It is midnight on Odina. Despite the darkness, the stars light my way down to the beach that now bears my name. As I listen to the silence of the night, broken only by the occasional sound of the wind, I think back on the circumstances that brought me here. I also ponder my next mission, which will take me back to the place where my former life ended and this living nightmare began.
My name is Nidhiki. With a smile, I remember when I was a Toa of Air once, one of the guardians of the Trem Krom Peninsula, a place so inhospitable to life I often questioned why Matoran bothered to live there. Although I had no particular attachment to my home, I felt some naïve duty to defend it. It was there, not far from the acid falls, that I first encountered the Dark Hunters.
The first attack struck a village on the other side of the peninsula. Within days another village fell, followed by another. No one from my homeland had previously crossed paths with the Dark Hunters, so my team of Toa assigned me to negotiate with them. Perhaps “team” is the wrong word. We had only worked together on a few occasions, but from time to time the others insisted that we band together because that is what Toa do. As a novice Toa, I had no idea that teams of Toa merely make for bigger targets.
As I soon learned, dealing with Dark Hunters is more difficult than it may sound. Unprepared for a fight, I was quickly captured and beaten by a tall figure with black armor, whose codename I later learned was Savage. The Dark Hunter known only as Mimic eventually put a stop to his partner’s brutality and asked me why I was there. He sighed when I explained that I was there to bargain with them.
“Dark Hunters do not negotiate,” he said flatly. “We have been hired to eliminate several targets in the nearby villages, and that is exactly what we must do. The final strike is tonight on the village at the tip of the peninsula, and although you are not a target, I am not sure I can prevent my teammate from flexing his muscles before the raid.”
“If you flex your muscles now, you’ll be exhausted by the time you’re done with my team of Toa,” I shot back, my bravado belying my nerves. “You may kill me, but how many Toa can you face before we bring you down?”
Mimic did not look pleased taking demands from a Toa. However, he had no particular hatred of Toa and no desire to do any more than he had been ordered to do.
“There will be enough death tonight,” he said with weary resignation, cutting the ropes that bound my hand. “Aside from our target, the other villages are safe as long as you and your companions remain far away from the Dark Hunters.”
Naturally, I shared this information with the rest of the Toa. Instead of thanking Mata Nui for sparing them, they decided to defend the nearby village in defiance of the Dark Hunters. As a noble warrior of Mata Nui, I ran headlong into the targeted village with them. My comrades expected the mere sight of Toa to send our enemies scurrying, but I secretly hoped that we would have the opportunity to face them in battle.
We thought the Dark Hunters would target only one or two Matoran. We thought there were only two of them. We did not know that they intended to raze the whole village. We did not know that there were far more than two of them.
Within minutes of our arrival, someone doused the torches, and the village descended into panic. The screams of Matoran and Toa alike filled the air as the Dark Hunters struck from the shadows, swiftly eliminating the other Toa. By the time the Dark Hunters set the huts ablaze and illuminated the village, I was the only Toa still standing.
I contemplated summoning a windstorm to put out the blaze, but it was too late to save the village. Outnumbered by the remaining Dark Hunters, I decided instead to save myself so I could live to fight another day. Activating my Mask of Stealth, I disappeared into the shadows, vowing vengeance on the Dark Hunters.
I hated myself for retreating, but sometimes you have to make difficult decisions in order to survive. Even if we had known the Dark Hunters’ numbers, we still would have foolishly attacked them. That was a poor decision, and on the night my first team fell, I learned that a valiant Toa is a foolish Toa, and a foolish Toa is a dead Toa.
As the years turned to centuries, I continued to remain on the Trem Krom Peninsula, drifting from village to village and adapting my fighting style. Relying more on my mask, I began to strike from the darkness and use stealth to my advantage. I had no love of my homeland, but I remained nonetheless, secretly hoping that the Dark Hunters would return to finish the job. Then perhaps I could use their strengths against them.
One day the news arrived that the Kanohi Dragon was once again attacking Metru Nui. I had met Turaga Dume in the past, and I did not mind an excuse to leave the Tren Krom Peninsula, but I had a different reason to travel to Metru Nui. Although I had no proof, I thought that the Dark Hunters may be involved.
The Dark Hunters were indeed behind the attack, but I had to wait before getting my hands on my enemies. The other ten Toa who fought the Kanohi Dragon with me decided to stay in Metru Nui, which suited me just fine. I was happy to remain there, knowing that the Dark Hunters would not rest until they had captured the city. After a thousand years, the Dark Hunters made their move.
I was the only Toa who celebrated (albeit privately) when the Dark Hunters invaded the city. The first attack ignited a spark within me that I had not felt in years. While I enjoyed the chance to strike back at my enemies, to atone for my foolishness, the Dark Hunters were winning a war that we should have won easily.
Near the end of the war, I was patrolling the city outside the Coliseum when I spotted a figure on the rooftops. Activating my Mask of Stealth, I snuck around behind the figure to get a better look at him. I could not believe my luck when I recognized him as Mimic.
Smiling to myself as I approached the moment of my retribution, I aimed my scythe at the Dark Hunter, bombarding him with a gust of wind. My attack knocked him off the rooftop, but he landed nimbly on his feet on the street below. He charged in the direction of my attack, but I had already faded back into the shadows. I quickly repositioned myself and hurled another blast of wind, knocking Mimic off his feet.
Believing that I had him subdued, I deactivated my mask so Mimic could see me and know that the novice Toa who had once fled from the Dark Hunters in disgrace had now defeated him in battle. It took him a moment, but the light of recognition entered his eyes.
“I see you have twice failed to heed my warning,” he replied, shaking his head sadly. “You’ve involved yourself in yet another conflict that does not concern you.”
“I don’t really care about this city or its inhabitants,” I replied, “but I always enjoy a chance to flex my muscles whenever your kind rears its ugly head.”
Mimic slowly stood up, leaving his sword on the ground and holding his hands in a nonthreatening manner. “I am merely doing a job,” he said. “I have no love of the Dark Hunters, and it doesn’t matter to me whether their schemes succeed or fail. I’m only fighting for them because they offered me something in return, something I desperately want. In that way, we are not as different as you think.”
I tightened my grip on my scythe. “I am nothing like you,” I spat. “I fight for a noble cause: to rid the universe of trash like you. You mercenaries will never understand that.”
“Perhaps not,” Mimic replied. Before I could react, he moved with lightning speed, grabbing his weapon from the ground and knocking me back with one motion. He stood over me, sword raised for the finishing blow.
I took a deep breath and then used my powers to suck the air out of the immediate area, leaving Mimic gasping for breath. Concentrating on my powers and struggling to control my anger, I then redirected that air back at Mimic, leaving him stunned on the ground near me. Pleased with myself, I subdued my prisoner and bound his hands.
“You are fighting a futile war,” Mimic said as he came to, no longer trying to resist. “Although fate has placed us on opposite sides of this conflict, I must warn you that against the Dark Hunters, your morals alone will not be enough to save your city."
Long after I locked up Mimic with the other Dark Hunters we had captured, I was still thinking about his words. As much as the Toa did not want to admit it, we were losing this war. The heroes of the day could not stand up to the villains of the night if we allowed our values, our naïve insistence on fighting fairly and sparing our enemies, to weaken us.
I knew Lhikan would never abandon his principles, even for the greater good. He would sacrifice himself, the Matoran, and the city, and console himself that at least he still had his morals. The thing about morals, though, is that they don’t do you much good when you’re dead.
It was clear that we needed a way to end the war as quickly as possible. As much as I wanted to crush the Dark Hunters, if we continued this fight, they would overwhelm the Toa, and the city would be lost. Thinking back to the time I first fought the Dark Hunters, I started thinking of unorthodox ways to win the war. I understood that the ends always justify the means.
So when Lariska offered me Metru Nui in exchange for the Toa, I took it. The Dark Hunters would be gone, the Matoran would still have me to protect them, and Dume (whose stubborn defiance started this pointless war in the first place) would be dead. I might even have been able to negotiate to keep the Toa alive. As thanks, Lhikan branded me a traitor and threatened to kill me if I remained on the island. Even if he had not staged his own counter ambush, the war still would have ended on that day due to my actions. I made the difficult decision to end the war and save lives, but Lhikan would not have it. Doing the right thing was too important to him, even if it meant the death of everyone he cared about. One day, that foolishness will cost him.
That day, the sun set on my time as a Toa, leaving me with nothing but my memories of glory. For almost two millennia now, I have served the hunters. Like Mimic, I have no loyalty to them beyond what they can offer me. No longer able to strike at the Dark Hunters, my only care in life was that I could fight back against the Toa and show them the errors of their ways. None of my assignments particularly interested me except the one I have just been given.
The Shadowed One never tolerates failure, but he was unusually clear that we were not to fail this mission. He explained in detail how Eliminator was to ambush and kill the remaining Toa Mangai while my moronic partner, Krekka, and I were to patrol the city and recover the Great Disks.
“The Brotherhood of Makuta is one of our most important clients,” the Shadowed One explained to the three of us. “They are most displeased with your failure to protect the Mask of Light, but they are willing to give you a second chance and requested you specifically for this task. Do not fail me, for if you do and the Toa do not kill you, I will bring the full might of the Dark Hunters down on you.” The Shadowed One turned his head and stared at me with cold eyes. “I doubt your return to Metru Nui will be a happy one, Nidhiki,” he continued. “I do not expect any feelings you may have for your former allies to get in the way.”
I looked down at my disgusting form and clenched my claws. In the space of two thousand years I had lost so much. Now it was time for revenge.
“Of course not,” I replied. “I’ve waited for this moment for a long time.”
Our mission begins at dawn, but I am not able to sleep. The thought of punishing Lhikan for his betrayal appeals to me, but somehow I wonder if I can bring myself to kill him. I never realized how much I needed the fellowship and sense of purpose I felt as a Toa. I did not know it then, but when I was a Toa in Metru Nui, I was happy. I may have fallen since then, but I made the right decision, and there is no going back now.
Or is there? After all, Roodaka is probably still alive, and even in this form I could overpower her and force her to change me back into a Toa. I had never dreamed of returning to my former life, but then again, I had never imagined that I would ever see Metru Nui again. Tomorrow, I will see the skyline of the City of Legends for the first time in two millennia.
Wondering if there is a chance I can relive my days in the sun, I watch as the first rays of dawn rise over the silver sea, and a new day begins.
Partly inspired by “Memory” from Cats. Music by Andrew Lloyd-Webber and lyrics by Trevor Nunn.
Edited by Exitium, Aug 20 2012 - 04:55 PM.