Written by: Grant-Sud
The armor of the Toa of Stone was custom made with small lightstones in sets of three fitted along his two shoulder blades. On his torso and back, two larger lightstones were set in the center. The Toa, Jehu, was carrying an Impact Crystal Launcher and sustained a grim expression on his face.
To his right, the Toa of Air, Silic, wore similar armor, holding his own personal weapon, a Zamor Launcher. He held a grin of excitement, ready for a fight.
The two Toa were primed to illuminate their soon to be unlit surroundings, and in Lhikan’s opinion, the two stood like lighthouses. Placing a hand on the massive metal shell they were standing on, he concentrated, and melted a circular opening into the hull. The day in Ga-Metru was cloudy, chilling, and held an overall feeling of gloom.
As Jehu stepped forward, the heated edges cooling and solidifying, the Toa of Fire looked inside the opening, and caught sight of a catwalk two meters below. Underneath the suspended charcoal colored walkway was just nothing but empty, dark space, and could stretch down however many floors.
Jehu glanced toward Lhikan, who gave a nod. Then the Toa of Stone stepped off into the ship, falling and landing silently but heavily, onto the path. It remained secure. The rest of the four Toa followed one at a time. The thick clouds above Metru Nui blocked out the rays of light from outside, inside the frigate being tinted with fog and dust which seemed to swallow up what little illumination they had.
There was no turning back now.
Following behind their leader was a Toa of Water, a veteran named Naho who had been working with Lhikan for months now. In the center of the group, a rookie named Pelish, Toa of Psionics, walked with noticeable unease. She had been on numerous missions before, but never one that was so perilous, where everything wasn’t controlled.
Naho wasn’t sure how Lhikan was going to lead the young Toa, ready to jump out of her armor at any moment. He had told her, Naho remembered when they were being briefed, as long as she followed commands and used her head, things would go well.
The Toa of Water moved easily, but her eyes constantly on the shadows, where nothing should be. The catwalk ended after some descending steps, which led to solid floors. They were in a large, lonely chamber that seemed mostly hollow. The Toa of Stone and Air were the major sources of light in the room, now tinted in a whitish yellow. The silence was unnerving.
It took a moment for Naho to realize they were walking in the main hanger of the frigate. Since the battle for Ga-Metru, every last boat, hovercraft and flight soldier had been used.
It doesn’t feel that empty though, I can still sense the life that filled this place only a couple days ago… it’s too fresh in the air.
Silic gestured to the four elevator bunkers, one stationed at the far end of each wall, seeable due to the flickering lights hinged near the doors. Lhikan paused, considered, and pointed to one.
Still walking behind her leader, Naho knew it was better for Pelish to follow all orders she was given. If things went wrong, which was a possibility, then she wouldn't be responsible for the result of her actions. It would be Lhikan's blame, his burden.
Naho glanced at her leader, not knowing how a being could hold that much outward strength and keep the rest hidden, however much he had buried. But Lhikan was constantly doing so as the war continued on, and he was becoming something of a heroic icon because of it. So many friends of his, they were just … gone. The list became larger every day, the latest on it being Nidihiki, who had been missing for a week.
The Toa of Fire raised a hand as the platform lowered, one blade in the other and one strapped on his backside. They turned to him, waiting for him to speak.
“I want this to go smoothly, no firing unless I give the order,” he turned and met his team’s eyes, giving them the same command twice, once before they entered the massive ship. “We can’t risk letting the enemy know we’re here, or setting off the ship’s power supply.
“And we stay together, no matter what. Divided, and we fall.”
It was the end of the Dark Hunter War on Metru Nui, or it seemed that way. The two sides of Toa and Dark Hunters had been fighting for months now, not one side overcoming the other, both having dealt heavy losses. Naho wasn’t sure how much longer they could hold out, especially with the constant resources and weapons being shipped to the Dark Hunters from other lands by sea.
And then without warning, only two short days ago, their enemies had charged unexpectedly with a full force at Ga-Metru. An entire squad of Toa had arrived from the Coliseum to reinforce their allies in combat, only to find the battle over. Naho had been there with the troops, to watch Lhikan and the various survivors appear from the schools and homes, tired and broken, but safe.
She had looked toward the sky. A constant drumming of rainfall covered the streets with broken pavement, crumbled buildings, uprooted plant life, and the Silver Sea around them shook with unnatural disruption, like it was crying.
Ga-Metru was crying over the bodies now littered across her land.
Lhikan had approached them from the field, she was hypnotized by the sight and hadn’t been able to turn away.
His golden shoulder armor had been busted and cracked. His slumped form, his legs shaky, but refusing to topple. And then her eyes rose to his mask, drenched by the pouring rain and dampened. And … and his eyes were the worst. It was like the flames in them were doused, like nothing would ever rekindle them.
He stared at her, silent, and she had never seen her friend that way before. It was like he wasn’t really there, as though he was somewhere else. Maybe reliving moments he wished to relive, change or even forget...
It only lasted a second. Then his eyes rekindled, he was a Toa again, and never averting her eyes, pointed toward the beach.
The ship had come from out of nowhere during the battle, flying high above the sea, circular and white in appearance; dropping off Dark Hunters and firing off ballistics at Matoran Homes and Schools. It was destructive, massive, and unlike anything the Dark Hunters had brought to the city before. With that steel dragon in the sky, it could have destroyed all of Metru Nui.
Energy waves from Toa and their weapons from the ground only weakened it by a degree. It had taken multiple Toa of Air to drop shoot three Toa of Earth on top of the ship. The brave Toa sent waves of earth shattering power on its hull, bringing an air machine the size of the Great Temple screeching down to its death and onto the beach. The Toa didn’t survive the crash as their bodies were flung like leaves in a hurricane.
Only a day later Dume assigned a team into the dead frigate. The logic behind it was the ship’s downfall was too easy. Dark Hunters always have a second plan. A large energy source must be on the ship to power it and if it was unstable from the crash, maybe it could be used as a bomb.
Pelish from outside the ship, the only Toa of Psionics in Ga-Metru, hadn’t been able to pick up thoughts from remaining Dark Hunters left inside. She believed that even if a few were masking their minds, not all of them would have been able too. The crash may have simply killed them all.
Lhikan didn’t believe that, no matter how damaged the ship had become. And with such power still breathing on the Ga-Metru shore, the ship was a threat unless they took a closer look inside. Dume had recognized Pelish’s useful abilities, and had appointed her on the Team. She begrudgingly agreed.
I’ve never seen such a thing as magnificent as it is terrifying, thought Naho, her mind returning to the present.
The five Toa came upon a command hull, holograms lit across the walls, flickering with unreadable information. Wires stretched themselves from the ceiling and floors and computers, sparking with electricity, still being given power. The ceiling was broken, metal panels bent and curved. Small bug Rahi, somehow finding their way inside, were feasting on the alloys and electrical power, making the occasional rattle. The main, circular information terminal in the center of the room, was in complete disrepair, and over the console loomed a Dark Hunter’s body. Pelish froze at the sight of its opened eyes, unlit.
Naho blinked, knowing she should have expected this. But even then she glanced to the left, where another body lay, sitting and upright against the wall, taking a long moment before averting her eyes from it. She was still unprepared. And to the right there was one … and on the top of stairs leading to the next floor below...
Her breath caught, and she gave a reflexively light cough. Lhikan visibly faltered.
They were walking through a graveyard.
Silic’s grin disappeared as he and Jehu moved slowly apart, bringing more light to dark room. Lhikan slowly gazed across the floor and on to the terminals. No hologram of the ship’s layout he noted.
The five Toa stepped forward, slowly moving and heading down the stairs. They had entered from the top of the ship, and were making their way toward the center, where the power supply was theorized to be.
Jehu took the lead and moved easily. He was a young Toa, Lhikan knew, but not as unsharpened as Pelish. The Toa of Fire walked behind him, noting how much the Toa had changed over the last few months. He had once been like Silic, easy going and unburdened for a being of stone. But after so many fights, sometimes Toa just don’t recover fully. Jehu rarely spoke now, and gave up his eager personality to become a hardened soldier.
It isn’t the dead and it’s not the sights or the destruction, thought Pelish, walking behind her leader, unconsciously sticking closer then need be. It’s … the silence. I can’t hear anything. I can’t hear anyone speak their open thoughts. Not a sound.
Pelish’s fingers twitched nervously as they made their way through the steel hallway at the end of the steps, passing the body lying there. Her whole team had gone numb, their minds as dead as the casualties around them.
So when the abrupt sound of metal clashing was heard from upstairs, the Toa team jolted and their minds irrupted as though they had all just shouted into her ears.
“What was that?” Lhikan questioned, turning swiftly to catch sight of the Dark Hunter rushing toward them from behind. The event happened so quickly, that Naho would remember only seeing its singed flesh and armor - by the explosions that went off during the crash probably - and the desperateness in the eyes of their attacker. There was no question about it, whether or not the Dark Hunter was successful at this suicidal charge, he was going to succumb from his own injuries at a moment’s time.
Lhikan didn’t flinch as his unit did. “Move!” he shouted with sharp authority, slashing his blade upward from underneath. A trail of intense fire soared across the hall cutting right down the middle. The three Toa behind him moved instinctively, hitting the wall, the flames missing them.
“Jehu, I need a shot now!”
Immediately the furthest Toa locked eyes with the Dark Hunter as it ran through the flames, pain on its face. With steel precision Jehu swiftly raised his weapon and aimed…
With a sharp, crack, a crystal exploded across the Dark Hunters chest, instantly halting him. He took a breath, glanced down, and opened his mouth as if to speak.
Then the crystal grew with a mighty grip on its victim, forming a miniature tower in only an instant, bursting through the ceiling and floor. It was like a glacier being created, with the crackling sound of ice and all.
The five Toa stared at the frozen Dark Hunter, his ice prison with an outward smoothness comparable to the Ko-Metru knowledge towers. He was suspended, feet above the ground the ice holding him up, feeling no pain. He was still alive, but it didn’t matter. By the time the Toa would be able to retrieve him from the weapon’s effects …
No, Lhikan didn’t have to say anything, and turned away with hidden effort, causing the rest to slowly follow; leaving the being in his final living hours, lifeless.
They entered a corridor with doors along the walls, numbered. Naho figured they had reached the barracks.
Toa Lhikan glanced at Pelish.
“I need you to do a constant sweep of the area. Do you sense anyone?”
She closed her purple eyes, unseen elemental power stretching out. After a moment she answered.
“No. I can’t detect anyone yet.”
“Keep giving me reports, I’d rather not have another incident like that one…” Lhikan kept a straight face, one even Naho couldn’t see through. “We’ll be prepared next time.”
What was he thinking Pelish? Naho wanted to ask suddenly. Who was the last person the Dark Hunter chose to dream about?
She tried not to dwell about it. Naho had been constantly fighting for months. Why was it now that feelings of guilt crept up along her spine?
…Can you tell me what he was going to say to us?
They continued to move down the hall, passing each room, the doors all looking the same. Some of them were left open, and you could see the bunkers inside and personalization of the individual quarters.
“I wonder if the crash killed all these Dark Hunters.”
Lhikan glanced at Naho, “What do you mean?”
“It just seems odd, doesn’t? That so many Dark Hunters were killed. I would have thought more of them may have survived.”
Silic was taking up the rear and spoke aloud.
“Maybe they just weren’t prepared for a collision. Maybe they believed this ship was unstoppable.”
“Or, maybe they believed it was stoppable. If anyone was taken prisoner incase their plan failed, well … there are some things you don’t want your enemy to know. Plans, secrets, locations, the list goes on, things you sacrifice to keep safe. Maybe some of them committed suicide instead of losing even more of what they had.”
And everyone quieted down.
Pelish raised her head to Lhikan’s theory. The next few minutes felt like hours later, when she sensed a presence.
“Lhikan, someone’s nearby…” she whispered.
The Toa of Fire halted, as did Jehu in front of him. He raised his launcher toward the dark passage.
“Alright, we move nice and slow. Pelish, keep a look out for where our enemy is coming from,” Lhikan ordered, his instincts and commanding persona taking over once more.
The rhythmic footsteps echoed down the lifeless hallway, as they continued, room by room. They entered through a small medic station, a weapon’s room in shambles, and one room that’s purpose was unidentifiable now.
“I … can’t sense him anymore.”
Jehu looked over at his friend, speaking for the first time, “Do you mean he’s passed?”
“No. I think he’s hiding. I keep sensing him… fade in and out.”
Lhikan glanced over his shoulder, waiting for further explanation.
“It’s like, he isn’t there, and then he is,” the Toa of Psionics struggled with the words. “I can’t explain it, I’m sorry.”
Naho couldn’t deny feeling a little terror creep up through her once more.
“Now he’s near again.”
“Where?” Lhikan asked, his tone a little sharper than necessary. Silic pulled his weapon in closer.
The five Toa stopped in a large open room with two stairways along the walls, which led to two doorways and another catwalk leading to both from across the room. At the far end was a thick steel gate. It was unique looking, built for durability. The room was lit well, and seemed relatively undamaged, which surprised them.
“Where is he now Pelish?” He questioned again, feeling a sensation of being watched.
The four of them turned to her, as she looked toward each doorway, studying them. Then she turned toward the main steel door ahead.
It opened, slowly, and the Dark Hunter behind it made no attempt at being subtle, yet seemed calm. He was a giant. Large in form he stood a Toa’s length and a half, with a stare as cold as the dead. He entered the chamber one step at a time and stopped a good few yards away from the team.
The Toa withdrew their weapons.
“Surrender, we have no need to harm you,” Lhikan offered, knowing the answer he’d receive.
The Dark Hunter stood silently, staring them down. After a long moment he spoke in a deep, older voice.
“You are here on my home. I have no reason to surrender, and you are not welcome here.”
The Toa of Fire knew there was some truth to that.
“We don’t want to harm you,” he said again, this time unhesitating.
The Dark Hunter’s eyes narrowed in real anger, the first he had shown. He raised his weapon and fired.
It was a six round blaster, nothing Lhikan had seen before. But the projectile was missile based and they were too near the center of the ship now to risk any explosions.
“Naho, Silic, contain it!” their leader commanded quickly moving from the oncoming mini rocket.
Instantly Naho raised her two hand blades, small, though perfect for hand to hand combat, and Silic raised his left hand. A surrounding bubble of water enclosed itself around the missile and an implosion of air set it off. The explosion was quieter and contained to the point of minor damage, water drizzling over the Toa.
“There’s someone else … he keeps disappearing,” Pelish spoke softly.
Jehu open fired on the Dark Hunter, the crystal ammunition spreading across its body before … shattering. The Toa team looked on in surprise. He was immune to the effects of the ice and it couldn’t grow quick enough before breaking apart. He had some kind of shielding energy.
Pelish’s eyes opened, coming out of her concentration.
“I sense him! He’s below us!”
Lhikan glanced at her before turning to the floor, the metal began to bend and rumble.
“Someone is attacking from below!” he shouted, the blades in his hand igniting with flames.
The team separated away, watching the shadow shoot upward into the air. Lhikan couldn’t describe what he saw. It vibrated and moved through the solid metal easily, arms outstretched and legs bent as though it had just leaped. Its body was in constant movement, as though every molecule that made up its structure refused to stay still. It had bright silver eyes and as it floated in the air for brief moment, they shown down, narrow, on the Toa team with quiet resentment. All of five of them watched, unable to turn away from the phenomenon, before it vanished instantly.
Lhikan snapped out of it first, he turned to Pelish.
“Where is he!” it wasn’t a question.
Naho pointed toward the catwalk above the muscular Dark Hunter. There it stood. Naho watched as it teleported again, moving through the metal walkway and on to the floor in front of its ally. The large Dark Hunter simply nodded, and without turning to catch it, the smaller one teleported again. He moved forward toward the Toa.
“Brace yourselves!” Jehu shouted as the creature came upon Silic, tackled and ran with him across the room. The Toa of Air found himself against the wall, damaged from the impact. He felt like drifting into sleep.
“Lhikan, he’s using an advanced speed technique!” Naho shouted.
Her leader nodded, “Follow him!”
Lhikan watched as Naho activated her Kakama, instantly moving quicker than his eyes could follow. Moments later the seemingly intangible Dark Hunter was on the floor from Naho’s instant assault, half righting itself up before disappearing with a high speed.
Pelish ran toward Silic, and as Lhikan heard the sound of rockets being fired off from the large Dark Hunter they had neglected, he knew things were about to go very, very wrong.
In her accelerated movement, the world seemed to slow before her. While using her mask she couldn’t activate her water powers at that speed. So when she fought her opponent, the strategic factors listed off in her head.
The Dark Hunter stood at a Toa’s height, and had a Toa’s build. His body seemed more compact at these speeds, but still it shifted like a hologram constantly. He was fast, too fast.
Naho ran up the stairs at a pace normal through her eyes, following him. Every step he took made dents into the steel frames of the stairs. His constant speed harmed anything he touched. She wondered if he had the ability to turn his powers off.
Reaching the end of the stairway, on the catwalk above the battle below, the Dark Hunter turned to meet her. Naho didn’t hesitate, and leaped in the air bringing a swift kick toward his chest. He caught it in mid air, and swung her around into the safety rails. She felt the impact and grunted. Her vision blurring and with her concentration distracted, the world flowed into real time again.
Don’t stop. If you slow down he’ll destroy you in a moment. Move, move!
With determination Naho activated her mask once more, rolling just as the Dark Hunter struck where she was against the bar, breaking it in two.
She pushed up with one arm and slashed with the other, bringing a blade across his shoulder, an unanticipated move. She heard him cry, a quick gasp with a flash of anger spreading across his disfigured face. He could be harmed, but only while she was moving at a similar speed to his.
Naho swung her other arm toward him, and he caught it in midair.
‘You have no chance…’
Her eyes widened, not expecting him to be able to speak. It sounded distant, in her mind. His fingers were wrapped around her wrist, even though it felt only like a force, not like flesh, not warm or even cold.
With a quick movement she twisted away and charged with knives in hand. He dodged, dodged the second blow and brought a swift kick to her side. She moved backward, and with a shocked expression, felt the kinetic waves of sound and air rumble around her, causing her to hold on to the rail. She glanced at the room below her, seeing it covered in fire and smoke. Her team was just hit with multiple sudden explosions.
She stared at the Dark Hunter before her, who hadn’t been fazed by the blasts at all, letting each wave move through him. He only stared, unmoving, angrily tempting her to charge at him again while they moved down the stairs.
But they both knew the truth. He was much faster than she was. Naho was going to lose this fight, and once she did, there would be no one left to stop him.
Lhikan’s mind was scattered in a haze, the smoke thick and heavy. He had lost sight of everyone, and began to right himself up.
Both firesword blades in hand, he activated his Hau on maximum, standing still.
Listening for movement, he tried to see the shadows and lights through the smoke. It cleared a little and he caught sight of a fallen Silic, desperately firing Zamor spheres at the massive Dark Hunter who brushed off the electrical energy blasts as if it was nothing, stepping toward to the Toa of Air. Bringing both his swords forward, Lhikan fired a projectile of intense flames, soaring across the room and smothering the looming creature in heat.
It barely nudged. He simply turned to look at Lhikan for a second, than it began to run to Silic, bringing up an arm to crush the Toa on the ground.
“No!” Lhikan shouted loudly, firing another wave of elemental energy with no effect. As he rushed to meet his friend, knowing he’d never make it in time, a solid rock pillar erupted from the ground before Silic, moving at an angle impacting the giant into the chest. The Dark Hunter was pushed back in surprise, as Jehu leaped from the smoke behind Silic and over him, running with unstoppable force up along the pillar and throwing both his arms into the Dark Hunter’s shoulders, brawling on strength alone.
Lhikan never stopped his charge and ran to the side of the Dark Hunter, slashing at his legs. The scorching mark that should have remained there didn’t. He was resistant to all energy attacks. Lhikan moved quickly, but not quick enough to dodge his enemy’s blow from behind. Jehu leaped and gave a solid punch to the being’s face.
The Dark Hunter stumbled back, but reached out and grabbed the Toa by the shoulder. With a mighty cry he flung the Toa of Stone across the room into the catwalk, the metal bending as he crashed into it. Jehu was caught and remained still within the steel. Then he slipped free from the grasp and landed on the ground with a soft thud, unmoving.
Pelish screamed Jehu’s name, infuriated and stepping forward on the battle field with a defense staff in hand. With swift movements she slashed at empty air, sending invisible blasts of telekinesis at the monster. His body constantly shook with the blasts, feeling each impact as he fell to the wall behind him.
It all happened too quickly for Lhikan to object. Silic appeared from the air with Jehu’s Crystal Launcher, landing in the Dark Hunter’s arms, which latched on to him, squeezing him. Silic began to cry out and stopped Pelish in shock, not knowing how to save her friend.
“You’re going to die Toa…” The Dark Hunter whispered as he crushed harder, the Toa’s armor bending.
Silic pointed the launcher downward, and with a blast of crystal he answered with a smug grin on his face. The ice on the ground beneath the Dark Hunter and Toa had plenty of time to form. The giant’s eyes narrowed as the crystal grew over him and the Toa, trapping them both.
Pelish kneeled before Jehu’s lying form and reached out, placing her fingers against his mask.
“Is he going to be alright?” She asked quietly.
“He’s still breathing, but we need to get him help.”
Lhikan looked him over. The Toa of Stone was in worse shape than he thought. His back was ... bent in an unnatural way. His eyes weren’t even fully closed, slightly lit at the rims. He didn’t seem to be aware they were watching him.
“And … Silic?”
“Silic is safe. The effects of the Crystal are only meant to trap, not kill.” The Toa of Fire looked toward his frozen companion’s way. It was a bold move, distracting the Dark Hunter to give a clear shot that would freeze around the shield of the enemy. But it was at a cost. They were down two Toa.
“Pelish, I need you to find Naho.”
The Toa of Psionics stared at Jehu’s limp form, she remained silent. Lhikan watched her, knowing what she must be feeling. But they didn’t have time for that now.
“Pelish!” He said sharply. She flinched and looked up at him.
“Sister, I need you locate Naho. She’s in trouble.”
“Yes … It’ll … take a minute.”
“Try. And then you’re going to strike him.”
“Yes. Your elemental attacks aren’t physical. If you find his mind, you should be able to repel his body.”
“I’ve never had to concen-”
“Pelish, she’s still fighting that … thing. We have to help her.” He turned toward the open room, waiting for some sign of battle. He didn’t have to look and see Pelish close her eyes, searching for the Toa moving at high speeds.
Then his eyes caught sight of Naho and the Dark Hunter as they became visible, just for a moment, like a flash. Flashes of Naho with a knee to her stomach, a punch to her mask…
“And she’s losing,” he finished, suddenly needing to find something, some way to help. But this was all Pelish. He couldn’t do anything at that level of energy.
“I’ve almost found her…” Pelish could sense them, on the stairs, on the floors, on the catwalk. They were fighting at all places at once it seemed. But she knew that wasn’t true. They were in one place at everyone one moment…
“There!” Pelish shouted, eyes snapping open with a hand stretched toward the field. Lhikan desperately watched the empty floor. Did she hit him?
Then the Dark Hunter appeared, and flew into the wall by a wave of telekinetic energy. Naho reappeared moments later just as instantly, gasping and moving toward her team.
“He hasn’t been defeated yet,” she coughed, uneasiness over coming her from the fight.
“I know. Not yet,” Lhikan replied raising his blades forward, and blasted a comet of flames toward the wall where the Dark Hunter stood, frozen in surprise as the heat rushed toward him. The explosion lit the whole room, and died down quickly.
The three Toa looked on in silence.
And the Dark Hunter walked out of the flames.
The hallow echoes, the unnatural hissing sounds of the fires inside the chamber, the reflective light off of the crystallized beings, all of it somehow merged together creating an unspoken art form. It was a battlefield, one that had been fought over for a long period by beings who struggled through their wills and strength.
Lhikan’s blades were held before him, glowing in a soft orange and red. Naho held her own blades, mind primed to activate her mask at a given moment. Pelish held her hands forward, pulsing energy moving the air around her fingers.
The Dark Hunter glared toward them with his silver eyes, shifting like an illusion.
Wordlessly he charged forward before disappearing.
Naho grunted and disappeared as well, their bodies vanishing and reappearing with blinding speed. Pelish looked on, trying to follow their movements, before Lhikan gave a shout of surprise. A kick to his side by the assassin brought him to the ground. Pelish immediately moved toward him, seeing the Dark Hunter’s image as he stood still. The Toa of Psionics slashed through his body with her staff, only an afterimage of where he was.
She wasn’t surprised, but the pain that seared through her arm as it was twisted back, brought Pelish gasping for air. In a moment she was slammed into the wall. She felt the force off of her arm, and onto her neck. When her sight readjusted she found the Dark Hunter’s hand on her throat. She couldn’t breathe.
Naho reappeared before them in the center of the room and Lhikan stood up. His anger seeped over him like a roaring forest fire.
“Let her go,” the Toa of Fire whispered, eyes narrowed.
“Three moves. Then I end her life.”
The two Toa didn’t glance at each other. But they knew what the other was thinking. They needed a plan.
The Toa of Water breathed in and out, regaining the strength she needed. Then she didn’t avert her eyes to the ice forming along the walls. Lhikan was trying to freeze him, removing the heat. The Dark Hunter’s body became opaque and as he felt the sudden shift, in slight surprise, she moved in. Pelish started to fall forward, faint.
Naho sped forward at the greatest speed she could muster, and brought a blow to her enemy’s mask. She watched him stumble back in slow motion, she moved forward, Lhikan moved for Pelish.
But her hope was shattered in a moment. The Dark Hunter reaccelerated grabbing on to Naho’s moving arms and throwing her toward the other side of the room. Lhikan was kneed into the stomach by the unseen force, and a second blow brought his face to the ground. He rolled throwing heat energy around him. He regained his guard and looked up.
The Dark Hunter caught Pelish’s body by the throat, and realigned her against the wall.
“One move, and I end her life.”
It was the point of no return, and the Toa were out of ideas.
No, you’re not going to die Pelish. This won’t happen. Lhikan held his blades tightly at the thought. There was something he was missing, some kind of angle he hadn’t seen. He had to make sure she lived through this, and become a great Toa, like she was meant to be.
I swear it.
And as he studied his opponent’s eyes, he noticed hers open as well. They looked toward him.
I am a Toa.
His mind echoed with her thoughts.
With a cry of defiance Pelish released a wave of energy, bending everything around her with her power. The Dark Hunter shouted in pain, his body moving away, grabbing hold of his shoulders. Whatever he felt, was a form of torture.
Her eyes were narrowed and her body, though shaken, held as she unleashed the energy.
Lhikan! The engine room is right below us!
Lhikan held an arm over his forehead as he received the message, energy repelling back both himself and Naho. She had read their attackers mind. The main gate at the end of the room, he realized, led to it!
She raised her hands back to strike him once more, before the enemy wildly moved toward her, ignoring the intensity as a Dark Hunter would. With quick movement he grabbed her neck and crushed it, stopping her.
“No!” Naho and Lhikan cried out in horror, the sadness and guilt striking just as quickly and the gust of air suddenly stopping.
Pelish stared down her killer for the final few moments, never leaving his eyes, quivering, but determined to stay focused to the last second. He never smiled, and just looked back as he let go of her. Then the Toa closed her eyes, and fell.
She didn’t think about where her attack would lead her, or the consequences. But this Dark Hunter would pay.
The Toa of Water slammed into him shoulder first, driving him into the wall, never touching Pelish’s body. She reached out and stabbed him at the torso, hearing him cry out. He deflected her second thrust of the blade, but she ignored it, dropped her knife and punched him, over and over again across the body and face.
She didn’t have to see what Lhikan was doing. This mission had been a failure. Too many had already been lost.
But they were Toa, and their success was worth more than their lives.
She didn’t have to shout for Lhikan, or tell him her plan. She was giving him time, enough to get to the engine room.
An intense heat filled the air, as the Toa of Fire stabbed his blades into the floor, flames surrounding his body, bright and intense. The metal beneath him melted and he fell through the passage.
Naho mentally urged him on, while she threw another blow to her opponent’s gut. The Dark Hunter pushed back and swiftly moved away from her, reappearing at the end of the room. He stood, an arm over the spot she had wounded him. But he didn’t say a word, just turned to her.
“I’m going to kill you.”
Her words were acid on her tongue. And it was a promise. She didn’t care how many codes she broke, this was going to be a fight to the death. His, or her own, one of them wasn’t leaving this ship alive.
“I hate you.”
She heard him say it. It was a choice of words she didn’t expect, but she didn’t hesitate nor care why he had. He stared at her, with no sympathy in his look. The guilt and anger that filled her pushed out all other doubts. The Toa activated her mask once more and perhaps for the final time.
Lhikan dropped roughly onto the steel ground. Before him was a large metal ring with a powerful electrical current flowing around it. The engine took up half of the room, and a widened control panel was aligned against the wall.
And this was it. This was what they were searching for. The energy was intense, and he felt the immediate electric charge dwindling throughout the chamber.
Find the power source, shut it off and destroy it. He thought, moving quickly.
The Toa of Fire placed a hand over the controls, looking over them, studying them as calmly as he could. He knew he didn’t have much time. But the controls were precise he figured, one wrong adjustment and the whole thing could blow. It was amazing the engine had remained so preserved.
‘Not that lever.’
Lhikan wanted to pretend like it was the humming of the machine that echoed the voice. Slowly he turned away and looked to the center of the room. He wasn’t surprised by what he saw.
The Dark Hunter held Naho in his one hand, by her arm, slowly levitating with her, toward the floor. He planted his feet firmly, and roughly dropped the Toa of Water. She lay wounded and breathed shallowly, her mask to the ground.
The two regarded one another for a long moment. Lhikan had no chance. The question was why he was still alive.
‘I have to know only one thing,’ the Dark Hunter’s voice echoed, ‘Why are you here?’
The Toa of Fire regarded him, unsure of how to answer the question.
The silver eyes glared deep into his mind. The molecules that made up his being never faltered, rapidly vibrating in a wave like pattern.
‘You could have destroyed this ship from the outside. Why would you waste the advantage? Were you trying to take prisoners?’
A silent response.
‘From the moment you Toa stepped into this ship, I couldn’t figure it out. I thought maybe you knew something we didn’t. Are you searching for a comrade?’
“No,” Lhikan answered. He gestured a blade toward the engine, without averting his eyes. “It was this.”
The Dark Hunter turned to stare at it directly.
‘What about it?’
Lhikan’s stare grew hard. Somehow, he knew where this was going.
“We thought it could be unstable from the crash. We also felt it could be used as a weapon, a last resort.”
His opponent took a step forward.
‘I see. You thought we’d kill our own. Sacrifice them all if things went bad. Well, you were wrong. About everything.’
Lhikan was a veteran, and he’d seen a lot, and he’d heard a lot in battle. He was not a Toa to lose his cool, or let the line become blurred. Even though it seemed the engine wasn’t a real threat, there had been a chance the Dark Hunters could have used it as a self detonation. They had to have been sure.
“Its war,” the Toa replied, raising his blades in response. He recalled the Toa of Earth who died in order to land the frigate into the beach. And images of Jehu and Pelish ran through his mind. “Everything is sacrifice.”
The Dark Hunter with no name vanished, and Lhikan activated his mask of shielding. The first blow came to the head, a swift kick that Lhikan took, but bent his knees and slashed at where it had come from. The Dark Hunter had already moved away and gave a shattering blow to his back. His Hau took most of it, and Lhikan threw up a wall of flame around him, giving him a little protection.
‘I hate Toa. I hate everything about your kind,’ Another blow, the enemy moving through the flames unaffected, his voice everywhere. Lhikan stumbled out of his circle, mind reeling. He had no power to match his enemy’s, what was he supposed to do?
‘You fight for laws that you have created alone, laws that are flawed. You constant stick by them, even when others around you disregard it. Twist it.’
“I have to believe in something. It’s what keeps me going.” He felt a force on his wrist, and with a sharp crack, his left hand was broken, one of his blades clanging to the floor. He brought his hand to his chest. “I have to believe in something…” he repeated again.
He raised his body’s heat to ferocious temperatures, his entire form glowing in a deep orange. The Dark Hunter moved away, slightly burned and unable to touch him in that state. Lhikan’s power drained harshly, and as the heat dimmed, he backed away.
‘All you Toa do is preach about destiny,’ Dark Hunter spat moving in closer, ‘But you kill when it’s suitable for you.’ He gave another strike to the mask. ‘You betray when it’s for your own advantage. And you punish us for our differences. We aren’t bind to rules like you, we hold no prejudice.’
“I know,” was all he could say.
‘You talk of duty as excuse for war. And you hold no guilt over the lives lost by the other side … or do you really believe the dead corpse frozen back in the Center Hub wasn’t my brother?’
Breathing heavily now, his concentration dwindling. “Yes, just as she was my sister.”
He fell against the wall, and the Dark Hunter, confident, appeared openly before him, Lhikan’s fallen blade, suddenly in the other’s hand.
“We do our best, to walk with what we believe in. I won’t lie and say I don’t believe fighting is my duty. That dying might be my destiny. I won’t say I agree with Dark Hunters, that they are right, and we are wrong, or that it’s all just grey.”
Lhikan sat to the floor, back against the wall. He looked up to meet his maker, unafraid. And the Dark Hunter couldn’t help but feel a little overwhelmed by the stare. He was a Toa. Strong willed and wise, he wouldn’t be taken in so easily by mere words.
“We are hypocrites though, yes, we are, when we speak of unity. I will admit that.”
The Dark Hunter watched him wordlessly, the humming of the engine to the left of him. The soft glow of the room shone on them both, casting their shadows, even the Dark Hunter’s was full and reached out across the floor. Half of Lhikan’s face was covered in darkness, a silhouette, only his bright ruby eyes were visible.
He took a calm breath.
“The Dark Hunters attacked Metru Nui. But we stepped right in line and became what we swore to never become. We don’t even take names anymore. I’ve killed, and I feel nothing for it; because I think about all those who I’ve lost, and how all my enemies should suffer for it. It plagues my mind, just like it plagues yours.”
Toa Lhikan coughed, slumping slightly.
“I can still remember running away from you all…” he silently whispered, replayed the tape within his mind, full of Toa and Frostelus. “Running away from our fortress, holding that one precious treasure and a message; I can still see your faces. I haven’t forgotten them.” He shut his eyes, tightly.
“…I’m sorry for not being there to help you.”
He slowly reopened them, and fixed his eyes to the steel below. Then he looked up to the Dark Hunter who felt genuine surprise by the conflict he had just seen. Narrowed eyes full of comprehension, Lhikan’s voice was a fact now.
“This war of Metru Nui, it’s exactly the same. Every moment I’m on that battlefield, I can see its lack of reason. The division it causes. By the end of the war, it’ll be too late. We’re all going to lose something important, regardless of who wins. Something we can’t gain back. It’s fitting.”
The Dark Hunter watched him in silence the matter bringing them both back to reality. They were enemies. There was no mercy, even if there should be. He raised the blade, its form unnaturally solid compared to the rest of his body.
“We deserve it … to all fade away in the end.”
He hesitated, wavered his raised arm. And he replied.
‘I’m sorry, too.’
The Toa of Fire reflected at the apology, and somehow the feelings brought by Pelish’s death began to numb. He closed his eyes.
The blade was brought down in a swift motion for an instant kill with no pain. Lhikan heard the echoes of that redeeming statement ring throughout his mind over and over.
And that’s when they were both caught off guard by a scream. A moment away from death, and Naho rushed forward as fast as she could, slamming into their adversary activating her mask while she did so.
The Dark Hunter’s eyes widened fully, but he didn’t resist as quickly as he should have, he didn’t resist the feeling of such fierce determination. She hadn’t given up her life, and maybe a small part of him had.
Then Naho accelerated, vanishing with him, the force propelling them in a blur directly to the engine’s electrical power.
There was a bright flash and the sound of an uproar.
And then everything went dark.
Lhikan stumbled around the room, reaching out. Behind him, a holy ray of light filled with dust, shone toward the floor from the ceiling. It was Jehu and Silic’s armor still shining from upstairs, still brightening up a little of the passages.
The Toa of Fire mumbled out Naho’s name, wondering if it was useless to do so. The explosion had possibly killed them both. Mustering up a little strength, a small flame appeared in the palm of his hand.
The engine was in pieces, lifeless and unfixable to any degree.
He took a few steps, the glow reaching across the floor. And there was the body, up against the circuitry. A Toa’s build, silver in color. No longer in a constant vibration, he was completely solid, relieved of power. His eyes were closed.
Naho lay a couple yards away, and Lhikan moved toward her.
To his surprise, she moved, feeling the hand on her shoulder. Breathing slowly, her eyes relit.
“You made it,” Lhikan stated, a glow of satisfaction filling him.
The Toa of Water gave a smile, sitting up at a minor pace, waiting for something to flare in pain. But the bruises weren’t too bad. She gazed at the Dark Hunter, her expression suddenly solemn.
“We got him?” She asked, knowing the answer.
“Yes. Mission successful.”
“It doesn’t feel like it.”
Slowly he brought an arm under hers, lifting her up to her feet.
“We need to get back. We’ll give the okay to deconstruct the ship, use its parts. And we’ll need to free Silic, give Pelish and Jehu …”
His voice trailed off, and Naho nodded, knowing they had waited too long to help the Toa of Stone.
Quietly they both walked into the light from above. They moved upstairs, passed their comrades and the Dark Hunters who had fallen. They moved through the medic room, down the barrack’s hallway, up into the terminal, rode the elevator leading to a barren hanger, and step by step onto the catwalk.
It was a long journey back, and the moment they reached the surface, the struggle ahead would be waiting for them, as always. And they might be separated in the future, as friends usually are.
But for now, two were able to draw on each other’s strength in the darkest of places. They hadn’t fallen yet, one held the other up when needed, both of them standing, together.
It took me a little time to write this out. I've wanted a story about a Toa Team that travels into a dead frigate, and this contest was the perfect excuse. Thank you for reading this too long of a story, and I hope you enjoyed it! Please review or comment, as it would be appreciated. =)
I've never written a story about Lhikan or Naho before, but I've always loved his character and felt an appreciation for her work in the Metru Nui Toa/Dark Hunter War. There were a lot of influences to this, but the setting I had to get from the beginning Metroid Prime or perhaps that intro in Mass Effect 2, that sense of dread gets me every time. The team was just picked out of the blue, Lhikan and Naho being the only canon characters. I was really going for a silent, war story, with a drawn out dialogue at the end, hopefully it wasn't too much.
Thanks again for reading yal!
EDIT: I got permission from Velox to fix up a couple of errors I of course spotted after submitting this. I'm sure there are more...
Edited by The Great Grant in the Sky, Nov 27 2011 - 11:05 PM.