Golden Sun: The Genesis Halo
a Kamotz RPG
Prologue: "We are the Few"
There was silence, and the peace of the warm sun burning down through the calm, still air. It was wonderfully silent, just the faint click of insects and crisp crack of grasses twitching against each other. Gerard thrived on it, the time between missions, between the clamor of the city and the crash of steel and claws and power; the air filled with a palpable tension and possibility of violence threatening to crack into existence. Not that any of those were "bad" things, per say--they certainly had their uses and their draws--Gerard simply preferred the perfect stillness.
The cry of a large bird shook Gerard from his reverie and his eyes snapped open. His trepidation last only for an instant. Only for a brief moment he was alone, only for the space of time between when his eyes snapped open and took their first blink. Then he felt it stir again, as it always did. He felt it, drawing up, rising within him, huge and vast. With a single breath it swelled and filled the dark spaces behind his eyes. That dark thing, his passenger, was always with him. It was an animal acknowledging and evaluating its surroundings, and it took only a moment to reaffirm that it was indeed still the most dangerous thing in the immediate vicinity; the top of the food chain, the apex predator. Hyper-lethal.
All was right in the world.
Gerard watched as a red-tailed hawk descended from the sky to land on the low branch of a nearby tree. With a sigh, Gerard hauled himself out of the cool, clear pool of water he had been swimming in. He grabbed his nearby towel and gave himself a quick dry-off before making his way over to the bird and untying the note strapped to its leg. He gave it a quick read-through.
"Well, there goes our vacation," he said with a sigh. "Amon. Up." Gerard tossed his towel over his shoulder at the great cat that lay sunning itself on a nearby rock.
The tiger growled his displeasure, but stood up regardless. Gerard quickly slipped on a pair of pants and his boots, and then he tied his armor together and strapped that to his back. Amon walked up beside him and gently nudged his large head against Gerard's thigh, nearly knocking Gerard over in the process. But Gerard caught himself and straightened his stance with a roll of his eyes. He cuffed the tiger stiffly behind the ear.
Amon snarled and Gerard snarled back. They were too similar not to scrap occasionally—they were too much alike. Competitive, but respectful of the power the other held. Amon was brash and dangerous, despite the familiarity with which Gerard acted around him. He was much wilder than most of the other animals the League Adepts found themselves partnered with. And despite their partnership, Gerard had no illusions when it came to the big cat. He was completely untamed and (to all but Gerard himself) completely unpredictable. Gerard's understanding of Amon came only because of their similarities; Gerard had more in common with Amon than he did with other humans.
And Amon regarded Gerard more like a fellow predator than he did a squishy pink human.
"If we leave now we might just make it back to Tolbi by nightfall," he said as he started down the road. The tiger grumbled his distaste but followed beside Gerard, stalking along with the lumbering grace only a great predatory cat possessed.
Tara strode through the crowded Tolbi streets. She'd spent the night before in Tolbi village, situated on a hill that looked out over the Colosso stadium. As a League Adept she was certainly welcome in the city center, but it was a bit nosier than she wanted. She had a few old benefactors in the village who were perfectly happy to give her a quiet room for the night. Privacy was a rare thing among League Adepts around the Tolbi City Center. It was fine when you were out on patrol or a mission, but the city was crowded.
On top of it all, her animal partners always became edgy around the city. Leah could at least fly off to the rooftops and ledges with some of the other League raptors. Kano was stuck in the busy streets with her. And the big cat really didn't like that. At least in the village, the three of them could have a night of peace.
Now that they were in the city, she could see the tension in Kano's body; his head and chest were dropped low, eyes darted back and forth, a frustrated growl seemed to rumble ceaselessly from his throat. Tara had lost sight of Leah after letting her fly loose, but knew she was somewhere far overhead, raptor eyes trained on her two partners below. It would only take a sharp, high whistle, and Leah would come streaking from the sky faster than most could follow.
Tara was one of only a handful of League Adepts that had managed to bond with more than one animal partner. With that added power came added responsibility in caring for them. She had met both of them when they were young, and they'd come to depend on her for a great many things. She'd tried her hardest to instil in them a sense of wild self, teaching both to hunt and fend for themselves should the day ever arise that she was unable. But both looked to her for guidance more often than not. It was comforting: she was never alone.
But she was also never alone.
Never was that more apparent than in the crowded city center of Tolbi, with Kano practically glued to her heels. She heard a piercing screech above her, and glanced up to watch Leah swoop through the spires of the League and into one of the high windows. Tara wasn't worried; the caretakers at the aviary would feed her and give her a place to rest.
"Kano, see if Gregor is still in the kitchen," Tara said, turning to the sleek black jaguar. Gregor was the head chef for the mess hall, and an old friend of hers. He'd helped her when she was first starting her training. And he had a soft spot for Kano. There was no reason for the jaguar to attend the meeting.
There were already six other Adepts waiting by the chosen conference hall. Two Adepts each of Mercury, Mars, and Jupiter. Was she the only Venus Adept? Iodem had a thing for assigning Venus Adepts in leadership roles, but usually never with more than three others (and most often one Adept of each other alignment).
Maybe it was because both Isaac and Felix were Venus Adepts, and they'd been essentially in charge of that great quest thirty years before...or maybe it was the inherent overall sturdiness of the typical Venus Adept--level headed, convicted, and adaptable--that made them natural leaders. She certainly wouldn't want a Mars Adept in charge; they were unbelievably hotheaded and reckless...Jupiter Adepts were wishy-washy, and Mercury Adepts were so incredibly slow to decide anything.
"Is this everyone?" Tara asked as Iodem opened the doors and invited everyone in. He invited everyone to take a seat around a round central table and took his position at the far end of the room next to a recently-drawn map. It was one of the smaller rooms, meaning whatever this mission was, it couldn't be all that important. Or was she wrong?
Iodem sighed, rubbing the bridge of his nose. He looked so much older than the last time she'd seen him...which hadn't been all that long ago. He'd stepped back from handling the day-to-day dealings of the League and left the minutiae of Tolbi's ongoings to his advisors and those he'd been grooming to take his place. He only involved himself in matters he found most dire, or most personal.
Which one of them was this? Tara couldn't help but wonder.
"We're missing one. The other Venus Adept," Iodem couldn't hide the frown from Tara. "But he's...ugh. Always late."
"Fashionably so," a low voice chuckled. Tara glanced at the new arrival out of the corner of her eye. Gerard Leonhardt. "But it's not like you'd actually started either way. I think I'm right on time, all things considered."
"You asked him?" Tara growled, jabbing her thumb at the other Venus Adept. "Of all the boneheaded, selfish--"
"Competent, skilled, and talented?" Gerard offered with a shrug. Amon hadn't moved from his side. The enormous cat watched each Adept and animal intently, sizing them up. He didn't look impressed, though he was by no means unimpressive.
Tara had never seen a larger cat.
But she just rolled her eyes at Gerard's antics. She...knew him well enough to see through the mask of lighthearted banter and good-natured humor. He was none of those things.
"You're not asking him to lead, are you?" she asked Iodem. When the older man shook his head, she sighed in relief.
"I was hoping you would step up," Iodem said. "I know you're not used to working with such a large group, and certainly not with so many outside the Lions, but..."
"Of course, Sir," Tara snapped a salute. "I'm honored."
"Good," Iodem said. He looked to the rest of the Adepts and directed their sight to the map behind him. "Then here is where you shall begin..."