Chozo were once a blood thirsty race, ravaged with clan wars during the primitive times. As they grew out of the mire and into civilization, their natural aggression as bird’s of prey remained, a brutality tempered with honor. Then the demons invaded from the heavens. After the Psychic Wars they made sacred oaths to never kill other Chozo.
As they encountered various species across the galaxy, their oaths grew more strict. They went from fighting wars against other aliens to supporting others to fight for them. It wasn’t a hard move to become complete isolationists, uninvolved in any battles whatsoever.
Yet in all of this, they kept their fierce habit of hunting beasts of the ground, air, and sky. Some supposed that hunting dumb animals satisfied their brutality, allowing them to live in harmony with others.
~The Chozo Historian
Argrramus sat upon his throne beneath the harsh winter sky. Invisible shielding cut out the cold wind. It gave the illusion he was at one with nature.
Before him stood Kerrfu, the Empress’ most trusted adviser. She had come to the Counsels on her own to screech her pleas for the last human of K-2L.
Her words were drenched with mental fears for the child, ‘You must do something about this. The human will die under Grrunco’s teaching.’
Argrramus spoke in a tired whisper, ‘Newborn will not die until she has fulfilled the prophesy. So it is written.’
‘This isn’t about prophesy my liege, a child’s life is at stake. The Empress has told Grrunco to break her!’
‘Though it is rare, I very much agree with the Empress’ sentiment in this. If the human girl is not fit to hunt like us, then she isn’t fit to protect us.’
‘She isn’t fit to do anything as we do it! She’s human not Chozo. You must teach her strictly it is true, but it must be tempered with understanding. Such is the way with humans. If she is killed then her blood will be on your hands my lord! The population of Zebes will not be pleased to have lost their chosen one.’
Argrramus tapped his claw in an offbeat sort of way. ‘Fine, I’ll send one of my own to teach her on the side. But I will not cross Grrunco directly. If she dies, he and the Empress will bare the responsibility.”
It was midnight in the Hunting School as the two sparred. One was a tall handsome bird, feathers of green and blue. The other a troubled human, golden hair trailing behind like shafts of light.
There can be only one mother, Plogos thought as he sparred with Newborn. Another mission from another master loomed in the back of his mind, a gnawing that would eventually drive him crazy. But he had made his choice joining with the other males, joining them in pursuing the great Mother Brain. He must complete this simple mission. Win her trust by teaching her, then give her to mother, whose seductive thoughts gnawed in the corner’s of his sanity, like a prowling Sheegoth.
The young human had grown close to Plogos over the months. She was exceedingly grateful for his help. If only she knew of his other side, his darker side. But she wasn’t telepathic, no human was. So Plogos rested his mind when around her, let it wonder towards that darkness, sweet wonderful darkness and in its midst Mother Brain pulling the strings.
Grrunco stood in the shadows watching them spar.
Plogos was Grrunco’s greatest student. He knew how to hunt that was for sure, yet Grrunco sensed great conflict within, passions of light and dark, one of amorphous temperaments. Why the Counsels would choose such an unstable bird to teach their prophesied one was beyond the old talon master. Were their telepathic minds too dense to see the dangers? Perhaps it was the wayward belief in the heretical goddess that tempered them.
No one can serve two masters, Grrunco thought as he sensed the warring thoughts within Plogos, rushing against each other like water and oil. This was the Counsels’ pick to teach one as special as Newborn. Grrunco had no choice but to abide with it… for now.
Plogos was a tower of muscle and strength, the perfect Chozo, natural in the art of the hunt. He taught Newborn with a mixture of understanding that made Grrunco’s skin crawl in distaste. True hunters needed no understanding. What was there to understand but the piercing of talon with skin?
Newborn lunged towards Plogos as fiercely as she could. He jumped easily above, tapping her exposed back with his talon. She tumbled forward in a clumsy heap. His lighter side had taken a liking to the young human. It was a glorious challenge to help her learn a new way to fight.
He spoke to her in a chastising screech, ‘you are fighting me like a Chozo. But you are not Chozo. You are human. Strength does not come easily to your species, even less so to a female. Lucky for you and your kind, Strength is not the only attribute to physical prowess. What is more important than the mass and the strength that moves it?’
Newborn breathed heavily, thoughts enraged and angry. She tried so hard to answer the question, but all she could think about was the scaled dragon’s claw drenched with her parent’s blood. She could see her dull reflection shattered a thousand directions upon those bloody scales.
She screamed in furry and lunged at Plogos who stopped the sloppy onslaught with a talon. At once his telepathic mind picked up the grisly memory of her parent’s death. So graphic was the scene that he released her.
She charged into him with full force pushing his bulk back a centimeter. Again she charged, pushing him back three centimeters. A third time she came and was met with both talons lifting her up into feathery arms. She was plagued with darkening thoughts, just like he was. His lighter side took over, at that moment he loved her fully.
‘I had no idea.’ He cooed.
Newborn burst into tears hitting his feathers with clenched fists. Finally her face relaxed, dark thoughts turning white again. Her mouth opened up and attempted to screech out the proper word, ‘imp-imp.’
‘What is that?’ He asked curiously.
‘She pounds her fist into him and said again, ‘impa, impa.’
He looked deeply into her eyes. They spoke of a soul almost lost and nearly found. Again she pounded her fist into him. He cocked his head and then dropped her to the ground. ‘Yes!’ he screeched. ‘Impact. That is more important than mass and the strength that moves it.’
She nodded her head triumphantly.
‘You see dearest Newborn. You are not strong like me. You cannot rely upon strength to guide your fists and feet. There is something else you can do though, something else that you are capable of mastering. What is the second attribute to physical prowess?’
She smiled and squawked loudly, ‘Dexterity!’
‘Correct!’ Plogos responded enthusiastically, ‘and that dearest is what I am her to feed you, for I happen to be a dexterity cook. By the time we are done you will be very well fed with it.’
Every night, when all were fast asleep, Plogos taught Newborn how to slap the water in such a way she could break wood with her fists. She was moving quicker than ever before.
Grrunco watched in silence bidding his time like a hunter lurking in the shadows.
Grrunco was not pleased with this development. He had not counted upon Plogos’ interference. The student was too soft on the girl which enabled her to adapt and get stronger. This was not the way of the Chozo. He had to accelerate his plans to break her. Then the Empress could do what he knew was best for his people. With their minds off their prophesied salvation well, they’d be forced to go to war and fight for themselves. They’d be forced to break the sacred oaths or parish. If Newborn happened to pass his test, as unlikely as that was, then she and only then would she earn her right to fight for them.
His class gathered around, feet crunching in the early morning snow. He looked out to them, very proud of these hunters. They would make great warriors in the coming war. If only the Counsels would release them with this in mind. He paused at the young human, so out of place and yet she fit herself into them. She adapted to her surroundings as quickly as water, changing to fit in whatever container she was poured into.
He spoke to them, “We are supposed to wait until next year before going through the weighty trials. But you are all doing so well I thought to push on ahead. Yet I cannot have all of you doing this. I will be drawing stones. One of you will be excelled onward, ahead of the class. You will begin to start the weighty trials earlier than the rest. Once the stones are cast there can be no turning back. Do you all agree to this?”
As one they shouted their agreement, even Newborn shouted with them. Challenge was a welcome thing to a Chozo. He cast the stones, slightly altering their course with his mind while they were in mid-air. They landed pointing in one unmistakable direction.
“Newborn please step forward.”
The birds were silent, howling winter wind the only thing heard. The slight frame of the human girl stepped forward. No one argued as Grandfather tied weights on her hands and feet. They had all accepted the nature of the challenge. To denounce it now would be a sign of weakness.
Only two things could release the weights from her body. They were telepathically tuned to the wearer so that only when facing one’s end could it be released. They had also been tuned to detect when the wearer gave up. All she had to do was give up or continue on until she could move no more. It was a simple test, but far from easy to pass.
Plogos did not look happy at the situation. Those who failed were considered weak and shunned for years until they could redeem themselves. Some never did. It was too soon to give this to Newborn, a mere human. He had trained her well. It wasn’t enough! She would be alone in this.
Newborn walked everywhere with the weights, even slept in them. Every morning after her warm ups, Grandfather forced her to fight him. Every time she fell to the ground he added a single gram to her weight. She got beaten up many times learning very quickly that the best approach was not a frontal assault. Surrounding the enemy and striking from behind was the talent that suited her skill best.
No matter how hard he tried, she continued to surprise him, finding an inner determination he thought impossible to humans. He was determined himself. Very soon he would break her. He would see what she was made of.
On the fifth day she was weighed down so much she could hardly move. She felt like a boulder as Grandfather came at her. Even under that impossibility, she tried to dodge out of the way. She just wouldn’t give up.
He rammed her into the ground.
‘Get up and fight!’
Two tears fell from her cheeks as she strained to regain her composer. Again he came about slapping her to the ground. Before she could dodge his attacks, now she couldn’t even do that.
‘Get up and fight!’
Her face turned red with the strain of it. Another hit and she was down again.
‘Get up and fight!’
She just stayed there and began to moan.
Grandfather kicked her harshly and said again, ‘Get up! Fight! Or leave my school.’
Her moan turned into a cry. Her parents… they were dead… never wanted this… never wanted…. She tried to move, nothing. She tried harder and managed to lift a hand up. It fell to the sparing ground, a dead weight. That was all she could do. It was over she was done…
‘Get up! Fight!’
Parents dead… dragon, killed them…dragon.
She cried out a bloody scream of anger and anguish.
The weights sensed her determination, even in the midst of defeat she wanted to move, to fight, to survive. Those heavy fetters she had worn for so long released her. She was free and had become very fast, very deadly.
Grandfather attempted to kick her. His foot contacted empty weights. Before he could cock his head Newborn’s sharp foot jabbed at his back pushing him to the floor. He rolled up and faced Newborn with a grim grin.
About time, he thought.
For many hour-long minutes they sparred. Newborn quicker than his talons could reach. He on the other hand was slapped around like a punching bag.
At last he held a claw up and said, ‘Good and well fed. But I have not given it my all. It is time for me to show you how a Chozo hunts!’
Again they sparred. This time Grrunco was able to dodge her attacks. When she tried to sidestep around him, he kicked her into the air. She made a graceful landing, did a hand spring and twirled onto her feet.
Two old birds watched them fight. They were perched in the shadows high above the sparing pentagon.
The shadow on the left glanced to the right, ‘satisfied dearest Empress?’
The Empress lifted her talon ‘Look there and there. Her form lacks the ability to anticipate. She has eaten a lot of skill true, but she is not yet full.’
The first clucked impatiently, ‘Plogos and Grrunco should be able to feed her what technique she lacks. She is prepared for the hunt. Stupid prey will not be hard for her.’
‘Perhaps. With rabbits she will do quite fine.’
‘Her speed and agility are way past normal human responses. Should we tell her about the Chozo DNA transfusion?’
‘The day she becomes a true warrior we will explain this to her. She will never become such a fighter if she relies on the strength we gave her. She must rely upon her own.’
Plogos and the other students squawked at the girl in delight. They had never seen her move so well, nor had they seen Grandfather fighting so forcefully. She barely dodged Grandfather’s claw to the face and then tucked in like a spring ready to pounce. The body exploded towards the old Chozo. Her yellow mane caught the sun, flowing about like flames of liquid gold. A smart punch to the chest pushed Grandfather back a few meters.
The Empress said to Kerrfu, ‘I think they have hunted long enough now.’ She dove down landing with a loud crack between Newborn and Grandfather. Grrunco and his students bowed five times. Newborn just stood there panting.
The Empress glanced at Newborn below her feathery brow, ‘What’s the matter New Born. Don’t you wish to bow to your Empress?’
Newborn stared at the tall bird, gasping for air. ‘You are not Empress to me. I am hu-hu-human.’
The tall Empress stepped forward, placed a claw on her, and spoke with solemn severity. ‘My dearest human you eat our knowledge and wisdom like a Chozo does.’ the Empress glanced at Grandfather and asked, ‘Are you hurt?’
‘No my Empress, but I am much winded.’
‘Speak truthfully Grandfather. Have you broken her?’
‘In truth my Empress… her punches have stung me. I did not expect her to be able to hit this hard. She is indeed broken for the hunt.’
‘You should be pleased. The bruises you bare are complements from a satisfied student who has eaten well from such an excellent teacher.’ The Empress twitched her eyes at Plogos when she said this.
The Empress caressed Newborn’s blond tresses and looked again at the child’s s steely gaze, ‘Dearest New Born you not only eat like us, but you are beginning to hunt like us. I had sent Grrunco here to break you. Kererfu believed that love and understanding are the only way to teach humans. I had not counted on her interference with Plogos. In either case it seems we were both right. Through Plogos’ love and Grandfather breaking your weakness, you are becoming a Chozo through and through. Now I think it is time that you learn your manners and bow.’
Newborn frowned up at the old bird stubbornly.
Kerrfu left her perch and landed swiftly beside the girl. ‘She is giving you a complement Newborn. I would take it and bow. Don’t be rude now.’
Newborn opened her frowning lips and spoke, ‘Why do you call me New Born like hatchling fresh from egg? E-everyone c-calls me Newborn, changer of of…’
The Empress lifted her claw off the girl chidingly. ‘I will call you what everyone thinks you are when you have earned it. You still have a long way to go before your brain grows fat with the ways of the hunt. I will call you Newborn the moment you have proven your worth.’
At this Newborn’s face softened. ‘I agree… Empress.’ She then took five stiff bows.
The Empress smiled at this, looked towards Kerrfu and said, ‘Her humility and longing for a challenge has spoken well of her. She is indeed ready for the Feast of Hunt.’