Prequel: Perfectionist (A Short Story)
Setting the Stage: A mission of infiltration, a plan twisted enough for Karzahni himself, and a manipulated son of Makuta at its center. Borrowing from the dead to steal from the living, this sinister plot aims to destroy an entire Stronghold of Toa, and at the same time, put Metru Nui itself at the mercy of the Makuta. And as we know, Makuta have no mercy.
“You were created to be perfect. Anything less is unacceptable.”
Those were the words that had welcomed Evior into the world. He had woken up on a bright metal lab table, being carefully observed by Makuta scientists. Evior was every bit the spawn of the Makuta. He had the dark armor and surly air about him, completed by a handsome Kanohi Shelek. In his short century and a half, he had been trained like any Makuta would be. Occasionally he was sent to oversee external Visorak movement, or acted as a trainer for Rahkshi or other minions. But mostly he served as the main hit man for the Makuta. If they needed someone captured, it was his job. If they wanted something stolen, he took care of it. And more often than not, they needed these errands run. Once in a blue moon did they actually order an assassination, but when they did, the duty was his.
Slightly taller than a Vortixx and muscular like a Makuta, Evior made an intimidating enemy. The Makuta knew this. But even more dangerous was his barbed whip, which was his weapon of choice. If his physical prowess and combat capability failed, Evior had at his disposal the same forty two Kraata powers that the Makuta did. The drawback was, however, he could only use them for short periods of time, or at a very low level of power before he succumbed to the resulting headaches, fatigue, nausea, etc. Somewhere deep within the fortresses of Destral, in some underground lab, designs to negate this drawback were being worked on.
Evior had yet to fail a mission. And this, he assumed, was the perfection that was expected of him.
Now, as he sat in a shallow cavern, more of a scoop out of the side of a hill, Evior tried to imagine what would happen if his current mission did not succeed. The ring of lightstones in the center of the cavern cast dramatic shadows over his companions. This was a completely different kind of mission. It required stealth, it required deceit, it required wit and constant vigilance. Most importantly, and what Evior found most frustrating, is that he could not complete it alone.
The two of his companions were bickering like rahi birds, making no attempt to keep their voices hushed.
“I’m telling you, this is the worst possible place to set camp,” Kalott’s voice was shrill with irritation. From a distance, one might think her a Vortixx. But upon closer observation, it was clear she was not. She was more gangly than lithe and wore a Kanohi mask, whereas Vortixx do not.
“If you don’t like it, then you can go scout out a new location. I for one am perfectly content here,” the other being replied. This was Scuro. He was almost comically opposite of Kalott. He was a red and brown armored brute, and this unfortunate color combination left the impression of rust. He could wrestle down an Arthaka Bull and still have strength to spare. A fierce light danced in his eyes, and the combination of the glow of the lightstones and the curve of his Kanohi Tryna made him look savage.
“The wind and rain are going to blow straight in here. You’re lucky we don’t have a real fire to feed.” A scowl darkened her Kanohi Iden.
The two sides of the argument pressed on, neither of the two seemingly willing to shut up. Evior’s gaze fell upon the last ‘member’ of their party, lying as silent as ever in the back of the cave. His mission, his team’s mission, was to infiltrate and secure the Toa Stronghold on this island for the Makuta. The Brotherhood wanted this particular island due to its proximity to Metru Nui. And now it was within their grasp, thanks to this last part of the team.
Ducha, Toa of Water, or at least, she used to be. A Brotherhood operative had come across her body, crushed by a rockslide, about a year ago. Sources identified her, and traced her back to the Stronghold. Makuta Mutran had formulated the plan from that point. Evior didn’t know how to feel about this job. While it was genius, the immorality of it haunted him continuously.
As much as Evior didn’t enjoy the presence of Scuro and Kalott, they were a key part to this mission’s success. Evior’s job was overseer and guardian, which didn’t bother him. But Scuro and Kalott had the real work to do, and their task sent chills through Evior’s frame. Working together with their respective Kanohi Tryna and Kanohi Iden, they would puppeteer the body of the Toa of Water, thus gaining access to the Stronghold.
Dark clouds obscured the setting suns. The ceaseless jabbering presently brought Evior back from his wandering thoughts.
“Tomorrow’s a big day,” He cut in abruptly, and his companions fell quiet. “You need rest.”
“Good idea,” Scuro nodded. “Kalott can keep watch first.”
“What? And get soaked through the armor by this storm that’s coming? I don’t think so.” She shook her head indignantly.
“The storm will pass us by, don’t worry.” Evior said tiredly. They’d spent a sleepless two days traveling to the island, and then trekked another half a day to their little cave from where they’d concealed their ship. They were all exhausted. “I’ll stand guard,” He told them, even though he had no intention. There was no need for a guard.
As Scuro and Kalott milled around, trying to settle down, Evior closed his eyes and focused. Invisible energy pulsed out of Evior, and the two of his companions dropped immediately into a Kraata-power induced slumber. “Sweet dreams.” He murmured, drifting off in his
Toa Inéha sat up, gasping and trying to suck air back into her body. The black and purple armored hand of her sparring partner, a Toa of Gravity, appeared in her unfocused field of vision. Obligingly, she grabbed it, and was hoisted to her feet. She tried to squeeze out her thanks between undignified, gaping inhalations, but had to suffice with a grateful slap to her partner’s back.
“The Great Spirit gave us Elemental Powers for a reason, you know,” Valeron chuckled as the young Toa of Psionics recuperated.
“This was a training session!” She told him accusingly, leaning heavily on her trident, although she couldn’t keep a smile from creeping onto her Kanohi. “You had no need to drop me from thirty feet up in the air.”
“I had every need,” the Toa of Gravity countered, returning the smile and mock indignity. “In a real battle, your opponent wouldn’t help you up after you got the wind knocked out of you, Inéha. The least you can do is attack his mind while you recover. But really, what you should have done is one of those telekinesis tricks and landed on your feet.”
“Yeah, well,” Inéha shook her head. “I don’t plan to be falling thirty feet in a real battle any time soon.”
“You don’t plan those types of things,” Valeron told her, most of his light mood had worn off.
“Whatever you say, Valeron,” Inéha consented. “So what do you say? Are you up for a patrol, old timer?”
“Do you think it’s true?” Inéha inquired, nudging Valeron’s arm as the two of them picked their way along the rocky beach that ringed the front half of the Stronghold. “You know, about the Dark Hunters and the war in Metru Nui?”
“I know it’s true,” her companion answered, eyes not wavering from his path. “They talk about it in the Control meetings every week.
“Oh,” The idea of war, both the innocent and the instigators dying, put a damper on Inéha’s mood. “Well things have been awfully quiet around here for a time of war, don’t you think?”
The Toa of Gravity nodded, “But don’t get comfortable. If Metru Nui calls for help, we’ll be the first to know.”
The Toa of Psionics cast her eyes towards the horizon. The suns were just beginning to descend. She saw a ship way off in the distance, probably on its way back from a distant trade. “I’m a Toa. Life should be adventure, and danger, and adrenaline. Not training and patrols and sentry duty. What good is all that training you put me through, if I don’t have a chance to apply it?”
“You’ll never be assigned to a field position if you don’t learn to use those Psionic powers of yours in battle.” Valeron reminded her.
Inéha replied, “What good are flimsy Psionic powers, really? I’d rather be able to move mountains and shake the earth.”
“And with enough training, you can do just that.” Valeron sighed, because they’d been over this a thousand times.
“Valeron, I’m no Toa of Earth. You know that,” She refused to meet his eyes.
“What I’m suggesting,” Her mentor continued, “is that you focus on training with your Elemental Powers, instead of your hand to hand combat or weapon specialization. Think about it. You could provoke a herd of rahi-bull into a stampede. You could trigger an avalanche with a well placed telekinetic blast. Is that much different from causing earthquakes or moving mountains?”
Inéha shook her head no. She’d heard this whole spiel before, or at least the like. The Toa of Psionics frowned, and activated her Kanohi Mask.
“Do you know why I chose this mask?” She asked the Toa of Gravity. But she didn’t give him time to answer. “When I was a Matoran, the village I lived in had one Toa. And she was a Toa of Psionics. And trust me when I say she was almost as well trained in her element as you are in yours. But all it took was one enemy, one, with a mind shield. The Toa was no match for his raw strength. The enemy turned out to be an assassin, coming after our Turaga. A few of us Matoran tried to stop him, but really, what match were we? We ended up losing four Matoran, one Toa, and one Turaga to the brute, because our one protector couldn’t even throw a decent punch.”
Inéha emphasized this with a punch of her own that shattered a nearby boulder to fragments. “And when I became I toa, I promised myself that wouldn’t be me. That’s why I got rid of my Mask of Possibilities, which is a mask most Toa would be lucky to wear in their lifetime. I traded it for a Mask of Strength. And my Pakari gives me more than just strength, it gives me security.”
Valeron had been nodding in understanding, and he saw that Inéha was winding down. He saw a chance to voice his thoughts. “To be honest, Inéha, I think the only ones on this island that could best you in physical combat are the commanders here. If you’re not satisfied with that, I don’t know what to tell you. But if you learn to master your element, you would be unbeatable, simple as that. And if you would just let me, I could show you how.”
Inéha was silent as she began walking again. Valeron followed, letting the young Toa mull things over. She’d been a Toa for almost three decades, and he’d known her for about fourteen and a half years. She was no fool, but she was not without her own stubbornness. After it became clear that she needed no more combat or physical training as she insisted, Valeron had taken every chance he could to encourage, nag, remind, suggest, and advise her to start using her elemental powers. He knew it irritated her, but he hoped that one day his message would stick.
He’d heard the watered down version of her story before, but even with today’s expansion, it still didn’t completely explain her stark refusal to use her elemental powers. Valeron knew that she knew she was one of the best fighters; she didn’t need him to tell her. Even so, she did not want to move on to elemental training. It was strange, because most young Toa chose to hone their elemental powers before anything else. Valeron’s best guess was that something scared her about using her powers, but he couldn’t be sure. If he was to be the best mentor he could be, Inéha would have to be the best learner she could be. But for now, he would work with what she gave him.
He had begun to review in his mind the lessons of his own youth when quiet laughter caught his attention instead. “What’s so funny?” He asked.
“You’ve been my teacher for so long now, almost a full decade. And it’s taken me this long to figure out that the old ones really are the
wiser ones. Whenever you want to begin this new training, I’m ready.”
Edited by Aderia: Toa of Ducklings, Apr 23 2012 - 04:31 PM.