Chapter 18 – The Battle
“On the bright side of things, they’re all really tiny.” Incommodo pointed out in what seemed to be an attempt at optimism.
“Incommodo, I think they’re just far away.” Arkrak sighed.
“Oh. Right. That does make sense, yeah.” The Toa of Magnetism nodded.
“So, what do we do?”
“Well, our usual reaction to a situation like this would be to fight them. But we’ve done a lot of fighting recently and I’m pretty sure that at least one person on our side has died every time, meaning that if we fight again you’re going to die,” Incommodo explained, surprisingly calmly.
“Couldn’t you die too?”
“Unless I manage to destroy the universe in the process, no. So basically, if we die, you’re screwed.”
“What about Nikarra? She’s still alive, so she could die, too.”
“Wrong.” The two Toa turned around to face the being who had spoken, who sat on the remains of a wall, observing them with his catlike green eyes. As he stood up and approached them, the temperature dropped, and the light as usual was sucked into the white substance that the Shadow was made up of. “I’m afraid that Nikarra is... no longer with you.”
“What did you do to her?” Incommodo hissed, pulling out one of his blades, which made Nekron back away slightly, reducing his effects on their surroundings.
“We came to a compromise,” another voice replied, and it was one at the same time alien and familiar to Incommodo and Arkrak. Nikarra’s voice was colder than ever, and her speech was slightly deeper in pitch, yet still recognisable. When she walked out from behind the very same wall Nekron had been sitting on, her appearance had met a similar fate; her eyes shone crimson rather than green, and her armour was darker, with more black than before. It hadn’t just changed in colour, though – lighter and sleeker, there was noticeably less of it than before, and tendrils of shadow curled around it like thin, black snakes.
“You’re one of them.” Arkrak whispered, his voice failing him.
Nekron waved at Arkrak. “I’m still here, you know.”
“Arkrak, go take care of those Rahkshi,” Incommodo ordered, not turning to face his friend, instead looking directly at Nekron. “I’ll take care of Nekron and his new friend.”
“Are you sure?” Arkrak asked, looking from Incommodo to the two Shadows.
“I’ll be fine, Arkrak. Just go.” He hissed, still not looking at him. He continued to watch Nekron as he heard his friend beginning to run away. He began to walk towards him, slowly, blade in hand. “What’s wrong, Nekron? You’re looking a little pale.”
“You try being stabbed; we’ll see how it works out.” Nekron spat.
“Ooh, have I hit a nerve?” Incommodo spun the blade in his hand as he advanced further. “I thought you were the ‘most powerful Shadow in existence’.”
“I was. But now... I’m much, much more. And you’ve made one big mistake, Incommodo.”
“What might that be?”
“You aren’t watching your left.”
Incommodo span around to slash at Nikarra, but too late – her knife was embedded in his arm, already painful enough from being stabbed quite recently. He cried out, falling down on his knees as Nikarra let go of the knife, letting the Toa of Magnetism try to grab it and pull it out. She crouched down, taking hold of the knife once again, and began twisting it slowly, earning louder cries from Incommodo. “Don’t worry, Inc. I’m not going to kill you. You’re much too important to die...”
“Screw you,” he hissed between gritted teeth. “Your... knife... is... metal...”
The knife, along with Nikarra, was sent flying backwards as Incommodo cried out yet again, the pain in his arm intensifying. He turned on Nekron, picking up the blade he’d dropped. “I’m going to slit your throat and see just how much whiter you can turn.”
“Ooh, have I hit a nerve?” Nekron mimicked, glaring at Incommodo. “You’ve lost this battle, Incommodo. You may as well go help your friend hold off that attack, I’d bet it’s not something beyond your power and expertise.”
“He can manage. You’re on your own, now. I can take you.” However, even as Incommodo finished, Nikarra was at Nekron’s side again, one hand on her hip, the other grasping her bloodied knife. “Now, Incommodo, you only have one choice: run.”
“I’d rather die,” the Toa of Magnetism growled.
“No, Incommodo, you wouldn’t.” Nekron chuckled. “Now, do as I said: run, Incommodo. Run for your life.”
Incommodo spat on the ground, then turned and began walking away, beginning to increase his pace with every one of the shouts Nekron sent after him.
- - -
Arkrak stood before the oncoming army of Rahkshi, with absolutely no idea what to do.
“So, how goes defeating the Rahkshi?” Incommodo asked, having teleported over to Arkrak after he got tired of running.
“Not well,” Arkrak sighed, looking down. Then there was an almost audible click as he looked up again, to face Incommodo. “But I think I have a plan.”
- - -
“Arkrak, have I ever told you that you’re a genius?” Incommodo questioned, looking around at the mirrors placed just inside the gates.
“No, I don’t think so.”
“Good, because I don’t see how this plan is going to work.”
“I have a Ruru,” Arkrak explained. “All I have to do is stand here, activate my mask, and this whole place is going to light up bright enough to burn those Rahkshi to a crisp.”
“Arkrak, you’re a genius.” Incommodo grinned. “But, y’know, just in case it doesn’t work, I think I’m going to hide elsewhere in the city.”
With that, Incommodo turned around and disappeared. “What a great friend.”
Arkrak took a few steps back, watching the approach of the Rahkshi. Slowly, the Shadow-possessed shells began to fill the space, approaching Arkrak at a slow pace, almost as though they were taunting him – they didn’t need to move quickly, or even fight that well. It was one Toa against an army, and he didn’t have a chance of winning.
Or so they thought.
“Say ‘cheese,’” Arkrak muttered, closing his eyes and activating his mask. Suddenly, a bright flash filled the whole clearing, and the screams of the Rahkshi reminded Arkrak to create a field of silence around his ears. After a short while, he opened his eyes, letting his mask’s power fade. The Rahkshi lay crumpled on the ground, pools of sizzling, black, acidic liquid around their heads.
“Karz, yeah!” Incommodo cheered, now standing beside Arkrak.
“I don’t like this, Incommodo,” Arkrak muttered.
“Why? We just won! Look at us! We’re winners! Woo!”
“It was too easy, Incommodo.”
“Maybe they’re just weaker than us,” Incommodo shrugged. “Come on.”
- - -
“Is this everyone?” Arkrak asked, looking around.
“Yes, it is.” Incommodo replied solemnly. “Just us, Arkrak. Everyone else is gone. Everyone else is dead.”
The two Toa stood behind a stage which had been days in the making, for the ceremony which would mark the end of all their troubles. They were the only heroes left. In less than a week, Spherus Magna’s greatest Toa had been all but destroyed.
Cheers and clapping were the signal for the two Toa to ascend the steps, and when they reached the platform Incommodo took a moment to look across at Arkrak. The two Toa had gone through so much, lost so many friends and allies, and it looked like it was finally over, like every sacrifice had, in fact, been worth it. Frustro approached them, carrying medals and a distasteful expression. Incommodo couldn’t care less. He just wanted it all to be over.
He got his wish.
He barely got to recognise the medal placed around his neck as the bullet smashed through his mask and mind. An instant death.
But there was one thing he did get to recognise: dark storm clouds approached in the distance, like nothing he had ever seen before. And although Incommodo could not see them, beneath the storm clouds stood an army, and at its head Nekron. “Ladies, gentlemen, Shadows of all ages; as we speak, Death himself moves toward New Atero. And in the aftermath of his arrival, we shall step over the dust left in his wake and take the city without the tiniest amount of resistance, because our enemies will already be lying dead at our feet.”
Closer to New Atero, Reichenbach sat on his stone throne, watching the dark clouds in the distance, when he felt a numbness in his fingers, and looked down to see that they no longer existed. The Key of Time, which he had been holding only moments before, fell from his fingerless hands, and as he watched the hands began to turn to dust. With the stumps of his arms, he tried to push himself off the throne, only to fall on to the ground when he found that his feet, too, had crumbled to dust. He crawled and wriggled, turning himself on to his back and looking up at the ceiling. “We had a deal!”
“So we did,” a disembodied voice said in reply. “And I am keeping my side of it. You will die with the dignity you deserve, Reichenbach, which is very little. You turned on your own kind to fulfil your own selfish goals. I may not be the most moral of beings, Toa, but even I have some standards.”
Reichenbach’s eyes widened as he saw the ceiling of the tower he sat in begin to crack, crashing in around him, as his body continued to fall apart, until a cry of pain and despair just managed to escape his lips as finally his mask alone was left, and the building fell with its one resident.
Back at the stage, everyone was panicking. Incommodo’s body lay on the stage, a pool of blood now around his head, as the storm clouds came closer and they saw that they were tumbling across land, not sky. The thick, black cloud soon covered all of New Atero, and when it was gone the city was all but empty, apart from the lone body of Incommodo, still lying on the stage. A hand, grey and red, picked up his wrist, examining it carefully. The being it belonged to looked down on Incommodo’s corpse with his bright green eyes, full of sorrow and somehow older than the face that they were set in. “No pulse.”
“Well, I guess we’re too late,” another being, black and green, replied, walking over to his ally. “So, Pirok, do you think we should get out of here before Nekron and his lackies storm the place?”
“Let’s, Proditor.” Pirok grinned, brushing some dust off himself as he stood up.
TO BE CONTINUED IN APRIL 2013