Date: September 8, 2011
Meruin is hired to protect a slave trader and it seems that Junan is the reason that he'd thought it'd be necessary.
"The Giant and The Spider"
The Desert of Knives
As the sun has risen in the Desert of Knives, a horse-drawn caravan can be seen heading through the area toward San Sara Duruta. The largest part of the wagon seems to be a cage of some sort, its bars a mere six inches apart each. Upon further inspection, one will find that a burly man sits at the helm of this caravan, leading it forward, and several guards armed with swords and knives sit atop it. Inside the cage itself, about thirty strong-looking young men are chained up. They appear to be bruised and broken of spirit, heading toward their new lives as slaves.
Just ahead, directly in the path of this caravan, an enormous, muscle-bound man adorned in clothes one might think would be rather hot in the desert stands. A faint smirk rests on his face as he waits for the approaching wagon. "We must begin somewhere," Junan says as he reaches into his a pocket in his trench coat, withdrawing two shuriken.
Meruin sat betop the cage that held the slaves, the nine year old's small form unmoving and watching the horizon as they moved to the creak of the wagon and the wind. His headband was not with him, making him look like any other child with his eyes of swirling mists and colours henged into an eye color matching the hue of the sand. His clothes changed, as well, for those that matched the garb od the desert slavers. He was simply one of their kids, though it was an odd place to see one.
"You, ahead, move out of the way!" the burly man at the helm of the caravan calls. He motions to one of his hired hands, who immediately stands with a bow in hand and fires an arrow directly at heart of the man standing in their path. "You bloody sandworm! Move!" the slave trader yells out furiously. Who would dare get in his way? He's got to make it to the market to sell these slaves.
As the arrow is fired his way, Junan throws the shuriken at an angle. They curve around slice the ropes holding the horses to the caravan, causing the front end of it to fall to the sand. The arrow is actually grabbed out of mid-air like a toy thrown by a child to his father, its tip about three or four inches from the enormous man's face where he stopped it. Bringing the arrow down to waist level, he breaks it half, keeping the sharp end in his hand. "You call that a shot? My grandmother shot better than that when she was old and blind?" his calm voice rings out as he looks up toward the halted caravan.
As the horses run from the caravan, the hired hands leap from the caravan, preparing for a fight.
Meruin watched all, sand colored eyes unshifting as the wagon's progress abruptly slowed without the aid of their horses. The other hired guards made their way to their positions and Meruin rose to his feet in a single supple motion, making no untoward movements just yet. No, he fixed his sights on Junan, gaze taking in all but giving nothing away. There was trouble here.
Paying no attention to the boy on the cave, Junan runs straight into the gauntlet of men hired by the slave trader. The first thing he does is leap, driving his knee into the chest of the man who fired the arrow, driving him to the ground and driving the arrow into his throat. "I believe that belongs to you," he says before standing to his feet and dusting himself off as the mercenaries make a circle around him. "Good morning, gentlemen. I do hope you enjoyed your last sunrise," the enormous man says with a smirk.
This was enough. Meruin's arm gave a brief flicker and two shuriken shot from the sleeve of his shirt, spiralling through the air with an excessive speed. He then took flight, leaping high into the air, his course taking him into an overarching arc that let him land in an easy crouch a few feet away from the head of the now dead hand. He stood and gave simple words. "You should leave."
Seeing the shuriken coming his way, Junan sidesteps them, bringing his right foot in a powerful roundhouse to the jaw of one of the mercenaries. "Is that right?" the large man asks as he looks to the kid who has now joined the fight. "That's probably more what you should do, kid. I've made this desert my home. If you're going to stand in my way, get the hell off my lawn." With that, he drives his knee directly toward Meruin's jaw, intending to daze him momentarily for a follow-up attack.
Meruin's looked to simply take the knee to his chin, the boy's body lifting from ground with the force of the blow and taking sending him backwards into the crowd of hired hands that'd been behind him. What he'd done in truth was pull his head back with the intent of moving it just away from the knee. Unfortunately, it'd come in too quickly, and thus the defensive maneuver performed it's secondary use. It cushioned the blow, some, though it still left him stunned for a moment as he lay where he'd dropped.
"Sorry, kid, but I can't have you getting in my way," Junan says with a faint smirk, sidestepping knives and blows from the mercenaries. He takes a running start, driving the bottom of his shinbone directly toward the temple of Meruin. It might seem a bit cruel, but he's actually just trying to knock the kid out so he can finish off these pawns. "Say goodnight," the large man says as he attempts to deliver a low roundhouse kick-turned-punt to Meruin's skull.
Junan's attack had been nothing but a blow to the chin — and one Meruin had cushioned. The stun proved effective but it was nothing for Meruin to overcome as he heard the enormous Junan rushing in, his words indicating that he seemed insistant on killing the nine year old. 'Odd,' thought Meruin as he abruptly flipped up from the ground to the side, sliding backwards through the sand in a crouch, eyes on the other man. 'I can often depend on that.'
"Transport the cargo," was his command as his body suddenly exploded with a silken covering of fur, four thick spider legs of webbing erupting from his back and slamming into the ground. Twice as long as he was tall, they lifted him from the earth. His hair lifting, rolling behind him in an undulation of it's own volition showed that he was converting his bodily resources into energy to any that knew this facet of his. Obviously, the man had proved dangerous enough to take more extreme measures.
Watching as the kid transforms into a huge spider, Junan blinks. "Well, that's interesting," he says with a smirk. "Kid, I don't know why in the world you're siding with this piece trash. A man that steals another man's freedom deserves nothing but death. You can stand in my way, or you can help innocent souls leave here and go back to their families. The choice is yours." With that, he brings his hands up in seals, and suddenly his enormous body grows even larger, like something one only sees in painting of war deities. As one of the mercenaries leap toward him with a knife, he wraps his trunk-like arms around the man's throat and twists, snapping his neck and dropping him to the ground.
Meruin had changed to deal with Junan as he was, not for…. this massively improved form. He ignored the foolish man who'd stepped forward to get his neck broken as he shifted form once more, putting himself at a place of hopefully comparable strength with Junan. "There is no choice in duty," spoke the boy as the silk fell from his body, dissolving in it's own acids. Chitinous plating covered his form with an abruptness, covering even the strands of his hair, leaving the whole of him garbed in the darkness of the abyss, armor reflecting no light. He looked at Junan with his four eyes as he strained the regenerative juices flowing through his body, spreading them through his system to bring himself to full strength for this confrontation. "Collect the cargo!" was snapped, once more.
"This is not duty. This is just a paycheck for you, correct?" Junan asks, stepping into stance. Watching as the boy is covered more in the body of spider, the large man shows a faint smirk, nothing more than amused and intrigued. "If you hold no loyalty to this man, why risk dying for him? He is but a worthless maggot." He glances to the burly man on the caravan before looking back to Meruin. His enormous muscles seem to tense a bit as he waits for the boy's actions. "Shape your own path, but know that the wrong one leads to a life time of misery and guilt."
"I receive no monetary gain from my work," replied Meruin as he drew his legs together, cinching himself at the heels. "My pay was given to me at my birth, my path shaped even before then. He may not have my loyalty, but those I live for have made a bargain with him. They do. He and his trade is necessary and will continue." His arms lifted slightly to the side, the small boy's palms facing the giant of a man before him. "Leave."
"Necessary?" Junan asks with a laugh. "Pitiful mortal. You are but a blind sheep, a puppet allowing himself to be controlled without argument." With that, he lunges forward, attempting to drive his knee to the boy's chin to stun him as he rattles his armor before actually going to pick him up and slam him down on his knee with extreme force.
A somewhat familiar sequence of events occured as Junan came in with his knee flashing and Meruin looked to simply just take the blow, his abrupt motion with his head having been unsuccessful at evading it once more. This left him unable to perform any action as the hulking man picked him up and slammed him onto his knee with the sound of a dull thud and a pop. Meruin bounced from the limb with the force of the attack but largely… ignored it, twisting his body to land on his feet, already on the offensive, internal organs already healing the damage done. His arms lashed out in a flurry of strikes, black limbs akin to fleeting shadows as poisoned silk joined in the blur of attacks. He was silent, for the moment.
As Meruin comes at him in a flurry, Junan literally just subtely steps around each strike. "I'm warning you, kid. Get out of here or die with them." He suddenly leaps over Meruin ontop of the burly man, driving his enormous fist down on his head. One can hear bones breaking as the man begins to cough up blood and falls over.
Close, but just a hair too far. Every strike he sent, every lash he made slipped just a breath out of reach of Junan's subtle step before he leapt and made for the caravan leader. His gaze lifted, following the man's path until he realized that he was going for the man who'd hired him. He vanished, reappearing next to him on the wagon to stop him but finding that he'd moved too slowly. He was swiftly getting tired of that being the case.
"Mortal is an odd choice of words," commented the boy as he leapt at Junan in a retaliatory attack, a secondary pair of arms sprouting from his torso as he sent yet another flurry of talon-strikes towards the huge man, their numbers doubled so that he threw a literal hundred or so strikes every second when added with the lashing spider silk that joined in the barrage.
Stepping around Meruin's strikes again, Junan chuckles a bit. "For another perhaps," he says as he takes a step back from Meruin. "You have no further need to be here. Your mission is failed. Now leave." With that, he goes to walk around to the door of the cage.
Ever the practical one, Meruin decided that Junan was largely right. He made no attempt to stop the man or to speak to him or to harm him in any further way. He simply let him move to see to the men who'd been broken for slavery. Instead, he turned back to the bleeding and no doubt hemorraging man who'd led the caravan. He brought his own regenerative chemicals to bear, straining them for increase potency and bringing them to his fangs. He found the proper artery at the neck in a moment and struck like a bolt of lightning, injecting the regenerative substance into him and standing to look at Junan again and let the man heal. He'd survive. And there'd be more slaves. There'd been a bargain struck.
"Why do you do this?"
"Because I'm putting an end to people like him. Slave trade is not necessary. A paid worker is better," Junan says as he breaks the lock and opens the door. When he turns back to see Meruin healing the man, he shakes his head. "I don't think you understand." He leaps atop the caravan, running down it with a kunai drawn. He leaps to send a roundhouse directly at the side of Meruin's head as he drives the kunai down in an attempt to drive it straight through the slave trader's skull.
Meruin let the roundhouse kick thud against his head and ignored the strike as it bounced off of the chitinously reinforced skull. Instead, he vanished from sight, reappearing just next to the wagon, the slave trader on his back. He wasted no effort on speech or retaliation, looking, instead, to simply utilize his speed to vanish from view over and reappear further away, over and over until he's escaped with the man, leaving the cargo and the hired hands behind.
As Meruin vanishes to leave, Junan shows a faint smirk. "Finally got the point," he says, turning around with blade still in hand as he faces the remaining hired hands. The screen fades to black…