Once upon a time, there was a being whose soul burned brighter than a thousand supernovas.
Then, one day, just as the being was on the cusp of manhood, he began to die. It was a slow, painful, intimate affair. Death wasn't quick at all about it. It clawed at the being, tore him apart and hollowed out his soul, until he was nothing but a shell of his former self, scarred and broken beyond repair.
It all began with a blaze, he remembered. Not one of glory, no, but of depravity, of uselessness, of pointlessness. This flame was not one warmth and light but of death and hunger; it became a creature with only one goal, and that was to feed. It was constantly trying to appease its hunger, and it didn't care what was sacrificed to do so. It consumed everything and anything it could: the good and the evil, the young and old, the innocent and corrupt.
That was where this being's death began; the blaze consumed his happiness, and left him to perish in the dark. But he couldn't. No matter how much he may have wanted to at times, that being wouldn't die. Not quickly, anyway. He stubbornly clung to life, like a child to their mother, with the unwavering refusal to let go of this world.
Sometimes, that seemed like a mistake. Because as much as the being did not want to do, he hated to live.
But, Death doesn't care about how its victims feel about it: it comes and goes as it pleases, does what it wishes, without permission or apology. And try as the being might, it would not visit him. No matter how many enemies he faced, he would emerge victorious. No matter how much he abused his body with drink and drug, it valiantly trudged on in spite of him. And so, every morning, the being would open his eyes, and realize he had yet to pass on to the next world. He would not weep, or scream at the heavens.
No, instead, he take up a bottle of spirits, and drink, and pray that he was one swig closer to death, one breath nearer to his demise, one movement--
There was a knock at the door.
Three knocks, technically, against the creaking, wooden door watching over the sole occupant of the house which it was guarding.
The being, now sprawled over a bed, one hand clutching a bottle of whiskey, and the other drifting through the air lazily, let his head flop to the side, in order to look at the door. A pair of leaf-green eyes, clouded over by years of masochistic rituals and self-destructive habits, watched the structure carefully, silently praying that the noise would go, and reveal itself as just another hallucination of his addled mind.
But the knocks returned, louder this time, accompanied by a cry of "Excuse me, Kapi Draen? Is anyone in there?"
The being, who wasn't Kapi Draen, almost grimaced, slowly bringing himself into a seating position on the bed, letting his feet sink slightly into the sandy floor. The voice was female, he realized, and slightly high-pitched. A Matoran probably. This island was lousy with them.
He climbed to his feet, keeping his bottle in a tight grip around its neck, as if he were trying to strangle it. The glass was cold, even after being in his grasp, though, in truth, everything in the being's house was cold. There was never a fire going, and as long as his heart stubbornly continued beating, there never would be. If he was cold, he had heatstones. If it was too dark, he had lightstones. That was good enough for him, and far better than a fire. Flame had destroyed him; he would never invite it back into his life.
The being walked over to the door, his tired mind absently taking down a list of his possessions. One house, one bed, one rifle, one box of munitions, two knives, three sheets of paper, one pen, two paragraphs, one table, two letters from people claiming to be his family and one body.
He was living large, he was.
Slowly, methodically, the being opened the door, letting the first rays of the dawn light into the house. He had to duck slightly to get through the door; this house had not been built to accommodate his kind. No leniency was given to Vortixx, the being thought, unless the Matoran needed some mechanical help.
And speaking of Matoran, here was one now, standing before him. She was Ga-Matoran, wearing bright blue armour with hints of turquoise peeking out from between the plates. Her eyes were bright yellow, like two miniature suns shining through a Noble Komau. Her features were avian in nature, making her look younger than she probably was, but there was no doubt that this Ga-Matoran was new to this world. A satchel was strapped across her chest, and a letter was clutched between her fingers.
The being stared at the arrival for a moment, taking a small swig from his bottle during it, before asking, "Are you the postwoman?"
The Matoran smiled brightly, "Yup, that's me! And I've got a letter fo--"
The Vortixx cut her with a sweep of his hand, "What happened to the last one?"
"Well, there was this boating accident and, um, she didn't...make...it," the postwoman's became more and more subdued, as if worried the occupant of this house might be angered by her news.
But she needn't be concerned; the Vortixx didn't seem remotely interested in the death of the last postman, simply muttering a "too bad" and snatching the letter away her. Setting his bottle down on the ground, the being was just about to begin opening the envelope, when the Matoran piped up again.
"Sooo, you're Kapi Draen, then?"
Without a moment of hesitation, the Vortixx replied, "No."
"Okay...does Kapi Draen live here?"
Suddenly, an expression best described as indignant appeared on the Ga-Matoran's face, and she placed her hands at her hips in the classic way one does when they're trying to make a point, but have no idea how greatly outmatched they are.
"Well, then you'll have to give the letter back," she announced, glaring furiously at the strange Vortixx attempting to open someone else's mail, "I mean, you can't just go around looking at other...people's...mail..."
Once again, the postwoman's voice grew smaller and smaller, her gaze locked on on the Vortixx's left hand. Following her line of vision, the appendage's owner slowly realized what had stopped her, and the mistake he had made. This mail carrier was young, but she must have been old enough to hear the rumours.
There were stories across Mata-Nui of an assassin so powerful and so terrifying that even the shadows hid from him. They had called this killer many things. The Kavinika, the Devil of the Air, were some of the more colourful, but the most well-known name this being went by was a suitably understated one for such a remarkably unseen opponent.
Nika Draen, the Wolf of Mata-Nui.
Without another word, the postwoman bolted, hurling herself into a sprint back towards her village. But even at top speed, she couldn't beat the agility of Vortixx, whose whole adult life had been spent hunting. A strong hand caught her by the scruff of her neck, pulling her back until she toppled onto the sand.
Crouching down next to her, Nika Draen, brought his left hand, no longer flesh and blood but metal and wire, down onto her throat, applying the slightest of pressure to remind her of the balance of power here.
"Listen," he said in his usual monotonous voice, "I don't really think you saw anything here that's worth bringing up in conversation."
The Ga-Matoran seemed to be confused for a moment, so, the Vortixx continued, "For now on, I am just another house on your route. You are not to speak of anything that happens here. Do you understand?"
She nodded furiously, squirming in vain under his grip.
"And I assume you understand what will happen if you do say anything about me?"
Another bout of nodding, with tears now welling up in her eyes.
In response, Nika released his grip on the Matoran, bringing himself back up to full height, "Now then, what is your name?"
The postwoman clambered to her feet, her eyes wide with fear, "L-L-Lithus."
"Very well, Lithus," he replied, "I have a few things to tell you. Number one: this is a hard life. Do not expect the world to grant you any favours."
"Number two: if you ever see a letter like this," the Vortixx continued, shoving the letter he had taken from the Ga-Matoran into her face, "I want you to throw them into the sea. Let the sea Rahi have them."
The postwoman nodded, tears of terror dripping down her mask, before tilting her head up, and straightening her spine, trying to muster all the bravado she could, "A-Anything e-else, Mr. Draen?"
Nika Draen shrugged, already heading back inside his home, "Don't do drugs."
And then the being closed the door behind him, before finishing the remaining whisky in his bottle. Tossing the bottle and the letter aside, the assassin settled back onto the bed, as shadows began to trickle into his mind.