The most anticipated festival by the youthful Chozo is the Feast of Hunt where creatures such as the Brood and the Shriek Bat awake from hibernation. It is a war between sentient being and beast. The Chozo word for hunt and war were once the same. Until the Sunborn One came from the sky and taught them a new word for war. That word was ‘Shamsus’.
This is pronounced “Samus” in our language.
~The Chozo Historian
Newborn looked deeply through the thick foliage of the Arahn Forrest. Distant bird calls told her the hunt was going well for most. It had already been two days and she had yet to kill something worthwhile. She was getting quite desperate.
Grandfather and Plogos both warned her not to stray too far from the paths they had set for her. They gave her a list of animals to attack and ones to avoid. She tried to follow the list, she really did, but chasing after giant butterflies and docile rabbits could only be so much fun. What good was a hunt if the prey didn’t bother to chase you back? So, for reasons of human curiosity and boredom… she strayed towards the wilder hunting grounds.
A baby Sheegoth rummaged through the leaves about a meter high, pimple-horns on his frontal shell. His back was the only vulnerable point one could attack. They were pretty easy to kill for an experienced Chozo. The normal hunting skill was to face one, allow him to charge and jump over attacking his vulnerable back. Newborn wished to try a different approach. She waited for him to expose his back to her, blinked her eyes five times and pounced. In mid air she prepared her fist to break through the skin.
Impact is more important than the strength that wields it, Plogos’ teachings reminded her. Newborn’s whole body tensed as her fist bore down upon the beast. The lazy Sheegoth shifted causing the point of impact to move. She grunted in frustration then screamed once her hand made contact against the tougher shell of his front side.
The beast joined her scream with a sudden growl. A quick thrust upwards bucked her off and onto the ground. She clammed her mouth shut upon impact and rolled onto her feet. Turning around she saw the Sheegoth charging her. He gave her the most hideous look she had ever seen, full of pure malice and hatred. She willed herself to flee, yet couldn’t move a muscle, mesmerized by the hypnotic hatred of the Sheegoth.
The roar of the monster was cut off by a red and brown blur that pinned the beast against a tree. Plogos screeched in the Sheegoth’s face attacking his back with talons. Dark red blood splashed about as the beast moaned, thrashed, and died. The Sheegoth’s stare was a dead haze then, void of any malice.
Plogos perched nearby Newborn, crimson feathers bristling around angry gray eyes, ‘Why did you stray form the path? Only a Chozo with claws can assault such a beast. I told you that! Why didn’t you heed my warnings? There is no honor lost in hunting smaller prey.’
Newborn had never seen Plogos so angry. ‘I’m sorry great hunting cook.’ Was all she could stutter out.
‘You are not fit for this Hunt. You never were fit. Leave before you get yourself killed!’
Tears began to fall off her cheeks unbidden. She turned away in shame and ran as fast as she could. Her mental compass pointed her east towards the Memento Sea. The vision of her parent’s death flashed through her memory… a bloody talon… her dull reflection on its scaly hide… bitter laughter… and then the dragon’s inhuman eyes, full of malice and hatred. Like the Sheegoth’s, yet surrounded with a sinister intelligence.
She stopped and leaned against a tree. Short breaths of fear trembled throughout her being.
She thought of her old name before being adopted by the Chozo, before she felt so light on a planet twice as small as earth… before space pirates invaded her home on planet K2-L and murdered her parents. Eight earth years ago Newborn remembered herself as the sweet three-year old little girl named Sarah Drillsmith. Even at so young an age, her photographic memory served her well.
Sarah’s Father was a minor for the Galactic Federation. She didn’t see him much. When she did it was like Christmas. Deep in the files of her brain, embedded behind her subconscious she remembered him….
Father held Sarah in his lap as she played with colorful blocks. Her mother caressed her forehead tenderly. They were watching a very old movie, one of the many timeless classics that had survived the human’s expansion into space.
Two sword masters were fighting each other, one of them dressed in black. At first the one in black was winning until the other stopped him and said, “I am not left handed.” He immediately switched hands defeating the man in black who retreated… that is until the man in black told the other…”I am not left handed either.” Father laughed at this, a deep rumbling laugh that shook Sarah from head to toe.
She meditated on this, her father’s lap, her mother’s caresses. Newborn’s breathing slowed down. She was no longer crying, no longer afraid. What was it those men held in that movie? A weapon.
She thought about how Plogos attacked the Sheegoth with his talons. The Chozo don’t fight with weapons. She held her own stubby fingers before her eyes. Humans on the other hand… nothing of ours can really cut flesh. She searched around for something, anything she could use.
She saw a sapling tree two meters high, the sprouted seed of an Arhan Tree.
The light gravity on planet Zebes allowed the planet to have much larger and taller trees. Because of this the trees did not need very large roots in order to support the small weight of their enormous mass. It did not take long for her to pull the sapling out of the ground.
She then began to clean off the twigs and branches of her new weapon. A bow staff twice her height was the final product. Seeing how impractical so tall a weapon was, she sought a way to break it in half. Stabbing the bow between two rocks she bent it until it snapped. The break was a clean diagonal swoop creating two very sharp spears. With both spears in hand she ran fast, away from the Memento Sea and back towards the hunting grounds.
Perspiration dripped off her face set with eyes blue as the oceans of Earth, hair as wild as the sun. Her ears throbbed with the alien sounds of the forest. Nothing registered as hostile to her, but something told her to be wary. She slowed down to a trot and then a walk. Quiet fingers pulled back a leaf the size of her body.
She beheld an opening in the trees, decorated with bleached bones of large animals. Spots of white goo littered about the ground. A crisp clicking noise, much like the purr of a forest cat sounded above her. Newborn lifted her chin and saw a nest of Shriek Bats hanging gently below the branches.
Shriekers were not very fond of other species. Highly territorial and aggressive these blind rodents would dive at any sort of movement. The size of the intruder had no bearing on their vicious attacks. Kerrfu once told Newborn an old story about Brroch the Wingsinger who came across a swarm of them while flying over the Arhan Forrest. It was recorded that dozens rammed into him heedless of their own lives, all for the sake of protecting the nest. Only when he flew far away did they stop.
These bats were highly prized for their succulent meat. Killing one whose wings had not been deformed was a prized symbol of dexterity. This meant you were quick and silent enough to take it out before it ran into something and mutilated its wings. Thier suicidal tendencies made them a bit harder then Sheegoths, though not quite as dangerous to the Chozo. For an eleven-year old girl they were both difficult and dangerous. These were no docile butterflies. Newborn’s eyes grinned at the challenge.
She picked up a rock and chucked it hoping the sound would draw their attention away from her. Three things happen in response: Newborn grunted at the effort of throwing the rock as hard as she could, the rock hit a tree sending a few young Shriekers that direction, the rest of them torpedoed towards the noise of the grunt.
Five smashed into the ground Newborn was standing on moments earlier. The bones of their brittle wings snapped like twigs. Four rammed into the tree barely missing the foot that ricocheted off. She ran away from the clearing. All Newborn could hear was high pitched sounds growing louder and louder as the bats torpedoed towards her. She dodged behind trees and boulders, anything to throw them off.
Finally the noises were dying away. She turned around to find the bats had quite the chase and were flying back to their unprotected nest. Her eyes squinted with a determined frustration. Giving her best Chozo hunting cry she lunged forward and let fly one of her spears. It missed a Shrieker by two meters. The Shrieker screamed at the shaft and dove towards it. A second spear pierced it in midflight, this time with Newborn in tow. The girl landed on the ground smiling at her pierced Shrieker with idiotic glee. Its wings had not been crushed.
Across the galaxy trillions of Chozo celebrated their own versions of the hunt using a mixture of animals from all around the Chozo Empire. On Zebes millions gathered around the globe, and in the capital of Chozodia beneath the red moon thousands came to feast upon their kill. The largest trees of all Zebes resided there. Because of the light gravity many stood taller than the tallest skyscrapers. The oldest of them was more than ten thousand Earth-years old. The bird-like Chozo fluttered and screeched about the many communal hearths, busy with eating and cooking. Young hunters came in with their kill which was swiftly roasted and then served to family and friends.
One very tall and muscular Chozo dragged the carcass of a rather large Brood to a secluded make-shift hut on the out skirts of the ancient grove. A female Chozo glanced at the tall hunter with open admiration. On a whim she telepathically sent thoughts of mating his way. Two passing males picked up the scented idea and looked at her. Their eyes glittered hopefully for she was very beautiful.
In contrast the Chozo dragging the Brood didn’t even notice her thoughtful call. He just continued onward like nothing had happened. The female crowed and lunged towards him with the intent of getting his attention, even if it meant knocking some sense into him. He didn’t flinch as one of her talons slapped his shoulder. In frustration her mind perceived no cognitive thoughts within, much less those of the romantic kind. There was nothing inside but blank and dull personifications of some abstract power.
He looked into her lovely feathered’ face as if it were a smooth plain wall. He spoke in a dull monotone voice, ‘Excuse me I am well fed. And you?’
He said this with indifference and then walked away dragging the Brood’s carcass behind like a beast of burden pulling a plow.
She was mesmerized by his blank face and thoughts. Nothing complicated, just simple and to the point ideas that served no purpose and met no needs. The indifferent male entered into a tall dark tent with his kill. A high pitched voice screeched out his name, ‘Kraagon? Is that you Kraagon?’
‘It is me. I am eternally fed.’
‘I likewise am eternal.’
‘How is the Mother?’
‘She is hungry and we must feed her.’
‘I have brought food for us.’
‘Is that all you have brought her?’
‘All that I am is her’s to have.’
The high voice clicked his tongue, ‘She already has you Kraagon. She needs more.’
‘What more can I give her?’
‘You can give her other males like yourself.’
‘I have been talking to one such male. He should be here soon.’
A low hum rang forth, erupting a dark-blue flame that played with the shadows. In the midst of the shifting darkness a short gray Chozo sat beneath a highly decorated red and gold hood. Kraagon threw the meat on the mysterious fire as the gray bird watched with shifting eyes.
Red moonlight entered the dark blue room. Both turned and beheld a beautiful Chozo with dazed eyes and a curious open heart.
‘Why didn’t you notice me when I sent my mating call?’ She asked.
Kraagon looked at her dumbly. The shorter one shifted his eyes towards her and smiled in a friendly manner. ‘Come child sit. Sit by the fire. I will explain.’
She hesitated. Something was wrong with the fire. It was too dark and blue. Fire should be bright orange or yellow. Something wasn’t right. Her mind warned her that she should leave. In the dark paths of her brain hints of an ancient story came to mind, a story that contained a dark blue flame. That was all she could remember about the old tale. Usually she could remember everything very well. This troubled her.
The old bird touched her leg gently. A numbing sensation spread through her. ‘Sit down child. I tell you the truth, in all the history of our race no harm has ever come to one who sits next to her kind around a fireplace.’
Her mind was dulled by the hypnotic voice compelling her to sit and listen.
‘Long ago before we pursued the heavens there was a race of beings who landed here. Some called them demons but they spoke of peace and goodwill, things that only angels could speak of. Many rejected their teachings, foolishly clinging to a tyrannical belief in the Emanate One. Those who were touched by these angles were compelled to believe. Even after the angelic beings left, forced to do so by the blind, their teachings have remained. They have been passed down many thousand years from one male to the next.
‘The first teaching: Peace comes only when there is no conflict. The second teaching: Conflict comes when there is no peace. The third teaching: All conflicts can be resolved by destroying those who stand in the way. Another further teaching, one that I like very much, is this saying, maybe you’ve heard of it: Multiple females cause conflict.’
The short old Chozo touched her gently with his gnarled talon. ‘You see Kraagon here doesn’t notice your colorful beak, your lovingly ruffled feathers, your beautiful dark eyes, your soft graceful form. He doesn’t notice any of these things because he doesn’t need you. He has Mother.’
Before the lovely Chozo could understand the short male’s words or their meaning, a large talon grasped her neck and broke it. It was only when reaching the afterlife that she even thought about screaming.
‘Nicely done Kraagon. Conflict is being resolved. Now throw it into the flame.’
The tall form of Kraagon lifted the limp female off the ground. He stared at her soft form with shifting lively eyes.
‘Kraagon! Into the flame. Throw its body into the flame.’
Kraagon looked at the short old bird with hungry searching orbs, a soul that was thirsty and longing for what could not be had. The old bird looked deeply into those eyes. He was reminded of himself long ago. Gently he placed his hand upon Kraagon’s leg, telepathically reminding him of their mission. The hungry eyes of Kraagon withered into a dull numbness.
‘You had to do it Kraagon. You had to. There can only be one Mother.’
The flap of the tent opened up to reveal a conflicted male Chozo. This one was taller even then Kraagon. He stepped forth near the dark blue flame. The short old Chozo smiled at him, ‘Plogos! So good to see you! Please join us around the fire here.’
Plogos’ was surprised at this for he hadn’t yet told the old bird his name. Lively eyes became dull at the old bird’s touch. Plogos opened his beak and sang in an off-key fashion. ‘I have made up my mind. I want to be with Mother Brain.’
‘Of course you do.’ Replied the grimacing old bird, ‘All men wish to resolve the conflict women impose upon us. Welcome to the Fellowship of the Dark Flame.’