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  1. The Final History of the Skrall Part one: The Monarchy What follows may be the last record of our people that is untainted by the lies and herecies of the unfaithful. Our history begins when the first emperor, Renliss the Great, united the Skrall people and forged a massive empire that stretched from Bota Magna to the Skrall river. He organized the populance into five classes: the emperor and preist classes ruled, followed by the leader, elite, warrior, and non-Skrall. Then, he set up an alliance with King Nectanebo of the Rock kingdom. After him came Tasha the magnificent, Onua, Renliss II, Recusant the empress, Absalom the usurper, Zalo the restorer, Tasha II, Otak the heretic, and Renliss III. During the reign of the eleventh emperor,Nezco, the Great Beings arrived. They came bringing advancements unheard of, longer life, and wonders beyond imagination. But Asho the high priest saw through their deception, and revealed what they truly were, liers, deceivers, and spreaders of the herecies of Shazo the dark one. But none listened. The poison of the Great Beings spread rampant. Only king Anu of the Iron tribe openly opposed them, but a plague struck killing Anu and decemating the populance. After Nezco came Baen. After Baen came Zalo II. During his reign a leader class Skrall collaberated with the Great Beings and became the High Heretic, the Element Lord of Rock. The Great Beings wanted to foricbly unite the Skrall Empire and the Rock Kingdom under this Element Lord. Alarmed, Prince Renliss made an alliance with King Wanshu of the Rock Kingdom , and Lord Karzo of the Vorox Emirate to combat the Element Lords. Lord Karzo assembled an army of 40,000 of his finest soldiers to attack the Element Lord of Sand. Little did he know the Element Lord had assembled an army of 622,000 warriors. The battle was a massacre. Only Karzo and two dozen of his soldiers escaped into the desert. A day later he was murdered by one of his bodyguards. The Rock Kingdom was quickly overrun. But Atero ,the capitol, was beseiged for two weeks. At the end of the seige the Element Lords armies broke through the defenses, took the city, and set the palace ablaze. Wanshu and a thousand of his warriors held off the enemy long enough to escape, but they were defeated four days later at Gatherers Ridge. Then the Element Lords combined armies seized Roxtus our capitol and killed NezcoII. Only Prince Renliss and his army was left. They smashed the Element Lord of Waters army at Tankor Zatt and took the city. There he was crowned Emperor Renliss IV. After twelve days the enemy arrived. Their 847,000 against our 12,000. The Faithful were slain mercilessly, until only Renliss was left. He proclaimed that it was better to die than live under the rule of the Faithless. He grabbed a banner of the Skrall Empire and jumped off the battlements. His body was never recovered. The Unfaithful had won and the old ways were forgotten. Part 2: The Core War Two hundred and forty two years after the monarchy was abolished the ice tribe discovered energized protodermis. It had the power to create ........ or destroy. The Element Lords met to discuss the fate of the substance, but no agreement was made. The Element Lord of Ice prepared his troops to defend the spring where the substance was found. A coalition against him was formed but quickly fell apart. Soon, a six way civil war was raging on the planet. Early into the war, a group of rock glatorian scientists set upon weaponizing the Shazo Exploration Project. Their goal was to create a interdimensional weapon for instantaneous travel to the spring. From this project the Shadow Zone (A.K.A. The Field of Shadows.) was discovered. However, before the project was complete the city where it was being devoloped, Sargon Akkad, was set upon by enemy forces of the other five factions mostly consisting of Agori had agreed to unite against this threat. General Kulta, unaware that those in close proximity to the weapon suffered massive amounts of tissue decay, ordered the prototype device to be used to escape. However, there was an accident, Kulta, the city , and all in a five kilometer radius vanished without a trace. Only the gods know their fate. Horrified, the Great Beings brought the Element L ords to the peace table in a effort to reassert their dominance, but the talks failed. The war waged for twelve terrible years more. Stronius in command of an army of 72,000 warriors, 127 fliers, a division of Chatak armored tanks, and 43,000 rock steeds launched a massive campaign. They routed Tarixes water tribe army at Leins drift. Then, they ambushed a company of Vorox led by Kabrua, before assualting the ice tribes position at the spring. Sadly, he was repulsed. Weakened, the ice tribe fell prey to the fire tribe, who set off the Shattering. While the other tribes cast off their Element Lords the rock glatorian, already decimated from the accident at Sargon Akkad, remained fanatically loyal to the point of worshipping the Element Lord. He and his followers fled into the mountains. Our people made Tuma, who wanted to restore the old ways, our leader. Our armies set off in pursuit of the Element Lord. The fanatic rock glatorian began a vicious guerilla campaign against us. After many savage years of fighting we took their last stronghold and slew them all. However the Element Lord escaped, but we found him on the mountainside. He slew many of our warriors, but the great warrior Tanlo paid the ultimate price driving a lance into the Element Lords heart. The Core War was over. Part 3: Empires End Under Tumas leadership we thrived. But then the Baterra came. They destroyed nearly all of our cities, and then massacred our greatest soldiers at the battle of the silent forest. Our last city was beseiged from a certain perspective, most of our scouts and parties searching for supplies never returned. However one party was able to retrieve some firewood, and they brought it into the city. The Baterra were shapeshifters, and they were the firewood. The city was set ablaze, and Tuma led our remnant in retreat. Sadly this invasion killed nearly all of our females. The only ones left was the fanatical Order of the Sisters of the Skrall, and their teachings were to heretical to come south with us. Thus we left them in the safety of a hidden monastery. Tuma led us to take up residence in the abandoned city of Roxtus, and we observed the desert villages for three years and plotted our next move. The conquest of these villages was a key component of Tumas plan to defeat the Battera when they came south. While the agori villagers were watching the glatorian tournament at Atero we struck in a attempt to eliminate our foes in one fell swoop. We sacked Atero and then waited ,instilling fear in our enemies. We allied with the Bone Hunters under Fero and they raided (but failed) the city of Vulcanus. Three months after the fall of Atero we conquered Tajun. Then much to our dismay the villages united under the old Core War general Ackar. Then the alien warrior Mata Nui, who had aligned himself with the villages, challenged Tuma to one on one combat. Sadly Tuma was killed, and a force of glatorian warriors led by Ackar attacked. Our ice agori ally Metus attempted to rally our forces, but he soon fled the battle. Our remnant scattered. Roxtus had fallen. Our people were united no longer. One group was defeated by Mata Nui and some glatorian. When the giant ones arrived and clashed with each other, another group sought to take advantage of the chaos and exact revenge. Alas, they perished. The great general Stronius has kept nearly a hundred warriors united and they are currently in hiding. Some have revoked their honor and have joined forces with some of the aliens that arrived during the gient ones battle. Us, the remaining faithful, number nearly a dozen, and are led by Branar. We head north to Bota Magna. There we shall discover our destiny.
  2. This fanfiction is for VBBN, I'm sorry I didn't have it out in time, but I'm out of practice with writing and my life was a bit hectic as I finished my Internship and started a new job. ________________________________________________________________________________ ‘A united land under a Red Star, Gold and White, Bronze and Blue, The Hunted must finish their hunt, To the Hero’s lair on the Mountain of Monsters, Lest a Maker become a Destroyer, As the Poisoners became poisoned’ Danu looked over the text on the scroll handed to her by Aode. She thought about the agori’s advice about claiming her own fate, and not ending up like Yxaaz. Danu could remember his former lucidity only as a distant memory. Danu was the jewel of his eye, before it was filled with mad visions from the Great Beings. She rolled up the scroll and put it into it’s case, now was not the time to figure out a future bogged down in the past, but plan it. The young glatoran looked over the canopy of jungle; Danu stood over a ridge that defined the end of the local Sand tribe city’s territory and beginning of the Earth tribe’s realm. She figured that Poisoners probably meant the Vorox, or maybe whatever the source of the Dreaming Plague was. But Danu guessed that the recent spy reports of an unknown engineer amongst them suggested the builder that Yxaaz’s prophecy. She sighed as she thought of her summons to court the previous day to exam the prophecy after wrecking the training arena (again) an yet still she couldn’t believe that she had been summoned by order of the Elemental Lord, and she thought of the throne the warlord sat upon; black basalt placed on top a crop covered barrow in the depths of the royal vault of the Earth tribe. Danu’s mother had told her that the Great Being responsible for Yxaaz’s condition was buried beneath it, and Danu wasn’t sure she doubted it. Danu prepared herself, looking up the last star that now hung in the final shadows of the night sky. She had never known Spherus Magna, only Bota Magna. But she didn’t care about that, the prophecy said great danger would occur if the Hunted did not finish their hunt, whatever that meant; and the Vorox liked to have things to hunt. She took in a deep breath, the Elemental Lord had order that her tribe to only spy and gather information, not to directly interfere with the affairs of the other glatoran, skrall or vorox. But Danu had listened to Aode, who had told her of tales of heroism and honour before the war, especially those of Danu’s parents. She knew she would be in trouble at least, but she knew she had to fallow Yxaaz’s prophecy. It was then that the blast of lightning blasting in the forest, and Danu knew she had to go. She pulled out her twin kama and waved them at the least steep slope of the ridge. The glatoran focused her will through them like she had done so many times before; the slope burst forth a new ridge along it’s dorsal edge, wide enough for her to walk down and shallow enough for her to get down safely. She rushed over and started to run down it; all the times she had wrecked the arena had been worth it. At least they were until her third footstep, she felt the ridge collapse; Danu knew she hadn’t compacted it enough as it turned to dust under her feet, and later head, an she now started to tumble down hill. She really didn’t want the Element Lord to find her now, both for punishment for disobedience, and the shame of mucking up like that after all of her training. But Danu knew not of the wisdom far above her, hidden in the last star of night, one of sanguine light; The Red Star. ________________________________________________________________________________ In the depths of the Red Star two matoran ran from Krestora, and some of their victims. One was green with secondary brown colouration and a rose red mask, the other was a horrid mixture of lime green and bright saffron. “Fanua is going to panic when we don’t come back with Mavrah.” Complained the more horrid of the two matoran, his armour dented and scratched from lost aeons, and his mask a foul tusked thing with no equal. His companion stopped for a second to think. “That might be good thing Lerun,” Replied the red mask matoran “He might not worry about us.” Lerun looked back at him for a second and shook his head. “Ruaun, I don’t understand you at times.” Lerun retorted before stopping himself and letting his companion overshoot as Ruaun restarted his run. Then latter matter yelp in surprise as Lerun started fiddling with the wall “Where is that fault?” “I know it might be fun to mess around, but even I think this is a bad time” Exclaimed Ruaun, Lerun waved his concern away. “There’s an old fault that was supposed to be used by a creation of the Great Beings” Explained Lerun, “A failsafe, some sort of proto-toa or something. If the Krestora went mad, which they have, it would awaken and take them out and repair them.” Ruaun snorted, “Good strategy, let ‘em muck up the place and then deal with the Krestora.” “Who do you think their first victim was?” Replied Lerun, “They knew the guardian would ‘deal with’ them, so those buggers dealt with him” Ruaun made a small disappointed sound, “You’ve seen it actually, it’s the one with the two giant scissors for arms and twenty tentacles for a head.” Ruaun than mad a small excited sound, and that worried Lerun. “You mean Sergeant Snippety-Snips?” Exclaimed the Bo-Matoran, Lerun could only sigh in confirmation. “With the blue and silver? And the fire breathing? And the –“ *CLICK* “Oh, you unlocked the door?” Ruaun inquired, Lerun shook his head. “That wasn’t m-“ *Click* Both matoran looked back the way they had come from; Standing at the end of the corridor was a tall silver and blue figure, its hands now distorted into an over sized set of spiderish legs and the original pair of legs twisted and shrunk to serve as arms. The two matoran looked at each for a second before dashing; even Ruaun knew that Sergeant Snippety-Snips was not safe to be around. They ran down several corridors, zigging and zagging along them as the monster chased them with the constant click of it’s unnatural gait. It was slower than them, but every slip and crash in their haste cost the duo some time. But as Lerun and Ruaun started to loop on themselves they gained some distance from it. Their minds were in a rush, that the sound of panicking voices was completely missed. *Crash* Lerun crashed into a grey matoran with a mask of healing and Ruaun into a blue matoran with a Kanohi Arthon. Behind those two still stood their last Matoran companion, a stark white individual glaring with shock at the four matoran. “First our base was taken and the Turaga kidnapped, now you two are just fooling around!” whispered the still standing matoran, although his tone and style it sounded more like a shout. “You were supposed to find supplies! And where is Mavrah! You sold him out didn’t you!” Still quiet but an increased desperation was on the voice, as the four matoran got up and tried to silence their companion. And then the white matoran stopped, his eyes aghast. The monsterous form that had been chasing his compatriots overshadow all of them. They stood still for a second before they tried to run away, but the monstrosity slammed one of it’s spiderous hands down, trapping them all. Most of the matoran tried to squirm free, expect the blue one who had flicked out a wrist mounted blade and was furiously trying to stab the abomination. It didn’t seem to notice, only letting down some tentacles the smoulder from the ooze they secreted, a drop landed on Lerun’s armour, stinging him. “I always thought the monster that would kill me would be of my own design” droned the grey matoran as a tentacle slithered towards him, “Don’t worry Ketsa, just because it happened once doesn’t mean I’ll let you go down again.” Declared the blue matoran, as she jabbed her blade harder than before. The only reaction was the gigantic hand pressing down harded, crushing the matoran. “No” Said Lerun, “I won’t die!” Yelled the Blue Matoran, “So this was their plan?” Moan the white matoran, Ruaun gave a desperate laugh, “So it is” declared Ketsa. ________________________________________________________________________________ Elsewhere, a sole Skrall stood on a field of sand, surrounded by grinning fiends. He thought of surviving the Core War, escaping the Baterra, the glory of Roxtos and the Victory at Atero. How the Stone Tribe had fallen, how he had fallen. Tuma was gone, the greatest tribe scattered and world now infested with foul invaders. He looked down at the peg-leg he had been given by these ‘Skakdi’, their leader had thought it would be funny to give a cripple an experimental micro-lance for a prosthesis, better than the flail he had also been entrusted with. “Now, I, Thasikann, the magnificent” Boasted the leader of these savages, his brass-like armour a poor simulacrum of actually gold with his asymmetric and broken horn hanging a garland of withering flowers and the remains of small animals. “Declare that to celebrate my ascension to being the most powerful Skakdi of All Time, my grand games will be finish with a battle-royale between our greatest enemies to earn the honour of battling my champion, Ziskann!” The Skrall smirked as the arena stands filled with the cheers of Thasikann’s followers towards their favourite, tall and in the colours of the setting sun upon winter snow, she made a dashing figure, especially with those menacing ruby eyes. As she scanned the competitors; the skrall, a small beige and black Agori like being with vibrant blue eyes, a dark green warrior with sharp claws and a sharp gaze, a fish monster of some sort (which seemed to speak in obscenities), and an individual who was either a tiny Vorox or an overgrown Zesk. When her gaze reached the skrall, the intensity increased and he stared back; at least in his mind their rivalry was set. Everything he had been thrown against today was easy compared to what the gazed promised. “From the deserts of Spherus Magna,” Continued Thasikann “A scorpion horror and a basalt Skrall!” The cheers turned to jeers directed at him and the sand tribe competitor “From the depths of the nightmares and Irnakk’s caverns, a Zyglak!” The boos became focused on the fish monster, and while the Skrall couldn’t understand it, this Zyglak was clearly using even fouler language, “To the foot hills of the dreaded Mountain, Suufiji of Xia!” Suufiji merely made a hand gesture towards the crowd, the increased passion in their insults indicated that is wasn’t a friendly gesture. “And finally, from the heights of Metru Nui: Akhmou, the treacherous!” The crowd went silent for a second, confused by the this individual’s seeming importance. Thasikann took a breath in, “a servant of the recently deceased Makuta!” The crowd quickly roared with their rage at that name, with a visceral passion. The Skrall wondered if any of these beings were of any real threat to Thasikann or his skakdi horde; more likely political theatre that was either orchestrated by arrogant leader or manipulating fools. The Skrall assumed both were true. “And now, let the Games begin!” _________________________________________________________ I would like to thank VBBN for giving me his prompt, Tufi Piyufi for arranging the contest and Tolkien for some help with the names.
  3. Part I “Help! Somebody help me!” “Please, save my children!” “Get us out of here!” Vhisola tried not to focus too much on any one of the numerous shouts she heard, instead thinking only of the person she was currently dragging to safety. She moved as quickly as she could without bumping into the other Matoran and Agori rushing around her, and once she was far enough away, she gently set the injured down and ran back the way she had come. As she ducked underneath the massive, crumbling building that hung in the air over the last few too injured to run, she spared a single glance at Nokama. The Turaga stood with those who had already been rescued, her Noble Matatu on her face and both hands outstretched. Vhisola could see the strain she was under: her teeth were gritted, her eyes were just barely open, and her entire body shuddered with such force it was a wonder her armor hadn’t rattled apart. Turning back to the task at hand, Vhisola hurriedly pulled another person to safety. “That’s it!” shouted an Agori. “They’re all clear!” Hearing this, Nokama finally released her hold and let the building slam into the ground. The Turaga immediately followed suite. “Turaga Nokama!” Vhisola shouted, bolting to her side. She carefully rolled Nokama onto her back and began to check her vitals. “Turaga, can you hear me? Turaga?!” Nokama gasped for air, wheezing loudly. She tried to speak, but she couldn’t form any words, and her eyes rolled about, unable to focus on anything. “Turaga, please hang on!” Turning, Vhisola surveyed the group to see if she could find a paramedic she could pull aside. “Someone, please help!” “N-No,” Nokama breathed. Vhisola looked back to her instantly. “No…I’m…fine…” “With respect Turaga, you don’t sound fine!” “Just…let them…help…the wounded…” “You’re wounded!” “I’m just…tired…please…I just need…rest…” Before Vhisola could argue further, she felt a hand on her shoulder. She looked up to see Macku, who calmly said, “Vhisola.” Vhisola realized she was shaking. “…She…” “There isn’t anything they can do to ease mental strain. Let’s just get her someplace quiet so she can recover, okay?” Realizing she was right, Vhisola nodded and took a deep breath. Slowly and very gently, she and Macku helped Nokama into a sitting position, then onto her feet, and then they carried her up the current of villagers rushing down the street. They returned the Turaga to her hut, and within minutes Turaga Onewa appeared—apparently someone else at the scene had told him of Nokama’s condition, and he wanted to do what he could to help her. The two Matoran waited on the step outside as he tended to Nokama, Vhisola hunched over and Macku resting a hand on her back. It felt like years before the door finally opened. They both looked up to see Turaga Onewa emerging with a serious, rather uncomforting look on his face. Vhisola leapt to her feet immediately, asking, “How is she?” Onewa made an effort to smile. “That Nokama’s really something else. A Noble Matatu isn’t designed to hold something that heavy, let alone for so long, but she found a way.” The Turaga looked Vhisola in the eye. “She will be okay. I’m sure of it. But she overexerted herself something terrible, so I don’t think she’ll be able to do much of anything for a while.” Vhisola’s gaze fell. Bowing, Macku said, “Thank you for everything, Turaga.” “No need to thank me. Make sure she gets her rest—I’ll let the others know, and I’m sure we’ll all be by to keep her company when we can. Until then, I leave her in your capable hands.” As the Turaga departed, the two Matoran entered the hut to see Nokama lying in the bed across the room. She turned her head, and though it was barely audible, she mumbled, “Please, come closer.” They crossed the room, Vhisola doing so in about two steps, and sat down next to the Turaga’s bed. She tried to push herself up, but the Matoran stopped her. “I want to thank you both for helping me,” Nokama said. Her voice was weak, each word spoken very slowly and deliberately. It was a voice neither had ever heard her use. “The people hurt in the earthquake…are they…?” “They all got the medical attention they needed,” Vhisola said. “None of them were seriously wounded,” Macku went on. “A few are going to need a stay in the hospital, but they should be fine again in no time.” “Good,” Nokama said. She closed her eyes, and the Matoran waited patiently until she opened them again. “I don’t think I’ll be able to fulfill my duties for some time. Macku…if you wouldn’t mind, I think you would be the best choice to fill in for me.” Macku took the Turaga’s hand. “I’d be honored. I can’t guarantee I’ll be especially good at it, but I promise to try my best.” “You’ll do fine,” Nokama said, chuckling softly. “Please go to city hall and let them know. Onewa will surely beat you there, so hopefully you won’t have to explain much.” Macku nodded and took her leave. Vhisola remained at Nokama’s side, unsure if she should say something or just let her rest. At first, Nokama just stared at the ceiling, her darkened eyes not looking particularly focused but far clearer than Vhisola had seen them earlier. That helped Vhisola to accept that she really was getting better. What happened next wasn’t something she expected. Nokama put both hands over her mask, and then she started to sob. Vhisola’s eyes widened at the sight. “Oh, Vhisola,” Nokama moaned. “It’s so frustrating. I thought I could handle this…but look at me. I’ve become so weak…I really thought…I was stronger than this…but now, I can’t even…I can’t…” Vhisola grabbed Nokama’s arm, trying and failing to stay calm. “No, Turaga, no! You’re very strong! Turaga Onewa was just saying how impressed he was at what you did—and those people! If it weren’t for you, they could’ve died! You saved them! You’re not…” She also became too upset to speak. Nokama moved one hand, reaching out so that Vhisola would take it. It took her a few minutes to compose herself, but when she did, she turned and looked up at Vhisola, who could only gaze at her helplessly. “I’m sorry,” Nokama said. “Don’t apologize!” Vhisola said, leaning forward. “Please, you have nothing to be sorry about!” “I just can’t help but think…if I were a little stronger, I could have moved that building more easily. I could have tended to everyone myself, and they wouldn’t have had to keep worrying, wondering how long it would be until I gave out. If only I was stronger…” She shook her head. “It seems I overestimated my own limitations. And it’s just such a terrible, terrible feeling. Especially when I think about how I’ll be stuck here, unable to be of any good to anyone for so long…I don’t know how I’ll be able to stand it.” Vhisola gave a small tug on Nokama’s hand, saying, “I’m here for you! If there’s anything at all I can do for you, I’ll do it! Turaga, I…” She trailed off, hanging her head as she searched for the words. Nokama stared at her for a moment, and then smiled; she pulled her hand out of Vhisola’s grasp and reached out, setting it on the side of Vhisola’s mask. “Thank you, Vhisola. It makes me glad to know that even now, I can still count on you.” Vhisola was stunned for a moment, but soon she smiled back. “You can always count on me, Turaga. No matter what.” *** “Vhisola!” She turned to see Macku charging at her. Halting where she was, she waited for her friend to catch up and greeted, “Sorry I haven’t been to visit you this past week. How’ve you been?” Macku shrugged. “A bit busy, but I won’t complain too much. How’s the Turaga?” “She’s…resting easy, at least.” “That’s good to hear! So, out on an errand? Which way are you headed?” Vhisola gestured, and the two of them headed in that direction. “I always knew Turaga Nokama worked hard, but I never realized just how much she was responsible for,” Macku said. Vhisola smiled. “Having second thoughts?” “No, of course not. I was just hoping to get some time off next week, but…” Vhisola’s pace slowed. “Oh, that’s right…Kongu’s memorial.” Macku nodded, kicking a pebble in her path. “I mean, I never really got to know him that well. But I’d like to be there for Hewkii, and Hahli too. It seems like loss just keeps piling up on them: first Matoro, then Jaller and Nuparu during Velika’s War, and now this accident…” “I’m sure the other Turaga want to make time for that as well,” Vhisola said. “You’ll be able to go.” “You’re probably right. Will I see you there?” “Maybe. Turaga Nokama wants to go, so if she’s feeling up to it I’ll definitely be there to help her. It’s kind of hard to say right now.” “Ah. Well, I should get going. Tell the Turaga I hope she feels better soon!” She waved and ran off. Vhisola stopped for a moment to gather her bearings, and then walked a few more blocks and entered a shop. The shelves were lined with Kanohi, many designs she recognized and many more she didn’t, and from a counter across the room, a Ta-Matoran wearing a Ruru in a Noble shape watched over it all. He seemed to snap awake as Vhisola entered. “Oh, if it isn’t Vhisola!” the shopkeeper said. “I wasn’t expecting to see you out and about, having heard of what state Nokama’s in.” “Good morning, Nuhrii,” Vhisola replied, glancing over a shelf without another word. Walking over to her, Nuhrii asked, “How is the Turaga doing?” “She’s healing.” “Wonderful. So, what brings you in today? Anything specific you’re looking for?” Vhisola stared off for a moment, before slowly turning to face Nuhrii. In a low voice, she asked, “Are these the strongest Noble Kanohi you have?” Nuhrii raised an eyebrow. “…I’m sorry?” “I’m looking for extraordinarily powerful Noble Kanohi. Ideally, something akin to a Great Mask that can still be activated by a Turaga. Do you have anything like that?” Taking a minute to absorb this, Nuhrii muttered, “Great power…accessible from a Noble level…ah, for Nokama? Of course.” Vhisola thought she saw him smile for a moment. “Unfortunately, such a thing is impossible. I have tried, but even the highest quality Level 7 Kanoka can’t increase a Noble Kanohi’s power beyond a certain threshold. And of course, anything Level 8 results in a mask that no Turaga can activate. Our creators were very rigid beings through and through.” Vhisola looked away, cursing under her breath. Nuhrii watched her for a moment, putting a hand to his chin, and hummed. “…Actually…” the mask maker said. “If you’re really set on this, there could be a possibility.” Vhisola glanced over her shoulder at him. “Are you just telling me what I want to hear?” “Not at all. Like I said, it’s just a possibility…and verifying it would be a rather dangerous process. What I’m thinking of is definitely not something for the faint of heart.” Vhisola turned and narrowed her eyes at him. She wasn’t sure what the Matoran was getting at, but he sounded like he was making a sale. “However…if I am right, it’s probably the only way to achieve the result you’re looking for.” Deciding it was worth asking, she said, “Alright, fine. Elaborate on this mysterious possibility.” Nuhrii smiled, looking pleased with himself. “Actually, someone else is also interested, so it would be easier to explain to both of you at the same time. I’m meeting up with him tonight—why don’t you join us?” Vhisola ground her teeth. “…Very well.” *** As she made her way past one table after another, Vhisola kept her eyes peeled for any sign of Nuhrii. The restaurant was near the outskirts of New Atero, so there were all kinds of beings hanging around, including a good number who had a suspicious look to them. Vhisola was positive the four-armed warrior in the corner, conspicuously surrounded by bodyguards, was a Dark Hunter who thought he was being subtle. The general shadiness of the establishment did not inspire much confidence in Nuhrii’s information. But if he is right, then this could really help Turaga Nokama, she reminded herself. All I have to do is hear him out. A waving hand caught her eye. Sure enough, Nuhrii sat at a table with another Matoran, a Ko-Matoran with a Noble Mahiki who she also recognized. Making her way over, she sat down, looked them both over, and said, “It’s been a while, Ehrye.” “Yeah, it has,” Ehrye said. “Sorry to hear about Nokama. Does that have to do with why you’re here?” Before Vhisola could answer, Nuhrii said, “Yes, Vhisola came in looking for a Noble Mask with power more like that of a Great. That’s related to the discovery I told you about.” Ehrye nodded. “I see. You’re right, that would be huge! Okay, I’m definitely on-board.” “Hold on, you haven’t even heard the details yet.” “Yes, please explain,” Vhisola said. “Have you really found something that can make that sort of mask or not?” Nuhrii tapped his fingers to stall for time. “…It’s more accurate to say I’ve heard of something like that.” Vhisola sat back and crossed her arms. “Just hold on. Recently, I spoke with some Agori who were travelling up near the Northern Frost. While they were there, they stumbled across a sealed tunnel entrance, and after forcing it open they found that the interior had been coated in metal, with signs on the walls and a few pieces of old tablets all written in Matoran. They went further in, but they tripped off some sort of security system. About half a dozen of them died.” Vhisola looked to Ehrye, who seemed a little less eager now. “After skimming the bits of tablet they found, they were able to work out that it was some kind of laboratory. My guess is that it’s another hidden lab of the Great Beings.” “Based on what?” Vhisola asked. “The level of technology described in the notes, not to mention the presence of Matoran lettering in a facility sealed under Spherus Magna. But, that isn’t really the point.” “Okay. What’s the point?” Nuhrii produced a flat chunk of rock. “They were gracious enough to let me keep one of the tablets they found. It’s only a piece, mind you, and some of it’s too worn to read…but take a look.” He slid the tablet over to Vhisola. With a sigh, she picked it up and looked. -RIMENT 3X4S- PSYCHIC AMPLIFIER HARNES- -IGNED TO INCREASE AN INDIVIUAL’S MENTAL FOCUS, WITH THE GOAL OF ENABLING MATORAN AND OTHER BEINGS TO USE KANOHI POW- Vhisola handed the tablet to Ehrye. “Something that would let Matoran use Kanohi?” She thought about it a bit more, and then it dawned on her. “Something that would enable someone who normally couldn’t use Kanohi at all to use Kanohi…that sort of increase in ability might also allow someone who normally can only use Noble Kanohi to use Great Kanohi…” “Precisely,” Nuhrii said. “Incredible,” Ehrye said, grinning. “This is really incredible!” “That…could actually work,” Vhisola said. “Imagine,” Nuhrii said. “If I could unlock this device’s power and make Kanohi with it, I’d have business from all across the planet! I’d forever be remembered as the world’s greatest mask maker—as someone who was able to break the limitations the Great Beings imposed on us!” “And you’re offering us a chance to be a part of that, right?” Ehrye asked. “Of course!” Nuhrii said, putting the tablet away. “Of course, you’ll both be rewarded if you accept. As for the job itself, if it isn’t obvious: I’m looking for people willing to go retrieve this device for me. You two seemed the most interested, so I wanted to ask you first. However, remember that the lab is very secure, so just going there at all would be risky. If you want to decline, I understand.” “Retrieve it for you?” Vhisola repeated. “You won’t be coming?” Nuhrii smiled and averted his gaze. “Well…I’m not really the adventuring type.” “You’ll be taking credit for inventing this technology, I’d guess?” Ehrye said. “Say that I helped you develop it. That should get me some notoriety.” Nuhrii nodded, saying, “That’s fine with me.” Turning to Vhisola, he went on, “You wanted extraordinarily powerful masks, right? I’d be happy to make one for free for you.” Vhisola scoffed. “Only one?” The Ta-Matoran smirked. “Before we haggle, I need to know if you’re actually willing to accept.” It wasn’t the danger that made Vhisola worry. If this technology would be helpful to Nokama—and it certainly sounded like it would—then she was prepared to tear through anything that tried to get in her way. But to get from New Atero to the Northern Frost, the journey would take two days at least. Even assuming they made great time, fulfilled their objective quickly, and had an uneventful trip back, Vhisola could still expect to be gone for nearly a week. Given the state Nokama was currently in, she was hesitant to leave her side at all, let alone for so long. “It does sound promising,” she said, “but I’d have be away from Nokama…” “Are you the only one watching over her?” Ehrye asked. “Hm? Well, no…” “Then can’t you just get someone else to take over your shifts? She probably wouldn’t even notice.” Vhisola opened her mouth to speak, but then stopped. A hollow, gnawing feeling sprouted within her, and she started to shrink inward. …Right. Just because Turaga Nokama is special to me, that doesn’t mean that I’m special to her. Trying to recover, she quietly cleared her throat. “Make Turaga Nokama all the masks she wants. Do that, and I’ll go to the lab.” Nuhrii recoiled. “All the…? Are you joking?” “A dangerous job to recover something that could change your life—and the entire planet? That’s worth a big price tag.” “…Perhaps,” Nuhrii grumbled, “but I am still trying to run a business.” “You’ll have no shortage of business once you do this,” Ehrye said. “Giving freebies to one customer out of thousands shouldn’t be too bad.” The mask maker was still hesitant. Squirming in his seat, he said, “I will…replace all the Noble Masks she currently has for free. And then give her a 30% discount for life. Surely that should suffice, yes?” Vhisola glanced aside for a few seconds. “Any six masks she wants for free, and then the discount after that.” Nuhrii scowled. Giving him a curious look, Ehrye asked, “What’s the difference?” “What, are you on her side?” Nuhrii said. “Some masks require disks that are very difficult to obtain, and very difficult to work with. The Noble Masks Nokama currently has are ones that are very simple to make and could be replaced in a day.” Ehrye nodded, looking up thoughtfully. “I mean, once word gets around, it should be a lot easier for you to get whatever disks you need, shouldn’t it? You’ll have money to burn, and disk makers will probably be begging you to use their disks. So long as you’re up to the challenge…” Nuhrii rapped his knuckles against the table. “…Alright, any six. But the discount will only be 20%.” Vhisola stared at him, unflinching. “Come now, how many masks do you think she’ll want? 20% is very generous.” Without a word, Vhisola got out of her chair and began to walk away. “Wait!” Nuhrii yelled, shooting to his feet. Vhisola stopped and glanced over her shoulder. “…Fine. Any six, and 30%. Do we have a deal?” Vhisola appeared to give it thorough consideration for a moment, and then turned and sat back down with a single, sagely nod. “Very well, Nuhrii. I accept your conditions.” Nuhrii sighed and shook his head. Ehrye chuckled. “Both of you be at my shop at dawn tomorrow,” Nuhrii said. “Have your bags packed and be ready to depart—I will first send you to meet with a contact of mine, who will guide you to where the lab is located.” For Vhisola, that was a red flag. Even Ehrye seemed to notice, asking, “Wait, contact? I thought you said you asked us first?” “It’s a bit complicated—you’ll understand when you meet him,” Nuhrii explained. “The short version is that, while you two are the brains of this mission, you’re also going to need some muscle to accomplish it. Spherus Magna is still a very dangerous place, so I’ve arranged protection for you. I thought doing that first would help make the offer more appealing.” “Oh,” Ehrye said, all his misgivings seemingly soothed, “well when you put it like that…” “How thoughtful,” Vhisola muttered. Unlike her companion, she still couldn’t shake the feeling that something was odd. However, this was all for Nokama’s sake, so odd or not she would do everything she could to make the trip successful. I’ll ask Nixie to cover for me, and I’ll write a note telling the Turaga that something’s come up. If she asks, I guess. That same pain was back. …It doesn’t matter whether I’m special to her or not. She’s special to me, so I’m going to do this for her. I don’t want her to have to feel weak ever again. (Review)
  4. Pohaturon

    Unification

    “I think… I think perhaps this is not the time for me to walk among you. You all have a new life to build. My destiny is fulfilled, but for many of you, it has yet to be written. You need to find your path without my shadow hanging over you. [...] Never goodbye. Even I cannot predict the future, or if the time will come when I shall be at your side once more." A promise never kept, a wish never fulfilled. With these parting words, Mata Nui went into self imposed exile following the reformation of Spherus Magna. Toa, Matoran, Glatorian and Agori had a bright future to look forward to, one of peace and prosperity. The two peoples were to unite and forge a living paradise with the virtues Mata Nui had taught them. And for a time following Makuta's fall, it was so. However not even such a grand event is immune to the ravages of time. Eventually, history became legend, legend became myth... And myth became blasphemy. 7000 years after the reformation, Spherus Magna has become a world much unlike what its denizens had once envisioned. Seven millennia is a vast amount of time, over the course of which the unimaginable has ample opportunity to become reality. Mata Nui's final wish for the Great Beings to be sought out eventually led to them seizing power once more, however the once revered creators of the Great Spirit turned out much different than what their seekers expected. The world has since been carved up into four ever warring nations, each with a Great Being at its head who demanded their subjects to revere them as gods. The Matoran have been subjugated by the organic Glatorian and Agori, and have become slaves, their numbers replenished by technology the Great Beings developed. The Turaga were forced to compel their people to obey lest they be massacred. The Great Spirit's body was salvaged and reverse engineered, but only the higher caste was to benefit. The Toa were hunted down, and the Ignika was lost. Any semblance of unity was gone, seemingly forever. Until... *** Aderyn was making his way through the desert that still reigned around Spherus Magna's equator. Legend has it that in the past, the vast region covered the whole planet, or that it covered a section of the planet prior to it being reformed. It depends on who one asks. Facts change depending on which of the four great kingdoms one was in, as each told a different story of the past, each claiming the other retellings to be not only false, but blasphemous. The only thing everyone agreed on these days were names, and the desert had one: Bara Magna. Aderyn was a Glatorian merchant, one of the few beings who could freely pass between borders without fear of being imprisoned. The various castes that divided the society of each nation all had their particular rules, and while being a merchant didn't bring with it the most comforts and pleasures, it was certainly one of the most convenient. He enjoyed freedom of movement, freedom of commerce and universal immunity. Import and Export kept the economies of the kingdoms alive, so merchants were always needed. Anyone who would harm him faced the most severe of consequences, which were frightening enough to almost entirely eliminate banditry. Any onlooker would have considered Aderyn to be travelling light for a merchant, for lack of a cart or caravan, but he didn't deal in resale, but rather distribution. All he needed for his trade was wit and a ledger. He was adept at his work, he had a solid network of contacts, regular buyers and stock full of product that was always in demand. His life was, in relation to most others, easy. He hated it. Aderyn eternally suffered from ambition restricted by caste. A few centuries ago, there were some, albeit incredibly difficult and complex, methods to alter one's caste upwards on the ladder, but recently these were all abolished. These days, one can only possibly drop in the hierarchy of the classes, and it was increasingly easy to do so. That said, should even the worst befall Aderyn, he knew he'd never hit the bottom caste - he simply couldn't. The bottom caste of slaves was exclusive to the biomechanical beings, the Matoran, and what few Toa remained. The lowest any organic could drop is Servitor, whose lives are still glamorous in comparison to the biomechanicals. The sun hung right above him. He planned on reaching Tarsus, a trading post on the border of Angonce's realm. His trip took him right through The Killing Plains, an area which some legends - ones which when uttered draw the wrong kind of attention - claim was the location of an apocalyptic battle between two gods, while other legends claim this is where the Matoran arrived on the world. Aderyn had passed through the area on occasion, but to him it seemed like any other sea of sand. If there was anything here at one point, the centuries buried it all beneath the dunes. He was lost in thought, trying to guess which two nations will be the next to go to war. The kingdoms of Angonce and that of Velika, which he called home, were in a state of truce at the moment. Angonce was warring with the kingdom of Bothma, while Velika and the fourth ruler, Tatui, locked their common borders and were in a state of cold war. The balance of power shifts by the week, and for all he knew, Velika and Angonce could be at each other's throats next month. Not focusing on the sand before him, naturally Aderyn couldn't have noticed the little piece of metal sticking out of the ground. It caught his foot, and he tripped, with a faceful of sand tearing him back into the real world. After uttering a few curses under his breath, he clambered to his feet, brushed off the sand from his armor and robes, and turned to inspect the cause of his inconvenience. It was a dull, jagged scrap of metal, utterly unremarkable and seemingly rusty. Such scrap was said to litter this area of the desert centuries ago, but none of it should still be on the surface. It was most likely dropped by another passer-by recently. "Very recently, if it hasn't yet been covered..." - Aderyn thought. Usually one to leave such junk behind, Aderyn felt a surprising urge to pick it up, as if compelled. Not by curiosity, but rather... Shooing away these thoughts, he bent down and grabbed the object. As he tried to pull it out, the difficulty of doing so suggested much of it was still under the sand. He finally heaved it out of the dune's surface with such force that sent his hand into the air. Sand poured through holes on the object, which he now saw wasn't rusted, but colored orange, even though it was dull, scraped and worn. He examined the object. It seemed to be some kind of armor, possibly. Two wedge like shapes extended from a central section. The wedged had holes in them and semi-circles cut out of the edges, while the center was topped with a T-shaped element and ribbing on the front. The wedges were slightly angled backwards. The strangest feeling of familiarity gripped him as he looked at the object, which made him uncomfortable. He hid it in the folds of his robe, and continued his journey. *** "Ah, Aderyn, my friend! On your way to the coastal cities, am I right?" - Borian's voice boomed through his emporium. The old Glatorian of fire was a good friend of Aderyn's, and a long-time contact. Tarsus was far enough from the inner kingdom to allow for a healthy black market, and Borian usually helped Aderyn whenever he needed to deal with this underground element. "Headed to the capital, actually" "Ah, yes, the grand metropolis. Must be some big deal you're working on, then." "Indeed, though I'm worried how negotiations will go now that the rumors of the treaty's end are afoot." "Pah, Velika would sooner attack the south than break off the truce." "My thoughts exactly, but the merchants of a weakened nation might not be convinced." "We'll see what credibility those rumors have. However, I suspect it is not to discuss hearsay that brought you to my fine establishment." "You suspect well. I have come across a trinket in my travels on which I want your expert opinion." "Ah-h-h, what kind of trinket may that be?" - Borian dug out a little head-mounted magnifying glass. "The kind which I might wish to sell, without the good and noble guard hearing about it." "Give it here then, lad." Aderyn produced the object from the folds of his robe, but before Borian could inspect it - even, before Aderyn could place it on the desk - his companion adopted a facial expression resembling one he'd wear upon witnessing a phantasm. "What's this then? So valuable, or so... illegal, that is has you at a loss of words?" "Aderyn, did they search you at the gates?" "Aye." "You showed this to the guards?" "Naturally, hiding it would have been suspect. They thought nothing of it." "You showed this to the guard?!" "Speak then, what has you frightened so?" Borian, instead of doing so, rushed around the counter, put out a "CLOSED" sign and shut all the windows. Aderyn now realised that it wasn't mere fear he saw on the old Glatorian, but rather fear mingled with elation. What could this bauble be? "You're lucky the guard posted to a backwater like Tarsis are as ignorant as you are, my friend. What you hold in your hands no mere trinket, and indeed is nothing but a Kanohi Mask." Upon hearing the nature of his acquisition, Aderyn promptly dropped it on the floor. "Being's blood!" - He exclaimed. Little knowledge about the masks worn by the subjugated Matoran and Toa was common, but one thing everyone knew - carrying, owning, selling or even touching one could be equated to an express ticket to the prison-pits of Mahraia in the far north, where the most hated criminals of all four nations were sent. "Now-now!" - Borian chided, and went to pick up the mask and place it on his desk. "What on earth are you doing? Melt it!" - Aderyn referenced the first and foremost method suggested to civilians by the members of the guard should they ever encounter such a mask. "Don't be silly. This trinket as you call it is more valuable than my whole shop combined." "Is it worth the risk?" "You said the guards did not recognize it. No wonder either, 'tis an atypical shape. Never seen one like it on any Matoran neither. Would be worth fortunes to a collector. "Who would want to collect Kanohi?" - Aderyn thought to himself. "You know someone of the sort?" - He asked aloud. "Hm? Yes, of course. I know and avid... collector. Yes." "Borian?" "Yes, yes. I should meet him promptly." - he turned to leave out a back door right as he wrapped the mask in a cloth. "...Borian?" "What's that?" "Do you not think I should be told to whom you intend to sell it? And for how much?" "Now, Aderyn, when has Borian ever cheated you?" True enough, Borian was the most... no, only, merchant who peddled black market good who was honourable to a fault as well. However, he felt like he was being left out of a particularly interesting element of the underground. This is the most valuable thing I ever found, and very well might be the most valuable thing I ever sell, even counting the legitimate deals. If there ever was a transaction worth risking the black market for such a reputable merchant as he was, this was it. "Take me with you. I want to see this... collector." "Uh, we're, uh, not meeting him first. I cannot identify this mask, so I need to take it to a, uh , expert." "An expert in Kanohi?! What has Borian gotten himself into?" "All the more intriguing!" - Aderyn said. Borian grew grim, and stepped closer. "Do you realize what it is you ask?" "Not rightly." "Hm, thought so. To be involved with these elements will mean being marked forever. You can let me take this, now, and return in some days with a hefty purse. Or, you can come with me, and consign yourself to a life of hushed voices, sideways glances and fear at the mere sight of guards. Is that what a merchant, one with an easy life, would want?" Aderyn considered. He was a creature of comforts, true, however he was also a capable fighter whose talents were going to waste. He grappled with his ambitions constantly. Could this be the key to becoming something more? For all I know it could turn me into a fugitive, not exactly a bright future. But then. Maybe this holds the potential for me to experience things of a nature no merchant ever could. He became resolute. Fearful, but certain. "Take me." *** Borian had led him to a back room, which acted as a warehouse. He pushed aside a crate, a trapdoor under it. After leading them through winding tunnels, they emerged from a crevasse in the wall of the rocky plateau upon which Tarsus stood. Before them the desert stretched. "Where's this expert of yours, Borian?" "Out there, somewhere." "What, in the desert? How will we find him?" "He'll find us." - With that, the old Glatorian started walking straight into the desert. The pair walked for a little over 3 hours. Tarsus was ever shrinking behind them, the sun slowly descending. The bottom of it had already dipped below the horizon, the rest of its gargantuan disk throwing warm shadows across the dunes. "How much longer?" "You must understand, we need be a safe distance from the walls." "They wouldn't even see us with a scope out here." "Aye, he could be here any minute now." "How will he know where we are?" "He'll know." Just as Borian said that, Aderyn felt a slight whoosh, a gust of hot air and a presence behind him. He spun around, and true enough, a figure about his height, clad in bright red and orange armor was standing there, looking at him. "Ah!" - Aderyn exclaimed in surprise. Borian spun around as well. "Kapura, my friend!" "Who is this?" - The red being asked while looking at Aderyn. He spoke slowly, in a monotone voice. His face showed no expression, though that could have been due to the strange helmet he wore. "Not a helmet..." - Aderyn thought. "He's worth your trust, I've known him for centuries. You've naught to fear from him." "How much does he know?" "Not rightly enough, actually." - Aderyn interjected before Borian could answer. Then: "What the shadows is going on here? Borian, is this what I think it is?" "Aderyn, look, you'll understand all when we get to the enclave." "Enclave? Enclave! Fantastic, let me guess, more biomechanicals there?" "Aderyn..." "This is a Toa. A Toa! You're going to get us killed." "Aderyn I warned you in advance. He's nothing against us, and we won't be harmed. I've associated with Kapura and his companions for longer than I've known you." "I... ah, bother, merely being here has me complicit already. Might as well see this through." - Aderyn surrendered, though his own curiosity had as much to do with that as Borian's reassurances. "Still sure he won't be trouble?" - The Toa called Kapura asked. "He has a name, and yes, I mean no threat to you." - Aderyn once again interjected. "Very well. Why have you come?" - He now turned to Borian. "Aderyn, he found a Kanohi. I can't identify it." - He said. Then: "Aderyn, show him." Aderyn produced the mask from his robe. Kapura's mask twitched under the eye, his only reaction so far. "The Turaga must see this. At once." The world around Aderyn blurred suddenly. The great disk of the sun had disappeared. When he began seeing clearly again, he saw that the three of them somehow wound up in a well-lit cave. "How..." - That word was all Aderyn could muster before collapsing, dizzy. "Hah! I had a rough first time too, mate." - Borian exclaimed. "What the bloody pits was that?" - Aderyn demanded. "I practiced." - Kapura said, with as little expression as he did before. Then: "Come." Aderyn clambered to his feet, and followed Borian and Kapura through the caves. They passed into a large cavern, with alcoves carved into the wall. Only now did the weight of the situation register with Aderyn. Around him were Matoran of all elements, fixing equipment, mending armor, all shooting him sideways looks. Among them, he saw a few other Toa, but no more than 8. Some were resting in alcoves, two were sparring. "What kind of enclave is this?" Nearing the far end of the cavern, Aderyn saw a fireplace. Yet, instead of flames giving off light, which would also have filled the cavern with smoke, a pile of yellow crystals, arranged with much care, provided the illumination. A being, smaller than he but larger than a Matoran, sat before it. He heard them approach, and turned around. The being wore a blue mask, partially transparent, with a clear visor covering its eyes, and a triangular cutout around its mouth. Deep, wise yellow eyes peered at Aderyn. "Turaga Gali." - Kapura and Borian said in unison, Kapura bowing. "Who is this?" - She asked after returning the greeting with a nod. "This is Aderyn, he found something of great import at the grave." - Kapura said. "The grave?" - Aderyn made a mental note. "What did you find, newcomer?" - Gali turned her attention to him. "He'd better show you." - Borian interjected. Aderyn looked at his friend first, uncertain. Borian nodded knowingly. Aderny turned back to the Turaga, ever so slightly trembling. The same discomforting ease of escaping familiarity gripped him. "Come now, let me see what it was that convinced ever-vigilant Kapura to let a newcomer see me." - She said with a reassuring smile that rang with wisdom. Aderyn produced the mask, which made the old Turaga produce an expression not unlike that of Borian when he saw it. Matoran who have gathered around them to see what brought the newcomer in their midst were shocked into silence save for a few whispering to others to bring the Toa. Aderyn just stood there, mask in hand, not understanding the commotion. "Is it..." "Could it be..." "The prophecies..." - And other such utterings could be heard. Gali reach out her hand, and as she took the mask, for a split second both of their hands were touching it. In that moment, an image flashed in Aderyn's mind. Not a vision, nor imagination. It was a single image of a sandy beach lined with trees, but not one which Aderyn had ever visited, and the sky was utterly different from the one which blanketed Spherus Magna. "Would someone please tell me what is happening?" - He pleaded. "It is not by mere chance that you found your way here, Aderyn. What you found out there in the desert, this is no ordinary mask, which would have already been a rarity. No, wanderer, you have found what may very well be the key to undoing the calamities which brought us here." "I do not understand." "This is the Kanohi Vahi, the legendary mask of Time."
  5. I've been wanting to build this character for a long time now, and whipped him up just in time for the current Flickr contest (in which your votes would be much appreciated). "Through Conquest, Unity. Through Unity, Peace. Through Peace, Prosperity. Through Prosperity, Progress. And through Progress, the Destiny of our people shall be fulfilled" - The Words of the Emperor Once a mere Toa of Stone, the Emperor became what he is today after encountering Energized Protodermis. Instead of killing the Toa, the substance gave him a new form, allowing him to switch between this new body and his original at will. The new body lacked the elemental abilities of the original, but instead wielded powerful telekinetic, telepathic and tele-conductive skills. He planned to unite all the world, from the smallest sandbar of the southern isles all the way to the magnificent City of Legends under a single banner, and used his Toa form to move among his former brethren freely. However, Teridax's usurpation of the Great Spirit put his plans on hold, and he fought besides the Toa and Matoran of the resistance during the Reign of Shadows. However, after Mata Nui defeated Teridax and the people of the Matoran Universe emigrated to the newly reformed Spherus Magna, he pursued his task once more. At an unspecified time long after the reformation, his empire would grow to encompass all of Spherus Magna, and true Unity would be achieved. "I shall wear no crown, for I am no idle king. Let this gauntlet be the sign of my rule, and let all who succeed me wear it as a symbol of Imperial power." The Emperor donned a golden and silver armored gauntlet, the two colors of which represent the two Kahu, the patron Rahi of the United Empire. The banner of the Empire featured two Kahu, silver and gold, on a black background with two strips of dark red on either side. The Silver Kahu represents all the tenets and virtues that would help the nation achieve Unity. These are valor, conquest, courage, strength and ferocity. The Golden Kahu represents all those tenets and virtues the Empire would represent once Unity has been achieved, including wisdom, knowledge, peace, and diplomacy. The Emperor is known to be a charismatic and just leader. He believes strongly in vengeance and while on the Road to Unity (the era in the Empire's existence prior to all of Spherus Magna belonging to it) preferred conquest over diplomacy as a method of expansion. In spite of his temper, he never degraded into becoming a tyrant. Citizens of the Empire enjoy complete liberty so long as they do no encroach on the lives and wellbeing of their fellow citizens, or endanger the nation's Unity. Once Unity was achieved, and thus the nation's prime goal completed, the Emperor declared the preservation of Unity and the pursuit of Knowledge to be the next prime goal of his people. Some have theorised that, since Energized Protodermis is considered to be sentient to some extent, it created the Emperor to prevent a second Core War from further damaging either the ravaged fragments of Spherus Magna, or a Reformed Spherus Magna should the device invented by the Great Beings succeed in its mission. Since the device, Mata Nui, did in fact succeed in reforming the planet and containing its Energized Protodermis core, this theory has further credibility. Since a single nation covers the entire world, a conflict on the scale of the first Core War is seemingly impossible. Ever since peace has been achieved, the Emperor and his highest advisors have been overseeing a project which would use technology developed by reverse engineering the Great Spirit Robot to create a vessel capable of travelling to other worlds. Should this come to pass, a new age of expansion - and conquest - would follow... Flickr Album As always, all thoughts, comments and criticisms are welcome.
  6. A little piece I've had stewing for a number of years now, meant to serve as a conclusion to the Generation 1 storyline of Bionicle. I've incorporated a number of elements revealed by Greg since the conclusion of the serials, though in some cases altered things purely based on my own preferences and ideas I conceived of before Greg shared the information. There are also a few details-such as Spherus Magna's Earth Tribe-that I included before learning that Greg had debunked them. You may also notice a few elements from other sources... EDIT: Here's a link to the review topic. http://www.bzpower.com/board/topic/21962-battle-for-spherus-magna-review/ EDIT: Made some revisions to reflect recent revelations regarding the Element Lords and Earth Tribe, as well as rethinking the classification of some characters-namely Order of Mata Nui members-who have previously not been identified by gender. Prologue Location: The island of Daxia, some time before the death of Makuta Teridax. The assault on the heart of Makuta's Rahkshi production had gone surprisingly well so far-in fact, it had gone better than most operations Tahu had been involved in since their universe had fallen under Makuta's domination. Undoubtedly this was due to several factors-multiple resistance forces striking at other parts of the universe, Makuta's lack of familiarity with his new powers, and the fact that Daxia had been so well secured that Makuta felt no need to monitor it personally. However, the force that had assembled to cut off Makuta's most numerous army at the roots made up for its lack of numbers with skill and sheer power. Tahu had led his small squad from Karzahni with Onua in tow, using a small vessel upon which Kopeke had remained while the rest of them made landfall on the island. There they found Pohatu and Takanuva, recently arrived from the island of Destral having failed to get its Dimensional Gate generator working again. With them were the Dark Hunters Charger and Subterranean and a tribe of Frostelus, whom the former Matoran had convinced to join forces with the resistance. Some distance away from where they met, the menacing Dark Hunter Kraata-Kal lay battered on the sand, apparently oblivious to his surroundings*. However, to the surprise of both parties, a tall figure in black armor emerged from the sea to approach them. The eyes of all three Toa Nuva had narrowed and Johmak's had widened at the sight of a familiar figure from the distant past: Hydraxon. The Order of Mata Nui member who had trained the three Toa acknowledged them and Johmak with a curt nod, his eyes narrowing at the sight of beings he would have gladly locked away under different circumstances. However, his purpose in coming was the same as theirs, though instead of Frostelus he brought a different force: a small group of Maxilos robots that had previously patrolled undersea routes to Daxia and thus escaped Makuta's attack on the Order headquarters. Following them, whether at Hydraxon's invitation or their own volition-the Pit jailer never said-came a pride of Shallows Cats. The motley force left Kraata-Kal on the beach and descended upon Daxia's defenders: a legion of Rahkshi, Exo-Toa, and-of all things-Vahki, the latter having been produced on Nynrah at Makuta's orders. The Order agents, Subterranean, Lariska, and the Frostelus set upon the former Metru Nui order enforcers with a vengeance, destroying them with ease. Takanuva, Krahka, and Charger attacked the Rahkshi with the aid of the Shallows Cats, who seemed to crave Rahkshi as much as their Muaka cousins. The three Toa Nuva contributed wherever they could, unleashing elemental attacks on various foes while the Maxilos clashed with the Exo-Toa. It wasn't long before the trio had worked their way to the center of the island, where a crude fortress-undoubtedly the best that Rahkshi and Vahki could put together-had been erected over the Energized Protodermis pool. Curiously, no Rahkshi issued forth from its gaping portal, but a shadowy figure emerged to challenge the three Toa. For a moment Tahu thought it might be some huge Visorak, until he recognized the Vahki components making up the six-legged monstrosity. "A Kraahu? Of course the Makuta wouldn't confine his army-building to the standard Vahki units. Let's make quick work of it!" Unfortunately, this proved easier said than done, as the six legs separated from the body and took to the aid, pursuing the three Toa and delivering painful electric shocks. When all three fell stunned to the ground, the legs reconnected with the body and unleashed a cloud of gas. Luckily, the Adaptive Armor worn by the three Toa modified their masks to filter the paralyzing agent, though not before they began to feel some of it's effects. Unaware that they were still capable of moving the Kraahu advanced, only to be driven back by a surprise fireball from Tahu. Forcing himself to stand, Onua looked at his two brothers. "It seems we underestimated this construct, brothers. It's ability to function as separate parts or as a whole is truly impressive. But have we forgotten our potential to do the same?" In answer, a glow surrounded the three Toa, whose Adaptive Armor transformed to match their original Kanohi Nuva and equipment in anticipation of what was to happen next. The glow grew brighter until the three were lost to sight, finally fading to reveal a single massive figure. For the first time since the battle of Mangaia, Akamai-now Akamai Nuva-opened his eyes to regard a foe with thinly veiled disgust. "It is well for Makuta that he can manufacture monsters and machines, for no being with Valor in their heart would stand with such a being! Have at thee!" Having deduced the ineffectiveness of its gas, the Kraahu reverted to its previous tactic, separating its limbs and launching them at Akamai. However, the power of the Aki Nuva gave Akamai the speed to evade the attack and the strength to strike back, shattering the limbs with blows of his Kodan Claw hand. Before the Kraahu could process the loss of its components, it joined them, with the twin blades of Akamai's sword rending metal like hot magma burning through stone. His foe defeated, Akamai walked over its smoking remains and through the gate of the fortress. Inside, a startling sight awaited the Toa Nuva Kaita of Valor. A glowing pool of silver liquid-one that the massive hero and his three components recognized well-sat at the center of a large chamber. Around it rested three masses of charred black armor, with no evidence of their former inhabitants remaining in them. With a shock, Akamai realized that they must have belonged to fallen Makuta, forced by their former ruler to produce Kraata for his army, only to be eliminated as brutally as the Order of Mata Nui agents who had been on this island when Makuta attacked it. There was little time to process this, however, as the surface of the pool stirred and rose. A figure Akamai knew only from tales of the past emerged, though not in the form that the Turaga of Mata Nui had described. Instead of the features of a Toa Metru, its form resembled that taken by Makuta Teridax during his battle with Takanuva, but cast in silver with glowing red eyes. It regarded the Kaita with an expression that could almost be called curiosity, clearly having never encountered a being of such a nature before. "Intriguing...to think that such a transformation is possible without my power to aid it. Though I have touched those three who compose you before...such a unique opportunity that was. Far more interesting than the unending production of Rahkshi." Eyes narrowing, Akamai caused his sword's blades to glow with heat. "If you dislike the task so much, then why do you contribute to the creation of Makuta's minions? Does the fate of the universe you inhabit mean nothing to you?" "Ah, Toa-I had forgotten how small your minds are, even when three are joined together in one. I produced Makuta's creatures because it was their destiny, but no longer-the last Kraata that was meant to undergo this process has done so. That is why Makuta destroyed his captive brethren-they had outlived their usefulness. Did you not wonder why there were not more Rahkshi here? They have been dispatched to the various lands Makuta seeks to conquer, with many of them marching on the southern islands under the leadership of the Skakdi Nektann for reasons I do not know-not that I care to." "You are a monster!" "And you are a construct born of three 'heroes' who have fulfilled their destiny. I wonder-could it be your destiny to feel my touch again?" The entity followed this up with a stream of energized protodermis that flew at Akamai, only to sizzle and evaporate as it struck the shielding power of the Hau Nuva. Keeping the mask power in place, Akamai moved backward slowly, knowing that there was little he could do against such a powerful being. For it's part, the protodermis entity seemed more bored than disappointed. "I suppose I shall never know-Makuta will undoubtedly destroy you once you have ceased to be amusing to him. Still, there are other experiments to conduct, and other islands waiting to feel my touch." "Indeed? Then allow me to eject you from this island...courtesy of the local volcano." A short time later, the attackers watched as Daxia was consumed by the fury of a volcanic eruption unleashed by Akamai's powers. By all accounts it would not destroy the Energized Protodermis-that substance would make its presence felt elsewhere in the universe. However, the resistance forces had little time to worry about that-there were other matters to be seen to. "You recall your instructions, Hydraxon?" In response to Pohatu's question, the jailer nodded. "I am to find the Toa Mahri, who are undoubtedly making their way south from Metru Nui after kicking Nektann out of it. I'm to let them know that he's leading the Rahkshi south, and we want them to see that none of the other Skakdi warlords are following suit." "And don't forget to mention the missing Piraka-of all beings in the universe they should be made aware," noted Johmak, who had personally made the unnerving discovery that the five Piraka previously imprisoned on Daxia were not to be found among the ruins of the Order base. Hydraxon nodded before departing, while the remnants of the assault team went their separate ways. The Dark Hunters and their Frostelus allies set course for Xia to link up with the remainder of their kind, though they would look for signs of Kraata-Kal along the way given his disappearance upon their return to the beach of Daxia. The Order agents, Krahka, and the four Toa, on the other hand, would be heading south after Makuta's army in hopes of finding out what the tyrant was up to, and hopefully picking up reinforcements along the way. One thing they all knew for certain: this war would get worse before it got better. Location: Xia. The Shadowed One was a being known for his confidence and pride, not for his fear. In all the long ages of his existence he had only been truly afraid of anything on a handful of occasions. The most recent had been over a thousand years ago, when Makuta Teridax had attacked him in a rage and left him a victim to the powers of his own minion Voporak. Nothing since then had truly brought fear into his heart, not the destruction of his Odina fortress by Pohatu Nuva or even the awe-inspiring power of Toa Helryx, leader of the Order of Mata Nui. However, as he stood in a Vortixx laboratory, watching several carefully cultivated and combined viruses reacting violently on a clear build to an explosion, the Shadowed One began to feel the old sensation come to him once again. This experiment had been about bringing down Makuta Teridax, just as the new ruler of the universe had brought down his predecessor. With Makuta weakened, the Shadowed One had intended to join his "allies" the Barraki in marching against Metru Nui and securing his rightful place at the head of creation before offing the upstart warlords. Unfortunately, it seemed that Makuta Kojol, or Teridax himself, or whatever mysterious party had hidden the viruses on Xia so long ago, had taken precautions against any tampering by unwanted parties. Grabbing his staff, the Shadowed One turned to flee, though in his heart he knew he would never run fast enough to escape what was coming. It thus came as a complete surprise to him when he was enveloped by elemental darkness that cut him off from his surroundings. As it drew him into oblivion, he was unaware that his "shadow"-the Dark Hunter known as Darkness-had vanished from sight the moment the energy appeared. Both were thus spared as the explosion occurred, which could not be said for the Vortixx unfortunate enough to be in the vicinity. When the Shadowed One could see again, the landscape before him was the last thing he ever expected-or wanted-to see again. Dark clouds obscured whatever light sources might be in the sky, while the land as far as could be seen was covered in ice and snow. The frozen water formed strange shapes in all directions-only a being who had been here long ago, as the Shadowed One had been, would know that it covered the ruins of a once thriving civilization. Without warning, a voice hissed from behind him, jolting the Shadowed One out of his reverie. "Enjoying the sight of your old home, Shadowed One? The place is certainly little better for you having left it-the war you started consumed the land and destroyed what little good ever resided here. Most of the inhabitants were wiped out-the few that are left have either fled for other lands or are hiding out in what still passes for shelter here." The Shadowed One turned around slowly to regard a figure he hadn't seen in quite some time: a skeletal being armed with numerous blades. Moreover, he now recognized what power had saved him from almost certain demise back on Xia. "Shadow Stealer...I've been wondering when you would be darkening my door once again. So you decided to wait until Makuta claimed the universe as his own before staking your claim to the Dark Hunters?" "Please-I have no interest in ruling over your band of filth. Has it escaped your notice that I've been slaying your underlings in every corner of the universe where I've found them vulnerable? You are simply the latest in a long line of monsters I have made it my goal to destroy." Perturbed, the Shadowed One took up a ready stance, wondering when his opponent would make a move. "A curious notion. I assumed you were destroying my Hunters as a challenge, in preparation for your eventual confrontation with me. You sound almost 'heroic'-I thought you hunted Toa as readily as Dark Hunters." "Oh no, Shadowed One-though they replaced my comrades and I in the Hand of Artakha millennia ago, I bear true Toa no malice. It is those who have abandoned the cause of light for darkness, those who have decided that peace is achieved through tyranny-those are the ones that I have destroyed. Has it also escaped your notice that not every Dark Hunter I could have destroyed along my path has fallen? Those whom you have blackmailed into your service by leaving them with the delusion that they have no other options but to serve you have been spared-the same cannot be said for you!" Anticipating the strike, the Shadowed One let his disintegration eye-beams fly at the same moment Shadow Stealer hurled a bolt of darkness towards him. The two collided, unleashing an explosion that would have thrown two lesser beings apart. Weathering the shock wave, Shadow Stealer countered with a wall of shadow, seeking to prevent the Shadowed One from training his eye-beams on him. However, the Shadowed One responded by launching a stream of crystalline protodermis through the field, sweeping it up, down, and across in an effort to cover his foe and prevent him from moving. In response, Shadow Stealer disappeared into the ground, using his own shadow to teleport. Before the Shadowed One could react his foe was behind him, emerging from his own shadow before unleashing a mass of shadow. Caught in the cloud of darkness as though the vines of the Morbuzakh had seized him, the Shadowed One was hurled through the air, smashing through the nearest ice-covered ruin. Half-stunned, he managed to unleash a Rhotuka from his staff, only for Shadow Stealer to launch a ball of darkness that cancelled it out. A gesture of his blade brought a tendril of shadow up to snatch the Shadowed One's staff from his grasp; Shadow Stealer's other arm moved and arms of shadowy energy closed over the Shadowed One's limbs like chains. "A fitting end for a criminal such as yourself-cut down in the land that you brought to ruin in your arrogance and greed." The Shadowed One said nothing, merely glaring hatred at his enemy and knowing that his eye-beams would be swiftly blocked by Shadow Stealer's powers. Wary of just such an attempt, Shadow Stealer kept his attention on the Dark Hunter leader...and was thus unprepared when another being struck him from behind. Whirling quickly, Shadow Stealer lashed out with his blades, only for them to clash with the weapons of Darkness, whose eyes gleamed with malice that shook even the veteran slayer of Dark Hunters. Unfortunately, his divided attention proved insufficient to maintain his grip on the Shadowed One, who swiftly recovered his staff. Madness gripped Shadow Stealer's ancient mind as the Shadowed One's Rhotuka Spinner struck him. Visions of fallen foes-Dark Hunters, corrupt Toa, and other monsters alike-filled his mind, the legions of his dead enemies swarming him in a vengeful horde. By the time the nightmare faded, Shadow Stealer found himself covered in crystalline protodermis; only his head had been left free. The Shadowed One loomed over him, with Darkness watching them both from a short distance away. For the briefest instant, something almost resembling respect was visible in the eyes of the Shadowed One-then it was replaced with crackling energy. Turning away from the empty space where Shadow Stealer had stood bound but seconds before, the Shadowed One turned to regard his unlikely rescuer. "Surprises abound today, Darkness. I know many a Dark Hunter who would have let Shadow Stealer finish me before striking him down themselves, but you-you acted to insure that I would survive. Why?" "The time for my purpose has not yet been fulfilled, Shadowed One. Until that day comes, you are the ruler of the Dark Hunters, and I serve to eliminate those who would dare disrupt your rule. Now, I believe we should return to Xia-your Hunters await you." Location: Spherus Magna, some time after the death of Makuta Teridax. Deep in a wooded area of Spherus Magna, long bereft of the presence of any forms of sentient life, there stood a fortress composed of crystal and iron. Aside from its facade it was a twin to the ancient fortress located at the center of the Valley of the Maze, and for good reason: both had been created by the Great Beings. And it was to this fortress that those legendary creators-or destroyers, in the eyes of some-returned after their 100,000 year exile. Striding boldly through the forest of golden banded trees, the Great Being known as Heremus surveyed the ancient fortress with a wistful expression. It had been a long time-time he had spent using the inherent abilities of his kind to travel from place to place to explore nearby moons and adjacent pocket dimensions. Now at long last he was back on his own world, ready to reunite with his kind and hopefully build the paradise they had all so often dreamed of. Throwing back his cloak to reveal his gleaming silver armor, he made his way towards the bridge leading up to the fortress. Once inside, he found many of his brothers and sisters in the midst of a reunion, many greeting each other for the first time since the Shattering. Many greeted him as they recognized him, and he returned their salutations as kindly as he could while making his way for the council chamber. At last he entered the vast chamber, which-unsurprisingly-was already occupied by several others. However, as he advanced, he couldn't help but note the absence of some who should have been there. Hearing his footsteps, one of the Great Beings turned in his direction, and Heremus couldn't help but groan inwardly as he recognized the orange-armored female. Her eyes narrowed at the sight of him, and before he could say a word she spoke to the other three Great Beings on the dais with her. "Well, if it isn't the great Heremus come to grace us with his presence! Disappointed that there's no longer a habitable landmass named after you in creation?" "The majority was in my favor in the matter of naming the Southern Continent inside Mata Nui, dear sister. The fact that your name was assigned to a smaller island is hardly cause to hold a grudge. Or is there something else you'd like to lay at my feet, Odina?" One of the others spoke up, a burly figure who had long ago been one of the Great Beings assigned to hide the Kanohi Ignika beneath Voya Nui. "There certainly is, Heremus. It is true that at long last Spherus Magna has been restored to its former glory-in fact it is in better condition than we have ever known it in terms of its environment. But that does not change the fact that it still bears scars of our previous labors, or that we now face the unexpected consequences of the destruction of the Matoran Universe." "Cheerful as ever, aren't you Zakaz," remarked a second female Great Being, the golden-armored Daxia. "True, the fact that our nanotech creations remain inexplicably active is disturbing, but I would hardly take it as cause for alarm. We created Marendar for just such a development, and by the readings on our equipment it is already active." Before Zakaz could respond, Odina addressed her sister with little less venom than she had used with Heremus. "And what if Marendar goes beyond our control, sister? What if it becomes a terror worse than the Element Lords or the Baterra? For that matter, what proof have we that our old blunders do not still menace this world?" A sharp retort from Daxia was cut off by the last Great Being in the room, Xia, who had been Zakaz's companion on the mission to hide the Ignika. "Precisely why we created only one, dear sister. Besides, the Baterra performed their ideal function-the fact that we could not shut them down was unfortunate, but perhaps will be a benefit; a war is unlikely to break out in a world patrolled by such machines. As for the Element Lords, they were willful and power-hungry, and it is not our fault that our intended regents chose to make themselves tyrants." "Perhaps...but do we not carry some blame for appointing regents in the first place out of our own disinterest in the affairs of our world?" Zakaz's words were met with silence, for even haughty Daxia couldn't deny that the thought had crossed her mind more than once over the ages. Seeing no reply was forthcoming, he continued. "Now that we have returned home, brothers and sisters, I fear we must make a decision: whether to abandon this world again, this time forever, or to finally face the burden of our past actions." Another silence fell, but was quickly broken as the doors to the council chamber opened again. As one the five turned to regard the open portal-and were stunned by what they saw. Standing there, clad in pink armor, was another Great Being whom none of them had seen since even before the Shattering. However, something about him-his posture, the lack of recognition in his eyes as he regarded them, and the way he seemed uncertain of his own movements-told them a change had come over their old friend. "I'm sorry, but...could one of you help me? I've been stuck in this fortress for so long, all by myself, in this strange body. Oh, I'm sorry-I should introduce myself. My name is Velika." To be continued... *This is a little nod to Descendant, an awesome BIONICLE fic by ALVIS.
  7. So, Greg having revealed in his Q/A topic that the Great Beings are actually of the Glatorian species (which, for me at least, was a massive disappointment), I began wondering what set the two groups, meaning the regular inferior Glatorian and the Great Beings, apart. It is clear that not every Glatorian is on the level of the Great Beings, since if that were the case the whole pre-MU story as well as the 2009-2010 story would have been infinitely different. None of the Glatorian we meet in the story ever display a particularly high level of intelligence, definitely not on the level of the GBs (since they are wallowing in dirt and sand, after all). So, what, are the GBs a genetic 1% who were born with a mutation that made them significantly smarter? Were they bred that way? Was it eugenics? Cybernetic modification? Are they simply the "übermensch" equivalent of the Glatorian? Maybe they are a separate tribe of a different "element" (many elements in Bionicle aren't actual elements, hence air-quotes), like Knowledge or something? Are they a completely distinct sub-species with several different traits setting them apart from the more common Glatorian archetype? Honestly, I really think making the GBs Glatorian was a bad, bad idea. It completely takes away the air of mystery about them that made them enigmatic and interesting. Now they're just Glatorian nerds instead of these mythic, incomprehensible beings. What do you all think?
  8. ALVIS

    Last Destiny

    I was struck by inspiration yesterday and had to sit down and write this story. Special thanks to BZPower member Tolkien for the song written in Matoran language, which you can find on his tumblr blog. Please read, enjoy, and comment below! ~~~~~ The sky was bright, and the day was radiant. As Admoneira made her way through the crowded street, people of all colors, shapes and sizes hustled and bustled around her. Today was as busy a day as ever in Agens, but Admoneira had no time or interest for any of it. After all, it wasn’t every day that one received a summons from the oldest being on the planet. It had been twenty or thirty years since she had last heard the call: a high, thin ringing, at a frequency beyond most people’s ability to detect. She had taken several moments to notice the pitch, and longer to remember what it meant -- but when she had, she had dropped her satchel and nearly been struck by a hasty carriage. Stopping only to gather her things, not to apologize, she had immediately changed course and struck off to the eastern edge of town. From there, she did some bargaining with a carriage-owner, who was understandably reluctant to lend her a vehicle to traverse a road that hadn’t been touched in years. The sight of her dusty seal made a potent argument, though, and if that wasn’t enough, she also had the official papers, signed by the Parliament, marking her as a government-sanctioned chronicler. The owner, a patriotic sort, was more than happy to comply with her request, and soon she was driving off towards the eastern forest. Throughout it all, above the grumbling and snorting of the carriage and the trundling of its wheels on the ground, Admoneira could still hear the ringing, echoing through the air. The trip through the woods should have taken two hours, and it would have -- if the road hadn’t been blocked two-thirds of the way in. As she once again stepped out of the carriage to hack at an overgrown creeper, only to see the road blocked ahead by a tree growing through the middle, she gave a heavy sigh. Couldn’t he at least hire a gardener, or a hundred, to keep the road clean? Then she remembered his response to that query last time she had spoken to him. Your modern garden tools make such an unbearable clamor, he had said. The trees and the vines, on the other hand, are silent until struck down. If I am going to continue living on this earth, I would rather do it with my hearing intact. Wouldn’t you? At dusk, Admoneira stumbled over a twisted root, staggered past an enormous tree, and pushed aside a curtain of leaves to finally reveal her destination. Perched on a steep hill above her, surrounded for miles and miles in all directions by undisturbed forest, was a weathered dome: an ancient monastery, with a population of one. Emanating from above, the ringing was sharper than it had ever been, but Admoneira barely heard it. With a rejuvenated effort, she dragged herself up the hill, anxious to once again speak with him. The stone door had no handle. Instead, it was inscribed with an esoteric symbol: three circles, bordered by two dented curves. Admoneira smiled and recalled the secret combination. First the topmost circle... the bottom circle... and finally, the circle in the center. Smoothly and almost silently, the door slid away before her. Inside, the walls of the vast dome were filled with circular symbols; not an inch left untouched. Towering over Admoneira were tall stacks of stone tablets, each carved with the same symbols. A fine layer of dust covered everything in the chamber. Admoneira breathed in the dry, dusty air and let out an amazed sigh. In this room, the great history of her world felt tangible and real. The dust stirred. Just barely, she could make out a whisper: “There’s no need to make such a ruckus, my dear." The quiet voice came from the stairs spiraling around the walls. Admoneira looked up, beyond the stacked tablets, to see a hunched figure with a grey cloak slowly descending each stair, his joints clicking with each step. “I could hear your approach a mile away,” he continued. “Turaga!” Admoneira gasped. “Ach!” With gears whirring and joints clicking, the wizened old figure brought his hands to the sides of his head. “What did I say about making such noise?” Admoneira paused, then spoke in a low whisper. “I’m sorry, Turaga. I’m just... so excited to see you again.” “As am I, Admoneira,” whispered the Turaga. He stepped onto the floor, supporting himself with a wooden staff, and slowly hobbled towards a table where an empty tablet lay. “Come. Sit, and tell the old Turaga your tales.” The table stood in the center of the building, directly beneath a glass pane in the top of the dome. Admoneira took her seat and glanced up at the darkening sky, looking for words. So much had happened in the past several decades. Where to begin? “I suppose I’ll start with Agens,” she said. “Ah, yes. How is that lovely little town doing?” the Turaga asked, chuckling. “It’s hardly ‘little’ anymore, Turaga. Now that the water stone industry has recovered, people have been coming to Agens in droves. It’s one of the fastest-growing cities in any of the civilized nations,” she explained. “Good. I’m glad to hear it,” he said. “I always told little Carus that his town would do well.” He paused. “How is the little boy, anyway?” Admoneira hesitated. “Well... Carus is not really a little boy any longer, Turaga,” she said. “He was born before me, you know...” There was a glint of light off of the Turaga’s mask. Then he shook his head slowly. “I am sad to learn of his passing,” he said. “But he died knowing his destiny was achieved.” The Turaga always did that -- extrapolate the truth, even when one tried not to tell him. Admoneira hated when he did that. The Turaga chuckled. “Hate it or not, Admoneira, I will keep doing it. You must allow an old man some of his tricks.” He turned to the side, his head downcast. “Forgive me for asking so foolishly about Carus. In my old age, I sometimes forget that your lifespans are so much shorter than ours.” Admoneira had always marveled at the Turaga’s physiology. He was made of metal and flesh, seamlessly joined by wondrous engineering -- all of this, accomplished several millennia prior to the invention of the motorized carriage! Many a time, she had wondered how it was that he and the other biomechs lived for so long: whether it was the quality of their organic parts, or a self-repairing function like the immortality devices of old. She had been meaning to ask for years. “Then I might as well tell you what I know,” said the Turaga. “I was never an anatomist. But I know this much. Most of our ‘organic’ tissues are used as muscles or bindings, and they, like the rest of us, are artificial; made by the Great Beings. When the Great Beings made things, they made them to last.” For a long moment, he let this information sink in, then added, “Unlike your craftspeople nowadays, that is.” Admoneira had to laugh at that. “Tell me about it. I took a carriage part of the way here. I got it good as new, but by the time I was done with it, the tires were shot and the engine was halfway killed.” “No, they don’t make them like they used to,” the Turaga said softly. As Admoneira continued her tales, the stars began to shine through the glass from above. By midnight, she had nearly talked herself hoarse, and had run down to the stream for water several times. Throughout it all, the Turaga sat and listened. Half the time, he stared off into space and didn’t move from his position, but Admoneira knew he could hear her. In any case, he could just about read her mind. It was a pity she couldn’t read his. What did an ancient biomech ponder? “You’ve stopped talking,” said the Turaga after a time. “Is that it, then?” Admoneira gave a start. “Oh, no, not at all. I was just thinking, Turaga.” The Turaga blinked behind his mask. “You want to know how old I am.” Admoneira’s face blanched. The Turaga chuckled in response. “Don’t worry, dear, I won’t be offended. A biomech stays beautiful no matter his age.” He tapped his staff on the floor. “You said this was... what year, again?” Admoneira told him. The Turaga nodded and let out a slow whistle. “Well, well. It has been some time, hasn’t it? And yet, to me, it seems like the Fall was just a century past.” He hemmed and hawed for several seconds. “Ah! That’s it, that’s it. I have lived through 150,000 seasonal units -- Matoran time, that is,” he said. “In your years, that would be... hmm... about 12,000 years old, give or take.” The time span was too much for Admoneira to process. She blinked and put a hand to her forehead. “I might get a migraine if I think about that for too long,” she said. “Try thinking about it for 12,000 years,” replied the Turaga. “Did Matoran -- normally -- live that long?” Admoneira sensed the Turaga stiffen. “I wouldn’t know,” he said. “But since so few of us remain, I would say... no.” An awful realization struck Admoneira: He doesn’t know. There was silence at the table for a long, long moment. “Now he does,” said the Turaga. Admoneira clasped his hand. “I’m sorry. I’m so sorry. I didn’t know when to tell you -- ” “It’s all right,” he said, setting her hand aside. He sat back, gears clicking, and breathed in heavily. “Tell me, when did the others pass?” Admoneira could feel his heart breaking as she listed the names. “...announced his death twenty-four years ago. The Vortixx of Vulcanus passed quietly three years after.” She took a deep breath. “Barraki Pridak died on his throne ten years ago. Somehow, he lived through every assassination effort over the past four millennia. His empire has already fractured into warring states. And Kopeke -- ” She felt something choke in her throat. “Two years ago, Kopeke walked out of Iconox and into the Drifts. He gave clear orders that he was not to be followed.” She finished her story. She and the Turaga sat at the table, hands folded, in utter silence. The stars turned slightly overhead, and a chill began to creep at the edges of Admoneira’s flesh. After many minutes, Admoneira thought she heard a whispered word flit into her ear. She dismissed it as her imagination, but another came, and another. Suddenly, she realized that the words were coming from the Turaga, but they were not any words that she knew. “lahaya lhikayi, wahata rodui...” The pitch of the Turaga’s voice varied. Admoneira realized that he was singing. His incredibly soft voice hovered over the notes with a trembling sincerity. “lahaya lhikayi, wahata rodui, lahaya ro’ai, ki akuya-kaui. lehaya matoran, noka khino rho luhaya turaga zahni’o kyabo. lohaya toa ki kravahi zaya, ki aizi voyakorhu akuyata...” The Turaga trailed off. “You wouldn’t recognize the song,” he said, in response to her unspoken thoughts. “It is from... before your time.” Slowly, with jerking and hesitant motions, the Turaga began to stir. Gears clicking, he rose from his seat and took hold of his staff. “Come. Walk with me, Admoneira,” he said. “And bring the tablet. It is time.” The woman took his hand and helped him move, haltingly, across the dusty floor and out of the building. The two stood together on the hilltop, under the waning stars, looking out at the peaceful treetops. “In an hour, Solis Magna will rise from the horizon, in all its crimson glory,” said the Turaga. “Then will come the time. Until then, Admoneira... sit with me.” She had a thought, but he shook his head. “No. I do not need any more stories. I need only companionship.” Admoneira helped him into a sitting position on the grass. The Turaga set down his staff and replaced it with a stone stylus. “I am sure your paper records are quicker and more efficient,” he said, “but consider me old-fashioned -- I never could get used to the idea of them.” He carved the first words on the tablet. Admoneira knew enough of the Matoran language to translate them, and her heart sank as her worst fears were confirmed. “You can’t know this,” she sobbed. “Oh, but I do,” said the Turaga. Now it was his turn to clasp a friend’s hand in comfort. “It was revealed to me by another Turaga many, many years ago. This was his final vision. It is the final destiny of my kind.” “No,” Admoneira mouthed. She knew that the Turaga was impossibly old; she knew that he was the last of his kind; she knew that all things eventually came to an end -- but she refused to believe that it would happen today. “Be still,” the Turaga whispered. “I will be with you for another hour. I must carve this tablet, but when I am done, I will stay with you. We will watch the sunrise together.” Admoneira sat with the Turaga as he carved his words. She did not read them. She would read them later, when she was ready to accept the end. She vowed not to let this history be forgotten. “It already has been, my dear,” said the Turaga, etching a Matoran ‘A’ into the stone. “By all except the two on this hilltop. But that is not so dreadful, in the end. All things in this world are only temporary.” He finished his work, and set down the stylus. The stars had vanished, and the sky was lightening. Admoneira turned to the Turaga with tears in her eyes. “Please. Don’t go. You’re all that we have left.” “None of us choose our destiny, my dear. And none of us can defy it,” said the Turaga, staring into the pink light of the sky. Admoneira began to openly sob as the light grew brighter. No words could communicate her feelings. “They do not need to,” said the Turaga. “I know your heart.” Slowly, he raised his hands to his head. When he lowered them, they held the archaic features of his mask. “Take this,” he whispered. “It is our custom. I will go soon, to be with the Great Spirit. But the mask will remain.” Admoneira took the mask into her shaking hands. “I... I can’t...” she stammered. “You can,” said the Turaga. “Have faith.” Admoneira hugged the Turaga tight, setting her face against his weathered cloak. Slowly, gently, he set his metallic hand on her shoulder. Staring into the growing light, the Turaga bore an unreadable expression on his face. Quietly, he resumed his singing. “lahaya lhikayi, omahaui nu lahaya wahata, ki nokhanu-ngu lehaya matoran, i’azai uzya luhaya turaga, kravahi’ai na lahaya toa ki boi royatanu hau’o rak-rhui boya hayaganu. ke, lahaya lhikai, omahaui rhu lihaya rohi nga-kaui ki zyanu. lehaya puku’o, alai’o, roi’o luhaya rohi ki avo myatambo. lahaya wahata, keeto, kofo-ngu lohaya toa ki ako karyanu.” The sun rose, and the radiant fingers of the dawn crept across the trees, reaching up to the domed monastery atop the hill. As the light grew and the air warmed, Admoneira held the Turaga close, and he held her as well. Admoneira opened her eyes. The sky was alight with the scarlet fire of the sun. The Turaga’s fingers rested on her shoulder, warmed by the touch of the sunlight. But his singing had stopped. Admoneira hugged the Turaga’s body close and cried as the sun rose over her. She would cry for many a day to come. When her tears had dried, she would read the Turaga’s tablet. For now, however, the words sat unread in the rising sun. I carve these words as I await my death, and with it the death of the Matoran race. As prophesied, I am the last one left. When the morning comes and I pass from this world, I will join the entirety of my kind as one with the Great Spirit. I have no regrets. I have lived a long and fulfilling life. I have seen and done so many things. I fought on Bara Magna and saw Makuta’s Fall firsthand. I defended the Prison Island from the Siege of the Dreamkeeper’s armies. I saw the Barraki Wars and the return of the Shadowed One. I have seen two worlds united, and I have seen them divided again so many times. More than that, though, I have seen the flourishing of the Agori. Despite their physiology, they are an enduring and ingenious people. They listened to the ideas of the Matoran, and they built on what we brought to them to make things far greater. I know now that they are a people truly deserving of the Great Spirit’s paradise. We have had our history. Let the Matoran race now take its leave from Spherus Magna. With unity, we have done our duty, and in doing so, we have achieved our final destiny. The Agori have learned all that we can teach them, and they will grow and flourish beyond anything we could ever imagine. The Great Spirit will be proud of us, indeed. These are the last words of the Matoran race. These are the words of Turaga Krakua.
  9. Nick Silverpen

    Disassembly

    This was originally posted in Short Stories, but due to an error with the forum, a good portion of the ending is not showing. I prompted the SS Leader GSR, and he said this was an appropriate means of reposting it. The story can be read in full on my Wordpress or AO3. One The shadow of the Kanohi Dragon passed over the eleven Toa as it flew overhead, deciding whether to continue being a pest or to eliminate the pests below. While it made up its mind, Toa Hagah and Toa Mahri alike were sweating it out in the fiery inferno which raged in the surrounding plains, gripping their tools tightly. Far to the north, a path of destruction loomed in the dragon’s wake, as it used its fiery breath on the land. The Toa were determined to stop the destruction right here, but the battle had been a shaky one—the Kanohi Dragon was a more formidable beast than any Rahi any of them had ever faced, and they wondered if there was any hope of taking it down. “Behemoth creatures with loads of armor,” Pouks grumbled. “Why did the Great Beings always have a fascination with behemoth creatures with loads of armor?” “Maybe that can play into our benefit,” Nuparu piped. “We could overheat its systems, perhaps?” “The dragon thrives on heat,” Norik reminded him. “And under each of those mask scales the Rahi has a ventilation system. Too many vents to try and plug.” “Whatever we do, we just have to keep it from using its fire,” Hewkii growled as he summoned a boulder to throw the dragon’s way. “And we can’t let it reach the villages south,” Gaaki reminded them. “It came from the Great Volcano,” Jaller said. “How are batteries like us supposed to have enough power to suppress something a power plant couldn’t satisfy?” “Precision,” Kualus answered, firing the tri-bladed staff he carried as the Kanohi Dragon dove towards them. What was intended as a strong stream of frost aimed at the dragon’s underbelly resulted in a thick coating of ice which adhered to its underside, the staff amplifying the Toa of Ice’s elemental abilities. Kualus continued his offense, bombarding the Rahi with ice colder than his Sub-Zero Spear could ever manage. The dragon’s maw opened wide as it roared in pain, fire beginning to conjure in its throat. The conjuring was short lived, however, as a growing Toa of Earth rose up to tackle the dragon. It lashed out with its double bladed tail, catching Bomonga in the back. He grimaced, but he did not falter. Instead he reached back to grab the behemoth by its tail, ripping the creature out of the sky. Bomonga grappled with the dragon, distracting it as the two Toa of Water created moisture for Kualus to freeze. Feeling weak at the sense of the cold, the dragon let itself drop to the ground, slamming into the earth with the force of an earthquake. It wriggled furiously against the Toa of Earth, trying to escape from his grip. The remaining Toa of Earth and Stone rushed to assist their brother, willing the ground of Spherus Magna to help their enlarged brother pin the gargantuan. In the meantime, Jaller and Norik rushed to either side of the beast, using their control of fire to suppress any flame the dragon tried to shoot, whilst Iruini and Kongu used their elemental powers to suffocate the ravening infernos spreading along the plains. Spherus Magnans who saw the fight claimed it was nothing they’d seen since the Core War, while historians from the Matoran Universe recalled the fight the dragon had given another group of eleven Toa millennia before. The beast both times had been a ravager of the land, but perhaps this time it would be put down for good. To the mountains of Iconox it would be shipped, where the cold would inhibit its power. The Toa had originally let the beast go, and it had been peaceful. But apparently it would never be content to leave the Matoran and their new Agori peers alone. *** The eleven Toa watched the sun set to the west, sweat of the battle turning cold under their armor in the arriving evening. At the bottom of the hill where they stood, the Kanohi Dragon was being loaded onto a platform by hundreds of black armored denizens, of which half the group looked skeptically upon. “Do we trust the Vortixx to take the dragon?” Kualus asked. “The last time they had it they—“ “The only place it can go is the northern reaches of Iconox,” Jaller nodded, understanding the Toa Hagah’s concerns. “We have to trust them with the dragon.” “But if they do anything like they tried to do last time…” Iruini said, uneasy. “My mask shows me nothing of the dragon’s future,” Gaaki said. “I think it will be alright with them, this time.” “They don’t have access to all of the technology they had on Xia,” Nuparu pointed out. “The disassembly of the robot made them leave a few things. And since Roodaka isn’t leading them this time, I think they’ll be on the right path.” The Toa Hagah of Ice nodded, watching the silhouettes of the Vortixx rushing to finish the work before nightfall. “Is everything alright, Kualus?” came the voice of Norik. The others had left, leaving only the two of them on the hill. The Toa of Ice shook his head. “No brother,” he said, pointing his staff to the north, “There is somewhere you and I have to go.” *** The hannah crab clacked its claws excitedly as it scuttled through the maze of furniture before it. Eagerly venturing through the closed quarters, it bumped on every possible chair leg it could come across, ricocheting onto the wall and back. Each collision made the Rahi more excited, looking for the way out of the absurd arrangement of furniture. There had to be a gap somewhere to duck out of this… after all, there was food outside of here. The crab continued to crawl through the maze, nearly passing the exit in its furious search. It crashed into the wall as it tried to reverse direction, then managed to crawl backwards to the break in the furniture. It shot through the gap to a wide chamber, nearly scuttling into a pair of blue columns in the middle of the floor. It was only the swift sweep of a big red arm which prevented it from a painful collision. “We come here every week, little one, yet you get lost back there every time,” Jaller chuckled as he nestled his pet in the crook of his arm. The crab began to coo as its legs came to a stop. It curled up in the Toa of Fire’s embrace. “It would also help if someone didn’t rearrange the furniture every time we visited,” he jabbed at the winged Toa standing in the middle of the room. “You don’t have to come over for these healing treatments,” Hahli retorted, fluttering her wings. “Surely the Kanohi Dragon didn’t burn the Toa of Fire too bad.” A knock on the door whisked his comeback away, and Jaller set his drink down as he went to answer it. His evening with Hahli was interrupted, and he wondered by whom at this time of night. The door opened to reveal a gold and white Toa, standing behind a Ta-Matoran, and Jaller was curious as to which odd character led the pair. “Takua! Kapura!” He exclaimed. Kapura gave a courteous nod, but when the Toa only exchanged a solemn hello, it seemed strained, and Jaller saw that there was something painful in his old friend’s eyes. He pulled them in, asking what was wrong, but Takanuva could not answer. “Nothing to be spoken of in doorways, Toa Jaller,” the Ta-Matoran responded for his companion. ' Review
  10. Hello BZPers (is that really what we call ourselves?) This is going to get a little wee bit technical and scientific, and astrophysical, geological even. Sciency. I know the world of BIONICLE doesn't really have real world physics, but I was wondering anyway, does anyone think that Spherus Magna (and by extension, Bara Magna, Bota Magna and Aqua Magna) have/had plate tectonics? Today, in astrophysics, astronomy, geography and geology, it is thought that a planet needs plate tetconics in order to have life on them, for several reasons. One is it is indicative of active core inside the planet. And without an active core, you get no atmosphere, and by no atmosphere you get no oxygen, at least in the real universe. Another reason is that with the moving plates, and the constant recycling/reformation of the plates, all the stuff of life is replenished on our Earth. Things like large amounts of water and carbonate (the mineral form of Co2) is recycled back into the Earth as the plates move as well. I've gathered some text from articles on the subject. They are both a bit long, but hang in there please! I have something to say afterwards... Here is a bit of text taken from the article Plate Tectonics Could be Essential for Life at Astrobio.com Says Spohn, “plate tectonics replenishes the nutrition that primitive life could live on. Imagine a top surface that is depleted of the nutrition needed for bacterial life. It needs to be replenished, and plate tectonics is a method of achieving this.” Spohn found that the further he delved into the issue, the more important plate tectonics seemed to be for life. For example, it is believed that life developed by moving from the ocean to the kind of strong and stable rock formations that are the result of tectonic action. Plate tectonics is also involved in the generation of a magnetic field by convection of Earth’s partially molten core. This magnetic field protects life on Earth by deflecting the solar wind. Not only would an unimpeded solar wind erode our planet’s atmosphere, but it also carries highly energetic particles that could damage DNA. Another factor is the recycling of carbon, which is needed to stabilize the temperature here on Earth. Spohn explains, “plate tectonics is known to recycle carbon that is washed out of the atmosphere and digested by bacteria in the soil into the interior of the planet from where it can be outcast through volcanic activity. Now, if you have a planet without plate tectonics, you may have parts of this cycle, but it is broken because you do not have the recycling link.”<END OF QUOTATION> Another article, "Does a planet need plate tectonics to develop life?" from phys.org says about the movements of plates and habitable planets: Plate movements Plate tectonics provides a mechanism for this global thermostat. Most volcanism on the Earth occurs at plate boundaries in response to plate tectonics. And the most important volcanic products by mass – by a large amount – are two greenhouse gases: carbon dioxide and water. As they move over the Earth’s surface, some plates get recycled back into the mantle, at places like the Marianas Trench in the Pacific Ocean. Enormous amounts of water and carbonate (the mineral form of CO2) get recycled back into the interior as they do. Plate tectonics also form mountains, and one of the major sinks of CO2over geological time periods is weathering of mountains, where CO2dissolved in rainwater reacts with silicate minerals, forming new minerals, and drawing down atmospheric CO2 levels. In concert, these mechanisms act as a thermostat. If the Earth gets too hot, high levels of rainfall and erosion start bringing CO2 levels down. If the Earth gets too cold and freezes over, the erosion mechanism stops. But volcanism, due to plate tectonics, continues pumping CO2 into the atmosphere, and levels build up, eventually melting the icecaps. It was this mechanism that allowed Earth to recover from a global ice age in the Neoproterozoic, about 600 million years ago. Habitable planets This association between habitability, and plate tectonics, has become so entrenched that the search for habitable exosolar planets has focused on super earths. These are rocky planets larger than Earth where the odds for plate tectonics were thought to be higher. But the case is not so clear cut. Over the past decade, simulations of these super earths suggested that they may not have plate tectonics, but rather be in a stagnant-lid state, where a hot interior powers high levels of volcanism, but without moving plates. Our recent work has looked at the question from an evolutionary viewpoint. How do Earth-like planets evolve from their hot, violent beginnings to their eventual cool, quiescent twilights, radiating their last heat to space? We found that the evolutionary track a planet takes depends not only on its size, but on how it starts. For example, two planets identical in every other way, but with different starting temperatures, may evolve down very different evolutionary paths. We also found that plate tectonics may simply be a phase in the evolution of planets, and that planets may begin and end with stagnant lids.<END OF QUOTATION> Now, we do know that Spherus Magna had (or maybe have?) a core, which is, or was, comprised of Energized Protodermis. But do we know it acts like planet cores do in the real world? Earth's core generates heat, some of which is done through uranium in our core (yeah there's radioactive material in there), which by warming the adjacent molten material, rises to the earth's crust. This powers continental drift creates earthquakes and volcanoes, and mountains. But the movement of the molten iron of our world's core also creates magnetism, which protects the surface of the earth from the UV radiation coming from the sun. The fact that the core is semi-liquid is what makes the tectonics possible by the way. Now, the question is, does the core of Spherus Magna act like this too? Does SM even have an atmosphere? Wouldn't the 40,000,000 feet tall mechanoid the Great Beings built on there make that impossible? I mean, there is oxygen on there, or an equivalent, because beings, organic and biomechanical, have beem shown to have lungs. But an atmosphere would be needed to keep the oxygen in right? So is the atmosphere just super huge, reaching further out than Earth's? Or does the robot go through the atmosphere without any complications, like the atmosphere somehow breaking, if that's even possible to do by going through it, or being pierced constantly? And if plate tectonics does appear on Spherus Magna, what do you think the geography looked like in the past compared to the present? One last bit of speculation. When Aqua Magna and Bota Magna split from Spherus Magna, did they bring some of the Energized Protodermis with them, forming smaller cores of their own? It would seem like that would be necessary right? But again, real physics don't apply to BIONICLE, but it is still fun to theorize with the mindset that there are some kind of physical and scientific rules to all of it. Most of the best speculative fiction set in different worlds have its own rules and system, and follows them after all. I've found another article from Astrobio called "Earth’s Breathable Atmosphere Tied to Plate Tectonics?" It also has a bit about astrobiology later on, but I've only quoted the first two parts of the text below, The rise of oxygen is one of the biggest puzzles in Earth’s history. Our planet’s atmosphere started out oxygen-free. Then, around 3.5 billion years ago, tiny microbes called cyanobacteria (or blue-green algae) learned how to carry out photosynthesis. They began using energy from sunlight to make their food from carbon dioxide and water, giving off oxygen as waste. But it took another 3 billion years for oxygen levels to climb from trace amounts to at least 20 percent of the atmosphere, or high enough to support the emergence of complex life. And so far the mechanism behind that rise has remained unclear. Now a new study by University of Exeter biogeochemist Benjamin Mills and his colleagues offers a new potential clue. Using a computer model, they showed that plate tectonics may have fueled an increase in oxygen between 1.5 billion and half a billion years ago. In particular, a process tied to the way continents remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere may have increased the supply of phosphorus, a key nutrient for photosynthetic microbes in the ocean. The paper was published this month in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science. “This is a novel perspective for the late Proterozoic—a critical time of dramatic climate change, rising oxygen in the ocean and atmosphere, and origins and diversification of complex life,” says Timothy Lyons, a biogeochemist not involved in the study. From Seafloor to Terrestrial “Weathering’ The chemical weathering of rocks releases calcium ions in rivers and oceans, where they react with carbonate dissolved in the water. The product of that reaction, calcium carbonate, is then deposited onto the ocean floor, where it becomes limestone. (Photograph ©2009 Greg Carley.) Continents play a crucial role in the carbon cycle by removing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. Carbon dioxide mixes with rain water, forming a weak acid (carbonic acid) which slowly wears down or “weathers” rocks on land. The process releases minerals such as calcium and magnesium from the rocks. These minerals then combine with carbonate and settle at the bottom of the ocean forming layers of calcium carbonate, or limestone. In other words, the weathering process simply pulls carbon from the atmosphere and turns it into a layer of sediment on the seafloor. However, continental rocks aren’t the only route by which carbon is removed from the atmosphere. Ocean ridges, the places where fresh crust is made on the seafloor, can undergo a similar “weathering” process. In fact, seafloor weathering was the main route of carbon removal in the early chapter of Earth’s history, before the formation of continents. According to the new study, the rise of oxygen may have been due to a shift in balance between the two processes—between seafloor and continental weathering. Also, bump ;P
  11. Bionicle: The Legend Continues ... (looking for a name, please suggest) HELLO, and welcome to my (notably badly drawn) comics page. As per right now, I haven't got much to show, in fact I've only just started. For the past year or so I've been wanting to start a Bionicle comic set on Spherus Magna and featuring the Toa Mahri (remember them? I know right I didn't either ...). After about a year of sketching and scrapping, I decided I was going to draw the beginning of a comic and not throw away, rub out and/or burn it. This is it and I'm regretting having scrapped some of the old versions right now, that actually had more than just a beginning for a start. This is more of a prologue if anything at all, but hopefully it'll grow at a reasonable if I have the time to draw some more and if it gets any feedback. My scanner seems to be utter , so the image quality is awful, like AWFUL awful. The drawings look like they've been done by an eight year old. I did most of it in a rush/rage if that's an excuse. The story which hasn't started yet is what will hopefully count in the future, but that leaves pretty much nothing at all worth reading at the moment now I think about it. Anyway here it is before I change my mind (in the process saving myself plenty of regret) ... Again, sorry for the awful image quality, I hope it's not too faint. I'd say sorry for the eight year old drawing style, the unreadable writing etc etc etc but I warned you before hand. More to come, better and less rushed hopefully, there is an actual STORY set to start. Stay tuned and goodbye ...
  12. Hello Bzpower, and welcome to what I can only describe as the largest collection of runaway imagination that I have ever put together. It all started with an off-hand comment on someone else's picture, which I followed with a satirical picture of my own, then a description that turned into a short story, which spawned a 'sequel' that ended up longer than planned with every chapter... And here we are, Word document upon Word document later. I've been posting this on DeviantArt and the TTV boards for a while now, but have now decided to share it here as well. So, without further ado, I invite you to join me on Spherus Magna, thousands of years after the Reformation, looking through the eyes of a young Toa of Psionics who's about to come face to face with legends of old... legends to whom time has not been kind. Welcome everyone, to... "It is our great folly: we helped create this paradise, but have no reason to exist in it. ...in this world that neither needs nor wants us, we slowly fade away." - Toa Gali Nuva [Review Topic] In 'The Folly of the Toa," I wanted to explore some of Bionicle's most famous characters, the Toa Nuva, from a different viewpoint than the romances, the 'hero's stories' that they usually show up in. I aimed for a downfall instead: a tragedy. Obviously, the Toa Nuva are mighty heroes, but the question quickly arose: what do the heroes do when there's nothing to fight, or no one to fight for? Or, to paraphrase one government official from "The Dark Night Rises" concerning Commissioner Gordon: 'They are war heroes. This is peacetime.' What do heroes, who have known nothing but combat, do in peacetime? Throughout G1's story line, the Toa Nuva accomplish many great deeds and face many dangers, but they certainly aren't without flaws, or as Gali describes them, "...our own demons." They were also always prone to bickering among themselves, but they always had a common enemy to unite them: the Makuta. In the wake of the Battle for Bara Magna and the subsequent Reformation, the Toa managed to keep themselves busy, but sooner or later that lack of an enemy, a threat to face up against, created an opportunity for those demons to rise... And as our protagonist, Lis, will soon find out, they have the power to topple giants. The Chapter List: [The Prologue] Note: when I wrote this, I had no idea how much this story would snowball. Therefore, it was never originally intended as a prologue, but more as a 'journal entry' by Gali, something to go along with a picture to provide some background and explore an idea that arose from that picture's discussion. It's still accurate, however, so I figured sticking it in as the prologue was the most appropriate thing I could do with it. Chapters: [ 1 ] [ 2 ] [ 3 ] [ 4 ] [ 5 ] [ 6 ] [ 7 ] [ 8 ] [ 9 ] [10] [11] [12] [13] [14] [15] [16] [17] [18] [19] [20] [21] [22] [23] [24] [25] [26] [27] [28] [29] [30] [31] [32] [33] [34] [35] [36] [37] [38] [39] [40] [41] [42] [43] [44] [45] [46] [47] [48] [49] [50] [51] [52] [53] [54] [55] [56]
  13. This is my second video based comic series, the first one being "New Legends". This time, it will feature random stories, which are set after the Great Battle between Mata Nui and Makuta Teridax. There are connections between these stories, but here aren't real continuations. This one is a story about the Toa Mahri, being on a recon mission. I won't spoiler too much, I hope you enjoy watching it. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L0QuOVOWQBY Write in the comments below what I should improve, or what I should NOT do for my next chapter.
  14. Hello again, and welcome too... [story topic] Pretty self-explanatory, I think. Post any comments, observations, or reviews concerning "The Folly of the Toa" in this topic. Any questions are also welcome. Story Links: [The Prologue] Chapters: [ 1 ] [ 2 ] [ 3 ] [ 4 ] [ 5 ] [ 6 ] [ 7 ] [ 8 ] [ 9 ] [10] [11] [12] [13] [14] [15] [16] [17] [18] [19] [20] [21] [22] [23] [24] [25] [26] [27] [28] [29] [30] [31] [32] [33] [34] [35] [36] [37] [38] [39] [40] [41] [42] [43] [44] [45] [46] [47] [48] [49] [50] [51] [52] [53] [54] [55] [56]
  15. Hello, readers! I started writing a story one month ago. I would like to get some feedback and tips from you. Summary After the Reformation of Spherus Magna the Matoran, Toa and other residents of the Matoran Universe try to start a new life on their new planet. A mysterious Dark Hunter wants to rule the planet and creates a plan that involves stealing something from his former friends. Note: I'm not English so I might make some mistakes in writing the story. You can read the story here: https://www.fanfiction.net/s/11922130/1/A-New-Life I will write more chapters in the near future, so stay tuned. I'll add more stuff from the canon, in case you're wondering. Thanks!
  16. Okay, so it's been firmly established that beings in the Matoran Universe had no concept of romance. Greg Farshtey's reasoning for this was that the concept of romance emerged in our world as an extension of our reproductive needs and desires. With no biological reproduction, there was no reason for the MU to have this construct. So, if we take the view that romance is indeed a social construct- and one that was present on Spherus Magna- what happens when beings from the Matoran Universe are introduced to this foreign cultural concept? I can imagine reactions varying from "These Romans Agori are crazy!" to "What a lovely expression of Unity!" to "Help! Help! There's two Glatorian over there trying to kill each other by sucking out each other's brains through the mouth!" to "This is the worst place to be wearing a Mask of Telepathy!". Some might even try to adopt the concept themselves, but they'd probably still be very confused and might get a few things wrong. The idea came about from thinking about the Gems from Steven Universe. Like Matoran, the Gems come from an alien race that does not reproduce biologically. As such, they don't appear to have a sexuality in the conventional sense, and gems that live on their home planet seemingly have no cultural concept of romantic love (though they do obviously have emotions and are capable of caring about others). However, after living on Earth and discovering human cultures, some gems formed strong relationships with each other, or even with humans, that they define as romantic. The idea of that happening in Bionicle seems unlikely, but at the same time, it doesn't seem to violate the established "rules" either. So, what do you think? Personally, I'd think the misunderstandings and confusion would be the most common reaction, but it's a fun concept to think about either way.
  17. The Water Among Rock "You really did put up a fight back there. I really do hope I can see you again, but I suppose you did it for countless others. You always seemed so special, from what I've heard from this small elder who calls herself Nokama." muttered Kiina. Kiina was in a large, decorated chamber, and it was filled with other Matoran, Toa, Turaga, Glatorian and Agori who came to mourn this one's leave. Most of the people mourning were gazing at the Ignika, and were sad that Mata Nui had left them, whilst some others were reading the tall, vast walls of writing that told Mata Nui's story. "I guess I'll see you soon." said Kiina. This chamber was surrounded by what was known as a Kini-Nui in the Matoran Universe, as many Agori and Matoran had gathered around the circles outside the sacred chamber. The location itself was a vast mix of many elements. Waterfalls and lakes pooled around flourishing jungles, large spikes of protodermis jutted out of mountains, and small hills of stone were scattered around a vast desert. Kiina had taken the path to Tajun, her home village before Mata Nui's life completion, but Tajun was still a functioning village. Only now they had a few more residents. Kiina had parked her Thornatus outside the chamber, and rode off to Tajun to accept any errands the elders might need help with. As she drove to her faraway village, she observed the changes that the planet of Spherus Magna had seen in the past five years. Somewhere in the rocky desert, a massive field of metal was deemed the Rahkshi Field, as hundreds of thousands of empty Rahkshi shells were spread across the dunes from when Tahu made quick work of the Makuta's sons. The Sea of Liquid Sand was no longer liquid, but was rather the main bay to a massive ocean of the planet. The Black Spike Mountains were now teeming with Onu-Matoran and vast mines rather than Skrall, an previously rare jungle was now the residence of Plantlife and Air villages, and many more things were introduced. Kiina had also heard of a gigantic fortress somewhere on the planet. She eventually arrived at Tajun, and went up to the Turaga to accept any jobs. After all, the planet had been quite peaceful after a few squabbles were settled between the worlds after about a year or so. Kiina had walked up to the Turaga's temple, and found that many other Toa of Water were gathered there. The Toa known as Gaaki, Gali and Hahli were gathered here. Even Tarix was there, even though no one had ever called him a Toa. "Wait, what are you all doing here? Unless it's another one of your stories, Nokama, why are we here?" asked Kiina. "We have a crisis in the Black Spike Mountains, apparently. And for some reason, we are called upon. Willing to join us, Kiina?" interrupted Hahli. "Well, yes. Who is causing the problem, though?" said Kiina. "Nokama says there has been an overthrow of the Onu-Matoran in the Black Spike Mountains. She thinks some rogue Dark Hunters are behind this." replied Gaaki. "We don't have to time to jump to assumptions, but we should just go if you ask me." said Hahli. "Let us go to the Black Spike Mountains, noble Toa. Quickly." said Nokama. With the Turaga's word, Kiina and Tarix once again started up their Thornatus vehicles, Gali flew away with her Adaptive Armour, and everyone else hopped on the Glatorian's vehicles. The Black Spike Mountains were quite a way's away, and took a rather long trip. When the sun of Solis Magna started to set, the Toa and Glatorian stopped at the Ice Tribe to rest. The icy mountains and settlement were about the same as they were five years ago, but not in terms of population. Most of the Ice Agori had moved away to the larger mountains and glaciers, where most of the Matoran, Toa and Turaga moved to. This mountain range gradually had it's ice melted, and it gradually became just another mountain in the Black Spike range. The company of heroes had rested in a cave just near the desert sands, but getting light wasn't too easy, as, needless to say, these warriors of water weren't very good with fire. Fortunately, Tarix always carried around a lightstone, which he was given by a Matoran called Taipu. The lightstone had a small radius of illumination, but the company gathered around it anyway. With that, the company had a chat. "Dark Hunters, eh? Wouldn't they just slavishly follow their leader? Or move to a better hiding spot? The Black Spike Mountains are bustling with Matoran and resources! Not a very good hideout." said Hahli. "The Mountains do have many caves and resources, so it could actually be an ideal Dark Hunter spot once they clear out all the Onu-Matoran. They might as well follow in the footsteps of the Skrall. They used to live there, from what I've heard." replied Gali. "You would be right. These Matoran would have added some kinks into the mountains, so that would probably attract these Hunters." said Tarix. "In case you will be wondering where I am, I'm going to scout out the mountain. Don't worry about me." stated Kiina. The mountain that was once the Ice Tribe was quite tall and expansive. But once Kiina had finally reached the summit, she looked over the landscape and saw the location that her company would soon reach - The Black Spike Mountains. The Mountains appeared to be bustling with Matoran, but this was mostly due to the large amount of huts, lights and mines. As she climbed down a little bit from the summit, she squinted her eyes and scanned the area. Then, she saw what seemed to be a hulking brute with four arms, who was walking behind a imposing, armoured figure. She didn't recognise it, so she climbed back down to the camp and notified the company. "Excuse me, but we have some activity in the Black Spikes. There seems to be a big shell with four arms accompanying a rather menacing figure. Have any idea how this might be?" asked Kiina. "Nokama was right. There are Dark Hunters in the Black Spike Mountains. This 'big shell' is The Shadowed One's main bodyguard. But from what I've heard, this brute was sent to Voya Nui to find the Piraka. It's quite unlikely that he has found his way back to his master though." said Hahli. "May be, Hahli. With that, I guess we won't have time for resting. Let's go find these Hunters." replied Gaaki. After Gaaki's word of action, the company were off to the Mountains in a few seconds. Tarix and Kiina started up their Thornatus vehicles, Hahli and Gaaki hopped on, and before Gali soared away, she said: "I'm going to scout out the area. If there's any trouble, you'll hear flash floods." "Ugh. Wish I had jetpack armour..." groaned Kiina. A quick trip to the Black Spike Mountains followed, and Kiina rushed foward in front of Tarix's vehicle, and without a word, smirked at Tarix. Right as she parked her Thornatus, however, a bolt of energy had struck the ground, previously on a course for the vehicle. Kiina had managed to quickly swerve the Thornatus away. Another energy bolt was launched at the Thornatus, which was similarly dodged, until another was on an exact course for the vehicle, and Kiina shouted at her passenger to exit the Thornatus. It turns out exiting the vehicle was a good idea, as once the bolt of energy had struck the Thornatus, it was engulfed in energy, and dematerialised. Gaaki lay in the sand and saw the diminishing Thornatus, and knew exactly what this was. A Dematerialisation Rhotuka. With this realisation, Gaaki shouted: "Tarix! Hahli! Get off your vehicles! Now! Dematerialisation Rhotuka!" Confused, Tarix jumped out of the driver's seat anyway, but Hahli was aware of this threat, and promptly jumped onto the sand. Hahli quickly scanned the rocks above, and saw what Kiina had vaguely described. A big shell with four arms. Except now, she saw it was yellow, had several weapons in it's hands, and stood rather tall. It was Sentrakh. With the Dark Hunter in sight, Gaaki charged up her Tidal Spear, and hit Sentrakh with a powerful torrent of water. Suddenly, Gaaki's Mask of Clairvoyance activated, without any intent from Gaaki. In the resulting vision, she saw herself fighting against strange Dark Hunters, coming in the forms of fusions, mutations, and beast-like beings. Also in the vision, she saw a massive wave flooding the tunnels, destroying all light. Intrigued, Gaaki wanted to know more, but the vision abruptly stopped. She snapped back to her senses, and went into the Black Spike Mountains to catch up with the rest of the company. Meanwhile, Gali had landed on the sharp peak of a nearby spike to make her job of scouting out a bit more secretive. She looked into the Mountains, and saw an odd clawed Dark Hunter pacing around an entrance, guarding it from intruders. "Looks like I'm going to catch a guard off-guard..." whispered Gali. She aimed her Nynrah Ghostblaster at the guard, setting it to the lowest level, and silently fired at the Hunter. The Hunter fell down from the shock, and fell unconscious. With the guard out of the way, she covertly flew into the fortress and looked around. There were very few guards around the other entrances, and actually not very many in the Black Spike Mountains. Gali flew back up to the top of the mountains, and saw a rather large group of Dark Hunters leading a charge against what seemed to be the rest of the Toa. With this sight, she flew in closer and starting creating a flood. Hahli had walked up a dune and saw the charging of Dark Hunters, and prepared to fight. Gaaki charged up her Rhotuka, Kiina powered up her weapon, and Tarix got into a defense position. Once the Dark Hunters had just about reached the Toa, an intense amount of Water energy was fired at the oncoming enemy. Water had defeated many of the Hunters, and were overwhelmed by the power of the waves. However, some of the Hunters stood, not at all wavered. Firedracax, in particular had a firm grip on his staff, as he heated any of the water being fired at him into steam in an instant. "Alright, maybe we should have brought along a Toa of Ice. We can't douse this fiery Hunter..." said Kiina. "Maybe we can!" shouted Gali from a distance. Maybe the Toa Nuva could. The flood she created was indeed huge, rivaled only by a Nova Blast. The wave had rushed out of the mountains in seconds, and the intense force made any surrounding spikes collapse from the loss of support. As it came down on Firedracax, he yet again focused his Fire powers to turn the flood into steam. He used his power with immense effort, until his Fire powers slightly diminished from the use, allowing the waves to crash down on him. "Impressive, Gali. Maybe we're fine against Fire after all." said Gaaki. "We might be. But The Shadowed One is still in that fortress, and that army we just saw couldn't be all of the Dark Hunters he has." replied Gali. "Okay, keep unleashing floods if you want, but we still have Onu-Matoran to save, right? We might want to prioritise here." queried Kiina. "Well, we've got to get The Shadowed One out of the mountains. It would be essential to do that first, don't you think?" said Hahli. "Alright... let's get this shadowed guy out of here." mumbled Kiina. The company then went inside the Black Spike Mountains to meet The Shadowed One, and fought the occasional guard among the entrances. Kiina and Tarix, however, were not accompanying the rest. They were looking around the vast caves that the Onu-Matoran left when they were living in the mountains, hoping to find the presumably captured Matoran. Most of the searches yielding nothing, as they were mainly abandoned mines. But during the search of yet another cave, they saw something rather interesting. A Toa of Earth in a stasis tube. "What's he doing here? Wouldn't they just kill him? said Tarix confusingly. "I'm not sure. Maybe holding him for ransom?" replied Kiina. The two looked around the chamber a little more, they saw a Dark Hunter guard, and quickly hid behind a wall. However this was useless. The Dark Hunter called "Dweller" had seen the two looking at the stasis field, and tracked them down. He proceeded to destroy the wall next to them, revealing the two to him. "Ahhh... so there you are. Like mental blasts?" said Dweller. "Dweller" had focused his mental blast into Kiina, sending her reeling to the back wall, screaming in pain. Before "Dweller" was able to kill her, Tarix quickly slashed at his armour and claws, destroying his claws and damaging his armour. This was enough to distract him, and Tarix managed to pick him up and throw him into another empty stasis tube, keeping him in suspended animation. "Uggghh... that really hurt. That could have killed me..." mumbled Kiina, trying to recover. "It didn't this time. We would want to get this Toa of Earth out, but how? He's in a stasis field." said Tarix. "Ummm... smash it? said Kiina. After Kiina had mentioned smashing the tube, she did indeed smash it. With a quick slice of the glass that held the Toa, the Toa fell down limply, and started breathing again. He stood up, and was confused about why he was here. "Hello there, Toa of Earth. Who are you? Do you know why you're here?" asked Kiina. "My name is Toa Nuparu. And I was in the Black Spike Mountains, but I'm here now for some reason." replied Nuparu. "We'll find out soon, I suppose. For now, you can help us. By the way. I'm Tarix." he said. "Well, Tarix, what's the problem?" said Nuparu. "I'll answer that. The Dark Hunters have taken over the Black Spike Mountains, and we currently leading a charge against "The Shadowed One" along with some other Toa. Will you help us?" said Kiina. "Dark Hunters? Toa? Taking over? I'll certainly help." responded Nuparu. The three then went back up the stairs and back on the surface, where they ran along a tunnel, presumably leading to another chamber. Nuparu had led the way, as he was inhabiting the Black Spike Mountains prior to his capture, and he knew the tunnels and the way around quite well. This eventually led them to the rest of the Toa, who were fighting against a few more Dark Hunters in a hallway outside of a conference room. The Toa were struggling to fight a powerful four-legged Dark Hunter and Sentrakh. This fight was interrupted when Nuparu shot up two stalagmites in front of the Hunters, and encased them in a thick coat of rock. He then proceeded to throw them across the room. "Nuparu! Where have you been?!" asked Hahli. "Well... I've been a protector of the Onu-Matoran here, but I soon woke up in a stasis tube." replied Nuparu.
  18. Recently, NASA's Hubble Telescope set its gaze upon the planetary nebula PK 329-02.2, AKA Menzel 2. Here's the image Hubble sent back to Earth. Looks familiar, huh?
  19. Story by Jack-The-Writer Cover and Other Artwork by Saronicle Review Topic Prologue Gathered friends, listen again to our legend of the Bionicle. In the time before time, the Great Spirit descended from the heavens, carrying we, the ones called the Matoran, to an island paradise, illuminating us with the three virtues: unity, duty, and destiny. We embraced these gifts, and in gratitude, named our island home Mata Nui, after the Great Spirit himself. However, all was not well. Mata Nui’s brother, the Makuta, betrayed Mata Nui, casting him into a deep slumber. Makuta unleashed his shadows across the island, and all seemed lost. But all hope was not lost, for legends foretold of six mighty heroes, Toa, who would vanquish the evil Makuta and his shadows, and awaken Mata Nui: Gali, Toa of Water. Tahu, Toa of Fire. Kopaka, Toa of Ice. Onua, Toa of Earth. Pohatu, Toa of Stone. Lewa, Toa of Air. And they were victorious, defeating the evil Makuta and all the terrible menaces he unleashed. Makuta unleashed the Rahi, and the Toa found the Masks of Power, defeating the Makuta and saving the Matoran. Then the Makuta unleashed the Bohrok, and the Toa united to defeat their leaders, the Bahrag, gaining new and greater power, becoming Toa Nuva. With these new powers, they were able to combat more dangerous threats, like the Bohrok-Kal, and Makuta’s sons, the Rahkshi. Then, the Mask of Light was discovered, and Takanuva, the Toa of Light, appeared, defeating Makuta and reopening the way to the ancient home of the Matoran: Metru Nui, where, long ago, another team of Toa rescued the Matoran after the Makuta’s betrayal, despite being branded fugitives and being turned into monstrous versions of themselves by the Visorak. After the return to Metru Nui, Mata Nui’s life was discovered to be in danger, and with this new danger, new heroes arose. Six Matoran from Metru Nui journeyed to the dangerous island of Voya Nui to find the legendary Mask of Life, becoming Toa to fulfill their destiny. After braving the trials to reach the mask, they defeated the nefarious Piraka, only for the mask to plunge down into the depths of the sea. Despite, nothing would stop the Toa. They descended deep into the dark ocean, transformed into Toa Mahri, and fought the Barraki, imprisoned warlords, and Toa Matoro sacrificed himself in order to save the Greast Spirit’s life. The Toa Nuva descended into Karda Nui, the core of the universe, in order to fulfill their destiny and awaken Mata Nui. There they met with resistance from the Brotherhood of Makuta’s highest ranks. With the aid of the Mask of Life itself, the Makuta were defeated and Mata Nui awoken. But all was not as it seemed, for the Makuta’s plan had succeeded. While Mata Nui was dead, his mind had slipped in and taken the place of Mata Nui’s, making Makuta the ruler of a universe. He exiled Mata Nui, imprisoning him in the Mask of Life and banishing him from the universe. The Mask of Life drifted through space before crashing on the world of Bara Magna. He fashioned himself a body, and worked with the Agori and Glatorian, the inhabitants of the planet, to attempt to find his way back to his people. While there, he freed the Agori and Glatorian from the tyranny of the Skrall, and discovered a prototype robot built by the Great Beings, which had become buried in the sands of Bara Magna over a hundred millennia. Traveling north, he entered the Valley of the Maze to retrieve the power source for the robot. Mata Nui placed his consciousness into the robot and activated it, hoping to use it to combat the Makuta. But Makuta was aware of Mata Nui’s doings, and flew to Bara Magna to confront his brother. What ensued was a great battle as the once-brothers fought. Makuta released Rahkshi and legions of Skakdi onto the surface of Bara Magna to destroy the Agori and Glatorian, but the Toa managed to escape the universe as well, and Tahu used the legendary golden armor to defeat the Rahkshi. The Rahkshi’s destruction gave Mata Nui an opening, and he pushed Teridax into the path of Aqua Magna, a moon of Bara Magna returning to its original position, killing him instantly. With Teridax defeated, Mata Nui fulfilled his destiny, and used the last of the robot’s energy to reform Spherus Magna. His destiny fulfilled, he retreated into the Mask of Life, leaving the Matoran, Toa, Agori, and Glatorian with a last request: find the Great Beings. But that task would not be as simple as it appeared. Teridax may have been dead, but new evil would follow in his wake. And it did; three evils moved across the land: one, bent on destruction, one bent on subjugation, one with motives unknown. Now comes the time when all, Matoran and Agori, Toa and Glatorian, must work together or be defeated. The time has come for our heroes to face the ultimate test.
  20. Great Beings were ruling their people peacefully for thousands of years. But as population was growing, they were unable to control everything. Last straw was chaos created by plague, which struck Spherus Magna. They decided to create eight powerful Element Lords, each ruling their assigned tribe. Soon after creation of Element Lords, Energized Protodermis started escaping planet’s core, due to building of Giant Robot, later known as Mata Nui. In hunger for power, Element Lords started wars between tribes to get each other’s Protodermis. As so began the long and cruel Core War. Become one of eight Element Lords in ongoing Core War. Train your troops and conquer adjacent lands to get Energized Protodermis. Think strategically and create alliances with other tribes to become more powerful. Beware the Skrall, dangerous species, which may strike suddenly without warning. Claim whole area of Spherus Magna before the Shattering happens! Setup On the very beginning of the game, you take role of random Element Lord (Fire, Water, Ice, Sand, Earth, Jungle, Rock or Iron) and are assigned to your corresponding Tribe. Your place on Spherus Magna is chosen randomly. There are 9 positions, aligned to 3x3 grid with Skrall area in center. Three positions have advantages. South-west (bottom-left) area can’t be attacked until it lost its immunity by attacking other tribe. This immunity falls automatically at start of round 10. East (center-right) area has permanent defense bonus +1. At start you get 2 defense units, increasing defense by +2. When Skrall (center) area is controlled by player, it receives permanent attack bonus +1. Round Game is turn-based and divided into rounds with each player having one turn. In odd rounds (1st, 3rd...), order of player’s is generated randomly and in following rounds, order is reversed. Each round, player chooses between three different actions: training troops, increasing your attack value by +1, training defense units, increasing your defense by +1 and attacking adjacent tribe. You perform one action for each area you have. Additionaly you can use your Glatorian or Legend (not both in one turn). Using them don’t counts as action (you can for example use Glatorian and train troops in the same turn) and most of effects are applied before action. Game definitely ends at the end of round 30 by the Shattering (if the game will be running smoothly, I can extend it). Player with highest amount of tribes conquered wins. Game can have 2 or more winners in case of draw. Taking over all 9 areas also makes you win. Attacking If all other conditions are met, you can attack ever since round 6. When you choose to attack, all of your troops are sent to attack chosen tribe. You can’t choose to send only part of your troops (This is also where defense units get useful). Each tribe’s troops work independently, even if they are owned by same player. I tried to make attack as simple as possible, but it is still too complicated. I have made a calculator (it works 99.9% right) to ease the things. You don’t really have to read attack mechanics below, but that’s up to you. Skrall Skrall perform one action on end of each round, starting by round 6. They can’t be attacked, but can attack. Their attack is performed in same way player attack is performed, but if they win, they left area without single defense unit or troop, making it vulnerable to other tribes. Their attack is controlled by me (or random.org). I randomly generate number between 1 and 12. There is 1 in 12 chance for each tribe to be attacked by them, and 1 in 12 chance for each +1, +2 and +3 attack boost for next round. Basic attack is 4 and permanently increases every 5 rounds with first increase in round 10 (r9 = 4, r10 = 5, r15 = 6). Their current attack will be always announced on start of each round. Whoever is first to have three tribes will automatically claim Skrall area, making it work as normal area (with +1 attack bonus). It can attack every area on Spherus Magna (including corners), but also can be attacked by every area (including corners). That makes it strategically important and vulnerable at the same time. Glatorian Glatorian and Legends gives each tribe special ability. Glatorian’s ability can be used more times (each have different cooldown) and is bound to area, so you can use different abilities for each of your owned areas. Legends can be used only one time and their effect applies for all your owned areas. If you conquer new area, you cannot use it’s Legend, even if it wasn’t used by previous owner. Fire Tribe Legend: Ackar - Increase your attack power by +2 for next turn (all areas) Glatorian: Perditus - Train 1 troop unit immediately (once per 4 rounds) Water Tribe Legend: Tarix - Increase your defense power by +1 for next 3 rounds (up to 4 chosen tribes) Glatorian: Kiina - You can’t attack and can’t be attacked in next round (once per 5 rounds) Ice Tribe Legend: Strakk - You can’t be attacked in this and next round. You also can’t attack this round (all tribes) Glatorian: Gelu - Choose one adjacent tribe. It can’t perform any actions, but Glatorian and Legends (once per 5 rounds) Sand Tribe Legend: Malum - All enemies have defense power decreased by -1 for next 2 rounds (all other tribes) Glatorian: Vorox - Increase attack by +1 for next 2 rounds (once per 7 rounds) Earth Tribe Legend: Nuhviix - Control one adjacent area’s actions in next round, making it able to attack even on it’s own tribe’s area. Everything goes as in regular attack. Glatorian: Ontaru - Disable (NPC or player controlled) Skrall area for it’s next turn (once per 5 rounds) Rock Tribe Legend: Stronius - Increase your attack power by +1 permanently. Can’t be used until round 15. (all owned areas) Glatorian: Branar - Destroy 2 defense units of chosen adjacent area. (once per 6 rounds) Jungle Tribe Legend: Vastus - Increase your defense power by +3 for next turn (all areas) Glatorian: Gresh - You can attack any area adjacent to your adjacent areas (excluding Skrall area) (once per 8 rounds) Iron Tribe Legend: Telluris - Choose one tribe to have -1 defense for 3 rounds. Can’t be used until round 12. (all areas of one tribe) Glatorian: Skorpoku - Train 2 defense units immediately (once per 7 rounds) Rules 1. All BZPower rules applies. That’s an obvious one. 2. Post your actions (including Glatorian and Legends activation) here, not in PM. 3. In order to speed things up, do not wait for your turn, but instead post as soon as possible (if it is not necessary for your strategy to know what other person will do). All turns will be performed when everybody does their turn. 4. Limit for each round is 24 hours. It might be extended on special occasions. (It is an upper limit, 6-hours round would be great!) 5. If you don’t respond in 24 hours limit for first time in row, you will automatically train troops. Second time is idle (no action). 6. If it happens 3 times in row, all your areas will be deserted with 2 defense units and 0 attack units, leaving them vulnerable to your neighbors. You can’t ever come back then. Your areas are also deserted if you miss 6 turns totally. There might be very special exempts, but don’t rely on them. Feedback Before game starts, I don’t have problem with any suggestions. It took me a while to write this down, but I would like to hear, if something can be better. Same goes for questions. If you misunderstood something, ask me. Remember that stupid questions are better than stupid playing. Or something like that. Lovely picture on top was made by me with Inkscape and GIMP. Share your hype by posting this 200x200 version of it in your signature! http://i.imgur.com/C12GKBJ.png Players 1. ToaKapura 2. Portalfig 3. empty 4. Jed1ndy 5. empty 6. empty 7. empty 8. Fishers64
  21. BIONICLESector01 member Du7734 recently made a series of edits on BS01 stating that Spherus Magna and the Matoran Universe have 36 hours in a day. I remember when the BIONICLE Story Squad considered bringing this fan theory to Greg, but I don't remember if it was ever canonized. If anyone (ie. fishers64) remembers when or if this idea was canonized, and can provide a source, then I'll let Du7734's edits stand. If not, they will have to be reversed.
  22. Whew, flexing my topic-making muscles for the first time in a while here. So from what I understand, the Toa are basically superior to the Glatorian both in terms of physical strength and in terms of powers (considering the Glatorian have no natural powers of their own). After the MU and Spherus Magna societies have integrated into one society, what would be the place of Glatorian in that society? If the Toa are basically superior in every way, what role can the Glatorian even take? Would they simply become regular citizens? Or would they become lower-level guardians, maybe law-enforcement, while the Toa become more of a military power? I can't imagine that both the Glatorian and the Toa would be on the front lines together simply because of that huge power difference. Or maybe I'm over-analyzing and there would be no societal effect at all. Thoughts?
  23. Hi! I made a new account in the rush of news about 2015, and I wrote this soon afterwards, set on a reunified Spherus Magna. No characters from the main canon are used; I have an entirely original cast. I intend to write a sequel or two (also named after famous sci-fi novels), but as they'll be largely self-contained pieces, I figured this forum would be the best place for them. I hope you enjoy! Strangers in a Strange Land The Toa strode through the tall grasses of the new world. Xiatan stood seven feet tall, adorned with armour of royal purple and deep black. He was mostly an intricate figure of cogs and pistons, held together by rope-like muscles and steel-hard armour, topped with a intricately carved metal mask. He was a stranger in this living, natural world, and it was obvious. Xiatan knelt down to see a small creature making its way through the grass across his path. It was a pale brown spider, maybe a foot across. "I haven't seen one of these before," he said to himself. When he reached a hand out to investigate, it extended a number of razor-edged spines from its skin, surprising him. His mask emitted a violet haze as he instinctively activated his mask power. On his face he wore the Kanohi Konomau, the Great Mask of Biomechanics. It allowed him a degree of control over systems both purely mechanical and those with organic components, which included everything in Xiatan's homeland. Unfortunately, the wildlife of Spherus Magna was almost entirely organic, making his mask power ineffectual. Nothing happened to the spider and it continued on its way. Xiatan decided to try a different approach. He tapped into the smallest fraction of the elemental energy that coursed through his frame and decreased the pull of gravity on the spider in a brief flash. The spider drifted gently upwards, legs scrabbling to find purchase in the empty air. Xiatan took a small stasis container from his backpack and floated the helpless spider into it. "Turaga Chilosa will want to see this," he thought. This was who Xiatan was; not a warrior, not a conqueror, but an explorer. His greatest desire was to explore, to discover strange lands and see long-forgotten sights, to know things that no-one else knew. He looked off at the still-unexplored land to the east of the village. All the way to the distant horizon, there were rolling hills and fields of vegetation, forests and jungles and grassland. Past that horizon lay places still unexplored; canyons of steel, vast biomechanical jungles, an ocean without end. One day, he would see them all. But today, there was another place that Xiatan was needed. He began the long trek back to Fotaki. It was a matter of moments before a sound at the edge of his hearing drew his attention. He crested a nearby hill and saw what was making the noise. ~ In the time before time, when legends were young, the planet of Spherus Magna was rent asunder by a great cataclysm. The elemental tribes that called it home were split by war over a treasure that, in the end, brought nothing but destruction. Three worlds formed from the upheaval; Bara Magna, Aqua Magna, and Bota Magna. Millions perished. The Great Beings, powerful rulers who nonetheless failed to stop this calamity, constructed a device to restore their world and prevent such a war from recurring. This was the Great Spirit, Mata Nui, and he was everything. He stood thousands of miles tall, and within him was contained the Matoran Universe, the home of a dozen biomechanical races. They lived in harmony as he travelled the stars, learning all there was to learn about the universe and its peoples. At the very end of his quest, disaster struck. The Brotherhood of Makuta grew hungry for power and sent Mata Nui into a thousand-year slumber. Despite the courageous efforts of many Toa and Matoran, Makuta's plan was successful. He exiled Mata Nui's mind and took the titan's power for himself. The Great Spirit's mind, contained within a mask of power, fell to Bara Magna. The Glatorian who fought alongside him have spread the tales of his daring and his bravery. He defeated the marauding Skrall and took control of an older, long-broken machine that had been scattered across Bara Magna. Mata Nui fought the tyrannical Makuta and defeated his fallen brother, at the cost of the Matoran Universe. Hope was not lost, for in his final act, Mata Nui used the great machine to unite the shattered planet and seed it with life. Bara Magna, Bota Magna and Aqua Magna were once again a single whole. The Matoran Universe was lost, but its peoples survived on the new world of Spherus Magna. ~ Turaga Chilosa looked up from her carving for a moment to rest her hand. She instinctively disapproved of the native Agori's habit of recording information on paper. Mere plant fibre would rot, but you could trust stone. A good stone carving could endure many millenia. She stood up slowly from her simple stone seat and walked outside. She was greeted by the sounds of night-time on Spherus Magna, so different from the busyness of day. About seventy Matoran and fifty Agori lived here, along with a pair of Glatorian, Toa Xiatan, and of course Chilosa herself. They all depended on her for guidance. Such was the role of a Turaga. There was a small oasis not far from the village where a solitary ex-Dark Hunter had taken up residence, but she was reclusive and rarely visited. The world seemed quiet now. In the island-cities that Chilosa had spent many years defending, there would never be silence, not even at night. The great forges would smelt ore into purest protodermis day and night, and the carvers would shape it into Kanohi, Kanoka, and every tool imaginable. But here in the new village of Fotaki, all that Chilosa could hear was the crackling of small fire-pits and the rustling of wind through the long grasses. It was hard to believe this place had once been a desert before the Great Spirit had blessed it with his final gift. "Turaga!" a voice said from behind him. She turned to see her oldest friend, Xiatan, approaching her with a grim expression. She remembered when he used to smile all the time; back when they had both been Matoran, not one an aged leader and the other a warrior twice her height. "What is it, brother?" she asked. "A band of Bone Hunters, not far east of here," the Toa said, out of breath. "I recognised them from the Agori's descriptions. They used to roam the desert before the restoration, and I thought they must have disbanded in the aftermath. They must intend to attack Fotaki!" Xiatan's head was filled with the memory of the Bone Hunter camp he'd found, where they settled down to feast off the spoils of a caravan from Tajun that they'd attacked. The scent of the roasting meat was nauseating. He'd had to slink away before one of their reptile steeds got his scent. "Were I still a Toa," the Turaga of the Green said, shaking her head, "I'd fight them with you. But no, my days of heroics are past. There's always a chance they're just passing through. We'll have to rally the villagers to fight them off if they decide to try and raid us. When do you believe they will attack?" Xiatan thought back to his conversation with the elderly Agori, Racillus, from whom he'd learned much about Spherus Magna. "They have poor night vision, so not before dawn. They've given themselves eye implants to improve their sight in daylight. I would guess they will attack when Solis Magna is at its highest, at midday." ~ Dawn rose over the village of Fotaki. It reminded Chilosa of molten protodermis, rising over the land in a great wave and then running in rivulets between buildings. As it did, the Matoran awoke from their rest and resumed their tasks. It was the way they were made; they had once been used to maintain the Great Spirit mechanoid so that it was kept in proper working order. There were different tasks at hand now. Fotaki was a village of many aspects. There was a mine, where the more resilient Matoran laboured, bringing carts of gems and precious metals to the surface where the local foundry processed them into useful goods. A band of Agori from the Earth Tribe had agreed to cultivate food for the village. and their farm was producing bountiful harvests of vegetables and fruit. There was a small but growing library, where the scholars of both races met to carve their legends and histories into stone. The most important aspect of the village was the reclamation area, and that was where Chilosa found herself that morning. Here was where salvage teams and hired scavengers brought their valuable artifacts from the decaying ruins of the Great Spirit. Zamor Launchers, Visorak Battle Rams, Copper Masks of Victory, everything was useful, even shards of the immense mechanoid itself. One was being towed in now by a crew of Glatorian from Iconox backed up by hulking Steltians. It was a vast block of metallic protodermis, easily fifty feet high, resting on a wooden platform connected to a series of rollers. Such fragments were used as building material, to construct homes for the many who now needed them. All the chatter and bustle of the village centre died down as Turaga Chilosa used her Kanohi Suletu, Mask of Telepathy, to project her voice into the minds of the villagers. Although it was not as powerful as the mask of a Toa, Agori and Matoran alike heard her call, and paused at their tasks to listen. "People of Fotaki," the Turaga said. "I am as glad as ever to see how much we have grown!" She paused for effect while the people gave a cheer. It would do them well to be reminded of how successful the village was before she delivered the bad news. "Unfortunately," she said, "I bring dark tidings. Bara Magna long knew the scourge of a band of scavengers called the Bone Hunters. It was hoped that, with Spherus Magna transformed into a paradise, they would no longer need to raid peaceful villages for supplies. Toa Xiatan has discovered that that is not the case. A number of Bone Hunters have been sighted near the village, and we believe they will attack at midday." Rumbles of dismay went through the crowd from some of the Matoran, who were unused to conflict. By contrast, most of the Agori had spent their lives struggling to find enough food. They were fighters by necessity, and many of their hands drifted to the handles of tools and weapons at the first mention of Bone Hunters. It made Chilosa proud to see that some of the Matoran did so as well. "We must prepare a defence," Chilosa said. "Encephix, you have knowledge of strategy. We need you to discern where we should position our defenders." The tall Glatorian of the Jungle tribe gave a nod and donned her helmet. "I am at your service, Turaga," she said, humourless as ever. Chilosa returned her nod. Encephix had aided her people during the exodus from the Great Spirit. The changed land of Bara Magna was alien to this native as well, yet enough of the knowledge she'd gained over nearly a hundred thousand years of life was still relevant that she'd become the Matoran's guide to their new land. Without the tough old Glatorian, it would have taken much longer for the Matoran and Agori to trust each other. Bojax, a Glatorian from the Earth Tribe, spoke up. "Turaga! What job do you want me to do?" "You're foolish as a Sand Snipe, Bojax, so I can't give you anything too important." A few Matoran chuckled. "You're going to help Xiatan. Both of you seem to like weapons, so get to the armory. Arm and armour the people against the foe. You can do that, right?" Bojax gave an unsteady salute, and Xiatan sighed as several people laughed. "You can count on me, Turaga!" he said. Xiatan had always considered him boorish and lazy, and he wasn't looking forward to working with him. He often wondered why such a clumsy lout was tolerated by Chilosa, who could be quite harsh with unproductive workers. "We have a matter of hours to prepare," Chilosa said. "Gear up." ~ In time, Xiatan made his excuses and slipped away from Bojax. The Glatorian was enthusiastically demonstrating the use of a spear on a practice target (a broken Po-Matoran sculpture) for some villagers. He made his way to the town hall, where Chilosa was answering the concerns of some of the Agori and Matoran. Upon seeing him, she waved them away. "Can you believe the nerve of those mulchers from Iconox? Fleeing before I can give them any orders... Is something wrong, brother?" she asked. "You look troubled. Well, more so than normal." Xiatan nodded. "You are as accurate as ever, sister." "Tell me about it, but try to be swift," Chilosa said. "We are about to be attacked, after all." "Why did you choose me to be a Toa?" Xiatan asked. "When I was a Matoran, all I wanted to do was explore, to see what was over the next horizon. I was never a warrior, never a fighter. There were so many others you could have chosen for this duty. Why me?" Chilosa was silent for a long moment. "I felt that my time as a Toa was over. Makuta was defeated, and the world we knew was dead. It was time for me to hand over the responsibility of defending the people to another. I chose you because... I'm not sure. We were always friends, even when we were both Matoran. Feels like a long time ago, now." Xiatan smiled for a moment. "Remember how we used to explore the caves around Ba-Koro? The Turaga used to be so worried about us. Especially after that time with the Metru Mantis." Chilosa laughed, a musical sound. She didn't do it often. "Turaga... Always seeming so stuck-up and full of themselves. Never thought I'd end up one of them." The Toa of Gravity sighed. "I didn't understand why Toa Puhril chose you at first. None of us did. But you did great, didn't you?" "Stop it!" Chilosa said with another laugh. "You'll make my head swell." "Admit it. You were the best, whatever you did. When the Matoran look at you, they see a hero. When they look at me, they see a fool, a hanger-on that you always had to rescue. That hasn't changed, even now that you've made me a Toa." The Turaga wasn't laughing now. "That's not true. They thought of me as a cross-wired fool, too. That didn't change until well after I became a Toa. The Matoran haven't seen you fight yet. You're going to change their minds, just you wait. Besides, have you thought about the Agori?" "What?" "The Agori. Think of how they see you! To them, you're a living reminder of the being that fell from the sky and remade their planet, a symbol of the Great Spirit himself. They're in awe of you, every day." Xiatan laughed nervously. "I never thought of that." "Soon, everyone will know how great a hero you can be. You just have to get out there and fight. I've taught you everything Toa Puhril taught me, Mata Nui rest his spirit, and I've taught you everything else I learned by fighting. You're going to be the best Toa these people have ever seen. I can feel it in my heartlight." Xiatan smiled, then frowned. "Hold on, half the village hadn't seen a Toa before me." Chilosa winked. "I was hoping you wouldn't notice that. Come on, you've got defending to do." ~ After his meeting with Chilosa, Xiatan practically tripped over a Ko-Matoran on his way out. The villager was one of his closest friends; a cobalt blue and white figure named Lhoke, who had once been a member of a group called the Nynrah Ghosts. He didn't talk much about that time in his life. He kept to himself and was a bit of a bookworm, but he was still Xiatan's friend. "Lhoke!" he exclaimed. "Didn't expect to find you here!" "Toa Xiatan!" the reply came. "I was looking for you! You're going to help us fight the attackers now, right?" Lhoke was wearing a chestplate that looked like it had been welded together from three others. As usual, he had a scope affixed to his Kanohi Elda. It whirred softly as he focused on Xiatan. "I'll do everything I can, my friend," Xiatan said, "but I'm only one Toa. I can't take on everything that comes our way." He picked up his Matoran friend with one hand and carried him on his shoulders as he walked. "Only one Toa?" Lhoke said. "One Toa is more than a match for any dumb Nui-Jaga that picks a fight with us. Speaking of which, I've had to put a hold on that mirrored shield I was working on in case of a Nui-Jaga attack. There's something I want to show you in my workshop. You're not going to believe this!" "Is it completely safe for me to use?" Xiatan asked, thinking the last time Lhoke had gotten him to test out a device that wasn't entirely reliable. It had taken days to clean the Toa off, and the town's Mukau herd had never returned. "Yes, I'm sure-" Xiatan stared at him. Lhoke was a terrible liar. "Okay, fine, it'll wait." They made their way to the walls, finding their assigned places among the other protectors. There, they waited for the enemy. ~ They came at midday. When the sun was at its peak, the Bone Hunters appeared from over the hills. There were three dozen of them, each a dark humanoid form riding on the back of a vicious two-legged reptile, a rock steed. The lizards had crimson scales and narrow yellow eyes. Each one stood taller than a Toa and waved a barbed tail as it ran. A low, mournful horn echoed out across the hills as the Bone Hunters approached. To the villagers, standing as tall as they could in their armour of war, it seemed there was a sudden chill in the air. Even Xiatan felt it, a little shiver of dread deep in his core. He heard Lhoke shudder next to him, and he placed one hand on the Matoran's shoulder. The Bone Hunters were not dissimilar to Agori, wearing patched armour of black and bronze. Their weapons were scavenged from every corner of the world; Skrall blades, force blasters, elemental weapons, even tools that Xiatan recognised as the handiwork of the Nynrah Ghosts. "You never mentioned that thing!" Lhoke yelled to Xiatan. The Toa's Ko-Matoran friend had a scope attached to his Kanohi, and he was using it now to observe the leading figure in the pack. Xiatan couldn't see anything at first, but the Bone Hunters were nearing the village walls, and he could soon tell what was wrong. The leading figure was no Bone Hunter, nor anything from Bara Magna. She dismounted from her rock steed, which was even taller and more menacing than its kin, and walked up to the main gates. Chilosa let out a hiss of fear as she recognised the species of the figure. The Bone Hunters were being led by a Skakdi, a violent monster from the former Matoran Universe. "Villagers of Fotaki!" the Skakdi cried. She was even taller than Xiatan, with scarlet and yellow armour plates and a smile full of daggers. She had an golden organic spine running down her back and along her arms which pulsed with sickly life. "I'm glad to see so many of you have turned out to see me on this lovely day! Oh, where are my manners? I'm Nephoka of Zakaz, and these are some of Bara Magna's famous Bone Hunters! Give them a big hand, people! They've travelled a long way to meet you!" The land was silent except for the rustling of a soft wind through the grasses. The Matoran and Agori continued to clutch their weapons in fear. Xiatan tightened his grip on his axe. He glanced over at Encephix. She stood next to Bojax, but her gaze was firmly fixed on the Skakdi interloper. The Bone Hunters brought their mounts to a trot, and they slowly circled outside, using their enhanced eyesight to pick out any valuables the villagers were carrying. "How rude of you, Fotaki!" Nephoka said, spreading her arms and feigning offence, though she did not stop smiling. "Not a single one of you applauded. What a way in which to treat honoured guests! Bunch of Akilini-heads. I was hoping we would enter the town and have a calm peaceful negotiation for my supplies, with perhaps a few snacks, at the end of which we could be on our way." "You want to negotiate?" a voice spoke out defiantly. Xiatan realised it was Chilosa, who had made her way to his post on the wall and was glaring at the Skakdi. "I remember your kind. You were imprisoned on your home island because you couldn't get along with anyone else. The Skakdi are monsters." "And you're a racist!" Nephoka retorted, though she still hadn't stopped smiling. "Typical Turaga. Is that racist of me, though? You aren't a different species, you're just a Matoran who got lucky enough to survive being a Toa. I guess it's not racist." "You're insane, Skakdi!" Chilosa said, waving her staff of office angrily. "All your kind are. You bring nothing but violence and suffering wherever you travel. There will be no negotiations! Leave this place, Makutaspawn, and never return!" Xiatan had never heard Chilosa so angry. He placed one hand on her shoulder, but she just brushed it off without saying a word. The Bone Hunters had never heard of Makuta, and weren't really sure how to react. Nephoka, however, was taken aback by the remark. "Another insult, and an accurate one! Got a death wish, Turaga? I wasn't planning on killing anybody today, but if you insist on being a total Kane-Ra, I'd be happy to oblige. Boys?" A pair of Bone Hunters urged their rock steeds forward into a gallop. A few of the defenders fired crossbow bolts, but the experienced riders easily dodged them. They dropped handfuls of small metallic devices near the gateway before returning to the group. The defenders above it looked uneasy and tried to back away. Another Bone Hunter levelled his modified crossbow, loaded with what looked like a Rahkshi staff head. "You're going to love this," Nephoka snarled. "Tear it down, boys!" The crossbow fired a glowing bolt, which struck the ground mid-way between Nephoka and the gates. The bolt produced a massive disturbance in the earth, tearing up the ground in sprays of dirt and rock. The shockwave reached the gateway in moments, where it reacted with the devices. There was a high-pitched metallic tearing noise, and then a deafening thunderclap. The ground quaked as Xiatan found himself, and all the defenders, thrown from the wall. The Toa of Gravity used his powers to lessen gravity's pull around himself and some of the nearby villagers. They slowed almost to a halt just before they hit the ground. Xiatan took a deep breath to calm himself and surveyed the area. They were at the bottom of the wall now. He'd only managed to slow the falls of Chilosa and a few others; the rest hit the ground at full speed, though most of them were likely uninjured. The defender on the entire eastern segment of the wall had been thrown off. Lhoke helped Chilosa to her feet. All at once, Xiatan realised that the gates were probably breached. He got up and ran, dodging between a pair of huts and a well, and out into the open. What he saw filled him with disgust. The gateway was gone, completely destroyed. The Skakdi had used some kind of fragmentation power, turning the strong protodermis gates into so much scrap metal. The defenders posted on the gateway were gone, likely broken just as thoroughly by the devices. The Bone Hunters began to spill in over the mound of iron rubble, their rock steeds snapping and growling at fleeing villagers. Bolts of energy and exotic projectiles flew past as Encephix, Bojax and the other defenders charged to meet the enemy. Xiatan sped towards the Bone Hunters, grabbing his waraxe from his back. Lives had been taken, and he hadn't been able to stop it. All he could do was avenge them, and avenge them he would. His axe lit up with a purple aura which pulsed brighter and brighter as the Bone Hunters neared. He roared and swung the axe in a mighty arc, releasing a coruscating wave of gravitational energy. Half a dozen rock steeds screeched as the wave tossed scavenger, mount, dirt and sand alike into the air, where they floated for a brief instant before being slammed back into the ground with a terrible crunch of broken bones. The remaining Hunters broke off their charge and circled around, wary of the Toa's power. It occurred to Xiatan just then that his foolhardy charge had let the mounted attackers cut him off from the other defenders. The Bone Hunters had encircled him, and he couldn't hope to take out so many of them at once without being hit by one of their weapons. "Toa!" a Bone Hunter growled. "I am Jesh-son-Iosin. Lay down your arms, and we will kill no more of your folk." Xiatan suddenly remembered that the only experience most Bone Hunters would have of elemental powers was the charged weapons used by the tribes in the Core War, weapons which were long since exhausted of all power. Having never met a Toa, these Bone Hunters must have assumed that his power came from his protosteel waraxe. "I surrender!" Xiatan said, laying down his waraxe and raising his arms, hands open. Jesh gave a yellow-fanged grin and signalled to his Bone Hunters, who turned away from their captive Toa and towards other victims. Quietly, a purple nimbus began to flare around the Toa's hands. Xiatan closed his fist, and the gravity experienced by Jesh was suddenly ten times higher. His rock steed almost collapsed under his weight before it threw him off. He flopped to the ground, unable to move a muscle. Xiatan returned his weight to normal to allow him to breathe, then turned his attention to the next. A surge of gravity, and the waraxe flew back into his outstretched arm as the other Bone Hunters heard their leader's fall. Their attention was distracted from the true threat behind them. Encephix, legs pumping, barrelled into the first of the cavalry like a charging Kane-Ra bull. The Glatorian had spent a long time fighting in the ceremonial arena battles that had composed Bara Magna's loose system of government. Here, in real combat, she didn't need to hold back. She started by swinging up onto a rock steed's back by its reins, balancing on the saddle. The rider didn't have time to react before she hoisted the smaller being into the air and threw him from the saddle. Xiatan swung his axe, taking off a charging rock steed's leg at the knee. The Toa Code didn't forbid the killing of Rahi. The rider fell to the ground beside his bellowing mount, scrambling to his feet and aiming a slapped-together Thornax launcher at Xiatan. The Toa grinned at the opportunity to try out his favourite trick. The Bone Hunter fired, and his explosive fruit projectile zoomed straight upwards, propelled by a sudden inversion of gravity. He glanced skyward, confused, allowing Xiatan an opening to punch him in the face. He dropped like a stone, unconscious. Encephix moved past, fighting barehanded, a master of improvisation. She grabbed a stone from the rough soil, churned up by the passage of the rock steeds, and tossed it through the air in a perfect arc. The unlucky Bone Hunter she'd targetted fell from his mount, where she took him down in a blistering blur of kicks and elbows. Xiatan took a moment to get his bearings. Almost a dozen Bone Hunters had fallen between him and Encephix. Some of the others were spreading through the town, lobbing flaming bombs and wreaking havoc. He spotted a lone Bone Hunter that was hoisting his injured fellows onto the back of a sand stalker, a reliable beast of burden that would carry them back to the camp. The Toa Code forbade the harming of anyone who could not fight, and so he ignored the latter enemy and began to wade through the battlefield towards the rampaging foes. And then Xiatan couldn't see anything. The entire world had just turned completely black, as if a Kahgarak had decided to cast the whole battlefield into the Zone of Darkness. He focused on his other senses and found that they all worked normally. He could hear the cries of wounded fighters, feel the vaguely sandy soil beneath his feet, smell the ozone of elemental weapons discharging and the oily scent of Thornax fruit. He heard a voice, somewhere behind him. He whirled around out of habit, but of course he could still see nothing. Not even himself, he realised, which meant something had to have happened to his eyes. He was rewarded for this minor discovery by a painful blow to the head which sent him reeling. "Blindness vision!" the Skakdi said from somewhere. "Courtesy of Makuta Spiriah. I always thought it was weird that I got an eye-based power that induced blindness. Kind of ironic, ain't it?" Xiatan tried to stand back up, only to be rewarded with a kick to his chest that left him sprawling on the ground again. He had dropped his axe, and didn't know where it was. He tried to use his gravity powers, but the Skakdi's vicious attacks left him unable to concentrate for long enough to do that. His mask power was useless when he couldn't see his target. Sight returned in a rush of colour, and it took a few moments before Xiatan adjusted to the influx of light. Up close, Xiatan could see that this was no normal Skakdi. Nephoka's organic spikes twitched slightly in a rhythmic fashion. She carried enough knives to put the Odinan armory to shame, and wore a pair of strange mechanical devices, one around each wrist. They glowed now with a reddish light. "You see, a Toa's abilities put my fellow Skakdi at a disadvantage. You can use your terrific elemental powers on a whim, while we have to work together to do that." She snorted disdainfully. "I don't play well with others. They're boring, their minds move too slowly." She pointed one of her wrist-mounted blasters at Xiatan. Heat vents glowed white-orange. "That's why I built these! They let me channel my element on my own. Want to help me test them?" The blasters spat a jet of angry flame, and Xiatan was forced to roll away before he could get back to his feet. "This is great!" Nephoka exclaimed, firing further bolts of flame to keep Xiatan off-balance. The villagers and Bone Hunters alike gave their duel a wide berth for fear of the incinerating blasts. "Do Toa have this much fun all the time? Going around, blasting whoever threatens you. It must be enjoyable." Xiatan didn't reply. "You're no fun!" she growled, turning a dial on her flame bracer. "You've had so many opportunities for snappy comebacks! You could have said something like "I'm in the dark here!" when I blinded you! You could've said "I've dated hotter chicks than you!" when I tried to flambé you!" All the while, she sprayed a torrent of flame from her wrists, scorching the earth and incinerating the grasses. "In fact," Nephoka mused, "you could still say that last one. Y'know, because I'm still trying to cook you. Do you want to say it? I think you should say it." "Stop talking!" Xiatan shouted, grabbing a protosteel shield from a dead Bone Hunter's hand and using the thick metal slab to shelter him from a burst of fire. "Just shut up for once!" he yelled, pushing forward with a blast of gravity and slamming the shield into Nephoka. She was knocked backwards, giving Xiatan an opening to regain his waraxe. She sprang back to her feet, spinning behind the Toa to deliver a punch that he narrowly blocked with the haft of his axe. He jabbed the blunt hilt towards her, landing a solid hit on her arm. She didn't even flinch, and responded by drawing a knife. Xiatan didn't have time to do more than wonder where she'd gotten it from before Nephoka was in front of him, stabbing and slicing in a vicious blur that he could only just avoid. The knife was razor-edged, and it left metallic scars on his chestplate in a few places where he hadn't moved fast enough. He knocked it from her grip, but she pulled two more from somewhere and continued her assault. Their melee swirled through the battleground, terrain so uneven that he had to focus on keeping his balance almost as much as on his opponent. She spun her knife around, reversing the grip and making to plunge it into his chest. He blocked it with the head of his axe, ducked under her next blow and delivered a headbutt. A solid plate of protodermis slammed into Nephoka's face, chipping one of her perfect white teeth. For the first time, the smile slipped from her face, and a look of pure loathing settled over her for a moment before she began grinning again. Xiatan suddenly felt that he'd made a mistake. She was on him again in an instant, and he thought he could almost feel the anger radiating off her. He soon realised that that wasn't anger, but the flaming jets from Nephoka's bracers. She was using them in close quarters now, blasts of flame mixed with punches in a manner that was extremely dangerous for both of them. He used his powers to lessen his own weight, making him more agile, but it only took one mistimed dodge on his part before she got the upper hand, wrenching one of his arms behind his back. Suddenly, she grabbed the mask from his face. Xiatan could no longer fight. His mask didn't just give him an additional ability, it also gave him strength and stamina. Without it, he quickly became weak and light-headed. His uncoordinated blows missed, and Nephoka sent him sprawling with a kick to his chest. She turned the mask over in her hands, admiring the craftsmanship of the object. "I never really bothered with Kanohi," she said. "I mean, yeah, they could give me awesome power if I focused hard enough to use them. But really, what's the point? I already got a nice set of tricks, courtesy of Makuta Spiriah. Say what you will about the guy, he really knew how to interfere with a species' genetics." "Anyway," she sighed, "I guess I have to kill you now. It's nothing personal, but I have a feeling that you'd interfere with my plan if I let you live, and I really want some of the loot you've gathered here. I heard from that caravan that you have a Visorak Battle Ram? I want to see that. Fine example of Vortixx engineering. But, again, I have to kill you." Nephoka held out her arm, where a blinding orange glow formed. "Knowing you, I don't expect any clever last words. Care to surprise me?" Xiatan gave a weak grin. "You don't know me, and you talk too much." Vines ensnared the Skakdi's limbs, dragging her away from Xiatan and making her drop his Kanohi. In her verbosity, she hadn't noticed Chilosa creeping up behind her in a plan that the Turaga had telepathically informed Xiatan of. Although Chilosa's control over plant life was weaker than it had been when she was a Toa, it was enough to catch Nephoka. The Turaga grimaced from the exertion, but she held on long enough for Xiatan to stagger back to his feet. He grabbed his mask, put it back on his face, and instantly felt his strength returning. He activated the Kanohi. His Kanohi shimmered and Nephoka (as she was biomechanical) froze, her body temporarily slowed down by his mask. Between the vines and the Kanohi, she was immobile. It took all his concentration to maintain control, and even so he feared he could not hold her for long. "Hurry!" he groaned to Chilosa, who tightened her vines on Nephoka, binding her securely. In a few moments, the vines had completely bound the Skakdi, leaving only her face exposed in a plant-based cocoon. Chilosa fell to the ground, exhausted from the effort. Xiatan shut off his mask power and went to help Chilosa up, leaving Nephoka imprisoned. She began to speak, but a final surge of power from the Turaga grew the foliage over her mouth, muffling the verbose Skakdi. "Sister!" Xiatan said, picking up the smaller Turaga. "You shouldn't have gone to such an effort. You'll hurt yourself..." "People were already being hurt, Xiatan," Chilosa groaned. She'd come awfully close to completely exhausting her supply of elemental power, the stress of which could be fatal to a Turaga. Her heartlight's pulsing had become weaker. "I won't let people die for me while I stay safe. That's not who I am." "Once a Toa, always a Toa," Xiatan murmured, and Chilosa gave a faint smile. "I'm not that weak, you know," she said suddenly. "I can stand on my own, thank you very much." He let her down, and she pulled herself to her feet. "Look alive," she said to him. "I get a feeling there's more trouble coming our way." He looked up to see the village's militia, Lhoke amongst them, escorting a Bone Hunter. It was Jesh, the one that had demanded he lay down his weapon. The Matoran and Agori were clustered around him and a few of his fellows, who were no longer making any attempt to fight. "Turaga Chilosa of Fotaki?" the Bone Hunter asked in an accented Agori dialect. Up close, Xiatan could see that he was remarkably similar to an Agori. The two races had similar builds and skin tones, but years of study of living beings let him see that Jesh's kin were adapted for a desert life. He noticed flaps where the auditory canals and nostrils could be sealed to keep out sand, places where the skin had hardened in response to an abrasive environment. Jesh blinked his secondary eyelids often, presumably to ensure his eyes remained moist. "That is my name," Chilosa said stiffly. "Who do I address?" "I am Jesh-son-Iosin, Overrider of Mataqi-brigade," the Bone Hunter said. He talked as if with a perpetually dry throat, always scratchy and raspy despite his politeness. "I come to negotiate the terms of salvage." Chilosa looked skeptical. "Explain." "We are a nomadic folk, for we were never wanted in the lands of others. There was never enough room for all of us to build great cities. We rely on theft and scavenging to survive. I am aware that, to you, such things are barbaric. Not so to us, for they are what our fathers and their fathers before them did to live in a harsh land. Martial pride does not matter nearly as much as what we need to live." "You want us to let you rob our dead?" the Turaga asked incredulously. "The sun has clearly dulled your wits." Jesh laughed once, a deep and throaty sound. "No, sharp-wit. You won the confrontation, so all we ask for is the opportunity to take our own dead and their things. Your people, and the salvage we might have won by following Nephoka-daughter-Chronak, are your own. This is so by the rules of the Pact of the Desert, and has been so for centuries." "There is no more desert out here," Chilosa replied. "And no Matoran was ever witness to such a contract. What is there to stop me from ordering you executed?" To his credit, Jesh did not start at this threat. "Nothing," he said simply. "I ask you for mercy, to adhere to the Pact and not to butcher us. We regret our actions, as we always do, but more bloodshed will solve nothing." These are no savages, Xiatan thought, loudly enough that he knew Chilosa would hear him. I have seen them rescue their own wounded in the midst of battle. Chilosa was silent for what felt like a long time. "The desert is gone," she said, "remade in the Great Spirit's final gift. Without the desert, is there anything to keep you bound to this pact?" "As it happens, no," Jesh said. "Nothing but our own traditions. The contract was sworn on the desert itself, as all involved saw it as eternal and unchanging." Chilosa gave a tired sigh. "I ask you to stop raiding. The ages of conflict are in the past now, but they will only stay that way if we avoid violence. Take your dead, get your people out of here and find another way of life. Spherus Magna can provide for all of us now. Fishing, farming, mining, I don't care. All that matters is that you do not take up arms except in defence, and that you never return to this village so long as my heartlight beats." Jesh nodded. "I thank you, Turaga. Your mercy could give my folk a new way of life. I am in your debt." With that, he turned and walked away. Chilosa gestured for the guards not to stop him as he returned to the surviving Bone Hunters and helped them to gather their dead. "You could have had him killed," Xiatan said, not quite believing his eyes. "It wouldn't have been against the Code, because you're a Turaga. Why didn't you?" "Because he was right. It wouldn't have solved anything," Chilosa said. "I've seen enough death today." There was a tearing sound behind them. Although Nephoka's limbs were too securely bound for her to move, she'd managed to chew through the vines that had gagged her. "What, isn't the Skakdi warrior-princess important? Shouldn't you pay me some attention?" "Well, Nephoka of Zakaz," Xiatan said, pointing his axe at her throat, trying not to look as exhausted as he felt, "I'm not sure you understand the gravity of this situation." Nephoka looked surprised before breaking into laughter, great peals of it like a tolling bell. "A pun!" she exclaimed before falling into a renewed bout of laughter. "A high-and-mighty Toa, never laughs once, and he makes a light-hearted pun at last!" Xiatan gave a thin smile. "There's nothing light about your crimes." Nephoka's uproarious laughter was out of place on the battlefield, and it only got louder from there on out. He reduced gravity for the cocoon, and a pair of Agori dragged it away to the town's barely used jail. Encephix followed them closely, muscles tensed to react to an escape attempt. As soon as they were out of sight, Xiatan fell to his knees. He sat down in the dirt, scorched black by the battle. Shards of metal, vitrified soil... "It will take a long time to clean this up," he said, picking up a tuft of grass. It turned to ash, and he let it fall through his fingers. Chilosa gave a grunt of agreement. "I hope they take that Skakdi a long way away from here. The Bone Hunters knew no other way of life, but she did this maliciously." "She'll face trial in New Atero, and that's a four-week journey by caravan." "The question remains," Chilosa said, almost to herself. "Nephoka was nothing more than an aspiring Skakdi inventor; she said so herself. How did she gain access to so many weapons from the Matoran Universe?" "There must be someone out there who supplied her," Xiatan murmured. "Someone who gave her weapons in exchange for whatever resources she and her Bone Hunters could capture." Chilosa put a hand on his arm. With her other hand, she clutched her staff of office as if she would fall without it. "We'll find it, brother. We'll figure out who was behind this, and we'll do it together." They stood like that together, two old friends, watching as Solis Magna began to sink downwards. In the dust, grass still grew.
  24. Dallior

    The Sands of Fate

    THE SANDS OF FATE (cool banner to come!) Prologue: Gathered friends, listen, once more, to a legend of the ancient epic we call BIONICLE... One day, during the celebration of victory against Makuta, while the heroes, villagers, and Rahi feasted to the honor of Mata Nui and his last great sacrifice, the old enemies of the Toa and all that they stood for slithered off into the cold beauty of the world of Spherus Magna. Many of these beasts had been destroyed already, but some still remained to strike fear into the hearts of all who dwelt on the surface of the planet. One of these horrible convicts was Takadox, one of the last Barraki, and one of few who stood testimony to the fact that Toa always won. He slinked through the still remaining deserts of Spherus Magna, not used to the heat and lack of prey that abounded in this wastleland. Rahi that had once been denizens of the Matoran Universe now escaped to mingle with the Scarabax, confused by these others who now claimed their homes. Takadox spotted a herd of Mukau stampeding through the sands, obviously spooked by something. The fearsome warlord, once a leader of an unspeakable army, remembered when he was the one who attacked these peaceful creatures. He then registered that something... or someone... must have been the source of this discomfort. His face contorted into a smirk when he realized that this fearmonger would have a new master. His agile, mantis-like posture, allowed him to traipse through the dunes with relative ease, though he still was accustomed to the water. Eventually, he reached his target, nothing more than a filthy Vorox. The Barraki groaned, but realized he needed the practice. He made quick work of the beast, almost not even paying attention. He had killed countless Matoran in his day, how was this any different? He wondered if there were more of these predators, who would strike fear into the hearts of anyone who saw them. He smirked again, and croaked, "Let's go find the queen." What do you guys think? Post comments, questions, concerns, and cookies in the review forum!
  25. I know you're probs wondering why i'm not working on comics right now, but wait! It's a planet! (this is an interperetation of Spherus Magna that i'm gonna use in my Bonkles fan-fiction that has been waiting 5 years to actually see light, so oops.)
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