Mali? He’ll be fine. Someone will drag him back to the ship in a few hours, he’ll have a sheepish expression on his face and we’ll just have a hundred or so pages of paperwork to fill out for damaged property
|Name Ait’ Mali-taj
|Appearance Ait’ Mali-taj is an innocent and somewhat simple goofball. Tall and wiry under bulky and unassuming clothes, he has shoulder length raggy hair that is usually left alone, unless he happens to come across a Matriarch who thinks enough is enough and tries to groom him a little bit.
Always smiling, his cousins like to tease him and say if he were ever to gain a namesake, it would probably be Ait’ Smile-taj. He laughs it off as he does other jokes, with easy amusement and no hard feelings.
Mali has multiple tattoos on his bodies, creatures he has wrestled with and have considered particularly challenging. One is hulking gray beast on his back with stunted wings and large wicked horns, another what could be considered a Pernese blue dragon on his left chest, and something sinuous and spiky on his right chest.
|Personality Ait’ Mali-taj is not interested in politics and power. He quietly assumes that the Matriarch’s will take care of his best interests, and spends most of his time following around his small caravan, more than willing to follow orders and direction.
He is a cheerful and happy person who delights in traveling the world and meeting others in the Nexus. He has a particularly (re:ill advised, his cousins say) unusual tendency of liking to wrestle animals larger than himself. This nomad is able to take defeat well, and often finds them as interesting opportunities to increase his own strength and prowess. But don’t let his humanoid form fool you, Ait’ Mali-taj is much stronger than he appears.
|Ability Ait’ Mali-taj is a Ait’ Taj nomad, but does not seem to have any obvious talents when it comes to genetic manipulation. Although all nomads are long lived and stronger than the ordinary human, Ait’ Mali-taj is incredibly strong, able to wrestle dragons and beasts ten times his size. Some of the matriarchs wonder if this is how his genetic ability displays itself: allowing his physical form to ‘match’ the strength and dexterity of opponents.
The Taj tribe are nomadic, not quite immortal travellers who are dispersed through the Nexus as well as other pocket dimensions. They are humanoid, hard to kill, and a little bit stronger, faster, and smarter than the average mortal. They are gifted in genetic manipulation, although skills can vary from individuals. Some possess minor healing, while others are capable of seeing and altering DNA at a genetic level. All Taj tribesmen are bound by a slightly obscure code of ethics where they do not meddle with the lives of individuals, but are eager to seek out new “opportunities” to add to their data banks. It is not about creation, but collection.
The Taj tribe also have an odd genetic quirk that is dominant in all tribesmen: in the right light, their hair appears molten gold.
All Taj tribesmen follow the same naming convention: Ait’ [True Name]-taj. Matriarchs who lead the tribe have true names and also namesakes, mostly after personality traits or features. Ait’ Pillar-taj’s namesake is Pillar, due to her role in society. (They are not the most creative when it comes to namesakes).
Spoiler: Yes, that very specific shade of molten gold.
The Re(?) Opening of the Refugium
- “We’ve received approval to dock at the Hanger Bay”
- “Finally? How long has it been, two months?”
- “There must be a reason”
- The co-pilot snorted. “Increased security is never a good sign. Are you sure we need to visit this space station?”
- “We’ve lost weeks in our schedule, we might as well take a break, refuel. Pick up supplies. Some of the younger ones seem bored. It would be good for them to get some fresh air, stretch their legs.”
- Another snort. “This is a luxury private space vessel on loan, there is nothing the ship doesn’t have.” Muttering about ungrateful children, the co-pilot let out a harrumph of noise as he began to guide the ship to the dock. “They pay the bills, who are we to complain?”
The Puppy Should Not Be Let Out Without a Leash
- Ait’ Mali-taj stepped off into the dock and stretched, feeling muscles and tendons crackle and pop. The air smelled like rich ozone and something else, something that demanded attention.
- “Remember, credits have been loaded into your purses, Ait’ Pillar-taj and her party will be heading to the Embassies, a smaller team to the centre of Janos City for trading. We have received permission to dock for two days, two days only. Don’t be left behind, and don’t make me put in the paperwork to return for you.”
- Ait’ Mali-taj was barely listening as he nodded his head, bouncing slightly from foot to foot as he eyed the city. He had no responsibilities, no tasks assigned for this visit to this new space station. All he had was two days to do what he wanted, explore where he wanted, and maybe find some new and interesting partners to test his strength.
- When the crowd began to disperse, Ait’ Mali-taj took the opportunity to slip away. The more interesting partners would not be in the main crowds, not in the main hustle and bustle of it all, they would be too big (he hoped).
- Two days to explore this new world! Ait’ Mali-taj was excited.
- The senior nomad watched as the tall youth with raggedy hair peeled away from the group, and scowled. “Is it safe to let him off by himself?” she asked no on in particular.
- “Mali? He’ll be fine. Someone will drag him back to the ship in a few hours, he’ll have a sheepish expression on his face and we’ll just have a hundred or so pages of paperwork to fill out for damaged property.”
- The senior nomad groaned. “I swear, that boy needs a leash when we’re out in public.”
The Puppy Goes On An Adventure!
- Ait’ Mali-taj had a sneaking feeling that he was lost. He had left the area with the tall buildings, and the new neighborhood he was in felt plush, rich. Low houses, some with curves of glass refracting light, others full of tall trees and bushes that smelled sickly sweet. He wandered through what could only be an area full of influential and rich people, and decided maybe new, large and interesting partners to fight and test his strength would not be found here.
- ::Gold:: Vision the myrmex projected the word, and then a flash of color that was not too different from the molten gold of a Project’s eyes.
- “Do we have visitors?” Savas asked. Shy had been (surprisingly) on very good behavior, having chosen to make his presence discreet, and allowing Mieka and Savas to handle the day to day operations at the Refugium.
- It would not do, not with the more recent ‘theft’ of an egg, to advertise their relationship with the Death Court.
- ::Gold:: Vision sent through the word again, followed by a slight pause. ::Gold?::
- ::Not family. Different:: Oculus observed. The warrior myrmex stood, eyes blinking and wings rustling. ::Threat?:: there was something almost a little bit hopeful from the warrior’s voice.
- “I am also a little bored, Oculus.” Savas chided. “But I do think it will endear us to the Board if we go around attacking and accosting visitors.” They stood from where they had been lounging by the outdoor bath. “But I do not think it would hurt for us to take a look.”
- ::Would you like me to join you?:: Observe asked.
- Savas paused. “I don’t think this will be dangerous.” The Project wondered idly if they would end up regretting their words.
- It was the sound of wings, a slight drone in the air that caught Ait’ Mali-taj’s attention first. Something small and dark that flew straight up from one of the residences, into the air and towards him, stopping just far enough that the nomad was at two arms’ length.
- Ait’ Mali-taj stopped. “Hello.” he greeted, ever cheerful and ever positive.
- ::No threat:: Vision sent back privately to Savas. ::Seems like…::the drone paused, and sent back an image of a fluffy golden retriever wagging their tail enthusiastically. ::Like this.:: Vision was quite pleased at how well they had analyzed the situation.
- Oculus burst through the trees, flying up out of the green foliage to land in front of the potential threat. They stood, tall and proud, wings vibrating just a little bit, head held high.
- Savas almost missed the exchange, having decided to take the main doors. She stepped out into the streets just as Oculus and the strange humanoid crashed into each other, a flurry of wings.
- ::It’s fine:: Observe’s voice cut through the wave of alarm. ::They are … playing?::
- Savas noticed then that the warrior myrmex was using their main paws, the sharp scythed limbs held carefully away so as not to cause damage. The human also seemed to be smiling, amusement on his face.
- Vision sent through another projection, two golden retrievers tussling in a field of grass, and Savas laughed.
- “I think you are correct.”
The Puppy Makes Friends
- It was half an hour or an hour later, grass stains on both the human and the myrmex, both looking quite pleased and exhausted that Savas found themselves sitting across the human by their pool. Mieka had been alerted, but the ambassador seemed to be having her own problems (something about paperwork to bring in more candidates from the Labs).
- How interesting, Savas noted, that the voices were silent. They did not think the whispers did not have anything to say. Just that… they did not want to say anything.
- How interesting.
- “My name is Mali.” the youth introduced himself, and Savas noted at the odd glint of molten gold that seemed to shine from his hair when it hit the light.
- How interesting.
- “Savas.” they responded. “You have already met Oculus and Vision. That is Observe.” they nodded towards the queen who seemed quite amused from her position in the gardens.
- Mali’s eyes lit up at seeing the queen myrmex, and Savas could see the wheels turning.
- “It is not polite to fight a queen myrmex.” they interjected. “Are you a soldier?” Maybe a trainee soldier, from one of the other embassies?
- Mali shook his head. “I am an Ait’ Taj nomad.” he said, and Savas wondered if that was a name they were supposed to recognize. They filed it away. Maybe Mieka would know, she was more involved in diplomacy. Or Ari.
- No the whispers warned, and Savas decided maybe Shy’s aide did not need to know about this new arrival at the Refugium.
- “And why are you here?” they asked. The whispers, they had something they wanted to suggest, and Savas tilted their head, trying to listen.
- “Our Matriarch is here to meet with the Board, initiate an exchange on knowledge. We drift throughout the Nexus, and have thoughts on setting up a hub here at the Refugium.” Mali’s words were polite, parroted, and Savas had a feeling that someone had tasked him to memorize them.
- The whispers gained form, gained credence, and Savas smiled. How interesting they noted again.
- “And you are here to, fight?” they prompted.
- Mali’s expression was sheepish. “To explore.” his gaze cut away to Oculus who seemed happy to have wrestled with the much smaller human. “It is fun, to find new friends. I like to meet people who are stronger than me, test my strength.”
- ::Very strong:: Oculus noted. ::Not human::
- Savas leaned forward in their seat. “There is a very interesting group of dragons at the Refugium” Udraku the voices continued to whisper. “Massive, they could grow forever, large beasts who are telepathic and some would probably also like to … make new friends.”
- Mali leaned forward in his seat, his body language echoing Savas. The Project wondered if it was deliberate, and then decided from their short time with this nomad, he probably did not have the wiles to do something so deliberately.
- “The Udraku. There are some here right now, at the swamp biodome. Would you like to visit?”
A whipcord flash of white zipped through the candidates, racing straight toward Ait’ Mali-Taj. Something sprang from the ground, tiny wings unfurled and mouth agape as it slammed into Mali’s chest. Mali reeled back an inch and caught the creature, wrestling it away from him with a broad grin.
:: I got you! :: the hatching squealed. He was a petite male grey so light he could have been mistaken for white. He thrashed his tail against Mali’s arm, wriggling wildly in his grip. :: I’m Zilenzo and I think you’re cheating. ::
“I’m just a lot bigger than you,” Mali replied.
Zilenzo narrowed his eyes, his toothy smile broadening. :: For now! ::
Mali laughed and set the hatchling down. “I’ll race you to the food.” He didn’t wait a pause before rushing toward the feeding table.
Zilenzo shrieked and hurried at Mali’s heels.
Hatchling Length: 1’5″
Adult Height: 14′ at shoulder
Abilities: Telepathy, Verbal Speech, Breath Weapon: Light, Breath Weapon: Smoke
Zilenzo has an insatiable lust for life and adventure. He loves the challenge of friendly competition and one days hopes to be as good at wrestling large beasties as Mali! He admires his bond immensely and will mimic Mali’s decisions for good or ill. Zilenzo is a loyal and enthusiastic young dragon, brimming with zany ideas and fanciful dreams of an adventurous life. He’s always looking for the next big thrill. Zilenzo can be somewhat impudent and gets ornery when he’s told not to do something. He’s likely to get into trouble just for the spite of it!