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  1. Flickr We must fulfill our obligation to the king! No falling back! Fight! You have lived your whole life for this singular moment! My entry in Round 3 of the 2018 Bio-Cup, for the theme Anachronistic Future. Although far in the future, these robots embrace the chivalrous tradition of the past - if you've played Nier:Automata you might understand my inspiration for this one quite well. This is the biggest thing I've made and for something made in little more than 3 days after BrickFair Virginia I'm rather pleased with how it went, especially getting the legs to hold the rearing pose. Comments and criticism much enjoyed as always, enjoy!
  2. Well with 2017 end two days ago. I thought why not make a topic on what happened in 2017, but CommanderKumo already made that one for us. Then I thought why not have a topic for looking ahead into the future. What do you want out of 2018? What new years resolutions are you planning for? What will 2018 bring?
  3. 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.
  4. For a little context, this story takes place in the same continuity as The Kanohi Force Comedy, Vanquished Alliance and Gilead by Irrie, as well as Fractured Light and Endless by Ghidora131. I wanted to give a grand overview of the continuity my comrades and I have set up, so I've prepared this series for you all. It takes place in the BZ-Nui pocket dimension, which is tacked on to our reality. You'll catch on as we dive deeper into the story. With that, let's get started! Chapter 1 "'Take a shortcut,' I said. 'It'll be faster,' I said. If I'd known it would get this bad up here, I wouldn't have come!" The Po-Matoran's words cut into the icy gale that hammered against him and the surrounding mountains. He was on his way to New Ga-Koro, and instead of taking the usual route far to the south, Sigilix had decided to cut course and travel through the mountains to the northeast of BZ-Metru and BZ-Koro. Few had traveled this way in decades, but there were still some old service routes that had still remained. The trick was finding one that would actually take him all the way through. And the storm made it even worse. He had been warned that the weather could become hazardous in these parts, but he'd never gotten the chance to see it for himself at this proximity. The biting wind and pounding sleet and rain made it hard to focus on the path. Sigilix pulled his scarf tighter up around his Pakari and hunched down as he trudged onwards. He was of average height, for a Matoran, standing only a little over four feet. His broad shoulders and stout frame were covered in bronze, yellow, and black armor, and light blue eyes shone from behind his mask, which was currently dripping with rainwater. Too often, he considered trying to find shelter, but as far as he could see, there was nothing but steep slopes, thick trees, and the road for miles. He had a small tent with him, but there didn't seem to be anywhere open to him. So he just kept going into the stormy twilight. "A Chronicler's job is never easy," he muttered to himself. He tried to distract himself from the discomfort by thinking about his present task, but the weather was completely unforgiving. A small landslide somewhere above him sent rocks tumbling down around him. He leaped towards the mountainside and pressed himself up against the rock and dirt, trying to avoid any larger rocks that might harm him. After a few moments, the falling rocks ceased, and the Po-Matoran stumbled on. "Someone should really take better care of these roads." Finally, the darkness came and swallowed up the road. Soaking wet through his armor and chilled to the bone, Sigilix found his hands too numb to hold a flashlight. Giving in, he pulled out a heavy travel cloak from his bag and searched for a spot among a nearby stand of trees growing in a narrow valley between two peaks. Finding a spot where the road seemed to branch out into the trees, Sigilix hunkered down and tried to dry himself out before he got some sleep. An hour passed, and finally, he closed his eyes and passed out. Had he remained awake, he would have noticed a dark figure weaving its way through the trees towards him. To be continued.... Review topic
  5. NOTE: Based on the discussion in this topic. On with the story... On the mystical island of Okoto, the Villagers celebrate. The Masters have claimed their golden masks and defeated the Skull Spiders. Yet new threats are rising, as deeds long past now bear fruit. The Village of Fire was bright with celebration late into the night. But even Tahu, Master of Fire, needs to rest. In the hours before dawn, a rock cracks open. With the sullen red glow of lava, the stone reshapes itself into a long, serpentine lizard. As its skin cools to a thin black crust, it raises its head to sniff the air. Its eyes flash as it locks on the Village below. Heat of Fire... Beneath the waves, fish flee as a bank of coral shatters. A powerful claw sends razor shards of stone flying through the water. A second such blow frees another torso-sized claw. Finally, the entire top half of the reef lifts itself away. A monstrous crab settles into the water, its cold-blue eyes searching. With an ocean to search, it heads for the Village of Water. Flow of Water... In the Region of Jungle, a centuries-old tree topples. At its roots, all that is left is splinters. A trail of broken earth leads to a bark-covered bear as far across its shoulders as a Protector's arm width. The trees and plants bend out of its way, vines reaching down to give it a rope to climb. It lifts itself into the trees, glaring towards the trees where Lewa, Master of Jungle sleeps. Growth of Jungle... A rockslide heralds the awakening of a new creature. Claws like knives break from the sands, followed by a body armored in plates of rock. As the creature shakes the sand from its hide, glimpses of red reveal a softer underbelly. It spends little time on the surface, however. Spreading the sand before it, it disappears below the sands, leaving only ripples to mark its passage. Ripples that head for the Village of Stone. Rumble of Stone... Onua, Master of Earth, is woken from his... meditation by a distant rumble. he follows his ears deeper into the tunnels, catching only glimpses of glowing purple crystal. He shrugs, returning to his sleep. Behind him, two crystals take on a shine of their own. Unfolding into a giant scorpion, the creature follows his footsteps to the Village of Earth. Silence of Earth... On the snowy heights of the Region of Ice, soft blue lights glow beneath a glacier. gradually they become brighter, reflecting off the sky in a dance of colour. With a sky-tearing screech, a massive bat takes to the air, blocking out the moons. Gliding through the air, it descends towards the sleepy Village of Ice. Cold of Ice... Years ago, the Makers accepted our terms. Brethren, the balance is tipped. Find those who have taken our powers. Find those who bound them into masks. Find those who broke our agreement. Find the Mask Makers. Find their Masks. Return balance to our world. Destroy all obstacles in our way.
  6. 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.
  7. One thing I've noticed about a lot of toy lines is that they tend to re-use the same main characters again and again, only with some slight variations. Ex1: Whenever a superhero film is released, they also release 20 different variants of that same hero, just with new gear/features ("Scuba Diving Batman!"). Ex2: Hero Factory gave us essentially the same heroes again and again, only they sold new "upgraded" versions of them every wave. That got me thinking: Bionicle was rather different from other toy lines, because every wave usually brought us brand new characters. Over time, however, this ended up making the story very complex and sophisticated, because with each wave we'd get new characters, and the story would shift its focus from the original Mata, to the Metru, to the Inika, etc. My question is: Do you think this iteration of Bionicle should stick with the 6 Toa/Masters, or should it give us new heroes/villains every year? Would you prefer a simpler story about the 6 heroes we have now, or would you like to see new characters/reinterpretations of old characters?
  8. (NOTE: I'd recommend grabbing some popcorn and a soda because you're in for a long read. A long read.) As of yesterday, I posted the epilogue to my final Bionicle epic, In the End. Y'all know that already, of course (or at least my regular readers do, anyway). And I did it all before reaching my eighth year anniversary as a BZP member, which will be in October, which is next month. Coincidentally, I started writing Bionicle fanfics eight years ago, too. Eight years ... dang, that's long. During that time, I wrote over 50 epics, comedies, and short stories combined. Some were good, some weren't, but all taught me something about writing that I would never have learned otherwise. Through writing fanfiction, I have learned what my strengths and weaknesses as a writer are, thanks in no small part to the comments and critiques I received from my readers and fellow writers. And I am of course still growing and learning because the learning never ends in writing no matter how long you keep at it. I sometimes like to think of myself as the most prolific fanfic writer on BZP, though I honestly have no idea if that's true. I don't know of any other writers on here who have written and posted over 50 fanfics on this site, so until someone proves me wrong, I feel pretty comfortable holding that title*. At the same time, I've never been a very well-known writer. In spite of my longevity and prolific career, I still feel more or less unknown to the general BZP community. None of my works have really been breakout hits. I've never had even one short story featured on the front page (granted, most BZP writers haven't, seeing as they've only started featuring fan projects there fairly recently, but I still haven't had anything featured and probably won't, now that I'm done with fanfiction). I do have some regular readers, true, and I am thankful for every one of them, but it sure seems like most BZPers have no idea who I am. Which isn't a problem, really, as I write for the love of it and not for fame, but my apparent lack of fame does cross my mind from time to time. *Shrug* Whatever. It's just fanfiction. No big deal. I've been fairly active within the BZP fanfiction community, not just posting stories, but entering contests (though I never won any), judging in contests (granted, that was only once, but I still count it), being a member of the ECC (that was fun in spite of the drama), entering that comedies awards content expo thing we did a while back, and participating in several discussions about the Library. I've made a lot of friends through fanfiction, which I always thought is one of the best things about it (the other best thing being that you can mangle correct canon as much as you like and get away with it). Early on in my fanfic career, I followed the same writing/posting method that most fanfic writers did (and that most still do today): Write a chapter as fast as I could, look it over once or twice for basic spelling and grammatical errors and minor continuity errors, and then post it. Then I would start work on the next chapter and repeat the whole process again until I reached the end of the story, whether that took 100 chapters or ten. Nothing wrong with writing fast; nothing wrong, even, with performing only a light copy edit. The problem was that I could go on a writing spree in which I wrote tons and tons of work, and then go weeks without writing even one word of the next chapter. Posting schedule was always erratic and unpredictable; depending on the length and difficulty of the chapter and my level of inspiration, weeks could go by without me posting a new chapter, which annoyed some of my readers back then. Although that kind of writing and posting schedule is extremely common within most fanfic communities, I never did like it. Though every finished and posted chapter felt like a victory, anxiety would always follow because I would then have to come up with ideas for the next chapter and I often had no ideas right away unless I was on a roll. And since I never outline my fics, I could never be certain just how long the finished product would be, which meant that I could never be certain how long it would take me to finish the story. Also, even back then, I had dreams of becoming a professional, full-time fiction writer someday. I knew that the pros didn't publish books one chapter at a time, sometimes weeks apart, without any guarantee that they will not just get bored of it at some point and abandon the whole project. If I ever had any hope of going pro, I knew I would have to change my methods at some point. Another motive that spurred me to abandon the "write chapter, do light copy edit, post, repeat" method was my own personal dislike of writers who did that. I hated--and still do hate it--when I would discover an awesome new fanfic by a fantastic writer, read everything posted so far, and then learn that the last chapter was posted six months ago and the author left a note four months ago saying that the next chapter was "coming right along" and would be posted "any day now." (SHORT RANT TIME: If there is one thing I, as a reader, absolutely despise about the fanfiction community, it has to be this. Worse than bad spelling and grammar, worse than implausible shipping fics, worse even than Mary Sues, is the feeling of never knowing for sure when or if your favorite fanfic will ever get updated again. "Next chapter will be done any day now!" the writer's last post, dated two years ago, says. "Just be patient!" No, I will not be patient, Mr. New Favorite (but soon to be Mr. Newly Forgotten) Fanfic Writer. Even if you're the best writer in the world, if you aren't going to post your story on a consistent, regular schedule, then I'll go read the writers who DO post on a regular schedule, thank you very much, because I have no interest in investing my time and attention in a story and characters that won't go anywhere.[/endrant]) In spite of understanding the importance of writing the whole story and posting it a chapter at a time on a regular basis, I didn't actually put that method into practice until a BZP hacking (not the Dataclysm, but one before it that deleted a lot less content) resulted in the deletion of the original version of Tapestry of Evil, which I had not saved or backed up (which is another mistake I've never repeated). Since I hated how the original Tapestry of Evil had been turning out, I transformed a tragedy into an opportunity and redrafted the whole thing, not posting even one word of it until the whole thing was finished. Ever since then, I've always made sure to write the entire story out before posting it. Whenever I started posting it, I would make sure to keep a regular schedule, always a chapter a week, and whenever any outside forces delayed a chapter I would always make sure that my readers knew. I don't know if any of my readers appreciated it or not, but I think this method helped me as a writer more than almost anything else I've done in my fanfic career. It gave me a better understanding of how long it takes me to finish a novel-length story, which is crucial knowledge for any aspiring novelist, and probably made my readers less anxious about whether I'd ever post the next chapter or not. Having said all of that, I must now look ahead to the future, uncertain though it may be. Because while my fanfiction career may be over (it still feels strange to type those words), I haven't stopped writing at all. I've merely moved into the realm of professional fiction writing; more specifically, I've started indie publishing my work through my own publishing company and distributing it through Amazon, Kobo, Barnes & Noble, and all of the other major ebook sites. Currently I've only published three books, but I have a couple more in the pipeline, as well a few short stories that I need to find covers for. Actually, I've been writing original fiction in tandem with my fanfiction for years now. Even finished several novels, but none of them were ever quite as good as my fanfiction, so I never showed them to anyone. It's only been within the last year that I feel that my original work has become as good as my fanfiction, which is why I am moving onto original fiction (that, and you can't make any money off fanfiction unless you get permission from the copyright owners of the work you've based your fics on, though I can't see LEGO ever paying me to write Bionicle stories, even though that would be beyond freaking awesome if they did). Unfortunately, I am not going to link to my original work on here, nor will I tell you what it is. That's because I publish under my full name, which I haven't revealed here on BZP and which I don't really want to (though I think several members here already know my full name, but I've never publicly posted it anywhere on the forums or this blog to my knowledge). If you want to buy my original works, however, just send me a PM telling me what ebookstore you prefer to buy from (Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Google Play, Smashwords, etc.) and I'll be happy to send you a link to it. I'm going to miss writing fanfiction, mostly because it really is a ton of fun. If I ever build up a large enough audience for my original work that people start to write fanfiction off it, I will feel totally honored. I know that some writers don't like fanfiction, but to me, as long as you are not claiming you own the original story or trying to make money off it, I don't have any problem with it. Granted, I probably won't be able to read any of it (don't want to be accused of stealing someone's ideas), but I would allow it. As I've always said, my ultimate goal is to become a professional, full-time fiction writer. That is a very difficult goal, even with the advent of easy self-publishing that offers writers far better royalty rates than what most of the big publishers are offering (which means more money for the writer y'all). And there is no guarantee that I will ever actually achieve that goal of mine. Plenty of writers try and fail to make a living at their writing, more than those who succeed sadly enough. While I have confidence in my work, I admit that failure is always a possibility. But no one ever said that making it in a multibillion dollar international business was going to be easy. While luck plays a part, hard work can help even the odds, so I've been working hard every day to get closer and closer to that dream. I'm not making tons of money just yet, nor do I expect to for a while. I just know that if I keep writing, publishing, and improving, eventually I'll make it, no matter how long it takes. Now this doesn't mean I'm leaving BZP entirely. I'm still gonna stick around, though I'm going to be a lot less active probably. With a possible return of Bionicle next year, I still have a reason to hang around, at least as a lurker if nothing else. Way I see it, if I'm going to make it as a writer, I must put more time and effort into my writing, at least the same amount of time I would put into any other small business (which is what writing is, at least when you're attempting to make a living off of it). That means cutting things that take away too much time with too little return, and BZP, sadly enough, fits that description to a T, at least for me. It's a great site, but hanging out here won't get me any closer to my dream, so I have to start focusing on the things that will help me (like writing a lot, for instance). Overall, I am pretty pleased with how my fanfic career turned out. I wrote a lot of fics, received a lot of helpful and positive comments from a lot of good people, made some good friends, and had a lot of fun to boot. What's not to like about that? *If someone in the comments proves me wrong, I will edit this section to reflect that correction. -TNTOS-
  9. Marendar, the mysterious Toa-hunting invention of the Great Beings. Barely mentioned before the story came to an abrupt halt. So many questions left unanswered... I'm curious as to what everyone thinks about Marendar, so I've created this topic for any theories and such regarding the character. What we know: Was created by the Great Beings to kill the Toa if they ever turned evil and tried to conquer Spherus Magna.Is now running amok on Spherus Magna, likely hunting the Toa.Has the capabilities to bust out of a solid protodermis cage.What we don't know: what it looks like.what it is fully capable of.what it actually is (organic, cyborg, fully mechanical).what part it would have played in he future storyline (before the Bionicle serials were abruptly ended).Personally, I hope Marendar features in the new story, because I think as a character it had a lot of potential to drive the plot. Theories: I have a feeling that Marendar is probably fully mechanical, like the Baterra or the Mata Nui robot, and likely has some kind of sophisticated laser weaponry to combat Toa. If it was built to fight Toa, logic would dictate that it has some kind of invulnerability to Toa elemental and mask powers, or perhaps it feeds on them. (I think the Rahi Nui had a similar capability). I think that the viruses that The Shadowed One gathered (the same ones that were used by Teridax to bring down the MU robot), would have played a part in defeating Marendar (assuming my guess of it being a robot is correct).Right, those are all of my thoughts on the topic. I'm very interested to hear what everyone else thinks about it.
  10. So all Matoran, after the Great Sprit robot's demise have evacuated to SM. That would logically include all of the Matoran on the island of Artahka, correct? What do you think they will do? Will they try to keep to themselves, as they were in the MU, and possibly branch out into their own little village? Will some of them try to find Artahka, seeing that he's missing? Or will they try to integrate themselves back into Matoran society? What do you think?
  11. I'm starting this topic in honor of the new ad guidelines. Hooray! Why does this make sense? Mostly because I want to be able to link to things that aren't on lego.com, and now I can. Global warming. Well, first, to address an inevitable concern: Global warming/climate change is not an inherently political issue. It shouldn't be, and thanks to the "no politics" rule on these forums, it won't be. This topic is not for politically charged debate on whose partisan or faction policies are best for our energy future, or anything like that. Rather, I think we should intelligently discuss what scientific reports tell us is actually happening to our climate, and reasoned solutions. Disagreement can and should occur, but I really don't want this to degenerate into "politics" any more than the mods do. Keep in mind that global warming is a basic reality of the modern world, and it is something we should discuss because it is here and fundamentally affecting the way life on Earth functions. Saying this topic won't be about politics doesn't mean it won't be about solutions. It means the opposite. Politics, generally, is what keeps good solutions to climate change from being pursued, and I look forward to discussing this topic rationally and frankly. Making this topic not about politics also doesn't mean the solutions can't be dramatic or unorthodox. Global warming is an unorthodox problem that deserves unorthodox answers. I personally would welcome any posts along the lines of "Here's something new about the severity of global warming that we didn't realize," or "We could take these measures to fight carbon pollution," or "look at this new solar development" etc. The main rule we should follow is this: base your comments in science, not politics. This doesn't mean that every comment should be strictly about science, but it does mean we should be working off of verifiable, factual claims, not rhetorical pseudoscience, which makes up an unfortunately large portion of debate concerning climate change. And please, do not debate whether climate change is real. This is not a scientific debate worth having. It is inherently political, and that's why we should avoid it. If you have any doubt, look here, and then I hope we can move forward with a healthy, apolitical discussion. ---------------------------------------- I want to open this up and see what others have to say, so I'll just leave a few things worth sharing.1. This infographic explains a lot about what's going to happen as a result of global warming in the coming decades. http://infobeautiful3.s3.amazonaws.com/2013/01/1276_gigatons_CO2.png 2. So does this one, from the World Bank. http://www.worldbank.org/content/dam/Worldbank/Feature%20Story/SDN/climate-change-africa-asia-1250x7500.jpg 3. My personal opinion is that we need to curb fossil fuel burning as quickly as possible if society is going to be able to manage long-term. That means rapidly depleting investments in fossil fuels and reinvesting our research and funding into renewable energy.4. I also think we should be, as individuals, focusing on cutting ourselves off from central grids when possible; urban gardening and rooftop solar power generation are two ways to do that. In doing so we can save money and reduce carbon pollution!I look forward to other thoughts.
  12. After After, is an epic I'm writing that takes place in a far future and tells the story of a family who's on a constant journey across the country. I'm writing the epic with each chapter being more or less episodic with a few following into each other.Updates will vary, as I have a more strict epic I'm finishing up in the Epics forum, but I'm going to try to post a new chapter every two weeks or so. Below you can find the chapters posted so far, and further below is a soundtrack added that I feel helps match with the story! Please enjoy and if you've read, I'd love to read any comments or questions you have!Table of Contents:1. While I'm Away2. Rainy Days: The SafeguardA Knocking on the DoorIn the Kitchen with Dinah _____After Soundtrack1. About Today by The National (While I'm Away)2. Thorn in my Pride by The Black Crows (The Safeguard)3. All You Ever Wanted by The Black Keys (In the Kitchen with Dinah)
  13. Or is there simply a lot of power in it? Do you think the power in things like the Mask of Life will eventually run out?
  14. 1. While I’m Away ‘I wanted to talk with you. And I wasn’t sure how…’ When Sarah awoke in the middle of the night, her eyes just … opened. There wasn’t a real reason. She didn’t have a nightmare and she couldn’t remember dreaming. She hadn’t heard anything but she knew immediately she hadn’t gotten enough sleep. Her back and long blond hair felt wet with perspiration. Sarah blinked, once, twice and then felt she couldn’t go back to bed yet.And though she didn’t know it, her subconscious wouldn’t let her fall back asleep until she saw it once again; until she knew for sure, once again.So slowly, without making any noise on her dirt ridden mattress which had a slightly cleaner towel over it, the girl of thirteen rose. Her cold feet with socks lightly touched the wooden floor which made a soft creaking sound as she pressed her weight down. She shivered and coughed lightly, cold now out from her covers. Her white shirt offered little warmth and she had no pants on, only undergarments. Her father always said that sleeping with her dirty clothes on was unhealthy, so she didn’t.Her arms felt suddenly weak as she pushed herself upward from her bed, but she didn’t hesitate in doing so.She had to see it again. ‘I know you’re a big girl now, and not the child I once had. You know that ... that means that sometimes, even at thirteen- that even at thirteen … you have to deal with a-adult things. You understand, right? You have to act- …no you have to be older.’ It was the dead of night, and she wasn’t sure what time it was. She could never tell on some nights, as the moon was usually half hidden by clouds and its light didn’t seem to exist. That never happened with the sun. It was too bright, so even when the smog of gray clouds in the sky blocked it, you could always see it breaking through.But after Sarah moved out of her room, leaving behind only the dirty mattress and single wooden chair, she walked out into the kitchen where the broken window was built above the sink. And she could see bright and clear light shining through it.The dust glowed like fireflies in the light, and she walk under it.Her eyes widened in surprise. The moon was out, almost in full view and crystal clear. She could easily tell it was past midnight. About three or four a clock, she figure the time was.The glass was cracked and pieces were littered across the disconnected sink, which they hadn’t bothered with since they had occupied the house a week before. The wooden cabinets that ran along the window's wall were all empty. The small doors remained firm and fixed on the hinges however, useful if needed. Everything was covered in a thick layer of dust and there was grime along the ceiling edges, where constant mildew had built up from the rain.Moving from the kitchen into the living quarters, she found the small room of one couch, holding her dad. He was asleep, snoring slightly with his hat on and unshaven face. He had one blanket over him, was on his back and was using both the couch’s armrest and a small pillow to prop his head up with. On the floor below him, wrapped up in two blankets was his son and Sarah’s little brother. He snored lightly, like his father did. He was strangely sweating too, despite the cold.There were a total of four blankets in their possession, for the four of them that lived there. So when she thought about why her little brother had two of those four and her father had one as did she… it didn’t add up. Her older brother, Mark, needed one as well. ‘Yeah, I understand dad… what is it? What do you need to tell me?’ She moved back, through the kitchen and into her room. Outside was silent, not even the sound of cricket bugs or frogs. Dad always told her that was a bad sign. If insects weren’t around, that meant they couldn’t live here and that also meant humans couldn’t live there for long either.‘Always follow the animals. They know the land better than us.’ The quote rang off in her head and she smiled. They wouldn’t be staying here for too much longer. And that was fine with her. This wasn’t the homiest place. It was large and somewhat comfortable with the left behind furniture, but there was a sense of eeriness to it that she couldn’t place. It was the sound of no wildlife and little people in town, living amongst the rundown homes. The moon which was bright tonight- when had she last seen the moon so bright? It was comforting … but haunting at the same time.She avoided the slightly wetter areas on the tile floor, where the leaks had created puddles. If she got her socks wet it took a good day for them to dry off, and that was a day she would remain freezing. Also, who knew what kind of dirt and grime was in that water? It wasn’t clear and that made it unsafe to touch in her opinion.Entering her room, she thought only for her older brother and gathered up her blankets. She wouldn’t let him get sick tonight just because he wanted to have a bed and swapped places with Isaac at his usual spot on the floor. Isaac usually had that bed Mark was sleeping in, and they probably made a deal.She moved silently past them both as she made it into the living quarters once more, blanket bundled up in her arms and half asleep. Sarah had it fixed on her mind to rest with her older brother tonight. It would be much warmer and anyway … she couldn’t sleep. Something was on the back of her mind that she couldn’t pin point.Mark’s door was closed, so she turned the knob and peeked inside to take a look at his bed. She blinked and released the knob, letting the door slowly swing open.He wasn’t there. ‘There was an accident.’ The bed was empty. Pillows, blankets and even his jacket that he kept on the edge of the bed at night, was missing.He hadn’t gone out, he knew that was dangerous… where did he go? Sarah thought about it for a minute, trying to recall something that she couldn’t; it was something important. ‘An accident?’ Could he be grabbing some water from outside? No. The living room door was closed. Out back using the bathroom maybe, or perhaps he heard a noise and was checking it out… Was he in her room, making sure she was okay? Was he checking on his little brother? Or was Mark talking with their dad about something private, about what the future plans were and other important stuff that she and Isaac weren't allowed to know about?No. She had just been near all the rooms of the house and he hadn’t been in any of them. So Isaac was using his blanket and that wasn’t fair. He would be mad when he came home. ‘It happens sometimes, and you know that it does. And um, it’s, that we can’t…’ “Where did you go…” she asked silently, staring at the bed for a long minute. She continued to watch it, determined to stay there until he got back. It would only take a few seconds, she knew. He’d come through that door any moment now.All she had to do was wait.“Where did you go…” she whispered again, sitting on his bed. And suddenly her hands reached up to her forehead and she grasped her hair, pulling it. She took in a deep breath, feeling weak again. She exhaled in a trembling and weak sort of way, impulsively cutting off the air as it left her lungs. ‘Sarah. I, I don’t know… he isn’t… um… when he left to grab … he’s gone, Sarah. They found his … we’ll bury him … don’t tell …’ “…” and she waited for another hour. *** Her sobs went unnoticed by the rest of the house, but it was the first time she had cried over her brother, so she was grateful she had some privacy. She thought she was anyway.Her father had cried when he gave her the news in private yesterday, telling her to not say anything until they returned home. And she didn’t, not a single word.Isaac had found out later, but he was too young she supposed, being only ten. He hadn't fully grasped it … maybe like she hadn't.The tears fell onto her pale arms as she constantly swiped them away. Crying aloud, sobbing, sniffing and then back again.She still held the covers in her arms and after the hour of waiting in his room, was back in her own.Her brother was dead.Even in all the chaos of the world and the depleted food since the war, it had never felt as though something like that could happen. She saw people often who were going to or had died; on the side of the roads while they traveled them, there were starving and begging and the dead. She was never ignorant to the fact that it could happen to her family one day. But she could never imagine losing just one. It was her family: all of them make it through or none of them.And now what? She asked herself. Who’s going to watch over us? God, who will help dad find food? Who’ll let us stay up late when dad tells us to go to bed, or take us to the other kids and gather them together to play ball for fun? Who will be there? It’s always been me and Isaac … Mark … what about the three of us…“God … oh God…” she whispered over and over, the volume of her voice increasing, more of reality setting in. She rocked on her bed and felt like getting sick, her head was dizzy and fresh tears found their way to her eyes again.She felt like suddenly puking, and held it in, her body wanting to let everything go.His dark short hair and lanky body, with that smile of confidence you can find in any seventeen year old. He was the oldest, the oldest out of the three them. And now … there were just two.Now she was the oldest. The new responsible one. The adult, her dad had said. She was Mark.Sitting upright, she pulled her hair back over her shoulders. She thought about what that meant as she slowly fell into her bed.It meant she had to be strong. She had a responsibility now that was handed to her, and her brother had trained her for this, hadn’t he? He taught her to follow her father’s decisions, even if she didn’t always agree. He taught her to know when to lose and back off, but to try again and sometimes from a different direction. He taught her to always keep on moving, no matter what. To have confidence in what she wanted to do, even when she wasn’t the strongest or smartest, that she could get better.I can’t be that… she thought, worries plaguing her mind like a large black fog. I don’t even know where to begin… What do I do?She thought she’d ask her dad… but it wasn’t the same. She’d rather ask her big brother.“What do I do, Mark?”‘Just take it one step at a time, and know what you’re moving toward.’“One step at a time,” she whispered to herself those words he said in some distant memory. Slowly closing her eyes, thinking about what he last looked like, the last time she saw him yesterday.Tomorrow… she’d ask her dad what their plans were, where they were heading next and gather word if the settlement twenty miles northwest from here, was true. She’d run to the near river, and collect as much water as possible for the journey. She’d make sure her brother and dad were well dressed, nice and warm for the trip in case it got too cold. And she’d make sure Isaac wore his brother’s jacket, because some day it would fit him well and it was worth too many precious moments to leave behind.And she didn’t want to stay here anymore, she wanted to move. She never wanted to return here, in this small nothing of a village.She didn’t think any of that would ease her pain, but if it could make her forget, just for a little while, that would be something.Sarah wasn’t sure though of what would come later, of what would happen after…______Grant-Sud Presents: After (Review)
  15. ...What do you think BZPower will be like? Do you think that BZPower will survive for another eleven years? What do you think we will talk about then? Will you have something to say if BZP lasts that long?
  16. By spinny, I mean the spinning image that changes every year on the left-hand side of your proto bar.So should there be a spinny for eleven years on BZP? If so, what should it be? It's hard to beat the immortal Hapori Tohu himself.
  17. ZTG

    Bionicle: Broken Hope

    Review: http://www.bzpower.com/board/index.php?showtopic=4901&pid=274180&st=0entry274180Prologue:He slithered through the grass and dirt, hissing and searching for prey. He was a snake, a snake named Metus. He hissed with rage, rage from being turned into, this! A cowardly snake that slithered on the dirt that used to be sand. "curse that, Mata Nui!" he hissed in anger, "He turned me into the creature I am! And he brought the tribes against my united army! Why when I see him again I-" as he was about to finish, he felt a cold wind go down his scaly neck. He looked to where the breeze came from and saw...a mask? It was as black as the shadowy night, and a green mist flowed from it, that struck fear into the transforme agori. "come...." said a cold raspy voice. The snake slithered slowly towards the mask and examined it. "...you know Mata Nui?" the mask said, apparently a spirit was talking to snake,"know him? Wish I didn't! He turned me into this! He defeated my army!" the snake hissed,"so....you have met the Great Spirit?" the mask asked,"yes, yes I did..." "I see an opertunety for the both of us," "What's that?" "I want revenge, as do you. I can give you power, enough to kill him, a...win win as they say,""how do I trust a talkin mask?""snakes are just as untrustworthy,""...it's agreed I suppose,""where is Mata Nui?"The snake looked around and saw a city, it was roughly a few bio away. "maybe at that city?" the snake gestures its head to the city,"touch the mask, and you will be stronger than you where before,"And without hesitation, with a lustful look in his eyes for power, his tail touched the mask and a black flame eclipsed the snake.Chapter 1: The Rogues"Run old man run!!!" he yelled running as fast as he could. His name was Deusui, a toa of sonics, and an assassin for hire."You toa nowadays," the old being said, "always in a rush, why when I was a toa-""don't start with me Turaga Vakama!" Deusui said, "we don't have time for any of your history lessons! That was more than a mellinia ago! Right now we have to get these masks to safety like you said! Why are we even doing this?!""Those masks are special!" Vakama said, "hurry we a re almost to the Rememberance!""Turaga Vakama you are one crazy old man if you believe these masks can stop Metus,"The Rememberance was the tallest building in the city, in te middle of it infact. It was a shrine to the fallen, those who died for freedom, and those who lived to tell their tales. It happened to be where the Mask of Life, the Ignika was kept safe and locked away.The two were almost there, until the sounds of mechanical feet could be ears in the ally ways. Deusui's sensitive eating could pick it up faster than Vakama, and he stopped and looked around fast. He grabbed the Turaga, and tossed him on his back. "hold on tight!" he said activating his Mask of Stealth, "we've got Bounty Toa on us!"
  18. Emphasis on discussion. I have heard many complaints about the discussion part of BZPower, particularly the GD forum coming off badly, so I thought maybe we could contribute to reversing that trend. What I want to try here is if we can get an actual, intelligent discussion going. That means: No one-sentence responses please. Obviously there is no way that can be enforced as a rule, but at least we can have it as a guideline.What I ask you is the following: How do you picture the future of BZPower? Take everything into consideration from the development of LEGO to the current state of the forums, including forum structure and rules. Whatever comes to your mind. How do you think BZPower is developing? What would you change about BZPower? How do you want it to become? Or wouldn´t you change anything?In my opinion, the current development of BZPower is very clear: More members are leaving than joining. I think BZPower should let loose of BIONICLE and finally clearly become a LEGO forum. While that has been achieved very well on the forums the front page still screams BIONICLE everywhere and that is what people first see. If they aren´t interested in BIONICLE, they are most likely not going to enter the forums. Don´t get me wrong, I love BIONICLE and BZPower should not forget that it primarily is, or was, a BIONICLE site. However, it´s pretty obvious there is no way the site can survive if it keeps the focus on BIONICLE. That is why I think a complete overhaul of the front page is in order. You could argue that the forums are more enjoyable when they aren´t so full, and I could easily agree to that. However, a quite forum is far more in danger of becoming too quite in the future if more members leave than join (which I am pretty sure is the case). Roughly 1160 members have visited the forums this month, of which about 845 have posted. Of course, that doesn´t sound too bad unless you consider we have closely 47000 members, a number which is increasing far more slowly than it has in the past years. BZPower cannot survive forever, but I think we can all agree that we should keep it alive as long as we can. ;)I also think BZPower should implement technical solutions to enable members to link to a broader variety of sites while still complying with our advertising policy (before you ask, this has been in the works earlier this year so it will eventually happen). That way, we could also establish cooperative relationships to other BIONICLE and LEGO fan sites (always with our policy disclaimer of course ) and consequently increase traffic.Do you agree? Or do you think BZPower is perfectly fine as it is now? Discuss! ~Gata.
  19. Like the title says, need I say more? Please no negative reviews, if you see something wrong, don't just splat it out saying its terrible please.Link to story:http://www.bzpower.com/board/index.php?showtopic=3075&hl=&fromsearch=1
  20. PrologueOur kind has grown since the war for New Spherus. That's what our people call it now. But I fear if Mata Nui was here, he would frown upon what has happened in the past 1,000 years. Who would have guessed that Kiina would go to this extreme to bring Mata Nui back. It started with a small group, then into a cult, and now into a civilization. Infact, she even tried to bring back Mata Nui by reserecting Teridax, thinking his powers would work. Her foolish attempts only killed her, for even though she had succeeded in bringing bak Teridax, he consumed her life force, and took her dead corpse and created his new wife. In fact, he used the corpses of the fallen to make new armor for his new Brotherhood, and the civilization Kiina had started, they became the slaves of Makuta. Slowly they grew, and we Toa and Glatorian overlooked this threat, and allowed it to flourish. Before we new it, they had taken control over the dark side of the planet. However, Tahu, the last Toa Nuva used the Golden Armor to form a barrier of light around the equator, and that was to allow a century of peace. In that time, he and the defenders of old, Takanuva, Gresh, Helryx and Artahka, made an organization, to protect the agori and matoran. The Gunneraso, which is matoran for The Gunsmiths. However, even the strong were weak. The Defenders of old began to crumble. Gresh went crazed due to Kiina's death and he went to the Dark Side, never to return...Helryx met her match when Takanuva was corrupted by Makuta, and after a long fight, Helryx's body was destroyed...Takanuva became known as Garncha, Makuta for 'Fallen Toa' and Garncha turned into a makuta...Tahu and Artahka however, still lived...Tahu knew he had to do something, he had to find his heir. Among the Matoran of Fire, he found a special one. One with gold and red armor, with a golden hau, crafted quite differently from the others. On it were crimson stripes, and on his chest was a crimson marking, it wasn't of matoran writing or of agori. Tahu knew he was special, and began training him. However, the young Matoran had no known name besides the fact that were he came from, he was called a Kama, and Kama to his people ment Life. Tahu then gave the young matoran his name, and soon he was named Tahukama, which ment 'Life fire'. 10 years together they trained before the young matoran turned into a toa, and soon after that, Tahu began to fade away. His life force was coming to a near end...Tahu, knowing he was going to die, gave every last bit of his Toa Powers to his apprentice. Tahukama was given th e golden armor to wield, with him being the Prodigy of Tahu. Tahukama took the Gunneraso into a new direction, by training them to learn about the old ways of combat. You see, Gunneraso were Toa and Glatorian, but they had been trained in the use of fire arms for quite some time, they had forgotten of their previous ways of combat. Tahukama began to separate the Gunsmiths unto groups, the Toa would master fire arms, and the Glatorian would train their old ways, in combat. The side of good would have to know every battle technique, every trick, ability, skill and strategy in order to return peace to New Spherus.
  21. Sybre

    Delva-Nui: Shadowed

    Sybre presents an epic made completely by him: Chapters will come daily unless there's a delay. Here the link to the review topic: http://www.bzpower.c...?showtopic=2029 New Chapter: 8 Chapter 1 500 years after the events in SybreNetX, Delva-Nui's peace was everlasting for those good years. But Delvian carver Zakal (in the picture) was growing restless. He was itching for action. He dreamed of it. He carved action scenes. His temper became shorter with each day, until he finally threw his work across the room and shouted, "THAT'S IT! I'm gonna go murder the chief or something!" Zakal stormed out of his home in search of action. His best friend Pomah stopped him. "Why were you shouting about murdering the chief?" he asked, "He might hear you!" "Well," Zakal said, "I've been hungry for action. It's just too peaceful for anything like that!" "Be patient," Pomah said, "The other day I heard that our local ecologist was attacked by peaceful Rahi he was studying. I'm sure they're going to come for our territory sooner or later!" "Don't be too sure." Jovikini, the scholar, said, "Today I found out Vordaiken went after them." Zakal and Pomah froze with fear upon hearing his name. Vordaiken was a Matoran who thought of murdering the village chief, and DID it! He was chased to an island not too far from Delva-Nui. But an armored titan by the name of Kudaiye had obliterated the island. The material he used turned Vordaiken into a creature slightly taller, stronger, smarter, and more aggressive than a Toa. He returned to Delva-Nui, where he is currently a conqueror claiming lands never too far from villages. "We'd better hope he doesn't think of us next!" Zakal said. "And even worse," Jovikini replied, "Kudaiye is planning a visit to Delva-Nui!" "Oh my GOSH," Pomah said, "We've gotta do something NOW!" "Dude, look at us," Zakal replied, "What are WE capable of?" "Forget that," Jovikini said, "Let's try to stay calm. Let's alert the village chief and hopefully he can notify the others, and eventually the High Council will get into the situation." The High Council was never to be spoken of so freely, such as just the Council. You've gotta put "High" in front of it. The High Council is a group of Delva-Nui's Turaga who gathers to discuss important matters. The members rarely visit their home villages, but always attend official Kolhi games. And they're the ones who pick out the next Toa. The last Delvian Toa team went to find out if Rhaio-Nui truly existed. They haven't been heard from since. The High Council is currently picking out new members. "Let's make haste," Zakal said, " We must alert the village chief, quickly!" Chapter 2 "Chief Arka! Chief Arka!" Zakal called as he and his friends ran toward the chief. "Is something wrong, Zakal?" Arka asked. "Yes," Jovikini answered, "Kudaiye and Vordaiken are probably going to do something bad to Delva-Nui! Our village defenders are too weak to fend either of them off!" "If Sybre wasn't dead," Pomah said, "We'd probably have a shot." "Okay," Arka replied, "Here's what YOU'RE gonna do: Tell the messengers to tell other villages and the High Council, then go to the nearest village and tell the mapmaker there to give you a map of Delva-Nui so we can find a safe place to evacuate until we can safely get off the island." "But we can't just LEAVE!" Pomah said, "This is our home! What happens if the High Council picks the next Toa team in time?" "We'll try to hide underground," Arka replied, "Now GO!" Zakal and his friends hurried to the messengers' home and told them the news and what to do next. Then they gathered all the weapons from Zakal's home they could carry and headed out of the village. "HEY!" the village defender shouted, "What's the occcasion? Where are you taking all of those weapons?" "We have no time to chat, Stotaf," Zalak answered, "We have to warn the nearest village about an upcoming disaster and Vordaiken isn't too far from the village! Keep your guard up!" "I will! Be careful!" Stotaf called as the trio left. The Matoran safely reached the next village, but was stopped by the village defender by the name of Shastaa. "Hold on, boys," Shastaa said, blocking the entrance to the village with her weapon, "What do you think you're doing with those weapons?" "I think we're trying to defend ourselves from a DISASTER!" Zalak replied, who was starting to become insane from panic, "Is your village's mapmaker in? We have to talk to her! Now!" Shastaa thought for a moment, then nodded her head. "Go ahead. She's in. But don't hurt anyone with those weapons. Okay?" "Yes." Zalak answered, and he and and his friends hurried into the village. Suddenly, a tall figure approached Shastaa. His body was hidden by a cloak, but his piercing, red eyes were clearly visible. His eyes narrowed. "Excuse me," he said, "What is your name?" Chapter 3 "Shastaa," the village guard replied, "Yours?" The being tried not to laugh. "Whoever takes you to the bad folks' place will tell you!" he said as he raised his arm. The trio suddenly heard a boom noise. "What did that?" Pomah wondered out loud. "Probably some Rahi doing a little rearranging," Zakal suggested, "Come on, let's keep moving." When they reached a small home, they stopped running and looked up at a sign above the door. It read "Mapmaker" written in Matoran. "This is the place," Zakal said as he and his friends started into the home. "Hello?" Zakal called. "Who's there?" a voice asked from another room. "We come in peace," Jovikini answered, "We're here to ask for a map." "Oh," the voice said, "Come in. I made some fresh, new copies." "Great," Zakal said to himself and led the way into the room. "Hello," the owner of the voice said, "I'm Pira, the village's official mapmaker. What is the range of the map you would like?" "The whole island," Jovikini said, putting down his armload of weapons, "And the others surrounding it." "What's the occasion?" Pira asked, "Going on a trip?" "No," Pomah replied, "A disaster is upon us! Kudaiye is planning to destroy the island and Vorzahk has been wandering closer to villages!" Pira gasped. "That's terrible!" she exclaimed, "Did you try to do anything about it?" "Well," Zakal started while examining a map, "We alerted our chief and the messenger,s, and then we came here for a map. We need to decide where to evacuate. But we're probably going to have to let the High Council make the decision." "Can I go with you?" Pira asked, "I know a lot about places that Matoran can't reach and traversed treacherous ground just to get a better view for making my maps." "Sounds useful," Pomah said, "And we could use a couple more maps." Pira loaded her maps, materials, and belongings into a bag while tossing three more to the others for their weapons. "Get another bag for these." Zakal said as he handed her a share of weapons. "Okay," Jovikini said, "The next thing we have to do is go back to the village and tell Chief Arka that we've done our part. Then we'll ask permission to pay a visit to the High Council." The other three nodded and hurried out of the home. A badly beaten Matoran was in their way. "Run," he said, "Vordaiken found us." With his dying breath, he pointed in the direction of an exit. "Go that way." The Matoran then lay dead like a Kavinika. "Let's do it!" Zakal nodded and ran toward the exit. "NOT SO FAST!" Vordaiken yelled, "LET ME DESTROY YOU FIRST!" Chapter 4 Zakal and his friends nervously turned around. "Throw your projectiles." Zakal whispered. Suddenly, a horde of knives, swords, daggers, and arrows flew toward Vordaiken. He tore the front of his cloak, letting the weapons seep in. The boys only had a sword, a knife, and a dagger left, while Pira only had a bow with 10 arrows safely in the bag of maps. "Heh," Vordaiken laughed, "Menial weapons. They're not even worth shooting out of my sleeve!" Zakal was greatly offended by this. "My carving," Zakal said, "IS THE BEST THERE IS!!!!!" He lept toward the conquerer, and with one slash of his sword, he cut off Vordaiken's hood. Zakal was startled by what he saw. Vordaiken's right side of his face was so banged up, he only had one working eye. Zakal quickly jumped up toward the titan and swiftly kicked his face, knocking him out cold. "Let's go!" the Matoran exclaimed and dashed toward an exit. On their way out, they found Shastaa, laying near the gates. A massive wound was on her stomach, which was her ticket to the sleep that knows no dreams. "Rest in peace, Shastaa." Pira sadly uttered as she picked up the fallen defender's weapon. Her new friends pitched in to build Shastaa a grave. Zakal carved a branch to make a headstone. He carved Shastaa's name on the wood and stuck it into the ground. "Thanks, guys." Pira said. "If her grave is going to remain undisturbed, we have the save the island." Jovikini reminded. They headed back to Zakal's village. Luckily, it still stood without an ounce of damage. "Chief Arka, we're back!" Zakal called. "Great," Arka replied, "I have another assignment for you: the Matoran standing next to me is a vehicle designer called Avon. He is willing to take you to his village. What you'll do is you ride with Avon. Once you reach his village, get a vehicle of your own, then go to the High Council and tell them about the upcoming disaster." "You mean," Pomah said, "It's time to tell them?" "Yes," Arka replied, "You are the only ones capable of getting there at this time. I trust you." "We will never let you down, Chief Arka," Zakal promised, "If we did, throw us to the Rock Lions!" Avon led the way toward his vehicle. It was a two-seater speeder bike, but there was room for the others. Avon offered the second seat to Pira. Zakal rode one the very front, Pomah rode sitting in the cargo hold, and poor Jovikini had to hold onto the back. Zakal shouted his farewells to Stotaf as they sped into the distance. "What do we do before we get the vehicles and leave your village, Avon?" Pira asked. "I'm gonna take a friend. He is a tour guide who knows much about the island. He explored ruins, active volcanoes (and surfed them), and even got to sit with the High Council." Time crawled on, but they soon reached the village. Chapter 5 "We're here." Avon announced as they near the gate. Of course, they had to go through the village defender, first. "Well," the defender, Shaga, said with a smile, "What's all this, Avon? Testing a passenger vehicle?" "That was last week," Avon replied, "I'm helping the future of our island." "THEN WHY DID YOU LET ME STOP YOU?!" Shaga shouted, "GO!" Avon nodded quickly and passed through the gates, with Jovikini walking behind the speeder bike, as it slowed down. They headed for Avon's home, a quite large shelter. "Not all of it's for me," Jovikini explained, "Two more live with me, but one's out for the week testing a new vehicle. My friend, however, is waiting for us outside." A Matoran standing outside waved to the party. "Ah, you're back, Avon!" The Matoran said in greeting, "Mind introducing me?" After the introductions, they walked inside. "I'd give you a tour," Avon said, "But our island has limited time, so I'll just show you the workshop and garage." First, they headed for the workshop. "I understand you have a lack of weapons," Takarda, Avon's roomate said, "So we're gonna gear you up ourselves." They handed the group these techo-looking weapons. "Takarda will show you to the garage," Avon said, "I gotta go get my vehicle from outside. I'll meet you out there." He turned back. "Take your pick." Takarda said as he opened the door to the garage. Everybody got on to their preferred speeder bikes. "Inside the cargo holds," Takarda explained, "Are backup weapons and a survival kit in the event of a crash. Only use the things from the survival kit is your vehicle breaks down or you crash. There are also walkie talkies if you are somehow separated from the group. Ready?" Everyone nodded and a big door opened. They slowly drove their bikes out of the garage, where Avon was waiting for them. "Let's go." He said, and they started out of the village. They drove for three hours and nothing bad happened. They soon reached a wide hill with gray, stone steps leading up high into the sky. "Well, I guess we'd better start climbing." Zakal suggested and started up the first of many steps. Thirty minutes crawled by, but they reached a huge, roomy gazibo. A big, stone table was in the middle. All of the island's Turaga sat in all the seats, but the blackest seat was empty. The Shadow Turaga was banished from the High Council for encouraging his village to betray Delva-Nui. "Welcome," one of the Turagas said, "Do you have news for us?" Chapter 6 He had sunken, tired eyes, but wore a kind expression which encouraged Zakal and his friends to approach the Turaga. "Yes," Zakal said, "Big news. Vordaiken and Kudaiye are planning to destroy Delva-Nui. What shall we do?" "Hmmm...." the Turaga said thoughtfully, "I think it's time to choose the new members for a Toa team." The others nodded. The Turaga handed the Matoran some gems. "What are they for?" Zakal asked. "If you look on your weapons," the Turaga replied, "You'll find small punctures that the gems fit into. Remember the tradition?" Zakal remembered it well. The tradition encourages weapon makers to carve punctures in their weapons in the event that they are chosen to be Toa. "Go on," the Turaga said, "Put them in." The Matoran did as they were told. Suddenly, with a big flash of light, they were Toa. They looked the same, but taller. Their weapons looked upgraded, too. "Now," the Turaga said, "You know what to do." "Thank you," Zakal said with a nod, "We won't let you down if our lives depended on it!" They started down the stairs. Strangely, they could still fit on the speeder bikes. The Toa agreed to go back to Pira's village to check and see if anything happened to Vordaiken. But when they arrived, they only found Pira's fellow villagers repairing damage that Vordaiken caused. "Excuse me," Pira said to one Matoran trying to repair her stand, "Do you happen to know where Vordaiken went?" "He left," the Matoran replied, "We hid in the wilderness until we saw him leave." Pira thanked the Matoran but also asked her where Vordaiken went. "Down north," she said, "Why?" Zakal ran toward his speeder. He hopped on and drove north. "ZAKAL!" Pomah shouted, "Where are you going?!" His friend didn't respond. He just continued north. As he neared the village gates, he founded Stotaf laying on the ground. "Oof," the defender said, trying to pick himself up from the ground, "Zakal? Is that you?" "Stotaf!" Zakal said as he ran up to the wounded defender and crouched, "What's happened to you?!" Stotaf coughed. "It was Vordaiken. He beat me up until everyone knew what was going on. Then he threw me onto the ground and went into the village to clear out the witnesses. I haven't been able to move since." "Tell me the cheif is safe!" Zakal exclaimed. "He lost the use of one of his eyes. But he came to see if I was okay. He went to another village to get help. But I don't think I can live long enough for him to come back." "Stotaf," Zakal said with tears in his eyes, "Don't go!" Stotaf coughed again. "I'm sorry, Zakal. It's no use." He started to breath slower. Zakal grabbed the defender's hand. "You know, Zakal," Stotaf said, "You were like a brother to me. Always making new weapons for me. I enjoyed it while it lasted. I just can't believe you were chosen to become a Toa while I dedicated myself to defending my village. Here." He handed Zakal his weapon, a masterpiece made by the former Matoran. "Please keep it," Stotaf insisted, "I can't take it with me, you know." Zakal took it in his hand as his tears were ready to drip. "Do your thing, ..... brother." Stotaf said with his dying breath. He then began to take the eternal sleep. Zakal started to cry. At that moment, his friends arrived. "Zakal, what happened?" Jovikini called as he and the others ran toward him. Zakal said nothing. Instead, they saw Stotaf's lifeless corpse. "Is Stotaf okay?!" a voice cried. Chapter 7 The Toa, except Zakal, turned to see Chief Arka and three medics running toward them. Arka wore an eyepatch over his useless eye. He stopped next to Zakal. "I'm afraid not." Arka answered his own question. "Poor Stotaf," Pomah said, "He failed his duty." Zakal stood up. "But," Pomah said nervously, "He was a great friend!" "Vordaiken," Zakal muttered quietly, "Then Kudaiye. I shall avenge Stotaf and my fellow villagers. I shall become the most powerful Toa in existence. I shall become invincible. I SHALL BECOME UNSTOPPABLE!!!!!" Zakal hopped onto his speeder bike once more and drove off. "I'm going with him." Pomah announced and got onto his speeder and drove in the direction Zakal left. Ten minutes later, Zakal could see Vordaiken on the horizen terrorizing a group of hunters. "VORDAIKEN!" Zakal shouted. Vordaiken looked in Zakal's direction. "You again?" Vordaiken said gruffly, "Someone's been drinking their milk!" "Shut up, slimeball," Zakal retorted as he jumped of his speeder, "It ends here!" "I couldn't agree more!" Vordaiken said with an evil grin as he grabbed a hunter and bent his back the wrong way. He screamed in pain before Vordaiken tossed him where he would lay helpless. Pomah suddenly arrived. "Let me help, Zakal," Pomah said, "Stotaf saved my life once!" Zakal nodded as he and Pomah began to attack. "Fools." Vordaiken said as he grabbed the two Toa and tossed them toward their speeders (I apologize for the overuse of ts), blowing them up. Pomah charged toward his surly opponent, only to be pounded aside. He got up and swung his sword at Vordaiken's head, but in a split-second, he grabbed Pomah's sword by the blade and quickly slashed the startled Toa's heartstone. "POMAH!!!" Zakal cried. He quickly stabbed Vordaiken's arm and ran toward his friend. "Pomah, are you okay?" Zakal asked anxiously. "No, Zakal," Pomah replied weakly, "My end is near." "No," Zakal said sadly, "Not you, too!" "Zakal," Pomah said, "I never thought it would end this way! I thought we would never become Toa. I didn't want to become one. It puts our lives at risk." Pomah wheezed. "Finish what you started, Zakal." Pomah said with his dying breath. Zakal's eyes turned blood red. He turned to face Vordaiken, who was holding his wound. "Now," Zakal said angrily, "You will know the HORROOOOOR!!!" With that he charged toward Vordaiken and slashed his arm off. "You fool!" Vordaiken exclaimed as he grabbed the place where his arm once was. Zakal's hand then shot toward Vordaiken's chest and tore out his heartstone. "You don't need that heart!" Zakal spat as he tossed the heart aside. Vordaiken died immediately. Then, Zakal turned to Pomah's dead body. "Pomah," Zakal said, "I'm so sorry. This was all my fault. I just wanted some action. I was a fool." He walked over to the wreckage of the speeder bikes and began to find anything salvagable. The survival packs provided a kit for emitting signals and the still-intact walkie-talkies. "Perfect." Zakal said and got to work. He set up the signal emitter and turned on a walkie-talkie. "Hello? Hello?" Zakal spoke into the walkie-talkie. "Hello? Zakal?" Pira's voice could be heard from the walkie-talkie. "Pira," Zakal replied, "It's me. I'm the only survivor of a battle between two Toa and Vordaiken. Pomah didn't make it." "I can see your signal," Pira said, "I'll make my way over. See you soon." Chapter 8 New As Zakal waited for help to arrive, he got creative and built a makeshift shovel from pieces of his speeder bike. He dug Pomah a grave and used a wrecked slab of metal as a headstone. He carved "Toa Pomah, a dear friend" on the headstone. Once he had buried Pomah, he turned away to find a way to entertain himself. Five minutes later, the team arrived. Avon got off his speeder bike and looked at the two wrecked ones. WIthout saying a word, he got some tools from his cargo hold, walked over to the pair of scrap heaps, got on his knees, and set to work. He used parts from both of the damaged speeder bikes to create a working one. "Great as the last two." Avon said as he stood up and looked at his work of art. "Thanks," Zakal said as he hopped onto his speeder bike, "I think we should visit the High Council again. Without Pomah, we're an incomplete set of tools." He placed his signal emitter into his cargo hold and headed for the High Council's hill. They reached the base and could easily climb up faster. At that pace, they had reached the top in only a third of the time they had gone up as Matoran. But when they reached the top, there were no Turaga seated at the table. Instead, an armored titan sat in one of the chairs. His armor was silver, but was also black and grey. A torn, light grey cape was wrapped around his neck and covered his left arm. His head sprouted long spikes that pointed up, giving it the appearence of a king's crown. His eyes were green and sharp.He stood up. "Ah, greetings," he said with a voice like a snake's, "I am Kudaiye, a visitor of the High Council. What can I do for you?" "Here's a start: tell us what you did to the High Council!" Jovikini shouted. "This," Kudaiye said as he suddenly appeared next to Takarda and grabbed him by the neck. Next, the titan spun around and let go of the startled Toa. He flew out of the gazibo, where he would suffer a grizzly death from a fatal fall. His comrades watched as he fell toward the ground and met an ill fate. His teamates shuddered. "Are you saying you THREW THEM OFF THE HILL?!" Avon said in surprise. "Precisely," Kudaiye said, "You wanna try?" He got ready to charge at Avon, but Zakal stopped him. "Might I suggest a little chat?" Zakal asked. "We'll make it about YOU!" Kudaiye replied as he punched the Toa out of the gazibo. He sailed over the stairs and fell toward the speeder bikes. The loud explosion that followed made Pira faint. Jovikini ran toward Kudaiye and swung his sword. Kudaiye grabbed it and broke it in half. He tossed the pieces out of the gazibo and tried to grab Jovikini. Avon rushed between him and swung his staff at the villain. The end twacked the side of Kudaiye's head. He shouted in pain. Pira suddenly woke up and rushed down the stairs. "Let's wrap this up." Kudaiye said as he raised his hand. The floor and ceiling suddenly started to break. The whole gazibo shattered. It appeared the three beings were in some purple dimension. Then, the titan solidified some air into spear shapes that launched at the Toa, who were slain. The rest of the hill was breaking up, and Pira was running out of time.Chapter 9 coming soon!Coming in Chapter 9: As Kudaiye lets the island shatter, it is up to Pira to do her thing. But Kudaiye is too powerful. But did Zakal actually die?
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