“Stand aside, grunts,” the Skantang barked, slowing his pace not the slightest.
The guards looked uneasily at each other. They had been given orders not to let anyone see the Makuta who dwelled within, but this Skantang carried himself in such a way that denying him what he wished seemed like the kind of stupid even they could understand.
“We’re not supposed to let no one in,” one Nalseri finally said.
The Skantang flipped out a triangular stone slab, a coveted Tablet of Transit. The Nalseri immediately recognized its bearer as an ally of the Brotherhood of Makuta. They open the twin doors for him, bowing slightly as he passed.
“Great Makuta of Stelt, my patrol has captured a Toa attempting to infiltrate your castle,” the Skantang reported. The Nalseri dropped the Toa’s battered body on the floor, and then tossed his tool, a staff with a sharp, curved blade on each end, next to him. The Toa’s gray and black armor was dented in several placed, and his Kanohi Suletu was still askew from a harrowing blow from the Nalseri.
The towering, armored body of Makuta Balsan hovered over the Toa, his striking red eyes staring down on his prisoner as if he had just been scrapped from the bottom of the Makuta’s foot.
“How did you capture him?” Balsan asked.
“My lieutenant here engaged him in a diversionary confrontation while my Nalseri jumped upon him from a nearby roof,” the Skantang replied.
Balsan smiled. “And from whose mind did that clever maneuver manifest from?”
The Skantang lieutenant opened his mouth to speak, but before he could, his superior Skantang matter-of-factly declared, “My own, of course.”
“Brilliant, if I do say so myself,” Balsan continued, still eyeing the slowly-waking Toa. “What is your name?”
“Sidorak, Great Makuta,” the Skantang said purposefully.
“My commendations to you, Sidorak. You may leave now,” Balsan declared. Sidorak looked slightly surprised, having anticipated taking part in the interrogation, but the twin doors had already begun slowly closing. Sidorak, his lieutenant, and the Nalseri quickly made their exit.
On the cold ground, Toa Kalian had finally reached the summit of his agonizing climb back to consciousness. Upon shifting his Kanohi Mask of Telepathy back to a position from which he could see out of, he was greeted by the prying eyes of Makuta Balsan behind a blackened, twisted Kanohi mask.
“Do you know why you are here, Toa?” the Makuta hissed.
“Obviously not to give you a Copper Mask of Victory for your good looks,” Kalian replied, coming steadily to his feet.
Balsan roared in anger and unleashed a blast of shadow energy at the Toa, sending him flying across the room. Kalian slammed hard into the back wall, knocking loose a few of the weapons hung from it.
“Oh, that’s right,” Kalian muttered as if he had just remembered something of great import. “The Copper Mask is in honor of your excellent anger management.”
Balsan jumped forward and wrapped his metallic fingers around Kalian’s neck. “Tell me what you came to steal unless you feel your destiny is to end up plasma bones.”
Kalian’s mask glowed as he reached into Balsan’s mind. Kalian looked through the unsettling labyrinth of a Makuta’s thoughts and desires until he came about what he sought – the hidden location of a particular stone tablet. He then hastily forced his Suletu’s power back down, wanting to link minds with a Makuta no more than necessary.
“I just got it,” Kalian replied, using the Makuta’s chest as a jumping board and launching himself away from Balsan. He then turned his attention to the weapons knocked from the wall in Balsan’s shadow attack and used his power over magnetism to command them toward the Makuta of Stelt. Kalian also recalled his dual-bladed staff back to his hand. Just as Balsan was recovering from the kick to his chest, the weapons struck their target, crushing his armor in and driving a strange green-black smoke from his form. Kalian briefly looked into Balsan’s mind once more to assault him with meaningless mental noise, keeping Balsan stunned for a few more seconds as the Toa of Magnetism jumped through the castle’s massive window and landed gracefully in the courtyard.
Looking back at Balsan’s castle, Kalian ran toward the nearby shoreline until he reached the dock where his boat was kept. He untied it from its post and used his magnetic powers to repel the boat from the metallic castle, sending him rocketing away from Stelt.
Once a safe distance away, Kalian raised his sail and let the wind take him to his rendezvous point. He looked back at the skyline of Stelt, noting it had virtually none to speak of except for Balsan’s castle and a few much smaller structures used for entertainment fights. The structures managed by the Brotherhood of Makuta were, it seemed, safe from the counterproductive tendency of the Skantang to enviously destroy whatever structures their peers might erect.
A few more hours of floating brought Kalian to a desolate, isolated region of the Tren Krom Peninsula, where his ally was slated to be waiting for him.
From the layer of sand coating the beach, several black shards rose from their hiding place just beneath it and came together, coalescing into a Toa-sized figure. Kalian would have been taken aback by the occurrence, had he not witnessed it much earlier before he had received his mission. The woman subsequently standing before him regarded him warmly, with a sweet smile and a nod of her head.
“I am glad you survived. My allies were actually betting on if the Makuta would kill you,” she greeted.
“Sorry to disappoint half of your allies, Johmak,” Kalian replied.
“More than half, actually,” Johmak responded, laughing. “In fact, the ones who thought you’d die started betting on how the Makuta would do it.”
Kalian laughed as well and tried using his mask to transmit what he had learned into Johmak’s mind. As before, however, her mind was strangely impenetrable to his telepathic abilities.
She laughed harder, as if the telepathic attempt tickled. “Now why would I get rid of my anti-telepathic training since we last spoke? Just tell me where the Brotherhood is keeping their records of Matoran slavery and their other wrongdoings.”
“Destral,” Kalian revealed. Johmak frowned, and Kalian knew why: the entire island of Destral could disappear and reappear anywhere else in the universe at any time, via mysterious technology only accessible to the Brotherhood of Makuta. “For what it’s worth, the last time Balsan was there, it was hidden among the Southern Islands.”
“It’s surely been moved since then,” Johmak replied. “My people will find it again. If they weren’t so good at it, the Brotherhood wouldn’t always have to be moving it around.”
“You know, if you would tell me who ‘your people’ are, I could help you more,” Kalian said.
“I simply can’t,” she insisted. “Just have faith. As long as the carrying out the Great Spirit’s will is your goal, we are your friends.”
Johmak’s secrecy about the faction she represented, as well as the shielding of her mind, had made it difficult for Kalian to accept their revelation that the Brotherhood was evil. It was not until her ally, Botar, brought him to a Brotherhood slave camp in the Southern Islands where Matoran were being worked to death building war vehicles that he saw the Brotherhood’s treachery, and of course agreed it must be brought to light. His suggestion of freeing the camp through direct confrontation, however, was shot down by Johmak. She had claimed her faction’s secrecy was more important, arguing that it enabled them to fight injustice and miscarriage of the Great Spirit’s will on a greater scale. While disagreeing with her sentiment, he found her arguments difficult to refute.
“So what happens after you get the proof of these slave camps from Destral?” the Toa of Magnetism asked. “Or is that a secret, too?”
Johmak sighed and sat down in the sand. “Well, my superiors wouldn’t approve, but I trust you. Once we’ve attained records of the camps, we will see that they are found by those most suited to act on the issue in accordance with our desires.”
“Who are you going to give it to?” Kalian asked.
“The Toa Hagah. Teridax’s,” Johmak disclosed.
“That’s pretty ambitious. Your faction must have some reach to get things to Norik and his team.”
Johmak’s laugh seemed to sound sweeter and more natural to Kalian each time he heard it. “You have no idea,” she said with an intonation conveying that she really wished she could say more.
A wind rustled the trees above them. Both ducked before they realized the sound was no living entity.
“I must really go,” Johmak said suddenly. “My leader wants my report as soon as possible. Thank you for your contribution, Toa Kalian.”
“It was my pleasure, Johmak,” the Toa replied. Johmak reached out her hand, and he took it firmly but gently. He then found a strange sensation of incompleteness in his spirit – a desire to let her know, maybe gesture somehow, that his loyalty and affinity for her was more than that of two friends. But he knew of no such action he could make, so he simply gave her hand a quick shake.
“Until we meet again,” she purred finally, dispersing her form into black crystals and letting the wind carry them away. He hadn’t even let go of her hand as it slipped out of his and the wind took her from him.
Edited by Master Inika, Dec 25 2017 - 08:36 PM.