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“And that makes three.” Axonn stood atop the tallest peak of the latest Southern Island that bent to his will. He made a mental note to return to this vista, as it provided both a clean view of the island as well as a glimmer of his previous conquests on the horizon. Looking down on his current territory, he contemplated if it had a name prior to his arrival. The Zyglak he tore through to reach this view offered no words in the Matoran language to confirm one. The warrior’s life of conquest started months ago. After the Hand of Artakha was disbanded, he exercised his power by invading cities and other territories with packs of Energy Hounds. Many of the inhabitants of these realms were Zyglak, leading the rare neighboring Matoran islands to see Axonn as something of a savior to be feared, though Axonn knew in his heart that this was only a bonus to his true motivation… “Having second thoughts?” Axonn turned to face the source of the voice, a maskless being with blades mounted on his shoulders and arms. The figure’s clawed fingers twitched across the blades mounted on his arm, but Axonn knew it wasn’t a sign of malcontent. “There’s nothing to strike your fancy here, Hydraxon.” Axonn plunged his weapon into the ground. “I could say the same to you. Isn’t seizing such minor locations boring? They can’t be much of a challenge with your power.” “If you’re trying to flatter me, you’re failing miserably.” Axonn sighed. “Cut the small talk. What are you here for?” “I’m here for you, of course.” Hydraxon stopped tapping his blades. “Helryx wishes your presence at Daxia to join the Order of Mata Nui.” With only slight effort, Axonn’s Kanohi Rode verified that Hydraxon’s given intention was correct. However, just because it was the truth didn’t mean that Axonn had to like it. “This is sounding like the Hand all over again. It’s foolish of her to think that it will work a second time.” Axonn lifted his weapon and turned away. “She has not forgotten its sins. Neither have I. We’ve decided to learn from the past instead of retreating like you have.” Axonn paused. “Retreating?” Hydraxon crossed his arms. “Yes, retreating. Fleeing from the repercussions of your actions with your tail between your legs like some wayward Kikanalo and nuzzling yourself away in the wilds. Beneath that brutish exterior, you, Axonn, are a coward.” Axonn swung his free hand to grab Hydraxon’s head, but the bladed warrior leaped downhill out of range. “Get off my island.” Axonn growled. “Where has that spark of nobility gone? Your dedication to the Great Spirit?” Hydraxon called out. “Look at you now, lashing out in violence when your defense is too weak. Absolutely pitiful.” Holding his axe with both of his hands, Axonn charged. Racing down the mountain surface, he swung his weapon with added momentum towards his opponent. Before it could land on its target, a silver blur slammed into his from his left side. Despite being winded, Axonn plunged his protosteel axe into the mountain to give him stability. Once he regained focus, he identified his attacker as an Energy Hound. “Stand down!” Axonn shouted to the Rahi. The raging beast did not listen to its master. With a howl, five other Energy Hounds gathered and lunged for Axonn. He twisted his axe, slamming one hound away downhill with a flat edge. One beast followed up to attack his exposed side, but he stunned it with an energy blast. “You! You turned my Rahi against me?” Axonn shouted at Hydraxon. To his surprise, Hydraxon was launching his back blades at a rogue pack as well. “No! This was not my doing!” Hydraxon grunted. “You must have overworked them! They weren’t made for conquest!” “If they were angry at me specifically, why would they be attacking you?” Axonn gave his third attacker a cut down its spine. “Energy Hounds should be able to distinguish me specifically!” “Then it’s… neither of us?” Hydraxon telepathically summoned his back blades to strike again. Axonn trapped his fourth opponent in a small stasis field, swiping it uphill with a blow of his axe. The rogue leader leaped into the air and extended its claws out to snatch his mask, but was intercepted by a projectile from downhill. The source of the shot was unfamiliar to Axonn – a launcher with six barrels that had an unfinished look reminiscent of a design prototype, held by Hydraxon. Out of the corner of his eye, Axonn spotted one final Energy Hound. With a roar, he lifted his axe to deliver a shattering blow. “Halt!” Hydraxon shouted to his former colleague. The hound growled, but didn’t take advantage of Axonn’s pause. Its legs stood firm in what appeared to be a defensive stance. Confused at its behavior, he looked behind it to see the Energy Hound he cut along the spine. Hydraxon approached the guardian and placed his hand on its head. The beast calmed down and closed its eyes. “The strong do not have to constantly use their power, nor do they have to fear it.” Hydraxon spoke to Axonn, though kept his eyes on the hound. After tracing the Matoran letter ‘S’ with his finger between its eyes, the bladed warrior stood back up. “Instead, they can learn to use it to protect.” Axonn gently lowered his weapon, placing it on the grassy cliff. “It’s time to stop running.” Hydraxon called out to the axe-wielder. “We can make a greater difference in this world when we’re willing to learn.” Axonn sighed. “Take me to Daxia.” Axonn placed his hand on Hydraxon’s shoulder. “What will you do with that hound? It seems to prefer you quite a bit over me, friend.” Hydraxon looked back at the Energy Hound. “I’ll take it as a personal assistant. None of these Energy Hounds have names… so I believe it deserves one. Spinax.” -- Apologies for not getting this up sooner, finals and other IRL obligations caused me to miss the second check-in and kept me from posting until now. Sorry for the wait, but I hope you enjoy how it turned out.