Dead silence. Then a roar.
Black riders burst forth from the gates, streaming after their quarry. They descended into the world, riding through the forest, an entire army bent on destruction.
Had their eyes been looking for it, they have noticed a change, a slight thing of notice. For a minute, the forest would be no longer green, telling a story of restoration, but composed of frail white and charred black, telling a story of a battle.
He had been here before. Flames crackling, fingers of smoke reaching up into the sky. A roar. He saw the black beings approaching over his shoulder. They were after him.
He ran. He spun and dodged through the trees. Charred forest stretched on before him; somewhere off in the distance there was a hint of green, but his lungs burned, his heart pounded. He saw the black come up beside him, the color that would soon consume his vision.
A whirlwind knocked a black Skakdi off of his mount. “Since when did these guys come in black?” shouted Iruni, aiming his spear for another run.
“There’s too many!” Gaaki formed two water spheres around rider’s heads, sending mounts and riders crashing into each other. “We need to get out of here!”
Pouks scowled. Stone blocks erupted in front of the riders, tripping their fast-moving mounts and sending riders tumbling. “You think we can outrun these? You would leave the Matoran defenseless?”
Bomonga casually chucked a rider aside. His newly large size allowed him to step over a few riders, only to trip falling back down as more riders slammed into his feet.
“Retreat!” bellowed Norik. Pouks and Kualus threw up stone and ice walls to shield their injured friend, and Gaaki ran to retrieve him. Shadow blasts shattered the walls, blasting fragments at the battered Toa. The riders that had made it past the team were coming back for another pass…
Iruni launched a healing spinner at Bomonga.
Norik launched a slowness spinner at a rider approaching from behind.
Pouks and Kualus threw up more stone and ice walls.
Waves of water crashed down on the beings to the left and right of the Toa’s protection. Gaaki slumped over, weakened. Kualus caught her.
Shadow blasts rained down on the heroes from every side, none of which could be sufficiently parried. Soon the black riders stood over their prize; six unconscious Toa.
He saw the webs strung in the trees. He was running, faster than ever. Turn, stop, he thought, but his limbs would not obey. Threads closed around him, and he struggled trying to get out, to get free…the web vibrated, the spiders were coming…
The Toa dipped his hands into the murky substance in the bowl. Energy crackled from the liquid, pouring into his body and setting his mind at ease. Upon finishing, he cleaned his hand with a similar bowl of water and a small cloth.
Across the room, a Ba-Matoran settled back in his chair. He had heard of this particular Toa before, but the reason for this visit eluded him. It could be interesting, he thought, looking at the white-speckled remains of a hearty soup.
“Not as much energy as the good old stuff in the robot” said the Toa. “But we take what we get these days.”
The Ba-Matoran did not answer. He felt slightly numb. Ever since his kind had migrated here, gravity remained constant. He remembered a time when gravity shifted, and he was there to correct, to sense the change. All gravity goes in this direction, and cannot go in any other directions, even when you go in another.
“Not in the mood for talking?”
“Why are you here?”
“Just to talk. I’m going on a journey soon, and I thought I would like to eat with someone before leaving.”
“You seem aimless, my fellow friend. You plan to sit in this hut for the rest of your days?”
“I have no plans.” His hands twitched; they were used to being busy, checking the systems for the slightest leak, the tiniest malfunction…
“You don’t talk much. What do you know of Spherus Magna?”
“Gravity here is constant. It is always maintained. There is nothing to adjust.”
“Why did you come?”
“I’m going on a journey, friend. Why don’t you come along? You can tell me if gravity changes.”
The Ba-Matoran chuckled. “I supposed it is better than waiting for it here, noble one.” He stood up. “Barkan, Matoran of Gravity, at your service.”
“Takanuva, Toa of Light, at yours.”
* * *
“You see, I have some friends to rescue.” Takanuva pulled on the reigns of his sand stalker. “This way. Apparently they are with some Skakdi, following them as if he were Mata Nui himself."
The Toa of Light nodded gravely. “They would make excellent spies, if they were on our side. As it stands…the thought of them mindlessly serving…makes me sick. I wait for an opportunity."
It was a level path, an easy tread down to the sea. As the stalkers plodded, the two noticed smoke coming from the horizon. “Fire.”
“Let’s have a look, shall we? This could be important.”
Barkan winced. “And what about your friends?”
Takanuva shrugged. “They might be involved. Also, it’s important to know who’s about, in case we have to make a break for it. Further, Tahu sent a team of Toa down here to check things out. That fire could be Norik’s doing.”
A few minutes later, the two emerged into a smoke-laden desolation. “Straight out of-“ The Toa broke off, coughing.
“Never mind. I lived on an island once. This place reminds me of a place there.” He turned his beast again. “Follow me.”
* * *
The first thing Bomonga noticed upon awaking was the large quantity of air that rushed past his face. He was tied to the back of a shadow, watching the trees race past. Up ahead, he saw an object stretching across the path. His partner fired a bolt of shadow and tried to reign in the beast for a stop, but to no avail. The three hit the web with a smack, and the steed reared, sending both riders tumbling into the entangling morass. The Skakdi kicked and fought, but Bomonga didn’t bother; he just closed his eyes and waited for doom.
But it didn’t come. He heard the whinny of a sand stalker, and felt one of the stands holding him snap. His eyes opened, only to see a Matoran hacking at his bonds.
“Gee, thanks” whispered the Toa Hagah. “Get the rope.” Barkan nodded, sawing away with his knife.
He was standing in front of a giant fortress. Deep inside a volcano, accessed by a tall forbidding drawbridge. Spiders crawled past him, heading for his home…He had to stop them…
“Jaller, wake up.”
“Get up! We’re under attack!”
“Spiders…are there spiders, Hahli?”
“Get up, sleepyhead. We have a battle to fight. The Skakdi shouldn’t have to deal with these intruders.”
“Right. He got up and walked through the corridors, past a room where Kongu was fanning a female Skakdi. “Problem outside.”
“I’m sure you can handle it.”
“If it gets out of control, I want you there.”
“Look, our job is to serve the Skakdi. If I don’t fan her, she’ll melt.”
“If the Skakdi have to deal with this…”
“I shouldn’t have to” said the female. “Get rid of whatever it is. I like my peace and quiet.”
The two Toa Mahri raced down the corridor to the chorus of the lady shrieking.
* * *
Stone rolled off the battlements, crashing into the moat below. Fire leaped from the closed drawbridge. An explosion of stone rained down; Pouks was putting his power to good use, tearing a good chunk out of said bridge, while Bomonga and Kualus put an investment in making their own.
Jaller waited with nervous trepidation. The fortress gates would soon be breached, leaving little in the way of the fortress being plundered, save for five Toa Mahri. He looked over his shoulder. He pulse quickened; he saw his leader, the Golden Being. He knelt before him.
“Serve me well, Toa.” The six Mahri nodded agreement.
* * *
Norik dodged a cyclone. Why do we always end up fighting these Toa? They are most cantankerous, indeed. “Why are you doing this?” he asked, fending off a blast of water.
“You are intruders. You are disturbing the peace and tranquility of whom we serve” said Hahli.
“We simply want you back, Hahli. We want all of you back. You are Toa.”
“Vastly inferior to Skakdi.”
“You are heroes, people that should be respected, honored. Your duty is to protect the Matoran. Remember them?”
“Matoran. Such pathetic weaklings. Not worthy of our calling.”
This is hopeless, Norik thought. We might as well turn back.
“Jaller! Hahli! Hewkii! Kongu! Nuparu! My friends!” The combatants looked to see a golden-armored being coming off the slope, his arms extended in a gesture of welcome. Elemental energies rained down upon him, but he just kept walking through it all. “My friends” he said, “don’t you remember me?”
He does seem to be familiar, a person before the time I came to see the truth. He must be destroyed. Fire met light, the energy bolts searing the walls of the crumbling fortress. A fiery cage erupted around Takanuva; light bolts seared into the Toa Mahri’s eyes, breaking his concentration. The Toa of Light walked up to his friend and shook him. “Jaller! Jaller, wake up! I am Takanuva, Toa of Light!”
“Huh?” I think I remember you…
“Remember Takua? The Chronicler? Remember that kolhii match we played?”
“We lost. It was foolish.”
“We were Matoran then. Remember the Matoran? Guarding them was your destiny! Remember who you are, Jaller. You’re a hero, not a servant.”
Small tendrils of light emanated from the Toa’s touch, reaching into his mind, driving away the influence of the being in command of him. He could feel the Golden Being trying to reach into his mind: The Skakdi are the superior race…the best way to live or die is to serve us…I am a Toa of Light. I am a hero. I serve the Matoran.
Gaaki and Kualus took up positions beside the Toa of Light. Light poured forth from his being, leeching into the minds of his friends. Energy crackled forth from the beings’s hands, lancing forth toward Takanuva. Light met energy. Then fire, stone, water, air, and finally earth met him. Battered by the elemental onslaught, the being retreated.
“Come on.” said Jaller. “Let’s get out of here.”
Edited by fishers64, Apr 05 2012 - 09:23 PM.