The darkness within the tent was complete—a shade so thick that not even the strong light of dawn breaking above the trees could enter in. It seeped out through the seams and the thick tent-flaps, stilling the air about the encampment, draining the color from the earth and sky. It was a pure darkness. But it was not empty.
Two eyes flickered in the lightless space. Crimson and piercing, they stared through slitted eyeholes, but they did not look outward, for there was nothing to see.
No, they looked inward on this day—deep within, seeking, searching…eons of memory laid out before their gaze, for it was on this day that the world would be changed forever, even if that change began in a single mind…His mind.
The War had gone well. The might of the Brotherhood was strong, and knowledge was their ally. It had always been their ally, and so the struggle against the League of Six Kingdoms was decided by superior tactics, greater strategy, more cunning battle-plans. These six pretenders could not hope to stand against the Brotherhood’s best. It had been folly to try, even if they were Mata Nui’s “chosen.” They had given up that title long ago, and now the Brotherhood must restore order and control, by whatever means necessary.
And for many years he had been content in that task, content to wage war with the enemies of the Brotherhood and the Great Spirit. But of late, a feeling had been growing in his mind…a sense of foreboding, as if something was not right with the world, or not right with himself. In truth, he had felt it for a long time, but only now, now at the end of his labors in this war, did it become a sense of urgency, of insistence, a sense of, dare he say it, fear.
It had begun as a whisper, a slim suspicion, creeping into the back of his mind, and for so many years he had ignored it, put it aside. The world had been bright and open—full of opportunities to discover what was not known. He had thought that, in time, all things would be made clear.
But…the years had passed, and still the whisper remained, taunting him. It was a simple thing, too simple: merely the feeling that something had been…held back. Something remained hidden to the sight of the Makuta. Something important, and he yearned to know what it was. Through all the centuries and millennia he desired it, but could never discover it. So it was that he came to a final conclusion: that whatever this thing was, whatever it was that was hidden from him and his brothers, it could only be the work of the Great Spirit. Mata Nui withheld something from them, or simply did not see fit to grace them with his knowledge. Either way, it gnawed at his spirit, and he would give anything now to gain what he did not have.
It was for this reason alone that he had forsaken the usual pursuits of the Makuta, seeking instead arcane knowledge, unknowable things. He had looked past the barriers of the world, past the knowledge of the elements or the lesser powers…he sought something that went beyond all of them. And now…now he had found it.
A vision sprouted within the dark mind of the Makuta…a vision of blackness…reeling…empty. At first it seemed like the blackness that filled the tent—cold and silent—but no, it was unlike. That darkness was elemental: it had substance, energy. This was a different darkness, a darkness that roared and raged and devoured. A darkness that was without substance. An Absence.
“Yes,” thought the Makuta. Yes, he knew of it. In his search he had heard whispers, rumors, stories of fear and terror from the beginning of the world, and it had a name:
The Void surrounded all. It was that which separated one thing from another. It was a paradox, for it was nothing. But as the vision grew and filled the space of his mind, the Makuta knew that here was true power: a power and a knowledge far beyond the petty command of the Elements. Here he would find what he sought: the knowledge that the Great Spirit hid from him. And knowing that…he would—
But the thought went unfinished, for the vision changed. He saw a great light shining, far away. The intensity of it was painful, and he tried to avert his gaze, but could not. It grew, and now he saw that it was a sphere: white and pure and featureless. And then it resolved into color. It was a world…the first world. The Great Sphere…
Whispers of legend arose in his memory. Spherus Magna…Paradise…the home of the Great Beings…There it hung in the midst of the Void. One dazzling speck against the unending blackness. Defiant, untouchable.
But then…then he saw how the blackness invaded the Great Sphere. A sliver of shadow seemed to pass into the glowing circle, and it was marred. Smoke filled the skies of Paradise, and the Makuta watched as the Great Sphere shattered before him. The Void did its work, and what was once whole was now broken, undone.
Three worlds remained as the vision faded, spinning desperately away in the emptiness. The Makuta felt himself sink back into the darkness of the tent, but he was no longer alone. A presence was there. A presence he had not felt before…a feeling of otherness. It was…unsettling…and it seemed to coalesce in the silence of the tent, speaking with words that had no sound. He did not understand them yet…not yet. The Makuta stirred, raising himself from the metal seat. He shook his head…
…but even as he let the elemental darkness dissipate, even as he turned to go…another vision flashed through his thoughts...six from one…once whole but now broken…six lights flickering out in a sea of darkness.
And then it was gone. The tent flap fluttered in the cool wind of morning. The sentries straightened to attention as their commander stalked into the trees. He was ready now…the idea was taking shape. But not now. First, he had business to attend to.
The trees thinned as he entered the main encampment. Soldiers stood to attention in ranks upon the central staging ground, encircling a group of six iron stakes driven into the ground.
The Makuta strode forward until he stood before those stakes, and smiled as he looked down upon the six figures tied to them. The ones who had been called Warlords…now defeated. Indeed, once they had been a great force in the world—a unified power. But now…now he had broken that unity, and their power was nothing.
“I am the Makuta,” he said to them, using his proper title. “You have rebelled against the Great Spirit. You have abused the power given you, and now judgment will be passed upon you.”
“You cannot so easily snuff us out, Makuta,” said the one called Pridak. His eyes were bright, defiant. “Who are you to pass judgment on us? You who have destroyed just as much in this war?”
The Makuta laughed, a deep, unseen laugh, and the Mask of Shadows flickered with terrible energy as he replied.
“Destroyed? Indeed, for destruction is the payment for peace, for control. The enemies of the Brotherhood, the enemies of the Great Spirit—all these shall fall into destruction. For I have been given that authority…I AM destruction…”
The Mask of Shadows pulsed as the Makuta looked into the heart of the Barraki Pridak and saw…saw his true plans for the universe. The eyes of the Makuta narrowed. He smiled faintly.
“…and I WILL destroy you.”
This was a wannabe contest entry for the Visions portion of the Flash Fiction Marathon. Didn’t quite make the word limit, so here it is in its own topic. You may have encountered the subject matter before (possibly in a previous story). Any comments, critiques, and/or evaluations are much appreciated.