months leading up the to the fated Ankam, he’d often aided the ailing Imperialdramon PM in the early mornings, when the pain in his limbs was too great. “But he’d raised his horde up under the guidance of the Old Code. Yielding to Karrthus...that legacy would have vanished in the flames of the Firemind.” Titus burned with shame. He should have been the one to fight that day, not Rheagos. He’d still been too young and his strength inadequate to defend his horde’s way of life. “He acted as he felt he should. Is that so wrong?” “No,” Thoreau shook his horned head, “and I’m sorry I wasn’t there that day to reclaim you and save you further grief.” “What are you talking about?” Titus glanced sharply at his father. “You couldn’t have known I was his squire then.” The Slayerdramon glanced away from his son’s piercing gaze, silent for several moments, until he reluctantly explained, “After our home was left in ruins, Rheagos himself came to me one day and asked if you were my son. My decision to chose a mate outside my horde was common knowledge to several hordes, since it is seldom done. When he described the young huckmon he’d found, I told him yes.” “You knew where I was all those years,” Titus said accusingly, “and yet you left me believing I was alone?” “I entrusted you to Rheagos’s care for your own sake!” Thoreau countered heatedly. He waved a hand dismissively, “It’s...complicated and would require an explanation at a more appropriate time.” “No,” Titus said, his eyes hard with hurt and betrayal. “I think we’re done.” The Saviorhuckmon yanked his hood off, letting it hang down his back. Turning his back to his father, he said in stiff farewell, “I’m glad you’ve been well, father, and rest assured I will get mom back if she's alive.” “Titus!” Thoreau snarled sharply in a hushed tone to get his son’s attention, but the Saviorhuckmon had already slipped away to merge further into the gathered Realmless. “Not because I wanted too, Titus,” Thoreau muttered, he closed his eyes with evident regret. “but Rheagos was the teacher you needed, not me.” “If only to try and prevent a tragedy from repeating itself.” _________________ Sawyer (Tuwarmon) Nastrond The mutant digimon hovered closely beside Ryia as they marched to the capital of the Nastrond. Sighting the massive Examon, Karrthus, Sawyer involuntarily stumbled sideways and pressed into the old mare’s thick red armor. Apparently less than thrill with the extra body mass, Ryia planted a solid kick, sending the Tuwarmon staggering away a few feet. “Stand your ground with your own two feet, mutant. I’m not a brooding mare.” Sawyer held up both hands to placate the Sleipmon, however, she payed no further attention him as she moved away. The tall mutant deflated with a breath and pulled himself upright to rigid attention as he glance around to observe their surroundings. He really wish they could finish up and be done. The Tuwarmon studied his gauntlet hands and arms, more to distract himself from the imposing Examon. He’d actually managed to do something useful during the last battle with this form. He was bigger, stronger, faster, and lost his squish factor. However, he hated what it represented and the potential risk to his father and other conscripted soldiers if he was caught in the open by the Empire. “A sh*ttier situation than a two-hole outhouse,” the mutant muttered under his breath. Sawyer dropped his arms to his sides without a clue to fix his predicament. A silver gleam flashed out of the corner of his eye. Titus glided up alongside the Tuwarmon without a word, appearing to watch the proceedings with the Khan. “Heya, Finn, sorry I didn’t mention the ‘new’ look to ya sooner.” Sawyer scratched his head sheepishly, “I kinda stumbled through the evolution by accident a year ago, when you weren’t around to kick a few butts for me.” The Saviorhuckmon tilted his head to the side and gave Sawyer a dull, tired nod of acknowledgement, before glancing away again. An awkward silence hung between the pair until the Tuwarmon happened to glaze in the direction Titus had come from. “So who’s the look-a-like?” Sawyer asked, looking at the larger silver dragon standing in the background past his friend. “Just one of the dragons that met us at the borders,” the Saviorhuckmon said offhandedly. “That’s it? Seemed like you two were talking for quite a bit,” Sawyer pressed, genuinely curious. “Was he someone you kn-” “Sawyer, please…” Titus said in a hushed tone, his eyes closed as though fighting a headache, “can we leave the matter be?” “Ah, yea, whatever you say, Finn.” Sawyer hesitated, but agreed nonetheless. The mutant stared at his longtime friend for several moments. Titus typically hid his true feeling very well or kept them well below the surface. But Sawyer had known the Saviorhuckmon long enough to know his friend was quite distressed. ____________________ Ryia Rohhirrim (Sleipmon) Nastrond She knickered with annoyance at the fidgety Tuwarmon, when he’d tried leaning into her side for cover. A cold sweat dripped down her back from the sudden closeness of the mutant. Abruptly, she kicked Sawyer just hard enough to send him tumbling a few feet. “Stand your ground with your own two feet, mutant. I’m not a brooding mare.” She snapped, disregarding the pounding beats of her heart. Agitated, the Iron Mare stomped her feet and trotted forward where there was a bit more space. “Move aside, you lumbering rustheap,” Ryia barked coldly as she maneuvered her equine form into a better position to observe the exchange with the Khan. “No need for insults my dear." the RustTyrannomon’s metallic voice rumbled, "I may be old and rusted but I still know how to treat a lady." He took a step back, opening his spot for Ryia to take. Ryia snorted with contempt, barely acknowledging the old timer’s gracious words. Just because she agreed to tolerate the Empire turncoats didn’t she had to converse friendly with them. (The squishy one didn’t count.) “The Kahn is truly impressive." the massive dramon remarked, unable to see Ryia's face to judge her reactions. "Someday, when this war is ended, I may indeed return here to these lands to find rest. The Empire has nothing left to give me, and nothing left to take." A dark cloud passed over Ryia’s thoughts, recalling the dark and painful memories. Panicking younglings cut down by explosions and gunfire. Blood curdling screams of her children and herd mates drowning in their own blood as they tried -and failed- to defend themselves. All because of the Realmpact and the bondage it held them in. “I will know no rest until Rhuell and his subordinates lay dead beneath my hooves,” Ryia swore, blood boiling with anger. Her eyes narrowed, staring off into the distance as she imagined the retribution. “Over a hundred strong, the impact of our hooves echoed across the plains to be heard for miles. Yet merely words brought my herd to its doom.” Her tail swished wildly from side to side, ears folded back. “The Khan is a fool if he believes a flimsy paper will release the dragons from the bonds of the Realmpact. Bonds which will only be loosen for a time until they are tighten again, leaving them to the mercy of their jailors.” If not for the bitterness filling her heart, Ryia would have acknowledge and respected the Khan’s strength and prowess. However, in all things concerning the Realmpact and the Empire, her words turned into a cold, hard blade. “Better we count the dragons as allies for a day than not count them among us at all." Jericho said. His voice was low and solemn. "Actions require power. And words are the promise of power. That is the essence of the Realmpact. The promise and the fulfillment in one. Defying such a thing is no trifling matter." "Death has taken something from us all at Rhuell's command. Your loss has been a heavy burden to bear, but it is a weight that is familiar to most of us." “Nay, it is not,” Ryia snorted, crossing her arms and settling finally in a restful stance. Memories of broken bones and blood dripping from gaps in her armor plagued her mind. “It is the price we’ve paid to be free of the Realmpact, some by choice and others not. So, when the Realms fall to their knees, it will left to us to show them how to endure that burden and rise up.” Jericho nodded. "Indeed. Though if we see the day come when metal emperors die, empires fall, realms are shattered and lines redrawn... When the smoke clears and the horrors cease and we set right the wrongs of our time and new leaders rise from the ashes to rule with honor and virtue. At that time, the best gift we could give the world would be to fade into history and take our sorrows with us." “I will not go so quietly into the twilight,” Ryia said with fervor, “Not until the future’s children prove themselves worthy of the pain we’ve endured for that new day. When they remember and understand the price of our blood and sweat, than I will stand aside.” “Assuming I live long enough to witness that new dawn, of course.” Ryia said forthright. "All things fade in their time." Jericho sighed. "The Realmpact is no more immortal than are we. Even if our small rebellion can grow mighty enough to slay that which was born at the dawn of our history, that history will be ours to write for only a short time. And will not be etched at all by those who fall before then except by the memory they etch on those of us who survive. Our only duty to this world is to see our story etched into the hearts and minds of all who come after as a testament that once there was a Realmpact. That once there were Realmless. That once, despair and violence ruled the day. But no more. And never again." The dinosaur shook his head with a series of metallic clanks. "But these are the ramblings of an old man with too much to prove and no one left to care. We will see what becomes of all this fire and fury. We will see." "Once I'm dead and gone, who am I to care." the old mare said flatly, shifting her weight idly to a back leg. _________________________________ Aayaash Animikki (Garudamon) Nastrond Ayas stood amongst the Realmless, his arms crossed over his chest and his eyes closed in thought. The Khan spoke true. The Astral Order, responsible for law and policies of Eon, could circumvent the bounds of the Realmpact if such a petition were granted. In theory at least, however, Ayas couldn’t recall any previous occurrence from the historical records to support it. “Indeed a writ would enable the dragons to fight within the bounds of the Realmpact, if the Order can be properly convinced of the justification for it.” The former judge said softly, just loud enough for the Realmless to hear him. “The due process for creating the writ will likely be time consuming and I would share my concern of the Empire perhaps overruling it.” "Please, you mean to tell me that we have an entire army here that we can't use until we get written permission?" Versa’s palm met her forehead perhaps a little too hard. "This Realmpact nonsense is absolutely infuriating. Why in the burning hell did anyone think this was a good idea?" "The Realmpact was created to enforce a peaceful existence equally between the Realms." Ayas stated, not at all bothered by her exacerbated outburst. "And the system has served its purpose as was intended, however, a shift has occurred to upset the balance in recent times as we, ourselves, have experienced first hand." Versa’s eyebrow twitched as her face tried a few emotions before settling on disinterested contempt. "You think? I'd call the Metal Empire doing whatever the hell it wants a little more than a 'shift'." Versa turned her nose up at him in a gesture that was surprisingly dainty given her earlier fire. "But call it what you will. Just get the permission slip so we can stop sitting on our asses and start kicking theirs." “In due time, of course,” Ayas continued on, as if he didn’t notice Versa’s dismissal of the subject. He did ensure she could hear him clearly though. The former judge had dealt with Versa’s sort before, he would not let her attitude get to him. However, now and again, he would indulge and ruffle their feathers with a hintt more subtly. It’s amazing how quickly some digimon will drop a fuss if you bore them with details. “We’ll need to send in a formal request for an audience with the Assembly of Judges to present our case, then there will be the time needed for them to gather if we are granted an audience. The next phase will be for deliberation and discussion. Then if they do agree, the writ must be carefully crafted to eliminate loopholes and usually undergo several revisions….” Ayas continued his ‘explanation’ of the proceedings a few moments longer for good measure. The older Garudamon let a bare smirk grace his features, before once again schooling his expression to that of a humorless and serious judge. While deadpan humor was not an attribute he exhibited often, it sometimes helped to keep the more unruly individuals guessing in confusion.