Posted Apr 16 2012 - 05:11 AM
As Stronin lay dying on the ground, thoughts whirled around in his mind. He had never truly thought he would die so early in life, for he had expected to live longer. He knew that he had gone through many near-death situations, yet he had never come this close to dying ever before in his life. However, it seemed he would be entering the domain of Karzahni very, very soon; as in several minutes soon.
“cool dude! Are you just going to lie down and die?” The voice rang through his mind, causing him to mentally wince at the noise level.
”Well yeah,” he replied morosely. ”There's nothing else I can do.”
”Of course there's more things you can do! Just because you're lying on the ground bleeding and half-dead does not mean you can't survive!”
”I'm lying on the ground half-dead and bleeding,” Stronin shot back. ”Of course I'm going to die.”
He winced in pain as he felt his life slipping away. It seemed as if he wouldn't have much longer to live. That was when something akin to a slap slammed into his face, even if it was merely a mental creation.
”The Toa Stronin I know would not let death get in the way of his epic career of stealing things! The Toa Stronin I knew fought for survival, and would always manage to get out on top!”
”Well I won't be Toa Stronin any longer in a few minutes,” said the Iron Toa dryly, wincing again as pain coursed through his body once more.
”The Toa Stronin I knew would always keep his promises.”
This caused Stronin to freeze up, his mind flashing back to his past, when he was much younger. The voice, triumphant at its victory of the Toa, spoke, the tone of voice making him feel as if it was smirking.
”You still haven't fulfilled that promise. How are you going to if you die?”
Stronin felt lighter than before, as if several mental chains snapped, allowing him to freely move around. Having freed his mental self from despair, in the physical plane one of his fingers twitched.
”I've been such a fool,” he chuckled. ”How could I have forgotten that promise?”
Back in reality, his whole arm twitched.
”So you understand now eh?” said the voice. ”You're supposed to survive. No matter what it takes, you have to live long enough to fulfil that promise.”
”Of course,” said Stronin. ”Don't underestimate my awesomeness.”
He clenched his fist, and back on the physical plane, his body did the same.
”By the way,” he continued, addressing the voice. ”Who exactly are you?”
A chuckle came from all around him. ”I'm you of course. Who else other than Stronin himself can make him live. Now go bring down the fist of Mata Nui on the world. Good luck.”
And so, Stronin began to pull himself off the ground.
”I don't need luck,” he said as he began to lose connection to his mental world. ”I'm Toa Stronin.”
”Thanks”, Tapio said to Lux and Rylus as they untied him. ”Now we just have to...”
Tapio turned around and saw the 13 Onu-Matoran approaching. He knew one of them was no ordinary Onu-Matoran, though. The leader of the group was Maa, an old friend of Tapio. Recently, Tapio had discovered that there was something really wrong with his friend. It had happened in Ko-Wahi, where Tapio's fears had been proven correct. He had raced back here to tell Rylus and the others about the possible possession of Maa... a similar possession Lohkare might've been going through. And now Maa, or whoever he was, was leading a group of criminals against him and his friends.
”That's him!” Tapio cried out at Rylus and Lux, pointing at the approaching body of Maa. ”He's the one I saw in Ko-Wahi, who I told you about!”
Now Alex realized why Tapio had left so quickly. He had suspected something. Typical, he thought. It seems as if everyone around here knows who I really am.
”Attack!” Alex yelled at his 12 bandits. The Onu-Matoran drew their weapons and ran at the assembled crowd of heroes and mages.
Henkka was surprised by Tapio's cry and he turned to look at ”Maa”, whom he had just taken here to help against the mages. But now, the group of Onu-Matoran was attacking himself and his friends instead.
”Look out!” Henkka shouted, even as both the Onu-Matoran and the mages attacked.
A wall of iron suddenly formed in front of the mages and Onu-Matoran, preventing them from getting close to Tapio and company. Stronin cracked a weak smile, ignoring the pain in his chest. He may have been half-dead, but he could still use his powers, even if they were somewhat weakened by his injuries. He quickly turned to face his companions, slightly strained from creating the metal wall.
”Miss me?” he asked, smiling at the others.
No sooner had Stronin said those words than the iron wall between himself and the mages started shifting and crumbling. Dark powers corrupted the wall and disintegrated it.
”You have dared to oppose Makuta”, one of the three said. ”Somehow you survived being stabbed, but Makuta will see to it that you won't live much longer.”
Dark clouds began forming in the sky.
”Oh, he will.”
Sorry guys,” said Stronin as cheerfully as he could while half-dead. ”Not my religion.”
From his hands, two metallic lances formed. Ignoring the pain that came with using his powers, he threw both of them at the mages. One of the lances crashed into one mage's chest, while the other pierced the second mage's head. The Iron Toa chuckled morosely at the sight, before turning to face the rest of his enemies, who were advancing on him and his companions.
”Come at me bro,” he said, raising his arms. ”You guys managed to nearly kill me once, can you do it again?”
And from his armour, a rain of metal swords shot towards them.
Tapio was amazed at Stronin's display of power. Henkka could not help admiring Stronin's persistence.
Many mages were hit by the swords of Stronin, dropping to the ground dead. However, one of them simply turned intangible and let the swords fly right through him. Then he leaped forward and blasted Stronin with dark powder of some sort, designed to make the victim fall asleep.
”Stronin!” Tapio shouted. Suddenly he heard voices from behind him and turned. From the other side of the alley, ”Maa” and his Onu-Koronan bandits were coming.
”You thought the wall would hold us, didn't you?” Alex sneered. ”But the way you blocked wasn't the only one here.
Henkka still had Lux's blade. He ran to his friend. ”Here's your sword”, he said. ”Thanks for letting me use it.”
Lux chuckled, and grabbed the disk in Henkka's hands, swapping it for his sword.
“I think you'll make better use of it,” he grinned, “Besides, it doesn't have that much sentimental value to me.”
With that, he charged, slamming his full body weight into an oncoming Matoran. Not expecting such a bold (and foolish) attack, they both toppled to the ground.
Tapio was nearby, readying his Volo Lutu. Rauha and Rakas both took out bamboo disks. The Onu-Matoran seemed undeterred and kept coming towards the group.
When the dark powder had slammed into Stronin, he had felt drowsy for several seconds, before his determination to survive kicked in, keeping him awake. He was not going to let a simple magic-user take him down with powder, so he barrelled through the cloud of blackness, tackling the mage, both beings crashing to the ground. He came up on top, and punched the other being in the face, knocking the mage unconscious.
”I may be half-dead but I'm still awesome,” he quipped, ignoring the pain still present in his chest.
He moved to face the Onu-Matoran gang, and grinned again, before firing another barrage of metal swords at them. However, just after this, he coughed violently, collapsing to the ground in pain.
Syryn held his breath, waiting. He was certainly in a real predicament. A Skakdi holding a knife to one's neck usually qualifies as that.
“Your choice old man,” he snarled. “Money or blood. I'm good either way.”
Syryn couldn't say anything at this point, not without the blade penetrating his throat. Fortunately, he didn't have to.
“Get your filthy hands off him!”
Both combatants stared at the intruder, only to see that it was a Ta-Matoran. A rather scared Ta-Matoran.
The Skakdi roared and went to grab, but Syryn was right there, and seized the warrior in a headlock before slamming his head into the nearby wall, knocking him out. The Toa let him fall to the ground, then turned to the Matoran.
The Ta-Matoran looked up at Syryn, saying, “Thank you, Toa.”
Toa. That word again. He was supposed to be a Toa, but what was he. A coward, who was running away from his destiny. All the while his friends, the only people who had accepted him, were fighting for their lives somewhere nearby, and where was he?
He bent down, handing the Skakdi's dagger to the Matoran. “Be safe.”
Syryn turned and sprinted back the way he came.
Wahkua and Zoma were nearing the temple of Xa-Koro now, and the former couldn't seem to shake the feeling they were being followed. There wasn't much evidence of this, really, but the Inquisitor did have a sense about these things, making a mental note of every passerby. Not that there were many at this point. Few non-Xa-Kuta dared to venture near the temple complex unless they had direct business with one of the powerful mages or higher-ups who resided in the area.
”Have you made your decision yet?” Wahkua asked the awestruck Onu-Matoran in his shadow. They had been trying to settle on a position for Zoma to accept after the proper training.
Zoma wasn't quite sure. He still had doubts about this whole thing, of course. After everything he and Rylus had been through, he didn't want to turn his back on everyone who had tried to rescue him back in Le-Wahi.
And where are they now? mused a sinister voice in Zoma's mind, the very same that had haunted his dreams for days, Your so-called friend has abandoned you. If he truly cared, wouldn't he make some attempt to follow you here? Soon enough, you'll show him that he has made a grave mistake.
”I think I know now,” Zoma responded softly, ”I think I want to be a Black Mage.”
Of course, Rylus and the others were trying desperately to prevent this from happening, but Zoma was not privy to this vital piece of information. At the moment, however, Rylus was beginning to think that Zoma never would get this particular piece of information, as he and the others were currently being assaulted by a number of savage Onu-Matoran outcasts, led by someone called Maa who he assumed to have some relation with Henkka.
Already, chaos was erupting around him. Stronin was in terrible shape with a potentially mortal wound to the chest, and the group was greatly outnumbered. Realizing there was no need to conceal it now, Rylus whipped out his Volo Lutu and fired, hooking the mask of one of the bandits and tearing it off his face. He couldn't help but grin.
”I love this thing,” he said with a smirk.
Before meeting Rylus, Tapio had been nothing but a simple inn-keeper's assistant, waiting tables and cleaning them every evening. He had been happy with that lifestyle. After all, he had not known anything else. He had not even dared to think about adventuring all around the island, battling Rahi, mages and bandits. But meeting Rylus had changed all that. Tapio had had friends before Rylus, of course, but his bond with this one was special, somehow. Not only had their friendship been tested in dangerous situations, but Rylus had also taught Tapio how to fight, he had taught the value of trust and loyalty. All that was beginning to show.
Tapio fired his Volo Lutu at two bandits who were close to each other. They dodged out of the way. Too late, they realized they had not been the target at all. The sphere hit the wall behind them and soon Tapio was flying towards them. When he was close enough, Tapio spread his feet and managed to kick both of the bandits. The damage wasn't considerable, but they were dazed.
Henkka was about to go and help Stronin, who was in very bad shape, when Alex suddenly attacked him. Henkka was amazed at the accuracy and power of Alex's strike and could only barely block it with Lux's sword. Henkka was thankful to Lux for letting him keep the blade. That was what he was good with.
Before Henkka could retaliate, Alex gave more blows, all of which Henkka blocked or dodged with much difficulty. The skill of this combatant was incredible. Never before had Henkka fought against such a good swordfighter, after...
Henkka gasped. No, it could not be...
Alex swung again at Henkka. This time, Henkka was flung back by the force of the hit. Alex leaped on top of Alex and swung his sword in a way that clearly showed the intent to kill. It was a deadly efficient move Henkka had only encountered once before. Then it him almost as hard as any blow from Alex.
”Alex!” Henkka cried out, the sword now about to pierce his host's body...
”You're not dying on my watch,” muttered Stronin, coughing some more as he took out his cavalry sabre, throwing it straight at Alex's blade, sending the weapon flying off into a completely different direction. He had promised to help his new companions, and wouldn't let them die so easily.
The strain of throwing his sabre caused more pain to surge through his body, nearly causing him to spasm. However, he gritted his teeth, hoping that if he ignored the pain, it would go away. If he was going to die, he would do so by saving his companions from dying first. There was no time for dying at the present time.
”It's rather sad that all of you cannot kill a single half-dead Toa,” the Iron Toa said mockingly. ”I mean, I'm on the ground and somewhat disabled. How hard can it be to kill me?”
Lux slammed his fist into a bandit's face again and again. Both Matoran were on the ground, grappling. Lux had managed to gain the upper hand, and now had the bandit pinned down, punching him over and over again. Hardly honourable, but now wasn't the time for that anyway.
Just when he thought he might manage to finish this, he felt himself being hauled up by the collar. Soon, he found himself in the worst possible place: face-to-face with a mage.
“So then, Lux,” he snarled, “Think you're better than the great Makuta, do you?”
Lux hesitated. “Er...can I not answer that?”
That, obviously, was not the right answer. The mage reached into his cloak, pulling out a thin blade. He slowly brought it up to Lux's throat.
“I'll kill you for that, heretic,” he snarled, before –
- gurgling. His grip slackened, and he let go of both Lux and his knife, before collapsing to the ground himself. In his back, was a metal spike, generally used for construction, which could be found anywhere.
Standing over him, was the single person Lux never expected to see. An elderly, grizzled, thoroughly haunted Toa of Plasma. Syryn had returned.
Tapio leaped and took out a disk, hurling it at a bandit. Tapio's disk-throwing skills had improved a lot since he'd begun his adventures and he managed to knock off his mask. Tapio then ran over to Stronin. They had never been introduced to each other, but Tapio knew the Toa of Iron was on their side and needed help. ”We must get you out of here”, he said to Stronin. ”You won't stand a chance in the middle of all this.”
Henkka shook his head to clear it and stood up. Stronin had just saved his life. Glancing at ”Maa”, Henkka now saw something different. He still saw the Onu-Matoran... but at the same time he could see another being in its place. And the being he saw was no other than Alex himself, in his original form of a Ta-Matoran with a Pakari. No, this was no magic, Alex had not morphed... but nevertheless, Henkka could see him like this.
Must be the realization, Henkka thought. Once I realized he's Alex, I started to see him like this.
The same thing had happened to Alex. He now saw Henkka's true form at the same time with the body he was possessing. After all these years, the two arch-enemies were finally face to face again.
”So...”, Alex said. ”It happened to you too.” He fingered his blade. ”I am not surprised. Nor impressed.”
”And I can guess you are not here to save anybody”, Henkka said grimly, tightening his grip on Lux's sword.
Alex chuckled. ”Oh, you're right. And you're about to find out just how right you are.”
With that, Alex stepped forward, swinging his sword.
Edited by Toatapio Nuva, Apr 16 2012 - 05:13 AM.