The street lights had just started to shine, five minutes after Solis Magna had given its last ray of light to the city of Roxtus, capital of the ever growing Skrall Empire.
And even though most of the city still worked at night, the residential zone where Toa Mulon was walking through was silent and still. He sat in a bench, and stared at his reflection on the polished metal surface of the building in front of him.
The image of his reflection would have been different a long time ago. He had long and muscular legs, well-built arms and a chest plate ornamented with Hordika-themed details. All his armour was black, including his great Matatu with a scope built in it, except for the chest and shoulder armour, which was white… the only remains of what he once was, a Toa of Light.
He remembered of his times in which he served the light. He remembered how his world of brave heroes was burned down.
Millennia after the Great Cataclysm, everything seemed to go back to its place, with the Toa Nuva starting their vital task. But they were killed in Voya Nui. Another Toa team was sent, but they couldn’t prevent what happened next. As Teridax was killed by the Toa Metru beforehand, Mutran took the lead and possessed Mata Nui’s body, which turned out to be the universe in which Mulon and every of his friends and enemies lived.
Then everything was chaotic… and the result was that only he and a few Av-Matoran were sent to a distant world of Bara Magna by Brutaka, just before the Universe crumbled to pieces.
But Rotam, the last Makuta alive, followed them, and took over the Rock Tribe. Soon, he marched towards Atero, the last stand of the Agori and Glatorian, and crushed them. By that time Mulon had become a Toa of Light, but he had been badly wounded and captured.
Rotam healed him, showed him the ways of darkness, and he got rid of his inner light. Mulon soon became the second in command of the empire that Rotam started to build, and that after 900 years still hadn’t stopped conquering to expand it.
Suddenly, Mulon’s thoughts were interrupted as a presence invaded his mind. It was Makuta Rotam.
“How can I serve you lord Rotam?”
“Come to the Throne Room as soon as possible. There is an important matter to discuss.”
“I will go there immediately, my Lord."
As Mulon felt the presence leave his mind, he cursed. Someday, he should train his mind to block itself from those intrusions; he could not stand them.
He switched to his Kanohi of Quick Travel, and disappeared from sight.
Rotam, while sitting in his throne, watched Mulon appear. However, the truth was that he could not see the Toa with his eyes, for the Room was always cast in an eternal darkness. But having extensively trained mental powers, he didn’t need them.
The Toa of Shadows bowed, and Rotam pressed a button on the arm of his throne. The black crystal roof of the room slid aside to reveal the always impressing vision of the night sky.
The Emperor was very proud of some decisions he had taken after the war. The surviving Matoran had all been executed. Matoro had been left for dead after falling in the Creep Canyon. All had been killed except Mulon. Transformed into Toa short before the war… it could have been easy to just kill him, and it would have made sense, for nothing good could come out of a Toa of Light.
But instead, he had decided to try out something not exempt of risk – try to convert him to the shadows. It had not been an easy process, for if it was done too quickly, the light drain could consume the Toa’s sanity. But Rotam had had patience, and had insisted in the vile creatures that the Glatorian and the Agori were, how they had betrayed him, how they had planned his death.
That part didn’t have as much difficulty as the others, since an infected Glatorian he had infiltrated had stabbed Mulon in the back. When Mulon was ready, he had given him the Shadow Leech, and just to assure complete loyalty, put some Kraata Virus in his Kanohi, the exact quantity to subtly influence his acts.
And nine hundred years later, he still did not regret his decision. The elimination of the Bone Hunters out of the face of Bara Magna, the submission of the Sisters of the Skrall to the Empire, the conquest of Bota Magna, and other important milestones in the road to universal domination had been achieved by Mulon.
“Mulon, can you see the moon of Aqua Magna?”
“Yes, lord Rotam. It is the blue moon on the east. This night we have an exceptional view of the two moons.”
“Indeed, Toa. But, don’t you see anything strange?”
Mulon adjusted the lens of his Matatu to the sky, and focused on Aqua Magna. He scanned the blue surface of the moon, but couldn’t see anything out of ordinary. But as he zoomed out and turned his face to Rotam, he quickly zoomed back to Aqua Magna. Barely noticeable, there was something black which obscured a small part of the moon’s southern pole.
“What could be causing that shadow, Emperor?”
“The Matoran Universe, Mulon. I know we have not talked about it for a very long time. But you know the problems we currently are having.”
“I know, my lord. The Shadow Toa are excellent at enforcing your law, but they do not work well as soldiers.”
“Bara Magna is possibly the planet with more Shadow Toa, for the many factories that have to be overlooked. We have conquered all the six planets of our system, settled many cities with Skrall population and Shadow Toa squads. But, as the Second in Command you know our poor military advances in the rest of the Galaxy. Do you remember my project?”
“Yes, my lord. Outside the Solis Magna system, obliterate any planet habitable, take its resources, and settle a small city of Skrall and Shadow Toa. When the resources of one sector of the Galaxy run out, another will provide Bara Magna of its needs.”
“But we need something better than Shadow Toa for the Universal conquest. Do you remember your time in our old world? There the Brotherhood had the best type of warriors in the Universe. I need Rahkshi.”
A shiver went down Mulon’s spine as he heard of those creatures. They had been the terror of the Matoran Universe, exoskeletons for slugs of destruction; they had ravaged many lands, including his own.
“The problem is, Mulon, that I need Energized Protodermis. And here is where the pile of ruins that the Great Spirit Robot is plays an important part.”
Mulon looked at Rotam in surprise.
“Do you want me to retrieve the energized Protodermis from there, Emperor?”
“There are pools of energized Protodermis both in Daxia and Destral. Bring it to me… and I suppose that with those quantities will be enough to create another Entity.”
The Toa of Shadows nodded, trying not to show his emotions. Mulon knew that working for Rotam meant he should not show them.
“As you wish, Emperor. I will prepare my private spaceship and leave before dawn.”
Mulon bowed again, and left the room. The Emperor then closed the crystal roof, and his room once more was cloaked in darkness.
The spaceship was ready. It was small, its capacity being only of one passenger, and its shape resembled that of a Takea Shark. In fact, Mulon’s spaceship could be said that it was the only one of its kind; the spaceship – which Mulon had named Pridak – had been built and designed for him as a gift from the viceroy of a nearby planet.
Mulon boarded the Pridak, and closed the door behind him. The spaceship only had three rooms: the control room, a small room for cargo and the decompression room with a hatch.
He still wasn’t sure of how to enter the robot… if it hadn’t been because Rotam had told him, he would still think that the Matoran Universe was bellow the surface of the endless ocean of Aqua Magna and not orbiting it.
But that was the least of his worries at the moment, and he decided to get some sleep. He put on the automatic pilot and activated the opacity configuration of the protodermic windows.
The Toa of Shadows suddenly awoke, alerted by the Pridak's beeping sensors. He turned on the lights of the Pridak, and looked at the screen in front of his chair. The matter detectors had sensed a satellite orbiting around Aqua Magna, and he was now heading straight to it.
He changed the configuration of the Pridak’s windows, so he saw what the satellite really was. Mulon held his breath as he watched the twelve million meters long, humanoid-looking robot silently orbiting around the blue moon. Rotam had once told him that his universe really was a robot, but he had never imagined like that.
The metallic skin of the robot was scratched, broken in some places, and meteor holes could be seen from the distance where the Pridak was. Mulon could get through one of those. He just had to reach a hole near Karzahni and get through it. The only inconvenience was that he would have to drive manually through the hole, as the teleportation power couldn’t get through the thick, metallic skin of the Matoran Universe.
A smile appeared on Mulon’s face through his great Matatu as he though about the teleportation system. Only five hundred years after he had seen the truth, he had invented what could possibly be the Empire’s most successful technology after the disintegrator gun.
Mulon opened a hatch bellow his chair and descended to the small compartment below. And he admired the monstrosity that powered the ship.
Not having any energized protodermis, Rotam found no use for the Kraata except for producing Kraata Virus, which he used to infect the insurgent workers of the factories. But then, Mulon was conceded access to the few things that the Emperor had taken with him before the destruction of the Matoran Universe – some Kanohi, a black lightstone, a pair of swords, a reconstruction at random Kanoka and a sample of Visorak Venom. And then he had the idea.
A Teleportation Kraata, when mutated with Visorak Venom, grew ten times its normal size, its skin irradiated green light and energy and its power greatly augmented.
So Mulon checked the Kraata Hordika in front of him, green light bathing his armour. Many wires were connected to the creature, and the Toa of Shadows grabbed a particular one, and plugged it in a hole in the back of his head. Immediately, the Kraata Hordika received the instructions of where to go, and Mulon quickly unplugged the wire from his head and returned to the control room.
The Pridak materialized in front of a fissure in the Matoran Universe Robot’s armour. Mulon deactivated the automatic pilot, and levellers and a steering wheel deployed from the walls that surrounded him. Carefully and slowly, Mulon drove towards the fissure. He continued advancing, until he was only a few kio from the entrance. From there, it looked like he was about to enter a sinisterly grinning mouth. He sped up, but slowed down once he was entering the fissure.
Mulon felt strangely uncomfortable as he continued penetrating the robot’s armour. The front lights of the Pridak were allowing him to illuminate the narrow walls that enclosed him. The situation was very tense, and as minutes passed by he just saw the seemly unending walls of scarred metal. Where was he getting? When he had entered, it was clear that he had to go down, but in the monotony of the tunnels he had lost track of the direction he was following.
Finally, he saw that the Pridak abandoned the fissure, and then shadow enveloped everything. The front lights didn’t reach enough far to illuminate anything. The radar showed the metallic wall behind him, but no thing more.
He would have to go down blindly and hope to find some reference to orientate him.
For the next two hours, he kept advancing through the darkness. By then he at least knew what direction to take to find ground – he had been launching some light emitting spheres, and one of them had illuminated something metallic.
He now was just a kio from the source of the reflection. As he zoomed closer to it, he slowly saw the outline of it; it was the roof of some kind of large building, like a fortress. Given the northern position of it, it could only be Karzahni’s palace. That meant that Mulon still had to get through the coastal gates in order to arrive to Metru Nui.
Mulon then stopped the Pridak. He would have enjoyed seeing ravaged land of Karzahni, with its Matoran statues, its broken factories and Manas nests, but he had a mission to accomplish for the Emperor. So he went to the Kraata Hordika compartment, to set the destination to the City of Legends.
Mulon was overlooking it, for the first time in more than six millennia. The once beautiful skyline of Metru Nui appeared as sunlight poured through the frozen twin suns.
But, overlooking the city from the sky, Mulon understood that Metru Nui was now the City of Dread, for its landscape was a dead one and eternal silence masked the fact that once little more than a million Matoran had lived there. They were dead. Everyone Mulon had known was dead.
The Toa of Shadows looked for reference in the centre of the city, where the Coliseum should be, but instead he saw an enormous gap on the pavement, filled with rubble and burnt debris. Luckily, he recognised some foundries to his north, so he would have to head south – to Ga-Metru.
Mulon turned the Pridak to the south, and sped up. The images of the landscape bellow that the main computer screen was showing him were quite disturbing. He now was leaving the central area of Metru Nui, which looked like it had been on fire during some time, and was entering the water district. Its protodermis fountains, the rest zones and the purification towers, all of them laid still and in peace, frozen for the eternity.
The screen then showed what once had been the schools and the Protodermis Labs, now just ruinous structures. This is where he had to go.
The Pridak slowly descended towards the ground. As it did so, Mulon opened the small tool package on the back of the control room, and retreived a Kanohi. It was the Kanohi of Vacuum Survival. Designed by Nuparu long ago, in the same city he was now visiting, for in case some day further exploration beyond the domes was needed. Teridax had a copy of the plans for the mask, which he sent to the Brotherhood… and from there Makuta Rotam was able to steal it from Teridax’s vault before the final Cataclysm started.
The Pridak had already landed. He switched the great Matatu for the Mask of Vacuum Survival, grabbed a backpack and a pick, and went to the hatch room. Mulon also installed some feet additions which modified the gravity slightly to make him stay on ground. He closed the door behind him, and activated the mask power as decompression began. Once it was over, he opened the outer hatch, and exited the Pridak.
The first thing that he noticed was the silence. There was no air, so sound could not propagate… "But anyway, why care?" Mulon though "There isn’t anything out there alive to make noise."
The second was that he wasn’t entirely sure of where to start searching for Energized Protodermis. It had to be somewhere in the Protodermis Labs. The problem was that the only time he had been to Metru Nui he had stayed a few days and only in Ko-Metru.
Mulon got out a lantern from his backpack, and illuminated his path. Although sunlight illuminated Metru Nui at the moment, Mulon knew that the twin suns were immobile now. He would have just a few hours of light, and even at the peak of the day the intensity of the light wouldn’t match that of Bara Magna’s dawn. It looked like he had landed in one of the main streets. He set the lantern on his shoulder, and walked to a structure to his left.
It was a spherical building, which was now on the ground, but judging by the two columns on each side of the sphere, it could have been a chute station. He approached the fallen chute station, and inspected its protodermic surface. Peering through them, Mulon saw some tables, some chairs, and a few inscriptions on the walls in Matoran language… and some Matoran inside too. Dead. It wasn’t worth checking. However, while circling the station, he saw a particular inscription, this one written on non-crystalline protodermis, and on the outer side of the station’s wall. Mulon read it.
CHUTE 88 – COLISEUM
CHUTE 632 – GREAT TEMPLE
CHUTE 201 – TO ONU-METRU
CHUTE 354 – TO LE-METRU
CHUTE 513 – PROTODERMIS LABS
After millennia of speaking Skrall language, Mulon found it hard to read the Matoran language.
Mulon grinned as he read that one of the chutes that had passed once through this station, the Chute 513, went towards the Protodermis Labs.
He immediately looked around for some signs of the chutes. To his north there was a nearly intact chute, except for the part which would have to connect with the fallen Chute station, but Mulon dismissed the idea of that being the chute, for he had just come with there in the Pridak, and he had not seen anything that could be a laboratory.
To his west, however, there were a series of columns with circular structures on the top. He sent a bolt of shadow to the ground bellow one of the columns, and immediately a cloud of dust, frost, small pieces of metal and broken crystalline protodermis started to float around. Chutes were made of crystalline protodermis. Could that have been Chute 513? He would have to find out.
He started walking, following the columns that had once supported the chute. The sensation was strange – he was walking on pieces of crystal, crushing them with his feet, yet he didn’t hear anything.
From time to time, he looked at the sun-holes. One time he saw something small partially eclipsing one of them. Maybe it was broken machinery, flying debris… or Matoran, for that matter. He remembered that once, he had received a report from some factory workers that something had fallen through the sky. They had told him that the objects were not from any known metal. Mulon demanded to see the pieces, and had seen some of a dull gray colour; some others with some ornaments… and one had an eye-hole. He had not though it could be possible, so he had argued against it being an inhabitant of his former world. But now he was starting to think that the theory was not that mad.
As minutes passed by and Mulon observed his surroundings while walking towards the end of Chute 513, the sense of monotony was getting stronger. All around him were mostly devastated structures, which he identified as the Ga-Metru schools. Here and there, he found a chunk of the protodermis that had flown through the chute, some floating around, and some lying in the floor. One of those chunks had quite unnerved Mulon, for he had seen something humanoid trapped inside.
Night was already falling when he was nearing the end of the chute. Those last minutes of the day were bathing the former city with a light going from orange to darker red.
He now was very near. Purification towers were starting to get more common. While advancing, he saw some protodermis falls by his side, and stopped to admire them. They must have been a beautiful sight. The protodermis –now frozen solid, along with the Ruki fish inside it- surged from a fountain at the top of a building behind the fall, and some metallic structures were installed in the buildings between the falls, so when the protodermis fell the flow acquired a stair-like shape.
After a few more meters he reached the end of Chute 513. Now everything was cast in unending darkness except for the area he illuminated with his shoulder-mounted lantern.
From where he was, Mulon could see a big building in front of him, and when he got closer, he could recognise it as the Protodermis Lab.
The Toa of Shadows entered, and found himself in the main hall. The centre of the room was filled with machinery, which formed a column and went up to the roof. The building had blue walls, and at the roof there was a big skylight, which was almost opaque now. There were some tables next to the entrance, but what interested him were three doors specific for Ga-Matoran scientists, located in the opposite wall of the hall. He walked there, noticing that at every step he made, dust clouds raised – but they didn’t settle.
Mulon silently, though violently, ripped the door of the first room off of its hinges, and threw it aside. The room wasn’t anything important; just an office, with a metallic table and a chair, and some pictures of Metru Nui hung on the wall.
The second room was nearly empty, with just some vials lying on the floor along with some broken tablets.
The third was the one he had been looking for. The room was as small as the other three, with only a metallic table, three copper Kanohi trophies on the wall and a small cargo hauler, but there was something interesting; in the ground, there was a circular carving with a slot in the middle that had the shape of a Matoran head.
Mulon had heard of systems like that before, like the ones the Toa Mata had found in the Bohrok Nests. If you put the right object in the right slot, a door would open. And now it was clear that he had to fit one of the copper masks there.
He only had three options, for there were only three Kanohi. One was a Hau, the other was a Miru, and the other was a Kadin. He first though of the Hau, for its relation with the Great Spirit, but then he realized that the Miru in reality was a Mask of Wisdom.
When he put it on the floor carving, the circle turned intangible, revealing a stairway bellow it. He descended through the spiralling stairway, his lantern only being able to illuminate a few steps in the dense darkness.
When he reached the end, he slowly scanned the room with the lantern, making out the outlines of some machinery and scientific instruments. In the centre of the room, he saw a shiny mass of frozen metal inside a pool.
He had no doubt it was frozen Energized Protodermis once he approached the pool. He got out the pick of his backpack, and started mining the Energized Protodermis, trying to fight back the strange sensation of that unending silence.
Something was wrong.
Mulon, now back in the Pridak, with the Energized Protodermis carefully deposited in a small frigorific compartment, was having problems with the controls.
Everything seemed to be working fine; there was no leak in the energy distributor system, the shields of the ship were solid as steel and the electronic system powering the outer functions was responding well. Maybe the problem was with the Kraata Hordika?
He checked the vital sings of the beast. The breathing was steady. The energy flux was working without any obstruction. About the brain activity… it could not be possible!
Mulon checked the analysis – the activity was well over what the Kraata brain was supposed to be able to withstand. The readings were telling him that the Kraata should have its brain fried, yet the other readings told him that it was alive.
Without further hesitation, he quickly opened the hatch to the engine room, and looked at the Kraata. There was nothing strange about it at first glance. Its metallic lemon skin was irradiating green light, as usual, but its eyes, which usually stared at whatever was in front of them, were closed.
He kneeled in front of the Kraata, so his eyes met the beasts closed ones. He touched the Kraata once, but nothing happened. Then he tried something else. He sent a thing bolt of shadow energy to the monster, which immediately opened its red eyes.
Mulon could do nothing as the world around him shifted, and before disappearing, he saw the Kraata Hordika grinning.
When Mulon regained vision, he was in the middle of nowhere. Apparently, the lantern hadn’t been teleported with him. Darkness surrounded him, and the light coming from his eyes and heart light wasn’t enough to make out his surroundings.
He didn’t know why the Kraata Hordika had teleported him there, but if the aberrant slug had the intention of letting him helpless in the eternal darkness of the ruins, it had failed. Partly, because Mulon was still wearing the Mask of Vacuum Survival at the time, and also because of a new technique Rotam had taught him some months ago.
The Toa of Shadows concentrated, and started to feel the shadows around him. He pressed his mental capabilities further, until his conscience expanded into the shadows, merged with them.
When the process was over, he still didn’t see anything, but he didn’t need to – he knew where shadows staretd and where they ended, where they were stronger and where they began to degrade. He needed to start moving somewhere, because given the strain of the mental link, he could not make the connection last long.
From what he was sensing, he was in some sort of corridor, which had a roof and some cracks along the walls, as well as an opening at the end, which could be a door. When he passed through the opening, he found out that he was now on a much larger room, with some sort of strange pillars that weren’t taller than him.
Mulon still didn’t know where exactly he was. It could be some forgotten room in the archives, a dump of unfinished sculptures in Po-Metru or a minor temple in Ga-Metru.
His mental strength was quickly draining. He ran to the next door before the mental link was broken, but he wasn’t able to sense anything after crossing it.
He sat on the floor, unnerved by the situation. He couldn’t see anything, he couldn’t hear anything, and he had mental energy to continue using his mask just for an hour or two.
So he just continued sitting, cursing the Kraata Hordika. How had it acquired self-conscience? Why had it teleported him away? He had never seen anything like that.
Angrily, he raised, and sent a bolt of shadows in a random direction, and almost immediately he was showered by broken crystals. This just enraged him more, so he started blasting everything wildly with shadow energy.
Mulon was starting to loose sanity. He liked to hear the sound of metal bending, rock crumbling and crystal breaking when he destroyed something, but now he didn’t even hear the sound of crystal piercing armour when the shrapnel hit him.
But even in his temporary madness, Mulon was able to catch a glimpse of light coming from one of the corners of the room. Whatever had caused that, Mulon wasn’t going to let it escape. He ran frenetically towards the light source, tripping over debris as he did so. The light was now flashing quickly, but it wasn’t moving.
Thinking it was a heart light, Mulon jumped on what he though that was the being’s body, only to find a metal wall. He fell backwards on the floor, but to his surprise, the door opened, revealing a small compartment filled with red light.
The Toa crawled inside the compartment, noticing that there was yet another metal door. Then the one behind him closed, and the light of the compartment changed from red to yellow.
Many questions flashed through Mulon’s mind, but he didn’t have time to answer them as he felt that the environment of the compartment changed. Some slots on the wall had opened, and air was flowing from them.
When it was over, Mulon found out that the compartment functioned also as an elevator, as it was now going down. Strangely, he was starting to hear the hum that the elevator made as it went down.
Finally, it stopped, and the door which had remained closed before opened, and the light turned green. In front of him there was a well illuminated corridor, its wall filled with light stones. They were functioning, even though that made no sense knowing that the Great Spirit was dead.
He walked through the corridor, astonished, and reached what looked like the main hall of a sub-section of the Onu-Metru Archives. Then he heard footsteps, coming from another corridor at the opposite side of the hall. He was prepared to face anything – Rahi, Karzahni or even Tren Krom – but not for what he saw.
A Ga-Matoran walked slowly towards him. Mulon couldn’t hide his expression of shock as the Matoran came closer to him. He couldn’t even think clearly and find any rational reasoning; he just stared into the Matoran’s teal Akaku, his head spinning. Finally, she stopped in front of him.
“Welcome to the Onu-Metru Archives, Sub-Level 6, the last of this universe’s many failures.”
When Mulon recovered breath after the shock, he had agreed with the Ga-Matoran to go to the storage room to show him some recordings.
They were almost there, walking through many rooms with stasis tubes, which didn’t contain any exhibits. In fact, the section of the archives where the Ga-Matoran lived seemed to have been recently inaugurated, for it was neatly clean and the stasis tubes weren’t working.
“You must have lots of questions in your head, Toa. Do not worry. The recordings in the storage room will answer them. By the way, my name is Ryla.”
“I’m Mulon.” He looked at the floor, thinking. He wasn’t going to tell her his true element. “Toa Mulon, Toa of Iron.”
“Really? I have never met a Toa of Iron before.”
“Well… after the purge led by the Brotherhood there aren’t many of we left.”
“I can assure you that youare the last.”
They arrived at the storage room. It was just a square room filled with multiple objects, boxes sprawled on the floor. Ryla picked up something from one of the boxes, and passed it to Mulon. It was an octagonal prism made out of a strange type of crystal, and it was the size of his fist. He wasn’t sure how it functioned, but it had a slot with hexagonal shape, and the tip had a flat metal chip plugged in.
Ryla then took the crystal, and grabbed the only light stones that shone the room. She put it in the hexagonal slot, and then the metallic tip projected an image on the wall in front of them. Ryla didn’t even look at the images, but explained Mulon the functioning of the device.
“The device is made out of the same substance as the Memory Crystals used by Scholars in Ko-Metru. The light stone gives energy, and the information is projected.”
Mulon hadn’t payed attention to what Ryla had said. The images that were being projected had absorbed his attention.
The recording showed Metru Nui, back in its days of glory. Matoran walked through the streets, chutes transported materials, and the Coliseum stood proudly on the centre of the skyline. But then a thundering sound was heard, and the Matoran started running. Moments later, the Coliseum erupted in flames. An explosion followed, and the shockwave send burning metal and stone flying in all directions. When the dust cloud cleared, there wasn’t anything but burnt soil where the Coliseum had been.
Ryla threw that recording aside, and put the light stone on another. This time, tremors shook Metru Nui, now in night time, though there were no stars in the sky. Matoran now ran madly, trying to survive. As the final tremor shook the universe, the lights of the city went off, and Matoran, vehicles, cargo, entire buildings were torn apart and thrown to the sky as the gravity stopped dead. The recording ended there.
“This is the moment in which one million Matoran died, not counting the billions of beings from other islands that died that day, Toa.”
The Toa of Shadows was hypnotized by the images of the recording… so much destruction… it was beautiful.
However, when the initial effect of the images faded, a question shot through his mind. How had Ryla survived? Why hadn’t Rotam told him that the Matoran Universe was in orbit until then? The emperor had declared Aqua Magna and its orbit an exclusion zone and banned any studies of it long ago. But more important, how did it all connect with the Kraata?
“There are many things I do not understand… but to start, how did you survive?”
Ryla exited the room and went to the main hall, and Mulon followed her.
“All you see here, the security systems, the light stones and the airlock system are powered by an internal circuit connected to an alternative power cell that was built in the lowest level of the archives during the Toa-Dark Hunter War. It used to storage energy from seismic movements.”
Mulon was starting to understand.
“As you might guess, Toa, the energy levels were raised to the limit of its capacity during the Great Cataclysm. The device had energy for the entire city for millenniums.”
They passed many doors until they reached one exhibit chamber labelled as ‘41’. Ryla opened the door, to show a completely dark room, with the only light coming from a control panel in front of the door.
The Ga-Matoran started to manipulate the control panel, introducing commands to a computer.
“After the events you saw in the first recording, we knew that our world was going to end. Havoc spread all around the city, anarchy raised and crimes were constant during the three days that the universe had before its destruction.
But Turaga Dume, in one of his last orders that could be considered as ‘sane’, ordered a group of Matoran to seal off a portion of the archives, install the secret generator to a security and airlock system, as well as bringing to the ‘bunker’ as much food as water as possible and store it in some refrigeration rooms.”
A Toa of Shadows would normally feel comfortable in a dark room, but he was starting to sense an oppressive feeling to it. There was something missing in Ryla’s explanation.
“But, if this was supposed to be Dume’s bunker, or mausoleum, where is he? And you mentioned a group of Matoran, yet, you’re the only one here!”
“As for Dume, he didn’t have time to come here. After ordering the construction of this place, he soon gave in to madness and died. Some said he actually took part in the sacking of the Great Temple and was slaughtered in the process. And as for the other Matoran…” Ryla paused, and then pressed a button on the control panel.
Immediately light stones on the ceiling started shining, revealing 30 stasis tubes, with Matoran in them. Only four stasis tubes were empty. Even though Mulon had imagined something like this, the sight was still shocking.
“Dume told us to program the stasis tubes so one of them would open every 300 years, and the Matoran awakened was tasked of researching using the sensors of the computer system to determine if the situation was better, and if that wasn’t the case, leave notes to his or her successor. Every Matoran has 50 years’ time. After that, we have to get back to the stasis tube and wait 250 years more, a time when another Matoran would wake up and continue the process.”
The Toa stared blankly at the inexpressive Kanohi of the Matoran in stasis, then at the empty tubes.
“If you were meant to return to the tubes, why are four of them empty?”
“This is where Dume's calculations started to fail. The power generator had enough energy for the basic systems, but the Turaga didn’t take into account the refrigeration needed for the food and water, the energy wasted by the sensors and the stasis tubes.
When the first Matoran awoke, 5 years after the destruction of the universe, the first thing he did was revise Dume’s notes. It was then when he realised that every Matoran who awoke couldn’t go back to the stasis tube because the system could not afford to restart the process of initialization again. So, according to his notes, after his 50 years, the first Matoran ‘went to have a walk’ outside the airlock. The second one threw himself to a pool of Energized Protodermis.”
“There’s something wrong here. If every Matoran had 50 years to enjoy their stay, then there would be more than four tubes opened.”
“The third Matoran, Rahoura, broke the rules. When he realised that our task was worthless, he decided to extend his time here. Knowing that there were still plenty of food reserves, he lived 200 years more than he was meant to.”
“And what happened to him?”
“Like the others, he committed suicide. In his case, he threw his Kanohi aside, and subsequently he fell into comma soon after. I guess that he starved to death.”
“Can I read his notes?”
“Of course. Follow me.”
Both walked to the end of the corridor, where there was a large room filled with bookshelves, and with a sofa and a table in the centre.
Mulon sat on the sofa, opened a folder that was on the table, impulsed by an impering curiosity.
He went directly to a section of the folder titled “Personal observations and miscellanea”. Most of the section was just reflections about the fate of the universe and the purpose of their mission. But he noticed something strange- the last paragraphs of the last sections that each Matoran wrote shared a trait.
Apparently, there was some sort of entity that tormented them on their last weeks prior to their suicide. The exception was the Ta-Matoran Rahoura, who was able to withstand the entity’s power for 200 years. What was this entity? Did it have any connection with him? Certainly the sight of the Kraata Hordika grinning at him had been something unnatural. And what was worse… that sick grin was familiar to him.
Mulon looked at Ryla, and felt something growing inside him. It was guilt. He had sided with the being that had orchestrated the ultimate destruction, and now was ruling the outside world. But a sudden pain in his head, apparently coming from his Kanohi, made him forget that. A new empire had been built and he was one of its frontmen. Power was above guilty.
He then noticed something on the Matoran’s left hand. It was a scar, which ran all the way from the tip of one of her fingers to the start of the wrist.
“Is that injury recent?”
Seeing how the Ga-Matoran didn’t find it important, Mulon decided to ask something more about the presence.
“Ryla, have you noticed something strange over the last weeks, or months?”
“Nothing out of ordinary, Toa.”
“And the notes… have you read them? They talk about an entity stalking every Matoran weeks before they reached their 50th year out of the stasis tube.”
“There’s nothing out there, Toa. The ‘entity’, if that’s how you like to call it, is a delirium that affects us after a certain amount of time. It’s a side effect of all the destruction. When you see this, and have to spend so much time observing, studying a world torn apart, it affects you. It’s inevitable. I’ve been seeing it for some days now.”
The Toa of Shadows tried to reflect on that. He had to analyse the situation beyond what he had tried up to then.
“There must be something more. Why did you even open the hatch to let me in?”
At this point, shadows loomed over Ryla’s Kanohi. Mulon didn’t even need to hear what the Ga-Matoran was about to tell him.
“I guess you are just one hallucination more, Mulon. You are not there, you don’t exist, and you are just here to bring me closer to my end.”
The room they were in fell silent. The Toa just could not say anything. He had dealt with deranged people before. But this time was different.
“I cannot tell you who I am, or why I am here, but you just need to know that I’m getting out of this place as soon as I can. I ended up here, and you are going to help me.”
“Or else what?”
Mulon didn’t like the point that the conversation was reaching. He needed a different approach.
“I can get you out of here Ryla, to my world.”
“I don’t want your world. I want mine. As much broken as it can be I still like to call it ‘home’”.
“Is there anything at all that you want?”
Ryla sat in the sofa, and started giving the matter a deep though. Her Akaku gave a worried expression, slowly changing into a sense of relieve.
“Ok… so if you are indeed real, and are willing to meet whatever lies below the bunker’s walls, then all you need is to do me a small favour.”
The Ga-Matoran went to one of the bookshelves and opened a book, from where she took a small device. It was a small, polyhedral object made out of the same crystalline material as the recordings, not bigger than a heartsone. Mulon put it in his backpack.
“Keep it, you will find out about the importance it has to me later.”
Before Mulon had time to ask anything else at all, Ryla was already heading to an elevator incrusted in one of the walls. Both Matoran and Toa of Shadows entered the lift, and as the doors closed and a low hum indicated the start of their descent.
There it was. Mulon wasn’t sure of what Ryla had in store for him when they had agreed to go to the engineer’s room. The first section of the bunker built, it was just a 5 meter square room made out of grey concrete walls, and it was just tall enough for Mulon to fit in. There was a desk, a chair, a cracked artificial lightsone and some locked shelves. There was also a hatch in one of the walls, probably leading out of the airlock.
On the desk, there were an undetermined number of papers sprawled across the room. Apparently, these were printed messages that various people had sent to the engineer. He picked up one and read it:
‘[…] another nest was found during out latest excavations at point 4052.503.323. Like the other times in which such a setback was found, a group of archivists have gone to the site and catalogued the machines, bringing them to their corresponding place in the archives afterwards. However, I am afraid that you will have to take care of them and store them at level 6 yourself, Velika. It is a result of a bureaucratic mess started by […]’
The rest was just as irrelevant but even more boring, so he picked up another one.
‘[…] because I honestly don’t care of what is down there, Velika. Three days left when the Great Spirit dies, you should probably know that by now. Mutran has just take that title and his deranged mind will not last long. It does not impress me that you have already installed the airlock system inside that abandoned level of the archives; it was your duty, as it is of all Matoran who still live in Metru-Nui to do what I say. You are no exception- so do not dare to question my decisions again or […]’
It was probably Dume, addressing again to Velika. What was the Turaga hiding? But he had to find something more relevant. Looking at the pile of papers, the Toa of Shadows decided to pick up one that stuck out of the rest- it was handwritten. And moreover, the handwriting seemed rushed, forced, and sinister.
‘[…] Finally, I have managed to find this place to stay. My fellows are incompetent. I never should have had relied on them. While this universe falls, instead of doing something of use they just run around screaming, like if they were just little scared Matoran. Maybe it was my fault, but I am locked in here, exempt of any chances of escape. Life might be found in the other side of the hatch, or it could be cold death calling my name. Either way, even if I knew what lay behind these walls, the end of my existence would be certain […]’
“Ryla, do you know who wrote this?”
“Velika. I recognise his handwriting, and I even found him lying dead on this table, with a pen on his hand. Before you ask, yes, I took his corpse and buried it along with Rahoura’s. All I remember is that there wasn’t a single scratch on the engineer’s armor, not a sing of violence, or sickness. It was as if his mind had gone away.”
It was strange. There were way too many loose ends. Mulon was starting to feel an urge to open the hatch and find out whoever had been causing all the disruption.
“Sorry to interrupt your thoughts, Toa, but it’s very likely that it was Dume himself. He could have used his Kiril to erase the wounds in the armour.”
“I’m still not sure. I will need to find out myself. Just one thing; is it here where the dark influence gets stronger?”
“Yes. I come here once a week, to check that the airlock is functioning well. There gloomy influence attacks me, but I don’t feel the effects until I have exited this place.”
“Open the airlock, I’m going out.”
“You won’t be coming back.”
“I have faced worse things than this.”
“Do whatever you want. I will die in a few days anyway, like the others did. If you want to go out and kill yourself it’s ok for me.”
The thought of arguing back politely burst in Mulon’s mind, but was suffocated immediately. The influence of the place was starting to have an effect on him too; the darker side of him that he had tried to supress since he had met Ryla was lunging to break loose.
Finally, Mulon found himself outside the airlock. Ryla had agreed to open the hatch and Mulon had activated again his mask of Vacuum Survival. The hatch on the other side of the airlock was on the roof of a cavern.
Mulon floated all the way to the bottom of the place, and then activated his feet additions. He was immediately propelled to the ground. He felt that he crushed something when he landed, but, again, no way to tell it since there wasn’t any sound.
The scene before his eyes wasn’t much different of what he had already seen before. The lantern that Ryla had given him illuminated what looked like an exhibition room like those of the most superficial levels of the archives. However, it was completely different to those. Unlike the polished, metal surfaces of the floors and walls of the 1st to 3rd levels, this was rather a big rocky cavern.
Walking further to the centre of the room, there were some stasis tubes. He could not make it clear of what was inside them. And as he plunged nearer to the centre of the cavern, the influence made the shadows inside burst into flames.
His pulse speeded, his mind worked faster than an Avohkak and his legs run faster than a Ranama swam through lava. The shadows around him blurred and morphed, the stasis tubes around him appeared and disappeared from sight, until it all ended in a crash.
Mulon fell to the floor as a cloud of small glass splinters from the stasis tube rose and floated around. There, in the ground, the insane rush turned into euphoria, only for it to embitter and transform into anger.
When the Toa was enraged enough, he decided to get up and admire the mess he had started. He had crashed against a stasis tube, though he didn’t feel any pain. There was something nourishing in the darkness of the place and he was starting to feel euphoria again.
Trying to fight back the clouding effect in his brain he looked around at the nearest intact tube. And what he saw inside sent a chill down his spine.
A Kohrak lay inside, resting in a spherical position. It didn’t look dead, though he was sure that there weren’t any chances of it moving. He had heard something about Krana once, and how these robots couldn’t function without that kind of organic brain.
Anyway, what was the purpose of the Bohrok, now that the Great Spirit had died? They had no use, no goal, they were just as frozen as the rest of the world – but their sight was still forbidding and unnerving.
Then Mulon decided to turn to look at the other side of the cavern. That was when things started going downhill.
There were two red dots, staring at him impassively. They were too far away for his lantern to reach them. This time there was no inexplicable attraction, nor just plain curiosity, but pure fear. It petrified him. His legs could not move, his head could not turn, and all he could do was look at the red dots as those grew bigger. The being was approaching him.
When it came into the lantern’s range and its shape started to unveil of the thick darkness, Mulon saw something he would have never expected.
It was a Pahrak-Va.
Mulon shoot a bolt of shadow at it, but its armour just absorbed the dark energy. Then, a high pitched screech resonated inside his head, and then he felt the being’s mind intrude into his own.
‘Come on Mulon, you have not come here for a fight, have you? You have come because you have questions. I’m the answer to them all.’
The Toa could not find any words to address to the telepath, he just was paralyzed.
‘Are you the presence that stalks the Matoran’s mind?’
‘Indeed, I’m responsible for that, and for much more. Don’t seek a deep meaning in it, which was just a pastime.’
The Toa of Shadows gave a closer look to the being in front of him. It was shorter than the average Matoran, had brown and tan coloured armour and held what looked like a small hammer.
‘So, your question is what I am? You already know the answer, Mulon’
A thunderbolt of realization struck the Toa. Everything was starting to make sense now.
‘You are Teridax. I thought you to be dead. Everyone in this universe used to.’
‘And you believed the stories they used to tell? You believed that six novice Toa and a Turaga could kill me? You are as gullible as any of the Matoran that lived their lives for the so called Great Spirit.’
‘Rotam told me that. I believe in his word.’
'' ‘Never, ever, trust the word of a Makuta. And even less if it comes from a dumb backstabber.’ ''
Mulon stopped to think. He did have many questions, but he had to choose the right one.
‘My question now is, how did you survive?’
‘The prosteel armour I wore was cracked by the Toa Metru. I could do little for it once the crack was opened; my essence slipped away unnoticed. In antidermis gas form, we Makuta have little control over our movement and faculties. So I floated away, until I reached the center of Onu-Metru. When I arrived there, I was exhausted, my will was barely enough to keep the particles of the gas together. I couldn’t do anything when I was aspired by some of the ventilation systems of the archives. The fresh air is absorbed from the surface and it is pumped to different levels of the archives through ventilation shafts. I was expelled on the engineer’s room in this level. I was safe for the moment, but I needed a body. So when some Onu-Matoran stored these Bohrok down here, it was just a matter of finding a small crack in the stasis tube, slip in… and take control of this Bohrok-Va.’
‘And after that, what did you do? ’
‘You might have noticed the note written by Velika in the room above – well, I’m sure you have, since I’ve been reading your mind ever since you descended to the cavern – but it was not written by him. I wrote it through his hands.’
‘And you killed him?’
‘Where is the borderline between action and induction? No, I did not kill him, in the most common sense of the word. But after invading his brain to write my testament, I couldn’t just leave him alive. It would not be fair. So I did not even scratch him – I can’t- but that doesn’t mean that I didn’t tamper with him, suggest him drinking the poisonous liquid inside the artificial lightstone.’
‘That explains just the first days of the 900 years you’ve spent in this inferno.’
‘Inferno? That’s not the right word to describe it. It’s much worse. After the first year of confinement, I was considering the option of suicide. However, I started seeing patterns in the shadows, they that told me things… some inexplicable, some other less strange but not less insane… even for a Makuta. But it gave me hopes. The shadows around me helped me. And the fifth year after the doomsday I was proven true. A Matoran awoke from hibernation and started studying the post-apocalyptic Metru-Nui.’ ''
>>> '' ‘I didn’t actually start interfering with his mind until 50 years had passed. It was fun while it lasted. But then, the Matoran cracked up and went out of the airlock to suicide. I would have to wait another long 250 years until another of these scientists woke up. The procedures where the same; wait 50 years observing, then start toying with the Matoran’s spirit. This one didn’t last long either. I expected more of him than just jumping into a pool of energized protodermis. Then 250 years more, but the wait was well worth it. The next Matoran that awoke, Rahoura, was different from the other two. In an act of self-preservation and greed, he decided to live as long as he wished instead of the 50 year stipulated span. Once more, after the 50th year I started stalking him in his nightmares. But he resisted. The rules of the game were different. It was no longer a matter of messing up with the Matoran’s brain until it became a broken toy in my hands, but rather push him until he committed suicide too.’
‘Kind of a challenge.’
‘Exactly. He was tough, but my determination was strong, my patience inexhaustible and my time endless. I had the time of my life. So, after 200 years of intense erosion of his mental capabilities, he too gave up and died. It was a big disappointment. I was no longer sure if I ever would have as much fun with the next Matoran. And when Ryla’s 50 years were nearly over, you entered the scene. My chances were growing.’
‘What is my role exactly in all this?’
‘Ryla is an average Matoran. Her mind doesn’t pose any challenge to me. But when I my bond with Kraata was activated when you landed your spaceship, I was sure that you were up for some action. So I just couldn’t let you go. Where would be the amusement in that? I needed something better to kill time.’
‘And what do you expect of me? To allow you to lock me up in the airlock, just like the Matoran rats, and die for your boredom? I would kill you first. I will kill you first.’
'That’s a vain statement. I could snap your mind right now, that’s a fact. I could take your body, your spaceship and go to your little homeland. I could challenge Rotam. That would be fun.’
‘Now you’re the one making harmless threats, Makuta. Remember the absolute zero? The moment you kill me, my Kanohi will stop functioning and my body will be crippled by the cold. And, even if you could find a way to evade my body from freezing, your antidermis would need to cross the space, as short as it might be, between your body and mine.’
‘Then, why not render you into a vegetative state, left with spirit but without mind and watch as your still alive corpse floats around the chamber for eternity to come?’
‘You won’t do that.’
‘I’m about to do it.’
Teridax penetrated deeper into Mulon’s mind, finding no opposition. There was no point trying to evade it. There was only one thing that Mulon could do.
The Makuta’s will was penetrating through the layers of thought like an arrow through Harakeke gelatine. But then it collided against something vivid. It was a thought, being rescued from oblivion, blocking momentarily Teridax’s intrusion.
The Makuta assimilated the psionic energy as the thoughts were being loaded into his mind. They showed him Mulon’s past. Concretely, the day it all ended.
The sky rippled and wavered as strong winds roared above the Matoran Mulon. All around him, he could see cracks in the streets, buildings crumbling to rubble and Matoran jumping out of the windows of their burning skyscrapers. Then the twin suns cloaked, and Mulon was taken by a blue and gold titan, accompanied by some Av-Matoran, as the darkness fell.
Teridax had a strange feeling after seeing the images. He hadn’t had the chance to observe the catastrophe, and it could only be described as… a work of art, of a genius.
But then, the infatuation slowly phased into daze, to then transmute into anger.
It had not been his doing. Mutran had done it. He would not be remembered for the universe’s biggest feat, but rather for being killed by novice Toa.
The morbid thought of seeing his fellow Makuta having credit for the ultimate destruction and ruling the universe even from death, made him sick. No, sickness was not the word, it was much worse than that.
Mulon let a small statisfaction grin as he felt Teridax’s hold over his mind quickly disappear, like sand falling through a closed fist. Soon, he had full control over his body and his faculties, and all he wanted to do was crush the Makuta imprisoned in the Bohrok-Va’s body.
However, what happened next prevented him from having that pleasure. An invisible force, apparently coming from Teridax, struck the stasis tubes with the Bohrok inside and tore them from the ground, making them spin around the Toa of Shadows wildly.
Then the stasis tubes started crashing against him. At first, he tried to fight the pain, but that was when he realized that he had to use it to his advantage.
With pain fuelling his strength, the Toa made his way through the maelstrom of shards of glass and protodermic gears. It was something almost rhythmic; watching as the small pieces collided against his armour, breaking into smaller pieces that in turn stabbed him again, as he took more steps further.
The pain was increasing, to a point in which it almost surpassed his willpower, but he was just a step from the mad Makuta. He couldn’t crack up, not yet.
After Mulon took his last step, things happened very quickly.
The Toa of Shadows jumped on the Pahrak-Va body of the Makuta. It would not be fair to say that the Toa was just hitting the Makuta with all he had, for it would be more precise to say that he was tearing Teridax open with his bare hands.
And as Mulon watched the antidermis pouring into the exterior and freezing into dust, the head of the Bohrok-Va formed a grin, the same that the Kraata Hordika had formed earlier that day. In Teridax’s last moments, the Makuta sent a bolt of energy through its eyes, which struck Mullon.
Then the Toa disappeared, and the Makuta died.
NOTE: This short story was too long to fit in a single post, and therefore the epilogue couldn't be posted fully. Read this post for the Epilogue: http://www.bzpower.c...94
Edited by Mr. Hyde, Jun 23 2012 - 03:04 AM.