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  1. Kulta the Skull Grinder inhaled the musky air of the boneyard and exhaled hungrily. There were souls to harvest here, make no mistake. With each step he took, grey dust swirled up from millennia of abandonment. What had once been the island's centre of culture and glory was now only home to plant-covered ruins and bones. How proud the Okotans had been, driving away Kulta and his people, and now their homes were nothing more than ashes. The old shaman inhaled again. The soul he was seeking was nearby. His dark master Makuta had been quite clear on the power of the Toa. He would need an army unlike anything the island had seen before to stop them. He had his pawns the Skull Warriors, his knights the Skull Scorpios, and his fortress the Skull Basher; but Kulta required one more piece. To be sure, the Skull Basher was a mighty warrior, his closest ally and bodyguard, but Kulta was no fool. A combination of brains and brawn would be needed to win the day. He needed a lieutenant who could rely on cunning and surprise to outwit the Toa. As his staff began to glow, Kulta smiled. He could sense a great intellect, athletic skill, and an unbreakable tie to this world. This spirit was clinging to its bones like a castaway clinging to a log. Just the sort of being worth reviving. Drawing wide a circle in the ashy ground with his staff, Kulta began the dark incantation. Mel kay tor nu sorga Makuta no mel kun. Mel kay tor nu sorga Makuta no mel kun. MEL KAY TOR NU SORGA MAKUTA NO MEL KUN! The circle in the dirt began to glow green and the spirits of the dead swirled around him. Wailing such terrible things, dead Okotans reliving their final painful hours, cries that contained a lifetime of sorrow. Kulta ignored them and continued his chant. The wind billowed and the ground shook until bones and armour slowly emerged from the grey soil. Kulta's voice began to grow hoarse, but he focused with all his might as the bones began to form a body: a figure with four arms. Kulta stopped his chanting and the wind died down and the ground settled back to stillness. He surveyed the revenant as the creature stood completely still. Slowly, it began to move its limbs and flex its fingers. With green bones and silver armour adorning its four arms, the creature cut an imposing figure. After a few moments surveying its body, the revenant spoke. "What... what happened? Where are they?" "My dear friend," said Kulta unctuously. "Welcome back to the world of the living." "I... was I dead?" asked the creature. "For thousands of years, I'd say. I am the Skull Grinder, your new master. You will be a lieutenant in my Skull Army." "Master? Skull Army? I don't have time for this. I have to find them!" "I was afraid of this," sighed Kulta, Reaching into his pack, Kulta pulled out a writhing silver Skull Spider. "I don't know who you were in your former life, Revenant, and quite frankly I don't care. I didn't bring you back to put your soul to rest, I need you to serve me." As he spoke, he idly plucked the legs off the now screeching Skull Spider. The revenant began to slowly back away, but Kulta was too quick for him. He jammed the legless Skull Spider on the creature's bony face and held it there firmly as it tried to fight him off. Soon the Skull Spider's will won out and the creature sank to the ground, kneeling before its new master. "Rise, Skull Slicer, lieutenant of the Skull Army." *** Darkness. Screaming. Who was I? Who am I looking for? How did I die? With the Skull Spider on his face, the world appeared dark and fractured to him. Visions of the ruined city flashed before returning to the darkness. He felt like a prisoner in his own body. Fleetingly, he would regain control before being pushed aside by the will of the arachnid affixed to his face. So there was nothing to do but to collect his thoughts. Another flash of vision, and he could see a hexagonal pattern of stone tiles. The arena... Of course, the Hammer Flush arena. He had loved the arena. It had once been all he had lived for. The excitement, the thrill; his heart was already racing thinking about it. Yes, it was all coming back to him. He had not lived here -- he had thrived! As the Skull Spider led his bones through the ruined stadium, he could see a plaque honouring past champions. "Yes, this was once me," he muttered, running a bony hand along the inscription. Clearing away the moss that had grown over, he could see a single word: Brelnar. "My... my name. I am Brelnar." It was as if a dam broke and he was hit by a deluge of memory. He could see himself nimbly leaping through the arena, hammer aloft, opponents on every side, and loving every moment of it. Flames shot past him and he used his hammer to vault up to the next level, only to come face to face with a steely-looking Earth Okotan. The Earth Okotan swung his hammer at Brelnar, but Brelnar was too quick for him. Leaping in the air at the right moment, he landed on his foe's hammer, grabbed onto his shoulder armour, and flipped him onto his back. "Shoulder armour is just going to slow you down, my friend," Brelnar laughed, resuming his climb to the top. It was not long before his hammer hit the lever at the top, signalling the end of the game. The crowd cheered, confetti rained through the stadium, and medals were handed out. It was then, with all eyes on him, that he had proposed to Yanua. "Yanua... my... my wife..." said the Skull Slicer, as a feeling of intense heartbreak tore him out of his reverie. Thousands of years had passed. Surely she was long gone by now. As the sorrow spread through his heart, so too did the Skull Spider's will spread through his mind once more, returning him to the darkness. More ruins. More cracked stones. More collapsed buildings. Suddenly something in the air. Something green. Toa... hissed the Skull Spider in his mind. The Skull Slicer's body leaped nimbly through the ruined city until it reached the entrance to the arena. He slipped into the shadows and waited. Soon enough, the green Toa flew in and proceeded to study the ruins. Get me that mask... growled an even darker voice within his mind. With all the skill of a well-trained athlete, the Skull Slicer shot out his chain and grabbed the mask right off the green Toa's face. The Toa fell to the ground, unconscious, while the Skull Slicer examined his prize. Even in the dark city, the golden mask seemed to shine. Clutching it in his lower hands, the Skull Slicer could feel its power radiating through him. His hands felt like fertile soil, the energy of the mask stimulating growth and life in them. His heart felt like a kite caught in the breeze. Brelnar's memories began to surface once more... Many years had passed since that championship, and as he gazed at his hearth he could see that he had won many more medals since then. Exotic jungle birds called from outside, as the smells of a berry pie baking in the oven filled the small cottage. A clatter at the door told him someone had arrived. He turned to see his wife, Yanua, and their... daughter. Yes, a daughter. "Father!" she cried, rushing to hug him. "Well if it isn't the birthday girl," laughed Brelnar, straightening out her mask. "Happy birthday, Tellena, my little rose." "Mother tells me you were at the blacksmith today. Any particular reason why?" she asked, with a heavy tone of feigned ignorance. "I'm sorry, dear," sighed Yanua. "I know you wanted it to be a surprise, but she's just so persistent!" "Well, now that the spider is off its net, you might as well open it," said Brelnar, gesturing to a large wrapped present in the sitting room. "I hope you like it. It's not everyday a young woman turns fourteen." Tellena tore open her gift and stared at it for a moment before laughing in disbelief. "Shoulder armour? What ever happened to mister 'shoulder armour slows you down'? How am I supposed to play Hammer Flush in this?" Brelnar laughed wryly. "Yes, yes. We all remember my first championship, but this is something a bit more serious, little rose. There are whispers that our two mask makers no longer see eye to eye. If things should turn sour, if it should come to war, I want this family to be protected. For you, little rose, a set of armour with spikes -- thorns to keep you safe. For Yanua, I had them restore your grandfather's armour from the Region of Fire. It's a bit big, but it should keep you safe." "Honestly, dear! Is all this really necessary?" said Yanua in exasperation. "I have no idea," said Brelnar grimly. "I just want this family to be safe. I want us to be together." With a painful jolt, the Skull Spider brought the Skull Slicer back to the present. While he had been holding the mask, the green Toa's allies had arrived. The Skull Spider cackled and directed his body into the arena. Use the mask... growled the darker voice again. The Skull Spider screamed in his mind, but the Skull Slicer suddenly felt the darker voice give him the strength to tear the creature off his face and put on the green Toa's golden mask. Energy surged through his body, and his mind was once again transported to the past. It was the tournament of champions. One Okotan from each region was competing for the glory of their homeland. An Earth Okotan ran right for him, before being trapped in the arena's shifting pillars. Suddenly the Skull Slicer found two of his arms pinned by a Stone Okotan's weapons while Okotans of Fire and Ice charged towards him. Knocking the Ice Okotan aside, he grabbed the Fire Okotan with his two remaining arms and... No, this isn't right... I only had two arms... A swift punch from the Ice Okotan knocked off his mask and he was jolted back to reality. These weren't Okotans at all, they were the Toa. Before he could react or call out to them, the big Toa with a hammer hit the lever, the floor vanished beneath him, and he fell. When the arena had been maintained, there was a pool of water at the bottom to catch any losing athletes, but that pool had long since dried up. The Skull Slicer fell through the darkness for some time before clattering to the ground, instantly shattering his leg bones. It was not long until the rest of the arena collapsed on top of him, years of disrepair and neglect had taken their toll. He found himself covered in rubble, unable to move, and yet still alive. He did not hunger, he did not breathe. He could not tell how long it had been since the Skull Grinder had resurrected him, but he did not recall having a meal. Perhaps he was unable to die. Perhaps he was condemned to this existence until the end of time. But what of his wife and daughter? What had become of them? He thought back to his last memory, of Tellena's birthday. Why had he thought of that day when he had put the mask on? Had the mask been trying to show him something? It just ended with his daughter opening the shoulder armour he had gotten her. What ever happened to mister 'shoulder armour slows you down'? The words echoed through his mind. I've never worn shoulder armour, he realized. Then the rest of the memory poured into his mind. It was that same day. For her birthday, Tellena had requested that they go watch the rookie league play at the arena, hoping that she might get to meet one of the coaches to improve her chances in the tryouts next year. It was as they were watching the game that the cataclysm struck. A huge shockwave of energy from the north swept through the city, knocking down trees and buildings and causing all sorts of environmental disasters. Rivers flooded, fires raged, and blizzards whipped across the land despite the summer weather. An earthquake rocked the foundations of the arena and large pieces of the ceiling began falling. "What's happening, father?" cried Tellena. "It's the mask makers! It has to be!" Brelnar shouted back, ushering his family through the bleachers as chaos rained down upon them. With a loud snap, the floor gave way beneath Tellena and Yanua, sending them falling two storeys to the ground. Seeing the roof above them about to collapse, Brelnar dove after them, but it was no use. The large slab of stone landed on the family, sealing all three in their grave. So these arms.... it's them. Yanua, Tellena... If the Skull Slicer had been able to cry, he surely would have. This was where his memories came from. This was what he was searching for. This was why he was clinging to his bones. And now that he had found them, he could finally let go.
  2. The Legend Continues - Contest Results! Art: 1. Crunchyn with The Brothers Corrupted (27 votes) 2. Pomegranate with Tapestry of Time (24 votes) 3. Demitsorou with Wairuha, Uniter of Storms (14 votes) 4. Illustrious Var with The Great Battle (11 votes) 5. (tie) Uncle K. with An Axe to Grind (6 votes) 5. (tie) prpldragon with Sons of Makuta- Bionicle G2 Rahkshi (6 votes) 7. Nukaya with Hahli's back! (5 votes) 8. Disty says hi with Tahnok, Scarab of Fire (4 votes) Writing: 1. Jonathan Juan with The Dreaming Dead (16 votes) 2. SPIRIT with Clinging to the Bones (13 votes) 3. (tie) markyman20 with Vezon's Visit (7 votes) 3. (tie) JTH_Studios with Journey's End (7 votes) 3. (tie) SkullKid with The End of Time (7 votes) 6. (tie) Alexander123 with The Tragedy of Makuta (5 votes) 6. (tie) Disty says hi with The Conspiracy (5 votes) 8. (tie) Pohaturon with The Legend Continues - Of Druids and Shadow (4 votes) 8. (tie) Kookie with A Simpler Time (4 votes) 10. PeabodySam with Gresh - Gladiator of Jungle (3 votes) 11. Endless Sea (Alaki Nuva) with Bionicle: Journey to Zero (2 votes) 12. Pereki with No More Shadows (1 vote) Building: 1. Mesonak with Makuta: The Mask Hoarder (26 votes) 2. Sparkytron with Kulta Kal and the Skeleton Army (22 votes) 3. DeeVee with Ekimu: Master of Creation (21 votes) 4. Pohaturon with Bionicle G2 Master Builder Set (12 votes) 5. (tie) Disty says hi with Poison Beast (G2 Lerahk) (11 votes) 5. (tie) Eljay: Toa of Mangosteen with Makuta - Mask Maker's Return (11 votes) 7. CeziuM with Nuurakh - Forge Overseer (10 votes) 8. The Venom with G2 Mata-Nui: Titan of Life (8 votes) 9. Rockmonster2000 with Vetr-jotunn, Elemental Spirit of Ice (6 votes) 10. exxtrooper with Guardian of Shadows (1 vote) The first-place winners will receive a physical copy of The Art of LEGO Bionicle and their choice of 71316 Umarak the Destroyer or 71311 Kopaka and Melum - Unity Set. The second place winners will receive their choice of an Uniter Toa and their matching Creature. The third place winners will receive their choice of 71313 Lava Beast, 71314 Storm Beast, or 71315 Quake Beast. Thanks to LEGO for providing the prizes! As well, our three voters randomly chosen to receive a Creature set are Kookie, Demitsorou, and Azani. Congratulations! What can we say? It was an incredible contest, with so many great works produced in each category. Bionicle as a theme may have gone back into the box (for now), but it's clearly still fuelling our imaginations and sending our creativity to exciting new heights. Congratulations to our winners, thanks to everyone who entered, voted, and commented on our fine entries, and we'll be seeing you next time!
  3. Gallery Its corrupting influence over Makuta severed and its status unknown, the Mask of Ultimate Power no longer seemed a threat to the peace of Okoto. But the loss of its servant was only a setback. With its dark power over the elements, the forbidden mask created a fearsome body for itself. Now the Ultimate Being walks Okoto unsuspected, preparing for revenge upon its inhabitants... My entry in The Legend Continues. One of my favorite G2 theories was that the Big Bad was in fact not Makuta but the Mask of Ultimate Power. Combined with the Ultimate Mask concepts in The Art of Bionicle (page 42), it was fairly clear to me that I should build something along those lines. The shooter does work, and in addition there's a linkage function to swing the arms back and forth. (Also, in case anyone is curious, the glowing eyes are accomplished during photography with merely a laser pointer - no third-party lights or photoediting.) I look forward to your feedback, and hope you enjoy!
  4. Final Poll The Legend Continues - Art This is it... it's the final round of votingg for The Legend Continues - Art Division! One voter from each poll will be randomly chosen to win a Creature set! Final Voting begins June 18th and ends June 20th at 11:59 P.M. EST. The contest winner and final voting results will be posted in a separate thread on June 21st. --------------------------------------------------------- BZP Rules and Guidelines --------------------------------------------------------- 1. >>> An Axe to Grind 2. >>> Tahnok, Scarab of Fire 3. >>> Wairuha, Uniter of Storms 4. >>> Hahli's back! 5. >>> Tapestry of Time 6. >>> Sons of Makuta- Bionicle G2 Rahkshi 7. >>> The Great Battle 8. >>> The Brothers Corrupted
  5. Final Poll! The Legend Continues - Writing Division This is it... it's the final round of voting for The Legend Continues - Writing Division! One voter from each poll will be randomly chosen to win a Creature set! Final Voting begins June 18th and ends June 20th at 11:59 P.M. EST. The contest winner and final voting results will be posted in a separate thread on June 21st. --------------------------------------------------------- BZP Rules and Guidelines --------------------------------------------------------- 1. The Legend Continues - Of Druids and Shadow 2. The Tragedy of Makuta 3. Vezon's Visit 4. A Simpler Time 5. Journey's End 6. No More Shadows 7. Gresh - Gladiator of Jungle 8. Bionicle: Journey to Zero 9. The Conspiracy 10. The Dreaming Dead 11. The End of Time 12. Clinging to the Bones
  6. Final Poll! The Legend Continues - Building Division This is it... it's the final round of voting for The Legend Continues - Building Division! One voter from each poll will be randomly chosen to win a Creature set! Final Voting begins June 18th and ends June 20th at 11:59 P.M. EST. The contest winner and final voting results will be posted in a separate thread on June 21st. --------------------------------------------------------- BZP Rules and Guidelines --------------------------------------------------------- 1. >>> Bionicle G2 Master Builder Set 2. >>> Vetr-jotunn, Elemental Spirit of Ice 3. >>> Ekimu: Master of Creation 4. >>> Kulta Kal and the Skeleton Army 5. >>> Makuta: The Mask Hoarder 6. >>> Poison Beast (G2 Lerahk) 7. >>> Nuurakh - Forge Overseer 8. >>> G2 Mata-Nui: Titan of Life 9. >>> Guardian of Shadows 10. >>> Makuta - Mask Maker's Return
  7. Ekimu shielded his eyes from a blinding flash of white light. When the light cleared, Ekimu was given only a brief final glimpse of the six Toa before their physical forms dissipated before his him. His eyes widened as they transformed into six beams of elemental energy. The spirits of the Toa rapidly ascended into the heavens above. After soaring through Okoto’s atmosphere, the spirits of the six Toa settled into six stars in the sky above.Ekimu felt a strange mix of emotions following the sacrifice of his allies, the Toa. He felt relieved that his brother, Makuta, had been defeated at last. The Toa Seal that had been created would ensure that Makuta would be trapped in the Shadow Realm forever. When Ekimu had donned the Mask of Time a millennia before, he had seen what could transpire. He had told the Toa what they had needed to do based on what the Mask of Time had revealed to him. And yet, he knew in his heart that destiny was not written in stone, it determined by individuals. The Toa had chosen to give their lives to defeat Makuta, but only because Ekimu had told them what his own Prophecy said.The Mask Maker had a heavy feeling in his chest. He suddenly felt a chill despite the desert heat of the Region of Stone, the region where the Black Crater was located. Deep down, Ekimu came to the realization that he was directly responsible for losing not only his brother but also his friends, the Toa. Even before the Great Cataclysm, Ekimu had come to suspect the envy his brother had for him. But instead of trying to help his brother with these feelings, Ekimu shut Makuta out, allowing his brother’s anger to further develop. Despite their differences, Ekimu loved Makuta, and Ekimu now realized that had he only extended his brotherly love when Makuta needed it the most, perhaps none of this would have happened. Makuta would have never forged the Mask of Ultimate Power, and the Great Cataclysm would never have happened. The hundreds of Okotans who were trapped in the Shadow Realm during the cataclysm, who were now trapped there for all eternity thanks to the Toa Seal, would have been able to live the rest of their lives to the fullest with their friends and families. There would have been no reason for the Toa to have been pulled from their own universe to that of Okoto and ultimately give their lives for a land that wasn’t even theirs. If Ekimu had only tried to help Makuta, many lives would not have been ruined.Ekimu was exhausted and weak after reverting back to his original form. He needed to find shelter for the night so that he could rest and process his ordeal. The Mask Maker climbed out of the crater and began to make his way across the desert of the Region of Stone. The desert was bare and empty, and seemingly stretched on forever. As he crossed the region, Ekimu saw heard the howling of some wolves in the distance. The wolves were native to the Region of Stone, and Ekimu remembered Pohatu mentioning his fondness for the creatures. Perhaps, Ekimu thought, the wolves were howling at the star where Pohatu’s spirit was now located. Perhaps this was their way of mourning the death of the Toa of Stone’s. Ekimu just needed to make it to the next village, where he knew he could find someone that would allow him to spend the night. Eventually, Ekimu noticed a campfire in the distance. He began to approach the light, and was noticed by Nilkuu, the current Protector of Stone.“Master Ekimu!” Nilkuu called. “I could see the flash of light from my village! What happened? Has Umarak been defeated? Where are the Toa?”“It’s a long story,” Ekimu said with a sigh. “If you’ll kindly allow me into your home, I shall tell it to you.”––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––“So…you mean to say Pohatu and the others are dead?” Nilkuu nervously asked after Ekimu had finished his account of the night’s events.“They have sacrificed their bodies and their spirits were sent to the stars. For all intents and purposes, I’m afraid they are,” Ekimu replied solemnly. “But it could have all been avoided had I only tried to reason with Makuta.”“But the Toa had a duty to Okoto- you said it was their destiny to give their lives to save us!” The Protector of Stone said.“But you forget, the Toa were not born on Okoto. We pulled them here, from their own time and universe, and we were the ones to give them that duty. Perhaps the Toa had friends of their own in their world: friends who wonder what has become of them and will never learn of their whereabouts.”“You talk in theoretics, Ekimu. What if you had been able to help Makuta a millennia ago? What if you had found some alternative to the sacrifice of the Toa? If Makuta had never started any of this, it is impossible to predict what our world would be like right now. There were plenty of other evil forces at work. Perhaps Kulta or Umarak the Hunter could have been the one to try to conquer Okoto the same way Makuta did. With all the evil in our world, it was only a matter of time before things went bad. We do not have time to dwell on such things. Even now, the Elemental Creatures are hunting down the last of the Shadow Horde and Skull Spiders. Once the last traces of the Shadow have been destroyed, we will need to build a future, and need you to lead us into that future. In fact, it is your duty to lead us. Stop looking into the past and instead into the future!”“The future…” Ekimu pondered. “I only knew what was to be described in the Prophecy of Heroes by looking into the Mask of Time. Perhaps if I look again answers with be revealed,”“Go to the Temple of Time and see what the Mask reveals to you. But if I may make a suggestion, perhaps it is best you first inform Okoto what has happened to the Toa.”“You are right,” Ekimu said. “The Okotans must know of the Toa’s heroics and Makuta’s defeat. Tomorrow, contact the other Protectors. Tell them to inform their tribes that they should gather at the City of the Mask Makers for a memorial service. After we commemorate the Toa properly, I’ll journey to the Region of Jungle to visit the Temple of Time. ”––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––For the first time in a over millennia, Okoto was to celebrate the Festival of Masks. In the time before Makuta’s betrayal, the festival celebrated the ancient Protectors and the masks worn by all Okotoans. Instead of commemorating the Protectors, this Festival honored the Toa and displayed their Elemental Masks that they were wearing when they first arrived. These Masks had been discarded once the Golden Masks of Power were claimed by their respective wearers. Following Ekimu’s awakening, the original Elemental Masks had been left in Ekimu’s care. Ekimu had never seen the Toa wearing these Masks, and had never taken a good look at them before. But as Ekimu gathered the Mask to be put on display, he noticed something very strange about them. It was common knowledge that all Masks on Okoto were powered by the Elemental Crystals. And yet, these masks did not contain elemental crystals at all, and were powered by some other means. Whatever these Masks were made of, they were nothing like the ones made by Ekimu. From his many centuries of experience with Mask-making, Ekimu had grown used to the feeling of elemental energy radiating from masks. But these Toa masks felt different. It was almost as if there was more than just elemental power coming from the Masks. Perhaps, Ekimu speculated, that the Masks the Toa had arrived in had other abilities they had only forgotten to use.Each Mask was displayed on a pedestal in the center of the ancient city. Thousands of Okotans gathered around the Masks, staring at them in awe. Since the Toa had only been on Okoto for a few short weeks, many of the Okotans had never seen the Toa and relied only upon the stories and rumors surrounding their activities. Seeing these foreign masks once worn by the Toa seemed to validate their existence to the gathered masses.Ekimu noticed the six Elemental Creatures watching the celebration. The Creatures had defeated the rest of the Shadow Horde, and had been hunting down the last of the Skull Spiders. With the death of Umarak, the Creatures no longer had to hide, and could live among the Okotans in peace. However, with the destruction of the Golden Masks of Unity in the sacrifice of the Toa, it would be impossible to communicate with the creatures. Ekimu stood before the gathered islanders to speak.“Gathered friends,” Ekimu began. “I have news for you all. The evil Makuta has been defeated at last! The remnants of his forces have been hunted down and destroyed by the Elemental Creatures and the Protectors. But our ultimate victory came with a great cost. Our beloved Toa gave their lives to defeat Makuta once and for all. I have called this special Festival of Masks in their memory. May all Okoto forever remember their heroism.”The Okotans were silent, digesting this news. They were surprised by how abruptly the battle against Makuta had ended, and that the Toa they had heard talk of were gone forever.“The Toa have brought peace to Okoto. But perhaps more importantly, they have inspired us to maintain that peace. During the final confrontation with the Shadow Horde, many Okotans rose to the challenge of joining the Elemental Creatures in battle and helped to defeat them. Should evil rise again in the future, I have faith that the people of Okoto will follow the example of the Toa and rise to that challenge. But now is not that time; now is the time for peace. Please, enjoy the festival and remember the Toa!”There was a polite but rather unenthusiastic round of applause. The Okotans were understandably distressed and conflicted over the whole ordeal. However, for the first time in a millennia, they were hopeful for the future. ––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––The next day, Ekimu flew his newly-rebuilt airship. Since his awakening, Ekimu had not had much time to re-explore Okoto’s regions. After the Okotans had fled the City of the Mask Makers following the Cataclysm, many villages had been arisen in the individual Regions. Many of them had been burned to the ground by Umarak the Destroyer. The Region of Jungle was quite desolate at this point, with many of its villages destroyed. The Temples that housed Uxar, the Creature of Jungle, and the one housing the Golden Mask of Jungle had now been abandoned. But Ekimu did not have time to focus on that now; his attention was instead towards his destination: the Temple of Time.Ekimu entered the Temple and removed the Mask of Time from its vault. It had once given him the answers he needed, and perhaps in his confusion it would do so again. The Mask Maker hesitated for a moment before donning it. Even if the Mask of Time revealed the answers he sought, perhaps he would not like them. But Ekimu knew he had to try and obtain closure for his whole ordeal, and pressed onward, taking his own Mask of Creation off and replacing it with the Mask of Time.––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––Almost instantaneously, an image began to form before Ekimu’s eyes. It was soon recognizable as a workshop, not unlike Ekimu’s own. However, this was not a place Ekimu was familiar with. Six lifeless figures were strewn across six individual tables. As Ekimu stared intently at the figures he felt a sense of familiarity towards the figures. Suddenly, it hit him: these were the six Toa! All six were far smaller in stature and wore more simplistic armor than when they had arrived on Okoto, but were still recognizable as Tahu, Gali, Onua, Lewa, Kopaka, and Pohatu.Ekimu reasoned he must be witnessing the birth of the Toa, and that this was the universe from which they were originally from. But because this was the place the Toa were constructed, their creator was presumably not far away. Ekimu looked around the workshop and saw another figure, one that made him gasp in awe. The figure was massive, at about ten feet tall. His armor was gray-green and carried a massive hammer. But the most surprising thing about the figure was his mask- he was wearing the Mask of Creation, identical to the Mask Ekimu now owned. Ekimu did not know what to make of this, he had never known where his Mask came from but he never would have imagined it was from another universe entirely. Back when Ekimu had originally learned of the existence of the Toa through the Mask of Time a millennia ago, the Mask had also revealed their names to him. Similarly, Ekimu could now sense the figure’s name: Artakha.Before Ekimu could process this any further, the vision shifted to more rapid flashes. He saw elemental heroes similar to the Toa he knew, however these were not the same beings. He was able to sense that these six collectively had a specific name: Metru. These “Toa Metru” had gathered six disks, each with a color corresponding to one of the six elements. The Toa Metru of Fire, who Ekimu could sense was named “Vakama,” began to craft what Ekimu knew was the mysterious lower half of the Mask of Time. This part of the vision was actually somewhat familiar to Ekimu during a previous experience wearing the Mask of Time, he had witnessed this lower half being forged. This is why he had known about the existence of the lower half and the mask’s name: “Vahi.” He then saw Toa Vakama using the Vahi to fight a massive, shadowy figure. Ekimu was startled by the larger figure’s resemblance to his brother, Makuta. He was even more startled by the name of the figure as revealed to him by the Mask: “Makuta Teridax.” Ekimu could tell his was not the same entity as his brother. However, he still sensed a connection between the two.Suddenly, the scene changed again. Ekimu was back in Artakha’s workshop. Artakha was hard at work crafting a Mask, and muttering to himself as he did so. “How could I have been so foolish…it’s my Great Disks! They’re the key to making the Mask of Time. Vakama only managed to create a Mask that allowed control over time, but there’s so much more potential to be found…”Artakha raised up his creation: it was the upper half of the Vahi, the Mask Ekimu now wore. “This Mask will allow me to see into the past and future…and if my theory is correct, it can be combined with the Vahi Toa Vakama crafted. The combination of the two will allow for complete control over time, even travel through space and time itself!”Ekimu realized that this must have been how the Toa traveled between universes. The Upper Half of the Vahi was on Okoto, and the Lower in the universe of the Toa. The two fragments had created a bridge between universes that allowed the Toa to travel between them.In Ekimu’s next vision, he saw Tahu, still in his original form, put on the lower half of the Mask of Time. Before him were six monstrous creatures, each holding a square object with a distinctive symbol inscribed into them. Ekimu immediately recognized them as the symbols of the Toa, which had been previously revealed to him by the Mask of Time and had since gone down in Okotan legend as such. In fact, Ekimu when built new armor for the Toa he had inscribed these symbols into their chestpieces. Tahu used the Vahi to slow down the six creatures, but the Toa of Fire struggled to control its power. His hold over the power of Time were clearly very unstable.Back in Artakha’s workshop, the instability of the Vahi’s lower half was affecting its upper half. Artakha watched in horror as the upper half of the Vahi began to tremble, and energy began to radiate from it. Suddenly, a vortex of golden energy appeared, sucking the upper half of the Mask of Time away.Instead of an individual location, Ekimu then saw the entire solar system of the Toa, consisting of three planets. Energy enveloped the entire solar system, a blast of the Mask of Time’s golden light blinded Ekimu. When his vision cleared, he saw the result: two different timelines. The universe of the Toa remained unchanged, but he saw a second one he found very familiar. It was his own. Ekimu realized he had just witnessed the creation of his own universe. The connection between Ekimu’s universe and that of the Toa was clear to Ekimu now- he lived in a universe directly parallel to that of that of the Toa. The three planets in Ekimu’s universe were alternate versions of the three world’s of the universe of the Toa, with the world where Okoto was located an alternate version of the world of the Toa. Ekimu had once described the Mask of Time’s upper half as “older than the world and the stars.” Without any shadow of a doubt, he now knew that to be true.The upper half of the Mask of Time drifted through this recently created universe. Eventually, it punctured the atmosphere of Ekimu’s world and crash-landed in what would eventually be known as Okoto’s Region of Jungle. Immediately after Okoto came into existence, elemental energy erupted from the ground of each of Okoto’s elemental regions. Okoto’s elemental Creatures formed from these beams of energy to serve as guardians of the Island. Ikir was formed from the Region of Fire, Akida from the Region of Water, Terak from Earth, Ketar from Stone, Uxar from Jungle, and Melum from Ice. In the center of the Island, two other beings were formed. A magnificent hawk was formed from Okoto’s light. Ekimu recognized this hawk as Agil, the Creature of Light. The other being was sentient, unlike the other Creatures, but still bore similar animalistic features. This was Umarak, the Shadow Hunter. Scattered across the island, Ekimu saw the the very first Okotans. Ekimu reasoned that these were original Okotans were alternate versions of the original universe’s inhabitants.What Ekimu saw next was perhaps the most jarring to him. He saw himself, as well as his brother, Makuta, waking up for the first time. This had been Ekimu’s earliest memory, and now he was seeing it from a new perspective. Even back many millennia ago, Ekimu and Makuta had come into existence wearing their respective Masks of Creation and Control. Perhaps, Ekimu speculated, he was this universe’s alternative form to Artakha, with his brother the alternate form of the original universe’s “Makuta Teridax.”The following events were of no surprise to Ekimu: he had lived them. Ekimu and Makuta crafted the first elemental Masks for the first Protectors. He saw flashes of the settling of Okoto’s Regions, construction of the Island’s Temple’s, attacks by the Skull Raiders…everything up to and including Makuta’s betrayal. Finally, he saw the rise of the Skull Spiders and the gathering of the Protectors in the Temple of Time to summon the Toa.The vision changed drastically once more; Ekimu saw the universe of the Toa once more. The three worlds that made up their solar system collided and became one. Ekimu’s final vision took place on this reformed world. He saw the six Toa as well as Artakha, and another figure that seemed to be an older, weaker form of Vakama.“Brave Toa,” Vakama exclaimed. “I thank you for recovering my Kanohi Vahi from Voporak. However, Artakha has a bit of distressing news regarding the Mask of Time,”“Our pleasure, Turaga,” Onua responded.“Artakha, what is it?” Gali inquired.“A millennia ago, Vakama forged the Kanohi Vahi that he holds right now from the Great Disks. That mask allows the user to slow down or speed up time. However, it was only part of the Mask’s full potential. I created another Mask of Time that would allow for Clairvoyance. Theoretically, the two Masks of Time could be combined into a complete Vahi, that would allow travel between time and space,” Artakha replied. “That’s remarkable,” said Lewa. “Where is this upper half?”“That’s the issue,” responded Vakama. “Back when Vakama used the Vahi to slow down the Bohrok-Kal, time in our universe was briefly very unstable. This instability caused the Mask of Time’s upper half to be sucked out of our universe,”“It is my belief that when the Vahi’s upper half was lost, an entirely separate timeline was created, which runs parallel to ours. My telepathic abilities have given me glimpses into this alternate timeline and it is very similar to our own. The Matoran of this alternate universe live on an island called Okoto. They are currently besieged by their own version of none other than Makuta Teridax,” Artakha continued.“I did this?” Tahu asked in shock. “Because of me, an entire universe came into existence and the Makuta continues to exist?”“I’m afraid so,” Vakama responded somberly.“The elders of this Okoto are in desperate need of assistance against Makuta’s forces. In their culture, it is you six that they foresee will help them.They have activated their half of the Mask of Time, in hopes that you six will come and save them,” Artakha explained.“By the Great Beings,” Pohatu exclaimed. “What are we to do?”“I do not know what to tell you, Toa," Vakama replied. “You have brought peace and freedom to Spherus Magna, and I cannot ask anything further of you. If you desire to go to this 'Okoto' then I can activate our half and send you there. Even if I do, there’s no guarantee you’ll arrive unscathed. The choice is yours to make.” “I’ll go,” Tahu said firmly. “It’s my fault Okoto came into existence and that there’s another Makuta out there. I have a responsibility to put this right, a duty to this island. I don’t expect any of you to come with me.”“Don’t be a fool, brother,” Kopaka quickly interjected. “If there’s anything we’ve learned, it’s that our strength comes from our unity. Perhaps Okoto is your responsibility, but if saving it is your destiny, it’s mine as well.”“As is mine,” continued Onua.“Mine too,” said Pohatu.“Count me in,” said Lewa.“We’re all with you, brother,” concluded Gali.“Very well then,” said Vakama somewhat somberly. “I’ll use the Vahi’s power to complete the connection to send you there.”“The adaptive armor I built for you should conform to Okoto’s environment. Assuming you should make it there, you will gain new forms that will allow you to live among the Okotans,” Artakha explained. “But even then, Okoto is filled with monstrous creatures. It will be extremely dangerous. There’s no guarantee you’ll come back.”“Are you sure you want to go through with this?” Vakama asked.“Absolutely,” Tahu responded. “It’s about time for a new adventure.”“Then I wish you luck,” Vakama said. “May the Great Spirit watch over you.” Vakama removed his own Mask and placed the Vahi over his face. The Mask began to tingle, and as the connection to Okoto was created a vortex opened. Vakama and Artakha watched as the six Toa stepped into the vortex, leaving their world forever.––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––That was enough for Ekimu. He removed the Mask of Time from his face and replaced it with the Mask of Creation. The Mask had given Ekimu more answers than he had expected, but he did not want to see any more. Perhaps he could gotten clarity over what really happened to the spirits of the Toa following the final battle with Makuta, but not knowing that was for the best. The Toa had changed Okoto, and their spirits would forever be kept alive by its people.Ekimu stared at the setting sun from the Temple of Time. This was a strange sort of sunset, the end of a very long story. The Mask Maker had feared he had “stolen” the lives of the Toa, but now he knew that the Toa had freely chosen to come to Okoto. Guided by unity, their duty was to come to Okoto and meet their ultimate destiny. That destiny had not been written in stone, but was a responsibility that was found and chosen by them, not Ekimu. Perhaps that was what it meant to be a hero. Whether or not the Toa lived among them, their legacy would survive forever and inspire all Okotans to be heroes, even Ekimu. It was time for the heroes of tomorrow to go and and make new legends. For that is the way of the BIONICLE. Never…The End.
  8. “Hailing from the deepest and darkest corners of the Okoto jungle, it’s the rookie of the year, so close to winning his first ever championship! You all know him, you all love him. Give it up for… Gresh, the Gladiator of Jungle!” As the announcer’s booming, echoing voice faded away beneath the cheering audience, Gresh stepped forward through the gate. At first, he shielded his eyes as his vision adjusted to the bright sunlight, a stark contrast to the dark armory that he had just left. Then, as he looked around the arena, he allowed himself a well-deserved moment to fully take in his surroundings. Even now, after so many games, the arena still took his breath away. The unorthodox angular stone architecture that reached up towards the heavens… the statues modeled in the likeness of past champions… a massive carving of the Protectors’ mask that marked the entrance to the arena, which surely must have taken years to complete, even for the Stone Tribe’s greatest carvers. The stands were completely filled; he had never seen such a large audience gathered before. Then again, this was the first time he had ever attended the final championship game. Okotans from all across the island were in attendance, but most wore the green or red-hued armor of the Regions of Jungle or Fire, respectively. The Okotans of the Jungle Tribe cheered as they saw their Gladiator. With a laugh, Gresh flexed his muscular arms, twice as thick as any normal arm should be. The villagers roared with excitement, and some of the female Okotans even swooned. One particular Okotan in the front row caught Gresh’s eye. He was a familiar young lad named Tamaru, and he had attended every single one of Gresh’s games. Although he nursed a crippling fear of heights, he watched the arena matches with his innocent wide eyes, always so full of wonder and curiosity. Gresh had hoped that the courage displayed in the arena would inspire Tamaru to overcome his phobia. “You’ll win today, right?” asked Tamaru. Gresh grinned. “You bet, I will!” he replied, winking to the young villager. Gresh took in a deep breath and let it out slowly. While he lived in the Region of Jungle, he thought of this arena as his true home. So long as he had a long life and full career ahead of him, it would always be his home. It was where he belonged, and where he was destined to be. He knew that without a doubt. A flash of lightning streaked across the sky. The arena, along with the entire City of the Mask Makers, was blanketed in perpetual night. The ancient architecture was overgrown with vines as nature fought to reclaim what it once held as its own. Many of the statues had collapsed and crumbled into pieces, with the remaining few looking as though they might topple at the lightest breeze. The stands were empty. There was not a living soul in sight. It was as quiet and still as the grave. Gresh blinked and shook his head. What was that? A vision? Or was it just a dream? Rubbing his eyes, he grumbled, “I haven’t rested enough, recently.” In his moment of distraction, Gresh hardly even noticed that the announcer had revealed his opponent in today’s game. Malum, the Gladiator of Fire, stepped through the gate on the opposite side of the arena. This powerful warrior clad in red armor had chosen to arm himself with a pair of large Flame Claws. He was a tough and resilient foe who was known for not giving up, even when the odds were stacked against him. Gresh tightened his grip on his Hook Blades, a popular choice of Gladiator weapon in the arena. He knew that the match would not be an easy victory against Malum, who had years of experience on his side. Still, perhaps a breath of fresh air was just what this arena needed. Ekimu and Makuta, the great Mask Makers, stood in the balcony above the stands. Gresh faced them and raised his weapons in salute. He could hardly contain the thrilling excitement that rushed through him. The Mask Makers! They were here to see him! Ekimu lifted his Hammer of Power to the sky, single-handedly silencing the crowd. “Play well,” he announced, “and may the virtues guide you to victory!” Makuta lifted his Hammer of Control as well. “Let the tournament… begin!” he proclaimed. Gresh felt the arena shake as the ancient machinery came to life. The entire floor was comprised of a hexagonal grid, which rose and fall like the waves upon the beach. Gladiators had to be light on their feet to able to cross the “sea of stone.” If that was all, then it would be easy. Of course, that was not all. A large hole opened up in the center of the arena, unveiling an artificial tornado. Sand flew through the air as it was sucked into the all-consuming vortex. “Well,” Gresh murmured to himself, “this is certainly new.” He had seen plenty of arena hazards during the tournament, everything from flamethrowers to water geysers, but this whirlwind of sand was unexpected. In a matter of moments, the tiny rock particles stung his eyes, coated the insides of his lungs, and made every movement feel sluggish. He was smothered. It had latched onto his face and bored its sharp claws into the back of his skull. He tried to pull it off, but he just felt so weak… as though all of his muscle was stripped away, leaving him bare to the metallic bone. He could hardly breathe with this thing covering his mouth… as he tried to scream for help, all that he could manage were ragged gasps that eerily sounded almost like maniacal giggling. He could not see… not with his own eyes, which felt as though they were stabbed with knives. Instead, he was forced to see the world through this other creature’s eyes, as it prodded his cranium and moved him like a puppet without free will. “Snap out of it!” Gresh told himself, shaking his head again. This was no time for daydreaming. He had to concentrate on the game. After all, just one wrong move, and- Gresh was knocked to the ground, dropping his weapons as he fell. Through the sandstorm, he could see the shape of Malum standing over him. The Gladiator of Fire scowled upon him, and then raised his Flame Claws in preparation for the final blow. “Malum, wait!” Gresh called out. “I’m disarmed! The rules, you can’t-” Malum gritted his teeth. “I don’t care!” he spat. “I have not come this far just to lose to a rookie like you! We’re not heroes, Gresh… we’re just warriors, without a war to fight, forced fight for money and fame. We’re not heroes, and we never will be.” Instinct kicked in and guided Gresh’s movements as he rolled out of the way of Malum’s Flame Claws. As soon as he was back on his feet, he grabbed one of the spare weapons strapped to his back: a long chain with a pair of hooks on the end. It was not a Gladiator weapon he typically used, since he preferred the Hook Blades, but for some reason he decided to try something different today. As Malum charged at him, Gresh jumped onto a rising hexagonal pillar, giving himself the high ground over his opponent. He whipped the chain forward and latched the claws onto Malum’s mask. Then, with a flick of his wrist, the red mask was sent flying off of his opponent’s face. Weakened, the Gladiator of Fire fell forward. He watched as his unmasked opponent hit the ground and lay there, unmoving. Oh, yes! It just felt so satisfying to watch the once-mighty warrior, now even more weakened and lifeless than himself. Now, they would know how it felt to be him. He could hear more coming. With his defeated foe’s mask in his hand, he scurried away as quickly as he could. This was his home, and he’d make them regret intruding upon his territory. Gresh blinked again. “Why does this keep happening?” he wondered aloud. But, now was not the time for such questions. His long-coveted victory was within his grasp. He jumped from pillar to pillar before leaping directly into the sand vortex. In the center of the tornado - the eye of the storm - was the lever that would end the match. With a mighty swing of his Hook Blade, he activated the mechanism. At once, the “sea of stone” settled as the hexagonal grid coalesced back into a smooth flat surface. The sand whirlwind dissipated, and once again Gresh could clearly see the audience. They cheered for him, celebrating his victory. Gresh had accomplished his dream: he was finally an arena champion. With a hearty laugh, he lifted his weapons to the sky and took it all in, closing his eyes and letting the wonderful sounds of praise ring in his ears. After his celebration, Gresh ascended a flight of stairs leading up to the balcony, where he met Ekimu and Makuta. He knelt before them, bowing his head respectfully. “My victory is dedicated to you. Without your unity to guide us, Okoto would be lost.” “Congratulations on winning the tournament, Gresh!” said Makuta. “With your power, you’ve come a long way for a rookie.” “You have shown great honor and courage in the arena,” proclaimed Ekimu. “For that, we award you with the ceremonial Copper Mask of Victory!” Then, the Mask Makers revealed the bronze mask, resting upon a decorated pedestal. The Copper Mask was beautiful, combining Makuta’s fine craftsmanship and Ekimu’s ornate detail. Gresh could see his own image reflected upon its shining surface, which gleamed in the sunlight. It had no power, but it was a symbol of great respect that would only be awarded to the greatest champions. He looked down upon the shining mask he held in his hands. Something compelled him to put it on. He clawed at the thing on his face, but it would still not let go. Determined not to let this deter him, he instead placed the coveted mask over the facehugger. Instantly, energy surged through him as it was drained from the mask. This was more than any being, other than the legendary Toa, should have handled, but now it was his. Unhinged laughter escaped from his lips as he felt more life than he had in millennia. He… could… feel… the… POWER! Gresh gasped as he snapped back to reality. Chaos had unfolded around him while he had blacked out. Okotans screamed and ran as a dozen powerful warriors barged into the arena, spreading fear and panic in their wake. The invaders were all shapes and sizes. One of them was a hulking titan able to demolish rock with his fists. Another was shorter than most Okotans but made up for his diminutive stature by riding upon a vicious reptilian mount. One thing united them all: they were the Hunters, a band of thieves and mercenaries whose loyalties belonged to the highest bidders. With a start, Gresh realized that the Copper Mask of Victory was missing from its pedestal. He ran through the arena, looking for the Hunter that had taken it. At last, he spotted the gleaming mask in the hands of someone he recognized all too well: a fellow warrior hailing from the Jungle Tribe, clad in green and silver armor, and wielding a large Jungle Scythe. “Nidhiki!” shouted Gresh. “Hand over the mask!” Nidhiki turned around slowly and smiled. “Gresh,” he murmured. “Hello again, my old friend. It’s good to see you again.” Gresh grimaced. “You lost the right to call me ‘friend’ after what you did. You… you betrayed Okoto! You tried to sell us out to Kulta and the Skull Raiders!” He remembered that day. It was then that the young Gresh learned the hard way that not everyone was as idealistic or virtuous as himself. Shrugging, Nidhiki said, “See, now that unforgiving attitude is exactly why I left the Jungle Tribe.” “You were exiled,” Gresh pointed out. “Same difference,” said Nidhiki, rolling his eyes. “Now, see, the Hunters welcomed me with open arms. They don’t care what you’ve done in the past; as long as you do honest work, you get paid. And now, I see you’ve chosen a similar profession, Gladiator of Jungle.” “No,” insisted Gresh, shaking his head. “No. It’s not the same at all!” Nidhiki laughed. “Of course it is! Neither of us are heroes, Gresh. It’s not about honor or virtue; it’s about making a living in a harsh world. You get paid to fight, and at the end of the day, you’re awarded with a shiny mask of if you did well enough.” He lifted the Copper Mask as a visual aid. “By the way, congratulations on your victory, kid, and I’m sorry to cut the celebration short for you. But, sooner or later, you’ll learn that being a Gladiator isn’t all fun and games. The crowd may love you now, but once you start growing old and losing your edge, they’ll turn on you and hate you. As you stop winning, they’ll throw you to the Skull Scorpios. Malum knows this well, and it’s only a matter of time before you do, too.” “Enough!” snapped Gresh, unlimbering his chain and one Hook Blade. “Hand over the mask, or I’ll take it from you! It has no power or use to you!” Nidhiki did not seem intimidated by his display. “A Copper Mask of Victory, crafted by Ekimu and Makuta themselves? No, I think it does have some use to me. It’ll fetch a high price on the aftermarket. You want it? Come and take it from me!” Gresh charged at Nidhiki. He swung his chain, attempting to grab the Copper Mask out of Nidhiki’s hand. Instead, Nidhiki used his Jungle Scythe to intercept the claw, wrapping the chain around the shaft and yanking it to pull Gresh close. Then, with the scythe’s blade, the Hunter parried the Gladiator’s Hook Blade, sending sparks flying as the two metallic edges clashed. “Face it, Gresh,” hissed Nidhiki. “You’re no match for me. I’ve been fighting tougher opponents since before you even conceived your first thought.” Gresh chuckled. “Oh, Nidhiki. It’s such a shame you haven’t been here to see me in the arena, rooting for me and cheering me on to victory, like the rest of our tribe. Otherwise, you would’ve known from some of my previous games that I can do… this!” He felt the gears in his torso turning, clinking as they interacted with one another. Then, each of his thick arms separated in two, revealing his true form as a four-armed being. With his two newly-freed hands, he reached for and unsheathed the two additional Hook Blades strapped to his back. Gresh had caught Nidhiki off-guard. Spinning his arms rapidly, he forced the surprised Hunter to recoil. Gresh pressed his advantage and did not let up. With this tactic, he was determined not let any of his opponents get close enough to take the mask away from him. One of them attempted to disarm him, throwing their own weapons to knock two Hook Blades out of his hands, but he kept fighting with his extra limbs. He whipped his chain, latching onto one warrior’s shield, and was ready to pull it away. However, even with the extra power granted to him by the mask, he was still too frail and weak compared to his prime, and his foe pulled the chain right out of his hands. Still, he grabbed one of the other intruders, who had dared to come within arm’s reach, and then used their body as a shield to block an incoming attack. As the champion of the arena, he refused to go down easily, not to these imposters. “Make your choice, Gresh!” Gresh cursed silently to himself. He needed to concentrate on the fight, and these visions kept interfering with ability to stay focused. Gresh turned around and saw one of the other Hunters: a large bruiser who was clad in blue and white armor. The brute held an Okotan in one hand, and was strong enough to lift the villager in the air. Gresh gasped as he realized that the Okotan was none other than Tamaru, whose young innocent eyes were wide with terror. “You can’t have it both ways, Gladiator!” declared Nidhiki. “Either you save the poor helpless villager and let me escape with the Copper Mask… or you try to stop me, and Krekka bashes the villager’s skull in. Let’s see if you really are the hero you claim to be!” Gresh knew that the Copper Mask of Victory was one that he had coveted for years. As the Gladiator of Jungle, he fought each match in the arena with the dream of becoming champion. It was a priceless creation crafted by the greatest Mask Makers, and now it rightfully belonged to him. There was no choice to be made. Gresh charged at one of the two Hunters, bellowing a war cry as he did so. He swung his chain and used the claws to snatch his quarry right out of the Hunter’s hand. He spun his Hook Blades, swinging them down upon his foe. He did not stop until he was sure that his opponent was defeated. In his arms, he cradled the small delicate shape that he had taken from the Hunter. “Don’t worry,” Gresh whispered. “I’ve got you now. You’re safe… Tamaru.” Tamaru looked up at him and wrapped his arms around the Gladiator’s torso, hugging his savior. “Thank you, Gresh!” said the young Okotan. Suddenly, Gresh felt a sharp pain in his spine as a blade sliced through his armor. Gasping, he collapsed to the ground next to Krekka’s fallen form. He felt his energy slip away and was helpless to do anything about it. The only good fortune was that his body cushioned the fall for Tamaru, who was uninjured but very scared. Nidhiki stood over them, having stabbed Gresh in the back with his Jungle Scythe. He bent in close and murmured, “And now, you know what happens to heroes. Goodbye, Gresh.” The Hunter’s voice did not sound happy or proud of his victory, but was instead solemn. Perhaps he did not wish to mortally wound his old friend after all, but he had determined that the decisions leading to this point had led him to this path. With that, Nidhiki and the Hunters departed, taking the Copper Mask of Victory with them. His skill in the arena was not enough to save him. One of the warriors had gotten past his guard and taken the mask away from him for good, stripping away his newfound power. Another had bested him in his own element, bringing a mighty hammer down upon the lever. The games were finally over. Gresh took ragged breaths. He no longer had the strength left to even sit up. Instead, he laid upon the floor of the arena, curled up in a fetal position. Tamaru was still held close in his arms. The scared younger villager shook Gresh as he pleaded, “Get up! Please, Gresh! You have to get up!” Gresh knew that he could not get up. His destiny was clear now. But he could not leave Tamaru scared and alone. Instead, he lifted a trembling hand to gently caress Tamaru’s mask, hoping to comfort the young Okotan. “It’s… okay…” he whispered, struggling to speak when every word felt like a knife in his chest. “You… have to… be… strong, now… I… have to… go…” “I… I don’t understand!” cried Tamaru. “Where are you going? Why can’t you stay?” Summoning his remaining strength, Gresh turned his head and looked towards the sky. “Remember… the legends…? My spirit… will… ascend… to the… stars… to join… the… heroes…” Teary-eyed, Tamaru looked upward. “The stars?” he repeated. “You mean the… the legends of the red stars?” Gresh smiled. “Yes… and when… you see… the… stars… at night… think of me… and… I’ll be… watching…” Slowly, Tamaru nodded. “I… I will think of you! I’ll always remember you, Gresh! We’ll tell stories and sing songs about you!” As Gresh’s eyelids slowly shut, he whispered, “Now… I must… rest… peacefully…” Rest… Gresh’s eyes shot open. No, that couldn’t be right. He needed to rest. He should have been resting. Why wasn’t he resting? Something kept him awake. Something wrong. What was it? Dreams. Was that it? The visions that had plagued him all day. Every time he blacked out. What did they mean? They couldn’t have meant much. They could not have been the past; he had no memory of the events that unfolded before his eyes. They could not have been visions of the future, since he never known such a power in his whole life. No, he was just a simple Gladiator of Jungle who lived an honorable life as a beloved champion of the arena. That’s who he was. A thought took hold of Gresh. A terrible thought. A thought that chilled him straight to the bone. He did not want to think about it. But, like an itch, it would not go away. It took hold of him and he could not think about anything else. The dreams and visions… were his present reality. Fighting in the arena… becoming the champion… battling the Hunters… saving Tamaru… dying at Nidhiki’s hands… that was all just a dream. Or, more accurately, memories. Of a past life. One that he no longer had, because he had died. He was dead, and had been so for millennia. But, something had recently interrupted his peaceful rest. And now, against his will, he was forced to keep fighting in the arena, despite wishing that he could still rest. And he was fighting… Toa! But… no, that can’t be right. The Toa were heroes, according to legend. Why was he fighting them? Why did he oppose them? The bone-chilling answer was like a twisted knife to his heart. I’m not the hero, realized Gresh. I’m… I’m the villain. That was the last thing Skull Slicer thought before he plummeted into the abyss. ----- I was not planning on entering the Legend Continues contest, but last night I suddenly had an idea for a story. I just thought that the backstory of this particular Gen 2 character was very interesting and was disappointed that, canonically, it was never relevant to the plot. Of course, writing and editing the story in less than a day so I can submit it before the deadline by the skin of my teeth... well, that means that this is not one of my better-written or more-polished works, and therefore I'm willing to bet that this will not be the winning entry. Still, it was fun to write, and I hope you enjoyed reading it. Comments are appreciated. Constructive criticism is welcome.
  9. Ekimu's emotions were mixed as he stood in his forge, looking at an incomplete set of masks lying on a table. Three of the six Uniter masks he had forged sat before him: the masks of Fire, Ice, and Earth. Shortly after his return from the Black Volcano they had been brought to him by their respective Elemental Creatures; the other three would be delivered shortly. Portions of the masks that had previously been silver had changed to a sickly yellow-green. A quick comparison with fragments of the Beast Masks had confirmed Ekimu's suspicions: the colors were nearly identical. Reasoning that the taint had something to do with the Elemental Beasts' powers, Ekimu hoped that he would be able to cleanse the masks, but if he was not then it would be best to keep them here. However his old friend Agil-who had reappeared following the banishment of Makuta-had brought an additional mask to him. Though parts of it had changed in color from green to red, Ekimu recognized the artifact from legend: Umarak's Hunter Mask. What had caused its change he couldn't say, though Umarak's transformation or demise seemed the likeliest answers. The question of the masks and the thoughts of Umarak's monstrous final form made Ekimu think of one adventure in which he had played no part. It had come after the Protectors had found opportunity to tally the Okotans for the first time since the Skull Spider invasion. Though many had been freed after the demise of the Lord of Skull Spiders, a sizeable number remained missing. With no means of tracing them, there was only one source of information available to the heroes of Okoto: Skull Basher, the only Skull Raider who had not been trapped underground. Still bereft of his Bull Skull Mask, heavily restrained, and surrounded by all six Toa and Protectors, the Skull Basher had been informed by Ekimu of the fall of his people. The Wise Master had then offered Kulta's lieutenant leniency in exchange for information on the missing Okotans. Whether the horned monster truly desired a new chance at life, or had decided Makuta deserved none of his loyalty after leaving him imprisoned, he had agreed. As such, Ekimu had granted him back his mask so that the Toa would not have to carry their "guide." Ekimu had elected to stay behind and help watch over the City of the Mask Makers with a guard made up of recruits from the various regions. The Toa were instead accompanied by all six Protectors; Harvali, the spear-carrying archaeologist; Melea, the Stone Tribe woman whose family the Toa had previously aided; and the unlikely addition of four children with a vested interest in the captives. These were Bingzak, the Jungle child taken in by Nilkuu; Ako and Oda, Melea's nephews whose father was among the missing; and Narmoto's son Balta, who hoped to find his lost mother. The four youths had pleaded so earnestly to join the expedition that their elders had agreed, on condition of their promise of strict obedience. The party soon reached their destination, deep in the Region of Ice: a fearful ruin known as the Place of Shadow. Here, as Harvali informed the Toa, ancient Okotans had dared to tamper with combinations of multiple Elemental Powers and in so doing opened a rift to the Shadow Realm. That ancient portal had long ago closed, but not before bringing a plague of shadows to Okoto that had forever altered their way of life and led to the passing of the sacred code only broken since by Makuta. Where once Okotans had been as tall as the Toa themselves, those who had survived the plague had been reduced in stature, and ever afterwards their descendants had remained so. Many of the ancients who had perished by the disease had later been those reanimated by Makuta to serve his twisted ends. Unfortunately, upon entering the Place of Shadow the group found not only traces of the passing of the captured Okotans, but were attacked by two foes the Toa had never expected to see again: one of the Skull Scorpios they had evicted from the Ancient City, and an elite Skull Warrior who had briefly claimed Kopaka's Golden Mask of Ice. The beasts struck quickly and retreated with their Skull Basher, leaving the heroes with little choice but to follow them. And so they made their way into the darkness, where they encountered three monstrous foes... Kopaka's shield shuddered as twin axe and sword blades slammed into it, testing even the powerful energy barrier. He had thought Skull Basher a hideous creature when they had first encountered the Skull Raider in the Ancient City, but the being now attacking him was even more horrifying. It had the Skull Basher's massive frame, Bull Skull Mask, and long horns, and wielded both of the warrior's axes; however, it had an additional set of arms that wielded blades like those of Skull Slicer. The remainder of the beast was a mixture of elements from Basher, Slicer, and the Skull Warriors, with green, orange, and blue bones and claws. Before the monster-whom Kopaka had unconsciously named Skull Crusher-could strike again, he was bulled aside by Onua, who swung his hammer at the towering enemy. However, that mighty weapon was blocked by the strength of all of Skull Crusher's arms, which even Onua could not overcome, and deflected. The weapon flew out of Onua's hands and hit the ground nearby, splitting back into Onua's Turbo Shovelers. Fortunately, Onua was spared a similar fate when Skull Crusher roared in pain, having been struck from behind by Lewa's Battle Axes. A short distance away, the other three Toa were occupied with a similarly nightmarish figure resembling the Skull Grinder. However, this beast appeared to wear the Mask of Creation and have pieces of Ekimu's armor added to his own, with bony legs resembling those of the Skull Scorpios emerging from his back. In place of Kulta's Mask Stealer Staff he carried a monstrous double-bladed axe in his right hand, while the other hand held a weapon with an axe-blade on one end and a sword blade on the other. Ekimu had warned the Toa that such a being was what Skull Grinder might have become had he not been defeated, and even given the monster a name: Kulta-Kal. With a roar, Kulta-Kal swung his larger weapon at Gali, who handily blocked it with her trident. He then attempted to swing his other blade at her only to have it blocked by Tahu's Fire Blades. Pohatu then struck from behind, driving his small blade in Kulta-Kal's side and producing a roar. However, the beast was not so easily felled, and swung around to engage Pohatu with such fury that Gali and Tahu had to run after him to prevent him from slaying their brother. Compared with these foes, one might have thought the Protectors had it easy-were it not for the fact that they were facing a Skull Scorpio. Sending Harvali and Melea to find a hiding place with the children, they faced off with the beast. Nilkuu fired his Sandstone Blaster again and again, though even his skill brought little harm to the foe; Skull Scorpios were well known as desert menaces who would pursue prey even through sandstorms. Fortunately he was far from alone, with Narmoto and Izotor pouring their firepower into the foe as well. The three were scattered as the Scorpio struck with its tail, and then quickly whirled and leaped upon Vizuna, who had been trying to get in closer for a point blank shot with his Flame Bow. His weapon was knocked from his hand and sent skidding across the stone floor, coming to a halt at the feet of Korgot. Fear for the Protector of Jungle and rage at the Skull Scorpio for daring to harm him filled her. However, Korgot had lent her launcher and throwing knives to Melea and her nephews, leaving her without a ranged weapon. Thinking quickly, she snatched up the Flame Bow and then hurled her Star Drill, yelling as she did so. "Vizuna, catch!" Already alerted to the incoming projectile by his Sensor Tail, Vizuna rolled himself into perfect position to catch it. Activating the weapon, he drove it into the Skull Scorpio's mask, causing the creature to rear up to evade the attack. It proved a foolish move, as the action got the Scorpio far enough away from Vizuna that Korgot didn't have to worry about hitting him. She thus opened up with the Flame Bow, sending bolts of green energy slamming into the monster. The creature might still have managed to overcome the attack and come after her, but a massive blast of water came flying in to strike it as well, and it collapsed into a pile of bones. Getting to his feet with a sigh of relief, Vizuna handed Korgot her Star Drill as she handed back his Flame Bow; their hands touched on both weapons, and the pair smiled at each other before each relinquished the other's weapon. "Seems that cross weapons training was a good idea after all-nice shooting Korgot. And you too, Kivoda, though I'm surprised you took so long." "It was a little hard to get into a good position with my Turbines," Kivoda replied. Nilkuu raised an eyebrow as he stepped over the Scorpio's remains. "Didn't you decide not to bring those along the next time we went climbing?" "We knew we were heading into a cave network," Kivoda retorted. "There was a chance-and still is-that we could run into underground water in these ruins, and if that happens these things could come in very useful." Before any further comments could be made, a pair of loud noises reached the ears of the Protectors, who turned just in time to see the fall of Skull Crusher and the false Kulta-Kal. Kopaka and Lewa had entangled Skull Crusher’s weapons on either side, leaving him wide open for Onua to hit him with Turbo Shoveler assisted double punch. Kulta-Kal, on the other hand, had fallen victim to an elemental assault, with Pohatu and Tahu combining their powers to cover him in lava, which Gali then cooled into stone by hitting it with a stream of Water. Just as the Protectors were preparing to congratulate the heroes, the forms of the fallen titans shimmered and transformed into pure shadow. These two masses oozed away from the Toa, leaving behind the lifeless forms of Skull Basher and another Skull Scorpio. With frightening speed the living darkness made its way deeper into the ruins, traveling in the same direction in which Harvali, Melea, and the children had gone. Without a word the heroes charged after them, though Pohatu and Lewa were prevented from flying by the close confines of the ruins. The corridor down which they ran soon opened up into a large chamber, and despite their urgency the Toa slowed to survey the awe-inspiring sight. Seven other doorways led off from the chamber, each with an Okotan rune above the door and a carved Okotan figure standing beside it. Pohatu recognized one of the figures, which had also appeared in sculptures at the Shrine of Stone where he had obtained his golden mask. These, then, were the ancient Mask Makers who had long ago attempted to create masks that utilized more than one Elemental Power...and in so doing, brought about the plague of shadows. Curiously, though each rune seemed to be indicative of a different one of Okoto's elements, there were seven, not six, and the figure above the seventh door-the only one currently open-wore Ekimu's Mask of Creation. However, the Toa and Protectors had no time to ponder these mysteries, for they had spotted their quarry. The two shadows had now become six, and had formed a ring around a trio of Okotans at the center of the chamber. Harvali, Balta, and Bingzak were standing back to back, with Harvali's gaze darting rapidly around to keep track of the shadows. Just when it seemed the shadows might take action, however, they were struck by blasts of Fire and Sand as Narmoto and Nilkuu charged in, astonishing their comrades with their ferocity. Driven back by the Elemental onslaught, each shadow retreated towards a different door, leaving only the curious seventh one unblocked. Then, as the heroes watched, the six other doorways opened, and each shadow began to change shape. In mere seconds they stood tall, strong, and armored, with their forms taking on color and definition. Much to the astonishment of the Toa, they recognized these new beings as themselves, but clad in unfamiliar armor and masks decorated with the same runes as the door before which each stood. The Shadow Tahu carried a pair of lethal-looking crystalline swords; Shadow Kopaka held a sword with two crystal blades and a launcher similar to Izotor's; Shadow Lewa wielded tonfa with metal or crystal blades at either end; Shadow Gali stood with a crystal spear; Shadow Pohatu's weapon was a flail with a crystalline blade; and Shadow Onua possessed a hammer that had a drill for one head and a launcher for the other. "Follow us if you dare, Toa! Come and see the power that could be yours if you would side with Makuta and not his prideful fool of a brother!" With this eerie challenge, spoken in unison, complete, each Shadow Toa retreated into their respective doorway. The Toa and Protectors waited a moment, wishing to be sure they were not going to return, before going to where Harvali and her two charges waited. Narmoto had knelt and hugged Balta to him, while Nilkuu had put a comforting hand on Bingzak's shoulder before turning to Harvali. "Are you all alright?" The obvious urgency and concern in his voice surprised the Toa, who failed to notice the tinge of red that came to Harvali's face behind her mask; Korgot was more astute and gave Vizuna a nudge that soon had him smiling as she was. The archaeologist finally managed to thank the Protector of Stone for his gallant action; her failure to thank Narmoto as well went unheeded. She then explained that Balta and Bingzak had stopped back with her to help her investigate the carvings in the chamber while Melea and her nephews went on ahead to search for the missing prisoners. They had taken the corridor marked by the statue of Heremus, a direct ancestor of Ekimu and Makuta's from whom Ekimu had inherited the Mask of Creation; this door, with it's anvil and hammer rune, signified the Element of Light. Harvali's trio had been examining the statue of Velika of Stone when the shadows had come upon them. "Now it seems those fiends have fled into the the Elemental Chambers, places where the ancient Mask Makers gathered Elemental Crystals from each Region in order to harness their power." Looking to each doorway, the Toa saw that Harvali spoke the truth, for through each portal was visible an environment resembling each Elemental Region. Rock and lava, ice and snow, dense jungle, a vast lake, desert sand, and a dim cavern greeted their eyes. "We must pursue them, or they will cause more trouble," Gali remarked. "But the armor they wore...those weapons...can we stand against them?" Izotor smiled reassuringly up at the Toa, then moved to Kopaka. "Makuta is a clever trickster-he has clad his creations in imitations of equipment that Master Ekimu has told me he intends to forge for you, noble Toa. I doubt you will have much more trouble with them than with the 'Kulta-Kal' we fought further back in the ruins. But to be certain, we shall gladly lend your our arms for your battle." Though Izotor hadn't shared this suggestion with his comrades, they were all quick to agree with the sense of it. Kopaka quickly place his shield on his back while the Protector fixed his own to the Toa's spear, before handing his launcher to the Toa as well. Narmoto fixed his own launcher to Tahu's shoulder, just as he wore it; he then joined his Flame Swords into a claw-like weapon. This Tahu took in his left hand, while joining his own Golden Swords into a double-bladed weapon and throwing the Lava Surfboard through the Door of Fire onto the lava in preparation to ride it. Vizuna handed Lewa his Flame Bow, while Nilkuu passed Pohatu the Sandstone Blaster after he had mounted the Stormerangs to his feet to create the Jetarangs. Onua joined the Turbo Shovelers back into the Earthquake Hammer and then took the Star Drill, though he was surprised when Korgot removed her shoulder armor and added it to his own. Kivoda offered Gali his launcher, but the pair realized it was rather small for her use; Gali solved this by splitting her trident and attaching the Shark Fins to either side of Kivoda's weapon. The Power Harpoon was then fixed to her back, and Kivoda then attached his Turbines to her shoulders; he stepped back to admire the sight before looking over at Nilkuu, who scowled. "You don't have to look so smug about being right." And so, with quick words of farewell, the Toa passed through the doors in search of their foes. The Protectors, after learning that Harvali had completed her studies of the chamber, opted to travel through the Door of Light to see if they could find Melea, Ako, Oda, and the Okotans they had all been searching for. They hadn't gone far when they heard a sound that filled them all with dread-the sound of a launcher being fired and Okotan voices yelling. Without a word they raced towards the sound, with Harvali and Nilkuu hanging back slightly to keep an eye on Bingzak and Balta. Emerging from the corridor, the Protectors realized that Makuta and his minions had clearly altered the ruins to suit their own purposes. Certainly, the ancient Mask Makers would never have caused the Door of Light to lead to what was unmistakably a dungeon. Numerous barred cells were visible, and inside them the group could see Okotans in various ill conditions. However, the greatest horror was the sight of Melea, Ako, and Oda backing away from a monstrous figure that dwarfed even Kulta-Kal and Skull Crusher. The creature's legs, which were oddly short considering its great size, ended in three-clawed feet and were decorated with spiked armor. It's torso was a hideous mismatch, with green ribs falling beneath fiery muscle and sickly green and black armor. The arms were bulky and covered in glowing growths or armor, and ended in long savage claws of black and red or white and green. From the thick shoulders emerged a head with a twisted golden mask set above a gaping jaw, with a pair of massive tusks or horns emerging from either side of it's head. Melea was fighting gamely, using the launcher Korgot had lent her to pelt the beast with energy blasts; however, the massive figure shrugged off the blasts as though they were raindrops. To Narmoto's shock, it then set four of it's six claws aflame and swiped at Melea, forcing her back. It then stomped a foot, and Korgot felt the power of Earth at work as the floor beneath their feet cracked and buckled. Melea stumbled, and the creature advanced on her to the outrage of her nephews, who ran to her aid. "Leave our aunt alone!" Ako followed up his shout with a slash of one of Korgot's throwing daggers, while Oda employed his own borrowed blade from the other side. The beast responded by blasting them back with streams of water so that they hit the walls; the shadows of the dungeon then seized hold of them. The boys continue to struggle, with Oda calling out as well. "Just wait 'til we get free, you monster!" "Perhaps lending the Toa our weapons was not the wisest course," Narmoto muttered. "If I may, friend Narmoto, I believe we still command weapons that will serve: the Elements themselves," Kivoda replied. As before, the Protectors understood unconsciously what their comrade intended, and quickly moved to form a ring around the massive beast. Seeing them coming, the creature unleashed a wall of flames that Kivoda quickly extinguished, blasts of water that Narmoto vaporized, and boulders that Nilkuu shattered. Tentacles of Shadow lashed out at them as well, only to be shattered by blasts of Ice or entangled themselves by Vizuna's vines. Korgot then used her Earth power on the already unstable floor to trap the monster's feet. Now in position, the Protectors moved on to the next phase of their plan: unleashing pure Elemental fury against their adversary. From six different directions they struck, with streams of Fire, Ice, Jungle power, and Water flying through the air to converge on the monster. Not to be left out, Nilkuu and Korgot channeled their powers through the floor, creating fissures and waves of rock that slammed into the enemy's legs. For a few brief seconds the creature held firm against the onslaught: then it was consumed by blinding light, which faded to reveal the blackened form of the Skull Warrior the heroes had encountered earlier. The Skull Warrior's body crumbled to reveal a sickening form: a scorpion, much smaller that the Skull Scorpios and even Ketar, Creature of Stone, but with a sickly green and black shell and a single glowing red eye. Melea shuddered as she beheld the creature and recognized it for what it was. Many were the tales told of its more noble brethren, but the ones about it were spoken rarely and with dread. "Jaga, Creature of Shadow!" With a hiss Jaga fled, moving so swiftly and being so quickly enveloped by the Shadow to which it belonged that the Protectors couldn't even think of seizing it. As such, they contented themselves with smashing open the many cell doors while Harvali, Balta, and Bingzak helped Melea and her nephews to their feet. However, the boys of Fire and Stone were soon distracted as a pair of familiar figures emerged from the crowd, with Balta being the first to voice his recognition. "MAMA!" In seconds Balta and his parents were locked in an embrace, the often stern Protector of Fire gently embracing his wife. Ako and Oda had flung their arms around their father, while Melea began lecturing her brother with mock severity about going off and leaving her to handle his children. However, young Bingzak could not share in their joy, as he looked around to every face in the crowd but could see no sign of his lost parents. At last he looked to the nearest freed prisoner, a woman of the Ice Tribe. "My name is Bingzak...do you know what became of my parents?" "Oh child," the woman said, her eyes filling with sorrow. "We were all forced here by the Skull Spiders, and were pressured to pledge our allegiance to Makuta. Those few who accepted were stung by Jaga and became Okotans of Shadow, and disappeared to join Makuta's hordes in the Shadow Realm. But many adamantly refused no matter how badly they were beaten or starved, even though they had been here for some time. These were eventually put to death...and your parents were among them." Bingzak's eyes filled with tears, his long unspoken hopes now forever dashed. Before he could begin to weep, however, he felt a strong hand descend on each of his shoulders. To one side of him stood Nilkuu; to the other Harvali. Wordlessly they walked with him, leading the way as the Protectors and other Okotans made their way back towards the main chamber. As they emerged into it, however, they found that one last obstacle impeded their mission. The Toa and Shadow Toa had emerged from the Elemental Chambers: four of the latter lay groaning on the floor while Tahu and Kopaka were still fighting desperately. Some victory had been enjoyed, it seemed, for the Shadow Lewa and Shadow Onua were not to be seen. However, the remaining four had unleashed a new tactic, melding their substances together so that there were now two of them. One was mostly the Shadow Tahu but carried a shield and weapon that resembled the chest armor and flail of Shadow Pohatu; fiery blades emerged from either elbow, and two more hung from its back like wings. The other was mostly Shadow Kopaka, but its sword and launcher had merged together, and it had strange armor on it's back that resembled Shadow Gali's and a curious sword held in a reverse grip in it's left hand. "Protectors, to your Toa!" This came from Izotor, who stepped forward alongside Narmoto while Vizuna and the others rushed to their fallen compatriots. The two Protectors whose Toa still stood concentrated what strength remained to them and reached out to Kopaka and Tahu, linking their Protector Masks to the Golden Masks worn by the two champions. Though all four were weak from battle, the effect was more than merely a boost to the Toa. Their energies were almost immediately replenished, and then enhanced, with the power being such that they began to shine with it. Both Toa grew broader and thicker in their chests, as though their bodies needed extra room to accommodate their heightened energies. Tahu's Golden Sword attached to his back, while his Lava Surfboard split in two and came into his hands held in a reverse grip, with Narmoto's own swords attaching to the handles to become additional blades. Kopaka's shield came away from his back and attached to new growths on his shoulders to become wings. His spear found a place on his back, with with his hands he now gripped Izotor's weapon as the Protector did in battle. Izotor's shield allowed Kopaka to deflect the blasts from his foe's launcher, and he then opened fire with his own to blast the Shadow Kopaka's bladed launcher from his grasp. He then used the shield to parry Shadow Kopaka's remaining weapon before slicing through his adversary with a single blow; the monstrous Toa became a cloud of Shadow that dissipated like smoke. The Shadow Tahu fared little better, as it's shield was barely able to deflect the blasts from Narmoto's launcher where it still sat on Tahu's shoulder as he charged. One swing, and then another, of the Lava Surfboard blades rid the false Toa of both weapon and shield, and before it could reach for another weapon Tahu had slashed again, this time using Narmoto's blades. With their foes defeated, Tahu and Kopaka returned to their normal forms, and turned around to see their fellow heroes getting to their feet. Gratefully the Protectors accepted their weapons back from the heroes, who thanked them for their kindness in the lone. However, while Tahu and Kopaka still felt renewed, Narmoto and Izotor were drained from the effort of strengthening them and the other Toa and Protectors weren't in much better shape. As such, the Masters of Fire and Ice led the way as the Okotan survivors made their way out of the Place of Shadow. Emerging from the Place of Shadow, Tahu and Kopaka made one final exercise of their powers to bring down the ruin. This course had been suggested by the freed Okotans and agreed upon by the entire rescue party, including Harvali. Doing so, they knew, would not heal the pain it had caused nor bring back the fallen-but at least now the darkness within the place would be buried, and along with it the hated Creature of Shadow. And thus, with their task accomplished and their foes defeated, the party gladly followed Balta's counsel: "Let's go home." Ekimu smiled as he thought how the heroes had indeed come home, and celebrated the victory and its accompanying loss. They had soon had more cause for celebration, for Nilkuu and Harvali, who had grown closer ever since their adventures beneath the Ancient City, had decided to wed, and to adopt Bingzak as their son.The Mask Maker chuckled as he thought of the wedding, and how Nilkuu and Harvali had thrown their tokens of union, believed to identify the next pair of Okotans to be married. The emblems had been aimed towards Vizuna and Korgot, only to be caught by Izotor and Melea instead. However, Ekimu grew grim again as he regarded the masks that lay before him. Umarak's, in particular, reminded him of the Protectors' description of the colossus from Makuta's dungeon. Only now, after seeing the Destroyer and the Shadow Horde in action, did Ekimu see that his brother had been giving them a taste of what had been to come: an amalgam of the horrors he intended to unleash upon them. And he knew that, though Makuta's power to touch the world of light had been weakened by his defeat at the hands of the Toa, the Master of Shadows still lurked within his prison. "I imagine that you can hear me, brother-yes, I call you brother still, in memory of the bond we once shared. Your plans have failed, and your minions-whether revealed for what they were or cloaked in your shadow-have been defeated. Perhaps even now you scheme as to how you might find some other means of escaping the Shadow Realm. I do not believe that such exists-but if it does, and you find it, know that I will be waiting for you. If it must be so, the Toa of Light will walk Okoto again...and other heroes will always stand to defy you, even if I fall. "For that is the way...of the Bionicle..." Well guys, here it is: my entry to the The Legend Continues. I apologize if it's a bit wordy-I have more experience writing epics than short stories, and I have a tendency to expound a bit more than is probably necessary. I did go through it several times to get it trimmed down, so hopefully it won't be that tedious of a read. I did pack a lot into here: addressed a number of G2 canonicity issues with regards to both writing and unused models/set pieces/artwork, made some references to the much beloved (by me anyway) Revenge of the Skull Spiders, and threw in some G1 references with a little shipping on the side. Hope you enjoy and think it's worth your vote.
  10. Preliminary Poll A-3 The Legend Continues - Art Division Here we are... it's the preliminary round of voting for The Legend Continues - Art Division! Two entries will advance from each poll, as well as two overall wildcards. Preliminary Voting begins June 14th and ends June 17th at 11:59 P.M. EST. Final Voting begins June 18th and ends June 20th at 11:59 P.M. EST. The contest winner and final voting results will be posted in a separate thread on June 21st. --------------------------------------------------------- BZP Rules and Guidelines --------------------------------------------------------- 1. >>> Hahli's back! 2. >>> Tahnok, Scarab of Fire 3. >>> Art Cover - Turn of Fate 4. >>> the four dimensional framework analyzer featured in A Treatise on Protodermis 1st Edition 5. >>> All I Wanted Was For Makuta To Be Free Of The Mask Of Ultimate Power's Influence And Reunite With His Brother, Why Did They Shove Him In A Hole Instead 6. >>> Tahu Nuva- Spirit of Flame 7. >>> The Great Battle
  11. Preliminary Poll W-4 The Legend Continues - Writing Division Here we are... it's the preliminary round of voting for The Legend Continues - Writing Division! Two entries will advance from each poll, as well as two overall wildcards. Preliminary Voting begins June 14th and ends June 17th at 11:59 P.M. EST. Final Voting begins June 18th and ends June 20th at 11:59 P.M. EST. The contest winner and final voting results will be posted in a separate thread on June 21st. --------------------------------------------------------- BZP Rules and Guidelines --------------------------------------------------------- 1. Journey's End 2. The First and the Last 3. Gresh - Gladiator of Jungle 4. A Treatise on Protodermis Preview 5. The Legend Continues- Assimilate 6. Makuta's jealousy. 7. Makutas Bargain
  12. "Arika!" Lewa called. "Come on back!" The young villager looked back at him. Arika was already halfway up a tree and hesitant about coming back down. Lewa stepped up to the base of the tree. "Here, hop down," he beckoned. "I'll catch you and carry you!" The child's face lit up beneath her brown mask and she carefully dropped down to where Lewa stood. He effortlessly caught her and lifted her up to sit on his shoulders. Lewa and the group of other villagers started moving again. "We should be more careful, Lewa," Kopaka said as the Uniter of Jungle resumed his place next to him. "If we were to lose anyone out here..." "I know, brother," Lewa said. "We do need to make sure everyone is safe, but I admit... I wish we could let them have some fun." He could feel Arika idly running her fingers along the ridges of his Mask. "We're out here, aren't we? Not cooped up in the City. There's some fun in that, I think." "Sure, but the tone is all wrong. Ekimu and the Protectors refuse to allow these walks without us accompanying them. We have to constantly worry about sticking together, about staying within sight of the City. I wish that the villagers could feel free to climb the trees they want to, to explore the land as they wish." "And one day, they will," Kopaka reassured him. "But not right now. We can't risk losing any more villagers to Umarak." "I know," Lewa said. Upon her insistence, he knelt and let Akira off his shoulders and she ran to catch up with her parents. "But I don't have to enjoy it." Kopaka kept looking at Akira's family, at other families in the group. "Do you think we could ever have something like that?" he asked. "To settle down, once this is all over. To have... a family?" Lewa looked at the Uniter of Ice curiously. "I'm not sure. Perhaps, if there were more like us." "Who is to say there aren't? Maybe there are many Toa across the sea, on the other side of the planet." "I think we would have heard them. Or the Okotans would have, at least." Kopaka nodded solemnly. "Are we doomed to loneliness then?" "I'm wounded!" Lewa said, hand to his chest. "Having five other Toa around isn't enough for you?" "It's not that, I just..." Lewa laughed and clapped the Uniter of Ice on the shoulder. "I understand. I've felt it too. Being surrounded by villagers doesn't make the feeling go away. They may bear the same color of armor, but it's not the same. They aren't the same. They don't know what it's like to wield this power, to have this duty, to be this tall. That's something only we six can share." "Right..." Kopaka said, nodding. "We'll always be there for each other, Kopaka," Lewa assured. Kopaka smiled. "That's enough, I think." After a few moments of peaceful silence, he continued: "So... what do you want, Lewa? Once this is all done." "After we defeat Makuta and the island is made whole again? Hmm..." He hadn't put much thought into this. There had been so many immediate problems to deal with over the past several months; indeed, since his first arrival on Okoto, that he hadn't found it necessary to plan that far ahead. "Suppose I'd have to find something to keep myself busy. I could... do tours." "Tours?" "Like this one." He gestured to the jungle around them. "Who better to give you a guided tour of the landscape than the Uniter of Jungle himself?" he said with a laugh. "Maybe I could even take a villager or two to the skies with me. I could take my own brand of freedom and share it with whoever would like to enjoy it with me." "And this would make you happy?" "I think it could. If I am enjoying myself and also bringing happiness to others, then yes. And I could always try other things too. Why just stick with one? Maybe I could get into cartography. Few can see the island from the perspective I can." "If Tahu were here, he'd have something to say about that," Kopaka chuckled. "Which is why we left him at the docks," Lewa acknowledged. "He's stuck doing work while you and I get the relaxing task of walking in nature. Well, relatively relaxing I suppose." Lewa looked through the trees and spotted a waterfall in the distance, almost completely blocked by trunks. A deep part of him wanted to spring to it at quickly as he could, to fully gaze upon its beauty and be refreshed by it, but another part of him wondered how many places a beast or Umarak himself could be hiding between where he stood and where the water stopped its fall. How many shadows that a hunter could pop out of... "I'm glad for this walk, Kopaka," Lewa said. "It's reminded me why we fight." He looked the Toa of Ice firmly in the eye. "We fight and protect the villagers, and I am proud and happy to do so. I would never abandon my duty. But I fight so that, in the end, the villagers don't need us. They can walk the woods, enjoy waterfalls, do all the things they want to do, and do them without fear. That's what I truly want for them." ++++++++ Tahu stood next to Gali on a dock, watching the Espian trade ship pull into harbor. Strange beings that wore no armor scurried across the deck of the distant ship. Tahu wasn't sure whether to be fascinated or revolted by the sight. He decided he could find something in the middle. "What was on this one again?" he asked. "Mostly more building materials," Gali said, looking over a manifest that had been sent in advance. "Cut stones and metal fixtures. Also some of their finer foods." "I trust we will be taking only the materials," Tahu said. Gali looked sidelong at him. "You don't think the villagers would enjoy the food?" "I don't think they need the food. We have enough as it is. We should be spending our resources on things we don't already have, things we need. The villagers can have their luxuries when the danger has passed." Gali nodded and discretely hid the page that recorded her agreement to trade several fine pearls she had found underwater for a few packages of sweet litimato bread, an Espian delicacy. "And how goes the building?" she asked. "It goes well," Tahu said. "Onua and Pohatu have the made the process surprisingly easy. Pohatu is able to lift stones that would be impossible for the villagers' makeshift cranes to carry, and Onua is able to test for stability. Even Ketar and Terak pitched in by helping carry materials." Talk of the others' creatures made him wonder where his own had gotten off to. He quickly spotted Ikir sitting on a dock post, looking out to sea. The creature seemed to be eyeing fish that were surfacing in the water, but he seemed hesitant. He still doesn't like the water... He shook his head, laughing internally, and continued: "The City should be fully fortified by the end of the month. From there, we can start branching out to the old settlements again. Maybe even reclaim some of the fallen Regional cities." "And what of them when this is over? Will Okoto still need its walls?" "Don't know. Maybe someday, there will be another attack from outside the island. If that happens, having more defenses won't hurt." Gali hummed and looked out to sea. She spotted a few villagers out on the waves, surfing on boards they themselves had crafted. Oh, to be out there with them... Tahu chuckled. "Surfing on water..." he said. "It pales in comparison to the Fire Region's lava surfing. Have you seen it?" "I have," Gali said with a smirk. "It looks slow and dangerous." "That's the fun of it," Tahu said. "And it's not slow. If you can find a good tunnel, the lava flows as swiftly as any sea wave. And you should see the boards... Some of them even rival my old board. You know, before all the new gear." "Do you even know how to surf?" Gali asked. "What's a fancy board with no skill in its rider?" "Well..." Tahu shrugged. "Not exactly. I bet you don't either, though." He nudged her playfully. "I bet Enirr could teach me. They say she's the best on the island. And if I become skilled at lava surfing, just imagine how good I'd be on water." "I'd like to see you try," Gali said. "I suppose we'll both have to train hard once this dark business has passed. And when the time comes..." "An epic showdown," Tahu said. "You're on!" He bumped fists with Gali, sealing their pact of competitive camaraderie. They sat there for a while, watching as the boat was unloaded, the sun setting slowly behind it. "I traded for some litimato bread," Gali said. She looked at Tahu, waiting for his reaction. Would he truly be angry? After a moment, he looked at her and grinned. "Well, I hope you're willing to share." ++++++++ "Ready for a lunch break, Pohatu?" Onua called. Pohatu did not reply. He was far too busy using his elemental abilities to nudge a stone in the wall to that it fit in perfectly with the stones around it. It had to be perfect, flush with every other piece... "Pohatu!" "Quiet," he murmured. "I've almost got it..." He kept his eyes trained on the stone above, willing it into place. His fingertips glowed with elemental energy as he reached out to the stone block, picturing where it should be, and pushing... There! With the barest whisper of sound, the stone slid into the perfect place. One could hardly even tell that it wasn't part of a larger, single block. Onua clapped slowly. "Well done, Toa of Perfectionism," he chuckled. "Now, if you're quite finished, I'm starving." His concentration broken, Pohatu now noticed how hungry he was as well. "Sorry," he said, not truly sorry at all. "I was so wrapped in the work..." "No time for explanations, only eating!" The Toa of Earth hurried him along to the lunch tent. This one had been specially constructed with longer than usual poles to accommodate the Toa's increased height. Under shelter from the sun, they found a table with bread, fruit, and meat on it. Simple fare, but nourishing nonetheless. Pohatu was rarely so grateful for food. He felt Ketar nudging against him. "Not for you," Pohatu said, holding away his piece of fruit. "We'll find something more suitable for you later." He turned to find Onua finished feeding a slab of meat to Terak, the creature's clawed paws stuffing his face. Well then... He idly tossed the fruit to Ketar, who snatched it out of the air. He seemed to chew slowly, savoring the taste, as if he knew this was a rare treat, an exception made out of mild guilt. Ketar didn't mind, for it was delicious. "Can't wait for this business to be over," Onua mumbled, working on preparing himself some food. "All this working in the sun is a nightmare! I think perhaps there is a reason that we with black armor were meant to be underground..." Pohatu hummed as he got his food. "Do you miss your Region?" Onua gave him a curious look. "Well, of course. As I'm sure you miss yours." "Do we really, though?" Pohatu sat next to the Toa of Earth. "We only lived in them for what, a month? A month and a half? And we were so busy dealing with skull spiders and raiders that we hardly had a chance to get to know the place. Can we truly become attached to them without spending time with them?" Onua chewed and thought. "Perhaps," he mused, "it's not about whether we know them. It's more like... we're a part of them." When Pohatu said nothing, he continued. "I'm not sure if you feel the same, but when I was in the Region of Earth, I felt... at home. That's the only way I can think to describe it. It was the place where I belonged, the place of my element. Like you said, I didn't spend much time there, didn't really get to explore or anything. But I talked to the villagers. I talked to Korgot, our Protector. I fought beside them against the spiders. Those experiences... they mean something, Pohatu. I may not be as familiar with my Region as the natives, and it may not be a traditional care, but I do care. It became my home." Pohatu nodded. "Lucky," he said. "In my Region... I don't know what it was, but it never really felt like home. What was different...?" Onua leaned towards his brother. "Pohatu," he said. "You and I are not the same. You are allowed to have different experiences than I have had." "But I wish that I felt as you did," said the Toa of Stone. "You say you miss the Region of Earth. You have a passion for it, to return and save it from the shadow. But me... If I'm totally honest, I don't feel that way for the Region of Stone. Not beyond the obligatory sense of it. I feel like if I could just have had more time there, maybe it could've been home." Onua patted his shoulder. "That time will come, brother. When all this business with Makuta is finished, we can return to our Regions and settle in. You can explore, play, build, do everything you want to in your Region. It is of your element. Surely you will hear its call eventually." Pohatu picked up and eyed a fruit from his plate. "You know, I recognize this one. An utuyote. Native to the Stone Region, grows underground for some reason..." Onua punched him in the shoulder. "We'll get a love for your Region out of you yet." Pohatu grinned, split the fruit, and gave half of it to Ketar (who practically danced around with joy at his second helping). "You're going to spoil him if you keep tha--" Onua stopped as he was nudged by Terak. The creature looked expectant. Onua sighed. "Now look what you've made me do." The Toa of earth tossed another bit of meat down to Terak. "I'm tempted to give that wall an earthquake and nudge your little stone out of place again." Pohatu laughed and hoped that he was joking. ++++++++ Narmoto closed the door to Ekimu's forge gently as he stepped inside. Had he not been as acclimatized to heat as he was, he might have found the place unbearable. The Mask Maker appeared hard at work, but he could not put this off any longer. "Ekimu," he called. The Mask Maker turned to face him. "Ah, Narmoto!" he said. "Just in time. Come, help me with this. Crank that handle there. Yes, a bit more... stop! Did it get too hot...? No no, it's perfect. Aha!" Using long grabbers, he pulled a glowing hot mask from the forge. "A fine Mask of Strength this shall be. Quite popular in Derakan, I am told." "Ekimu," Narmoto said again, tone hardening. "We need to talk." Ekimu hesitated before setting aside the new Mask. "Of course," he said. "What is the matter?" "You have not told the Toa everything," the Protector of Fire said. "Regarding their destiny." Ekimu sighed. "It is better that they don't know for now. When the time comes, all will be revealed, I assure you." "You would let them continue living a lie? Even now, the Toa discuss what life will be like for them when this is finished. And surely we are close to the end now. When will you tell them that nothing awaits them at journey's end?" "We don't know that," Ekimu snapped. "Perhaps the line about the stars is... metaphorical." "Even so," Narmoto said, "the Toa have done much for us. They deserve the truth. It is the least we can offer them." Ekimu eyes hardened. "You want them to know the truth?" he said. "Go on. Go out and tell them. Tell Tahu that he won't be able to participate in the lava surfing competitions. Tell Pohatu he will never learn to carve. Tell Gali that she will never be able to explore the depths of the sea. Tell them all that the only thing that awaits them after they defeat Makuta is the cold blackness of space." Narmoto said nothing. "As I thought," Ekimu harumphed. "And who knows? If the Toa knew such things, they may lose heart." "I think you underestimate their spirit," Narmoto said. "I think it isn't worth the risk. I will wait to tell them until the outcome is decided regardless of their whether they know what is coming. That way, the prophecy will be fulfilled, Makuta will be defeated, and then Okoto will be safe again." Narmoto harumphed and readjusted his cloak, making to head for the exit. "Wise you may be, Mask Maker, but I think that of honor, you still have much to learn." "Honor will not save us, Narmoto," Ekimu called as the Protector of Fire opened the door. "You would trade the security of their success for such a simple thing as the truth?" Narmoto gave the Mask Maker one last look. "In the blink of an eye." And he slammed the door shut. ------------------------------------------ Whew, I think I made it in time. This was fun to write. I've never done something quite like it, with not much in terms of plot, just a lot of dialogue. I hope it achieved the effect I was going for. And yes, this obviously diverges from the canon in that there is a large gap of time between when the Toa lose the Mask of Control to Umarak and when Umarak starts openly ransacking everything as in the latter half of JtO. I liked the idea of the Toa having some downtime and this seemed like a good place to put it. Anyways, let me know what you thought! I always love to hear from readers. And if you don't feel like commenting, just having read the story is enough for me. Thanks!
  13. Preliminary Poll B-4 The Legend Continues - Building Division Here we are... it's the preliminary round of voting for The Legend Continues - Building Division! Two entries will advance from each poll, as well as two overall wildcards. Preliminary Voting begins June 14th and ends June 17th at 11:59 P.M. EST. Final Voting begins June 18th and ends June 20th at 11:59 P.M. EST. The contest winner and final voting results will be posted in a separate thread on June 21st. --------------------------------------------------------- BZP Rules and Guidelines --------------------------------------------------------- 1. >>> Four Dimensional Framework Analyzer (Used to observe future of small objects) 2. >>> Alternative Creature of Jungle (Weapon) 3. >>> Fernus the Incinerator 4. >>> Bingzak, Toa of Time 5. >>> Takua of the Tribe of Light 6. >>> G2 Mata-Nui: Titan of Life 7. >>> Makuta: The Mask Hoarder
  14. Preliminary Poll B-3 The Legend Continues - Building Division Here we are... it's the preliminary round of voting for The Legend Continues - Building Division! Two entries will advance from each poll, as well as two overall wildcards. Preliminary Voting begins June 14th and ends June 17th at 11:59 P.M. EST. Final Voting begins June 18th and ends June 20th at 11:59 P.M. EST. The contest winner and final voting results will be posted in a separate thread on June 21st. --------------------------------------------------------- BZP Rules and Guidelines --------------------------------------------------------- 1. >>> Bionicle G2 Master Builder Set 2. >>> Tesseract Turbo 3. >>> Poison Beast (G2 Lerahk) 4. >>> Kurahk the engulfer 5. >>> Uxar, Creature of Jungle Concept 6. >>> Kulta Kal and the Skeleton Army 7. >>> Concept Tahu and Sword Ikir
  15. Preliminary Poll B-2 The Legend Continues - Building Division Here we are... it's the preliminary round of voting for The Legend Continues - Building Division! Two entries will advance from each poll, as well as two overall wildcards. Preliminary Voting begins June 14th and ends June 17th at 11:59 P.M. EST. Final Voting begins June 18th and ends June 20th at 11:59 P.M. EST. The contest winner and final voting results will be posted in a separate thread on June 21st. --------------------------------------------------------- BZP Rules and Guidelines --------------------------------------------------------- 1. >>> Vetr-jotunn, Elemental Spirit of Ice 2. >>> Ultimate Dume: Corrupted Protector 3. >>> Cyborg Rilos 4. >>> Karzahni: Master of Madness 5. >>> Nuurakh - Forge Overseer 6. >>> Guardian of Shadows 7. >>> Protectors and Givers of Comfort
  16. Preliminary Poll B-1 The Legend Continues - Building Division Here we are... it's the preliminary round of voting for The Legend Continues - Building Division! Two entries will advance from each poll, as well as two overall wildcards. Preliminary Voting begins June 14th and ends June 17th at 11:59 P.M. EST. Final Voting begins June 18th and ends June 20th at 11:59 P.M. EST. The contest winner and final voting results will be posted in a separate thread on June 21st. --------------------------------------------------------- BZP Rules and Guidelines --------------------------------------------------------- 1. >>> Ekimu: Master of Creation 2. >>> Makuta - Mask Maker's Return 3. >>> Ultimate Being 4. >>> Ahkmou - Toa of Shadow 5. >>> Warlord Makuta - Corrupted Mask Maker 6. >>> Mildara, The Ocean Plesiosaur 7. >>> Anrak, Servant of Makuta
  17. Preliminary Poll W-2 The Legend Continues - Writing Division Here we are... it's the preliminary round of voting for The Legend Continues - Writing Division! Two entries will advance from each poll, as well as two overall wildcards. Preliminary Voting begins June 14th and ends June 17th at 11:59 P.M. EST. Final Voting begins June 18th and ends June 20th at 11:59 P.M. EST. The contest winner and final voting results will be posted in a separate thread on June 21st. --------------------------------------------------------- BZP Rules and Guidelines --------------------------------------------------------- 1. The Dreaming Dead 2. The Great Hunt 3. The Legend Continues: Shadows of Past and Future 4. A Simpler Time 5. Boxer502 - Bionicle:Turn of Fate 6. Second Star 7. Heroes of Legend
  18. “Ugh…” Slowly, Jaller pushed himself up off the ground. He blinked, but his sight remained blurry. Standing up, he reached out for something to balance himself with and grabbed hold of a tree branch. “Why am I so dizzy?” He was starting to see more clearly now. Oddly, however, he couldn’t help but feel everything looked…smaller. Assuming he must not be recovering as fast as he thought, he put a hand to his head. But the hand that responded to his command didn’t look familiar. “Huh?” Jaller looked down at himself. His body had changed completely, now at least twice as tall as he had been before and looking much more muscular, covered in red and gold armor with cyan lines that started at his extremities and all ran back to meet at the center of his chest. There was also a weight on his back, like he was carrying something. “I look like…Toa Tahu.” That was when he remembered. He and the others had been driven to the edge of a cliff by the Enforcers, outnumbered and overpowered. Just before they moved in, Jaller remembered looking up at the sky, and seeing a flash from the six stars that represented the Toa. He remembered bolts of lightning shooting out, striking them all, a sudden rush of energy, and then…nothing. Wait, where are the others? Setting the mystery of his appearance aside for the moment, Jaller spun and surveyed the forest clearing, nearly tripping over his new limbs in the process. Walking a short distance, he came upon a river cutting through the trees. Someone was crouched on its bank, someone with a similar build to him but with dark blue and white armor. The metal plating sported the same cyan lines, and she carried a sword with a hook on its tip. Though she didn’t exactly look familiar, Jaller had an idea of who it might be. “Hahli?” he asked tentatively. She looked up at him. “…Jaller? Is that you?” Smiling, she stood, stuffing a few seashells into her bag as she did. “I’m glad to see you’re okay.” “What’re those shells for?” “These? For trading. There’s someone back at the City who can use these, and if I can grab a few more and handful of seaweed she should be able to make something really useful!” Jaller sighed. Yep. Only Hahli would collect materials so obsessively. “Anyway,” Jaller said, “let’s track down the others and see if we can get back to the City. Maybe someone there can explain what’s going on.” As Hahli nodded in response, they heard a twig snap. A moment later, they heard another. She drew her sword, meanwhile Jaller reached for his back to find out what he was carrying. There were two weapons there, with guards made of jagged gold and blades that looked like crimson tongues of flame. He tried to find a good stance with them, but soon a voice could be heard over the sound of snapping, one Jaller thought he recognized. “…doesn’t make any sense! They’re specifically programmed not to harm villagers, didn’t look damaged in any way. I mean, even if they were somehow damaged, there are safeguards in place to prevent exactly this! Oh, how in the world did this happen?!” Jaller and Hahli moved forward to find the source: a tall, broad-shouldered being encased in black armor that bore cyan lines identical to the ones on their armors, with a small, plain-looking metal cylinder mounted on one wrist. He stopped when he saw them, and for a moment they just stared at each other. “I’m guessing that’s you, Nuparu?” Jaller asked. Nuparu looked between the two of them. “…Jaller…Hahli. Right. I suppose it would be stranger if I was the only one affected.” “What happened, Nuparu?” Hahli asked. “Why were those Enforcers chasing us?” Nuparu threw his arms wide. “That’s what I’ve been trying to figure out! When I built the Enforcers, I programmed them never to harm a villager—well, barring certain very extreme circumstances—and added at least two dozen safety protocols to prevent them from even considering violating that directive. They should have self-destructed before they started firing at us!” “Take it easy,” Jaller said. “We’ll figure this out later. For now, let’s just find the others.” Continuing to grumble to himself, Nuparu nonetheless fell into step behind the two of them as they went deeper into the forest. Angry shouting drew their attention, bringing them to where a large being with brown and gunmetal armor was slowly making his way up a tree. The shouting, however, was coming from further up, where someone in green armor was wedged between two branches. “Hurry it up! When you said you were going to help, I figured you’d actually be of some help!” The climber grinned. “I am helping, Kongu. But it’d be too easy if I just jumped up there and knocked you loose—it takes a lot more precision this way, and by taking my time it’ll help me build up some greater stamina.” “And what if those Enforcers come back, huh? What then? You gonna ask them to wait politely while you continue stamina-building? Think they’ll go for that, Hewkii?” Jaller tried not to smile as he called, “Hewkii!” The brown armored one turned. “Please, just get him down. We shouldn’t waste time.” “Jaller?” Kongu asked, craning his neck. “Is that you? Finally someone with sense! Hey, you heard him: get me down from here!” Sighing heavily, Hewkii dropped to the ground and produced his weapon, a long chain with a large metal sphere at either end. After spinning one end for a few seconds, he yanked and sent it flying at the branches clamped around Kongu, splintering them instantly and causing his friend to fall out of the tree with a loud thud. “…Gee, thanks,” Kongu mumbled as he dusted himself off. “At least I got practice with this new weapon,” Hewkii said, mostly to himself. “Yeah, good for you. And it looks like the three of you got something? Huh. Seems like whoever did whatever to us didn’t see fit to give little old me a weapon of my own.” The tree continued shaking, and soon another object fell out of its branches. Kongu turned to see something resembling the Elemental Blasters of the Protectors, only enlarged and lengthened into a cannon about the same size as him, and with the addition of a second handle under the barrel to provide better grip. For a time he just stood there, his expression frozen in surprise as he stared at the weapon. Finally looking upward, he whispered, “Thank you.” Jaller shook his head. He noticed Hahli picking some berries behind him, so he tapped her on the shoulder to let her know they were moving on—she caught up faster than Kongu, who took a while to figure out how to properly lift his cannon and refused to accept any more help from Hewkii. After a few minutes the trees began to thin. Coming closer to the edge of the forest, they could spot movement nearby and slowed in caution. Jaller prepared to draw his swords as he strafed around a tree to get a better look: it was someone with white armor similar to theirs, with the same cyan pattern, though a bit shorter than any of them, and he carried two small shields on his arms. He was currently producing an odd series of whistles and clicks, and a bird sitting on a nearby branch was mimicking the sounds back at him. “That’s Matoro, for sure,” Jaller said. Matoro turned sharply as they came into view. After whistling to the bird once more, he said, “Hello, everyone. At least, I’m assuming it’s you. It’s a bit hard to be sure.” Jaller greeted Matoro and then looked past him. The plains continued on a short way before turning to foothills, and behind that the mountains steadily rose. Pointing, he said, “The City of the Mask Makers should be that way, if I’m not mistaken. Let’s get home and start figuring out just what’s happened to us.” “And what’s happened to the Enforcers,” Hahli said. “Right,” Nuparu said through gritted teeth. “If I tear one of those malfunctioning units apart I should get a pretty good idea.” As they began to move, the bird Matoro had been talking to started to squawk and flap its wings, causing the Ice villager to take notice. The creature flew away, and he said, “Um, I think we should—“ He was cut off as a blast of energy struck the ground nearby, kicking up a thick cloud of dirt and knocking the six off their feet. Nuparu was the first to get up—he traced the blast’s trajectory and glared at the foothills, spotting something glowing. Attached to a metal base with eight small legs was a gigantic red gun, its barrel composed of several connected plates of thick armor with green light pulsing from its depths. “It’s an Artillery Model Enforcer!” he shouted. “Darn, that’s malfunctioning too?! Take cover!” The Enforcer glowed brighter as it prepared another shot. The villagers scrambled back into the forest, and when the next blast hit they were well clear of the impact. “What’s our best chance, Nuparu?” Jaller asked. “Any one of us could disable it if we got close enough, but therein lies the trick. We’d be sitting ducks if we tried to approach it!” Kongu hefted his weapon. “I mean…I could just take it out from right here? I’m sure this thing can match its range.” “Are you sure you know how to use that?” Jaller asked. “Point and shoot. How complicated could it be?” Not waiting for approval, Kongu went to find a better position. Before he could, however, something struck him in the leg, making him crumple and lose his grip on the cannon. The others spun to see three forms moving towards them. Each was made entirely of black and white metal, with a pulsing orange crystal at the center of their broad torso, and had a sleek, narrow head with a vaguely insectoid look. The machines had three long multi-jointed legs, and mounted where their left arm should have been was a rifle that crackled with electricity. The only arm they had was oversized and heavily armored, ending in four flexible claws that were currently being used to uproot the trees that stood in the automata’s way. “Infantry Model Enforcers,” Matoro identified. He shrank behind his shields, and some of the others followed his lead. Jaller set a hand on Kongu’s shoulder. “Can you move?” Kongu watched his leg as he tested it. Slowly, he got upright, saying, “I…actually feel fine. The stun only lasted a few seconds. Think they’re running low on power?” One of the Enforcers moved forward, swinging its massive arm towards him. Jaller parried the strike with both of his swords while Kongu scrambled back. Above them, a flash and the sound of tree branches breaking notified the team that the Artillery Model hadn’t given up on them yet. “Kongu, we’re still counting on you to take that one out,” Jaller said as he repelled the Infantry. “Matoro, you go with him and make sure he doesn’t get shot from behind.” Hesitantly, Matoro nodded. Kongu lifted his cannon and said, “Yeah, getting shot once in a day is enough for me. C’mon, pal.” As they retreated, one of the Infantry fired another stun bolt at Kongu—leaping forward, Matoro caught it on his shield, and the two of them quickened their pace as their allies moved to form a line. The machine in front of Jaller seemed to regard him curiously as its companions advanced. “Nuparu, if you have any advice, this is the time,” the Fire villager said. “Hmm…what are we now, 6 feet, 7?” Nuparu held a hand above his eyes and squinted. “Yeah, that should work. Okay, aim for the top of the chest!” The Enforcer before Jaller pushed its claws together and lengthened them into a single long blade. It slashed, and Jaller barely had time to block. While he was distracted, it shot him with its stun gun, making him fall to his knees, and then reared back to swing again. However, Jaller regained his bearings near-instantly. Rolling out of the way, he sprang up and made a high swing, missing the target Nuparu had indicated but dealing a solid hit to the machine’s face. As Hewkii and Hahli engaged the other two, the latter asked, “Is that their weak point?” “Essentially,” Nuparu replied, edging away. “If enough pressure is applied there, it’ll trigger a mechanism that ejects their power cores, rendering them inactive.” “Not exactly sporting,” Hewkii said. He dodged the Enforcer’s attack and threw a punch, snapping the barrel off of its stun gun. Taking a moment to duck, he reached up as its arm passed over him and pulled, flipping it over. The Enforcer’s legs twisted and quickly got it back on its feet. Rather than pressing his advantage, Hewkii hung back and let the Enforcer balance itself. Hahli swung her sword blindly, managing to push the Enforcer back. A stun bolt sailed past her and went on until it struck Nuparu. Narrowly blocking a swipe, she shouted, “You could lend a hand, you know!” “I’m an engineer, not a fighter!” Nuparu replied, rubbing his numb shoulder. “Well you’ll have to adapt! You’ve got a weapon, so use it!” Nuparu grumbled as he looked over the cylinder on his wrist. “Mmm…doesn’t have a trigger…no buttons…how do you use this?” Hahli made a clean cut through the arm of the Enforcer she was dueling, prompting it to put some distance between them. She watched it closely, but suddenly something bumped into her from behind—Jaller had backed up without realizing she was there, and in a second they were both stunned. “Darn it,” Jaller said. “Sorry about that.” “No, it’s—“ Hahli started, cutting herself off to pull Jaller out of the way of another bolt. Meanwhile, Kongu and Matoro had found a ridge to hide behind to initiate their assault on the Artillery Model Enforcer. Matoro kept an eye on the forest just in case, while Kongu alternated between ducking behind the natural barrier and springing up to unload as many shots as he could. Each time he pulled the cannon’s trigger, its barrel began to rotate ferociously, letting off green-hued energy blasts faster than he could count. To his credit, his aim was excellent, but the Artillery Model’s armor was designed to take quite a bit of punishment and keep returning the favor. Progress was ultimately rather slow. “Shoot,” Kongu said as he ducked again. The ridge rattled as a shot hit it, shaking loose a layer of dust that floated over him. “How’s a guy to enjoy his shiny new Cannon O’ Death if the target refuses to actually die?” “W-Well, it seems to be working.” “But it’s taking forever! Aren’t you getting impatient?” “I don’t think I’d say that.” “Okay, just me. I’m gonna get closer.” Matoro jumped. “What?! But that’s dangerous, and unnecessary! It’ll shoot you for sure!” Kongu was already peering over the ridge, trying to pick out the best path. “Making sure it doesn’t is your job, remember?” “My shields can’t block those artillery blasts!” Another blast rocked their hiding spot, and then Kongu leapt into action. “Don’t worry, I believe in you!” Frantically, Matoro sprinted after him. Back in the forest, Jaller and Hahli were still staying low to avoid stun bolts while Hewkii grappled with his chosen foe. Apparently forgotten by the Enforcers, Nuparu continued to poke at his weapon, trying to figure out how it worked. In frustration he grabbed it and pulled, but after it moved back a few inches he heard a click, and the cylinder immediately shot back to its initial position and began to emit a whine. Yellow energy began to gather at the end above his hand. “Oh,” he said. “Um, okay, then do I just…?” He spun and pointed at the Enforcers. Nothing happened. “Then maybe…” He tried pulling the weapon again only to find it was locked in place. When he clenched his fist, however, an orb of yellow energy launched through the air, landing a few meters behind his targets. “Ah, I missed.” The moment the orb hit the ground, it burst into a brilliant explosion of light that reduced at least a dozen trees to ash, the shockwaves enough to knock the two Enforcers attacking Jaller and Hahli off of their feet. Nuparu’s eyed widened as he processed the event. “…How interesting.” Hahli wasted no time marveling. She charged at the nearest Enforcer and thrust her blade, the tip piercing straight through the armor beneath its neck and causing its whole body to stiffen. The plating down its chest slid apart suddenly, and its core was unceremoniously dumped onto the forest floor. Hahli pulled back and watched the Enforcer warily—it remained frozen in place, the light gone from its eyes. Jaller, however, took a little more time getting up. The Enforcer was on him in seconds and swung its arm, sending him sprawling. Hahli turned to help, but the Enforcer spun and aimed its stun gun, delaying her aid. Gripping his swords tightly, Jaller glared up at the Enforcer as it readied its own blade, a powerful rage boiling up from within him. As it swung down, he swung up. Before their blades met, Jaller’s mask glowed faintly, followed by his sword. The Enforcer’s blade snapped in two as a wave of flame and electricity surged forth from Jaller’s weapon, searing off the machine’s head and arcing high into the sky above. The four villagers stared in disbelief as the sparking, charred remains of the disabled Enforcer staggered to the ground. What just happened? Jaller wondered as he gazed at his sword. Unfortunately for Hewkii, the final Enforcer wasn’t as easily distracted by the display. With a powerful uppercut, it flung the Stone villager across the clearing, and then took a cautious step forward. “Stay back!” Nuparu warned, pulling on his weapon. Hahli and Jaller ran in the opposite direction as the Enforcer faced Nuparu, and before it could formulate a plan of attack, an explosive sphere reduced it to scrap. Hewkii groaned as he sat up. “Hey, that one was mine!” “And you probably could have beaten it by now if you’d gone for the weak point,” Hahli replied. “You didn’t even use your weapon—were you even trying?” “Of course I was! I just wanted to put a little extra challenge in it is all.” Hahli sighed and shook her head. Stooping next to the defeated Enforcer, she picked up its core and stuffed it into her bag, along with a moss-covered rock that was lying nearby. Jaller stored his swords and approached Nuparu. “Any new insight?” he asked. The inventor shrugged. “Not at the moment. Hey, what was that, when you…” “I don’t know.” Jaller looked into the sky for a moment. “But...wait. Where are Kongu and Matoro?” The four of them ran out of the forest to find their friends running over open field in the general direction of the Artillery Model, weaving back and forth as fast as they could to avoid the energy blasts being hurled towards them. Kongu answered each of the Enforcer’s shots with a few rounds of his own, but then quickly got moving again, while Matoro served mainly as a distraction. “What are they doing?!” Hahli exclaimed. “They’re going to get themselves killed!” Jaller pointed a sword at the Enforcer, hoping he could duplicate the electric flamethrower from before. All he got was a faint sizzle. The Enforcer let off another shot, barely missing Kongu; the Jungle villager prepared to retaliate, but his foot caught on a rock in his path, and he fell flat with his cannon pinning him under its enormous weight. “Kongu!” Nuparu shouted. He ran forward and began charging his weapon, but he wasn’t sure he could launch it far enough to be helpful. Hewkii, Hahli, and Jaller were right behind him, though they had even less of an idea of what to do. As Kongu struggled to free himself, the Enforcer took note of his vulnerability and prepared another shot. Energy shone along the length of its barrel as it swiveled around, and with a futile grunt, Kongu braced himself. In all of this, nobody, not even the Enforcer, was paying attention to Matoro. Being the closest to the living gun, he realized he was the one with the best chance to save Kongu. Without thinking much more, he dropped one shield, grabbed the other with both hands, and spun around a few times before hurling it with all his might. The flung shield whizzed through the air towards the Enforcer, and ultimately lodged itself in the cannon’s deadly maw. The firing sequence had already begun, but with the barrel stopped, the energy had nowhere to go. With a terrible roar, the Enforcer’s gun barrel exploded into shrapnel. Matoro fell to his knees and let out a loud breath. From where he lay, Kongu glanced at Matoro. Slowly, he grinned, and said, “And you said your shields wouldn’t be of any use against the thing.” *** The six villagers stood silently in the Temple of Creation. Before them, Ekimu sat at his workbench, carving details into a newly-made mask. Upon returning to the City they had been brought to the Mask Maker and explained what had happened, and now, they waited patiently for his response. Setting down the mask, Ekimu looked up at the ceiling. “I see…then it seems things are worse than I feared.” He stood and faced them. “First of all, as for your antagonists, you should know that it is not an isolated incident. I have begun to hear of Enforcers going rogue in every Region.” Nuparu tensed. “But that…it still doesn’t make any sense! They were built for the sole purpose of protecting villagers! The cores weren’t damaged, their processors were fine, every safeguard should still be functioning! Mask Maker, I swear I did everything—“ Ekimu held up a hand. “I know this is not your fault, Nuparu. But whatever the case, something must be done about this crisis…and it would seem you six have been selected.” “Selected?” Jaller repeated. “Selected by whom?” Chuckling, Ekimu said, “Isn’t it obvious? You have been selected by the Toa to act in their stead.” Everyone exchanged glances. Kongu rolled his eyes. “It has been only four years since the Toa left us. Since it takes the planets one thousand years to align, they will be unable to help us deal with any new threats that may arise in the meantime—even were we to use the Mask of Time again, it could take years, perhaps decades to bring their arrival. But they would not simply leave us without the means to defend ourselves.” Pointing at the six, he went on, “You said lightning fell from the Toa’s stars, and transformed you. That bolt ignited something deep within each of you, bringing out a power you did not know you possessed. The Toa have foreseen an impending disaster, and they have granted their power to you so that you may stop it.” “You’re saying that we have the power of the Toa now?” Hahli asked. “…Jaller did summon fire…” Jaller shifted. “Maybe, but it wasn’t like Tahu’s fire. It was flame and electricity together—I’ve never heard of him doing that.” “Is it so surprising that the lightning that transformed you is with you still?” Ekimu asked. “You are a different kind of Toa, created to face a different problem. You may need these different abilities in order to succeed.” Hewkii flexed one arm, feeling his new strength. “So this is the power of the Toa! Well, what are we waiting for? Let’s go be heroes!” “But…what exactly are we supposed to do?” Matoro asked. Hewkii opened his mouth to speak, but found he was at a loss. He sheepishly turned to Ekimu. “For the time being, I believe you should each return to your home Regions,” the Mask Maker advised. “Your Protectors can assist you in learning to control the Elemental Power at your disposal, and more importantly, you must keep your villages safe from the Enforcers. And, once the Protectors feel you are ready…you will undergo a trial to achieve even greater power.” “Golden masks, probably?” Kongu asked. When Ekimu nodded, he muttered, “Well, the more things change, the more they stay the same.” “I will investigate this matter more closely,” Ekimu said. “Were these simply random malfunctions, we wouldn’t need Toa. I suspect something far more dangerous is behind these rogue machines…” Ekimu held out his hands, and looked at the new Toa one by one. “Jaller, Star of Fire. Hahli, Star of Water. Hewkii, Star of Stone. Kongu, Star of Jungle. Nuparu, Star of Earth. And Matoro, Star of Ice. You have inherited the mantle of the Toa, and it now falls to you to master the power you have been given and use it to protect your home. I have faith that you will face your task with great courage and perseverance. Best of luck.” Satisfied, the Toa took their leave. On his way out of the Temple, Jaller stopped in front of a sheet of metal, noticing his reflection. He still had trouble recognizing that it was really him. …Is it? He reached out, pressing his hand against the image. Ekimu says we’ve become Toa. Are we still the people we used to be…or have we really become the Toa? Am I still Jaller? Or has Jaller been replaced by Tahu? He wondered what his friends would think when they saw him. As he thought of them, it reminded him of the Enforcers, and that even those in the Region of Fire were going rogue. Pulling away, Jaller continued on his way out of the Temple. Either way, it’s up to me to keep them safe. And I’m going to make sure that I do.
  19. This is my entry into the Legends Continues contest. Continuity-wise, this would fit in the aftermath of Makuta's wearing of the Mask of Ultimate Power, the chaotic energy from the event having changed their physical bodies and left them as shells of who they once were. Initial inspiration spawned from a drawing of a skull MoUP done in the last Inktober and after, I also did a quick sketch of a skull MoCr. Additional inspiration also came from hours of playing Witcher 3 and some discussions comparing the MoUP and MoCr to the helms of the Witch King of Angmar and Sauron.
  20. Preliminary Poll A-2 The Legend Continues - Art Division Here we are... it's the preliminary round of voting for The Legend Continues - Art Division! Two entries will advance from each poll, as well as two overall wildcards. Preliminary Voting begins June 14th and ends June 17th at 11:59 P.M. EST. Final Voting begins June 18th and ends June 20th at 11:59 P.M. EST. The contest winner and final voting results will be posted in a separate thread on June 21st. --------------------------------------------------------- BZP Rules and Guidelines --------------------------------------------------------- 1. >>> Tapestry of Time 2. >>> Rightful Place 3. >>> Tahu and Ikir: Year Three 4. >>> Dark Skies, Bright Stars 5. >>> Wairuha, Uniter of Storms 6. >>> Old secret Laboratory on Okoto 7. >>> United Through Time 8. >>> Shadow Toa
  21. Preliminary Poll A-1 The Legend Continues - Art Division Here we are... it's the preliminary round of voting for The Legend Continues - Art Division! Two entries will advance from each poll, as well as two overall wildcards. Preliminary Voting begins June 14th and ends June 17th at 11:59 P.M. EST. Final Voting begins June 18th and ends June 20th at 11:59 P.M. EST. The contest winner and final voting results will be posted in a separate thread on June 21st. --------------------------------------------------------- BZP Rules and Guidelines --------------------------------------------------------- 1. >>> Exo-Toa 2. >>> The Brothers Corrupted 3. >>> An Axe to Grind 4. >>> Makuta, Master of Nothing 5. >>> The Mask Collectors 6. >>> Legendary Toa Tahu 7. >>> Sons of Makuta- Bionicle G2 Rahkshi 8. >>> Master Of Light
  22. Makuta’s line, “Today I take my rightful place among the gods," from JTO hints at a bigger mythology in the G2 universe, such as multiple deities and possibly a different creation story. Here's my take on what that could be... The Great Beings It is said that long ago, before history, in “the time before time,” there was the void. And though it was a void, inside of it was life. Not life as you or I know it, mind you, bound to the material plane, where things are born and die. This was pure life. Unending, unyielding. Those with this life were the first gods, the Great Beings. They were great in their knowledge, knowing all that could be and all that would come, and were mighty in their power. They could create whatever their hearts desired, and lived happily for an eternity. But they grew tired of their existence. “What is the point of life,” the Great beings said, “If we always know what will happen? By merely knowing, we have experienced everything imaginable.” So the Great Beings cast away their knowledge of the future into a box. They crafted armor out of pure light and put it on one of their own, giving him the box to guard so that no one could open it. They called him "Great Spirit," and named the warrior “Mata’nui,” meaning “The warrior that holds destiny, the champion among us” in their tongue. This is how the Great Spirit Mata’Nui, came to be. Tren Krom, the Corrupt The Great Beings, now relieved of their burden, returned to their old ways, creating great worlds for them to enjoy. But one Great Being, finding that his worlds were no longer as as beautiful as the others, went out to take the knowledge of the future back from Mata'Nui, so as to have something that made himself special compared to the rest. So he befriended the Great Spirit Mata’Nui, and they became so close that many began to call them brothers. Mata'Nui, while gladdened to have such a friend, still would not let the Great Being open the box. Driven by his envy, the Great Being began to plot the death of Mata’Nui. The Great Being fashioned a sword for himself of pure shadow, so as to be able to pierce Mata'Nui’s armor. He came to Mata'Nui with the blade, saying “Brother, I have finally been able to something beautiful. We must celebrate!” The celebration lasted a thousand years, for all had come know of this Great Being’s struggles, and rejoiced for him. When the celebration ended, all but the one Great Being slept. He crept to where Mata’Nui was sleeping, whispering, “It is good that you are sleeping, brother, for awake this would have been agony.” And so the Great Being ran Mata’nui through with the sword, sending him into an eternal slumber. The Great took the box from Mata’nui’s lifeless arms and opened it, staring into the bottomless pit of knowledge. But the sheer amount knowledge was not meant for one person alone, and so he was driven mad by it. When the other Great Beings awoke, they were distraught at what one of their own had done, and mourned Mata’nui. Finding the evil Great Being, they cursed him, naming him “Tren Krom,” meaning “the corrupt, the one who brings suffering and misery,” and transformed him into a hideous creature, so that anyone searching for his knowledge would be driven mad themselves. They fashioned a prison for him out of a rock, melding his flesh with it, and created a deep ocean to sink it in. This is how the Great Ocean and Tren Krom came to be. Artakha, the Uniter (”Commentary” by Takua, a chronicler-in-training) The Great Beings closed the box again, forging a great chain to hold it shut. (You’d think for a people called “Great Beings,” they’d have done that in the first place, wouldn’t you?) This was when everything was new, young one. They didn’t think that anyone- (But you just said that they knew everything before they put their knowledge in a box! Wouldn’t they have known to put a chain on it before they made it? And how do you put knowledge in a box?) It’s a story, young one, one that has been passed down for eons. Some of the story has probably been changed, or mistranslated… Anyway, they called upon one of the greatest creators among them to forge the chains. Now, he had seen how easily the Shadow Blade had cut through Mata’Nui’s armor, and decided that light alone was not strong enough to hold the box closed. So he began to forge the links of the chain from the elements. “Forge-worker,” The other Great Beings said, “Why do you forge the chain from the elements, and not from pure light as we did the armor? Surely they cannot be strong enough!” And they took some of the elements and crushed them, casting them into the Great Ocean, forming the land. “Ah, my siblings, but try to break the chain I have formed.” He challenged them. And try as they might, none of them could break the chain he had forged. For separate, the elements were weak. Together, nothing could have broken them. (But how did he make a chain out of fire or water, and how did the Great Beings break them? They aren’t solid!) It’s… symbolic. Hush, now, and listen. To finish his creation, he took some of Mata’Nui’s armor and spun it into thread, weaving light through each of the links. He wrapped the chain around the box, sealing it. And so they called him “Artakha,” meaning “The uniter, the one who builds,” and gave him the box to guard, until such a time as Mata’Nui returned. This is how the Great Spirit Artakha and the Land came to be. Karzahni, the Dutiful Now, as death was not permanent for the Great Beings, someone was needed to stay with Mata’Nui until he awoke. This duty fell upon a mask-maker, one who had considered Tren Krom a friend, and so felt obligated to right his wrongdoing. He was given the Shadowed Blade to use against all that might harm Mata’Nui as he slept. For a thousand years, this Great Being sat beside the sleeping Mata’Nui, neither sleeping nor eating so as to be with Mata’nui when he woke. At the end of the thousand years, the Great Being felt his strength waning. Tired of waiting, he asked for another Great Being to take his place, only for a year while he rested. “Brother,” they said, “We are busy with our creations. Surely he will wake up soon.” So the Great Being, angry at the other’s refusal to help, waited another thousand years for Mata’Nui to wake up. Again, he called for another to take his place, this time for only a month. “It is your duty, what if Mata’Nui wakes while you sleep?” And so the Great Being sat for another thousand years, angry at his people. Finally, he called for Artakha, asking him to take his place for one single day. “I understand your pain, Mask-maker,” said Artakha, “But I, too, must protect my charge; I cannot help you, but I will sit with you.” The Great Being, though unhappy he could not get rest, rejoiced in Artakha’s company, and the two sat together for another thousand years, neither of them sleeping nor eating. At the end of the thousand years, Mata’Nui finally woke up. Upon opening his eyes, he found himself alone, save for the Great Being and Artahka. Mata’Nui praised the Great Being for his dutiful nature. But the Great Being looked away bitterly, saying “I am honored by your praise, Great Spirit, but I do not deserve it. I was tired of my duty, and hated it.” Mata’Nui laughed. “You could have left at any time, abandoning your duty, but you did not! Is that not worthy of praise?” And so they called the Great Being “Karza,” or “He who does what is difficult, the one who perseveres.” And so Karza finally rested, watched over by his friends. This is how The Great Spirit Karza, and thus the Three Great Spirits of Virtue came to be. Artahka the Uniter, Karza the Dutiful, and Mata’Nui, the one who holds Destiny. The War of Creation Now there came a time when each Great Being strove to create their own world, one which they could rule as they saw fit. Most beautiful among the worlds was the one made from Tren Krom’s Prison and the discarded elements, located in the center of all creation. Naturally, as all of the Great Beings had taken part in this world’s creation, and each one claimed that it was theirs. Artahka saw the divide beginning to form among the Great Beings, and said, “Siblings, why do you quarrel over this world? Do you not remember that one of our own, though disgraced and mad, sleeps beneath it’s waves? Would it not be better to make another world to enjoy?” But the Great Beings ignored the Uniter, and did not stop their fighting. Their petty arguments soon grew into a great war, spanning all of creation. Worlds began being fashioned and used as weapons, or as battlegrounds for the Great Beings, and many more were destroyed, save for the center world. Mata’Nui became greatly troubled by this, and swore to end the fighting by whatever means he could. So he joined the battle himself, not with swords or spears, but wielding two gleaming shields in each hand. He would step out onto the battlefield, blocking both side’s blows until they were too exhausted to continue the fight. Mata’Nui, still standing strong, would say to them, “Siblings, do not quarrel over the center world. It is a prison to our brother, who is disgraced, and it has only brought misfortune to our people.” But the Great Beings ignored the One Who Holds Destiny, and did not stop their fighting. The war became so great and wide-spread that there was no Great Being left who did not wield a sword and use it against their siblings. Only the Great Spirits of Virtue refused to fight. Now Karza was still angry at his people for their unwillingness to help, and became enraged at their petty war, and so decided to end the fighting himself. So Karza yelled out to his people, warning “Siblings, stop your quarrel over the center world! It is a prison to our brother, Tren Krom, and like him, it brings suffering and misery! If you do not, the center world will be destroyed.” But the Great Beings ignored the Dutiful, and did not stop their fighting. So Karza took his brother Artahka’s forge tools and his own sword and used their destructive power against the center world. The land shattered, and parted the sea, letting Tren Krom, the Corrupt, see the war for a brief moment. The Mad Great Being laughed, yelling out “This is what I saw! A war to destroy all of creation! You are the cause of my madness!” With the center world’s beauty destroyed and Tren Krom’s prison weakened, the Great Beings no longer wished for control of the center world. Karza, still angry with his people, said to them “See now what your actions have done? To stop your war, I had to destroy what you sought, weakened our brother’s prison, so that none would want it!” And so the Great Beings stopped their war, and more was added to Karza’s name, becoming Karzahni, which now meant ”He who does what is difficult, the one who brings destruction, the jailer of the disgraced.” Karzahni, knowing that while it did stop the war, his actions also threatened to release Tren Krom from his prison, and so he banished himself to the remains of the center world to ensure that Tren Krom never escaped. He built a jail under the ocean around Tren Krom’s prison, with the intent to house the most dangerous outcasts in creation. His brothers, the other two Great Spirits, noticed his determination to fix his mistakes and began living on the land above, caring for what little of nature remained and rebuilding the world. This is how the Three Great Spirits became the Guardian Deities of our world; Karzahni, the Dutiful, guarding The Pit; Artahka, the Uniter, guiding the Island city of Tekoa; Mata’Nui, He who holds Destiny, watching over the Island of Okoto.
  23. Preliminary Poll W-3 The Legend Continues - Writing Division Here we are... it's the preliminary round of voting for The Legend Continues - Writing Division! Two entries will advance from each poll, as well as two overall wildcards. Preliminary Voting begins June 14th and ends June 17th at 11:59 P.M. EST. Final Voting begins June 18th and ends June 20th at 11:59 P.M. EST. The contest winner and final voting results will be posted in a separate thread on June 21st. --------------------------------------------------------- BZP Rules and Guidelines --------------------------------------------------------- 1. Mythology in the G2 Universe 2. The Conspiracy 3. The Legend Continues: Umarak of the Shadow 4. Realm of Shadow 5. The End of Time 6. Pohatu 7. Clinging to the Bones
  24. Preliminary Poll W-1 The Legend Continues - Writing Division Here we are... it's the preliminary round of voting for The Legend Continues - Writing Division! Two entries will advance from each poll, as well as two overall wildcards. Preliminary Voting begins June 14th and ends June 17th at 11:59 P.M. EST. Final Voting begins June 18th and ends June 20th at 11:59 P.M. EST. The contest winner and final voting results will be posted in a separate thread on June 21st. --------------------------------------------------------- BZP Rules and Guidelines --------------------------------------------------------- 1. Bionicle: Mask of Imitation 2. The Legend Continues - Of Druids and Shadow 3. No More Shadows 4. The Tragedy of Makuta 5. Return to the Underworld: The Protectors' Mission 6. Vezon's Visit 7. Bionicle: Journey to Zero
  25. In the time before time, long before the fall of the Mask Makers and the coming of the Toa, the mythical island of Okoto was beset by a foe the island would rue for millennia. Fate – or destiny – would have it that the events of a distant past would shape an uncertain future. Like so many other great legends, this one begins on a beach. - Of Druids and Shadow Poaruu was spending his afternoon with the one task he found no enjoyment in – fishing. As a cook, it was a necessary part of his duty to the village, but one he despised nonetheless. “How could anyone find this to be relaxing?” – He thought. He’s hardly collected enough fish for the evening’s feast, which was to mark the Rite of Initiation for the new elder. Nothing as fancy as the Rite of Empowerment of a new Protector for the whole region, but a marked day still. Poaruu was snapped out of his worries about running out of time by a sight he hasn’t seen in months. A gargantuan body burst from the water, far out at sea. He recognized it instantly: Akida, primal aspect of Water. She often swam around the whole island, popping up off the shores of each region. However today, instead of a majestic flip, the body of the great whale slapped back into the water unnaturally. Then he heard it – cries of agony. Wading into the water as far as he dared, he noted something strange about the creature, but couldn’t pin it down. The waves were carrying her ashore. His mind raced. “We need the Druid!” – He thought and turned to run into the village. By the time he got back, the aspect was already washed up. Now, he could see what seemed so peculiar from afar, and up close, it was terrifying. Jagged weapons, the likes of which he has never seen, jutted from the body of the mighty beast. The rustle of leaves – there were no trees in the region of Stone – indicated help has arrived. For a moment, seemingly out of nowhere, a handful of plants sprouted nearby and a tall figure arose. He towered far above Poaruu, clad in brown robes. Strong legs carried the barked body licked with a touch of green here and there. But the most notable feature of the newcomer were his antlers, glorious and intimidating. “Druid Umarak, you are here!” – He called out. The druid rushed to Akida, and began stroking her face. “Quickly, remove those foul things!” – He commanded Poaruu, pointing at the foreign weapons. Akida was heaving, but other noises escaped her mouth as well. After Poaruu, with much difficulty, took out the pair of what now turned out to be spears, Umarak moved to the wounds and held out his hands. His palms began to glow green, and the wounds began to seal right before Poaruu’s eyes. Soon, Akida was breathing easier. “Who could have done this?” – The cook asked, but the druid hushed him. Seemingly Umarak was listening to Akida. “Of course, the Druid is the only one who understands the great Aspects”. Finally, Umarak turned to Poaruu with much concern in his eyes. “I must meet the protectors at once.” – He said. “What is wrong?” – The cook asked. Umarak’s response filled him with a new kind of fear – the fear of the uncertain. “Those who did this came from beyond the sea.” Soon, the Druid had gathered the protectors and brought them to Poaruu’s village. With the help of his magics, Umarak could bring the leaders of Okotoan society with him across great distances with great haste, and all were assembled by eve. “Are you sure of what the aspect said to you?” – Taito, surprisingly hot-headed for one hailing from the region of Ice, demanded of him at the onset of the council. “You are not one to question my words, nor that of the Aspect.” – His response was stern. “I have healed her wounds by then, pain could not have compelled her.” The protectors were uneasy, faced with an issue no literature nor legend has prepared them for. “How is this even possible? How could something come from beyond the sea?” – The protector of Fire pleaded. “Never have we sailed beyond eyesight of Okoto. It may be so that other islands exist as well.” – The protector of Water added. “Druid, what did Akida tell you of these attackers?” – Ihan, protector of the Jungle turned to Umarak. “Only things that could trouble us further. They sail upon ships of metal, rougher and harder than with what the Mask Makers work. They are as tall as I. Beyond this, she merely repeated a single word I do not recognize: Kulta.” – He said. “Kulta? A name perhaps?” – Ihan asked back. “If so, it will go down in history as a hated one. The meeting was interrupted by the sound of a guard’s horn, after which a winded villager burst into the hut. “Protectors! Druid! Ships are approaching, hundreds! They are not of any region we know!” – He spat between gasps. Poaruu was so preoccupied with the events earlier that day that he could barely focus on his cooking. Umarak’s words haunted him, and he couldn’t but shake the curiosity as to what went on behind the closed doors of the emergency council. “I should be in there. I saw her!” – He thought, annoyed. Commotion outside tore him from his thoughts. As he stepped outside, he was almost knocked over by a trio of guards rushing towards the shore. “It can’t be Skull Spiders, the annual culling was not a fortnight ago… and they’re running to the shore!” – He started after them. Nearing the beach, he opted to scale one of the village walls for a better vantage point, and the vista that played out before him was unlike anything he ever saw. Countless ships were moments away from making landfall, and all the guards were lined up on the beach. The Druid and the Protectors were among them. Soon, the first ship – large, sporting black sails and an oversized ram on its stem. Off the railings jumped a large, albeit spindly figure. Its hardened leathery skin was covered by rough armor, its face obscured by a mask most frightening, crowned with two horns jutting forward. He walked towards the assembled guards, followed by many similar beings – among them devilish creatures led on chains, not unlike the scorpions of Poaruu’s home region. Umarak started ahead to meet the leader of the invaders head on. “Who are you to encroach upon our peaceful lands, to hurt one of our revered aspects?” – He shouted. The being walked uncomfortably close to the Druid, staring him in the eye. “Kulta.” – He said, as if to mock Umarak. “And what is it you are here for?” – The druid did not flinch. “Conquest.” Next, everything happened too fast. Before Poaruu knew what happened, the horde of invaders charged the guards. Umarak grappled with Kulta before disappearing in a puff of leaves and spiriting away the gathered protectors as well. The attackers tore through the guards within moments, and smoke had already filled the night sky. He rushed to street level, around him screams and shouting. He tried running in the opposite direction, but the invaders were already spread out in the village. The stench of death had begun to spread, and turning a corner Poaruu was met with a sight so gruesome as to prompt him to turn around. Against his better judgement, instinct drove him to the shore where he found Akida not half a day ago. Only the imprint of the glorious being was left in the sand. He waded into the waves once more, not knowing what to do, when a head popped up above the surface nearby. It was smaller – about half the size of what it was before – but could not be mistaken: Akida was here. She emitted a series of chirping sounds and sped towards Poaruu. Passing him and turning back, she swam up right next to him and offered a flipper. He understood. Grabbing it, he glanced back at his village one last time, and she began to swim. --- “I, Umarak, Druid of Okoto, am about to do something I swore to forever avoid. Five years ago, the warlord Kulta and his horde of Titans invaded the region of Stone. Since then, they have managed to poison our revered Aspects, causing them to weaken to a state my powers cannot heal. Alone, they are no longer powerful. In my possession is an ancient Mask of Power that I had hoped to keep locked away for eternity, but it seems that in our darkest hour, sin is our only salvation.”– The Final Testament of the Druid Poaruu was keeping watch on the battlements of the City of the Mask Makers. The city was the last bastion of Okotoan resistance save for a few small pockets scattered in the remote regions of the island. He had managed to survive five years of bloodshed. It was five years ago that he cooked his last true meal, and ever since, he was forced to fight. All of the protectors have perished with no clear line of succession. The only battles which do not end in defeat are those where the Druid is present, however the Titans attack on many fronts. Umarak has organised the few survivors into a half-decent army, but they are far outmatched and outnumbered by the trained murderers they face. Even after all this time, they learned very little of them – they know now that their world, a globe, is home to several islands. Kulta and his horde have been traveling from island to island, fighting the locals each time. His people have fashioned armor from the bones of their victims as a fear tactic, even using the corpses of Skull Spiders as masks. Umarak had recently returned to the City, warning the defenders that Kulta was preparing for a final assault to complete his “glorious victory”. “There has been enough killing.” – He said. “I will permit this no longer.” The defenders were on edge ever since, not understanding. “If he could put an end to this, why hasn’t he before?” – Many asked. Ever since, he had cradled an odd object, obscured by cloth. Poaruu sensed a slight shake. It began to grow stronger and rhythmic. “They’re here.” – He thought with dread. From between the ridges of the mountains high flowed, like a sick river, the horde. Their marching shook the earth, chanting smuggled fear into hearts thought to be steeled. They were near the walls when Umarak opened the Gate of the Anvil and strode out alone. “If you come to offer surrender, you waste your breath, Druid.” – Kulta spat the last word mockingly. “We come only for death.” – He finished. “If it is death that you invoke, death is what you shall receive!” – Umarak shouted. He removed the cloth and held high in the air a Mask of Power, much unlike the Mask of Healing he wore now. It was uniform black, seemingly swallowing all light, and yet jagged with sinister features. “The Mask of Death. The forbidden mask.” – He thought. “I wish I needn’t bear this burden.” – He removed his own and replaced it with the black mask. He immediately felt weak and nauseated, his muscles gave way and he collapsed. Kulta began to laugh a terrifying laugh, and his soldiers joined in. But soon the cackle had gone on too long, and the other Titans fell silent in confusion. Kulta continued his hysterical cacophony, then staggered. His laugh faltered, and almost immediately was replaced by a shrill scream. Before the eyes of Poaruu and the other defenders, their most hated enemy fell to his knees as his flesh burned away seemingly on its own. Soon, the confused Titans followed suit, their screams tearing up the sky itself as they were seared away where they stood. Nought but their bones remained moments later, collapsed in distorted positions. Umarak didn’t rise for many minutes. His body was smoking slightly, and his armor hissed as rain began to fall upon it. He rose to a seated position and remained like that even longer. When he opened his eyes, he was startled even though he knew the price of using the mask. Red spike sprouted from his arms, the his bark-like skin charred to black, green flesh turned sickly. He looked down into the puddle that had accumulated before him – the mask had cracked from the strain of being used on so many opponents. Dark power leaked from its surface, clouding the vision of the Druid – former Druid. “Even if the vows are broken and the mask used, it may only happen once. After death is unleashed, there remains only… shadow.” – He recited the teachings. Soon, the behavioral changes will manifest, then he will be drawn to the dark corners of the world. The gates of the city were opened, and the defenders slowly walked out. Among them was the elder they had all sworn to protect – the old Mask Maker. Umarak approached the procession in spite of the now fearful looks he received. “What have you done, Druid?” – The Mask Maker’s voice was also tainted by fear. “I know the weight of my actions and accept them. I will retreat into exile. The people of Okoto must persevere without a Druid.” – He said. “I am old, Umarak – what will we do come another crisis? The line of the Protectors has been broken, I am near the dusk of my life and even you leave us now?” – He pleaded. “Any who were strong enough to survive this war are worthy of the title of protector. As for your successor… look to the region of Ice. I discovered the heir of the Anvil long ago, he is safe. Ekimu is his name, you must search for him and bring him to the city.” – Umarak replied. “What of the aspects?” – The elder persisted. “They are diminished and in hiding until… until the coming of the six.” – The Druid hushed his voice. The Mask Maker had no more questions, so Umarak looked at the gathered Okotoans one last time, then left. Poaruu was among those who saw him disappear into the woods. “Where is he going?” – He asked aloud. “Into shadow…” – The Mask Maker replied solemnly. --- Strong claws gripped the trunk of the tree surely. An armored arm kept the body upright, half-hanging while the other shielded eyes from the hated glare of the sun. He dropped to the ground, and headed to the river. Passing by a tree with marks left by smaller claws, he walked down to the stream. The sand had been disturbed recently. Something drank here. “Ah, yes…” A nibbled fruit lay nearby. He strode over, picked it up and lifted it to his face. The hunter had caught a scent.
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