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Little short story I wrote about a year or two ago about a Toa's fall to the dark side. This all takes place in my canon universe so there will be discrepancies. Oh well.-Janus Fallen Footsteps echoed loudly down the dimly lit corridor, causing the inhabitants of the adjacent cells to shy away from the doors from which they had clamored loudly but minutes before. With the heavy tread of an executioner the footsteps descended, each time the metal clod boot filling the air with fragments of stone and dust. Wary eyes watched from either side as the imposing figure made his way down the line, each breathing a sigh of relief as their cell was passed. Finally the footsteps ceased and there hung an uneasy silence in the air. It was this silence that at last awoke the prisoner from his reverie.Rubbing his bleary eyes to clear his mind of dreams that were not dreams and a reality that didn’t seem entirely real, the prisoner gazed around futilely. He knew as he always had that his cell was kept in perfect darkness, but he was keenly aware of a change. Something had happened and he wanted to know exactly what it was…and so he strained his eyes to pierce the veil of the darkness, seeking something that he did not know.“Toa.” A rough voice growled from beyond the shadows. The prisoner paused, his eyes flickering with confusion; was it talking to him? As if to affirm his suspicion the voice spoke again.“Toa, you’re going to get a little present today.” It muttered with dark humor, and as he blinked the prisoner saw a vision of a brutish and hunched form, covered in chains and jagged pieces of metal. He knew the voice who spoke to him, he just…didn’t. His memories were things of ether, constantly swimming in and out of his grasp. At times they were strong and solid, then all at once they would turn formless and he would be lost in a sea of fog. A barking laugh interrupted his thoughts.“Pathetic, really” The voice said smugly. “To think that you once caused us such problems…now you can’t even speak!” The prisoner stayed silent, knowing that he was being goaded. He’d been here long enough to know how the guards worked.There was a heavy grinding sound as the guard turned on his heel, the stones beneath his feet cracking loudly. Then the heavy footsteps began again, this time leaving the prisoner in his darkness. Fear momentarily flooded his body, piercing his limbs with a cold fire. Then as though a wave had washed over it, the flame faltered and died. This was his life now, he held no fear of death…they’d already made it apparent that he was not going to die.The steps ceased midway through their stride and he heard the grinding of the guard pivoting to face the isolated cell where he remained.“Oh. I almost forgot.” The guard growled with a malicious eagerness. “Your present.”The prisoner remained still as he waited. His mind and body had been tortured so many times that it no longer surprised him. In his minds eye he could still see the scars and burns that had been inflicted on him.“You get a very special visit from our leader himself…” the voice said. The prisoner paused, his entire body going rigid with shock as the words entered his ears.“The Shadowed One.” The guard whispered with reverence and fear. “I hope you’re up to it, Toa.The guard said nothing after that, instead continuing his trek from the bowels of the prison, but even if he had the prisoner wouldn’t have heard it. The Shadowed One. He knew that name, he knew that name in a way he couldn’t describe. As though all of his memories up until this point had been cleared away simply so that one name could be etched, imprinted…carved into the very fabric of his mind. For the first time in a long while the prisoner felt afraid.A heavy slam filled the corridor signaling the exit of the guard and almost instantly the screaming began. Some pleaded for help, others vowed revenge, still others simply cried with great wracking sobs that shook their frames. The prisoner took no notice of any of this. Long ago he had, long ago his heart had wept for each individual in the prison, long ago he had vowed to save them. He remembered that, or perhaps they let him remember that to punish him further, to make him suffer.The prisoner closed his eyes and leaned back against the cold stone wall, the dull ache of his muscles barely noticeable as cloudy visions filled his mind. He vaguely remembered life before he was imprisoned…he had brothers. Fellow Toa? His mind swam as strange distorted images appeared. He could only see dim outlines of his team in his mind, shadowy figures with nothing to define them…all except him. Though his name still danced out of reach the prisoner knew his face well. A golden Kanohi that rested upon his face and smug, condemning eyes: The Toa of fire who led them all to ruin. The Toa of fire who had abandoned him and left him to rot in this prison.The prisoner felt rage seeping through his body, igniting his blood and whirling through his already chaotic mind. He remembered him, and he would not forget the vow he had made so long ago.The prisoner rubbed his eyes wearily, his mind struggling to regain its focus, but it was too late: Fuzzy images of days long past appeared, as though conjured by some invisible sorcerer, and danced in the darkness of his mind.“Brother!” the prisoner looked around the confines of his cell, his wild eyes roving the ever-present darkness.“Brother! What you are suggesting is unacceptable!” the prisoner closed his eyes and found himself looking at a strange sight. The Toa of fire was arguing with another Toa, this one clad in dark armor that seemed to soak up the blackness of the night sky.“And why is that, brother?” The second Toa retorted, his sharp mask thrust before the face of the Toa of fire. “Whatever it takes to defeat the Dark Hunters, we should do.” He hissed. The golden armored Toa glanced downward at his fellow, his eyes calm.“Toa do not take lives, brother.” Was all that he said. Then, as though a heavy fog had descended, the figures of the two Toa vanished into darkness.Remaining still, the prisoner waited, breathing deeply. He knew that it wasn’t yet complete, that these things, whether they were memories or hallucinations did not simply appear and vanish…and so he waited.He didn’t have to wait long. Almost as soon as he had opened his eyes he realized something was wrong. No longer was he in the comforting confines of his dark cell. No, he stood amidst the walls of a tall canyon, its rough stone jutting high into the air and allowing only a scant amount of light to shine. Before him stood the same two Toa as before, somehow no more clear in the light of day than they had been in the shadows of night.“I cannot accept this plan, brother. If you choose this undertaking, you will be alone. I will not support you in this.” The Toa of fire spoke, his infuriatingly calm voice igniting the prisoner’s blood.“Fine.” The second Toa spat, his angled mask barely concealing the hate-filled look he shot toward his leader. “Then I’ll do it myself. I’ll end the threat myself.” Then, turning his back on the crimson Toa he unholstered his weapon and threw it to the ground.“You can keep this, brother.” He said angrily. “I don’t need it anymore.”Suddenly a blinding white light pierced through the vision, washing away the images of the two Toa’s argument and causing the prisoner to thrash in agony. The prisoner screamed as his hands clutched his mask, desperately trying to conceal his eyes from the painful light. He was so wrapped up in his pain that he didn’t even notice a voice was speaking to him.“Reminiscing, were you?” came a low gravelly voice, which while calm, held an edge like that of a knife. The prisoner slowly allowed his hands to fall from his mask as he opened his eyes. Blinking back tears he raised his head to look at his tormentor and found himself looking deep into the baleful eyes of the leader of the Dark Hunters: The Shadowed One.An unreadable look on his face, The Shadowed One stood just outside of the prisoner’s cell, only a small square opening revealing him. It was at this time that the prisoner realized just how small his cell had become—he remembered how expansive it had seemed when he first arrived, a massive catacomb that dwarfed him in size…he only imagined it was used for psychological tactics. But now it seemed so small, almost claustrophobic. Perhaps he was just too used to it?“I am talking to you, Toa. Why don’t you respond?” Came the voice of the Dark Hunter leader, and for once the prisoner relished the chance to see the face of who was speaking to him. To watch with rapt attention as the muscles moved beneath the surface of the skin, to see the way the eyes glowed as different syllables were pronounced. It was something he hadn’t seen for quite some time.“Come now, Toa, you haven’t broken. I know you.” The imposing figure said, his voice calm. “You’re stronger than that.” He said simply, his eyes boring into the prisoner’s own. Where once the prisoner had stared in captivation at his movements, he now found himself shrinking from the figure, his eyes flickering as his gaze darted about the room, desperate not to meet eyes with the towering figure.“You’ve taken everything I’ve had and more.” The Shadowed One said slowly, punctuating every word as he spoke. “You’ve taken tortures both mental and physical. Tortures beyond belief. And yet still you stand strong.” Tentatively the prisoner brought his head up, his eyes still unable to remain in one spot. He could not bring himself to look into those flaming eyes that had seen so much, but there was something about his voice, something sinuous and smoky, that crept into his hear and made him want to listen and hear what it was that was said.”Where has that proud spirit gone now?” The Shadowed One mused, his voice nearly a whisper. “When we first met you were full of righteous fury, bringing a whirlwind down upon this very island. Now you sit here in darkness and silence.” As he spoke the Shadowed One leaned in closer to the door, his voice turning to a hiss.“Surely you can do better.”At this the prisoner cocked his head to the side, his eyes taking on a far away look as he wrestled with his memories. In his minds eye he saw the Dark Hunter fortress jutting upward from the rock as the stormy sea raged all about it. He saw the small craft that he was on—and more importantly he saw that the maelstrom that was forming was about to break on the island.“Don’t tell me you’ve forgotten?” The Shadowed One said his face once again unreadable and his voice barely above a hush. “It was just you and your whirlwinds, Toa.” The Dark Hunter spoke slowly, cocking his head to the side in remembrance. “You came to this very island fortress and unleashed power beyond our imagining. You stripped the land bare and shattered my compound” The prisoner turned his gaze to the figure outside of his cell, his eyes staring intently at his oppressor as if to say “Then why can’t I remember?”The Shadowed One narrowed his eyes and allowed the full power of his gaze to wash into the prisoner before him. “Because your mind is deteriorating. You’ve been alone in your own darkness for so long that reality and fantasy have merged. If I’d left you for one more day you would have snapped. ” The prisoner continued to stare into his captor’s eyes, his own eyes glowing brightly. ”That is no threat, Toa. Simply the truth, I’ve come to you for a reason.” The Shadowed One said smoothly, and the prisoner knew that his eyes held no word of a lie.“You see, Toa. I know all about you now. I’ve known for quite some time, but there was one thing I never understood.” The prisoner’s eyes flickered and he cocked his head to the side questioningly. The Shadowed One continued.“Revenge, Toa. I’ve been attacked by Toa many times in the past…but only once has it been a single Toa….Toa are supposed to work in teams, are they not? They’re supposed to support their own, are they not?” The Shadowed One let the silence fall heavy between the two of them, allowing the words he wasn’t saying to sink in.“In the rare times that I’ve dealt with a single Toa, his team would undoubtedly rescue him…or attempt it.” The Dark Hunter leader trailed off into silence, his perceptive eyes studying the prisoner for any change. The prisoner watched him with equal attention, betraying none of his thoughts.“And yet you’ve been here for over one thousand years, Toa. How is it that you sit here rotting and your leader is still glorified by Metru Nui?”The prisoner’s eyes narrowed to slits as he stared at The Shadowed One and he felt his entire body begin to tremble. For the briefest moment he wondered how The Shadowed One could possibly knew about him but soon the rage overtook him. The betrayer still lived?“I see that got a rise out of you. Good.” The Shadowed One said with a small smile. “However I’m not here to gloat. I’m here to extend an offer to you. Renounce the Toa and begin life anew as one of us.”The prisoner made a guttural sound reminiscent of a laugh, his vocal chords raw from disuse. With an unintelligible sound he looked toward the leader of the Dark Hunters.“It’s been ages since you’ve spoken, Toa. Try again..”“No.” The prisoner repeated, his voice harsh.“No?” The Shadowed One questioned, his eyes thoughtful. “Why not?”With a raw voice the prisoner responded, his weary face resolute.“I’m a Toa.”The Shadowed One’s face became unreadable and in a strangely sorrowful voice he spoke “Are you really, Nidhiki?” and with a single heaving pull he threw the door to the cell open, allowing the light of the prison to shine in. Now the prisoner saw why his cell had seemed so small…he had become….something. He couldn’t describe what exactly, but he looked in disgust at four bladed appendages that jutted from where his legs were supposed to be. Where once his hands had been there were now two large scissor-like blades that gleamed in the dim light. His entire body was twisted, contorted…whatever he may have been once, he was no Toa, not anymore.“The moment you renounced Lhikan, the moment that he in turn renounced you, you ceased to be a Toa. You only confirmed that with your next actions” In his mind Nidhiki saw the maelstrom descending on the Dark Hunter compound and saw himself at its head, directing the furious wind to tear into the heavily armored building…and those who defended it. He saw masks and weapons soaring through the air along with limp bodies.“You killed them, Nidhiki. When you came to this fortress all those many years ago you killed Dark Hunters…and if there’s one thing that I know about Toa it is this: They do not kill.” The beast that Nidhiki had become stared fiercely at The Shadowed One, its hateful eyes narrowed.“I do not know what you are, but you are no Toa. You made that choice long ago…I simply helped you.”“How?” the creature croaked, still acclimating itself to its new form.“The cell was specifically chosen for you, Nidhiki. Your own hate, your own loathing, and of course your incredibly powerful elemental control have all been being channeled back into you. Over the many years you’ve been here you’ve been in a chrysalis, only now emerging. You stand on the precipice of two lives.”The creature stared at the leader of the Dark Hunters, its face unreadable as memories of what it was once flashed through its head. It remembered Lhikan, and Naho, and Kualus. It remembered its brothers and sisters, it remembered fighting alongside them…but it also remembered that constant feeling of knowing that it…that he was different: That there was something that divided him from the rest of the Toa.He finally discovered what that was when Lhikan had captured a Dark Hunter who had been attacking Metru Nui. He remembered the rage running through him, remembered drawing his scythe and placing it across the Hunter’s throat…Unconsciously the creature raised one of its massive claws to its chest, still remembering where Lhikan had struck its former self, forcing it from the body of the Hunter. Inside of the beast, Nidhiki could still hear Lhikan’s words that day.“Are you mad, brother? We Toa have sworn an oath to never take the life of another!”The creature lowered its gaze to the ground, its mind whirling as it remembered its past life.“You said two lives?” it hissed, eyes still averted downward.“Yes.” Returned The Shadowed One “You have the potential for greatness, Nidhiki. The potential to be so much more than just a Toa—but you cannot become that until you let go of what you never were.”The creature that had been Nidhiki raised itself, looked into the face of the Shadowed One with baleful eyes. The leader of the Dark Hunters didn’t flinch, instead speaking softly.“It gives me no pleasure to do this, Nidhiki. This is but a means to an end…but it is a necessary end.”“What do you mean?” The creature shrieked“Just think, Nidhiki. Now you’re no longer bound by the code of a Toa, no longer constrained by their petty rules. If you let go of what was in your past you can grasp the future and use this newfound power.”“Power?” The creature spat. “I was a Toa!”“No, Nidhiki.” The Shadowed One said solemnly. “You never were, you always hungered for something greater, and while this may not have been the way you would have chosen it…” The Dark Hunter let his words linger in the air, allowing the creature to absorb them fully.The monster that Nidhiki had become raised its body high, its muscles rippling as it stepped out into the wide corridor of the prison. Smiling a cruel smile it emerged from its chrysalis and into a new life.“Become a Dark Hunter…?” it hissed thoughtfully. Deep inside the creature the prisoner saw memories of his past life merging into one. Fighting alongside Lhikan and Naho, defending Metru Nui from enemies, facing Dark Hunters in battle after battle after battle… he saw this all through the lense of another life, a life that could see the pointless nobility and foolish struggle--and it was with this that he saw that he had always been different, always had a different destiny.Inside the creature, the Toa that once was struggled briefly, trying to deny it, trying to say that he had been righteous. Hadn't he always defended the Matoran? Hadn't he always fought for Metru Nui? Hadn't he always upheld the code of the Toa? However all too soon these arguments evaporated like mist, and the Toa that never was ceased to be. Nidhiki finally understood that while he had played a part and acted the role of the noble protecter, he was never some shining beacon of light like the other Toa… and now he was somehow changed, something darker, something fallen.The creature that was Nidhiki smiled cruelly as it looked into the eyes of The Shadowed One.“Gladly.”