The city of Twisted has been gripped by fear lately. Although these hardy citizens are no stranger to hardships of all kinds due the chaotic place were they live, even the toughest amongst them can grow weary of the constant challenges that this chaotic realm constantly throws at them. If it isn't the fog monsters its the Naga, and if its the Naga its fey demons, and if it isn't the fey demons its the Xenomorphs. It feels like every day a new threat is appearing out of nowhere to torture them making them all feel like victims.
Kotal Kahn thinks otherwise however. He has always seen Twisted citizen as mirrors of the people of Outworld or Tenochtitlan. People that are not meek cattle to be slaughtered but fierce warriors each and every one of them in their own right.
Tonight, Kotal Kahn chose to remind the citizen of Twisted that they are all fighters.
Quite a crowd has gathered here to spectate a battle that TASK is hosting. Its a captured Xenomorph being pitted against the enormous Ferra/Torr.
The crowd cheers and yells as the alien is flanked from both sides by the ogre and the tiny ferocious girl and they brutally wail on it from both sides, treating the creature like a ragdoll.
Its blood sport, sure, but it certainly raises the moral. Already the once terrified citizens are yelling for Ferra/Torr to "FINISH HIM" and making thumb down motions to end the existence of the Xenomorph.
Meanwhile, Kotal Kahn watches the procedures whilst seated on his throne made of skulls. He looks like the very image of the quintessential warlord.
The many types of people is what gets his attention. So many races and creeds all stuffed into one area. It reminded him a great deal of Ala Mhigo and a few others nations that the Garlean Empire had captured. Even in some ways, Eorzea, that escaped their clutches due to the draconic pests. He found a location to stand in and observe the battle with his gold eyes trained on every movement.
"That is because it is window dressing." Answers the Kahn to his second, speaking as well in hushed tones whilst he keeps his gaze focused on the fought to maintain appearances. "I have not denied the public that we do not yet know where the hive of these creatures is. However, maintaining the spirit of our people strong is as important as yielding results."
"Diablo would have you believe that sacrificing thousands of souls is acceptable for the greater good. I on the other hand have learned that people are not numbers, each and one them is different, with aspirations and goals of their own just like you and I. When everything around them is falling to pieces it is up to their leaders to hold their will strong. Because if we are seen in disarray then who else do they have to turn?"
Kotal waves a hand as Ferra lands a vicious uppercut with her claws and sends the Xenomorph stumbling towards Torr who clubbers it on the back of the head, the crowd goes wild and makes a wave which Kotal forms part of, though with just one arm since he has to keep looking dignified. "Sometimes it is far more important to maintain the illusion that everything is order rather that achieving actual results. Remember this, for you may be in such a position in the Welcome Center at some point."
Kotal leans back on his chair and spots a tall fellow amongst the oddities that form the Twisted public. Golden glowing eyes fall upon Gaius as even without his armor, the Aztec god can recognize a mighty warrior when he sees on. "Speaking of.." He leans towards Rayne again in a conspiratorial manner. "I do not recognize that fellow over there. Has he been through your office?"
Rayne says, "Huh? Oh, him... Uhhh... damnit, what was his name, Legatus?" Well, she remembered his rank, at least. "He showed up a few days ago, yes. Struck me as pretty military. I wanted to keep an eye out for him. He seemed really determined to contact his home... I'm a bit worried he may take a lack of that working pretty poorly, but he didn't strike me as terribly noteworthy so far..." She looks back up to Kotal. "Why do you ask? What do you see?""
With a fix of the cuff of his sleeve, he starts to move through the people. His gaze going low and his hands going into the pockets of the tan pants that he wears. He almost blend in with the crowd, all but that walk. He seems to be moving for a higher point to observe the on goings, though of what, is the real question. Perhaps the battle, or perhaps, the people themselves.
From across the entirety of the Arena, Kotal meets that gaze. His piercing glowing eyes cut right through everyone and everything in the coliseum and single out the warrior moving through the stands. As the God of War, Huitzilopotchli always recognizes his own.
"He is military." Concurs the Aztec and raises his hand again. This time, its not to join in the festivities of the battle, but to single Gaius out.
Yes, the deity reaches out for the warrior and lets him know he is aware of his presence with naught but a gesture. Kotal Kahn then motions for Gaius to come join him and Rayne at the front of the Arena and then instructs the TASK officers and guards to let the fellow pass.
For all intended purposes, Gaius is receiving a direct invitation to come and sit next to the Aztec deity and his Second in command, however silently it may be.
Rayne says, "...Yeah, I got that from him, too. You looking to scout 'im?" She looks up at Kotal with a raised eyebrow. "He struck me as more command structure than a soldier... You thinking about replacing me?" She smirks lightly at the last part, and tries to take a more relaxed pose as Gaius is invited to come over. She can't quite look relaxed here, though. She's never really relaxed in the Arena."
Yet, as he walked, his hand came to grace the side of the hilt of his Gunblade, resting casually there as he moved closer. His gaze moving around for any escape options, should he need it and for any who could be used for cover. This was a strange land, with many strange people. For now, all was to be treated with caution, but, if alliances could be forged...
As the men let Gaius move in closer, the Legatus came to a stop not far from Kotal and Rayne. His eyes looked to Rayne, before to him. "One of you I know, you," His eyes going directly to Kotal, "I do not. Who, if I may ask, do I have the possible honor of speaking too?"
Kotal simply smirks as Rayne makes the insinuation the he is trying to replace her. "You said that, not me." He says simply making sure to avoid incriminating himself any further. Also, it is always quite difficult to tell if the Aztec is kidding due to his stoic demeanor, though here he at least cracked a smile, so perhaps this is all naught but curiosity.
The armed TASK officers move aside to let Gaius approach the private balcony where Kotal and his second sit.
The turquoise skinned warrior meets Gaius gaze directly and he offers a brittle smile at the tone this gunblade wielding individual takes. Straight to the point, Kotal can appreciate that.
"I am Huitzilopotchli, God of War." He introduces himself.
"Here in Twisted I am known as Kotal Kahn, Director of TASK. The Prime Minister of defense if you will."
"I understand you are a recent acquisition to our Twisted realm."
"I bid you welcome, warrior. May your blade bring strength to this world"
The word 'god' causes Gaius' eyes to almost narrow, his figured to stand a bit more straighter, but he listens to the response. He holds whatever aggression was lurking under the surface in check. With no way to contact home right now, he could not afford to be a fool. "I have recently arrived here. After the betrayal of one of my own whom was temped by a Eikon... a Primal." There was a pause then. "Not that it would have any bearing here."
With his hand relaxing more, but his gold eyes never leaving the sights of this 'god', the Garlean at last lower his eyes before he actually gives a professional bow to the man. "My name is Gaius Van Baelsar," He says before he rises up fully once more. "Legatus of the Fourteenth Legion of the Garlean Empire."
Indeed! Though Gaius may not have originally realized, he is standing face to face with a bonna-fide deity. A god of war no less.
Contrary to what one might think of such a meeting, Kotal Kahn doesn't seem to have the imperial arrogance of a god who expects every mortal to do as he bids. He appears almost approachable, at least, if one were to ignore the fact he is sitting in a throne made entirely out of skulls whilst a fight to the death is raging on for his amusement and that of the people around him. Everything about him seems to scream blood thirsty warlord and yet he doesn't really act like it, talking and behaving almost as a philosopher might.
"Not as irrelevant as you might think. Any information leading to your arrival here is another clue so that we may understand this realm better." The god continues. "Even gods such as I are naught but prisoners to this realm. All whom you see here," Kotal addresses the entirery of the public in the arena, which include his guards, "have been sucked in by Twisted in one way or another. It is only through our combined efforts that we have any hope of one day escape it. There are many gods here besides me and even they cannot break free from these Twisted bonds."
Kotal straightens up on his skull throne and returns the formal bow of the man by giving him a warrior salute, a hand over his chest. "I see, then it appears that my subordinate was correct in her assumption." He motions to the armor clad Rayne sitting next to him. "You sound like a warrior of great standing."
"Fighters such as yourself are always welcome additions to our land. We have no shortage of perils here, as you can see." He motions to the fight happening at the center of arena. Although calling it a fight may be stretching, at this point its almost comical how badly Ferra and Torr are beating on the wholly overwhelmed Xenomorph.
"Please, have a sit." Kotal offers as a TASK officer brings an extra chair that fortunately happens not to be made out of skulls like the Aztecs's. "How are you enjoying the entertainment for this evening? Do you have such creatures in your world?" He motions to the badly bloodied Xenomorph.
Gaius listens closely to what is being explained to him by the god of war. He raises a brow ever so slightly, but he shows no expression beyond this. When the chair is brought, he does not insult the invitation, but gives a nod in silent thanks, before being seated himself. "I am merely a soldier of my Emperor and it his bidding that I carry out. My standing can be achieved by others who show the strength, courage, and diligence to reach the status."
Though he leaves off the fact that he was the Emperor's favored after all and if something was to happen to his majesty, then it was he would take that place, because if he was not able to get home, that little fact, was meaningless, and the reminder of it, for a moment causes his jaw to tense a little, but gone just as quickly. "I came here to see what this world's military was like. To observe the people at an activity and witness its strength, along with weakness." Gaius says honestly. "For every detail is important, including to understand a foreign place, along with the very people in it."
The Legatus then looks over to Kotal, before back at the battle. "My end goal is to find the means to contact my Emperor and my own men, and while I have been told that is, perhaps, an impossibility, I never lived my life on the concept of things being impossible. It is only a mere setback until the answer is achieved. Even if that answer could take a lifetime of study."
The Aztec warrior leans back on his skull throne as Gaius takes a seat next to him, golden glowing eyes for now keeping casual glances down at the Arena, just so he can keep up appearances to the public that he's paying attention.
"Rank through merit." Kotal exclaims with a smile. "Just as it was in my beloved land of Aztlan. I approve of such methods." Of course, such a thing is not always an exact science and even if Gaius would admit of his emperor favoritism, he would perhaps not hold it against him.. too much.
The confession that Gaius was here to scout for the Twisted military earns a weak laugh from Huitzilopotchli, as if the very concept amused him. "Well, I am very sorry to disappoint you, o' Legatus. Had you been transported to my world of origin you would have been witness to an endless parade of strong hearted warriors in my service."
He sighs, "Here in Twisted however we number a scant few. We're not so much this realm's military as we are glorified city guards." He looks to Rayne questioningly. "How many officers do we have in TASK? About two dozens at best?" Another grumble. "Minu, my personal assistant, could tell you the exact numbers."
"If you have come here with thoughts of conquest, I am afraid that you will have to get in line. It is not us who you need to worry about, it is the countless stream of horrors that assail this city constantly."
"And perhaps Diablo." Kotal scoffs. "The supposed Lord of this realm" His tone hints that he doesn't like this 'Diablo' character too much.
"As for leaving this realm, as I said, many have tried, all have failed. There was one who was adamant about escaping through the Wastelands and I believe it did not end well for her."
"I cannot offer you a means of escape. Such is even beyond my power."
"But I can offer you purpose if you so seek it. As I have offered to many here."
The Legatus listens and remains quiet as he does. The explanations of many great powers here, broken away from their own strengths to this very place. Those who, like Garlemald, wish to conqueror, but nigh the resources to do so now. It was becoming a story that was making his teeth want to clench. The very ideal he was stuck on this wretched place, away from his own, and very much out of his own power. Worse, it did not solve the other problem. His very armor, was now at the bottom the sea. While cermet was a strong material, it would not hold up for long. The electronics themselves could already be corroded and even if he was to reconstruct it, the power source was the next problem.
He inhaled deeply at his own thoughts before he spoke. "No offer is without its price, so what would be the price for the hospitality? Loyalty onto you? Forget my attempts to find the means to contact my home, to be someone's puppet?" His gaze looks over to Kotal. "Forgive me if I sound rude, but in my world... gods are creatures known as Eikons and they are horrors that take away a man's own will. My own people... we never believed in gods, as we controlled our own fate."
Gaius looks back to the arena. "The world told us, we shall not have control of magic, but it control us, and we, the people of Garlemald answered back by creating Magitek, in order to bend magic to our own will by means of science and technology. It is this reason, I have trouble believing fully what you say is true and but," He tilts his head to the side in thought, "As two military men, two warriors... I also know that one can only survive so long, on their own, before far worse things will find you... and with no allies, you may as well be good as dead. Much... like that beast against those two... Fight as it may, the struggle could be eventually in vain."
Gaius is right to have his doubts about this striking this bargain. Kotal may act and speak as if he were an illustrious poet, it still does not change the fact that he drips with barbarity, as the skulls where he sits on bear mute witness. There is no doubt that it was he who put those skulls there in the first place.
However, though Gaius may not yet know this, Kotal is not the worst person he could make deals with. After all, there is a literal devil in charge here that could very well ask for his soul in return for help.
"You need not fear such." He reassures him. "I am not a god from your world. If I wanted meek subjects that I could bend to my will, I would do as some of the villains of this realm and turn my subjects into zombified monstrosities, or those cybernetics humanoids I have seen around."
"Why, I wouldn't have bothered to throw this grand spectacle for the pleasure of my people if that was the case." Again, Kotal Kahn waves his hand and the people cheer in unison. The public seems to love him, and though the possibility that he is actually controlling everyone's mind still remains, there is no trace of magic around here which means their adoration may be genuine.
"You are free to believe what you will, o' Legatus. It is the freedom of any mortal to choose their deities after all."
"It is simply as I told you before. This city is in dire need of warriors who would protect it. I sense great potential within you, o' Legatus. As the god of war, I can recognize my own when I see them."
"Join my forces in TASK. Aid me to rid this city from the evils that hound it, and I give you my word that I will do everything in my power to see you are returned to your world."
"Or failing that your men come join you here."
The fight begins to die down and the Xenomorph vomits acidic blood and crawls weakly, Ferra and Torr standing on its sides showboating while the crowd chants. "FINISH HIM! FINISH HIM! FINISH HIM!"
Kotal Kahn stands and raises his hands to the cheer of the crowd even though he still speaks to Gaius. "Just remember, some struggles are ultimately in vain, no matter how hard you fight. In the end, none of us may ever escape this Twisted land."
The Aztec raises a hand with an open palm and shines a searing ray of light down on the Xenomorph, scorching it completely with the might of the sun itself.
Of course, the beast is actually still a live even as it shrieks in agonizing pain and is burnt only to then lay motionless. They still need it to study it! But the crowd is none the wiser and think the creature is dead when Torr takes it by the tail and drags it away.
After that, Kotal turns to look at Gaius once more. "Do not feel as if you need to make a decision right away."
"Wander the streets of my city, see its sights, its people, and its perils. Perhaps you will find something here that you think is worth protecting."
Gaius Van Baelsar watches the arena, including as Kotal calls upon the very sun it seems to do his bidding. His brows furrow in thought and over what this god has to say to him. "I will indeed think on your offer, sir." He says looking to him directly, "But understand, my loyalties, in true, will always remain with my people." He looks back to the crowd. "As I am sure, so do yours." Though, maybe in time, that could change...
The Legatus then goes to stand back up on his feet once more. "If there is nothing further to be discussed between us, I ask that I be excused from your presence for now, until such time we speak again."