[color=rgb(0,128,128);]Looks interesting, but... no ibrow in the debut chapter? Come on. We all know that's what everybody comes here for. =P[/color]
[color=rgb(0,128,128);]Nah, it's actually pretty good, and I like the switch to prose. And I'm liking that JL seems to be nothing more than a myth these days. xD[/color]
Oh you gotta be kiddin me.
I was thinking Id better appear for real soon otherwise I'd make you guys all legends in the 'dead' respect.
>>>[color=rgb(40,40,40);font-family:helvetica, arial, sans-serif;]Turaga JL[/color]
[color=rgb(40,40,40);font-family:helvetica, arial, sans-serif;]Oh f#*&[/color]
[color=rgb(40,40,40);font-family:helvetica, arial, sans-serif;]in any case nice to see dis back! yehy[/color]
EVERYONE DREAMS OF BEING A TURAGA.
Anyways you're a Turaga...kinda. Sorta. Ish. It'll be explained later. While you're here, though, you can reminisce with Vakama about the good old days and make rock statues to represent the Great Spirits.
According to history, the Dark Lord had been responsible for the creation of the plague called Xenon, and due to the incredibly poor science skills of a certain engineer, the stuff had received the name of a
gaseous noble gas element with 54 protons that Xenon was confused for. The name had stuck ever since.
Thanks for saying this, just noticed it looking back through.(and I edited it slightly. (correcting scientific things FTW!!!))
Never was great at Chemistry.
To be honest, thinking back on it, I don't remember if that explanation is correct or not. I believe Avak named it that for the sake of pure confusingness...but that was back in the original Aftermath, and I have a really poor grasp on my own lore.
I bet Hubert would know that, if he ever shows up.
Chapter 3, PA: A Criminal's Return
Vardan looked down, and was reminded then of who he was taking along with him.
…ugh…I knew there was something bad about this that I was forgetting…
"Hello, Hana," he managed. "You're as enthusiastic as ever."
"Why wouldn't I be?" the Matoran responded, her voice filled with excitement. "We get to go hunt down the evil dastardly Omega Shade! We'll be heroes forever!"
"…we get to spy on him. We're not fighting that thing."
"Who says we aren't?"
"…well, you're welcome to get killed if you want. I'M not taking that thing on ever again. One near run in with death was more than enough."
"…aw…you're no fun."
"If your definition of fun is getting skewered by dozens of magical floating swords…then yes, consider me 'no fun.'"
"Well…whatever. Guess we better pack up our boat, huh?"
Vardan nodded and looked out towards the quicksand ocean. It was a rather bizarre phenomenon, the ocean was. It was notorious for swallowing anyone that touched it…but for some reason, boats coated with a specific material would float. According to rumor, this "material" was a highly dangerous toxin that would kill living creatures almost instantly…and was guarded strictly by Turaga JL and his protectorate.
The boats made life possible on this hostile planet. Thanks to them, villagers could travel from island to island, buying and selling goods and bringing precious resources to islands that could not produce them. The island that Vardan lived on was simply named "Zehvor," and had been dubbed that by JL himself. No one had any idea what it meant, but many theories and rumors had been produced over the years. Some said it used to be a secret identity JL used during his Toa days. Others said it was the name of a past lover JL had who was lost to the sandy ocean. No one knew for sure.
Despite their desperate need to work together to survive, the islands had never been at peace with each other. In particular, the island of Zehvor had always had a rivalry of sorts with the nearby island of Montako, a large settlement known for their production of weaponry. Vardan always dreaded his visits there, if for no other reason than seemingly everyone he ran into held a more powerful looking weapon than he did.
And now he was headed back there, to track down arguably the most powerful criminal in the history of what he knew as Planet Argnok.
Vardan's thoughts were interrupted by Hana's happy voice. "Are we ready?!" she asked.
"…I believe so. We've got food…water…supplies for a three day journey…a map…I think we're all set."
"Do we know where we're heading?" Hana asked, as she got into the boat.
"It'd be kind of a short journey if we didn't," Vardan responded. "According to reports, the Omega Shade fled into Montako…so that's where we'll start looking."
"If it's too much for you, you're always welcome to stay behind," Vardan offered, stepping into the boat himself.
"Hey! I didn't say that! I meant scary as in exciting! This will be so cool!"
I suppose that was far too much to hope for, Vardan thought gloomily, trying not to imagine how irritating spending an entire voyage to Montako would be with this Matoran.
The two partners pushed their boat out to sea and opened up the sail. The wind was strong, giving Vardan hope that this might be over with quickly. Hana wasted no time in making his life for the moment miserable, however. The long sail between islands was filled with stories about nail polish, her friends in school, and stories she had once heard of some Toa a long time ago, who had disappeared after defeating great evil and had never appeared since.
Forget great evil, Vardan thought. I need someone to save me from Her Royal Never-Shuts-Up-ness over here.
Time passed, and eventually, their boat pulled into harbor at the Eastern port of Montako. Vardan stepped out of the boat and tied it to a stake stuck in the island, then helped Hana out despite her insisting that she could make it out of the boat by herself.
"The side rails of that boat were, like, twice your height."
"I don't care! I would've made it!"
"You would have likely tumbled out into the ocean and drowned."
"I would not have! I don't die THAT easily!"
Quite personally, I think it would take some effort to drown yourself while getting out of a boat…so perhaps that's not something worth bragging over, Vardan thought.
"…well…where do we begin?" Hana asked, holding a bottle of fingernail polish in her hand.
"…you're not seriously going to try and sell those during this mission, are you?"
"Why not?" Hana asked. "If you're going on an adventure, might as well make it a profitable one!"
"…who are you going to sell it to? The Omega Shade?"
"…you know…I might just give that a shot. It'd look pretty good on my record. 'Last Month's Sales: Big Giant Scary Monster Thing.'"
"…he's more likely to just kill you and take it."
"Aw, don't be so mean. He may be a monster…but I'm sure he's no criminal monster."
What about that time he kidnapped you and almost killed me?! Are kidnapping and attempted murder no longer crimes?
"…whatever. Let's get looking."
"Where?" Hana asked. "This city is huge! How are we supposed to find him?"
"That's an excellent question," Vardan replied. "Keep a look out for any dangerous black armored monster things."
"…well…looks like I'll have plenty of time to sell my nail polish…" Hana remarked, her voice not quite as energetic for the first time today.
By the Toa and Matoran began their search, night was already falling. The two had covered about a fourth of the city, asking people if they had seen a mutant dark monster with a fondness for tentacles. No one had any notion of what they were talking about.
"…man…no leads at all…" Hana complained, her enthusiasm wearing thin. Vardan would almost have celebrated…if he hadn't been so tired himself.
"We better find some place to sleep for the night," Vardan said, yawning. "I don't like the idea of stalking a monster like that while tired."
"Good plan," Hana said, cheering up a bit. "Let's go find an inn."
Just as she suggested that, however, a loud crack came from behind them. Vardan whirled around, and found himself staring at three, large Toa, all armed with swords.
"A-HEM," one of the Toa went.
"…yes?" Vardan asked. "Can I help you?"
"Ooh!" Hana exclaimed, all of her energy returning to her in an instant. "Would you like to buy some nail polish?"
"Heh…nail polish?" the Toa asked, laughing. "Nah, I'll pass…I'll settle for you, though."
"…what? Me? But I'm not for sale…"
"Oh, I wasn't planning on buying…I'm more of a stealing kind of guy."
"…stealing…Matoran?" Vardan asked, reaching back and placing his hand on the handle of his sword.
"Why, yes…stealing Matoran. Haven't you heard of the new mining operations?"
"Heh. Guess you haven't. Then you don't need to worry about it, little Toa. We have no problem with you. We just need that Matoran right there."
"But I already told you, I'm not for-"
"Quiet," Vardan ordered. The sudden sharpness of his voice silenced Hana immediately.
The Toa of Fire turned towards the three thugs, then drew his sword. "…run, Hana," he ordered.
"…but…Vardan! They'll kill you! There's three of them, and-"
"I can count!" Vardan snapped. "Now get out of here! I won't be responsible for-"
The thugs charged towards Vardan, who reacted quickly and moved towards his foes. Though he was outnumbered, Vardan was far more skilled than his opponents, and quickly incapacitated one of the thugs with a quick blow to the head. The second was much more difficult, as he had obviously received some training with a sword, but a quick bolt of fire shocked him long enough for Vardan to deliver a swift kick to his midsection and send him flying into a wall.
That left the leader of the group. Vardan moved towards him, and brought his sword down. The thug blocked, and pushed Vardan back, before advancing with his own weapon. The sound of a flurry of sword strikes filled the air, as the two combatants went back and forth, neither being able to gain a clear advantage on the other.
I've really had it with kidnappers, Vardan thought.
Finally, the thug left an opening after Vardan parried one of his blows. The new Toa used a swift kick to disarm his opponent, and another sword strike sent him flying backwards into the ground. A large wound was left open on his shoulder, and he clutched at it as he fell to the ground.
"…there," Vardan announced, turning back to Hana. "Now, if we're done trying to kidnap Matoran today-"
The Fire Toa's victory speech was interrupted by a blow from behind, which knocked him to the ground. A kick to his stomach sent him sprawling, and he quickly realized that it probably would have been a good idea to check for enemy reinforcements before celebrating.
"We usually don't take Toa in," a gruff voice came from above, "but considering how much of a fight you managed to put up…we could probably use someone like you. Ha ha ha ha-"
The voice was cut off by the sound of something freezing. Vardan looked up, and noticed that three new thugs had appeared…except now the one who had been talking to him was frozen, and the other two were looking around as if confused. A dark shadow slipped through the area and took another one out, sending the thug flying into a wall a few yards away. The last Toa scanned the area, obviously scared.
"Wh-what….WHAT IS THAT?!"
"…who…where are you?! Come out this moment, or I'll-"
The threat was interrupted by a bolt of lightning, flying in and electrocuting the last thug. As he dropped to the ground, the sound of a pair of feet landing became audible to Vardan. The Toa of Fire sprang to his feet and whirled his sword towards the noise.
A blue and black armored Toa caught his sword in mid-swing with his fingers, avoiding the pointed edge altogether. "Slow down there," the Toa said, keeping his fingers on Vardan's sword. "I'm not here for you. I was here for them."
Vardan didn't move.
"…you are…Toa Vardan, correct?"
"…how do you know my name?"
"Ooh! You're famous, Vardan!" Hana chimed in. "What about me? Am I famous? Do you know who I am?"
"…aw…it would have been so cool, too…"
The Toa let Vardan's sword go, and backed up a few steps. "I know…because it is my job to know. Knowing things has been my job description…for 2,400 years now."
"…that's…a rather precise time scale."
"Is it? Perhaps it's my job to know that as well."
"At any rate, my name is…Brenmac. Though I suppose my more recent title would be…Brenmac…wanted criminal."
"…the vigilante…" Vardan muttered, his voice trailing off. Brenmac had been one of the island community's most wanted criminals for nearly a decade now. He was involved in all sorts of crime, from thievery to assault to both, if necessary. Despite all of the trouble he caused…he had never been caught.
Brenmac laughed. "Vigilante?" he asked. "I suppose you could call me that…although it seems lately like I'm more of a great player of hide and go seek with the police than anything."
"Turaga JL's has been sending wave after wave of police to find you for weeks," Vardan said.
"Has he really now?" Brenmac asked, laughing again. "Strange. He was the one who told me you would be here."
"You know the Turaga?" Hana asked.
"Indeed I do. Knew him back when he was a Toa as well. Before this planet was covered with quicksand."
"…you really expect anyone to believe that this planet wasn't covered by this stuff at one point?" Vardan asked.
"Well, I do. So I guess that counts, doesn't it?"
"Then how did all this quicksand get here? Did it just magically appear out of nowhere?"
Brenmac laughed once more, and Vardan got the impression he was doing it just to be annoying. "You're closer to being right than you think."
Vardan decided it wasn't worth responding to that, and took a different route, somewhat hoping to stall Brenmac in case police ever did show up. "I'd arrest you myself, but I get the feeling that any sort of conflict between us would end badly for me."
"You're probably right, for the moment," Brenmac said.
"…for the moment?"
"As I said before, I've had 2,400 years to hone my skills. I've watched as the fighting styles of this ragtag band of islands have developed. There are certain weaknesses that can be exploited if you explore some of the…older schools of fighting."
"…so that's why you're doing this? You beat people up just to show off your old styles of fighting?"
Brenmac cocked his head. "Now, that's not what I said at all. I beat those thugs up to keep you two out of the mines." Then he smiled. "That was quite the brave thing to do back there, jumping in to save that Matoran against three thugs. Maybe JL was right about you after all."
"Then what are you here for?" Vardan asked, losing his patience, waiting for a police force that would never come. "You've been causing trouble all over these islands for the past ten years…for what goal? What are you trying to accomplish?"
Brenmac paused for a moment. "…revenge," he said, softly.
Vardan went quiet.
"…revenge?" Hana asked.
"Revenge," Brenmac repeated, looking up wistfully. "For a certain friend of mine…who was stolen from me…by the selfish desires of another."
"2,400 years ago…he vanished. Suddenly. Disappeared from the planet, and never returned. At least…that's what people say. But…I know better."
"…what do you think happened to your friend?" Hana asked, sympathetically.
"…that's something I would have you two find out for yourselves."
"Indeed." Brenmac turned back towards Vardan and Hana. "Where you're going…you'll find clues. Clues that will eventually help you piece together the puzzle…of just what did happen to my friend."
"…and how do you know where we're going?"
"How?" Brenmac asked. "Because I'm going to tell you where to go next."
"What?" Hana asked, startled.
"…what makes you think we're going to do what you say?" Vardan said, his tone growing sharper.
"Because I know you won't be able to refuse," Brenmac responded.
"You may have saved one Matoran from a fate in the mines…" Brenmac continued, "but there are hundreds more who were not as lucky as her. "Your new job…is to save them."
Great… Vardan thought. Going from stalking monsters to raiding mines. Can't I get a normal job for once?
"You're telling us to go raid these mines? Why not send in a team of Toa to do it instead?"
Brenmac laughed once more. "These mines…also known as the 'Xenon Mines,' are controlled by a group of very powerful black marketeers, who run a highly secreted and highly protected operation. Any police force that went there way would be shot down and destroyed from a distance.
"…so these mines are located somewhere far away, I take it."
"I have a map with the sailing route right here."
"…great. More sailing."
"Your job…is to infiltrate these mines, and find some way to rescue those Matoran while shutting the mines down."
"You're really asking me to raid a top secret black market mining organization by myself?"
"No…" Brenmac responded. "She can come as well."
"Hooray!" Hana celebrated.
Brenmac placed his hand on Vardan's shoulder. "If you are half the Toa I've heard rumors about…then this should be no problem for you.
You've obviously been hearing rumors about a very different Toa…Vardan thought.
"Look, friend," Vardan began. "I feel horrible for those Matoran, but really, what can one Toa do against a giant mining operation, filled with countless other Toa, on his own?"
"On your own?" Brenmac began. "Nothing. Which is why you're not going alone."
"…who else is going with us?"
"With you? No one. Someone's already gone ahead of you…that very same 'monster' you're chasing."
"…the Omega Shade…is heading to that mine?"
"Mhm," Brenmac answered. "Want to know the reason why the Omega Shade has suddenly appeared out of nowhere? He's heard rumors of this mining operation. The substance that they're mining is…rather important, to him. He's heading there now…to destroy the mining operation and to steal whatever they've mined."
"…so why not just let him do the work for us?" Vardan asked.
"Because, A: You're supposed to be finding information out on this creature…and B: he's simply going to destroy things. The Matoran inside that mine…will likely become victims of his rampage."
"…oh no…" Hana exclaimed.
"Oh, yes," Brenmac continued. "And, one last thing…"
Brenmac handed him a map, as well as a vial of a silverfish substance. "I've been saving this for a long time. If things ever get too close for comfort with that Shade…cover him with this. It'll buy you enough time to escape."
"…what is it?"
"That's nothing you need to worry about. Now go. You have to get there before the Omega Shade can ruin everything."
And with that, Brenmac leapt onto a roof and disappeared into the shadows, leaving a very confused Toa of Fire and his Matoran friend.
"…well….what now?" Hana asked.
"….I really, really don't want to do this with just the two of us…" Vardan said. "But getting a rescue team together could take hours, and if the Omega Shade is heading towards that mine now…"
"Then those Matoran will die before we can even get a team together," Hana finished.
"Right. So I guess it's just us."
"Ooh! It's time for an adventure!" Hana cheered.
"…call it what you want," Vardan said, heading back for the ship. "For me…it's the next day in the weirdest job in the world."