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  1. Synopsis: Just another relatively idyllic day for the Turaga of Metru Nui to oversee. Or is it? The Last Ember Day Turaga Dume got up and put his mask on for the day. Blinking the world into focus and stifling back a yawn, he stretched, rolling the burden of the years from his shoulders. An unbidden groan escaped as the weight of responsibility quickly settled into the vacancy. He couldn’t deny he was getting old, as much as he resented it. Hadn’t his dreams, mere moments ago, been filled with echoes of his triumphs as a Toa? With a decisive shake of his head, he banished the deceivingly sweet nostalgia away. He knew if he let it linger, it would quickly turn bitter. Had anyone else been present, he was sure his morning routine would embarrass him. It wasn’t befitting for the Turaga of Metru Nui to grumble at his wilting window plant - a parting gift from the recently reassigned Toa Mangai of the Green, nor was it proper to kick away assortments of day-to-day items and armor pieces in need of regeneration, promising to get to them later. Dume snatched up his staff, checked one last time to make sure his robe hung evenly, and was out the door. The two Rorzakh guards, permanently assigned to him, fell into perfectly synchronous step behind him. Even after all these years, and even with their inventor’s increasingly sophisticated updates to help smooth the mechanized officer into Metru society as seamlessly as possible, they still couldn’t greet him with the cheery, “Good morning, Turaga! Here is your itinerary for the day!” Yes, Dume missed having Matoran aides, but they had this unpleasant habit of falling for bribes and corrupting too easily. In fact, even now, the ringleader of a counterfeit Kanoka operation was waiting in the basement of the Coliseum to be interrogated. The only reason the Vahki had been able to bring him in was because one of Dume’s clerks had been selling Coliseum intelligence gang. That’s what it was, despite what the Matoran advisors in his council meetings insisted. So what, if there were ‘connotations’? Dume was sure he aged twice as fast in the council sessions. Destiny was sadistic, that it had him spending most of his time there, these days. “Toa Naho,” Turaga Dume greeted the Toa of Water who waited in said council chamber. His Vahki faded into the background.“I wasn’t aware we were meeting today.” “Apologies, Turaga.” She nodded once in deferential greeting, speaking quickly. “Your clerks cleared a few minutes for me to update you on the Archivist situation.” The Toa was practically bouncing in place - clearly neither he nor she wanted her to be there longer than necessary. She had a young spirit, Naho did. “By all means,” the Turaga said, opening a palm to her in invitation to speak freely. It took him a moment, though, to recall which Archivist situation she was taking care of. They were never in short supply. “With the information from last week’s scouting, and taking into account his last known trajectory, there’s a good chance I can bring in rogue Archivist Mavrah into custody by mid-week.” A slight, self-satisfied and eager smile broke onto her Mask of Calculations, which had no doubt helped her pinpoint her quarry’s most likely hideaway. “Excellent work, Naho,” Dume congratulated her, and waved one of his Vahki over. Lhikan was right to leave her in charge while he was gone. “How many Vahki do you estimate you’ll need?” “One squad of Bordakh, and two Keerakh, if you can spare them.” Her answer was confident and precise, which he appreciated. “Did you get that?” Dume asked his Rorzakh, which chirped once in response, and otherwise remained stationary. He turned back to the Toa. “The Keelerakh will meet you outside the Coliseum, and you may pick up your squad of Bordakh at the nearest Ga-Metru hive. Great Spirit’s blessing to you, Toa.” It would be good to finally, finally put this whole Mavrah matter to rest. He’d been an acid fly in the armor for far too long. A few months of a personal Rorzakh shadow, a few more months under the Vahki’s Staff of Presence surveillance, and reassignment to street maintenance for a few years, Dume hoped, would mellow him out. “Turaga?” Naho turned once more, almost out the door. “Have you any word from Lhikan on his return?” “He’s sent me no word of delay. We’ve no reason not to expect him on time,” Dume reassured her. Toa Lhikan had accompanied his brothers on their reassignment to see them off to the Southern Continent - their Toa of the Green and Toa of Ice. However, Dume was worried about his courageous commander - Lhikan had been badly shaken by Toa Tuyet’s betrayal, and even moreso by Nidhiki’s. Although the events had passed years ago, those close to Lhikan knew it would always be yesterday for him. Dume suspected Naho shared the same worry for him. And now that troubles in the city had been stabilized, for decades now, the Toa Mangai were increasingly feeling destiny’s call elsewhere, which couldn’t be ignored. But for those left behind, it was like another branch in a Kanohi stress fracture - you never knew when it would break, but you knew it was inevitable. He would have to do something about that. After all, hadn’t he once led a team of Toa, not unlike the ones now serving his city? “I’ll let you know personally, if anything changes.” And she was gone. All too soon, the clerks began to show in petitioners to the council chamber. When necessary, this or that advisor was brought in, and the scribes switched out every hour or so. The chutes in Ko-Metru were malfunctioning again due to weather-related issues. Dume granted the petitioning engineer an writ of exception to halt his current projects and prioritize that one. The canals in Ga-Metru were filling with algae. He called in his botany advisor and authorized them to work with the petitioning students to assign scheduled canal maintenance by neighborhood. The Ga-Matoran had taken for granted the recently departed Toa of the Green living in their Metru. A Ta-Matoran came in accusing the Po-Matoran he had in tow of sabotaging his latest shipment of tools. Dume had to threaten to have his Rorzakh intervene if the two didn’t calm down. Sometimes, Toa Lhikan would sit in on these open council sessions. Nobody dared say as much out loud, but many assumed, when the time came, the Matoran of Metru Nui would someday look to venerated a venerated Turaga Lhikan to lead them into the future. By Dume’s reckoning, though, the Toa of Fire still had many a good fighting year left in him. But then again, anyone could be destiny’s fool. “This is an internal Ko-Metru affair,” he told the two Ko-Matoran before him, snapping back to present. “I’m afraid I can offer you no ruling.” And he dismissed them. “From Onu-Metru, inventor Nuparu,” the clerk presented, sliding into the chamber as the two Ko-Matoran left. If he were able to call any Matoran a friend, Nuparu would be his first choice. He’d worked almost daily with the inventor when the brilliant Matoran’s Vahki initiative had launched, and the Turaga couldn’t help admire not just Nuparu’s work, but the way he went about it - making sure both he and his order enforcers put Matoran first. Dume had seen just how much damage the Vahki could do, during their prototype stages, and had no illusions to the power he held as their sole commander. Not even Nuparu could command them absolutely - the inventor had programmed his own authority away out of loyalty to his city and the Turaga who oversaw it. Dume had confided in Lhikan - if ever his station of power over the city and its army of robotic order enforcers started crossing his wires, Lhikan’s duty was to call him out on it. The Matoran and their well-being was first and foremost, not enforcing their productivity, but bolstering their livelihoods. The rest would follow. “Turaga Dume.” The inventor dipped in a quick bow, which was unnecessary, and continued without preamble. “I’ve the upgraded staffs for your Rorzakh.” Dume recognized the Matoran’s staccato speech pattern and near-constant fidgeting. There was a much more interesting project that this errand was keeping him from. Suppressing an amused smile, Dume thanked him and waved in the two Matoran bearing the new Vahki staffs. “You’ve outdone yourself, Nuparu.” The Onu-Matoran mumbled something in acknowledgment, but was absorbed in the control panels that ran along one wall, holding one of the new staffs close above an input sensor. This specialized model of the Rorzakh Staff of Presence would route the eavesdropping feed directly to the telescreen in Turaga Dume’s council chamber. Dume hoped never to have to have reason to need this function, but with recent events, one could never be too careful. Not with the city’s very heart at stake. It had been too quiet for too long, the days were even beginning to blur together. Nobody believed the Shadowed One and his legions of dark operatives were truly through with the City of Legends. Goodbyes were short, monosyllabically so on Nuparu’s part, and that wasn’t unusual. If need for a new generation of Toa ever arose in the city, and Dume prayed to Mata Nui that it wouldn’t, he believed Nuparu would honor that station well. “How many more are waiting?” Dume asked the clerk who next poked her head in. “Four, Turaga,” she reported. “No more, after that,” he told her. He had hoped to make it to the schools before they closed, but that wouldn’t happen today. He was to meet Toa Obrakun, one of the remaining Toa Mangai of Ice, in the interrogation chambers to confidentially hear any information gleaned from the high-security prisoners. One was the Kanoka counterfeiter, another was a Le-Matoran with carefully inconsistent records in his dealings with Stelt, and another was the captain of a ship that had made an unauthorized stop much too close to Odina for anyone’s liking. Although nobody liked the job, a Toa interrogator often had more success than a fellow Matoran, or Vahki. Unfortunately, Toa Mangai of Ice, Kadasi had been the one to leave on reassignment to the Southern Continent last week. His rare and precious Kanohi Rode had simplified countless interrogations. After the incident with the Kanohi Dragon, many a Matoran slept easier at night knowing a surplus of Ko-Toa were watching over them. But he’d earned his reassignment, and Dume had been glad to sign off on it, if not rueful in the slightest. Even with Kadasi gone, there were still three of his ice brothers in the city. It was only two hours past mid-day, although it felt like it should be suns-set. These were ember days, as he privately named them. He told himself, as the day wore on, that he should be thankful for these days. They were concrete evidence that they were in a time of peace. Managing day to day matters of his people was a privilege afforded by hard-earned prosperity, and it honored the Great Spirit to do the work to the best of his ability. Sometimes he recalled the inferno days of the Dark Hunter War, his people constantly living - and dying - in fear, the gnawing dread of betrayal waiting just around the corner, the sleepless weeks dragging and flying by in a detached but detailed haze. The juxtaposition always helped him appreciate the leisurely open council days. “Thank you,” Turaga Dume dismissed the scribe, scrambling for his name. He was a newer scribe, but from the glimpses Dume had gotten, diligent and thorough. “Kopeke,” he remembered. “Good work today.” “For the Great Spirit,” the Ko-Matoran returned by rote. All work you could be proud of was dedicated to the Great Spirit, of course. Sometimes it just helped to say it aloud. “For the Great Spirit,” Dume agreed, but to himself, for the Matoran was already gone. The Turaga heaved a sigh, and sat down at long last. He had less than half an hour before he had to meet the Toa of Ice downstairs in the basement. Interrogation chambers, high-security holding cells, it went by many names, but officially didn’t exist. “One of these days,” the Turaga said to his Rorzakh, who had patiently, perfectly, stood sentry the whole session, “I’ll be able to get some fresh air.” For most of the week, Dume had been in either open or closed council sessions, advisor assemblies, or receiving foreign ambassadors. None of those events were held outside the Coliseum. Next week, though, he was to referee a debate between top Ga-Metru students and the handful of Ko-Matoran nominated for official Scholar status. He looked forward to that, greatly, and made a mental note to read up on their debate topics beforehand. But that was a joke, because when would he find the time? “All right,” Turaga Dume heaved a sigh that was so powerful it pushed him wearily to his feet. “Downstairs.” He waved along his Rorzakh, heading for the electro-lift. The lift stopped at the arena floor, which it wasn’t supposed to. Annoyed, he jabbed the sublevel button again with the head of his staff. He’d have to put in a ticket to get an electrician to look at that. The natural light streaming in from the one window cut off, and a change in pressure that pushed against the sensitive parts in his audio-receptors. That was the only way Dume knew he was now below the surface of the city, because the doors sprang open to reveal a well-lit corridor identical to the ones in the Coliseum’s pinnacle levels, often used to house ambassadors or overworked advisors. Politician or prisoner, one’s amenities while staying in the Coliseum varied little. Whether that said more about one group or another, Dume wasn’t sure. On his more dismal days, he wasn’t even sure the difference. He bid his sentries follow him with a gesture of his staff. They made to follow obediently. As soon as Dume was clear of the lift’s heavy metallic doors, they slammed closed. He jumped back with a cry of alarm, ducking all that was left of the first Rorzakh as it sprayed out toward him in a shower of sparks and coolant. The brightness from the spark shower died, leaving Dume in complete darkness. The lights had gone out. All but the lights streaming out of the one window in each holding cell door. “Initiate protocol Dermis Shell,” Dume breathed. But the remaining Rorzakh’s only response was the resounding crash as it, too collapsed inside the lift. Was something in there with it? Dume’s heartlight flashed rapidly, even though he was holding perfectly still. Slow, creeping movement along the floor caught his eye. Was that…? No. There, seeping under the crack of the first interrogation chamber? Surely, not… He reached the growing puddle, not realizing he’d consciously moved, stooping to test the liquid with a trembling hand. But the acrid stench was unmistakable - hemodermis. Blood. The sight of the remains of the Kanoka counterfeiter inside struck him like a fist. He stumbled back with a cry. Turaga Dume had barely regained his footing when a piercing scream echoed in the fouled corridor. “No!” he roared, leaping at the second door from where it issued. “No!” He battered the unforgiving door as it showed him the second prisoner - the boat captain with Steltian ties - writing on the floor. She was covered in a mass of slime. “No!!” It wasn’t slime. It was leeches. Writhing. Pulsing. Screeching. Feeding. Kraata. He realized, sinking to the floor as the Matoran’s screams were cut off abruptly. He nursed his wrist, which he didn’t remember breaking. The door didn’t even have a scratch on it. “No,” he whispered, voice shaking more than he was. Breath escaping in hoarse sobs, unbidden. Closed eyes helped nothing, death grinned obscenely at him there. Dume. His eyes snapped open. His breathing steadied. His heartlight slowed. All to make room for a different, crashing fear that rolled through him, more powerful than any bioquake. He couldn’t look away. He couldn’t breathe. He was drawn toward the last interrogation chamber, trancelike. And the door opened for him, flooding him in clinical, ice sharp light. And what he saw rooted him to the spot. The last Matoran lay against the far wall. Head propped up at an unnatural angle. Staring far off, at nothing. He was almost eclipsed totally by the large, silver sphere he lay beside. A sphere? Toa Obrakun hung suspended in the air, motionless, and rotating slowly. Eyes and mouth open wide in a scream that would never be. A slow laugh, deeper than the abyss in the Silver Sea, roiled like poison from the one holding the Toa aloft. His shadow armor chilled the air. “Dume,” he repeated. And the Makuta smiled the sure smile of victory. “It was almost too easy.” The Toa dropped to the ground and lay still. The silver sphere rose in turn, coming between the Turaga and the terrorizer. The shadows cast by the stark interrogation lights came alive, burning. Dume could do nothing as the shadows snaked around him, constricting. He could do nothing as the Makuta, with that smile straight from Karzahki approached. Ripped Dume’s mask from his face. Replaced it with a screeching Kraata. Sleep, knowing you’ve failed. The Makuta’s voice reverberated inside Dume’s mind, which could hold nothing but the present horror. The sphere let out a mechanical hiss, and a panel slid open, revealing it to be hollow. Cold. Dark. “Your destiny awaits,” rumbled the Makuta. And the Turaga of Metru Nui crumbled, his fire smothered by the master of shadows. 'Turaga Dume' got up and put on his mask for the day.
  2. Psionics Revisited (disclaimer: this is like 85% pure conjecture, but aiming to be canonically plausible, least.) I know Psionics has been the topic of much discussion and contention since it came out. It’s a huge, ill-defined power set, and many people think it shouldn’t be its own element. I don’t entirely disagree, but as G1 is passed and Psionics was never recalled, I’ve tried to come up with a few different indices on which elemental and non-elemental psionics could operate, and lay out possible examples or applications of that family of psionic ability. Sources of psionic powers: -Ce-Matoran, Ce-Toa, Ce-Turaga -Makuta -Kraata: Fear, Anger, Rahi/Insect control, etc. -Krana: telepathy, strategy -Rhotuka: Sidorak’s command spinner, possibly Varian’s sleep spinner, etc. -Kanohi: Suletu, Matatu, Komau, Olisi -Vahki staffs -Skakdi powers. Avak’s prison creation and Reidak’s adaptability could be construed examples of non-elemental dynamic powers. General limitation: I think it’s reasonable that elemental and non-elemental psionics cannot affect unconscious regulations in brain – ie, homeostasis, breathing, blinking. Also cannot alter already-encoded memory, nor motor skills (that would be way too much power, although everything is up for debate). Indices Static vs. Dynamic – the big criticism of Psionics as an element is that so many other beings in the MU have psionics powers. To deal with this, I think it makes sense that non-elemental Psionics powers (those granted by Kanohi or Vahki staffs or wielded by Rahkshi or some Rahi) are static. They have a concrete set of limitations and abilities. Kanohi include Suletu, Matatu, Komau, Olisi, Rahi Control, probably others. Rahkshi powers like fear, anger, insect control, etc. are also included. The mind-barrier that Ce-Matoran and Order of Mata Nui operatives have combat most static psionic powers, although it’s questionable whether a basic mind-barrier by a non-elemental psionics wielder could withstand a concentrated Suletu attack by an advanced user, or a high-level fear-Rahkshi attack, for example. Elemental Psionics – wielded by Toa of Psionics and Makuta, is a dynamic power set, able to be customized and honed to the individual’s own strengths, weaknesses, station in life, etc. Can shift and adapt, scaling to level of power required for whatever task is at hand. Thought vs. Feeling – Again, a psionics-user would have an inclination or proclivity toward affecting one over another, but both can be learned, like learning a second language. This is a lesser index, not really mentioned below, but I think it’s a good distinction to make. Knowing when to influence conscious thoughts versus subtly nudge or suppress someone’s emotions shouldn’t be underestimated. These next three are the more concrete distinctions in power manifestation and development, and formed the best distinctions for classifying abilities. Self vs.Others – I like to think this would be like right hand versus left hand dominance, a psionics-wielder has a natural bent toward one over the other. Certain abilities/powers don’t work on self, and certain ones don’t work on others. Input/Output – pretty straightforward, input is perceptions, output is projections. Receiving vs broadcasting. Basic mind-reading and thought-projection, both of which Ce-Matoran (therefore Order agents) are immune to, for better or worse. Enhance/Alter/Block – Three main ways cognition/thought can be affected by psionic power. Categories Not meant to be hard and fast, impassable barriers, but more of a framework to help think about the huge scope of abilities mind-messing can include. Enhance input (self) – briefly enhance one’s senses, but makes oneself more vulnerable to distractions, thus disrupting the enhancement. Simplest to enhance one sense at a time, disciplined users can enhance more than one. Another aspect is being able to read minds more clearly, from a farther distance, with less restriction. ‘Scrying’ is another possibility of how this power can be manifested or developed. Reading minds falls into this category. On that note, could a super-enhanced mind-reading ability work through dimensional barriers? Would a Toa of Psionics with a Kanohi Mohtrek be able to link up with their duplicated counterparts across space-time? Alter input (self) – greater capacity for self-delusion. Can’t think of a great practical use for this. Kind of a mish-mashed, less potent version of what the Mask of Alternate Futures and Mask of Creation can do – help visualize possibilities. Creating illusions for oneself. Block input (self) – Could be useful for dampening own senses. If a dynamic psionics user had a Suletu, which is reportedly always on at a low level, you could ‘turn it off’, essentially. Enhance input (others) – enhance sense of others, can be helpful or distracting, potentially overwhelming. If target is already a psionics-user and can read minds (ex: Suletu user, another Toa of Psionics, possibly a Makuta), can enhance their psionic range. Can also read through mind-barriers, like what Helyrx would have. Strength of barrier versus strength of enhanced mind-read come into play, and it becomes a battle of will. Mind control would fall into this category. Alter input (others) – like what we saw Makuta do to Vakama in Time Trap, trapping him in a complex illusion, and that would be a highly advanced example. This is different than how an Olisi would work, because Makuta could control and adapt how the vision played out based on Vakama’s actions. Making target think they were hearing voices, another example. It was theorized somewhere that a Kualsi-user could quick-travel to a location shown to them in their minds by a psionics-user, which would be super risky, but theoretically possible. That would fall under this family of abilities. Power of suggestion. Block input (others) – obvious example, trap them in essentially an isolated void. Also useful for shielding allies from psionic attacks. Enhance output (self) – can project thoughts with more clarity, farther, through mind-barriers. Telekinesis probably falls into this category, but could also be its own thing. That being said, I think it needs reasonable limitation(s) – whatever you’re moving can’t be alive (can’t telekinete a Matoran, but you could telekinete his armor?), can’t shift weight more than yourself (can counter this by anchoring self physically against something?), have to be able to see what you’re moving (similar to how a Mask of Quick-Travel is limited). Hypnosis and illusion creation. Alter output (self) – This one was more difficult, and could definitely use more fleshing out. Could fool a static psionics user – like, if a Suletu user was nearby, they’d be able to sense the void you leave if you totally block your output, but if you alter it, they’ll only pick up that you’re thinking of Ussal crabs, for example, instead of picking up that you know they’re trying to mind-read you. Requires awareness that you’re trying to be mind-read, though. Block output (self) – Mind-readers can’t read you. Enhance output (others) – Can project someone else’s thoughts, can boost others’ psionic abilities, whether it be static or dynamic. Alter output (others) – requires awareness that another is outputting psionic power. Could intercept or hijack a Suletu-mediated conversation. Essentially, using psionics to fight psionics. Block output (others) – nullify other psionic powers at the source. Instead of expending a lot of energy and concentration shielding your team from an anger Rahkshi, block the Kraata’s ability to output. More canon or theoretical examples welcome!! Jury’s out on these: • Dream powers – I’m not sure if dreams count as input or output, but dream-alteration, blocking, and enhancement (realization, like the Golden Skinned being’s powers) are pretty cool ideas, I just couldn’t figure out a neat category. The output is internal? The content is self-inputting? No idea. • Telekinesis – see ‘enhance output (self)’ Do powers like disintegration or fragmentation fall inot this category? or how Toa of physical elements, like earth and stone are seen levitating large quantities of their element? • Invisibility – is it a physiological change or an alteration of a perception to viewers? • Kakama – enhanced mental processing is probably needed to be able to function and react while moving that fast. Perhaps some permutation of sensory aptitude • Other abilities that may or may not have a psionic component – Reidak’s adaptability, Axonn’s insanity-heal, Mask of Charisma, Mask of Psychometry, Avak’s prison-creation, Kanohi Rode, Kanohi Elda, Kanohi Iden, Kanohi Mahiki, Mask of Possibilities (related to dream-realization, mask of creation, etc), Kanohi Zatth • Anonna and Tren Krom – if anyone wants to take a crack at these two, they’re in a zone of their own. • ‘Mental blast’ – described as a power that Toa of Psionics are capable of, as well as Hakann. Probably tailored to the attacker’s preference. Also, what would a Psionics Nova Blast do? Leave everyone brain-dead? Drive everyone insane? • Do psionic powers work on Spherus Magna residents? (there may be a topic on this, I’m not sure, I feel like I’ve seen the question asked before). I’d lean toward ‘no’, because I think I read in one of the Greg q&a sessions that he pictures the Matoran Languge to be some kind of coding language, so psionics would flow from that, and probably not work on organic beings. So would psionics be technopathy, then? In summation: Psionics is a cool power, and I think it has the potential to be hugely overpowered. I think a good analogy is this: Psionics as a whole is a library. A Matatu user uses the quick-refence function or asks a librarian, and shortcuts straight to the telekinesis section, but as long as the telekinesis book is checked out, they can’t use any other books in the libarary (ie, they have no other psionic powers of their own). A Toa of Psionics has access to the whole library, and because they’re an exclusive member, they can check out as many books as they want (choose to hone as many powers as they want), but its up to them to put in the work to become a master. Thoughts, disagreements, discussion welcome!!
  3. Images courtesy of BS01 The Matoran Civil War started out as precisely that - Matoran trying to be civil to each other. However, one should never underestimate the passive-aggressive capacity of a slighted Po-Matoran sculptor, nor the one-upping tenacity of a Ta-Matoran smelter. Unfortunately, they both underestimated one another in these regards, and the whole city paid the price. Prologue: No Legends to Call Our Own There were legends, and there always had been. Tales of powerful and just Toa heroes who rose up to right the wrongs in the world, at the bidding of the Great Spirit himself. Toa heroes who wielded grand elemental powers, and the tales spoke of mystical Kanohi powers, used to beat back darkness threatening the Matoran. Everyone loved hearing these stories. Retellings of how mighty commander Toa led battalions against the fearsome League armies, centuries ago now, were always a crowd favorite. Stories of a small-town Matoran, chosen and transformed into a gallant Toa and overcoming the odds to save the day and his village he loves - those stories were becoming steadily more popular. The Matoran of Metru Nui loved the tales of the Toa because they were far-off and foreign tales, so far removed from anything remotely resembling the Matorans’ experience. These were stories, and they were safe, because that's all they'd ever be. Stories that were meant for a cozy evening in a pub after a long week, stories to give sop to a working Matoran’s dormant dreams of adventure and daring. Metru Nui, the Great City, was indeed great. No darkness dared threaten Mata Nui’s paragon city. The city itself was legendary, and so it needed no legends of its own. It would be bad for productivity. Even when the battles of the League of Six Kingdoms had raged throughout the world, the canny Matoran of Metru Nui had found a way to hold their own, and the threat of conquerors never even shadowed their sea gate. But when a threat had arisen from within the city itself? “I lost everything on those barges, Rofto,” the Ta-Matoran with the hood of his cloak pulled low over his mask confided to his companion. The two of them sat in a pub right outside Ta-Metru’s eastern firepits. The din of conversations around them, mostly other firepits workers, gave the establishment a homey atmosphere. There was a tournament of ‘cills going on in the corner. “That was ages ago.” Rofto tilted his head, asking for an explanation. During the time when the League of Six Kingdoms was expanding, although some would say conquering, the Ta-Matoran Crafter’s Coalition, alongside the Immolator Conglomerate, had worked tirelessly to broker a deal with one of the Barraki, supplying the far-away army with tools and parts for war vehicles and weapons maintenance and repair. It was a very lucrative deal. The Ta-Matoran had taken it upon themselves to see the production, assembly, processing, and shipment of the goods through from start to finish, shipping them out under the name of Ta-Metru. Outside trades were supposed to be under the name of Metru Nui first and foremost, because it usually took multiple Metru to create finished products. But the innovators from the Crafter’s Coalition had seen a chance to step up, and they had taken it, along with handsome war profits, which had in turn, revitalized the entire fire Metru. Ta-Metru was now, without doubt, the most well-off of the six districts of the Great City. Apparently, some of the sculptors over in the stone district didn’t like that. It must have been centuries ago now, the Ta-Matoran crafters had lost two trading barges, sunk in the harbor, only hours before the barges were to take the top notch Ta-Metru trade goods to the Southern Continent. The Fire Brands, Ta-Metru’s own policing force, had quickly identified a group of Po-Matoran assemblers who had sabotaged the barges. “I know the Fire Brands would have my mask for saying this,” Rofto continued in a whisper, “But nobody really believes that the warehouse fires in Po-Metru were an accident.” Not a month after the sinking of the Ta-Metru barges, Po-Metru had lost an entire block of warehouses to some convenient, rampaging fires. “It’s all water under the causeways,” the other Matoran waved a dismissive hand. “The point is, it’s practically been a millennia, and the cursed sculptors still are managing to block our trade regulation modifications in the Turaga’s Councils.” After the entire barge-sinking, warehouse-bombing fiasco between the sculptors and the smelters, Turaga Arrakio, in a rare direct order, summoned the foremost Matoran of both districts, in an attempt to get to the bottom of this dispute. What had ensued, unfortunately, was a filibuster of sorts, a stalling of the centuries. The Po-Matoran Crafter’s Commission, which was always in direct and confusing competition with the Ta-Matoran’s Crafter’s Coalition, started proposing modified trade regulations, trying to pass laws against Ta-Metru specifically. And, of course, the Ta-Matoran would not stand for it. And so, as legal battles kept the Turaga ensnared, Ta-Metru and Po-Metru were left to feud unchecked. Nobody really knew how long this had all been going on, but tensions in the city were high. The ever-increasing number of rampaging Rahi beasts in the city did not help. The sculptors, and everyone who took their side, which was most of Le-Metru by this point, were throwing accusations at the Onu-Matoran, who had allied with the Ta-Matoran against Le-Metru’s transportation monopoly. “Is it true that there are some Ga-Matoran who want to form a deal with us?” Rofto asked, eyes wide. Their water sisters were notoriously diplomatic and neutral, and had condemned the inter-Metru squabbling from the start. “I’ve heard that too." The hooded Matoran nodded, waving away the Matoran approaching to bus their table. “Students, from the School of Synthetic Sciences, looking for research funding.” Rofto sat back, and gave an impressed, quiet whistle. “Wow. If we can get the Schools helping us with the laws and the protodermis processing, that could really seal the deal.” The other Matoran’s eyes lit with his smile. “Exactly. But, Rofto. It’s getting more and more dangerous out there. Did you hear about Buon?” “Buon? From the furnaces? Yeah, tragic,” Rofto said sadly. He didn’t know the late furnace maintenance worker personally, but the loss of a brother was always a travesty. “Yeah,” and the Matoran leaned in, whispering, “The Fire Brands are saying it was a Rahkshi attack.” “A Rahi attack?” Rofto asked, also leaning in, because surely he'd misheard. “No. I thought the same thing when I first heard.” “If the Onu-Matoran are letting Rahkshi exhibits loose, and the city thinks we’re directing them…” Rofto’s eyes widened in fearful realization. “The other Metru would undoubtedly side with the Po-Matoran,” his companion said with an air of finality. “We’d be sunk.” The longer the stone-and-fire conflict went on, the stricter the measures became that the opposition was trying to force on the Ta-Matoran, and now their allies, the Onu-Matoran. “I heard there have even been deaths in Ga-Metru, and Le-Metru,” Rofto fretted. “It’s getting bad.” “The Matoran are scared,” his companion agreed. “From every district.” “We need unity,” Rofto said, after a moment. “I know I’m sick of all the inter-Metru restrictions cropping up after ever Turaga’s Council meeting. I haven’t been able to make it to a test track race in ages. Only the bigshots race in the Coliseum, and everyone knows those matches are as good as fixed, anyways." “You don’t think Turaga Arrakio could make the changes the people want?” “He’s practically senile,” Rofto sighed in frustration, to his companion’s amusement. “We need something to change the tides.” His companion opened his mouth as if to say something, paused, and closed it again, seemingly having arrived at a better judgment. "What?" Rofto pressed. “The Po-Matoran found a Toa stone,” the cloaked Matoran whispered, barely audible. Rofto gaped at him. “You’re kidding.” “No, someone in my firepits heard about it last week. I mean, if you've ever seen the size of those warehouse, it's really not a surprise they've dug one up.” “They can’t really know for sure,” Rofto shook his head, quickly dismissing the gossip. “What’s for sure, nowadays?” his friend shot back. “What if I told you that I do know for sure?” “I’d bet all my ancillaries and cogs I’ve got on me that you can’t prove it,” Rofto chuckled, hefting his widget pouch. Finally, Rofto’s companion pulled back the hood of his cloak, and leaned in urgently once more. “I know, Rofto, because I stole it from them.” “Nuok!” Rofto gasped, nearly falling out of his seat. The whole night, he thought his tablemate was just another weary firepits worker. “Rofto,” Nuok said, adopting a reassuring tone. “You’ve come to my attention, my group’s attention, as a Matoran who has integrity. I’ve spoken with your foreman from your firepits sector, and spoken with some coworkers. I always see you here on storyteller nights. You're clearly a visionary. We’re very impressed with you, and your strength of character.” “You-your group?” Rofto sputtered. Nuok, the overseer of the entire eastern sector of firepits, furnaces, and foundries in Ta-Metru was also one of the most influential voices on the Crafter’s Coalition, and he was rumored that he was the one who singlehandedly contrived and executed the Barraki deal back in the League days. They said he had a secret group of other high-up Ta-Matoran. Some of them, he’d heard, were even invited to the Turaga’s Councils. “Not to get hung up on the details, but yes. I’m here representing some crafters and the like who have grown tired of waiting on diplomacy that will inevitably fail us. We’ve pooled our resources to help … move things along. We are aware of who you are, and what you could do for this city and for your people.” Nuok stood, offering his fist in salute. Rofto clanked the executive Matoran’s fist in return, in a slight daze. “We’ll be in touch.” Review Topic Although this epic is part of a series, I'm hoping I can write it so it also works as a standalone. The review topic has an appendix of world information relevant but not key to the story, as well as links to other stories in the same vein, and some authors' notes, and fun facts! Related Reading:
  4. We can all agree that it is the squidlauncher, all blasters have a medium that pushes the projectile except for this.
  5. Prequel: Water's Will IPart I: The Ternion Part II: The Sculptors and the Smelters Review: The Ternion Saga Directory A. Story and Character Information Introduction Table of Contents Timeline References Cast of Characters Short Story Prequel Information Fun Facts and Miscellaneous B. Northern Continent Compendium Known Islands and Continents Northern Continent Maps The League Conquests C. Matoran Civil War Guide Overview Resources Maps Economy Overview Formal Economy Informal Economy Currency Metru Nui News Articles I. Intro ternion - [ˈtɜr ni ən ] noun, a set or group of three, trio, triad The idea for this epic came from a handful of characters who needed a place in the universe. After many long hours digging through BS01 and some old, beloved Bionicle books, they landed in earlier Matoran Universe history, on the cusp of the Matoran Civil War, and in a world that’s recently recovering from the conquests of the League of Six Kingdoms. There’s so, so much history of the original Matoran Universe, I love it. I do apologize if some sections of writing become too technical - I’ve really enjoyed speculating how the aftereffects of war affected the world. It’s been a nice training-wheels exercise in world-building. Also, to note - I haven’t looked into anything G2 related, so as a disclaimer, everything in the epic is strictly G1- based. Here, in this review topic, I’ve compiled some screenshots and maps that may or may not be as relevant to you as they’ve been to me, but nonetheless, I think would be helpful for an extra-curious reader. It’s been a refreshing adventure to dive back in and write this. I hope you enjoy reading as much as I’ve enjoyed writing! II. Table of Contents Prequel Short Story Water's Will - The tale of the last battle of the Hand of Artakha, and what tides changed the course of the world after. Part 1: The Ternion - A stasis capsule from an era past washes up on the shore of a small coastal town, Uahi, in the north-western region of the Northern Continent. A careful Toa of Fire, the sole guardian of the region so recently desolated by the conquests of the League of Six Kingdoms, is called to investigate. This is the story about what he found that day. Salvaged Trust but Verify Abaki The Ternion Year One Raze Sister Hounded The Historian Lawless The Creator Titan Part 2: The Sculptors and the Smelters - The Matoran Civil War started out as precisely that - Matoran trying to be civil to each other. However, one should never underestimate the passive-aggressive capacity of a slighted Po-Matoran sculptor, nor the one-upping tenacity of a Ta-Matoran smelter. Unfortunately, they both underestimated one another in these regards, and the whole city paid the price. III. Timeline References IV. Cast of Characters V. Short Story Prequel Info Water's Will - In a time where titans ruled and fought, vying for influence and power in the dawn of the Matoran Universe, one keen Toa of Water sees the need to enact great change, and the opportunity to do so. She takes it. Characters and Appearances [more=Display text]Av’Kra - black and white armor, one of Axonn’s species, leader of the Hand of Artakha, wields a war halberd, Mask of Weather Control, weather-based elemental powers (through mask), blizzard, hail, storms, lightning, pressure bursts, etc. Malohi - green and brown armor, limited invulnerability, collection of plant-based powers, although doesn’t control plantlife itself (think power-enhancing plant-based Faxon), fights with poisoned broadsword, wears a nonstandard Kanohi Rau. Roughly Brutaka’s size, for reference. The Avohkah Tamer - purple and gold armor, powerless purple Kanohi. quick-travel ability, not literally at the speed of light, though. endurance and maneuverability at high speeds, is able to share speed and abilities that go with it with ‘passengers’ through physical contact, at the cost of halving the speed with each passenger. Energy Hound - a good boy. Seja Armonger Erylist Axonn Helryx Shadow Stealer (not mentioned by name) Orde (not mentioned by name) Karzahni Artakha [/more] VII. Fun Facts & Misc. Fun Facts! (may contain minor spoilers) - The Red Star's revival function will not be a part of this story. Check back here for story updates and expanded reference sections! Thanks for your time, and I hope it was worth your while! Aderia
  6. So I rarely make MOCs, let alone full scale ones, but I felt the urge to make a Turaga. I rarely make those folks, but I am considering playing one in Six Kingdoms Rebirth over in the rpg section. I am thinking of her traveling about the island, using her medical knowledge and her mask to repair broken homes and heal the injured. She became a Turaga in fact after using up her Toa Power healing someone, and would have been the Toa of Stone to build Po-Koro. Basically of my limited number of Noble masks I made her a Turaga of Stone, an element I don’t usually use. She carries pouches full of pebbles and gravel, which she controls with her remaining elemental power to corral and irritate Rahi into leaving her and her charges alone.She wears a Kiril, Noble Mask of Regeneration, and walk with a long Badge of Office that can be used to grab far away objects. Remember, Matoran and Turaga can look a lot alike, so it’s important to give your Turaga giant walking staffs. (Otherwise you get Dume, who simply looks like a buff Matoran) She has a heartlight and nine points of articulation. Please ignore the fact that her left hand is missing a piece. (Maybe it’s her thumb?) I choose her name from the word Karda (Heart/Core) and Ka (Spirit) so her name means Spirit of Heart, since she is a healer. I also call her the Mender. Now here are some images of her finding a hidden Miru, Noble Mask of Levitation. So yeah, enjoy this little Turaga.
  7. Battle for Mata Nui was a Macromedia Shockwave game released during 2002. In this real-time isometric strategy game, you control the Matoran, Toa, and Turaga of Le-, Ta-, and Ga-Koro as they try to fend off the Bohrok swarms. As a kid, the sprites in BfMN looked odd to me, but the only thing I noticed was that Tahu has Vakama's firestaff instead of his normal fire sword. However, when I ripped the assets from the game recently, I gave the sprites a closer look, and noticed all sorts of interesting things: (special thanks to r543 for noticing the slizer-like torsos.) From the number of Slizer elements, especially considering that the Boneheads of Voodoo Island used Slizer heads as feet, I think these sprites are based off of undocumented prototype 3D models. How those pre-2001 models ended up being used as reference for a 2002 game is a mystery, though. My best guess is that when Lego commissioned this game, they sent the game devs a bunch of miscellaneous assets without vetting them too carefully. This would also explain why some elements are reused from the 2001 Bionicle GBA game. Once I finish ripping the Bohrok sprites and the background tiles, I plan on submitting all the assets to Spriters' Resource. Until then, here's what I have done: https://imgur.com/a/fJIwXuq EDIT 4/28/20: I finally ripped all the sprites, and with more accurate colors, too! Check it out, y'all.
  8. While I'm sorting my pieces and can't get started on any more serious moccing projects, I'm making some additional Matoran using the template I used with Jala. Here's Maku and a random Po-Matoran! You can find more pictures of the individual Matoran on instagram: https://www.instagram.com/p/B7JUvHGJZaY/
  9. Aderia

    The Ternion

    Synopsis: A stasis capsule from an era past washes up on the shore of a small coastal town, Uahi, in the north-western region of the Northern Continent. A careful Toa of Fire, the sole guardian of the region so recently desolated by the conquests of the League of Six Kingdoms, is called to investigate. This is the story about what he found that day. The Ternion Chapter 1: Salvaged “Toa Inokas!” At the shout from a quickly approaching Bo-Matoran, the Toa of Fire cut off the fine jet of his element he had been aiming at the broken joint in the Ussal cart. “Here, put these on, and hold the two ends of the joint together for two minutes. Keep a constant pressure.” He handed a pair of heat-resistant gloves to the Ussal driver he was helping, and turned and stood to face the cry that had interrupted him. “Tirpi, is something wrong?” he asked the Matoran of the Green, jogging towards the other to meet him. “No, nothing wrong, no danger,” the Matoran replied, catching his breath. “It’s just, Ixie and I, we found a huge stasis tube, we think, and towed it in. Ixie went to go get the historian, and I came to find you. It’s down on the beach, can you come take a look?” The two Matoran had been working salvaging duty that day. It had been over a hundred years since the League conquests stopped, but they were still busy as ever, cleaning their coast and waters of wreckage from the naval battles that had raged along their shores. But this large stasis tube was much older looking, and much more intact than any shipwreckage. Inokas glanced at the Ussal driver, who jerked his head toward the beach. “Of course,” the Toa said. “Lead the way.” Tirpi set off at a brisk trot, with which the Toa had no trouble keeping pace. “Nothing interesting ever happens here,” the Bo-Matoran was saying. “Like, last month, that Le-Matoran over in Dihe had to put down a wounded Kavinika wolf, but that’s really it.” “Interesting is just a matter of perspective," Inokas told him. “We’ve made pretty good progress rebuilding and reordering our villages the past couple decades, I’d say.” Inokas, Tirpi, Ixie, the Ussal driver and his Ussal, and about a thousand other Matoran lived in the northwestern sector of the Northern Continent, spread between three villages. Toa Inokas, the only Toa who permanently lived there now, oversaw the three villages - Arju, Dihe, and his own village, Uahi. After the League’s conquests had reached their port city, the inhabitants joined many other Northerners who had fled to the central city, complete with a Toa Fortress. And now, slowly, painstakingly, but steadily, villagers were moving back, rebuilding their old settlements, picking up their old trades, or starting new ones. It was almost like a new world, in a way. At first, nobody seemed to want to build anything permanent, for fear of being overrun again. Rumors that the Barraki weren’t really gone ran rampant, and disgruntled remnants of the Barraki armies remained. But as time marched onward, and no conquests ran them over again, and permanent villages began to develop again. Trade between regions was even picking up speed, to everyone’s excitement. “Toa, are you ever going to go back to the Fortress?” Tirpi asked. “No, most of the Toa there have been reassigned to the Southern Island Chains to continue liberation and restoration efforts. They have more than enough Toa there anyways,” Inokas said. “I can be of more use here.” Welding broken Ussal carts, organizing and overseeing reconstruction projects, advising trade and surveying general safety of the three villages, facilitating council meetings between leaders of his three villages to discuss development, emergency action plans, and so on. After an exhausting age of war and displacement and combat and fear, he and his villagers really were grateful for this reprieve, this time to rebuild the lives they once had but seemed like a long-past dream now. “If I signed on for duty at the Fortress, I’d have to spend at least two weeks of every month patrolling or training with them. There’s really no need for more training or anything. Not right now, anyways.” When his village, along with all the others in the region, were forced to flee to Central City, Inokas and his mentor, Toa Zoru, had both joined the ranks in the Toa Fortress, along with about one hundred other Toa from the Continent and surrounding islands. Zoru, an older, experienced Toa of Plasma, had been transferred to the giant citadel on the Southern Continent. Inokas, then a rather young Toa, had stayed at the Northern Fortress and received thorough but combat-based elemental and physical training. Zoru’s mentoring had been more of a day-to-day type deal - dealing with territorial Rahi, occasional smugglers, and so on. Unfortunately, after they returned to resettle the remains of their villages, the inhabitants of Uahi received only Toa Zoru’s mask, a Kanohi Volitak, and his combat medals in memoriam. There had also been a Toa of Stone who lived in Arju, which was then a suburb of Uahi, who didn’t return. That left Inokas, now a veteran of well over a dozen battles, to protect and help oversee the three villages. “Ixie! Vai!” The Bo-Matoran broke again into a run as he and Inokas emerged onto the sands of the beach from the town path through the sparse, sapling forest. The Ga-Matoran and Onu-Matoran were already there, scrubbing away at sea-grit and plantlife from the large object in question. “Toa Inokas!” they greeted him. “Ixie, Vai. Good to see you. What do we have here?” Ixie and Tirpi again related their short tale of hauling in the container, and turned to Vai. “Right? This is a stasis container?” “Well, it’s not like any I’ve seen, but that is what it appears to be,” said the Onu-Matoran. Vai, the resident historian, had spent a few decades on a student visa studying history and even Archiving in Metru Nui, the Great City itself. He also taught history in Central City a few months every decade or so, as well. “It’s pretty old, you can tell because of the opacity level. You can hardly tell what’s inside.” “Do you think it’s a Rahi?” Ixie asked. “It could be,” answered Vai. “Look at the size of this thing.” To a Matoran, the hexagonal container was large, yes. All three of them could have crouched inside with a bit of room to spare, although, if one were standing straight and tall, the top of the container was at about eye-level. “There are also types of stasis tubes I’ve studied that hold specimens of plant-life, or types of machinery that are prone to rust or decay. Here, work on that end,” he said, and tossed a multi-tool to Tirpi, motioning to start unscrewing the two metal plates sealing each end of the stasis tube. “Do we want to open this here?” Inokas questioned. “If what’s inside is dead, we can just sink it easily in the sea,” Ixie pointed out. “And if it’s something useful, we can just take it back to Uahi.” “And if it’s something alive?” the Toa prompted. He wasn’t particularly worried, but he did want these curious and somewhat impulsive Matoran to think through their actions the whole way. Out of all the Matoran to make a discovery, it had to be three of the most excitable ones. He thanked the Great Spirit they actually came to get him before they decided to open the container. “If it’s something alive, it probably will take a few hours, at least, for the effects of the stun gas inside to wear off,” replied Vai, wrestling with a particularly stubborn screw. Inokas smiled. He also knew that’s why he was here, in case they didn’t like what they found. “Here.” He crouched and placed a hand on the metal cap. “Watch out.” He waited for Vai to step out of the way. “Don’t damage the outer shell,” the Onu-Matoran warned. “I’m just loosening it, don’t worry,” he reassured him, resting a hand on the grimy metal. With minimal hissing and wisps of steam as the Toa heated the metal cap, it dropped to the sand with a muted thud. Vai immediately knelt to examine the stamp revealed on the underside of the cap. As he stood and walked the few paces to the other end of the stasis tube, he readied his glaive. “Tirpi, Ixie Vai, I’d like you to stand back, please. Just in case.” “Toa, do you always anticipate the worst?” Ixie sighed, but obliged. “It’s my job,” the Fire Toa said, even as the second cap dropped to the ground. “See, nothing hap-“ Inokas held up one hand to stop her from stepping back up to the container, and with the other, rested his blade on the edge of the container. A thin line of fire blazed down the center, and the two halves of the two layers of stasis tube fell away. Inokas lowered his blade slowly, and his hand. The three Matoran rushed up. “Is it dead?” Ixie asked. “No, look, it’s breathing.” Tirpi pointed. “Tirpi, could you go fetch that Ussal cart driver and his cart and his Ussal?” the Toa of Fire directed. A black-armored creature lay crumpled among the remains of its stasis tube, although they couldn’t entirely make out what kind of creature it was. There was a distinguishable tail, head, four limbs, but nothing else remarkable. “Vai, what did the inscription say? Any kind of Rahi or being?” “No, just a date. Whatever it is, it’s been in stasis for about 15,000 years. It will take a while to wake up, if at all.” The three of them took guesses as to what it was and discussed where to keep it and who would guard it and when to make the call that it wouldn’t wake up if nothing changed for long enough, until the Ussal driver arrived. Moving the limp creature to the cart, which wasn’t an overly difficult task, they found it was a vaguely feline creature. It was smaller than Inokas, but not by much. It wore no Kanohi mask, which made Ixie say it was a Rahi, but the others were pretty sure it wasn’t. “It looks like it could wear a mask,” Vai pointed out. More discussion spawned and kept the Matoran occupied as they moved the creature to the Ussal stables on the outskirts of the village. Where did it come from? How old was it? Why was it in stasis? Was it an endangered species? Was it a sapient species? Did anyone in town know what it was? Were they allowed to tell other people in the town yet? Were they allowed to tell the other towns? When they had gotten the creature settled on a clean pallet in an unused Ussal stall, Inokas said, “We’ll give it three days, don’t make a big deal out of this. I’ll keep watch tonight, and talk to one or two others who might have some insight. I can’t make any of you keep quiet, but I would really appreciate nobody making this into a big deal, until we know what we’re dealing with.” “You’ll call us if anything changes?” Ixie wanted to know. Inokas nodded. Tirpi and the Ussal driver began to wander back to their jobs, still talking excitedly, and Ixie turned to follow. “Vai, could I read over your notes?” Inokas requested. The Onu-Matoran had scribbled almost two whole tablets of notes with questions and observations on the walk from the beach. “Of course, Toa.” He handed over the tablets, and promptly didn’t move. When Inokas had finished reading over the tablets, impressed with the detail of the observations and insight of the questions, though not so much impressed with the legibility of the Matoran's hurried scrawl, he saw the Onu-Matoran still there. He offered Vai his tablets back, and asked, “Would you like to stay here with me?” “Yes, very much,” Vai said quickly. “Do you mind if I go get some materials?” “Not at all,” the Toa chuckled. And before one could say “Mata Nui!”, the Onu-Matoran was back with two scrolls, a pouch full of stone writing tablets, and a digital scanning device. “What are those for?” Inokas asked. “If we’ve discovered a forgotten species, or an entirely new species, I want to document as thoroughly as possible, and update the databases in the City as soon as I can!” Inokas nodded, sinking to the floor into as comfortable a sitting position as possible. Even when Vai was seated on a stool, Inokas sat taller than the Matoran. “I sent for Ulio so I can fill him in on events today. It might be a while, though. I think he was tied up in a meeting with some of the aspiring merchants from Dihe, and some of our own. Do you mind sharing your observations with him, as well?” Ulio, a Fe-Matoran, was the official leader of Uahi. “Of course, Toa” Vai said, although he was very busy scanning his notes into his digital files and navigating through the small holo-screens that Inokas wasn’t entirely sure he’d heard. That night, a sudden fit of coughing started Inokas to his feet. Vai’s history scroll that the Toa had been reading by lightstone fell to the floor. A clatter of stone tablets across the walkway between rows of stalls told him that Vai was now awake as well. Wasting no time, the Toa tossed his lightstone to the Matoran, took his glaive in one hand, and conjured a fire-light in the other. The Toa made his way to the stall swiftly. The Ussal crabs were chattering nervously in their own stalls now, at the sudden commotion and flickering light. After another fit of coughing, the creature, awake now and crouching on its pallet, squinted into Inokas’ fire held aloft. “Armonger? Is that you? Seja?” Its hoarse voice, unused in over 15,000 years, strained to get the syllables out. Vai arrived with his lightstone, and yanked the cover off that particular Ussal stall’s light stone. Inokas dimmed but did not put out his flame. He spoke evenly and slowly, motioning with a jerk of his head for Vai to step away. “You’re awake,” the Toa said, opening the stall gate. The walls and door of the stall only came up to his waist, but were tall enough to keep most of the Matoran out of sight of the stranger. The creature eyed the glaive Inokas held nonthreateningly but in plain view with bright green, very intelligent and very wary, non-Rahi-like eyes. It sat up straighter, and arranged its tail to drape off its pallet. To show it’s not hiding a weapon, Inokas realized, as it moved its hands into plain view as well. “Who are you?” Yet another fit of coughing wracked its frame, but when it spoke, it was a bit clearer this time, and definitively female. The caution in her voice mirrored the caution she saw in the Toa’s expression. “My name is Erylist,” she said. There was a pause, and it became apparent that she was not going to give more information unless prompted. “Where are you from?” Inokas glanced at Vai, who was still out of this Erylist’s line of sight, and busy scribbling notes, which didn’t go unnoticed by the newcomer. “Xamra.” “Xamra?” Inokas repeated. Xamra was small island just to the southwest of their continent. It was part of the early conquests of the League, taken over thoroughly by Barraki Pridak's armies as a training ground. “There hasn’t been anyone living there for over 10,000 years,” Vai spoke up. "Not since the League conquests." Erylist’s eyes darted toward this new voice, and she asked, “League?” Inokas and Vai exchanged a glance. The Toa of Fire tensed as the Onu-Matoran stepped into the opening of the gate, ready for anything. But Erylist’s only reaction was to shift her attention to the Matoran. “According to your stasis tube, the vessel we found you in, you’ve been out of commission for over 15,000 years. A lot has happened since you were last with us.” “Easy, Vai. We don’t know her intentions,” Inokas murmured. “You are Toa and Matoran. You serve the Great Spirit. I’ve worked alongside your kind before,” the stranger said. She spoke in an even tone, one that was informative, not trying to ingratiate herself to them, but not stating things in a distant, matter-of-fact. After a moment, she continued in a tone that had taken on a musing quality, "If what you say is true, and I have missed 15,000 years, then I have no way I can prove any of this to you, I’m sure. What are you going to do with me?” “Vai, would you please bring Ulio?” Erylist’s gaze shifted from the Toa’s crimson Kanohi Miru to the Matoran’s gray Kanohi Matatu, even as the Matoran scurried off. Inokas adjusted his grip on his glaive as Erylist sat back a bit, not relaxed, but not sitting laser-straight at attention. “You’ve learned about me, will I ever learn about you?” she asked him. “We’ll see,” the Fire Toa said. “We need to evaluate how much of a threat you may pose.” “Why are you so cautious?” she asked. “It’s unlike Toa and Matoran I’ve worked with before." After a moment of carefully considering his answer, he said, “We’ve been through a fair amount of troubles, these past few hundred years. We’re not eager to invite more into our lives so quickly.” “I don’t cause trouble. Not for your folk, at least,” she said. Inokas extinguished his flame, and reached slowly with his glaive to uncover the lightstone on the other side of the stall, and then brought his weapon to rest beside him. “What is it that you do, then?” One eye-ridge on his Miru raised ever so slightly in suspicion at her. Erylist took a while contemplating her answer, and was interrupted by the bright lightstone lights arriving, carried by not only Vai returning with Ulio, but also Tirpi, Ixie, and the Ussal driver. Inokas looked away for just a moment as the Matoran arrived, and was alarmed to see Erylist had shifted into a ready crouch upon her pallet in the time it took him to glance away and back. Although the defensiveness of her position was only noticeable to one trained to look for such things. Inokas steadied his grip on his glaive. “Toa Inokas, what do we have here?” Ulio nodded at the Toa in greeting, and was straight to business. “We-“ Inokas began. “I’m Erylist,” she said at the same time. Inokas let her continue, “I’m from Xamra, and I’m not entirely sure where I am, or when I am." Ulio’s expression was unreadable. “This is the Northern Continent. I’ve been told you’ve been indisposed for the past 15,000 years. It’s a very different world now. Vai says you mean us no harm. I’m sure you might say the same. In a few hours, it will be daybreak. I apologize, but even if you were a new Toa washed up on our shores, we would be following the same procedure. Tomorrow, you will accompany Toa Inokas, the historian Vai, and myself to Central City. There is a Toa Fortress there, where they are equipped to better assess your character and intentions. I assume you also have no passport or working credentials?” She shook her head. “In the city, you may apply for any credentials or papers you need to re-enter into society, if you are able, and if you so choose,” Ulio said. He spoke evenly, and assessed her coolly the whole while. The Xamran nodded. The Fe-Matoran, without turning from her, ordered, “Toa Inokas, Vai. With me. Tirpi, if you will keep our visitor company. The two of you,” he addressed the other two Matoran present, “You may return to your homes, if you wish. We will be next door.” Next door, as it turned out, was the Ussalry Driver offices, and was attached right to the stables, so they could hear any commotion that would go on. Right inside the offices, Ulio slid closed the thin wooden door, and turned to the Toa and Onu-Matoran. “Do either of you have sufficient cause to suspect this stranger is hostile or a threat?” Inokas leaned his glaive against the nearest wall, within easy reach, and knelt down in the Matoran-sized office space. About half the public buildings in the town had been constructed with Toa in mind. This was not one of them, as Toa are not typically part of the Ussalry force of a town. For the first time that night, Ulio’s stern Kanohi Komau cracked a hint of a grin, taking in the cramped Toa and the sleepy Onu-Matoran. “No, no reason to suspect danger,” Vai answered. “Although she’s not the most forthcoming with information about herself. But then again, I suppose I wouldn’t be either, had I just woken up and learned I missed many thousands of years.” He shrugged. The two Matoran turned to the Toa. Inokas said, “I don’t suspect danger. But I wouldn’t let her wander the village unsupervised. We thought she was a Rahi at first. I agree, she’s not an open book, but I don’t suspect any hidden malicious agenda.” “If the date on the stasis cap is true,” Vai piped in, “She went into a comatose state before even the League of Six Kingdoms was instantiated into power, let alone when it went corrupt and on conquest. If we’re worried she may be a warlord’s lackey seeking dominion, I think we can rule that out.” Their villages and the like had had their share of ex-soldiers and power-hungry warmongers leftover from the disbanding of the League’s armies try and stake claim on their villages and lands. Inokas and Ulio nodded in agreement. “But,” the Fe-Matoran countered, “Corruption and ill-will have been around since the creation of our universe. You know we can’t afford to give the benefit of the doubt to anyone.” “Yes, but I remember the days when we could. The days when Unity, Duty, and Destiny weren’t just virtues for us Matoran and Toa, but were virtues that anyone and everyone could and did follow. Whatever happened?” Vai seemed to be talking more to himself at this point, and talking more and more sleepily, at that. “Indeed,” Inokas murmured. “Vai, will you be set to travel to Central City with us tomorrow?” “You mean in a few hours?” the Onu-Matoran laughed shortly. “Of course. I’m always up for a trip to the city. Are we taking Ussal carts? I’m not keen on walking a whole day.” “Yes, we can arrange that.” A real smile, but a tired smile of a leader with one too many unexpected events sprung upon him, crossed Ulio’s mask. “Get some rest, brother.” Without having to be told twice, Vai doubled checked his satchel for his tablets and scrolls and various Archiving devices he picked up in the Great City, and headed back out through the Ussal stalls. “Thank you, Toa Inokas, for your diligence and caution in protecting us. I know this cold-natured approach to strangers doesn’t come naturally to you.” The Toa shrugged. “I’m just protecting my home. I’ve lived on this continent, in this region my whole life. I miss the days where we could be naive and open and friendly to anyone and everyone as well, but trial by fire has taught us better, unfortunately.” “Unfortunately,” Ulio agreed. “I know you don’t love going to the Fortress. Will you be okay?" “I’ll make do. They never ask me to join, I always just wonder if I should,” the Toa of Fire answered. “I see. Well, if they do give you any trouble tomorrow, you are free to step out.” “Thanks, Ulio. I appreciate it,” Inokas said. “No, really. They’re very professional. I just don’t do well with ranks and orders and iron schedules, at least not in a time of peace here.” “I trust you let me know if there is ever anything I can do,” the Matoran leader said. “I’ll see you back here at dawn. Get some rest, Toa.” Review Topic
  10. (tl;dr - BranSan wrote 3 rules for worldbuilding a magic system which boil down to: have structure, have limitations, and don't bite off more than you can chew. then the rules try Bionicle on for size. ) I found these rules and distinctions and comparison helpful for conceptualizing the multitude of powers and abilities in the Bioni-verse, and hopefully others can as well. So, I recently was able to read Brandon Sanderson's Mistborn First Era trilogy for the first time. It's been a while since I've read something new, since I usually prefer read old books that I know I'll enjoy, rather than take a gamble with a new author/world/characters, etc. (Incidentally, I'm the same way with movies and trying new ice cream flavors. I prefer to exercise risk taking in other aspects of my life). The main takeaway: I was completely floored by the scope and consistency and plausibility of his worldbuilding. A huge part of that was the magic system he created, which I paid particular attention to (one, because it's so well executed) because I'd previously read Sanderson's articles about his Three Laws of Magic Systems. And so, like any person with a favorite fandom, I started thinking how this applies to the Matoran Universe. This actually started out as a blog post where I could hammer out how some of these principles can be seen (or can't be seen) in the Bionicle universe. After some wishy-washy self-talk, and seeing how long the post became, we now have this topic. I did a bit of digging to (hopefully) make sure I'm not making a dupe, and I think I'm in the clear. Still, quotes/links/references to parts of other relevant discussions are great. Disclaimer 1 - I speak strictly from G1 knowledge, as I haven't delved into any of G2, as of yet. (I also didn't get totally into the Bara Magna storyline, so my knowledge on universe mechanics and stuff outside the MU is pretty patchy). Disclaimer 2 - I understand that Bionicle is a children's toy line, and the books are always found in the Young Readers section next to the Magic Tree House and Junie B. Jones books at my local Barnes & Noble (or, they would be, if they were still on the market), and my aim is not to draw unfair worldbuilding comparisons. Just looking to apply some worldbuilding theories and share on a platform with people who can appreciate. While I can't find links to the actual articles for some reason, I'll be quoting from this page on his universe's Wiki site. Rule 1 From this first rule, we get the spectrum of "soft magic systems" to "hard magic systems". To try and paraphrase, "soft magic systems" refers to a magic system that's more mysterious, and has no explicitly or clearly defined rules. This can help foster a sense of mysticism or otherworldliness. That's not to say the magic should not follow a consistent set of rules. I think that would fall more into the category of weak writing. I like to think of it as, if the reader was transported into a story with a soft magic system, they wouldn't know how to go about using that magic. Other examples Sanderson cites as good examples of "soft" systems are what Tolkien uses in Lord of the Rings and GRRM uses in Game of Thrones. Harry Potter's magic system would be middle-of-the-road, according to Sanderson. Then, on the end of "hard magic systems", rules are more or less explicitly described, and the reader can clearly see how the characters use the system to their advantage, like a tool. He cites some examples of authors who write this way, (L.E Modesitt Jr, and Melanie Rawn), but I personally haven't read any of their works, so cannot adequately comment further. I vaguely remember superheroes and their superpowers being categorized here. Now. There are an abundance of different types of powers in the MU (and on Spherus Magna, but I'll leave that to someone else to flesh out). The 'powers' page on BS01. There are so. many. I almost quit writing this post. I know there are a plethora of topic in S&T and Bionicle Discussion, and probably elsewhere discussing similar topics, and in more detail (which is why I didn't make this post into a topic). I really wish I remembered where I saw this, and who said it in the discussion, but they made the point that even though Bionicle G1 might appear to be SciFi on the surface, it really is more like the fantasy genre. I know some members, bonesiii comes immediately to mind, delve into the science of different elemental abilities, and other powers, with respect to the fact that Bionicle clearly doesn’t follow ‘real world’ physics, nor should we expect it to, or be disappointed when it doesn’t. Also, a distinction that I wanted to point out, simply because it confused me as well for a bit: How much the characters understand the magic system is not necessarily the same as how much the reader (or author) understands. With the huge variety of powers and abilities we have to work with, I thought it was easiest to put them on an arbitrary but convenient 1-10 scale, one being soft magic, 10 being hard magic. Elemental Powers - 6. Although this varies between the element. Psionics seems a lot softer than stone (kind of pun intented) or fire, but I suspect that’s because we have ‘real world’ references for what fire and stone can do. This also takes into account manifestations of elemental powers within Matoran, which seem pretty consistent. (again, Psionics is a bit of an outlier) Kanohi - 4. But again, with variation between Kanohi. Part of what contributes to a 4 rating is the ambiguity on who can and can’t use Kanohi. Not just species-wise, but how it takes time for someone to unlock the pre-existing ability to access the power, how Matoran go comatose without a Kanohi, but other species do not, and so on. Non-Kanohi Collectibles (Krana, Kraata, Kanoka, Rhotuka, Zamor, etc.) - 8. These seem pretty straightforward, and have a pretty static set of powers or what they can and cannot do in the universe. The only one I’m iffy about is Zamor spheres, because what the heck even is Antidermis and what does it do and stuff. Innate powers - 3. example, Toa power, Skakdi laser vision, Johmak/Zaktan’s shattering ability, Kaita fusions, various Rahi powers, etc. Part of the rating may be a category error on my part, but there are just so many abilities that we see, and that work within the story without causing too much skepticism in the reader Environmental - 2. Red Star shenanigans, mutagen, antidermis, energized protodermis, maybe Hordika venom, how Matoran transform, etc. I’m sure I’m missing some things, but this seemed like a good starting point. Overall, I’d say the MU has a soft magic system, which I appreciate, because there’s more for the imagination to do. Rule 2 These seem pretty self-explanatory, and are good distinctions to be aware of. Good limitations, according to Sanderson, give the character, reader, and author a good challenge to overcome. The trick is to not hamstring yourself or write yourself into a block. Limitations and weaknesses initially were confusing to me, and I don't think they're always mutually exclusive. I think a limitation can be related to a character themselves, although not always, and a weakness is usually something to do more with the power itself. (again, all of this is open for debate) Costs to power seem pretty cut and dry, and there seems to be no limit to what a cost could be, whether it be to a character's wellbeing or to their access or level of power, etc. Ex: Toa Power Weakness - A Toa’s element may be inherently weaker against another element. A Toa of Water would have greater difficulty defeating a Toa of Lightning than she would a Toa of Fire, assuming they were all of similar skill and experience levels. Limitation - A Toa’s elemental control is limited by their experience and skill level. Cost - Use of elemental power drains the Toa’s elemental energy, resulting in weaker output. It would cost a Toa time and effort to train to reduce limitations to elemental power. Ex: Vakama This is a less concrete example, would love some arguments for/against. (Also, I know self-doubt is not a power, but it is something that affects his powers. Although, perhaps it could be a mask or kraata power.) Weakness - self doubt Limitation - self doubt causes inability to use mask power and be an effective leader until he gets over it Cost - got over his self doubt too much and became overconfident and allied with Roodaka One caveat that I really liked was the cost of reviving the Matoran after the Great Cataclysm - giving up Toa Power and becoming a Turaga. Last point on this one, more of a personal gripe - Makuta are way too OP, with almost no checks or balances. Their only exploitable weakness (besides hubris) that I can think of, off the cuff, is their antidermis evolution thing, but they’re so powerful that they can negate those negative effects with little to no effort. (Axonn and Brutaka are up there on the OP list). This happens to segue nicely into Rule 3. Rule 3 So, the bad example is the Makuta. A counterexample, I think would be Krahka. Arguably, she has access to just as many powers than a Makuta, if not more. Correct me if I'm wrong - Both Krahka and Makuta can shapeshift, but we've only seen Krahka be able to keep the abilities and skills of those she's changed into after she's changed back, and seems to be able to switch between those accumulated abilities with more ease. But she definitely has better limitations and weaknesses, and higher cost to using her powers, as seen in Adventures #3. I guess this boils down to the 'less is more' principle. I've seen this as well, around the forums, about how Teridax was a more compelling villain when he was The Makuta, the one and only, with or without a slew of powers. But then, when there are suddenly a small army of Makuta, dysfunctional as they may be, that really changed the dynamic of the storyline. One of my favorite examples of expanding on powers is how the Toa Metru developed their Elemental Powers. (screenshots courtesy of the ever-awesome Biological Chronicle project) These are all from (storyline-wise), roughly the same time, and the Toa Metru are relatively new Toa, searching either for their Matoran who know where the Great Disks are, or searching for the Great Disks themselves. (Mystery of Metru Nui and/or Trial by Fire), so these are all powers developed before adding Mask powers. Nokama I think this is a great example because I think it shows both limitation and cost of using power, as well as the weakness of being a baby Toa, and shows how use of the 'magic' plays out in the character's world. Matau showing gradual reduction of limitations, also works well with potential character development of becoming more disciplined. Nuju This is an insane amount of control over new power to me. I think it's plausible because I would expect nothing less from one of Ko-Metru's top scholars. But still. The type of on-the-fly calculations one would have to do to pull this off seems crazy. We also see Nuju later using his precise control over his element to create mirrors and redirect lasers. There was a thread earlier about "who's the smartest Bionicle character", and my answer would definitely be Nuju, if we're going by book-smarts. Most Important Rule Don't forget this one! (not kidding, this is the last rule listed on the article) Perhaps this is nostalgia speaking, but I recently re-read the Bionicle Adventures series, and I still think it's pretty awesome. Anyways, thanks for reading through! I don't have an overarching question or any specific things to ask, but I would love to see some discussion, pushback, etc. It's all fascinating and I love fitting stuff I already know into larger frameworks and systems. Hope it was worth your time! Thanks!!
  11. Tarn

    Kara-Nui

    PROLOGUE Not long ago: He was our salvation. A Toa of Light who claimed to have crossed the endless ocean from a landmass unknown to us, and landed here--on Kara-Nui. He said his name was 'Arrec,' and that in the language of his island, this meant 'a welcoming.' He was worshipped like a god, like Mata Nui Himself had stepped down from His place in our heavens and graced us with His presence--and Arrec might as well have been god to us. He was beautiful, and radiated like the twin suns. We embraced him. In the days following the Toa Civil War our island had become a place of sadness and pain, he turned that into happiness and comfort. He marched around the island, proclaiming his name and his good works to all who wanted to hear. He claimed he would help us to rebuild. To bring us back to the old ways and save Kara-Nui from ruin. Reunite her Toa under a single banner and make us strong again. He was a deceiver. He had preyed on our vulnerability like a muaka preys on the beasts of the flock. We had been blind to the truth, too caught up in jubilation to see something wasn't right. He revealed his true colors to us in an act of brazen violence--unveiling himself as a Toa of Shadow, a warrior enveloped in darkness and spite--and felling a multitude of innocents. Our angel was a demon. He claimed to be an envoy of the Unseen Voice, a figure seen as myth in our culture, who in just a matter of days revealed themselves to be so very real. He had come to take the island in the name of his master. The Toa who remained after the Civil War tried to fight back, but were struck down one by one by his dark might. Those who did not fight simply surrendered, and whether they lived much longer after that was up to Arrec. Our once beautiful savior was now twisted and ugly as blood splattered onto his dark armor, as he tore us apart wearing a face of determination--and glee. It didn't take long for him to stamp out all opposition and take control of the island, settling into the magnificent tower at its center, the bodies of those he had murdered piled around its base. He was our end. - excerpt from an unpublished article by Hashei, Kara-Nui chronicler, before he vanished from his home without a trace ~~~ Two thousand years ago, six Matoran sat at a table. The lights around them were dimmed and their own eyes illuminated the room for the most part, obscuring their masks. It felt appropriate, given the nature of the meeting. Obscuring things, that is. "So it's decided," one wearing a shape that appeared to be a Pakari said, "we hide the evidence and go on like nothing's different. This is life now, and we will say it was always like this." The rest of the gathered beings nodded in agreement, eyeing eachother as if to spot any dissenters. "For the good of the island," the Pakari-wearer said. "For the good of the island," the others repeated in chorus. Unknown to anyone in the room, just outside the door an uninvited Ta-Matoran listened in. ~~~ Now. The object hummed with energy, a light glow emanating from beneath the cloth wrapped tightly around it. A pair of cold blue eyes studied it, as the figure turned it over in his aged and shaky hands. He wasn't going to stand idly by as his island fell further and further into the dark. If he could not fight back, maybe someone else could. And he prayed they'd do better than he did, and not make the same mistakes his comrades had. He prayed they'd be nothing like them. ... REVIEW TOPIC
  12. Synopsis: In a time where titans ruled and fought, vying for influence and power in the dawn of the Matoran Universe, one keen Toa of Water sees the need to enact great change, and the opportunity to do so. She takes it. Water’s Will Chaos erupted in the large western watch tower of Artakha's citadel-fortress when Axonn dropped the scorched and shattered mask of Av'Kra on the assembly floor. The Toa of Water who stood beside him was sure that the uproar was great enough to compromise the structural soundness of even Artakha's immaculate masonry. “It’s over!” the axe-wielding warrior bellowed, slamming his colossal pole-arm on the floor repeatedly. With each slam of protosteel on stone, more and more silence fell. “Our leader is dead.” More than thirty beings - titans, warriors, champions, and other operatives of the Hand of Artakha were crowded into the largest space their headquarters had. They had never met, all together in one space, before in the history of the universe. But it was a relatively young universe, so there were a lot of ‘first’s. She gazed around, analyzing the room carefully but deftly. She stood in the center of the room with the troop of fighters, the reek of fresh battle filth still roiling off them. Shouts, demands, and wails rained from every direction. They wanted to know what in Karzahni’s twisted name had happened. Indeed, Karzahni had happened. “It was an ambush,” she called, the instant the din began to lull, and stepped forward. The room was now full of distraught but eager listeners. Although she was one of the smallest in the room, and the only Toa, she had proven herself on what felt like countless missions and assignments. She did not take their respect lightly - not after all the blood, sweat, and tears it had taken to earn it. As she spoke, she paced, intense amber glare daring, almost inviting a challenger. “It was an ambush,” she repeated. “They were waiting for us in the Wailing Ravines of Karzahni.” The Toa of Water began relating the grim tale of the last battle of the Hand of Artakha. “How did it come to this?” the black and white armored titan demanded, storming into the courtyard. He addressed no one in particular, as the courtyard was empty besides himself and his two operatives rushing along behind him, careful to keep clear of his huge war halberd that crackled with energy. Above, dark clouds began to gather at the call of his Great Mask of Weather Control. Av’Kra, the leader of the Hand of Artakha, was not one who raged easily. And so, it was that much more terrifying when he did. He had reached the end of his rope. “Who do they have?” he demanded. Axonn and the Toa exchanged a frantic look. Axonn answered, having known Av’Kra the longest of anyone in the Hand. “Hydraxon and Armonger, sir.” “We sent Seja ahead, but have no word from her,” the Toa of Water added. Hydraxon was the Hand’s most expert combat and weapons-master, and Armonger was a brilliant and intuitive weapon-smith. “That’s not like her,” Av’Kra said, shaking his head. Seja, a well-fought and even better spoken winged warrior, was their most reliable and diplomatic messenger. “Will we need to plan to rescue three, then?” It was all the more infuriating to Av’Kra that the two, very possibly three, agents now missing were three of the more responsible ones, who didn’t create more wreckage than they were assigned to fix in the first place. And now they were bearing the consequences of their fellow operatives’ blunders. It was just supposed to be a simple mission - routing of a hostile Zyglak clan on Zakaz that the two local Toa there couldn’t finish off, and deliver a payment to the Vortixx of Xia. Nothing the weapons-master and the weapon-smith couldn’t easily handle in their sleep. But in the past half a century, things had changed. After three of his operatives had broken and dismantled a long-standing slave ring out of the South Eastern Island chain, a consuming zeal for success, no matter the cost, had blazed through many of the other agents. Their work became more and more messy, and they cared less and less, to their leader’s distaste, and despite many warnings from both Av’Kra, and even the Creator Titan, Artakha himself. The Hand members had unsurprisingly made many enemies in those years. A particularly bellicose agent had antagonized the wrong titan - Karzahni. The Titan of Chaos had made short work, ending that particular Hand member’s existence, but needed no invitation or excuse, after that, to target the rest of the Hand. And he targeted them with a vengeance. In the past year alone, half a dozen of their operatives had disappeared or turned up mockingly mutilated, graffitied by Karzahni, and very dead on the shores of Artakha. The eponymous Creator Titan didn’t like that at all, and had redoubled the warding and cloaking technology around his realm. Av’Kra dispatched his dutiful, quickly-rising Toa agent with short list of names of operatives to gather from or call back to their headquarters. The leader and Axonn, his lieutenant, continued on through the courtyard, heading for the foundries, no doubt seeking audience with Artakha himself. A frown rippled through the Toa’s Mask of Psychometry. Two of the names on the list were currently away on assignment. She turned to head back to the wing of the citadel that served as their base, now in resolute search for a particular messenger with a specialized skillset. Although the Toa found him slightly unsettling to interact with, he was the only one who could deliver the message to the active agents scattered around the world so quickly. Av’Kra trusted him, and that was sufficient, for now. There were a select handful of their other agents with teleportation abilities, but none even close with the same range of travel as this one who stole through the shadow gates so easily. She turned over the stone tablet, reading again the rough outline of action on the back. This was a very clear-cut mission with a task force designed to hit hard and fast. Av’Kra himself would be leading, very clearly fed up with the agents of Karzahni picking off his operatives. And he would never knowingly send his agents on a mission he himself wasn’t willing to do. Axonn, faithful and true, was on the list, which surprised no one. He and their leader hailed from the same island. Word around the citadel was that Axonn even knew Av’Kra’s true name. The Toa suspected his trust Mask of Truth had something to do with that. Malohi, a forest-armored warrior with remarkable healing and poisoning abilities would be joining them. According to the list on the front of the tablet, he was currently dispatched on the island that now bore his name, in his honor, after his century of work liberating its inhabitants and wrangling its hostile flora and fauna. Next was a flamboyant but efficient and powerful operative who everyone knew as the Avohkah Tamer. Although many doubted his lightning abilities and speed came from the electric rahi beasts as he claimed, they didn’t doubt his powers’ potency. The Toa herself had been privy to witness the Tamer work, as they’d been on several missions together, her elemental water and his wild lightning proving a devastating combination. Most recently, three years ago, they’d assisted a newly created Toa of Psionics liberate a peninsula on his home island from an enemy with frightening hypnosis powers. And finally, the Toa was not surprised to read her own name next on the list. She tried not to let the conceit of being chosen settle. It helped that she was listed only above instructions to retrieve an Energy Hound from Hydraxon’s kennel. One didn’t have to munch on knowledge tower crystals to figure out what this team was designed for. With the exception of the Energy Hound, they all had abilities that would complement their fearsome leader’s powers of tempest and storm, and training or tools to walk straight and see clearly through the realm of nightmares, for there was no other place they could be headed. At the request of his old friend and comrade, the Creator Titan had teleported Av’Kra and his task force to the Karzahni Jut, the small peninsula that extended into the territory of Metru Nui. This was the safest, most controlled way for anyone looking to enter Karzahni’s land, the terms ’safe’ and ‘controlled’ being completely relative. The leader of the Hand of Artakha strode through the desolate realm as though he owned the place. Three of his most dangerous operatives walked with him - Axonn, who commanded the power of truth as proficiently as he did his axe; the First Toa, a warrior of deep, dangerous waters and willpower; and Malohi, the wise and cunning forest titan, carrying his toxic broadsword that would make a doom viper think twice, and an ancient Kanohi Rau, in case any vipers needed further convincing to back off. Under the masterful command of Av’Kra’s great Mask of Weather Control, a cold front swept the Screaming Steppes of Karzahni ahead of the agents of Artakha, and swirling columns of stormclouds bursting with electricity trailed behind them in the sky. The thunder that rumbled in their wake almost drowned out the protesting caterwauls of the cursed ground beneath their feet. Almost. Although any sane being would have fled from the weather-wielding titan’s warpath, they all found it concerning that there had not been a single being around to flee in the first place. A crackling streak of lightning ran along the ground, cutting straight toward the vengefully advancing warriors, through the plumes of dust thrown into the air by Av’Kra’s chilling cold front. The Avohkah Tamer had returned with the Energy Hound from scouting ahead. He had the ability to share his dizzying speed-travel, at the cost of halving the speed he traveled for each ‘passenger’. But, even at half-speed, he and the Energy Hound would have given any Kakama user a good chase. “Got them,” the Avohkah Tamer slowed to match their pace, having hooked around and come up on their left. He, in his regal-looking purple and gold armor, didn’t even have the decency to look winded - in fact, quite the opposite. “The Wailing Ravine. But there are Manas. Counted a dozen, I’m sure more will show up.” It was a toss up, whether he spoke in full sentences or stood still more often, and neither occurred all that often. The Toa wasn’t convinced he knew how to speak properly, but she also didn’t entirely care. His words got their point across and that’s all she needed to work with him. The poor Energy Hound, though the Tamer had also lent it his own endurance and maneuverability that came with his powers of lightning-speed, had not fared quite so heartily. But it was a young, dedicated working hound, and was eager to track down its own beloved master. It was an honor to be chosen for this mission, the hound knew. So, it held its head high, and cantered alongside the kindly forest titan who spoke gently in the hound’s own tongue. The Toa sensed a great, groggy river in the distance, and far below their feet. Through the dust clouds spewing up before them, which filtered the light from the suns reddish brown, she could make out the dark shape of a jagged mountain range stretching out before them. It was difficult to tell just how far it was, just as it was similarly impossible to keep track of how long they’d been traveling. Even the most disciplined agents of Artakha were not completely immune to the contagious insanity that pulsed through the realm. Ahead of her, although it was impossible to hear over the screaming of the steppes and the accelerating winds and thunder that grew angrier with every clap, the Toa of Water could see the Avohkah Tamer gesturing unrestrainedly, in conversation with their commander. Although almost the height of Av’Kra and Axonn, the Tamer was more like a broad-shoulded Vortixx, both in build and ambitious ego. Even as she was prodding the clouds in the sky above, to get an idea of what resources Av’Kra was giving her to work with, she let out a cry of surprise as the Avohkah Tamer grabbed Axonn’s arm, and what looked like a stasis field of his lightning enveloped them. And then, they were gone. Had she blinked, she’d had missed it all. And if she hadn’t known better, she’d have said they teleported away. She jogged ahead, to catch up to Av’Kra and ask what was now happening. She drew level with him, and had just opened her mouth to shout to him, when she found the Avohkah Tamer back, this time by her side, grinning as he grasped her forearm. “Let’s see how well our little Takea shark hunts in the Ravine,” the Tamer called above the winds, gripping her forearm and ignoring her fierce scowl. If they weren’t on a high-stakes rescue mission in a foreign, hostile land, and Av’Kra weren’t present, she probably would have taken a swing at his powerless purple Kanohi with her spiked mace. “Don’t antagonize her,” was all Av’Kra said, well aware of just how irritating the Tamer’s antics could be. But he also knew it was not difficult to antagonize the driven Toa of Water. Av’Kra disappeared behind the bolts of lightning that enveloped them. They were off. The Toa did not like this high-speed method of travel, and retreated ungratefully into her mask-smashing happy place until the landscape slowed and came into focus. “Lay low. Bringing the rest,” was all the Tamer said, pointing to where Axonn crouched behind a large stone outcropping at the lip of the ravine they now stood on. And he was gone. Across the chasm, the jagged mountain range she had seen from a distance stabbed into the red sky, reaching to dethrone the suns. The wind howled through the dark canyon. Even with her neck craned all the way back, she couldn’t properly glimpse the mountains. The Screaming Steppes had given way to scorched badlands, with dark stone monoliths scattered behind them, like some Po-Matoran sculptor’s bad dream. Many large rocks and boulders, volcanic by the look of them, lay where they had fallen in eruptions of centuries past. The Toa quickly joined her comrade in the shelter of a corner formed by two large boulders, close to the lip of the canyon. “What’s going on?” she asked, keeping her voice low but over-enunciating so he could see, rather than hear, what she was saying. “Manas,” he mouthed back, and pointed to the canyon. “Go see.” Creeping the short distance to the edge of the Wailing Ravine, the Toa shuddered at what she saw. There were spiky ledges all the way down their side of the ravine wall, to the churning, sickly river far, far below. Along the ledges patrolled the monster crabs of Karzahni. Their numbers weren’t overwhelming, but their constant movement and dark coloring made it impossible to count them. She glanced back at Axonn, who was gesturing more toward the ravine, although she didn’t totally understand. She also noted that Malohi now crouched with the axe-wielder, suffering from slight vertigo. The Toa turned back to the ravine, and immediately saw what Axonn had been indicating. Dark, mossy chains hung down the far, ledgeless, vertical opposite wall of the ravine, and from those chains hung cages. She looked left and right, spotting almost two dozen cages. She spotted one swarmed with crawling cliff-dwelling rahi she didn’t recognize. Avsa Kahu circled in the ravine, beyond that, nasty scavenging hawks, feeding on flesh and fear. A few cages held heaps of old armor, long ago eviscerated. Some lay unmoving forms, but too far away to make out clearly. Scanning, scanning, she searched for any familiar figures. She feared it was in vain. There! She spotted, almost directly across from her, past far too many Manas crabs, a hanging cage that held the familiar winged figure of Seja. There was enough room in the cage for her to stand, but barely. Still, she seemed unaware of the Toa peering down at her, and jerked to and fro, batting at random. Fighting a nightmare, the Toa realized. The Toa turned, crawling back to shelter. The Energy Hound and the Avohkah Tamer both huddled with the other two warriors. The Toa of Water joined them, raising herself to a crouch as well. Clouds they had recently outrun began to gather overhead, signaling the quick approach of their commander. Axonn summoned a stasis field to shelter them from the noise of the ravine and the screeching Rahi. It wasn’t soundproof, but at least they could talk without shouting and announcing their existence. “Did you see them?” Axonn asked the Toa. “I saw Seja,” she replied. “Hydraxon is in the cage two to the left of her. He’s practically in the river,” he said, shaking his great head. At the name of its master, the energy hound gave a hopeful wag of its tail. The Toa patted its head reassuringly and murmured that it would be okay. “I wonder what else is in the river.” The Avohka Tamer shuddered. “Any sign of Armonger?” the Toa asked. They all shook their heads ‘no’. “We need Seja, then,” she said. Seja’s ability of flight and her Kanohi Suletu would be key. They all knew but didn’t feel the need to acknowledge that the blue and silver armored weaponsmith could well have been eliminated, instead of taken captive. “We need to get her to myself, Malohi, or Av’Kra,” Axonn said. “Or vice-versa.” All three had the ability to banish he nightmares and insanity inflicted in this place. All of the sudden, the clouds halted their advance, and spread out in the sky, almost politely letting the suns-light through. But they hung in the sky, waiting for commands. Av’Kra had arrived. His lieutenant briefed him, as Malohi and the Avohkah Tamer both crept to the edge of the canyon, surveying. “You and the lightning rider need to get to Hydraxon,” Av’Kra addressed his Toa. “Make sure he’s alive, and get him out of that ravine.” She nodded, mind already racing, as they joined the Tamer at the edge of the cliff face. He pointed to their target, very very far down the opposite cliff face. The Avohkah Tamer evidently had better eyes than the Toa, because she couldn’t make out any detail, that far down. But she could see how close the cage dangled above the murky river. If it ever rained in Karzahni, the cage’s unconscious occupant would be in trouble. The Toa stared down into the ravine, reading the river, reaching out to it, and imploring it to tell her its secrets, to trust her. She was even prepared to promise it a nourishing torrential downpour if it worked with her. A few yards away, Malohi and Axonn schemed the best way to get to Seja, trapped in a waking nightmare. “Yourself, sir? What will you do?” the Avohkah Tamer inquired, while also analyzing the cliff faces for a way down and, more importantly, back up. Preferably, a way that was as Manas-free as possible. Av’Kra waited to reply, until the eyes of his four fighters found him and told him silently that they were ready for action. He raised his halberd, sparks dancing into bolts along its blade. Above, the clouds mirrored his weapon, and began a slow, menacing rotation. The temperature dropped, where they all could see their breath. “I’ll keep your exit clear.” And blinding strikes of lighting rained down around them, with earsplitting thunder to accompany. Although it petrified the poor Energy Hound, the lightning strikes also drew shrieks of warning from the multitude of Manas crabs below, echoing up and down the whole ravine. As Av’Kra tucked the trembling Energy Hound safely in a crevice in the corner of two boulders, with a protective stasis field, his agents sprang into action. The last sight the Toa of Water saw before her running straight at ravine was lightning falling all around the mighty Av’Kra, who swung his weapon wildly above his head and ran south to meet the first Manas claw that broke above the lip of the Wailing Ravine. She was vaguely aware of the Avohkah Tamer’s cry of surprise as she sprinted past him, launching herself into the open air of the canyon. Stabilizing her rapid descent with a precise set of flips, she saw in the rushing corners of her vision dark Manas shapes flying past her, and a bright streak of light, also descending just as quickly, if not moreso. A swirling geyser of water rose to meet her and break her dive. It enveloped her and collapsed with a slap back into the river. If monsters of Karzahni did indeed lurk in this river, they were about to meet a Toa of Water with an agenda, and they’d steer clear if they knew what was good for them. Visibility in the water was almost zero, but the Toa had carefully measured her dive and strokes through the water, bursting through the surface precisely where she wanted. The bottom of the wire-cable cage that held the unconscious weaponsmaster was within easy reach, and the Toa pulled herself out of the river, scrambling onto the top of the prison, examining the chain it was attached to. The winds howled deafeningly around her. She jumped out of the way as the Avohkah Tamer landed right where she had been crouching atop the cage. “Great Spirit, will you watch it?” she snapped at him, not sure if she could be heard. “I was yelling to you to move, the whole way down!” he protested. He had slid down the length of chain, which was slimy and gritty, and he regretted it very much. A deft blast of lightning scared way a curious Avsa Hawk that landed, clinging to the cliffside directly above them. “He’s alive,” the Toa said. “We shouldn’t revive him here. Can you carry him out?” They both gazed at the vertical, algae-covered walls of the canyon. “Not sure if I can even get myself out,” he admitted. With a shrug, he added, “Wouldn’t hurt to try.” “Yes, it would,” she told him curtly. “The riverbed is made of blades and bodies and lots of sharp rocks. If you fall, you’ll be one of the collection.” It was her only her adroit control of and control in her element that had allowed her a successful dive. They could only just make out the shapes of Axonn and Malohi downriver, and higher up on the precipice wall. The bulky warriors would have no trouble smashing open Seja’s cage. A crack of thunder sent rocks from above tumbling down the cliff face. The Toa’s quick reflexes in the form of a wide jet of water kept the debris from falling onto them. A stray chunk of rock clipped the edge of the cage on the way down. “These aren’t very sturdy,” the Toa shouted to the Tamer. She began scaling back up the cliff face, dehydrating the plantlife and surface of the rock as she went, to keep from slipping. “Give it a good shock.” “What? But what about Hydraxon?” the Avohkah Tamer asked, assessing the structure of the metal beneath him. “He’s been through worse, and if I know him at all, he wants to live to see worse yet,” she called. “On my mark!” She needed a few more feet to dive again, and gain enough velocity to shatter the cage. Ideally she’d want to ride a tidal wave past it, and shatter it with a good swing from her mace on the way, but she didn’t have time to swim that far upstream. She gasped as a bolt of lightning sizzled past her, and yelled down to the Tamer to, yet again, watch it. But when she saw what he had been aiming at, she nearly lost her grip on the wall. Two Zyglak. Both descending effortlessly down the wall toward her, and three more bounding down the ledges opposite them. Time for a different plan. “Get out of here!” she shouted to the Avohkah Tamer. He was busy sending strike after strike of lightning at their reptilian foes. It was more effective, he found, to target the stone wall they clung to, to dislodge them, as they seemed to shake off direct lightning strikes like a Kane-Ra shrugs off a Hoto bug. Making sure she had a solid handhold, the Toa let go of the wall with her other hand, holding her spiked mace aloft, and calling desperately to the water in the clouds above. She prayed to the Great Spirit that Av’Kra would cede control of the part of his storm that she needed. Simultaneously, she urged the river below her to rise, feeding it her own rising sense of urgency. Slowly, too slowly, a funnel of storm cloud answered her, and began dipping itself into the canyon, where she waited. The eddies in the now raging river below began to swirl together, gaining speed. It took all her concentration, with her ally’s lightning bolts flying all around her, and an over-zapped Zyglak falling past her into the river didn’t help. It nearly snagged her on its way down. It wouldn’t be enough. The three Zyglak on the opposite wall had nearly drawn level with her. The one Zyglak directly above them was keeping the Avohkah Tamer busy, screeching what must have been profanities at him in its own language. Mentally, the Toa prepared to stop feeding her waterspout and redirect it at the oncoming enemies. Suddenly, with a roar that echoed over the thunder, a large, six-legged dragon burst from the river, scaling the opposite ledges effortlessly, and knocking a surprised Zyglak off the wall. The Toa even heard the satisfying crunch of another's armor between the dragon’s jaws, as one got too close. “Armonger!” she cried, although the howling winds in the canyon drowned out her cry. The intimidating weapon-smith barreled into a Manas crab that she hadn’t even noticed. For all his fearlessness in battle, one would never guess he was a tinkerer at heart. The dragon quickly pieced together the Toa’s plan, working with the Avohkah Tamer giving the Toa cover and space to work. The Toa poured all her concentration into completing her waterspout. The whirlpool building in the river now began to rise to meet the storming funnel of cloud. It felt like it took an eternity. But Armonger and the Avohkah Tamer did their jobs well, giving her cover from more and more of the reptilian monsters descending toward them. And all at once, it was ready and they moved at the Toa’s command. A powerful shock from the Tamer left the weapons-master’s cage brittle and smoking, and leapt clear to the opposite precipice wall, speeding past rushing foes back up the wall. Armonger turned and launched himself downward off the wall, directly at the cage. As soon as his serpentine bulk crashed into the cage, it ripped free of the wall and broke apart. The Toa dove into the river, now rapids, after them. The three of them rode the tumultuous waterspout up and out of the ravine, feeling like they were being ripped apart the whole way. But it worked. The Toa, with a final burst of power, bent the top of the spout, spitting them onto the ground and into the middle of a war zone. The Toa redirected what was left of the waterspout into a huge jet of water, clearing a safe landing for them. The Avohkah Tamer arrived only moments later, helping the Toa beat back a Manas crab, as Armonger guarded the unmoving Hydraxon from two Zyglak. Malohi had seen them, and was battling his way toward them. There must have been almost two dozen Manas crabs, and at least twice as many Zyglak swarming the battlefield. Above, Seja now wheeled haphazardly in the sky, dodging lightning bolts as best she could, and firing her own explosive bolts from a prototype crossbow of Armonger’s design. Where the multitude of enemies were teeming most heavily, and an extremely localized hailstorm was dropping Kanohi-sized hailstones, could only be where Av’Kra and Axonn were fighting. More and more of them were breaking off, spotting the Toa and her group of fighters. One last Zyglak fell away from Malohi, screeching as its organic tissue bubbling and slopping out of its armor with a foul stench. Whatever poison he had imbued his broadsword with, it was quite potent. The forest titan sheathed his deadly blade, vaulting over Armonger to kneel beside Hydraxon, dumping vials he had stowed Mata Nui knows where, in desperate hopes of reviving the weapons-master on the spot. The Toa cursed her lack of knowledge in general about Zyglak composition, as she searched and reached for any liquid protodermis in their organic tissue - an idea employed on the fly from Malohi’s poison. But there were too many, all moving too fast, closing in on their group. While Armonger guarded Malohi and Hydraxon, the Avohkah Tamer rushed to meet a howling troop of Zyglak, battering them at lightning speed, but with sub-par lethality. The Toa turned to a hissing Manas crab that had ventured too close for anyone’s comfort. Distracting it with dancing tendrils of water, she was able to dance close enough to deliver some solid blows with her spiked mace, seeking any break in its armor. If she couldn't reach liquid protodermis or water within her enemies, she'd have to put some there. She reached with her power to the groundwater. As the Manas’ giant claw clipped her in the pelvis, sending her flying, the water from the ground burst upward into a geyser right below the monster. The Toa staggered to her feet, relishing briefly her victory. As the Manas waved its legs and claws uselessly in the air, having been flipped upside down, she brought down the water from the geyser with as much force as she could muster. And what water made it into the crab’s shell, she ripped outward in an explosion, along with the monster itself. It was a mess, but it bought her more time, as the explosion had taken out two more Zyglak that had made it past the Avohkah Tamer. The Toa knelt, both palms pressed flat to the earth, not wanting to lose the connection to the water in the ground she had made. She pulled more and more. Dizzy with the effort and energy expenditure, she also tugged at the clouds. Av’Kra must have felt her pull, somewhere from the turmoil around him, and released the downpour building in the stormclouds. In a few minutes, if the groundwater arrived, the battlefield would be a swamp. A blur of flashing blades charged straight past the Toa, felling another four Zyglak that she was woefully unprepared to meet. Almost comically, they fell to the ground - one, two, three, four, all dead but seemingly untouched. The next thing she knew, Hydraxon stood above her, looking very pleased with himself and not at all like he had just been trapped, comatose, in an indefinite, cyclical nightmare. His trick-density swords, an experiment of Armonger’s gone slightly wrong, couldn’t touch metallic protodermis. They passed straight through, intangible. But they could cut through organic tissue with no problem, and excelled at doing so, especially in the trained employ of Hydraxon. They were risky blades, completely ineffective if one didn’t know how to use them, and didn’t know one’s enemy. But, of course, the weapons-master was not titled as such for fun. “Are you hurt?” he called to her. It was hard to hear him, even though he was right beside her. The exhausted Toa could only shake her bowed head. “If you don’t move, you will be soon,” he warned, already lunging to a pair of Manas crabs now scuttling straight for them. “Wait,” she gasped. Her head snapped up, a victorious but weary smile spreading across her mask. The Manas crabs slowed, struggling ineffectively in a hungry bog, sinking slowly the more they struggled. The Toa and the warrior stood on a small island, safe. Farther away, Zyglak and other Manas struggled in the mud as well. “Come on!” The Toa stood, momentarily clutching Hydraxon’s arm for support until she stopped seeing spots. Then, she headed off as fast as she could, which at this point wasn’t all that fast, toward Malohi, who was locked in a deadly king-of-the-rock tussle with an unnaturally large and monstrous Zyglak - probably a tribe leader. As the Toa ran, she dehydrated the ground just ahead of her, making a safe land bridge for Hydraxon to follow. But it seemed endless. For each enemy she sank into the bog, or that was felled by a swing of a blade or blast of energy, more and more seemed to be appearing. An earthshattering explosion of lightning that nobody had known Av’Kra was capable of summoning knocked every fighter on the battlefield off their feet. The enemies that had been suffocating himself and Axonn were flung away. The ones that didn’t land in the Toa’s swamp lay unmoving on the hard-packed earth. The Avohkah Tamer zipped in to join the two of them. They were on the edge of the Toa’s swamp, only a few dozen bio and a few dozen enemies away. But by the time Hydraxon had pulled the Toa of Water out of her own bog, the Avohkah Tamer was by their side. “The boss says we’ve got to go,” he shouted through the winds that had replaced the downpour. “What?” they both demanded. “Can’t stay here forever, right?” The Tamer shrugged his good shoulder, the other one having taken a few too many blows. “Back to the Jut. Artakha can get us out, there.” Hydraxon nodded once, launching an exploding throwing star nonchalantly at a Zyglak who had struggled too close to them with a flick of his wrist. “Get the injured ones out first.” That would be Seja, clinging to the side of a rock spire with a gash in her side, and Malohi who was limping and barely able to stand after his close call with a Zyglak chief. The forest titan was also cradling the critically wounded Energy Hound, who had bravely come to his aid. Suddenly, the wind stopped and the lightning ceased to fall, and the clouds above stopped moving. The temperature plummeted once more. All three looked to Av’Kra, preparing for whatever strange weather force he was now summoning. But he was gazing around warily, which made them all uneasy. What enemies were left standing had also frozen. An invasive and unnatural darkness bloomed. A voice crackled through their minds, like the breaking of long-dead thorn branches and splintering of bones, sending fear prickling through every nerve and fibre. No, no, servants of my dear brother. You’ll not leave my realm so easily. Karzahni. The Toa’s swamp dried up, as the king of the land severed what connection she’d forged. The Chaos Titan continued, I’ve labored for years, trying to entice my brother who dwells so comfortably in the light to venture out, venture here. But he’s chosen to ignore the invitations I’ve sent him. But perhaps if he knows I have so many of his servants here, alive this time, he will deign to visit. And not just any servants, but the ringleader. The voice chuckled to itself, the horrible sensation that drove some of them their knees, the Toa included. Av’Kra locked eyes with the Avohkah Tamer, and spoke just as effectively as the mind-voice with a swift, subtle gesture. Get them out of here. Before the Toa's eyes, the Tamer disappeared. A moment later, Seja had also disappeared from her perch, even as Av'Kra shouted out challenges to Karzahni. The Toa once again spread both hands on the ground, whispering to the river to feed her strength. Nothing happened, but nothing stopped her from trying. Perhaps Karzahni was not as all-powerful and all-knowing within his realm like Artakha was in his own. Ways this could be used to their advantage flew through her mind. Before she knew it, Malohi and the Energy Hound were also gone, whisked away by the Avohkah Tamer. None of them had ever seen him tire. The Toa wondered if this would be that day, although she didn’t necessarily want it to be. She stood, too depleted to try and reach the river any more. “You couldn’t hold a lightstone to Artakha. What’s to say you’d fare any better against us?” they heard Axonn bluster into the darkness. “If you want to govern in the light and gain renown like him, you can’t hide behind your shadows and your monsters!” He swung his axe in a low arc, crunching an already-dead Manas shell for emphasis. “Face us like the great titan you claim to be, or slink away to your crevice and stay there.” The Toa wasn’t sure if Axonn was just trying to bait Karzahni, or if he was actually angry. No matter, it was effective. The darkness around them flew back to its source, who had appeared standing atop the tallest jagged stone pillar on the field, cutting a ghastly silhouette with flaming chains and twisted antlers. “Don’t think I don’t know who you are, Av’Kra.” Karzahni spoke menacingly, but not loudly. Somehow, they all heard him clearly, though his voice should not have carried that clearly. “You’re the one that I need, not your boisterous Brakas.” Av’Kra put a steadying hand on Axonn’s shoulder, and shook his head. The leader of the Hand of Artakha stepped toward the wielder of chaos, white lightning swirling and leaping around the head of his mighty war halberd. “You’re all talk. If you want to keep us here, you’re going to have to fight for it. Let’s see what you’re made of.” The Toa didn’t notice the Avohkah Tamer arrive at her side. With a cry of protest, the Toa was spirited away from the battlefield. The last sight of her commander, emblazoned in her memory forever - fearlessly rushing toward the king of nightmares, like a force of nature. But it hadn’t been enough. The Toa finished speaking - what had felt like reliving the dreadful eighteen-odd hours had taken no more than a few minutes as she told it. Arriving at the Karzahni Jut, they had contacted Artakha, and they were teleported back to his realm, more or less safe. The Toa wasted no time dispatching the Avohkah Tamer, Seja and their handful of other teleporter agents gather their operatives at their headquarters. It had all taken less than a day, but the quick-travelers were exhausted. A cacophony broke out. Screeching, shouting, roaring, bellowing. Demands, accusations, threats, questions. It was almost worse than fighting tribes of Zyglak. An unruly, two-headed fighter from the western island chain unsheathed their twin acid scimtars, hurling unnecessary profanities while advancing toward Axonn. A translucent agent began darkening in opacity and glowing, readying her powerful energy blasts. She didn’t seem to care who she was aiming at, as she whirled around and around. The crowd of warriors began bursting into pandemonium once more. Weapons were drawn, some swings and misses, a lot of yelling. “That is enough.” The Great Creator Titan materialized in the center of the assembly, and they all fell still and silent instantly. The Karzahni fighters stumbled out of his way as respectfully as possible. Artakha spoke calmly, but his deep voice resonated out of the very stones that made up the tower, rolling through them all as easily as a tsunami rolls through the sea. “Too many good warriors have spent their lives for this cause of yours that bears my name. You are finished. You will not bring any more destruction to my realm. Begone.” Before his last syllable had even finished ringing from the walls, the gray and green legend had vanished once more, taking the broken Mask of Weather Control with him. His presence receded from the stones, leaving the tower cold, ringing with a resentful and mournful silence. The Toa watched as they began to disperse slowly. Some broke into small, defeated, whispering groups, while others walked away, dazed and alone. She turned to Seja beside her, a trusted compatriot. “Where will you go?” The winged warrior leaned heavily on the shoulder of a petite, black armored agent - a specialized stealth operative named Erylist. “Back to Xamra,” Seja replied, still clutching her wounded side. “Those cities aren’t going to build themselves.” She motioned with an incline of her head for Armonger to follow herself and Erylist toward the spiraling east staircase out of the tower. Indeed. Sometimes it was easy, too easy, to forget that there was a whole world that still needed to be built. The Toa doubted, sometimes, how that would ever be possible, with how much destruction and chaos had already been allowed to take hold and fester, both in the world and in the hearts of its inhabitants. She had seen chaos, been part of it. She had seen new heroes - Toa, like her, establish themselves, surely to become legends - to suffer through battle and betrayal, and be immortalized and upheld as paladins by the chosen Matoran race, and surely by many others in the world. The allure of glory still whispered to her, some days stronger than others. Easily, with this open road now stretching out in front of her, she could become one of them. Not just in appearance and power, but in earnest. But there were some burdens too heavy and too dark for glory to carry. No. The limelight would fall, rightfully so, on the unified, dutiful, and destined Toa with their honorable code. But where that code fell short or prevented elimination of a threat, a force which could strike from the long shadows cast by those heroes was in order. It would take time and it would take tenacity. Toa Helryx stood a bit straighter, with her will of protosteel, ready to do whatever it took to bring that order. The End Related reading: The Ternion
  13. https://youtu.be/Hv7Wf96P3KwBionicle promo films had awesome 3D character rigs. The movies were underwhelming but the commercials always had the latest and greatest in hard surface modeling, normal mapping, etc.. I've looked but it seems there's both no interest in the models and no leaks of what was used for G1 promo stuff. Nobody ever mentions Ghost animation just the flash game (MNOG). I'm interested to know if there's any interest at all in this topic or to push it further, any interest in using assets like this to start a game project.
  14. She can fix anything and everything with her bare hands. The wrench is for customers who don't want to pay. Additional photos: https://www.instagram.com/p/B1GQMp7pH7R/
  15. The result of Mutran having one too many drinks at the lab.
  16. I teamed up with a few other builders to create the unseen and unnamed members of the Toa Cordak, and I chose to build the Toa of Stone. You can find links to the other creations on the photo I posted to Flickr. On an unrelated note, this is my 1000th post on BZP!
  17. A prototype Rahi in development in one of Mutran's labs.
  18. hey guys! so i have been thinking about G1's ending and i have some questions that have been swimming in the abyss ov my mind and so i would like them to be answered! here they are: 1: did all the Toa, Matoran, Turaga and Titan characters that died during Bionicle G1's run been resurrected? 2: did the original six Toa (Mata) revert back to 2002-2003 Nuva status? 3: did the Rahaga get turned back into Toa Hagah? 4: did the Toa Mahri get turned back into Toa Inika? 5: was the Mask ov Life put somewhere safe like behind glass or something? 6: were the dead Rahkshi, Nektann, Skrall, Bone Hunters and Tuma cannibalized for armor? 7: did Takanuva get turned back into 2003 form? 8: did Ahkmou finally see the light and became a follower ov Mata Nui? 9: did any dead Glatorian get resurrected? 10: did Brutaka and Axonn become friends again? that's all i have for now! if i have more i will add when i feel like it! so what do you think, guys and gals! any answers?
  19. A small crab Rahi found in the depths of the Pit. As seen on Flickr and Instagram.
  20. An attempt to blend the visual style of the Bionicle films with G2.
  21. The Gana is a small, peaceful lizard Rahi more likely to be afraid of anything it encounters than the other way around. Found in the secluded areas of Ga-Wahi and Le-Wahi, these little gentle creatures often end up as pets. Gana born into domestic environments tend to be less afraid of Matoran, but more so of everything else, than their wild counterparts.
  22. The Kopi is a small Rahi found primarily in deserts, where it hides under the sand during the daytime to escape the searing sun, emerging to hunt during the night. Last moc of 2018/first moc of 2019. I built this hastily on New Year's Eve with the intention of quickly putting something together before midnight.
  23. The Hagah were an elite group of Toa assigned to Makuta Teridax. When his betrayal was uncovered, the six went rogue. All of them, except for Norik and Iruini, were captured and mutated by Roodaka into Rahagah. Norik and Iruini lasted a little longer before surrendering to the Vortixx and succumbing to her powers. The following designs are based off Demitsorou's drawings, particularly this Toa Hagah lineup. Norik, a Toa of Fire, was the leader of the Toa Hagah, Possessing infinite patience, unusual for a Toa of Fire, Norik was an exemplary leader and a hero. He wears the Great Kanohi Pehkui, Mask of Diminishment. Bomonga, a Toa of Earth, was the deputy leader of the Toa Hagah. He used to be a quiet type, preferring to work alone and employing stealth tactics. Despite that, got famous for wrangling a Tahtorak Dragon by using his Mask Power to become as large as the beast itself. Bomonga wears the Great Mask of Growth, shaped after Great Kanohi Hau. Iruini, a Toa of Air, may seem grim and even cynical, but deep inside he cares a great deal about his teammates. He used to be the only Toa Hagah to ever raise a concern over Rahi, showing his devotion to the safety of the Matoran. Iruini wears the Great Kanohi Kualsi, Mask of Quick Travel. Kualus, a Toa of Ice. Always eloquent and classy, even as mutated Rahagah, Kualus enjoyed the company of avian Rahi. He wears the Great Kanohi Mask of Rahi Control shaped after Great Rau. Gaaki, a Toa of Water, wears a Great Mask of Clairvoyance, shaped after Noble Kanohi Ruru. The mask has an unfortunate habit of activating on its own and impose great stress on its wielder, which made Teridax’s betrayal all that much painful for Toa Gaaki. Pouks, a Toa of Stone. He’s loud and boisterous and believes in direct approaches in everything, which makes him come off as brutally honest at times. Pouks wears the Great Mask of Emulation, shaped after Great Kanohi Elda. All models are made in Lego Digital Designer, rendered in POV-Ray and post-processed in Adobe Photoshop.
  24. Mazak is a travelling trader. Everything he carries is up for sale or trade. He prefers trading objects instead of selling them, as his goal isn't to get rich, but to experience as many interesting and unique items as possible before swapping them for something else that's new and exciting. He lives by the motto "everything is for sale and everything has a price". A small tablescrap Matoran that grew out of me fiddling with parts to solve an issue that I ultimately didn't, but ended up making a compact custom torso that fit a Matoran build well. Further images on Flickr. Comments and criticism appreciated.
  25. Author's Note: Crossposting this from Fanfiction.net and Archive of Our Own. This is an alternate conclusion to the Bionicle G1 story. Although there are references to G2 - such as some of the Toa's weapons - it does not connect to G2 in any narrative sense. This fic diverges after the 2008 story, although most of Bara Magna-focused story still occurs in it. I hope to present readers who were disappointed with the original ending with a more appropriate finale that centers on the Toa Nuva. If you notice any grammatical or continuity errors, please leave a review and I will fix them as soon as possible. This fic now has a companion piece, Wisps of Memory, which takes place during chapters 4, 5 and 6 of Fight for Freedom. Both stories can be read separately. Please see my profile for more details on the crossover if you are interested. Chapter 1My name is Teridax. I am a warrior of light, a guardian of peace. I have traveled to this world from my own, chosen by a Matoran warrior to help tip the balance of power. This world is a twisted mirror of my own, with a violent history spawned by my counterpart. The Teridax that resides here has defeated the guardian protector of the universe and taken his place. Entire populations will tremble in fear of what he might do to those who fail to offer their every devotion to his self-obsessed desires. As an example of his inflated sense of self, he even calls himself by his title, 'Makuta'. I will overthrow this tyrant. But to do that, I will need to gather an army. An army that will never be able to truly grasp my intentions, for the beings here do not understand the true nature of this world, and I intend to keep it that way. Gali lay beneath the silver waters that made up the protodermis sea. Once again, she was on patrol of the outer perimeter of the dome that housed her home, Metru Nui. The Southernmost point held the only tunnel that Makuta's forces would be able to attack from. Makuta. She still shivered at the thought. Months ago, she and the rest of the Toa Nuva had finally completed their mission to awaken the Great Spirit, Mata Nui, after his thousand year slumber. However, their victory quickly turned to defeat when they discovered that Makuta had somehow swapped minds with Mata Nui. The day they awoke the Great Spirit, they heard Makuta's voice boom throughout the city. But since then, there had been no sign of any real resistance from him at all. Whatever Makuta was planning, it appeared he could not interfere with them directly. Ever since then, she - and the Toa Mahri - had been cycling underwater patrol duties. The most likely attackers wouldn't be able to easily target a guard watching them from beneath the ocean. The sea was beautiful, relaxing, sparkling, and teeming with life. Fish of an array of different shapes, of fifty-one different colors, swam every direction in huge schools. They searched for food, they remained on the lookout for predators. Just as they had done every day for the past month. The ocean was a part of her, and Gali, a part of it. Fish darted away in her wake, and she could feel the ripples they left behind. Every movement, every wave, every bubble, was an extension of herself. And yet, without someone to share it with her, patrol duty had become a dreaded part of her life. What was the point of swimming if you had no-one to swim with? But everyone else was too busy rebuilding defenses for the city, or training with their Matoran, to simply keep a Toa of Water company on her daily patrols. Gali's thoughts were shattered as she felt the silver waters begin to tremble. Down here, she could barely make out the high pitched whining of something hovering above the surface. Gali continued to stare overhead, waiting to see the beings causing this disruption. The waters rippled harder and harder. A shadow zoomed overhead. Then a second, a third - ten, twenty, fifty. And more still came. I had better find out just who these intruders are. Gali focused her powers to send a waterspout flying up into the air. One of the intruders was caught in the trap. Gali focused her energy to bring the water back down into the sea, dragging her trapped foe below the surface. The intruder kicked and screamed, trying to break free of her hold. An armored shell protected its hunched back, and its head opened into three sections to reveal the worm-like kraata controlling it. "Rahkshi," spat Gali. "We've stopped the likes of you before, and we'll do it again." Gali prepared to finish it off, but the beast swiftly pointed its staff towards her and fired a burst of electricity. She screamed as the current surged through her, but forced herself to send a powerful torrent of water back to her attacker. Before the Rahkshi could recover, she powered toward it. With her free hand, Gali grabbed hold of its faceplate. The beast kicked at her ineffectively, and she pulled it in, wrapping her legs around its torso. Gali activated her Mask of Strength and pried the plates apart. The Rahkshi grabbed a hold of her wrists, desperately trying to stop her. It didn't have a chance against her enhanced strength. Its face was ripped open, and Gali rammed her trident inside, skewering the Kraata. The Rahkshi stopped moving. One down, thought Gali. Looking overhead, she could see dozens of shadows passing over the water. Just five hundred more to go. She blasted another wave at more of the Rahkshi, ready to repeat the process. Vakama walked atop the vast wall that circled the city of Metru Nui. Matoran workers shuffled past, building powerful turrets at regular intervals along the perimeter. It had been a month since the Toa Nuva had awoken the Great Spirit - and a month since the Great Spirit had been taken over by Makuta. Fortunately, since he had announced his presence, he had not actually done anything. A few times, his booming voice had rung through the city, demanding that the Matoran workers kneel before him and do his bidding. But when it became apparent that the workers wouldn't obey; it seemed he had given up. But Vakama did not believe that his old foe of one thousand years had given up. There was an attack coming, and he had to do everything he could to prepare his home. Vakama looked over the ocean to the South. He wasn't quite sure - but it almost looked like something was coming from the Great Barrier. Vakama waited - moments passed, then minutes. It might be nothing He hoped it was nothing. It wasn't nothing. Multi-colored specks lined the distance. "Sound the alarm!" cried Vakama. Two Matoran workers left the turret they were banging on and scurried away. Sirens blared throughout the city. Matoran leaped into turret seats and those that didn't have turrets prepared disk launchers. Three Toa jumped off the great wall, and into the ocean. Three aerial vehicles rushed past overhead. Vakama watched as a blast of water rose out of the silver sea, dragging one of the distant specks down beneath the waves. Closing his eyes, he wearily prepared to face another battle. When he opened them, he squinted at the huge, multi-colored squad coming in, getting closer and closer. They were finally close enough for him to see what they were. Only weeks ago had Metru Nui almost fallen to a Rahkshi attack. Back then, he had found a way to reawaken the Bohrok to fight them. But this time the Rahkshi numbers were even greater, there were no Bohrok, and even Krakua had left the city. The only edge they had this time was the Toa Nuva. Minutes ticked by. The water erupted, again and again, swallowing the attackers, dozen by dozen. Kra-koom! Finally, the first turret fired a huge beam of energy, striking one of the attacking beasts. The Rahkshi crashed into the water, splashing frantically as it struggled to pull itself out. Before Vakama knew it, the sea was ablaze with energy blasts, causing huge fountains of water to rise into the air. Many Rahkshi fell into the sea, never to rise again. But it wasn't enough. There were simply too many. Vakama knew he would join the fight shortly. He didn't have the power of a Toa, or a powerful turret, or even the Mask of Time. But he had cunning - and his Mask of Concealment. Pohatu kicked the Rockoh around, ready for another attack on the oncoming Rahkshi. He powered in, bracketing the first of many Rahkshi in his crosshairs. The Rahkshi was there one second. The next, it was blasted to smithereens by the Rockoh's heavy cannon. Pohatu flew over the hovering hordes of Rahkshi, firing his heavy blaster again and again. He pulled up, having passed the vanguard, and flipped around for another pass. Looking back, he confirmed that Lewa and Tahu were still behind him, piloting the Axalara and the Jetrax. Bursts of light shone around Pohatu as Tahu and Lewa fired their Midak Skyblasters at the Rahkshi, frying their Kraata and turning them into empty, mindless husks that fell helplessly into the sea. Pohatu pulled back on the control bar, pulling his Rockoh up toward the sky, and prepared to make another pass. Gali used her propellers to speed through the water, keeping up with the Rahkshi swarm. Around her, explosions of light peppered the surface. In the distance, Hahli, Jaller and Hewkii were using their powers to snipe the attackers from under the ocean's surface. "Gali!" greeted Jaller, as Hewkii ripped a stone from the island and flung it at an overhead Rahkshi. Jaller kicked over to join Gali. "How are you faring?" asked Gali. "Between the three of us, we've managed to stop a handful of them," Jaller said, proudly gesturing to mechanical parts floating nearby. "How about you?" "My count is a little higher," said Gali, wanting to avoid embarrassing them by revealing the number. "Hey!" shouted Hewkii. "I know Jaller isn't much good for much except hot air, but you could pretend to give us a hand here!" "Let's get them," said Gali. She held out her arms and worked her powers. Focusing, she gained control of the water around her until she could build up an enormous wave above the surface. She used all her might to bring the huge wave crashing down on the enemy forces, forcing a handful of the Rahkshi beneath the surface and down into their domain. Jaller fired his Cordak blaster at one, sending a rocket careening toward the Rahkshi before exploding. The Rahkshi was sent flying backward but recovered quickly. As the Toa Mahri traded attacks with the Rahkshi, Gali created a current to carry her towards one. The Toa Mahri proved an excellent distraction. Gali sped toward the first Rahkshi, trident readied. With a mighty blow, she split the worm in two, cutting off its horrific scream with abrupt finality. A moment later, she cut into another Rahkshi, once, twice, thrice! In moments, it floated beneath the waves, now in two pieces. Using the ocean currents, she pulled the third one towards her, parried its sluggish blow, and thrust her trident into its head. Hewkii and Jaller looked impressed. Gali had managed in seconds what they had struggled to do in minutes. But the fourth - and final - Rahkshi remained in one piece. It fired a blast of plasma at Gali. But Gali had already switched to her Mask of Shielding, and the blast was deflected harmlessly away. "There's an easier way, you know," said Hahli. She focused her own powers of water on the Rahkshi, increasing the pressure around it as it was trapped, kicking and hissing under the water. Hahli strained and groaned. Finally, the Rahkshi's shell buckled and collapsed in on itself. Hahli panted, exhausted by the effort. "You should be able to easily manage that, right?" "Now you are the one teaching me," said Gali, smiling. She looked overhead, toward the shadows still flying past. "Are you ready for more?" "Let's get them," replied Hahli. Turret fire vaporized oncoming attackers, and the Toa Nuva had helped to thin their numbers. But despite the Toa's minor victories, the horde kept coming. The first Rahkshi landed on the beach, organizing themselves into groups. Squads of Blue and Brown Rahkshi formed, firing their staffs. Blasts cut through the great wall, blowing stone chunks apart. Yellow Rahkshi shot their heat vision at the nearby turrets, melting them to slag and forcing the Matoran to leap off the wall to escape the molten metal. Rolling to port, Pohatu pulled back on the throttle, giving him more time to line up his shots. Pulling the trigger three times, he blasted a group of Rahkshi apart with his cannons. He was fast approaching the surface of the city, presenting a larger target for the Rahkshi. Pohatu pulled up into a climb and pushed the throttle to its limit, blasting away from the Rahkshi before they could retaliate. He glanced down. The beach was littered with ruined husks of Rahkshi, their Kraata vaporized or split in two. But it wasn't enough. They were still cutting through the wall. Pohatu sent the Rockoh into a dive, targeting one of the Yellow Rahkshi threatening his Matoran friends. Just as he was about to fire, Pohatu caught sight of a Rahkshi aiming its staff at him. He rolled right - a fraction of a second too late. A searing pain spread throughout his left shoulder. Pohatu screamed, as a stinging heat shot through his arm, worse than anything he had ever felt before. Closing his eyes, he tried to push the pain away. When he opened them again, he realized he was spinning wildly out of control, his vehicle veering sharply to the right. Pohatu tried to grab the handle to steer left but missed the bar. Glancing down, he tried to find the control. The problem was obvious. The handle was fine - but his shoulder had become an empty socket. Too late to worry about that now - he was getting perilously close to the ocean. With only one arm on the control bar, he pushed through the searing pain and tried to get enough grip to steer the vehicle. That was easier said than done. Pohatu slowed the spiral. It would have to do. Desperately, he pulled up on the bar, trying to rise before he crashed. It wouldn't be enough, and he was certain he would land hard in the ocean. Suddenly, he felt an enormous updraft around him, giving him enough lift to right himself. Pohatu brought the Rockoh to a steady hover, looking around for the only Toa that could have saved him. Lewa sidled up beside him. "No time for swimming now - wait till after we drive off these Rahkshi!" "Thanks for saving me. Ready to follow me in for another pass?" asked Pohatu, ignoring the ache in his shoulder. But Lewa was eyeing Pohatu's empty arm socket. "Pohatu, I think you are slow-thinking. You are missing something very important." "Right now, we have a city to save. We can worry about patching up injuries later." "You are in no condition to battle-fly, Pohatu! Get to safety. I will fight for both of us!" "I am not about to let the Rahkshi take our home." Pohatu's eyes narrowed. "I'm armless, not harmless." For once, Lewa didn't see the funny side. He didn't even crack a smile. But Pohatu sped off to defend the city before Lewa could stop him. Onua stood behind the wall that kept the city safe. It was his job, his duty, to make sure the wall kept standing. Continued blasts of light from the other side of the great wall, where the battle took place, strained his eyes. I wish Pohatu were here, he thought. He's much better suited to this sort of thing. Onua looked up to the top of the barrier to see Takanuva perched behind a battlement, rapidly blasting light at the Rahkshi threatening to break through. Panicked Matoran fled the crumbling section of wall, abandoning their ruined turrets. Onua heard more stone cracking and crumbling, as another part of the wall threatened to collapse. He was exhausted from the continued effort of holding the wall together, but he turned and held out his hands anyway. He willed dirt and soil into existence within the cracks, compacting as much into the spaces as he could. He absolutely would not let the Rahkshi into the city. Kopaka circled overhead, firing freezing blasts at the Rahkshi below. But the sound of Rahkshi screams and shattering stone never ceased. Suddenly, a dozen strikes hit a single point. The base of the wall was blasted open. Before Onua could do anything, the wall cracked and collapsed on itself. Dozens of Rahkshi climbed over the rubble. An enormous voice echoed all around the city. "Citizens of Metru Nui. My forces have breached your city. Your defenses are nullified. Surrender to my rule, and your city will remain unharmed. Resist - and I cannot make any such promises." As Onua suspected, Makuta was guiding the Rahkshi attack. The Matoran had already fled. By all means, the battle had already been lost. Now, only a dozen Toa stood in the way of Makuta's forces. Kopaka corkscrewed in, dodging blasts from Rahkshi staff weapons, and landed beside Onua. "Looks like you could use a hand," he said, as he froze a Rahkshi leaping towards them. "Always appreciate the help, Kopaka!" said Onua, slamming his hammer into the ground. Rahkshi running towards the pair looked startled as the earth beneath their feet sunk ten feet down. Kopaka pointed his sword at the newly formed crater, freezing it over. "There's more where that came from," said Kopaka, readying his sword and shield as he charged in to meet his foes. Dozens more Rahkshi had already climbed through the shattered wall. Onua caught a glimpse of Takanuva leaping down from the wall, chasing down Rahkshi that were disappearing down the city streets, madly firing beams of light at them. Quickly, Onua worked to rebuild the gaping hole. Earth and dirt rose up from below shattered columns, creating a new defensive barrier. It would hold up against the Rahkshi - at least, for a short while. Nearby, Kopaka traded blows with two Rahkshi. Onua leaped in to assist him. Activating his Mask of Strength, he swung his heavy hammer at one of Kopaka's attackers. The Rahkshi tried to block with its staff, but Onua's swing was far too powerful. The Rahkshi's staff shattered, its body cracked, and its Kraata was crushed. Onua didn't have time to celebrate. The sound of metal striking metal rang through the air as Kopaka traded thrusts with another of the invaders. Movement to Onua's right caught his eye - another Rahkshi lunged at him. Onua swung his hammer out to meet it. Just as he would have batted the Rahkshi out of the air, it disappeared. The weight of his hammer pulled him around. Where could it be? The obvious place would be behind him. Onua circled, whirling his hammer to where he predicted it would be. The Rahkshi quickly ducked beneath the blow. Onua parried the Rahkshi's strike away and swung at it. Once again, the Rahkshi disappeared. Just like I knew it would. This time, Onua quickly swung his hammer over his head and behind him. The beast materialized a second before Onua's hammer crushed it. He looked up to check on Kopaka. Kopaka held up his shield to block his foe's jab and countered with his own blade. He was wearing the Mask of Strength, and his blade sliced cleanly through the Rahkshi's head. "Good work, brother," said Onua. The perimeter wall was coming under fire again, already on the verge of a second collapse. The rest of the Rahkshi had already disappeared, having already entered deeper into the city. Once again, the booming voice of Makuta drowned out the sounds of fighting. "Surrender, Toa - you cannot hold my sons off forever." Give up? Surrender? They had never done that before. Even when all was lost, when everything seemed helpless, the Toa Nuva always pulled through. They would never abandon the Matoran to their fate. But what if, by staying, the Matoran would be made to suffer? They had, effectively, already lost this battle. If they continued to resist, the Matoran might be tortured - or even killed. All because we don't know when to give up. What would he do? What should he do? "Come on, Kopaka," he said, using his powers to rebuild sections of earth that had fallen from the wall. "We've still got a city to save." Tahu hovered, high above the city, taking in the layout of the Rahkshi below. A small group on the bank were using Sonic blasts to breach another hole in the wall. None of them were paying attention to anything else going on around them. A rookie mistake. Tahu dived in on his Jetrax, taking aim at the intruders. The wall crumbled under the combined might of the sonic blasts, and chunks of stone and protosteel flew everywhere. Tahu squeezed the trigger. Bursts of light consumed the Rahkshi, and moments later, they were all vaporized. Tahu pulled up, looking for his next target. As he moved into position, he caught sight of Lewa and Pohatu making their own attack runs. As Rahkshi swarmed around weak sections of wall, the ground beneath them exploded into stone spikes, sending Rahkshi flying. Pohatu's doing, of course. Lewa swooped by, creating an incredible gale. The Rahkshi were sent flying out into the ocean. Tahu took advantage of the chaos to take a pass at the downed Rahkshi, destroying four with his Skyblasters. Lewa followed Pohatu in for another run at the Rahkshi below. Lewa's Axalara was slower than Pohatu's Rockoh, but better armored. If they were being reasonable, Lewa should have gone in first, shielding Pohatu from any attacks. Pohatu was not being reasonable. The two Toa fired their crafts weapons at the Rahkshi, vaporizing two more. Then they rose, sending their craft into a barrel roll to evade any potential hits from behind. Once out of range, they'd flip around take another pass. Lewa was just managing to keep up with Pohatu's passes. The Rockoh had speeds the Axalara couldn't hope to achieve, but Lewa had been flying for much longer than Pohatu had. He was one with the air, able to feel the turns and the wind. He knew how to turn tighter, how to evade better, and most importantly, how to plan his maneuvers. He pulled back on the control handle, sending the nose of the craft rising up and over even as he rolled the ship to his right-hand side. The result was a fast and effortless maneuver that soon had him facing the Rahkshi again. He brought the targeting reticule over the Rahkshi and prepared to fire, even as Pohatu blasted past to catch up. Another pull of the trigger, another destroyed Rahkshi, and soon enough, another bank to the left to line up yet another shot. The two Toa began to rush in for another attack. Lewa aimed at the next Rahkshi, this one a deep blue. But out of the corner of his eye, Lewa spotted a group of Rahkshi taking aim at them on the beach. "Pohatu, high-rise! High-rise!" Lewa rolled his craft out of the way before the attack could come. Pohatu pulled back on the handle as hard as he could with only one arm. A blast of lightning struck where Lewa had been seconds ago - but Pohatu was caught in the middle of it. Pohatu forced himself to roll right and dive, trying to evade the blast. Quickly, Lewa bracketed the Silver Rahkshi that was blasting Pohatu with lightning. Lewa fired. The silver Rahkshi was engulfed by light - and then, was gone. Lewa turned back to check on Pohatu. Smoke was billowing out of the Rockoh. "Pohatu!" Lewa shouted. "It's time to quick-leave!" he pointed away from the battle, toward the open sea. "You cannot quick-dodge with one arm. You are going to get yourself killed!" Pohatu looked back at the Rahkshi pouring into the city, desperate to protect his home. But it was obvious he couldn't keep going like this. Pohatu sighed. "You're right. I'll find a safe place to land." He flipped his vehicle around and looked back to Lewa. "You'd better fry enough Rahkshi for both of us." He revved the engine and was gone. Lewa snap-rolled, and prepared to make another pass on the Rahkshi. Onua continued to hold up a defensive, earthy wall as best he could. Kopaka froze his work, solidifying it further. But blast after blast struck against it, and Kopaka knew Onua was tiring. Kopaka coated the wall with another blast of ice when he heard the sounds of heavy footsteps approaching. He turned to see a squad of oncoming Rahkshi charging at them from behind. "Great," Kopaka said. "Looks like they've found another way in." Onua created one last layer of earth to hold up the wall as he turned around. "They aren't going to quit, Kopaka!" Once again, Onua ripped apart the ground. Rahkshi fell in, and he pulled the ground back together. The walls of the hole crumbled and cracked as they crushed the Rahkshi within. Kopaka fired a beam of ice at the ground, freezing more of the group to the ground. But for every Rahkshi that they stopped, two more seemed to appear. Rahkshi blasts filled the air, beams of heat and destruction. Kopaka summoned a wall of ice, and the two Toa took cover behind it. Onua peered over and fired a ball of earth, quickly ducking back down just before an energy blast passed through. "We have got to get out of here," said Kopaka. "This isn't a fight we can win. Onua, dig us a hole!" Onua didn't say a word. He simply willed the earth to move out of the way, forming a tunnel below them. Kopaka used his Mask of Vision to see take note of where the Rahkshi were without having to peer over the cover he had created. He focused, and froze the ground under the largest group, forcing the temperature lower and lower until the Rahkshi were frozen solid. "Are you ready?" Onua asked, already climbing into the tunnel. "I'm always ready," replied Kopaka. He climbed in after Onua. Once they were both safely below ground, Onua pushed the earth back into place behind them and continued digging in the darkness.
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