Merciless Shadows by Legolover-361 250 Years Ago
It all began with the stone.
Pridak had been looking through the wreckage of the Pit, wondering if anything useful might still be hidden beneath the debris, when he came across the stone. It was easy to spot, its soft, golden-yellow glow giving its position away. Intrigued, Pridak came closer -- but a Zyglak was there first, hissing and swinging its spear.
Pridak had no desire to risk being killed by the poison that coated the Zyglak's body and weapon. Even though he yearned to fight, he did nothing as the Great Beings' mistake grabbed the stone and swam into the darkness of the murky waters beyond.
Takadox swam in from the right, looking after the retreating figure of the Zyglak. "What was that about?" he asked; then he noticed Pridak's expression.
"I know that look," he said. "But if you even think that I will come along willingly--"
"Do not worry," Pridak interrupted, his tone becoming suddenly threatening as he spun in the water to point a blade at Takadox's throat. "I was not expecting you to."
It was with a hint of satisfaction that he noted the glint of fear in Takadox's eyes. Fear of his leader. He let the sight soak in; then, with obvious reluctance, he pulled the blade away.
"Anything else to add?" Pridak snapped.
Takadox remained silent, though on the inside he was simmering with anger. Either Pridak missed the sudden fire that burned in Takadox's eyes or he ignored it. "Then we must leave. Now."
So focused was the Zyglak on escaping with its treasure that it did not notice its pursuers... and so focused were the pursuers on their quarry that they did not notice two pairs of eyes watch as they swam past.
The owners of those eyes had only meant to take a short expedition out beyond the immediate area around the underwater city of Mahri Nui; but the sight that now met their eyes compelled them to go just a little further, just to satisfy their curiosity.
"The Zyglak was holding a stone," she said, "a stone that glowed."
Dekar nodded in reply. "Then we follow," he said.
In agreement, both swam into the pitch-black waters beyond, wondering what secrets that glowing stone might hold.
There was a hint of disbelief in Takadox's tone -- and even Pridak was beginning to wonder if the chase had to stop here. He stood at the edge of a hole, looking down into the heavy darkness below. It was so dark, there was no telling how many Zyglak were waiting below -- and even a Barraki was as good as dead against a whole army of them.
But the stone was down there, and Pridak knew it was important in some way. His instinct told him there was something special about that stone, about the way it glowed, even though he had only a vague idea to go on.
He turned to Takadox. "Yes," he said, "down there. Just..." He paused. "Be careful," he finished.
Takadox stayed silent. Pridak turned back to the darkness below, trying to force his quiet, nagging fears away... and he jumped down, ready for anything.
Anything but what he was about to see.
What he could make out through the gloom was horrifying: Bones, weapons, broken pieces of armor... and eyes, numerous pairs of blood-red eyes that every now and again would seem to focus on him, only to turn away again. It made even him shudder. The Zyglak were terrible, fierce creatures that existed only to kill... and here he was, risking his life on what might only be a foolish whim.
He pushed away those thoughts. No, he assured himself, it was not a foolish whim. In fact... it could be the Barraki's salvation.
He took a cautious step forward, and another. Behind him, a gentle, almost inaudible whoosh signaled Takadox's arrival. Another step forward--
The spear came out of nowhere, coming within a hair's breadth of impaling Pridak. It struck the rock wall behind and floated to the side. Pridak looked round the area, noting uneasily as he did so that those pairs of red eyes were turned to him now -- him and Takadox.
And just when he thought that it could not get any worse, it did. He experienced firsthand the incredible power of the Iden Stone.
Kyrehx had decided that, just to be safe, she and Dekar would stay behind a rock and wait for someone to come out of the hole in the ground. As it turned out, it was a good thing they had done that, for what came out of the darkness obliterated all expectations.
First came the two mutated beings they had pursued earlier, swimming for their lives. Kyrehx was beginning to wonder just what was going on when the thing the beings were fleeing from emerged from the hole.
It was a Zyglak, but a Zyglak so mutated as to be almost beyond recognition. It was larger now, its muscles bigger, its jaws stronger; its teeth and claws looked sharper than ever before. But the worst part was its weapon, a protosteel trident with the center prong jutting out further than the other two.
Kyrehx glanced at the other hand -- and gasped. That hand clasped the glowing stone she and Dekar were after. In that moment all was clear as to what the stone could do. If it fell into the wrong hands... and granted the bearer of those hands incredible power...
She glanced at Dekar. He met her gaze and nodded. They were in agreement: The stone was too dangerous to be kept intact.
Pridak dodged, just barely, a slash at his head from the trident. He leapt back, avoiding another blow, and swam behind a rock. Takadox joined him a moment later, panting and gasping.
"That stone," he panted. "It must have -- no, I know it caused the transformation. Do you know what it is?"
Pridak nodded, his chest still heaving. "It is the Iden Stone. When in contact with a being, it increases that being's power tenfold. If we fail to make that Zyglak drop the stone..."
He let the sentence hang in the air, unfinished. They both knew what they had to do.
"Can you hypnotize that... that thing?" asked Pridak.
Takadox shrugged. "I don't know. But I'll--"
He was cut off by a loud sound somewhere between a whir and a hum. It steadily increased in pitch, until suddenly the rock behind Pridak's back had exploded and he was flying and wheeling through the water with the rest of the debris.
He spun uncontrollably, hitting the rocky ground head-first and tumbling over to land on his side. He struggled to his feet to see the Zyglak charging up another energy blast. This one happened to be aimed at him.
"Now, Takadox!" he cried, and leapt forward, darting through the water toward the Zyglak. With a hiss it fired, the energy blast suddenly leaping from its outstretched palms and zipping so close by Pridak he could feel the incredible heat.
The Zyglak let out a hiss and swung its trident. Pridak ducked under the blow and swam up and around its head, and down toward its left wrist.
He drew his sword and raised it up in the air... but before he could swing, a blast struck the stone, sending it flying off through the water. As the Zyglak cried out and began to shrink back to normal size, Pridak stopped and spun, eyes scanning the water for the incredible source of power he so desperately sought...
Only several meters away rested the stone.
The Matoran were already running toward the object of power. Realizing little time was left, Pridak took off, swimming as fast as he could. He was almost there... he reached out his hand...
Out of nowhere came the blast, striking the stone and sending it flying away, scarred and cracked. Pridak let out a cry of rage and frustration and pushed off from the ground, arms outstretched, hands groping for the prize.
The Matoran would not give up easily. The blue one flung a sword that sliced through the water between Barraki and stone, slowing Pridak down for one crucial second. In that second, the yellow one struck, firing his blaster.
Time seemed to slow as the blast struck the stone dead-center. For a fleeting moment the Iden Stone, now cracked and mangled beyond repair, seemed frozen in time... then a brilliant flash of light, a burst of energy that spread out in all directions, and the stone was gone, leaving only miniscule fragments of semi-translucent debris to mark its passing. Soon even those had vanished from view... and with them went the hope Pridak had held for another chance at conquest.
Pridak yelled in rage and leaped toward the Matoran -- but Takadox reached them first, sliding in between Barraki and prey. As his eyes began to glow a brilliant, somehow hypnotizing red, Pridak backed away in understanding.
The glow intensified for a moment, then subsided, leaving the Matoran in an eerie trance-like state. Satisfied, Takadox turned to Pridak.
"Their memories are so easy to push away," he said, his tone as content as his facial expression. "But if we want to stay hidden from them" -- he jerked his head toward the Matoran -- "we must leave, before the sight of us re-surfaces their recollections of us."
Pridak hesitated for a moment, gazing out to infinity as he pondered what might have been. What might have been, however, was but a wistful dream. He could not ignore reality's call forever, and he knew reality could be persuasive.
With a mental shrug he pushed aside his fantasy. "Yes," he agreed, "let us leave."
Yet even as he swam away, out of sight of the Matoran that now tried in vain to remember what had just happened, he made plans in his head, truly sinister plans of conquest, of power, of a return to glory.
Someday, immense power will be mine. The shadows are merciless... and so am I.
Survival by Grant-Sud
Immediately the orange colored Av-Matoran rushed off behind them, following through with the plan.
“I know. None of us do,” Radiak replied. He paused, staring at the abandoned nest. This area was dangerous, known to inhabit mutative plants and Rahi all transformed from the liquid that poured through the middle of their world.
“I believe our job is done here.” Radiak continued. “All we needed was a closer look. Have you seen any?”
“None. It’s amazing. Just like we assumed, not one left behind to guard the old nest.”
Radiak nodded. It did seem as though the nest was empty. By now, they should have at least seen one of the insect Rahi.
“Photok?” The red colored Av-Matoran called faintly.
Only a few seconds passed before their friend returned.
“Glad you called, we need to get going. Swamp Stalkers all around this area. I’m sure that a few are following me.” Photok spoke quickly, his voice tinted with excitement he couldn’t hide. The Matoran took hold of his weapons, should worse come to worse.
If it had been his way, he would have fought them all here and now just for the fun of it. Radiak thought with a smile. He couldn’t remember the great Toa fully, but he was sure that a leader like Tahu would never have acted so rashly.
As the leader of his own group, Radiak would do his best to follow that example.
“Let’s get out of here. We’ve waited long enough and I haven’t seen any Nui-Kopen even patrolling the nest. I am surprised though. There are plenty of lightvines left in this area.”
“Should we really fly from here?” His other companion asked, gesturing at the thick trees above, “Let’s head back to the opening a few meters behind us.”
Radiak shook his head. “Swamp Stalkers are smart. They’ll sit and wait to ambush you. We landed there, but I don’t like going back now. It may already be a trap.”
The three ignited their jet packs where they stood, confident now that the skies would be clear of Rahi on the way home.
“It’s obvious,” the Radiak continued, but with a new worry and a frown, “The Nui-Kopen have relocated elsewhere.”
Across the landscape beyond his eyes was an expanded ocean of mist that completely covered the vast world. Hidden inside the mist lived creatures that sought to feed, waiting for the moment their prey let its guard down in this haze.
To the right of him, a giant waterfall poured itself into the shroud, being devoured by it. For about half a millennia since the Fall, water had begun to breach and drown the world below, creating a swamp that contained too many secrets. After all that time the known world had barely begun to fill.
It was too massive.
This deemed their world both terrifying and beautiful.
A villager had died yesterday.
It was an uncommon thing. Most Av-Matoran knew how to protect themselves in Karda Nui. You learn quickly if you wanted to live in this vast, bright cave.
But that was the second death in a month, a very rare occurrence. Stranger still was the fact that both deaths were caused by the same reason.
The cause was rogue Nui-Kopen searching for food. These very quick and aggravating creatures could, at times, be hostile. But if you left them alone, every Matoran knew, they usually showed you the same respect.
Obviously, these are not normal Nui-Kopen, he reminded himself.
There were already too many other hostile Rahi in Karda Nui, Swamp Stalkers for example. If the Nui-Kopen were going to be a problem … it would make things much more difficult for the Matoran here.
Kirop was the leader of the Av-Matoran settlements, thus he felt as if a solution to this problem should have already been found and solved. At first, everyone had deemed this a-one-in-a-thousand shot. A poor villager had been near a dangerous straying Nui-Kopen at the wrong place and wrong time, just outside the lightvine field. The Rahi had charged him from behind.
The only explanation for the lack of protection against the Nui-Kopen, was the absence of ScareRahi, normally present. ScareRahi were statues made of wood, rock and sometimes flora, of monstrous creatures. They were extremely effective in keeping most Rahi out of the Stalactite Villages.
But what were the odds of that same event, an Av-Matoran being killed in that way, right outside the being’s own hut?
The ScareRahi stationed around the home had been purposely destroyed; something had taken its time, like ruining that statue had been personal.
It could either have been a Rahi, or maybe -to Kirop’s fears- a Matoran.
This worried him even more.
“Kirop? Are you busy?”
The Av-Matoran turned towards his green-tinted brother. Tanma stood upright with his eyes fixed on his leader’s.
“Just thinking,” Kirop replied.
“About the Rahi?”
“It’s interesting, most Nui-Kopen don’t attack us, and even if they do … well, the attack isn’t usually fatal.” His last few words were spoken softly, respecting the dead.
Kirop returned to gazing out into space.
“What I wonder,” Tanma continued, understanding and unbothered by Kirop’s behavior, “Is not only why those Rahi became so disturbed, but also why they were so far from their usual territory?”
Kirop eyes shifted back into focus at those words. He had sent a group of Matoran down into the swamp to check up on the Nui-Kopen hive. If the Rahi had moved from their home, then maybe they had positioned a new hive in the stalactites.
That would explain their multiple and recent sightings, but what about their behavior?
“Tanma, I want be sure this doesn’t happen again. Is Gavla in her hut?”
“I’m pretty sure. She should have just finished with her duties.” He paused and frowned. Tanma personally didn’t understand why Kirop would go visit the icy Matoran.
“I want to ask her about the ScareRahi. If the Nui-Kopen felt threatened enough to strike it, we need to figure out why. She created them. She’ll know.” Kirop said convincingly as he walked past his friend.
Kirop walked quietly into Gavla’s hut. The dark blue Matoran of Light was crafting stone spikes, used to secure the bridges connecting across the wide gaps of the stalactite. If those bridges ever broke while a Matoran was crossing it … there was a reason the villagers took extra care of them.
“Never learned to knock?”
Kirop ignored the Matoran’s remark. Galva was known for having a sharp tone of voice.
“What do you think went wrong?”
She didn’t glance up from her work, but she did reply.
“I have an idea.”
Her companion waited patiently. He’d let her explain it to him whenever she was ready. Pushing for it would only make her pause longer.
“Nui-Kopen feel threatened by the ScareRahi. That’s why it attacked that one.”
Kirop sighed. So she was just deliberately wasting his time.
“No plan either? Fine. Thanks for nothing.” Kirop said in disgust. Even when he just wanted a simple answer from her, she refused to cooperate.
Even as he began to walk out the door, she continued.
“Kirop,” she paused for a moment, until he was willing to turn and look at her, “I think the Nui-Kopen felt threatened by the ScareRahi. It attacked that one because it happened to look like a Swamp Stalker, a Nui-Kopen predator.
“I think it got scared.”
Kirop thought about that for the moment. True, Swamp Stalkers were natural enemies of the Nui-Kopen and that may have solved why the ScareRahi’s was destroyed … but what didn’t make complete sense was its actions. Why attack the Matoran as well?
“So what do you suggest?” Kirop finally asked.
“No idea. But I thought it was worth noting. If I think of anything else, I’ll let you know.” Gavla resumed her work in silence.
He nodded before exiting her hut. He didn’t know why Gavla’s exterior was so cold. She was a great worker, but most just naturally avoided her. And while she did deserve the ridicule, it wasn’t completely her fault.
She was just different for a Matoran of Light.
Tanma stood outside as Kirop approached from inside the quarters. Behind him, stood the three venturing Matoran sent out below. They held interesting news.
“You’re back! Good. How did it go?” Kirop asked in a hurry, ready for this problem to be solved.
“It’s just as we thought, Kirop,” Radiak answered downheartedly, “They’ve moved. I don’t know why, but we can assume it was because of the increase of Swamp Stalkers. Most of their food wasn’t taken with them. Lightvines everywhere.”
“I see.” Kirop stood, reflecting on these new circumstances. They needed to know where the Nui-Kopen had moved to. If these creatures wanted to inhabit closer to the village, or any of the other villages, then no one was safe until they were gone.
Tanma kept his head down in respect as the deceased Matoran was taken inside the hut. They were in a different village now. The death count in this particular village was now two, and the Matoran living here were terrified of the new threat.
Solek stood with a grim expression on his face. He had just been through a huge ordeal. Tanma understood Solek’s fright, but that wasn’t going to stop Kirop from asking him to revisit the scene.
The Av-Matoran, his armor white in tribute to his favorite hero, explained the events. He and his friend had been working in the lightvine fields. Watering them and caring for them so they’d grow stronger.
Then it happened. A swarm of Nui-Kopen charged the field. At least a dozen of them tore into the ScareRahi and continued against the two Matoran. There was no time to defend themselves, nor for one to help the other. Solek rushed into the cabin and slammed the door. His companion had been taken hold of.
Solek’s heart raced as multiple Nui-Kopen struck the house, attempting to penetrate its barrier. Finally as the attacks slowly died away, Solek stole a quick glance outside the shuttered window.
The Av-Matoran had confirmed Kirop’s assumption. The Nui-Kopen had destroyed the ScareRahi; every one of them. Relentlessly striking them in hatred were Solek’s words. Afterward, they flew towards the lightvines, engulfing all of the crop’s light energy before departing.
His unlucky friend had been found right outside the door.
Tanma grimaced at the story he overheard. Things were becoming worse. He could see the fear on the Matoran’s faces. They questioned their own survival. It had taken half a millennium for the Av-Matoran to build a society and live safely. Nothing could hinder them, it seemed.
They were unwelcome here.
They had to be stopped.
For the next few days, Kirop had sent out scouts of Matoran to locate the new nest. They searched all along the villages, flying high and low. After three laboring days, they had finally found it, situated in the same village that was producing most of the lightvines and had already suffered two attacks from the Rahi.
Many weren’t surprised.
In the mean time, another Matoran had encountered a hostile Nui-Kopen. That Matoran had made it out alive, scaring it off with a small blast of light and finding shelter. The reaction from the people was anger. They wanted to strike back, restoring the feeling of security.
When the nest’s position was determined, Kirop began gathering volunteers. A group of ten Av-Matoran would fly directly toward the new and still fragile nest. As of now, its foundation was shaky at best. It was constructed with a few stems of wood and other sticky materials that attached to the stalactite. This would make a clean break easily possible. As it grew, more stems would be added before eventually the whole nest would grow solid in the rock.
With all the Nui-Kopen still looking for supplies in the swamp or above in the sky, Kirop figured about five of them remained to protect the nest at all times. If they struck fast, the mission should go smoothly.
Gavla hammered another spike into the ground and untied the rope connecting to the old rusty one, belonging to the massive bridge. Pulling the rejected spike and placing it in her pack, she inspected the sturdiness of the bridge, walking along the entire structure twice.
It had taken quite a long time for the Matoran to find a material that was strong enough to carry beings as they walked across the sky. And an even longer amount of time to find a material which wouldn’t be eaten by the Rahi inhabitance of Karda Nui.
It seems, that the longer we live here, the thinner the population of Rahi become, Gavla reflected, certain species no longer live here. Either because they’ve died out, or have found ways to escape this place.
That was something the Matoran still hadn’t been able to do.
Glancing to the right of her, she took notice of Photok the guard with weapons in hand, watching across the open sky. It was a new position Kirop had suggested after the second Matoran attack. At first, Gavla personally thought it was ridiculous. One extra Matoran standing and watching for Rahi wasn’t going to help anyone and more importantly it was wasting work potential.
But, she admitted that they did spot Nui-Kopen regularly and she would rather know beforehand if they were going to charge.
Tanma approached the workers a few minutes later. He was recruiting for the departure today.
Gavla tried tilting her head slightly to hear what the Matoran was specifically asking the new guard, but the effort was unnecessary. Tanma spoke with her next.
“You’ve been drafted,” Tanma said with both sarcasm and a smile. “You don’t have to come with us, but Kirop does think you’ll help greatly.”
Gavla looked at him, studying his face. She didn’t reply and just shook her head. She had no reason to go.
She knew what he was thinking. Why her? Why the Matoran who rarely spoke and probably didn’t want to go in the first place? She was a good fighter. That was probably the only reason.
Personally, she wasn’t sure what to think of these Rahi. They were considered threat at the moment, but why they’d suddenly go hostile was beyond her. It was interesting though: Matoran being drafted in an army was the last thing anyone would have suspected.
And her e we used to believe in all good and decency. Whatever that means.
Gavla wanted all this to end. She didn’t enjoy Matoran being killed anymore then a Makuta being forced to become someone’s servant.
Why in the world did those Nui-Kopen decide to travel here anyway? Why cause all these problems?
Gavla looked around the village and towards the other stalactites in the distance.
We ended up moving just like the Nui-Kopen did. And like them, we truly don’t belong here.
Of course, the Av-Matoran had a better excuse. They didn’t plan any of the catastrophic events that took place five hundred years ago. Their population fell into the giant cave without any warning. They had left behind everything. Everything they had worked so hard to produce and care for … gone in a moment.
And the Nui-Kopen? They had no excuse.
Why leave everything behind anyway? Gavla asked herself, hardly caring. But then, she did begin to wonder; why would they leave behind their nest? Why would they leave their shelter, food, water and territory? Why would they even consider it?
Then, her mind began to look through the eyes of a Nui-Kopen. What was it like for them?
“Photok!” She asked sharply to the orange Matoran.
“Yes? What do you need Gavla?” He snapped into position looking ready to serve, he even began to check the sky again, thinking perhaps she had caught something he hadn’t.
Hoping to just a get a straight answer. “Were there any lightvines near the Nui-Kopen nest?”
It took Photok only a few moments to remember.
“Well … we weren’t looking for lightvines, but I can say I did see a lot.” He paused for second, “Yes. There were many. Why do you ask?”
Gavla remained silent, and stared out into the mist.
We are wrong.
Even as she ran towards village that held a surplus of lightvines, Gavla knew she was already too late. The group of Matoran set to launch were gone.
Remembering this was the village that contained the Nui-Kopen nest, the one that had taken the most beatings from the Rahi, only strengthened Gavla’s theory.
“Am I too late?” Gavla asked urgently to a near Matoran. He nodded.
“Yes. Sorry Gavla. You may be able to catch them on the way up though before they attack the nest.”
“The way up?”
“Kirop explained that they were going to venture down below the Nui-Kopen nest and come back up to attack it from the south. The entrance to the nest is on top, so they’ll be hidden longer.”
Gavla did the math. She might be able to stop them if she left now.
Activating the jetpack she wore, Gavla flew off the edge before her companion could ask what was wrong.
Kirop flew north along the rock with his small force. The mist was thick, but he was sure his direction was clear. Only a few more moments, and the nest should be in sight.
That moment came quickly.
“Charge up your weapons, strike fast.” Kirop called to the group. Hopefully only a few direct hits at the connected points would bring the whole nest down. It was still small.
He could see something ahead though. It was a sparkle, a small light that twinkled towards the nest like a falling star.
Light energy from a Matoran. Why would he…
Kirop found the answer. The blast of light was launched directly into the nest’s opening. Immediately the Nui-Kopen swarmed out, looking for their attacker. They were half blinded by the exposed energy.
Everyone in the squad knew it was impossible to follow through now. The danger was just too high.
With an anger that blazed, Kirop called a retreat. Their flight outmatched any Nui-Kopen’s.
And Kirop glanced down in anger as the lone Matoran in dark blue armor, flew away.
Kirop barged into Galva’s hut.
She was working once more.
“Why?” Kirop asked shortly. His voice failed to contain that small trace of fury that poured through his mind. He would make sure she listened to him this time.
For once, Gavla turned to look directly at him. He took it as a challenge.
“First,” Gavla explained calmly, holding up a hand, “Let me say that I had no choice. I wasn’t going to be able to warn you in time, so I had to stop your plan.”
“Stop. My. Plan. Why?!” His voice rose now, “Are you stupid enough to believe we won’t banish you for this? You placed lives at stake!”
Gavla’s gave him a look of rage.
“No. I protected lives. You were wrong, Kirop. Everyone was.”
“What are you talking about?”
Gavla looked on, studying the Av-Matoran. She was surprised just how much he hadn’t thought this through. Of course, none of them had.
“ScareRahi. That’s how all this started. We’ve been so intent on discovering how the ScareRahi failed to work, that we lost interest in the why they were even struck. Why did the Nui-Kopen attack them? Not just the Matoran - that was normal - but specifically them.”
Kirop waited as the Gavla continued. If she had any kind of statement, he’d let her speak it.
“Then I started to think about it. Why did those Nui-Kopen leave their nest, Kirop?”
The black armored Matoran shrugged.
“It was something we never discovered. Maybe it was food, or more likely predators. Swamp Stalkers I’d assume.” He replied easily.
“It is Swamp Stalkers. Photok told me that they had plenty of lightvines. So food wasn’t a problem. But still - that didn’t make sense. Plenty of Rahi fight against one another and never make drastic changes to their way of life. So I realized it’s a combination of both.”
“What do you mean?”
“Those Swamp Stalkers are tricky beings. They wait for hours, watching as their prey gets closer…” She rose and clamped her hands together, “before striking. That’s why the Nui-Kopen moved. They had no way to reach their food, Kirop. Swamp Stalkers would know that Nui-Kopen needed the lightvine’s energy.
“The attacks all happened around lightvine farms, remember?”
Kirop finally sat down, dazed. The pieces were falling into place. The Nui-Kopen slowly lose members of their nest, one by one. They are cut off from all food and have no way to attack their invisible defensive opponents. Their only option, is to move elsewhere.
“So when they attacked the ScareRahi that looked like Swamp Stalkers, it was a move of desperation.” Kirop theorized.
Gavla nodded. “That’s what I assume.”
“They weren’t expanding their territory…” Kirop started slowly.
“They’ve been running from it.” Gavla finished, “Just like we did.”
Kirop nodded in understanding. These Rahi were confused, angered and unsecure in their home, driven to attack others so they could live. But not out of contempt.
It was fear.
An emotion any living being can feel.
The Av-Matoran leader immediately began making plans for these creatures. Maybe with the shift in Rahi migration, it would stop other Rahi from approaching the villages more often.
We may have to move from that village. Maybe leave that stalactite alone for them with the lightvines.
Kirop knew he could be rationalizing out of pity for the Rahi. Moving a whole village for just one group of Nui-Kopen seemed a bit extreme.
But what would have happened if they’d killed those Nui-Kopen? They were the only settlement the Av-Matoran knew of. Without them, who would support the Swamp Stalkers? Would that species die out as well?
What could they do to bring things back into the natural flow?
“I’ve been thinking.” Gavla spoke quietly, interrupting his thoughts, “I was thinking about all those times Matoran asked for help. All those stories of Matoran who were attacked by stronger forces and evil beings, those Matoran only did their job for Mata Nui. It was always their duty.
“And now, we come across beings that are in danger, and through a misunderstanding, we attack them, hardly caring. It makes me wonder how many times that’s happened before.”
Kirop winced at the thought and tried to defend the argument against the one who thought so darkly.
“It was a mistake. It won’t happen again Gavla.” He stood and looked directly at her, “We’ll find a solution for this problem.”
It was a promise.
She nodded, but didn’t answer.
Things aren’t always in shades of black and white, especially in a world of mist. Beings fought for control all across the universe. Beings of good and evil; sometimes neither could be trusted.
Even Matoran of Light, She reflected sadly.
But that’s what it took to live sometimes. Fighting your way out. Catch or be caught. Beings coming to a point of desperation, their only thoughts are turned to survival.
And they will survive, even if it means losing all you stand for. All you care about.
With a shaky sigh, she hoped that never happened to her Matoran villagers. It would lead them to a dark place. One, perhaps, that was inescapable.
Delaying the Inevitable by Toa Smoke Monster
Trinuma walked quickly through the halls of the Order of Mata Nui's fortress, not stopping for anything as he made his way to Toa Helryx's chambers. He had been going over the events that transpired during his last mission when Johmak informed him that Helryx, the leader of the organization, had requested his presence. She had remained silent about what the Toa of Water wanted with him, but from the tone in Johmak's voice, Trinuma could tell that it was urgent.
He, along with another agent with four arms, had just returned from the Southern Continent. There, the two agents had saved a Matoran village from being destroyed in a battle between three Dark Hunters and a dozen Visorak. The mission was almost blown when one of the agents was almost spotted by one of the Hunters. Thankfully, no other incidents occurred, but Trinuma couldn't help but think about this event, for it had put a thought into his head. One he had never had before.
Trinuma entered into Helryx's chambers and spotted the Order's leader looking over a newly craved tablet. To his surprise, Tobduk, a senior member of the Order, was also present. His typical look of rage could clearly be seen through his Kanohi Sanok.
Why have I been summoned?" Trinuma asked Helryx. She took her gaze off of the tablet and looked at Trinuma. In her eyes, Trinuma could see anger and worry, fused together like two Kanoka disks about to be turned into a Kanohi Mask. She then walked up to him and showed him the tablet.
"A Maxilos robot found this tablet lying on the shoreline of the island." She explained. "It is from a group of beings that discovered Daxia. I know not whether it was an accident or on purpose, but I do know that they saw some of our members and other things they shouldn't have seen. They wrote down everything they witnessed on Daxia onto two tablets."
Trinuma knew better than to ask who the group of beings were working with, whether it was the Hunters, Brotherhood, or just a group of travelers. If Helryx didn't tell him, then he didn't need to know.
Helryx walked away from Trinuma and placed the tablet she was holding onto her desk. "Thankfully," she went on. "all of the intruders were killed by Shallows Cats."
Trinuma wasn't surprised by that. Shallows Cats, native to Daxia's shorelines, looked like beautiful, peaceful Rahi. But if one got too close, they would seize the victim and drown him in the ocean. Not even Order Members were safe from these felines.
Trinuma then noticed that something was missing. "Where is the other tablet?" he asked.
"The Maxilos robot that found the first tablet was sent to retrieve the other." Tobduk answered. "It hasn't returned."
"That tablet cannot go into the wrong hands." Helryx said. "Even though I'm confident that Daxia's secrecy is secure, I still want that tablet, just to be safe."
Trinuma could now guess why he had been called by Helryx. "So you want me to go search the island for the other tablet?"
"Not you," Tobduk corrected. "We."
Trinuma and Tobduk left the fortress through it's southern exit point. The sky above was dotted with dark clouds, signaling that a storm was approaching. Neither of them noticed that it was coming. One didn't care about it, and the other was too distracted in thought to notice it.
Tobduk, seeing that Trinuma was lost in thought, slapped his partner in the shoulder.
"Hey!" Trinuma growled. "What was that for?"
"To get your attention, daydreamer." Tobduk replied. "Now listen, we can cover more ground if we split up. You check the east side of the island, while I check the west. Anything that might even resemble a threat, we kill."
Trinuma smiled. "What, you expect me to be a merciful Ussal Crab?"
"Of course not." Tobduk said as he turned from Trinuma and began his march to Daxia's west side. "Merciful Order agents don't live long,...and you're still alive."
Trinuma watched the other agent walk away, then he decided to began his search. He activated his kinetic weaponry, rose off the ground, turned to the East.
Two hours had passed since Trinuma had begun his search. The dark clouds overhead didn't hinder his vision, but he couldn't find any signs indicating that the Maxilos robot had been on the east side of Daxia. Deciding to take a short brake, he floated to the ground and shut off his weapon. He saw a cliff nearby and walked to it. There, he gazed out at the forest and deserts of Daxia. He allowed himself to remember the thoughts he had back in the fortress. The thoughts about the war, and the Order's secrecy.
Roughly five hundred years ago, the Dark Hunters declared war on the Brotherhood of Makuta. Since then, both sides had been striking at each other at almost every place in the Universe. Battles had fought in islands as north as Xia, as south as Stelt, and everywhere in between. Toa, Matoran, and other species had been caught in the conflict. Many of them, especially Toa, had even been killed in these battles.
Unbeknownst to the two warring organizations, the Order of Mata Nui had been involved in the war. Order agents had participated in many of the bigger battles between the Hunters and Brotherhood. Many important lives had been saved thanks to the Order's efforts.
This was not bothering Trinuma, however. What bothered him was that, while participating in the war, the Order had remained in the background of the battles. The beings that created the Order vowed to tell no one of the organization's existence, unless it was necessary. They made this vow so that the Order could focus solely on serving the Great Spirit Mata Nui.
But Trinuma couldn't help but wonder if, perhaps, the Order could do more for Mata Nui if the organization existence's was known to the world. Sure, keeping the Order a secret from others had allowed it to perform actions that others would frown upon. Trinuma, however, couldn't help but feel that, if the Order was recognized, they could focus more on the war currently wrecking the universe.
"Tobduk and I wouldn't have to hunt for some tablet to keep Order's secrecy safe if everyone knew about us." Trinuma thought. "Then we could be more useful to those that need us."
Trinuma's musings were interrupted by the sight of something he recognized at the bottom of the cliff. Surprised by what he saw, he jumped off the cliff, activating his kinetic weaponry in midair to slow his fall. He landed gently next to the object in question. Yes, it was what he thought it to be.
"A Twin-Bladed Black Fire Sword." Trinuma said quietly to himself. This kind of sword was carried by Maxilos machines. This particular sword was broken in two, with one of it's blades missing. The nine foot tall being could tell that something had attacked the robot. Something monstrous.
Trinuma searched the area for the Maxilos' body. There was no sign of it. What he did find was drag marks on the ground next to the sword. They led away from the weapon and into the forest.
"Whoever, or whatever, attacked the Maxilos dragged it away." Trinuma thought. Activating his weaponry once more, he rose off the ground and followed the drag marks. He pulled out his shield as he flew. He knew that he was going to have fight the creature that took the Maxilos, and only one of them would likely survive.
Trinuma followed the trail for at least a mile. Just when he was about to give up, he found the Maxilos' Cordak Blaster. It had what appeared to be bite marks and scratches slashed into it. The scarred weapon made the agent more hesitant, but at least he knew he was on the right trail.
Soon after, Trinuma arrived at the end of the trail. The area he was now in was a rocky field with a few small hills made of rock dotting it. There was no forest, or any vegetation, that could be seen in the area. What Trinuma did see was the Maxilos robot lying in the entrance to a nearby cave in one of the rock hills. Even thought he was about hundred feet away from the machine, he could see dents, cracks, and gaping holes in it's armor. Trinuma also saw the second tablet, there in the grip of the wrecked Maxilos' right hand!
Trinuma began to fly towards the robot. He hadn't made it ten feet when he heard a cry come form his left. A cry that sounded like a mix between a hiss and a growl. A cry that would even make a Makuta tremble. A cry he knew all too well.
Trinuma barely turned his head, already knowing the Rahi's identity, when the Shallows Cat slammed into him in midair. The agent crashed in the rocky ground like a meteor and slid on the rocky surface. The blow was so strong on impact that he lost his grip on both his weapons. He slid about twenty five feet away from them before he stopped.
As soon as he could, Trinuma jumped to his feet. He was slightly dazed by the surprise attack, but otherwise okay. The Shallows Cat growled at him again as it slowly circled the agent. The tan-colored Rahi was seven feet tall. It was armed with three claws on each of it paws. It also had a jaw full of razor sharp teeth.
There was one thing different about this Shallows Cat than the others of it's kind. This particular specimen was covered in mud and dirt. It was not beautiful or sleek like other Shallows Cats, but instead it was hideous to look upon. Trinuma hadn't the slightest clue as to why this Rahi, normally found on Daxia's shorelines, was doing this far inland.
The Rahi stopped walking as it placed itself between Trinuma and the Maxilos. Trinuma could guess that this feline had brought down the robot. He activated his Kanohi Mask of Charisma. He attempted to convince the Rahi that it should let him approach the Maxilos behind it. He expected it to comply with him. Instead, the feline charged straight towards him. The agent barely dove out of the Shallows Cat's path as the feline tried to attack him.
The monstrous Rahi pursued after it's new prey. Trinuma responded by firing his twin Ghost Blasters at his attacker. The Rahi simply slashed through the projectiles and continued it's attack.
Trinuma didn't understand it. Why would a Shallows Cat be so far away from the shoreline? Why would it allow itself to become so dirty? And why did it think that the Maxilos was it's dinner? As he dodged the Rahi again and fired more shots from his Ghost Blasters, forcing the cat to back away temporarily, the answer came to him. It sent a chill down his back.
Behind his mask, Trinuma's eyes glanced to the left. He could see his weapons nearby. With them, he had a chance. Without them, he would share the fate of the Maxilos robot. Deciding that it would be better to die with his weapons in his hands, he bolted to them. The Shallows Cat bolted as well. Both of them ran as fast as their legs could take them. One ran for his life, the other for it's meal.
Trinuma made it to his weapons just as the feline reached him. It's jaws were wide open. Trinuma grabbed his shield and lodged it into the Rahi's mouth, robbing it of the ability to close it. The agent then grabbed his kinetic weapon and fired it at his attacker, knocking it onto it's side.
The Shallows Cat wasn't out for the count yet. It spat Trinuma's shield out of its jaw and advanced on the agent, moving faster than ever before. Trinuma tried to fly away from the Rahi, but he wasn't fast enough. The feline jumped after him and grabbed him by his lower left leg. Trinuma, unable to fly with the added weight, was pulled down by the Rahi and slammed back first into the hard, rocky ground.
Trinuma was too stunned to get back up. The Shallows Cat jumped on top of him and raised it's paw over his neck. Before the Rahi could finish him off, a beam of energy stuck the feline. The beam forced the Shallows Cat off of Trinuma as it incinerated the Rahi. Ten seconds later, the Rahi was nothing more than atoms.
Trinuma weakly turned his head and saw Tobduk standing nearby, his staff aimed at the spot where the Shallows Cat had been a moment ago. The senior agent then turned and walked towards the ruined Maxilos machine. He put his staff away as he reached his target. Almost casually, he pried the tablet out of the Maxilos' dead grip. He turned to Trinuma as the stunned agent was slowly rising to his feet.
"This is no time to be lying down, Trinuma." Tobduk said, almost mockingly.
"What do you think I'm doing? Taking a nap?" Trinuma asked, frustration in his voice.
Tobduk shrugged. "Now that we have the tablet, we had better get back before Helryx thinks we're dead. Follow me."
Tablet in hand, the two agents began to walk back to their secret fortress.
"And you're welcome for saving your life." Tobduk mumbled to Trinuma along the way.
Helryx said nothing as Trinuma and Tobduk explained to her everything that had happen to them on their quest. She said nothing until they were finished.
"Good job." she said to them after they were done talking. "I will find out who the group of beings were, and what they were up to. But for now, Daxia's secrecy has been kept safe thanks to you two."
"For how long?"
Helryx turned to Trinuma. He stared at her, his face unreadable to her.
"How long?" he quietly repeated. "How long will we keep ourselves a secret, and allow the Dark Hunters and Brotherhood of Makuta to destroy our universe? How long will we stand by and allow Toa and Matoran to die? How long will we put the Order's secrecy above the lives of innocent people?"
"As long as Mata Nui requires us too." Helryx said, angry at Trinuma for questioning what the Order's creators vowed at the beginning of the universe.
"I understand why we keep ourselves a secret. I do." Trinuma went on. "But have you ever wondered if we could do more for Mata Nui by revealing ourselves to this war-torn world? Perhaps, if everyone knew of us, we could focus more on the will of the Great Spirit, and not wasting time hiding ourselves from everyone."
Trinuma took a step forward. "Have you ever wondered about that, Helryx?"
The Toa of Water said nothing. Trinuma expected her to yell at him about how important the Order's secrecy was to do Mata Nui's will. Instead, she walked calmly to her desk and sat in her chair.
"Ask me again when the war between the Hunters and Brotherhood is over." She simply said. She then told Trinuma and Tobduk to leave her chambers. Trinuma left, his questions still planted in his mind. He wondered if he would ever get the answer to them.
It would be five hundred years after these events before the Order of Mata Nui revealed itself to the universe. It would be a time where Toa were few, the universe would be on the brink of destruction, and, most importantly, when Mata Nui needed them the most.
Deep Shadows by The First Speaker
A cold breeze blew onto the cliffs of Odina. A Dark Hunter, Devastator, was overlooking the sea from them. Just a few minutes ago a fleet of Dark Hunter ships had sailed away to battle the Brotherhood of Makuta forces. Since the leader of the Makuta, Teridax, had dared to kill two Dark Hunters, they were in war. The Brotherhood was strong, but Devastator was confident that they would win. He then walked to the fortress’ main entrance. Just as he walked in, a green figure materialized at his side. It was Zaktan, a Skakdi who had rebelled against the Shadowed One some time ago. Though Devastator considered himself a being of extreme power, the presence of Zaktan, who had survived the Shadowed One’s wrath, always disturbed him.
“The Shadowed One wants to see you.”
Then Zaktan’s protodites formed a green cloud, and flew somewhere else in the island. He continued his walk, and came through many corridors. Zaktan had told the truth, as the Shadowed One had made the passages shift so Devastator just had to walk forward to find the throne room. However, the center of the fortress was still far from his position. He walked past many storage rooms, and saw Savage going mad in his containment cell. Finally, he arrived at his destination. Devastator bowed, and then stood up from the ground. As usual, the Recorder was prepared to write down on a tablet everything that the Shadowed One said, and Darkness stood behind the leader watching over him.
“Devastator, do you come from Karzahni, right?”
“Yes, my lord.”
“I’ve heard rumors that a Matoran who had a scroll with our battle plans for the war against the Makuta has wandered into your homeland.”
“I’ll kill that Matoran gladly, if that is what you wish.”
“No, Devastator, it won’t be necessary. The Matoran is already dead, but we have heard that another Matoran of Karzahni, who I like to call ‘Builder’, has found those plans. Your mission is to go to Karzahni, find the plans, and destroy them.”
“I understood, sir.”
“Alright then, you are going there alone; you have the weapons you will need in the boat that you will use.”
“I am going alone?”
“Yes. We don’t want Karzahni to turn his attention to the world outside his island. You are going alone, because if Karzahni discovers you, he will think that you have just been hiding all this years. Do you have any objections?”
And with that, he went out of the throne room.
A Matoran of Lightning watched as a storm raged in the sea in front of the coast of Karzahni. She had seen an abandoned boat in the beach were she was. Though it had been a long time since she arrived to Karzahni, she had been one of the last Matoran to arrive there, and she hadn’t lost completely her personality. Many Matoran, specially the ones that had been there way more time than her, were just workers covered in dust, with nothing that could identify them from the others except for that each had a different Kanohi and armor color. She didn’t want to end up like them. The boat was her chance of escaping, and she would not hesitate in using it. She climbed on the boat, and saw that it was made of high quality protodermis. Whoever had abandoned it had a high status. The boat was also full of weapons and other strange artifacts. And the strangest of all, there was some sand on the floor of the boat. She though that it had arrived there brought by the winds of the storm, and then she walked away to the rudder. However, when she turned, she saw the sand in the floor of the boat shifting, and forming a tall, armored figure. And that figure smashed its fist on her Kanohi, and she fell to the shallow waters, as her vision blacked out…
Devastator got out of his ship. He didn’t have any qualms when the situation demanded killing Matoran. He had also been a slave in Karzahni, and he didn’t have any compassion with them. The landscape hadn’t changed a bit since he was recruited into the Dark Hunters and he abandoned that island. The skies rained fire. Grey clouds filled the sky, and lightning bolts fell all day, though the thunder made no sound. He had to find Builder, an insane Matoran that was working somewhere in the island. After some time walking, he came by a group of poorly build huts. He smashed the door of one, and found Builder inside. He had been lucky.
“What do y-you want?”
“Where is the scroll?”
“You won’t fool me. Show me that scroll or I’ll tear your only good leg apart!”
“O-ok. I remember now. It’s hi-hidden in a canyon no-north west of here.”
“You are coming with me.”
The pair walked for a long while, until they arrived at the canyon. While a heavy fog covered the zone, the heat was suffocating. The trip through the canyon was long and silent. After half an hour, they reached what seemed the wall that ended the canyon.
“Are you sure that there is a scroll here?”
When Devastator turned, there was nobody in sight. The Matoran had tricked him. He began to run in the direction in which he had come, but he was stopped by a claw. The fog cleared, and Devastator then saw his situation. He was cornered in the dead end of the canyon by a group of Manas.
Devastator used his mental powers to throw one of the Manas away. The other ones noticed this, and in a moment he found himself attacked by the whole group of Manas at the same time. Devastator turned to sand, and escaped the lethal sting of their claws. Using his telekinetic powers once more, he began to throw rocks from the canyon’s walls. He expected to have finished them all, but out of the rocks every one of them rose. However, the Manas didn’t advance any further. They slowly retreated to the walls of the canyon, and then he heard the sound of a massive body advancing through the canyon. The grunt of the beast echoed, and finally it went out of the fog. Devastator was impressed by the sight. There, in front of him, stood the dreaded Mana-Ko. He had only heard about it in legends, and legends told that it was one of the most fearful creations of the Makuta. The Mana-Ko had strong, muscular arms, a solid body and powerful claws. Devastator mentally threw two Manas at the Mana-Ko, but a disintegration blast from the beast ended with them. Nothing could deter the Mana-Ko’s advance. It shoot its disintegration power again, and the rock wall of the canyon fell onto the Dark Hunter. Devastator, pinned at the ground by the rocks, could do nothing as the Mana-Ko adavanced on him, and he lost consciousness.
Devastator slowly awoke, and saw that he was no more in the canyon. The Manas and the Mana-Ko were gone. He violently shook in his chains in a desperate attempt to free himself. He still didn’t remember how he was captured. It didn’t matter, as now he was chained to a wall and in front of him was his enemy, former ruler and the tormenter in his nightmares. There, clad in a purple and green armor, was Karzahni, the insane tyrant of the island. He hadn’t changed since the last time he had seen him. His mask still looked like four Kanohi patched together, he still had his chain weapons, but worst of all, Karzahni still was as insane as always, if not more. He was chained to a wall of the Hall of Satues, one of Karzahni’s favorite places in his realm. It was a hallway leading to his fortress, and at the sides of the road there were petrified Matoran, their faces still with the same horror expression as the day that they had been turned to stone.
“Don’t try to escape, my dear…”
“Don’t even dare to say my name. I left that identity long ago, forgotten in the fog of the past. Now I am Devastator, one of the most powerful beings in the universe, and your death sentence.”
“Well. Then, Devastator, do you know why are you here?”
“You want to take revenge on me because I’ve been hiding out all this years.”
“I guess that your mental powers are more developed then your ability to lie. I, my realm and my Matoran slaves have been sealed of the outside world for thousands of years, but I’m not stupid. I’ve been all my life here, but I know that there is a world, an entire world, outside the barriers that limit my land. I haven’t known anything about that universe since the turaga stopped sending me their Matoran. And you haven’t been hiding out, Devastator. You have contacted with the outsider beings, you have lived in the outside world. A world I swear to conquer.”
“And where do I enter in your plans?”
“Haven’t you yet understood? If I attack this universe now, I’ll be quickly defeated by an invisible opponent.”
“I don’t think an opponent like that exists.”
“It does, and it’s called ignorance. I have no knowledge of anything outside Karzahni except for what some slaves had told me and for my experience with my brother, Artakha. To invade the universe I need to know what their forces are, their leaders, their weakness… and the best way to strike them.”
Devastator tried to pull himself out of the chains, but to no result. Those chains were as strong as Makuta armor. He should delay Karzahni until he had weakened the chains enough.
“You could have interrogated any of your Matoran slaves.”
“It wouldn’t be of much use. The Matoran fear me, and their mind has been twisted after being imprisoned so many years in this land. That’s why I needed someone who had recently been in the outside world, someone who had been involved in an organization. That’s why I brought you here.”
“You didn’t. I came here because someone else ordered me to do so.”
“I did. And it wasn’t easy. First, I had to convince one of my Matoran to carry out a dangerous mission. He had to go to the outside world, and spread word that a Matoran in my realm had a scroll with the battle plans of your organization. Of course, that scroll has never existed. I knew that after doing his job the Matoran wouldn’t return here, so I promised him freedom, and before he left I poisoned him. He should be dead by now. After that, it was sure that your leader, who has eyes and ears spread everywhere in the universe, would soon notice this rumor. And, assuming that you hadn’t got killed before, I was sure that the leader would choose you to come here and destroy the scroll. After all, who could do better a mission regarding Karzahni than someone who was originated from it? Before you arrived, I also had to prepare my Matoran. I told them that you were returning, and that your return would mean that they would have to work as twice as hard as they use to. They quickly agreed to collaborate to eliminate you, and they were ordered to bring you to the dead end of a canyon, where the Manas could capture you. I see that one of them did a good job into this. After that I only had to bring you here, and extract all the information of you that I could get.”
Before Karzahni could say anything else, Devastator pulled the strength of his muscles to the extreme, and fell on the ground. His hands were still tied by the chains, and he was dragging a portion of the wall with him.
“That is how you pretend to fight me? Bringing down walls?”
Devastator didn’t think about his actions twice. With much effort, he rose from the ground, and smashed the portion of the wall at Karzahni’s Kanohi. The tyrant of the realm hadn’t expected the attack, and flew towards a statue, breaking it to pieces. Devastator used his telekinetic powers to destroy his chains. A dust cloud had risen, and Devastator stood silent in his position. He started to walk away, but suddenly a chain flew through the air, and gripped Devastator’s neck. He desperately tried to break the chain with his hands, but then it began to burn. He had to pull his hands apart from the chain, but the chain was still burning and he couldn’t get it off of his neck. Finally, the chain dropped, and Devastator fell to the floor, screaming in agony.
“You’ve dared to confront me. You’ve dared to break my law. You’ve dared to attack me. You are going to have a slow and painful death.”
The dust cloud finally cleared, and Devastator could see Karzahni with a maniacal grin staring at him. He turned his body into sand, and concealed himself with the dust of the ground. Karzahni quickly trampled the ground in front of him, but then he felt a fist smashing in his back. Karzahni turned, and saw Devastator, whose rage seemed to spark from his red eyes.
Karzahni raised his chain again, but Devastator flung the titan with his telekinetic powers to a nearby wall. He then ran to Karzahni, and punched the tyrant in the face. The wall that Devastator had smashed was from a factory, and the Matoran, upon seeing the battle, ran away. Devastator continued punching Karzahni, but then he reached his flaming chains and slashed them at Devastator’s back. Devastator grunted, and using the distraction, Karzahni threw him away. He fell onto the roof of a storage room, and Devastator’s weight combined with the force of the impact brought it down. Devastator got to his feet, and when he tried to smash the door, he had to pull his hand off in a moment, as the metal was burning. Karzahni was using his chain once more. However, he transmuted himself again into sand, and got out of the storage room through the hole at the roof.
He rematerialized himself again once he was at the floor, and threw himself to Karzahni. The insane ruler repelled the attack by punching Devastator in the face, and the Dark Hunter fell on the floor.
“Here we are again. No matter what you do, no matter what you try. You are doomed, Devastator.”
“You’ve won this time, Karzahni, and you’ve failed at the same time. You have defeated me, but you haven’t accomplished your goal. I won’t tell you anything.”
Karzahni threw his flaming chains at Devastator, only for him to transmute to sand again and fly away. He tried to grab the dust cloud with the chain, but Devastator escaped.
Now in his boat, Devastator sailed away. He had been defeated, but he had accomplished his mission. Though he was already far from the nightmare island, he still had his mind there. One day, he would return, and take revenge on Karzahni. But that were future plans. For now, he had to fight against the Brotherhood of Makuta. The war between them and the Dark Hunters was still raging, and at the moment it was more important than the ancient ruler of a forgotten island.
A twisted Matoran was working on something important. It was told that on every island of the universe, six toa canisters had to be built to remember the legend of the Toa Mata. He had already built three, and was in the process of building the fourth. He wondered if someday he would have the chance to be free. Maybe someday a group of Matoran would wander into his land, and could offer him a chance of freedom. And most important of all, if that day arrived, would he be prepared to leave? But he had no hope of that happening. After all, why would a group of Matoran wander into Karzahni, the land of the dead?
Karzahni sat in his throne. He had been planning Devastator’s arrival for a long time, and his plan had failed. The Dark Hunter had escaped before he could have extracted any information from him. So he should have to wait, until someone fool enough dared to step foot on his realm… and when that day arrived, he would make sure to acquire all knowledge that he could, and then he would start universal conquest. And he would take revenge of the turaga that had decided to stop sending Matoran to his realm, to Artakha and his realm of light and to Devastator. But at the moment, he would have to wait, and continue his despotic rule over his island. Dark times lay ahead, but his time would arrive, and everybody would remember his name again, and they would whisper it with fear.
Crystal Knowledge by Seanp12
Roodaka glared into the eyes of the frightened Vortixx in front of her. This was an interrogation in her investigation of some rumors that had appeared on Xia. Just a few years ago, she had been found by the Dark Hunter known as Tracker—the first being to have discovered she was alive since her Queen’s Gambit in the aftermath of the Battle of the Metru Nui Coliseum, when she supposedly sacrificed herself to free the Makuta of Metru Nui. Since then, she had been performing missions in the Dark Hunter/Brotherhood of Makuta War as a double agent. Both sides believed they held her allegiance, but both were deceived.
In more recent days, she had been assigned to a specific mission on her home island. A Dark Hunter had been found prowling in the shadows of Xia’s factories. After a very brief stage of questioning, the Makuta of Xia, Antroz, discovered that this Dark Hunter was searching for a supposed set of blueprints and historical records that detailed the complex and mysterious technology that gave the island of Destral the ability to teleport throughout the universe, and information on the long-defunct League of Six Kingdoms.
“We had heard,” the Dark Hunter had told Antroz, “that the ancient ruler of this area, Pridak, had discovered the Brotherhood’s teleportation system, and had wanted the Vortixx to recreate it using a set of plans he had hidden here. I was sent to find the historical records, and found a memory crystal created by Ko-Matoran seers almost 90,000 years ago, which we found held a complete prophecy—not a historical record—of the League’s achievements and plans, including Pridak's discovery of Destral's technology. I was then told to pass it on to a certain Vortixx—“
The Dark Hunter’s tale abruptly ended as the Dark Hunter codenamed Guardian eradicated the breach in Dark Hunter security. Antroz and his Rahkshi would have been able to capture Guardian, but unfortunately, he was accompanied by Eliminator, whose power code 283 Kanoka allowed the two of them to escape along with the body of their loose-lipped former coworker before any blow could be struck. Yet despite the informant’s death, the damage had been done, and the Brotherhood went into action.
Makuta Antroz then sent a telepathic message to the Makuta of Metru Nui, who was stationed in a remote Brotherhood outpost called Mangaia. The Brotherhood leader then ordered Antroz to assign Roodaka to the task, along with several Rahkshi of Heat Vision. Roodaka also requested a gold Rahkshi of Weather Control to control Xia’s smog to shroud her group, and a light purple Rahkshi of Telepathy to find the Vortixx that the now-deceased Dark Hunter had mentioned before his death at the claws of Guardian.
Her plan had succeeded so far, since the Rahkshi of Telepathy had found a Vortixx making an inconspicuous deal with a Matoran trader. Unfortunately for the Vortixx, the Rahkshi decided to mentally listen in on the Vortixx’s thoughts, and learned that she was the Vortixx that the Dark Hunter referred to. Within a few seconds, the Matoran trader was killed by heat vision on suspicion, while the Vortixx was captured and brought to Roodaka.
And those were the events that brought them to the present moment—Roodaka pacing back and forth, questioning one of her cowering sisters.
“So, my friend,” Roodaka said calmly, “would you please begin with the mission you accepted from the Dark Hunter?”
“I—I didn’t know he was a Dark Hunter.” The Vortixx replied, stuttering. “I thought he was just a customer. He asked me if he could purchase a crate of Impact Crystal Launchers. I was about to press him for a higher price, but he then offered to pay extra if I would give the shipment to a certain Matoran trader who would arrive later, and if I would place a crystal he had in one of the launchers. It looked identical to all the other crystals, and I wasn’t sure why he wanted it in one of the launchers, but I was getting a good profit, so I didn’t care.”
“Congratulations on an excellent deal.” Roodaka said mockingly before adding, “Or at least it would have been if it hadn’t been with a Dark Hunter on a Brotherhood controlled island.” Roodaka smiled. “You are a smart businesswoman. You know how to heighten your wealth and power—how to gain favor on the island of Xia. Unfortunately,” Roodaka said, pointing at the Vortixx before her, “so do I.”
Roodaka’s Rahkshi simultaneously fired their beams of heat vision, and the Vortixx suffered the same fate the Matoran at the docks did. Roodaka then turned to the light purple-armored Rahkshi in her group. “You,” she said strongly, “lead us to the docks where you found this Vortixx. We need to confiscate those Impact Crystal Launchers. That knowledge crystal she referred to is the memory crystal. It seems Frost Beetles aren’t the only living things that get the two confused.”
The Rahkshi nodded his head, and the entire group of them aligned themselves into a V-formation, while Roodaka mounted a Vortixx-sized, Xian-made version of the Moto-Sled, based upon the original Matoran-sized design developed by Nuparu. Within seconds, they were off, flying towards the docks of Xia.
Thirty minutes or so later they landed on the roof of a building above the docks to see a pair of Dark Hunters tearing apart various crates, but according to the Rahkshi of Telepathy, they had not yet touched the crate with the Impact Crystal Launchers. Upon a closer look, she recognized them as the same Dark Hunters who had killed their former comrade, Eliminator and Guardian. Apparently, since that Dark Hunter was both incompetent and a breach in Dark Hunter security, both Guardian and Eliminator were on this mission, and all they had left to do was find the memory crystal and leave for Odina. Unfortunately for them, Roodaka wasn’t going to let them off easily. She gestured towards the gold Rahkshi and had it manipulate the smog of the island to blind the Dark Hunters. She then quietly walked back to her Moto-Sled and took out a Vortixx Rhotuka Battle Axe. She then walked to the edge of the building, and she, along with her Rahkshi, attacked.
As she charged towards the cloud of smog, however, a huge claw swung out and knocked her to the ground as the two Dark Hunters tore out of the smog. Eliminator stared towards Roodaka and gave a chuckle. “You really don’t have to try so hard to convince your superiors that you’re actually fighting us, double agent.” Eliminator laughed once more before a combination of the energy from a Freeze Kanoka, a teleportation Kanoka, and a Weaken Kanoka lanced out from his fingertips in lightning form, quickly disposing of an advancing yellow Rahkshi.
“I would do so gladly,” Roodaka said as she picked up her axe again, firing the Rhotuka at Eliminator, “were I on your side.”
Eliminator nimbly rolled out of the way of the mutation Rhotuka, while charging up a blast of Reconstitute at Random Kanoka and firing it at Roodaka. He then quipped, “That won’t help your standing with the Shadowed One, you know—fighting his hunters and all.”
Roodaka showed her own agility and treachery as she yanked one of her Rahkshi out of the fray and placed it in between herself and Eliminator’s blast. She then threw the rapidly transforming creature into the water nearby. “I think it will.” was her short reply. “Trust me, you’ll see.”
“Trusting you, Roodaka,” said Guardian, “is almost as dangerous as opposing the Shadowed One, so I suggest you let us grab the memory crystal and leave, crushing your Rahkshi and leaving you miraculously unscathed.” He finished his statement with a swing of his staff towards the Vortixx, which was promptly parried by her battle axe.
“I’m afraid I have different plans, Guardian—ones that will involve your failure and my success in satisfying both sides of the war.” Roodaka said as she heated the edges of her battle axe and swung it towards Guardian, shearing the shaft in half.
Eliminator came to his ally’s aid at that moment, using his long leg to knock the smaller Roodaka to the ground. Eliminator and Guardian then powered up their Kanoka energy and Rhotuka staff, respectively, in an effort to pacify Roodaka’s resistance, after which, they would finish off the Rahkshi, which had already dwindled in number to five yellow Rahkshi. The light purple Rahkshi’s Kraata had been buried along with its armor underneath a pile of stone and dirt, thanks to one of Guardian’s Rhotuka, and the gold Rahkshi of weather control had vanished, probably struck by the power of Eliminator's Teleportation Kanoka. Despite the ten or so heat vision beams, the Dark Hunters continued to focus on Roodaka…
…Until they were knocked off their feet by a monster wind. The gold Rahkshi reappeared, its armor in shreds, but still functional, with powerful storm winds careening from its Staff of Weather Control. It hopped down from the building, and helped Roodaka to her feet, but was suddenly dragged under the water. Shortly afterwards, Eliminator and Guardian began pulling themselves out, while Guardian crushed the writhing Lemon and Dark Gray metallic Kraata, which had been creating a heavy rain over the section of the docks Guardian and Eliminator were trying to climb up on, making a completely ungraspable, soaked surface.
Roodaka commanded three of the remaining Rahkshi to hold off Guardian and Eliminator, while the other two Rahkshi and Roodaka dashed over to the box where the scorched light purple Rahkshi armor laid. Roodaka swiftly hefted up her Vortixx Rhotuka Battle Axe and tore the lid off, and began tearing crystals out of Impact Crystal Launchers, willing them to unleash their information in case one of them was the memory crystal.
Suddenly, she heard a set of loud crunches, followed by some loud screeches cut short. She glanced back to see the Dark Hunters climbing out of the water and tearing apart what was left of the yellow Rahkshi armor. Thinking quickly, she reloaded one of the launchers and fired it several times at Eliminator, who was approaching the fastest. Within seconds, a miniature Knowledge Tower enveloped him, leaving only Guardian.
Roodaka tossed away the empty Launcher and picked up her Battle Axe again. “Go,” she said, gesturing to the two remaining Rahkshi, “take that to the nearest Brotherhood airship using this.” Roodaka tossed one of the Rahkshi a Tablet of Transit, and they were soon off, flying to one of Xia’s airship ports with the crate. Meanwhile, however, Roodaka would have to deal with Guardian.
“You shouldn’t have interfered, Roodaka!” Guardian yelled, swinging his staff towards her head. She parried, but he simply drew his staff back and continued to advance, while also beginning to attack with his claws. Yet through the entire onslaught, Roodaka’s Axe managed to prevent any of his blows from landing. Then, as Guardian was drawing back for another strike, Roodaka jumped to the side, towards and over the water, hooking her axe around one of the dock’s posts. She used her momentum to swing behind Guardian and struck a hard blow to his back with her battle axe.
As Guardian pulled himself back up, Roodaka ran to the side of the building that her moto-sled was on top of. In spite of using her axe to help her scale the building, Guardian was able to catch up quickly, using his deadly claws to climb. While a few bio from the top, Roodaka found herself under attack once more by Guardian, who was now firing his Rhotuka at her. Quickly, she intercepted the attacks with her axe, using its heating function to melt through the stone and earth created by Guardian’s Rhotuka spinners.
Realizing that his attack would not work, Guardian jumped up and grabbed the shaft of her Rhotuka Battle Axe, at which point he would have grasped the wall with his claws and started attacking again…
…If Roodaka had not chosen to let go of the axe at that point.
Guardian tumbled down the side of the building with Roodaka’s Vortixx Rhotuka Battle Axe, being crushed underneath its weight and going unconscious, although to all watching he would have looked dead. Meanwhile, Roodaka mounted her Moto-Sled and took off towards the airship port. The battle was over, and Makuta Antroz, who was watching from one of the other buildings up above, was satisfied. He then telepathically reported to Teridax.
Our suspicions seem to be incorrect, Teridax. Roodaka got the memory crystal to one of our airships and felled two Dark Hunters on the docks. The only thing we can be dissatisfied for was that she did not kill either of the Dark Hunters. Nonetheless, her mission is accomplished.
“Why did you do that?” Guardian said harshly, half-prepared to grab Roodaka and slam her through the docks, had she not bound his hands behind his back with a Xian-made pair of protosteel shackles, to prevent Guardian from acting on his emotions—mainly his angry emotions.
“That’s what I’d like to know too.” said Eliminator, who was picking shards of Knowledge Crystal out of his armor. “And I still don’t see how that’s going to improve your standing with the Shadowed One.”
“Don’t you think,” Roodaka said, remounting her Moto-Sled, “that the Shadowed One would be a little disappointed if the misinformation did not reach Destral?”
“Pardon me?” Guardian asked. “Misinformation?”
“Of course. There was never any information on the League of Six Kingdoms or the technology Destral uses to teleport. It was simply the Shadowed One’s ruse to get the Brotherhood to set up their defenses so that the Dark Hunters could gain an advantage in the war.” Roodaka unlocked the shackles from Guardian’s hands.
“And why didn’t he tell us?” Guardian asked, rubbing his wrists. “It would have really helped.”
“It would have also bungled up the mission. We had to make it look realistic, you know.” Roodaka said. “The Brotherhood has been holding suspicions of my loyalty, and so I thought it would be best if we killed two birds with one stone.”
“Well,” replied Eliminator. “All I’m worried about is that we were fighting our heartlights out and yet neither of us achieved our goal. That puts us in the category of Dark Hunters that I usually hunt down.”
“Not me,” Guardian said, readying his claws. “From what you’ve said, it sounds as if we were supposed to know. And that you were supposed to tell us.”
“I just did, didn’t I?” Roodaka asked, smiling. “Don’t worry. When I tell the Shadowed One of this mission’s success and your marvelous performance, your failure in defeating a few Rahkshi and a Vortixx never have to be revealed—and the fact that I did not tell you until now will also be unnecessary to mention in that case, yes?”
The two Dark Hunters simply scowled.
Something is afoot with Roodaka, Antroz. Either her or the Shadowed One.
I know, Teridax. It is very unlike her not to kill anyone she deems weaker than herself—as she demonstrated by allowing the Dark Hunters to live. Stranger still is the fact that the Shadowed One does not seem to have killed them either. Guardian recently killed two Dark Hunters that were captured in a sea battle near Zakaz and Stelt recently.
Roodaka, she has reported?
Yes. She said there was something she wanted to say about the information the Dark Hunter’s memory crystal. The one with their strategies stored inside.
Interesting. Bring her in. Ask her about it.
Alright, Teridax. I’ll contact you once I’m through.
Good. I have an invasion on Ta-Koro to engineer in the meantime.
Antroz walked out of the Destral interrogation room. He preferred one of those rooms when he communicated with anyone telepathically. It was one of the few quiet places on Destral, and there were no quiet places on Xia.
He turned towards a Rahkshi that guarded the door. “Send for Roodaka.” Antroz ordered. “She needs to be questioned regarding one of her missions.”
The Rahkshi nodded and went off, soon to return with Roodaka. “Come in, Roodaka.” Antroz said. “We must talk.”
They each took a seat inside the interrogation room. “Now,” Antroz said, “you said you had information about that crystal. What is it?”
“Really, Makuta? I thought you would have guessed by now or at least that Teridax would have."
“Pardon me, Roodaka? Could you explain?”
“It’s simple, Makuta. The information in the crystal is false.” Roodaka leaned back in her chair, her hands joined behind her head.
“How do you know this?” Antroz asked firmly.
“I’m a double agent, aren’t I?” was her simple reply.
Antroz sat down. “I see. Return to Xia. You should have another mission soon.” He still looked like his confidence in the Brotherhood's most successful double agent would depend on whether or not her story about the crystal's information proved to be true or not, but Roodaka knew that the coming battles of the war would wipe away all Antroz's doubts.
Roodaka nodded and left the room, while Antroz reported to Teridax. As she walked down the hallways of the Destral fortress, she smiled once more. Once again, she was in good favor of both sides in this war, through her manipulation and deception.
And I’ll just keep on doing it for as long as I need to. After all, I’m a Vortixx.
Retribution by Kraahlix
The jagged coastline of Zakaz
Nektann stood tall, arms crossed, watching wave after wave crash against the shore.
He could hear the faint sounds of battle far behind him - the sound of steel clashing on steel, homes being destroyed, and the cries of Skakdi, his own race, dying.
The Skakdi were a tampered-with race. Experiments that were run on Nektann and his kind had caused the inhabitants of Zakaz to gain many powers, which led to great dissention among themselves.
Friends are not made among Skakdi - only acquaintances that do not betray each other as soon as others. Not a day went by without some sort of skirmish on the island - the inhabitants fighting each other, often to the death, over any disagreement. It was a wonder the Skakdi were not extinct.
Krika, an agent of the Brotherhood of Makuta, was stationed on Zakaz. The island had been quarantined - no one was to come to it, and no one was to leave it. The Makuta enforced that law, among others.
The Brotherhood was responsible for making the Skakdi how they were, and now they just penned them up. Needless to say, the Makuta were hated as far as Nektann was concerned.
Nektann was not interested in following the commands of those he hated. He was a warlord. He would have his way.
So what if he wanted to take a boat-full of machinery to Stelt and make some quick profits?
No one would miss a dozen automated defense robots - Zakaz was crawling with the nektann, sentry-bots named after the warlord himself.
The blue-armored Skakdi turned his gaze inland. Thick dust-clouds rose into the air, kicked up, no doubt, by a handful of brutes locked in combat, fighting for their lives.
Hmm... Krika will have his hands full today.
Nektann nodded to himself and dragged a crudely-crafted boat to the water. He began to load it with the nektann robots that he intended to sell on the island of Stelt.
Skakdi's grins were generally large and hideously evil, and Nektann's only widened at the thought of the money that was about to make its way into his possession.
A trader's hut on Stelt
Nektann had bartered on Stelt a time or two before. The traders were notoriously meticulous about their business, and today Nektann was not in the mood for standing around much longer while the trader inspected each robot individually.
"I'm not asking for very much," the Skakdi grumbled impatiently.
"Of course you're not. If you were, I would just deny your offer and report you to Krika for leaving your blasted island," responded the Steltian trader.
It was a fair point - but an annoying one. Nektann ran his armored finger along the side of his Crescent Scythe, which emitted a shrill sound that caught the trader's attention and, perhaps, reminded him of his manners.
The trader shifted. "You said the nektann can be programmed to attack intruders on sight, but not to harm those who are authorized?"
We've been over this, moron. "I could demonstrate for you."
"Funny." The trader reached for his coins. "Alright, I'll buy. But I won't need any more, so don't bother coming back." He held out the payment.
Nektann readily accepted the money, glad to be through with the trader and his attitude.
"'Pleasure." He had not, however, attempted to barter the price with Nektann, a quality the Skakdi preferred.
And that was that - the deal was complete. Back to Zakaz.
From inside the lowly lit hut, the trader eyed Nektann as the Skakdi exited the shop and boarded his ship immediately. He may have even heard Nektann humming to himself as he went.
Now there was a sight.
But Nektann would not have been quite so cheerful if he knew what Krika knew.
The "Steltian trader" was not a trader. He was not even from Stelt.
He was a Makuta.
Krika shapeshifted, retaining his usual form. Where the seemingly-average inhabitant of Stelt stood a moment before, Krika now was - eyes still fixed on Nektann.
Krika had read his mind. Nektann would go back to Zakaz and buy better weapons with his newly acquired money.
But Krika would not give him that chance. Nektann had just become an outlaw, and punishing outlaws was one of the Makuta's favorite ways to pass the time.
Krika gathered up the nektann robots he had purchased. He would make it to Zakaz long before Nektann would.
Nektann could not remember being this happy in quite some time. He had needed a change of scenery, and the coins in his pouch shifting with the rocking of the boat sounded like music to his ears. He was on his way back to Zakaz, and he would return richer than before.
Nektann's thoughts turned to the new weapons he would soon purchase, and he envisioned the Skakdi whose existences he would end with them.
Life is good.
Nektann rowed. It was easier without the weight of the machines in the boat.
He thought back to killing the boat's former owner earlier that day. That was the joy of being a warlord of Zakaz - people gave you what you wanted. One way or another. One day, even Krika will die by my hand.
The Skakdi quickened his pace, with the Makuta in mind. It was not long before he jumped the remaining three yards to shore, money-sack in hand. Nektann hefted up a boulder, then tossed it at the nearby boat. It shattered into driftwood. There. Nektann smiled triumphantly. 'Tracks successfully covered.
It was dark. Nektann began to make his way toward a city, planning to slip in quietly.
He spotted a black-armored Skakdi brawling with a blue-armored Skakdi in the distance, a Spine Slug attached to the latter. For a moment vision-powers shot back and forth, then one of the Skakdi fell to the ground, lifeless. The victor limped in the general direction of the nearest city, but died of his own wounds long before reaching it.
Nektann chuckled. Home, sweet home.
Nektann heard a mobile machine approaching him from the side. Turning, he saw that it was a combat nektann robot. They were both still for a moment.
"Don't you have a post to watch?" Growled the Skakdi. Nektann turned away from the defense-bot and began walking away.
The combat nektann's answer was in the form of a charged energy bolt. It hit the Skakdi warlord in the back of the head, driving him to the ground.
Pain exploded and rage boiled up in Nektann. What is this?! He rolled onto his back and put his hands to his head. Everything was blurry.
Another blast sounded in the near distance. Nektann dove to one side, barely avoiding a second attack. He grunted in anger. Why is it attacking me?
Rising to his knees, the Skakdi tried to examine his surroundings. More nektann had arrived. Or was that just his vision acting up?
Several more shots were fired.
No. There are more.
Nektann summoned his concentration and threw up a reflective barrier. He heard a few robots drop, destroyed by their own reflected attacks, but was ambushed from behind.
The warlord struggled to remain upright. He bumped into one of the defense-bots, grabbed it and hurled it at another, buying himself a moment.
"Cease fire!" Bellowed Nektann, knowing that it wouldn't work.
The oncoming nektann did not falter. He was surrounded.
The situation struck the Skakdi then - someone had turned the nektann against him.
Another round of energy blasts. Nektann leaped into the air, and landed on a master nektann, crushing it. Sparks flew. He tried to position himself outside of the ring of robots.
Reflecting energy blasts whenever he could, Nektann desperately tried to fend off his attackers. Whenever he was hit, it would take the Skakdi far too long to regain his concentration and throw up the barrier again. He managed to destroy perhaps a dozen nektann robots, but despaired as he saw more joining their formation.
Nektann was shot square in the chest, and skid backward on the barren plain. Anger coursed through the Skakdi. "I will rip whoever's behind this apart!"
If there were any other inhabitants of Zakaz nearby, Nektann would have bribed them for their assistance. He cursed the black and blue Skakdi, whose corpses rested nearby, for having killed each other.
Nektann's body throbbed in multiple areas where he had been hit. He estimated that around twenty-five nektann were advancing on him at this point. It was late, dark, and fatigue was wearing on him.
This is not good.
It was time to decide what to do. Nektann made a split-second choice to flee. It wasn't like he had very many options.
Die now. Die later.
Nektann ran. He was faster than the robots but he constantly had to dodge energy-blasts, slowing his pace dramatically.
Knowing that the robots would pursue him until they were destroyed, Nektann ripped out of the ground any tree or rock that he passed and tossed it at the nearest combat nektann. And then ran some more. When bending down to do this for the fourth time, he was blasted in the side and knocked over.
Nektann screamed into the night in frustration.
I can't do this!
Haunted by the very robots named after himself. It was like a nightmare.
The chase went long into the night. Nektann hated his very life before long. He had downed a number of the nektann, but discovered that back-up units would soon replace them or they would be fixed by repair nektann.
The Skakdi warlord had reached a dead-end. He was backed up against a mountain that he did not have the energy to climb. So much for options.
He had given up asking himself how this could happen to him - who had programmed the nektann to attack him... He did not care anymore. He wanted rest. Or death. Whichever came first.
"I will die fighting. Not running," Nektann resolved to himself.
He charged the horde of robots. The front-line crumpled when their energy-blasts were reflected at them. Nektann reached a combat-bot in two long strides, and shredded it to pieces with his claws. Another he grabbed by the leg and smashed against the ground.
Nektann was shot. He did not stop.
The Skakdi kicked at a black nektann with all his might. It flew backward, taking out a few robots in its path.
Nektann continued to fight for his life. The formations thinned as he destroyed robot after robot. Just when he began to grasp a sliver of hope, he looked up.
Lines upon lines of nektann were dropping down into the battle from the nearby cliff. The Skakdi was stunned at the sight.
His attackers wasted no time in taking advantage of the warlord's distraction, firing at him from all directions.
Nektann's body was ravaged with energy blasts. He was thrown against a rock by the sheer combined force of the attack, and fell limp to the ground.
Nektann did not attempt to get up.
He was pummeled on the ground for a few moments, an eternity to any being experiencing such pain. Then;
The voice did not come from Nektann.
Immediately, all movement ceased. There was complete and utter silence.
Nektann laid still on the ground, fighting unconsciousness. The voice came from above him.
Something washed over the Skakdi. Was it relief... or dread?
It spoke again. "Leave us."
Once more, the gathered nektann obeyed. Soon, they were alone.
The Skakdi fought to raise his head. Then he saw him.
Nektann's face contorted with hate at the sight of his enemy. A growl escaped his wicked grin. They held each other's gaze.
"Get up... warlord." Krika taunted Nektann with the word.
Immediately, anything Nektann had felt before, the pain, the fatigue, was gone. It was replaced with pure, unstoppered fury.
Nektann rose to his feet, gripped his Crescent Scythe - and unleashed that fury.
The night was filled with the sound of duel. Krika stood tall, stark white against the black sky, and wielding a lean blade. His mastery of the weapon was clear to Nektann. Whenever the Skakdi would execute a combination, Krika's blade was there to block.
Nektann did not let it unnerve him. He knew the Makuta was toying with him. But if Krika got too cocky, just once, he would find something embedded in his chest.
Another block. Nektann's Crescent Scythe was jarred in his hand. Krika's blade flew out from underneath of Nektann's, then smacked the Skakdi's head with the flat side.
Nektann stumbled backward.
"What, Nektann? Did you forget how to fight?"
Nektann did not answer. He had seen what Krika could do to other Skakdi. He had lost track of the powers that Krika had demonstrated on his kind, "keeping them in line." It was only a matter of time until Krika tired of exchanging blows, then the Makuta wouldn't hold back any longer.
Krika took a lazy stab at Nektann. Nektann side-stepped, but just in time. He was slowing down.
"You oppress my people," said Nektann.
"Your people?" Krika slashed with his blade, then went back to blocking every attack Nektann attempted. "You are not concerned about your people. You broke the law today for your own selfish purposes and placed them in danger." Krika sneered. "Did you honestly think that you could get away with it?"
The battle wore on.
Nektann swung his Crescent Scythe overhead in an attack on Krika, but the Makuta reached out blindingly fast and caught Nektann's wrist. The power in his grip amazed Nektann.
Is it over?
No. Krika lashed out with his foot and kicked the Skakdi into the air. Nektann landed hard, and struggled to get up.
"Why are you doing this to me?" Hatred dripped from Nektann's every word.
Krika laughed. "Punishing you? I would think it would be obvious."
Silence. Nektann met his eyes and felt as though Krika were staring into his spirit.
"You are wondering how I knew that you left Zakaz."
It was true. Nektann had just been thinking that.
Add mind-reading to his list of fancy powers.
"Nektann, you simply cannot escape me."
Krika's form rippled before the Skakdi. In a moment, Nektann was face-to-face with what looked like the trader from Stelt that he had sold to. Krika spoke from "the trader's" mouth.
"You said the nektann can be programmed to attack intruders on sight, but not to harm those who are authorized?" Krika winked at him.
Nektann felt like so much mindless scum. I was played like a fool...
Wait. Doesn't it strain Makuta to shapeshift? Or is that just a rumor?
Krika had finished mocking Nektann and began to transition back into his usual form. Nektann did not hesitate any more. If it was true that shapeshifting was difficult for Krika, Nektann was not going to miss that opening in his defense. He lunged for the Makuta.
Nektann reached him and grabbed Krika's head with both hands. He pulled them together until they were at eye-level - an inch apart, and let loose with his Flash Vision power. Intense white-light surged from Nektann's eyes and seared into Krika's.
The Makuta howled. For a moment, Nektann felt victorious.
Krika took a trembling step forward. Nektann was emboldened as he saw that his attack had been effective. He charged the Makuta again, raised his Scythe, and released a war-cry, but was repulsed once more. Krika shook his head. "You're a fool, Nektann."
The Skakdi warlord was on his knees.
"You think you have power?" Krika continued. "You're trash."
Then it began.
Rain. Then thunder. Within seconds, lightning crashed around the Skakdi and the Makuta, tearing the landscape apart.
Nektann looked to Krika. It was the Makuta's doing.
He wondered what would happen next, but found out all too soon. Heat Vision struck Nektann's armor, scorching it. Before the Skakdi could bellow in pain, he was assaulted by unbelievable Sonic force. Krika summoned numerous cyclones to surround Nektann, if only to further set him on edge.
Nektann could feel the shadows gathering around him. Krika was growing closer.
A powerful gust of wind knocked Nektann off his feet. He was held down by nearby plants, unable to escape their grip.
The Makuta's chaos raged around him.
Nektann had never been so convinced that his very life was out to get him.
Krika slowly approached the Skakdi, punishing him with excruciating pain. Nektann couldn't tell the difference between the Makuta's powers anymore. They were all pain. They were all madness.
"Do you see, little Skakdi? You will never, ever think to cross me again."
In the fraction of a second, Nektann noticed what was sure to be a devastating assault of chain-lightning gathering at Krika's fingertips.
"NO!" Nektann acted then. Calling on the last reserves of his strength, he triggered a reflective barrier. When the chain lightning hit it, Nektann was forced back.
Krika, however, was electrocuted with the attack's full force.
At once, all of the Makuta's powers were negated. Nektann stumbled onto his feet.
I have to get away, now!
Nektann's legs weren't moving. He was still stunned.
The Skakdi panicked. Where is Krika?
Suddenly, Nektann felt the cold edge of Krika's sword pressed up against his throat.
Everything was still.
He heard the Makuta's steady breathing behind him. It was over.
"Krika." Nektann broke the silence. "You've... won." They were possibly the two most difficult words Nektann had ever had to speak.
There was no denying it. The Makuta had defeated him.
Krika's next words surprised Nektann.
"You have skill, Skakdi."
There was a blur, and Nektann flinched. But Krika had lowered his sword.
Nektann turned to look at him.
"Do not waste it."
Then Krika vanished. Where he had stood was left only a small bag.
Nektann's body ached as he bent down to pick it up.
On his way back to the city, Nektann could not help but feel something he never thought he would feel for a Makuta.
A bit of respect... or something close to it.