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The Shika Trilogy Omnibus

The Shika Trilogy Repost Tapestry of Evil An Unlikely Alliance TTOSN

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#1 Offline TNTOS

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Posted Jan 01 2014 - 10:32 AM

Introduction:

 

Dear readers,

 
My name is TNTOS. I'm a fanfic writer and have written and posted over 40 epics, comedies, and short stories over a seven year period on this website. Some were great, some weren't, but nonetheless each has helped me grow as a writer and I wouldn't be where I am today without them.

Among my early works was a trilogy of epics known as the Shika Trilogy, consisting of The Tales of Shika Nui, Tapestry of Evil, and An Unlikely Alliance. Originally posted over a two year period, the Shika Trilogy chronicled the adventures of a Toa team composed of six former thieves on or near the island of Shika Nui (hence the title of the trilogy). It was never a particular popular trilogy, but it was my first ever completed trilogy and laid the foundation for my larger Shikaverse, the universe in which all my fanfiction (sans comedies) is set.
 
Unfortunately, all three epics of the Shika Trilogy were lost when the BZP Archives were taken down earlier this year. I did not repost them, mostly because I did not believe they are a good representation of my ability as a writer (and they still aren't, by the way). Besides, if I ever wanted to reread them, I had them saved on files on an external hard drive, so nostalgia was not a good reason for reposting them, either.
 
Recently, however, I have received a few requests from my readers to repost the Shika Trilogy, especially from readers who have not read it but want to. In addition, I am almost finished writing In the End, the epic that will be the finale to the Shikaverse as a whole. That epic does rely on a lot of ideas, concepts, and characters introduced in the Shika Trilogy, which most people would not understand without first reading the Shika Trilogy.
 
With the arrival of the New Year, I decided that now would be a good time to repost the entire Shika Trilogy here in the Epics forum. Not only that, but I would repost all three epics in one topic so you can conveniently read the entire trilogy in one place (hence the use of "omnibus" in the title of this topic). I also believe the trilogy is more enjoyable when read as a whole, rather than read individually.
 
Please note that the Shika Trilogy is NOT an example of my current ability as a writer. It is a reflection of who I was as a writer back in my younger days, when I was first learning how to write well. Whatever problems you notice, I am already aware of, so you don't need to write a comprehensive review pointing out every tiny error I have made. (If you want an example of my current ability as a writer, I suggest reading Dimension Hoppers or another recent epic in my library.) I am reposting this solely to make the Shikaverse more understandable for people who haven't read it, although if you have some comments to make you are welcome to share them in the review topic (link at the bottom of the post).
 

Table of Contents:

Book One: The Tales of Shika Nui


Prologue
Chapter 1: We Are.....Toa?
Chapter 2: Dark Hunters!
Chapter 3: Jokao
Chapter 4: Revelations
Chapter 5: All Out Battle!
Chapter 6: Infiltration
Chapter 7: Escape From The Fortress
Chapter 8: Into The Mountains
Chapter 9: The Mountains
Chapter 10: Turaga Joha?
Chapter 11: Not A Hero Anymore
Chapter 12: The Secret Village of Shadow
Chapter 13: Dragon in the Dark
Chapter 14: The Return of Barilo
Chapter 15: Chaos!
Chapter 16: What Is Behind The Door?
Epilogue


Book Two: Tapestry of Evil
Book Three: An Unlikely Alliance

 
Now with that out of the way, let's kick off this omnibus with:
 

Book One: The Tales of Shika Nui


Prologue


25,000 years ago


A huge battle ship sailed quietly through the sea of Shika Nui. Aboard the ship was a band of thieves, murderers, would-be tyrants and other lunatics, who were all hungry for battle and conquest. They were Dark Hunters.

Under order of their leader, a dark and frightening being known only as the Shadowed One, they were sent to take control of this island, for it had a secret that they all were sure would suit the Dark Hunters cause well.

A Dark Hunter, named Triglax, was standing at the wheel, steering the boat toward their destination. He was considered obnoxious by some and that might be true, though he'd never admit it, mainly because of his ego.

What do any of them know about me anyway? Triglax thought as he steered the gigantic boat toward the mysterious island of Shika Nui. There is a good reason the Shadowed One chose me to lead this operation, because I am the most qualified to lead, of course.

He was being sent, along with at least a dozen other well armed Dark Hunters, to take over this island they were heading. They would land there and kill the local Toa team and the Turaga who lead the island, thus giving them complete control over the entire island of Shika Nui. If all went well, then by nightfall, the island would be Dark Hunter property.

And when we strike, Triglax thought, a smile creeping on his face. They won't know what hit them.
 

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Edited by TNTOS, Mar 01 2014 - 04:45 PM.

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#2 Offline TNTOS

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Posted Jan 02 2014 - 09:43 AM

Chapter 1: We Are.....Toa?


Toa Joha clinked blades with a Dark Hunter who had a chameleon power of sorts, as he was is the form of a giant, yellow, one-eyed Rahi. As he fought the Dark Hunter, he remembered what happened just two hours ago.

A Dark Hunter battle ship had landed in Shika Bay and launched a surprise attack on the nearest village, killing dozens of Matoran and seriously injuring others. Fortunately, Joha and his team had been visiting the village to discuss how to defend the island in case an attack from sea were launched upon the island of Shika Nui.

Unfortunately, they were unprepared for the battle and were losing already. It was obvious that the Hunters were more skilled at combat than he and his friends were, but that wasn't about to stop him from protecting Shika Nui from the Dark Hunters.

He glanced toward his left and saw his friends were laying on the ground dead, unmoving as rocks and the Hunters were moving toward himself.

There was no way he would be able to defeat these fiends by himself. He had no choice. He would have to go Nova to defeat these villains.

He closed his eyes, already feeling his elemental power draining from his body ready to be unleased in one mighty explosion! But before he could go Nova, something-


Joha, Toa of Stone, awoke, startled. He looked around his stone room and sighed with relief.

It was that dream again. The kind of dream you wished wasn't real, but was.

That dream kept replying every week or so, showing everything happening the exact same way he remembered it. The Toa of Stone wished it was just a dream, but it wasn't. It all happened 25,000 years ago, when an elite group of Dark Hunters arrived, killing all his teammates and many Matoran.

After that, the Hunters took complete control of the island and enslaved the Matoran. The only one brave enough to stand up against them was Joha and he knew he couldn't defeat them on his own.

That's why, The Toa thought. I have created these six Toa stones. All I have to do is give them to the six chosen Matoran and they will become Toa who I will lead to free this island.

Joha looked toward the table where he had last saw the Toa stones, but was horrified at what he saw: The six Toa stones were gone!

"Where could they be?" Joha said, sounding more than a little worried. If the stones were stolen, then that must mean that a Dark Hunter stole them. But it made little sense, since any of the Hunters would have killed him while taking the stones. So, perhaps someone else stole them?

"But who?" Joha wondered aloud. "Who would steal the vital items that could free this island from the Dark Hunters' tyranny?"
 

-


The answer to the Toa of Stone's question was not a Dark Hunter, nor a curious Rahi beast, but a Matoran of Plasma who went by the name of Addis. Addis, who was the leader of a band of Matoran thieves, had snuck into Joha's cave and taken the Toa stones and snuck out undetected.

He was heading toward his hideout where his five friends, Akuna, Chimoy, Nonzra, Nastan and Barilo, were waiting.

While he was walking there, he pulled one of the strangely glowing stones out of his back pack and examined it while he walked. He had never seen anything like this before, but he knew they had some importance or Joha wouldn't have had them in his home.

It's so strange, Addis thought as he put the stone in his pack. I wonder what they do? Obviously, they must be important, so I will bring these to the others and see what they think.

The Matoran of Plasma walked faster, as the sun was setting and, as Addis knew, it was incredibly dangerous to be out after dark, especially if a Dark Hunter was patroling the area.

-


The Matoran hideout, dubbed the Shika Hideout, was a little known Dark Hunter warehouse that was abandoned because of a accident a few years back that involved a group of Dark Hunters, Toa Joha, and a Brotherhood of Makuta expierment that had four legs, six arms, no head and a snake-like body. As you probably imagine, the entire place was wrecked, so it was only logical that Addis and the others would make a base here, since no one would ever even think, let alone conceive, of any Matoran ever making a home here. It sure was home to Addis, as he walked through the wrecked area toward the meeting room, where he would show the others what he had got.

Addis, looking around the room to make sure everyone was here, dumped the contents of his bag out on to the table.

"What are they?" Barilo, a Matoran of Gravity, asked. "I've never seen anything like them."

"They're just rocks," Nonzra, a Matoran of Sonics, said. "I thought Joha had something of way more importance, like maybe a legendary Kanohi mask or something."

"I don't know," Nastan, a Matoran of The Green, said. "Why would a mighty Toa of Stone like him carry unvaluable things like these around if they were not important?"

"'Mighty Toa of Stone'? You've been reading too many legends, Nastan," Nonzra replied. "He got himself beaten to near death and he only escaped because he went Nova. Now thanks to him, the entire island of Shika Nui is under Dark Hunter control! Why would you call him mighhty?"

"It wasn't his fault," Nastan protested. "He was ambushed. He and the others had no idea tha the Hunters were attacking."

Akuna, a Matoran of Lightning, sighed. Nastan and Nonzra argued alot, so much that it seemed as though they actually liked arguing with eachother. She did not like arguing herself, mainly because she wasn't too good at it plus most of the time they argued about pointless things that she never really understood.

"Enough arguing!" Addis said loudly, startling Nastan and Nozra. He waited a moment before speaking again to make sure they weren't going continue arguing again. When they didn't continue, Addis continued on. "Alright, then. We're keeping the stones until we can find someone who would buy these from us at a fair price. We each keep one of the stones until I decide when to sell them and to who. Got it?"

One by one, they nodded their approval. Addis knew at least one of them was going to try to keep the stone they got to keep to his or her self and, when he found someone who was willing to buy all six, would claim they had no idea what happened to it.

Chimoy, a Matoran of Iron, looked down at the stones. He was about to say something, then stopped, as if lost in thought or something. It was normal to see him act like that.

Back about 100 years ago or so, Chimoy had tried to steal a valuable artifact from the Dark Hunters. The mission was going well, with most of the Dark Hunters distracted. Unfortunately, the other Hunters that weren't distracted ganged up on poor Chimoy and beat him senseless. Fortunately, Joha had appeared to fight off the Dark Hunters while Chimoy escaped. The Matoran of Iron had never been the same since.

All six Matoran picked up their stones simultaneously. At first, nothing happened. Then they all felt something inside them blow up, sending each and every one of them flying in different directions of the room they were in, knocking the Matoran criminals unconscious.
 

-


Barilo awoke. His back hurt. His head hurt. In fact, his entire body was hurting and he wasn't sure what to do about it. He couldn't lift himself up because he hurt so badly, so he just laid there.

It was far to dark for him to see the others, but he could hear them all groaning in pain and agony.

Why.....Why do I feel so strong? Barilo thought. I feel.....Alot stronger than any Matoran. What happened to me and who turned all the lightstones off? Am I dead?

Barilo then felt intense heat coming from where he had seen Addis thrown. Groaning with pain, he slowly lifted himself up to his full height to find out where the heat was coming from.

He was surprised at how tall he was now. He was far taller than he was before, which made him wonder just what it was that happened. He decided to wonder about that later and find out why their was heat coming from where Addis was.

He walked over to the semi-conscious form of Addis and realized that the heat was coming Addis himself! He turned around and saw they others, with the help of Addis' small light he was giving off. What he saw surprised him: Standing in front of him, all the others looked exactly like Toa!

I must be dreaming Barilo thought. Or perhaps I've gone insane. I hope it is the former.

He could hear Addis getting from behind him and the new Toa of Gravity turned around. Addis looked very confused for a moment before finally saying:

"We.......Are Toa?"
 

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#3 Offline TNTOS

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Posted Jan 03 2014 - 09:42 AM

Chapter 2: Dark Hunters!

 

 

Nastan looked over at Addis, confused by what he said.

"What'd you say, Addis?" The new Toa of The Green asked.

"I said we are Toa now," Addis replied. Then quickly added. "I think."

Nonzra walked over to a nearby mirror and studied his new form. He was tall, like every other Toa he had seen and he looked similar to Toa Joha, except for his mask and colors. His colors, which were silver and grey, were over his armor and body. The silver was mainly on his armor, while his grey took up his body, mostly.

The new Toa of Sonics turned around to look at his friends, who were still quite confused.

"Why are we Toa anyway?" Akuna, the new Toa of Electricity, asked.

"Better question is how we became Toa, sister." Nonzra said, walking up to the others.

"I think it had something to do with those six strangely glowing stones over there." Nastan said, pointing over at the six stones on the table where they had left them.

The new Toa of The Green reached out to grab a stone with his long arm and grabbed one. He examined the stone, but could see nothing out of the ordinary, except it wasn't glowing anymore. In fact, none of the stones were glowing anymore.

"Uh, why aren't they glowing anymore?" Chimoy asked.

"Don't know," Nastan replied. "It looks like a normal stone now."

Addis had a idea. "Do you think these six stones were.....Toa stones?"

"Toa stones?" Nastan repeated. "What are Toa stones?"

"Well, I don't know too much about them," Addis replied. "All I know is that Toa create them by absorbing a small amount of their Toa energy in to them and give them to destined Matoran, who become Toa.....somehow."

"How'd you know that?" The new Toa of Gravity asked.

"Well, I remember when I was stealing a tablet, I read a little of it and learned a little bit about Toa stones. I didn't think much of it at the time, but now it just came back to me." Addis replied.

"Why didn't you notice the glowing stones were Toa stones, then?" Nonzra asked annoyed.

"I guess I just forgot." Addis said.

Nonzra was about to make some snappy comment about Addis having bad memory when he heard something. It sounded like a Matoran was screaming and then there was a big flash outside. The six new Toa went to the window and saw two Dark Hunters chasing a Matoran.

"Get back here!" One of the Dark Hunters shouted.

"Never!" The Matoran shouted back. The six Toa could tell he was a Ta-Matoran because of his red armor and he looked badly damaged. Addis was surprised that that Matoran was running so fast, especially because of how badly damaged he looked.

Nastan knew the Ta-Matoran would never be able to outrun two Dark Hunters, especially since he was very damaged. He turned to Addis.

"What should we do?" Nastan asked. "We can't let those savage Hunters kill that Matoran."

"But if we try to save him, no doubt they would kill us as well," Addis said. "We just became Toa about a couple hours ago. We stand no chance of defeating two experienced Dark Hunters."

"And if the Hunters escaped, they would surely call up some of their 'friends' and try to kill us again and probably succeed." Nonzra added.

The Toa of The Green turned to Akuna. "What about you? Do you think we should help the Matoran?"

Akuna shrugged. "I think Addis and Nonzra are right about this. We're just novices and those Dark Hunters are surely far more experienced and well-equiped than any of us."

Nastan looked over at Barilo and Chimoy, who were still watching the Hunters chase the Ta-Matoran. "What do you two think?" He asked. "Should we or should we not save that Matoran?"

Barilo wasn't really interested in saving the Matoran, so he simply answered, "No."

Chimoy seemed to agree with all the others, as he nodded in agreement with Barilo after the Toa of Gravity had answered.

"So, it seems we have come to a decision," Addis said. "C'mon, guys. Let's go steal stuff."

All the others turned to follow Addis out of the room, except for Nastan, who had jumped out of the window and landed on the ground. The other five Toa ran back to the window, shocked and surprised he would do this.

Apparently, the Hunters hadn't noticed him, so it was a bit of a surprise to them when Nastan shot two arrows made out of wood at both of them and both the arrows hit their targets.

The two Dark Hunters turned around to find out who hit them and were surprised to see Nastan standing there.

"I must be dreaming," The first Hunter said. "He's a Toa. I thought Triglax said that there was only one Toa left on this island?"

"Well, it doesn't matter," The second replied. "He's going to die just like the rest of 'em."

The second Dark Hunter then threw his spear at Nastan, but the Toa of The Green easily dodged it and then fired another arrow of wood at the Dark Hunter. Nastan had got his bow from a weapons cache which he found in the abandoned Dark Hunter base, but he found no arrows. Now that he is a Toa, he can easily create arrows made of wood, so he has a almost unlimited amount of arrows at his disposal.

The Hunter dodged the arrow and pulled his spear back to him, which was attached to a chain. Nastan realized that too late when he felt the chain of the spear whip his back, stunning him.

The first Dark Hunter then quickly ran over to Nastan and punched the Toa in the mask, knocking him out like a lightstone.

"Looks like he's out," The first Hunter said after inspecting Nastan's body. "Now we can get that-"

A blast of cold metal hit the Dark Hunter in the back, sending him flying into a nearby stone wall. When he turned around, he saw five other Toa, all looking quite angry at him.

"You mess with one of us," Addis began. "You mess with all of us!"

The Dark Hunter was then zapped by lightning, but since Akuna wasn't used to having electrical powers, she accidentally zapped the Ta-Matoran who was nearby, but not nearly as bad as the Hunter had been. The Dark Hunter fell unconscious, but the Ta-Matoran was just damaged even worse than before.

"Looks like he's down." Barilo said, referring to the Dark Hunter.

The second Dark Hunter had been taken by surprise earlier before he first one was defeated. Now he was up and was now using a sword instead of a spear and was charging into Chimoy. None of the Toa were near enough to save Chimoy, but that didn't seem to be a problem, as the new Toa of Iron had turned around and had a sword in his hand, blocking the villain's blow that probably would have killed him.

You see, Chimoy was a Toa of Iron, so he could use his elemental power to make a weapon out of thin air.

Back to the story, the Dark Hunter was surprised by this, letting his guard down. Now Chimoy's brain may have been damaged, but he knew when there was a opening and kneed the Hunter in the gut, bringing the Dark Hunter down for good.
 

-


After tying the two Hunters up with metal bonds that Chimoy had created, the six Toa put the Matoran in a bed, to let him rest. Akuna was the most concerned about him, since she had electrocuted him by accident.

It was by accident, she thought. I don't think I could take it if he died because of me. But why am I feeling this way? I don't even know him. Why would I care if he died or not? For all I know, the Dark Hunters could have had a justifiable reason for chasing him and we just stopped them from carrying out what they're supposed to do.

Akuna noticed that Barilo was looked concerned, too, even though he didn't really like other Matoran because of how he was disliked as a Matoran himself, so she decided to bring it up.

"You seem to be concerned for him," Akuna said to Barilo. "I don't blame you. I think we're all concerned for-"

"I'm not concerned for him." Barilo cut her off. "I'm more concerned of those two Hunters breaking free and calling their friends to come over and kill us all, including the Matoran."

"That makes me wonder why they were chasing the Matoran," Nonzra said. "Did he wonder away from the other slaves? Or did he try to do something else stupid, like insult the Shadowed One?"

"I don't know," Barilo replied. "And I don't care. We should kill the Dark Hunters and toss their bodies into the ocean. That way, no one will find them."

"No!" Nastan shouted, standing up. "Not only is that unToa-like, but the Dark Hunters are surely going to realize two of their members are missing and will probably send a search party to find them. Remember why the Dark Hunters are at war with the Brotherhood of Makuta in the first place? It's because the Makuta of Metru Nui killed two members of the Hunters!"

"Well, we'll just kill any search party they send our way and we'll keep on killing them until the Shadowed One himself comes," Barilo replied. Then he added, "And we'll kill him, too."

"But, Joha never killed anyone and never will," Nastan said. "If you won't follow his example, then I will."

"Maybe that's the reason Joha hasn't freed our island yet, Nastan," Nonzra said. "Maybe he should have killed them all and be done with it."

"Enough talk about killing!" Akuna shouted. All the others looked at her, surprised that she had raised her voice. "We have a seriously injured Matoran in there and he could die any second. Please, if you're going to talk about something, just talk about something else."

"Okay," Barilo said. "I'll just go to bed now, since it's getting dark out. 'Night, everyone." And he left the room.

For a while, no one said anything, until there was a sound, a sound that came from the Ta-Matoran's room. It sounded like a moan. Addis got up and walked into the Matoran's room. He came back out, looking excited.

"Guys!" Addis exclaimed excitedly. "He's waking up! The Matoran is waking up!"
 

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Edited by TNTOS, Jan 03 2014 - 09:43 AM.

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#4 Offline TNTOS

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Posted Jan 06 2014 - 09:43 AM

Chapter 3: Jokao

 

The Ta-Matoran named Jokao awoke, but he was hurting badly and couldn't sit up. His eyes were open, but his vision was blurred, so he couldn't really see anything. He could still hear, however, and what he was hearing were voices of others, but they did not sound anything like the two Dark Hunters who were chasing him.

Who are they? Jokao thought. They don't sound like the Dark Hunters, nor do they sound like my friends.

Jokao could make out six blurry forms standing around him, but he couldn't tell who or what they were. He remembered a being that looked like a Toa and he also remembered hearing the two Hunters shouting at the Toa, but he wasn't sure. Had they killed the Toa? He certainly hoped not, because if they did, then he wouldn't last long for sure.

He tried sitting up, but he was too weak to move. So, he tried to get his eyes to focus on the ceiling. It worked! His eyes were working better now and maybe he could see his who was near him.

The Ta-Matoran turned his head to the left, then to the right. He saw six tall, powerful-looking beings who wore masks. They all looked just like Joha in design, but they were differently colored and had different masks as well.

He decided that these six must be Toa and that they must have saved him from the Dark Hunters! Jokao decided to say something to them.

"Who.....are.....you?" The Ta-Matoran asked. He was still hurt badly and it was a pain to talk, but he needed to know who his saviors were if he were to properly thank them.

"Who are we?" The brown and red Toa said. Jokao knew he must be a Toa of Plasma because of his colors. "Why, we're Toa of course."

"At least," The silver and gray one added. "That's what we think we are."

"Of course we are, Nonzra," The blue-ish green one answered. "We look like Toa, don't we? We have Great Kanohi Masks of Power just like Joha and we each have a Toa tool, right?"

"You know, Nastan," The silver and gray one, which Jokao figured was Nonzra, snapped. "There is more to being a Toa than looking like one. You, Nastan, out of all of us should know that."

"I know, I know," The blue-ish green one, who Jokao believed to be Nastan, replied. "I was just saying that we had all the stuff that normal Toa have."

"Right," Nonzra said. He looked down at Jokao. "Can you tell us who you are?"

"My.....friends.....call....me....Jokao...." He said with a cough.

"Well, Jokao, welcome to the Shika Hideout." The red and brown being said. "I am Addis, leader of our group. As you no doubt know by now, he is Nastan and he is Nonzra." He pointed to the two Toa.

"My name is Akuna and I-I'm sorry." Akuna said quickly.

Jokao looked at her in a confused way.

"Sorry?" He managed to get out. "What.....do....you....have....to...be.....sorry.....for?"

"When we were fighting the Dark Hunters, I accidentally zapped you," Akuna explained. "Will you hold it against me?"

"No," Jokao said. "I....won't......if it.....was a accident, that is....." Those last words were very hard for him to get out so quickly.

"Well, the silent guy here is Chimoy," Addis said, pointing to a completely gunmetal Toa. "And this fellow here is Barilo." He pointed at gray and purple Toa.

Jokao nodded in the direction of the Toa of Iron and the Toa of Gravity. Barilo just gave him a bad look, while Chimoy nodded back at Jokao. The Ta-Matoran assumed that maybe Barilo was just having a bad day or something.

"I think we should leave you alone for a while," Akuna suggested. "So you can rest."

"That's a good idea, Akuna," Addis agreed. He looked down at Jokao. "Well, Jokao, we'll let you sleep for a while, okay?"

Jokao nodded.

"Alright, c'mon, guys." Addis lead the other Toa out of the room.
 

-

 

The next morning, Addis found something very, very, bad when he went to look on the prisoners. They had escaped! There were shreds of metal all over the room and the Toa of Plasma knew exactly what they'd do: They'd get their friends and come here to kill himself and the rest of the Toa!

He quickly ran back up to the first floor and yelled: "The prisoners have escaped! We have to evacuate now!"

"What are you talking about?" Nonzra asked.

"The Dark Hunters!" Addis shouted. "They escaped during the night and no doubt they have already contacted their friends! Get Jokao and the others. We leave now!"
 

-

The six Toa and Jokao left the Shika Hideout quickly, heading north. Nastan had used his power over plant life to make a bed of plants and branches, which Chimoy was carrying.

They had only taken the essentials, which was practically all their loot. If they were going to be gone forever, they wanted to make sure no one would take any of their loot.

"How will we take this stuff with us?" Nastan asked as he pulled a bag of loot along. "What if the Dark Hunters attack us?"

"Well, we keep moving until nightfall," Addis replied. "Then, me and Chimoy will dig a hole and bury the loot in it. That way, the Hunters won't get their hands on it and we won't have to worry about them finding it."

"Sounds like a good plan to me." Barilo agreed.

The six Toa continued on, confident that they could outsmart the Dark Hunters.
 

-

 

The two Dark Hunters, one named Tyu and the other named Kigin, had arrived at the Dark Hunter fortress. The fortress was tall and one could see all of Shika Nui if one stood on top. The fortress had at least nine different towers sticking out of it and they all looked exactly like claws.

After showing a identity tablet to the guards around the fortress, the two Dark Hunters quickly made their way to report what had happened.

Who were they reporting to? Why, none other than a Dark Hunter named Icetraz. Icetraz was one of the original twelve who attacked Shika Nui 25,000 years ago. It was because of his power over ice that he and the other Hunters survived Joha's Nova Blast, since the Hunter had used his power to make an extremely thick ice barrior to protect himself and the others.

He was rather big and bulky compared to most Dark Hunters. He was humanoid, except for his face, which resembled a Kikanalo face with razor sharp teeth and a shorter horn. He was almost always seen carrying his twin Cordak revolving blasters.

Today, he was in charge of the Dark Hunters base of operations on Shika Nui. For some days he had lead the Hunters in battle to keep Brotherhood of Makuta minions and servants off the island. He knew the only Toa left on the island was Joha, so it was quite a surprise to hear that six more Toa had defeated Tyu and Kigin.

"What did you say?" Icetraz asked. "That six Toa defeated you two in battle?" He laughed. It was a terrible sound.

"We're telling the truth, boss," Tyu insisted. "I even got zapped by one of them!"

"Oh, really?" Icetraz said. "Did you catch that disobedient Ta-Matoran who didn't do what he was asked?"

"Well....No," Kigin said slowly. "We, uh, got beat by the Toa and then the Toa of Iron bounded us together to make sure we didn't escape. But, as you clearly see, we did escape and we wish to lead a strike force to go and kill those pesky Toa."

"And I will personally deal with the Ta-Matoran." Tyu added.

Icetraz sat there for a bit, pondering whether he should send a strike force or not. For one, he didn't know if these Toa really existed or if they were just fiction. But if there really were Toa, then they would have to be eliminated immediately or else the Dark Hunters would have trouble on their hands.

"Kigin, Tyu," Icetraz said. The two Dark Hunters stood up straight immediately. "I will give you a small strike force to kill these Toa you speak of. If you find them, then kill them and take their bodies to me. I want to make sure I am not being deceived."

"Yes, sir!" Both Dark Hunters said in unison. They ran off, already thinking of all the gruesome ways to kill the Toa.



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Edited by TNTOS, Jan 06 2014 - 09:44 AM.

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#5 Offline TNTOS

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Posted Jan 07 2014 - 09:49 AM

Chapter 4: Revelations


The six Toa and Jokao had found a rather isolated area near the beach to sleep for the night. The only one who couldn't sleep was Barilo, who knew that the Dark Hunters could track them down and kill them.

So why not attack first? Why not get to them first, before they knew anything? He certainly thought about it.

After all, The Toa of Gravity thought. I could easily take away their gravity away and make them fly away. Or, I could increase their gravity and crush them on the ground. I never realized all the ways you could kill someone with gravity before.

Barilo sat up. He wasn't used to using his power over gravity yet, so he should practice using it before taking on the Dark Hunters.

He looked over at a nearby rock. It was huge. He could not lift that thing on his own, but with a little gravity taken away, he could make it go up into the air and then toss it in the ocean.

So he concentrated on the rock. Nothing happened. He stuck his hand out, trying to get it to obey. Again, nothing happened. He remembered something about Joha now.

Didn't he use a Toa tool to channel his elemental power? Barilo thought. So maybe I should get my own Toa tool. I'm quite sure we packed a few weapons with us when we left the hideout.

He quietly got up and walked over to one of the many bags that they had brought with them. He opened one of them. It was too dark to see what was inside, so he just stuck his hand in and hoped he would grab something useful.

The Toa of Gravity felt something and grabbed it. He pulled it out. It was a battle axe. Engraved the handle were the words Gravity Axe.

Gravity Axe? Barilo thought as he swung it around. What could that mean? Oh, well. I'm a Toa of Gravity, so maybe this was meant for a Toa of Gravity such as myself.

He dramatically aimed his axe at the rock. Nothing happened at all. The rock didn't sink into the ground, not did it fly up into the sky. Now Barilo was frustrated.

C'mon, stupid gravity powers! Barilo shouted in his mind. Lift the stupid rock already!

He kept trying, again and again and again, over and over, never succeeding. Now he was angry. The Toa ran over and sliced the rock in half with his axe.

Surprisingly, the split rocks flew up into the air. That caught him off guard. He watched as the stones flew up, until they were out of sight.

Barilo looked down at his axe, wondering if it was his own power over gravity that did that, or maybe it was the axe's. Then it hit him like a ton of stones.

This Gravity Axe must have done it, somehow, Barilo thought. Although I'm not too sure why I think that. I didn't feel anything when the rock halves flew into the air. I should test it later, because I'm getting tired.

He put his axe away and them crawled back into his sleeping bag that he had brought along when they had to evacuate the hideout. He fell sleep quickly, dreaming of defeating the Dark Hunters in numerous ways.
 

-


Tyu expected to see the Toa and Matoran still in their little hideout. Toa, he knew, were brave and fearless and would never run from battle(Especially if they are new and cocky). But instead there was nothing. All the loot that had been there before was gone and there was no sign that anyone had been here.

"Looks like they cleared out before we got here, eh, Tyu?" Kigin said.

"Yeah, looks pretty deserted," Tyu agreed. "They probably figured out we escaped and left, taking everything they got with them so we wouldn't get it."

Tyu and Kigin had arrived with about five other Dark Hunters, ready to kill those Toa. Now those other five Hunters were searching the place, thinking that maybe the Toa were hiding somewhere. When the Dark Hunters came to report back to Tyu and Kigin, they reported that the Toa were nowhere to be found and neither was the Ta-Matoran.

"Then we follow their trail," Kigin commanded.

"Uh, Kigin?" Tyu said. "We don't know where they went. For all we know, they could be heading to the main fortress right now to raid it."

Kigin smiled.

"Oh, Tyu," Kigin began. "If those Toa were smart enough to leave this place behind, then they definitely would have enough brains to not attack the main base. Trust me on this one."

"Whatever," Tyu sighed. He then noticed something. It was a small piece of gold, followed by another, and another. In fact, there was a trail of them, leading from the hideout to the north. He hadn't noticed it before, but he figured he knew who had left that trail of gold.

"Kigin, look," The black and blue Dark Hunter said, pointing at the trail of gold.

Kigin looked at it, and immediately called the over five Dark Hunters over. After showing them the trail, the seven Hunters took off, following the trail and knowing they would find six novice Toa and a rebellious Ta-Matoran at the end.
 

-


The sun rose and Nastan was up already. He was up early because he wanted to test his powers. The Toa of The Green already knew how to make arrows out of wood, now he was trying out other things, such as causing a tree to split it half. So far, the tree didn't do anything.

"C'mon!" Nastan shouted. He kept trying to make it split, but nothing happened. "Joha made it seem easy."

A ball of plasma went flying in the tree past Nastan, making it explode. The Toa turned to see Addis walking, his plasma blaster smoking.

"Where'd you get that blaster?" Nastan asked, looking at it.

"I took it with us after we left the hideout," Addis replied. "It's pretty cool, don't you think?"

Nastan looked over at the tree (or what was left of it after it had exploded). There was only a smoldering crater left. He felt sad. Nastan was, after all, a Toa of The Green and all Toa, Matoran, and Turaga of The Green felt more at home with trees and plant life than others. Sure, he may have been trying to split it in half, but he still felt different about it than maybe Addis would.

"Well, did you really need to blow the poor tree up?" Nastan said.

"Weren't you trying to do the same thing?" Addis asked.

"No," Nastan replied. "I was just trying to split it in half to see if my elemental powers would work."

"Oh, well, Jokao is ready to explain why the Dark Hunters were chasing him now, if you're interested," Addis said.

"Okay," Nastan said. "It's something I've been wondering about ever since we saved him."
 

-


All six Toa were sitting cross-legged around Jokao, ready to listen to his tale.

"Okay, I'm feeling better today, thanks to you six," Jokao said. "I was originally the leader of the slaves in the mines. My primary job was to break up arguments among the slaves, since the Dark Hunters were too busy doing 'important' stuff." Jokao coughed, still hurting a little. "At first, it was pretty nice. Nothing too bad happened and we were all pretty content.....until that one Brotherhood of Makuta raid on us that killed dozens of Matoran about 2000 years ago. The Visorak, Rahkshi, and various other beings were either killed or driven off, but instead of helping us repair our huts we lived in or giving us help, they made us work twice as hard to make up for the loss of Matoran."

Chimoy nodded. He had been in the slave village that was attacked at the time, trying to steal a valuable weapon that the Dark Hunters had stashed there. Unfortunately, the weapon was destroyed by a Exo-Toa and Chimoy barely escaped in time. He remembered seeing the dozens of dead Matoran bodies and seeing the Dark Hunters fight off the Rahkshi and Visorak and Exo-Toa. It was a sight he would never forget.

"When I realized that the Hunters cared nothing about us and thought of us only as slaves who would work no matter what," Jokao continued. "I pretended to work for them, but while they thought we were perfectly happy with how things were run, I was convincing as many Matoran as possible that to join a rebellion against the Dark Hunters.

"After I convinced all the Matoran in my village to rebel, one of my friends was sent to another village in secret to convince all the Matoran there to rebel against the Hunters. Unfortunately, the Dark Hunters found him and killed him, because no Matoran is supposed to be outside the village when the slaves are working. When I heard the news, I was angered. I wasn't thinking and then I ran away from the village to hide in the village my friend was heading to, hoping that I could convince the Matoran there to rebel. However, those two Hunters, Tyu and Kigin, spotted me and gave chase. I got hurt by them, but I managed to keep going until you guys found me and saved me."

"That's why they want you?" Addis said. "Are they even aware of the Matoran rebels in your village?"

"No," Jokao replied. "All they know was that I was supposed to be working, not wandering away, so they gave chase. But now that you know my story, what about you six? Who are you and what are you doing here? Are you here to defeat the Dark Hunters?"

Akuna looked over at Addis. She wondered if he'd tell Jokao that they were originally Matoran criminals and now no interest whatsoever in defeating the Dark Hunters. Addis looked just about ready to talk, but Barilo instead told the Matoran.

"We're Toa who were once criminals and we have no interest in saving Shika Nui from the Dark Hunters," Barilo said abruptly.

"Wait...." Jokao said slowly. "So you're not going to save our island, like the legends foretold?"

"Yes," Barilo continued. "In fact, we plan on pulling bigger heists now, since we're Toa and Toa are obviously better at stealing things than any Matoran."

"Barilo!" Addis snapped, annoyed.

"What?" Barilo said. "I was telling this Matoran the truth. The whole truth."

Addis turned to Jokao.

"We're sorry, but he is telling the truth," Addis said. "I'm sorry if you thought we were going to free Shika Nui. To tell you the truth, we really just want to be even greater thieves than we were before becoming Toa. Besides, have you seen all the Dark Hunters on this island? There is no way any of us could defeat them."

"But, isn't that why we have Unity, Duty, and Destiny?" Jokao asked, naming the Three Virtues. "Aren't you unified against the Hunters? Isn't it your duty to protect the Matoran? And, most important of all, maybe it is your destiny to free Shika Nui from the Dark Hunters? What are any Toa without those three virtues?"

"Listen, Matoran," Barilo snapped. "I'm only interested in money and-"

"Barilo!" Nastan shouted. "What did Joha stand for? I'll tell you: Unity, Duty, and Destiny, that's what, and-"

"And he was a failure, even with those virtues to 'back him up,'" Nonzra finished, joining in the debate. "If Joha failed, even with the Three Virtues, what chance do we have against the Dark Hunters? I mean, he is far more experienced than any of us and he failed. So I agree with Barilo about this."

Nastan couldn't think of a reply, but he didn't have to. Jokao did.

"Maybe....Maybe it was his destiny to do something greater than defeat the Dark Hunters?" Jokao said. "I mean, only beings who are destined to do something can do it. Maybe it wasn't his destiny to defeat them at all."

"Then whose destiny is it?" Barilo asked.

There was a pause. A long, silent, pause followed. Nearby trees swayed in the wind and one could hear the sounds of brakas monkeys in the trees. Then Barilo realized something.

"Are you saying that it's our destiny to defeat the Dark Hunters?" The Toa of Gravity said.

*"Turaga Ujah used to say that no one knew what their destiny was exactly unless someone told them," Jokao replied. "Most times, he had said, your destiny would find you."

Nonzra just stared at him.

"That doesn't make any sense to me." Nonzra said.

"Well," Addis said. "If your guys are done talking about destiny and stuff, me and Chimoy will be burying the loot in the forest. C'mon, Chimoy."

Chimoy stood up and helped Addis drag the loot into the forest.
 

-


Addis and Chimoy dropped the last of the loot in a hole which they had dug out. Now the two Toa were burying it quickly, when Addis heard something. It sounded like a Nui Rama was angrily buzzing, but Addis knew that Nui Rama didn't live naturally on Shika Nui, so something else was making that noise. But what?

He motioned for Chimoy to be quiet(No need for that, since Chimoy was almost always quiet) and he carefully walked in the direction he heard the noise. The Toa of Iron was following behind him, holding a giant hammer of iron that he had created using his power over all metals.

The sound got louder and louder, until they were right next to it. It was only on the other side of these trees. Addis and Chimoy backed up and then the Toa of Plasma fired a ball of plasma at the small group of trees. It hit the trees, causing them to vaporize, but instead of a Nui Rama waiting for them, there was something far worse.

Standing there were seven Dark Hunters, one of which had his mouth open. The one who had his mouth open was tall and green with orange. He closed his mouth, since he was apparently the one causing the Nui Rama-like noise.

"Hello, Toa," The green and orange Hunter snarled. "I am Kigin. No doubt you expected to see a Nui Rama instead of seven Dark Hunters, but that's the beauty of being able to copy any noise just by remembering it."

A black and blue being stepped up.

"I can't wait to hang your Kanohi masks of the wall in my room," The black and blue being said. He pointed at Addis' Kanohi. "That Suletu will look especially good on my wall."

"Be quiet, Tyu," Kigin snapped. "We have Toa to kill."

He turned to the other five Dark Hunters.

"My fellow Dark Hunters," Kigin began. "As you all know, we were put together to kill these Toa and that is exactly what we will do. And as I know most of you are dying to hear me say it, so I will. ATTACK!"
 

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Edited by TNTOS, Jan 07 2014 - 09:52 AM.

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#6 Offline TNTOS

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Posted Jan 08 2014 - 10:02 AM

Chapter 5: All Out Battle!


The other four Toa and Jokao were sitting quietly. No one had said a thing since Addis and Chimoy went to bury the loot and no one really wanted to talk at the moment anyway.

Nastan was wondering when Addis and Chimoy would get back.

They've been gone too long, The Toa of The Green thought. Maybe they're still trying to find a spot to bury the loot in. Or....

Nastan didn't want to think about that. If there were Dark Hunters in the forest, then Addis and Chimoy were as good as dead.

Suddenly, both the Toa of Iron and the Toa of Plasma ran out from the forest, looking like they had been chased by a Kikanalo herd. The other four Toa instantly shot up. Addis and Chimoy were panting, almost out of breath.

"What happened?" Barilo asked. "You guys look like you've seen a ghost."

"Dark Hunters!" Addis gasped. "They followed us from the hideout and nearly killed me and Chimoy!"

As if on cue, seven Dark Hunters burst out of the forest, all firing off blasts of energy at the Toa. Chimoy tried to bring up a wall of metal to cut themselves off from the attackers, but the Hunters easily destroyed it and began attacking again.

Akuna fired a bolt of electricity at one of the seven Dark Hunters. The Dark Hunter easily dodged the blast and then fired a ball of lava at the Toa of Lightning. It hit Akuna, sending her flying into a nearby rock.

The Hunter who had hit her with a ball of lava ran over to the fallen Toa and aimed his sword at her head.

"Toa," The Dark Hunter began. He wore gold armor that had giant spikes coming off of it. He held a sword that was gold as well. "You're going to be dead soon. And as I believe anyone deserves to know who their killer is before being sent to eternal darkness, I will introduce myself. I am Death. It's not my real name, just a code-name, but it's good enough, I guess."

His sword began to glow.

"And Death will be the last name you'll ever know." Death finished.

Akuna looked around to see her friends fighting off the rest of the Dark Hunters. It was obivous that her friends were going lose.

I've got to do something! She thought. Maybe it's not what most Toa would do, but I've got to act fast or I'll be as good as dead.

Acting quickly, she pulled out her Lightning Staff and, moving even quicker than Death could aim. Akuna whacked the Dark Hunter in the face with her staff, sending him tumbling over. Then she quickly hit him with a bolt of lightning.

Death was surprised by this. Kigin and Tyu had said the Toa were rookies and should have been easily killed, yet this Toa of Lightning was already beating him!

No way will I go down in history as the Dark Hunter who was beaten by a rookie Toa, He thought angrily. A ball of lava to her heartlight should bring her down good!

He got back up before Akuna could attack him again. He realized she was too close to him and if he tried to hit her at this close range, he might end up as dead as the Toa of Lightning.

That was when he got a idea. Death aimed his sword at the ground and fired off a ball of lava, which obscured the Toa's vision. He also couldn't see, so he quickly moved out of the dust cloud and saw her. She was blind from the explosion, so there is no way he could miss!

Good bye, Toa, Death thought as he aimed his sword at Akuna. You might have been destined to be a hero. You might have been destined to save the Great Spirit Mata Nui's life, but whatever your destiny is, it probably won't be fulfiled now.
 

-


Chimoy found himself in combat with a Dark Hunter, code-named Six Arms. He was not code-named that for no reason. He really did have six arms.

His body was rather short and fat-looking and the Hunter's legs were too short for him to run. His colors were purple and brown("A rather ugly color scheme," Chimoy had thought) and he carried no weapons such as a sword. Instead, he had claws on all six of his arms. Six Arms face was hidious. It looked like a mixture of a Muaka and a Rahkshi with a little bit of a gadunka thrown in for good measure.

Worst of all was the fact that he used his six arms to his advantege. Everytime the Toa of Iron managed to block one or two arms, the other arms would strike him when he left part of his body exposed. Chimoy was already tired and he hadn't been fighting for more than fifteen seconds!

"Are you getting worn out, oh great Toa of Iron?" Six Arms said mockingly. His voice also sounded terrible. "I would take a rest if I were you, but then you wouldn't be able to defend yourself from me, would you? Of course you wouldn't."

Now Chimoy was getting frustrated, but then he had a idea. He summoned a wall of metal to appear in between himself and Six Arms, giving the Toa of Iron some time to rest. Unfortunately, it only kept Six Arms away for about four seconds, then it was torn down by the Dark Hunter's multiple arms.

Chimoy wondered if he could use his mask. He never had tried to before, but he had seen Joha use his before, so maybe Chimoy could do the same? He had studied his mask the day before and figured it was the Kanohi Kadin, the Mask of Flight.

And flight would be very useful at the moment, Chimoy thought.

Chimoy wasn't paying attention to Six Arms, who punched the Toa of Iron with three of his arms, then used his other three arms to pick up Chimoy.

"Now, Toa of Iron," Six Arms said. "I want to finish you off, but I think I will let you choose your fate. Should I tear you apart with my claws or should I maybe drown you in the ocean? Both of them sound very fun, don't you think?"

Chimoy just groaned.

"Well, since you obviously can't chose between the two, I'll say you should drown," The Dark Hunter said, evilly smiling(Which looked quite ugly).

Six Arms, using his other arms to walk, walked over to the beach, ready to drown the defeated Toa.
 

-


Nastan and Jokao were up against two Dark Hunters. One was a tall, thin, being named Julok and another one who called himself Giho.

Julok was, as said before, tall and thin. He was red and yellow and he was wearing what looked like a Pakari, but Nastan could not be sure. His limbs were long and thin as well and his hands ended in claws. He had some sort of power over telekinesis, since he tried to throw a tree at Nastan, without actually throwing it himself. Julok also didn't really have much armor.

Giho was well armored and was about the size of a average Toa, except a few inches shorter. He was gunmetal and red-ish black. He carried a axe that looked as if it could easily cut threw solid rock. He had a face that wasn't very ugly, nor was it nice-looking. Sort of a mixture of the two.

Toa Nastan knew that Jokao couldn't last more than five minutes in battle, maybe even less. So he used his power over plant life to bind both the Dark Hunters. It held them for about three seconds, then they broke out. But almost as soon as they broke out that even more vines burst out of the bround to bind them.

"Jokao!" Nastan shouted. "Go find some place to hide! I'll take care of the Hunters!"

The Ta-Matoran obliged, taking cover behind a nearby boulder.

Nastan turned back around just in time to see a rock fly right in his mask. Julok had used his telekinesis to throw a rock at the Toa.

"Is that all you Dark Hunters can do?" The Toa shouted. "Throwing rocks at Toa? Geez, I thought you guys were better than this."

"Shut up, Toa," Giho growled. "Or you'll find your head will no longer be connected to your shoulders in a few minutes. Perhaps your head will come off anyway."

Julok manged to rip the vines that had bound him using his claws and he was charging at Nastan. The Toa of The Green tried to fire a arrow at Julok, but the Dark Hunter dodged it and then slammed into Nastan, sending him flying into the water.

"Can you swim, Toa?" Julok said, walking over to the water. "No matter. I'll kill you just the same and-"

He was interrupted by a unknown flying object hitting him in the side, sending him flying into a nearby wall. Julok looked over at what had hit him. It was Six Arms! He had been battered into unconsciousness, apparently. But who did it?

Just then, he saw the Toa of Iron that Six Arms had been battling walking over. He held a giant, steel hammer in his hand. He lifted the hammer up, and then smashed it on the sand, sending a tremor through the beach. Giho, who had gotton out of the vines, fell over because of the tremor.

Julok lifted Six Arms off of himself and then used his telekinetics to lift a nearby boulder off the ground. Behind the boulder was Jokao, who had been hiding. The Dark Hunter moved the giant rock over the Ta-Matoran.

"Toa," Julok said. "You know exactly what I'll do if you try anything. Your Matoran friend here will become squashed Matoran. So why don't you give up peacefully and drop your weapons?"

Chimoy looked over at Jokao, who looked downright afraid. The Toa wasn't sure what to do.

Should I try to save Jokao? Or should I give up, like the Dark Hunter said? Chimoy thought. On one hand, I don't think I'll be able to stop him in time to save Jokao, but on the other, I could possibly defeat him somehow. I don't know how, though.

At that moment, Nastan crawled out of the ocean. He wasn't the biggest fan of swimming, but he managed to get out okay. He noticed Giho getting back up and also noticed that Julok and Chimoy were apparently having a staring contest of some kind. His eyes locked on Jokao, who was standing under a giant boulder.

Oh, no.... Nastan thought angrily. If that Dark Hunter is stooping down to low-level of threatening a innocent Matoran's life, then he's a big coward. I'll teach him.

The Toa of The Green pulled out his bow, then loaded a arrow in it. He aimed at Julok and fired, even as Chimoy called out to him to stop.

Julok saw the arrow coming for him. Instead of dodging it or dropping the rock on Jokao, he simply used his telekinetics to stop it in mid-air. This surprised both Chimoy and Nastan.

"What, did you think I can only focus on one object at a time?" Julok said. "Of course not. I can focus on multiple objects at one time."

Chimoy glared at Nastan, because of how stupid it was to attack the one who holds Jokao's life in his hands. Nastan just looked at the ground, trying not to see Chimoy's expression.

"Now, Toa," The Hunter said. "What matters to you most? This Matoran's life or defeating me? Now do as I said before, if you really care about this Matoran's life, drop your weapons and I might let you live, depending on what Icetraz wants."

Seeing as their was no way to defeat Julok and save Jokao's life, Chimoy and Nastan dropped their weapons. Giho and the revived Six Arms moved in to bind the Toa's hands in energy cuffs. Julok moved the boulder right next to Jokao, then walked over and put the Matoran's hands in energy cuffs as well.

"That was too easy!" Giho laughed.

"'Easy'?" Six Arms repeated. "I got my behind handed to me by this Toa of Iron here."

"Well, whatever," Giho said. "Two Toa are down. Now only four remain."

Nastan wondered how Nonzra, Barilo, Akuna, and Addis were doing.

I hope they don't fall as well, The Toa of The Green thought. Otherwise there's no hope for Shika Nui. No hope at all.
 

-


Barilo dodged the solar energy beam of the Dark Hunter named Tyu.

Tyu was black and blue and he weilded a metal chain with a spear attached to it's end. He about the same size as Barilo, but far more sinister-looking. He had two wings which he used for flight and he also had spikes jutting out of his armor. And apparently he could absorb energy from the sun and use it to fire a beam of solar energy, which is very devastating, as Barilo noticed when he saw the beam he dodged hit a rock and blow up, causing rock to rain down from the sky.

The Toa of Gravity unleashed his power over gravity, making the Hunter get heavier all of a sudden. Tyu hit the sand hard and found that he could not get up. Barilo walked over to him and raised his axe, ready to finished Tyu off for good.

But before he could land the killing blow, a burst of lava blew up next to the two combatants, blinding them both with sand.

When the sand cleared, Barilo saw Akuna running over to him, with the Dark Hunter code-named Death chasing after her. Somehow she had gottton away from the Hunter and was going to join Barilo. Then Barilo realized something.

"Where'd Tyu go?" Barilo said, looking around. What he didn't know was that the Hunter had burrowed under the sand, so the Toa was quite surprised to feel two hands pop out of the sand and grab his ankles. He was pulled under right as Akuna got over to him.

"Barilo!" Akuna shouted. She tried to grab Barilo's hand, but it went under too quickly. Then a ball of lava blasted her from behind, sending her flying into the water.

"Your friend is most likely dead, Toa," Death said, walking over to the water. He reached out and grabbed Akuna. At first, the Toa of Lightning believed he was helping her out of the water for some reason. Instead, he just hauled her out of the water and dropped her on the beach.

"What are you going to do now, Dark Hunter?" Akuna asked. "Are you going to kill me? Or will you do something worse?"

"I did plan on killing you, but now look over at your other three friends," Death replied, gesturing to the left.

She looked over and saw Nastan, Chimoy, and Jokao being lead by three Dark Hunters. Akuna noticed that the that the two Toa and the Ta-Matoran had energy cuffs over their hands, keeping them from escaping. She turned back to look at Death.

"Is that what you plan to do to me?" Akuna said.

Death nodded. "Of course. Besides, Icetraz will most likely think of some form of punishment. Like maybe you'll be fronzen to death or fed to the Takea sharks."

"Death!" Julok said. "Where did Tyu go?"

"He burrowed under the sand and took that Toa of Gravity with him," Death answered. "Now if you will excuse me, I will be cuffing this Toa of Lightning now."

Moving faster than Akuna's eyes could follow, Death circled behind her and then cuffed her hands. He forced her up and then moved her over to stand with Nastan and the others.

"Tyu should be coming out any time now," Death said. "If we're lucky, the Toa will be the dead one and not Tyu. But if we're even luckier, then they will both be dead somehow"

Everyone waited to see who would come up. They waited what seemed like forever, then there was a slight shift in the sand, and then Tyu broke out, flying up towards the sky, screaming in sheer terror. Barilo scrambled out of the sand and then stood tall.

"Like what I did to your friend?" Barilo said to the other four Dark Hunters. "Pretty soon he will be out of my range and then he will fall to his death. What do you think of that, Hunters?"

The only reply from them was a ball of lava being fired by Death. It hit Barilo, sendind him flying into a nearby boulder. He hit the wall and was knocked unconscious.

Julok looked up at the sky and saw Tyu was falling back down to the ground. The black and blue Dark Hunter was trying to use his wings to fly and land painlessly on the ground. It slowed him down, but he still hit the sand with a loud crash. Tyu got right back up, albeit painfully.

Giho had ran over and cuffed Barilo. The unconscious Toa of Gravity was dragged next to the other Toa and Jokao.

The winged Hunter looked around, angered by almost being killed by a Toa.

"Whatever punishment Icetraz gives them," Tyu said angrily. "I will enjoy watching every minute of it."

"Tyu, no one asked for your thought of the day," Julok snapped. "We should go help Kigin and Yhio defeat the last two Toa. Come on."
 

-


Yhio clinked weapons with Nonzra. The Toa of Sonics had a average sword, but on such short notice, it was the only thing he could use as a Toa tool.

Yhio was silver and orange. He was a rather bulky sort, but he was good with a sword, which the Hunter was using. Yhio was taller than Nonzra, but the Toa of Sonics was almost a even match in terms of swordplay.

Those sword lessons I had as a Matoran were worth every widget, Nonzra thought as he blocked a blow from the Dark Hunter. And I mean really worth it!

Addis was fighting Kigin, the leader of this small group of Dark Hunters.

Kigin was taller than Addis by about a few feet, but he was definetely a even match in fighting. His colors wer orange and green. He had a horn on his head and also weilded a mace.

The Toa of Plasma fired a ball of plasma at the Dark Hunter, but Kigin simply bashed the plasma ball out of the air with his mace. Then he hit Addis with the mace, knocking the Toa off his feet. Then Kigin wrapped his mace around a tree and pulled, causing it to fall on Addis.

"Toa, you are a novice," Kigin said. "Did you really think you could beat me, a experienced Dark Hunter?"

"Well," Addis said, under the treee. "I beat you before, didn't I?"

"That was because we weren't expecting you, Toa," Kigin snapped. "Now my leader, Icetraz, told me to kill you and take your body to him, to prove that you Toa exist. However, my allies have defeated the rest of your teammates and haven't killed them. They may have other plans for you."

Addis could not see anything, because of the tree on top of him. He could blast the tree into oblivion with his plasma powers, but he might hurt himself by accident if he blew the tree up, so he had to do lift the tree up off himself. He tried to lift the tree, but it was too heavy.

"What do you plan on doing to me then, Dark Hunter?" Addis said, having a little difficulty talking under a big, heavy tree.

"I will do whatever Icetraz wants me to do to you, Toa," Kigin replied. He then wipped his mace and smashed the tree, breaking it into splinters. "Now just get up and let me-"

The Hunter was interrupted by a ball of plasma hitting him in the chest, sending him flying into Viho. Nonzra's keen eyes noticed the Dark Hunter flying and quickly moved out of the way. Viho was confused for a minute untill he saw Kigin flying towards him. He noticed him too late, for Kigin flew right into him, knocking both of them out like two lightstones.

"Yeah!" Addis shouted, doing the traditional Toa fist hit with Nonzra. "We got those two good, didn't we?"

"Yeah, but..." Nonzra pointed at the five Dark Hunters coming, with their prisoners. "Can we possibly defeat five Dark Hunters on our own?"

"Don't worry, Nonzra," Addis said. "If could we beat those two, then we can beat those five!"
 

-


The six Toa and Jokao were now bound together. Giho and Yhio were standing watch, making sure that the Toa would not get away. It was getting dark, so the Dark Hunters had made a camp for the night and the Toa and Jokao were tied up to a tree.

"'If could we beat those two, then we can beat those five!'" Nonzra said sarcastically. "Nice going, plasma for brains."

"Nonzra, just shut up, okay?" Addis snapped. "We don't have time to argue. We have to escape."

"Shut up, Toa," Yhio said. "I didn't want to have to watch you, especially after that humiliating defeat."

"What will happen to me?" Jokao asked.

"No one cares what will happen to you, Matoran," Barilo growled. "If we hadn't rescued you, we would NEVER have gotton in this situation."

"Hey, I thought Toa always cared about Matoran," Giho said. "What's with you?"

"Not all Toa are the same, Hunter," Barilo snapped. "But I guess they never taught you that in the Dark Hunter schools, but I don't blame'em. You'd probably forget it anyway, considering how dumb you are."

"Shut up, Toa, or you will be going for a midnight swim and won't be coming out to dry off ever again." Giho threatened.

"Fine, fine," Barilo yawned. "I'm getting tired of insulting someone who is lower in intelligence to me anyway."

The Dark Hunter just glared at him.

"Whatever punishment you get, I hope it's long and painful, Toa," Giho said. "Now be quiet."

"Make me," Barilo said defiantly.

Giho smiled. "If that's what you want...."

The Dark Hunter put his hand in front of the Toa of Gravity's face. Nothing happened. Barilo tried to say something insulting to him, but all that came out of his mouth was nothing. His mouth moved, but no words came out. He looked up at Giho, confused.

"It's my silence power," Giho explained. "I can silence anyone at anytime. Pretty handy, don't you think?"

None of the other Toa answered, because none of them could think of any good comebacks. So instead they just tried to sleep, which was a hard thing to do when you are tied up to a tree.

Great, Jokao thought. Just when I thought these Toa were going to save me, they let me down. And now look where we are! I've got to find a way out or else we're all going to end up as dead meat.
 

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Edited by TNTOS, Jan 08 2014 - 10:02 AM.

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#7 Offline TNTOS

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Posted Jan 09 2014 - 10:08 AM

Chapter 6: Infiltration


The next day the Toa and Jokao were chained together, walking through the forest. The seven Dark Hunters were all making sure none of the Toa made a break for it by staying on all sides of their captives. Addis had tried to melt his chains off with plasma, but the Hunters beat him up and now he could barely walk, discouraging any other escape attempts.

The forest they were walking through was called the proto forest, because of the vast amounts of protodermis that was in the forest. Brakas monkeys were the most common Rahi found, with little insects found throughout the forest. The proto forest originally was bigger and more vast until the Dark Hunters came and chopped down most of the trees. Now the forest was still big, but it wasn't quite as big as before.

Nastan was angered by what the Dark Hunters had done to the forest. Like all Gre-Toa, Matoran, and Turaga, he loved nature and hated seeing it get destroyed or harmed in any way. But at the moment there was nothing he could do about it, which made it that much more frustrating.

"Where are you taking us?" Nonzra asked.

"To the fortress," Six Arms replied. "Where you will be punished."

"I'll never understand why you work for the Dark Hunters," Akuna said. "Why would anyone want to work for such a evil organization?"

"That's none of your business, Toa," Death growled. "Be quiet now or else I will personally teach you the meaning of the word 'death. Oh, and not everyone on the Dark Hunters is 'evil', Toa. Some work for them because no one else wants them and they have nowhere else to go.'"

It seemed like Death's voice sounded sad for some reason, like he was telling a truth that he did not like at all. Akuna decided she shouldn't ask, since he didn't seem like the kind who'd talk about that anyway.

For a while, there was no sound in the forest except for the sounds of brakas monkeys yelling somewhere deep into the forest and the sound of fourteen beings marching through the forest. Chimoy took this time to observe the trees and other plant life. As a Matoran, he never really spent his time around the forest or any other natural area of Shika Nui, but now since he was captured, he really had nothing else to do.

He noticed all the many different types of trees and plant growth. He would never be able to name all of them, but they were all beautiful. It seemed so peaceful in this forest. Nothing but the sound of brakas monkeys.

Nonzra, however, wasn't quite thinking of how beautiful everything was. He was too concerned with being captured by the Dark Hunters that he barely noticed all of the beauty.

Maybe I can unleash a devastating sonic blast that could make the Dark Hunters deaf? Nonzra thought. Of course, doing that would also make me and my friends deaf, so that scratches one plan.

Then another thought entered his mind. Maybe it was possible to use his Kanohi mask? There was no telling what it would do, since the Toa of Sonics knew very little about masks and knew even less about how to use them.

But it might be worth a shot anyway, Nonzra reasoned. It might kill us all, but being dead would be much better than being a captive of the Dark Hunters for the rest of my life.

He closed his eyes and focused his mind on his mask. He could feel the power of the mask activating, though it is a hard thing to describe because after he used it, everything seemed to happen so quickly.

First, the faint sounds of brakas monkeys from deep in the jungle became louder and louder. Then, the sounds became so loud that Nonzra could have sworn that the brakas were right next to him.

"Kaukau! Kaukau!"

The Toa of Sonics then heard the seven Dark Hunters screaming and shouting curses, apparently being attacked by something. Nonzra opened his eyes to see an entire horde of brakas monkeys, hopping and jumping and climbing everyone and everything. The monkeys were also attacking the Dark Hunters and the Hunters were having less luck beating the monkeys because of how fast they were moving and of how many of them that there were.

Now that the Dark Hunters were distracted, Chimoy broke his chains and then used his elemental power over metal to break the other Toa and Jokao out. Barilo took this moment to use his power over gravity to make Tyu heavier, causing the Dark Hunter fall hard to the ground.

"Quickly!" Tyu shouted. "Someone get the prisoners! They're escaping!"

But it was of no use. The other Dark Hunters were too busy fighting off the Rahi monkeys to chase the Toa and Jokao. When they finally either killed or drove off the rest of the brakas, the prisoners were nowhere to be seen.
 

-


The six Toa and the Ta-Matoran moved stealthily through the forest. They never slowed down until they were sure that they were deep enough into the forest so the Dark Hunters would never follow them. They sat down in a quiet part of the forest where the trees were the thickest and there was barely any light at all, so Nastan used his elemental power over plant life to move some trees over, but not all of them in case a Dark Hunter was flying overhead. All seven of them were panting from all the running that they did.

"So, since you're the nature expert, Nastan," Addis began, turning to Nastan. "Is it normal to see hundreds of brakas monkeys attacking Dark Hunters for no reason?"

"No," Nastan replied. "That is something that never happens. But sometimes brakas monkeys will attack intruders in their realm if they feel threatened."

"Then what caused that to happen?" Barilo asked.

"I don't know," Nastan said.

"I think I have the answer," Nonzra said.

"Really? Why do you think they attacked the Dark Hunters?" Barilo questioned.

"I think it was my mask power," The Toa of Sonics replied, tapping the Kanohi Mask of Power that was on his face. "I think I can summon Rahi with it."

"It's either that," Jokao said. "Or the brakas hate the Dark Hunters as much as we do."

"Well, whatever happened," Addis said. "We should plan out our next course of action."

"Maybe we should leave the island," Barilo suggested. "After all, we can't beat the Dark Hunters on our own anyway, right?"

"Too coward-y," Addis replied. "Besides, we'd never be able to find a boat that could take us out into the sea. And even if we did get out into the sea, the Hunters might see us and blast us into oblivion anyway."

"Then maybe it's time we learned to use our mask powers," Akuna suggested. "We all seem to have some control over our elemental powers, but most of us can't use our mask powers."

"But we don't know how to use our masks, Akuna," Nastan said. "Maybe Nonzra knows how to use his mask, but I don't know how to use mine."

"Well, I'm pretty sure I can teach you guys, even though I've only used my mask once," Nonzra said. "Who wants to go first?"
 

-


Tyu flew above the trees of the proto forest. He was searching for the Toa and the Ta-Matoran, but the trees were so thick that he could not see anything except for the occasional brakas monkey and he hated the darn monkeys after that last encounter with them.

He wished that he could see through the trees, because it would make his job go by much more faster, but he had to be contented with having the ability to fly at the moment and not x-ray vision. Tyu decided to head back to the others, because it was taking too long to find the prisoners and flying above the same trees fifteen times in a row can get quite boring after a while.

The Dark Hunter turned around and flew back. He saw the others standing amidst the destroyed trees and dead brakas monkeys. He landed next to Kigin, who looked up at the black and blue Dark Hunter expectantly.

"So?" Kigin said. "Did you find the Toa?"

"No," Tyu replied, shaking his head. "I couldn't find them. The trees are too thick."

"Then let's thin'em out a little," Giho said, holding his axe up.

Julok shook his head.

"No, if we did that, then other Hunters will start asking what we're doing and when they hear that we lost six Toa and one Matoran, they will laugh at us and most likely tell Icetraz," Julok said. "So we keep searching, regardless of how long it takes us."

"Fine," Kigin sighed. "We keep searching." Then he added. "And if we find them, kill them. Take no prisoners."
 

-


Jokao was amazed by how quickly the six Toa Shika had learned how to use their mask powers.

Nastan had discovered that his mask power was the Kanohi Sanok, the Mask of Accuracy. He discovered that by throwing a blade of grass at a nearby tree. It hit the tree so hard that the tree fell over.

Toa Akuna's mask was the Kanohi Ruru, the Mask of Night Vision. She found that out because of the big glow that her mask gave off, lighting the dark forest are up. The Toa of Lightning quickly turned it off so the Dark Hunters wouldn't notice it and come to see what was over there.

Not that the Ruru is anything too special, Jokao thought. Or useful.

Addis had a Suletu. He proved he could read minds by reading everyone's minds and accurately telling what each person was thinking.

Toa Chimoy already knew that his mask was the Kadin, but he tried to use it and ended up flying into a tree so hard that it almost fell on him(Fortunately, Nastan had used his elemental powers to stop the tree from crushing his Toa of Iron friend.).

Barilo learned that his mask was the Kanohi Volitak, the Mask of Stealth. When he first used it, he turned almost invisible and he wasn't casting a shadow. The other five Toa and Jokao panicked for a second until they realized that the Toa of Gravity had simply used his mask power.

Nonzra figured his mask was the Zatth, the Mask of Summoning, which made sense, considering all the brakas monkeys that attacked the Dark Hunters for no reason.

Barilo's Kanohi gave Addis a idea. He turned over to the Toa of Gravity.

"I have a plan and it involves you," Addis said to Barilo. "And your mask power. Think you'll be up to it?"

"First I have to know what it is," Barilo replied. "But whatever your plan is, I think I'm up to it, if it involves kicking Dark Hunter behind."

"Good," Addis said, smiling. "Because this will be a very important mission that might just help us get the Hunters off this island for good."
 

-


The Dark Hunter's Fortress was huge. It had many towers, all of which were rather sinister-looking. There were many guards on duty, all of them not looking like they wanted to be your best friend. The huge gate that lead into the fortress was closed, but not locked.

Barilo, using his Mask of Stealth, was making a observation. He was almost completely invisible and any Dark Hunter who might notice his extremely dim outline would have dismiss it as a trick of the eye. The Toa of Gravity was to infiltrate the fortress and gain valuable information on the Dark Hunters.

Now and then, a Dark Hunter or two would exit the fortress, heading for the where the slaves worked no doubt. Barilo need to get in when a Dark Hunter was entering or exiting.

He noticed one Dark Hunter was walking up to the fortress, no doubt heading in. He quietly made his way behind the Hunter, even though he didn't need to do it quietly, since the Volitak took away any and all sound that he made except if he was talking. But talking wasn't what he was interested in at the moment. Getting in without being noticed was what he considered interesting.

The Dark Hunter walked up to the two other Hunters who were guarding the entranceway. He flashed a identity tablet and the guards nodded. The two guards moved out of the way and opened the gate, letting the first Dark Hunter walk in.

Now was Barilo's chance to get in. He dashed in, accidently pushing the first Dark Hunter in. The Toa of Gravity, still using his Volitak, moved out of the way as the Dark Hunter he accidently pushed turned around and walked back out, looking very angry.

"Which one of you bozos pushed me in?" The first Dark Hunter demanded angrily.

"What are you talking about?" One of the guards asked, confused. "I didn't push you and neither did Hokeg. At least, I didn't see anyone push you."

"I felt someone push me in and there is no one else around here besides you two and myself and I very much doubt I would push myself," The first Dark Hunter explained. "So which one of you did it?"

"None of us," The second Dark Hunter, Hokeg, said. "We was standin' rights here likes we was supposed to and then you came out demandin' us to tell you who pushed you and we's don't know who did it."

"You're definitely lying, I can tell that," The first Dark Hunter said, still angry. "Now one of you just confess and I'll be on my way. Who did it?"

"No one!" Both guards shouted in unison. "We didn't do anything!"

That was the last straw for the first Dark Hunter. He knew one of them pushed him and since none of them were going to confess, he fired a beam of firy-ice, hitting both of the guards. Now the two Dark Hunter guards were angry and they attacked back, sending beams of energy at the first Hunter.

While those three were fighting, Barilo made his way around the fortress. He had no clear idea of where the Dark Hunters kept their records, so he decided to check every opened door he came across. Because opening doors and finding Dark Hunters inside who see him open the door and don't see anyone will get suspicious and Barilo might get caught was not a good idea.

There weren't many opened doors and what opened doors he did find had Dark Hunters in them, usually discussing security issues or other things that the Hunters considered important. While it would have been important to listen in on their conversations, they usually closed the doors and the Toa of Gravity didn't feel like going in and being trapped with two or more Dark Hunters anyway, even if he did get some information.

Maybe they keep maps of the fortress on stone tablets somewhere, Barilo thought as he walked through the dark hallway. Question is, where do they keep the tablets?

As he walked through the fortress, he looked around at the many hallways, doors, and stairways that lead to who knows where. He also noticed a what looked like a giant cave opening. It was quite strange looking, compared to the rest of the fortress and it looked like it was apparently carved artificially, most likely by the Dark Hunters. He noticed that there was a sign carved into the wall next to the cave.

Letting his curiosity get the best of him, he walked over to read the sign. It read:

Here leads to the ancient wall of solid protodermis. Bring a lightstone if you wish enter, for it is a dark and forbidding place where anyone without a light has perished. Beware the darkness, for it is as black and dark as a Makuta's heart.

Barilo looked towards the cave mouth. What ancient wall of solid protodermis was this warning talking about? The Toa of Gravity knew of no walls of solid protodermis and this certainly made no sense to him at all.

I have no time to ponder this, Barilo thought. I have information to find and maybe when I find that, I will have time to ponder this.

The next few minutes were rather uneventful. He dodged a few Dark Hunters and investigated a few open doors, but nothing too interesting. He finally found a opened door that had many different tablets stacked on top of each other. Fortunately, no Dark Hunters were in the room or near it, so Barilo walked in and quietly closed the door, just to make sure no one sees him reading the tablets.

Turning off his Volitak, he began looking at each tablet. It was taking him a long time, but he was purposely doing this, because he believed that there weren't any Dark Hunters coming any time soon, why not read through all or most of them anyway? He wasn't in any hurry.

Most of the tablets had the bios of most of the Dark Hunters, while others looked simply like carvings that someone made. They were quite strange, the carvings were. Some showed Dark Hunters training, while others showed treasures, islands, and many other things that Barilo couldn't identify.

Finally, he found a tablet that showed a map of the Dark Hunter's fortress. He put it into his backpack and was about to leave, when he noticed one more tablet. The tablet showed a picture of a wall, but it looked different from every other wall that the Toa of Gravity had seen before. Intrigued, he picked it up to get a closer look at it.

As he examined the picture, he noticed that there were words carved onto it. Apparently, the wall was called the 'Ancient Wall of Solid Protodermis.'

Barilo stopped reading for a minute. That cave mouth that he saw and the warning near it said that a ancient wall of solid protodermis was deep within the cavern. What could the Dark Hunters possibly want with it?

Barilo knew he wouldn't learn the answer by thinking about it, so he continued reading the tablet. It read like a diary or journal. Here is what it said:

We came to this island of Shika Nui because of a ancient wall of solid protodermis. Legend has it that, in the beginning of the universe, a team of Toa consisting of a Toa of Gravity, a Toa of Plasma, a Toa of Lightning, a Toa of Iron, a Toa of The Green, and a Toa of Sonics locked a giant door off using a Toa seal. After that, they burried the way to the door to make sure no one got into it. Nobody knows exactly what is behind the door. Some say it is a great and wonderful treasure that would make one richer than their wildest dreams. Others say a legendary Kanohi mask was hidden there to keep away from evil beings. And then there are others who believe that a great and evil spirit was locked away, along with a great army of darkness that has enough power to crush the universe.

The Shadowed One believes a great treasure is hidden there, so he sent I and eleven other Dark Hunters to capture Shika Nui. The attack was successful and only one Toa got away, a Toa of Stone named Joha.

Already we have dug the entrance out to the cave. We're stuck trying to break the protodermis wall. Only Toa can break Toa seals and we have no Toa, let alone six, so we have been chipping away the protodermis little by little and it's wearing out our Dark Hunters. I have already proposed that we get the Matoran to do the work. Most of the others agree and I think we'll get the little creeps to work sometime soon.

What do I believe is behind the door? I don't know, honestly. For now, I will go with what the Shadowed One believes and hopefully a vast treasure is hidden there and not our dooms.


Barilo stopped reading. This explained why the Dark Hunters came to Shika Nui. At the time, Barilo and the others had just assumed that the Hunters had came because of Shika Nui's vast amount of protodermis in the proto forest or something else. Now he knew the truth.

They came here to take whatever might be behind the door and they don't care who gets in the way, Barilo thought. Then he thought something else. Maybe I could convince the others to unlock the door and see what is inside. After all, we have all the right elements and we're Toa. But first we'll have to boot the Dark Hunters off this island.

The Toa of Gravity put the tablet in his backpack, just in case the others need to see it.

Now time to get out of here, Barilo thought. He turned around and was surprised to see that the door was opened. I thought I closed that!

He ran over to try and close it, but before he could get to it, he felt a blade go up to his throat. He stopped before he moved any further.

"You're a Toa, aren't you?" The female voice behind him said. Before Barilo could answer, the voice spoke again. "Before you ask how I got in here without you noticing, I must say you must not be very observant."

"Who are you?" Barilo asked. He couldn't tell who was behind him, but he figured she is a Dark Hunter and will most likely kill him simply because he is a Toa.

"My name isn't important," The female voice snapped. "What I want to know is what you have in your backpack."

Barilo could feel a hand digging through his pack and he couldn't do anything to stop her. He felt her pull one tablet out, then another.

"Looks like you were doing a little spy work, Toa," The female voice said. "Kigin and Tyu were right. There are more Toa on this island, since you are obviously not Toa Joha."

The Toa of Gravity was surprised by this. Usually Dark Hunters call Toa, any Toa, just 'Toa,' yet she was calling Joha by his real name, and it wasn't in a sarcastic or mocking tone, either.

What is Mata Nui's name is up with that? Barilo thought. Does she actually have some sort of respect for Joha or something?

"Where are the rest of your friends, Toa?" The female voice asked. "Are they hiding near the fortress, ready to attack? Or are you the only Toa left on this island, aside from Joha? Answer, Toa, and you might live. Might."

"Never," Barilo said. "I may not be the noblest Toa out there, but I would never reveal the location of my friends. Especially to a Dark Hunter."

At first, the Toa of Gravity wasn't sure if his head would be on his body any longer, but surprisingly, instead of slicing his head off, the female Dark Hunter just made him walk.

"Where are you taking me and why didn't you kill me?" Barilo asked.

"Icetraz has said that he wants any and all prisoners taken to him so he can give them a proper punishment," She replied. "So be still and don't make any sudden moves."

For a while they walked through the winding hallways of the fortress. Some Dark Hunters saw them go by and nodded their heads in approval. Others simply glared at Barilo just for being a Toa and then there were the curious few who followed the Toa and Dark Hunter. All the while the Toa never saw how the female Dark Huntress' looked and none of the other Dark Hunters ever called her by her name.

Barilo glance at carvings on the wall. They looked like pictures. Pictures of Dark Hunters, to be exact. Of course, he didn't know for sure, but it seemed like a reasonable guess because of the names under them. Obviously they were code-names, since most of them were actual words and not names someone would be named.

One door was opened and no one appeared to be inside it. As they walked by, the Toa of Gravity glanced into the room. There was a giant suit of armor. It looked grand, elegant(In some strange way), and evil, even though it had many holes punched into it.

Whoever wore that armor must have been powerful, Barilo thought. But I most certainly don't want to meet the guy who killed whoever wore that!

The Dark Huntress took the blade from the Toa of Gravity's neck and then quickly cuffed his hands with energy cuffs. Barilo didn't like these energy cuffs at all because of how it brought back bad memories of when he and the others had been defeated and captured by the those other seven Dark Hunters. Oh, sure, it had happened only about a day or two ago and he was still a novice Toa, but he felt that he could have killed them and then proceed to kill the rest of Hunters on this island, effectively freeing Shika Nui.

But nooooo, Barilo thought angrily. Nastan believed that killing our enemies is wrong because Joha and all those other Toa on his original team didn't kill anyone. Who cares if Joha didn't kill his enemies? I don't and I would be glad to take away all the gravity from this fortress and then give it too much gravity, killing all the Dark Hunters in it. Genius, I would say.

Right, said a voice in Barilo's head. Sounds something more like what a Makuta would do than a Toa, don't you agree?

The Toa of Gravity was shocked and surprised by this voice. Was he going insane and he was hearing multiple voices in his head, or was someone mentally speaking to him? Barilo was about to find out.

Who is there and how am I talking to you if I don't have a Suletu? Barilo asked the voice. Addis has the Suletu, not me. Am I going crazy?

You wish, Toa, The voice answered. You are not going insane. I am a Makuta and I want to help you, Toa.

Barilo didn't answer. He had never met a Makuta before and didn't know how to answer, so the Makuta went back on talking.

It may seem strange to you, Toa, to have a Makuta of all beings help you, The voice said. But I want the Dark Hunters off this island just as much as you and your friends do and I need a body if I am to help you.

But you still didn't answer my other question, Barilo thought(Or said, he wasn't quite sure which one it was in his mind). How come I can reply to you, even though I can't read your mind?

I bridged our minds together, Toa, the Makuta explained. We share a sort of psychic link now, so you can hear my thoughts and I can hear yours. Now do you agree to help me?

If you help me escape from the Dark Hunters, then I will, Barilo said to him. After that, we'll talk.

Good, good, very good, the Makuta said. I already have a plan and here's what you do.

As the Toa of Gravity listened to the Makuta's plan, he wondered if he made the right choice, Surely the others would agree with helping a Makuta if it meant that Shika Nui would be free. And who knows, maybe Barilo would become leader of the island and close it's border to all Dark Hunters.

It was well worth thinking about, Barilo decided. After all, the Dark Hunters say that Makuta are evil and cruel beings who don't care about anyone but themselves, but what if they aren't? What if they want to actually make world peace and the Dark Hunters are just trying to do the opposite? The Toa of Gravity decided to ask this Makuta about it sometime.

One thing is for sure, Barilo thought. This island will be freed of Dark Hunter tyranny and all be well.

Or so Barilo thought, but he would soon learn what happens when you trust a Makuta. He will learn that very soon indeed.
 

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Edited by TNTOS, Jan 09 2014 - 10:08 AM.

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#8 Offline TNTOS

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Posted Jan 10 2014 - 09:50 AM

Chapter 7: Escape From The Fortress


Outside the fortress, the other Toa and Jokao were waiting in the forest around the Dark Hunters' headquarters, waiting for Barilo to come out with the information they needed.

They were aware that Barilo could spend many hours in there, since no Matoran, Toa, or anyone who isn't a Dark Hunter had ever went into there willingly, so the Toa of Gravity was probably going to be looking through many different rooms before finding what they needed.

Nonzra watched as the three Dark Hunters at the front of the fortress fought each other. It seemed like the two guards would win, because they were both bigger and stronger than the first one. However, the first one was smaller and faster and he was using that to his advantage to attack them quickly.

"Look," Nonzra said, pointing towards the battling Dark Hunters. Another, even bigger Dark Hunter was walking towards them. "Another one. How will Barilo get out now?"

"It looks like to me that that bigger Dark Hunter is going to break up their fighting, Nonzra," Akuna said, pointing at the mini-giant of a Dark Hunter casually walking towards the fortress.

She was right. The humongus Dark Hunter got in between the three combatants and stopped their fighting. He then scolded them, but none of the Dark Hunters spoke back to him because of his obvious strength. The two guards went back to guard duty and the third one just walked right into the fortress, looking like he wasn't too happy with how that bigger Dark Hunter had stepped in between them instead of letting the first Dark Hunter defeat them.

As for the bigger Dark Hunter, he just smiled and walked towards the back of the fortress, satisfied with what he just did.

"Well, I certainly wouldn't want to mess with him," Jokao said in awe. "That guy was huge! He looked like he could have ripped those three guys apart easily!"

"Yeah," Addis agreed. "Now let's hope that Barilo doesn't run into him or we'll end up with bite-sized Toa of Gravity pieces."
 

-


Barilo was roughly tossed into a cage. He had already met Icetraz, the leader of the Dark Hunters of Shika Nui. He was quite a sight, with his Kikanalo-looking head, his twin Cordak blasters and his big, bulky body.

As soon as he saw the Toa of Gravity, he immediately sentenced him to death, but since a Brotherhood of Makuta sea vessel was allegedly seen off the shore of Shika Nui, attacking and sinking Dark Hunter ships, he put it off until tomorrow and personally went himself to sink the Brotherhood's ship, because of the reports that a Makuta was seen aboard the ship.

During that time Barilo actually got to see the female Dark Hunter who had captured him. Her name was Yehiku and, in Barilo's opinion, she was beautiful. She was about the same size as himself and had red and black armor. Her eyes were green and it was very hard to keep his eyes off her.

But she didn't seem to share his same feelings, because she kept giving him the death glare every time he looked at her for too long. And she was also the one who roughly tossed him into the cage, too.

"Welcome to your new, temporary home, Toa," Yehiku said sarcastically. "Make yourself at home, but you're going to be too busy dying to make it homey anyway, so I don't think you should even bother."

She left the room. Now Barilo was all alone. It wasn't dark. There was a lightstone in the ceiling that lit the room up dimly, but there wasn't much to see in the room. No furniture, no windows, no nothing.

Am I in love with Yehiku? Barilo thought. Or am I going insane?

You very well might be insane, Makuta Hajax, the Makuta who had a psychic link with Barilo, said. After all, everyone I know who has had a psychic link with a Makuta has gone insane at one point in their lives. Or you might have real feelings for her. I don't know and I don't care, because phase one of the plan is going in action.

Barilo saw the cage door open, obviously by the power of Hajax's magnetism. The Toa of Gravity activated his mask power, making himself almost invisible. He walked out of the cage and quietly pushed the door of the room that he is in open. He looked both ways down the hallway and then made his way quickly to the left, but closed the door to his room to make sure no one noticed he was gone.

As the Toa of Gravity made his way past Dark Hunters, he contacted Hajax. Barilo needed some of his own questions answered and Hajax was the one who had the answers.

Hajax, where are you? Barilo asked.

In your mind at the moment, Makuta Hajax replied. Or do you mean where I am phyiscally? If that is what you want to know, then I'm not happy to say that I no longer have a physical body.

Barilo stopped, then moved to lean against a wall as two Dark Hunters walked down the hallway.

What do you mean that you don't have a phyiscal body? Barilo asked. Are...are you a ghost?

Hajax laughed. Of course not. I am in some sort of green-ish black gaseous form. I wish I had my body, because then I would get revenge on my old 'friends' that they so richly deserve.

Whoa, there, Hajax, Barilo said. What are you talking about? Start at the beginning, because I'm confused.

Very well, Barilo, Makuta Hajax sighed. Let me begin. Many years ago the Brotherhood of Makuta held a convocation. Makuta Teridax, the lieutenant to Makuta Miserix, had a plan he believed would give us Makuta full control over the universe. Of course, Miserix was totally against the Plan, but the other Makuta agreed with the Plan and Miserix was kicked out of leadership and Teridax was put in charge.

Now not all of us Makuta agreed with the Plan. Some of us simply sided with Teridax for fear of being killed. I was one of them and after the convocation, any Makuta that Teridax believed unloyal to the Plan were hunted down and killed by Makuta Icarax and Makuta Gorast. They killed the others in under a year, but I hid for a long time until they found that I had came here. They found me and, after a short battle, ripped my armor open, letting my gaseous form drift into the open. It just so happened that at that moment, a fierce wind blew by, dispersing my form.

Icarax and Gorast believed that the wind killed me and left, but there was still a little bit left of myself, so I was worried that I was going to die soon.

Luck was on my side, for the Dark Hunters had stolen some plans from Metru Nui to make super Vahki. The Hunters' top scientists worked until they finally perfected it. They made many, but found that they weren't any good for fighting, so they wound up as personal servants of the Dark Hunters instead. I learned that I could possess robots and I did, possessing one of the many robots. That is how I survived for so many years.


Well, how come I haven't seen any of those so-called super Vahki around the fortress? Barilo asked.

Most of them were destroyed by Visorak, Rahkshi, Exo-Toa, and Dark Hunters who were just in a very bad mood. Fortunately, no one knows that I am in a super Vahki and I have learned many, many secrets from listening in on the Dark Hunters who believe that I am a mindless machine and not a intelligent Makuta, Hajax explained.

You sure seem to talk alot, Barilo said. Anyway, I need to get out of here. You've been here longer than me, so do you know the least guarded area that I could escape easily?

The western area is guarded by one guard and he isn't that smart, so sneaking by him should get be easy for you, Makuta Hajax said to him.

Barilo turned to the western area and went only two steps when he heard a alarm go off. The door to his room was open and a Dark Hunter was coming out, yelling.

"The Toa has escaped!" The Dark Hunter shouted. "Everyone get on alert! He's somewhere in this fortress and he has escaped!!"

After that, hundreds of Dark Hunters poured into the fortress. Barilo had a tough time dodging all the Dark Hunters who were running up and down the hallways. The Toa of Gravity was glad that his mask had not been taken from him, because he surely would not have been able to escape if he didn't have it. He remembered why they had let him keep his mask.

When Icetraz learned of the Brotherhood of Makuta vessel, he was in too much of a hurry to have Barilo's mask taken from him.

Good thing that Brotherhood of Makuta ship was sighted, otherwise I wouldn't have been able to get out here, Barilo thought.
 

-


Kigin lead his team of Dark Hunters towards the fortress. They hadn't found the Toa and it was becoming dark. None of them were truly afraid of the dark, but none of them were ready to spend all night in the forest either, especially after the army of brakas monkeys that had attacked them earlier. They preferred the security of the fortress to the wilderness forest.

Tyu noticed all the Dark Hunters running to and fro, talking and shouting. The winged Dark Hunter thought he heard one of them say that a Toa of Gravity had escaped. If he remembered correctly, a Toa of Gravity had almost defeated Tyu earlier that day. Had that Toa been captured and then escaped somehow? Tyu decided he needed to know, so he grabbed a Dark Hunter running by.

The Dark Hunter, who had bronze armor, turned angrily to see who had dared grab him. He saw Tyu and the other six.

"Oh, hey, Tyu!" the Dark Hunter exclaimed. He waved at the other six. "And you six, Julok, Kigin, Death, Six Arms, Giho, and Viho. Where were you? Have you heard the big news?"

"What big news, Vawe?" Tyu asked.

"There's a Toa of Gravity that was found stealing the map of the fortress. Yehiku caught him and he was thrown into a cage," Vawe said. "But now he has somehow escaped and we're looking for him. All Dark Hunters on Shika Nui have been ordered to keep their eyes open for any Toa of Gravity and most are searching for him now."

Tyu looked back towards his six comrades. They looked at him. All seven of them were thinking the same thing: That Toa of Gravity is the same one they had fought!

The question is, where are the other Toa? Tyu thought.

"Um, Vawe, were any other Toa seen around the fortress?" the winged Dark Hunter asked.

"No," the bronze armored Dark Hunter answered, surprised. "Why? Did you guys see any others?"

"Yes, we did," Giho replied. "Five more, to be exact."

"There are five more Toa on this island?" Vawe repeated, shocked. "Five? Are you sure?"

"Yes, we're very sure," Julok replied. "We fought them and won."

"Then where are they?" Vawe asked. "What did you do with them? Did you kill them?"

All seven of them looked embarrassed.

"They, uh," Yhio said. "They got away from us."

The bronze armored Dark Hunter burst into laughter. He laughed for a very, very, long time. In fact, Death thought that maybe Vawe was going insane because of how long he laughed.

Finally, Vawe stopped, though he was still laughing a little.

"Oh that's a good joke, Viho," Vawe said. He laughed again. "But seriously, what really happened to those Toa?"

"We're serious, Vawe," Death said in a serious tone. "We fought and defeated them and were planning on taking them to the fortress, but hundreds of brakas monkeys attacked us and they escaped in the confusion. We still don't know where they are, but now we have a idea on where one of them is."

Vawe looked surprised.

"Well, you can help us find that Toa of Gravity and maybe we can make him talk," Vawe said. "He'll tell us where the rest of his friends are."
 

-


Barilo kept having to hide in doorways and dodging any Dark Hunters, but that was becoming increasingly difficult to do, because more and more Dark Hunters seemed to come in every minute. The Toa of Gravity reflected on the plan that Makuta Hajax had told him and how it would benefit everyone on the island of Shika Nui except for the Dark Hunters.

The plan was simple, or so it seemed. All Barilo had to do was get out of the fortress, meet up with the other Toa and then attack the fortress with the help of Makuta Hajax. If it were successful, then the Dark Hunters would be off the island, but the entire thing seemed unrealistic to Barilo.

For one, how would they, six Toa, one Matoran and one Makuta, defeat hundreds and hundreds of Dark Hunters? Oh sure, Makuta are very strong, but Hajax didn't have his original Makuta armor and he would be very easily destroyed by any well-trained Dark Hunter. And then Barilo and his friends were novices and had a hard time against seven Dark Hunters. What would happen if they took on hundreds? Barilo didn't want to think about the results.

But the Toa of Gravity also thought of Jokao, who would surely be killed as soon as the battle started. As much as Barilo didn't want to admit it, he was worried about the Ta-Matoran.

Maybe Hajax has a plan to take out most of the Dark Hunters, Barilo thought.

Barilo rounded a corner and then found the western entrance. As Hajax had told him, there was one guard standing with his back to the entrance. Apparently he didn't think anyone would come out of the fortress and attack him, since Barilo smashed him down with his gravity powers and the Dark Hunter looked totally shocked and surprised. But the Hunter was knocked unconscious, so it didn't matter much anyway.

The Toa of Gravity lifted his axe, ready to kill the Dark Hunter, but then he saw a super Vahki running towards him. He could tell it was a super Vahki because hit vaguely resembled one. It's head looked like a normal Vahki head, but the rest of it's body was different.

For one, you couldn't even tell it was based off the Vahki unless someone told you so. It had a very skinny body and the entire build looked fragile. It's arms were long and had no armor. Legs were the same as the arms, except for the feet, which had razor sharp nails at the end of each toe. There were three toes on each foot. It was blue and purple, which was odd, considering that it was based off the Vahki and there were no Vahki that were blue and purple.

At first, Barilo considered destroying the robot, but Hajax mentally contacted him right before he could increase the gravity of the super Vahki ten thousand times it's normal gravity.

Don't even think of it, Hajax warned. I'm using this body and you won't be living any longer if you try it.

Fine, fine, Barilo replied. I wasn't really going to do it anyway. Now if you will excuse me, I have a Dark Hunter to kill.

As much as killing a Dark Hunter sounds amusing to me, it would be a bad move, Hajax said. Another Dark Hunter is surely going to see his ally killed and everyone and their Energy Hound will know you went this way.

Okay, geez, Barilo said. Where do we go now?

I cannot believe you forgot about the plan already, Barilo, the Makuta of Shika Nui snapped. But I might as well refresh your memory anyway. We're to find your friends and convince them to attack the fortress.

They wouldn't do that, Barilo said. Toa aren't as dumb as you think we are. We'd be smashed and killed by them easily. No sane Toa would do that, even with a Makuta on our side.

I have more plans, Toa, that will definitely help out cause, Hajax replid. Now you go and find your friends and I will go and get my allies.

Before Barilo could ask him who the Makuta's 'allies' were, Hajax was off, rounding a corner and disappearing. Realizing it probably wasn't the healthiest idea to stay around here any longer, the Toa of Gravity ran into the forest, making his way to the rest of the Toa Shika.
 

-

 

The other five Toa Shika and Jokao watched as hundreds of Dark Hunters of all kinds were running, jumping, and even flying around the fortress, looking for something. The seven Dark Hunters who the Toa Shika had escaped from earlier had came back to the fortress and were now helping their allies search for whatever it is that they were searching for.

"Did Barilo blow his cover?" Nonzra asked. "Or is this some kind of emergency drill and it got out of hand?"

"No doubt they're looking for Barilo," Addis said. "I told him that this was a stealth mission, not a attack on the fortress!"

"Um, Addis?" Jokao said. "Can I ask you a question?"

"Sure," Addis replied. "What is it?"

"Yesterday, you said that you didn't want to help free Shika Nui because of the impossible odds, but now you are gathering information on them for a attack," Jokao said. "What changed your mind?"

"I don't know, actually," Addis said. "All I remember is being against attacking the Dark Hunters one minute, then immediately I changed my mind and wanted to attack the Dark Hunters the next."

"That's strange," Jokao commented. "Toa don't just change their minds without knowing why. In fact, no one changes their mind without knowing why."

"Exactly," Addis agreed. "But we don't have time to wonder about that. What we do need to do is find out if Barilo is still alive or not."

"And I am," Barilo, who had just walked out of the forest, said.

"Barilo! Thank Mata Nui you're alive!" Akuna exclaimed, relieved.

"What is up with the Dark Hunters going crazy?" Nonzra asked.

"Well, sit down and I will explain," Barilo said. He went on to talk about his capture and his escape. He mentioned that Hajax already was getting some of his allies to help attack the fortress, but he had no idea of who or what these allies were. He didn't mention his discovery of the Ancient Wall of Protodermis, because he wanted it to keep it a surprise until he was sure he could count on the others going along with it.

"So we just sit here and wait?" Nastan asked. "We wait until Makuta Hajax and his allies come? How do we know he will even bring allies?"

"Well, I can tell if he's double-crossing us," Barilo replied. "He made a psychic link between myself and him, so I can read his mind and he can read mine, so if he is double-crossing us, I'll know."

"Okay, where do we go, then?" Nonzra said. "Where did Hajax say his allies were coming from?"

"Um, I was never told, actually," the Toa of Gravity said sheepishly. "All he said is to wait in the mountains until he comes to get us."

"That's all?" Addis asked.

"That's all," Barilo answered. "So we have two options. We wait here and hope the Dark Hunters don't find us or we go to the mountains, which is the last place any of them would look for us."

"Well, if this Makuta is as good as you say," Addis said slowly. "Then we go to the mountains."

"Can we save my friends first?" Jokao asked. All six of the Toa Shika turned to him, apparently haven forgotten their Ta-Matoran companion. "My village is near here and-"

"Don't worry, Jokao," Barilo said. "If this plan goes well, then your village and every other village on Shika Nui should be free."

"But when will we get our freedom?" Joka asked. "Will it take days? Months? Years?"

Toa Barilo didn't answer that. He wasn't sure when Shika Nui would be free. All Hajax had told him was that Shika Nui would be free and that's that. So he just turned away from Jokao and said, "Let's go. It's getting darker and we don't want to be found so close to the Dark Hunter fortress, do we?"

The others nodded. One by one they all made their way deeper in the forest, with Nastan leading, since being a Toa of the Green, he knew his way around forests easily. But Chimoy kept doubting what Barilo said.

Now I've never met a Makuta before, but I've heard plenty about them, Chimoy thought as he followed behind the others. The entire thing sounds fishy to me, but I don't know why. I have no reason to doubt trusting a Makuta if it means that Shika Nui will be freed, but there is something about this that doesn't make any sense. Why would a Makuta ally himself with six Toa and a Matoran? If Makuta are as strong as I think they are, then he should be able to kick the Dark Hunters off this island no problem.

Maybe I'm just tired. That's it. All I need to do is sleep, rest my brain a little. Maybe tomorrow I will be able to think clearly.

 

-


Makuta Hajax, in the body of the super Vahki, made his way around the fortress. No Dark Hunter had seen him, which was good, because they would most likely order him to find Barilo and the Makuta would have to go along with it to keep his disguise up.

He was going to the eastern edge of the island, where his allies would be waiting. Hajax had been planning this attack on the Dark Hunters for many years. The Makuta of Shika Nui was originally planning on putting his plan into action 1000 years before, but when the Dark Hunters declared war against the Brotherhood of Makuta, he didn't have time to attack. But now there were these Toa on the island and all the Dark Hunters were going crazy trying to find them. He needed the Toa of Iron alive, to fix his broken armor, which was in the custody of the Dark Hunters.

At least, Hajax was sure that the Toa of Iron could repair his armor, if the Toa knew how to make protosteel. The Makuta of Shika Nui wondered if the rest of the Brotherhood had become gaseous forms as well and how they managed to live with it and if it affected the Plan at all.

Probably modified their armor to stop their forms from leaking out, Hajax thought as he ran. Maybe they had the Nynrah Ghosts modify them. But it doesn't matter. All I need to do is get to my allies and soon the island and it's treasure will be mine.

Hajax hadn't told Barilo why he had sent him into the mountains, but the Makuta was well aware of what was waiting in the mountains. Makuta Hajax didn't plan to go and get them. He would send someone to go and watch the Toa. This someone would take the out one by one, until only the Toa of Iron was left.

I honestly don't care about Barilo, Addis, or any of those other Toa. Only the Toa of Iron, Chimoy, is who I really need if I am to get my armor back, Makuta Hajax thought. Oh, sure, these six Toa aren't as noble as Joha, but if they were to find out what will happen to them, then they would surely try to defeat me.

He stopped for a moment, as if lost in thought. If his robotic body could make facial expressions, then he would be smiling, Not a happy smile, but a evil smile. Then he continued into the forest, making plans on who would follow the Toa.

Iroko would be the best candidate to kill them, given her stealth ability, Makuta Hajax reasoned. After all, killing is what she does best and killing is exactly what she will be doing.
 

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#9 Offline TNTOS

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Posted Jan 13 2014 - 10:33 AM

Chapter 8: Into The Mountains


The next morning the six Toa Shika and Jokao set out for the mountains. They made their way through the forest. Nastan made his way in and around the tress easily, but the others had a hard time dodging trees and keeping from tripping on vines and broken branches. Jokao in particular had a hard time climbing over the big, fallen trees because of his short size.

"Gosh, Nastan, would you stop going so fast?" Nonzra complained. "Not everyone here knows the forest better than their hut, you know."

"Well, sorry, Nonzra," Nastan snapped. He jumped onto a stump and turned around to face the Toa of Sonics. "We have to keep moving and we will not get there if you keep complaining."

"Sheesh! I was just asking you to slow down is all!" Nonzra said.

"Stop it with the arguing already," Addis told the two Toa. "We have enough to worry about already and we don't need any arguing to make us all irritable."

"Okay, whatever," Nonzra grumbled. "But I was winning the argument, Nastan."

The Toa of The Green was ignoring the Toa of Sonics now. He continued moving through the forest and the others followed, not one of them saying a word.

Jokao was walking behind Chimoy, thinking of what he had just gotten himself into.

Okay, I'm with six Toa who either want to save Shika Nui or don't want to save it, depending on which Toa you talk to, while my friends don't know if I am alive or not and now we're heading to the mountains because a Makuta told us to, the Ta-Matoran thought. What's wrong with this carving? I originally planned to go and get more Matoran to join my rebellion, not end up on the run from the Dark Hunters with six Toa who don't seem to care that much about the island.

What should I do? Try to lose them? No, I'd end up dead if that happened. So I guess for now I should just stay with them. Who knows, maybe we really will free Shika Nui from the Dark Hunters.

Chimoy had jumped over a tree trunk, but Jokao was too lost in his thoughts to notice it, so he walked straight into it.

"Ow!" Jokao shouted. "Stupid tree trunk. Who put this here?"

The Toa of Iron stopped and turned around. He saw Jokao cursing the trunk and then Chimoy continued walking with the others, apparently forgetting Jokao. The Ta-Matoran quickly caught up with them and continued following the six Toa.

Akuna looked at the trees and wondered how anyone could live here. Sure, it was beautiful, but it was also hot and humid and you could only really enjoy it if you were a Gre-Matoran. Even then, you'd have to have a strong tolerance for humidity and heat.

This forest reminded her of the time she and Nastan had stolen a valuable artifact from the Dark Hunters. They had been spotted and ran into the forest. Unfortunately, it was dark and they had no lightstones, so she was afraid they would get lost and maybe end up in the mouth of some strange Rahi, even though she knew that the only Rahi that lived in the forest were brakas monkeys. Still, she didn't like being in the forest at night, but at least she wasn't alone.

Nastan had grabbed her hand and led her out of the forest, somehow knowing the way out. Later she asked him how he knew his way out of the forest in pitch-blackness, he told her that he knew his way around the forest and he wasn't afraid, so he could think clearly. After that, she kind of devolped a crush on Nastan, but not a major one.

These forests can get pretty scary, Akuna thought. Especially at night. I wonder if anyone else is afraid of these woods?

The Toa of Lightning looked at her companions. None of them looked afraid, but none of them would admit they were afraid anyway if they wanted to look tough. All of them but Jokao looked tough. The Ta-Matoran just looked annoyed and was grumbling about tree trunks and how he would burn them if he were a Toa of Fire.

Addis was behind Nastan, walking and trying not to trip over some loose vines or anything like that. He also cared little for the forest, but he also knew that destroying it all with his plasma powers would draw the unwanted attention of the Dark Hunters.

They could have used a short-cut, but that would have meant having to go out into the open and that would also mean that a Dark Hunter might see them and they might get killed, so going through the forest was the safest way to the mountains.

Nastan stopped, then signaled for the others to stop as well. He had seen someone or something and watched to see who it was.

Two Dark Hunters walked through a path in the forest, but fortunately the didn't notice the six Toa and Jokao standing in the forest. One was tall and skinny and the other one was short and bulky. They looked tired and were talking to each other about last night.

"Who would have thought that one Toa would cause so much trouble?" the tall one said.

"Not as much trouble as that Makuta Icetraz came back with," the bulky Hunter replied. "He destroyed half the fortress and almost got away with it, too. Good thing Icetraz froze him before he could cause anymore damage."

"Yeah, many Matoran servants died because of him, but who cares about Matoran? Now we have to rebuild the fortress and make sure that Makuta doesn't get away," the skinny Dark Hunter complained. "Stupid Makuta."

Nastan looked back to the others. None of them had heard any explosions of any sort last night.

We must have been sleeping pretty hard last night, Barilo thought.

"Thank goodness he didn't destroy the cave to the ancient wall of protodermis, otherwise we would be in BIG trouble!" the tall Dark Hunter said.

"Yeah," the short Dark Hunter agreed. "That treasure behind the wall would have been gone for good!"

That caught the attention of the six Toa Shika. When they were Matoran they had all been thieves and they were all interested in treasure. Only Barilo looked a bit worried, because he was planning on keeping it a secret, but now they knew about the wall and there's no telling what would happen now that they knew about it.

"Well, we better get going," the tall and skinny one said. "We better make sure none of the Matoran escaped during the attack."

"Good, 'cause I never liked this forest," the short and bulky one said. "Even though brakas monkeys are the only Rahi that live here, I never felt comfortable out here. I always felt as if someone, something, was watching me."

The two Dark Hunters continued walking until they were out of sight. Then Nastan turned to the others.

"Did you hear that?" Nastan asked excitedly. The others nodded their heads. "There's giant wall of protodermis and behind it is a ton of treasure! Isn't that great?"

"We should go back for it," Addis said. "We don't need to go to the mountains. We go to the wall and get that treasure and then boot the Dark Hunters off this island."

"No!" Barilo yelled. The others turned to look at him, surprised. The Toa of Gravity was usually the first one to want to go after treasure, yet he didn't want to for some reason.

"Barilo, what's wrong?" Akuna asked. "You're usually the first to go after treasure and now you're against the idea? What's up with that?"

"Well, I already knew of the ancient wall of protodermis, because in the fortress I found a entry of a journal that talked about it," Barilo explained. "I was waiting for a better moment to tell you guys, but now the surprise is ruined."

"Okay, but I guess going there would be a stupid idea anyway," Addis said. "There are too many Dark Hunters and then there is that Makuta they were talking."

"Yes," Barilo agreed. "We go to the mountains like Hajax told us to."

"But after we do that, we go to their fortress and take the wall," Nonzra said.

"Sure," Addis agreed.

The six Toa Shika and Jokao continued on, but the Toa were too busy thinking of what kind of treasure could be behind the door and what they would do with it than anything else.

Perhaps we will become kings and queens of Shika Nui when we get the treasure, Nonzra thought. I think I would look pretty good in a crown, myself.
 

-

 
Makuta Hajax, in the body of a super Vahki, arrived at a cave. Inside the cave were abandoned Rahkshi, Exo-Toa suits, and various other things used by the Brotherhood of Makuta. This cave had originally been the place where the Dark Hunters would dump anything from the Brotherhood of Makuta that they had stolen or salvaged. However, due to the bad weather around the area and a cave-in, they stopped going there and soon they forgot it even existed. But Hajax had found it and was now using it as a base and hideout for his allies.

His 'allies' were rogue Brotherhood of Makuta minions. Many of them came to Shika Nui secretly so they would not be found by either the Dark Hunters of the Brotherhood. Hajax had met them years before and became the leader of them after killing the original and making the murder look like a accident. None of the Dark Hunters were aware of their existence and Hajax planned on taking over Shika Nui and then using it to attack the Brotherhood of Makuta.

As the Makuta walked past various minions of the Brotherhood, ranging from rogue Visorak to Vortixx, he kept looking for Iroko. The female Skakdi was Hajax's second in command and was a trained assassin.

He found Iroko sharpening her sword on a big rock. Makuta Hajax's super Vahki body had no voice box, so he couldn't verbally speak to anyone. So he spoke mentally to her.

Iroko, I need to talk to you for a second, Hajax said.

She turned around, surprised to see the Makuta.

"You're early," Iroko said. "What do you want to talk about? Does it have anything to do with the Dark Hunters?"

Yes, and no, the Makuta of Shika Nui said. There are six new Toa on this island and I want all but one of them eliminated. He went on to explain how he had met Barilo and how he had tricked him into believing that he was their ally.

"So, you want me to kill all of them but the Toa of Iron?" Iroko said.

Yes, that's exactly what I want you to do, the Makuta confirmed.

"But you said that Barilo and you had a psychic link, so both of you could read each other's minds," the female Skakdi said. "What if he reads your mind and finds out what he plans to do to him and his friends?"

Do you think a talented telepath such as myself would ever truly let my mind free to be read by everyone who came by? Hajax snapped. Of course I wouldn't. I have put mental barriers up just in case something like that would happen. Fortunately, that stupid Toa hadn't ever thought that I would double cross him.

The blue-ish green Skakdi nodded. "Good thinking."

Now go, Iroko, before they get too deep into the mountains, Hajax ordered. Oh, and by the way, I know what you're thinking. You're grumbling about being ordered around by me. Typical of you Skakdi, but as long as you do what I say, you might live.

She didn't like the sound of the word 'might', but she wasn't going to admit it. So Makuta Hajax continued on, telling her the location of the Toa and the easiest route to get there. Iroko listened, but she wanted to be part of the attack on the Dark Hunters fortress, not going around killing novice Toa, but she wasn't going to say that aloud, since the Makuta probably already knew what she was thinking anyways.
 

-

 
The party of seven arrived at the foot of the mountains. There was a narrow path that lead up the mountains, but no one had gone up the the huge rock in years, except for Toa Joha. But now the Toa Shika and Jokao were about to climb the gigantic piece of rock and earth.

Nonzra looked up at the almost tower-like mountain. It was the home of many different kinds of bird Rahi and goat Rahi, all of which were not Toa-friendly, if what he heard among the Dark Hunters was correct. Why they had to go up there in the first place, he had no idea.

The mountains itselves had four peaks and one peak in the middle. Legend has it that strange creatures live on those four peaks and that the fifth one in the middle is the only one ever explored by Matoran. The mountain was also the home of Toa Joha, but the reason why no Dark Hunter ever bothered to go after him was because you could get real lost real fast in the mountains if you didn't know your way around.

The Toa of Sonics could see Rahi birds flying around the peaks, looking so peaceful and content. Sometimes he wished that the mountain would just fall on the Dark Hunters and crush them, but Nonzra knew that wasn't going to happen anytime soon and it was kind of a silly thought anyways.

Still, it would be funny, Nonzra thought.

"All right, guys," Addis said. "Let's get climbing up the mountain. Who knows, maybe we'll run into some giant dragon or something."

Nonzra looked up at the mountain again.

Then again, maybe it should fall on Addis's head, the Toa of Sonics thought.

"How far should we go into the mountains, Barilo?" Akuna asked the Toa of Gravity. "Did Hajax even say?"

"Uh, no. No he didn't," Barilo replied. "All he said was to go into the mountains and wait. He didn't say how far we should go or how high we should go."

"Then maybe we should just wait here," Chimoy said. The others looked at him, surprised. The Toa of Iron was usually quiet and never said anything. Him speaking, even if he says only one word, is quite a surprise.

"Wait here? Why?" Barilo asked, still shocked and surprised by Chimoy speaking.

"Well, since you weren't ever told how far we should go in, I say we stay here," the Toa said firmly.

"I agree with him," Nonzra said. "We don't know what is hiding up there. For all we know, there could be a gigantic Rahi dragon. Or something worse."

"For all we know," Nastan shot back. "There could be nothing up there. So I'm going with Barilo on this. We should explore it."

"Well, I don't think we should go exploring uncharted territory," Akuna said slowly. "But we're Toa. We can take on whatever is there, right? So I'll go with Barilo and Nastan on this."

"Exploration sounds good, but dangerous as well," Addis said. "So I say we don't go until we know more about it. I'm going with Nonzra and Chimoy on this."

Barilo turned to Jokao. "What do you want to do? Do you want to go up into the mountains or just stay here?"

The Ta-Matoran was somewhat surprised that Toa Barilo was asking him this, because up until yesterday the Toa of Gravity had been treating Jokao like dirt, so he didn't answer immediately.

"So? Do you even have a opinion on this?" Addis asked.

"Well, you guys are Toa, right? Whatever might be there, you guys could probably easily defeat," Jokao said slowly. "But, even though all of us have lived here on this island for as long as we can remember, we still have no idea what's up there besides goats and birds. I can't decide. I'll go with whatever we do."

"Well, it's decided, then," the Toa of Plasma said. "We wait here until Hajax comes."

"If he ever comes, that is," Nonzra added.

"Look, guys, me and Hajax share a psychic link, so I'll ask him if there is anything dangerous up there and when he will get here, okay?" Barilo said. Before anyone could stop him, his mind was now searching for the Makuta of Shika Nui's mind.

About a minute later, Barilo was finished talking with Hajax.

"I told him about the fact that we are split over entering or not, but he said we should go in because there is nothing up in the mountains that could kills us easily," the Toa of Gravity said.

"Well, if what you say is true..." Addis said slowly. "Then I guess we could go into the mountains. After all, the Dark Hunters probably won't look for us there."

The Toa of Plasma turned to walk up the mountains. The others followed him one by one, but Chimoy still felt uneasy about this. He wasn't sure why, though.

 

-


Iroko had been watching the Toa argue among themselves for quite some time. None of them had noticed her because she, like all Skakdi, had a special power: The power to turn invisible.

She wasn't planning on attacking them while they were arguing, because that would mean having to take on six Toa and one Matoran and she wasn't sure she could take them all on, even though they were novices.

Taking them out one by one will be alot of fun, She thought. Better than taking on all six. Trying to take on six Toa alone is madness. I remember one of my fellow Skakdi, Reidak, tried to take on six Toa at once. He won all right, but it took a long time and just wasn't worth it.

Iroko saw the Toa and the Ta-Matoran walk into the mountains and disappear. The Skakdi would have to follow them quickly, or else she'd lose them.

Getting out from her hiding place, Iroko climbed up a wall. She would be up above them and would be able to follow them easily without being noticed. The Skakdi could have used her invisibility power, but she wanted a challenge and this was somewhat of a challenge, following six Toa and a Ta-Matoran into the mountains without knowing exactly what lives there.

Oh well, it can't be worse than the living mountain on Xia, Iroko thought.
 

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#10 Offline TNTOS

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Posted Jan 14 2014 - 09:43 AM

Chapter 9: The Mountains


Iroko followed the Toa, who were quite lost. The mountains weren't exstensively explored because of the treacherous terrain and the steep heights, so they were literally walking around in circles.

Addis had been here before, a few days ago. He had stolen the six Toa stones from Toa Joha, who lived here, but he only used a short-cut that he learned of and didn't do much exploring at all. Iroko knew her way around the mountains, so it was kind of frustrating to see them walking every which way, having no idea where they should be going.

I ought to kill them all right now, She thought angrily. But they've too close to each other for me to kill them one by one, so I'll wait a little while. Wait a while, yes, that's exactly what I'll do. She stopped for a minute. I don't think I can wait a while.

Being a Skakdi, she had a hard time being patient, waiting until they stopped. The Skakdi decided to wait for them to stop for the night, then she would kill them in their sleep.

Yes, that would work well, She thought. That would work very well indeed.
 

-


The six Toa Shika and Jokao came to a fork in the mountain pass. Nonzra looked both ways, but wasn't quite sure what was ahead of either trail.

"Do you think we're lost?" the Toa of Sonics asked.

"Probably," Addis replied. "But we have to decide which way to go. Left or right?"

"Left!" Akuna exclaimed.

"No way," Nastan disagreed. "I've heard bad tales of what happens when people go left, so I say we go right!"

"We don't know what is down either way," Jokao said. "Maybe we should camp here for the night. It's getting pretty dark out. Then we'll come to a decision in the morning."

"Sleeping sounds good," Nonzra agreed. "But you know, we could be being followed."

"What makes you say that?" Akuna asked. "We're the only ones up here, as far as I know, and I don't think anyone saw us go up into the mountains anyway."

"Well, I feel a like that for some reason," Nonzra said. "I don't feel secure in places I am unfamiliar with unless I am with friends, but even now, I still feel insecure, like someone is watching us."

There was a long pause. A goat could be hard yelling somewhere deep within the mountains. No one was sure what to do now. It was either left or right and they couldn't agree which way they wanted to go. So after more arguing and debating(Mostly by Nastan and Nonzra), they decided to sleep on it, not going either way until the morning,.

"What are we going to sleep on?" Nastan asked. "We don't have any beds or anything. Are we going to use rocks for pillows?"

"And we don't have anything to sleep under to keep us warm, either," Akuna added. "I have heard it gets pretty cold up in the mountains."

"Well, I don't know," Addis said. "I didn't think what we will sleep on or use as covers. Maybe you two could go and find something for us to use as a bed."

There was a pause, before Nastan realized something.

"Hey! How could I have been so stupid?" the Toa of The Green exclaimed. "I am a Toa of The Green! I can make us beds using my elemental powers! Watch and be amazed!"

Seven beds, made of reeds and other kinds of plants, exploded out of the ground. Then, still using his powers, Nastan shifted the plants around until they looked like more comfortable, six big ones for himself and the other Toa and one small one for Jokao.

"Tada!" Nastan said.

Nonzra walked over to one of the beds and sat down, making sure that it wouldn't fall apart. It didn't, it supported his weight and he decided to lay down on it.

"Well, Nastan," Nonzra said, not sitting up. "You did a good job. But I do not think it would be wise for us to sleep out in the open, without maybe a tent or something."

"Hmm, you're right," Nastan said. Instantly, a tent made of many different plants appeared out of nowhere, covering the seven beds. "Better?"

"Much." the Toa of Sonics called from the tent.

After that, the other five Toa Shika and Jokao crawled into the tent and got into their beds, quickly falling asleep, never knowing a Skakdi was watching them or just what she was planning to do to them.
 

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#11 Offline TNTOS

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Posted Jan 15 2014 - 10:02 AM

Chapter 10: Turaga Joha?


The Skakdi waited until they were really asleep before quietly walking up to the tent made up plants. She looked it over, but she wasn't really interested in it. What Iroko was interested in, obviously, was the six Toa and Jokao in it. She needed to find a way to get the Toa of Iron out because of how useful he would be to Hajax's plan.

If she walked in, they might notice her and fight her, so she needed another way to get him to come out. An idea popped into her head. She wasn't sure if it was going to work, but it was worth trying.

She threw a small pebble into the tent. No one came out. Iroko tossed another one, this time it hit something metallic and she heard someone moving in the tent.

Moving quickly, Iroko jumped up onto a nearby boulder. She looked down and saw the Toa of Iron walking out, looking around, trying to figure out who just threw pebbles at him. Seeing no one was around, he was about to walk back in, but the greenish-blue Skakdi jumped down and, holding a heavy rock, smashed it on his head, knocking the Toa of Iron out like a lightstone.

No one awoke, which was good, so Iroko grabbed the Toa of Iron's legs and pulled him away from the tent.
 

-


The next morning, Akuna woke up. She slept somewhat comfortably last night in her bed made of various plant life, but she could have swore she heard someone smash a rock to something, but the Toa of Lightning figured that she had dreamt that last night.

It looked like everyone else was up, because the beds were empty. She crawled out of her bed and out of the tent. Akuna noticed the others talking to each other, but Chimoy was strangely absent.

"Hey, guys," Akuna called to them. The others turned to her. "Where's Chimoy?"

"We don't know," Nastan replied. "We think he might have wandered off by himself last night and got lost."

"Or, for a worst case scenario, he got killed by a Rahi beast," Nonzra added. "But of course, that's the worst case scenario."

"Well, have you tried to find him at all?" Akuna asked.

"Nope," Barilo replied. "We wanted to wait for you to get up."

"Are there any foot prints or anything?" She asked.

"Strangely, no," Nastan said. "Which is why we are worried. There are bits and pieces of broken rock near the entrance that weren't there before, however."

"Toa don't just disappear over night like that," the Toa of Lightning said. "What could have caused him to disappear?"
 

-


Chimoy woke up. He remembered having a bizarre dream last night, where he walked out the tent and then was smashed in the back of the head with a rock and dragged away. He wasn't sure who smashed him in the back of his head with a rock, but it hurt like crazy.

He tried to move his arms and legs, but felt tight bonds around his arms limbs, apparently made of what appeared to be rope. He tried to snap it, but it didn't even tear. Now he realized that his dream was no dream at all and he really did get a rock smashed to the back of his head.

That would explain why my head hurts so badly, the Toa of Iron thought.

Now he needed to know who hit him. It was probably a Dark Hunter. If so, then the rest of his teammates were in trouble. Big trouble.

I wish I could get out of here! he thought. Chimoy tried snapping the ropes again, but it was no use. He was stuck.

So Chimoy decided to observe his surroundings. He was in a small, dark cave. There wasn't any furniture or anything because of how small it was. The Toa of Iron could see outside the cave entrance, but he couldn't escape because of his current situation. So he decided to call out, maybe someone would hear him.

"Help!" He cried out. No one had heard him. "Is anybody there?"

At first, no one answered. Then, he heard what sounded like somebody scrambling up the mountain. Did someone hear Chimoy? It seemed unlikely, until a small, bent over form appeared in front of the cave mouth.

With the sun shining in the cave onto the mysterious being, it made the being look like a shadow. Chimoy wasn't sure who it was. At first he thought it to be Jokao because of the small size, but the being was a little taller than a Matoran and was hunched over, like a....

"Turaga?" Chimoy said. "No way. Turaga Ujah got killed by the Dark Hunters 25,000 years ago. So unless you're a ghost or something, you can't be a Turaga."

"Chimoy, you are talking alot more than usual, eh?" the mysterious Turaga said. "Surprised to see me?"

The Toa of Iron thought that the Turaga sounded familiar, but he couldn't place it. He wondered who he was and how he knew who Chimoy was.

"Looks like you need help, Chimoy," the Turaga said. He walked in and, using a knife, cut the Toa of Iron's ropes.

Chimoy got up and stretched his arms and legs(Which wasn't easy to do in such a small cave), glad to be able to move his limbs again. He looked down at the Turaga, who he now could see had brown and orange armor, which were the colors of Po-Matoran, generally. So that singled him out as Ujah, who was a Turaga of Fire. The Turaga also wore a Hau, though a noble version of it.

That mask, Chimoy thought. Those colors. It couldn't be, could it?

"Turaga...?" the Toa of Iron began, but was cut off by the Turaga of Stone.

"You know who I am," the Turaga answered. "We have no time to talk. Addis and the others are in grave danger and if we don't get to them in time, they may very well be dead, or soon will be."
 

-


The five Toa Shika and Jokao were climbing the mountain. They had tried to find Chimoy earlier, but he seemed to have disappeared. So they thought he might have climbed up higher in the mountains, perhaps following something.

Or someone, Akuna thought as she grabbed a rock to pull herself up. Suddenly, the rock gave way, causing her to go tumbling down.

Nastan noticed that and tried to grab her, but she fell too fast than his hand could move, so he caught empty air instead. He looked down and saw a big rock that the Toa of Lightning was going to roll right into and she would probably end up a splattered mess all over the boulder if she hit it.

There was no way that Nastan could reach her in time. So he picked up a rock and, using his the power of his Kanohi Sanok, threw the smaller rock at the bigger one.

The stone flew straight and true, hitting the boulder and breaking it in half, allowing Akuna to safely slide through it.

By then the other Toa and Jokao noticed what happened and raced down the slope to make sure she was okay. Nastan was there first and helped Akuna up, holding her hand.

"Are you okay?" he asked. "Are you hurt or anything?"

"No, not really. Just a little scratched up is all," Akuna replied. "Oh and by the way, you can stop holding my hand now."

The Toa of The Green looked down at her hand, realized he was still holding on to it, and quickly let go, blushing a little bit behind his mask. Akuna giggled a little and Nonzra just rolled his eyes.

"So now that that adventure is over, how's about we continue on?" Addis asked. The others agreed and followed him back up the slope.

Nearby, behind a rock, Iroko had seen it all. She'd rigged the rock that the Toa of Lightning had tried to grab so it would break and anyone who had tried to grab it would go tumbling down right into that boulder and SPLAT! they'd be dead. She wasn't counting on Nastan destroying the boulder, however.

Time to get rid of them of all, Iroko thought as she raced up a slope and then found a rope. The rope was connected to a metal plate, which had many boulders on top of it. Once she pulled the rope, the metal plate would be lifted up and all the boulders would go falling down off of it and hit whoever was unlucky enough to get in the way.

She watched as the five Toa and the Ta-Matoran walked and climbed, chattering among themselves. The blue-ish green Skakdi could just imagine the sound of boulders rumbling down the mountain, squishing everyone and everything in their way. She could also imagine the sound of the panicked Toa screaming and then getting silenced quickly as the rocks killed them.

It was all so good. Iroko could hardly wait to pull the rope, but she didn't get that chance, because Chimoy, coming from behind with a big rock, smashed it on her head, knocking the Skakdi out cold.
 

-


Iroko woke up on the mountain side with seven beings standing around her. She recognized them as the six Toa Shika, the Ta-Matoran, and a Turaga of Stone, though where he came from, she did not know. She tried to attack them, but the Skakdi realized that extremely thick metal bonds on her arms and legs kept her from attacking them.

"What are you doing here, Skakdi?" Nonzra asked. "I though Zakaz was far west from here."

"Shut up," Iroko hissed. "Once I get out of here, I will, uh, I will...." She soon realized that she wasn't going to be escaping anytime soon.

"Who are you, anyway?" Addis asked. "Are you a Dark Hunter? Because I do remember a crimson Skakdi that carried a lava launcher coming here one time and you certainly do resemble him, except you're blue-is green, like Nastan."

"My name is Iroko," the Skakdi replied. "And I am not going to tell you who I work for."

"We can make you talk," Barilo said, grinning. He held his Gravity Axe up.

"No, Barilo," the Turaga said, putting a hand on the Toa of Gravity. "Toa don't do interrogate people violently like what you're implying."

"Okay, Joha," Barilo grumbled, referring to the Turaga of Stone. "But we don't have any other non-lethal way of getting her to talk."

"Ah, yes we do," Turaga Joha replied, smiling. He turned to Addis. "You wear a Suletu, the Mask of Telepathy, correct?"

"Yes, I do," Addis replied. "In fact, I just read your mind right now and I know what you plan to do."

Activating his Suletu, he read Iroko's mind. After a few minutes of scanning her mind, he withdrew, shocked and surprised by what he had learned.

"She's working for Hajax!" Addis exclaimed. "He sent her after us, to kill every one of us except for Chimoy, who he planned to use to repair his armor!"

"Seriously?" Barilo asked. He looked down at Iroko. "Did Hajax put you up to this?"

Knowing she couldn't keep quiet any longer, she nodded. "Yes. He said something about not caring for any of you because you're weak, pathetic Toa or something like. Wasn't paying too much attention."

The Toa of Gravity was now furious. He trusted that Makuta Hajax would keep his word and help free Shika Nui, but he apparently was double crossing them. The Makuta would have to pay in full.

"I'm going to confront Hajax," Barilo announced. "We share a psychic link. I'll try to contact him."

Focusing his mind, he began searching for the Makuta of Shika Nui. Everyone, even Iroko, waited, wondering when he would be done. Eventually, he stopped.

"Guess what?" the Toa of Gravity said, annoyed. "That double-crosser just cut off our psychic link. I don't know what he is planning on doing now!"

Everyone sighed in annoyance, except for Iroko. She had guessd that the Makuta would do that. No doubt he realized that they would defeat her somehow and he didn't want them to go after himself next.

But I do wonder if he has attacked the Dark Hunter fortress yet, Iroko thought. He's probably already defeated them. If not, then he is getting close to.
 

-


Kigin surveyed the area. All around him, Dark Hunters and Matoran slaves of all kinds were working, fixing the western side of the fortress after a Makuta named Koghi destroyed it, but fortunately Icetraz captured him so he wouldn't cause anymore damage to the fortress.

Now he and the other Hunters were at work rebuilding the fortress. The cave entrance to the ancient wall of protodermis was still intact and the Makuta of Shika Nui's empty armor was still where it was supposed to be as well.

"Kigin, stop standing around like you own the place and help us rebuild the fortress!" Tyu yelled, interrupting the Dark Hunter's thoughts. "Who do you think you are, the Shadowed One?"

"I was just thinking," Kigin replied. "And by the way, no need to be so harsh."

At that moment, a giant Dark Hunter, who was about fifteen feet tall, walked over to them. He had shining platinum armor with streaks of green. He was carrying a gigantic sword that any one average-sized being could never hope to use and his head had two horns, each about half a foot tall. His face had one tooth protruding out of the mouth. He used to have two, but he second had been ripped off by the Shadowed One as punishment a long time ago. His eyes were red. The Hunter looked like he could snap a Toa in two without even thinking about it.

Kigin recognized him as the Hunter who had broken up a fight between three other Dark Hunters just yesterday.

"Byki, what do you want?" Tyu asked, referring to the fifteen foot tall warrior.

"Icetraz wants to talk to you two," Byki replied in a booming voice. "You'd better go now, because you know how short his temper is."

The two smaller Dark Hunters stopped their working and raced off to find the double Cordak blaster weilding Dark Hunter. They found Icetraz standing among other Hunters, barking orders and helping clear some of the rubble himself.

"Icetraz, sir?" Kigin asked. "What do you want to talk to me and Tyu about?"

The bulky Dark Hunter turned. "Ah, Kigin, Tyu. I need to talk to you about those Toa you said you saw. Describe them and tell me where you last saw them."

The two Dark Hunters went on to describe how the Toa looked, what elements they controled and where they had last seen them. Icetraz listened intently as they explained. When they were finished, the leader of the Dark Hunters of Shika Nui looked even more unhappy than he had before.

"So we have six Toa running around the island, planning who knows what and will probably try to get us off the island soon." Icetraz said grimly.

"What do you plan to do, sir?" Kigin asked.

The Dark Hunter smiled. "Why, what I plan to do is frighteningly simple. All of Shika Nui, to the most biggest of cities to the lowliest of villages, must be searched. Anyone found having helped the Toa or suspected of helping them will be put to death. Chop down all the trees in the proto forest, for they could be hiding there as well. Check the mountains and-"

He was cut off by a bolt of chain lightning, which zapped Kigin and Tyu as well. Then all of a sudden, Visorak, Exo-Toa, and many other servants of the Brotherhood of Makuta appeared from the surrounding forest. Surprised and unprepared, Icetraz watched as one by one the Dark Hunters fell. The Matoran slaves fell even faster, but they seemed to take that chance to fighting against the Dark Hunters as well.

The Hunter got up and noticed something strange. Standing among the forces of the Brotherhood stood a super Vahki, whom he recognized as his own personal servant. He thought it had been destroyed when Makuta Koghi decimated most of the fortress earlier because he couldn't find the super Vahki after that.

"You, super Vahki!" Icetraz shouted. "Help us! Don't just stand there!"

The super Vahki regarded him quzzically for a moment, then, with a shrug, unleashed a cyclone strong enough to rip Icetraz from the ground, sending the Hunter flying.

At that moment, Icetraz heard a voice in his head. He wasn't going crazy or anything because the voice sounded as if it belonged to someone. And it did.

Don't you know who I am? the voice asked. I'm the Makuta of Shika Nui, Makuta Hajax!
 

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#12 Offline TNTOS

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Posted Jan 16 2014 - 09:52 AM

Chapter 11: Not A Hero Anymore


Up in the sky, a klakk flew through the air. Klakks are winged Rahi that are mostly silver and gray, with lime-green eyes. Their faces resembled Toa faces, except maskless and they had what appeared to be jets on both sides of their heads. The bird Rahi also had the ability to use super sonic screams, powefull enough to break a stone wall. It also had two bat-like wings, which it used to fly through the air easily. Claws on its feet and hands help defend itself against predators.

This particular klakk was flying purposefully through the air, as if it were searching for someone or something. Now and then, it would spot what looked like the being it was searching for, only to find out that it was green moss on a rock.

It was just about ready to give up and return to it's owner when it saw something. A being with green and blue armor was on the mountain all alone. The being was bound in metal bonds, which confused the klakk. Why did the being trap herself? Or did she not do it on her own and somebody caught her and tied her up?

The klakk flew down toward the being, which it now recognized as the second in command of its master. As it flew in, the Skakdi looked up and saw the puzzled-looking bird Rahi.

Iroko recognized the klakk as the personal pet of Makuta Hajax. She knew that because it wasn't afraid of her, unlike most Rahi, because it knew her.

"Klakk!" Iroko said. "Get me out of these metal bonds! Now!"

At first, the klakk didn't seem to understand what she was saying. Then it recognized the tone and unleashed a sonic scream, weakening the bonds of iron that kept Iroko from escaping.

Now that they were weak enough, the Skakdi merely shrugged and the bonds snapped off, falling to the ground. She got up and stretched her legs, glad to be able to move her limbs again.

She looked around. The Toa, Joha, and the Ta-Matoran had left. Earlier, Joha had led them away, apparently going to show them something he had found in the moutains. He didn't trust Iroko, so they left her here, no doubt planning to come back and take her with them somewhere else when they came back.

If ever, the Skakdi thought.

Iroko had been knocked out earlier that day, by the Toa of Iron named Chimoy. She now wanted revenge and was going to kill them all, including Chimoy, even though she had been told not to kill him because he could fix Hajax's broken Makuta armor. Now that she was free, she planned to track them down and then finish them off.

The Skakdi was about to follow them when the klakk flew in front of her, apparently not letting her follow the Toa and their allies. She side stepped, the Rahi flew in the same direction she moved. It went on like this for a while before Iroko lost her patience.

"Move out of the way, Rahi!" Iroko bellowed. Then she smiled, revealing her sharp teeth. "Or else you'll end up without any wings at all, klakk."

The Rahi beast didn't seem to be fazed by this threat, as it kept blocking her way.

Just as she was about to knock it out of the air, she noticed a stone tablet on its back. Iroko reached up and grabbed the tablet off the klakk's back. After reading it for about a minute, she closed her hand, crumbling the tablet in her hand.

"So," Iroko said, not looking at the klakk. "Hajax wants me to join the battle against the Hunters and leave the Toa alone, eh?"

Quicker than the klakk could move, she grabbed the Rahi bird and began to squeeze. The klakk started panicking, knowing its death was coming soon.

However, instead of killing it, the Skakdi simply tossed the klakk away. It hit the ground, too weak to attack back or fly.

"Killing dumb Rahi doesn't satisfy me," Iroko said, her voice deathly cold. "Instead of following Hajax's orders, I will go and kill the Toa and their allies. Who cares if Hajax wants me to help eliminate the Dark Hunters?"

As she walked away, she simply said, "This time, I will show no mercy. No mercy at all."
 

-


Barilo climbed onto a plateau and stopped, almost out of breath and quite annoyed.

When they discovered that Iroko had been sent by Hajax to kill them all, the Toa of Gravity fully intended to go back and find the Makuta, paying him back in full.

Joha, however, had different ideas. Instead going back and fighting Makuta Hajax, he had told them that he had found something that was quite interesting and much more important than revenge. At first, Barilo thought that there was something more important. Now, however, it seemed as if they were just climbing up the mountain that seemed to get higher and higher all the time.

Behind him, Barilo could hear the sounds of sonics and plasma destroying rocks, no doubt being created by Addi and Nonzra. He knew the rest of them were also having a hard time climbing the mountain. Jokao in particular was having a hard time because of the tall rocks. He also heard Akuna and Nastan talking to each other, though they were too far behind for him to hear what they were talking about.

He looked back and saw Chimoy helping Jokao over a rock. Chimoy, as always, was being quiet, because he was always quiet except in cases where he thought he had to voice his opinion. Then he looked up ahead, where Joha was, swiftly climbing up the rocky mountain. Even though he was just a Turaga, Barilo couldn't help but admire the way Joha could climb and jump over the boulders. But it was obvious that he was not used to being in a smaller body, because sometimes he would miss jumps or fall off of a rock when he was climbing it. But generally he was making his way up far faster than the others.

Barilo was looking at the all the rocks he would have to climb over and how high the climb got. No doubt he would end up a pile of broken armor if he fell off one. A idea hatched inside the Toa's head.

Why not use my power over gravity? Barilo thought. After all, I am a Toa of Gravity. I can take the gravity away from those boulders and make them fly high into the air, so the others and I can safely make our way there. Pretty good plan if I do say so myself.

He pulled his gravity axe out and aimed it at the rocks, aiming to take away all their gravity. As soon as he was sure he could hit them, Barilo unleashed a wave of gravity at the boulders, causing them all to go up. He didn't hear the shouts of Joha to stop what he was doing, because as soon as the boulders began moving upward, the big rocks instead began falling toward him and the other Toa!

Surprised, Barilo's concentration was lost because of his overwhelming fear. The rocks were rolling towards him and the others. There was no way he could take their gravity away in time to safe the others.

It turned out he didn't need to, because a hail of lightning bolts, plasma balls, spears of iron, and waves of sonics flew from behind him to strike the incoming boulders. The missiles hit the rocks, destroying them. More giant stones kept coming, but even more elemental attacks came to counter them. Nastan was making walls of plant life come up to block some boulders. Up ahead, Joha had got made his way to safety in a small cave that didn't go in very deep. He watched as the six Toa kept hurling elemental blasts at the rocks, until every last stone had been reduced to pebbles.

The Turaga of Stone emerged from the cave and walked down the path that had once contained many rocks. He quickly got to the bottom, where he saw the six Toa and even Jokao, sitting on the ground, completely out of breath, though Jokao was more tired out of fear than actually doing anything.

"What....happened?" Addis asked in between breaths.

"Back when I was Toa," Joha said. "I had rigged these rocks so that anyone who tried to move them with powers such as yours, Barilo, would be crushed by the boulders or at least scared away. That was why I tried to warn you, because you all could have died."

Barilo looked down, ashamed of himself. He may not have been the most noblest Toa in the universe, but he cared for his friends and he didn't want to be the cause of their deaths.

"But," Joha said. "The important thing is you are all alive. Plus you learned a lesson on being more careful. Try to remember that."

Barilo nodded. Joha continued up the now boulder-less slope, with the six Toa and Jokao following him.

Up above, on a over hanging ledge, Iroko had watched the entire event. Revenge was on her mind and now was the perfect time to strike. They had tired themselves out and probably wouldn't be too hard to kill. Now all she had to do was decided who to attack first.

But why should I just attack just one of them first? Iroko thought. Whose to say that I can't just attack them all at the exact same time with my eye beams?

Iroko stood up and fired a beam of energy at the Toa from her eyes. Before it hit, it became a sort of wave, hitting all six of them at the same time.

The Toa Shika, too tired out from destroying the boulders, where knocked down easily, completely surprised by the attack.

"Hey!" Barilo shouted. "Where did that...?"

This time, another wave of energy hit them, nearly knocking them out. Turaga Joha scanned the area and saw Iroko, standing on top of a ledge, her eyes glowing. It took about two seconds for Joha to realize who that was and what she was doing.

"How did she get free?" Joha wondered.

"It...doesn't...matter," Addis gasped, barely able to breath from the energy that was pummeling him. "We strike her now!"

No one else seemed to be listening, for they were all too busy trying to dodge the wave of energy that was smashing them all. Jokao was nowhere to be seen, which worried Addis even more.

Barely able to keep himself up, Addis fired a blast of plasma at the ledge which Iroko was standing on, though it was a weakened one because of all the elemental energy he wasted earlier.

The ledge melted, but Iroko jumped off right before the plasma hit. She landed in front of Addis and kicked him in the mask, sending him tumbling down the slope a little, knocking the Toa of Plasma out.

Having temporarily stopped her attack, it gave Nonzra and Akuna time to recover. Nonzra let out a small wave of sound at the Skakdi. Iroko did a back flip, dodging the wave and nailing Nonzra with a beam of energy from her eyes.

Toa Akuna pulled her staff out and tried to hit Iroko. The female Skakdi countered with her sword. She pushed Akuna back, who was very weak from using her elemental power up earlier. The two fighters pushed back and forth, neither willing to give up. Back and forth it went until Akuna got a idea.

She activated her mask, causing a blinding light to shoot from it onto Iroko. Now the light weren't actually hurting Iroko, but the extremely bright light threatened to blind her permanently, so she had to shut her eyes.

Now was Akuna's chance. She leg sweeped Iroko and then followed it up with a lightning bolt to the chest of the Skakdi, beating her down and seemingly knocking her out. Satisfied that the battle was over, Akuna put her staff away and walked over to revive Nonzra. Iroko, however, was still conscious, as she proved by hitting Akuna with a well placed blast of energy, knocking the Toa of Lightning out cold. The Skakdi ran up to the unconscious Toa and looked down at her.

"Too bad, Toa," Iroko said evilly. "I will end your life here and now. No one can stop me!"

Before Iroko could strike the killing blow, thick plant life burst out of the ground beneath her, causing the female Skakdi to fall into a pit of plant life. The plants wrapped around until the only part of her body that was visible was her head. Iroko was surprised by this sudden attack, so surprised that she dropped her sword in the plant bed. Thick vines wrapped around her sword and then squeezed it, snapping the sword in two. She immediately knew who had caused the massive amount of plant life to imprison her.

That Toa of The Green, Iroko thought. He didn't like seeing me beating his friends up, obviously. Now I just need to get out.

She looked up and saw Nastan, bow at the ready. He looked quite furious, maybe even ready to kill her if he was angry enough.

"Do you think these twigs will hold me down for long?" Iroko shouted. "I can easily break out of this and you know it."

"Do you really want to?" Nastan asked, smiling.

"What do you mean?" Iroko asked, struggling to break free of the plants. It was only a matter of minutes now before she would be free.

"You know, I am a Toa of The Green," Nastan said. "I control all plant life. That means, I could have my plants crush your body, killing you and saving us. Either give up and we'll let you go peacefully, or I kill you. Chose."

"You don't have the guts to kill me, Toa," Iroko snarled. "Hajax told me all about you six. You're the one who wants to be just like Joha. Wise, has a conscience, and simplemindedly heroic. If you want to be a real Toa, you wouldn't kill me because its your stupid little code not to kill your enemies, isn't?"

Nastan cursed under his breath. She was right. He couldn't kill her, because real Toa don't do that unless in dire situations.

"Well, I don't have to kill you," Nastan shouted back. "But I don't need to free you, either. You can stay there and rot away for the rest of your life for all I care. But I don't doubt you have the power to escape there and when you do, you'll be after us again. So what should I do?"

"What we should have done a long time ago," Barilo shouted. He jumped down next to Nastan.

"Barilo? What are you doing?" Nastan demanded.

"What you're too coward to do, Nastan," Barilo replied. "Kill her."

Without any warning, Barilo increased the personal gravity of Iroko ten thousand times, crushing her body and killing her in the process. It went by so quick and there wasn't so much as a scream. Nastan was completely and utterly horrfied by what he did.

"How...how could you do that?" Nastan asked, shocked and surprised.

"She's the enemy," Barilo replied. "You know how I've always thought Joha should have killed the Dark Hunters and be done with it? That's what I just did. Next I will go and do that to the Hunters themselves, particularly Tyu."

Instead getting a vocal reply, Barilo got a punch in the mask by the Toa of The Green.

"What was that for?" the Toa of Gravity asked. "I killed the enemy, didn't I?"

"Toa don't kill!" Nastan yelled. "Emphasis on don't!"

"Shut up, Nastan," Barilo growled, using his gravity power to close Nastan's mouth shut.

Plant life came up from the pit of Iroko's body and grabbed Barilo, causing him to lose concentration on Nastan. The Toa of The Green opened his mouth, gasping for air. Barilo managed to grab his gravity axe and chop the plant life that held him, but the more that he chopped, even more came to replace it.

So instead of beating the plants, he decided to get the master of them. Aiming his gravity axe, he fired off a concentrated blast of gravity at Nastan. It hit the Toa, causing his gravity to go away, making him float up into the sky.

Nastan lost his focus out of the shock of his gravity disappearing and Barilo ripped his way out of the plant life that held him. Nastan was now using his power over plant life to grab himself, keeping him from flying too high up into the sky.

"You know, Nastan," Barilo said. "You and Nonzra always used to argue, but it was friendly arguments. I, however, think you're holding the team down with your morals, so I figure I ought to get rid of you now."

Before the Toa could chop the plants that kept Nastan from flying away, thick bonds of metal suddenly materialized out of thin air, locking tightly around Barilo's body. He looked over to see Addis, Nonzra, Akuna, Chimoy, Joha, standing nearby. Jokao crawled out from behind a rock had hid behind when the Toa were fighting Iroko and then joined the four Toa and Joha, having witnessed the death of that Skakdi. They wore no expressions on their faces, but Barilo could see their eyes. Their orbs reflected their disappointment in him.

"Barilo," Addis said, his voice ragged. "You've always been the one with the least amount of morals of our group, but now you've put it to a new low."

"I am disappointed in you, Barilo," Joha said, his voice just as ragged, if not more, than Addis'. "Toa don't try to kill each other. Not to mention you already kill one person."

Chimoy, Nonzra, Akuna, and Jokao said nothing, simply nodded in silent agreement with Joha and Addis.

All of a sudden, Barilo realized what he was going to do to Nastan. It saddened him greatly.

"I...I wasn't really going to kill Nastan, guys," Barilo tried to explain. "I wasn't thinking straight. Give me another chance."

Joha's eyes met the Toa of Gravity's. "I am sorry, Barilo. Addis has already decided what to do with you. Addis?"

The Toa of Plasma walked up, his eyes locked with Barilo's. "Barilo. You're off the team. For good. Get out of my sight. Now."

With that, the metal bonds on Barilo's body fell off. Now the Toa of Gravity felt cold and awkward. He looked from one to another, even to Nastan, who had just climbed down his plant life that had kept him from flying away. None of them had welcoming eyes. What were once the eyes of friends were now the eyes of beings who had no respect for him.

As quietly as he could, he left, going off to the right, climbing over the rocks and then he was gone.

Gone. Like the wind on a calm day. Akuna started to sob softly. Jokao put a hand on her, hoping to somehow reassure that this was some kind of bad dream, but they all knew it wasn't. There wasn't a word in the world to describe their sadness.

Turaga Joha turned around and started walking up the mountainside. "Come. We are closer to what I was originally going to show you."

One by one, they all quietly followed him, never looking back at their once friend who was now gone, for good. They may have all been theives as Matoran, but they had a sense of honor and friendship and that sense and friendship was gone now, along with Barilo. Now they didn't know what to think at all.
 

-

 

At the battle between the Dark Hunters and the rogue servants of the Brotherhood, Makuta Hajax, in the body of a super Vahki, stopped as his mental link with Iroko broke. He didn't break it off himself. Someone killed her and he had a pretty good idea of who did it.

Barilo, Hajax thought. If his robotic body could make facial expressions, he would be smiling. A evil smile, a insane smile. Now the game just got ten times more interesting. We will see who lives now and who dies. We will see indeed.
 

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#13 Offline TNTOS

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Posted Jan 17 2014 - 10:26 AM

Chapter 12: The Secret Village of Shadow


The now-five Toa Shika, Turaga Joha, and Jokao had only a little way to go before making it to their destination. During that time, they all pondered what had just happened minutes ago. They had been in sort of serious situations before, but none of them thought something like that would happen. It gave each and every Toa a more serious view on their life as Toa. Maybe being a Toa wasn't just a way to gain more loot or treasure or praise or whatever else they had been thinking about before Barilo's betrayal.

I can't belive he was going to kill Nastan, Akuna thought sadly. Maybe all this Toa power was too much for Barilo. Whose to say it won't happen to the rest of us, in time?

Chimoy was also thinking deeply. I thought Barilo would never try to do such as thing. Perhaps Makuta Hajax had messed with his mind somehow or he was going insane. Makes me wonder if that could happen to the rest of us.

Who will be next? Jokao thought, looking at each of the remaining Toa. They all looked very sober. I may not have known any of them very long, but I never thought something like that would happen. Now I wonder if I am going to make it out alive at all if something like that is going to happen every day.

It figured, Nonzra thought coldly. I figured he would try to kill someone and he did, but he also tried to kill Nastan, which is totally unacceptable. But I, however, am not extremely surprised by this. Barilo is the kind of guy that thinks the ends justify the means, while Nastan is more of the 'hero' type, always feeling that Toa need to do good, regardless of who they are. But I better keep my guard up. I am not sure if any of the others will try something like this.

Toa Addis fired a ball of plasma at a nearby rock wall, melting it instantly. No one bothered to ask why he did that, because they all knew why. He was angry that Barilo had betrayed the group. He and the Toa of Gravity had been best friends, so he took this betrayal very hard.

That was the most dumbest thing Barilo could ever hope to do, Addis thought angrily. I remember when he and I were just Matoran. We were the first to start our little group. He'd always been the one who was impatient and would rather do things the quickest and most efficient way, regardless of who got hurt in the process. But I didn't think he would actually try to kill Nastan, or any of us, for that matter.

Nastan was the most troubled one of all. He had, after all, been the target of Barilo's attack. It made him fear a little bit for his safety and for the rest of the Toa. He now knew just how precious life was.

What had I done to get almost killed? Nastan thought, saddened. Because I just happened to be the most Toa-like out of us all, that's what. Barilo and me were always opposites, but we became even more opposites now. I don't trust him. I don't trust him at all anymore.

Joha, too, was upset at Barilo's attempt on Nastan's life.

Maybe I chose the wrong the wrong Matoran to become Toa, Joha thought soberly. In all my life as a Toa of Stone, I have never seen any Toa try to kill another. It greatly disappoints me. But perhaps the power was too much for Barilo and it went to his head.

A stone rat ran across the path in front of Joha, nearly tripping the Turaga. None of the Toa bothered to see if he was okay, because they were still too sad by what Barilo had almost done. Jokao went ahead and helped the Turaga back up.

"Are you okay, Joha?" the Ta-Matoran asked.

"Yes, I am fine," Joha replied. "Just tripped is all-"

It was at that moment that Joha realized that they had just arrived at their destination. He turned back to the five Toa, who had just stopped to watch Jokao help Joha. All of them wore the same expression of grief, anger, and sadness. It saddened Joha greatly and he wondered if he should have taken them to this place at all.

After all, it would only make them feel worse, as it did to me, Turaga Joha thought. But I feel it is important and maybe they were understand this island better if they saw this.

"We're here," Joha called to the others.

The five Toa, who had forgotten all about what Joha was going to show them because of how sad they were, ran to catch up with the Turaga.

When they caught up with him, what they saw was nothing like what they imagined was going to be there. Hundreds of huts spanned for miles, with a giant temple dominating the central area. The huts and temple seemed to be made out of stone and iron, though who built them, they had no idea.

It was obvious this had once been a Matoran settlement, but it seemed as if shadow itself kept the village perpetually dark, even though the sun was out. There were no Matoran, no Toa, and no Turaga, either. To all of them, it felt as if something very evil had once lived here. Their natural instincts told them to run, but they kept their ground.

"What is this place?" Addis asked, looking at the hundreds of huts that covered the area.

"A village," Joha replied. "Or it used to be. Now its just a ghost town. Nothing survives here but...shadow."

"How did you discover this place?" Nonzra asked.

"I discovered it one year after the Dark Hunters took control of Shika Nui," Joha replied. "I tried sleeping here one night, but it was felt far too evil and dark, so I left and nearly forgot about it. No one else knows it exists, as far as I know."

"I don't like this place," Nastan said, with more than a hint of fear in his voice. "I'd rather take my chances with the Dark Hunters than go here."

Ignoring Nastan's comment, Joha went on. "I believe this was once a Matoran village. What kind of Matoran lived here, I do not know for sure. But I do know that there is something very interesting in the temple that will definitely interest all of you."

He turned around. "C'mon. Time's a wasting." Reluctantly, they followed him down a narrow path into the village.

As they walked through the abandoned village, Chimoy decided to examine the huts as he walked. Many of them were destroyed or badly damaged, as if a struggle had happened here. He occasionally peeked through windows, but there wasn't even any furniture, which made the whole thing even more strange.

Most of the buildings were ruined completely, while some of them were just barely standing. Some of them had became home to some harmless Rahi that hid in the shadows, watching the visitors walk by. Chimoy wondered how anyone could have survived in this place unless they were truly part of the shadows.

Perhaps Matoran of Shadow used to live here, he thought. Wait. What am I saying? There is no such thing as Matoran of Shadow, nor have any existed. That is a very absurd thought. Matoran of Shadow! What made me think that?

A small stream of liquid protodermis ran through the middle of the village, obviously meant to be drinking water. But now it was dirty and not drinkable anymore, so they stepped over it and continued on their way to the temple.

The temple itself was huge, probably over fifity feet tall. It was shaped like a Kanohi mask, though one none of the Toa had ever seen. Spikes pointed out of the top, with two, curved eye holes that basicaly screamed evil. The temple's mouth was narrow and tall. It was painted black, but most of that black had faded away, so it looked more grayish now. The stone was smooth, but strong, even though it was indescribably old.

"Wow," Nastan said, awe in his voice. "Who built this?"

"I don't know," Joha replied. "Possibly Matoran, but why they would shape a temple to look so evil is beyond me. But we must enter, because what is inside is much more interesting than what is outside."

Nastan looked at the temple and then back to Joha, looking a little afraid. "Do we have to go in there?"

"You're not scared, are you, Nastan?" Nonzra teased. "Are you afraid of the dark?"

"No," Nastan replied, now sounding a bit annoyed. "I just don't feel very....welcome, here."

"None of us do," Jokao said. "This place feels very, very evil and unnatural."

Turaga Joha walked into the temple, motioning for the others to follow. They followed him in, one by one, until they were all inside.

Akuna's eyes looked around the temple room, lightened up only by lightstones embedded in the walls. There were carvings on the wall and writing, though most of it was worn away and in some sort of old Matoran, very old indeed. Doorways led to other rooms and a staircase to her right led up to the second floor.

The room there were in wasn't very big, with enough room for about seven beings. The roof went up about ten feet, so the five Toa fit in uncomfortably.

"Now what exactly did you want to show us, Joha?" Nonzra asked, now annoyed by how small and cramped the inside was. "Its too cramped in here and it smells bad, too."

"Keep going," Joha replied. "At the end of this room is the thing I wanted to show you. Come on."

Joha went on, with the Toa and Jokao following him. It was slow moving, because the Turaga wasn't moving very fast. It didn't help much that the hallway was cramped, too.

As they made their way through, the ceiling gradually became higher and the walls were more spaced apart, giving them more room to walk.

At the end of the hallway was....nothing. Or at least it seemed that way, until they got closer and could actually see that there was writing on the wall, though very faint and worn out.

"What does it say?" Nastan asked. "Who wrote it?"

"It was written long ago, by someone named Oggak," Joha said. "Though I have no idea what this Oggak was writing about. Read it yourself and try to make heads or tails of it."

The six Toa and Jokao began reading it. Here's what it said:

At the beginning of time,
A evil tribe wanted to rule the universe,
But they were stopped by six Toa,
And a secret organization dedicated to carrying out the will of the Great Spirit Mata Nui,
Locking them away forever more,
Never to kill, never to terrorize again,
There they remain to this day,
And there they will remain,
Forever.

-

Oggak.


The six Toa and Jokao stopped reading, for that was where it ended. They looked at each other, sort of confused. They looked back towards Joha, who had been watching them with curious eyes, wondering if they knew what it was talking about.

"I think its a poem," Akuna said. "But it certainly is strange. What evil tribe was it talking about?"

"Better yet," Nonzra said. "What is this 'secret organization dedicated to carrying out the will of Mata Nui' that the poem speaks of?"

"Guys," Jokao spoke up. "It may not mean anything at all, you know. Some people just make poems for fun."

"Yes," Addis said slowly. "But why would someone leave this here, in a big, dark, and very scary temple in the first place? It just doesn't add up."

"Maybe it was for whoever lived in this village," Nastan suggested. "After all, who knew what they did here? Maybe it was for some ceremonial purposes." He turned to Joha. "Is this what you wanted to show us, 'cause none of us can make heads or tails of it?"

"Yes," the Turaga of Stone replied. "I thought maybe you clever thieves would be able to figure out what it means."

"Well, one, we're not thieves anymore," Nastan said, smiling. "At least, I'm not. And second, we've ran into poems and riddles in the past that lead to treasures, but this doesn't seem to be a code of any sort."

"Perhaps we should go back outside and think this over," Jokao suggested. "I want to explore this village some more."

The others agreed and Jokao lead the way out. Along the way, Chimoy decided to slide his hand over the wall. It was smooth, hard and firm, despite being very old. He didn't feel anything out of the ordinary until his hand slid over a part of wall that didn't feel normal. In fact, it felt like it could be pushed in.

What is that? Chimoy thought, stopping. He looked at the spot of the wall where he thought he had felt the weak part of the wall, but it was much too dark to see it. He looked over and saw everyone else was still walking towards the entrance. The Toa of Iron decided to check this out.

He felt over the wall again and found the part that felt weak. He pressed up against it and then fell right through the wall, letting out a yelp before falling behind the smooth stone wall.

"Did Chimoy just cry out?" Addis asked.

"I think he did," Nastan said, already running back to where he last saw Chimoy. "Chimoy! Where are you?"

He heard a faint sound, coming from the other side of the wall. He put his audio receptor up against the wall to hear it better. Now the sound he heard sounded more like Chimoy's voice, coming from the other side of the wall. It sounded like he was saying, "Help! I'm trapped!"

"Don't worry!" Nastan shouted. "We'll get you out of there, as soon as we find a way to get you out!"

The other Toa, Jokao, and Joha quickly caught up with Nastan, who was feeling over the wall, trying to find a way to rescue Chimoy. The others joined in, until Jokao felt the weak part of the wall that the Toa of Iron had found.

What's this? Jokao thought, puzzled. This part feels weaker than the other parts of the wall, like there's nothing behind it to support it. Maybe I should press against it, just to see what happens.

He pressed against it and everyone, including Joha, were caught by the flipping wall and brought to the other side, slamming into Chimoy.

"Ow," Jokao said. "That hurt."

Nastan looked around. It was dark. No lights. He couldn't see anything. He wondered where they were. It was probably a secret room or tunnel. He wondered where it led.

"Wonder where we are," Nastan said.

"Please...." Joha gasped. "Could...you....all.....get....off me?"

"Joha? Where are you?" Nastan asked, looking around.

"You're....right...on...top.....of...all of us!" Akuna gasped, struggling to breath. "Please get off, Nastan!"

Nastan looked down. He was sitting on top of everyone else, as they were all in a big heap on the ground and Joha just happened to be at the bottom

"Oops! Sorry, Joha," the Toa of The Green said sheepishly as he got off all of them. "Didn't realize where I was. And sorry to everyone else, too."

One by one, everyone got up and Chimoy helped Joha up. The Turaga looked around at the dark cave, like he was remembering something.

"This reminds me of the time my Toa team and I had to explore the dark, underground caverns of Shika Nui," Joha said, brushing himself off. "But there were a bunch of blade burrowers and we had lightstones to help us find our way around. Not to mention there were loads of stalagmites and stalactites. Ah, the good old days. Makes me wish I was a Toa again."

"So," Toa Akuna said. "Do we go deeper in or find a way out?"

"I say we go deeper in," Addis said. "We're Toa. Adventuring is our job, and who knows, maybe there's some secret treasure deep within here."

The word 'treasure' caught the attention of the other four Toa immediately, including Nastan. Toa they may be, they had been thieves first and old habits die hard, so they all agreed to go deeper into the tunnel, hoping to find treasure. Joha willingly went, having been a Toa and facing much worse things, so he wasn't afraid of a dark cave. Jokao reluctantly went with them, but only because he didn't want to be alone in this unknown cavern.
 

-


Icetraz dodged a bolt of shadow and countered with his blast of ice. He landed hard on part of the rubble of the destroyed western part of the Dark Hunter fortress.

A few hours ago, a small army of Visorak, Rahkshi, and other Brotherhood of Makuta servants had appeared seemingly out of nowhere. Strangest of all, they seemed to have be led by Makuta Hajax, the Makuta of Shika Nui, who up to that point had been believed dead.

Even stranger, Makuta Hajax was in the body of Icetraz's super Vahki, controlling its body and dodging attacks with ease. Since he couldn't talk with this new body, the Makuta used telepathy to communicate with Icetraz.

Another chain lightning attack hit the Dark Hunter, stunning him. Hajax followed that up with shadow and sonics. Icetraz rolled over and tried to aim his Cordak blasters, but the attacks were blinding him, making it harder to aim.

For years I have pretended to be your obedient little servant, Makuta Hajax said, increasing the power of his attacks. Slaving away, getting you refreshments and disciplining a few disobedient Dark Hunters because you said so. But now, Shika Nui will be mine and I will have revenge on the Brotherhood of Makuta!

"Revenge? I though you Makuta were all on the same side!" Icetraz shouted, trying to unsuccessfully dodge a blast of shadow energy.

Not every Makuta agreed with Teridax's little Plan, Hajax replied. I intend to kill him and everyone else that followed him after I finish you off, Dark Hunter.

A Cordak missile came flying out of one of Icetraz's Cordak blasters, somehow not being destroyed by all the attacks coming from the Makuta. It hit the ground in front of Hajax, sending his robotic body flying through the air. It landed with a thud, damaging the internal mechanism that made the super Vahki's legs and arms move.

"One bad thing about super Vahki is that they are easily damaged," Icetraz said, rising. He aimed his Cordak blaster at the unmoving body of Hajax. Before pulling the trigger, he said, "Should have chosen a better body."

He pulled the trigger, sending a Cordak missile right to Makuta Hajax's unmoving super Vahki body. Missile met robot and missile won, destroying the super Vahki's body and unleashing Hajax's gaseous form into the air. But Icetraz was unaware of that. All he knew was that he had killed Hajax and that's it.

Icetraz now watched as all the Dark Hunters fought the many different Brotherhood of Makuta minions. He wondered how Hajax had managed to keep so many of them secret and for such a long time. He decided to think about that later, because his allies needed help and he was their leader, after all. Now this battle was going to end much faster, since their master was now dead.

He ran into battle, knowing it was just about to end. Unknown to him, however, was just how close Makuta Hajax was to getting a new body. By the time he realized that, it would be much too late.
 

-


Toa Barilo, Toa of Gravity, wondered aimlessly among the mountains, undescribly sad and hopelessly lost.

Earlier, he had tried to do what he thought he would never try to do: Kill one of his friends. After that, he was kicked out of the group, never to return. Now he was alone with his thoughts, wondering just why he did what he had done.

I....I lost my temper, or I went insane, Barilo though soberly. Hajax did say that anyone who has had a mental link with a Makuta didn't come out sane. Maybe that's happening to me. I just can't believe that I almost killed Nastan!

So caught up with his thoughts as he was, he never noticed a cliff coming up. Barilo almost fell off, once he realized where he was walking. He looked down over the edge of the vast cliff. Huge, spiky rocks sprouted from the ground that looked like they would surely kill him if he jumped down.

But what's the point in living anymore? Barilo thought, with more than a trace of insanity. I have no friends. This island will surely be ripped apart from the Dark Hunters fighting Hajax's forces. What do I have left to fight for? To live for?

It looked tempting, jumping down, ending his existence. If he did that, he would never harm or kill anyone, on accident or on purpose ever again. But somehow that didn't seem satisfying. Ending his existence now wouldn't solve anything. No, what he needed to do was undo what he had done wrong.

What I need to do is redeem myself, Barilo thought. Everyone makes mistakes, but only a few get a second chance to fix their mistakes. I will go and be a hero, a true hero, like Nastan.

He caught himself at that thought. He never wanted to be a hero, he'd always been happy as a thief, stealing others things and possessions, all in the name of his greed. But now, now stealing things didn't seem appealing anymore. Being a hero being a hero and redeeming himself seemed so much better, surprisingly.

He knew what to do to redeem himself. Barilo would go and defeat the Dark Hunters, all on his own, and free Shika Nui. He might get himself killed as a result, but in the end, he decided that his life wasn't important. Only the Matoran's freedom, and his friends lives, mattered to him now.

Best of all, I can go to them, without my friends getting hurt, Barilo thought triumphantly. Yes. After that, Hajax and I will have a very long discussion about double-crossing. We will indeed.

Activating his gravity powers, he caused a flat rock at the bottom of the cliff to rise up to where he was standing. He jumped on it and then, using a complex usage of gravity, made it shoot forward, heading straight for the Dark Hunter's fortress and for what he thought was going to be his final confrontation with the Makuta of Shika Nui.
 

-


Deep within the Dark Hunter's fortress, in the coldest room, on the lowest floor, was a huge block of ice.

There wasn't much in the room. It was snow and ice, mostly, with a frozen door that was about three feet thick, made of ice and metal. Inside the huge ice block, was a being. He had crimson armor, with purple streaks covering some of the it, mostly the arms and legs.

Huge plated wings, colored gold and purple, stood unmoving. His dead blue eyes was enough to make anyone die from fright. He carried a chain with a axe at the end of it. The ice wasn't very clear, so it was hard to see what the rest of him looked like.

Who was this being? Why, his name was Makuta Koghi, Makuta of the Southern Islands.

He had lead a attack on Shika Nui just about a day or two ago. Foolishly, instead of teaming up with another Makuta, he went on his own, along with some Visorak, Rahkshi, and Exo-Toa. All of his minions were killed or captured and he himself had been capture by Icetraz, the leader of the Dark Hunters of Shika Nui.

When he had been brought to the fortress, he had broke out of his cage and destroyed the western side of it. Icetraz then froze him in his current icy prison, to make sure he didn't destroy or kill anymore Dark Hunters. It was so cold and so thick even his heat vision couldn't melt it.

Even though his body was frozen, his mind was still free. Free to think over his escape plan, which was really all he could do, given his current situation.

Next time Dark Hunter comes to check on me, I'll make sure to break out, Koghi thought frustrated. Somehow, I will.

Maybe I can help,
a voice that was strangely familiar said.

Whose there? Koghi asked. Who dares speak to Makuta Koghi in his own mind?

Why, it is I, old friend,
the voice said. I, Makuta Hajax, Makuta of Shika Nui, have returned.

The news stunned Koghi. Hadn't Hajax been killed by Icarax and Gorast? This being must not be Makuta Hajax. He must be a imposter, because they had brought his mask, the Mask of Deceit, with them to prove that they had slain the rebellious Makuta.

You lie, stranger, Koghi said defiantly. Makuta Hajax was killed, by Makuta Icarax and Makuta Gorast, many years ago. You're just a imposter, posing as him. You aren't fooling me.

No one in the known universe can breach a Makuta's mind but a Makuta, Makuta Hajax replied coldly. A Makuta should know that, correct?

Koghi was quiet, thinking over what the voice said. True, only a Makuta could communicate with another Makuta via telepathy and it was a well-known fact throughout the universe, especially among telepaths because of the mental strength of a Makuta. So perhaps this guy really is Makuta Hajax.

Okay, so lets say you are Hajax, Koghi said, still unconvinced. How did you survive being kill by Icarax and Gorast, the best warriors of the Brotherhood of Makuta?

Time for that later,
Hajax replied. In the meantime, a squad of about ten heat vision Rahkshi and five Visorak Vohtorak should be here any minute, to free your frozen body.

Really? Makuta Koghi said, suspicious. Why should I trust you? You were against the Plan ever since the beginning. Why shouldn't I just kill you right now and be done with it? And why are Rahkshi and Visorak working for you in the first place?

Hajax laughed. Koghi, my friend, you've always been short on brains, but this is a new level of stupid for you. You can't kill me, since your body is frozen solid and I could easily decide to let you freeze to death, cool dude. As for the Rahkshi and Visorak, they listen to whoever happens to be in command and I just happen to be the top energy hound, if you know what I mean.

Koghi debated with himself. If he allied with Hajax, perhaps he could kill him later and get raised higher in the eyes of his fellow Makuta. Who knows, perhaps he would be called to Karda Nui by Makuta Antroz to help them kill the Toa Nuva and complete the Plan. The idea certainly appealed to Koghi. He decided to team up with Hajax, at least for now.

All right, I'll ally with you, Hajax, the Makuta said, But your Rahkshi and Visorak better hurry. I can already feel my essence freezing.

At that moment, Makuta Koghi thought he could hear something ramming against the thick frozen door to his prison. There it was again, this time more audible. Then the door came flying off its hings, hitting the frozen ice block that held the Makuta of the Southern Islands hard. Koghi's icy prison cracked, but not enough to get him out.

The cause of the door flying off was five red Vohtorak, all in berserker charger mode. In fact, they couldn't stop, bashing right into the giant ice block, cracking it even further. Koghi could feel the ice-cold air blow through the crack

Ten heat vision Rahkshi followed, firing twenty beams of heat from their collective eyes at the ice.

The heat vision and continual ramming by the Visorak weakened the block just enough to let Koghi finish it, melting the block of ice into water with his own heat vision attack.

Makuta Koghi could barely move, having been in the ice so long had pretty much frozen his essence. The ten Rahkshi, instead of halting their attack, fired more heat vision at the Makuta, unfreezing his substance. Now that he could finally move, stretched his limbs, trying to shake the cold off.

Many thanks, Hajax, Koghi said to the Makuta of Shika Nui via telepathy. I couldn't have done it better myself. Now where are you, anyway?

Instead of a response, the Makuta felt something strange going on in his body. It felt as though some outside force was forcing his essence out of his armor. It was incredibly painful, yet quick. He tried to keep the force out, but it was too strong for him. After it was through, he was just a cloud of greenish-black essence, floating near the ceiling of the chamber.

His armor now stood motionless. All of a sudden, the light of intelligence reappeared in the optics. Makuta Koghi now knew what had just happened: Hajax had taken his armor from him!

Makuta Hajax examined his new form, unimpressed.

"Really, Koghi," the Makuta said. "You were always a moron, but I never realized how bad a shape-shifter you were. Let me take a more suitable form, instead of this monstrosity."

The cloud form of Koghi watched in growing anger as Makuta Hajax shape-shifted his body. A few minutes went by, as the Rahkshi, Koghi's essence, and the Visorak watched the shape-shifting. Eventually, it ended and the new being emerged, much stronger and powerful-looking than the last.

The new being was well over ten feet tall, with jagged spikes sticking out from the back. The mask looked like a wild Muaka cat's face, except with a spik sticking out of the top. The body was big and broad, with a giant, spikey, crimson tail sticking out from behind.

He now held a new weapon, a broad sword that practically radiated shadow. He was blue and yellow, with huge black eyes.

"Now this is more like it," Hajax said, examining his new from. His eyes then locked on Koghi's essence cloud. "Now there is only one more problem to fix."

"Rahkshi," he ordered. The ten Rahkshi immediately stood tall, knowing that their master inhabited this body. "Fire at will." He pointed at Koghi's essence. "Now."

Heat flew from their eyes, striking the essence of Makuta Koghi, instantly destroying the cloud, killing the Makuta of the Southern Islands. There wasn't so much a scream, just the sound of heat striking the cloud and dissipating it, destroying it for good.

"Now there is one less moron in this world," Hajax said in a almost joyful tone. He had always hated Koghi, who was too dumb for the Brotherhood of Makuta, in his opinion. "Now we leave, back to the surface, where I will personally deal with Icetraz."

He tried walking out the door, but then realized he was too tall, so he altered his density and floated through the door way. He then unaltered his density, going back to being a solid, being of armor and energy. He gestured toward the bewildered Rahkshi and Visorak to follow him out he doorway and back to the upper levels.

"Come on," Hajax said. "We have a war to win."
 

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#14 Offline TNTOS

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Posted Jan 20 2014 - 09:44 AM

Chapter 13: Dragon in the Dark


Nonzra, along with the other four Toa Shika, Jokao, and Turaga Joha, was stumbling through the darkness of the tunnels that were underneath the village of shadow. He disliked it, because he was sure that they had already walked around in circles five different times at least. He didn't want to say it, though, because he didn't want to come off as complain-y or anything.

Jokao was the first to voice what Nonzra was thinking. "Is anyone here sure that there is treasure?"

"Nope," Addis replied from up ahead. "Just a guess, really."

"Well, it is a stupid guess, in my opinion," Jokao said smartly.

"You could go back to the surface and take your chances with the Hunters," Nonzra said sarcastically, looking back at where he heard Jokao's voice. "But I don't think any of us are likely to do that."

That shut Jokao up good. So everyone was quiet for a few more minutes, still stumbling through the darkness, until Akuna remembered something.

"Hey! That's right," she exclaimed. "I have the Mask of Night Vision!"

"You just remembered that now?" Nonzra asked, annoyed. "How does anyone forget what their own Mask Power is?"

Ignoring Nonzra's comment, Akuna activated her mask, sending a blinding glow that illuminated the cavern, revealing a tunnel that extended several feet long. Addis decided that, since Akuna had the glowing mask, she should be in front of the party. Nastan was somewhat against this, because there might be some sort of danger in ahead that might be waiting for them and he didn't want Akuna to get herself hurt or killed.

"Relax, Nastan," Akuna said. "I'm a Toa. You know, we Toa have the power to defend ourselves."

"Well, okay, I guess," he said. "Just be careful, okay?"

"Sure," she answered. "As long as I'm with you, I don't have anything to worry about, right?"

Nastan blushed a little at that comment, but no one seemed to notice, fortunately. "Er, yeah, right. Nothing to worry about here."

Soon, Akuna was in the front, leading the team deeper down the tunnel. Jokao still didn't like having to go down a tunnel that lead to who-knows-where, but he wasn't complaining, anyway.

"This place reminds me of the tunnels my Toa team and I explored back when they were alive and I was a Toa," Joha said, with more than a hint of nostalgia in his voice. "Except there were loads of stalactites and stalagmites and blade burrowers. Lots of blade burrowers. Nearly killed us, but I caved them in. Ah, the good ol' days. Makes me wish my team was still alive, so we could do that sort of thing again."

"Turaga, not to seem rude or anything," Jokao said. "But don't think that this is sort of...foolish? Exploring in the darkness without having any idea at all of what could be waiting in here?"

"Actually, I think it is quite smart, Jokao," the Turaga replied. "Toa are supposed to explore and seek out unknown dangers. It comes with the job. Now come on. They're already well ahead of us."

Joha walked quicker to catch up with them, leaving Jokao with a look of disbelief on the features of his face. The Matoran shook his head and ran after the rest of the party, still unsure if wandering around in the darkness was a good idea or not.

It seemed that hours were going by as the tunnels twisted and turned every which way. More than once, they had stopped at a fork in the tunnels and had to decide which way to go. Now they had arrived at such a fork and looked down both ways. They saw no enemies or traps down either tunnel, but they had been cautious so far and they didn't plan to be stupid and get themselves killed or trapped.

"I say we go left," Nastan said.

"Why left?" Nonzra asked, looking at the Toa of The Green.

"Because we have gone right for every fork we have found," Nastan replied. "It gets boring going the same way all the time. Variety is the spice of life, after all."

So the party went left. As they walked, Chimoy noticed all of the carvings on the walls, which looked like the ones he had seen back in the villages. Some looked like Toa, but strangely twisted and Rahi-like. Others showed carvings of what were obviously Rahi. And then some showed Matoran, but the Matoran in the carvings seemed to be shooting some sort of energy from their hands. It was so interesting and yet scary at the same time. Chimoy didn't know what to think.

Turaga Joha, too, was observing the carvings as they passed. Wise he may have been, he had no idea who, or what, these pictures were supposed to be depicting. It looked like a story to him, but rather incomplete, because most of the carvings were worn away or hastily scratched out.

Then, he heard Akuna scream from up ahead.
 

-


Toa Barilo, Toa Shika of Gravity, was at the moment far from the underground tunnels of Shika Nui.

He was currently on his way to the Dark Hunters, flying on a rock. The rock flew because he used a complicated power of gravity to move it forward and to keep it moving. Unfortunately, he couldn't steer it very well, but that wasn't a problem at the moment, because he was flying well above trees, Matoran, and any other obstacles that might get in the way.

Barilo was flying over a Matoran village, which was near the Hunter's fortress. Below him, Matoran of all kinds had stopped whatever work they were doing and were now looking up at him as he passed by overhead. All of the Matoran in the village below knew that Joha was the only Toa left on the island, so watching Barilo fly over them was quite exciting and interesting for most.

One Matoran in particular was so preoccupied watching him that he never noticed three brakas monkeys steal all the fruit from his fruit stand. When he finally noticed that his fruit was gone, the Rahi monkeys were long gone.

The Toa of Gravity was near the fortress now. He could see the once seemingly inpenetrable fortress. At one point he had thought it looked like a army of Toa would be needed to overcome it.

The majority of the building was still together, but he could see alot of holes in the walls and plenty of walls toppled onto the ground, with dead beings underneath them.

He could also see Dark Hunters fighting other beings. Lots and lots of other beings and none of them resembled Dark Hunters at all.

Probably Brotherhood of Makuta minions, he thought. Good thing Addis read Iroko's mind, before I....I.....killed her.

He had indeed killed a Skakdi named Iroko, who had been working with Makuta Hajax to kill the Toa Shika. Instead, she ended up getting killed herself, by none other than Barilo himself.

At the time, he had felt no regret. However, what he didn't plan to do was almost kill Nastan because the Toa of The Green had rebuked him for killing someone, which Toa weren't supposed to do. Nastan didn't die, but Barilo was exiled from the group just the same. He now wished that he had never even tried to kill Nastan in the first place.

Maybe I've had a conscience all along, he thought grimly as he flew over the village. Maybe I've just stold my conscience to shut up all these years. Perhaps being a Toa isn't about killing your enemies out right and getting praise from the Matoran. But wait a minute. What am I saying? Toa should kill their enemies. It is what made Joha and his team weak in my eyes and it is certainly what is going to make myself strong, in the eyes of myself and my enemies.

Or is it? Is killing really the thing Toa should do, even when it is unnecessary? Something inside me is telling me that Nastan was right, that Toa really shouldn't kill people for no reason.

Maybe he's right. After all, Joha and his team did get respect and admiration from the Matoran of this island and they never killed any living being, as far as I know. Maybe I shouldn't be thinking about this. I can't decide.


So caught up in his thoughts, that he never noticed a ship sailing toward the island from the west. He probably wouldn't have noticed it, anyway, since it was so far away.

The sea vessel was neither a Brotherhood of Makuta ship, nor a Dark Hunter warship. It wasn't even a Vortixx weapon supply ship.

The mighty sail, which was about twelve feet tall and fourteen feet wide, depicted the Kanohi Hau, the mask commonly associated with the Great Spirit Mata Nui. The warriors who piloted the ship were members of a secret organization dedicated to carrying out the will of Mata Nui.

For so long the organization they worked for been in secret, never revealing it's existence to any living being except in times of crisis. They had their members assigned to every known location in the universe, keeping a watch on the happenings wherever they were.

What was the organization that they worked for called? Why, it was none other than the Order of Mata Nui. They were coming to Shika Nui to lend the Dark Hunters a hand aganst the Brotherhood of Makuta.
 

-


The other four Toa, plus Jokao and Joha, ran up ahead to where they had heard Akuna scream. Nastan was the first there, bow and arrow at the ready.

"What is it?" he asked, aiming his bow around in the darkness. Akuna's sudden scream had shattered her concentration, shutting her mask power off and leaving them all in the dark. "Is there a Dark Hunter or something down here?"

"T-there," Akuna said, pointing up ahead. "I...I saw a giant, dragon-like Rahi. Its eyes were open and its black and green armor was cracked in many places. I shut my mask power off so it wouldn't see us."

"You know, Akuna," Nonzra said, trying to spot the dragon in the darkness. "We could fight it better if your mask power was on."

She shook her head. "And let the beast see us? No way. It looked like it could kill us all in one blow."

"Akuna, you were the one who said that since we are Toa, we can protect ourselves easily," Nonzra shot back. "So turn the darn light on and let us face the dragon mask to mask. Or face, if it has a face."

Reluctantly, the Toa of Lightning activated her mask, illuminating the tunnel ahead. What they saw was horrible and down right scary.

A dragon lay up ahead, buried in rubble. Its long, silver wings were broken and dented in many places. At one point, it may have been a creature that even the Brotherhood of Makuta feared. But now it looked dead, like someone had slain it long ago. Its large, blue eyes were open, but it didn't look like their was any light in them anymore.

Nastan, Addis, and Nonzra cautiously approached it, weapons at the ready. Chimoy and Akuna stayed behind with Jokao and Joha, just in case the monster was still alive. Nonzra poked the dragon with his sword to confirm his suspicions.

"The over-grown lizard is dead," he reported. "Though how he was killed, I don't know. Some might have brought the tunnel down upon him, though."

"Then it's a dead end?" Nastan asked. "Do we just turn back around?"

"No," Addis said, shaking his head. "The tunnel is mostly blocked off, but I think we can continue on. Just going to have to go around the dragon is all."

After telling Chimoy, Akuna, Jokao, and Joha that the Rahi was dead, the party walked around it and continued their way down the tunnel, all of them wondering just what the dragon was there for. They were soon about to find out and hopefully it wouldn't be too much for their minds to comprehend.
 

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#15 Offline TNTOS

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Posted Jan 21 2014 - 09:56 AM

Chapter 14: The Return of Barilo


As she walked ahead of the others, Akuna thought about the dead dragon they had seen before. She wondered what it was there for and if it was supposed to guard something. Treasure, maybe? Some sort of prison, full of strange and scary beings?

How odd for a dragon, of all things, to be underground, she thought. It's kind of creepy, once you think about it.

Behind her, the other Toa Shika, Turaga Joha, and Jokao were still following. Jokao didn't want to advance any further after seeing the dead dragon. He wasn't sure that five novice Toa, one Turaga, and a Matoran could possibly defeat whatever defeated the dragon.

If there is a dead dragon here, who knows what might have killed it? the Ta-Matoran thought. Whatever killed it might still be here, waiting for us. Hopefully whatever killed the Rahi is dead, too, or left to go somewhere else or something.

Up ahead, Jokao noticed how Nonzra and Addis were talking to each other. He wasn't sure what they were saying, but it was probably about taking precautions in case there were more dragons up ahead or if there were traps.

However, none of that seemed necessary, as they soon emerged into a chamber. The chamber was shaped like a sphere and obviously wasn't a natural structure. It was mostly bare, save for what looked like six stasis tubes in the middle. Lightstones were imbedded in the walls, helping to light up the room.

"Underground chamber." Nastan said, surveying the area. "Didn't know this was under Shika Nui." He turned to Joha. "How about you?"

"Neither did I, Nastan," the Turaga replied.

"Those stasis tubes look curious," Jokao said, pointing at the tubes in the middle. "I wonder what is inside them."

Then, he thought he felt something in his mind tell him to go down to check the stasis tubes out. He obeyed the command.

Without warning and regardless of his fears, the Ta-Matoran ran down the path toward the stasis tubes. Despite the size of the cave, he was at the bottom in only a couple of minutes and was looking up at the cylinders, trying to see what was inside.

"Hello," he said to the tube, knocking on it with his fist. "Anyone alive in there?"

"Jokao!" Turaga Joha cried. He was coming down the path with the five Toa Shika in tow. "You should be more careful. You never know what kind of dangers could be hiding in here."

"Relax, Turaga," Nonzra said. "He just wanted to get a better look is all. I, too, am curious about the tubes."

The Toa of Sonics walked over to the tube Jokao was standing in front of and wiped away the dust in front of it. He jumped back at what he saw.

In the stasis tube was a being. He had teeth extending from his mouth several inches long and was red and blue, with sharp spikes extending from his armor. He held what looked like a sword, except it had a trigger on it, like a gun blade.

The odd creature was clearly in stasis, because his eyes were closed and he was totally still. But there was something about his unusually long limbs that gave off a creepy feel, like he was still aware of what was gong on around him, despite the fact that he was in stasis.

"What is that thing?" Nonzra asked, horrified.

"Let me see," Nastan said, shoving his friend aside. He, too, was taken aback by what he saw. "What in Mata Nui's name is that?"

The other Toa Shika and Turaga Joha looked at the strange being in the stasis tube.

"How odd," Joha muttered. "What kind of creature is that?"

"Should I wipe the dust off the other tubes?" Nonzra asked. " 'Cause if they're going to be as hiedious as that...that thing, then it is better we leave them the way they are, in my opinion."

The others agreed, not wanting to accidentally wake the creatures up. That didn't stop Jokao from studying the tubes, however. He noticed a word engraved on the tubes: Tuikas.

"Tuikas?" he repeated. "Isn't Tuikas the Matoran word for 'fear'?"

"Well, they certainly inspire fear in me," said Nastan. "But why would they be called Tuikas? Heck, why are they even in stasis tubes in the first place?"

"Too many questions, too little answers," Nonzra said. He then looked at the entrance, where they had come from. However, he noticed the doorway was closing up, until it was fully closed, locking them inside. "Hey!"

He dashed over to where the entrance had once been and began hacking away with his sword. Addis joined him, using his plasma powers to try to melt the door down.

"What's going on?" Jokao asked, fearing creeping into his voice. "Are we locked away in here forever? I don't want to be locked away! Those creatures might wake up and kill us!"

Joha, having been a Toa for over 30,000 years and been through far worse, was keeping his cool. "Calm down, Jokao. I'm sure we're going to escape from this."

Akuna, Chimoy, and Nastan joined Addis and Nonzra, blasting away at the door. Despite the onslaught of elemental attacks, the door didn't have a scratch. Chimoy, using his power over metal, made a giant hammer made of iron appear out of thin air.

He then beckoned for the others to step back, which they did. Then the Toa of Iron, exerting all his strength, slammed the heavy hammer onto the door. Surprisingly, the door still stood. Chimoy dropped his hammer, giving up.

"How is this possible?" he muttered. "Maybe we really are locked away forever."

"All right," said Addis. "Everyone, search for any way out. Feel along the walls or along the floor or anywhere that you think might unveil a secret entrance."

The others did as he bid, walking all around the chamber and feeling along the walls. It was Akuna who discovered that one of the lightstones was loose.

"Guys, look at this," she said. Everyone else came over to her. "See? This lightsone is loose. Watch."

She pulled down on it. At first, she was a bit disappointed that nothing happened....until the wall flung opened and, with a strong vacuuming force, sucked the party up. The wall closed. None of them noticed, however, that one of the Tuikas, the first one, eyes opened and they wouldn't know the consequences of awakening the Tuikas until it was far too late.
 

-


On the surface, Icetraz blasted another Visorak into oblivion, using his Cordak blaster. Another one jumped onto his back, but a ice spike put a end to that unfortunate creature's life.

Earlier, he had killed the leader of these Brotherhood of Makuta minions, Makuta Hajax. But for some reason, instead of dispersing in out right panic, they still fought, as if they knew something momentous was going to happen.

Six Arms, another Dark Hunter, was fighting five Rahkshi. Icetraz fired off three missiles, all three of which hit the Rahkshi, destroying some and sending others flying through the air.

Six Arms turned to Icetraz. "These things just don't give up, even when their leader is dead."

"I agree, Six Arms," said Icetraz. "That is the mystery, of course. Usually, when the leader of a army is killed, the rest began to panic and are easy picking."

He was too caught up in his conversation with Six Arms that he didn't notice a Exo-Toa come up from behind. It was about to shoot him, but Death came up from behind it and stabbed it with his sword, ripping its internal mechanisms to bits and then finishing it off with a lava ball, causing it to explode. Icetraz turned around, surprised.

"Ah, Death," he said. "Good job." He pointed to a small group of Dark Hunters fighting off a big group of Visorak. "Help them kill those Visorak."

Death nodded, but he seemed to have what looked like regret in his eyes. "Yes, sir." And then he darted off in the direction of the Dark Hunter-Visorak scuffle, aiming to help his brothers.

Icetraz turned back to Six Arms, who was now running over to fight some Exo-Toa nearby. Icetraz didn't bother to help him, because the Hunter was already ripping the fighting machines apart.

He needs no help from me, Icetraz thought. That's good, because it shows his independence. But if he grows too independent, I may have to end his sorry life.

Then, to Icetraz's surprise, a giant emerged from the fortress, holding a dead Dark Hunter in his hand. Worse, this being was no Dark Hunter he knew of. The blue and yellow being instantly locked eyes with Icetraz. When he spoke, it was the deep, gritty voice of the Makuta of Shika Nui's.

"Why, hello, Icetraz," the being called, tossing the corpse away. "As you can see, I, Makuta Hajax, have new body for myself. Stolen from my fellow Makuta, Koghi, who is now dead."

Instead of answering vocally, Icetraz responded by firing a hail of Cordak missiles, all aimed at Hajax. The Makuta used his magnetism powers to stop the missiles dead in their tracks.

"You have but two choices, Icetraz," Hajax said. "Either give up and let me take control of this island or I will kill you with these Cordak missiles."

"How's about the third choice where I kill you dead right in your tracks?" Icetraz shouted, unleashing a blast of ice at the Cordak missiles.

The ice hit the projectiles, blowing them up. The explosion hit Hajax, but it surprisingly wasn't enough to send him flying.

Icetraz drew his sword and then ran and jumped, bringing the blade down on the Makuta. Hajax quickly pulled his broad sword out. Icetraz's blow landed on the Makuta's sword and the two began pushing each other, looking into each other's eyes with pure hatred.

"You know you can't win," Hajax said, struggling to force his opponent over. "Your Hunters are tiring and my minions never do."

"Keep talking, Makuta scum bag," Icetraz growled. "Because you'll be eating those words in a few minutes!"
 

-


Up in the sky, Barilo flew in to the battle at the fortress and immediately noticed Icetraz fighting some yellow and blue titan that had a tail. He wondered who that was.

He also noticed Dark Hunters fighting Visorak, Exo-Toa, and Rahkshi, even some Vortixx. He had no idea where all of the Brotherhood of Makuta minions came from, but that didn't stop him from being disappointed.

Did I already miss my chance for revenge on Hajax? Barilo thought. Then I have no further reason to be here, even though kicking Dark Hunter tail sounds very appealing.

Then he heard Icetraz, down below, call the giant 'Hajax.' That surprised Barilo greatly, because when he last saw the Makuta of Shika Nui, he was in a super Vahki body. Where he got this new body, Barilo did not know. But he wasn't about to pass up this chance for revenge, the being really was Hajax.

Time for some pay back, Barilo thought, lowering to the ground.

Barilo knew that it would just plain stupid to attack while he was in the sky, in case a Hunter saw him and then try to blast him out of the sky. So he lowered to the ground, behind a boulder in the proto forest so he wouldn't be seen immediately by the Hunters and then have to fight them. And then he jumped off his rock, pulling his gravity axe out and was about to charged into battle, seeking to defeat the Makuta and hopefully Icetraz, too.

He was surprised when the other five Toa Shika, plus Jokao and Turaga Joha, shot out of a hole in the ground and landed on him. The hole quickly closed back up.

Nastan looked around. "Hey, where are we? I hear battle sounds coming from the other side of this rock."

"You're on top of me!" Barilo shouted. "I need to breath too, you know."

Everyone froze, recognizing who the voice belonged to immediately. They remembered how Barilo had killed Iroko and how he almost killed Nastan while he was at it. Now he was here and they were on top of him! Nastan immediately knew that Barilo might try to get him again.

All of them jumped off of Barilo and the five Toa Shika drew their weapons. The Toa of Gravity scrambled to his feet and held his hands up.

"Look!" he said. "I don't want to hurt you guys anymore. Honestly, I've learned my lesson."

"We're sure you have, Barilo," Nonzra snapped. "Or should I say, 'traitor who nearly killed our friend'?"

"I was confused and insane back then," Barilo admitted. He got on his knees. "Please, Addis. Accept me back as a part of this team and I won't ever betray you guys ever again."

Addis looked into Barilo's eyes. Having been a thief as a Matoran, Addis knew how to make his eyes look innocent when accused of a crime. He knew that Barilo also knew how to do that and what he was seeing in Barilo's eyes wasn't fake innocence. It was the true, I-want-forgiveness-or-I-don't-know-what-I-will-do-with-my-life kind of look.

The Toa of Plasma looked down to Joha. "Turaga, look in his eyes. What do you see?"

Joha locked eyes with Barilo. "Well, I see someone who really does want to help again. It doesn't look fake, either."

"So are you saying that we should accept Barilo back unquestioningly?" Nastan asked in disbelief. "He almost killed me!"

"Nastan, I think you should be more forgiving," Joha said gently. "Barilo really does look like he regrets what he has done."

"Please, Nastan, forgive me," Barilo said, his voice sounding very sad. "I will do anything to prove my honest, sincere quest for forgiveness."

The five Toa looked at each other. Jokao was standing beside Chimoy, because he still didn't trust Barilo. Then the Toa huddled up to discuss what they should do. Jokao and Joha also joined in.

It was only a few minutes, but it seemed like a eternity to Barilo before they finally stopped talking to each other. Barilo looked from one of his fellow Toa to another. He noticed how Chimoy, Akuna, Nonzra, and Addis were smiling. Nastan looked uncomfortable and Jokao did, too. Joha simply had no expression on his face, but his eyes gave him away. He, too, was happy.

"Barilo, with much discussion," Addis said, walking forward. "We have decided that, despite the fact you almost killed Nastan, you are sincere about wanting forgiveness. We all forgive you and we want you back in our team. Do you accept?"

Barilo nearly cried out in joy, but didn't because he knew it would give away their position to the Dark Hunters.

So he simply said, "Yes. I would like that very much."

Then, for the first time in a long time, Addis and Barilo did the traditional Toa salute of bumping fists. He did it with the rest of the Toa, too, even with Nastan, who did it rather reluctantly.

"I still don't trust you, Barilo," Nastan said.

"That's all right," Barilo said, patting his fellow Toa on the back. "I don't expect you to trust a theif. I expect you to fight with me like a warrior."

He looked down at Jokao and Joha. He bent over and bumped fists with Joha, despite the fact he was a Turaga. Then he turned to Jokao, who, like Nastan, looked rather reluctant, but he did it anyway, just so he didn't anger Barilo.

"All right," Barilo said, standing to his full height. He pointed over his shoulder with his thumb. "There's a mini war going on between the Dark Hunters and Brotherhood of Makuta back there. Hajax is fighting Icetraz and this is the perfect time to strike. Shall we, Toa brothers and sister?"

The others nodded and drew their weapons again.

"Hey, can I stay here?" Jokao asked. "I'm not a Toa and I wouldn't last very long out there. I'm thinking of heading back to my village, which isn't very far from here. Hopefully all of the Dark Hunters are preoccupied by this battle, so they won't try to get me."

"Then I will accompany you, Jokao," Turaga Joha said. "Like you, I would not last very long in battle, either."

He turned to face the six Toa Shika. His eyes were filled with pride as he looked at each of the Toa. He even had pride when he looked at Barilo.

"You know, despite your downsides, I believe destiny chose the right Matoran to become Toa," he said. "I am proud of you six, especially you, Barilo."

"Me?" Barilo asked, shocked. "But I betrayed my team and nearly killed Nastan!"

"But you had the guts to shove down your pride and ask for forgiveness," Joha reminded him. "That makes you just as much a Toa as the others, perhaps even more so."

"Thank you, Turaga," Barilo said, his voice choked with emotion.

"Hey," Addis spoke up. "Let's not get all mushy, all right? We have some Hunter butts to kick!"

"Yeah," Akuna agreed. "Let us free Shika Nui from the Dark Hunters slavery once and for all!"

With a mighty battle cry, the six Toa Shika ran out from behind their boulder. They were now a united team. Despite their pasts as thieves and despite what they had been through, they now accepted their part as heroes who would save Shika Nui from evil.

But if they could only sense what is destined to happen to them, where they would be going, they wouldn't nearly be as eager as they are now. Not nearly as eager at all.
 

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#16 Offline TNTOS

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Posted Jan 22 2014 - 10:11 AM

Chapter 15: Chaos!


Every Dark Hunter and Brotherhood minion was surprised to see the six Toa Shika enter the battle, firing elemental power from their weapons at their enemies. Tyu, too, was surprised, as he quickly beheaded a Rahkshi with his sword and then turned to see the Toa get surrounded by a group of Visorak spiders.

"Where did they-?" Tyu asked, surprised and shocked. He shook his head. "Never mind. I'm going to get my revenge, one way or another."

Raising his sword, he unleashed a blast of solar energy from the blade, aiming directly at the Toa. Chimoy noticed the beam and then used his metal powers to create a shield out of thin air. Then, angling the shield at just the right angle, deflected the solar energy beam right back to Tyu.

It hit the winged Hunter over, causing him to go sprawling right into a group of Rahkshi. Chimoy turned away and saw that, while his fellow Toa had succeeded in defeating the Visorak that had surrounded them, Dark Hunters were moving in on them and Nonzra was already fighting Death, a Dark Hunter that the Toa Shika had fought some days earlier.

Nonzra dodged a lava ball, then unleashed a wave of sonics at Death. The Dark Hunter dodged, rolled, and then fired five lava balls from his sword as he went. Most of them missed, save for two, which hit the Toa of Sonics in the chest and right leg, knocking him over.

Death was upon him in two strides. He put the tip of his sword to Nonzra's neck.

"What are you doing here, Toa?" asked Death. "I am surprised to see that you are still alive."

"My team and I are here to defeat Makuta Hajax and you Dark Hunters," Nonzra replied defiantly. "That way, we will free Shika Nui and we won't have to deal with you tyrants anymore."

Death locked eyes with Nonzra. The Toa of Sonics wasn't quite sure what he saw in the Hunter's eyes. He had expected to see revenge in his eyes, but instead he say something else. It looked like anger, it looked like sadness. Most of all, it looked like he was thinking.

Surprisingly, the Dark Hunter lifted his sword off the Toa's neck. Then, he blasted the ground in front of him, causing both the Dark Hunter and Nonzra to go flying into the air. The two enemies landed on the ground. It wasn't so much the shock of landing on the ground as it was the fact that Death didn't kill him. Who was this Dark Hunter, who didn't kill Nonzra when he had the chance? Nonzra had always assumed that Dark Hunters killed Toa whenever they got the chance, as they demonstrated when they had killed Toa Joha's team, over 25,000 years ago.

Death crawled over to him and whispered, "I am giving you this chance to live. Don't blow it."

Nonzra looked at him with distaste on his features. "And just why should I believe a Dark Hunter, of all beings?"

"Because I could have killed you right there," Death whispered back harshly. "I don't want to fight for the Hunters. I never wanted to join the Dark Hunters in the first place. I originally joined to help my people, not to kill novice Toa. I am going to pretend I am unconscious, okay? Then you get back up and fight my brothers. Got it?"

Nonzra nodded, still confused as to why Death was allowing him to live. The Dark Hunter closed his eyes and he was so convincing that Nonzra almost believed he truly was unconscious. He then rose and turned around to see that his fellow Toa were fighting Dark Hunters, Visorak, and Rahkshi.....And were doing just terrible. Nastan was alone against five Dark Hunters, with a sixth one coming up from behind. Akuna and Chimoy were also desperately fighting Rahkshi and Visorak. As for Addis? He was doing just as good as Nastan, which wasn't good at all.

Barilo was the only one holding his own. He had already taken out at least five Visorak, six Rahkshi, and a Hunter or two and he was now fighting the female Dark Hunter Yehiku, who the Toa of Sonics recognized from Barilo's description of her. Nonzra knew he needed to do something to turn the tide, but he just wasn't sure how.

There is my mask, Nonzra thought. After all, it saved us the first time. Who is to say it won't save us again? It might bring more of those dragon creatures, like the dead one we saw in the tunnel. Perhaps that would turn the tide in our favor.

Closing his eyes, he activated his Kanohi Zatth, the Mask of Summoning. Then he opened them. He didn't see anything out of the ordinary. Just the normal chaos one can expect on a battle field is all.

That was, until he heard something burrowing from beneath the surface. He looked down at the ground. There wasn't anything unusual until he saw a claw break the surface. Then, another claw, followed by a Rahi's head, which Nonzra immediately recognized as a blade burrower.

At first, the Toa of Sonics was disappointed. How could one blade burrower help them defeat the Dark Hunters? He thought that until another blade burrower followed. Then another, then another, until at least 20 of them had emerged out of the hole.

Without warning, the 20 blade burrowers moved in to attack the Dark Hunters, Visorak, and Rahkshi. One blade burrower even destroyed a Exo-Toa. Now the battle field had Toa, Dark Hunters, Brotherhood of Makuta minions, and blade burrowers. One could truly call the area a war zone.

I call it complete and utter chaos, Nonzra thought.

While that was happening, Barilo was fighting Yehiku. She was surprisingly agile, but apparently she didn't pay attention to where she was walking, because more than once she nearly tripped and that gave Barilo a advantage.

"Giving up, Yehiku?" Barilo asked as he dodged a fierce kick.

"Never, Toa," she replied, dodging a well-aimed punch. "If anything, you should be the one giving up."

"Toa never give up," the Toa answered, meeting Yehiku's sword attack with his axe. "I learned that the hard way."

The two struggled to push the other away with their weapons, never giving in. Barilo still held feelings for Yehiku, but, now knowing what it is like to be a true hero, was ready to fight for the freedom of the Matoran of Shika Nui.

Perhaps I can convince her to join us? he thought as he struggled to keep the Dark Hunter from pushing him over. I mean, Toa don't kill, right? It doesn't say that Toa can't convince their enemies to join them, right? But, then, if she doesn't want to help us now, why would she want to help us anyway?

Yehiku, on the other hand, had no feelings for Barilo, nor anyone, for that matter. She was for the Dark Hunters cause and was willing to die for it, if she needed to. Besides, even if she wasn't a Huntress, she wouldn't team up with Toa, anyway.

Toa are weak, Yehiku thought as she tried to push Barilo away. Ancient said so. From everything I've seen, that statement is true.

So caught up in their battle they were that they didn't notice a blade burrower come near them. It, like the rest of it's clan, had been called up onto the surface by some mysterious force. This particular burrower was still hungry and it believed these two creatures would satisfy its hunger well.

It could not see them, since blade burrowers have notoriously poor eyesight, but its since of smell told it that there were two beings. It could not know that one was a Toa and that another was a Dark Hunter, but it didn't care. Eat first, ask questions later would be its motto if it could talk.

Barilo noticed the Rahi beast coming up from behind Yehiku and tried to warn her, but she wasn't listening.

"There's a giant blade burrower coming up behind you," said Barilo as he tried to push her away.

"I'm not falling for the oldest trick in the book, Toa," Yehiku snapped. "I am smarter than that."

A giant claw, courtesy of the burrower, slashed her in the back, sending her flying into Barilo. The two rolled over and over until Yehiku managed to get some distance between herself and Barilo. She then kicked him in the mask, sending him rolling over again until he hit a nearby tree. The Dark Huntress painfully picked herself up and then looked at Barilo, who, while not unconscious, was laying on the ground, stunned.

"Ouch," he groaned. "That was painful!"

Yehiku looked around, trying to find her sword she had dropped when she had collided with the Toa of Gravity. She noticed that it had somehow ended up right next to Barilo and he was taking full advantage of it.

Barilo sprang up and then, moving faster than Yehiku's eyes could follow, grabbed the sword off the ground and unleashed his gravity powers on the Dark Huntress. Without gravity to help her stay on the ground, she started to float upwards. For a moment, she panicked, until she remembered the daggers that Lariska had given her some years ago. Yehiku never used them, mainly because she much preferred using her long sword over those tiny daggers. But now, as she fumbled through her bag, she realized just how grateful she was for the knives.

Now Yehiku wasn't the best at throwing daggers, but she had a somewhat good aim. She threw the daggers and, while one of them missed, the other didn't. It hit Barilo in the shoulder and he cried out in pain. He dropped her sword and then stumbled backward.

His concentration shattered, Yehiku fell to the ground. She looked up and saw the Toa of Gravity was trying to remove the dagger from his shoulder, cursing all the way. Now was her chance to attack.

She jumped up into the air, executing a perfect flying kick, sending Barilo into a tree. He hit the tree and slumped, his eyes closed. Yehiku cautiously moved forward and then poked him with her recovered sword. Was he dead?

No, she thought. Just totally unconscious.

Just then, Barilo's eyes abruptly opened, which startled Yehiku. Instead of seeing the look of a brave hero in his orbs, she saw complete and utter rage. Barilo now felt the same rage he had felt when he had killed Iroko. Now he was ready to unleash his full wrath upon the Dark Huntress and he wasn't going to hold back.

Despite his damaged shoulder, he rose and then activated his gravity powers, aiming to crush Yehiku like he did with Iroko. Unlike what he did to Iroko, however, he was not going to kill Yehiku abruptly. Rather, it would be a slow, continuous process that would leave her a dead heap of armor and organic tissue.

"No! Wait!" she screamed in agony. "You're killing me!"

"That's what I am aiming to do," Barilo snarled. "And after this, I will go after your leader, Icetraz. Then Shika Nui will be free forever!"

He watched as she fell to the ground, falling into unconsciousness. But before he could actually kill her, his eyes instantly lost the rage. In fact, now he looked like a different person altogether. He shook his head like someone who had awoken from a bad dream. Barilo looked down at the unconscious Dark Huntress and then realized exactly what was happening.

"Oh no!" he shouted, horrified by what he was doing. "I gotta stop this!"

He cut off his gravity powers, lessening the damage on Yehiku. He then leaned over to inspect her. The Toa sighed a sigh of relief that she was just unconscious and not dead. He really didn't want to experience killing another living person again, not after what had happened last time. Then he stood up and felt extreme pain in his left shoulder. Barilo glanced at his shoulder and realized that it still had the dagger in it.

Exerting all of his strength, he pulled the dagger out and tossed it away. Now he felt even more pain, worse than even when the dagger was in. He looked around and realized that the other Toa were still fighting Dark Hunters and Brotherhood of Makuta minions. He was in no shape to fight, but the Toa of Gravity didn't want to be left out in what he believed was the final battle for Shika Nui.

So I fight, Barilo thought. Whether or not I actually can.

The pain ripped through his body and he knew he needed to find a way to ease the pain. At that moment he wished he had a Mask of Healing, because then he could jump right back into action. But instead he was going to fight, even if only one of his arms moved.

Groaning with pain, he lifted his axe, running back towards the battle field. This time, he wasn't going to worry about fighting Hunters or Brotherhood minions. Now he was going straight for the Icetraz-Hajax conflict, even though he knew he might get killed as a result.
 

-


Since the blade burrowers were taking care of the Dark Hunters, the other five Toa Shika had regrouped behind a boulder to rest. None of them quite knew exactly what to do next and where Barilo was exactly. Nastan peered from behind the boulder to see Barilo, with his left arm limping at his side, running straight towards Icetraz and Hajax, with a look of either determination or of insanity on his face. Nastan could not tell the difference.

"What does he think he's doing?" Nastan exclaimed.

"What does who think he's doing what?" asked Addis.

"Barilo," Nastan replied bitterly, sitting back next to Akuna. "His left arm is limping at his side and he's running toward Icetraz and Hajax, the two most powerful combatants on the field right now. He's gonna get himself killed."

"Well, brothers and sister," Addis said, getting up. "We ought to help him."

"Why?" Nastan asked, frustrated. "He nearly killed me and now he's probably going to get himself killed. Good riddance."

"Nastan, he's our friend again," said Addis. "Friends help each other. Thought you were the one tooting about Unity, Duty, and Destiny? I can't believe you of all people would say 'Good riddance' about a fellow Toa! Geez, are you still sore about him almost killing you? He says he's sorry and I believe him. You should, too."

Nastan didn't respond, he simply looked at the ground. Then he got up and drew his bow out, already loading it with a arrow.

"Guess you're right," he said. "We should help him, I guess." Then, he added, "I now see why you're our leader."

Akuna nodded, drawing her staff out, electricity cracking at the tip. "Of course. Now let's move. He really is going to get himself killed if we just stand here talking."

Nonzra drew his sword and Chimoy, not having a permanent Toa tool, made a mallet appear out of thin air. Then the five Toa once again moved from the rock to go help their Toa brother.
 

-


Meanwhile, Icetraz was already gaining the upper hand on Makuta Hajax. The Makuta was not very used to his big body, having lived in a super Vahki's body for so many long years, which was far smaller and less bulky than his current form. While Icetraz, however, was not only skilled at using swords, but was also very agile and fast.

I need to kill this fool quickly, the Makuta of Shika Nui thought. But how?

Out of the corner of his eye he saw a flash of purple and gray. He wondered what that was, so he scanned the area with his mind, not wanting to take his attention off Icetraz by shifting his gaze, and then immediately knew who the purple and gray color scheme belonged to.

Barilo... Not only Barilo, but evidently the rest of the Toa had came, too. This is going to get very messy, very soon.

Quicker than Icetraz's eyes could follow, the Makuta quickly began unleashing shadow energy unexpectedly, aiming to drive back the Dark Hunter. It was working and Icetraz was too off balance to strike. Hajax then got back onto his feet and unleashed his magnetism power.

At first, Icetraz didn't notice anything out of the ordinary....until he started noticing armor, weapons, and bits and pieces of metal were clinging onto his body like bees at a bee hive. He kept trying to get the stuff off of himself, but it was staying magnetized to his body and was weighing him down. There was no way to get the clinging metal off of his body!

Finally, he fell down, far too heavy to stand up. Hajax, using his mind powers, then shredded Icetraz's mind into a million pieces, sending the Dark Hunter leader into unconsciousness and possibly insanity as well.

"I really should have done that earlier," Hajax said, brushing himself off.

"And I should have done this earlier!" Barilo shouted, jumping up and then bringing his gravity axe down on Hajax's head.

The Makuta stumbled forward as the axe collided with his cranium, shaking his head. He turned around and saw Barilo, looking like a fierce Muaka cat, gravity axe at the ready, despite his limping arm. Despite how fierce and brave the Toa looked, Hajax could not help but laugh. The Makuta of Shika Nui's power was much stronger than Barilo's and he would be able to finish the Toa of Gravity off quickly.

"Ah, Barilo," Hajax said, chuckling. "Killed anyone recently?"

"I didn't kill Iroko on purpose," Barilo snapped, swinging his axe around. "You broke our mind link and that caused me to go insane for a little while."

"Are you sure you still are not insane?" asked Hajax. "After all, you're going to take me on, all by yourself. You'd have to be completely insane to attack a Makuta head-on, all by yourself. Go and leave this island, if you wish to live. I am offering you mercy, something a Makuta never does. Take your team and go, because you're useless to my cause now."

"Never!" Addis shouted, running with the other Toa to stand beside Barilo.

"We stand together," Nonzra said, swinging his sword around. "Like true Toa do!"

"Yeah!" Nastan agreed, aiming his crossbow at the Makuta. "Even though we may never get along all of the time, we are far better off than you, Hajax. Your own brothers killed you, for Pete's sake."

Hajax looked over each one of them. He had no doubt in his mind he could kill all six of them easily, but he knew that Chimoy was a Toa of Iron, the most dangerous of all of them, for he could break Hajax's armor open and let his precious energy leak out. He would have to go first.

He activated his darkness power, bringing complete darkness around himself and the Toa. But then a bright light, courtesy of Toa Akuna's Mask of Night Vision, broke through the darkness, striking Hajax's eyes. Since his eyes were not suited for bright lights, the Makuta screamed, destroying his concentration and cutting off the darkness. Plant life burst forth from the ground, capturing Hajax, stopping his movement and pulling him down to the ground. Nonzra unleashed a wave of sonics, powerful enough to hurt the Makuta's hearing.

Then Akuna sent a lightning bolt upon him, jolting his essence. And Chimoy aimed to rip open a hole big enough for his hand to fit through in the Makuta's armor, letting Hajax's essence leak out.

"Give up, Hajax," Barilo shouted. "We can beat you and you know it."

At first, Barilo thought that Hajax must be unconscious because he wasn't replying. Then he saw the Makuta of Shika Nui ripping through the plant life and sending a explosion of vines, sending the six Toa flying into the air. They fell down, hard, on the ground, as Hajax rose.

"Seriously, I was giving you the chance to leave and be 'heroes' somewhere else," Hajax said, drawing his sword. "But now you reject it and for that you must die."

Raising his hand, he unleashed a force of cyclones, shadow, electricity, and overwhelming fear into the Toa, which would surely be enough to kill all six of them. What he didn't expect, however, was that the attacks instantly rebounded off the Toa, like some sort of invisible force field was protecting them.

"Who dares stop Makuta Hajax from killing these Toa?" he questioned, looking around.

Nastan managed to look up and saw that Julok, of all beings, was walking over to them, a dead Visorak in his claws. The Toa of The Green wondered why he had saved them.

"You!" Hajax yelled, pointing at the Hunter. "Did you save these Toa, which you so obviously hate?"

"Yes, I did," the Dark Hunter replied calmly. "You are a enemy of the Dark Hunters and so are the Toa. I have no love for them or their kind, but I do want revenge upon them for making a fool of me and I intend to pay them back in full. I'm not going to let some dark warlord rob me of my revenge!"

"Why you-!" Hajax snarled, aiming his sword at the Dark Hunter.

Before he could unleash a blast of shadow, however, a fifteen-foot, green and silver warrior appeared, grabbing the Makuta from behind and pinning him to the ground without much effort. The strength of the Dark Hunter who had pinned him down was enormous, stronger even than the Makuta himself. What was worse was that his essence was still leaking out, making Hajax weaker each minute.

"Wha-?" Hajax said, straining to twist his neck to see who had dared attack him.

"Name's Byki," the giant replied in a deep, rumbling voice. "I saw what you did to Icetraz and what you were going to do to Julok. Now I'm gonna rip your head right off your neck!"

Before he could carry out his threat, Hajax used his density control power to alter his density, allowing Byki to fall right through him. Then the Makuta rose and changed his density back to normal, unleashing as he did so blast of chain lightning. The chain lightning hit Byki, sufficient enough to knock-out the huge Hunter.

"That is what you receive for daring to hurt a Makuta!" Hajax bellowed. "Now I will-"

"You will what?" Julok asked. "Your army, oh great Makuta, is dead. We killed every single minion you sent at us and the rest of your troops have fled." He said the 'oh great Makuta' part with more than a hint of sarcasm.

The Makuta looked around. Julok was right. All of his Visorak, Rahkshi, Exo-Toa, and various others were dead or utterly destroyed. All of the Dark Hunters were now shifting their attention to Hajax, stomping over the corpses of the dead Brotherhood minions as they went. It was almost enough to send Makuta Hajax running, but he kept his ground.

"My men!" he shouted, scanning the area frantically. "What happened to my men?"

"We destroyed'em," Giho replied, axe at the ready. "And now we're gonna destroy you!"

Hajax knew that, while he could take on any of them individually and win, he could never defeat hundreds upon hundreds of Dark Hunters all on his own. Not to mention his own armor was already ripped open as it was, greatly weakening him. But he also knew he wasn't going to go down, not after so long of hiding and waiting for the right opportunity to strike.

His gaze shifted to the right, where the six Toa Shika were now standing up as well, elemental energy crackling at the end of their Toa tools. The Toa joined the Dark Hunters and now Hajax knew for sure he was going to die, though he was going to die fighting.

"Give up, Hajax," said Addis. "And we'll let you live."

"Let him live?" Kigin, who was among the Dark Hunters who was surrounding the Makuta, said, shocked. "He deserves to die the most horrible death imaginable, the Makuta does!"

Addis glared at the Dark Hunter. "Since when did you get to make the rules around here?"

"Since I became a member of the Dark Hunters," Kigin shot back. "There are more Hunters than Toa here, hero. We're going to kill him, right guys?"

All of the Dark Hunters shouted a resounding 'yes' and then they all ran forward, weapons ready to tear through Makuta armor. Hajax desperately began shooting shadow, cyclones, electricity, and whatever else he had at his command at the Dark Hunters. But none of it was strong enough to even slow down the wave upon wave of mecerneries. Soon, he was lost beneath the sea of Hunters. All that could be heard was Hajax's screaming as they tore away at his armor.

The Toa Shika had not joined in the unfair killing, for they were Toa and Toa do not kill. They were making their escape, actually, because they knew that once the Dark Hunters were finished with Hajax, they would be coming after them next.

"Quickly," Nastan whispered as he tiptoed with the rest of the Toa. "We can escape into the forest before they realize we're escaping.

"No," Barilo said, shaking his head. "We're gonna fight them, whether we like it or not."

"You're in no shape to fight," Nastan pointed out, annoyed. "Your shoulder is damaged."

"Shut up," Barilo snapped. "I can fight just fine."

"Quiet both of you!" Addis whispered harshly. "We're going to escape and that is final. We need to regroup and plan out another strategy."

"But a time like this to hit the Hunters this hard won't come again," Barilo argued. "We need to strike now!"

Further argument was cut off by the sight of at least two dozen Dark Hunters - Or people who looked like them, anyway- emerging from the forest. Those Dark Hunters looked just as surprised as the Toa were to see them.

"Toa?" one of them, a black and gold being, said, confused. "Wasn't Joha the only Toa left on Shika Nui?"

"Quickly!" Addis shouted at the top of his lungs. "Let's make a break for the fortress!"

Before Barilo could question what Addis was thinking, the Toa leader was already running to what was left of the western entrance. The other Toa followed, though somewhat reluctantly, because they knew it was pure madness to run into the fortress of the Dark Hunters themselves.

They entered the building and Chimoy quickly threw up a thick wall of metal, enough to completely close the way out. Now they were trapped in, but it didn't matter. Only figuring out what Addis was getting at was important at the moment.

With the heat of the outside cut off, the area grew deathly cold. Akuna couldn't help but shiver in the cold as she ran with the other Toa. She knew that it was stupid to run into the Dark Hunters' fortress, but she was too busy running and being cold to complain.

Chimoy glanced around as they ran. He noticed that there were many dead Visorak and Rahkshi, with some Dark Hunters as well. On the walls were carvings that might have represented past Dark Hunters, but now they were totally destroyed beyond recognition. Many of them looked like the ones Toa Barilo had described when he had infiltrated the fortress before, but badly damaged and totally unrecognizable.

He also noticed stone statues that had fallen and were destroyed. One of those statues looked as though it had been brought down purposefully, on a unlucky Visorak that Chimoy didn't care to look at.

Surprisingly, even though they were in the Dark Hunter fortress itself, they had ran into no Dark Hunters at all. They were all probably fighting Hajax, he thought.

Gradually, though, they came into what looked like the throne room. It wasn't very damaged, save for the throne itself and some carvings on the wall. Suits of armor stood on either side of the room, leading up to the damaged throne. He figured most of the suits once belonged to Dark Hunters or perhaps Toa, since he recognized the armor of Toa Siso, the Toa of Lightning that used to be on Joha's team until she and the others got killed, 25,000 years ago.

Apparently, this was where they stopped, for Addis abruptly halted, signaling for the rest to do the same. Barilo, panting and in extreme pain because his shoulder was still hurting, dragged himself to the damaged throne and sat down on it, trying to rest his shoulder. He then locked eyes with Addis, annoyed.

"What in Mata Nui's name were you thinking?" Barilo asked.

"Yeah!" Nastan agreed. "We could be walking right into the hands of the Hunters for all we know!"

"No, that wasn't what I was getting at," Barilo said, shaking his head. "I was going to say that the battle is out there, not in here. See what I am getting at?"

Nastan sighed heavily. What he wanted even less than Barilo being back on the team was fighting all of the Dark Hunters on the island. Nearby, Chimoy was created walls of metal to cover the entrances, just in case there were some Dark Hunters still wandering in the fortress and then noticed the six Toa.

"Well, Barilo, I figured we could escape them by going into their fortress and finding that ancient door of protodermis the Dark Hunters are trying to open," Addis said, panting. "That's all. Perhaps whatever is behind it could helps us save Shika Nui?"

"Well, I was never serious about actually going down there and opening the door, but what the Karzahni, why not?" Barilo said, shrugging. He winced at the pain in his shoulder when he shrugged. "I could lead you guys there. I know where the entrance is."

"No way!" Nastan exclaimed, taking a step back. "They probably have the place guarded and they probably have booby-traps just in case!"

"I agree with Nastan on this one," Akuna said, stepping up. "It isn't smart to just run in foolhardy. Only cool dudes do that."

Chimoy nodded. "It is unwise to run straight into a trap without a plan."

Nonzra, however, was all for going to find out what was going on behind the door.

"C'mon, guys," said Nonzra. "I betcha all of the Hunters are busy killing Hajax at the moment. The door is probably completely unguarded, you know? It's ours for the taking."

After much more debate, Addis, being the team leader, finally chose to go and explore the door, even if there was guards placed around it.

"After all," he reasoned. "We have the power to deal with any Dark Hunters that might be guarding the door."

"Fine," Nastan sighed. "Have it your way, leader."

"Barilo, show us the way there," Addis ordered. "You're the only one who knows his way around this fortress, after having infiltrated this place before."

Nodding, the Toa of Gravity rose from the throne, but then winced and sat down. He groaned in pain.

"Well, we don't have to go if your shoulder still hurts," Addis said, walking up to the throne.

"N-no," Barilo said, struggling to stand up. "I-I can still walk. Don't you worry about me. I'm tough."

"Okay, then, which way is the door?" the Toa of Plasma asked.

Barilo pointed to the eastern entryway that Chimoy had closed off, like the rest. "That way, I'm sure of it. Chimoy needs to bring the metal wall down first, though."

Nodding, the Toa of Iron reared back and then punched the wall, causing it to fall down, revealing a hallway that extended several feet into the fortress, lightened up by lightstones embedded in the walls.

Addis helped Barilo up and then the six Toa Shika went down the eastern entrance, with Barilo leading the way.

As they walked down the hallway, Nastan looked at Chimoy. "Was it necessary to punch the wall down when you could have used a less loud way, like tearing it down with your elemental power?"

"It was fun," Chimoy replied, smiling. "I don't see why I shouldn't."

Nastan sighed as Akuna wondered what could possibly be behind the door. Untold riches? A legendery Mask of Power? A powerful weapon?

Whatever it is, I'm sure we're going to like it, she thought confidently. And if we don't, we can deal with it.

Little did any of them know, however, was that there was evil so ancient it had been locked away forever 100,000 years ago. None of them could even begin to conceive of the evil hidden behind there. And it was likely none of them would survive to tell the tale.
 

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#17 Offline TNTOS

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Posted Jan 23 2014 - 11:19 AM

Chapter 16: What Is Behind The Door?


The six Toa Shika carefully advanced deeper into the fortress. While they had yet to actually see any Dark Hunters, they were not so sure if there were more Hunters waiting ahead somewhere and where they might be. Getting ambushed was not top priority for them.

"The cave that leads to the wall should be just around this corner," Barilo said, leading the rest of the Toa.

Right as they round the corner, a wall of rubble and debris met them, blocking the way there. Nastan frowned.

"So we can't make it through, then?" he asked. "Should we turn back and try to find another way there?"

"Hey, remember me?" said Addis. "I'm a Toa of Plasma. Melting rock is nothing for me."

He held his plasma launcher up and fired off at least four balls of plasma, all of them striking the rubble and melting it all into slag.

"There," Addis said, putting his plasma cannon away. "Problem solved."

After they all carefully stepped over the melted debris, they soon came upon a huge opening in the fortress that resembled a cave that lead underground. It was obviously artificial, because of the pickaxe marks all around its edges. Barilo's shoulder still hurt, but he managed to gesture towards the sign that he had noticed his first time here.

" 'Dark as a Makuta's heart'?" Nastan asked, after reading the sign. "Do Makuta even have hearts?"

"Probably not," Nonzra said, nodding. "But if they did, they're probably be as dark as this tunnel, perhaps even darker."

"Well, if we're going to go down there, then we might as well go," Akuna said, walking towards the entrance. "I'll lead. With my Mask of Night Vision, we won't get lost."

For the first time, Addis thought about how much his team had come through to get here. They had started out as Matoran bandits, stealing from other Matoran and even the Dark Hunters themselves. None of them had ever imagined that they would become Toa one day and that they would be close to opening the door that might lead to the biggest and most enormous treasure room yet.

But he had to admit, even he doubted that there was a vast treasure was hidden deep within Shika Nui. Toa don't usually hide treasure unless they have good reason to. He had overheard from conversations of various Dark Hunters that six Toa or more could combine their elemental powers to create a Toa seal, a impentrible lock that could seal away anyone and anything. He had heard that the Makuta of Metru Nui had suffered from that, but later escaped. Addis also knew that six Toa with the same elements that created the seal in the first place could break the seal and unleash whatever - or whoever - was behind it.

Addis wondered if, perhaps, there was something behind the door that wasn't going to be good for them. Perhaps....perhaps the original six Toa who had created the seal had locked some great evil behind there. Some great evil that could have destroyed the universe and they stopped it and then hid it underneath Shika Nui to make sure it never returned to ravage the universe again. After all, didn't one of the legends say that there was a evil spirit and a army of shadow that might be waiting behind there? What if they were dooming the universe by just opening the door and freeing whatever was behind there?

"Addis!" Nonzra called, interrupting Addis' thoughts. The rest of the Toa were already walking down the cave. "We're going down there now! Hurry up, slow poke."

"I'm coming!" he called, rushing down the tunnel towards the others. It's probably just a legend. No evil spirit is down there and neither is there any 'army of shadow'. But I don't know...

"What were you doing about, anyway?" asked Nonzra.

"Well, I was just thinking about the, um..." Addis didn't want his allies to know that he had doubts about there being any treasure at all behind the wall. "I was thinking about the vast and wonderful treasure we are going to find and what we could do with it!"

That was a lie, but Nonzra didn't know.

"Yeah," the Toa of Sonics said, nodding. "Maybe there is even some great weapon behind there, too, that will defeat the Dark Hunters and free Shika Nui."

"If there is," Nastan said, interrupting their conversation. "I want to use it first."

"Why?" asked Addis.

"Because I want to be remembered as the one who saved Shika Nui from the tyranny of the Dark Hunters," Nastan replied. "But more importantly, I think we should make statues of Joha and his team when we return to the surface. They never got the respect they deserved because the Hunters took over as soon as they killed them."

"That sounds very noble, Nastan," Addis said, nodding. "That is, if we return from here."

"What do you mean?"

"I mean, what if there are guards here, protecting the door to make sure no intruders get it before the Dark Hunters do?" said Addis. "I know it seems unlikely that any Hunters stayed down here while the rest took on Hajax's forces, but you never know. Maybe it's not even a Dark Hunter, but a Rahi similar to that dead dragon we saw earlier or something even worse."

"Well, whatever it is, we can beat it," Nastan said, smiling. "We're Toa. That is what Toa do, after all. We have Unity, Duty, and Destiny. The Dark Hunters don't. That's what seperates heroes from the villains."

Addis nodded, but he still worried about any guardians or traps that might be lying in wait somewhere up ahead. Nonzra wanted to say that perhaps not all of the Dark Hunters were evil, remembering what Death had done earlier, but he decided against it.

The six Toa Shika went down a fairly straight tunnel, with the occasional twist and turns that any underground explorer knew to expect. Akuna was in the lead, lighting the way with her Mask of Night Vision. She found it odd how the Dark Hunters didn't put any lightstones into the walls to help light the path.

Hmmm, I wonder why they didn't do that, the Toa of Lightning thought. Surely they would need someway to see where they were going if they were to find their treasure.

She decided that, since the Dark Hunters were rather dark beings themselves, they might not like light in their tunnels. But it was still rather mysterious to her just the same.

Chimoy himself was wondering if the Dark Hunters had finished killing Hajax yet and if they were going to go after the Toa Shika next. He had no doubt that they could tear down the metal wall he had erected in the western passage to get in quickly. Heck, he wondered why they hadn't done so already, unless something else was keeping them busy.

His mind flashed back to the Tuikas, sleeping in their stasis tubes underneath Shika Nui. He wondered what they were and what they were doing in stasis tubes under the island. The Toa of Iron didn't recall any legends saying anything even remotely similar to those things and he should know, since he used to study legends before joining the others' their little crew of thieves.

Then there was the abandoned Matoran settlement, with the oddly shaped temple in the middle and the weird poem inside the building. What did it all mean? It was all too confusing for him even.

This island has seemed more mysterious ever since we became Toa, Chimoy thought as he walked. Tuikas, giant wall of solid protodermis, and that odd abandoned village in the mountains. I wonder if we will ever learn the answers to those questions.

The Toa of Iron was so caught up in his thoughts that he accidentally bumped into Addis.

"Hey!" Chimoy exclaimed. "Why'd you stop?"

"Because of....that." Addis said, pointing at a wall.

The light from Akuna's Ruru was reflecting off the giant, wall of solid protodermis. It looked to be about 500 feet tall and 300 feet wide. There were carving tools at the base of it. They looked like the kind of tools Po-Matoran carvers used to make their statues and sculptures, except far bigger and more heavy-duty-looking. One of them was broken in half, probably from overuse.

Nearby, a sign that had been planted next to the wall read, 'This is the ancient wall of protodermis. Danger zone.'

"Danger zone?" Barilo said after reading the sign. "What's so dangerous about this zone?"

A bolt of shadow lanced from the darkness, hitting Barilo in the back and sending him tumbling into a wall. When the Toa of Gravity collided with it, it hurt even more because of his broken shoulder.

"Who's there?" Addis asked, drawing his plasma cannon out. Was it Hajax? He was the only being that the Toa of Plasma knew of that could shoot shadow.

Akuna was spinning around wildly, using her Mask of Night Vision to try to spot their unknown attacker. She couldn't find it, but she did find another shadow bolt flying towards her from the ceiling. It hit her, shattering her concentration and shutting the light off, plunging them all into darkness.

"That....is better," a voice from the darkness growled. "That glow is quite....annoying."

"Who are you?" Addis called into the darkness. "Show yourself!"

"Show myself?" the voice repeated. It laughed. "There is no light down here. How could you possibly hope to see me, Toa? That is, if I even had a physical body in the first place."

"Are you a Dark Hunter?" Nastan asked, aiming his bow every which way in hopes of somehow seeing their unknown attacker.

"No," the voice answered. "I was created by them to keep intruders such as yourself from opening the door."

"Created?" Addis said, fear creeping into his voice. "How were you created?"

"You know, Makuta Hajax used to rule the region of Shika Nui," the voice replied acidly. "Makuta are scientists and they need energized protodermis to conduct their expirements. As you well know, Hajax is dead and his Rahi creation lab was discovered by a team of Dark Hunters. Dark Hunter scientists conducted expirements with it and I was born as a result, without form. They put me here, to guard the door from being opened by beings other than the Dark Hunters. I am pure shadow. No body. Never had one. Never will need one.

"At first, they didn't know what to do with me. However, Icetraz suggested that I be placed as a guardian of the door and so it was. They kept me here, attacking those other than Hunters or Matoran slaves who they sent down here to work. I am truly one with the darkness, unlike the Makuta, who call themselves 'masters of shadows'. It's a rather boring job, since it is a rarity that anyone other than a Dark Hunter or Matoran slave could make it past the Hunters and get down here."

Five shadow bolts, coming from all sides, hit the four Toa who were still standing, knocking them all to the ground.

"And now," the voice finished. "I can finally do what I was meant to do: Kill intruders!"

Even more shadow bolts were coming from the darkness and the Toa did everything in their power to get out of the way of the attacks, but it didn't seem to work, because everywhere they went, the shadow bolts seemed to follow. Chimoy knew that they needed light, but with Akuna unconscious, how could they possibly hope to beat the shadow beast?

More shadow bursts lanced forth from the darkness. Chimoy tried to bring up metal walls to block the attacks, but his concentration was always shattered by being hit by shadow bolts. It seemed like the Toa Shika were all going to meet horrible deaths in this dark tunnel. Without light, they had no hope.

Addis was firing plasma balls in random directions, almost hitting Nonzra at one point. He knew this was futile, since the shadow being was darkness itself. How can you hurt darkness?

He's a living being, Addis thought frantically. Maybe I could probe his thoughts with my Suletu. But I don't know where he is! I can't focus on something that is....wait a minute! It's a stretch, but maybe I can focus my mask on the darkness itself! If it doesn't work, I will be dead....But if it does, we will find out what is behind this door. All living things have a mind and that mind is mine to read or possibly destroy, if I need to.

Activating his Kanohi Suletu, the Mask of Telepathy, Toa Addis seemingly heard nothing, until he finally found the mind of the shadow being. It was just as dark as the tunnel itself and Addis almost broke contact with him. But the Toa held his ground.

Time to teach you what it means to have a mindache, Addis thought, unleashing a series of incredibly loud screams in the shadow beast's mind.

To his surprise, the shadow entity's mind went down quickly. He was obviously not prepared for mental attacks and his mind seemed unstable to Addis, who quickly withdrew as soon as the beast went down.

The barrage of shadow bolts ended then. Nastan, Nonzra, and Chimoy looked around, wondering what had happened and what was going to happen next. What they didn't know was that Addis was shattering the concentration of the shadow beast so it could not create a focus beam of shadow. It ws overwhelming for the beast, until it finally collapsed.

All of a sudden, the area seemed a little less dark. Addis turned his mask off, shaking his head. All the dark thoughts of that being's mind were a little too much for him. Nastan checked on Akuna and Barilo to make sure they were okay.

"I'm okay," Akuna said, Nastan helping her up. "Though that shadow beast was weird. How come the Dark Hunters never said anything about him before?"

"Because if they did," Barilo said, exasperated. "Then thieves who would break into here would know what to deal with and bring some sort of light weapon or a lot of lightstones. There wouldn't be any element of surprise and they would have had to get rid of him and replace him with something else far more dangerous."

"It seemed like the shadow being made this tunnel alot more dark than it really was," said Nonzra. "You can actually see the door now without having a light."

The Toa of Sonics was right. The giant, blue-ish crystiline wall of protodermis was clearly visible now and it looked mighty old. Upon closer inspection, it was not actually old looking. There were just the more than a million scratch marks on its surface, making it look like normal wear. It would have probably taken far, far more than 25,000 years to open this thing up by force. Chimoy rubbed his hand against it. It felt smooth, but he could also feel pickaxe marks along it.

"Well, what are we waiting for?" Nastan asked excitedly, walking over to the door. "Let's open it and save Shika Nui!"

Nodding, the six Toa all aimed their Toa tools at the wall. Then each of them unleashed a beam of their own respective element. Plasma, plant life, lightning, metal, sound, and gravity hit the seal at the same time, causing the wall to dissolve. Behind it was a door, a giant gateway more like it. It still looked new, despite being over 100,000 years old. It had been perserved by the protodermis, obviously.

Before the Toa could congratulate each other on a job well done, the door flung open, revealing two gigantic blood red eyes. Behind it was what could be best described as true darkness. It was so horrifying that the six Toa Shika turned as one and tried to run away, but a giant shadow tentacle shot out from the portal and snatched the six Toa, despite their protests.

They were pulled inside and the door shut itself closed, locking itself in the process. The dark cave was quiet now. No living being, aside from the shadow beast, were inside it. No one knew what was behind the door until just now. Now six heroic Toa were about to came face to face with six other beings, six evil beings who had been banished there in the time before time for....well, that is a story for another time. For now, let us read the epilogue and wait, just wait, for the fate of the Toa Shika to be revealed.

THE END?
 

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#18 Offline TNTOS

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Posted Jan 24 2014 - 09:40 AM

Epilogue


Barilo opened his eyes. What he could see was, at best, pure darkness. At worst, he might be dead and this is what death felt like. It felt cold and hard, but he also felt leaves and twigs underneath his body, such as the kind you would find in a forest.

No, I'm not dead, he thought. My heart is still beating and I still have a physical body. But where am I?

He remembered being pulled into the door by some sort of giant, shadow tentacle, with blood red eyes and a swirling vortex behind it. Was that some sort of dream, maybe?

The darkness parted, revealing his surroundings. He was in a forest, which he thought was the proto forest at first, but this one had a strange, evil feeling to it, like darkness itself lived here, waiting to grab any unknowing victims right into its grasp, like a chute lurker waiting for its victims in the chutes of Metru Nui. The feeling was so evil and so horrible that he felt like running, but his legs didn't move. It was also very quiet. Too quiet, for Barilo's taste.

He saw no sign of life, except for the rest of his Toa team, who were bounded by shadow chains that seemed to be leeching their energy, because they were looking weaker each minute. He wondered who had done this and why he wasn't bound in shadow.

A second after that thought passed, shadow chains appeared out of nowhere, binding him and slamming him to the ground. Barilo groaned in pain as his energy began leaving his body.

"Where are we?" Nonzra asked, his voice weak. "Is this...?"

A voice answered, but it was not one any of them recognized. It sounded very ancient and old sounding, yet very calm as well.

"You are not dead, Ukio," the voice answered. Barilo thought the voice sounded like pure evil.

"Ukio?" Nonzra gasped. He struggled to free himself, but wasn't successful. "I am Toa Nonzra, not Ukio, whoever that is."

"Don't play dumb with me, Ukio!" the voice snapped angrily. The forest darkened all of a sudden. "You locked me, my team, my Turaga, and my entire tribe here is this vile place. You, along with your Toa team, locked us here for good. Acting stupid won't get you anything but a shorter life span."

"Wait," another, more calm voice interrupted. "These Toa may not be the same Toa we faced before over 100,000 years ago, Rhatara. Their masks and armor is different."

There was a brief pause, then the snappy voice, that probably belonged to Rhatara, spoke again.

"You may be right, Ira. But let me probe their minds, just to make sure."

All six of the Toa Shika felt a horrible, evil presence enter their minds. Only Addis, having a Mask of Telepathy, was able to force the intruding mind out of his own. The rest, however, had to deal with excruciating pain that went through their minds.

Then it was over. Addis was the only one still conscious from the vicious mental attack, while the others were unconscious, each one of them breathing heavily. Rhatara spoke again.

"You're right, Ira," Rhatara said, disgust in his voice. "These six are different, but they're still good Toa, just like the others, sister. I say we kill them and bring their bodies to Turaga Krashadi. He will be most pleased indeed."

"No," Ira's voice said. "What we should do is bring them to the Turaga and then feed them to the shadow eels. They haven't had beings with fresh light in over 100,000 years."

Addis decided now was the time. Using his plasma powers, he tried melting the shadow bonds that were constricting his body. Instead of melting, the shadow chains tightened, forcing more energy out of Addis' body.

"Well, one thing is for sure," Rhatara said. "They have opened The Door, so we can escape, hopefully."

"If our brothers and sisters are up to it, Rhatara," Ira answered. "Perhaps we should reveal ourselves to these Toa, should we not?"

"Sounds good to me," Rhatara's voice said. "After all, it just wouldn't be fair if our prisoners had to die without knowing who their killers were."

Then, to Addis' surprise, two figures emerged from the shadowy forest.

One of them held a chain link, the other had a projectile weapon of sorts that seemed to be generating some kind of energy. He could not make out much of their features because the darkness was so thick.

"Your name is Addis," the first one said, pointing with a armored finger at the Toa of Plasma. "I read your mind. I know what you and your friends have been through, but I am not going easy on you. Because I am Toa Rhatara, a-"

That was all Addis heard before falling into unconscious. All that energy being drained from his body was too much for his mind to handle, so it took the only way out and shut down. But right before he fell into unconsciousness, he thought he heard a name in his mind. A name that would haunt him his entire life and beyond:
 

Shodios.

 

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Edited by TNTOS, Mar 01 2014 - 04:40 PM.

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#19 Offline TNTOS

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Posted Jan 27 2014 - 10:13 AM

Book Two: Tapestry of Evil



Table of Contents:

Prologue
Chapter 1: Shodios
Chapter 2: Turaga Krashadi
Chapter 3: The Eccentric Dream
Chapter 4: Trial of the Shodios
Chapter 5: Nastan and Barilo’s Argument
Chapter 6: Escape!
Chapter 7: Shadow Storm
Chapter 8: Captured
Chapter 9: “The Key to Defeating Our Enemies”
Chapter 10: History
Chapter 11: Hailed As . . . Heroes?
Chapter 12: Trickery & Schemes
Chapter 13: Lies
Chapter 14: Escape Wael
Chapter 15: Lost in the Mountains
Chapter 16: Confrontation
Chapter 17: The Hunt Begins
Chapter 18: Spirit Wanderer
Chapter 19: Into the Core of the Mountain
Chapter 20: Wanderer’s Mission
Chapter 21: The River of Shadow
Chapter 22: Going Down the River of Shadow
Chapter 23: A Destiny Fulfilled, a Life Lost
Epilogue

Prologue

100,000 years ago. . . .

 

An impossibly huge robot with a red booster pack-like object on his back was soaring through space in no particular direction. But it was going to be a long journey to get to the next planet, even at the speed he was moving. So he decided to pass the time by looking at the universe inside of him that he had been assigned to govern.

Just days ago he had been created and brought into being by a group of powerful figures known as the Great Beings. But they hadn’t given him much time to adjust to his form and soon they had sent him flying deep into space on an urgent mission that he knew he would have to complete.

But now that he was alone, he decided to check out his universe and study the beings inside of his body. After all, he might learn something from them.

It was fascinating, he thought. There were so many species, ranging from the Matoran all the way to the fierce Skakdi, and beyond even that. But he was especially interested in the Matoran villagers, which were the beings that had the most important job of all of the creatures in his universe: Keeping him alive.

They, too, were as varied as the stars in the cosmos. They were of all kinds of elements and types, such as Ta-Matoran and Av-Matoran, for example. He was also interested in the fact that they could transform and become Toa heroes with functioning elemental powers and mask powers and, after completing their destiny, become Turaga as well.

Fire, Water, Air, Earth, Stone, Ice, Gravity, Sonics, Plasma, Plant life, Lightning, Iron, Sonics, Magnetism, Psionics, and Light, the Great Spirit Mata Nui thought as he recited the elements in his mind. All of the elements, together they-

But suddenly, he noticed something that seemed . . . wrong about the Matoran. Yes, there was one tribe for each element: Fire, Water, Earth, etc. All of the ones he had recited in his mind had been accounted for, yet there was one more element that was not represented here, one that he was trying hard to think of.

Finally, it hit him. Shadow wasn’t represented by any of the 16 tribes in the universe! Not even so much as one Matoran of Shadow! What was up with that? Were the elements possibly unbalanced? And if so, would this unbalance hurt him and possibly force him give up his mission?

I will need to balance out the elements, he thought, determined. Why would the Great Beings do that? Why would they do something that could possibly endanger the mission? I know what I must do; create an entire tribe of Kra-Matoran, Toa, and maybe a Turaga to lead them as well. It is the only thing to do. I cannot afford to let this unbalance go unnoticed.
 

-


In a dark, small stone chamber, a tall, jet-black figure slept on a stone slab, occasionally turning over to get a bit more comfortable. Suddenly, his eyes flickered opened and he found himself staring at a stone ceiling that was above him.

Where am I? was the first thought to enter this being’s mind. How’d I get here? Where is here? And who am I, anyway?

As all of these thoughts entered his mind, he noticed a bright, shining light stone embedded into the wall opposite of him. Its glare was in his eyes and it annoyed him greatly, but he wasn’t sure how to turn it off, if that was at all possible. He hated the light. It seemed to be his enemy, for it was pure torture just to look at it like that.

I wish I could just destroy it, the black being thought angrily. Its glare is annoying my eyes and ruining my perfect darkness.

He raised his right hand to block the light from his vision, but then suddenly a bolt of shadow shot from his palm and struck the light stone, shattering it instantly and plunging the room into total darkness. He was surprised. He could shoot shadow from his hand just by thinking about it? Wow.

He sat there in the darkness for a few minutes, relaxing. But then, looking through the thick darkness, he could see a door that looked big enough and wide enough for him to go through. He wondered what was behind and, despite being perfectly happy and content in the shadows, decided to see what was behind it, if only to satisfy his curiosity.

The curious being slid off of his stone slab and unsteadily began walking toward the door. He was not used to walking just yet, but he only needed to walk to the door, which shouldn’t be too hard, he thought, as it was very nearby.

As soon as he reached out, touched the door knob, and pulled it open, a light brighter than anything he had ever seen in his entire five minutes or so of life shone in through. It was so dazzling that he had to shut his eyes to avoid permanent damage.

"AHHHH!" he screeched as he slammed the door shut. "Ow!"

He stumbled backwards, hands in his eyes, and slumped against a wall, moaning in pain. He wasn’t blind, but his eyes hurt beyond pain and he really didn’t want to leave his room now, for fear of losing his eye sight.

And then, he heard a loud, deep, yet very mysterious and grand-sounding voice bellow throughout the room. The voice was so loud and so powerful that cracks began to appear in the foundation and roof of the room, and for a minute the being wondered if he was going to die.

"Hello, Toa of Shadow," the voice bellowed, rocking the black being's very soul and causing him to retreat into a corner of the room to avoid being hurt.

"T-Toa?" the black being repeated from his corner, confused. "W-w-what's a . . . I’m a Toa, you say? What’s that?"

"A Toa is a hero," the voice answered. "Each Toa wears a Kanohi Mask of Power and they wield elements, such as Fire or Light. Your own element is Shadow, Teivel."

"Teivel?" asked the being, still frightened by the voice. "Is that my name?"

"Yes," the great voice replied. "You, and the other five, are very unique Toa, for you six are the only Toa of Shadow in the entire universe.”

"There are more?" Teivel asked, starting to regain his courage. "Where are they?"

"They are just beyond that door you opened," the rumbling voice said. "Just open it."

"Really?" asked the Toa of Shadows, suspicious. "How do I know you don't just want to kill me with all of that unbearably bright light out there? I nearly turned blind when I first tried to open it, and if I go out there completely I’m afraid I’ll get burned to death or something."

The unseen voice laughed loudly, a sound which nearly crumbled the room and made Teivel pull himself even further into his corner to avoid pieces of debris that fell from the ceiling.

"Kill you, Teivel?" the voice laughed. "Why would I ever do that? I would never do that, seeing as I am the one who created you in the first place. If I had wanted you dead, I would never have created you at all."

"O-okay," Teivel said, with more than a hint of fear in his voice. "Well, I have one more question for you."

"Yes? What is it?"

"What is your name?"

"I am the Great Spirit Mata Nui," the voice answered. "I am the ruler and protector of this universe. I created you, your fellow Toa, your Turaga, and your entire tribe of Matoran of Shadow. I created all of you to balance out the universe, for I saw that the Great Beings had not made a tribe for all of the elements out there."

" 'Balance out the universe'?" Teivel asked. "Matoran? Turaga? The Great Beings? What are you talking about? Explain yourself, Mata Nui."

Mata Nui laughed again, though a little less loud than the last. "Why not go through the door, Teivel, and see for yourself what I mean?"

Teivel looked at the door again. He wondered if he should do as Mata Nui had said. The Toa was curious, after all. Maybe it wasn't as bad as he thought it was. Maybe the Great Spirit had made the other room less bright so he could live survive out there for more than five minutes. He decided it was worth a try, at least.

"Okay, I'll do it," Teivel answered, walking over to the door. "But if I get killed because of the light, I will know who to blame."

The Toa of Shadow hesitantly placed his hand on the doorknob, as if it were a bomb, and carefully turned it and pulled the door open. Beyond it, he could see but darkness, which meant that Mata Nui had indeed doused the lights for him.

As Teivel left the room, closing the door behind him, Mata Nui felt proud of himself.

I have balanced out the universe at last, Mata Nui thought triumphantly. Now all I need to do is get them to their island, Shika Nui, and then tell them what they should do. I knew that the Great Beings had made a mistake when they didn’t create a tribe of Shadow! Now I do believe, after I finish putting them on their proper place, that I should continue my mission that I was charged with.

However, Mata Nui did now know that he had made a grave mistake in creating the Kra-Matoran tribe. He did not know that, not too long after they had been created, that they would rebel against him. And he wasn’t even aware that, several thousand years later, in a place he would regret ever having to use, that six other Toa would later fight the Kra-Matoran in one last attempt by the tribe of shadow to take over the universe. . . .
 

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#20 Offline TNTOS

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Posted Jan 28 2014 - 10:03 AM

Chapter 1: Shodios


Present Day...

Toa Teivel stood on the high tower of Castle Kra, his armed hands on the balcony rail, his blood red eyes focused on the Kra-Matoran villagers below, all of whom were scurrying to and fro in the courtyard, completely various tasks and chores that needed to be done to keep the castle well kept. Then his eyes looked up over at The Door to the Light, which was several thousand feet away from where he was standing.

The sight of The Door brought back painful memories to his mind. Memories of defeat at the hands of light dwellers flashed in his mind, and then memories of imprisonment in the dark land of Wyoko, which he now ruled along with the other five Shodios, appeared as well. That Door brought back many unpleasant memories to practically all of Wyoko, and all who lived in the land wished to see it smashed down, but for the past 100,000 years it had been locked by an unbreakable Toa Seal, one that frustrated Teivel and his team every day for the first few years of their imprisonment here.

Then his mind suddenly flashed back to which two individuals were at The Door at this very moment. His brother and sister Shodios, Rhatara and Ira, had left for The Door to the Light not too long ago for their daily rounds of checking up on The Door in case someone from the outside world had opened it. They usually returned around this time today and they weren’t back yet, which meant that they had either had success and escaped, or were killed by whoever might have opened The Door in the first place. Teivel didn’t care if they got killed, as long as The Door remained open so he could leave.

Freedom is a fickle thing, Teivel thought. You never appreciate it when you have it, and when it is taken away from you it becomes almost an obsession to have just a taste of freedom. That is how I feel now; I, along with every other blasted inhabitant of this land, wish to be free to roam the universe once more, as I did 100,000 years ago.

He heard the sound of metal clanking against stone and whirled around to see a small Kra-Matoran walking up to him, the fear evident in the villager’s eyes. Teivel wondered what this Matoran could want. After all, few ever disturbed Teivel when he was thinking, and fewer ever lived to tell the tale of what happened they did survive.

"S-s-sir?" the Matoran croaked cowardly as he looked up at the imposing Toa’s large spikes that ran along his back.

“What is it, Matoran?” Teivel snapped. “It had better be good, or else I’ll toss you off of this balcony, and that is the most merciful way that I can think of to dispose of you at the moment.”

"T-T-Toa Rhatara and Toa Ira . . . ha-have . . . have found and . . . and captured six Toa from the outside world," the Kra-Matoran said quickly. "They're bringing the Toa here, to this castle, I mean."

Teivel’s eyes lit up as soon as he heard what the Matoran had said. He advanced on the villager, and the Matoran stepped back, afraid he had said something wrong to Teivel.

But to his surprise, Teivel merely asked, “Six Toa from the outside world? Six Toa other than my brothers and sisters and I?”

"Y-y-yes," the Matoran spat out in fear, although he felt his courage rising ever so slightly. "We don't know much about them yet, but Rhatara says-"

Teivel instantly pushed the stuttering Kra-Matoran aside as he left the balcony. He had broken into a sprint and was running – almost flying – down the stone stairways and hallways of Castle Kra as he jumped over Matoran. The villagers all looked confused as to why Teivel was acting so strangely, as he usually wasn’t very energetic at all.

But had they known what he knew; that The Door to the Light, the one obstacle that had held them back from leaving this Mata Nui-forsaken realm, from going back to conquering the universe as they had done in the before times, then they, too, would have rejoiced just as he had and would be spreading the news all over the castle and all over Wyoko as well.
 

-


Toa Addis, Toa Shika of Plasma and leader of the Toa Shika, awoke as the wagon he was lying on hit a bump. He was staring up at a dark, unknown skyline, with small twinkles of light shining through here and there, though not enough to see much. He wondered where he was for a minute before he suddenly remembered all that had happened in the past few days.

He remembered how he and his team, consisting of Barilo, Akuna, Nastan, Nonzra, Chimoy, and himself, had become Toa not too long ago after using some Toa stones. Since they had been thieves as Matoran, it took them a while to get used to having to be heroes. But eventually all six of them accepted their destiny and were willing to defend their home from all threats.

Unfortunately, they had just been six Toa . . . against hundreds of Dark Hunters that controlled Shika Nui with an iron fist. Because of this, they ran all over the island, and fighting Hunters, until the Dark Hunters became distracted by a Makuta named Hajax. Then Toa Shika had made a break for it into the fortress of the Hunters and there went into a deep tunnel that lead underground, where they found a large, ancient wall of protodermis. They opened it by combining their elemental powers, hoping to find powerful weapons or amazing riches behind the wall.

What they had found instead, however, was another world entirely. When they had passed through The Door, they had ended up in a dark forest, where they had been ambushed and kidnapped by two dark and obviously evil beings that called themselves Toa.

But these two beings – Rhatara and Ira – looked little like how Toa should in Addis’ opinion. Rhatara, being black and white in color, had a large, deformed arm that seemed to work like the other, but gave him a monstrous appearance that made Addis feel a little sick, while Ira, wearing black and purple armor, had a large spiked tail coming from her back, which was curled up around her waist from what he could tell. All in all, he wondered whether they really were Toa, which he severely doubted at the moment.

For some reason, Addis felt extremely weak and the reason for that was instantly clear when he looked down: He had two large shadow rings binding his arms and legs together and sapping his energy, too, from the looks of it. There didn’t seem to be any way to escape them, for he doubted that his plasma power could do anything to it.

The other Toa Shika was unconscious, all of them lying on the bed of the wagon in various states of weakness, but they didn’t seem dead, at least. He looked up and then saw Rhatara and Ira’s backs, the two Shodios sitting at the head of the caravan, apparently whispering to each other. He decided to see if he could get them to talk to him, maybe answer all of the questions that he had buzzing inside of his head.

"Excuse me," Addis said, straining to get the words out as his energy was slowly sapped away by the shadow rings. “Where are you taking . . . my friends and I?”

Both of the Toa started, and then looked around until they saw Addis, lying on the wagon, looking at them. They seemed surprised to see him awake, let alone alive, but Rhatara shook his head and said, “So, you’re awake now, are you? You’re stronger than you look, light spit.”

“Yes, that’s very nice,” Addis said sarcastically. “Now answer my question: Where are you taking my friends and I?”

“Straight and to the point, I see,” Ira said as she looking at Addis with a disgusted expression on her face. “Well, if you really need to know, we are taking you to Castle Kra, where you will be interrogated to give us any information you know about the outside world, of course.” She instantly turned away after that and seemed to be ignoring Addis’ other questions that he was throwing at her.

“But where am I?” Addis asked. “Who are you? Where is this place? What are you?”

"Shut up and be quiet, light spit,” Rhatara snapped. “Or I’ll do to you what I’ve always wanted to do to Ukio for over 100,000 years, and let me tell you,” he said, leaning in closer to Addis’ mask, “it ain’t pretty, nor at all pleasant.”

“Just like this ride,” Ira commented. “Matoran, move more carefully! It’s too bumpy!”

Addis managed to look over Ira’s shoulder and saw, to his surprise, that two odd-looking Matoran in black armor were pulling the vehicle by two thick ropes, but they were slowing down, he could see. They weren’t Onu-Matoran, from what he could see, but as far as he knew there weren’t any other pure black tribes out there.

Well, they aren’t pure black, Addis corrected himself. The two Matoran have red and green as their secondary colors. But they’re wearing really weird masks that I’ve never seen before! Who are these guys?

Lying near him, Addis saw Nastan’s eye lids slowly flicker open, his yellow orbs looking around the place in confusion. The Toa of The Green seemed to be just as puzzled and as weak as Addis, for he had shadow rings around his body, too, although Addis thought that he looked better than himself.

He rolled over onto his stomach next to Addis and asked in a whisper, “Where are we? Who are those guys? And how are we going to escape?”

"I don’t know yet,” Addis replied. “But I do know that we are in a wagon, driven by two Matoran of Shadow, and that the two figures sitting in front of us are Ira and Rhatara, two beings who call themselves Toa, apparently. They told me we’re being taken to Castle Kra, wherever that is.” He added.

“Right,” said Nastan, looking up at Ira and Rhatara. “Maybe we should try to get out of these bonds while they’re not looking? They’re clearly deep in conversation. Try to use your plasma powers to melt them.”

“I can’t,” Addis whispered, shaking his head. “These are made out of pure shadow. My plasma can only melt physical things, not immaterial like shadow, for instance. We’re stuck, I think, and it makes more sense to see where we’re going anyway. Maybe they’ll take these rings off of us so we can make our escape.”

Nastan looked doubtful, but he didn’t say anything else.

The rest of the trip consisted of them going over a river of what looked like shadow, going through at least two more villages, and then heading through a barren wasteland. All the while, the rest of the Toa Shika had not woken up yet, mostly because Nastan and Addis wanted to see where they were going first without making too much noise.

Finally, a large castle loomed into full view, and Nastan gasped at it. It was made entirely out of stone, with large banners billowing in the wind from the tips of its towers. On its mighty powerful-looking walls several Matoran guards stood, all of them armed with a spear and a shield. There was a large moat surrounding it and the draw bridge was slowly lowering. All in all, the castle looked quite creepy.

As they rode inside of the courtyard, Rhatara shouted, “This is your new temporary home, light spit. Very nice, eh?”

Nastan was about to say that ‘nice’ was far from the way he would describe it and that ‘radiating evil like heat’ would be more sufficient, but Addis gave him a look that said not too make Rhatara too angry.

Meanwhile, Chimoy was stirring now, his dull gray eyes opening as he took in his surroundings. It was evident by the expression on his face that he had no idea where he was or what he was doing lying in a cart with shadow rings around his body.

“Where am I?” Chimoy muttered.

“I’ll explain it to you later,” Addis replied. “For now, we’ve got to make sure we don’t provoke the evil Toa.”

Chimoy shot him a questioning looked before the back of the cart was pulled open by two odd-looking Matoran. Then the vehicle was lifted up from the front and all six of the Toa Shika tumbled out of the back, awaking Toa Barilo, Toa of Gravity, and Toa Akuna, Toa of Lightning. Toa Nonzra, Toa of Sonics, was also awake now, and he looked very confused.

Rhatara loomed over the Toa of Sonics and shouted, “Get up, you worms!”

“We can’t,” Nonzra replied acidly. “Our arms and legs are bound. We couldn’t get up even if we wanted to!”

“Then you will have . . . assistance,” Ira said, snapping her fingers. “Matoran, get these prisoners up on their feet!”

Six guards obeyed her command and they soon had the six Toa standing on their feet, each one of the Shika looked a little dazed and confused. The six Matoran all slipped back into the shadows with curious expressions on their faces as Rhatara began circling the six Toa, occasionally muttering phrases like “He reminds me of Ukio . . .” and “She looks a little bit like Klio . . .”

Nonzra, finally getting impatient, said, “Who the Karzahni is Ukio? What’d he do to you, anyway?”

It immediately became clear that Nonzra had said the wrong thing. Rhatara whirled around, pulled out a knife from his bag at the speed of light, and instantly had the dagger up against Nonzra’s throat, cutting the Toa’s air off from his lungs.

“Never . . . speak . . . that way . . . to a Shodios . . . ever again. . . .” Rhatara hissed.

Nonzra looked like he would have apologized if he could have spoken. Fortunately for him, Rhatara took the blade away from his throat and Nonzra began breathing again, suddenly realizing just how much he took air for granted.

“What’s up with him?” Akuna whispered to Nastan.

“No idea,” Nastan replied. “Maybe, whoever this ‘Ukio’ guy is, maybe he did something to him in the past that’s got him all angry?”

“Seems likely,” Akuna whispered back. “I just hope he doesn’t decide to take his rage out on poor Nonzra.”

Now Rhatara had his back to them, looking up at the sky as if he were interested in it, but it seemed obvious that he wasn’t. Ira was standing well away from the Shika, but she was still looking at them with curious eyes as if she had never seen beings from the surface before.

But then Rhatara whirled around suddenly and raised his knife up high above his head as he shouted, “Ukio or not, you will pay for his crimes against the Kra-Matoran Empire!”

Right before he could bring his weapon down on Nonzra’s skull, a blast of shadow launched from a darkened doorway and hit Rhatara’s hand with such force that the Toa of Shadow’s knife went flying into the air and into the castle, embedding itself into the stone bricks of the fortress. Rhatara clutched his hand, which seemed to have been burned by the shadow, and growled, “Who is the idiotic Matoran who wishes to die tonight? Answer me!”

At first, there was no answer. But then a dark, shadowy voice that sent shivers up the collective spines of the Toa Shika came from the doorway, with the very tone of it sounding like extremely cold water.

“Rhatara, a Kra-Matoran would never have been foolish enough to attack you,” the voice said, as if it were the most obvious thing in the world. “No, that would be suicide. But I must say, the reason I stopped you was because these light spit haven’t had a proper trial yet is all. I feel no compassion for those who are offspring of the ones who had imprisoned us here in the first place.”

Rhatara was now looking at the shadowed doorway, his features that of someone who had just been robbed of the most exciting experience of a life time. “I was merely showing them what I could do to them, Teivel. I didn’t actually plan to kill any of them. I thought that perhaps I should just show them who is boss around here.”

A Toa-like figure emerged from the doorway and into the light. He looked like Rhatara and Ira in the sense that he had black armor, but aside from that he looked completely different. He had a mask that none of the Toa Shika had ever seen before, with two red eyes peeking out from its narrow eye holes. Large spikes extended from his back, almost long enough to touch the ground. For a moment Barilo wondered how Teivel could sleep like that, but had no time to ponder it further for the Toa of Shadow had glided over to the Shika and said, “So, The Door is open, then?”

“Yes,” Rhatara said, a slight smile playing at his lips. “These six are no doubt the first in what will be wave after wave of light spit that will fall before us!”

“I certainly hope so,” Ira said softly as she walked out of the darkness. “You know how long we’ve been awaiting this opportunity.”

“That is fine and all,” Teivel said, his blood red eyes still focused on the Toa Shika. “But do you know why these light spit even bothered to open The Door in the first place? Are they ambitious enough to think that we will reward them for this?”

“Nope,” said Rhatara, shaking his head. “I scanned their minds earlier and found out that they opened The Door purely for treasure. They thought some sort of stash was hidden under here. They were not expecting to see us. The morons.” He added nastily, looking over at the Shika as if they were carrying some kind of lethal disease.

“Now just wait a dang minute here!” Barilo shouted angrily, yet there was a trace of confusion in his voice as well. “Who are you people? How’d you get here? Why are you here? And just why the Karzahni is everything so . . . dark?”

He suddenly winced in pain and cursed under his breath. His left shoulder had been damaged earlier by a Dark Hunter who had thrown a knife into it. It had recovered from the attack and hurt every time he moved it too much, as he had just done now.

Teivel, Rhatara, and Ira just stared at him, all of them slightly surprised to see him freak out like that. Finally, Teivel said, “Those are legitimate questions, Toa, ones which you will get your answers to eventually. For now, however, you must await your trial until all of us Shodios have been gathered and Turaga Krashadi informed of the opening of The Door to the Light.”

He turned to a small group of Kra-Matoran that had been standing nearby. As soon as his evil eyes lay upon them, the guards all stood ramrod straight, saluting him.

“Yes, sir?” one of the Kra-Matoran asked. “What may we do for you, sir?”

"Toss this light spit into the dungeons until all of the Shodios have gathered for the trial,” Teivel ordered. “Lock them up tightly, too.”

All of the Kra-Matoran guards nodded, saluted again, and then ran over to the bound Toa Shika. Then they began to pull and push the heroes out of the courtyard and down a narrow stone staircase into the dark dungeons of Castle Kra. Barilo glanced over his shoulder one last time to see the three Shodios standing there until they were well out of sight.

Back up in the courtyard, Ira noticed that Rhatara was walking back to the draw bridge with an impatient expression on his face.

"Where are you going?" she asked.

"To find the others," he replied. "They will need to know that we have visitors who need trialing, and, of course, they need to know about the wonderful news about the opening of The Door as well.."

She and Teivel watched as a Kra-Matoran lowered the draw bridge, allowing the Shodios to leave. Once Rhatara had left, and the draw bridge had been drawn again, Ira turned to Teivel and asked, "And what, may I ask, will you be doing in the meantime?"

"I will go for myself to see if The Door really is open," Teivel said, Mask of Shape Shifting already activating. “I need to see it for myself to believe.”

His form twisted and in no less than 15 seconds a new form had emerged, one that resembled a Gukko bird, except with Teivel’s large spikes on its back. It reared back and shot into the sky, heading north toward where The Door was. Ira watched him go until she suddenly decided that she couldn’t let him go, not yet. What if he opened The Door and left by himself? She couldn’t allow that at all, not after what she and the rest of the Shodios had already been through.

So a shadow hand show from her chest and caught Teivel before he was out of range. Then she gradually pulled him back to the ground as he struggled to get free of her grasp, and then he shape shifted back into his Toa form once he landed on the ground, rage comforting his features as he rounded on her.

"What did you do that for?” Teivel hissed.

“Because I don’t trust you enough to let you see The Door and try to escape it without the rest of us,” Ira answered acidly. “Besides, we need all six Shodios present for the trial to begin. You know the rules. You helped write them, after all.”

“Escaping this living death matters far more to me than giving a bunch of light spit a mock trial that will end in them dying hideous deaths,” Teivel growled. “But very well. I . . . suppose that I could stay for just the trial. After that, we should gather the Kra-Matoran and then leave Wyoko immediately. I have waited 100,000 years for this moment. I do not want to have to wait a minute longer than that.”
 

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#21 Offline TNTOS

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Posted Jan 29 2014 - 09:46 AM

Chapter 2: Turaga Krashadi


The dungeons of Castle Kra were like most dungeons: unclean, uncomfortable, miserable, and lightless. But it seemed even darker down here, possibly because of the fact that they were in Wyoko or maybe it just seemed like that to Barilo. Whatever the case was, Barilo knew that he didn’t like getting tossed into a dark, dank cell, tightly bound by bonds of shadow, without even so much as a thin blanket to sleep on. It didn’t help that he had landed on his damaged shoulder, meaning the pain was even more intense than before.

The Kra-Matoran guards that were handling him and his friends seemed to be much stronger than the average Matoran, since they could easily and effortlessly move the Toa Shika. Then again, maybe they weren’t so much as strong as Barilo was weak, since the shadow rings were apparently draining him of energy, thus making it harder for him to resist the guards.

But there was one thing that he knew to be true: These Matoran was much meaner than the villagers back on Shika Nui.

“Idiotic light-dwellers,” one of the Kra-Matoran muttered. “Can’t wait for all of your to die.”

Addis somehow struggled to his feet and said, “We’re . . . not . . . going . . . to . . . die. . . .” It was becoming increasingly harder for him to speak because the shadow ropes were weakening him, thus making each word he spoke as painful as if he had been punched in the face. Still, he tried his best to look brave in the face of these evil Matoran, to not show any weakness in front of them.

“Oh, that may be so,” the villager continued, his eyes gleaming with evil delight. “We don’t know exactly what the great Shodios and the wise and awesome Turaga Krashadi will decide to do with you. First they have to have a council and then they decide whether you’re good enough to die or not.”

“Good enough to die?” Barilo repeated. He gulped. “What does that mean?”

“You’ll learn soon enough, surface walker,” the Matoran snapped. “Come on, guys. Let’s go back to the surface and report back to Toa Teivel.”

Nodding in agreement, all of the Kra-Matoran followed him out. One of the villagers, however, lingered a little and called them something that Barilo was sure was a curse word before running off to catch up with the rest of his fellow guards. As soon as they were out of sight, the shadow bonds around the Toa immediately disappeared, leaving them apparently free to move their arms and legs.

The minute the shadow rings had disappeared from his body, Chimoy immediately leapt to his feet and tried to use his elemental power over metal to break the bars of his cell. But to his shock, nothing happened. The bars just stood there, as if taunting him. The rest of the Toa also tried to break their bars with their elemental powers, but failed just as he had. It seemed that the bars were somehow absorbing elemental energy, but how, none of them knew for sure.

Barilo, giving up after the tenth time of trying to break the bars with his elemental powers, sat back down on the ground in his cell, his back against the stone wall. He winced as he felt his shoulder sting. He could that tell his wound wasn’t going to be getting any better any time soon unless it got some medical attention quickly, but it was obvious that the Kra-Matoran would never help him nurse it back to health. Not that it would heal quickly, anyway, considering how damaged it was.

He decided to check out the rest of the place outside of his jail cell and tried to stick his head through the bars, but they were too narrow for his head to fit through and all he had accomplished was hitting his head against the cold, hard bars, which hurt. So he decided to try and see the rest of the room outside of his cell through the gaps in the poles.

It was a dark and dank room, with no lights at all. The ceiling wasn’t very high up and he saw two pairs of metal chains hanging on the walls, ending in the skeletons of two dead prisoners. He could hear the sounds of the other Toa moving around in their cells, pacing back and forth and occasionally the sound of a Toa using his or her elemental power again and failing, though it was obvious that they were all thinking of ways to escape just the same.

“I say,” Nastan said from the cell closest to Barilo’s, “that we should use brute force to break out. Surely if elemental powers do not work, then maybe our raw, untapped strength will do it.” He tapped the bars with his finger and said, “They feel old enough to break, after all.”

Chimoy peered down at the metal bars and shook his head as he said, “This is protosteel. You can’t break it with sheer brute force, unless you happen to be the Great Spirit Mata Nui himself.”

“What do you think is going to happen to us?” Akuna asked nervously. “What did that Kra-Matoran mean by ‘The Shodios and Turaga Krashadi will decide what to do with you’? Are we going to be judged? And who is Turaga Krashadi?”

“As for the first question, I have no idea,” said Barilo. “For the second, it sounds to me like Krashadi is the Turaga of this place, which means he’s the boss.”

“Well, there’s a bright spot,” said Addis. “Maybe he’ll let us go. Turaga are supposed to be wise, after all.”

“Yeah, but if he’s anything like the Shodios, then we’re in for trouble,” Barilo mused. “We should figure out how to escape, in my opinion, instead of worrying about some old dude who most likely has a twisted sense of wisdom.”
 

-


A small, hunched Turaga sat in a tiny room at the very top of one of the many towers of Castle Kra. He was busily writing on a stone tablet, mostly about today’s events. His name was Turaga Krashadi, leader of the Kra-Matoran and of Wyoko.

He was bored, as he always was, for Wyoko offered little in the way of conflict, since the villages were so spread out. Like the others, he missed the days when the Empire was taking over all islands and lands in the universe. Ah, yes, those were the days, when just mentioning his name would cause most Matoran – and even some Toa – to shudder in fear.

But now, what with being exiled in a land that nobody had ever heard of or been to before, it was dreadfully boring, as he had already established. The castle was never attacked by anyone, not even by a dumb Rahi beast. Nor did the Kra-Matoran get into a lot of disputes, either, for they knew quite well what would happen if they had a major dispute and a Shodios had to get into it.

The Turaga of Shadow glanced around his chamber. His room was a small, circular chamber, with only one window that was opened at the moment, giving him a bird’s eye view of most of Wyoko. Small, black, torn curtains hung on the window, while his small bed was set up against a wall and the desk he was sitting at was near it. His room wasn’t very big because he wasn’t much interested in huge, royally decorated chambers, since they were usually well-lit and he, like all of the inhabitants of Wyoko, hated light.

Just then, he heard knocking at the old, wooden door of his room.

“Come in,” said Krashadi.

The door opened and Toa Ira entered. It was unusual for a Shodios to come into his room without first sending a messenger or something, but he that hoped she had important news anyway. If she didn’t, then she would have interrupted him for no reason at all and he would have to get angry at her.

“What brings you here, Ira?” asked Krashadi. “It had better be important. I am in the middle of-“

“Rhatara and I captured six Toa,” said Ira quickly and, seeing the look of shock and curiosity on Krashadi’s face, she went on to explain how they had been waiting at The Door to The Light when the Toa had suddenly entered and how those Toa were now in the dungeons awaiting their trial.

Krashadi listened with rapt interested as she talked. When she was done, Krashadi smiled ever so slightly and he said, “Interesting, Ira. Toa from the surface have came here, to Wyoko?” He got up from his chair and began pacing back and forth across the room, Ira watching him, wondering what he was about to say. “I do wonder, Ira, why they opened The Door in the first place.”

She shrugged and said, “Rhatara read their minds and said that they thought some sort of big treasure or ancient weapon was under here. They apparently had no idea we ever existed.”

“It makes sense,” said Krashadi, still pacing. “Greed is a great motivator to get someone to do something incredibly stupid and risky, but usually well-worth it. For that,” he added, “these Toa, whoever they are, will be repaid with death and we will march out of Wyoko as we stomp on their dead bodies.”

“Turaga, as much as I respect your opinion and as much as I so dearly wish to see those Toa eliminated, too, I don’t think we should call them dead just yet,” said Ira, tapping her foot impatiently. “We still have to hold a trial, you know. Rhatara is gathering Jero, Jiki, and Tikcah at the moment.”

“I see,” said Krashadi, stopping and staring at her. “Well, you may go back down now. I shall think over this new turn of events.”

“Yes, Turaga,” said Ira, bowing herself out of the room and closing the door.

Turaga Krashadi simply looked at the door for a while, his mind thinking over the events. New Toa? Here, in Wyoko? It was almost too hard for him to believe, but he doubted that had Ira lied to him. After all, no one ever lied to Krashadi, for they had every reason to tell him the truth at all times, if they truly valued their life.
 

-


The dungeons of Castle Kra were quiet now. None of the Toa Shika was doing anything, since they couldn’t escape. The only thing they could do was await the return of the Kra-Matoran so that they could be taken to this trial, whatever that was. All of them had given up on any plans of escape, since the bars were resistant to both elemental powers and sheer brute strength, so all they could do now was wait and hope that they wouldn’t find themselves dead in the next few hours.

Barilo’s shoulder was hurting now more than ever. Several hours had already passed and he still hadn’t had his wound tended to. He knew if he kept this up, he may very well get an infection and end up worse than before if he didn’t get healed soon.

It hurts so much, Barilo thought, trying to stay very still so that he couldn’t feel the pain, but his shoulder still hurt anyway. I wish the Kra-Matoran would have at least patched it up with a bandage. But apparently they’re very cynical to us. I wonder why, since we haven’t really done anything to them unless they just don’t like uninvited guests.

Now that he was thinking about the Kra-Matoran, he wondered where they had come from. After all, Matoran of Shadow didn’t exist, at least back on the surface world. There were tribes for practically every other element, but he knew that shadow wasn’t one of them. Yet here they were; an entire tribe of Shadow Matoran, plus an entire team of Toa and possibly a Turaga of Shadow as well. How had they gotten here? Why hadn’t he and his friends known about them before? Did they always live here or had they been imprisoned? And just who had locked them down here if they had, anyway?

“Am I the only one thinking about the Kra-Matoran?” Barilo said out loud. “Like, how the Karzahni do they exist when we know they shouldn’t?”

“You’re not the only one,” said Chimoy. “I, too, have been wondering about them. It just doesn’t add up. There’s just no way Matoran of Shadow could exist. They aren’t supposed to be real, yet we have met them, so we know they are truly real.”

“It certainly is odd,” Akuna remarked, sounding puzzled, “but apparently the Kra-Matoran are real because we’ve seen them with our own eyes.”

Nastan grabbed the bars of his cell and said, “Yeah. They’ve even touched us to prove it, so we know this isn’t some sort of whacked up illusion or anything like that.”

“I don’t think we should worry about this too much,” said Addis. “What we should worry about is how we are going to get out of here, or wait until they come to get us and bring us to their ‘trial,’ whatever that might be.”

“Yeah, I guess so,” said Barilo. “I just wish they would have at least given me a sling to hold my arm in. It hurts like crazy!”
 

-


Toa Rhatara was currently a long distance from the castle. He had arrived at a small village of Kra-Matoran and they, like all Kra-Matoran in Wyoko, welcomed him warmly. They even offered him a place to stay for the night, but he declined, mostly because he had come there specifically to find his brother, Jero.

Rhatara had never really liked Jero much. Jero was, unlike the others, a scientist. He spent most of his time holed up in his underground laboratory, experimenting, studying, and stuff like that. But he was also the most cynical of the Shodios, always pointing out problems in their plans and never really liking anyone. So Rhatara, despite disliking Jero greatly, knew that if the Toa Shika were to be trialed that they would need all six of the Shodios and Jero, however antisocial and cynical he may be, counted as one.

He walked up to a small, unimportant-looking hut. To anyone else it might have looked like any other old dwelling place: Small, made of wood with a straw roof and only two windows and one doorway. But Rhatara knew better. He knew that it was actually the secret lab of Jero, the entrance disguised to look exactly like an old hut, although Rhatara had never really understood why. Perhaps it was just because Jero valued his privacy, although all of the Shodios knew where his lab was located and many Kra-Matoran did as well, so he obviously wasn’t trying to hide it.

He’s probably just showing off, Rhatara thought. Just showing off how he can make his lab look like a normal Matoran hut when it is really just totally unnecessary.

The Toa of Shadow knocked on the door with an armored fist. He waited for about five minutes before he heard Jero’s voice from the other side say, “Coming!”

Suddenly, the door flew open and Jero, standing in the doorway, looked quite annoyed. Rhatara was not startled by his appearance. He was used to seeing Jero’s wide, black wings and his long, angled and extremely sharp claws, and his black and brown colored-armor.

“Rhatara, what is it that you want?” the Toa of Shadow demanded, looking quite annoyed. “I was in the middle of a experiment and-“

“What experiment could be more important than the trial of six Toa who came from beyond The Door?” asked Rhatara quietly.

Jero instantly quieted at that and looked up at his brother in arms, looking surprised, shocked, and curious, all at the same time. Then he said, in a very quiet, hesitant tone, “What did you say, Rhatara?”

“I said that six Toa from the surface opened The Door and are now prisoners in Castle Kra,” said Rhatara, quite annoyed that he had to repeat himself. Then he explained to Jero how he and Ira had been watching The Door when the Toa suddenly appeared and how they had captured the Toa Shika and had taken them to Castle Kra.

When he finished, Jero smiled a grim smile and said, “Oh, I do hope I can use them as test subjects.”

Rhatara shot him a look of disbelief. “Test subjects? Why, after I just finished explaining to you that we are free from Wyoko, you start talking about having new test subjects? Here I was thinking you would start to gush out in excitement and happiness about how we are finally free from this wretched place and how you plan on exacting revenge upon your enemies once we are free! And what would you test on the Toa, anyway?”

“Well, Rhatara,” said Jero. “I am just as excited and happy as you and the others are about getting free of Wyoko. Since we’re going to be free, I see no reason to waste all of my time sitting here talking about how great it is that we’re going to get out of here when I can be experimenting on the first of what will surely be thousands – perhaps millions – of new test subjects. And to answer your question, I have recently created a new weapon that will surely help us reclaim our lands once we get back to the surface.”

At first, Rhatara didn’t say anything. He just stared at Jero for a minute or two, and then said, “Well, I see where you stand. I think we should go get Jiki and Tikcah now. I hear they’re at the lake of shadow in the south, though I can’t remember what they are doing there.”

“Before we go, however, I need to close up my lab,” Jero said as he disappeared into the hut. Moments later, he returned and locked the door behind him with a stone key and then he dropped the item into a bag he that had tied around his waist.

Soon the two Toa had arranged to get a chariot to take them to the southern edge of Wyoko and then they were off, heading towards the lake of shadow to find their sisters, Rhatara thinking of the very first thing he would do once he escaped Wyoko, Jero restless to get at the Toa Shika and experiment on them. None of them knew exactly what the future held for them, but it (perhaps somewhat ironically) looked quite bright for them.
 

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#22 Offline TNTOS

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Posted Jan 30 2014 - 09:42 AM

Chapter 3: The Eccentric Dream


It did not take long for the two Shodios to arrive at the lakeside village of Ghenla. Once their chariot was in view of the settlement, hundreds of Kra-Matoran burst out from their huts and quickly ran up to Rhatara and Jero, all of them eagerly chattering among themselves as the two Toa of Shadow jumped off of their vehicle and then they looked around at all of the small people who had surrounded them now. Beyond them Jero could see several smashed and destroyed huts, some of them looked like they had been flattened by a giant rock, although he could see reconstruction on a few of them had already began.

Then a few Matoran came up and took the chariot and its two Rahi beasts that had been pull it to a nearby shelter, while one of the Matoran, obviously the leader of the village because the robes he wore and because of the staff he was holding, ran up to them and bowed deeply as he said, “O wise and awesome Shodios, my name is Hikil, leader of this humble settlement. What is it that brings your supreme might to this modest village?”

“We’re here because we heard Toa Tikcah and Toa Jiki were here,” Rhatara growled, not bothering to beat around the bush. “Are they still here?”

“Yes, grand and wise Rhatara,” said Hikil, bowing again. “The two beautiful Toa arrived here about a week ago in response to our plea for help against the shadow eel that has been attacking the shoreline. We have lost many Matoran because of the creature’s devastating attacks.”

“Since they’ve been here for a week, I assume they have had no luck beating the creature?” asked Jero.

“Correct, almighty and intelligent Jero,” said Hikil, nodding. “The shadow eel, it seems, is stronger than it looks. But with both of you here to aid Toa Tikcah and Toa Jiki, it shall surely fall before your awesome might!”

“Get out of my way,” Rhatara growled, kicking Hikil with his foot, sending the Matoran stumbling into a nearby hut. “Come on, Jero. We shall deliver the good news to our sisters.”

Jero quietly followed behind Rhatara, while the villagers all stood aside to let the Shodios pass through. Once they were gone, Hikil sat up, shaking his head, but smiling all the same as he said in awe, “I was kicked by Rhatara! Toa Rhatara! I am never bathing again!”
 

-


The lake of shadow was, as the name so obviously implied, a lake of shadow. Instead of water, shadow filled it, but acted like water in that one could swim in it, although it wasn’t very drinkable, even to the Shodios, unless it was heavily purified before drinking. Dark, rotten trees, some broken in half, stood around it, while Matoran fishing huts and docks dotted the shoreline. As far as Jero could see, there were no fishing boats out today, nor were any of the villagers swimming. He instantly found the answer for that; Tikcah and Jiki were fighting what appeared to be a giant eel a few feet away from him and Rhatara.

Shadow eels were 15-foot-tall monsters that resembled eels, but were much more dangerous. They generally stayed away from Matoran settlements, but if sufficiently hungry would lay waste to any Matoran villages near them unless a Toa could stop them. Jero knew that shadow eels had a large immunity to shadow, which made them even more difficult to deal with, since he and his fellow Toa all had shadow as their element.

No wonder Tikcah and Jiki have been having such a hard time beating it, Jero thought. Then again, considering Jiki’s here, it would not surprise me if she had been purposefully delaying the defeat of the monster just to keep the thrill of the fight up.

He watched with apathy as Jiki wrestled with the beast in the shadow, while Tikcah stood by on the shoreline, clutching the cloak she always wore around her body. She glanced at Rhatara and Jero and quickly walked over to them, looking both bothered and curious.

“What are you two doing here?” she asked swiftly. “Jiki and I are dealing with the shadow eel just fine.”

“Yeah, the Matoran of Ghenla told us you have been battling it for a week,” said Rhatara, bored. “And we didn’t necessarily come to help you, Tikcah, for we have some very good news that will require you two to come back to Castle Kra with Jero and me for an important ceremony.”

“Well, whatever the news is, it can wait for later,” said Tikcah, motioning to Jiki fighting the eel. “We ought to help her, in my opinion. She may be strong, but even I am amazed at how long that she has lasted against that thing.”

“Fine,” said Rhatara. “I’ll just use my mask to help.”

Nodding, Rhatara walked over to the shoreline and activated his Mask of Energy Restriction on the eel, suddenly causing it to weaken. Jiki now had the upper hand and punched the monster in its teeth, simultaneously activating her Mask of Confusion, making the beast baffled. The eel began to get annoyed at Jiki. It was starting to feel very weak, for it had been battling Tikcah and Jiki for an entire week with little rest and wanted to finish the fight quickly. So it cracked its body like a whip, causing Jiki to go flying off its body through the shadow and hit a tree that was sticking out of the lake. Then, with one final glance backwards, it disappeared beneath the surface, hopefully gone for good, although that seemed unlikely.

“Is it gone?” asked Tikcah.

“Obviously,” Rhatara snapped.

“I do wonder if Jiki is still conscious,” said Jero. “She looks almost dead.”

The female Toa of Shadow was floating very still in the lake, apparently unconscious. Suddenly, she woke up and quickly plunged beneath the shadow before swimming back up and looking around. She had a confused expression on her face as she searched for the shadow eel, but she couldn’t find it.

Then she suddenly turned around in the shadow, spotted Rhatara, Jero, and Tikcah standing on the shore, waved one of her hands into the air and shouted, “I’m okay!”

“Ah, yes,” said Jero as Jiki swam toward them. “How stupid of me to assume that something as simple as a shadow eel hurling her off of its body at a thick tree at full speed would ever be enough to kill her.”

“How very stupid of you indeed,” Jiki said as she climbed onto shore, shadow dripping from her armor, “and here I thought that you would have realized that it would take more than that to kill me, Jero.”

Tikcah, ignoring the two, turned to Rhatara and said, “Rhatara, what is this ‘good news’ that you speak of? Why do Jiki and I need to go back to Castle Kra?”

Rhatara then explained to her all about how he and Ira had found the Toa Shika and brought them to Castle Kra. Once he had finished, Tikcah looked extremely surprised, while Jiki looked very eager and restless as she always did whenever she thought she smelled a new challenge for her.

“Seriously?” asked Tikcah. “No, seriously? Other Toa from the outside have entered Wyoko? Are you sure, Rhatara?”

“I am totally sure, Tikcah,” said Rhatara. “They’re most definitely Toa, though obviously less experienced than the Toa Avha had been.”

“Finally!” said Jiki in exasperation. “Something other than Cracko and shadows eels for me to kill!”

“First, my violent sister,” said Jero, “we must put them on trial before killing them. Just remember that little fact and you won’t be very disappointed.”
 

-


Barilo was having an odd dream. Earlier, because of how long they were waiting, because of the pain in his broken shoulder, and because of the darkness of the dungeons, he had drifted off to sleep, since after all he had nothing better to do until the Kra-Matoran returned for them, and he was getting kind of tire since he had gone without rest for quite a while.

His dream was bizarre. He found himself standing on a tall, menacing-looking tower in an unknown land, while standing in front of him was a huge hulking behemoth that was glaring at him. One quick glance at its limbs revealed it had chains attached to its wrists and ankles, like it had broken free of some prison some time ago. It had dull blue colored armor and hundreds of small, extremely sharp-looking teeth, its giant, endlessly black eyes focused on Barilo.

To his surprise, he could move both arms just fine, without feeling any sharp pain at all. And he could hold his gravity axe very well without much effort, like it was a leaf. He had no idea where he was nor why he was on top of this tower, facing this beast that kept walking back and forth in front of him as if it were guarding something from him. Every time he tried to look past it, it swiped at him with its powerful, hoof-like paws and he had to jump back to avoid getting hit, which brought him closer to the edge of the tower each time.

It’s obviously protecting something, Barilo thought as he watched the monster walk. But what?

“I can answer that for you, Toa Barilo,” said a mysterious, yet familiar, voice from behind him.

The Toa of Gravity whirled and saw, floating in midair, a cloaked being of enormous size and width. Whoever he was Barilo was sure he had heard the being’s voice before, but where he had, he could not remember at the moment.

“Who are you?” asked Barilo. “And how do you know my name?”

“I would answer, Barilo,” said the being mysteriously. “But I would like for you to piece together the clues yourself.”

“I hate it when people talk cryptically,” Barilo snapped.

“Well, I don’t like it when people disrespect the privacy of others,” said the cloaked figure acidly, “as you so often do with your Mask of Stealth.”

Barilo just glared at him for a moment and then he said, “What is that behemoth protecting? You told me you would answer.”

“The Graalo is protecting a . . . Matoran,” said the being in a vague voice. “The Graalo is one of my more finer creations. Very protective of its territory, yet it can also be tamed quite easily if one knows how.”

“How do you tame it?”

The being did not answer. Instead, he flew over to the Graalo and waved his hand in front of it as he mumbled in a language that Barilo was sure was some kind of growling, like that of a Muaka. As soon as the cloaked figure finished his command, the Graalo reluctantly walked out of the way of the Matoran it was protecting, revealing the villager to Barilo.

The Matoran that he saw was wearing black armor, yet she wasn’t an Onu-Matoran. Her armor looked similar to that of the Kra-Matoran, but not as rustic or ancient-looking but quite shiny and well-polished. Her mask was an unfamiliar one and she looked quite determined and brave, yet she also seemed to not notice Barilo.

“Who is she?” asked Barilo, walking closer to the seemingly-frozen Matoran.

“I do not know,” said the floating being softly. “I do not know her name, but I’ve seen her in the past, when the Kra-Matoran used to live on the surface. She is obviously a Kra-Matoran, no doubt, as there isn’t any female Onu-Matoran. I was hoping that you would know, Barilo.”

“Why would I know?” said Barilo, looking back at the cloaked figure.

“Yes, why would you know?” the being said, in a mocking voice. “If I had a widget for every time you acted like a moron, I would be rich enough to buy out the entire Brotherhood of Makuta and half the Dark Hunters. Think, Barilo. Why would I be showing you this Matoran if you were not going to be meeting her someday? Perhaps even once you leave this realm?”

“Why would I meet her outside of Wyoko?” asked Barilo. “There isn’t any Kra-Matoran back on Shika Nui or any other island that I know of.”

“That is what you know now, Barilo,” the figure replied. “Yet I suggest you keep your eyes open once you return to your condemned land. You might be surprised . . . if you ever return there.”

Barilo was frustrated by the cloaked character’s cryptic talk. What did he mean? Surely he wasn’t meaning that there was Kra-Matoran outside of Wyoko, was he? He decided to ask the being what he meant when suddenly the character started to fade out of existence.

“Hey! Don’t go!” Barilo shouted, running up to the man. “I still have many questions to ask you!”

“Barilo, I will not be answering any of your questions,” the being replied. “But I can tell you this: The Graalo is closer than you think. . . .”

“Wait, what does that mean?” Barilo shouted as the cloaked man disappeared. “The Graalo is closer than you think? What the Karzahni does that mean?”

But now the entire place was fading away, and Barilo was soon alone in a white, empty space, floating there for a few seconds before, without warning, falling into the endless abyss, and then he screamed.

He suddenly awoke, panting, his heart beating against his chest very fast. It took him a while to realize that he was not on the tower, but in a dank dungeon cell in Castle Kra and that it had all been a really weird (yet strangely realistic) dream. He also soon realized the reason he had awoken: An angry-looking Kra-Matoran was poking him with a spear.

“Finally!” the Matoran shouted in exasperation. “I have been poking you here for several minutes and I was beginning to think I’d have to drag you out of here myself!”

“Why did you wake me?” Barilo asked abruptly.

“Because the Shodios and Turaga Krashadi have gathered to give you and your filthy light friends a proper trial,” the Kra-Matoran sneered. “I hope your dream was good, because I doubt you will be having another one any time soon. Now up!”

Two rings of shadow appeared around Barilo, binding him tightly and weakening him so he couldn’t do anything. The Matoran helped him up to his feet (which were not bound) and then forced him out of the cell, shutting the door behind him loudly as he pushed Barilo forward. The other Toa Shika and about six other Matoran guards were waiting only a few feet away and now that all of them were together, the Matoran began to poke the Toa in their backs with their spears, forcing them to move forward or get stabbed.

This time, instead of going up to the courtyard, the Toa Shika were brought up to a wide staircase that lead up, until finally they arrived in a huge courtroom with seven seats that were seat against the wall, all of them of various heights, each one with a banner hanging just behind it. All of the banners had Kanohi masks on them, Barilo noticed. Barilo could see the masks of Ira, Teivel, and Rhatara on the banners, but the other four had unfamiliar ones that he had never seen before. Yet the largest of them caught his eye the minute he heard Akuna gasp about it, pointing with her index finger at it.

The mask on the banner had narrow silts for eyes, giving it an evil look, while long spikes stuck out from the top and sides, and it had a long, narrow mouth hole that gave it a queer appearance. Barilo, having never seen the mask before, had no idea what it was or why his friends acted so surprised about it. He assumed they must have seen it before, but where, he had no idea.

“In here,” one of the Kra-Matoran said as he opened the door of a very large cage that was big enough to hold at least seven Toa. None of them had noticed the cage before, but none of them had time to think about where it had came from before getting shoved into the cage, with the door getting shut behind them and locked as well.

The shadow rings disappeared and now all six of the Toa were free to move, but none of them bothered to use their elemental powers to escape because the cage looked like it was made of the same material as the bars of their cells. It would have been a useless effort.

“So,” said Barilo struggling to sit up and looking around. He suddenly winced at the pain in his shoulder and he said, “Why were you guys looking all shocked by that one mask on the biggest banner over there?”

“Well, you didn’t see it,” said Addis. “Because that was when. . . . Well . . . you know. . . .”

Barilo knew perfectly well what Addis meant. Back when they had been on Shika Nui, a Skakdi had been sent to kill them, but Barilo had killed her instead. Nastan, horrified by what he had done, had tried to reprimand him, but Barilo tried to kill him, too, but he was stopped by the other Toa Shika. After that, he had been exiled from the team, but later on accepted him back into the team. Except for Nastan, who still didn’t think Barilo was trustworthy.

“Go on,” Barilo urged. “I’m listening.”

“Well, shortly after we exiled you from the team, Turaga Joha showed us this village that he had discovered as a Toa, which was hidden in the mountains, and the temple of the village was shaped exactly like this mask,” Addis explained. “We had no idea what it was supposed to be at the time, I guess now we know.”

“I’m going to ask one of the guards whose mask it is,” said Nastan as he walked over to the cage door, where two Kra-Matoran guards stood. “Hey, guys.”

Both of them shot irritated looks over their shoulders and one of them asked, “What do you want, light spit?”

“My friends and I noticed the banners on the wall over there, all with a different mask on them,” said Nastan, pointing at the drapes. “We want to know which mask belongs to the one in the middle.”

“Foolish light dweller, does not your kind speak in fear of the powerful and wise Turaga Krashadi?” asked one of the Kra-Matoran. “That is his Mask of Darkness, for your information.”

“Thanks,” said Nastan, walking slowly back until he was with the rest of the Toa again. They were all huddled up in a circle now and he sat down with them and said, “Apparently, that’s Turaga Krashadi’s mask, according to them.”

“Looks ugly,” said Barilo. “What else did they say?”

“Well, one of them seemed surprised that I did not know who Krashadi was,” Nastan reported. “But I don’t know why. Why should we? After all, we just learned of this place a few hours ago, right? He asked me if my kind ever spoke in fear of Krashadi. Why would our people ever do that?”

“I don’t know,” Addis said grimly. “Something’s telling me there’s more to this place than meets the eye.”
Suddenly, Barilo remembered his odd dream that he had had earlier and said, “Guys, when I fell asleep in our cells in the dungeons I had this really weird dream about-“

But he was suddenly interrupted by the opening of the doors on the eastern side of the room, which herald the appearance of all six of the Shodios, who all walked in, lead by a small figure that resembled a Turaga. As a group, they had a terrifying, yet grand, appearance about them, yet they all seemed to have this sort air of excitement about them for some reason. Barilo guessed that the Turaga-like figure in the lead was Turaga Krashadi, for he had the same mask as on the drape.

Barilo got a good look at the Shodios and Turaga Krashadi as they walked past their cage. He had already seen Teivel, Ira, and Rhatara before, but the other three were totally unfamiliar. One of them had large, wide wings on his back and sharp, angled claws instead of normal hands, while the second one was wearing a cloak, so Barilo could not get a good look at her body. The final one was slightly bulkier than the rest and had only one wing protruding from her back, although Barilo thought she must have had two wings at one point because next to her first wing there was a stump that looked like another wing had once belonged there.

As the villains walked by the cage, all of them wore the same expression of hatred on their faces as they looked at the Toa Shika. All of them except for Krashadi, who looked at them with a cold, empty expression on his own face. Somehow that seemed worse than the glances of hatred the Shodios shot at the caged Toa.

When the Shodios and Krashadi walked past the guards, the protectors bowed deeply at their feet. Once the Shodios and the Turaga had seated themselves at their high chairs on the other side of the room, Krashadi gestured to the Kra-Matoran, and the guards, nodding, pushed the large cage that held the Toa Shika in front of the council. Krashadi gestured his hand to the door and the sentries nodded again and ran out of the room closing the door behind them as they left.

Now the Toa Shika was all alone with the Shodios and Krashadi. There was a kind of silence as the two sides looked at each other, and for a while none of them said anything, although none of them really knew why. Perhaps it was just the situation, or perhaps it had something to do with the fact that none of the Shodios or Turaga Krashadi had seen a Toa from the outside in a long time. Regardless, they were quiet and said nothing at all.

Then Krashadi, apparently getting tired of the silence, said, “Let the trial of the Toa Shika begin.”
 

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#23 Offline TNTOS

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Posted Jan 31 2014 - 09:41 AM

Chapter 4: Trial of the Shodios


Despite what Krashadi had just said, none of the Shodios said or did anything to indicate that they were about to trial the light dwellers and neither did the Toa Shika. That same silence that had plagued them earlier was back again and no one really said anything. In fact, the Shodios were staring at the Shika like they were some kind of new creatures that they had just discovered under a rock, while the Toa Shika looked back at them with curiosity in their eyes.

Finally, Krashadi, attempting to break the awkward silence, said, “I assume you six have already met Teivel, Ira and Rhatara?”

“Uh, yes,” said Barilo. Suddenly he felt the pain in his shoulder sting and he exclaimed, “Ow!”

“What is the problem?” asked Krashadi, in an almost concerned-sounding tone, which differed wildly from his previous tone.

“Well, uh, I sort of got a dagger tossed into my shoulder back on Shika Nui and now it is broken and hurts badly,” Barilo said awkwardly. Why was Krashadi concerned for his shoulder? Maybe the Turaga wasn’t so evil after all, the Toa thought.

“Jero,” the Turaga said abruptly, turning to face the Toa of Shadow with claws and wings who was sitting on his right. “Please give the Toa of Gravity a heal berry for his shoulder. We cannot have him constantly complain about his broken shoulder if this trial is to go well.”

Jero shot him a look of extreme disbelief. “But he is the enemy! We do not help the enemies! It is not logical!”

“Jero, the only reason I tolerate your ridiculous science experiments is because they are useful,” said Krashadi in a very different – and darker – tone than before. “I could easily order your execution now if you do not give the Toa a heal berry.”

Jero glared at him, then muttered, “Fine, fine,” and he climbed down from his high chair and walked over to the cage, already digging through his pouch for the fruit.

He finally found what he was looking for and pulled out a small, spiky berry from his bag and handed it to Barilo, who reluctantly took it. Jero looked away and muttered, “Just eat it.”

Barilo looked back at his teammates. What if it was poison? The Shodios had already shown how much they hated ‘light dwellers’ before. What was to stop them from trying to kill Barilo in the middle of a trial? But based on the looks of the other Shodios and Krashadi, he didn’t dare refuse it and then absorbed the energy of the berry, though rather reluctantly.

Suddenly, his shoulder began to feel different. It began to feel better, in fact. As he looked at the wound, he could see it repair itself, reattaching metal and organic tissue for about five minutes until finally it was well again. He rotated it around just to make sure and it moved extremely well, even better than before and he felt no pain, either. He thought it was a complete miracle.

The other Toa Shika looked just as amazed as he did, perhaps even more so. None of them had ever heard of a ‘heal berry’ before and they had thought it wouldn’t work like Barilo had, but apparently it did work, for Barilo was twisting his arm in all directions without any pain at all as Jero sulked away from the cage, mumbling to himself about how dumb it was to heal their enemy and how it would give them an significant advantage if they were to fight them.

“How-?” Barilo asked as looked up at Krashadi with curious and grateful eyes.

“I thought you would be more willing to answer questions if your shoulder was not constantly hurting you,” said Krashadi. “Now. . . .” His voice suddenly changed from a warm and almost friendly tone to that of a thunder storm at its peak. “Who are you? Where do you come from? Answer quickly, Toa, or I will tolerate your non-shadow presence anymore.”

“I will answer,” said Nastan, walking up to the cage and gripping the bars. “I am Toa Nastan and these are my friends, Addis, Chimoy, Akuna, Nonzra, and Barilo,” he gestured to each one as he spoke their names, “and we come from the island of Shika Nui, which is above this land, I think.” It may have seemed dumb to tell all of this to potential enemies, but what would it hurt? It’s not like he and his were part of a secret organization that was supposed to keep their identities hidden, anyway. Besides, Nastan did not doubt that the Shodios had the power and will to kill him and his allies if they refused to answer them.

“And why, oh why, did you come down here, to Wyoko?” asked Krashadi, his voice in the same thundering tone as before. “What foolish stupidity could have possessed you to free us? Don’t your people tell stories of the Kra-Matoran Empire crushing all opposition, conquering lands, and slaughtering countless beings in our conquest of the universe?”

“We had no idea you guys were under Shika Nui, Turaga,” said Nastan. He was hoping that if he spoke respectfully to Krashadi he might let them free, although he kind of doubted that it would work. “As Matoran, we never heard of any stories of Kra-Matoran of Toa of Shadow before or of Wyoko either. We sort of expected to find a large amount of treasure here or perhaps some powerful new weapon that we could use to save our island.”

“What does Shika Nui need saving from, Nastan?” Krashadi asked in an almost bored-sounding tone.

“Turaga, we are wasting time,” Rhatara hissed. “I could easily search their minds with my own telepathic powers and get all the answers you need, plus more.”

“I would rather hear it come from their mouths, Rhatara, than from you,” replied Krashadi. “Because there is always that chance you are lying.”

“Why wouldn’t they be lying?” challenged Rhatara.

“Because they are light Toa,” said Krashadi in a tone that sound as though he was explaining it to a child. “Toa, at least the kind that we faced, do not lie. You, however, have no conscience, Rhatara, and therefore have no reason not to lie to me. You may be thinking, ‘Krashadi could get killed by whatever is waiting on Shika Nui and I could over the Kra-Matoran Empire and become king of the universe to boot.’ Honestly, Rhatara, between you and Teivel I’d say you’re the easiest to read and that, my Toa, is saying something.”

Barilo half expected to see Rhatara fly into a fit of rage and start to threaten everyone in the room, but the fearsome Toa of Shadow actually looked quite intimidated by the Turaga and did not speak back. Instead, he looked back at the Toa Shika, although Barilo could tell his eyes were not focused on them. He looked more like he was thinking about how he had been so thoroughly humiliated by Krashadi in front of everyone.

Why would he be so intimidated by a Turaga? Barilo wondered. Granted, he’s a pretty scary Turaga, but a Turaga nonetheless. A Turaga is in no way strong enough to defeat a Toa. This Krashadi must hold some sort of influence over them, but what? Aside from being the leader of the entire land of Wyoko, that is.

“Continuing on,” Tikcah said suddenly, as if the whole Krashadi-Rhatara incident hadn’t happened, “what is it that you thought you would save your island from, Toa?”

“The Dark Hunters,” replied Addis. “They’re sort of a group of mercenaries and bounty hunters who have a huge outreach. They’re also at war with the Brotherhood of Makuta.”

“Really?” asked Ira, looking at him suspiciously. “The Brotherhood of Makuta, you say?”

“Yes,” said Addis, nodding. “What about them?”

“Nothing,” she said, leaning back in her seat. “I was just interested to learn that the Brotherhood was still active, considering how my brothers and sisters and I believed that the Order of Mata Nui had replaced them.”

At the mention of the ‘Order of Mata Nui,’ Ira glanced at them, as if expecting to see some kind of reaction from the Toa. Instead, all she got was a bunch of blank expressions staring straight back at her, as if she had spoken a word in another language to them that none of the heroes quite understood.

“Order of Mata Nui,” Ira repeated, this time more firmly. “You know the organization that is supposed to be serving Mata Nui’s will? Haven’t you ever heard of them?”

“No,” said Barilo, shaking his head. “Never have.”

“You mean you never heard of the organization that almost single-handedly defeated the Kra-Matoran Empire some 100,000 years ago?” she questioned. “The one that’s members have dedicated themselves to carrying out the will of the Great Spirit himself?”

All of the Toa Shika looked at one another at that, and Addis said, “Sorry. Don’t know what you’re talking about, though back on Shika Nui we found a poem in an ancient temple in the mountains that spoke of a ‘secret organization that follows the will of the Great Spirit Mata Nui.’ We don’t know if that’s the same as the Order of Mata Nui, though.”

“An ancient temple in the mountains?” said Rhatara, his attention back on the Toa. “Was there an entire village?”

“Yes,” said Addis, already thinking of what Rhatara was going to say next.

“That was once Kra-Koro in the old days before we were exiled here,” Rhatara said with a sigh. “I am surprised the Order did not destroy it.”

“And what about the poem?” asked Jero sharply. “Did it by any chance say who wrote it?”

“Well, the only indication of someone having written it was the name ‘Oggak,’ but we have no idea who or what that is,” said Barilo, shrugging.

“Ah, Oggak,” said Ira with a strange sort of a chuckle, “that little traitor of a Matoran. She used to be our Chronicler, but apparently she was far more loyal to Mata Nui than to us, for she began to give the Order information about our latest plans and strategies, which I’ve always suspected is one of the key reasons we failed. For that, she was the only Kra-Matoran not sent here after the fall of the Empire and still remains out there, somewhere, but apparently well-hidden if you morons don’t know about her.”

“Her full name was Oggakia, if I remember correctly,” said Tikcah. “She used the name Oggak as a penname.”

“Enough reminiscing,” Krashadi said in a voice that made it clear that the discussion was over. “We have collected enough information from you Toa. Now we shall go into the Chamber of Fate to decide your destiny. Hopefully, whatever it is, it will be . . . painless, if for your sake only. Come, Shodios.”

With that, the Turaga of Shadow rose from his chair and climbed down the staircase behind his seat, followed closely by Teivel and then the rest. They all went behind a large, faded gold door that lay against the southern portion of the chamber, and once they were inside, Nonzra then looked around at the other Shika with fearful eyes and said, “Am I the only one here who thinks that, whatever their decision will be, it will end with us dying horrible deaths?”
 

-


The chamber that the Shodios and Krashadi were in was a large, circular room with a long, gray-colored stone table in the middle, with seven chairs, three on each side, the seventh one at the head of the table. Besides that, it was a mostly bare room, save for the piles upon piles of stone tablets that piled one corner, which were notes taken in past trials.

Despite having only been in the room for a couple of minutes, the discussion had turned fierce almost as soon as they all sat down. Almost all of them had different opinions on what should be done with the Toa Shika and few of them agreed on what to do about the light dwellers.

“That Nonzra, the Toa of Sonics,” said Rhatara angrily. “He reminds me far too much of Ukio to be allowed to live, in my opinion.”

“Now, now, Rhatara,” said Krashadi, although it wasn’t a gentle voice. “We all have a say in what the fate of the Shika should be and I, for one, would like to get rid of them in the quickest way possible so that we may live Wyoko immediately.”

Jero was not talking, instead simply scribbling down notes, which usually helped him with his thinking. And Jiki, sitting next to him, slammed her fists on the table and said, “I say that I should get to kill them. I haven’t had the thrill of fighting other Toa in over 100,000 thousand years. It gets pretty boring having to fight Rahi all the time, especially after you’ve finished memorizing their fighting patterns and so know what’s going to happen hours before they actually do it.”

The impact of Jiki’s fists on the table made it rattle slightly, but enough so that Jero scrawled across his tablet, messing it up. He looked up sharply at Jiki and said, “Do you mind?”

“Sorry,” said Jiki, though by the tone in her voice it was fairly obvious that she didn’t really mean it.

“Personally, I think we should just drown them in the lake of shadow,” said Teivel dismissively, ignoring Jiki and Jero. “They may be Toa, but they can’t breathe in pure shadow.”

“I agree, Teivel,” said Tikcah, staring at him with a sort of dreamy look in her eyes. “I can imagine them just now getting eaten alive by the shadow eels, while you and I stand over them, laughing at them.”

Teivel glared at her and said, “Are you saying that because you really do agree or are you just agreeing with me because you like me?”

“Maybe a little bit of both,” Tikcah said slyly as she reached out with her hand to touch Teivel’s arm. “Want to find out?”

“Touch me and die,” the male Toa of Shadow growled.

Tikcah reluctantly pulled her hand back and folded her arms, sighing as she muttered to herself, “Why doesn’t he like me?”

“I agree with Krashadi,” said Ira, ignoring Tikcah and Teivel. “We should kill them all quickly and get out of here as soon as possible. As nice as Wyoko is, I am getting sick of seeing the same things and same people every day with nothing to conquer. I want to get back to ruling the universe.”

“You know, my subjects,” Krashadi said thoughtfully. “I have just realized the perfect way to get rid of them.”

“What?” Rhatara snapped.

“Toss them into the lake of shadow and let the shadow eels eat them,” suggested the Turaga. “Remember, shadow eels can smell light beings from a mile away, so we will not have to do much to attract their attention.”

“It sounds like a nice plan,” Jiki said impatiently. “But I don’t get to fight them if we follow your plan and that means giving up the thrill of fighting other intelligent beings, something I haven’t done in 100,000 years. So I say no.”

Krashadi leaned toward her and whispered in a menacing tone, “And you dare to oppose my plan despite being fully aware of the power that I wield? Are you prepared to give up your life, should you oppose my idea any further, Jiki?”

“No, Turaga!” Jiki said with more than a hint of fear in her voice. “I-I-I didn’t mean it like that!” She smiled apologetically, but it was really an expression of fear and respect that she wore in her eyes.

“That’s good,” Krashadi said quietly as he sat back. “We shall go with my plan as I proposed it. Anyone disagree?”

No one answered. Even Rhatara was too intimidated by the knowledge of what would happen if he openly disagreed with the Turaga to say anything. Krashadi looked around at all of them for a minute or two, then said, “Well, let us go and tell our ‘guests’ about their fate, then, for all beings that will die gruesome deaths should be allowed the knowledge of what will kill them, do they not?”
 

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#24 Offline TNTOS

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Posted Feb 03 2014 - 09:45 AM

Chapter 5: Nastan and Barilo’s Argument


To pass the time while the Shodios and Krashadi decided the fate of the Toa Shika, Barilo decided to tell his friends of the weird dream he had had in his cell before being taken to this cage. When he finished, all of the other Shika looked puzzled and confused.

“The Graalo is closer than you think?” asked Nonzra, frowning. “What does that mean?”

“No idea,” said Barilo, shrugging. “It was probably the weirdest dream I’ve ever had. The cloaked being seemed familiar to me, but I don’t know who it was.”

“Maybe it . . . no. . . . Never mind,” said Akuna, quickly shaking her head. “Can’t be. . . .”

“What are you going on about, Akuna?” asked Barilo. “Do you have any idea of who it could be?”

She looked up at him and said, “Well, I thought, perhaps it might have been Makuta Hajax.”

The others stared at her, stunned. They all knew very well who Hajax was. Makuta Hajax was the Makuta of Shika Nui, or used to be, until he had had his original armor pierced and his antidermis form leaked into the air. The Makuta had been against the Plan of Makuta Teridax and was thought dead for some time, until just recently, when Barilo learned that Hajax had been hiding in a robot that was the personal assistant to a Dark Hunter. Hajax had allied himself with Barilo for a while because he too wanted to rid the island of the Dark Hunters (though mostly for his own reasons rather than out of any sort of goodness). He even created a mind link between them so that they could keep in contact with each other. Unfortunately, what Barilo had not known at the time was that Hajax was really planning to kill them all. He had hired a Skakdi named Iroko to kill them, but they stopped her and went after Hajax soon after.

Last time they’d seen the Makuta, he had been surrounded by all of the Dark Hunters on Shika Nui and most likely got killed, so the suggestion of him visiting Barilo in a dream was quite absurd.

“Akuna, that’s crazy,” said Addis, shaking his head. “If you’re suggesting Barilo’s dreaming about that freak, or that he is visiting Barilo in his dreams somehow, I think that is one of the craziest things I have ever heard, especially coming from you.”

“Well, Barilo, did the cloaked being’s voice sound the same as Hajax’s?” asked Akuna, somewhat ignoring Addis.

Before he could answer, Nonzra suddenly spoke up and said, “Guys, this dream sort of seems like, well, like it’s sort of pointless to discuss. I mean, how do we know that this dream is anything special? Sure, it sounds mysterious, but dreams are always mysterious and random. Personally I think we should worry more about the here and now, figuring out how to escape Wyoko and whatnot instead of pondering random dreams.”

“But this dream felt really different than other dreams I’ve had in the past,” Barilo insisted.

“You know, Barilo, I do sort of agree with Nonzra,” said Chimoy. “It was just a dream, after all. Everyone has dreams, so why do we act like this one is any different or unusual than others?”

“Because Barilo is trying to get attention,” snapped Nastan. His sudden change in attitude caught Akuna off-guard, but he continued on, “Look, he’s already deputy leader, was evil and then turned back to good again, got his shoulder damaged and healed, and also tried to kill me. Personally, I say we should dismiss his fantasies because that’s all his dream is: A fantasy.”

“Nastan, this dream wasn’t normal,” said Barilo, trying to hold back his temper. “It seemed all too real for me to dismiss it as ‘just a fantasy.’ The Graalo and the Kra-Matoran seemed like they represented something to me, and that cloaked figure is definitely fishy.”

“Did the cloaked figure suggest to you to try to kill me again?” Nastan challenged, getting to his feet and staring Barilo in the eyes.

“No, but if you keep acting like a paranoid moron I just might do that!” shouted Barilo, jumping to his feet and drawing his axe.

“Bring it, gravity boy!”

“It’s on, plant man!”

“Stop it!” shouted Akuna, standing between the two arguing Toa. “We have more important things to worry about than personal grudges!” She looked at Nastan and said, “Nastan, stop acting like a paranoid moron, like Barilo said-“

“Oh, so now you’re taking his side, eh?” Nastan said savagely. “Here I thought you liked me. Guess I was wrong.”

“It’s not like that!” Akuna shouted, standing in front of him, looking into his eyes. “I am not taking sides here! I was just going to-“

“Akuna, please get out of the way,” said Barilo. “I want to hit Nastan in the face with my axe and I don’t want to accidentally hit you while I’m at it.”

She whirled around to face Barilo and shouted, “Don’t you hurt him! We’re all friends here! Friends don’t hurt each other like this!”

“Everybody, calm down!” shouted Addis, standing up and grabbing Nastan and Barilo by their shoulders. “Akuna, thank you for trying to help, but I think I will be needing to talk to these two, so go sit down with Chimoy and Nonzra, please.”

“Fine,” the Toa of Lightning said, throwing Nastan and Barilo a look of disappointment as she sat down next to her two brothers in arms.

Addis hauled the two arguing Toa with him to another side of the cage. It wasn’t very far away because of the size of the cell, but he all he needed to do was stop these two from tearing each other apart. He then stood them up against the bars and looked from Barilo to Nastan, his eyes daring them to be quiet.

“Now before I begin, I want neither of you to interrupt me in any way at all unless it is important,” said Addis, his eyes glowing like the plasma he created. “Got it?”

“Yes,” the two Toa said in unison, obviously feeling uncomfortable with having to explain themselves to Addis.

“Now, Nastan,” said the Toa of Plasma, turning to face the Toa of The Green. “I want you to say you’re sorry to Barilo and Barilo, I want you to do the same to Nastan.”

That seemed to be a little more than they could take, for Barilo looked up and said, “But Addis-!” and Nastan said, “I am not saying sorry to that little-!” but the Toa leader cut them both off.

“I said do it,” Addis said, this time more firmly. “Now. Like Akuna said, we have much more important things to worry about than personal grudges. Need I remind you how we ended up here in this cage? Or do I need to smack some sense into both of you?”

Neither answered, but instead they did as Addis had told them and turned to face each other. Without looking into each other’s eyes, they both mumbled, “Sorry,” and turned back around, their arms folded, obviously not wanting to talk with each other.

But apparently Addis thought it was good enough, because he said, “Okay, let’s go back to the others,” and took them back to Akuna, Chimoy, and Nonzra. He sat down in the middle of the group and placed Nastan and Barilo on opposite sides of the team. Nastan sat near Akuna, seething in anger, while Barilo sat next to Nonzra, looking like he wished he could do something very bad to Nastan. But neither of them was saying anything to each other and that, Akuna thought, was better than having them sneer at each other or worse, get into an actual physical fight.

Suddenly, the six Shodios and Turaga Krashadi appeared in the chamber, closing the door to the Chamber of Fate behind them as they entered. From the looks on their faces, Barilo could that tell they had good news. Good news for them, perhaps, Barilo thought, but probably bad news for my friends and I.

Oddly enough, only Tikcah walked up to their cage to deliver the news. The other Shodios and Krashadi left through the same door that they had used to enter the room earlier. Tikcah clapped her hands together and looked down at the captured Toa, her yellow eyes gleaming with delight.

“You Toa shall receive a rather . . . gruesome death,” said Tikcah in a voice that Barilo didn’t like at all. “You will be fed to the shadow eels, and shadow eels, might I tell you, do not eat their meals very cleanly or slowly. Guards!” She clapped her hands loudly and the two Kra-Matoran sentries from before ran into the room and then stood at attention, saluting the Toa of Shadow with their right hands.

“Yes, Toa Tikcah?” asked one of them.

“Take these Toa and bring them to Ghenla,” she ordered. “When you get there, have them fed to the shadow eels. Make sure they do not survive. If they do, your lifespan will be significantly shorter, I can assure you that.”

”Yes, ma’am,” the sentry said, bowing solemnly. “We shall try our best. May we get a few more guards to help us escort these filthy prisoners?”

“Fine,” said Tikcah. “Take as many as you need. No telling what these Toa are capable of, although I doubt they are very bright, since they were the ones who opened The Door in the first place.”

She quickly left the room, as if in a hurry, and the two guards left through another door and soon came back with at least four more sentries. They opened the cage, created shadow rings around the Toa, and then forced them out and through another door into a staircase that lead down. The rings were sapping the energy of the Toa and they all knew trying to escape from them would be useless. So they decided to see where they were going before making any sudden moves.

Soon they had emerged into the courtyard. The dry, dull-colored grass crunched beneath their feet as the Matoran and Toa walked. Barilo twisted his head and saw banners bearing the masks of all six Shodios and Krashadi mounted on the walls, almost exactly the same as the ones they had seen in the courtroom, except more worn and pale from the constant exposure to the weather.

One of the Kra-Matoran broke off from the group and ran into a stable. Minutes later he reemerged with two Muaka that were much darker in color than the kind Barilo remembered seeing on Shika Nui, and the villager came out with a large caravan as well. The reason for the size of the caravan was no secret: A large, rusty, old-looking cage sat on its back with a small wagon behind it. What it was originally used for, Barilo did not know, but soon he and the rest of the Toa were squeezed inside. It was cramped, squeezing them all together in a very uncomfortable way.

The villagers obviously did not care about the fact it was cramped inside, since they cared very little for the Toa Shika, and soon they had gotten into the caravan. One of the Matoran grabbed the reins and yelled, “Yah! Yah! Get moving!”

The two Muaka cats quickly moved forward, not liking the sound of the villager’s tone or the whipping of the reins. The draw bridge was lowered and soon the squad was out, going down south of the castle. The old cage rattled and clanked as it moved along on a pair of old wooden wheels. There was no room for them to bounce around in, so the Toa Shika all managed to hit each other as they bounced in the cage, making the ride even more painful.

“Um, excuse me,” Addis called from the cage. “Could you it slow down a bit? It’s really uncomfortable back here.”

“Shut up, light spit,” one of the Kra-Matoran snapped. “Or I’ll whip you hard and I’ll let you know that I am very good at cracking whips.”

“Well, we don’t quite like it back here,” Addis shot back.

“And we don’t quite like you,” the villager growled. “Remember the whip!” She lifted the whip and waved it threateningly so Addis could see it clearly.

Addis decided to be quiet after that, not because of the threat of being whipped, but because it was obvious that the Matoran would not slow down the caravan for their comfort even slightly. So the cage rattled, clanked, and bounced around as they headed towards their shadowy doom.
 

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#25 Offline TNTOS

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Posted Feb 04 2014 - 09:50 AM

Chapter 6: Escape!


“I don’t like this cage!” Nastan said after the fiftieth bump on the road rattled the cage, causing his head to bump on the top bars again.

“Don’t you Toa ever stop complaining?” snapped one of the Matoran in the caravan. “I mean sheesh, it’s like you guys are extremely whiny whiners. Honestly, you are not setting a good example for your own people.”

“Well, if you were stuck in a small, old, bouncey cage with five fully armored people the same size as you, you’d be complaining as well,” muttered Nastan.

They were now traveling through a small village alongside the road. The huts looked almost exactly like the kind that they had seen in the ruins of Kra-Koro back on Shika Nui, except these ones were in much better state. The villagers of the town all came out of their homes to see what was happening, and they were all equally surprised to see the six Toa Shika. All of the Kra-Matoran stood, looking curious, as the caravan moved through the tiny village. Barilo supposed they were too shocked by the appearance of the Toa to do or say anything, until one of the Kra-Matoran ran up to the Matoran driving the caravan and hurriedly whispered a question to him. Once he got his answer, the villager ran back to the others and began telling them all what the reply was.

By the time the caravan had left the village, there was the music of a great celebration beginning back there, with lots of shouting as well. Barilo assumed the guards had told the villagers about the fact that The Door was open and they were now probably celebrating how they were going to be free of Wyoko forever and never have to see this place again.

Three hours later (it seemed much longer to Barilo, though) a large village situated next to a huge lake of shadow came into view. Nonzra, being on top of everyone else in the cage (literally), saw it first. The shadow in the lake seemed to act like water, he reported, for he saw boats and swimmers in it, oddly enough, and also he saw fishers catching fish out of the lake with nets and rods as if they were fishing in a normal body of water.

“Okay, this place really is weird,” said Akuna. “Shadow isn’t water!”

“Must have something to do with how this place is,” said Barilo. “After all, Wyoko is almost like a world of its own. Maybe it even has its own physics, too.”

“Whatever the case,” said Addis, “I say we make a plan on how to escape.”

“We’ve had several hours to do that, Addis,” said Barilo, annoyed. “And you just chose now?”

“Sorry, I was a little bit distracted by the constant bumps of this cage to do anything else,” snapped Addis. “No one else has thought of any idea, have they?”

No one answered, so Addis said, “Thought so.”

Up in the driver’s seat, one of the Kra-Matoran, a female named Eruki, heard some muttering behind her. She twisted her head around and saw the Toa Shika whispering to one another. She did not know what they were saying, but she knew by looking on the expressions on their faces that they were planning something, probably an escape.

“Hey, Jiicha,” said Eruki to the villager sitting next to her. “I think the scum are plotting to escape.”

“Just shoot them a little with your shadow,” Jiicha muttered distractedly. “These Muaka are making the caravan bump around too much.”

Eruki turned around and shot a small blast of shadow at the Toa, which instantly got their attention. “Stop plotting or we’ll kill you ourselves!”

“Then why don’t you do it?” Barilo challenged. “You have the power, obviously. You villagers seem to be very strong for Matoran and you also have elemental powers.”

“The reason I don’t do it,” she snapped, “is because Toa Tikcah specifically ordered you six to be fed to the shadow eels. If she or Turaga Krashadi or any of the other Shodios gave us the okay to kill you, we would have done it right there back in Castle Kra.”

“Personally, I think you’re just too weak,” said Akuna, trying hard not to smile. “Look, we’re stuck in here, in this cage. We have nowhere to run or hide and we certainly can’t use our elemental powers to escape, because this cage can probably absorb elemental energy, just like the ones in the dungeons. The perfect opportunity to kill all of us in one, single, mighty blow. . . . Unless, of course, you’re too weak or afraid to do it.”

“You don’t want to make me angry,” said Eruki, brandishing a knife and pointing it at the prisoners. “I have a very bad temper.”

“She does,” Jiicha added. Then he muttered, “Stupid Muaka! Slow down!”

“Well, I suppose you wouldn’t kill us,” Barilo said as he sighed a huge, fake sigh. “After all, you’re just a good little soldier who takes orders without question. Hasn’t it ever occurred to you that perhaps the Shodios aren’t better than the Great Spirit Mata Nui himself?”

That did it. Barilo could tell it did because Eruki looked extremely mad. Looks like our plan is working, he thought. Anger the guards and make them break us free.

“Don’t . . . you . . . ever . . . say that . . . again . . .” she seethed, walking closer to them, her knife held high. “Or do you want your shoulder wounded again? Or how’s about I just take it off completely?”

“You couldn’t cut a bula berry with a sharp rock if you had one, much less my arm with that knife!” Barilo taunted. “I mean, that blade’s probably over 100,000 years old and if it so much as glanced off my armor it would fall into itty bitty pieces!”

“Die!” Eruki shouted, charging towards the imprisoned Toa, her knife held high.

She swiped at Barilo with her blade, but the Toa of Gravity managed to move out of its way, despite the little room the cage had to offer for any movement at all. She hit the bars very hard and then shot a blast of shadow at it. This, combined the oldness of the pen and the fact it was practically breaking at the seams because of how cramped the Toa were, caused it to break open so suddenly that Eruki fell backwards, dropping her blade and yelping in surprise.

The caravan immediately halted and the Matoran guards walking around the vehicle stopped at the same time. The Toa Shika all fell out of the back of the cage, which had fallen into pieces, but they were prepared for this. Jumping to her feet, Akuna stunned the guards with a blast of electricity, while Nonzra used a large wave of sound to knock out the ones that Akuna had missed. Jiicha turned around to see what was causing the commotion and immediately shrieked out of fear and fell out of the caravan. With no one holding the reins, and with the sounds of battle growing louder behind them, the Muaka that were pulling the caravan immediately ran out of fear, pulling the vehicle along behind them as they ran until they were out of sight.

Jiicha looked up from the ground at the Toa, who had now surrounded him. Strong as he may be, he knew he stood no chance against six Toa, six well-armed Toa at that. All he had was a knife, but even he knew that a knife was nothing compared to a plasma cannon or an axe.

“Please! Do not kill me!” he shrieked, bowing at their feet. “I do not want to die!”

He expected them to make a snide comment and then finish him off in the most gruesome way possible, as he was used to seeing the Shodios do to those who failed as badly as he did. But instead, thick bands of metal appeared around his body, tying up his arms and legs, which kept him from running off.

“We are not going to kill you, Matoran,” said Addis. “That isn’t what true Toa do.”

“I don’t know, Addis,” said Nonzra uncertainly. “What if the Shodios find these guys? Shouldn’t we, well, dispose of him so he won’t tell them that we’re free?”

“Nonzra, that would make us no better than the Shodios themselves,” said Nastan, shaking his head. “Let’s just knock him out. Once he’s out, let’s-“

“-Not tell him where we’re going until he’s out,” Barilo cut him off. “He’s still conscious. If the Shodios were to find him, he would be able to tell them where we are going.”

“I’ll do it,” Akuna volunteered. “I’ll just electrocute him.” She looked down at the frightened Kra-Matoran and said in a gentle voice, “Don’t worry. It shouldn’t hurt at all.”

With that, she hit the villager with just enough electricity to knock him out and, to Jiicha’s amazement it didn’t hurt, as she had promised, although now he couldn’t feel anything at all since he was out cold now.
Once that was done, Nastan said, “We gotta get going to The Door. If we’re lucky, we should get there in a few days.”

Addis looked around at the barren road and said, “Yes, but, which direction, exactly, is The Door?”

All of the Toa looked around. None of them had been paying any attention to where they had been going in the last few hours because they had been distracted by the bumpy cage. Now that they were free, they all wished they had paid better attention to direction that they had been going in.

“Well, I think we should stay in the mostly uninhabited parts of Wyoko,” suggested Barilo. “If the rest of the villagers are as crazy as these ones, then maybe we should avoid villages or at least the big ones anyway. I don’t want to have to fight hundreds of these Shodios-worshipping guys.”

“Sounds good to me,” Addis said, nodding. “I think we should go northeast. We should stay off the roads, too, unless they’re deserted. Agreed?”

“Agreed,” the other five Toa said in unison.

After quickly making sure that all of the Matoran were really unconscious and tied up well, the party quickly ran into the hills around the road, running into the bushes and trees. They kept going for about an hour or so. And then, after they were sure that they were well-away from civilization they camped out in the middle of a dark forest, for they were sure that they wouldn’t be found in there.

It seemed to be getting darker now, for they could barely see themselves. Barilo thought it was becoming nighttime, though considering Wyoko is a land of shadow, he could not be sure. Still, Addis suggested that they build a fire and that they did, gathering up some twigs and branches and putting them in a pile. Addis used a small portion of his plasma and a minute later a fire was blazing. Not as big or as grand as the kind a Toa of Fire might make, but one big enough to provide heat and light for them all, although they all sat around it to try to block the light so no Kra-Matoran would notice them.

Now they sat in silence, saying nothing, merely thinking over the events of the last 24 hours. Finally, Akuna spoke up and said, “Um, am I the only here who feels sorry for these Matoran?”

“Why would you feel sorry for these creeps?” Barilo asked incredulously. “They basically worship their heroes like gods and see us as their version of Makuta Hajax. Why in the world should I feel sorry for them?”

“Unlike you, I see the point Akuna is making,” Nastan said indignantly. “For whatever reason, they were imprisoned under here 100,000 years ago and have been here since then. It very well may have seemed to them as if Mata Nui himself wanted to banish them from his sight forever, which would be a very bad thing, you know.”

“I agree that they’re creeps,” Akuna agreed. “But why did the Order have to go to this length and trap them beneath our island? Why didn’t they just make peace with them?”

“I don’t know,” Addis sighed. “And to be frank, I don’t really care. We don’t know much of the Kra-Matorans’ exile except what they say and we all know how honest those Shodios seem to be.”

“I know,” Akuna said. “I was just saying that perhaps we should consider their view for a minute. Are they really all that evil? What if the Order of Mata Nui is evil? It seems like they go to extremes if they have to imprison an entire tribe under here with not so much as a trial.”

“Maybe we should postpone this little discussion,” suggested Chimoy. “It’s getting dark. . . . Well, darker than usual, anyway. And am I the only one who is tired enough to sleep through several nights?”

Suddenly, the rest of the Toa felt the weight of the last few days fall on them and they all immediately looked ready to take a good sleep for a few hours.

“Yeah, sounds good to me,” Akuna yawned. “I still think that perhaps we should give the Kra-Matoran a chance . . .”

“Whatever,” said Barilo, “good night, everyone.”

With his power over planet life, Nastan created six large leaves that acted as blankets for himself and his friends. They weren’t exactly the most comfortable things in the world, but they kept each other warm at least. Before shutting his eyes, Barilo noticed how close Nastan and Akuna were sleeping next to each other. It didn’t look like it was a coincidence, either, for they were looking into each other’s eyes as they lay on the grass. He didn’t give it another thought, however, because the minute he closed his eyes, his mind drifted off into dreamland. Except, this time, the dream wasn’t mysterious or cryptic like his last one. No, this one was just way too weird, long and complicated, so there was no point in describing it.
 

-


Toa Ira lay on her bed in her room in Castle Kra, looking up at the ceiling. She may have liked darkness and shadow, but even Toa of Shadow needed rest and her bedtime just happened to be the same as the usual light dweller’s sleep time.

Her room was decorated fairly nicely. A large, purple-black carpet lay on the floor near the large wooden door, while a carving of her face hung above her bed. Big curtains hung above her windows and on a stone desk next to her bed lay her diary, which she used to write in the day’s events. Even though she was a Shodios and even though they already had a Chronicler, she preferred to write the actions of each day herself without having to let her brothers and sisters read her own thoughts.

Not that they would, she reminded herself. They know better than to look through my things.

The room itself was completely and utterly dark. She preferred it this way, because she hated light. Yet, despite the room being in the perfect conditions that suited her, she felt slightly uneasy. Maybe it was because she was excited about the fact that she and the others would be leaving Wyoko soon, or maybe it was something else entirely, something she herself only knew of that the other Shodios did not.

Perhaps it is because I alone of the Shodios know the truth about Teivel, Ira thought as she turned in her bed.

Years ago, before they had been exiled here, she had seen Teivel turn into something very . . . bizarre, and she instinctively knew he hadn’t been using his Mask of Shape Shifting, because he changed very differently than the way she was used to seeing him change. He had strictly told her afterwards not to tell anyone else, for if she did, she would die a very horrible death.

It troubled her. On one hand, she did not particularly like Teivel much, especially after he and her broke up shortly after getting exiled into Wyoko and then Tikcah began taking visible interest in him not too long after that. But on the other hand, she thought her teammates and Krashadi ought to know about Teivel’s true form.

But who says they don’t? she thought. Just because they don’t talk about it doesn’t mean they don’t know about it. Maybe they’ve all seen him change into it at one time or another and were told, like me, not to tell anyone if they valued their life.

Still, yet another thing bothered her. It was the Toa Shika. “Shika,” she knew, was an old Matoran word, meaning ‘endless shadow.’ She wondered why these self-proclaimed warriors of light would dub themselves this, since they seemed to associate shadow with evil and light with good.

Perhaps the term is so old they do not know its meaning, the Toa of Shadow thought. Either that or they’re a whole lot more stupid than I thought. All that light and heat on the surface must have fried their brains or something.

She looked out her window at the dark sky. She did not doubt that this was going to be the last time that she would see the shadow clouds and the dim, almost burnt out stars of the Wyokan sky. By this time tomorrow, she no doubt knew, she and the rest of the Shodios, Turaga Krashadi, and all of the Kra-Matoran would be out of Wyoko to restart their conquering.

This time, she knew, there would be no one to stop them. Not the Toa, not the Order of Mata Nui, not anyone.
 

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#26 Offline TNTOS

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Posted Feb 05 2014 - 10:01 AM

Chapter 7: Shadow Storm


Nastan was the first to awake. He got up very early in the morning before anyone else. He considered waking them, but then he got another idea that he thought was better.

Perhaps I could scan the hillside for a road or a village for us to avoid, Nastan thought. It will just be for a quick minute or two and then I will be right back with Akuna and the rest.

He glanced down at the Toa Lightning who was sleeping near him. She had always been good friends with him, yet he always felt differently about her than about the rest of the Toa Shika. He always wanted to be with her and protect her, though he knew she could defend herself pretty well and respected that. Still, he knew that he did not like being away from her for extended periods of time.

But this will just be for a quick minute or two, he reminded himself. Climb up one of these trees, quickly look around, climb back down, and wait for everyone else to wake up. Easy as picking bula berries from a tree.

Quietly standing up, he walked over to the nearest tree and looked up it. It was at least 25-feet-tall, but he had climbed taller trees before and so was used to it. He reached out with his long arms and grabbed a branch and hoisted himself onto the limb. He kept climbing up, finding it becoming increasingly more difficult as he progressed. The branches became thicker and there were more leaves up here than on the lower branches. Still, he continued on until he reached the top. Sitting himself on a large branch, he took in a deep breath of fresh air from having to climb so much and then glanced around at his surroundings.

He could see Castle Kra to the north, as huge and dominating as ever, but it looked smaller, although he supposed that was because he was farther away from it. Even further north of it, he saw a small glimmer of light, very dim from his perch, but he instantly recognized it as The Door to The Light.

So we’re going to have to go through or around Castle Kra to get there, he thought. How fun.

He averted his gaze to the west, where he saw several villages near a group of mountains. To the east, more villages, though this time near a desert-like area. But just as he examined the eastern lands, he heard what sounded like a thunderstorm coming from behind. It sounded loud and he was afraid that it might strike him if he stayed where he was, but he was curious enough to turn around to see what it was anyway.

When he finally looked over his shoulder, he saw to his surprise a huge black cloud of shadow rapidly moving toward him. He wondered how that was possible, since shadow never gathered in clouds to attack Toa like that. But he decided not to ponder the impossibility of the situation, only to act.

Unfortunately for him, he did not even have enough time to act, for in minutes it had enveloped him. Once it passed exactly one minute later, there was no indication that a Toa had been there at all.
 

-


Barilo awoke at the feeling of someone poking him. But he didn’t open his eyes and instead rolled over and mumbled, “Stop bothering me. Five more minutes, please . . .”

“Barilo, wake up!” the voice belonged to Akuna and she sounded very worried. “Nastan is missing!”

“Good riddance,” Barilo muttered.

“Barilo!”

“Okay, okay, sorry. I didn’t actually mean it.”

“What’s all the noise?” asked Addis, who sounded very irritable. “I was trying to sleep!”

Chimoy and Nonzra had awoken as well and both looked just as irritated as Addis. Akuna quickly explained to them the situation and Addis asked, “Did you check the area? Maybe he went out scouting and got lost or something.”

“I sort of did,” Akuna answered. “But I only checked a few feet away from the camp. I didn’t want to run into any Kra-Matoran or Shodios without you guys.”

“If you’re implying Nastan got captured by one of them, then that doesn’t really make sense,” said Chimoy, yawning and shaking his head. “Given what we have seen of them, I doubt they would have stopped with just Nastan. They would have gone after us, too.”

“Whatever,” Akuna said. “I’m just worried for Nastan.”

“Worried for your boyfriend, you mean?” Barilo asked slyly.

“Barilo!”

“Okay, okay! Just saying,” said Barilo, who had now opened his eyes and was sitting up like the rest of them. “I didn’t mean anything bad by that. Romance between Toa is, uh, ‘good,’ I guess.”

“Would you shut up?” hissed Addis. “If there is any Kra-Matoran nearby, then we should keep our voices down.”

“But what if they got Nastan?” Akuna asked anxiously. “We should go find him!”

“That’s what I was going to suggest,” said Addis. “Let’s split up into groups. Chimoy and Nonzra, you two go that way.” He pointed to the north. “Akuna, you’re with me. Think you can take care of yourself, Barilo?”

“Sure,” the Toa of Gravity said as he unlimbered his axe. “If I had a girlfriend, I think that I wouldn’t really need her to look after me, unlike Nastan.”

“Barilo!”

“Sorry!” Barilo said sheepishly. “Just saying . . .”

“Now let’s spilt up!” said Addis. “If any of you find any trace of Nastan, use your elemental or mask powers to signal the rest of us. I do not want any of us to leave this forest unless Nastan is found outside of this wood, okay?”

The others nodded and pretty soon they had all separated, each team going into different directions. Barilo activated his Mask of Stealth, just in case he ran across any Kra-Matoran and was soon off, heading deep into the woods, axe at the ready.

As he walked, he noticed the trees were significantly larger and thicker than the ones back on Shika Nui. While he wasn’t a small person himself, he felt like a protodite in a city around here and knew that if he did not pay careful attention to where he was going he could easily get lost.

Perhaps that is what happened to Nastan, he mused. Then again, he is nature boy, so it is unlikely he could get himself so lost that he could not find us again. So something must have happened to him. But what?

That was what was bothering him the most. If it had been Kra-Matoran, they would have found him and the rest of the Toa Shika. Had it been Shodios, they would have most likely killed him and then would have gone directly after the rest of the Toa Shika next. So it was someone else. . . . Or something else.

Suddenly, he felt a slight shiver up his spine. Who said it was a person who got Nastan? What if a beast had gotten him instead? What if this beast dwelt in this forest and had already eaten up Nastan? What was to stop it from getting him or any of the other Toa? He hadn’t been in Wyoko very long and so knew very little about its wildlife. What if there was a creature that could blend in with the shadows? What if it were stalking him even now?

Even if it was, it wouldn’t be able to see me, he thought. After all, I am wearing the Mask of Stealth. No way it can see me. He paused, as if a new thought suddenly entered his head. What if it can smell me, though? And it might be following my scent. I haven’t bathed in a while, so I must smell pretty bad.

He glanced around at the dark trees. He could see no shape in the shadows, nor could he hear anything. He was almost congratulating himself on how cautious he was being when something big leaped out from the trees and tackled him, causing him to lose his concentration and become visible again.

It was too dark for him to see what it was, though he realized that it had short, sharp claws that were slashing at his armor and it was breathing in his face. He punched it in the face, but that did no good. So he did the only thing he could do in his situation: “Help! I need help!”

Suddenly, he heard the sounds of footsteps coming from all around him, but the beast was not giving up. It kept trying to rip his mask off, but with significant effort he managed to keep its claws away from his face. He kneed it in the stomach, but it managed to hit him in the face, leaving his chest wide open. It raised its blades and, right before bringing them down on his heartlight, a ball of plasma shot through the air and hit the monster’s face, burning it and killing the beast instantly. Barilo was too surprised by the sudden death of the creature that he did not do anything until Addis and Akuna appeared and heaved the large beast off of him. He scrambled to his feet and looked down at the creature, now illuminated by Akuna’s Mask of Night Vision.

It was a big, cat-like monster, with seven toes on each foot that ended in dull-looking claws, as if they had been used again and again for years without getting polished every now and then. It had black colored armor, which Barilo thought was perfect for camouflage in the darkness of the forest. Its head was melted completely because of Addis’ plasma, so he did not know what its face looked like, although he suspected that it probably wasn’t pretty.

“You okay?” Addis asked, his plasma launcher still out, his sharp eyes looking around the dark area for any sign of any other creatures like the big cat.

“Yeah,” Barilo panted. “That thing jumped me from one of the trees. I sure thought I was a goner for a second there!”

“Do you think that this . . . thing got Nastan?” asked Akuna, sounded slightly terrified. “Considering how violent it acts. . . . I don’t want to see how Nastan’s corpse looks . . .”

“I kind of doubt it,” answered Barilo. “Nastan wouldn’t let a thing like that kill him, would he?”

“If it jumped him and he was unprepared, then I’d be willing to say that Nastan may not be in this world with us anymore,” Addis said sadly as Chimoy and Nonzra broke through the bushes, weapons drawn as they looked around for the threat.

After explaining to the two Toa what had happened, Chimoy bent down and examined the beast’s dead body. After studying it for a minute or two, he got up and turned to Barilo.

“Barilo, did you by any chance get a good look at this creature’s face?” asked Chimoy.

“No,” said the Toa of Gravity. “It was too dark. Why do you ask?”

“Well, you said it tried to get your mask, didn’t you?” said Chimoy. “Then this must be a mask thief.”

“A what?” Nonzra asked in a puzzled-sounding voice.

“A mask thief,” the Toa of Iron replied, “is a Rahi beast that steals masks from Toa, Matoran, Makuta, or any other beings that wear masks and generally kill the original owners of the Kanohi, though sometimes they don’t if they feel the original wearer isn’t big enough a threat. They steal masks to wear because it gives them extra energy and keeps them alive longer. They only attack when they need a mask, so this one must have not had had a mask, which is why it attacked Barilo. These beasts are rare, I think, but I do remember reading up about them on Shika Nui before the Dark Hunters took it over.”

“So . . . there’s still a chance for Nastan to be alive?” Akuna asked hopefully.

“Yes,” said Chimoy, nodding, “though he probably isn’t still in this forest. Nonzra and I didn’t find hide or hair of him. He must have left the forest and got kidnapped.”

“That sounds likely,” said Addis. “I remember one time, back when we were Matoran, he got himself captured by a few Dark Hunters and I broke him out. Then we had to sneak out of the prison camp, which was very hard, because so many Hunters were patrolling and there was at least one energy hound from what I remember. But we did escape, though I severely scolded Nastan after that for being very clumsy.” He chuckled and said in a nostalgic voice, “Those were the days.”

“Well, maybe we should get going,” suggested Akuna. “Maybe he is heading toward The Door.”

“Or got captured by one of the surrounding villages,” said Barilo. “Considering how foolhardy he can be at times, it wouldn’t surprise me if that happened.”

“What should we do, Addis?” asked Akuna. “Should we head toward The Door or maybe search Wyoko for Nastan?”

Addis had a perfectly good answer for this. “We simply search for Nastan. We need him if we are going to open The Door, I think, since we need all six Toa to create a Toa seal. But I do suggest that we try to head in the general direction of The Door anyway, since Nastan is most likely heading that way if he is still free.”

Akuna looked slightly more cheerful at this and soon the five Toa Shika were walking through the dark forest, each one of them wondering what had happened to Nastan and if they would ever find him again.
 

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#27 Offline TNTOS

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Posted Feb 06 2014 - 05:42 PM

Chapter 8: Captured


Unknown to the rest of the Toa, Nastan was still alive, but where exactly he was, he had no idea.

He was in the very middle of the cloud of shadow that had absorbed him earlier, yet he felt like he was falling down a very steep cliff. He saw glimpses of various shapes and forms, though they were all unfamiliar and vague and frightening. All except for one in which he saw two Toa fighting six beings that looked familiar to him, though he couldn't place it. One of the Toa, a red-armored warrior wielding a fire mace, looked especially familiar to Nastan, but he had no more time to ponder it, for the very next minute he had landed face down in a pile of sand.

He could feel his bones aching from the pain and for a while he just lay there until he decided that he got tired of the taste of sand and rolled over onto his back to get a better look of where he had ended up in.

He was still in Wyoko. He could tell because the dark sky was the same. But as he lifted his head up to get a good look at where he was, he saw that he was in an desert, possibly the region that he had seen when he had climbed that tree, although he wasn't certain. All around him, he saw sand, big rocks, empty and abandoned huts half-buried in sand, and little black scorpions that had electric blue eyes crawling all around in every direction he looked. Moreover, it took him merely seconds to comprehend that the scorpions were not only crawling all over the ground, also all over him.

"Ah!" he shouted, jumping to his feet and scraping the bugs off his body. "Get off! Get off! Don't sting me!"

Nastan had always had a morbid fear of scorpions and all of these dozens of little ones crawling all over him dramatically increased the fear. He frantically jumped around, thrashed with his hands, even rolled in the sand until the last of the scorpions had fallen off of his body. The bugs quickly scurried away from him into the sand and then he sat on a large rock, panting, looking around to make sure all of the scorpions had gone. Once he was sure of that, the realization of his situation suddenly sank in.

I am alone, he thought, terrified. Alone in Wyoko, the place full of people like the Shodios who hate me and others like me. No Akuna, no Toa Shika. I would even like it if Barilo were here. I am a vulnerable target for any Kra-Matoran waiting to get me. Plus, I am surrounded by scorpions. What could possibly be worse than that?

He glanced around. No villages or Matoran or Shodios in sight, maybe he was safe, at least for a little while. He would just need to stay out of sight of Matoran and somehow find the rest of the Toa Shika. Yeah, that's it. Just stay out of sight. Stay . . . out . . . of . . . sight. . . .

I can't, he thought. Not with all of these scorpions around. Ugh, they're so disgusting! Then again, I am significantly larger than them, so I could just stomp on them if they get in my way. I know I don't want to stay in this desert overnight, though, so I gotta find somewhere to sleep, somewhere safe.

He decided that he was no going to get anywhere without moving, so he carefully climbed off of his rock and onto the cold sand. Nastan looked around. Which direction should he go? He decided to go north, for that was the direction he had seen The Door and his friends would most likely be heading that way, too, so there was always that chance he would run into them on the way. Yet there's also that chance I could run into the Shodios, too, since I doubt that they would leave The Door unguarded.

He decided to take that risk and soon was off, walking in the general direction of The Door, keeping a careful eye out for any Shodios, Kra-Matoran, and especially scorpions along the way.
 

-


Rhatara felt very good today as he walked down a long corridor in Castle Kra. He hadn't felt this good since the Golden Age of the Kra-Matoran Empire. Today, he knew, he and the rest of the Shodios would soon leave Wyoko, along with the Kra-Matoran and Turaga Krashadi. Or, at least, he and the others would inspect The Door and then pack up and leave, though considering that they would be taking the entire population with them, he knew it would take much longer to leave this place behind completely. Maybe two weeks at most.

It doesn't matter, he thought dismissively. All of the Toa Shika are dead now, so we won't be waiting very long. Not very long at all.

He felt like shouting, though as he walked by a couple of Kra-Matoran servants whispering to each other, he kept his composure, not wanting them to see him in a moment that he would consider weak.

But as he strode by them, he heard them whispering, "They've escaped?" and "Heard the news last night!"

Rhatara stopped abruptly on his feet and slowly turned to face the two Matoran, his face alight with curiosity, his eyes burning in anger. "What are you two servants talking about? Who escaped? No, wait. Don't answer. I will simply read your minds and find out for myself."

The two villagers looked horrified, but they had no say in the matter. Minutes later, Rhatara had learned of who they were speaking of, and now he looked beyond angry. He looked enraged, perhaps even beyond that.

"The . . . Toa . . . Shika . . . escaped?" he hissed, every word coming out of his mouth very slowly and carefully, as if trying to make sure he got it all straight. "Please tell me that . . . I misinterpreted your mind patterns . . ."

"Y-you didn't, sir," one of the Kra-Matoran whimpered. "We just got the news last night. W-we were going to tell you . . ."

"But why didn't you?" Rhatara asked, advancing menacingly on the villager. "Why did I have to read your mind to figure out what had happened? Did you intend to sabotage our escape from this prison?" Now he was very close and speaking in a whisper. "I don't like people who keep secrets, especially important secrets, from me."

"Please . . ." the other Matoran pleaded, "don't kill us . . ."

"Sorry, but you're disobedient servants," Rhatara shouted, his hands crackling with shadow energy. "If you stay alive, you'll give the others the idea they can disobey us and do whatever the Karzahni they want and get away with it too!"

"No!" shouted the first villager. "Please!"

"What is all of this shouting?" the voice of Ira floated into Rhataras audio receptors right before he could kill the Matoran.

He glanced down the hallway and saw his sister walking toward them, looking like she had just awoken. She looked very irritated, yet at the same time Rhatara could detect puzzlement in her eyes.

"So? Why do you feel the need to punish them so . . . harshly, Rhatara?" she asked. "What did they hide from you that you felt you needed to know?"

"The Toa Shika escaped," growled Rhatara. "I read their minds. They say they got the news last night and neglected to tell us immediately, as they should have done, I might add."

Ira looked shocked. "What? Please tell me that they're lying!"

"They aren't," Rhatara said through gritted teeth. "I wish they were, but they aren't."

"Oh my . . ." said Ira with an expression on her face that made her look as if she didn't want to believe the news. "If they get to The Door before we do . . ."

"Then we will be locked behind here for another 100,000 years"! Rhatara shouted, looking crazed. "Tell Krashadi! I shall contact the others!" Before he left, however, he turned to the Kra-Matoran and whispered in a menacing tone, "You got off lucky this time, villagers. You will live . . . for now, while I will go and tell my brothers and sisters about this unfortunate news. But when I return, expect to find yourselves buried alive several hundred kio underneath this castle."

With that threat finished, he darted down the hallway faster than either of the villagers had ever seen him run before. Ira also took off toward a staircase that lead up to Krashadis tower, her eyes ablaze with anger and worry. After all, who knows how far the Toa Shika could have gone in a night? They very well might be at The Door right now!

But, she reminded herself. There is always that chance they aren't. There is always that possibility that they are totally lost in Wyoko and don't know where The Door is, so we still might have a chance to beat them to it.

For some reason, she doubted that thought, but kept running anyway, knowing that Krashadi had to know about this, or their entire plan would fall into more pieces than a Kanohi mask smashed by a Kikanalo stampede.
 

-

Nastan had been walking for what felt like hours. The desert, while quite cool because of lack of a true sun, still was quite warm nonetheless. His feet sunk into the sand as he walked and more than once he had to pull them out and continue walking again, this time moving more nimbly over the surface of the sand to avoid falling in again.

There was also the threat of the scorpions, which he suspected were following him, since wherever he went he always saw at least ten and several times he had stepped on a few that had randomly appeared in his path. Were they trying to keep him away from something? He doubted that, though he had an awful feeling these bugs were a lot smarter and clever than they looked.

He also lacked water. All of the food and water supplies was still with the rest of the Toa. He had nothing of his own to eat or drink and more than once he contemplated catching one of the scorpions and eating it, though the more he thought about that, the more it disgusted him. Still, he knew that, if he got too hungry, he very well might have to catch a scorpion or two to eat, if only to sustain his energy.

And then there was that feeling he kept having that made him think he was being watched. Not by the scorpions, but by something that was much bigger than any of them and incredibly dangerous. He had no idea why he felt that way, but he walked faster and loaded his bow with an arrow just the same anyway so he wouldn't find himself beaten easily.

The only good thing he felt about the situation was that he was still heading north, but even then, this desert seemed to go on forever and ever, with no end in sight at all.

And a new thought occurred to him: What if he wasn't in Wyoko at all? What if this was some kind of weird pocket dimension that looked like Wyoko's desert but wasn't really it? It would explain why he hadn't come across any other intelligent beings and why the desert just seemed to stretch on and into eternity.

That thought made him drop to his knees, punching the sand hard with his right hand. He was panting and sweating and needed water, but where could he get some? Should he dig a hole and try to find some water? It would be a lot of work, but might be worth it . . .

Suddenly, there was a huge shift in the ground, like something was digging through the sand. He quickly got to his feet, even though he knew a fight with something huge would probably sap the rest of his energy and get him killed. But he didn't want to go down without a fight at least.

A huge, black claw that looked like a huge scorpion pincer burst through the ground, followed by another, then a stinger, and finally followed by the body of a big scorpion. Instead of having blue eyes, though, it had very red orbs and giant spikes shot out of its back like that of a porcupine. Nastan was frozen in spot. It had been worse enough with all of those small ones, but this one was the mother of all scorpions, he thought, and it looked quite angry at him, though he wondered what the red eyes and spikes were all about.

No time to worry about the odd body parts, he thought, a panic rising in his very soul. I gotta figure out a way to. . . . Oh, what am I saying? That things going to kill me with that big stinger tail or crush me with its large body or rip me apart with its pincers or maybe do something even worse. Once it does, no one will know that I am dead. My friends will think that I am gone forever and will never return to them. Oh, why didn't I ever tell Akuna how I really felt about her? Why was I so shy? Why?

The creature did not move. It simply stared at him with its small, beady eyes, daring him to do something. For a moment, Nastan was wondering why it hadn't killed him yet. Maybe it was messing with him, trying to make him feel safe and secure, then strike him just when he let his guard down. But he wasn't going to let his guard down, he decided, he would never let his guard down. He would fight the beast until the very end and he knew who would win, but regardless he wanted to go out fighting anyway. So he aimed his bow at the creature's skull, a grim expression on his face.

"Okay, monster," said Nastan, his voice ragged. "I doubt you can understand what I am saying, but I will talk anyway, since these will probably be my last words."

The giant scorpion did not move or do anything, so Nastan continued on.

"I am afraid of scorpions. Big ones, little ones, and medium sized ones, doesn't matter to me. I have always been afraid, ever since I fell into that pit of scorpions back on my very first job on Shika Nui. I hate the way they crawl all over you and can sting you and everything. As you can imagine (though I am not sure scorpions have imagination), me facing a huge scorpion like yourself has got me shaking to my very soul. But I am a Toa and part of a Toas job is fighting big, scary beasts like you. So give me your best, monster, or die trying."

For a minute, Nastan thought he had scared the beast off purely based on his little speech, for the monster took a step back, as if it planned to leave him alone. Instead, it laughed a very deep, yet oddly bug-like, laugh, one that echoed throughout the entire desert and made Nastan shiver.

"How can you laugh?" Nastan said, shaken. "You're a scorpion!"

The beast shook its head, however, as if to say no. Suddenly, its tail shot back into its body, its six legs were replaced by two Toa legs, its arms and body transforming completely and finally its head transformed into a very familiar one, the head of-

"Teivel!" shouted Nastan, surprised. "He nearly dropped his bow, but managed to keep his grip on it."

The Toa of Shadow was still laughing, as if amused. Then he stopped and became serious, his eyes as cold as ice.

"Ah, Nastan is it?" asked Teivel, sounding mildly amused. "Where are your friends?" He did not ask it as if he really was concerned about the others. He was merely taunting Nastan, and the Toa Shika knew it.

"I got separated from them," said Nastan, still aiming his bow. "Where are your friends?"

"Oh, probably back in Castle Kra," Teivel said dismissively. Then he changed his tone to that of one discussing the weather. "So tell me. How many Matoran did you kill to escape?"

"We didn't kill any!" Nastan snapped. "We just knocked them out and tied them up."

"I suppose that is what you would do, since you are a hero," Teivel said in a sarcastic tone.

"What are you doing out here in this desert?" asked Nastan, still standing in a fighting position. "How did you know that I was out here?"

"I came out here because I was simply letting my energy out," Teivel said vaguely. "At first, I did not know you were out here, until in my scorpion form I communicated with the scorpions around here, who all told me of a scared, jumpy Toa who simply reeked of fear. I knew it was none of my brothers or sisters, for they are rarely, if ever, afraid of anything. So naturally I assumed it was one of you, and I started following you ever since."

"I am not afraid."

"I doubt it. Even when not in my scorpion form, I can smell your fear from a mile away. What are you afraid of, Toa? Dying out here all alone? Your friends getting killed, leaving you all alone? Getting stung by scorpions and getting a horrible protodermis-eating virus stuck in your system?"

"That's what their stingers do?"

"Yes. Jero has been experimenting with their poison and discovered it after testing it on a Kra-Matoran. Poor guy didn't last more than five minutes after being injected with it."

Nastan was starting to feel slightly afraid now. Here he was, up against a 100,000 year old Toa of Shadow, who was more than likely to kill him here. He knew there was no way to win this fight, but if he was going to live up to the Toa of the past like Toa Joha then he would have to fight this fiend, even if it meant giving up his own life and never getting to see his friends again.

"So you see, Nastan, I will not kill you."

"You won't?"

"No. I feel no need to. Not after what Jero has just created."

"What has he created?"

Teivel shot him an evil look and said, "He wants me to keep it a secret, but I can tell you this: Once he's through with you, you won't recognize yourself anymore."

"What does that mean?" Nastan demanded. "Tell me!"

"Why should I tell you, when you can learn for yourself?" asked Teivel as he swiftly charged Nastan.

The Toa of Shadow hit the good Toa in the mask with his sword, knocking Nastan over. Teivel then blasted the Toa of The Green with a blast of shadow, knocking Nastan out instantly. With that task finished, Teivel transformed into a Nivawk and then picked up the unconscious Nastan and winged in the direction of Castle Kra, knowing that very soon they would have one less light Toa to deal with.
 

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Edited by TNTOS, Feb 07 2014 - 10:26 AM.

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#28 Offline TNTOS

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Posted Feb 07 2014 - 10:30 AM

Chapter 9: “The Key to Defeating Our Enemies”


Barilo and the other four Toa Shika were traveling among the rocky hills of Wyoko. While he would have preferred it if they could have taken the roads or something, Addis had told them that it would be too dangerous, for the Kra-Matoran probably would see them, considering how much their rather-bright color schemes contrasted with the dark shades of the Wyokan skyline.

The Toa of Gravity could tell that Akuna was not thinking about her own safety, for more than once she nearly fell off of a steep cliff. It was as if she was not paying any attention at all to where she was going, which made Barilo slightly curious.

“Akuna, what’s up with you?” he asked as he climbed a large boulder. “You look even more worried than Addis!”

“Oh, Barilo, I just fear for Nastan’s safety,” she said, climbing up after him. “It isn’t like him to just wander off and not return to us. Someone must have gotten to him. What if that someone is trailing us, too?”

“I kind of doubt it,” said Barilo. “I do not hear anything nor has Addis picked up any other mental signatures but our own and a few Kra-Matoran traveling on the roads beneath these hills.”

“Addis’ Suletu can do that?” Akuna asked in disbelief.

“Well, yeah,” said Barilo, nodding. “He’s using it to help us navigate through these hills, he told me. How else do you think we’ve managed to avoid the Kra-Matoran all of this time?”

“Well, whatever,” said the Toa of Lightning. “I just hope that, wherever Nastan is, he’s safe.”

“Unlikely,” said Barilo, shaking his head. He pointed up ahead and said, “I think we should catch up with the others. They’ve stopped and are looking at something.”

The two Toa walked quickly to catch up with their friends and soon were behind the three Toa, who were all staring at something down the cliff. Once Barilo got a good look at what it was, he knew why their progress had halted.

On a plateau near the base of the cliff, a medium-sized Kra-Matoran village rested. They could see huts and a few large warehouses and a large gate that acted as the entrance to their cliff and to the village itself, with two Matoran guards standing in front of it, both of them well armed. On the other side of the village another entrance was visible, guarded by Kra-Matoran who, like the first guards, was well armed with weapons and armor. It was completely blocking their path, and Barilo could see that it was too large for them to go around without being noticed by somebody.

Addis quickly crouched down and gestured for the others to do the same. Once they were all down, Addis quickly whispered, “I hope all of you saw the village of Kra-Matoran down there?”

“Yes, we did,” said Barilo, nodding. “Looks well-defended.”

“May I be the first to suggest that we find an alternative route, Addis?” Chimoy offered. “It isn’t very likely they will let us walk through the village alive.”

“That was what I was thinking,” said Addis in agreement. “We should-“

“But what if Nastan is down there?” Akuna asked who had now diverted her attention back to the village. “This place is close to our camp site and we don’t know where Nastan went. Maybe they’re keeping him prisoner down there or have already killed him!”

“It doesn’t seem very likely,” said Addis, peering over the edge of the cliff. “I mean, Nastan’s smart enough to not walk straight into a village full of Kra-Matoran that probably hate us with a passion.”

“You’re right, but maybe he didn’t just walk in. Maybe he wandered a little too far from the forest and they captured him,” she suggested. “Can’t we at least check it out?”

“But how?” asked Barilo. “It’s not like we can just walk down there and say, ‘Hey, we think one of our buddies is down here, maybe a prisoner, we don’t know. So could we check the village just to be sure? Thanks.’ That just isn’t going to work.”

“He is right,” said Addis, thinking. “We can’t just walk in there. . . .”

Chimoy looked like he was thinking, too. But he apparently got an idea before Addis and said, “What if we send Barilo down there? He’s got a Volitak. He can simply use it and check the village out real quick. He’s sneaked into the Dark Hunter fortress before, and that, might I add, was much more heavily defended than this place.”

“I don’t know,” said Barilo. He really didn’t want to have to risk his life for Nastan, mostly because he was still sore about their argument earlier.

“What a great idea, Chimoy!” said Akuna, her eyes ablaze with excitement. “He can do it! He’s always been the spy of our group, even as a Matoran!”

“Hey, I am an intelligent being, you know,” said Barilo, sounding irritated. “Don’t you want my opinion?”

Akuna turned to Barilo and touched his arm with her hand. She looked into his eyes and said, “Please? Would you go? Just do a cursory check of the village and come back. Nastan could be down there. Would you do it for me, at least?”

Barilo was having a hard time saying no to the way she was looking at and touching him, but fortunately he did not have to say anything, for Addis spoke up and said, “Well, firstly, I am the leader of this team, so I need to give the okay, otherwise he isn’t going.”

“I-I’ll go,” said Barilo, raising his hand up. “Just a quick check, like Akuna said.”

Akuna smiled, but Addis said, “Are you sure? You’re going straight into the middle of enemy territory and we won’t be able to follow you in to make sure that you don’t get yourself killed.”

“I’m sure,” said Barilo. “I can defend myself, and if I do get in trouble, you guys can come and save me, right?”

Addis looked like he didn’t want to have to risk losing his second-in-command, but he said, “Okay, you may go. But check quick and only look in the bigger, more important buildings. We can’t waste any of our time, not when the Shodios are probably already heading toward The Door.”
 

-


Jero tapped a small, dark crystal hanging from the ceiling of his hut. To anyone else, his manner would have been curious. His hut, which looked pretty much like every other hut on the outside, was mostly bare in the inside, with no furniture at all and only a few windows. But Jero knew what the crystal was hiding: His laboratory.

He had designed it this way not too long after first arriving in Wyoko. He had decided that he would need a large and private space to conduct his experiments in without being interrupted by any of the other Shodios or any Kra-Matoran. So he built this hut and then dug out a lower basement level that acted as his lab. The other Shodios knew about it, but they rarely ever entered without his permission because he always went ballistic whenever someone entered without his okay.

A panel in the floor slid away, revealing an old, worn stone staircase. He walked down it and then the panel replaced itself without a single indication that it led to a secret lab. That was good for him, for he valued his privacy very much.

It didn’t take too long for him to arrive at his laboratory. Tall, thick tubes of protoglass, filled with the same liquid used by the Makuta for their experiments, kept in beasts that were in various stages of mutation. Like the Brotherhood of Makuta, he had devoted himself to studying and mutating Rahi beasts and had actually succeeded in creating his some of his own design, though not too many and they usually didn’t last long.

Perhaps once we get out of here, I will conquer Destral and take all of their best viruses, Jero thought as he sat at a desk. Then maybe I will finally be able to create some actual worthwhile Rahi that will last longer than two weeks.

He picked up a stone tablet and began to read his notes where he had last left off before Rhatara had brought the news of The Door being opened yesterday. According to his notes, he had been in the middle of a Rahi experiment on a Cracko, trying to give it more wings and failing spectacularly. He grunted and then looked up at a glass bottle in the corner of his lab, where the Cracko he had been experimenting on rested in suspended animation.

Maybe I should start on something new, he thought. I have been on this same Cracko for weeks now. Perhaps I can convince Jiki to catch a mask thief for me. Then again, we will be leaving Wyoko very soon, so maybe I should just wait until then. After all, there will be a greater range of Rahi – and intelligent beings – for me to use then.

Suddenly, he heard the footsteps of someone climbing down the staircase of his secret entrance and minutes later the cloaked form of Tikcah appeared at the foot of the stairs, looking quite worried.

“Tikcah, go away,” said Jero, scowling at her. “I am in the middle of an experiment. You didn’t even ask for permission! Mata Nui, what could be so important that you have to come here and bother me about it?”

Tikcah opened her mouth to speak, but seemed to be at a loss for words. Annoyed, Jero said, “Out with it, woman!”

“The Toa Shika escaped,” she said so quickly that one word tumbled into the next. “They got free of the escort that was taking them to Ghenla and their whereabouts are currently unknown!”

Jero dropped the protoglass bottle he had been holding. When it hit the hard stone floor, it made a shattering sound as it smashed into pieces. The Toa of Shadow sat back down in his chair, holding his head with one hand, looking surprised.

“They . . . escaped?” he asked. “How?”

“I don’t know how,” Tikcah admitted. “But all of them are on the loose. . . . Well, almost all of them.”

“What do you mean, ‘almost all of them’?” Jero asked.

“Luckily for us, my dear Teivel brought one of the Toa, Nastan, back to us,” said Tikcah, with more than a hint of admiration in her voice. “He found him in the Shahada Desert and thoroughly beat him. He says he’s willing to give Nastan over to you to experiment on.”

“What use could I find for a Toa in my experiments?” Jero asked in an exasperated tone before he suddenly stopped, as if realizing something for the first time. “Wait a minute. . . .”

He darted over to another desk and ripped open one of its drawers. He dug through it for about a minute or two and then pulled out a small sphere made entirely of protoglass. He seemed to be eying it with a sort of triumphant look in his eyes, though Tikcah had no idea what was so great about the ball, for it looked nothing out of the ordinary.

“This is what Teivel must be talking about, sister,” Jero said, holding the orb up high with both hands. “This is the key to defeating all of our enemies!”

“What is it?” she asked.

“Well, I can’t tell you yet,” said Jero, putting the ball lightly in his bag as if it were a bomb that was about to explode. “It is still in its experimental stages. I told Teivel about it a while ago and now apparently he thinks that I can put it to use on the Toa of The Green.”

“No fair that you’re keeping it a secret from me!” said Tikcah, striding over to him angrily. “Can’t you at least tell me what its name is?”

Jero turned to face her and said, “Sorry, Tikcah. I do not want to tell you what it does, for I do not know if it will do what I programmed it to do quite yet. But trust me. If it does indeed work the way I expect it to work, then you will be seeing its effects soon. Actually, very soon in fact if I can get to Castle Kra quick enough.” He put a hand on Tikcah’s shoulder and said, “Good bye. I am going now.”

With that, he ran past her and soon had sprinted up the staircase, leaving behind a confused-looking and extremely frustrated Tikcah.
 

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#29 Offline TNTOS

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Posted Feb 10 2014 - 10:23 AM

Chapter 10: History


Barilo carefully climbed down the cliff face, occasionally looking down toward the village below to make sure that no Matoran were coming up toward him. He was using his Mask of Stealth, so even if any of the Kra-Matoran were coming up, they would not be able to see him. Nor hear him, for that matter. Still, just to be careful, he was moving as slowly and gingerly as possible. Above, Akuna and the other Toa were looking down at him. The Toa of Lightning looked very impatient.

“C’mon,” she muttered. “Get going already . . . Nastan isn’t going to wait forever if he is down there. . . .”

“Don’t pressure him,” Chimoy whispered, placing a reassuring hand on her shoulder. “There is still that chance that Nastan is not there. We don’t want him to recklessly run straight into a trap, you know?”

“I know,” Akuna whispered back. “But Nastan could be hurt.”

“Both of you be quiet,” Addis snapped. “We can’t risk exposing ourselves. It is too dangerous.”

Akuna glanced down over the cliff again and said, “I think he made it to the bottom now.”

She was just saying that, though. None of them knew for sure if he had made it to the bottom yet because of his Mask of Stealth and the darkness of Wyoko made it almost impossible to see him, at least with their naked eyes. Akuna was not going to use her Mask of Night Vision, for that would surely attract the unwanted attention of the local villagers, so they just had to hope that he had made it safely into the village.

She was partially correct, however. Barilo had indeed made it down to the bottom of the cliff, but he hadn’t gotten into the village yet. The gate was protected by two Kra-Matoran guards, one in black and green armor, while the other was in black and blue armor. Neither of them looked like they would be willing to let him inside if he asked and he knew that he would need to either trick them into opening it or do it himself, for fighting them would just attract the unwanted attention of the rest of the Matoran, which was something he was trying to avoid.

So, using the slightest bit of his gravity power, he caused a stone to go flying up into the sky and fall down on one of the guards’ head.

“Ouch!” the black and green Matoran said, massaging her head. “Where did the rock come from?”

“Someone probably threw it as a stupid joke, Taya,” said the black and blue Matoran.

Now that they were distracted, Barilo quietly walked past them toward the gate. Unfortunately, it was locked and he was not going to open it with the two villagers standing only few feet in front of the gate. So he used his elemental powers again to make the same stone fly up and into the cliff wall and the two guards, curious about what had caused the sound, dashed over to see what had happened. Neither of them realized that Barilo had stolen Taya’s keys while she was distracted and neither of them heard him open the gate ever so slightly and enter the village.

Barilo looked around. The village seemed lifeless to him. He saw only a few Kra-Matoran walking the streets, all of which were armed with swords and spears and other weapons, so he assumed that the villagers were perhaps staying inside their huts because of some kind of danger, though what they might be hiding from, he had no idea.

Good, the Toa of Gravity thought. That way I will have less obstacles that I will have to get past.

Though he still wondered what they might be hiding from. Perhaps some kind of Rahi beast was loose in the village and they were all hiding from it? He decided not to think about it, since the fewer obstacles the better. Anyway, he doubted that he would have to fight the Rahi if there was one.

Where should I start? Barilo thought, looking around the village. It’s rather large and all of the buildings look the same to me. What did Addis tell me? ‘Check the bigger, more important-looking buildings.’ Okay, sounds good to me.

He looked around. It was not hard to find the bigger structures, which looked a lot like warehouses. He quietly ran from alleyway to alleyway, trying to dodge the patrolling Matoran. Barilo heard two of the Matoran talking with each other about something as he hid in between two huts.

“. . . .They’re sending Jiki, I hear,” one of the villagers was saying.

“I hope she can beat it,” the other said grimly. “We’ve lost several Matoran already and I think it is still prowling around the village.”

“Has Jiki ever fought an Invisible Black Mask, though?” the first villager inquired. “I remember she has fought Cracko and shadow eels before. . . .”

“Aw, she’s fought practically all of the creatures in this place at least ten times. Surely she has fought an Invisible Black Mask before, and she probably beat it, too.”

“I suppose you’re right. But I still think they should also send another Shodios along, maybe Toa Rhatara-“

“Brother! We aren’t supposed to question who they are sending and who they aren’t,” the other villager sternly said. “Whoever Turaga Krashadi is sending will surely help our village, right? He is always right, you know.”

What in Mata Nui’s name is an Invisible Black Mask? Barilo thought. Well, whatever it is, I should get out of this village quick after I find Nastan. If Jiki’s coming, I do not want to be here when she arrives. She’ll get me and the others for sure!

So he continued on his way to one of the large buildings, never realizing that he was being followed by an invisible, mask-like being that made no sound as it passed over the huts, never even realizing that despite his Kanohi mask power it could still see him as clearly as day, and it was hungry . . . hungry for Toa.
 

-


Nastan slumped against a cell in the dirty and grimy dungeons of Castle Kra, looking quite grim.

After being knocked out by Teivel, he had been taken here and placed in a cell. He had been assured that Jero would be coming along shortly to take him to a location called ‘The Place of Lightlessness,’ though he had no idea what ‘The Place of Lightlessness’ was or what Jero planned to do with him there. Kill him, perhaps?

That would certainly fit with their nature, he thought grimly. I just hope it’s quick and painless.

This cell, he knew, was not the same as the one he had been in when he had been first taken to Castle Kra about a day ago. Nor were the ones around him the same as the ones his friends had been inside when they had been here, either. This was a new set of cells in another area of Castle Kra, but they were just as run-down and gritty as the first ones, if not worse.

But one thing was certain: The bars were as strong as if they had been built just yesterday and they still absorbed his elemental power whenever he tried to use his power on them. So now he was all alone, with no friends but plenty of foes all around.

“When I became a Toa, it had never occurred to me that I would find myself in the dungeons of a castle ruled by a crazy Turaga and evil Toa,” Nastan said to no one in particular, frustrated. “Nor did I ever think that I would be alone, either!”

“Is someone there?” asked a hoarse, ragged voice from another cell several chambers down. “Who is it?”

Nastan was surprised. He didn’t know there was someone else down here. Who was it? Another outsider who got caught by the Shodios, perhaps? Unlikely, but he decided that he was going to find out.

“Yes,” said Nastan, getting to his feet and placing his hands on the bars, trying to get his head through the bars but failing yet again. “I am Toa Nastan, a Toa of The Green. I am not native of Wyoko, obviously, and I am prisoner here, as you can no doubt clearly tell.”

There was silence, and then the voice asked, in a quivering, fearful sort of voice, “The Door to The Light is open, then?”

“Yes,” said Nastan, nodding. “My friends and I opened it because we thought there was treasure or a weapon behind here or something like that.”

“How foolish,” the voice said in a sad tone. “You were motivated by greed, just like the Shodios, and did not stop to think of the consequences of your actions. You are lucky that our crimes will not result in your people being exiled to a place of shadow such as Wyoko.”

“Hey, we didn’t know that the Shodios were behind here,” said Nastan, sounding annoyed. “We had no idea at all. And, by the way, who are you? What’s your name, your story? Are you a Kra-Matoran or. . . . ?”

Suddenly, a Matoran’s thin, flat head appeared out of a cell several feet down, but because of the combination of the distance and of the shadow, he could not clearly make out the villager’s features.

“My name?” said the Matoran. “I am Siklo, a Kra-Matoran, obviously. I was thrown in this dungeon by Rhatara when he overheard me calling him a bad name. He rebuked me, and then tossed me in here, though I think he has forgotten me, because he promised to let me out in six months . . . and it has been 600 years since then.”

“Oh,” said Nastan. He was now starting to feel sorry for the Matoran, although he also didn’t want to feel too sorry for him, for Siklo was a Kra-Matoran and he very well might be trying to deceive him. “That’s harsh.”

“At least the guards remember to bring me food and water every day,” Siklo sighed. “But I miss my home village, Daol. I miss climbing the mountainside and exploring the caves. It wasn’t the best place in the universe, but better than this pit. This dungeon is just . . . I can’t describe it. . . .”

Nastan listened. Siklo did sound sincere and he thought it wouldn’t be too out of character for Rhatara to toss someone in prison and forget about them for years based on what he knew of Rhatara’s personality.

But this could all still be a trick, he reminded himself. He may just be fooling me, although I’m starting to think otherwise. . . .

“What about you?” Siklo asked. “Why are you in here?”

Nastan then explained about how he and the others came from Shika Nui, got captured by Rhatara and Ira, were given a rather unfair trial by the Shodios and Krashadi, and then how he and the others escaped and how he got separated from them and got recaptured by Teivel. When he was finished, Siklo said, “From what you have described, Nastan, it sounds like a shadow storm got you.”

“A what?”

“A shadow storm,” Siklo repeated. “Shadow storms are rare in Wyoko, though they can happen anywhere at any time. They are impossible to predict and when you do get caught, they usually transport you far away from where you originally were. Some of my best friends have gone missing for months after getting caught in a shadow storm and then when we found them they were be gibbering lunatics who no longer resembled their original selves. You are one of the very few, it seems, who didn’t go insane. You are a very lucky Toa, Nastan.”

Nastan made a mental note to tell the others what had happened to him if he ever escaped Castle Kra. Siklo, Nastan decided, was not like the rest of the Kra-Matoran. Unlike the other villagers, he was almost friendly and did not seem to be a big fan of the Shodios. So Nastan decided to ask the most important question that he had on his mind.

“How did you guys end up here in Wyoko?” asked Nastan. “I’ve only heard bits and pieces of your people’s past from the Shodios and Krashadi, though I only really know that something happened 100,000 years ago and you guys got put under here by the Order of Mata Nui and the Toa Avha. Would you be willing to tell me what happened all those years ago?”

There was a very long, silent pause now and for a moment Nastan was worried that he had said something wrong. He should have thought before he spoke. After all, whatever had happened 100,000 years ago was obviously a painful chapter in the history of the Kra-Matoran and Siklo, being a Kra-Matoran, might not be too excited to talk about it. But to his amazement, Siklo said, “Okay, I shall tell you what had happened, all those years ago. I really do not want to talk about it, because it is a memory that is in the minds of almost all of the Kra-Matoran that live in Wyoko today and it is still too painful and real for many of them as though it had happened yesterday, even if though it had been about 100,000 years ago.”

“Well, if you don’t want to talk about it-“

“But I must,” said Siklo. “I must, for I feel that I should recount it to you, a warrior of light, if you are to combat the Shodios and escaped Wyoko.”

“You’re against the Shodios, even though you are a Kra-Matoran?” Nastan asked, amazed.

“If you had ever been tossed in prison for 600 years by a Shodios, then yes, I would think you would understand why I don’t worship them as gods like the rest of my people do,” Siklo replied. “Anyway, now onto the story:

“100,000 years ago, at the dawn of time, the Great Spirit Mata Nui decided to create a new tribe of Matoran, one he dubbed the Kra-Matoran. He believed that the elements were unbalanced, or so I was told, and thought creating us would help balance them out so he would not have to worry about what was happening in his universe. He did not realize that it was all a great, big mistake and his own subjects would soon learn that for themselves.

“He placed us on Shika Nui, gave us six Toa, who were known as the Toa Shodios back then, and a Turaga, Krashadi, to lead us. At the beginning, we had good relations with the other islands around us and quickly became known as a dependable, if a little antisocial, people. But none of them knew that, because we had more shadow in us than others, we were more prone to violence and bursts of anger and frequently got into arguments with one another. Whenever we had visitors to Shika Nui, though, we always pretended to be peaceful, happy villagers like those of Metru Nui, for example.

“Perhaps it was that violent and angry nature that caused Teivel to approach Krashadi with a plan of universal domination. I do not know why he did, but this I do know: It wasn’t too long after our creation, perhaps a year or two at most, that he convinced Turaga Krashadi to mobilize an army of Kra-Matoran and conquer the rest of the universe. He had managed to get the rest of the Shodios on his side and it was only a matter of time before Krashadi agreed to their plan.

“It was two months after that meeting that we first struck. We took over Stelt, Xia, and nearly got Zakaz, but the Skakdi beat us back, at least for a little while. This started an era known by us Kra-Matoran as the ‘Golden Years.’ Your own people, from what I remember, refer to that era as the ‘Dark Years.’

“We struck various islands and places until we practically had the entire universe in our hands. The only places that we hadn’t yet taken were Metru Nui, Tanjo Nui, Karzahni, Artakha, Daxia, Destral, and parts of the northern continent and the majority of the southern islands. It seemed to us that soon we would have the whole universe in our grasp.

“But destiny was not on our side, it seemed, because a team of Toa, known as the Toa Avha appeared, seemingly out of nowhere, along with a small group of beings known as the Order of Mata Nui. They struck hard and fast, taking down several of our most strategic fortresses and rallying the people of our conquered lands to rebel. Teivel and the others thought they would be easily destroyed, but they proved to be our downfall.

“Eventually, they made it to our main fortress on Shika Nui and took us out swiftly. Originally, the leader of the Order of Mata Nui, a Toa of Water named Helryx, wished to have us all slaughtered to prevent us from ever rising again. But the leader of the Toa Avha, a Toa of Lightning named Klio, disagreed and convinced her to place us in Wyoko and lock us away forever. The Golden Years of the Kra-Matoran Empire had ended the day when we had all been locked away under here. All except Oggakia, who because of her faithfulness to Mata Nui’s Will and because she had been passing important information to the Order and to the Avha was granted to freedom to live on the surface with everyone else.”

“What happened after that?”

“I do not know,” Siklo said, his head drooping slightly. “I do not know what they did to all of our forts, bases, and histories. I can only assume that they destroyed them all so no one would remember us. It seems to have worked well, for you come from Shika Nui, our very homeland, and yet did not know of us until you and your friends came here!”

All of this information was almost a little too much for Nastan to take in. The Kra-Matoran Empire had once taken over the entire universe? These beings had once lived on the surface, conquering lands and spreading fear and death wherever they went? And yet, like Siklo had said, Nastan had not known any of this until Siklo had told him!

Whoever these Order of Mata Nui guys are, they really are pretty good at completely destroying any traces of entire civilizations, Nastan thought. Really, really, really good.

Suddenly, there was the sound of a door opening and slamming shut and the echo of feet walking slowly down the staircase that lead to the dungeon. And then two Kra-Matoran guards appeared at the foot of the stairs, holding spears and shields. They walked past Siklo’s cage and several others until they arrived at Nastan’s cell.

“You’re in luck, Toa,” one of the guards snapped. “Toa Jero is here and is ready to take you to the Place of Lightlessness.”

The cage doors flung open without warning and two shadow rings burst into existence around Nastan, trapping him and sapping him of his energy. The two guards grabbed him roughly by the shoulders and got him walking. As he walked by Siklo’s cell, he whispered, “I’ll return for you someday, Siklo. You’re not like the rest.” The Kra-Matoran prisoner merely nodded at Nastan as the three beings went quietly up the stairs and disappeared from view.

It did not take long for Nastan and the two villagers to arrive in the courtyard, where he saw Jero, who was sitting at the top of a large vehicle, looking just as evil as ever. He smiled evilly at Nastan as the two guards brought him up to the caravan.

“Ah, Nastan, I have been hoping I would get to test my newest creation on a light dweller,” Jero said eagerly.

“What does that mean?” Nastan demanded with more than a hint of fear in his voice.

“It means I get to use this on you,” he answered calmly as he dug through his bag and pulled out a large crystal ball that sent a shiver up Nastan’s spine.

“What does it do?”

“Well, let’s just say that when we’re done with you, you won’t even recognize yourself. In fact, if all goes well, you should feel right at home here in Wyoko. Won’t that be fun?”
 

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#30 Offline TNTOS

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Posted Feb 11 2014 - 09:10 AM

Chapter 11: Hailed As . . . Heroes?


Toa Barilo peeked through the window of a warehouse-like building. All he saw were crates, dust, and darkness. No Nastan. He sighed and climbed down from the window sill. There were still a lot of other places to check, but he doubted any of them held Nastan.

But I must check anyway, Barilo thought. Even if there’s the possibility that he is not in this village at all, I must search. After all, I wouldn’t want to disappoint his girlfriend.

Suddenly, he heard a slight growl to his left and he turned his head just in time to feel something big and invisible smash into his side, sending him flying into a hut. He smashed into the roof and ended up in the living room of a Kra-Matoran, who had been sitting on a chair reading a stone tablet. The villager looked up from what she was reading and then her mouth hung open, surprised to see him. Barilo suddenly realized what had happened: His mask had shut off and now he was completely visible for everyone to see.

The invisible thing suddenly bashed through another wall, causing the Kra-Matoran to scream and run away through the door, slamming it shut as she left. The Toa of Gravity got to his feet in time to dodge the unseen monster, and he immediately knew he had only one option: Call for help from the other Toa.

“I need help!” he shouted as loud as he could before getting cut-off by the beast before he could finish. He only hoped his words had been carried by the wind and heard by the other Toa, though they were very high up a large cliff and might not have heard him at all.
 

-


As it turned out, the minute Addis, from his high perch above the town, saw Barilo go flying into a hut inside of the village, he quickly organized the team and got them down the cliff, though with some difficulty considering they also had to be slow and steady so as to not fall down and get accidentally kill themselves.

Once that was finished, the Toa ran up to the gate, which was strangely guard-less, though Addis supposed it was because that all of the guards were going to catch Barilo. The gateway was locked, but a quick use of Chimoy’s power over iron quickly broke down the entire gate with a loud crashing sound (“Not a very subtle entrance,” Nonzra commented) and now they were all running down the street of the Kra-Matoran village, hoping to find Barilo still alive somewhere.

Fortunately for them, they did. Except he was seemingly jumping around and doing all kinds of acrobatics while buildings and structures got smashed and broken as he jumped out of their way. It looked like Barilo was going insane to Addis, for he was not sure what the Karzahni Barilo thought he was doing or what was smashing the huts.

“Hey, Barilo!” shouted Addis. “What are you doing?”

“Trying . . . to . . . dodge . . . invisible . . . thing!” the Toa of Gravity answered as he jumped again. “Don’t just stand there! Do something! Help me!”

“We can’t see it,” said Akuna, who had now activated her Mask of Night Vision and was looking around the area.

“It’s invisible of course we can’t see it!” Nonzra snapped. “Maybe we should just-“

Suddenly, the invisible thing rammed into his lower body and he went flying into a hut, smashing into its roof and falling into its depths. Chimoy tried to guess the location of the creature by creating iron walls wherever it went, but it seemed to be able to break them down quite easily with little-to-no effort at all. Barilo had stopped jumping around now and was standing on the roof of a building, looking at the fight scene below, while Kra-Matoran villagers were all evacuating their huts, screaming and running around everywhere.

What the Karzahni is that thing? Barilo thought as he tried to trace the beast’s movements. Suddenly, he remembered the conversation that two of the Kra-Matoran were having, something about an ‘Invisible Black Mask’ or something like that. Could that be what they were facing now? It was a possibility, he thought, though how he and his friends could possibly defeat an invisible creature, he had no idea.

It didn’t help that it was very dark out, too, which added to the already bad situation. With no light, he could tell his friends were already having a very hard time dodging the Invisible Black Mask’s attacks, and he doubted that the Kra-Matoran would be willing to help them with it.

Or would they? he thought. Perhaps I can make one of them talk and tell me what this thing is and how I could defeat it.

He scanned the village and saw one Kra-Matoran stuck underneath some rubble, struggling to free herself, but failing miserably from what he could tell. He started to move, but stopped. What if she tried to attack him if he tried to help her out? She might attempt it, but he had no doubt in his mind that she might have an idea on how to defeat the Invisible Black Mask and also might tell him how to do it. He knew it was a risk worth taking.

He nimbly jumped from rooftop to rooftop until he arrived at the ruins of the hut. Using his gravity power, he lifted the debris off of the Kra-Matoran and tossed them away, much to the surprise of the villager. She quickly scrambled to her feet, though, and immediately shadow energy began cracking in the palms of her hands, a look of caution in her eyes.

“Who are you?” she questioned. “Where do you come from? Are you one of the Toa Avha? Have you come here to kill us?”

“No,” Barilo said, shaking his head. “I am not interested in killing you guys at all, and I have never met the Toa Avha, either.”

“Well, I can obviously tell you’re on outsider,” said the Kra-Matoran. Suddenly, comprehension dawned on her face. “Wait . . . does that mean The Door is open? We’re free. . . . ?”

“Yeah it’s open,” said Barilo, throwing a glance over his shoulder at the fight going on in the middle of the village. “Look, my friends and I need to know what that invisible thing is and how to beat it.”

The villager gave him a doubtful look with her red eyes and she said, “And just why should I tell you that, as Toa Jiki is going to be arriving soon-“

“But soon enough to save you guys?” he asked. “Look, you have five able-bodied Toa right here, three of whom are fighting that monster. Just tell me what it is and how to beat it and we’ll be on our merry way, got it?”

She looked a little like she didn’t want to tell him, but seemed to think that his offer made sense, for she sighed and said, “Okay. The monster fighting your friends is called an Invisible Black Mask. They are invisible creatures who rely on their unseen forms to kill their opponents.”

“Okay, how do you beat it?”

“You have to trick it into becoming visible,” she said. “Making it visible will stun it fast enough to kill it.”

Barilo looked into her eyes. He knew she could easily be lying, though she had no signs of deceit in her red eyes. She looked completely honest, though a little angry and excited at the same time. He assumed she was like that because of The Door was opened, though he had no time to ponder that further, for he said, “Okay. Thanks,” and soon was heading back to the scene of the battle, trying to figure out how one fools a Black Mask into revealing its visible form.

When he returned to the sight of the battle, he saw that Chimoy and Akuna were trying to hit the creature with iron and electricity, but because they had no idea where the monster was they were having little success. Addis was attempting to use his plasma to burn holes in the ground to cause it to trip, but nothing doing. Nonzra was nowhere to be seen, though Barilo assumed he was still unconscious somewhere.

Running over to Addis, Barilo tapped the Toa of Plasma on the shoulder.

“What is it?” Addis asked irritably.

“I asked one of the Kra-Matoran how to beat the Invisible Black Mask and she told me that we had to trick it into becoming visible in order to defeat it,” Barilo said quickly.

Addis looked doubtful. “You sure she wasn’t lying just to get us killed?”

“Well, she didn’t look like she was lying to me,” said Barilo, though he was having the same doubts as Addis. “Still, it’s the only plan we have right now and I say we should at least try it.”

“Okay, but how do we do it?” Addis asked, while signaling Chimoy and Akuna to get closer. “How do we trick an invisible being into becoming a visible being?”

Barilo looked like he was thinking. First he looked over at the carnage, then at Addis’ mask, then back at the ruins again. A slight smile crept onto his face as he said, “I think I know how, but it will involve your Suletu.”

“Sure,” said Addis, nodding. “What is it?”
 

-


The Invisible Black Mask was frustrated, tired, and more than a little hungry.

Not too long ago, it had arrived in this Kra-Matoran village looking for a meal, but most of the inhabitants hid from it and only a few stayed out, searching for it with weapons. The Invisible Black Mask began to get bored until a gray and purple-colored Toa appeared, apparently sneaking around the village, though why was a mystery to the Black Mask.

Still, it didn’t care and had attacked the Toa because it had thought that a Toa would make up for the Kra-Matoran, but almost as soon as it did strike, four more Toa appeared out of nowhere and began to attack it. It didn’t like that and began to attack back. Already it had knocked out at least one Toa and it hoped to get all of them and have a grand feast, but they weren’t going down very easily, it seemed.

Now, however, something odd was happening. The Toa were beginning to fade in and out of existence. Even the Invisible Black Mask, despite having the dull brain of a Rahi beast, knew that beings didn’t usually fade in and out like that as if they weren’t real, so it knew that something was wrong.

Yet it also didn’t want to do anything to disturb them. The Black Mask decided that it was going to wait and watch them as they disappeared like ghosts, just to see if it could spot any weakness in them that it could exploit.

But instead, they all disappeared and were totally gone. The Rahi immediately began wondering why that was or where they went.

Maybe they weren’t real at all, the Invisible Black Mask thought. Maybe I was fighting illusions, though they didn’t seem like illusions to me.

Still, it decided that, since there weren’t any other fighters around, it dropped its invisibility and then it was suddenly hit by a large bolt of lightning that came out of nowhere, smashing into its face and knocking it out instantly.
 

-


“Good job, Akuna,” said Addis, nodding his approval as he walked over to check out the unconscious Invisible Black Mask.

“Thanks, but if it hadn’t been for your Suletu, I wouldn’t have been able to do it,” said Akuna, smiling slightly. “I had no idea the Mask of Telepathy could make illusions!”

“I’m just as surprised as you are, Akuna,” said Barilo. “If it hadn’t worked, then we would have had to find a new way to beat it.”

“But it wasn’t really an illusion power,” said Addis, shaking his head. “I fooled it into thinking that we weren’t there anymore. We, of course, are still here, but it didn’t know that, so it thought it would be okay to become visible again.”

“I wonder if that can work on Matoran,” said Nonzra, looking around the destroyed area. “Who is willing to bet we’re gonna be run out of this town? Or, better yet, get killed where we stand?”

“Well, I doubt my mask would work on beings like Matoran,” said Addis. “Their minds are probably strong enough to resist it. But look at this thing. . . . Have you ever seen a Rahi that looked exactly like a giant Kanohi?”

The Invisible Black Mask was not called ‘mask’ for nothing. It literally looked like a giant Hau, except it had a full back, like it was a living organism. It looked a lot more organic than mechanical, though, and Barilo wondered where it had come from. He had never seen such a beast before and he doubted that he would see something like it ever again.

“This explains why it rammed into us instead of swiping with claws or something,” said Barilo, “because it didn’t have any!”

Suddenly, the sound of stomping, marching feet and Matoran digging through rubble signified that the villagers had recovered from their initial shock and were now gathering around the Toa. As Barilo looked around, he saw Kra-Matoran gathering all around on top of the pile of debris everywhere, looking down at the Toa with curious and intrigued eyes. Some of them were standing in the streets not blocked off by wreckage and by the looks of it there was nowhere to run for the Toa Shika to run.

“Think we’ll have to fight our way out?” Nonzra asked as he drew his sword. “Because that fight with the Rahi took a lot out of me and I sincerely doubt that I could fight my way out of a village full of Matoran, most of who seem to be at full strength.”

Addis looked around, a look of worry and anger on his face. Barilo wondered if the Toa of Plasma was thinking about the impossibility of the situation and how they could possibly get out without suffering any casualties. But nothing seemed to have come to his mind, so Addis said, “Guys, I don’t think we’re going to survive. So let’s just drop our weapons and-“

Before he could finish his sentence, however, all of the Kra-Matoran unexpectedly bowed down at the feet of the five Toa, which surprised the heroes quite a bit. The villagers then started chanting something in unison and at first the Toa were unable to hear it because they were all speaking very fast, almost incomprehensibly fast. Then, as the Kra-Matoran started shouting louder, the words began to form in the audio receptors of the Toa and none of them were quite sure if what they were hearing was good . . . or bad:

“Hail the Toa! Hail the heroes who saved our village! Worship them! Hail the Toa!”
 

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#31 Offline TNTOS

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Posted Feb 12 2014 - 10:00 AM

Chapter 12: Trickery & Schemes


Nastan lay on a large, flat stone slab, his arms and legs bound to the table with protosteel straps, making escape impossible. He had been struggling to get himself free for a while now, but it was a useless effort because the straps were too thick and tight. So he decided to just lay there in the dark room, wondering when Jero would return with whatever it is he had promise would ‘change’ Nastan, though he didn’t know what that meant and really didn’t want to.

A few hours ago, Nastan had been taken from his cell in Castle Kra to the area of Wyoko known as ‘The Place of Lightlessness’ to its inhabitants. It was an old, seemingly abandoned temple in the shape of the one he had seen in Kra-Koro back on the surface of Shika Nui. It was incredibly dark and scary, with more than one figure moving in the shadows that Nastan could not identify.

Jero had explained to him that it was called The Place of Lightlessness because it was dark even compared to Kra-Matoran standards. Plus, there were a few rumors that stated that anyone who went there that wasn’t a Shodios or Turaga Krashadi would be eaten alive by beings of made of pure shadow, which discouraged anyone visiting this place. Nastan hadn’t seen any, but he had an awful feeling that the rumors of shadow beings may very well be true. He sincerely hoped not.

Suddenly, the door swung open and Jero entered, holding a small orb in his hand that was covered with a cloth. It was too dark to make out what it was he was holding, but Nastan really didn’t want to know. After all, if whatever it was made a Shodios giddy, then it had to be bad.

“Nastan, I know you probably cannot see me very well in this darkness, if at all,” Jero said in a quiet tone. “But I would like you to know what is about to happen to you first, so that you may understand its significance once the transformation is complete.”

“Transformation? What transformation?” Nastan asked, with more than a hint of fear in his voice. “What are you going to do to me?”

“This is an absorbing sphere,” said Jero, unveiling the ball from the cloth. It was dull and dark, as empty as a dark pit. “It is one of my newest creations.”

“What does it do?” Nastan asked, straining his head to get a better look of the ball.

“I do not know for sure,” admitted Jero. “But if my theory is correct, it should be able to absorb all of your light inside you and transform you from an idiotic Toa of The Green to a powerful Toa of Shadow. If it doesn’t, nothing should happen, but you never know. . . .”

“You can’t do this to me,” said Nastan, now staring at the absorbing sphere with fear. “What if I don’t want to become a Toa of Shadow? What if I’m happy as I am?”

“Think of yourself as a lab rat,” Jero said, now holding the sphere above Nastan’s face. “And think of this as an experiment. I am the scientist and I am curious and want to find out how it works, so I use you, the lab rat. If the experiment is a success, you will survive, perhaps even for the better. But if it fails, I will have to dispose of your corpse and work on another light dweller, perhaps one who has already allied him or herself with the shadow and therefore would not resist nearly as much, if at all.”

“This is inhumane!” Nastan shouted, still struggling against the bonds. “This is insane!”

“On the contrary, I find this to be quite exciting,” said Jero, in a voice that suggested he was getting very eager to begin. “I began this project a few years ago and just recently perfected it in this absorbing sphere. I have been testing it on Rahi beasts, but they have very little light and there is little to no difference in their attitudes or appearances.” He paused, as if lost in thought, then said, “Perhaps it is because they were made to fit into this environment. Regardless,” he added. “I was hoping that I would get a light dweller to test it on. But I thought it was a stupid dream, since until recently The Door has been locked up tightly. Then you and your friends came along, however, and I just couldn’t believe my luck.”

“I just can’t believe my unluckiness,” Nastan muttered.

“Unluckiness?” repeated Jero. “I wouldn’t necessarily call it ‘unlucky.’ After all, how many people get their light forcibly removed from their bodies and become Toa of Shadow every day? If this process works, as I theorize it will, then I will mass produce them and use these on other light Toa and Matoran on the surface and recruit more beings into our army, thus eliminating even more potential foes that will try to stop us.” He sounded proud, yet slightly crazed. “Turaga Krashadi will be proud, I suspect.”

“Now enough talking,” said Jero, shaking his head. “The experiment officially begins now.”

With a sound of a ‘click,’ Nastan suddenly started to feel . . . different. He felt like someone had reached into his stomach with a giant fork and was trying to grab his innards . . . and succeeding. He tried to fight the impulse to do evil, but as his light began to get siphoned off into the absorbing sphere, he found the temptation of evil becoming greater every minute.

But even if he could resist the evil temptation of shadow, there was still the unbearable pain that followed it. It shot through his form like a lightning bolt and burned and stung every inch of his body. He couldn’t scream. Instead, all he did was struggle and heave, but he knew it was pointless to try.

“Don’t struggle, Nastan,” Jero breathed, as he watched the orb in his hand gradually fill with light. “Soon, it will be over. Soon, you will have no reason to resist darkness. Soon, you will be the brother of shadow, of the Shodios. And soon, you will have no reason to struggle at all.”
 

-


Back with the rest of the Toa Shika, Barilo was sure that the Kra-Matoran would attack them, since they were light dwellers, and based on how the other Kra-Matoran they had met acted around them, it only made since.

But instead, the villagers bowed deeply at their feet, chanting ‘Hail the Toa!’ at the top of their lungs as if it were a ritual that they performed every day. None of the Shika knew what to make of it, though, and they were all standing around, dumbfounded, not sure of what to do or if they should do anything at all. Maybe run away while they’re distracted? Perhaps stay and ask what they think they’re doing? Fight them, possibly? Or do something else entirely?

Suddenly, one of the Kra-Matoran, a tan and black colored villager wearing a Huna, broke away from the crowd and ran up to the Toa Shika. She was obviously the leader of the group, for she wore a robe and held a staff of office similar to a Turaga’s, but she did not look like a Turaga. On the contrary, she seemed quite lively and young, which made Barilo wonder how she could have became leader of the village. Barilo instantly recognized her as the Kra-Matoran he had rescued earlier from the rubble of that damaged hut, for she had the same piercing crimson eyes, though he wondered why he hadn’t noticed the robes before

“Welcome, Toa!” she said enthusiastically, bowing in front of them as if they were some sort of higher beings. “I am Daaj, the leader of Wael, this village you are currently standing in. We fully appreciate your efforts to defeat the Invisible Black Mask that has been terrorizing our village since earlier this morning! Honor the Toa!” She whirled around and lifted her staff high, apparently some sort of signal for the Kra-Matoran to begin shouting again.

“Honor the Toa!” the group of Kra-Matoran shouted in unison.

Daaj turned around to face the Shika again and said, “We also appreciate the fact that you saved me from that smashed hut, Toa of Gravity.”

“Uh, you’re welcome?” said Barilo, a little overwhelmed by the way the Kra-Matoran was acting toward them now.

“Please tell us your names so that we may properly address you,” said Daaj, looking up at them.

After the five Toa informed her of their respective names, she smiled broadly and said, “Your names are . . . different from what we’re used to, but since you are Toa we shall refrain from ridiculing your rather ludicrous-sounding names.”

Barilo wanted to tell her that she had just insulted their names now, but she seemed to have ignored them and now gestured to about five other villagers to enter a nearby warehouse. Soon they had emerged from the building with five well-decorated thrones that were obviously reserved for Toa such as themselves, probably for the Shodios.

“Please sit in the thrones,” Daaj said, motioning to the fancy chairs. “They are normally reserved for the amazing and wise Shodios, but today we offer them to you five.”

“Uh, thanks, I guess,” said Addis, taking a seat, followed by the other four. “We, uh, appreciate this? I guess?” He looked over toward Barilo and the rest, all of whom simply shrugged.

Daaj looked from one Toa to the other with a curious expression on her face as she said, “If I may ask, is there a sixth member of your team? Surely you have a full team of six Toa, do you not?”

“What makes you think there was a sixth Toa?” asked Barilo.

“Because Toa, with a few exceptions, always travel in groups of six,” said Daaj. “It is practically a rule in your world, isn’t it?”

Now that she had mentioned it, Barilo could not name any Toa team off the top of his head that was more than six. He knew that, in the Dark Hunter/Toa war back on Metru Nui all of those years ago that there had been at least 300 Toa then, but they had been part of an army. Was there some sort of unwritten rule that made sure that almost all Toa teams to have no less or more than six Toa unless it is was an emergency?

He had no chance to ponder the thought further, however, because the Kra-Matoran were now busily bringing a large amount of food and drinks to them, and placed them on a long, flat table that lay before the Toa. All of the foods looked quite exotic and odd to Barilo. One of the foods looked like a tentacle with a spike sticking through it, and another might have been a fish at one point but now it looked like it had been turned inside out for some reason. Barilo wasn’t quite sure what to eat first.

Then again, I am not sure if I should eat at all, he thought as he looked at the odd food.

He glanced down at the others, who were all looking just as uncertain as he was. He didn’t feel particularly hungry and he thought the others didn’t either, but then he saw Nonzra pick up a piece of fish, eyeing it distastefully, and then absorbed its energy into his body. For a moment, nothing happened. Nonzra did not look sick, so maybe the food really wasn’t poisoned, but he certainly looked like he didn’t want to eat any more of the chow.

Despite Nonzra’s attempts at eating and finding it to be not poisoned, no one else bothered to eat the food because they didn’t trust the Kra-Matoran nor were they hungry. Well, they really were starving, but they did not want to just take the food without thinking. It seemed the villagers knew that, however, for more Matoran appeared and took the food and drinks away. None of the Kra-Matoran looked disappointed or offended by this. Barilo assumed that they were used to the Shodios ignoring their food, but he didn’t blame them. He thought he had seen one of the berries in the food move, though he rationalized away that he had just been seeing things. I hope, he added silently to himself.

Next, the Kra-Matoran insisted that the Toa go inside the temple, where they would ‘worship’ them and ‘entertain’ the Toa. But the five Shika respectfully declined the offer, all of them feeling tired and wanting to sleep and possibly think of a plan to get away at night when the Kra-Matoran villagers were asleep. Besides, they didn’t want to be worshiped, anyway.

But before they entered a large building that the villagers insisted was where the Shodios slept whenever they entered the village, Akuna asked Daaj, “Have you seen our sixth Toa, Nastan, Toa of The Green? He has a long arms and legs and is blue-ish green and wears a Mask of Accuracy and also wields a bow.”

“Nope,” she said immediately. “Never saw him and never heard of him.” She paused and asked, “Why did he leave you guys? Did you guys get into a fight with or something and he decided to go out on his own? It is very dangerous to travel around Wyoko alone if you don’t know the place, you know.”

“Actually, he did not run away because we had a dispute,” said Akuna, her temper rising. “If you need to know, he and I were very close friends and he would never leave without telling me why. We just woke up earlier this morning and he was gone. We tried to find him, but couldn’t. We don’t know where he is now.” Then she added under her breath, “I hope he’s safe.”

“Earlier this morning?” questioned Daaj. “That’s when he disappeared?”

“Yes. Why? Did something happen?”

“Yes, a shadow storm started near the forest over the mountains and came near this village,” said Daaj. “It didn’t get us, but it did leave us that nifty little Invisible Black Mask. Your Nastan may have been caught in it and, given the nature of shadow storms, is probably on the other side of the land by now. He may be in another village, I don’t know.”

Akuna felt relieved. At least she knew that Nastan was safe, somewhere. Maybe tomorrow she and the others would leave and try to find him. But before she went into the building, she had one more question to ask Daaj.

“Why are you treating us like this?”

“Treating you like what?” Daaj said in a puzzled tone.

“Like we’re royalty, like we’re the Shodios,” said Akuna. “Aren’t you aware that we were given a mock trial, sentenced to being eaten alive by shadow eels (whatever those are), and then we escaped? Why are you guys treating us like the Shodios, when all of the other Kra-Matoran we’ve met acted like we’re worse than a Piraka?”

“Well, Toa Akuna,” said Daaj, looking slightly alarmed. Akuna could tell she hadn’t expected this question, but the Kra-Matoran was going to answer anyway. “I don’t know about the mock trial or the sentencing to getting killed by shadow eels. That doesn’t sound like the Shodios I know. Sounds like a huge misunderstanding, which it was, in fact,” she added. “We got news from Castle Kra that any village that found the Toa Shika were supposed to let them in and treat them as we’d treat the Shodios. They now think of you five as allies and maybe they will help you find your friend if he hasn’t already found a village of Kra-Matoran that are willing to let him into their homes by now. That is why we’re treating you like this despite the fact you are not Toa of Shadow, Toa Akuna. You are now considered a friend of the Shodios, and indeed all of Wyoko.”

Akuna felt slightly happy. Was it possible? The Shodios, the ones who had acted the most evil and cruel to them, now accepted them as equals? This further supported her earlier theory; the Shodios and Kra-Matoran weren’t as evil as she and other Toa had originally thought. They were simply misunderstood, it seems, and now that they realized their mistake, maybe she and the others should help the Kra-Matoran leave Wyoko.

After all, she thought as she entered the large building. With an entire army of Matoran of Shadow on our side, plus the Shodios, the Dark Hunters won’t stand a chance against us. We’ll be able to free the Matoran of Shika Nui! And with twelve Toa, no one would ever be able to take Shika Nui away from us ever again.

She felt very optimistic about the whole thing as she was directed to her own room, located on the top floor of the building. The structure, she learned, had three floors, with two rooms on each floor. Each room held one bed, one chest of drawers, and one window. They were also quite large, with lots of room to walk around.

Akuna sat on the bed in her room, feeling very happy. With the Kra-Matoran and Shodios on their side, the future was looking up indeed. She felt happy; no, more than happy. She felt overjoyed, actually. Tomorrow she was going to tell the others what Daaj told her, unless they had already been informed, in which they could skip directly to the part where they would find Nastan with the help of the Shodios.

But even as she pulled the scratchy purple and black blankets over her, a small voice in the back of her head was still voicing her hidden doubts, that all of it a trick, that it was all fake, that she shouldn’t be feeling so happy-go-lucky, especially with Nastan still missing. But she pushed those doubtful thoughts away and went to sleep, hoping that soon she would be reunited with Nastan.
 

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#32 Offline TNTOS

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Posted Feb 13 2014 - 09:47 AM

Chapter 13: Lies


The experiment, Jero thought, was a success as he watched as Nastan, his armor completely jet-black and his eyes a light red color, rose from the stone slab he had been lying on. The absorbing sphere had worked perfectly: Nastan was no longer a defender of light, a self-righteous ‘hero.’ Now he was a Toa of Shadow, stripped of all of his light. His physical appearance was largely the same, except now he was completely black, Jero noted.

“So, Nastan,” said the scientist, looking up at the new Toa of Shadow. “How does it feel to have no light anymore, to be a complete ally of the shadow?”

Nastan, who had been examining his new form, glanced up at Jero, as if noticing him for the first time. He smiled a sort of crazy smile and said, “It feels good. Really good. Like, stealing a bunch of Cordak blasters all full of ammo from a heavily defended Dark Hunter fortress and getting without being seen kind of good. I love it.”

“Experiment loves it,” Jero muttered as he wrote notes. “Anything else? Like, how did it feel to get your light forcefully taken out of you? Did it hurt?”

“At first, yeah,” said Nastan, now leaning up against a wall and examining his hands, as if he had never seen them before. “But as the light left me, it felt . . . painless. I was starting to accept it, love it, to know that I was part of the darkness and that it was pointless to reject it.” He looked around the room for a minute and exclaimed, “Wow, being able to see in the dark is tons different than being able to see in the light. The only bad thing is that there is nothing in here to look at but your ugly mask, Jero.”

Jero fought the temptation to hit Nastan over the head for insulting him. He knew that the Toa of Shadow’s body and mind were still adjusting to the drastic changes that had resulted in having his light taken away and therefore he would be pretty unstable for a while. He had deduced this by studying the way Nastan reacted to his new powers and appearance. But Nastan was still annoying just the same.

“So, what do we do next?” Nastan asked eagerly. “I want to show Akuna my new powers.”

“That is, if we can find her,” said Jero. “That shouldn’t be a problem, though. All of Wyoko is on watch for the five Toa Shika and are ordered to take them alive or kill them if they resist.”

“Spare Akuna and Barilo,” said Nastan.

“Why? Are you close to them?”

Nastan shot the Toa of Shadow a look that even gave him the chills and replied, “Akuna, yes, we’re very close to each other. But Barilo . . . He’s a different story.”

“Why is that, Nastan?” asked Jero. “Did he do something to you in the past that makes you angry at him?”

“Yes,” said Nastan, though it was clear he did not want to talk about it, for it brought back painful memories. “He tried to kill me once. He was stopped, obviously, and was exiled from the team. But later everyone but me forgave him and let him rejoin the team. Even Akuna agreed to it. Yet none of them considered my feelings. What if I still didn’t trust him? What if I thought he wasn’t worth being a Toa and should stay exiled? But no, they unanimously voted him back in without hesitation.”

Jero noticed shadow energy starting to crackle in Nastan’s palms. It was obvious, because of his outburst of emotions, that he was losing control of his powers, since he did not seem to notice what was happening. Jero didn’t bother to tell him, for he wanted to see Nastan use his new shadow powers for the very first time.

“I want to kill him,” Nastan said savagely. “I want to see his corpse burning. I want to see justice served. I want to see him dead!”

With that last shout, he fired a huge blast of shadow energy at a nearby wall, blasting the barrier apart and creating a huge gaping hole in the wall of the temple, revealing the outside which looked just as bleak and depressing as the inside. Nastan was still seething, while Jero stood up and clapped his hands, grinning evilly.

“Very good, Nastan!” said Jero, smiling. “The experiment is a full success and you are living proof of it. I am so proud of myself!”

“Who cares if it was a success?” Nastan snorted. “I am just so very happy that I do not have that stupid conscience to annoy me anymore when I want to do something that it says is ‘wrong.’ Now I need to find Barilo. I want to kill him with my own bare hands!”

“You’re moving way too much ahead of yourself, Nastan,” said Jero. “First, I have to show you to the other Shodios and Turaga Krashadi, just to prove to them that it is indeed possible to artificially remove the light out of a being. Perhaps then the old coot will allow me to start mass producing the things.”

“Why didn’t he allow you to make more before?” asked Nastan.

“Because he is not a man of science like me,” said Jero. “He did not think I could succeed in sucking the light out of a being and thought it would be a complete waste of time and resources. But now I have proved him wrong. I can’t wait to see the look on his face when he sees you.”

“Yeah, sure, whatever,” said Nastan dismissively. “Let’s get going already. This place is too cramped for my tastes.”

With that, he blasted yet another hole in the wall and leapt through it with such speed and grace one might have mistaken him for a brakas monkey. Jero looked through the hole and saw that, though they were several dozen feet above ground, Nastan had somehow managed to land safely without so much as a sprained ankle, at least from what he could see, anyway. The new Toa of Shadow shouted from below, “Let’s go! I am getting tired of waiting!”

“Um, uh, coming!“ Jero said, slightly taken aback by Nastan’s quickness. He pulled out his note pad and scribbled, Subject A’s agility has been increased as a result of having his light take away. Will need to monitor him for now to see if there are any other unforeseen side effects that I am unaware of.

With that, he decided to take the stairs down to the ground level. Nastan may be fast and very agile, but Jero was a rather old Toa, and while he may have been stronger and more powerful than a Kra-Matoran or Krashadi, he still did not trust his legs to give out underneath him were he to drop from such a height.

Once he reached the bottom, Nastan was nowhere to be seen. He glanced around the dark area and saw only the caravan they had taken to get here, which was flipped over. He saw two pairs of legs sticking out from underneath it; two pairs of legs that belonged to the villagers who had driven the wagon here. He did not wish to find out what the rest of their bodies looked like.

After conducting a quick search of the immediate area, he concluded that Nastan must have run away, which added one more problem to today’s list.

First, the Toa Shika got away and their location is unknown, thus turning all of Wyoko into a energy hound that keeps an eye out for intruders on its territory, he thought. Then, Nastan, now a Toa of Shadow and equipped with an insane and unstable mind, has run away and his location is unknown, too. Mata Nui, what is this place coming to? Will we all end up dying in the end?
 

-


Several thousand miles away, in the village of Wael, Toa Barilo had a hard time sleeping, twisting and turning in his soft bed. His mind was bothered by a lot of things, mostly by the welcoming Kra-Matoran. He couldn’t name it, but there was something about them that seemed very wrong, deceptive almost. While the others seemed to have accepted the Kra-Matoran, he himself was not so sure.

But it didn’t seem to be a trick, either. After all, if they gave the Toa Shika the things that they normally reserved for the Shodios, then they obviously must be genuine, right, considering how much they worship the Shodios like gods? Well, that was something he was not so sure about, even though he had no evidence to back up his doubts.

Why would they suddenly start to act so happy and nice and friendly when other members of their tribe have been far more hostile to us? he thought, troubled. I want to accept this as genuine, but something in the back of my mind is keeping me from doing it. That little voice is telling me that this doesn’t make sense, that there is more to this than meets the eye. But what is it?

He wondered if any of the other Shika might be thinking the same thoughts he was. If so, maybe they had their own reasons that Barilo did not know, something they may have noticed about the Kra-Matoran that tipped them off, if anything at all.

He decided to go and talk to Addis, who he was close friends with. He kind of doubted that the Kra-Matoran would let him visit Addis, but this could also be a test. If they let him go and talk to Addis about this, then he would be convinced that they are the real deal. If they didn’t let him go and talk to Addis, then there would be a very good chance that all of the Toa Shika were in great danger tonight.

There were two Kra-Matoran guards stationed outside of his door. At first he had insisted that he would be fine and would not need any guards, but the villagers had insisted that he should have at least two and that’s how those two ended up there. As he placed a hand on his doorknob, he froze at the sound of the two villagers talking to each other, though they were talking very quietly.

“Man, I am getting sick of treating these light lovers like they’re Turaga Krashadi himself!” one of the Kra-Matoran complained.

“Don’t worry, I heard that a message has been sent to Toa Jiki that the Invisible Black Mask has been defeated, but that we have the five Toa Shika here for her to take,” said the other guard. “Or kill them, whichever one suits her.”

Barilo was thunderstruck. So they really didn’t like the Toa Shika! The Kra-Matoran was just playing with him and his friends all along! It was a trick! He needed to somehow get the others out of here, but first he would have to convince them.

But how would he get to their rooms without first getting past the guards? It was clear to him that the Kra-Matoran would not let him go and leave his room just because he wanted to. If Jiki really was coming, and if she was coming to get the Toa Shika, he would need to break out and get to his friends before it was too late.

He looked at the window near his bed. It was open and looked wide enough to allow someone of his size to get through. Perhaps he could climb out of it and into the others’ rooms to warn of them of Jiki’s coming? He saw only two flaws in the plan: One, he would need to make sure no Kra-Matoran were waiting outside the building just in case they saw him climbing the structure and tried to get him down. Two, he would need to find a way to convince the others that this was all a sham, that they would need to get out of Wael quickly before Jiki arrives, since he had no solid proof that Jiki really was coming to get them.

Barilo looked out of his window. He did not see any Kra-Matoran, nor did he see anything else but lots of huts. It was a risky plan still. What if the guards heard him climbing out and warned the other guards, or just stopped him entirely? But he knew he needed to get out and rescue his friends, so he decided that it was a risk worth taking.

Since he was on the bottom floor, his window was located only a couple of feet above the ground. Jumping out of it, he landed silently on the ground and then tiptoed over to Addis’ window, which was on the same level as his. Unfortunately, Addis had shut his window, which meant that Barilo would have to open it through sheer force.

He pulled out his trusty axe and then, as silent and quickly as he could, started to cut around the bottom of the window. It took a few minutes and more than once Barilo looked over his shoulder just in case someone was watching him or had heard him, but eventually he managed to force it open and crawled inside Addis’ window, closing it as he entered so no one would look in and see two Toa where there should only be one.

The Toa of Gravity quickly and quietly fast walked over to Addis, who was fast asleep on his bed, muttering to himself in words that Barilo couldn’t understand.

“Wake up,” whispered Barilo, shaking the Toa of Plasma. “Addis, it is a trick. The villagers really don’t like us as much as they say they do and are going to hand us over to the Shodios if we don’t get ourselves out of here soon!”

“What?” Addis said sleepily, sitting up and yawning. “Barilo, what are you doing in my room? How did you get in here? And why are you in here?”

As quickly as he could, Barilo explained to Addis about the conversation he heard between the two guards and how they should get out of Wael before Jiki arrives. Addis only half-listened, however; the rest of his mind was still in dreamland.

“That’s nice, Barilo,” Addis yawned, laying back down and turning over. “Why don’t you just get some sleep and we’ll think about this tomorrow?”

“There won’t be a ‘tomorrow’ when Jiki gets here!” said Barilo, trying to keep his voice low. “We’ll all be dead by then!”

“But you have no proof or evidence to support your theory, Barilo,” said Addis, now sounding annoyed. “Why should I believe you?”

“Oh, I don’t know, maybe because we’ve known each other for over 30,000 years?” said Barilo sarcastically. “When you’ve known the Kra-Matoran for barely more than a day?”

“I still don’t know. . . .”

Suddenly, they heard voices outside of Addis’ window. The Toa of Plasma looked toward it, wondering who the voices belonged to. He recognized Daaj’s, who was speaking as loudly and enthusiastically as usual, but the other voice was muffled, as if it were whispering. The two Toa moved toward the closed window and cracked it open ever so slightly.

In the shadows of the night they saw two figures standing just outside Addis’ window. One was obviously Daaj, for it was holding her walking staff and had the same voice. The other was Toa-sized and had a large frame. They recognized that one as Jiki, for it had the same voice as her.

“So you really duped the Toa into believing you are their allies?” asked Jiki. “I am impressed. I never thought that mere Matoran such as you were capable of such elaborate deceptions.”

“Oh, Toa Jiki, it would have been harder had they used their brains,” said Daaj, who sounding quite proud of herself. “All of the light on the surface must have fried their brains, don’t you think?”

“You say the Toa are in this building?”

“Yes, Toa Jiki, they are. They’re all fast asleep. Shall I have my guards go in and capture them all and bring them out here for you?”

“No,” Jiki said, shaking her head. “We tried to capture them before, and they escaped. This time, we’re going to kill them all, because if we capture them they will just escape again and, with the situation as it is, we can’t let them get away and possibly reunite with their lost friend, what was his name, Nastan, that’s it.”

“I agree, wise and wonderful Jiki,” said Daaj, nodding her head in agreement. “Perhaps you should kill them quietly, ma’am. I do not question your wisdom or knowledge, but I do not think we should have a long fight on our hands that could possibly damage Wael.”

“Whatever,” said Jiki, who was now getting impatient, “I just want to kill them and be done with it.”

“Then come right his way, Toa Jiki.”

Addis and Barilo looked at each other. They instantly knew what they had to do: Find the others and get them out of here!
 

-


Turaga Krashadi sat at his desk in his tower, scribbling plans for the battles on the surface that would surely come as Teivel quietly entered the room, his face half-covered in darkness, though it did not necessarily hide it, for Krashadi could see in the darkness quite well.

He looked up at the leader of the Shodios and said, “Teivel, what brings you here today? Do you have more news on the Toa Shika situation?”

“Jiki has sent a messenger,” Teivel said in his usual cold tone. “She says she has found the Toa Shika in the village of Wael and plans to kill them.” He stopped talking, as if expecting Krashadi to say something in disagreement with Jiki’s plans.

But he was to be disappointed, for Krashadi said, “I suppose that makes sense. They have been giving us such a hard time that I wouldn’t bother keeping them alive, either.” He paused, as if lost in thought, then said, “How does Jero’s experiment on the Toa of The Green go? Any news about that yet?”

“None,” said Teivel. “He hasn’t reported back-“

Suddenly, Toa Jero burst into the room, looking as if he had just run several miles, which he probably had, considering the condition of his armor. He had dirt splattered all over his chest and feet and looked like he was out of breath, which he probably was.

“Nastan . . . escaped! Gone!” Jero panted, clutching his chest.

“What?” Teivel snapped, surprised by the sudden appearance of Jero. “Explain yourself, scientist!”

“That Toa I was experimenting on,” said Jero, trying to explain what he was trying to say. “My absorbing sphere was a success! But then Nastan escaped!” He had a very mixed tone, sounding like he was proud of his success, yet he also sounded as if he were worried.

“So, there’s a new Toa of Shadow roaming Wyoko without any supervision?” said Krashadi. His tone was becoming increasingly darker and more thunder-like as he spoke. “Why in your right mind would you let such a valuable experiment loose upon our people? Are you trying to figure out what would happen if you let a homicidal maniac out onto a continent full of innocent Matoran?”

“No experiment!” shouted Jero. “He ran away on his own! I don’t know where he is!”

“Did he give you any clue as to where he might be going?” Teivel asked sharply.

“Well, he did mention wanting to kill that Toa of Gravity, Barilo,” said Jero. “But he has no idea where his friends are.”

“But what is to stop him from intercepting one of our messengers and forcing the Matoran to tell him the location of the rest of the Toa Shika?” questioned Teivel. “He may be heading to Wael, which is where the Toa Shika are at this very moment.”

“He may, but for we know all he could simply be wandering,” said Jero. “I noticed he had a very sudden change in behavior after I changed him into a Toa of Shadow. I suspect his mind must have been damaged because of the imperfect technique that I used on him, which may mean he is simply insane and might not be a serious threat to us.”

“But just the same, it would make sense to kill him,” Krashadi said calmly. “He doesn’t know what to do with his new shadow powers. He may attempt to do something stupid, like attack this castle. He may be insane, but being insane does not instantly make one stupid.”

“You’re right, Krashadi, we can’t have a being like that wandering around our realm,” said Teivel, nodding. “I shall go search for him from the skies. If he is heading for Wael, I can intercept him and kill him.”

“Hey, I gave you no permission to kill my experiment,” Jero said angrily. “He proves that I could mass produce absorbing spheres and we could use them on other light dwellers. I still need to study him to figure out what went wrong!”

“It’s obvious,” said Teivel. “You’re just a bad scientist. I honestly don’t know why we would want to convert our enemies to our tribe, especially if they’re all going to be as unpredictable as Nastan.”

“I think that the new Toa of Shadow should be killed,” Krashadi said in tone that made it obvious that the discussion was over. “Jero, form a search party of the best Kra-Matoran in this castle and then lead it to try to find to Nastan. Teivel, find the other Shodios and bring them to this castle. We have to discuss battle tactics when we begin our conquering of the surface world.”

“Yes, Turaga,” said Jero, bowing slightly. “I will bring Nastan-“

“-dead,” Krashadi finished for him. “Teivel is right. He is too unpredictable and unstable to be allowed to wander free like that. Kill him and bring the body back to me.”

Jero glared at Krashadi, but he left anyway, leaving the small room and running down the staircase. Teivel followed soon after, leaving Krashadi all alone in his study. The Turaga of Shadow jumped off of his chair and then walked over to the window, looking over the whole land of Wyoko. Beyond it he could see The Door to The Light, which was closed, but not, he knew, locked. He could not wait to go through it, but with the Toa Shika and Nastan still running around, it may be a long time before he would ever see the light of the surface again.

Still, he knew that, if need be, he could simply destroy the Shika himself. If he knew light Toa - and he thought that he knew them - they would survive Jiki’s attempted murder and then, like all Toa, would attempt to raid Castle Kra, because they would assume that Nastan was here. Once they got here, Krashadi decided, he was not going to hold back. He was going to wipe them off the face of the universe and after that he would lead his people out of Wyoko to begin a new Kra-Matoran Empire, one even better than before.

Yes, he thought as he gripped his staff tightly in his hand. The Kra-Matoran Empire shall rise again and this time, no one will stop us.
 

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#33 Offline TNTOS

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Posted Feb 14 2014 - 09:52 AM

Chapter 14: Escape Wael


It took only minutes for Addis to decide what to do.

“We gotta climb the building from the outside,” said Addis. “Get to the others before Jiki gets to your room!”

“Yeah, but how?” Barilo said in puzzlement. “The building is completely smooth on the outside. We can’t climb it!”

Addis looked out of the window. Jiki and Daaj were nowhere to be seen now and he saw a nearby hut that looked abandoned. He stared at its roof, which looked strong enough to hold at least two Toa. He looked back at Barilo and then said, “I think I know how we can get up there.”

“How?”

He pointed at the roof of the hut. “Get me up there with your gravity powers and help me get up to the rooms of the other Toa.”

Suddenly, they heard footsteps, a door being swung open, shadow being blasted, and then Jiki’s enraged shouts, all coming from Barilo’s now-abandoned room.

“Where did the Toa go?” they heard her demand.

“We don’t have time to use your plan!” Barilo whispered hurriedly. “Quick, when they open the door I shall use my gravity powers and knock them out and then we’ll run up to the higher floors.”

Addis looked doubtful, but he agreed with the plan anyway just as their door blasted open, an enraged Jiki and Daaj and four guards standing in the door way, shadow energy practically radiating from their bodies because of the power they were about to use.

“ ‘Night, Jiki!” shouted Barilo, using his gravity powers to slam Jiki and the Matoran into the walls. He pinned their unconscious bodies to the stone barriers and then turned to Addis and said, “Addis, let’s go up to the higher levels. The other guards might have heard the commotion down here and might be trying to kill Chimoy, Nonzra, and Akuna!”

Addis nodded, and soon the two Toa were running up the stairs. Barilo heard a low ‘thump’ from below, signifying that Jiki and the four villagers had fallen off the walls they had been pinned to. They were still unconscious, although he hoped that they would stay unconscious for a little while longer.

When they arrived at the landing of the second floor, they saw the guards of Chimoy and Nonzra’s rooms were gone, with the doors to the rooms ajar.

“Do you think they’re already got them?” Barilo asked worriedly.

Suddenly, a blast of earsplitting sound came from Nonzra’s room and two unconscious guards went flying out of the chamber and smashed into the wall, leaving a large dent where they had hit. Then Chimoy’s sentries shot out of his room and smashed into the wall as well, though they were bound with metal straps. Chimoy and Nonzra emerged from their rooms, weapons drawn and faces apprehensive. Once they spotted Addis and Barilo, they ran over to the two Toa and Chimoy said, “Addis, Barilo, what’s up with these Matoran? Why were they trying to kill us?”

“They nearly stabbed me in the face!” said Nonzra, angry. “Are these guys crazy?”

Barilo quickly explained to them what he and Addis had heard and when he finished Chimoy said, “We ought to find Akuna, too. She might get killed!”

But as soon as the words left his mouth two stunned guards broke straight through the ceiling and then smashed through the floor behind the four Toa and into the first floor. Above them, Akuna looked through the hole in the ceiling, saw the other Shika and the unconscious guards near them and said, “Well, maybe I was a little too trusting of the Kra-Matoran. But why did they suddenly attack me - and from the looks of it, you guys, too - for no reason?”

After having it explained to her, Akuna looked slightly hurt and said, “So, I guess we really were morons, considering we believed them.” She sounded very unhappy.

“It’s not your fault,” said Barilo. “Like you said, we all believed them, though I was still suspicious of them.” He added.

“Whatever,” Addis said, shaking his head. “We got to get to the roof of this place! Jiki could get up any minute now!”

Addis, Barilo, Chimoy, and Nonzra jumped over the hole in the floor that Akuna had created and then ran up the stairs to the third floor, where Akuna was waiting for them. She looked just as worried as ever, but led them over to a staircase that apparently headed up to the roof.

The roof of the building was completely flat but felt very solid underneath their feet. There was no sign of any way off of it. No ladders, either, and jumping off seemed like a very bad idea considering how high they were above ground. They could hear the sounds of Jiki and her Matoran running up the stairs behind them and knew that they needed more time to figure out a way off.

“I’ll stop them,” said Addis, aiming his plasma cannon at the entrance.

He fired off two balls of plasma, both of which melted the entrance closed. He didn’t doubt that Jiki and the Kra-Matoran could break through eventually, but it gave them a little extra time to think of a venue of escape.

“Anyone got any ideas?” asked Addis, putting his plasma cannon away.

“No,” said Akuna, shaking her head.

“Don’t ask me if I can use my gravity to get us down there,” said Barilo. “Because one, I can’t focus on us all, and two, we have some unwanted visitors waiting below for us, if you know what I mean.”

Addis looked over the ledge and saw what must have been the entire village of Wael waiting at the bottom, all of them holding weapons and shouting what sounded like cheers for Jiki. He did not doubt that they would tear down the entire building if it meant getting at the Toa Shika, especially if Jiki told ordered them to.

“So jumping is out of the question,” said Addis, sighing. “We only have one other choice, then.”

“What is that?” asked Nonzra.

“We fly,” replied Addis.

“Uh, in case you haven’t noticed, only Chimoy wears a Mask of Flight and I am pretty sure that he can’t lift all of us,” said Barilo, exasperated. “Flying is out of the question.”

“No, it isn’t,” said Addis, looking up at the dark sky. “What are the chances of a huge Rahi that could hold five Toa flying around at this very minute? Maybe Nonzra could use his Mask of Summoning to summon whatever it is.”

“Well, Addis,” said Nonzra, hearing the sound of Jiki breaking through the melt entrance behind them and talking quickly. “I agree with you, but remember I can’t control what my mask summons. For all we know it could summon some horrible evil creatures that would want to eat rather than save us from the Kra-Matoran.”

“Try it anyway,” said Barilo, looking over the edge. “The Kra-Matoran is getting very impatient. Whatever you summon probably won’t be much worse than that mob down there.”

Nonzra sighed and said, “Okay. I’ll do it.”

He activated his Mask of Summoning, feeling its power reach out to the wilderness around him. He had no idea what it would choose, but hoped that whatever it was it would be useful.

Suddenly, out of the blackness of the Wyokan sky, a huge, dark, bat-like shape came hurtling into view, moving faster than Nonzra’s eyes could follow. Soon it landed on the roof of the structure they were standing on, its black eyes regarding them curiously.

“What is it?” asked Akuna, standing slightly behind Barilo. “It looks like a giant, ugly bat!”

It indeed carried a very close resemblance to that of a bat. Its large, thin wings were spread out at its sides, flowing gently in the wind. It had large, sharp teeth, with purple metal and fur covering its body. Its sharp toenails were digging into the roof, as if it were trying to steady itself and it was drooling what might have been shadow. Barilo thought it looked big enough to hold all five of them, but they needed to tame it, and they didn’t have enough time to tame it.

“Chimoy, make me a chain,” Addis said immediately as he tossed a glance over his shoulder. “Jiki’s going to break through the entrance any minute now!”

“Here you go, Addis,” said Chimoy, a long chain instantly springing into existence in his hands. “I think you know what you are going to do, although I can’t say if I think it will work or not.”

Addis took the chain and then, with the speed and agility of a skilled athlete, ran and jumped onto the giant bat’s back, simultaneously latching the chain around its neck and pulling the creature’s head up.

The monster didn’t like the chain around its neck nor Addis sitting on its back and tried to shake him off, but Addis firmly held the chain around its neck and twisted and turned it until it gave up fighting, which only took a few minutes, surprisingly.

“Get on!” shouted Addis to the others, who all looked impressed with his ability to quickly tame the creature. “We’re taking this beast out of here!”

“Uh, sure,” Barilo said in an awed tone. I didn’t know he could control a giant bat so easily!

He did not think about it any further, though, because Chimoy dragged him to the monster. Everyone else was already on its back and soon he was as well. With a loud “Yah!” from Addis the giant bat flew off and into the dark night sky.

It was immediately obvious that, with the weight of the five Toa on its back, it could not fly as fast or as graceful as it had before, and Barilo was sure that they would get hit by the Kra-Matoran on the ground. He looked down and saw all of the villagers, who looked like ants from his perch, standing with their mouths open, awestruck. He wasn’t sure if they were surprised at the appearance of the beast or of the Toa Shikas’ chosen method of escape. Regardless, he knew he and his friends had escaped from the villagers and were hopefully on their way to safety.

Behind them, he could hear Jiki, standing on the roof of the building, cursing at them as loudly as she possibly could and also shooting shadow blasts at them, but missing because their ride was dodging the blasts rather skillfully despite the weight of the five Toa. He thought he heard Jiki call their mount a ‘Cracko,’ which he thought was a rather odd name for a giant bat.

Soon Wael was out of sight, with the Kra-Matoran, Jiki’s curses, and the entire village disappearing into the darkness of Wyoko as their rather bumpy ride flew higher and higher in a random direction with apparently no help from Addis to guide it.

“Where are we going?” Akuna asked with her arms tightly wrapped around Addis’ waist to avoid falling off.

“To be honest, Akuna, I have no idea,” Addis replied. “I am hoping toward The Door.”

“Well, I still think we should search for Nastan,” said Akuna. “Considering how hostile the villages are, what if they tried the same trick on him and he fell for it? I can’t stand knowing that he’s still out there somewhere!”

“Well, maybe we can find him from up here,” Barilo said, who was looking down. “But we’d have to get real close to the ground. It’s too dark up here to see anything.”

He was right. Below them there was nothing but darkness and shadow. There were no lights from the ground because the Kra-Matoran hated light and therefore used it as little as possible. But there seemed to be light near the ceiling of Wyoko’s dome, for they could see small, dim pinpoints of light on the ceiling, letting them see shadow clouds and a few other flying Rahi in the distance, but not too much else besides that.

“By the way, Addis,” said Barilo, who broke his gaze away from the dark sky. “How come you’re so good at taming this Cracko? You got it to agree with you awful quick.”

“Well, it doesn’t seem to be as violent as I thought it was going to be,” said Addis, looking over his shoulder. “It didn’t put up much of a fight as I expected it to do, but that’s better than getting ripped to shreds by it, right?”

Suddenly, the Cracko lurched to the side and Akuna gripped Addis around the waist even tighter to avoid falling off. The others did the same, holding on tightly to one another. Then the giant bat flew down toward the ground, passing through dark clouds and flying by other Rahi (one of them looked oddly like a giant flying squid to Barilo) as it dove. Addis was pulling it around the neck with his chain so that it would go back up, but it ignored him and kept flying down.

“This thing is going to crash if it keeps this speed up!” shouted Addis.

“Maybe it’s trying to shake us off,” Nonzra muttered. “If it is, it’s working quite well.”

“Just hang on tightly and I’ll see if I can get it back up!” Addis replied, pulling hard on the chain.

The Cracko reluctantly went back up, if only to ease the pain on its neck as a result of the hard, metal chain being pulled against its collar. So now they were flying again, and Barilo wondered where they would be going now. After all, they were too high up to see The Door and he doubted that the Cracko knew or cared about where it was. Addis looked like he was thinking hard, probably making up a new plan for them to use.

“Okay, guys,” Addis shouted the sound of the loud flapping of the Cracko’s wings. “I’m going to try to get this beast to fly near the ground and then we’ll dismount and walk to The Door.”

“Walk?” Barilo asked in disbelief. “But we’ll be seen if we walk!”

“Not to mention it will take much longer to talk to The Door than to fly,” Chimoy added.

“I know,” said Addis. “But this creature is getting rebellious and might try to shake us off again, plus we can’t afford to be spotted by the Kra-Matoran or Shodios and then get shot down. If we walk we will be able to hide more effectively than flying, and, might I add, we don’t know where The Door is exactly, and we’ll be able to see it clearly from the ground, or at least know of its general direction.”

“But first,” said Addis, looking down. “We ought to fly quite a ways away. The Matoran of Wael might be nearby, maybe sending a search party to find us. Remember, they can see us in this darkness and we can’t, so they have an advantage over us. We gotta land somewhere far away enough from Wael so the Matoran won’t find us. Yah!”

He pulled the chain again and the Cracko shot forward toward the north, the cold wind of Wyoko whipping their faces as they flew. Akuna kept looking down all the way, hoping to see some sign of Nastan, though she knew it was a false hope, for they were too high up to even see the ground.
 

-


Nastan ran through the darkness of Wyoko, his mind ablaze with all kinds of thoughts and emotions. First he felt angry, then he felt happy, then he felt sad, then he was confused, and then he was angry again and then he suddenly felt all of the emotions in the universe and now he was happy again. Despite his very conflicted mind, he knew one thing for sure: He was in his natural environment.

I cannot understand why the Shodios would ever want to leave this place, he thought, glancing around at the dark forest that he was in. This is perfect for a Toa of Shadow like me! Complete and utter darkness, scary nightmare creatures everywhere I look. It is practically paradise. I even have night vision! How cool is that?

But, despite his newfound happiness, he felt . . . lonely, somehow. He missed the other Toa Shika, despite them not actually being Toa of Shadow. He missed Akuna most of all, whom he now knew he loved very much, though he knew that Barilo would simply have to be killed if his friends were to become Toa of Shadow like himself. And, he thought, if any of the others got in his way, he would have to kill them, too.

Akuna could become a Toa of Shadow like me, he thought happily. She would love it because she loves me and would do anything for me, even give up her light. And hey, being a complete shadow being sure is fun!

The whole reason that he had abandoned Jero back at the Place of Lightlessness was because he had wanted to search for the other Toa Shika by himself, and he didn’t like Jero much anyway. He had no idea where they were. Maybe they were in a village? He doubted it, considering what the Kra-Matoran think of the Toa Shika. So they obviously must be in the wilderness somewhere, probably heading toward The Door, Nastan thought.

Just like them, he thought bitterly. Leaving me behind here in Wyoko without even trying to find me. Barilo most likely persuaded them to do that. Hopefully Akuna will separate from the group to try and find me, at least.

With the agility of a ninja, he launched himself onto a tree branch and then started climbing. Now he may not be a Toa of The Green anymore, but he still had his amazing tree climbing abilities, though he noticed that they had lowered considerably, since he was taking a longer time to climb, branch by branch. He was also getting noticeably more worn out as he climbed higher, an obvious side effect of his abrupt change from being a Toa of The Green to a Toa of Shadow.

Finally, he reached the top and sat on the highest branch, scanning the landscape around him, panting, almost out of breath. He saw The Door, though he was many, many miles away from it and it was nothing more than a small sparkle of light in the distance. He saw a few villages, plus Castle Kra, but they were all far away as well. He spotted the western mountains to the left of him, with their huge, white snow capped peaks. His eyes, however, wandered up to the sky above them, where he saw a most unusual sight.

Flying very close to the peaks of the mountains was a giant bat, of a species Nastan had never seen before. He thought it was extremely weird, but regardless, it was flying awkwardly, looking as if it had something heavy on its back. In fact, Nastan did notice what looked like a large, multicolor lump on its back that was moving slightly.

It can’t be them, can it? he thought as he watched from his treetop perch. How the heck did they end up on a giant bat? Well, I should probably go and greet them. Looks like they’re going to-

The giant monster suddenly fell out of view into the dark mountains.

-fall, he thought. Hopefully Barilo got impaled by some sharp rocks or something. But nevertheless, they are within my grasp, so I don’t have to be away from Akuna any longer.

Climbing back down the tree, his blood-red eyes fixated on the mountains, he planned to give his five friends a very nasty shock. Especially, he thought, Barilo.
 

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#34 Offline TNTOS

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Posted Feb 17 2014 - 09:38 AM

Chapter 15: Lost in the Mountains


As they flew farther west, the air got increasingly colder around them. They could see their breaths now and the Cracko was starting to shiver and shake. It didn’t seem to be used to the cold weather and seemed to want to get out as soon as possible. In fact, it was looking quite tired already. It was obviously not used to carrying five Toa on its back and it fatigue was showing through the way it flapped its wings with less speed than before.

The cold wind nipped at Addis’ fingers, freezing the metal chain he was holding and making his hands numb with little icicles on them. But he held on firmly anyway, even though he desperately wanted to let go and warm up his hands.

“Addis, I think we should land somewhere,” shouted Barilo. “The Cracko’s getting weak!”

“Hold on!” shouted Addis. “It’s going to be okay! I just need to find a safe place to land-“

But the Cracko, apparently, did not want to wait for him to find a safe place to land. Instead, giving into its weakness, it fell straight out of the sky, falling with the force of a rock. All five of the Shika were screaming, looking down as they flew through the dark clouds.

Is this it? Barilo wondered. Will we die here on a giant bat? Mata Nui, I always thought I’d die fighting an evil universal monstrosity or something like that. You know, dying as a hero.

“We’re all gonna die!” shouted Nonzra.

As if that isn’t obvious enough, the Toa of Gravity thought.

But surprisingly, despite the fall, they were not nearly as high up from the ground as they thought they were. They hit a snow peak, smashing into it with enough force to knock the Crack out cold. The impact of the fall caused the Toa Shika to go flying off of its back, but the soft snow helped to break their fall somewhat.

Barilo lay half-buried in the snow, nearly unconscious. He saw the rest of the Toa had fallen off of the Cracko, too, and were scattered around him like leaves that had been caught in an updraft. He couldn’t tell if any of them were awake or not because of the blizzard that was blowing loudly in his ears and the snow that was whirling in his eyes. The fall had hurt his back and he didn’t really wish to move at all, but he knew that if he didn’t move he would freeze to death and therefore he put a bit of effort into sitting up.

Over to his left, he saw the Cracko recover quickly, and then shot off back into the dark sky, disappearing from view until Barilo could no longer hear the flapping of the bat’s wings.

“Wait. . . .” said Barilo, holding his hand up weakly after the beast. “We need you. . . .”

But his plea for help was drowned out by the sound of the howling wind, and even if it had heard him it wouldn’t have returned. He supposed that it made sense, since the Cracko had been their unwilling mount. Yet he knew that it might very well be their only way off of this freezing mountain and if they didn’t move fast they would all be buried underneath tons of cold, icy snow.

“Addis!” shouted Barilo over the howling wind. “Akuna! Chimoy! Nonzra! Is anyone awake?”

“Yes,” Nonzra, who was looking like he had fallen on something hard, gasped. “Though right now I wish I wasn’t. . . .”

Barilo could see the other Toa Shika moving, too, but none of them were getting up. Finally, he saw Akuna, wiping the snow off of her armor and using her staff as support, stood up. She looked very tired, but she had enough strength to go and help Addis up.

After all five of the Toa Shika had been rescued from the snow, Addis gathered them behind a thick frozen tree that was standing on the top of the mountain, which blocked the wind somewhat, though it still whipped their faces and bodies.

“Okay, guys!” Addis shouted over the howling wind. “We’re going to need to find a way off of here!”

“As if that isn’t obvious,” Nonzra mumbled in a disgruntled voice.

“Akuna, we need you to use your Ruru to light the way!” Addis told her. “I saw a path near this tree that might lead to the ground!”

Akuna looked at him as if he were insane. How did he expect her to be able to see in this dark blizzard even with her mask? She decided to voice her opinion and said, “Addis, I really think we should find a cave to hide out in for a while. No telling when this blizzard will end!”

“She’s right,” Chimoy shouted over the storm. “We really ought to find some shelter to endure this storm!”

“Okay,” said Addis, looking from Toa to Toa. He wasn’t too used to others objecting to his plans, but he decided that Akuna’s idea made more sense than his did anyway. “Let’s hold hands so we don’t get lost! And Akuna, I think your Ruru may help anyway.” He added.

With Akuna in front, her Mask of Night Vision alight, the five Toa walked down a small, barely visible path that Addis had seen, the strong airstream trying to knock them off the top of the peak. Akuna was having a very hard time seeing herself, even with her Ruru activated. It was like trying to walk through the thick proto forest back on Shika Nui, except replace vines and thick trees with snow and ice cold wind that stung her body and you’d have a pretty good idea of how it felt.

Fortunately, it did not take them long to find a cave to hide in, though if Barilo had not pointed it out they might have missed it completely.

“Look! There’s a cave over there!” Barilo shouted, pointing at a grotto that was barely visible underneath the snow.

“Let’s go over there, then!” Akuna shouted as she led the other Toa over to the snow-blocked entrance.

After quickly digging through the slush they quickly filed in one by one until all five Toa Shika were safely in the back of the cavern, all of them shivering. It wasn’t much warmer inside the cave than outside in the storm, but at least they didn’t have snow always being blown into their masks or the wind nipping at their fingers and bodies.

Chimoy momentarily took off his Kanohi and wiped the snow off it. As he put the Mask of Flight back on his face, he said, “When do you think this storm will end?”

“No idea,” said Addis, shaking his head, shivering. “But until then we should make a fire.”

Barilo glanced around the small cave. He looked up at the icicles hanging from the ceiling like stalactites, but saw no wood or anything else that could be used to start a fire.

“Uh, just how do you expect to do that?” asked Barilo, who was growing increasingly irritable as a result of the storm. “We’ve got no wood, so your plasma won’t be that useful!”

“Well, I’m sure I can think of something,” said Addis, waving his hand. “Just give me a minute.”

“In a minute I’m afraid I will be half-frozen,” Nonzra replied bitterly.

“Hey, remember that frozen tree outside?” asked Akuna. “Maybe one of us should go out there and chop it down and use it as fire wood. It should take too long to dry with your plasma and it might burn well after that.”

“Good thinking, Akuna,” said Addis, nodding. “I will do it. I can cut it down easily with my plasma.”

“Hurry back,” Barilo called as the Toa of Plasma left the cave.

The howling, stinging wind struck Addis in the face like a sledgehammer, but he braved the wind anyway. It shouldn’t take too long to get to the tree, he knew. All he needed to do was get up there, use his plasma, break it into pieces, and bring back as much as he could carry and then go back and get the rest. Not too hard, he thought, at least compared to what I’ve had to do in the past.

When he reached the peak, he saw the frozen tree, standing just as still as always, sitting at the edge of the cliff. He walked over to it, his arms tightly around his body to keep in the warmth. He finally got to it and pulled out his plasma cannon and aimed it at the tree. But before he could shoot, the wind blew away some of the snow that was on it and he gasped and nearly dropped his weapon.

It wasn’t a tree. No, it was a pillar of rock, standing up high in the sky. Its tips were branching out a like tree branches and it towered over him menacingly, looking down at him with a faceless front. It looked artificial, like someone had made it, but who had, he didn’t know.

What he did know was that they couldn’t burn rock, so he decided to head back and tell the others that they weren’t going to have firewood this Naming Day. As he walked through the freezing weather, he wondered if they were all just going to die out here in the icy mountains without ever being remembered by anyone except for the Kra-Matoran and Shodios. It wasn’t a cheerful thought at all.
 

-


Jero was getting very worried. He and his group of Kra-Matoran had yet to find any trace of Nastan. It seemed like he had disappeared into thin air or something like that. It frustrated Jero because he knew that Nastan didn’t have any sort of teleportation ability and couldn’t travel via shadow, since he probably doesn’t know of that ability yet.

Or does he? Jero wondered. Who says the experiment didn’t give him any extra new abilities, such as teleportation? No idea what else he may or may not have, but that just increased his threat to Wyoko.

He looked up at the large temple which used to be the main area of worship for the Kra-Matoran ever since they had been imprisoned in Wyoko until smaller temples had been created in each village. As a result of having more local temples, people starting visiting it less and now it was mostly a place where Jero occasionally experimented in. It was still the largest and tallest temple in Wyoko by far, but it had none of its original glory and beauty that so many Matoran had once admired.

All of a sudden, Tikcah emerged from the shadow of a nearby tree. It didn’t startle Jero too much, since he was used to his fellow Shodios using shadow travel to get from place to place quickly, but he wondered what she was doing here anyway.

“Tikcah, what are you doing here?” asked Jero. “Did Krashadi send you to help me recapture Nastan?”

“No,” said Tikcah, shaking her head. “I came here on my own. Jiki told me that she nearly caught five of the Toa Shika, but they escaped on the back of a Cracko and were last spotted flying toward the western mountains.”

“Idiotic Toa,” Jero spat. “How the heck did they get a Crack on their side?”

“No idea,” said the female Toa of Shadow. “But Jiki is going after them with a team of Kra-Matoran she got from Wael. She sure is full of herself, I noticed.”

“Indeed,” said Jero, turning back to look at the huge temple. “Why did you tell me this, anyway? What is the point? It has nothing to do with Nastan, and that, might I remind you, is my mission, to find that rouge Toa of Shadow and-“

“Well, if you want to know the reason why I came here to tell you is because those other Toa are Nastan’s friends, right? So what if he saw them fly toward the mountains? What if he’s going after them, too?” asked Tikcah. “It makes sense. I suggest going there with Jiki to trap them and possibly catching Nastan at the same time, too.”

Jero stood still for a few minutes, thinking over her suggestion. Yes, it would make sense for him to go there. After all, this way they would capture all six Toa in one go, kill Nastan, and take the other five as new experiments. Yet he also felt reluctant to go. The Nui Mountains were, after all, known for their frequent avalanches, which is one of the reasons why it is one of the few places in Wyoko that had was not populated by the Kra-Matoran. He didn’t want to end up buried underneath tons of snow and ice, freezing to death with no way to escape.

The avalanches will probably kill the Toa Shika unless they’re careful not to shout, Jero thought. But what if it kills Nastan, too? He’s needed if I am to figure out what went wrong with him so I may not repeat those same mistakes with future test subjects.

“Okay, I’ll go,” Jero said finally, turning around to face Tikcah. “Where will you go, Tikcah? Do you wish to join me, too?”

“Okay,” she said, nodding. “I think Teivel, Ira, and Rhatara will come as well. They’re getting bored and want to fight and I already told them about Jiki’s report.”

“Well, then,” Jero said grimly, looking back up at the dark, black sky. “It seems like the whole gang is coming together just to kill a few pesky Toa, then. I do wonder what that says about our character. . . .”
 

-


“I s-sure w-wish that N-Nastan was s-still with us,” Barilo said through chattering teeth, “b-because we c-could have used s-some o-of his elemental p-powers right n-now t-to burn s-some wood, . . .”

“M-maybe w-we s-should huddle up t-together,” Akuna suggested, “to s-share o-our b-b-body h-heat.”

“T-that s-sounds l-like a g-good idea,” said Addis, shivering. “B-But will it b-be e-enough?”

“It is w-worth t-trying, anyway,” said Nonzra. “I’m f-freezing!”

So the five Toa Shika (the four males feeling very uncomfortable) huddled up together with each other. Though they were all freezing cold, they at least felt warmer than before. Barilo felt uncomfortable, but Akuna was right next to him, so it didn’t feel all that bad, at least.

“We’re g-going to h-have to s-sleep here t-tonight,” said Addis. “O-Okay?”

The others nodded. It was clear, however, that none of them were going to sleep well that night, what with the loud, howling wind, the cold air, and the uncomfortable situation that they were all in. Barilo remembered his bed back on Shika Nui. It had been a good, warm bed, with a thick blanket for cold nights during winter. It was so nice compared to the situation he was in now and he wished that he had at least his blanket to cover himself with. But he had to content himself with huddling up with the other Shika, which was a lot worse than his blanket.

So they were up all night, listening to the loud, screaming wind outside and trying to stay warm. Barilo assumed he had fallen asleep at one point, because soon he could not hear the storm anymore and it was slightly less cold now, though still quite frosty. Addis looked up and said, “R-rise and s-shine, everybody!”

Grumbling about the conditions that they had to sleep in, the other four Toa Shika separated and sat up, yawning and trying to wake up. Akuna was still leaning slightly against Barilo, but she was awake, though feeling a bit like she just wanted to sleep instead of moving. She saw Addis get to his feet and the Toa of Plasma said, “C-come. We c-can’t s-stay here all d-day. We m-might f-freeze.”

Like we haven’t already, Akuna thought bitterly. She normally didn’t think this way, preferring to take a more sensitive and optimistic approach to her thoughts like Nastan (if slightly more realistic than him, however). But sleeping in an ice-cold cave in the middle of a winter snow storm in a land of shadow make people act a lot more different than they usually would.

So with some effort the group of Toa all rose to their feet and began leaving the cave, stretching their frozen limbs and yawning some more. The storm was over: Now they were in a winter wasteland, with snow in all directions. Because it was slightly lighter outside now, they could see that their peak they had landed on was actually one of the smallest, despite the height that they had dropped from, and they could see that at least one of the mountains rose above the clouds.

“Okay, guys,” said Addis, trying very hard not to stutter. “We survived the night and now we’ve g-got to get down this mountain to warmer ground.”

“Then let’s get moving!” Nonzra shouted. “I am sick of this cold! The sooner we get down the better!”

“Maybe Akuna should go first,” said Addis, looking down the steep cliff. “It is very dark down there and we have no idea what is coming up. She has the Mask of Night Vision and will alert us of any obstacles coming up.”

Akuna walked over to him and looked over the edge. It was deep, dark, and vast and she didn’t think that even her Ruru could pierce the shadows. She looked up at Addis and said, “Addis, I am not sure I want to be the first down. The side looks unstable and with the shadows as dark as they are I kind of doubt my Ruru will be useful.”

“Come on, Akuna,” Addis urged. “It’s not that dark!”

“Well, isn’t there a safer way down, at least?” asked Akuna. “I doubt all of us will be able to climb down without causing some sort of avalanche.”

“Akuna, there’s no reason to worry,” Addis snapped, a bit more harshly than he intended. “You’re a Toa. If there’s anything wrong we can fix it. Trust me on this.”

Akuna looked up at him with a doubtful expression on her face, but she said, “Fine,” in a tone of resentment and, after tying a rope to her waist just in case she were to fall, began to gradually climb down the cliff side, her Mask of Night Vision shining down in the darkness. As she climbed, the other Toa followed her, climbing down just as slowly. Addis and Barilo climbed down the rocky, cold cliff last at the same time. Barilo decided to talk with Addis about the way he had snapped at Akuna earlier.

“Addis, I think you were a little too harsh on Akuna earlier,” said Barilo, carefully placing his hand in a handhold. “She really did have valid concerns about this climb.”

“So what?” Addis said in an irritated-sounding voice. “I am the leader, and she, like the rest you, is supposed to follow what I say.”

“Yeah, but you’re not a dictator,” Barilo pointed out. “We’ve always had a sort of ‘everyone counts’ view of leadership, even when we were Matoran. You would talk to us and ask us for our opinions before doing anything.”

“Yeah, well, Barilo, we are in a different environment now,” said Addis. “We are no longer Matoran. We are Toa now, stuck in a land where we are fugitives just for existing and are always on the run, and Shika Nui, I might add, is still in the hands of the Dark Hunters. In this place we need to work together firmly and I just can’t stand anyone who tries to get me to change my mind when we can’t afford any mistakes!”

“Well, maybe you should consider their point of view like you used to,” said Barilo, trying to keep his temper down. He hadn’t got much sleep last night and was feeling very bad like everyone else. “Maybe they have a reason for trying to change your mind.”

“Like I said before, we can’t afford any mistakes,” said Addis. “I have thought through my reasons enough to know that we can’t afford conflict or we’ll end up dead. Do you want to end up dead? I don’t.”

“I know, but I just thought you were a little harsh on her is all,” said Barilo. “I know I would certainly hesitate to climb down a dark, seemingly-endless cliff, even if I had a Ruru. I just think you should sympathize with her is all.”

Addis was very quiet for a few minutes, climbing slowly down after Chimoy. Finally, he said, “Barilo, it is very hard being team leader, especially during this time. I am the one who has to make the big decisions that will determine our destiny, in a way. Our team being incomplete only further complicates that and having to sleep in a dark, cold cave all night didn’t help my temper much, either.”

“Oh, well, I just wasn’t used to you being so temperamental is all,” said Barilo. The hard surface of the cliff felt very cold beneath his fingers, but he dare not let go for fear of falling to his death. “I understand. I’m not in too good a mood right now, either.”

“Well, we can discuss this later, I think,” said Addis, looking down. “Looks like Akuna, Nonzra, and Chimoy have already discovered the bottom.”

He was correct. The three Toa had finally arrived at the end of the ominous cliff side and were waiting for Addis and Barilo to join them. The two Toa climbed down quickly and immediately landed next to the others. Akuna was looking slightly annoyed, but Addis assumed it was because she hadn’t got much sleep last night, if any at all, and not because she had been the first one down.

“Where do we go next?” asked Nonzra, looking around at the dark, snowy area. “Which way leads out of this nightmare?”

“Um,” said Addis, thinking hard. “I . . . don’t know, unfortunately. We will have to go in a random direction or something-“

“Wait,” Chimoy said abruptly. “Does anyone here remember that I wear the Kanohi Kadin, the Mask of Flight? I’ll just fly above the mountain tops and find a trail for us to follow.” He saw Addis open his mouth to object, but the Toa of Iron cut him off. “Don’t worry, Addis. I’ll try to stay out of sight so that none of the Shodios or Kra-Matoran will notice me.”

“Okay,” said Addis. “Fly, then. But come back down here as soon as you find a suitable trail.”

“Sure,” Chimoy said just as he activated his mask.

Within minutes the Toa of Iron was now flying well-above the heads of his fellow Toa, streaking through the dark, snow-filled clouds. Flying always felt exhilarating to Chimoy. The way the air pressed against your face, the sheer feeling of being weightless, and the powerful and quick flight power his mask provided added immensely to the pleasure. Out of all of the masks of the Toa Shika, Chimoy always felt his was the most, how would he put it, fun.

He shot up higher, trying to get above a particularly tall peak until he was so high up that he could not see any of the other Toa Shika. Finally, he stopped in midair and looked beneath him.

This was his least favorite part of flying: Looking down. It always made him feel woozy, like he was going to fall. But he knew that he would need to scout for a trail and looking down was the only way to accomplish that mission, although he wished that it wasn’t.

His sharp eyes found a path at last. It was narrow and steep, but he could tell just by looking at it that it led out of the mountains and into the rest of Wyoko. He was about to fly down to tell the others when he saw a flash of black armor against the snow and immediately looked back to see what it was.

Chimoy saw Jiki trudging through the snow, a small band of well-armed Kra-Matoran following her. You didn’t have to be a rocket scientist to figure out that these guys were not planning to have a harmless snow fight. They were walking near the trail that he had spotted, but he was sure that, if he and the other Toa moved quietly enough, Jiki would never notice them as they slipped past.

As he descended toward the ground where the other Toa awaited, he did not know that he had failed to see one other thing, another Toa walking through the snow, though not a Shodios. Though it was forgivable because the Toa in question was moving very fast and quietly, so even if he had been paying his utmost attention he still might have missed him.

The Toa was Nastan, who was heading to meet his fellow Toa, and once he did that he would kill Barilo. But Chimoy did not know this, nor would he find out until it was far too late.
 

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#35 Offline TNTOS

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Posted Feb 18 2014 - 09:38 AM

Chapter 16: Confrontation


The snow was blisteringly cold, yet Nastan walked as though he were taking a stroll through a field of flowers. He noticed his seeming-immunity to the cold, too, though he assumed that since he was empty of all light and warmth that the cold did not feel all that much different compared to the darkness inside of him.

His eyes spotted a Toa-shaped figure fly up through the clouds, scan the area, and then descend back down. He immediately knew that that was Chimoy, for none of the Shodios possessed a Kadin. He now had confirmation on what he already knew: The rest of the Toa Shika was in this mountain. It was going to be a happy reunion, he knew, right after he killed Barilo, of course.

He had been walking for hours now, having taken a break last night to rest, though it was an extremely brief nap and he had wasted no time getting up and restarting his hunt again.

As he walked, he wondered if any of the Shodios knew where the Toa Shika had gone.

They probably do, Nastan thought, kicking up snowing as he traversed the area. Wonder if they sent the whole team? If so, this is going to be the reunion of reunions, and I’ll have six more morons to kill, it seems.

He was extremely glad that he was going to be with Akuna again. Despite being a figure of pure shadow now, he could still feel the emotions that he could when he had been a Toa of The Green: Love, anger, confusion, happiness, and so on and so forth. So he knew that when he reached Akuna he would be happy again. He also knew that when he killed Barilo he would be even happier.

Today’s going to be a happy day, Nastan thought cheerily.
 

-


Chimoy quickly told Addis what he had seen. The Toa of Plasma was not happy.

“Chimoy, it seems like a big risk to me,” said Addis. “We will basically be walking right underneath the enemy! What if they find us?”

“Well, it’s the only path I could find that leads out of this place,” said Chimoy, folding his arms. “We all just need to be really quiet and we’ll get by them.”

“I don’t know,” Addis said doubtfully.

“Come on!” said Barilo. “I’m getting sick of this cold and all this snow! I’d risk fighting a Shodios and a handful of Kra-Matoran than stay here any longer.”

“Fine,” Addis said reluctantly. “But if we get killed, I will know who to blame. Come on.”

With that, the other four Toa followed behind Addis, with Chimoy up in front with the leader. He was giving Addis directions as best as he could, though he speaking in a whisper in case Jiki was within earshot.

Soon the party arrived at the trail that Chimoy had told them about. It was steep and narrow and looked slippery. Barilo wasn’t so sure that they could safely climb down it without slipping, but Addis seemed to think that they could.

“Okay, guys,” said the Toa of Plasma, turning around to face the others. “We’ve got to go down this trail. Chimoy says it will lead us out of the mountains. I know it looks slippery and dangerous, so we’re going down one Toa at a time so we don’t all slip and go crashing down and make a lot of unnecessary noise. I’ll go first and catch the next person who comes down, okay?”

However, before Addis could climb down the steep incline, they suddenly heard the sound of someone walking in the snow above them. All five of the Toa froze in place, their hearts beating loudly. Whoever was above them seemed to have found them, because he did not moved any further and they could hear the sound of snow being crunched on by armored feet.

“Draw your weapons,” Addis mouthed as he pulled out his plasma cannon. The rest obeyed. They were not going to get killed by a stupid ambush. They planned to go down fighting.

Suddenly, a tall, Toa-like figure jumped down from a nearby rock and landed behind them so quietly that he was almost unnoticeable. But the five Toa noticed him and immediately aimed their weapons at the unknown figure. It was too dark to make out who he was, but they all knew that he probably wasn’t friendly because he had his bow drawn.

Wait. . . . Akuna thought, tilting her head. Bow . . . .?

It couldn’t be, she knew, could it? Maybe it was him. She decided to find out by activating her Mask of Night Vision, even though Addis was quick to tell her to shut it off so as to not provoke him, but she ignored him. The bright, blue light of her Ruru revealed the tall, skinny form of-

“Nastan!” Akuna shouted carelessly. She lowered her weapon and dashed straight into Nastan’s arms, almost bowling the Toa over. Behind her the other four Toa Shika all looked completely stunned.

“Nastan?” Barilo repeated. “Is that really him?”

“Yes, it is me,” said Nastan. His voice was strangely cold. “I am back. Isn’t that great?”

“Oh, Nastan, I’ve missed you so,” said Akuna, burying her face in his chest. “Please don’t wander off again like that!”

“Oh, I won’t,” said Nastan. Barilo thought he had a very eerie expression on his face. “I’m not a fool like Barilo.”

“Hey, I’m no fool,” Barilo said defensively.

“Nastan, where have you been?” Addis asked sternly. “We thought the Shodios had gotten to you!”

Nastan cocked his head in Addis’ direction, looking straight into the Toa leader’s eyes. It was at that moment that Addis noticed his eyes were now blood red, not the usual bright yellow they used to be. And, perhaps worst of all in Addis’ view, they held none of the warmth and happiness that Nastan usually had in his eyes.

“Ah, the Shodios did get to me, I can assure you of that,” said Nastan, pulling Akuna closer to him. “But I got away. . . . Though not before they really got to me.”

Suddenly, Akuna looked up at him, puzzled. “What does that mean, Nastan?”

“Haven’t any of you noticed my appearance?” asked Nastan. “Haven’t any of you noticed something . . . different, about me?”

Now that he mentioned, Barilo thought, Nastan did look a little different. For one, his eyes were blood red, and two, his armor looked much darker than usual, even in the light. In fact, his whole demeanor seemed to change. He seemed much less like the brave, heroic Nastan that Barilo had known. Now, however, there was something strangely reminiscent of the Shodios about him, which was not good.

“Your armor is different,” Chimoy said immediately. “It’s black now. And your eyes. . . .”

“Bingo!” said Nastan, a crazed look in his crimson orbs. “You are correct! And can anyone here tell me exactly what I am now?”

Akuna, still held firmly against his body, did not feel the warmth of his torso that she usually did in the past. No, what she felt now as a dead kind of cold. A kind of cold that she knew all too well, one she recognized instantly as-

“Shadow,” she breathed into his chest, the fear rising in her body.

“Akuna is correct!” said Nastan, though his voice sounded strangely mangled, like he was attempting to be threatening and cheerful both at the same time. “Not only is she beautiful, but she is smart, too. Yes, folks, I am no longer Toa Nastan, Toa of The Green. Now. . . .”

He raised a hand shot a blast of shadow at a nearby mountain. Suddenly, snow began to fall from it and soon the trail that they had been following was blocked, filled with snow and slush so thick that it would be impossible to dig through.

“ . . . I am Toa Nastan, Toa of Shadow!” Nastan finished, grinning insanely.

“What the Karzahni?” Nonzra shouted in confusion. “How did that happen to you?”

“Simple,” said Nastan, gripping Akuna firmly. She was trying to get away from him now, though he wasn’t about to let her go. “I was taken to Castle Kra shortly after a shadow storm transported me into the Shahada Desert. There I listened to the boring history lesson of a Kra-Matoran prisoner, was taken out soon after by Jero, and then that same Toa went ahead and used his new toy ball to take away all of my light, making me the Toa you see today.”

“No way,” said Barilo, gravity axe gripped firmly in his hands. “There’s just no way-“

“Did you not just see the shadow I shot at the snow?” Nastan snapped. “I have given you undeniable proof that I am a powerful, almighty Toa of Shadow now, and that all of you are mere insects in my way!”

“Nastan stop talking like that!” Akuna shouted, trying to get out of his embrace but failing to break his incredibly firm grip. “You’re not a bad person! You’re a Toa, a hero! You’re sounding an awful lot like those Shodios now!”

“So what if I am?” Nastan said, his red eyes piercing her own green eyes. “I am better now. I can now fully understand why the Shodios do what they do. You are inferior to my power. Shadow can defeat all, because no matter what the environment, shadow rules! Remember the tales from before the creation of the universe? There was darkness until the Great Beings came and created us. Darkness shall again rule when I take over this place!”

“Nastan, you are speaking madness!” Addis shouted.

“No. I am speaking reason,” said Nastan. His voice now sounded delusional and distant, like he wasn’t real. “I have seen the darkness and I understand all now.”

Suddenly, he felt a small jolt of electricity surge through him. He yelped in pain and let Akuna go, who quickly ran back to the rest of the Shika. She drew her staff of lightning and took a battle stance, her face set.

“Akuna, I thought that you loved me,” said Nastan, who was now aiming his bow at the Toa Shika. “I thought that you wouldn’t object to my newfound shadow power.”

“I do love you,” she answered. “But not this you. I love the Nastan who is a brave and heroic person, who is willing to protect his friends and his honor, even at the cost of his life. I am not in love with the loud, obnoxious, evil person I see in front of me today. You are not Nastan. You are just an ugly, evil shadow who took the form of my beloved Nastan. Not a real being.”

“How poetic, Akuna,” Nastan chuckled. “Well, I originally planned just to kill Barilo and the others and take you as my queen once I am king of the universe, but I guess you are a little too noble for my tastes.”

Suddenly, Jiki and her gang of Kra-Matoran appeared above them, standing on a plateau, looking into the narrow ravine. They saw the six Toa immediately and the Toa Shika saw them at the same time. There was a long pause as the enemies looked at each other, startled by the sudden appearance of the female Toa of Shadow and her squad. Jiki was quiet surprised herself, but she quickly recovered and ordered, “Kra-Matoran, aim your weapons and kill all six of the Toa Shika!”
 

-


Jero, Teivel, Rhatara, Ira, and Tikcah, along with a large band of Kra-Matoran, were heading toward the Nui Mountains. Along with them they had Rahi beasts such as Muaka and snow wolves, with caravans filled with weapons. This time they weren’t about to underestimate the Toa Shika. While the heroes may have been weaker than them and less experienced, they seemed to be just as clever as the Shodios and fast thinkers, too.

Jero saw the huge, dim outlines of the Nui Mountains coming into view, and scowled. They were too far away and it would take at least several hours to get there. By that time Jiki might have already killed them or the Toa Shika might have escaped.

The reason why the Shodios weren’t using shadow travel was because they couldn’t bring their Kra-Matoran, Rahi, and other things with them that way, and they didn’t want to underestimate the Toa just because they believed themselves to be superior, which seemed to be a flaw that Jiki had, Jero noted.

She is underestimating them again, Jero thought, shaking his head. Why doesn’t she realize that underestimating her opponents will eventually lead to her downfall?

Then again, Jiki was never the cleverest of the Shodios. She was always the first into battle, and the last standing. He remembered one time when they had been taking over the northern continent and Jiki had been assigned a squad of Kra-Matoran to take the acid falls. They had succeeded (quite easily, in fact) but almost all of the Kra-Matoran had got bad burns from the acid and quite a few of them had got killed. Jiki herself had gotten hurt by the acid, but still somehow managed to take several villages and claim them as property of the Kra-Matoran Empire.

That is why Krashadi bothers to keep her alive, Jero thought. She’s a bumbling fool who deserves to die, but at least her methods work, which is what Krashadi values the most: Results.

Teivel was in front of the group, looking just as stone-faced as ever. Tikcah was sitting right next to him on their caravan, her head lying on his shoulder. Tikcah’s feelings for Teivel were not unusual. She had always loved him, or so Jero thought. He also knew that Ira, for some reason or another, seemed to dislike her for this, though Jero knew that whatever the reason for that was, it was private, although he had the feeling that Rhatara knew why she was like that, since he could read minds. He acted like he knew it, too.

They were passing through a village when suddenly a Kra-Matoran ran up to their party, apparently out of breath. He was one that Jero had never seen before, but he seemed to have some important news.

“Sirs and madams!” said the Kra-Matoran, bowing in front of them. “We have just received an important message from the wise and strong Toa Jiki!”

“What is it?” Rhatara snapped. “Did she get caught in an avalanche and needs help?”

“No, my lord,” said the Kra-Matoran, shaking his head. “She has reported finding the six Toa Shika and is attempting to kill them even as we speak.”

Jero shot him a double take. “Six Toa Shika? Are you sure she said six?”

“Absolutely certain, sir,” said the Matoran. “All six of them.”

“So now we know where Nastan is,” Teivel said in a cold voice. “And he has apparently rejoined with his little friends as well, the fool.”

“Then let’s keep going,” Rhatara said hurriedly. “I wouldn’t want to miss this reunion, would you?”
 

-


Addis, Chimoy, and Nastan ran and dodged Jiki’s shadow bolts, rolling out of the way of snow that was falling as a result of the Toa of Shadow’s attacks off-target attacks.

Earlier all six of the Toa Shika had been united as a group, but then Jiki and her team of Kra-Matoran had arrived and found them and scattered them into teams of three. Nonzra, Barilo, and Akuna had gone another way in the confusion of the battle and Addis, Nastan, and Chimoy had gone this way. Addis hoped that they would all regroup eventually, though he had no idea how far into the mountains Barilo’s team might have gone or if they were even still alive.

Nastan was firing balls of shadow back at Jiki. It didn’t really work, because she was mostly immune to the energy, but it was the best that they could do right now, for they were all running and had no time to think about doing anything else.

“We’re going to die unless we kill her first!” Nastan shouted as he ran. “Let me kill her!”

“No! We can’t slow down,” Addis yelled, dodging a bolt of shadow that smashed a rock wall to his left. “We’re like ants to her! She’s got thousands of years of experience using her elemental powers and she just needs to strike at us with one solid blow to kill us all instantly!”

Nastan didn’t argue any further, for the three Toa had now reached a dead end. It was a high, steep, frozen stone cliff. It looked too slippery to climb and they couldn’t smash it, for it seemed to be part of the mountains’ very foundation. Addis looked over his shoulder and saw Jiki advancing rapidly, her axe glowing with shadow energy.

“We’re going to die,” Nastan said bitterly. “And it is all your fault, Addis!”

“How is it my fault?” asked Addis. “I didn’t do anything!”

“He’s right,” Chimoy said hurriedly. “Anyway, now’s not the time to argue. We gotta think of something quick, otherwise Nastan’s right. We’ll end up deader than a rotted corpse that was burned.”

Addis glanced desperately around the area that they were trapped in. He could find no way to escape, no tunnels to hide in, nothing to hide behind or hide atop. It seemed like they were going to die, which prompted him to say, “Guys, draw your weapons. We’re going to fight and, as much as I hate to say it, Nastan’s right. We’re going to have to kill Jiki and get to our friends if we’re going to survive.”

“Finally,” Nastan muttered, drawing his bow and placing an arrow inside it. “I’ve been waiting for you to say that!”

Chimoy created a long, thick sword out of thin air along with a shield. He got into the stance of a soldier ready for combat. “I’m ready.”

Addis drew his plasma cannon and aimed it straight at Jiki, who had now stopped and was looking at them. She seemed to be amused about something, because she was smiling and she was not throwing blasts of shadow energy at them anymore, either.

“So you’ve finally decided to fight me,” said Jiki, twirling her axe in her hand. “Great. I was hoping that I’d get to fight you guys before killing you in the snow.”

“I was, too,” said Nastan, shadow energy swirling around the tip of his arrow. “But, just so you know, we’re going to win and I am going to kill you in cold blood.”

“Ha! You, beat me?” Jiki laughed, shaking her head. “You are still pebbles compared to my mountain-sized experience as a Toa. But why should I waste time talking when I can spend it smashing your skulls in?”

She suddenly shot forward, dodging plasma balls and Nastan’s arrows as she ran. As soon as she got into their midst, she swung her axe around and scattered the three Toa, hitting them in all directions. Chimoy was the first to his feet and blocked her axe with his shield. He lifted his sword and brought it down on her, but she blocked it with her arm blades. With little effort Jiki pushed Chimoy back onto the ground and then brought her axe down. It was coming too quick to block, so he rolled over just as her weapon cracked the ground where he had been a few minutes before.

Nastan was back up, too, and was shooting as many arrows as he possibly could, yet they all bounced off of Jiki’s hard, thick, battle-damaged armor, even when they had shadow energy channeled through them. Addis knew that his plasma could probably penetrate her armor, but she kept dodging it and kicking up snow in his face.

Chimoy tried to stab her with his sword but she merely grabbed the tip of it and ripped it off, causing the Toa of Iron to stumble backward. She lifted up the sword tip and brought it down into Chimoy’s shoulder, causing the Toa to scream out in pain. But he managed to get her off of him by kicking her off with his still-functioning legs, sending her stumbling backward into a wall.

“Die!” shouted Nastan, shooting a burst of shadow at Jiki.

She jumped out of the way, allowing the shadow to hit the wall, cracking it. Before any of the combatants could do anything else, however, they all heard a loud rumble like thunder, though there was no lightning in the sky. Jiki glanced around and then looked up. Her eyes widened just as she screamed, “Avalanche!”

She was right. Coming down toward them, covered in darkness, yet still clearly visible against the shadowy sky was an avalanche of a size that none of the assembled Toa had ever recalled seeing in their lives. It was moving too fast for them to dodge and in minutes it hit the ground and smashed into the four fighters, covering them all in several feet of ice-cold snow.
 

-


Barilo, Akuna, and Nonzra were having a much easier time than Addis, Chimoy, and Nastan were.

They had managed to lose the Kra-Matoran that had been chasing them in the twisting valleys of the mountains. So now they were walking calmly, or as calmly as one could be when one is lost in cold, snowy mountains with half of your friends missing while being hunted down as a fugitive by the land’s inhabitants, that is.

Akuna was the most worried of them all. Disgusted though she may be at Nastan’s recent transformation, she still had feelings for him and couldn’t seem to stop talking about how she missed him.

“I hope he is okay,” Akuna said, glancing around the icy walls as if expecting to see Nastan come running back out of nowhere. “I mean, he’s got Jiki on his tail and she’s tough! What if he dies? Or what if he’s already dead? What’s to stop Jiki from killing him and the others? Am I the only one who heard what sounded like an avalanche earlier? What if he got buried beneath it and is dying right now? He may be evil and insane now, but I terribly miss him. I already went through a very long time separated from him before! That’s it, when we reunite I will personally make sure that he never leaves my side again!”

“Akuna, please!” Nonzra snapped, thoroughly frustrated and tired from the cold. “We get it! You can’t live without your boyfriend and you will die unless he miraculously reappears in shining armor!” He turned to Barilo and whispered, “Geez is this how everyone acts when their loved ones are missing or what?”

“Don’t know,” Barilo whispered back. “Maybe it’s just Akuna.”

“I am not acting crazy!” said Akuna, glaring at Nonzra. “I am simply worried for Nastan. I just don’t want him to be dead. . . .”

“Whether he’s dead or not, I think we still ought to continue on,” said Barilo. “I am leader of this group, since I am Addis’ second-in-command. You can worry about Nastan all you want, though I suggest that you do it in your mind, because I don’t want the Kra-Matoran to find us again. Besides,” he added, “it wouldn’t surprise me if Addis and his group have already left the mountains. Maybe they’re waiting for us to get out, too.”

“I hope so,” Akuna said in a miserable voice. “I don’t know what I will do if Nastan is dead. I don’t know if I will be able to live without him.”

“You’ve done a fine job of it in these past few days,” said Barilo, putting a hand on her shoulder.

“I guess so,” said Akuna, looking back at Barilo, although she was worried just the same. “Thanks anyway, however.”

“Then let’s stop talking and get walking!” said Nonzra impatiently. “Come on. Maybe we’ll run into the others on the way there.”

So the three Toa continued their journey into the ever-deepening mountains, Akuna worried that, if they did not find the others soon, they would never find them at all.
 

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#36 Offline TNTOS

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Posted Feb 19 2014 - 09:40 AM

Chapter 17: The Hunt Begins


Nastan felt strangely warm, despite being buried alive underneath several tons of snow.

After the avalanche had hit himself, Addis, Chimoy, and Jiki, he had fallen into unconsciousness. Strangely, despite being buried underneath tons and tons of freezing, icy-cold ice did not feel like he was frozen. In fact, he felt warm and comfortable and didn’t want to wake up at all. . . .

This feel nice, Nastan thought as he lay there with his eyes closed. Freezing to death isn’t as bad as I thought it would be. Maybe I just need to lay here for a while, take a quick nap and then go back to find Akuna again. . . .

Unfortunately for him, he had no time to take a nap because two hands burst through the snow and hauled the Toa of Shadow out from his mask. Nastan snapped back to attention. Now the cold was returning to his body and he started shivering. His vision was blurred for a few minutes before he realized who had picked him up.

It was Addis, who was panting and breathing hard. Behind him Nastan could see Chimoy standing over something large and frozen, though he could not tell what it was.

“You okay?” asked Addis.

“Yeah,” said Nastan, standing up unsteadily. “By the way, I didn’t need your help.”

Addis, furious, said, “How is about I rebury you beneath the snow and see if you can get out on your own? It took me half an hour to dig Chimoy out and for a minute I thought you were dead until I saw the spot where you were buried moving slightly.”

“Whatever,” Nastan said. He pointed at Chimoy and asked, “What’s he looking at?”

Addis looked over his shoulder and the grimaced. “He found. . . . Oh, you should see it for yourself. It’s bad, and I don’t really want to be the one to describe it for you.”

Nastan followed Addis over to whatever it was Chimoy was examining and soon he was standing over the frozen, dead form of Toa Jiki half-buried in snow. The snow and ice had apparently froze her to death. He could tell she was dead because her heartlight was out and she had no heat coming from her body, though Toa of Shadow generally did not have much heat anyway. Had he been a Toa of The Green, he would have been repulsed by such a sight.

But as a Toa of Shadow, he merely shrugged and said, “So what? We’ll leave her as a warning to her fellow Shodios not to mess with us.”

“Despite the fact we did not kill her?” Chimoy asked sharply. “Addis and I tried to save her, but then we realized she was already dead and thus there was no point in saving her. I didn’t like her much either, but I felt that saving her would have been the most Toa-like thing to do.”

“Shut up,” Nastan snapped. “Let’s go find the others. I wish to kill Barilo.”

“Nastan, that shadow is corrupting you,” said Addis, staring at the Toa of Shadow in the eyes sternly. “Stop thinking those dark thoughts.”

“Never!” Nastan roared, causing some more snow to fall onto the ground from a nearby cliff. “I am thinking rational thoughts. Perhaps it is you who should be the one not thinking dark thoughts, Addis. Who are you to go around bossing me like you own the place?”

“Would Joha really try to kill his enemies?” Chimoy asked suddenly.

The mere mention of that Turaga’s name was enough to silence Nastan. Turaga Joha had been one of the original Toa Shika back on Shika Nui, before Nastan and the rest. Joha had also been the last member the original Toa Shika to survive, because the Dark Hunters had wiped out all of the rest 25,000 years ago. As a result, Joha had fled into them mountains and waged a one-man war against the Hunters, although he hadn’t had much success. So he had created six Toa stones which fell into the hands of the current Toa Shika of Nastan and co, his plan being that with six more Toa they could beat the Dark Hunters. Since Nastan and the rest became Toa, Joha became a Turaga as result.

Last they’d seen Joha he had been heading toward a Matoran village to await the return of the Toa Shika. Nastan heavily respected him, or used to, anyway. Nastan just glared at Chimoy and said, “So what? What would I care what an old fool like he has to say? He’s weak. He gave up his Toa power to make us into Toa, the fool.”

Addis looked at Nastan with disappointed eyes for a few minutes, and then said, “Fine. We have no time to argue about this. We need to find our friends like you just said, Nastan. Except no killing Barilo.”

“I’ll never agree to that,” said Nastan. “I may as well just find them on my own if you’re going to set up those restrictions!”

The Toa of Shadow turned around, but suddenly bands of protosteel popped into existence around Nastan’s arms and legs, binding him up so quickly that he had no time to react. He fell and hit the soft snow and cursed.

“We can’t let you just wander off on your own,” said Addis. “The results would be disastrous.”

“Let me go!” shouted Nastan. “Let me go!”

“No,” Chimoy said firmly. “We’ll carry you until we find our friends. Then we’ll all find a way to turn you back to normal, okay?”

“No,” Nastan said angrily. “I am better now, stronger. I do not need light. It is weak. Consciences, morals. . . . All are for the weak!”

“We can’t convince you otherwise,” said Addis. “But we can take you along with us, whether you want to or not.”

With that, Chimoy grabbed Nastan’s legs and lifted him up at the same time when Addis hefted him up by his shoulders. Chimoy winced for a minute, the pain in his shoulder suddenly appearing as he lifted the bound Nastan up.

Addis seemed to notice this and asked, “Chimoy, you sure you can lift Nastan up with your shoulder hurt like that?”

“Yeah,” Chimoy grunted, nodding. “It’s only a flesh wound. It’s not as bad as Barilo’s and will probably heal quickly.”

“Then let’s go,” said Addis, looking around. “I see a path we can take over there. Maybe it will lead us to the others.”

So the two Toa, holding their partner, continued on, with Nastan protesting all of the way.

But none of the three Toa Shika noticed a tall, ghost-white figure, standing up on the top of a nearby boulder that was half-covered in snow, watching the three Toa with interest. Nor would any of them realize that the ghost-like figure decided to follow them, perhaps to find out more about these Toa and what they were doing or going to be doing. She silently glided over the dead body of Jiki and soon was quietly trailing behind the three Toa without making a single sound.
 

-


“My feet hurt,” Nonzra grumbled as he walked with Barilo and Akuna.

“Stop complaining,” said Barilo, who was now beginning to feel frustrated and tired. “We probably don’t have to walk for too much longer.”

“Can’t we take a break?” asked Nonzra. “We have plenty of time to waste. After all, Addis, Chimoy, and Nastan are still missing. Perhaps we should just wait until they find us.”

Barilo stopped and thought about the suggestion. Then he nodded and said, “Okay. Let’s do that, then. This looks like a good spot.”

The party was in a small clearing with a few boulders and a path that seemed to lead deeper into the mountains. The sky was dark and bleak and held no encouragement for them. The snow, while it was a pretty bright white, seemed to be black at the same time, although Akuna knew it wasn’t. She felt a cold wind blow through the clearing and she shivered.

“I wish I’d have brought a coat,” said Akuna, wrapping her arms around herself to keep in her body heat. “Or maybe just a thicker and warmer set of armor.”

“Me, too,” said Barilo, nodding. He, too, was shivering, though slightly less than Akuna. “But personally, I just want to find the others and get the Karzahni out of here.”

“Definitely,” said Nonzra, nodding. “This place just seems to suck the happiness right out of you, you know? Maybe it’s just me, but I feel like these mountains do more than just make me cold. I feel like they are forcibly sucking out any and all goodness in me or happy memories.”

“It’s you,” said Akuna. “I don’t feel that way at all.” She looked up at the sky and sighed. “I sure do wish Nastan was here.”

“I dunno,” Barilo chuckled. “I don’t think I want a murderous Toa of Shadow sitting next to me.”

“Barilo, that’s not funny,” said Akuna, glaring at him. “Nastan can probably be turned back to normal. We just need to figure out how is all.”

“And what will you do if we can’t?” asked Barilo. “Join him? He honestly doesn’t like me, or any of the other Toa. And he also wants to convert you into a Toa of Shadow, too. You don’t want to become evil just to be with him, do you?”

Akuna, now feeling even more uncomfortable, could not think of a satisfactory answer. True, she really did want to be with Nastan, yet at the same time she also didn’t want to become a Toa of Shadow. She had already witnessed the brutality of the Shodios and Kra-Matoran and of Nastan’s own nastiness. It seemed naïve to believe that Nastan could be turned back to normal, yet it was a hope that she clung to just the same.

While Akuna wrestled with her feelings about Nastan and about her own light, Barilo was thinking of a plan. He already decided that, if the others didn’t find his team in the next hour, he, Nonzra, and Akuna would get going, leaving the mountains behind. He was sure that that is what Addis would have wanted him to do. Besides, what were the odds of Addis and his crew staying in these mountains anyway? Not very high, he thought. So it would make sense to just go and leave, or at least he thought it would.

He, too, was also sad about Nastan. Not as much as Akuna, but still sad for his friend just the same. While he knew that Nastan had bitter feelings toward him because Barilo had tried to kill him back on Shika Nui, he still wished that Nastan hadn’t become a Toa of Shadow. It seemed to be messing with him, making him very evil and quite unstable. After all, what was to stop him from harming the rest of the team besides Akuna? Heck, maybe even Akuna too if she tried got in his way.

How does one heal a being of shadow? Barilo thought as he stared absentmindedly around at the snow. I have never heard of beings having their light forcibly removed from them. What if there is no cure? Am I going to spend the rest of my life running from one I consider a friend?

It wasn’t worth thinking about right now, he thought. He had to worry about the here and now. Maybe later when things got more under control he would think up some way to save Nastan.
 

-


It seemed that Addis and Chimoy were hopelessly lost in the dark mountains. Every twist and turn looked the same to them, every single snowflake looked similar to the ones that they had seen before, and there did not seem to be a single trace of the other Toa Shika. Not even footprints to tell them that they were at least on the right track.

Nastan had calmed down now and was being quiet, merely muttering curses under his breath now. Apparently he had decided to give in and believed that he was in no position to escape, at least not right now anyway.

Chimoy suddenly had an idea and said, “Hey, Addis?”

“Yes, Chimoy?” Addis said from up ahead, lifting Nastan up by his shoulders. “What is it?”

“I got an idea,” said Chimoy. “I have the Mask of Flight, right? So why don’t I just fly up above the peaks like before, and find the others? It would be much faster than just wandering aimlessly around these mountains.”

“I don’t know,” Addis said slowly. “What if the Kra-Matoran see you? Remember, Jiki came here with a squad of Kra-Matoran that we last saw were hunting down Barilo, Akuna, and Nonzra. I don’t think we can just let you go flying around carelessly like that.”

“It won’t be carelessly, though,” said Chimoy. “It will be quick, and if I see any Kra-Matoran I will fly right back down immediately. Please, I want to find the others just as much as you do and this seems to be the best and easiest idea to me.”

“Fine,” Addis said finally. “Just be quick, though. I don’t want Nastan here to think he can get away from us.”

Putting Nastan’s feet down, Chimoy replied, “Will be back in a minute.”

With that, he soared up high into the sky. Once again he felt the exhilarating feel of flying, soaring through the clouds like a bird and zooming in and around the peaks, though he attempted not to go too fast, for he did not want any of the Kra-Matoran to notice a Toa flying around the mountains.

He landed on the top of a high peak and looked around. He could see a group of Kra-Matoran walking through the snow several hundred yards behind him and he could also see. . . .

The Shodios, he thought, feeling slightly afraid.

He was right. The other five still-living Shodios were at the foot of the mountain, organizing search parties, it seemed. He wondered how the heck they had gotten there so quickly, but he decided not to worry about it. The Matoran that were with those evil Toa were all heavily armed and he saw quite a few fearsome Rahi beasts with them as well. He gulped. If the Shodios were to find them, there was no way he or any of his friends would survive.

But he managed to avert his gaze from the Shodios and saw, to his delight, a small clearing in the north were three familiar beings sat together. They were too far away to see clearly, but he instantly knew who they were.

Nonzra, Barilo, and Akuna! Chimoy thought, now feeling relieved. Thank Mata Nui that they’re still alive!

He then activated his Mask of Flight and took off, shooting back down into the mountains to report his news back to Addis, never noticing a transparent being floating toward him and his friends.

The Toa of Iron landed hard on the ground and stumbled a bit before telling Addis, “I saw them! Barilo, Akuna, and Nonzra are over there, in the north.” He pointed north.

“Great!” Addis said as he smiled. “Let’s go find them, then.”

“But I’ve also got some bad news,” said Chimoy. “I saw the other five Shodios here at the foot of the mountain. They had heavily armed Kra-Matoran, and quite a few nasty-looking beasts, too. I saw them all organizing teams. Methinks they aren’t here to go on a nature hike.”

Addis’ expression instantly changed now. He was looking serious and said, “Then let’s get moving. We can’t let them find our friends before we do.”

“Oh, goody,” Nastan said in a sarcastic tone. “All of our friends have came here to play with us. What game should we play: Kill Barilo, or kill Barilo? I say we play kill Barilo, personally. What’d you say?”

Ignoring the Toa of Shadow’s sarcastic comments, the two Toa picked his metal board up and carried the bounded Nastan off in the direction that Chimoy had pointed, knowing that they would probably be reunited with their friends soon.
 

-


Teivel growled angrily at the extremely cold snow that was being blown in his face, his thick coat hanging loosely off of his body. Behind him a group of Kra-Matoran, each one armed with swords and shields and other weapons, were following him along with a few snow wolves that would be essential to tracking down those Toa, since snow wolves could find beings that trekked snow easily.

The only problem now was whether the Toa Shika were still alive, since there was a report of an avalanche happening not too long ago. Surely they would be dead, but Jiki might be, too, unless she was smart enough to get out of the way of the avalanche.

Then again, he reminded himself. If she really had been smart, she would have waited for us to arrived before heading straight into the Nui Mountains with a bunch of Matoran.

He stopped at the edge of a cliff. It looked like snow had fallen off of it. Perhaps an avalanche really had happened recently. He looked down it and saw tons of snow at the bottom. Maybe someone had been buried beneath the snow, if an avalanche had caused the snow to end up down there. He decided to check it out.

“Matoran!” he barked. “Set up the ropes and follow myself down this cliff. I think there’s something down there beneath the snow!”

With that, he used his Mask of Shape Shifting and transformed into a Gukko bird and flew down. He immediately stopped as soon as he was a few feet above the white snow and landed with a crunch. He shape shifted back into his normal form and then he looked back up the rocky cliff.

The Matoran were faster than he had thought, for they had already thrown down about a dozen ropes and they were climbing down very fast. The snow wolves, being natural mountain climbers, were going down the cliff’s face with ease. He didn’t want to have to wait for them to come down, however. He was going to inspect this place himself.

It did not take long for him to discover a dead body, half-buried in snow. He quickly used his shadow power to blow away some of the snow and saw a familiar frozen face.

It was Jiki, dead and frozen. The snow must have frozen her to death, for she looked unmoving. He kicked her in the side just to make sure, but she did not move or say anything. She was really, truly dead. The Toa of Shadow who had lead armies against the universe 100,000 years ago, his sister Toa who had been banished here with him and the others after their failed attempt of conquering the universe, was dead.

Part of him felt sad for her death, but another, more prominent part appeared in his mind and gave him this grave conclusion.

If these Toa Shika killed Jiki, they will not hesitate to kill me or the other Shodios, he thought, feeling a sting of fear creep up his spine. Which means I must somehow warn the others before the Shika get to them.

The Kra-Matoran squad he had assigned to himself quickly ran up to him and then they began chattering among themselves at the sight of the dead Jiki. Many had their faces looked solemn. Others were looking terrified. After all, if their great, powerful, and wise Toa had been killed by outsiders, then that meant they were not safe at all, since they were weaker than the Shodios. The snow wolves were sniffing her dead body, apparently trying to figure out why she looked like Teivel yet didn’t have any sort of scent.

Another sight caught Teivel’s sharp eyes. Two sets of footprints were walking away from the scene of the murder, two sets of Toa footprints. They were walking in the west and disappeared around a corner. Teivel acknowledged one of the Matoran and said, “Villager, look at these footprints.”

The Kra-Matoran ran over to him and then examined the prints that he was indicating. Then the villager said, “They look like Toa footprints to me, almighty Teivel.”

“That is precisely what they are,” Teivel said coldly. “Get the snow wolves to sniff them. They may still have the stink of the light spit that had made them. If we’re lucky, we’ll have two less light dwellers in this place by the time we catch up with the unfortunate beings that made those.”
 

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#37 Offline TNTOS

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Posted Feb 20 2014 - 09:43 AM

Chapter 18: Spirit Wanderer


Barilo looked up at the sky. It seemed to be getting darker and, at Akuna’s urging, they had been waiting an hour and a half for Addis, Chimoy, and Nastan. Yet he knew that they couldn’t just keep sitting out here in the shadows and snow, with no protection or heat to keep them safe or warm. They would freeze to death out here.

“Let’s get moving,” Nonzra grumbled. “The more we move the more I’ll begin to like this place.”

“I agree,” said Barilo. Akuna started to object, but the Toa of Gravity cut her off and said, “Akuna, I am afraid to say it, and I wish I didn’t have to, but Addis, Chimoy, and Nonzra are not coming. They’re probably just as lost as we are and have no idea where to find us. It may be for the best to keep moving. Who knows? Maybe we’ll find them along the way. Heck, they’ve probably already left the mountains and might be waiting for us.”

Akuna looked worried, but she agreed. “Okay. Let’s go, then.”

But just as the three Toa stood up to leave, they heard the sound of stomping feet coming from around the corner. Barilo gave Nonzra and Akuna a look that said “Get out your weapons.”

They drew their tools and then took up strategic positions around the clearing. This way, if it was Kra-Matoran coming, they would get the drop on them and have a significant advantage over the villagers. They were being very quiet now as the sound of crunching snow got nearer and nearer.

“Aim your weapons,” Barilo muttered. “If they’re enemies, we get them quick before they realize what is happening.”

Just as they got their weapons up, however, the owners of the footsteps suddenly appeared, and to Barilo’s surprise, it was Addis, Chimoy, and Nastan, though Nastan was bounded with metal for some reason and was being carried by the earlier two Toa.

Akuna, however, seemed overjoyed. She jumped down from her perch on a well-hidden boulder and ran over to greet them. She was smiling until she realized that Nastan was tied up quite well and that he didn’t look very happy about it, either.

“What did you guys do to Nastan?” asked Akuna. Addis and Chimoy flinched and sighed heavily. They had been expecting a much more positive welcome than a question about why Nastan was bound.

“He went a little out of control,” Addis explained as he and Chimoy marched into the clearing. “We had to carry him this way otherwise he would have come after you guys on his own and killed Barilo.”

“That is what I should be doing,” snapped Nastan, struggling in his straps, “killing Barilo. He’s just a useless, dumb piece of-“

“Nastan, stop talking like that,” Akuna said in a tone that was a bit harsh than she had intended. “Please. That isn’t you talking.”

“I already heard your speech about how it isn’t ‘me’ talking and how it’s something else,” Nastan muttered. “No one wants to hear your dumb speech. I am what I always was: A being of shadow. I just never realized it until Jero came and showed me the light. Or, should I say, he showed me the shadow.”

“Enough talking,” said Addis, helping Chimoy prop Nastan up against a stone wall. “We have also got some more news.”

“News about what?” Barilo asked as he and Nonzra came forward.

“Well, for one, Jiki is dead,” said Addis, sitting on a nearby stone and stretching his arms and legs. “She got trapped in an avalanche with Chimoy, Nastan, and I, but we managed to escape alive. I tried to help her, but she was already dead by the time I dug her body out.”

“I would like to add that the other Shodios have invaded the mountains,” Chimoy added. “I saw them when I was searching for you guys with my Kadin. They have organized search parties and everything and are most definitely coming after us. We have to get out of here now, or we’ll end up even worse than Jiki.”

“Well, we don’t know our way out of the mountains,” admitted Barilo. “We just sat here waiting for you guys to return.”

Addis shot him a reproving look and said, “Well, that seems like a dumb thing for you to do. You could have spent all of that time getting out of here or searching for us. We would have survived alone. You didn’t need to worry about us.”

“Well, it was Akuna’s fault,” said Nonzra, sharply pointing his thumb over his shoulder to the Toa of Lightning. “She wanted to stay in case her evil boyfriend happened to drop by for a visit.”

“Shut up,” said Akuna, who was now feeling embarrassed. “I was worried for Addis and Chimoy, too.”

“Well, you never stopped talking about Nastan,” Nonzra argued. “You just went on and on about how you miss him, how you wish he wasn’t evil anymore, etc. It got really annoying after a while.”

“Hey, don’t diss her,” said Nastan. “Though I admit, while I appreciate her pathetic worries and fears, I was perfectly capable of taking care of myself, something these two geniuses didn’t think I could do.” He gestured to Addis and Chimoy with his head.

“Let’s stop quarrelling,” Addis said in a tone that said the discussion was over. “As much as it may matter to you, we have better things to worry about. I think we ought to send Chimoy up to find a quick route out of these mountains before the Shodios find us. I do not want to get lost again.”

“I don’t know,” Chimoy said slowly, looking up at the sky as he spoke. “I can’t risk getting spotted by the Shodios . . .”

“Chimoy, it will be quick,” Addis snapped suddenly. He could feel his temper rising, but tried to keep it down. “Just fly up, do a quick search of the area, and then fly back down and report what you saw to us. It isn’t that hard and the Shodios will more than likely not see you, since they are probably preoccupied with searching the ground than searching the skies. And you weren’t afraid of exposing yourself earlier, I might add.”

“Addis, while I do think it is a good idea, I just don’t really want to risk the Shodios or one of their Kra-Matoran seeing - and finding - me,” said Chimoy. “I don’t want to accidentally lead them to you guys.” Then he added sharply, “And I wasn’t afraid earlier because that was when I thought there were only Jiki’s Matoran here, not the entire Shodios plus a bunch of their own Kra-Matoran as well.” He seemed to be fighting to not snap, but his voice tone was revealing his impatience.

“Fine!” Addis said in a voice that was nearly a shout. “Then don’t fly! Let’s just go wandering around the mountains, running around and getting lost! Yeah, that will definitely work! The Shodios won’t stumble upon us at all! Who’s with me?”

No one said anything. They all had caught his sarcasm and were being quiet. Addis, apparently, was trying to release all of his anger, so none of them tried to interrupt him as he ranted.

“I am just trying to be a good leader,” Addis raged. “Yet you won’t listen and do what you are told. What’s up with that? You’ve done it before. The Shodios won’t see you, and if they do, so what? We can just easily avoid them by taking a route out of these mountains! You guys get to give suggestions and I take them, when it should be I who is giving the orders around here! And you don’t want to fly, Chimoy. Why not? Do you think this makes you better than me or wha-“

“Sounds like someone is grumpy,” said a misty, distant voice that caused all six of the Toa, including Nastan, to start and look around for the source. “I think you just need to cool down, Addis.”

“Who’s there?” Addis demanded, drawing his plasma cannon out, while the rest of the Toa except for Nastan drew their weapons as well. “Are you an ally of the Shodios?”

“No, I am not,” answered the voice, with a bit of a laugh. It seemed to be coming from the mountains themselves. “In fact, I had no idea those guys existed before I got here. Funny how these things work, you know?”

“Who are you?” Barilo demanded, looking around everywhere for the source of the voice. “If you are not an ally of the Shodios, then are you a friend of us?”

“Maybe,” the voice replied. “Or maybe not. All I know is that there is something wrong here and that I, Spirit Wanderer, must fix it. But you can call me Wanderer for short if you want.”

“So Wanderer’s your name, eh?” said Addis, still aiming his plasma cannon around. “Did you come through The Door?”

“The Door?” the voice repeated blankly. “No idea what that is. No, I came via my own special power to this place.”

“If you’re so special, then why don’t you show yourself?” asked Nonzra, his hand that was gripping his sword shaking because of the intense cold. “You seem an awful lot like a coward to me to hide from us.”

“I would like to tell you that I am most certainly not a coward,” the voice responded indignantly. “I have fought many monstrosities in my time, Toa, and each one of them was far more powerful and frightening than you could ever hope to be. Don’t talk to me about cowardice. It is you, I might add, who is a coward, running away from those Shodios like that-“

“They have enough power to kill us all,” Barilo answered. “That is why we are running from them instead of fighting. If we fight, we die and the whole universe is once again threatened by the Kra-Matoran. We can’t let that happen.”

“Hmm,” the voice said in a tone that meant it obviously wasn’t convinced. “Well, I guess that’ll do. I suppose I’ll show you my true form, as you have asked. But be prepared. Not many folks are used to seeing a ghost appear out of thin air.”

Suddenly, with a sound that reminded Barilo of a whip cracking, the voice materialized in front of them with a body of its own. It was tall, taller than any of the Toa present, with a long, sharp spear in its left hand. On its back it had a large shield that resembled a turtle shell and it had on a face that resembled a Rau, except with a round mouth. The most startling feature of Wanderer was that it looked like a ghost. It merely floated high above the ground a few feet and was quickly lowering. It seemed to be completely transparent and Barilo wondered for a moment if he could actually walk through Wanderer, though he dare not try it in case it got it angry.

“I am Wanderer,” said the being, whose voice sounded much more clear and distinct now. Barilo could tell that it was female, for her voice was much more feminine. “And I am here to help.”

The six Toa Shika just stared at her. They had no idea what to say. All of them stood with their mouths hung open, just staring at her as she stood in front of them. She looked around at them all with curious little ghost-like eyes and said, “What? You guys look like you’ve seen a ghost.”

“You’re a ghost,” said Nastan, who sounded very surprised.

“Of course I am,” Wanderer replied, as if it were the most obvious fact in the universe. “I told you guys that before I became visible. What were you expecting, a zombie or something?”

“Where did you come from?” asked Nonzra, who couldn’t tear his eyes away from her bizarre, ghostly form. “And what do you mean ‘I am here to help’?”

“Well, I can answer those questions, I suppose,” Wanderer said as she floated toward them. She didn’t walk, Barilo noticed, only flew, which he supposed was what ghosts did instead of walking. She flew over them and sat down on a boulder, her chin in her hand. She looked like she was thinking.

“Where to start, oh where to start?” she said, as if trying to remember where she had put her favorite Kanoka disk. “Well, let’s start at the beginning, I guess:

“I have this power, see, this power that allows my spirit to leave my body and travel all over the universe to wherever I have to go. My people call me a ‘Spirit Wanderer,’ and as you can no doubt tell by the name, I am a spirit and I can, well, wander. I don’t know why I can do that, but it is something that my people have told me is a power passed down from generation to generation. Interesting, isn’t it?

“But the catch is, I can’t use it whenever I feel like it. I need to be asleep, for one thing, and something needs to be wrong in the universe that I can either fix or help fix. So you can imagine what it must be like to lay down on your bed one day to take a quick nap and then waking up and realizing you’re in the middle of a full-scale war where you have to help assassinate a well-known and well-respected military leader. Very different from taking a nap, no?”

The Toa nodded their heads, but it was obvious they were not completely taking in her words, since they were still shocked to see a real, live (or dead) ghost sitting in front of them.

“Anyway, so I was going to sleep a few hours earlier, but then I woke up and I ended up in. . . . What’d you call this place again?” she asked.

“Wyoko,” Barilo told her.

“Right, Wyoko,” said Wanderer, nodding. “Anyway, so I was here in these mountains and I realized that I was spirit wandering again. I decided to see what I was supposed to do when I discovered you guys here and followed Addis, Chimoy, and Nastan to this spot. I am assuming that whatever it is I am here to fix has something to do with you guys.”

“Why do you say that?” asked Akuna, who, like the rest of them, was goggling at the ghost.

“Because of him,” Wanderer replied, pointing with a ghostly finger at the bound Nastan. “Why’s he all tied up anyway?”

“Because they don’t understand progress!” shouted Nastan, struggling to escaped his confines. “They think I’m evil!”

“Why do they think you’re evil?” Wanderer asked curiously.

Before Nastan could answer, Addis interrupted him and said, “Wanderer we, uh, need to talk before we explain to you our situation. Is that all right with you?”

“Sure,” Wanderer said as she casually leaned back. “I’m used to people not trusting me upon first sight, though I understand it. After all, if a sassy female ghost like me suddenly appeared out of thin air and gave me a weird back story like that, I would think I’d have gone crazy, myself, or worse.”

The five Toa Shika huddled up, Nastan excluded since they didn’t want to have his rude comments in their discussion and he probably didn’t have anything to add that didn’t somehow involve killing Barilo anyway.

“What do you think?” Barilo asked to Addis. “Should we trust her?”

“I am not sure,” said Addis, looking over his shoulder at the laid-back ghost, who was now hovering above Nastan, taunting the Toa of Shadow for the heck of it. “She doesn’t seem to be a threat. . . .”

“But remember the Kra-Matoran of Wael?” asked Akuna. “They pretended to think of us as heroes, but they were just playing us! What if she’s an ally of the Shodios, too?”

“Well, she seemed to be honestly confused about the Shodios,” said Chimoy. “Although I do agree that she can’t be trusted without any proof to back up her story.”

“But then again, what if she’s legit?” said Addis. “We sure could use an ally or two to help us. Heck, with her ghost powers she may be able to help us find a way out of these mountains.”

“I don’t like how she called me a coward,” said Nonzra, throwing a dark look over his shoulder at Wanderer. “She doesn’t understand what it is like to have an entire country after you!”

“Let’s just try her out for a while,” Addis said in a whisper. “She may be legit, and hey, how many people get to have ghosts as their allies?”

Akuna, Chimoy, Barilo, and Nonzra all looked doubtful of his wisdom, but they went along with it anyway. They broke their huddle and walked back over to Wanderer, who looked back up at them as soon as she heard them approaching.

“Get her out of here!” Nastan shouted, his chest heaving in and out very rapidly. “She’s been annoying me the entire time you guys were trying to decide if she was trustworthy or not!”

“Oh, don’t be a baby,” said Wanderer, rolling her eyes. “I was only teasing you.”

Nastan glared daggers at her, but he didn’t get a chance to say anything else, for Addis said, “Wanderer, we’ve decided to let you come with us. But,” he added upon seeing Wanderer smiling her approval, “just because you get to hang out with us doesn’t mean we trust you. We are still suspicious about you and you have no proof to back up your story, so we can’t necessarily believe you.”

“Fine,” Wanderer said. “I don’t particularly trust you guys, either, but I must follow what destiny says, and destiny says I have to figure out how to fix . . . whatever it is needs fixing.” She paused, as if lost in thought, then said, “By the way, mind filling me in on what the situation is? If I am going to be traveling with you I don’t want to get lost in your amazingly complicated and odd conversations.” She was being sarcastic, of course, but they knew that she was interested in what they were doing, how they got there, and other things regarding Wyoko.

So the five Toa all told her about where they came from, about the Shodios, Kra-Matoran, and Turaga Krashadi, what their current situation was, how Nastan became a Toa of Shadow, and they each told her a little bit about themselves as well.

Once they had finished, Wanderer shook her head and said, “Man that is quite . . . complicated. I don’t think I will be able to remember it all.”

“Don’t worry, we don’t expect you to,” said Addis. “Anyway, uh, being a ghost and being able to go through walls and stuff, do you know of any secret entrances that lead out of these mountains we we could possibly use it to escape the Shodios?”

“Oh, just because I am a ghost instantly means I know all the secrets of Wyoko, eh?” Wanderer said indignantly. “Just because ghosts are all mysterious and stuff in Matoran fiction doesn’t instantly mean I am, too. Mata Nui, I didn’t think I’d get stuck with a bunch of generic-stereotyping Toa!” She sounded very angry and offended and Addis hesitated to say anything else. Suddenly her tone changed to an almost bored tone and she said, “But for your information, yes, I did find a secret tunnel while following you guys. It’s over there behind that snow.” She gestured to a wall of ice and snow behind them, the same one that she had been hiding in earlier. “Think it leads out of here, but I don’t know for sure since I haven’t explored it yet.”

Addis glanced at Barilo with a look that said, “What’s up with her?” But he didn’t actually say it and instead said, “All right. I’ll just melt the snow, then.”

He carefully aimed his plasma cannon at the wall that the ghost had indicated. Then he pulled the trigger and a ball of extremely hot plasma went flying out of its barrel and into the snow, melting it and revealing a Toa-sized cave mouth that had icicles hanging from its ceiling. Water from the melted snow was dripping from its entrance, giving the cave mouth a very eerie look.

“Wow, so there really was a tunnel!” Nonzra said in surprise. “I thought you were just making it up!”

“Why would I lie?” she asked as she followed the six Toa into the tunnel (Chimoy and Nonzra were carrying Nastan). “I am an honest ghost, after all.”

“Yeah, but we don’t exactly trust you with our lives, per se,” Nonzra said as he carried Nastan by his legs. “I, at least, don’t consider you a friend yet.”

“Well, I don’t like you either, but in my culture spirit wanderers generally don’t get to chose who they get to help, whether they like the person or not,” Wanderer shot back.

“Would you two stop arguing for a minute and be quiet?” Addis asked, annoyed. “We’ve got to stay quiet. The Shodios may be nearby and I certainly wouldn’t want to get capture by them, would you?”

“Well, I wouldn’t be able to die,” Wanderer said dryly. “So that says something about my opinion of those Shodios guys.”

“Let’s just get going,” Akuna said hurriedly. “I want to see where this cave leads.”

So the six Toa plus Wanderer continued to walk down the ever-deepening tunnel. But in the excitement of possibly leaving the cold, dreary, mountains, none of them realized was that they had forgotten to seal the cave mouth. Nor did any of them realize that not too far behind them, Teivel and his group of Kra-Matoran were searching for the Toa Shika and would soon discover the cave. Would they ever realize it? Probably, but by the time they do, it will be too late for them to do anything about it.
 

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#38 Offline TNTOS

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Posted Feb 21 2014 - 09:40 AM

Chapter 19: Into the Core of the Mountain


The cave was very icy and dark, thus causing them to slip and stumble a bit as they walk on. Akuna was in the lead, her Mask of Night Vision activated to let them see ahead. All that they saw were more icicles, some stalactites and stalagmites, and occasionally piles of snow every now and then. Wanderer didn’t need the light, as ghosts can see in the dark, but she mostly hung out in the back, lazily floating above Nonzra and teasing him, which annoyed the Toa of Sonics.

There were no other entrances that lead off the path, so they had to keep going straight on. None of them present had any idea of where they were going. All they knew was that it was very cold and very dark and that if the Shodios were waiting at the end of the tunnel, they were in for a fight.

“Hey, Wanderer,” snapped Nastan, looking for an excuse to get somebody angry. “Why don’t you just go ahead and scout for us instead of being a lazy good-for-nothing? After all, you are a ghost. Nothing can hurt you, after all.” He was sarcastic in tone, but he was right. She couldn’t be hurt by any physical threats like the Toa Shika could and therefore was the perfect scout.

“I would,” Wanderer said thoughtfully. “But I really don’t want to because I want to stick with you guys for now and see if there are any troubles that I should be fixing.”

“Well, there is Nastan,” said Nonzra, gesturing at the Toa of Shadow his head. “He isn’t normally a Toa of Shadow. He normally controls plant life, so maybe you need to fix him.”

“I don’t need any fixing,” Nastan snapped. “I am stronger now, more powerful. I do not need to be a pathetic and weak Toa of The Green again. With just one blast of shadow I could bring this entire cavern down upon all of us!”

“If you were free, shadow boy, you probably could,” said Wanderer. “I am not sure if I can fix him, since I have never heard of someone having their light forcibly taken from their body. It sounds crazy, yet it’s true.”

“Truth is often stranger than fiction,” Chimoy said thoughtfully.

“Well, whatever is ahead, we can deal with it,” said Addis, nodding at his team. “We have six Toa and a ghost on our side. Heck, there may not even be anything up ahead at all. It may just lead to an exit that we could use to get out of here.”

So the party was silent again. Akuna thought that they were an odd party. Five Toa restraining their sixth member who was evil along with a sarcastic ghost was supposed to help people solve problems. The thought of how weird her team was would have probably amused her if her boyfriend wasn’t the evil one and if they weren’t on the run from five other evil Toa.

As they continued to descend deeper into the tunnel, Akuna wondered what they would do once they got out of this place. Probably try to find the quickest route to The Door or maybe find a way to cure Nastan. She hoped that there was a way to cure Nastan, because she couldn’t stand to see her dearest and closest friend acting no better than a Dark Hunter or Shodios.
 

-


Teivel and his hunting party had followed two tracks of foot prints to a small clearing, one he had never seen before. It was empty, though there was a bunch of Toa foot prints that obviously belonged to the Toa Shika and saw to his surprise a saw a large, unblocked cave mouth, looking as if its entrance had been melted open. At the foot of the doorway was a small puddle of water, obviously melted snow.

So the Toa Shika think they can evade capture by hiding in a cave? Teivel thought, unimpressed. How unoriginal. Though I do wonder how they figured it was there in the first place.

Wyoko’s dim, barely visible sun was setting as Teivel lead his party into the cave. He knew that there was going to be a fight, so he had shadow energy crackling in the palm of his hands for when he would inevitably see the backs of the Toa Shika. Behind him his Kra-Matoran were also charging up shadow and making sure their weapons were in perfect order. Today, he knew, there would be no more Toa Shika in Wyoko anymore, and once that deed was fulfilled, the Kra-Matoran Empire would truly rise again for the first time in a millennium.

What could be better than that?
 

-


Akuna, being in the front of the group, was the first to notice the gradual change in temperature. At first the cave had been as cold as the mountains outside, but now it was getting warmer and becoming more a bit more bearable and comfortable. There were fewer icicles now and not as much snow this deep inside, and soon there wasn’t any at all. In fact, it was getting almost as warm as hot days on Shika Nui were, which were, if she remembered correctly, quite nice.

“Am I the only one who feels warmer?” Akuna asked as she shut off her Ruru. She didn’t need it on anymore because the cavern was also becoming brighter with an orange-ish glow that was accompanying the heat. “Or is it just me?”

“I feel it, too,” said Barilo, wiping away a drop of sweat from his forehead. “There seems to be some sort of heat coming from the mountain’s core.”

The other Toa, too, were feeling the heat. To Chimoy and Nonzra it felt especially hot because of their added weight of having to carry Nastan as well. Nastan was getting even more impatient with the appearance of the heat. He was now grunting more loudly and muttering to himself a lot, mostly about how he wished that the others would just let him walk with them, but Addis wasn’t convinced that Nastan wouldn’t run away or start a fight that would result in a cave-in.

Wanderer, being a ghost, could not feel the heat, so she did not feel much of a difference in temperature, though she did notice that it was getting lighter and brighter inside.

“I wonder where all of this light is coming from?” Wanderer wondered as she floated above their heads. “Snowy mountains don’t usually have bright cores like some sort of planet. Maybe we’re all going crazy or there’s some strange illusionist playing tricks on us.”

“I don’t think it is an illusion, Wanderer,” said Akuna, who was now panting because of the heat. “The warmth feels too real and there is definitely light.”

The heat did feel good after so many hours out in the cold wind, but eventually it was getting to the point where all of them except for Wanderer were feeling temperamental and impatient. When were they going to reach the end of the tunnel and why was it so . . . dang . . . hot?

Finally, after what seemed to Barilo like hours of walking, he saw a small, bright light at the end of the tunnel. It wasn’t very big, but it looked like an exit. Spurred on by the sudden appearance of this way out, the party started to walk faster and faster, their eyes fixed on the exit, ignoring the blazing heat as best as they could that was accompanying them as they ran.

They soon reached the end of the tunnel and almost congratulated themselves on a job well done when they saw the source of the heat and light, which caused all of them to look at it in awe and shock.

“Mata Nui. . . .” Akuna muttered, taking a step back.

“I don’t believe it. . . .” Addis breathed, staring straight into the source.

“What is it?” asked Nastan, who was craning his neck to try and see what they were talking about. “What is everybody making a big deal about? Did we walk into the middle of a bunch of corpses that are rotting? What is it?”

“It’s. . . .” said Barilo, trying to find the words to describe it. “It’s. . . .”

“Lava,” Wanderer finished for him. “A huge pool of lava, at that.”

She was right. There was a large lake-sized pool of lava that was unleashing sheer heat and light all around the circular chamber that they had emerged in. Lava eels of varying sizes, ranging from ones that could’ve easily fit in the palm of Barilo’s hand to ones that would have rivaled even a shadow eel in length, could be seen swimming and diving in the lava as if it were water. The ceiling of the immense cavern was closed shut with an extremely thick dome of ice that was too far up to be affected by the heat of the lava. A long, narrow, crude rock bridge was a few suspended above the magma led to what must have been the exit, but the sheer warmth of the molten rock was almost enough to make the six Toa turn around and leave.

“So, do we walk across the bridge or find another way around?” asked Barilo, who’s eyes were focused on the lava eels below.

“That’s the only way to go,” answered Addis. “We can’t go back because that leads back to the Shodios and the endlessly cold mountains. We just go by single file and-“

Suddenly, a shadow bolt went flying over Addis’ head and hit the wall on the other side of the chamber, leaving a charred, burnt spot where the energy had hit. The Toa and Wanderer whirled around to see Teivel and a group of Kra-Matoran, all armed with swords, axes, spears, and other weapons, advancing, shadow energy crackling in their palms and at the tips of their weapons.

“Who are they?” Wanderer asked, fearing that she already knew the answer.

“That is Teivel, leader of the Shodios,” answered Barilo, already drawing his gravity axe. “And those are Kra-Matoran, villagers of darkness, though I have no idea what the wolves are. Probably some of their vicious pets or something.”

“Chimoy, throw up a barrier to cut them off from us!” Addis ordered.

The Toa of Iron obliged. He threw up one of his hands and a thick protosteel wall shot through the ground and covered the entrance that they had just left. They could hear the faint sounds of shadow and weapons striking the wall and all of them knew that it wouldn’t take long for their enemies to get through.

“Wanderer, fly ahead of us to the exit,” said Addis, but he was interrupted by Wanderer.

“Hey, I’m not member of this team,” she said defiantly. “You can’t boss me around.”

“Come on!” shouted Addis. “We need you to see what is up ahead, okay? I know you’re technically not part of the team (“Got that right,” Nonzra muttered) but you have to cooperate with us if you want to help us solve . . . whatever it is our problem is, okay?”

Reluctantly, Wanderer nodded, and soon she was flying across the bridge of stone and the vast pool of lava, eying the lava eels below in case they tried to do anything.

“Now we go single file,” Addis said to the other Toa. “It is too narrow for us all to go at once. Chimoy and Nonzra should go first because they have Nastan. Then Barilo and Akuna and I will bring up the rear.”

Nodding, Nonzra and Chimoy quickly heaved Nastan up and walked as fast as they could across the bridge without accidentally falling off. Because of the rickety nature of the bridge and because Nastan was very heavy, they almost fell off a few times, but they managed to straighten up every time and soon they were at the end, panting hard, while Wanderer floated above them to make sure that they were okay.

“Let’s go,” Barilo said to Akuna. The Toa of Lightning nodded and soon they were making their way across the bridge as fast as they could.

The heat was even worse when on top of the viaduct. The warmth of the magma hit them full force and Barilo nearly fell off, though Akuna managed to get him back on, though she seemed to be slightly blushing for some bizarre reason that Barilo couldn’t fathom at the moment. His feet were burning against the hot rock, but very soon he and Akuna got to the other side with the others and then collapsed next to Nastan, who had been placed on the ground so Chimoy and Nonzra could take a small break.

“You two okay?” asked Wanderer.

“Yeah . . .” Barilo said in a breathless voice. “Let’s never do that again.”

Now it was Addis’ turn. He could hear the tearing of metal behind him as he ran and he took a risk and threw a quick glance over his shoulder. He could already see Teivel and his Kra-Matoran coming through the barrier, hurling balls of shadow at him and at the others. He gathered speed, but suddenly a stray shadow bolt hit a part of the bridge in front of him, causing it to create a great, big hole. The rest of the bridge started to collapse as well and Addis knew that he couldn’t run over it or he’d melt. So he decided to jump.

Mata Nui grant me strength! He thought as he ran.

With one great leap, he landed feet first on the hard, hot rock and immediately fell to his knees, which was fortunate for him because a shadow bolt that was aimed for his head flew right through Wanderer instead.

“Hey!” Wanderer shouted, angrily shaking her fist at Teivel. “That didn’t hurt, but it wasn’t polite!”

“Save the instructions on politeness later,” said Addis, rising to his feet despite how tired he felt. “We gotta go!”

On the other side of the chasm, Teivel saw with increasing anger that the six Toa Shika (plus their mysterious new ally that he had never seen before) were recovering and he knew that they were going to leave through the exit. Because the bridge had collapsed, there was no way he or any of his Kra-Matoran could catch up to the Shika, but he hadn’t come this far just to give up.

He hurriedly glanced around and soon his red eyes set on the weak cavern walls which the shadows of the Toa Shika were dancing on. He made his decision quickly: He was going to bring down this cavern on himself, his hunting party, and on the Toa Shika. It was the only way to kill the Toa Shika for sure, and probably himself in the process, but he wasn’t afraid of dying. As long as it killed them, and as long as it meant that the Kra-Matoran were free of Wyoko, he didn’t care what would happen to himself.

Teivel outstretched his arms till they were rigid, and then immediately gathered all of the shadow energy inside of him. He was going to go Nova, that technique that all Toa had the potential to do but they rarely ever did, for whenever a Toa did go Nova it usually resulted in the deaths of many innocents plus the Toa himself. But he didn’t care. This would surely destroy the Shika, he knew.

His breathing was becoming more rapid and ragged and his Kra-Matoran all looked up at him curiously, wondering what he was doing. None of them had seen a Nova Blast before because none of the Shodios had ever gone Nova, so they were quite curious as to why he was suddenly turning extremely black to the point where he looked like a silhouette of his normal self.

Neither did any of the Toa Shika know what he was doing. They stopped in the doorway and watched him curiously.

“What’s he doing?” Nonzra asked with a tone of caution in his voice.

“No idea,” Addis replied. “Maybe he’s given up.”

Wanderer, however, seemed to be wary of Teivel, for she was flying back down the tunnel, a note of fear in her eyes.

“Wanderer, what’s wrong?” asked Akuna. “Why do you look so scared?”

“That . . . that Teivel guy,” she said in a tone that was unmistakably one of fear. “He’s going to go Nova!”

“Nova?” Barilo repeated, suddenly looking very frightened. “He’s going to go Nova? In here?”

“Yes! I’ve seen Toa go Nova in the past,” Wanderer said quickly. “Look, he’s going extremely black. He’s drawing together all of his shadow energy and is about to release it in one blow!”

“If he goes Nova, this whole cave will collapse and will not only kill him, but us, too!” shouted Addis. “Quick! Run! Now!”

The six Toa and Wanderer turned as one and ran (or, in Wanderer’s case, floated) away as fast as they could from Teivel, who was still becoming so black that he didn’t look real. But even as they ran, Teivel shouted, with a strangely magnified voice, “You aren’t getting away from my shadow that easily, light spit!”

And with that, he exploded into a blast of shadow and darkness, swallowing the entire chamber up in minutes. The Kra-Matoran and snow wolves next to him took the brunt of the blast, apparently not expecting a Nova Blast, and were destroyed - and thereby killed - as a result. The rest of the shadow smashed into the walls, roof, and lava, shaking the chamber so much that it felt like an earthquake was happening. Some of the darkness nearly got the Toa Shika, but fortunately for them they had ran at just the right time for the shadow merely hit the exit that they had taken and sealed it with debris.

Had the Toa Shika decided to stick around a little longer, they would have seen the roof of the cavern shatter into pieces and they would have also seen its pieces let in a whole lot of snow that had been collecting on the top of the volcano. They would have witnessed the snow immediately melt as soon as it came near the hot, burning lava. And then they would have noticed that the lava was bubbling even more than usual, rising gradually higher and higher, while the mountain itself seemed to be rumbling.

As it was, only Teivel, lying nearly unconscious on the floor, was there to notice and he himself had no time to scream for help as the lava exploded through the top of the long-dormant volcano and shoot through the air. Not that it would have helped, since there was no one there to help him, anyway.

The only things that the Toa Shika felt as they ran was a huge, earthquake-like tremor that nearly made them fall off of their feet. They heard a loud, deafening explosion coming from the cavern behind them, and to their horror, they saw the sealed exit they had used to escape the chamber was melting. Lava was burning through the rock and debris that had covered it and it was slowly coming toward the six Toa and Wanderer. Chimoy desperately put up a wall of protosteel to hold it off, though how long that would last, he had no idea.

“Run for your freaking lives!” Addis shouted as loud as he could over the long, loud explosion overhead.

All of the Shika obliged and ran, but it immediately became clear that if they were all to make it out of there alive they would need to have Nastan walk by himself for Chimoy and Nonzra could not run fast and carry him at the same time.

“But we can’t let him run!” said Barilo, sounding alarmed. “He’s going to kill me!”

“I think he prefers to living to killing you at the moment, right, Nastan?” Addis asked Nastan.

“Sure,” Nastan said in a hurried voice. “Yes, I will refrain from killing Barilo. Just let me go and we can all get out of here alive, especially me.”

Reluctantly, Chimoy used his metal powers to snap Nastan’s binds and soon the Toa of Shadow as standing up again, stretching his arms and legs, though he had no time to do anymore stretches, for the rest of the Toa Shika and Wanderer were running again and Nastan, despite having long limbs, had to run in long strides to keep up with them.

Behind them, the protosteel wall that Chimoy had constructed was turning a burnt black, rapidly melting at the same time, while lava was oozing out onto the floor toward the Shika, though it was moving much, much more slowly than it was before and they outpaced it with ease.

They quickly ran as fast as they possibly could, Chimoy using his iron powers to bring up some new barriers to keep the lava in check. It worked, for he made several large, thick protosteel walls that would take some time for the lava to break down. They were running down what seemed like an endless tunnel to them, which twisted and turned every few miles it seemed until Barilo began to think he and his friends had wound up in some sort bizarre maze of death and lava.

Finally, after several long, hurried minutes of running through the underground tunnels that were leaking lava onto the floor and making progress even more difficult than it already was, the six Toa Shika and Wanderer saw a small light up ahead. It didn’t look like the kind of orange, burning light lava gave off. It was the same dark, evil, scary light of Wyoko that shrouded that shadow country, and Barilo could not remember the last time when he had been so happy to see that light.

“We’re almost there!” Addis shouted over his shoulder to the others. “Just keep running!”

But as soon as they were within feet of the exit, a blast of lava shot across the ground in front of them, which practically blocked the way out. They were ready for this, however, and all six of them jumped at the exact same time out of the cave and onto the cold, wet, dark snow of Wyoko, while Wanderer merely shot out into the sky as lava and smoke and ashes rained down from the volcano’s peak. Each one of the Toa landed face first on the soft slush and soon they were panting in the snow, too tired to get up, while Wanderer, who never truly got tired because of her ghost nature, flew high above them, although she did look thoroughly relieved to be out of that tunnel.

Wanderer glanced over her shoulder and saw that the cave mouth that they had emerged from just seconds ago had re-sealed itself and now no longer looked like an entrance to the heart of a volcano. It looked more like it was a part of the snowy hillside now, almost indistinguishable from the rest of the area. She noticed that they had also apparently traveled several hundred miles away from the rest of the mountains.

Below, she saw that Barilo had managed to roll over onto his back and was now staring at the mountains with horrified eyes. Curious, she looked back up at the mountains and now she, too, was horrified by what she was seeing.
 

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#39 Offline TNTOS

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Posted Feb 24 2014 - 09:42 AM

Chapter 20: Wanderer’s Mission


“Oh . . . my . . .” Barilo said in a voice that was barely more than a whisper. “Everybody . . . look. . . .”

The other five Toa Shika painfully lifted their heads from the snow and looked at where Barilo was pointing. Even Nastan, the most cold and evil of them all, looked positively terrified by what he saw.

What they saw was that the mountains that they had been briefly lost in no longer had the white, pure snow that they had grown so used to seeing. Instead, lava was covering the landscape, melting all of the snow and burning anyone or anything that got in its way. The volcano itself, they saw, was enormous, bigger than all of the other mountains around it, with smoke and ash still bellowing from its mouth like a roaring Muaka. Some of the lava had already hardened, giving the land a sort of hard, stony look that differed greatly from its once soft, snow-white appearance. Even from their distance they could still feel the heat of the lava, though not nearly as much as when they had been in the heart of the mountain.

The sky looked different as well. It no longer was the pure, purplish-black shadow that usually hung over Wyoko like a blanket. Now it was a gray, burning smoke that added to the impossibility of seeing anything. There was not a cloud in the sky, at least none that they could see since the smog was covering everything. Barilo could see a few lava eels, mostly the bigger ones, crawling out of the crater of the volcano with the lava, looking slightly confused as to why they were no longer in their warm home in the heart of the mountain anymore.

“No one . . . I mean no one could have survived something like that,” Akuna breathed as the light of the burning lava reflected off of her slightly fearful eyes. “Why, I bet you there isn’t so much as a single mask left of any of the Shodios or of their Kra-Matoran now.”
 

-


Unknown to the Toa of Lightning, she was partly right and partly wrong about that. Rhatara, Jero, Tikcah, and Ira had managed to escape the exploding mountain, but in the process had abandoned their hunting parties to die in the unbearably hot lava. All four of them had regrouped back at the edge of the mountains, each one of the Shodios watching the scene with a mixture of anger and confusion. Jero, at least, was extremely curious about the volcano.

“I wonder how it managed to erupt,” Jero said in a tone of wonderment. “It must have taken a great and powerful force to do that, and I had no idea that there was a volcano, of all things, here in Wyoko. I must study it sometime.”

“The Toa Shika,” Rhatara spat, as if the name was poison to his mouth. “They somehow found their way into the volcano and activated it. I just know it. They were trying to kill us!”

“We will have to kill them, then,” Ira said in a tone that suggested that they slay the Shika in extremely horrible and cruel ways. “If they survived, then I am now, more than ever before, convinced that we should have killed them instead of trying to feed them to the shadow eels back then.”

Tikcah, however, looked quite worried about something else compared to the others.

“Where’s Teivel?” she asked, looking around for any sign of the one she loved. “Did he-?”

“Probably,” Rhatara said in disgust. “He probably thought that he could kill all six of the light dwellers himself and then probably got caught in the explosion. It wouldn’t surprise me if his corpse is somewhere beneath that lake of lava right now, boiling and melting.”

Jero seemed to notice that someone else was missing, too. “Where is Jiki? Not that I miss her, but I do wonder why we didn’t find her in the Nui Mountains and why she isn’t here with us right now.”

“My guess is she either got caught by the lava or got killed by the Toa Shika,” said Ira, the lava reflecting her black, evil eyes. “She was the first one after them, after all. They must have thought ‘Screw her’ and then killed her. Or maybe she was just stupid enough to decide that playing with lava would be fun.”

Ignoring Ira, Tikcah said, “Oh, I hope Teivel’s all right. I don’t know if I will be able to live without him!”

“Learn to live without him, then, Tikcah,” said Rhatara. “He’s dead, killed by the volcano’s eruption no doubt. If he was still alive he would have been here to meet us now. What an idiotic fool.”

Tikcah whirled around and, in one swift motion, had a dagger to Rhatara’s throat. She seemed to have an angry look in her eyes that told Rhatara he had said the wrong thing.

“Don’t . . . you . . . ever . . . insult . . . our . . . leader,” she hissed into his audio receptor. “Or else I will personally kill you.”

Rhatara, unimpressed, said, “Fine, fine, whatever. He’s not alive anymore, so there’s no reason I can’t call him a fool, since he can’t fight back.”

Tikcah still held her dagger up to his throat as if daring him to move or say something else. Jero, however, knowing that a fight would be pointless and would waste their time and energy, managed to get in between the two Shodios, and said to them, “I suggest that we ignore our own conflicts and find the six Toa Shika. We should return to Wael and take some of their Kra-Matoran with us and search the rest of these mountains.”

Rhatara broke his gaze from Tikcah and then looked at Jero. “Why should we? The Toa Shika probably got killed, too. No need to do that, in my opinion.”

“I wouldn’t say so,” said Ira, “The kind of light loving Toa that they are have an extremely annoying habit of surviving these kinds of things when normal beings shouldn’t have. I think we all remember the Toa Avha well.”

“Of course,” said Jero, nodding. “They should have fallen before us, but somehow those light dwellers beat us and imprisoned us down here, despite the fact they were against an entire army of Kra-Matoran, us, and Turaga Krashadi. That is the reason why I suggested that we search for their corpses in the first place. I do not want to be hoodwinked by a bunch of inferior light lovers.”

“Okay, but let’s not take any Kra-Matoran from Wael with us,” said Rhatara. “It will take too long for us to get to Wael on foot and if the Toa Shika is still alive they might escape while we’re heading there.”

“Okay,” said Ira, nodding, “sounds good to me. Only, let’s not split up. If they got Jiki and Teivel by themselves, then surely they will get us, too, if we are alone. I doubt they can take on us as a team.”

So the four Shodios began their searching, planning on immediately killing the six Toa Shika once they found them. Even Jero seemed to think that they should be killed, although that mean that he would be losing one valuable experiment and five fresh test subjects. But now he was more interested in leaving Wyoko than in experimenting anyway.
 

-


For a long while, the Toa Shika and Wanderer just sat there, watching the volcano as it spewed out the last of its lava, lighting up the dark sky with a reddish-orange glow that seemed eerily out of place in Wyoko. Now only smoke was coming out of its crater and even that was beginning to thin too.

So Addis, knowing that they had a long way to go, stood up in the ash and snow and said to the others, “Come on. We have to get to The Door.”

He pointed behind them, and they all looked in his direction. There it was, The Door to the Light, standing on what looked like the other side of Wyoko. It was obviously night time now, for the shadow was practically complete, though The Door itself seemed to be emitting a sort of electric blue glow that was very out of place in Wyoko.

“That’s it?” asked Wanderer. “Looks a lot smaller and less grand than you guys said it was.”

“It’s a lot bigger closer up,” said Barilo. “We’re just too far away from it now.”

So the six Toa Shika rose from their feet and brushed the ash and snow off of their armor. Barilo kept his eyes on The Door, which looked like it would take quite a while to get there. But as long as they kept out of sight of the Kra-Matoran villages, they would be okay, he thought.

That was when a huge, powerful blast of shadow came from behind and knocked him and the other Toa onto the ground face first. It was almost enough to knock him out, but Barilo managed to stay conscious, if a little bruised. He rolled over onto his back and saw Nastan standing over him, his bow aimed at the Toa of Gravity’s mask, an evil grin on his face.

“What are you doing?” Wanderer demanded, floating toward him.

“Just getting rid of a problem is all,” Nastan replied. “He tried to kill me back on Shika Nui, you know.”

“It was an accident!” Barilo shouted, fear in his voice. “I was going insane! I-“

“Stop the excuses!” Nastan shouted, pulling the arrow back a little bit more. “You know you really did want to see me dead. Don’t try to say Hajax made you do it. That is an idiotic way to justify your almost-murder.”

Barilo wanted to argue that Nastan was wrong, that he really had been driven insane from having had his mind link with Makuta Hajax snapped. Yet at the same time, he knew that there was a certain truth to Nastan’s words. He had to admit that he had wanted to kill Nastan at the time. But he hadn’t really, at least not really, really, really wanted to kill him.

But even then as he tried to justify it in his mind, a horrible thought suddenly appeared in his head: Was he just trying to justify almost killing his friend? Was Barilo no better than Hajax or any of the Shodios? The very thought of it sent a chill up Barilo’s spine and he did not like it at all.

“Okay, Nastan, I admit, I did try to kill you under my own free will,” Barilo confessed, looking up into the red eyes of his fellow Toa. “I didn’t do it just because I was going insane (though for the record I was slightly out of my mind at the time). I did it because I was angry, I had the power, and I was willing to do it, too. But now,” he added, “I have seen my mistake and I ask you for your forgiveness. Please, Nastan, find it somewhere in your heart to forgive your fellow Toa for wronging you. Please.”

He looked up at Nastan with pleading eyes, and for a second he thought he saw a look of mercy in the red orbs of his friend. But then the Toa of Shadow shook his head and said in a cold, hard voice, “Nice try, Barilo. But I don’t forgive my enemies.”

Right before he could shoot off the arrow, however, Wanderer drew her spear and shield off of her back and charged Nastan, hoping to somehow stop him, despite knowing the fact that she was a ghost and could not touch or harm a physical being like Nastan. Still, she really didn’t want to see murder happen right before her eyes, even though she had seen it done in the past, but that didn’t mean she enjoyed it or tolerated it at all.

Suddenly, just as the tip of her ghostly weapon made contact with Nastan’s shoulder, she disappeared, as if she really hadn’t been there at all. Barilo wildly looked around to see if he could find her, but did not see hide or tail of Wanderer anywhere. Where’d she go?

All of a sudden, he heard Nastan shout a cry of pain and then he looked up just in time to see the Toa of Shadow drop his weapon onto Barilo and stumble backwards, head in his hands, screaming in pain.

The rest of the Toa had gotten back on their feet and also had drawn their weapons, but they weren’t using them. Instead, they, like Barilo, watched Nastan, who seemed to be in some sort of horrible, unstoppable pain that affected his whole body, particularly his head. Akuna, worried for his safety, tried to move forward to somehow help him, but Addis put an arm in front of her to stop her. Whatever was happening to Nastan, he didn’t want Akuna or any of the other Toa Shika to interrupt in case they hurt themselves or Nastan.

“My head!” Nastan shouted, clutching his skull with his hands. “Get out of my head! Get out of my head, ghost!”
 

-


Wanderer smoothly landed in a dark, barren land that looked an awful lot like Wyoko. She looked around, wondering where she had ended up in. She saw no snow, ash, smoke, mountains, or any Toa, so she thought it might not be Wyoko.

Last I remember, I was flying into Nastan, trying to stop him from killing Barilo, she recalled. Did I get teleported somewhere? It’s so dark here, like Wyoko.

She decided to explore the place and began walking through the shadowy fog. There were no buildings, no people, not even a Rahi in this place. Then again, the darkness was pretty thick, so maybe she just couldn’t see anybody. It was starting to make her feel a little edgy, because she was somehow solid in this place, despite being a ghost. So she knew that she could get attacked if she wasn’t careful.

Her two-toed feet hit the ground softly as she walked, her ghost-white eyes darting all around at the weird place. It seemed like she had been walking for hours before she finally saw a small, barely visible light up ahead. It was too little and far away to make out clearly, but any source of light here must be good, she reasoned. So she picked up the pace and the bright light started to grow even brighter. She knew she was close.

Finally, after what seemed like even more hours she finally reached the light, which turned out to be a huge wall of pure brightness that was almost too much for her to look at directly. She shielded her eyes, but caught sight of something else as she did so.

Over to her right she noticed something that looked like a well. It looked like any other well she had seen: Small, made of stone, with two wooden beams holding a small rooftop over it, although it was strangely absent of a bucket for gathering water from it. But something about it seemed to be calling her over, as if beckoning her to examine it. So she walked over to it, curious to figure out what it was.

When she leaned over to take a look inside of it, she saw to her surprise that something was in the bottom of the well. Not water, but some sort of silvery liquid-like substance that was far too deep for her to make out. She wondered what it was supposed to be when suddenly she heard a small sound behind her that startled her.

“Ah!” she exclaimed, turning around. “Who’s there?”

She wildly glanced around, but saw nothing, until she heard the sound again and looked down at her feet. To her surprise, she saw a Matoran in green-ish blue armor carrying a bucket in his arms, looking up at her with sad-looking eyes. He also had a quizzical look in his orbs as he watched her, as if wondering who she was. It took her a minute before she suddenly realized the identity of the quiet Matoran.

“Nastan?” Wanderer gasped. “Is . . . is that you? Why are you a Matoran? And why isn’t your armor black?”

Nastan the Matoran frowned at her and said, “You are Wanderer, are you not? A ghost that is supposed to be intangible, yet now you are physical, solid as a rock. I suppose that makes sense, at least in here it does.”

“Yes, I’ve been wondering about it, too,” she said, not at all liking this bizarre situation and wondering why Nastan was a Matoran when he should clearly be a Toa. “Now answer my questions I asked you earlier, please. I do not like being left in the dark.”

Strangely, Nastan chuckled and said, “You are in the dark, Wanderer.” He gestured to the shadow all around. “Look at your environment. Shadow and darkness everywhere you look. I need not be the one to leave you in the dark, my friend.”

“But you would like some answers, wouldn’t you?” Nastan continued, walking past her and tying the bucket to the rope that hung above the well. “First, I can tell you that I am both Nastan and not Nastan at the same time.”

“What does that mean?”

“It means I am a memory,” Nastan the Matoran replied as he lowered the bucket into the well of silver liquid. “I am what Nastan used to be, what he remembers. I do not technically exist. I am a memory of the time when he was a simple, innocent Matoran villager.”

“Innocent, eh?” Wanderer snorted. “I don’t think being a thief counts as ‘innocent.’ “

“Well, more innocent than I am now,” Nastan said with a sly grin spreading across his face. “I am what Nastan wants to be. His mind may be full of darkness and evil, but his transformation into a Toa of Shadow was not truly, 100% complete, for if it was I would be behind that barrier over there with the rest of Nastan’s good memories and thoughts.”

He gestured to the wall of light that Wanderer had seen earlier. At the mention of it the light seemed to grow suddenly brighter, as if it wanted to be noticed.

“Yet he also knows that he can’t be me anymore,” Nastan continued. “All of the evil that Jero put in his mind has stopped him from being good. It has poisoned him, corrupted him, to the point where he now actually enjoys harming others and being evil. It scares him, it scares me.”

Now Wanderer was putting two and two together as the Matoran version of Nastan spoke. He had mentioned that he was one of Nastan’s memories, that he was the only good memory left on the other side of the barrier that blocked all of Nastan’s good memories and thoughts, and there can’t be a Toa version of someone and a Matoran version at the same time, so she concluded-

“I am in Nastan’s mind,” she said, slightly horrified. “I can’t believe it.”

“So you finally figured it out, eh?” said Nastan, who was now peering over the edge of the well, as if to get a better look at its contents. “Yes, that is where you are, my friend. This is what is left of his mind: Darkness and shadow. Oh, he can think and do intelligent things and talk and stuff, but now his mind is little more than a barren wasteland of death and shadow.

“Before he had his shadow taken away from him, however, it was a much better place. There were good thoughts and memories, grass, trees, and flowers everywhere. Occasionally there was a thunderstorm or some sort of dark cloud whenever Nastan got angry or sad or upset, but it was usually a pretty nice place to live if you’re one of his memories. But then, a mighty shadow appeared and locked the others away, but I managed to stay, for I had an important duty to complete for Nastan’s mind.”

“So Nastan can’t remember any good thoughts at all?” Wanderer questioned.

“No, he can,” Nastan the Matoran replied. “He remembers being a Toa of The Green. He remembers all of the good times he shared with the other Toa Shika, especially Akuna, and he also remembers other good things as well. But now, because of all of the shadow in his mind, he sees them through a mirror of evil, one that makes him think his old days as a light Toa were pathetic and weak. How misguided he has become!”

Finally, he withdrew the bucket and placed it on the ground. Now Wanderer had a better look at the silvery contents that were in the well.

To Wanderer, now that she had a better look at the contents of the well, it seemed to be nothing more than a bunch of mixed colors that made little-to-no sense to her at all. What was the point of looking at this stuff? She wondered.

Nastan the Matoran, however, seemed to know something she didn’t, for he muttered, “Not good enough,” and dumped the silver stuff back inside the well.

Curious, Wanderer asked, “What was that silvery stuff?”

“Some of Nastan’s most recent memories and thoughts,” said Nastan, who was now frowning again. “His thoughts have been very dark and evil nowadays and not worth taking out and examining.”

“Why do you take them out and examine them?” she asked.

“Because I act as a filter for Nastan,” Nastan the Matoran answered. “I collect his raw, untamed thoughts and memories and emotions and decide how Nastan should see them. These ones he has just recently acquired aren’t very good and I don’t want him to remember them, but even if I do toss them back in the well they will still stay in his mind forever until he forgets them.”

“Why will they?”

“Because memories are never truly gone, even if I get rid of them,” the Gre-Matoran sighed. “It would be cruel, I suppose, if whenever I tossed out any thoughts or memories that I did not like, he never remembered them, never even got a chance to decide for himself whether they were good or bad. But whatever the case,” he shook his head as he said, “it is not my place to debate moral issues like that. My job is to filter his memories and thoughts. Nothing more, nothing less.”

“You seemed to be a rather big thinker for someone who is allegedly not supposed to debate moral issues,” Wanderer observed.

“When you live in someone’s mind like I do, you have little else to do but think of philosophical things like that,” Nastan replied.

Now they were quiet and Wanderer simply watched the Matoran as he dropped his bucket in the well again and pulled out some more thoughts. This went on for some time, as he had a few other buckets as well that seemed to have came out of nowhere. Finally, he finished his job and picked up his buckets with the caution of someone holding a valuable treasure.

“Do you need any help?” asked Wanderer.

“No!” Nastan said in an alarmed voice. “You may spill them, and if you do, they will be lost forever and be totally irretrievable. I can’t risk losing them.”

With that, Nastan started to walk away. Wanderer watched him go, but the she had a sudden question and shouted, “Hey! What am I supposed to do here? How do I get out of this dark hole? Is there any way out at all?”

Right before he entered the shadows, Nastan looked over his shoulder and called back, “You must do what destiny tells you to do, Wanderer. I cannot give you any specific instructions beyond that because frankly I don’t know what you’re supposed to do, either.”

With a playful smile on his face that Wanderer thought must have been how Nastan smiled originally before becoming a Toa of Shadow, the memory of Nastan the Matoran disappeared into the shadows. Wanderer just stood there, her expression one of frustration and anger. What did he mean ‘do what destiny tells you to do’? How was she supposed to find out what destiny wanted her to do, anyway? This was her least favorite part of being a spirit wanderer. Her missions were never clear and almost always took a long time to figure out.

What, does he expect Destiny to come down from Paradise and tell me what to do? she thought indignantly. Mata Nui, he’s a fool!

She was so angry that she wanted to throw her spear at something. She glanced around and saw the barrier keeping Nastan’s good thoughts and memories from entering the Toa of Shadow’s mind. She tilted her head now, thinking. She wasn’t angry anymore, nor did she want to throw her spear at something to release her anger. In fact, she was now hatching a new plan, one that might just be what destiny wanted her to achieve after all.

I gotta break that barrier, Wanderer concluded. That must be what I am supposed to fix. Nastan isn’t supposed to be evil. He’s supposed to be good, so I, being a spirit wanderer, must fix Nastan, changing him back to normal, and then I will be teleported back home. I will use my spear and strike the barrier. Maybe that will shatter it.

She knew how dangerous that could be. What if she got hurt as a result of unleashing Nastan’s good thoughts and memories? What if she got killed, in fact? What if it she was not supposed to do it at all and she was doomed to an eternity of sorting memories, emotions, and thoughts with Nastan’s very own mini-me? Or what if she couldn’t break the barrier at all?

Gotta stop doubting and gotta start throwing, she decided, already aiming with her spear.

But before she threw the weapon, one final thought entered her mind: Was this right?

Is it in my place to turn Nastan back to normal? Wanderer questioned suddenly. He never asked me to do this. Maybe he’s happy this way. Maybe I should just find another way out of here.

She frowned, angry with herself. She hated thinking deep, philosophical thoughts. There just never seemed to be a definite answer to her and she was never sure if she did the right thing or not. She assumed that being inside of Nastan’s mind must be making her do a lot of thinking, just like what was happening to the memory Nastan.

Yet, I can’t help but feel that maybe Nastan will be better off being good again, she thought. I can’t see how anyone would want to be separated from their loved ones just in pursuit of evil. From what the others have told me, Nastan used to be a pretty nice guy. I think I would be doing Nastan - and his friends - a favor for doing this.

With that, she hefted her large weapon above her shoulder, aimed for the middle of the barrier and, with one mighty thrust of her strong arm, sent the long, thin spear flying into the barrier. It flew straight and true, hitting the wall exactly in the middle where she had been aiming for. It stuck and for a minute nothing happened. Have I failed? was the first thought to enter her mind as she watched the spear just sit there, as unmoving as a stone.

But then all of a sudden, cracks started to appear around the spear, spreading through the barrier. They gradually extended to the rest of the wall and light began to leak through in sparse amounts. Finally a large portion of the wall broke open, weakening the rest of it so that it exploded, unleashing light and energy upon Nastan’s mind.

Wanderer never even had a chance to move. The light hit her like a sledgehammer and she was sent flying away, going so fast and so hard that for a minute she was afraid that if she stopped she would fall and die. But instead she just kept flying away, farther and farther, faster and faster, until the long, green grass, tall, blooming trees, and other features of Nastan’s mind became little more than distant, indistinguishable little dots. . . .
 

-


Back in the physical world, Nastan was now lying curled up in a ball in the snow on the ground, unconscious and shivering slightly. The other Toa Shika had gathered around him now, unsure of what to do. Akuna was the most worried of the group, her green eyes reflecting her own helplessness of not being able to do anything to help him, but just the same she wanted to do something to help Nastan.

Please don’t be dead, Nastan, Akuna thought. I don’t know what I will do without you-

All of a sudden, Nastan’s armor began to slowly fade from pure, jet-black to his original blue-ish green color scheme right before their eyes. He also seemed to be becoming less intimidating-looking as well and there seemed to be a general evil leaving his form. In fact, it was only in a few minutes that he was all the way back to his old self again, while the other five Toa Shika all looked on, wondering what had happened, and why.

And then Wanderer suddenly appeared right next to the Toa Shika. She looked just as confused as they were and was glancing around the area, apparently trying to make sure she was still in Wyoko. Then she looked down and noticed Nastan had changed and instantly she knew what had happened.

“Ah ha!” Wanderer said triumphantly. “It worked!”

“What worked?” asked Akuna, taking her eyes off Nastan for the first time in minutes to look at the ghost.

“Well, it’s hard to explain,” said Wanderer. “So long story short, I ended up in Nastan’s mind somehow and destroyed a mental barrier keeping the light from returning to him, so he’s back to normal now.”

Akuna looked thunderstruck. “What? You . . . you healed him?”

“Well, yeah,” said Wanderer, nodding. “Wasn’t I supposed to do that?”

“I’m not mad,” Akuna said eagerly. “Oh, no, definitely not mad. I am just extremely happy and can’t believe what just happened.”

“Well, you might want to turn around,” Wanderer suggested, pointing over her shoulder. “Because what you will see will probably make you even happier, I think.”

Nastan was stirring now, moaning in pain, his eyes opening slightly. His eye color was back to its normal yellow color, although they had a dazed and somewhat confused look about them. He sat up and shook his head and said, “Whoa. . . . Where am I? How’d I get here?” He looked around and said, “And just why the Karzahni are we all covered in ashes and snow?”

“Nastan . . .” Akuna breathed, bending down next to him. “Can you . . . remember anything?”

“Yeah, I think I do,” said Nastan, putting his left hand on the back of his head, as if thinking. “Oddly enough I think I might have been able to shoot shadow and I distinctly remember being bound in uncomfortable metal bounds for a while there. I think it might have all been a dream, though.” He added. “A really weird dream, at that.”

“It . . . wasn’t a dream,” said Akuna, who was now looking like she could cry with happiness, though she was holding back the tears. “You were a Toa of Shadow for a while and we did have you tied up to keep you from harming Barilo.”

Nastan stared at her with wide eyes. “What? Really? Man that explains why my back hurts, although I still don’t know where I am.”

“We’ll explain later,” said Addis, who was smiling slightly. “We’re just glad to have you back.”

“You might also want to thank your savior,” Barilo added. “She’s standing right over- Hey!”

He noticed that Wanderer was starting to fade in and out of existence rapidly. The other five Toa Shika noticed this and all watched as the ghost began to disappear. Wanderer did not look frightened, though she did have an expression of disappointment and pride on her face even as she began to fade away.

“Looks like I finished what I came here for,” said Wanderer, though her voice was strangely distant and echo-y sounding, like when they had first met her. “Time for me to go home.”

“Wait!” said Akuna, looking alarmed. “I haven’t thanked you for healing Nastan!”

“Well . . . you don’t need . . . to . . .” Wanderer said with a slight smile on her face. “I’ll just . . . accept . . . a simple thank you. . . . Bye . . . you . . . six . . . were . . . interesting. . . .”

And with that, Wanderer disappeared into thin air, her spirit having wandered back to its original body. All of the Toa except for Nastan now felt strangely sad for seeing her go, despite knowing her for only a few hours. Especially Nonzra, who seemed to have taken a liking to the ghost despite how he snapped at her earlier. Nastan just looked plain confused, however, and said, “Um, who was that? Why was she a ghost? And why did she disappear?” He felt like he had just walked in the middle of an incredibly long and complex story that seemed to have too many questions and not enough answers to a new listener.

Akuna, however, just turned to look at Nastan and smiled. “We’ll explain later. For now, I think we gotta get going. . . .”

Suddenly, inexplicably, Akuna launched herself onto Nastan and hugged him very hard. Nastan was slightly taken aback by this, but he eventually hugged her back. The other Toa, all of whom had been standing by, had averted their eyes so as to give the two some privacy.

Finally, Akuna regained control of her emotions and tore herself away from Nastan, instead preferring to stare deeply into his eyes. Nastan returned the look, and for a few minutes they just looked at each other. But eventually, Addis began to get slightly impatient and said, as he extended a hand to Nastan, “We really gotta get going, like Akuna said. The Shodios may be nearby and we can’t afford to let them catch us off guard like this.”

“Uh, okay,” Nastan said, taking Addis’ hand and standing up. “I would like it if someone explained to me, though, what has been happening these past few days.”

Addis suddenly noticed that it was even darker out than usual, which meant that Wyoko’s weak sun had set for the day and now it was time for sleep.

“We’ll explain to you when we rest for the night,” he told Nastan. “For now, let’s find some place to sleep without being found by the Shodios. They’ll want us killd if they discover that Teivel and Jiki died.”

“Teivel and Jiki are dead?” Nastan repeated, thunderstruck. “Man I must’ve missed out on a lot!”

“Actually, you were there for the whole adventure,” Akuna said as she slipped one of her hands in his. “You just don’t remember it, I guess.”

So the now-completed Toa team restarted their journey to The Door, all of them informing Nastan of the events of the last few days. Each one of them was happy to have Nastan back on the team as a true, official member, but they also felt sad that, despite the fact she had not been a true Toa or a true member of the team, Wanderer was gone. They had all be begun to think of her as a friend in some small way, but now it seemed they had exchanged one new friend in for an old friend.

Yet I don’t doubt that we will meet her again someday, Chimoy thought as he walked behind the rest of the chattering Toa. We may meet her again as a ghost, or maybe as a physical being. Destiny is a funny and complex thing, somehow both at the same time. Perhaps if we return to the surface we may run into her again. That would be nice, and I think Nonzra would like that, even if he doesn’t want to admit it.
 

-


None of the Shodios had found the bodies of Jiki, Teivel, or the Toa Shika, although Rhatara did discover Jiki’s half-melted Kanohi Achi not too far from where they had started. They were now at the edge of the mountains again, and Tikcah was worried, since they had found no clue whatsoever of Teivel.

“We should give him a funeral, at least,” she suggested. “We may not have his body, but we can always just do it to show him respect.”

“I don’t think that would be a good idea,” said Jero. “We have six Toa on the loose, six Toa who may already be at The Door or are on their way to there. We didn’t find their bodies, so there is a high possibility that they somehow managed to escape.”

“Which means we’re going to have to find them,” said Rhatara, who was now seething in anger. “I shall be the leader of our team now. I was Teivel’s second-in-command, of course, and I say we go after the Shika instead of worrying about funerals for melted arrogant fools. Who’s with me?”

Ira and Jero nodded, but Tikcah didn’t at first. Finally, after some thinking, she said, “Okay, let’s do it. It is what Teivel would have wanted, had he still been alive. It is a god way to honor his memory, I think.”

“Good,” Rhatara said, cracking an evil grin. “Let’s go to Castle Kra and inform Turaga Krashadi of the deaths of our two teammates. It is most unfortunate that they had to die, but then that is life. Let’s go.”

As the four Shodios turned as one and began their slow descent down the hardened lava that covered the mountains, none of them heard the ever so faint sound of laughter being carried across the harsh, cold winds of the Nui Mountains, a laughter that would have been all too familiar to the four Shodios, one that would have sent chills even up their spines.
 

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#40 Offline TNTOS

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Posted Feb 25 2014 - 09:55 AM

Chapter 21: The River of Shadow


That night, sitting around a campfire (Nastan created some wood using his powers and they created a fire the old fashioned way when they realized that Addis’ plasma only melted, not burned, the wood) in a cave, the other five Toa Shika informed Nastan of all of the events that had taken place while the Toa had been evil.

Once they had finished telling him, Nastan shook his head and said in a grim tone, “I was pretty bad, wasn’t I, wanting to murder everyone like that?”

“Yes,” said Akuna, nodding. “You were practically unrecognizable. For a while I was afraid that you might even kill me!”

Nastan did a double take and stared at her with big eyes. “Kill you? Why, even if I was the biggest, most evil being in the entire universe I would never so much as harm you!”

“Well, you did want to kill me,” said Barilo. “I thought you had gotten over your dislike of me after we got here, but your shadow side apparently wanted to act upon those sour feelings of yours.”

Nastan looked into the fire for a minute or two, thinking. Then he said, “Well, I must tell you, Barilo, I do still distrust you a little. I would not want to kill you, certainly, but I have a hard time trusting you after what you almost did to me back on Shika Nui.”

There was an awkward silence as the six Toa Shika sat around the fire, all of them not knowing what they should say to that. Finally, Nastan spoke again, this time saying, “So this Wanderer girl. . . . Was she a good friend?”

“She was all right,” said Nonzra. “A little feisty, spoke her mind most of the time, but she was overall okay.”

“I wish I could have met her while I was in my right mind,” Nastan sighed. “She sounded really interesting. You don’t get to meet ghosts every day.”

And once again there was silence. Then Nastan said, “I tried to kill other people, too?”

“Uh huh,” said Chimoy, nodding. “You attempted to kill Jiki, or wanted to, at least. But the avalanche got her, you know, and now her body probably isn’t much more than a melted wreck.”

“So now we only have four Shodios to deal with,” said Nastan, counting his fingers. “Plus Mata Nui knows how many Kra-Matoran, and Turaga Krashadi himself. I like our odds.”

Barilo looked at him like he was crazy and Nastan looked back at him with a serious face until he broke into a grin and Barilo said, “I knew it.”

For the first time in a while, the six Toa Shika all laughed. It was loud laughter, despite their attempts to stifle it. They were all letting out all of the tension that had been building in the last few days and after they finished laughing they all felt pretty good, joked a bit more, and then decided to go to sleep before it got too late in the night.

“Well, good night, my friends,” Nastan said to them as he lay down. “See you all tomorrow.”

After saying good night to each other, they all went to sleep. Nastan and Akuna slept next to each other, one of Nastan’s arms around Akuna’s body. Though it was several degrees warmer outside than it was before – thanks to the eruption of the volcano and the lava that now surrounded the mountains – neither of the two wished to be separated again after all that they had gone through in recent days ever again.
 

-


The next morning Addis opened his eyes into the darkness of Wyoko. He looked around. The fire had gone out, with small plumes of smoke coming from the burnt ashes of the wood. The other Toa were all still asleep and he could tell it was slightly lighter outside, meaning it was day time, and that the Toa Shika had to get moving if they were to get to The Door first.

He sat up and shook his head. He had slept somewhat well last night, but had no time to get over his drowsiness. He decided to wake everybody up and that he did, shaking them all awake while saying “Rise and shine, everybody. We gotta get going.”

Soon all of the Toa were up and they were all still a little sleepy, though they knew that they would need to get a head start to The Door before the Shodios got there first. So after having a quick breakfast (Addis noticed that they were running out of food and decided that they would need to find some more supplies later) the Toa team was now on its way north, where they had last seen The Door.

Addis had told the rest of the team that they would need to stay off any and all roads and stay out of sight from any villages. He didn’t want them to have to fight and possibly lose against any of their enemies, and what with the deaths of Teivel and Jiki, the Shodios were more than likely to have armed each and every villager with at least a sword and spear, if not an entire weapons cache.

They would also have to be as quiet as possible and not talk very much, though Nastan found this hard to do because he still had so many questions to ask them about what they had been doing between the time he had been a Toa of Shadow and when he was turned back to normal again. So he mainly stuck by Akuna, whispering to her and asking her questions, while she happily answered in a whisper as well.

“So, you guys rode a giant bat to those mountains?” Nastan asked, trying to be as quiet as possible.

“Yes,” Akuna confirmed, nodding. “But let me tell you, it’s not fun. The Cracko kept floating up and down with every beat of its wings and it almost got me sick. I’d prefer to have a Kadin, though I don’t know how well those fly.”

Addis was in the front of the group, creating a rough path for the six Toa to walk through. He stepped on bushes and kicked aside stones, though he did all of it quietly for on the other side of the hill they were walking behind was a road and he wasn’t sure if there were any Kra-Matoran (or Shodios) on it. The Toa of Plasma was thinking of several things, mostly how they planned to get to The Door, since he did not doubt that they would need to get past the Shodios and several Kra-Matoran if they were to make their way there.

They’ve probably set up guards and sentries at The Door to stop us from getting through, Addis thought as he kicked a plant aside. Which means that we’ll need to make a distraction. But really, it all depends on how many Kra-Matoran are there and if any of the Shodios are there as well, so I can’t really talk about any sort of plan just yet, although planning is always good to do anyway.
 

-


Traveling through shadow was a disliked way of traveling by almost all of the Shodios, though especially Ira.

It wasn’t as though the ability was useless. No, one could get from Castle Kra to the Shahada Desert fairly quickly this way. But the downsides of it were that it drained a Shodios of much energy, plus they had a limit as to how far they could go (like they couldn’t travel from Castle Kra all the way to the Nui Mountains, for example). Also, the shadow travel gradually made one weaker, which made it a very difficult form of transportation.

Still, Rhatara was right. It was the quickest way to Castle Kra. Walking or taking a caravan would have taken hours and by then the Toa Shika might have already gotten to The Door and escaped. She still didn’t like shadow travel, but it made sense to use it now.

The ability to travel through shadow was actually a recent acquisition. About 300 years ago, Teivel had discovered, through rigorous training, a way to travel through shadow and reappear in virtually any area of Wyoko. Each one of the Shodios trained to do it and they all mastered it. They even tried to train a few Kra-Matoran how to use the ability, but one practice session alone told them that only they had the power to do it, lest they waste any more villagers on pointless, impossible tasks.

Since they couldn’t travel from the Nui Mountains to Castle Kra, they had gone beyond Wael and the Nui Mountains to a rocky plane near the village, where each one of the Shodios called upon their powers and were now soaring through what seemed like a weird pocket dimension of pure shadow.

Beside her, Rhatara was soaring so fast that he was almost a blur. Not that she could see him anyway in this darkness. Despite the fact that all of the Shodios had extremely excellent night vision, whenever they traveled by shadow they could not see through this place’s darkness. Jero had made several theories, such as perhaps it wasn’t really shadow at all but some other dark substance that merely reflected the user’s spirit, and since all of the Shodios had dark spirits, the place looked like darkness even though it really wasn’t which could explain why they couldn’t see in it. Ira didn’t think it made since at first, but now she was beginning to think that there might be some truth to it.

And just like that, the four Shodios landed on their feet in front of the draw bridge of Castle Kra. Ira felt a little disoriented, but she always felt that way after shadow traveling. Rhatara, on the other hand, didn’t seem to, or he was just hiding it well, for he was immediately standing up straight and barking orders to the Kra-Matoran on the walls above to let down the draw bridge, which they did.

Several minutes later the four remaining Shodios were running up the staircase to Turaga Krashadi’s tower, already planning on how they were going to break it to him that the Nui Mountains were covered in lava and that two Shodios had been killed by the Toa Shika.

As it turned out, they needn’t plan it at all, for when they reached the tower Turaga Krashadi simply looked at them and said, “Did everyone survive the eruption of the Nui Mountains or did a few of you die?”

“How did you know that?” Rhatara demanded, stunned.

“Simple. I can see the Nu Mountains from my tower here and the eruption was so bright and loud that I couldn’t help but look out of my window and see what was happening,” Krashadi replied. “Because Wyoko is such a dark place, I wondered where the Karzahni all of that light was coming from. I assume that the Toa Shika is somehow responsible for this?”

“We think so,” said Jero, nodding. “They were last spotted going into the Nui Mountains and we did not find any of their bodies in the hardened magma. So we think they’re still on the loose somewhere.”

Krashadi was scanning the group with careful eyes, however, and said, with a slight frown, “And where, exactly, are Teivel and Jiki? Were they caught in the eruption?”

“Yes,” Tikcah said through a rather emotion-filled voice. “We found Jiki’s mask and thought she was dead before the eruption, but we didn’t find Teivel and we . . . we. . . .”

“. . . Think he’s dead,” Ira finished for her sister. “No one could have survived that.”

“Ah, but you didn’t find a body, did you?” Krashadi said sharply.

“Yes,” Jero said in exasperation. “But that doesn’t mean he is still alive. His corpse may have been melted by the lava and fire. It would be totally illogical for him to have survived somehow.”

Krashadi jumped off his chair and started to pace around the room, his wooden staff of office making a soft thud as it hit the stone floor. “Teivel isn’t a normal Toa of Shadow. He may still be alive.”

“But how?” Jero roared angrily. “There is no logical way for him to have survived getting melted alive! No way at all!”

“Jero, you are a man of logic, true,” said Krashadi, nodding. “But sometimes you fail to see things that I and others do. The Great Spirit Mata Nui designed Teivel last of all of us and I know for certain that he made him for a special purpose. He could not die. Not yet, at least.”

“Turaga, as much as I may dislike Jero, he is right,” said Rhatara. “Not even Teivel could have survived. What makes him so ‘special,’ anyway? Explain yourself, elder.”

“Or perhaps I should explain,” came a dark, rebounding voice that seemed to come from the very foundation of the castle itself.

“Teivel?” Tikcah asked hopefully, looking around the chamber with the rest of them. “Is that . . . you?”

“Yes, it is I, Tikcah,” the booming voice came again. “And I did survive the eruption, unlike poor Jiki. It is a . . . unique experience to feel one’s very own body melt as the being lives itself still lives on. But it is not an experience I wish to go through again anytime soon.”

“Show yourself, Teivel!” Rhatara shouted as he brandished his chain link. “If you are alive, why not show your true form instead of hiding in the shadows like a common thief?”

Teivel’s voice laughed, yet it sounded like a painful laugh. “Ah, Rhatara, isn’t that what we all are doing now? We practically live in shadow itself. Wyoko is the epitome of shadow. We hide in it, stalk our enemies in it. Even the Toa Shika has learned to use it. So don’t compare me to a common thief, shadow spit.

“But if you must see me,” he continued, “then who am I to deny my dear brother such an innocent request?”

Suddenly, in the corner of the room the shadows began swirling and swirling, faster and faster like a whirl pool. At first it seemed like a portal was opening, but then the shadow began to take shape, the shape of a familiar Toa of Shadow, becoming solid as the shadows splashed and zipped like an artist painting on a canvas. Finally, after several tense minutes, Teivel stood in all his evil, though he looked very different now, and in a very frightening way.

His Mask of Shape Shifting was horribly melted, almost unrecognizably in some places, while the mouth area had been burned off, revealing his skeleton-like lower jaw. His arm, while it still had fingers and the general shape of a limb, was a skeleton of what it originally was and looked burnt in several places. His left arm seemed to have taken the most damage, because the shoulder armor seemed to have been melted onto his body and he didn’t seem to have the ability to move it anymore.

His legs were also skeletal, though much less so than his right arm, and his feet had been melted into blobs that were unrecognizable as the body parts they were supposed to be. And the spikes on his back, while a few of them looked normal, but the majority of them were melted, or burned off entirely. All in all, he looked like a grotesque skeleton that had been burned and was back from the dead.

“Oh . . . my. . . .” Tikcah gasped, falling into Rhatara’s arms, though she did not faint.

“Mata Nui.. . .” Jero muttered as he looked at his brother.

Rhatara’s mouth was just hanging open as his dark eyes took in the bizarre form of Teivel.

“What happened to you, Teivel?” Ira asked in a very terrified-sounding voice. “I mean, what happened to your whole form?”

Teivel smiled, which looked extremely ugly and painful in that form as he said, “Well, the Great Spirit Mata Nui gave me another power, one which I shall explain to you all right now.

“Years ago, when we were first created by the Great Spirit himself,” he paused here and coughed a bit before moving on, “I was given a special ability, one that Mata Nui thought would come in useful: The ability to recreated my body out of shadow should it ever be destroyed totally or if I should die.

“Now I’ve never had to use this power before, because I have never died, nor has my body ever been totally and utterly destroyed until now. You see, right before my the lava melted my body, my spirit was thrown from it into a endless dimension of shadow, where I waited until a few hours, for that is how long I must wait for my power to work, apparently.

“Then I summoned the shadow around me to recreate my body. The problem is, my power truly recreates my body the exact same way it was before I got killed. So as you can no doubt tell, this is how my body looked as it got melted by the lava of the Nui Mountains. And I still feel the pain of the magma in my veins, too, so it isn’t a fun power to play with unlike, say, shadow travel.”

For a while, none of the beings in the room spoke. They all just stared at Teivel with horrified expressions on their faces. All of them except for Krashadi, who had a thoughtful-looking expression on his face as if thinking about this recent revelation.

Finally, Rhatara found his tongue and hissed, “How come Mata Nui gave you that power, Teivel? What makes you so special? Is it just because you’re the leader or something?”

“Be quiet, Rhatara, my impatient brother,” Teivel growled lowly. “Or I will kill you horribly. As for why he gave me this power, I can only assume he was going to rely on me for some special task, perhaps to protect the universe. It would make sense. After all, if I cannot truly die, then I would be the ultimate defender of the universe. Nothing would be able to defeat me, at least for good. They would just have to keep striking me dead again and again until I get bored enough with them to end their miserable lives. He didn’t give you morons this power because he probably doesn’t trust you guys.”

“Teivel, you are no better than us,” Jero snapped. “And I thought Mata Nui doesn’t show favoritism?”

Teivel chuckled and said, “If he didn’t show favoritism, the Matoran would not be held up so highly in his esteem. No, they would be just as hated and despised as Zyglak if he did not favor them over the other species of this world.”

The mutilated Toa of Shadow paused, as if lost in thought, and then added, “Then perhaps, if I am supposed to protect the universe, maybe the Toa Shika is just hopelessly fighting against destiny, which means that they will surely die.”

“Enough,” Krashadi said abruptly, stepping in between the five Toa of Shadow. “While you power to spontaneously regenerate is remarkable, Teivel, I must inform you all that even as we speak the Toa Shika may be out there, heading toward The Door. And if they get there first, they will surely lock us in here, and whatever you destiny may be, Teivel, you may never get a chance to fulfill it if that happens.”

“Then let’s send word all over Wyoko to keep their eyes open for any sign of the Toa Shika,” Teivel ordered, standing up tall now. “Give all villages everywhere the permission to use lethal force against the Toa Shika if they find them. Those pesky Toa have been at large for far too long now and have been delaying our - my - inevitable destiny. Today they will be crushed!”
 

-


Nastan and Akuna were holding hands as they walked, mostly staying behind the others just to be alone. They were talking to each other and walking very close, though they were mostly talking about what they would do once they got back to Shika Nui.

If we get back, Akuna thought as she listened to Nastan talking. She sort of had a more realistic view of things compared to Nastan, but she enjoyed listening to him talk anyway, since it had been so long since she had heard him say a positive thing.

“So I say we’re gonna need to sneak through the Dark Hunters’ fortress,” said Nastan, slipping his hand out of hers and putting his arm her shoulder and pulling her close. “We may need to run for it, you know, blasting any Dark Hunters we run across out of our way. After that I think we should reconnect with Jokao and Turaga Joha. Then after that, we should lead a rebellion against the Dark Hunters.“

Akuna knew who Jokao was. Jokao was a Ta-Matoran who had traveled with the Toa Shika back on Shika Nui and had been something of a friend to them, although he did not trust Barilo much, mostly because of Barilo’s attempted murder on Nastan. Last Akuna saw, he and Joha had left to visit one of the villages back on the surface, but she wasn’t sure if the two were still alive or not.

“Nastan,” said Akuna, looking up at the tall, slightly gangling Toa. “What if Joha and Jokao aren’t, well, alive? I mean, last we saw, the Dark Hunters had killed Makuta Hajax. With him out of the way I kind of doubt that the Dark Hunters would leave them alive unless all of them are morons.”

“Well, Joha was a brave Toa back in his day and Jokao is a pretty capable Matoran himself,” Nastan said encouragingly to her. “Why, it wouldn’t surprise me if Joha’s already formed a resistance and has managed to keep the Dark Hunters at bay.”

Akuna nodded, and then another thought came to mind as she stepped over a rock. “I do wonder, though, what is keeping the Dark Hunters from just barging into Wyoko. I mean, they have the numbers to force The Door open if it won’t budge, but we haven’t heard or seen any Dark Hunters down here since we arrived. Surely they would have sent a party of Dark Hunters to come down here and hunt us all down by now?”

“Like I said, Joha and Jokao must be giving them loads of trouble up there,” said Nastan, pointing skyward with his index finger. “Must be giving them enough trouble to distract them from coming down here after us.”

“Maybe,” Akuna said as she rested her head on his shoulder. She thought of the recent events of the past few days, and then suddenly said, “Barilo!”

“Somebody say my name?” Barilo called back, looking over his shoulder.

“No,” Akuna replied, shaking her head. “We’re just talking.”

“Okay,” said the Toa of Gravity and he went right back to walking again.

“Why’d you say his name?” Nastan asked in a whisper with more than a hint of curiosity in his voice.

“Oh, it’s just, well,” she said, trying to find the words. “I mean, I have to ask. . . .”

“Yeah, what?” said Nastan, looking down at her.

“Back when you were a Toa of Shadow, you hated Barilo with a fiery passion and always talked of killing him,” Akuna said, so quickly that one word tumbled over into the next. “When we released you from your straps you tried to kill him then! I’ve just been wondering if your shadow self was just showing the anger you have hidden about Barilo. You know, when he tried to kill you back on Shika Nui?”

Nastan’s warm and friendly smile suddenly faded, and when he spoke next, it was in a much more serious tone than before. “I . . . don’t know, Akuna. I would like to say that I trust him, but I think you are right. Ever since he tried to kill me back on Shika Nui I’ve had this deep anger boiling up in my heart, but I tried to hold it back because I didn’t want to scare you or any of the other Toa with my violent anger. My shadow side must have shown it without restraint if what you and the others have told me is true.”

He sighed heavily and told her, “Akuna, it isn’t easy to trust your friend right after they’ve tried to murder you. Even if it was an accident, you begin to keep a close eye on him just in case he snaps again. It’s a kind of thing that needs to be worked on, a kind of trust problem that needs both people involved to work it out. It just doesn’t go away like the wind.”

Akuna was starting to feel slightly ashamed of bringing up Barilo in the first place. She didn’t mean to make Nastan act all serious and depressed and frankly he just wasn’t acting at all like his usual cheery and upbeat self which she had seen so little of in the past few days.

“Nastan, I shouldn’t have brought this up,” Akuna said quickly. “This is an issue you and Barilo need to sort out. I probably shouldn’t have said anything in the first place if it’s going to make you all depressed and everything. Let’s drop it.”

But then, to her amazement and delight, Nastan hugged her tighter than before in a warm embrace with that same smile on his face that she loved. And then he said to her, “Akuna, don’t feel sorry. I was meaning to talk about it myself, too, though I was hoping I wouldn’t have to be the one to bring it up. But you’re right, I guess. Barilo and I will have to figure it all out, though I don’t know when. . . .”

They hadn’t realized everyone that had stopped walking in front of them and the two lovers accidently walked into Barilo, nearly falling over before realizing what was happening. Barilo turned around and saw the two lying on the ground, slightly shaken.

“What were you two lovebirds doing?” Barilo asked. “You should watch where you’re walking, you know!”

Nastan felt his temper flare slightly and said, “Well, if you hadn’t been standing there like a brainless, idiotic brakas monkey, then maybe that wouldn’t have happened!”

Akuna, anticipating an argument and name-calling contest, quickly helped both herself and Nastan up and said, “So, uh, why’d everyone stop, Barilo?” She looked over his shoulder and saw Addis, Chimoy, and Nonzra looking down at something. “What are they looking at?”

Barilo and Nastan glared at each other for a minute before the Toa of Gravity broke his gaze from the Toa of The Green and turned to Akuna, saying, “Well, it’s pretty amazing and pretty weird at the same time. Go and look for yourself.”

Puzzled, Akuna and Nastan walked past Barilo and then stood beside Chimoy. Akuna gasped.

It was a river . . . of shadow? It looked like extremely black water, yet at the same time she could tell that it was pure shadow. It was rushing like water and it sounded almost exactly like a river, dashing against rocks and sandy beaches along its coastline. She could not see what was beneath the surface, but she really wasn’t interested in what was under the shadow. No, what she was interested in was what was on the river.

It was a large ship with four paddles sticking out of both sides. It had a large mast with Turaga Krashadi’s mask on it, while the six Shodios’ masks dotted its surface. It was painted completely black and almost indistinguishable from the rest of the river save for the name of the boat, which was written on the side in large, blood red letters that read, The Endless Shade. All in all, the boat looked big enough for six Toa to ride on, if that was what Addis was thinking of using it for.

“Wow!” Nastan said excitedly. “A boat . . . I’ve always wanted a boat of my own!”

“How’d you find this?” Akuna asked Addis.

“Just stumbled upon it right here,” Addis replied. “I was just walking along when I heard what sounded like rushing water and then I saw the boat and the river of shadow just sitting there. I don’t see any Kra-Matoran around and the boat looks pretty beat-up and old, so maybe it’s abandoned which means we can use it to our advantage.” He gestured to the rest of the Toa Shika and said, “Let’s go down to the dock and check it out!”

The six Toa climbed carefully but quickly down the hill, since all of the Toa were interested in the ship. In minutes they had managed to reach the ground and were already moving across the worn, beat-up dock that the ship was tied down to. The ship looked old but still seaworthy, although none of the Toa Shika knew how to pilot a boat.

“Perhaps four of us should just go below deck and row it,” Chimoy suggested. “I don’t feel a wind strong enough to move that huge sail.”

“Sounds good to me,” Addis said, nodding. “Okay, so four of us will be below deck and row, while two of us will stay topside and keep an eye out for any Kra-Matoran. Everybody got that?”

“Yeah,” the other five Toa said in unison.

“Good,” said Addis, nodding. “Chimoy, Nastan, Nonzra, and I will row the ship, while you two, Akuna and Barilo, will stay topside and warn us to keep a look out for any Kra-Matoran, okay?”

“Why can’t I row with you guys?” asked Akuna, feeling slightly offended. “Do you think I’m not strong enough to move the oars or something?”

“Okay, you can,” Addis snapped, a little more harshly than he intended. “Nastan and Barilo will keep a look out while you stay with us, rowing the oars. Now let’s get in. This boat may lead us to The Door, since I do remember seeing a river near the forest that surrounds The Door. Hopefully this is the same one.”

So the six Toa all climbed onto the ship, Addis, Nonzra, Akuna, and Chimoy heading below deck, while Nastan and Barilo stayed topside. Nastan quickly untied the rope and then pushed the ship away from the dock and soon the vessel was sailing gently down the wide river, hopefully toward The Door and toward their home.
 

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