OOC: I figured the Abettor needed a little LICKing. The below was written by both me and Justin Bieber (Eyru).
When his Kanohi halted him, Greed found himself in a stone tunnel. It was far smaller than the cathedral-sized chamber from whence he had come, but still had a high enough ceiling that he could have stood on his own shoulders and not reached it. Somewhere far away was the rhythmic plunking of a solitary drop of water landing in a little puddle; the noise ricocheted down to Greed from an indeterminate distance. The passage ahead, on inspection, was dark and empty.
The Toa of Air clutched his lightstone and shone it next to him upon the surface of the passage, revealing the tunnel to be of a very different make than he'd expected. Rather than being rough, covered in stalactites and stalagmites like the subterranean network below, the stone here was smooth and perfectly rounded, save for the occasional, jagged break in its surface. Greed shifted his lantern around to look into one of these, and was dazzled momentarily as light sparked back up at him. The irregular-seeming holes in the rock were the opened faces of geodes, full of white-green quartz. Veins of minerals ran erratically along the surface of the round tunnel.
When he took a step forward, everything around Greed changed.
Suddenly, ahead of Greed, a wall of blue lights flared into existence, blinding his dark-accustomed eyes. The blue light, brilliant and pure, was caught by the geodes' exposed innards, made the veins of minerals sparkle. The entire tunnel was illuminated at once with cast, reflected, or refracted cerulean luminescence, and Greed's eyelids were poor guardians against the brilliance. He had to keep his eyes shut. He heard an odd series of sounds; a curiously resounding click, followed by a metallic shifting sound, like two swords rubbing against each other, then another click like the first one. Then, there was a tinny, warped, incredibly deep voice.
"Identify yourself," the voice clacked. Greed was given the strange image of a lion that had been thrown down a deep, metal well. Still squinting, he hadn't the presence of mind to reply. There was a few seconds of quiet, and then the voice repeated itself, its cadences identical to the first time it'd spoken. "Identify yourself."
"I am Greed," Greed said. He tried to open his eyes a sliver, but the light was still too much for him.
"Greed is not a name," the voice pondered haltingly. "Greed is a vice."
"Greed is my name," Greed growled indignantly.
"You are strange," the voice mused mechanically. Its tone hardened, as though suddenly annoyed. "Why are you here."
Greed didn't know how to answer that, not exactly, and he didn't feel like explaining himself to somebody - something? - he had just met, anyway. "Why do you want to know?" he shot back. "And who are you?"
"We want to know because it is our duty," the voice said. Greed's mind did a double take. We? It was definitely the same voice as ever; a single speaker for a crowd, perhaps? If only he could open his eyes. He tried again, in vain; the blue was too much, still, but it no longer pained him. Slowly, things were coming into focus. The voice went on, answering his other question. "We are the Abettor."
"What is that?" Greed asked. He blinked several times, trying to make some sense of the mess of blue-lit blurs in front of his eyes.
"We are the guardian," the Abettor (whatever it - they? - was) answered. Something about the way it spoke sent an electrical jolt running up Greed's spine; something about hearing the voice chilled him in a way he didn't understand.
"The guardian of... what?" he inquired slowly, rubbing his eyes vigorously. What was he talking to?
"The guardian of powerful destiny," the Abettor recited back, its voice a stone banging around the inside of a huge steel drum. Greed shut and opened his eyes again, and he was finally able to see the thing - the titanic, alien thing - that stood before him.
The Abettor was almost twice as tall as Greed, and shaped vaguely like him, insofar as it had arms, legs, and a torso. That was where the resemblance stopped. The arms were thick as barrels; the legs had all the solidity of trees, and they were double-jointed like a predator's; the torso was cylindrical, a spilled can propped on top of an oversize Toa's bulging abdominal section, and the shoulders were on either side of the can. There was no head on top of the cylinder; instead, a Kanohi Pakari with empty eye sockets stared out from a cavity in the center of the chest.
The Abettor's armor was a dull color, and looked very thick. The source of the blue light that had blinded Greed and turned the tunnel from blackness to brilliance was a myriad of small, glowing letters, arranged in sporadic lines and dots along the imposing thing's body. These seemed to have no reason behind their arrangement, as none of the lines formed real (or even pronounceable) words. A large p was emblazoned onto the forehead of the Pakari. The last thing Greed noticed was that instead of a right hand, the Abettor's powerful forearm merged at the wrist into a rough cluster of crystal that looked a good deal like the geodes around it, save that it was a pale blue color. The odd shiver took Greed again when he eyed the crystal arm.
An echoing click drew Greed's attention away from it, and up to the Kanohi in the middle of the Abettor's chest. It was the same click as he'd heard before; just like the first time, the click was followed by the rustle of metal on metal. This time, though, Greed was able to see the source of the strange sounds.
On the first click, the empty-eyed Pakari had receded a few inches back into the Abettor's cylindrical torso. On the metallic rustle, the Pakari moved independently down, arcing along the curve of the cylinder so that it slid behind a protruding guard below the niche it had occupied. From under the lip of an identical guard above the niche, a second Kanohi mask emerged into view - a Ruru, emblazoned with a glowing blue y- and then followed the Pakari down out of sight. A third mask - a Kanohi Rode, with the letter j on it - moved into the niche on the same path as the Ruru had, and here the rotating wheel of masks slowed. The same click as before was heard, and the Rode pressed slightly forward, taking the Pakari's place.
"Why are you here," the Abettor repeated, stating the inquiry the exact same way as it had the first time. Greed felt, rather than heard, the threat behind the strange Abettor's words.
The Toa of Air swallowed uneasily.
The iron monstrosity spoke calmly and precisely, without emotion, each robotic syllable only reinforcing its unsettling appearance. Even though the eyes of its Kanohi were empty, Greed could feel this Abettor watching him patiently, and its crystal hand seemed almost wrong, though he couldn't explain why. The blue crystal glowed, as did the lines of Matoran runes that lined its body, spelling out words that didn't exist.
"Why are you here.”
It wasn't a question: it was a statement. Greed swallowed uneasily, a slight shiver running down his spine. This mechanical being was unreadable; there was no way for the Toa of Air what would happen if he gave a wrong answer. The eyeless mask stared at him, unhurried, but also unmerciful. If eyes were the window to the soul, then the Abettor had none.
He clenched his fists, realizing too late that he had left his machete below, in the corpse of the Rahkshi. Every heartbeat was echoed by a throbbing in his side, in his leg, in his chest, in his back. He was in no shape to fight. All the while, the Rode watched him blankly, and he realized belatedly that, if the metal behemoth could use its masks, then any lie would be a wrong answer.
That left the truth, or however much of it the Toa of Air could get away with.
“I came here seeking entry to the Vault of the Makuta,” he said. “If you are its guardian, then I ask you-” the word ask caught in his throat “-I ask you to let me in, for the sake of the island.”
The Abettor considered Greed's response in silence for a full second; to Greed, the silence felt an age. The quiet was broken by the lubricated hiss of pistons, immense things that braced the Abettor's legs; the sound was so sudden that it made Greed jump. The Abettor took two slow, sure steps forward. As it came closer, its daunting size was impressed again upon Greed. The Toa of Air was quite reassured that his decision not to fight this behemoth had been a sound one. Its rattling, bottomless voice only served to reinforce these sentiments.
"You have spoken truthfully," the Abettor croaked. The click-scrape-click sequence again; before Greed's eyes, the Kanohi Rode in the Abettor's chest swiveled out of sight to be replaced with a Kanohi Sanok - on the forehead of which was a shining blue w- a few masks away. Greed felt something in his chest unclench, and he saw the glow in the crystal arm fade. The Abettor's empty eyes looked over his head with the same passivity as before; now, though, their blankness was less threatening.
"We are a guardian of this Vault," the Abettor continued with deep resonance, affirming Greed's assumptions. "Our duty is to maintain its integrity. Therefore, your request to enter this Vault is rejected. It is against our directive to permit someone unworthy to-"
"Unworthy?" Greed broke in, feeling outraged as if he'd been slapped. "...Unworthy? I have proven myself among the most dedicated, the most loyal servants of the great Makuta-"
"It is against our directive to permit someone unworthy to enter this way," the Abettor repeated indifferently. "You are unworthy; servitude to the Makuta does not equate with worthiness. Though he stashed his treasures within, this Vault does not belong to the Makuta. We do not serve the Makuta."
"Then... What do you serve?" Greed asked, confused. If this wasn't Makuta's Vault, then whose was it?
"We serve our duty," the Abettor replied.
Greed had the impression that the Abettor wasn't going to reveal much more on this front; nevertheless, fires of curiosity burned in the Toa of Air, and countless other queries ricocheted around inside his mind. For example, why did the Abettor guard the Vault? Did that make this round tunnel a second entrance? Why was there a second entrance, anyway? Did the Abettor know how to solve the riddle on the door? Who commanded the Abettor? Who had created it in the first place? What would the Abettor do if Greed stepped closer, or tried to pass it? Did Makuta and the Vault have anything to do with one another after all?
But Greed, drinking in the newborn quiet and the ironic peace of the blue light, settled for the question that most compelled him, the one that had compelled every being who had heard tales of the Vault and been filled with mysterious awe.
"What's inside the Vault?" Greed asked.
The Abettor indulged itself in another second of silence; Greed got the strong impression that the sentience somewhere inside that sideways can was processing its words carefully. The Abettor finally spoke, its bass rumble curiously cadenced.
"All the simplest power of the world."