Morphic - Private Thread Hunting for Aggron-La with Io
#1
Aaren the Aggron (Ability - Sturdy)
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Time: midmorning, Weather: light clouds. Affects: Nobody, yet…

 
The towering peaks of the Spine make an impressive vista in the midmorning sun. The highest peaks were capped in white snow, and sheer faces made for an imposing climb. The slopes were smoother at the lower elevations, where granite cliffs gave way to scree and gravel hills. On and around these foothills were small, scrubby trees and windswept grasses.
 
Aaren grunted a little as he heaved himself up another small rise. His large steel-skinned feet crunched firmly into the gravel. Over the top he saw into the next ravine – tumbled stones and a few larger boulders, contours shaped by rain and snowmelt, and a few scraggly shrubs with their roots clutching at the eroding rocks.
 
He sighed. This one wouldn’t do either; he needed something a little larger, and something with more stable walls that he could dig out into a burrow. The intermittent trickle in the wash he was following meant that somewhere around here was a spring or a seep for more reliable water, critical for the grove and garden he intended to plant.
 
He began walking again, heavy footfalls leading him down into this ravine. He didn’t want to clamber over the debris in the wash, or expose himself by climbing the curve of the mountain. That meant he got to plod through each ravine and gully in turn, but he didn’t have anything more important to do than establishing a safe base to hunt that insane Gengar from.
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#2
For the most part, the steel titan has settled at the Stepping Stones. For a while, she had avoided the place, the trauma from the fall that led to her first transformation souring its majesty and beauty for her. But now, she'd slowly gravitated back to it. This gift given to her by Mautte was not a curse, but a blessing--a responsibility that she's been granted to guard. She intends to do it well, and so she dwells in what she believes to be the source of the island's power, where the magnetic currents rumble through her plates.

With that, she looks to explore the surrounding areas. Though the Stepping Stones were almost supernatural in their beauty, the mountains near them were impressive as well. They make her feel just as much like home.

Flying would be the most efficient way to explore the Spine of the island, but Io doesn't want to fly. There's something about traversing the mountains in her natural form that puts her at ease. Heavy body hauls itself up the gravelly faces of the lower slopes. And its on the descent from one of these slopes that she sees a flash of steel armor heading down into a ravine. Io stops dead in her tracks. Her heart speeds up. She loses sight of the creature as he ventures further into the cleft, so she picks her way after him. Even her carefully-placed footsteps disturbs gravel and rock on the way down, sending a myriad of pebbles noisily down the way. All the while, her one blue eye remains fixed, searching quietly but intently for the figure she'd glimpsed.
[Image: aggron.gif]
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#3
Aaren the Aggron (Ability: Sturdy)
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The bottom of the ravine housed a gully that was a bit more promising than it had looked from the ridge. A tangle of thorny bushes grew from a tumbled-together collection of boulders, and Aaren carefully picked his way down to it. Even with careful steps, rocks crunched or skittered underfoot. Other than his own footfalls and their aftermath, the only noise he could hear was the wind.

Reaching the thornbushes, he carefully lifted one of the boulders and set it aside, then another. He carefully worked his way to the ground near the central stem. The surface was dry, but that wasn't always the best indicator. Aaren ran his claws through the dirt about a foot away from the tap root - he didn't want to damage the smaller root threads that served as anchors. Ultimately he was disappointed; the dirt was just as dry beneath the surface. This plant clearly got its water from the rain, however infrequently that might be.

He stood back up with a grunt. Picking up the boulders he'd moved, he placed them back around the plant - but below it in the gully, filing the spaces between with smaller rocks and dirt. Hopefully it would help catch more of the rainfall, and hold it longer so the plant could thrive. Then he gave his paws a quick brush to knock the loose dirt off before trudging his way back up the other slope and onward.
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#4
Eventually, the steel-clad Aggron comes into view once more. Her noise doesn't seem to penetrate the hard-working Aggron's focus as he begins to lift and rearrange the gully's terrain. Single blue eye watches with interest. He must be building a home of sorts. For about thirty seconds or so, Io pauses, halting the skittering of stones down the slope as she observes. Instinct tells her that he is healthy, though his slightly smaller size leads the Aggron to believe that he's likely younger. Her pupil trawls over his plates, the way he hauls the boulders with ease. Io takes inventory. It's not for any reason other than instinct, habit--something within her past makes a healthy member of her species rare. Some part of her expects him to have scars, missing limbs, missing horns... or missing eyes, like her.

Finally, she begins her slow descent once more. When she nears the bottom of the slope, still with distance between them, the Aggron gives a deep, booming chuff of greeting. It is an Aggron and only an Aggron's call through and through--a rumbling, metallic boom rippling from beneath metal plates and over the rock with a soft ringing in its overtones. She pauses with the distance between them, looking out to him, careful. Aggron were sometimes territorial, and though that bit had missed over her in this chapter of her conscience, it doesn't mean that it will be the same for others.
[Image: aggron.gif]
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#5
Partway up the slope, Aaren hears a forgotten sound – a crashing boom from behind him, and his heart surges to hear it again. He whirls, realizing partway through that he has no idea what the sound is or why it would elate the spirit, nor even where it would be familiar from.

Across the ravine, he spots another Aggron perched midway down the far slope. Female, battle scarred and worn, she sports scratches and dents as she stands there facing him. One eye seems to be darkened and missing – this Aggron has clearly gone through a lot.

Aaren can’t recall the last time he met one of his own species, though that wasn’t saying much. He wasn’t sure what happened before reaching the island but he knew somehow that it had been longer still. He’s only half conscious of the movement as his claws form a fist and strikes his thigh, letting out a clang that seems to carry further in the rocky slopes than in the air between them.

“I… Well met. I am Aaren,” he says loud enough to carry across to the other steely figure.
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#6
A metallic ring echoes across the rocks back to her, and she sees the gesture that causes it--the rise of his clawed hand and following descent against steel thigh. Instinctively, without pause, she returns the gesture. Similar species never guaranteed similar cultures or mannerisms, and yet this... this was something that went deeper than culture. It electrifies her in a way that's... calming, strangely enough.

Her gait down the mountain resumes as soon as the other Aggron makes the gesture, instinct driving her forward to close the distance. His words echo across the space between them and she drinks them in. Aaren... She commits it to memory, slows as she finally nears and approaches.

"Io," she responds, coming to a halt several yards away. She pauses, then, hesitant. Her pupil wanders to the rocks he'd been moving. "You are settling here?" she inquires. He's not too far from the Stepping Stones, and something about that is relatively comforting to the Steel type.
[Image: aggron.gif]
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#7
He watches her close the gap without comment, but answers when addressed. "Not here, exactly. Too small. Not enough water. But something in these mountains calls to me." He turns partly to regard the high sweep of mountains, though doesn't let this Io out of his peripheral vision.

“I have made a foe in this strange land. Hunting him will take more than a few days, and he seems to have some long plan of his own. I wish to start preparing a retreat.” His fist clenches as he makes this last statement, steel grinding faintly.

He turns back to Io. “I don’t suppose you have met this Gengar? I know not his real name, only that he calls himself ‘The One’ and wears a ruby pendant set in gold.”
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#8
She looks around as he speaks about it. He's right. But she thinks she knows exactly what it is that calls to him. "I know. I'm settled near here, at what we've come to call the Stepping Stones. Floating mountains, rich with magnetic ore... Scratches an itch beneath the armor." She hopes that he'll understand what she means--he's the only one who would be able to. It's abundant, with waterfalls flowing from the larger rocks, their sources a complete mystery at times.

Aaren continues. A foe? Her hope for peace seems to have already been broken. She's not sure if she should be surprised or disappointed that it's lasted this long. Her thoughts quicken a little as the other Aggron describes the threat that has arisen. A Gengar, with a ruby pendant set in gold... She knew one, yes, but not one with that name.

"I know a Gengar like that, but he called himself Rhenlo." She thinks of their spar, and looks back to Aaren, a bit of dread setting into her gut. There was something... off, here. "We sparred in the desert, and met once in the Jungle. He seemed... withdrawn, but he was not unkind." She's reminded now of her Absol's warning, its intense surge of caution, practically telling her to fight or flight in that moment. Had it been onto something?
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#9
Aaren seems to digest this for a moment. “Rhenlo. When we met on the beach, he attacked a group of us without provocation. I retaliated and he vanished, but there was something strange about him.” Recalling the depths of hate and disgust, the Aggron shuddered. “There was something about his power that spoke to madness, in both senses. I only chased him off by turning it back against him.”

Aaren turned sideways, looking back towards the path he was taking. “These floating stones sound intriguing, but I would rather make a redoubt in these gullies. Being tucked away makes it harder to find, and using the features here just… seems better, somehow.” He scratched idly at his torso. “I do not want to keep you from your business, but I would not object to company in this search.”
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#10
The frown on Io's features visibly deepen, eyes narrowing beneath steel helm. Attacked without provocation... Io wonders what the Gengar had seen in her that made him not attack her (or, at least, attack her seriously) for so long. She draws her thought-wandering gaze back to Aaren. She's not sure if it's just a coincidence that the only other one of her species that she's seen here is the one that had a far different experience--while her mind temporarily entertains the thought that the two are related, she can't even begin to fathom why, so she doesn't pursue it.

"I will keep an eye out for him," Io responds. The steel titan isn't sure what she'll do when she finds him, but it'll start with confronting him somehow, and if it escalated from there... They'd have to see. If the first thing that Rhenlo had done when he'd been awoken was attack without any reason... she's not sure what that says about the rest of his character. Maybe he'd just been dazed, confused. Io leans toward giving him the benefit of the doubt.

Io gestures to his construction with her horns. "Until then... need help?" She'd helped Gawain build his house, so maybe it was only fitting that she help yet another with theirs.
[Image: aggron.gif]
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