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Chronicles of the Cold Hearted

Bionicle Fanfic Epic Chronicle

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#1 Offline Nato The Traveler

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Posted Jul 28 2014 - 12:15 AM

A Bionicle Epic chronicling the life journey of Icthilos,the "cold-hearted" Toa of Ice, who, after forsaking the Toa code and setting out on a vengeful quest agaisnt the Dark Hunters who wiped out the rest of his Toa team, struggles for survival on the newly reformed Spherus Magna. 


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Chronicles of the Cold Hearted

Part 1 – New World

“Well, we’re out. Now what?” Takadox asked mockingly, glaring across the boat at Icthilos, who was still trying to get water out of his ear. Above them, the mighty, several-million-foot tall form of the Mata Nui robot, now ruled by Makuta, rocketed into the sky. Debris still rained down into the oceans of Aqua Magna, sending up huge plumes of water than then cascaded back down, re-flooding the boat that the pair of them had only just managed to bail out.

“I said…” Takadox began again, impatience twisting his features, his voice muffled slightly by the breathing apparatus covering his pincered mouth.

“I heard you,” Icthilos replied distractedly, “I just don’t care about what you’re saying.”

“For a Toa, you’re really quite rude, you know that? You have some serious attitude problems.” Takadox said conceitedly, folding his multi-joined arms and glaring at him with his bulbous red eyes.

Icthilos didn’t meet his gaze. He’d seen the hypnosis ability that Takadox was capable of, when he’d ordered their Matoran guide to drown himself after it had become clear that there weren’t enough provisions left for all three of them, and he didn’t want to let Takadox try to do something similar to him.

“You can talk about attitude,” Icthilos countered, “as I recall, you sold out your allies to the Makuta. You see where your efforts got everyone.” He pointed to the receding form of the robot.

“You aren’t seriously blaming me for this?!” Takadox exploded angrily. “That’s low, even for you. And from what I’ve seen so far, you’re pretty low.”

“I’m so low, in fact, that your insults really don’t effect me.” Icthilos scowled, “Or maybe I’m still ignoring you.”

Before Takadox could come up with a comeback, a chunk of something indiscernible spiralled downwards and ploughed into the water nearby, generating a wave that buffeted the boat, threatening to capsize it. “Remind me why I agreed to this!” Takadox spat, unfolding his arms and grabbing onto the sides of the boat to avoid getting tipped out.

“You were desperate.” Icthilos replied evenly, reflecting on the events that had led up to this. Chasing up some rumours he’d heard on Metru Nui about a tunnel network that had once led from the surface island of Mata Nui to the submerged interior of the robot, he’d tracked down a Po-Matoran who’d been willing to lead him through them in the hopes of escaping the “Makutaverse”.

He’d discretely let rumours circulate about his plan, in the hopes that others may join him, but the only one who’d shown up was Takadox, fleeing from those who wanted him dead.

Strangely enough, there were a lot of people who wanted Takadox dead.

The journey had been a success, and they’d made it out through some orifice in the face of the robot – the nose maybe, or perhaps the mouth – but after falling all the way to the surface below, the boat had nearly been destroyed, and most of the food and provisions had been lost. It had only been thanks to the gallons of water raining down from the sky, and Icthilos’ own ice powers that they’d survived the fall at all.

It had been then that Takadox had persuaded the terrified, desperate Matoran to commit suicide, and while he certainly hadn’t agreed with the idea, Icthilos had let it happen. He owed no loyalty to the Matoran anymore. He owed loyalty to no one.

“So, you know my story…” Takadox tried to change the subject, “but I know nothing about you. You’re a rogue Toa of Ice, that much is obvious, but Toa don’t go rogue without reason. What’s yours? And, come to think of it, why are your Toa tools built into your armour?”

“My team were wiped out by Dark Hunters and I couldn’t do anything to help them.” Icthilos sighed. It seemed he might be stuck with Takadox for a while, so there was no point in trying to keep secrets from him. “I lost my weapon; it was shattered in the battle, and couldn’t channel enough of my power without it to be of any use. I barely escaped with my life, and they all lost theirs. I found some friendly Nyrah Ghosts and had my sword and shield built into gauntlets that I could wear over my armour, so that I wouldn’t lose them again. One day, I intend to destroy the Dark Hunters, all of them, for what happened to my team.”

“Wow, that’s deep.” Takadox said mockingly, peering about at the endless blue expanse lapping around them. “There’s no landmasses on this planet.” He said pointedly, ripping off his breathing mask. “I might go for a little swim.” He managed to wheeze, before diving over the side.

Icthilos watched the creep from the deep swim away beneath the boat, and sighed to himself. A few centuries ago, he never would have dreamed that he would be consorting with the likes of him. But then again, he never would have dreamed that the entire universe was actually contained within a giant robot, or that Makuta would somehow take control of said robot. How time changed one’s perceptions of what was possible…

* * *

Hovering in the water deep below the boat, Takadox seethed with anger. He was used to being in control, manipulating every situation and individual to suit his purposes, yet here he was relying on some vengeful rogue Toa, stuck on a largely unfamiliar planet with little to know hope of escape. He was about as far as one could be from controlling the situation.

He swum downwards, enjoying the freedom of being able to go where he wished, at least for now. Sooner or later, he would have to return to the boat and formulate a plan. The small amount of food they still had wouldn’t last forever, and he had no idea where to find more on this planet. They needed to make what little they had last for as long as possible.

Maybe if Icthilos were to meet with some kind of unfortunate accident? But Takadox knew he would need some kind of weapon to stand even a slim chance of success, and right now, he had nothing. Something glittered in the silt and mud below him, and kicked down to get a better look. It was their dead Matoran guide, who’d sunk like the stone whose element he represented. But what was that in his pack?

Takadox dug through it and found a long jagged knife. Perfect. Tucking it into the back of his armour, where it hopefully wouldn’t be noticed, Takadox began the journey back up towards the surface.

Now he just needed to wait until the right moment.

* * *

Time passed, and it was Takadox, more attuned to the tides and currents of the water, who was the first to realise that something was happening. The giant planet in the distance was moving towards them. “No.” Icthilos leant forwards where he sat, frowning at the encroaching celestial mass. “We’re getting closer to it.” Sure enough, Aqua Magna was moving inexorably closer to Bara Magna. And Bota Magna, hovering in the distant beyond Bara Magna, silhouetted by glowing stars, was moving too, it seemed. But how? Why?

Almost as soon as it began, the movement slowed, and stopped, and the planets began to drift once more. “Well…” Takadox said hesitantly after a moment, “that was…” A shuddering shockwave rocked the planet, and it began to move once more, much faster, plummeting from the sky towards where, they now saw, the Makuta robot was facing off against another, slightly smaller machine.

“What’s going on?!” Takadox shrieked, completely losing it. This situation was so far beyond his control it defied belief. One giant robot had been a chilling revelation, but now there were two of them? And they were fighting? The smaller robot was clearly losing, and now stood, head down and shoulders hunched, smoke pouring from ragged tears in its battered, dusty armour.

Then, abruptly, it lurched forward, shoving Makuta backwards, right into the path of a planetary fragment that must have broken off one of the falling celestial bodies.

The impact rocked Makuta’s stolen body, and his head crumpled in an explosion of divine white light. It fell, and the planet below was rocked by the impact. And then the two planets slammed into Bara Magna, and the world rocked once more. Icthilos threw his head down as the ocean churned beneath them, and bit back a curse as Takadox went flying, soaring past his head.     

When the waters settled and Icthilos brought himself to open his eyes, he was confronted by the sight of a wave of golden energy that washed over the newly reformed planet, healing it. Takadox, bobbing in the water nearby, tore off his breath mask as his body began to change, healing the mutations that the pit had cursed him with. Icthilos helped him back on board, and the pair of them stared out across the ocean to see, surprisingly, a shoreline now in sight. “What just happened?” Takadox croaked, examining his new/old body.

“I have no idea, but I think it’s time we found out.” Icthilos declared, digging one of the oars out from under the seat and tossing it to Takadox. He took the other for himself, and together, the two outcasts set off towards the shore of the new world.

To be continued…      

Edited by NatoGreavesy, Oct 13 2014 - 12:49 AM.

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#2 Offline Nato The Traveler

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Posted Jul 29 2014 - 09:03 PM

Chronicles of the Cold Hearted

Part 2 – Landfall

Irritatingly for Takadox, Icthilos didn’t sleep the entire night they were out on the water. He just sat there, staring on ahead, waiting and watching. They were on a new planet, and neither of them knew what might happen next, and the rogue Toa clearly wasn’t taking any chances.

With morning came an unexpected sight. An immense fortress that hadn’t been there the evening before had sprung up on the cliffs of the shoreline, and the sight of running figures could be seen, as well as a strange glowing red light. “Uh, what is that?” Takadox said uncomfortably. “On second thoughts, I don’t want to find out. Can we put ashore somewhere away from there? Preferably very far away?”

Icthilos pushed past him and moved to the front of the boat, peering up at the castle, squinting past the brilliant red light. Those figures looked a little like… Skakdi. He cursed and lowered the hand he’d been using to shield his eyes. “Fine.” He said, without turning. Takadox didn’t respond, and he instead heard the hissing of protosteel blade been drawn. He didn’t know where Takadox had found a knife, but he had a pretty good idea of what he intended to do with it.

Icthilos spun to face the former Barraki Warlord and activated the shield built into his left gauntlet. It sprung out and unfolded to its full size, catching and deflecting the dagger before it got close to Icthilos. The Toa snapped out his right fist and caught Takadox under the chin, stunning him. “Get off my boat.” Icthilos growled, swinging his shield into Takadox, knocking him overboard, where he floundered in the water, suddenly remembering that he could no longer breathe below the surface.

Icthilos ignored his splashing and protests, and rowed on towards the beach, putting ashore well away from the castle. He wanted to find out what was going on, but he was cautious by nature. He would scout the area before exploring. He dragged the boat away, gathered the remaining provisions into his pack, and set off down the beach, clambering swiftly over the rocky slopes. After a while, he heard the sound of someone, or something, approaching, and leapt behind an outcropping, activating his Kanohi Mask of Obscurity out of habit.

His mask was rather unique. Its power wasn’t really illusion, or camouflage, or invisibility. Invisibility rendered the user unable to be seen, whereas Icthilos’ mask hid him from ever sense except sight, which was, in his opinion, even better. To compensate for the fact that he could still be seen, his shield had a built-in Rhotuka spinner of blindness.  

A small white figure, alone and unarmed, stumbled past, and Icthilos stepped out behind him, catching his shoulder and spinning him onto his back, pinning him to the ground with just his booted foot. “Who are you?” he demanded.

“I’m Metus.” The figure stammered, “Come on, we can strike a deal…”

“What are you?” At first glance, he looked like some kind of Matoran, but he wasn’t wearing a mask. Instead, he wore some kind of helmet that only covered the upper half of his face.

“I’m an Agori.” Metus said hesitantly, confusion twisting his features. “You do know what an Agori is, right?”

“No. I don’t.” Icthilos released the struggling Agori, whatever the heck that meant. At a guess, it was probably what equated to a Matoran on this barren rock of a planet. Well, it wasn’t a barren rock anymore, but it had been… “Now get out of here.” Metus didn’t need asking twice. He scampered away like a startled rahi rodent.

Icthilos set off once more, and it wasn’t too much longer before he ran into yet another of the Agori beings, this one clad in a metallic orange armour. “Who are you?” the Agori said, clearly surprised to encounter anyone else out here. “I’m Icthilos. Let’s just say I’m new here and leave it at that.”

“Ah, you must be one of the newcomers from inside the giant robot. I’m Sahmad. Welcome to Bara Magna. Now, if you don’t mind, I have somewhere to go.”

“You seem very sure of yourself.” Icthilos observed. “I just ran into a friend of yours before. He came across as a little panicky. Why would that be?”

“What friend?” Sahmad frowned, concern flickering across his helmeted features.

 “He called himself Metus.”

“Oh, him. He’s not much of a fighter. He ran from a monster we were pursuing. It’s dead now.” And with that, Sahmad headed off once more. Icthilos let him go. He’d recognised a little of himself in Sahmad, and something more. Where Icthilos was still pursuing his goal, it appeared that Sahmad had achieved his. Something about the way he carried himself, his bearing, made it clear that he’d gotten his revenge, and liked it.

Suppressing a grimace, Icthilos skimmed over the rocks and stood high atop an outcropping that afforded a view of the fortress before him. Bodies lay all about, and they most definitely belonged to Skakdi.

A huge organic creature with shining golden skin and acidic green eyes, nearly twelve foot tall, towered over them, and seemed to be undergoing the tedious process of clearing up the corpses. “I see you there, Toa of Ice.” It boomed, its eerie voice echoing both in the air and within Icthilos’ own mind. “Perhaps you could come down here and join me. I feel we have much to discuss.”   

To be continued…      

Edited by NatoGreavesy, Oct 13 2014 - 12:49 AM.

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#3 Offline Nato The Traveler

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Posted Aug 01 2014 - 04:01 AM

Chronicles of the Cold Hearted

Part 3 – Gold

“…much to discuss.” Icthilos didn’t like the sound of that. The creature spoke as if it knew him, but he definitely would have remembered meeting a being as... majestic, as this one. Majestic wasn’t a word Icthilos often used, but in this circumstance, it fit. As he made his way down the rocky, corpse-strewn slopes, he got a closer look at the immense creature.

Twelve feet tall, with rippling muscles and shining golden skin, the creature appeared to be entirely organic, but there was still something unnatural about it. The face was handsome, in a strange way, but there was something eerily serpentine about it, and the eyes burned with a caustic green light.

Distracted, Icthilos almost didn’t notice something that skittered across the rocks and flung itself at him. He spun, activating his shield and slamming the creature in midair. It hissed at him, dripping spines splitting through the skin of its scaly body. It hit the ground and got straight back up, a barbed tongue flicking from between its multi-jawed mouth.

It threw itself at him, fangs snapping, and this time he raised his right hand, activating the mechanism that caused his blade to extend from his wrist like a sword blade, impaling the nightmarish thing in midair. It twitched, let out a piercing shriek, and went limp. Answering shrieks and calls echoed out from different directions nearby, some distant, some unnervingly close.

Icthilos flicked the body off his blade and hurried down the rocks. He wasn’t going to stick around if more of those creatures were roaming around. “What was that thing?” he snapped, “and what are you, come to think of it.”

“I am what I am,” the golden being replied cryptically, “Teridax thought I was his creation, his pet, but he was wrong. I am my own being, and I will carve out my own empire.”

“Building an empire, huh?” Icthilos thought that over. “Well, it’s a pretty big planet. I wish you luck. Now, my other question?”

“I have the power to see your innermost desires, and cause the dreams of those around me to come to life. These Skakdi, my people, lost their sanity in a recent… unfortunate incident. Their maddened dreams were brought to life by my power, and now their nightmares given flesh roam the surface of this new world, free to do as they please, out of my control.”

“You’ve been here, what, one day and you’ve already released a horde of nightmare monsters on the world? Well done.” Icthilos said mockingly. “You might as well let them conquer this world for you, which would give you time to clean up this mess and rebuild your fortress or something productive like that.”

“That isn’t a bad plan.” The golden creature admitted, and the ruined fortress wavered, before being suddenly reforming into solid stone once more. All of the rubble strewn across the ground was suddenly gone. “You thought of that, and I fed on your thought. Such is my power.” The creature intoned, sensing Icthilos’ surprise.

“Nice trick, but stay out of my head.” Icthilos snapped. “I’m not mad, but my head has a lot more demons in it than the one I saw here.”

“You have no dreams.” The creature suddenly said, “They haven’t been taken from you, like those of my fallen here… You let them go. You gave up hope, and sacrificed your ambitions, hopes and dreams for one burning desire. You want revenge. You want to destroy the Dark Hunters for what they did. That’s very interesting.”

“I said get out of my head.” Icthilos snarled through gritted teeth. “Otherwise I’ll give you some more monsters to deal with. Why did you call me down here?”

“The same reason you ventured to this forgotten shore. Curiosity. I wanted to know who, or what, had ventured into my new realm. You are a most intriguing specimen, but you are no use as a thrall. I have need of new Toa – mine escaped my control during the battle and are likely long gone by now – but I feel that you are more use to me acting of your own will.”

“What makes you think I’d help a creature like you?” Icthilos challenged.

“I know where the Dark Hunters have gone on this planet. I know where you can find them. I can tell you where to get your revenge. For a price, of course.”

“What price?” Icthilos asked.

“A dream. I want you to imagine something for me. Will my Skakdi back to life. Make them serve me once more. Then I will give you the information you need, and I will have the army I want. That seems a reasonable trade off, doesn’t it?”

“Fine. So I just have to picture these ugly guys being alive, do I? Seems easy enough.”

“Don’t just picture it. See it. Don’t just think it will happen. Know it.”

“Here goes…” Icthilos let that single thought fill his mind, of the dead Skakdi littering the ground rising to their feet, resuming their barbaric lives. And they did just that. One by one, the dead rose to their feet, picked up their weapons, and all turned to point them at Icthilos, muttering angrily among themselves. Clearly, they didn’t remember dying.

“Call off your men,” Icthilos warned, “or I’ll dream them all back to death. We had a deal.”

“So we did.” The golden being said, waving its arm. The Skakdi stood down and slowly wandered back into their rebuilt fortress. “Now, to uphold my end. I need you to think of something for me. A map, showing you the way to your heart’s utmost desire…”

“Easy.” Icthilos growled.

“So it would seem.” The golden being mused, handing the rogue Toa a map that had just materialised in his hand. “The Dark Hunters have gathered there, in the desert, but I would suggest you avoid crossing directly towards them. They aren’t the only type of Hunters living in that desert.”

“I can handle myself.”  Icthilos replied coldly, snatching the map from him and setting off back up the slope. “I’ve survived a lot worse than a desert.”

“You’ve never been through a desert quite like this one.” The creature whispered under its breath, its voice like a whisper of the wind over the desert sands. “This isn’t your world…” The creature turned and headed back into its mighty fortress, the doors sealing shut behind it, leaving no sign of the battle that had raged here only an hour before. All that remained were the golden being’s final words echoing across the landscape.

“…it’s mine!”

To be continued…      

Edited by NatoGreavesy, Oct 13 2014 - 12:50 AM.

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#4 Offline Nato The Traveler

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Posted Aug 04 2014 - 01:01 AM

Chronicles of the Cold Hearted

Part 4 – Sand and Stone

Even now that it was whole once more, there seemed to be an awful lot of desert on Spherus Magna. It was a big planet, to be sure, and Icthilos hadn’t come close to seeing it all yet, but the sheer amount of desert where he was now had him annoyed. He preferred the cold, not the hot and dry. Arid conditions weakened his power, and strengthened his irritable temperament, which was a bad combination.

The sun – only one sun, he noticed – beat down from overhead, glaringly bright. He shaded his eyes with his hand and looked out across the sprawling dunes, spotting something glinting in the distance, accompanied by a growing plume of dust. Before he could get a better look, the dune beneath him shifted as something hauled itself out from beneath the sands, issuing a deafening screech.

Icthilos stumbled back, falling backwards down the dune he’d just climbed. Blinking in the sunlight, he made out the silhouette of his attacker, a nightmarish beast with multi-pincered jaws, raising a wicked looking spear/sword over its head as it roared a challenge down at him. It’s wide, clawed feet anchored it to the ground, allowing it to stand steady on the uneven shifting sands.

Icthilos rose steadily to his feet, readying his shield and blade. This creature was the third being who had tried to kill him so far today, and he was swiftly losing what little patience he had. “I’m really starting to hate this planet,” he muttered under his breath, diving aside as the creature launched itself down at him, swinging its blade at him.

He dodged the blow and spun around just in time to deflect a second strike with his shield, this one delivered by a massive stinger mounted on a tail sprouting out of the monster’s back. He countered with his own weapon, but the creature twisted lithely aside, dodging his three-pronged blade. He moved backwards away from his assailant, weighing up his options. This creature was no mere animal; it had strength and skill in combat.

This wasn’t going to be easy.

The creature ran at him, sprinting easily across the grainy red sand. Once more, Icthilos dived out of the way and rolled to his feet, releasing his blindness spinner as the beast passed him by. The thing reached the base of the dune and kept running, charging up the side of the dune, outrunning the spinner, which slammed into the base of the dune without hitting the monster.

The creature turned back towards him, regarding him coldly with its burning red eyes. Then it launched itself into the air from the top of the dune. “You’ve got to be kidding me…” Icthilos groaned, raising his shield above his head to block the oncoming attack.

The impact drove him to his knees, but he kept his footing and pushed back, throwing the beats off, sending it sprawling in the sand.

For a moment, nothing happened, then the creature bounded back onto its feet and hissed in irritation, snapping its jaws impatiently, as if it couldn’t wait to start eating him. The thing snarled and advanced slowly, being more cautious this time around. It darted forward and struck out with its sword. Icthilos parried it easily and the beast withdrew. It was probing his defences, trying to find a weak spot.

Icthilos was doing the same thing. His opponent was bigger than him, stronger, and faster. But it was also heavier, and he could use that to his advantage. The creature’s wide, flat clawed feet allowed it to stand on top of the sand and distribute enough weight to stop it sinking, but Icthilos had an idea for how to remedy that.

The creature lunged forward again, and this time Icthilos jumped backwards, blocking the sword strike on his shield and blasting the ground in front of him with ice, which melted almost immediately into a puddle of slush that soaked into the sand. In the searing heat, it melted almost immediately.

The creature stumbled, off balance, its feet sinking into the mush. It cried out in alarm, swinging its weapon wildly. Icthilos collapsed his shield and tri-blade, and grabbed the shaft of the swinging weapon, wrenching it from the beast’s grip. With one swift, precise motion, he swung out and parted cleaved the thing’s head from its body.

The head went flying, to land in the sand nearby. The body stood there, half sunken into the sand, swaying for a few moments, limbs twitching, before it pitched over and lay still. Icthilos let out an exhausted, shaky breath and tossed the bloodied weapon aside. “Really hate this planet.” He repeated breathlessly, before setting off once more.

* * *

The plumes of dust that Icthilos had noticed earlier were getting closer. Too close for comfort; they were definitely heading his way. Three tall lizard-like creatures emerged from the dust, hissing and snarling at him as they slowed down, before stopping entirely, standing in a rough ring around him.

Their riders dismounted, short squat beings in stony black armour, two wielding fancy-looking sword and the third brandishing some kind of spiky projectile weapon. They shouted at him in a language he didn’t even remotely understand, and seemed to be getting very agitated. “I don’t have time for this.” He muttered, activating his mask power and leaping into action.

Even though they could plainly see him, he knew that robbing them of all their other sense would disorient them, at least for a few moments. It was plenty of time for him to make his move. He slammed into the first of the riders, bowling him over and grabbing his projectile weapon. Icthilos spun and fired, hitting one of the mounts. The projectile exploded, felling the beast, and the blast threw one of the other riders to the ground.

The remaining rider jumped onto his mount and started to flee, but Icthilos snatched up the dropped sword of his fallen ally and flung it like a spear, piercing him through his unarmoured back and flinging him from his mount, to land in a motionless heap in the dirt.

The mount continued to flee, and Icthilos let it go, for two reasons. One, he didn’t really care about the beast, and two, because the other mount was now attacking him. It roared and brought its toothy maw down on him. He activated his shield and jammed the beast’s mouth open, then drove his tri-blade up through the roof of its mouth and out the top.

The dying monster spasmed, and began to fall. Icthilos ripped his weapons free and stepped out of the falling corpse’s path. It hit the ground and lay still, blood and bile bubbling from its slack jaws, staining the dry sand.

Icthilos started walking away and didn’t look back. He didn’t feel guilty for killing them; they’d attacked him first, and he’d defended himself. It was just the way the world worked. He didn’t care about the Toa code, and the rules against killing. If not for the Toa code, the other five members of the team he’d once been part of would still be alive.

But they weren’t, and he was, so he was going to avenge them, and no was going to get in his way. And once the Dark Hunters responsible had been executed, he was going to get out of this blasted desert.

* * *

High above, a bird-like shadow circled once, twice, then wheeled away, back to where its masters awaited it. It wasn’t used to flying such distances like this, but The Shadowed One required scouts, and Airwatcher’s wings gave him an advantage few other scouts had. On a planet like this one, filled with open desert, no one bothered to look up.

Airwatcher landed a few minutes later in the open area of desert surrounding the system of caves and rock formations where the Dark Hunters and their new allies, the Bone Hunters and Skrall, had set up their temporary base of operations. Airwatcher hobbled into the main cave structure, entering into the deepest, darkest part of the network, where The Shadowed One himself waited, Darkness perched atop his throne, as always.

Airwatcher babbled a quick report, giving a description of the Toa he had seen, before being sent back out to resume his scouting duties in a different part of the desert.

“It’s him.” A figure standing in the shadows near the wall of the cave said gruffly. “I told you your men didn’t finish him off all those years ago. I told you, but you didn’t listen.”

“Do I need to remind you to whom you speak?” the Shadowed One breathed menacingly, his eyes flickering like flames. “Don’t forget your place, Maliss. You serve me, not the other way around. You have been a useful asset, it would be such a shame to disintegrate you now..." he paused for a moment, "How can you be sure it’s him anyway?”

“I don’t know any other Toa of ice who would so callously slay an opponent. To be honest, I don’t know any other Toa of ice who kill at all. It is him, and he’ll be looking for revenge.”

“Well, since you wish to remain useful to me, and insist that you’re so much better than my men, you will be the one to find him, and you will be the one to kill him.”

To be continued…      

Edited by NatoGreavesy, Oct 13 2014 - 12:51 AM.

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#5 Offline Nato The Traveler

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Posted Aug 10 2014 - 09:55 AM

Chronicles of the Cold Hearted

Part 5 – Remembrance

Icthilos set up camp in the shadow of an overhanging plateau of rock. He lit a small fire from materials he scrounged up from the sand and sat there a small distance away from the fire with his back to the rock, relishing in the cool night air. He didn’t need the flames for warmth, just to light up the night so that he’d see anyone trying to sneak up on his position.

He tried to stay up as he had the night before, but the fatigue from the day’s battles finally got to him, and he succumbed to the encroaching darkness.

He knew what was coming next. He tried to fight it, but he hadn’t been able to sleep properly, ever since that fateful day. And every time he let his eyes close, he had to relive that nightmare…

* * *

“That was easy.” Icthilos said smugly, tying a rope around the wrists of the captured Dark Hunter, binding his hands behind his back before shoving him to the ground.

“Excellent,” said Maliss, Toa of iron, leader of their five Toa team, “we’ll meet back up with the others and take these to the Order. They’ll deal with them.”

“Why don’t we just kill him now?” Icthilos asked, kicking the bound Skakdi. “They wouldn’t hesitate if our positions were reversed.”

“We’re Toa. We have to be better than them,” Maliss reminded him, “besides, could you really kill someone in cold blood? No pun intended.”

“It’s bad for our reputation anyway,” added Ecco, Toa of Sonics and Maliss’ second in command, “we’re meant to win the hearts of the people, not murder our foes.”

“The Toa code…” Icthilos muttered. He’d never liked the idea, even back when he’d been a Matoran, but he was a Toa now, and he had to play by their rules. Maliss had been doing this much longer than Icthilos had, so there was no point arguing. Maliss knew better.

The five of them – Maliss, Ecco, Icthilos and the other two, Trina, Toa of electricity, and Bakr, Toa of plasma – hadn’t always been a team. They’d been wanderers, lone Toa defending their isolated villages in the tiny islands far away from the centre of the Matoran Universe. In the end, they’d decided they would work better together than in isolation.

Today was a routine job. Fend off Dark Hunters scouting the islands, lock them away on a transport ship and send them across the sea to an Order of Mata Nui prison where they wouldn’t threaten anyone anymore. Today, there had been two of them, a pair of vicious Skakdi who’d been terrorising the local fishermen, trying to drive them from their homes.

Trina and Bakr had already apprehended the first of the Skakdi, and the remaining three Toa had gone after the second.

“Fine, we’ll let him live.” Icthilos scowled unhappily, hauling the crimson Skakdi to his feet and shoving him head of him. “Let’s catch up with the others and get these cowards off our islands.” He shoved the Skakdi ahead of him and set off across the rocky shoreline, Maliss following close behind him. Ecco, who was holding the Skakdi’s saw-toothed axe as a trophy, set off ahead, fooling around with the unfamiliar weapon.

“We’re nearly there,” Ecco reported, stopping at the top of an outcropping. He raised a hand to wave at the other Toa, when something slammed into his chest, knocking him off his feet and onto the ground. Icthilos stopped where he was, trying to figure out what had just happened. He watched Ecco rise unsteadily to his feet, tugging at the shaft of the arrow embedded in his chestplate. The axe he’d been carrying fell from his hands and bounced away down onto the rocks.

The Skakdi that Icthilos had trapped kicked out, catching Icthilos in the leg, giving himself enough time to break free. He scrambled forwards, running towards his fallen axe. Icthilos quickly recovered and charged after him, drawing his sword. The Skakdi leapt onto his weapon, using the jagged blade to slice through his bonds. He snatched the axe up and swung out at Icthilos, who deflected the blow with his own sword.

The momentum behind the Skakdi’s swing threw him off balance and he stumbled, giving the Skakdi the perfect moment to shove him backwards, sending him tumbling down the rocks, over the outcropping and onto the ground on the other side. He sat up, looking around him. A few feet away lay Bakr, an arrow protruding from the middle of his back. He wasn’t moving. Next to him struggled the second Skakdi, this one blue, still tied up.

There was no sign of Trina except for streaks of fresh blood all over the nearby rocks.

Icthilos got to his feet, looking desperately around for the unseen archer. An arrow buried itself in his arm, and he cried out, regretting for the dozenth time that he hadn’t gotten himself a shield in all this time. But the shot gave away the shooter’s position. A lone Vortixx, crouched behind an ancient coral formation further along the beach, out in the shallows, already slotting another metallic protodermis bolt into his crossbow.

Icthilos raised his good arm and made a slashing motion with his sword, drawing on the water lapping at the shoreline and forming it into spears of ice that smashed into the rock, shattering on impact and peppering the Vortixx’s black armour with razor-sharp crystalline shrapnel.

“Look out!” he heard Maliss roar. Icthilos spun, raising his sword to fend off the red Skakdi’s axe strike. “Just die!” the Skakdi snarled angrily. Icthilos brought up his foot and shoved the Skakdi away, turning back just in time to see the Vortixx fire another arrow. He twisted out of the way and the bolt grazed the Skakdi, snagging at his spines, spinning him off his feet.

Maliss joined Icthilos on the beach, drawing his own sword and using his elemental power to deflect the Vortixx’s next shot while Icthilos tugged the arrow from his arm. The red Skakdi, meanwhile, had already recovered, and also freed his companion. “You and me.” Icthilos said grimly to Maliss, standing back to back with his team leader as the Dark Hunters closed in from either side. “I reckon we can take them.”

“Icthilos, we need to get out of here,” Maliss hissed quietly, “they’re working together now. That means they can use their elemental powers.”

“Oh…” Icthilos bit back a curse. As if on cue, the two Skakdi unleashed twin jets of fire and water. Icthilos and Maliss evaded the strikes, which met where the two Toa had been standing and evaporated in a cloud of searing steam. Maliss landed further away, escaping the scalding cloud, but Icthilos got caught up and fell to the ground, doing his best not to cry out from the pain. His weapon tumbled from his grasp and fell to the sand, where the red Skakdi broke it apart with a swift blow from his axe’s inning saw blade.

Maliss was the only one still standing. The two Skakdi advanced, weapons raised. The blue one attacked first, and Maliss fended him off easily, using a deft sword manoeuvre to disarm his opponent, then using his elemental power to trap him in his armour, dropping him. He fell forward, landing on Maliss’ foot, trapping him. The second Skakdi lunged forwards, and Maliss swung out at his head.

The crimson Skakdi ducked under the spiked sword and hacked downwards, severing Maliss’ left arm at the elbow. Maliss cried out, loosing his focus, and releasing the blue Skakdi from his power. Icthilos watched on, helpless as the two Dark Hunters raised their weapons to finish off his team leader and mentor.

“No!” a shout rang out, accompanied by a blast of solid sound that buffeted the two Skakdi off their feet. Ecco, still alive, stood at the top of the rise, readying himself to deliver a second sonic blast. But he never got the chance. The Vortixx, forgotten in the confusion, fired another bolt. This one speared right into Ecco’s face, destroying his mask and swiftly ending his life. His dying body twitched uncontrollably, then pitched forwards, tumbling down the slope, limp and lifeless.

Icthilos desperately reached for his power, trying to summon up even a meagre flash of frost to throw at his opponent, but all he managed to do was freeze the sodden sand around him. The slight incline of the beach combined with the slipperiness of the frozen sand caused him to slowly slide backwards into the water. “Trying to swim away?” taunted the blue Skakdi with a sneer. “Go ahead!”

A tidal wave buffeted Icthilos, dragging him out to see and pulling him beneath the surface, plunging him into darkness.

* * *

Icthilos woke with a start, the same way he did every time he had that same nightmare. Somehow, he’d survived. He’d washed up on the shore of one of the other islands several hours later. By the time he’d made his way back, there was nothing left to find. The three Dark Hunters had taken the bodies, probably as trophies. All Icthilos had found were the three broken shards of his sword, left lying there discarded in the sand.

He had survived, but his team was gone. Bakr and Ecco, he’d seen them die. There had been nothing left of Trina except blood on the rocks, and there was no way the Dark Hunters would have let Maliss live. The entire team had been wiped out.

What had come next always broke Icthilos’ cold heart to think about it. Weakened by his injuries, he had gone into hiding, and over the days that followed, entire squads of Dark Hunters had moved in, enslaving or killing the villagers that Icthilos and his allies had spent years trying to protect. All of their work, centuries of effort, undone in only a few days.

Icthilos blamed himself. He’d been too weak to protect them, to protect his Toa team, to protect his villages, to protect himself. But he had made himself strong, and while it was too late to save his brothers and sisters, and those who had depended on him to protect them, he could still avenge them.

And that was exactly what he intended to do.

He sat up. In front of him, the fire had died down to smouldering embers, and the first rays of sunlight were creeping over the horizon. But in the dim light, he could make out a figure standing in front of the fire, a figure with Skakdi spines and a saw-toothed axe.

“Remember me?” the red Skakdi chittered. Icthilos started to stand, when an arrow buried itself in the sand at his feet. “I wouldn’t do that if I were you.” The Skakdi advised, taunting. The Vortixx archer stood nearby, crouched on one knee, crossbow levelled. The blue Skakdi was with them too, sitting on a chunk of stone, casually sharpening his long knife.

“Come to finish the job, have you?” Icthilos said, defiant.

“They haven’t,” said a voice Icthilos remembered with both fondness and sorrow, “I have. They’re just here to make sure I do my job properly.” A fourth figure approached the group and knelt in front of the dead fire, looking across the fizzling embers to meet Icthilos’ gaze.

“Long time no see, brother.” Maliss said calmly.

To be continued…      

Edited by NatoGreavesy, Oct 13 2014 - 12:52 AM.

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#6 Offline Nato The Traveler

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Posted Aug 12 2014 - 09:16 AM

Chronicles of the Cold Hearted

Part 6 – The Traitor’s Tale

“Maliss, what are you do-?” Icthilos started to get up but in a flash Maliss had his sword drawn and levelled at his throat.

“Stay right there.” Maliss scowled, sheathing his sword across his back. “Let’s talk, brother.”

“What did you do?” Icthilos snarled. It didn’t take a genius to realise that Maliss was clearly working with these Dark Hunters. “You betrayed us to the Dark Hunters!”

“I might have, what’s it to you?” Maliss brushed off the accusation. “You abandoned the Toa code, and so did I. You don’t get to judge me. You don’t have the right.”

“You were our leader! We trusted you! All of us. Bakr, and Trina and Ecco… Ecco died for you. He was trying to save you, and you were the one behind the attack in the first place?”

“Oh, I’m very thankful to Ecco. If it weren’t for his blind loyalty to me, I might not be here. Hakkzan would have killed me if Ecco hadn’t interrupted. As it was, I only lost the arm.”

“How many times do I have to apologise for that?” protested the red Skakdi, “we didn’t know who our man on the inside was. You should have showed us your contract earlier!”

“If I’d done that, then the other Toa would have turned on me, fool.” Maliss snapped. “Now shut up and let me finish talking to my old friend.” He flexed his left arm, the one that had been mutilated in the battle. From the elbow down it had been replaced by pure robotics, the work of Nyrah Ghosts, by the looks of it. In place of a hand was an extendable buzz saw, the blades sharpened so that they glinted in the dying firelight.

“We are not friends.” Icthilos whispered, his tone bitter. “You forfeited that right the day you betrayed us all.”

“You don’t know what it was like!” Maliss snapped. “You thought we were winning, did you? That we could hold out against the Dark Hunters forever? Or maybe you were waiting for help? Help that was never going to arrive! We were alone out there, and the longer we held out, the more we drew the Dark Hunter’s attention to ourselves.”

“We could have survived.” Icthilos said, deadpan. “You’re the reason we failed.”

“No, I’m the reason any of our villagers survived at all. I was desperate. I knew we were going to be wiped out sooner or later, so I struck a deal with the Dark Hunters. I went to them! That’s how desperate our situation was. They were days away from sending an entire army against us. We wouldn’t have lasted an hour, and the villages would have been raised to the ground. Thanks to me, at least some Matoran were allowed to live.”

“You betrayed your entire team to a bunch of criminals to save the lives of a handful of Matoran?” Icthilos spat, “If you’d stood by your team, we would have fought, died, if necessary, for those Matoran. You never gave any of us a chance.”

“A Toa’s first duty is to the Matoran. I did what I had to do.” Maliss said coldly. “And I’ve been doing it ever since. The Dark Hunters aren’t evil. They’re just trying to make their own place in this universe, just like me. Just like you.”

“Coward.” Icthilos spat. “Traitor.” The air grew cold as he spoke, his hate manifesting.

“Murderer.” Maliss countered. “If you’re going to be so immature as to start calling me names, then you’ve got to be willing to take it as well.”

“I have a very low opinion of myself,” Icthilos explained, “whatever you call me can’t be worse than what I already think I am. Trust me on that.”

Maliss laughed, “What, did you blame yourself for what happened? You thought you failed your team, perhaps? That there was something you could have done to save the others?”

“I didn’t blame myself. I blamed the Toa code. But now I see that the only one to blame is you,” Icthilos replied icily, “I wanted revenge on the Dark Hunters, but now, I’ll settle for killing you. Slowly.”

“Big words coming from someone whose about to die,” Maliss scoffed, “unless, of course, you wanted to join us? You’re a cold hearted killer, a merciless fighter. We could use someone like you. What do you say?”

“I say that I’m going to enjoy killing you.” Was Icthilos’ response. A thin layer of ice began to form over the sandy ground as he drew on his elemental energy.

“I think that was a no,” chittered the blue Skakdi in a high-pitched, irritating voice.

“Will you shut up, Graedak?” pleaded the Vortixx. “Every time you open your mouth I want to shoot you, and since my bow is in my hands right now, it’s sorely tempting…”

“Shut up Crahkna!” Maliss shouted at the Vortixx. “Silence, all of you! I’m trying to have a civil discussion with my old friend before I kill him. He’s spent years looking for answers, and he deserves closure after everything he’s been through. So if you’ll kindly all be quiet and let me finish, it would be appreciated.”

“Ah…” the blue Skakdi, Graedak, began to say something.

Maliss immediately cut him off. “That goes double for you. If you had made sure to kill Icthilos that day, we wouldn’t be here having this conversation!”

“Can you just shoot me?” Icthilos asked the Vortixx, Crahkna. “I’m sick of hearing him talk.”

“Don’t listen to him.” Maliss ordered. “The Shadowed One put me in charge. You follow my orders, not his,” he pointed at Icthilos, “understood?”

No one spoke. “So now they decide to shut up?” Maliss sighed. “Where was I?”

“You offered me a job, and I said no,” Icthilos replied, “now go throw yourself into a fire.”

“I’m not going to do that,” Maliss decided, “now, is there anything else you’d like to know before I end your life?”   

“Just one thing…” Icthilos said, his breath coming out in a hiss of steam as the air around him grew ever more frigid. He’d absorbed all of the elemental energy his body could hold. He took a deep breath, and let it out, smiling at the cold. “Can you outrun a nova blast?”

The look on Maliss’ face was one of disbelief, and utter panic.

He started to run.

* * *

The force of the explosion levelled the rocks and scarred the sand all around, turning the arid desert into a frozen tundra in one, chilling instant. Snow rained down from the sky for long minutes afterwards, burying the battered bodies of those caught in the blast under a blanket of cold and white.

By the time the four Dark Hunters recovered from the blast and dug themselves free, Icthilos was long gone.

* * *

Watching from a safe distance was a lone figure, shrouded in a cloak to ward off the cold air of the desert night which had been made even worse by Icthilos’ impromptu nova blast. They saw Icthilos make his escape, and set off after him.

The Dark Hunters were going to be more eager than ever to find the rogue Toa, and the cloaked figure was determined to find him before the Hunters did.

To be continued…      

Edited by NatoGreavesy, Oct 13 2014 - 12:52 AM.

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#7 Offline Nato The Traveler

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Posted Aug 18 2014 - 12:41 AM

Chronicles of the Cold Hearted

Part 7 – Out of the Cold

“Where are you running to?” a female voice caught Icthilos off guard. Thunder rumbled loudly in the distance, originating from a bank of storm clouds somewhere back the way he’d come, hovering ominously on the horizon.

It had been two days since his encounter with Maliss and the Dark Hunters, and he hadn’t yet managed to find a way out of the desert. He still had the Golden Being’s map, but he’d wound up in the middle of the vast empty expanse of desert in the middle of the map, with no discernible landmarks to lead him anywhere.

Icthilos stopped and slowly turned around. His elemental powers had recharged somewhat over the past few days, and he was ready to use them to defend himself if necessary. He hadn’t expected to find anyone out here among the dunes. He certainly hadn’t seen anyone.

To his relative relief, it looked to be one of this world’s inhabitants, not someone who had an immediate reason to want him dead, or so he hoped. “Who are you?” he asked warily.

“You don’t recognise me?” she replied, approaching him. Her armour was blue and grey, with what looked to be white spikes of bone embedded in the plates for dramatic effect. “I guess this thing works better than I thought.” The blue helmet of interlocking plates that covered her head suddenly began to glow, and her entire body morphed, resolving itself into a blue and white Toa of lightning who he’d never thought he would see again.

“Surprise!” said Trina, Toa of Lightning. “Long time no see.” Her armour was different, and her face was now covered by her old mask. Her voice had changed as well; he recognised it now. It was definitely her.

Icthilos immediately activated his weapons. “Whoa, calm down!” she drew her double-edged sword off of her back and lay it down on the ground in front of him. “Calm down…”

“Two days ago, I thought my entire team was dead. Then Maliss shows up, and it turns out he was working with the Dark Hunters all along. Then you show up, and just expect me to calm down? Yeah, I don’t think so.”

“Okay, yeah, I see your point. I guess I have a bit of explaining to do. But now really isn’t the time. Maliss and the Hunters are coming after you. I’ve been tracking them as well. They’d be here already, but they got caught up in a spontaneous thunderstorm.” Icthilos looked past her towards the storm clouds, making the obvious connection.

“How am I supposed to believe anything you say?” Icthilos challenged.

“You really want to wait around and take the chance, or are you just going to trust me?”

“Fine,” Icthilos lowered his weapons, “where do you suggest we go?”

“The inhabitants of this world and ours are setting up a temporary camp in the desert. It’s defended by our Toa and their Glatorian. The Dark Hunters won’t attack us there. It’s as safe a place as anywhere. You’ll be safe there. I’ll explain everything along the way.”

“You’d better. How far away is this camp?”

“A few hours. We can get there before sundown, if you stop wasting our time and just trust me. Please?” she seemed earnest, and Icthilos finally gave in. He was angry, and tired, but he realised she was right. He had to trust her, for now. Besides, if she’d been working with Maliss he’d be dead already.

“Let’s go, then. But you walk in front and lead the way. I’m not turning my back to you until I’m sure I can trust you. Is that going to be a problem?”

“No,” she sighed, “I wish I’d caught up with you sooner, though. You’re so… cold.”  

“I’m a Toa of ice. What did you expect?”

* * *

Trina told her story as they made their way across the windswept sands, the echoing thunder from Trina’s storm still audible in the distance behind them. “I remember you always used to ask what my mask did, and I told you it wasn’t important because I never had to use it for anything.” Trina mused.

“I remember,” Icthilos said grimly, “so what does it do? Shape shifting?”

“Not quite. It’s the Mask of Adaptive Disguise. You know how our armour is adaptive, and changes its shape to suit the situation? My mask is kind of the same, except it changes my entire body to fit the situation. It completely alters my physical being. Once I found myself on this planet, I decided to turn myself into one of the inhabitants to avoid being recognised. Everyone thinks I’m dead, and I’m happy to let that stand, for now.”

“I thought you were dead. Maliss didn’t mention that you survived.”

“He doesn’t know. I nearly did die. I got lucky. Managed to patch myself up after that Vortixx shot me. I let myself fall into the water, then just swam away. It hurt, so much. Not just the physical pain of the wound, but the knowledge that I was leaving you all behind to fend for yourselves. But there was no way I could fight in my condition. It was all I could do to stay alive.”

Icthilos was torn for a moment. He wanted to be angry. He wanted to blame her for everything that had happened, just like he had once blamed himself. But he knew that was wrong. It was Maliss who was to blame. Because of him, they’d never had a chance. “I don’t blame you.” He finally said, then forced himself to admit “I probably would have done the same thing under the circumstances.”

“I returned to the village after a few days recovering, only to find that the Dark Hunters had already razed it. And when I saw Maliss with them, I knew who was to blame. I decided to join up with the Brotherhood of Mata Nui for a while, but when Teridax…”

“No one could have seen that coming.” Icthilos assured her. “The Order did all it could.”

“How would you know?” Trina challenged.

“I had a lot of friends these past few centuries. Including a few with contacts inside the Order. Besides, the Makuta are all dead now. That chapter is closed. How did you know that I was still alive?”

“Rumours. Bad ones, I’ll add. Lots of talk about a rogue Toa of Ice who went about hunting down the Dark Hunters. The problem was, no one could verify it. The rogue left no survivors, no witnesses. The only proof he even existed was a trail of dead DH agents with ice spears sticking out of their bodies. Was that really you?”

“I did what I had to.” Icthilos spat. “Maliss, the Dark Hunters… they have nothing but contempt for the Toa code. The only way to deal with them was for me to sink to their own level, for better or worse. I don’t regret it.”

“Cold,” Trina repeated, “but I agree. So did the Order. Helryx was sympathetic to my plight, and freed me from the constraints of the Toa code. Then she did the same for you, making you a member of the Order, and told me to find you.”

“What gives her the right to do that?” Icthilos scoffed.

“She’s the leader of the Order, she can do what she wants. She didn’t want Toa joining the cause because they were bound by the code, so we are no longer Toa. It’s already done. You can say thanks anytime, you know.”

“What am I thinking you for?” Icthilos didn’t get it.

“I convinced her to make you part of the Order, and to remove your Toa title. Thanks to me, you don’t have a price on your head. Every Toa team from Metru Nui to Karzahni would have been out to get you otherwise. A little gratitude would be appreciated.”

“I feel obliged to point out that Metru Nui and Karzahni are right next to each other, and last time I checked, Karzahni didn't actually have its own Toa team, and the Toa of Metru Nui would have been a little busy defending their own city. So…”

“Okay, bad example, I get it. Do you still see my point?”

“I guess,” Icthilos shrugged, “you did what you’ve always done. Whatever you felt was best for yourself and those close to you. I can appreciate that. Thanks. I guess I still have some friends left after all.”

“You still proved an absolute pain to track down. In the end, after our universe blew up or whatever, I gave up and went after Maliss. I tracked he Dark Hunters to their camp in the desert, and just waited. Then I saw Maliss and his team heading out into the desert, so I decided to go after them, to see where they were headed. They led me to you.” She stopped, pointing at glowing lights in the distance. “We’re here.”

To be continued…      

Edited by NatoGreavesy, Oct 15 2014 - 07:38 PM.

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#8 Offline Nato The Traveler

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Posted Aug 20 2014 - 08:51 PM

Chronicles of the Cold Hearted

Part 8 – Safety in Numbers

“Funny how things change, isn’t it?” Trina mused. Icthilos was walking at her side now, having finally decided that she could be trusted. He was glad that, out of all of the others, she had managed to survive as well. Trina had always been reliable, and compassionate, and she was proving yet again how much she cared about others.  

“I never would have dreamed that our whole world – the entire universe – was contained in… that.” Icthilos agreed. Rising up out of the sands were the fragmented remains of the once-great robot that had been his home for most of his life. And now, here it lay in ruins, dried and dead in the sands of an alien world, and the corrupted being who had sought to use it to conquer the universe lay dead with it.

Already, Matoran, Toa, and this world’s inhabitants, the Agori and Glatorian, were working side by side, disassembling the giant robot to build shelters to house all of the refugees. There were others, too, Vortixx, and Skakdi, which immediately reminded Icthilos of Maliss’ companions Hakkzan, Graedak and Crahkna.

“Yet there it is,” Trina pointed out, “it’s kind of hard to ignore what’s right in your face.”

“Speaking of faces, it’s kind of ugly,” Icthilos joked, nodding towards the monstrous visage of the dead titan, its head crushed and crumpled by the impact that had killed it. “And on that note, why are you still using that disguise? I think I liked you better as a Toa.”

“It’s called blending in.” Trina replied. She’d used her mask power to turn herself back into a Glatorian, and while she still looked dangerous and intimidating, it wasn’t quite the same.

“I thought you said we were safe here,” Icthilos said, stopping in front of one of the shelters to pore over a map pinned to the support. He compared it to the one the Golden Being had given him, and decided that his was the more accurate. They continued walking.

“We’re safe from attack here.” Trina corrected, “But look around you. There’s Skakdi and Vortixx and Toa wandering around everywhere. If Maliss followed us here, he could easily send one of his buddies in here to spy on us. They won’t be dumb enough to attack with so many witnesses around, but they could still show up. I’d rather that Maliss didn’t know I was still alive. It gives me the advantage of surprise.”

“I get the impression Maliss isn’t easily surprised anymore,” Icthilos said, looking back up at the robot’s damaged head, “after this, no one is.”

* * *

Maliss had heard descriptions, but when the Dark Hunters had been making their hasty exit from the destroyed robot, they’d been a little busy trying not to get noticed by the Toa, so they hadn’t had time to gawk at the giant robot that had housed their universe.

Now, standing on top of a dune, with his three hunters standing around him, Maliss found himself feeling very small and insignificant when comparing himself to the metallic monstrosity lying sprawled in the sand before him. He raised his robotic arm and let it catch the light. It was built from the same steely protodermis as the machine below, but the Great Spirit robot was far larger, far mightier, than anything the Nyrah Ghosts could have ever dreamt of building.

“What are we waiting for?” chittered Graedak, “let’s get down there and kill him!”

“You know Crahkna, if you still want to shoot him, feel free,” Maliss said over his shoulder, “I don’t like having idiots following my around.”

“What?” stammered Graedak, “what did I do?”

“Let’s start with your biggest failure, shall we?” Maliss rounded on him, “your orders were very specific, were they not? Kill all of the Toa, except me, obviously. You were the one who washed Icthilos out to sea. Because of you, he’s still alive. Because of you, we’re now right back where we started!”

“Sorry…” Graedak offered in a whiney tone.

“Sorry doesn’t cut it!” Maliss roared. He was getting angry now. Intolerant. Not just with Graedak, but with himself. He’d let his misguided sense of honour get in the way when he’d decided to confess everything to Icthilos. He should have just killed him when he’d had the chance. Now Icthilos was practically untouchable.

“I still don’t get it, though…” Graedak continued after a few moments, “…why can’t we go down there and kill him?”

“Alright you imbecile,” Maliss seized him by the spines and hauled him over to the ridge of the dune, “you see that down there? It’s a few million feet tall, kind of hard to miss.”

“A giant robot. Our old universe.” Graedak stated bluntly. “I’m still not seeing your point.”

“Look at all the beings down there. Toa, Matoran, Turaga, Vortixx, Skakdi, and those other creatures that live on this planet. There is no way we can attack and kill him without being seen and possibly killed ourselves. This is supposed to be a covert operation to cover up some loose ends, not an all-out war on the Matoran Universe! Now do you see my point?”

“I’m starting too…” Graedak stammered.

“Good.” Maliss gave him a shove, sending him tumbling down the slope. “I want you to find Icthilos and give him a message.”

“What message?” Graedak groaned once he finally hit the bottom and got to his feet, mostly unharmed but covered in sand.

“He can’t run forever.”

* * *

“Safety is great and all, but I’m not planning to hide out here for the rest of my life,” Icthilos said pointedly. “Whether I’m still officially a Toa or not, I still fully intend to fight for what I believe in.”

“And what exactly do you believe in, now?” Trina asked curiously. They were sitting across from each other at a table within the small hut Trina had built for herself out robot parts, with Icthilos’ map laid out between them.

“Getting even with Maliss, for a start,” he replied grimly, “after that, we’ll see…”

“You always were too rash,” she sighed, “you never planned anything ahead.”

“Plans never work out the way they’re intended. There’s always an unknown variable, something that can’t be predicted. I just make things up as I go along, and that’s worked for me so far. I’m still here, aren’t I?”

“As much as I really hate to admit it, you might be right.” Trina confessed, propping her feet up on a stool. “But as to your earlier comment, I don’t plan on waiting around forever. Just a few days. You could use some rest, and I’m trying to arrange something that might take a few more days to put together. Patience is as much a virtue as the other Three. Right now, we need to wait, and enjoy our safety while it lasts.”

“Fine. I’ll wait.” Icthilos agreed, pulling off his gauntlets and placing them on the table, next to the map. “For now, at least. But I’m not going to be happy until I have Maliss’ head.”

“I’d prefer to destroy that as well,” Trina admitted, “but I guess everyone’s entitled to their opinion. As long as he stops being alive, I’ll be happy.”

* * *

Graedak wandered throughout the camp, only barely beginning to comprehend just how big his home universe had been, and how many beings had lived inside it. So far, he’d found out lots of interesting things. Someone had killed Karzahni and shoved him off a cliff, Nektann and a bunch of other Skakdi who’d aided Makuta were all locked up in cells made from robot parts, and Mata Nui’s spirit now resided in the Mask of Life.

All of it was terribly interesting, but none of it really helped with his current mission to find and deliver the message to Icthilos. Seriously, how hard was it to find one Toa of Ice?

In a camp this size, populated by beings from two different universes, the answer was becoming apparent. It was going to be very hard to find Icthilos.

To be continued…      

Edited by NatoGreavesy, Oct 13 2014 - 12:53 AM.

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#9 Offline Nato The Traveler

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Posted Aug 20 2014 - 11:27 PM

Chronicles of the Cold Hearted

Part 9 – All Washed Up

The next morning, Icthilos and Trina headed deeper into the camp, to meet Trina’s mysterious contact who she claimed to be making some kind of arrangement with, whatever that meant. They reached what seemed to be the middle of the camp, with a large tent-like structure set up in the middle, where the remaining Toa Nuva and high ranking Glatorian were trying to establish some semblance of order.

“You seeing this?” Trina whispered to Icthilos, stopping him beside the tent. They’d mingled with the crowds thronging the encampment, acting naturally. At first, Icthilos had thought it was a bad idea for her to remain disguised, since it would look unusual for the two of them to be together, but the more he looked around, the more he came to realise that he was worrying about nothing.

Everyone was starting to settle into the new state of things, and the inhabitants of both worlds were happily mingling, sharing and comparing stories of their experiences. Icthilos and Trina didn’t look out of place at all. What did look out of place was the very lost-looking blue Skakdi that had gained Trina’s attention.

“I am now,” Icthilos smiled, seeing where she was pointing, “That’s the little sack of rahi bait that washed me into the ocean. Ironically, he saved my life in doing that.”

“I said Maliss might send spies.” Trina said, “If I were not such an amazing person, I might take this moment to indulge in an “I told you so” speech.”

“I don’t recall doubting you when you said there might be spies. You don’t get to say “I told you so” if I believed you in the first place.”

“Well, then it’s a good thing that I didn’t say it.” Trina said smugly. They both laughed.

“Perhaps I should go thank him for saving my life,” Icthilos suddenly became dead serious.

“Don’t…” Trina hissed, grabbing his arm, “Don’t start a fight here, with all of these innocents around. We’re safe here. He can’t do anything.”

“I’m not going to start a fight.” Icthilos smiled, “I’m going to let the Toa deliver justice.” He pulled himself free from her grip and took a few steps forward, pointing right at Graedak and raising his voice. “That Skakdi is a Dark Hunter! Stop him!”

Graedak tried to run, but was caught almost instantly, hit by at least three different Toa at once, beaten to the ground by a volley of elemental attacks. Without Hakkzan to back him up, he couldn’t use his elemental powers, and his heat vision didn’t do him much good when a sudden whirlwind blue sand into his eyes, blinding him.

“That went well.” Icthilos smirked, as the squirming Skakdi was dragged away, bound in chains. “Who says I can’t be merciful?”

“You are such an idiot,” Trina groaned, “I seriously cannot believe that worked.”

“If it’s stupid, but works, it isn’t stupid. Come on, let’s follow them. I’m sure our little friend will have some very interesting things to say to us.” Icthilos started to set off after them.

“Actually, you go on ahead. I still need to meet up with my contact.” Trina waved him off. “Once I’m done talking to him I’ll meet you out here. Please try not to kill anyone in the meantime, if you can avoid it.”

“I won’t make any promises.” Icthilos replied, only half joking. He left her and followed the Toa and their prisoner into the main tent. The other Toa filed back out just as he entered, and he saw that Axonn, one of the old members of the Order of Mata Nui, had taken over dragging the prisoner. A handful of Toa and Glatorian stood talking further into the tent, and Axonn dumped Graedak in front of them.

“What is this?” demanded Tahu, Toa of fire. Icthilos had heard a few stories in his short time in the camp, and it seemed the ones about Tahu were true. He’d been turned back into a Toa Mata, but had gained some kind of new power through his golden armour, which he’d apparently used to wipe out all of the sons of Makuta.

“This would be Dark Hunter.” Icthilos decided it was time to make his presence known.

“Who are you?” A Ko-Matoran standing in the shadows near the door challenged, brandishing a knife. Icthilos knew of Mazeka’s reputation, and knew the Matoran would probably be more than happy to stab him, Toa or not, if he decided he was an enemy.

“Icthilos, Toa of Ice. Or, I was, until yesterday, apparently.”

“What is he talking about?” Tahu asked no one in particular.

“I heard about you,” Axonn intoned, “rogue Toa of Ice. He got inducted into the Order and freed from the constraints of the Toa code. He’s like Helryx. The code doesn’t apply to him.”

“So everyone knew about this except me?” Icthilos groaned, “I only got told this yesterday.”

“The last thing we need is another rogue Toa running around.” Tahu growled, “With Karzahni dead and Lesovikk still on the loose.”

“Not a rogue Toa,” Icthilos corrected, “I’m a member of the Order. Big difference… I assume.” He walked further into the tent, ignoring Mazeka, who was still standing behind him with his knife at the ready. “I’m not the problem here. He…” he kicked Graedak as he passed, “…he is the problem.”

“Explain.” Tahu seemed willing to listen. The two Glatorian he’d been talking to were also waiting to hear what Icthilos had to say. “Now, I assume my reputation precedes me,” Icthilos guessed, “that I’m this murderous jerk who hates Dark Hunters?”

“Something along those lines.” Axonn almost laughed. Almost.

“Does anybody know why?” Icthilos asked. He was starting to enjoy himself. He’d never much thought about his reputation, or how much people really knew about him. He’d always done his work in secret, so he’d never considered how others perceived him.

“The story goes that your team was wiped out by Dark Hunters,” Mazeka piped up, “but that isn’t…”

“I know about that.” Icthilos stopped him. He didn’t want Graedak overhearing that Trina was still alive, in case Maliss or his buddies came back for him. “That’s not why I’m here. This miserable pile of rahi droppings here, is one of the Dark Hunters who did the killing. I could have killed him outside, but I didn’t want to make a scene. He’s all yours, because he isn’t the one I want.”

“Who is, then?” one of the Glatorian asked.

“I recently discovered that the former leader of my team, Maliss, Toa of Iron, betrayed us to the Dark Hunters. They found out I’m still alive, and now they’re trying to clean up loose ends. That’s what Graedak was doing here.”

“Maliss is going to gut you like a fish!” Graedak snarled in his horribly irritating voice. “You’ll wish I’d killed you all those years ago. He’s waiting for you, right outside the camp. The moment you step outside of this settlement, you’re dead!”

“Or really?” this was news to Icthilos. “Are you saying that there’s a squad of Dark Hunters, led by a rogue Toa of Iron, just outside of this camp?”

“Yes! Didn’t you hear me the first time?”

“I did. I just wanted to clarify so that everyone present could hear you properly.” Icthilos explained brightly. He looked up at Tahu and the others. “I didn’t know they were so close, so I’ll formally apologise for leading them here. But now that they are here, I would appreciate a little help to drive them off?”  

“Give us an hour to get a team together.” One of the Glatorian said.

“You’ve got it.” Icthilos waved goodbye to Graedak and headed out of the tent, where Trina was waiting for him.

“I’ve got good news, and I’ve got bad news,” she said apologetically, “I’ve been chatting with a few members of the Order, and some of them might be willing to help us out, but I’ll need a few more days to get them onside.”

“Forget it. I just got the Toa and Glatorian to agree to help me drive Maliss away from the camp. You’re just too slow, Trina.” He continued walking, leaving her standing there, momentarily stunned at how quickly he’d managed to coerce the heroes into helping them.

“I’m just that brilliant.” Icthilos said, turning around, “Now keep up. Stop standing there grinning like a happy Skakdi. We have work to do.”

To be continued…      

Edited by NatoGreavesy, Oct 13 2014 - 12:54 AM.

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#10 Offline Nato The Traveler

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Posted Aug 27 2014 - 08:55 PM

Chronicles of the Cold Hearted

Part 10 – Prison Break

“I don’t believe it,” Trina breathed, seeing for the first time the dozen armoured Toa and Glatorian marching towards the outskirts of the camp. She turned to Icthilos, who was busy sharpening his blades. “How did you convince them to help you?”

“I didn’t. Graedak did, actually. He was kind enough to mention that Maliss was waiting just outside the camp. Naturally, the settlement’s protectors couldn’t just sit by and let that slide, so they’re gathering a team to drive him off.”

“Right…” Trina smirked, “You really should’ve been our leader. You’re far better at manipulating people than Maliss was.”

“I don’t think being manipulative makes for a good leader.” Icthilos collapsed his blades back into the gauntlet and turned to face her. “Besides, you need to be a good liar to manipulate someone, and Maliss is far better at that than me. I just let the Toa do their job. There’s nothing manipulative about that.”

“Okay, manipulative may have been a poor choice of words. I’m not a good talker, you know that.” Trina brushed off his comments, “My point still stands. You would have made a better leader than Maliss. There are a lot of displaced Toa out here, who’ve lost their teams, and their friends. Maybe you should consider making your own team? It’ll give them, and us, something to belong to again.”

“That can wait. I don’t expect anyone to follow me when all I want is Maliss’ head on a pike. That goes against everything these Toa stand for. Once Maliss is dealt with, I’ll think about the future.”

“Forward planning is always a good idea,” Trina tried to push.

“I’ve been winging it my entire life, and it’s worked just fine.” Icthilos replied adamantly. “I like your idea, but now is not the time. Okay? Just let it go, for now.”

“Fine.” Trina conceded. “Fine. You’re probably right. I just think… you deserve it. You deserve to prove that you can be a better leader than Maliss. Not just that. You need to prove it. To yourself, more than anyone else.” With that, she started walking off after the column of defenders.

Icthilos waited for a moment, thinking over what she’d said, before following.

* * *

“Something’s wrong.” Crahkna pointed out, jabbing a finger in the direction of the camp.

“What gave it away?” Hakkzan hissed nervously/

“Be quiet,” Maliss snarled softly, “It seems Graedak failed in his rather simple task. Let’s see if he can get the second part of his mission right.”

“What second part?” Crahkna asked, confused.  He tore his eyes away from the group of Glatorian and Toa marching towards their position up on the dunes, and looked at Maliss.

“Wait and see.” Maliss replied calmly, raising his hand to shade his eyes. He looked down at the camp, past the column of defenders to the cluster of buildings built from scrap parts from the robot, which served as prison cells for the enemies captured during the final battle and the days that followed. He watched, and he waited to see what would happen.

* * *

“Please don’t kill me!” Graedak stammered. He’d barely been in the shared cell for ten minutes, and already he’d managed to incur the wrath of one of its less friendly occupants, the tall, menacing Skakdi warlord Nektann, who seemed fully prepared to do all kinds of painful, unpleasant things to him just to make him shut up.

“I won’t,” Nektann promised darkly, “that would be too easy.” He hit Graedak with a blow that flung him against the far wall, where he crumpled to the floor, groaning. Something fell to the floor, and he picked it up, recognising it as a tightly rolled scroll note from Maliss. It had been wrapped around one of his spines. Graedak realised that Maliss must have put it there when he grabbed him to throw him down the hill.

He unrolled it and read it through, then looked up at Nektann. “Today’s your lucky day,” he said, “we’re getting out of here.”

“What are you talking about?” one of the other Skakdi in the cell asked. “We can’t. These walls are too thick. Even combining our powers, we can’t make a dent.”

“Think low-tech.” Graedak grinned, breaking the metal tube at the base of the scroll and picking up the small knife and lockpicks hidden inside. “You take this.” He tossed the knife to Nektann, hoping that the bigger Skakdi would accept the peace offering and not try to kill him “and I’ll take these.” 

“Perhaps I might not kill you after all.” Nektann mused, standing back with the other Skakdi while Graedak went to work on the heavily barred door. A few minutes later, the door popped open with a soft click. “Well done.” Graedak heard Nektann breathe right over his shoulder. He felt the knife slide smoothly into his lower back, but he didn’t feel pain from the strike, only numbness.

Graedak’s lower body went entirely limp, his spine severed. “I thought you said you weren’t going to kill me…” he stammered weakly, as Nektann knelt over him.

“I said I might not. I changed my mind.” With that, he drove the knife home.

To be continued…      

Edited by NatoGreavesy, Oct 13 2014 - 12:55 AM.

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#11 Offline Nato The Traveler

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Posted Aug 30 2014 - 11:02 PM

Chronicles of the Cold Hearted

Part 11 – Uncontrolled Chaos

“Wait for it…” Maliss repeated, watching the camp. He tried to sound confident, but he was starting to get a little nervous. The defenders had pinpointed his position, and were starting to spread out, making their way up or around the slope to confront him.

“I think we should get out of here,” Hakkzan advised meekly, “there’s five of them for every one of us. I’m not a coward, but I don’t feel like getting dragged off into a cell for the rest of my days, or worse, straight out killed in a crossfire.”

“I actually find myself in agreement with the axe-happy maniac,” Crahkna spoke up, nervously loading his crossbow. “I say there’s a time to fight, and a time to run very quickly in the opposite direction. This is one of those times.”

“It’s too late to run,” Maliss noted the weapons the defenders held. All manner of projectile weapons were aimed right up at him; Midak Skyblasters, Nyrah Ghost Blasters and those spiky fruit things the inhabitants of this world used. “They’re cautious right now; they don’t know what to expect, or how many of us there really are. If we run, they’ll open fire. If we don’t get shot to bits straight away, they’ll come after us, and then we’ll get shot to bits.”

“What do you want us to do, then?” Crahkna snarled, “we can’t possibly fight them all off.”

“I’m not planning to…” Maliss smirked, “here comes the cavalry.” He pointed down at the camp, which was now swarming with battling figures. “Graedak must have opened up all of the prison cells, just like I ordered him to.”

“That’s a surprisingly good plan.” Hakkzan murmured, hefting his axe. “Now can we attack them?” the defenders were breaking ranks and most of them were running back towards the village. A handful remained, and Maliss immediately spotted Icthilos among them. He smiled. “Yes. Now we attack.”

* * *

“That rahi slime!” Icthilos snarled, “We played right into his hands. He must have known you’d lock Graedak up.” He rounded on the two Glatorian who were still with him and Trina; the other were all running for the village, “we’ve played right into his hands.”

“Look out!” the red Glatorian, the one who was called Ackar, and served as the leader of the villages, suddenly pushed Icthilos backwards, blocking a crossbow bolt with his fire sword. Icthilos followed the arrow’s trajectory and spotted Crahkna taking cover behind a rock.

“They have the higher ground.” Ackar scowled, “let’s change that. Kiina!”

The second Glatorian, the blue-armoured female, took her cue and blasted the dune with her vapour trident, the concentrated blast of water displacing the sand, causing the dune to become unstable… and collapse…

“We didn’t really think that through, did we?” Kiina said apologetically, before the tidal wave of sand washed over them.

* * *

Maliss was momentarily blinded by the sand flying everywhere. One moment he’d been preparing himself to charge down the slope, and the next, the slope had collapsed and he’d found himself being swept up by an avalanche of hot sand.

Finally, after been spun end over end like a wonky Rhotuka spinner, he dug himself out, surfacing somewhere at what had been the bottom of the dune. He pulled himself free and started to get to his feet, but the moment he tried to stand up, he found a searing hot sword levelled at his throat.

The blade, shaped to resemble flames, glowed red-hot, the intense heat blistering his skin even though the weapon wasn’t actually touching him. “Are you Maliss?” the red-armoured Glatorian who held the sword asked, frowning down at him.

“I might be, that all depends on who’s asking.” Maliss growled, pushing his hand back under the sand and closing it around the hilt of his sword, which was still buried.

“He’s Ackar, I’m Kiina, and unless you want to be the first Toa to drown on dry land, I suggest you start talking,” a second Glatorian, this one female, appeared beside the red one, still shaking sand off her shoulders.

“I am Maliss, and you’re in my way.” Maliss said in a low voice, doing his best to sound menacing. He swept out his robot hand, the buzzsaw at the end striking Ackar’s sword in a flurry of sparks, knocking the glowing blade away from Maliss’ throat. Maliss used his other hand to push his sword up out of the sand, stabbing at Ackar’s leg.

The veteran warrior darted backwards, giving Maliss the time needed to jump to his feet and shift into a battle stance. “You’ve made the last mistake of your lives in challenging me.”

“Let’s take care of this upstart,” Kiina said brightly, twirling her vapour trident absently-mindedly in her hand. “It might even be fun.”

“I think not.” Maliss smiled, looking at something behind her. Ackar spotted the look and followed his gaze. The rock Crahkna had sheltered behind earlier was part of a larger formation buried in the dune. When the sand had given way, the stone had remained, and Crahkna was still up there, an unreachable sniper.

He fired his first shot and Ackar intercepted it with a fireball. Taking advantage of the momentary distraction, Maliss slashed at the Glatorian, only for a three-pronged claw blade to block his strike. The blade was attacked to an armoured gauntlet, and the person wearing that gauntlet was none other than… Icthilos.

“Time to end this.” Icthilos spat, catching Maliss’ weapon between two of the prongs in his weapons and twisting it to wrench Maliss’ sword from his grip. Maliss let himself be pulled forward, and struck out with his buzzsaw, slicing across Icthilos’ chest plate and forcing him to back off.

Maliss took a step back as well, trying to formulate a new plan. There were three of them and only one of him. Crahkna wasn’t going to be very useful after all, not with Ackar pelting him with fireballs, leaving him unable to take a shot. The third Glatorian was probably still buried somewhere nearby, and there was no sign of Hakkzan either. He was on his own.

“Make this easy on everyone Maliss,” Icthilos said carefully, inching forwards, “you aren’t going to like what happens to you, otherwise.”

“I’d rather die than surrender to you, and you know it.” Maliss growled.

“I thought it might come to this.” Icthilos said. He sounded oddly happy about it. “For years, I wanted to find the ones who’d killed my friends and return the favour. My perception of who was responsible has changed, but my goal hasn’t. You’re dead.”

“I’d love to see you try.” Maliss sneered, unleashing his elemental power, trying to pin Icthilos to the ground with his own armour. Not much happened. It took Icthilos a moment to figure out what had been happening, and when he did, he just laughed. “Yeah, my armour isn’t made of metal. I got it replaced a few decades back after I took on two Skakdi or iron at once. That wasn’t much fun, I’ll admit.”

“This will be.” Maliss said, spotting movement. Hakkzan suddenly exploded up out of the sand and tackled Icthilos from the side. The Glatorian were still distracted trying to dislodge Crahkna and didn’t even think to look back at what was happening behind them. Maliss let a grin spread across his face.

First he would help Hakkzan finish off Icthilos, and then he would cut down those Glatorian. Maybe he’d present all of their weapons to The Shadowed One as trophies. First things first, thought… he thought, turning towards where Icthilos grappled with Hakkzan.

An arc of crackling light fizzled past him, vitrifying the sand where it struck a few feet in front of him. He stopped where and stood and turned around to face the third Glatorian, who held double-edged sword that struck him as being oddly familiar. The Glatorian cocked her head to one side, looking at him quizzically. “I can’t believe you did this to us.”

“Do I know you.” She spoke as if she did, but Maliss didn’t recognise her.

“Oh, right, of course.” The Glatorian’s helmet glowed, and she morphed into the visage of a familiar Toa of Lightning. “It’s time I stopped hiding who I am,” Trina said decidedly, “long time, no see, Maliss.”

Maliss couldn’t think of a response. He was completely dumbstruck by her sudden appearance. In that instant, he felt years of confidence began to slip away. Icthilos getting away was an unfortunate mistake. But if Trina had survived as well, then he was a failure.

The Shadowed One did not tolerate failures.

To be continued…      


Author's note: at the end of this week, I'm leaving for a month long overseas trip with my family, and will likely not have time to write any more chapters until I return to Australia. I'll attempt to write out a chapter 12 before I go (I'll make it a good one, with plenty of explosions and cliffhangers and all that good stuff) before I go, but after that, this topic might go dark for a while. 


Just a heads up in advance, and, if you're reading this, thanks for sticking with me this far. 


Stay awesome, from Greavesy. 

Edited by NatoGreavesy, Oct 13 2014 - 12:55 AM.

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#12 Offline Nato The Traveler

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Posted Sep 03 2014 - 10:25 AM

Chronicles of the Cold Hearted

Part 12 – The End?

The battle in the camp was almost over. Most of the freed prisoners had immediately fled out into the desert, more intent on escape than fighting. A handful had remained, thought, mostly Skakdi, with a few Skrall and Vortixx thrown into the mix. They’d grabbed whatever weapons they could find and seemed intent to rampage through the encampment, burning maiming and destroying as they wished.

The Toa and Glatorian were scattered throughout the camp, trying to find the attackers, who struck out and then vanished into the crowds of non-combatants with ease, only to reappear elsewhere in the huge, sprawling camp to destroy something else.

Toa Tahu personally made his way into the fray, the crowds parting around him, recognising his Golden Armour immediately and making way for him. The only being who didn’t get out of the way was the one Tahu had been seeking, the imposing blue Skakdi warlord Nektann, who seemed to be leading the riots.

“We meet again,” Nektann mused, backing away ever so slowly, “I didn’t realise you were so eager for a rematch.”

“How did you get out of the prisons?” Tahu demanded, drawing his fire sword.

“The new guy, that horribly irritating little runt of a Skakdi you locked in with us? You remember him? Yeah, well he had some lockpicks on him. Your guards did a great job of searching him. Well done.”

“Good for you. Now get back in your cell.” Tahu said as he summoned up a ball of fire to pummel the twisted Skakdi into submission.  

“Oh, and I also found one of these after I butchered he guards,” Nektann added, waving a Thornax launcher around, “it’s actually really fun. See?” He fired at Tahu, who dived aside. He felt the shockwave of the ripe fruit exploding behind him, but it only staggered him for a moment. He was back on his feet a few seconds later, still holding the fireball, ready to throw. “Not so fast!” Nektann boomed.

Tahu lowered his sword. Nektann had grabbed the nearest Matoran and put a knife to his throat. “You take another step, and I’ll kill him!” Nektann warned. “You won’t break the Toa code, we both know that. You can’t risk this Matoran’s life by trying to stop me. You’re going to let me go, and once I’ve made my escape, I might let him go. Or I might not. Either way, you aren’t going to stop me, are you?”

Tahu didn’t respond.

* * *

The weight of the red Skakdi slammed Icthilos painfully into the hot sand. Icthilos curled his legs and pushed against the sand, flipping them both end over end down an incline.

Hakkzan was up first, already raising his battle-axe for a killing blow. Icthilos rolled out of the way and leapt to his feet, kicking off the ground and jumping down on top of the axe’s shaft, wrenching the weapon down out of the Skakdi’s grip. For a moment Hakkzan stood there, stunned, until Icthilos’ fist pounded into his surprised face.

He tumbled backwards into the sand but quickly recovered, whipping out a razor-sharp knife and flinging it clumsily at Icthilos, who deflected it with his shield. Taking advantage of the momentary distraction, Hakkzan grabbed the handle of his axe and yanked it back towards him, dragging the whirling saw-blade on the end across Icthilos armoured leg, cutting through into his armour and the leg beneath in a flurry of sparks.

Icthilos stumbled, biting back a cry, but managed to keep himself upright. He stumbled backwards a few steps, agony lancing through his limb with every step he took. “Okay, now you’ve made me mad.” He growled, extending his tri-claw and building up a powerful bolt of ice energy.

“For a Toa of Ice, you really need to chill out,” Hakkzan sneered, “you’re taking everything so personally. It isn’t about you, not really. It’s merely what you represent. A loose end that needs to be tied up once and for all.”

“You and your buddies killed my teammates.” Icthilos spat. “You made it personal.”

“I didn’t kill anyone.” Hakkzan pointed out. “Your girlfriend here clearly isn’t dead,” he pointed up at Trina, “and it was Crahkna who shot your other two friends. I had nothing to do with it.”

“You were still with them. You were the one who broke my blade. You tried your damnedest to kill me. Personal or not, I’m going to see you bleed.” Icthilos intoned, “now, let’s get started!” he lashed out with his claw, blasting Hakkzan with ice.

* * *

“Trina? How nice to see you again.” Maliss chuckled, pacing back and forwards along a thin stretch of sand, “Have you and Icthilos been working together this whole time? To kill me? To be honest, I’m flattered.”

“Icthilos didn’t know. I only found him after his fight with you. Did you enjoy my thunderstorm, by the way? I couldn’t let you catch up with him before I got that chance.”

“That was you?” Maliss asked, “Makes sense. So, what, have you spent all of your time trying to convince him that he’d be a better leader than me? Just like you did before the day I thought you’d died. You never did trust me, did you Trina? You always thought that dear pragmatic Icthilos would have been the best leader.”

“Maybe not the best, but certainly better than you.” Trina spat.

“Really? Icthilos is a cold-hearted killer. Me, I am a leader. A leader has to make the hard choices, and I made the hardest choice of them all. I chose to sacrifice my friends/ those who trusted me, just to ensure the survival of those I protected.”

“What are you trying to say? That you did all of this for the Matoran? Yeah, I’m not buying whatever lies you’re selling.”

“I stayed true to the Toa code. The Matoran come first. Icthilos abandoned it. He’s a killer. He doesn’t care about you, or the Matoran, only himself. He’s obsessed with revenge. You really want to let him drag you down as well?”

“Once you’re dead, there’s nothing for me to get dragged into, is there?” Trina pointed out, “besides, if I kill you, Icthilos won’t even have to live with that weighing on his conscience. It’s a win-win for me. I make you dead, and Icthilos gets to watch you die.”

“What is it with you and him?” Maliss stopped pacing. “You haven’t seen him in a few hundred years, at least, and you immediately trust him. I’ll bet he didn’t trust you at first, did he? He’s become cold and introverted, suspicious of others. Manipulative and murderous and malicious. You’re really putting your trust in someone like that?”

“It’s better than putting my trust in someone like you. I trust Icthilos because we have the same goal. Seeing you dead. Speaking of which, I’m growing tired of this conversation.” She stepped forwards, bringing her sword up to point the two blades right at him. Flickers of electricity crackled between them, casting a blue glow onto the silvery metal.

“Do you really want to do this?” Maliss asked, levelling his spiked sword. “You really want to kill another Toa? Stoop to Icthilos’ level?”

“Sorry to break this to you, Maliss, but Icthilos and I are on the same level.” Trina explained, before a bolt of lightning lanced from the tip of her blade, right towards Maliss.

* * *

“You’ll never learn, will you?” Tahu sighed, sheathing his sword and walking carefully forwards. “You think you can make demands and get a response? That your threats will get you what you want?”

“You want this Matoran to die?” Nektann challenged.

“He won’t. And unfortunately, neither will you.” Tahu said grimly. Twin bursts of heat vision shot from his eyes, striking the knife in Nektann’s hand. The Skakdi dropped the blade with a yelp of surprise and pain. The trapped Matoran broke free of his grip and ran for safety, leaving Tahu to deal with the now-unarmed warlord.

The fight didn’t last long.

* * *

Hakkzan almost evaded the ice strike. Almost.

He managed to dodge the actual blades of Icthilos weapon, but he couldn’t fully outmanoeuvre the burst of elemental energy that accompanied it. The blast hit Hakkzan in the arm shoulder, encasing part of his arm and chest in a solid block of ice.

With his axe held in his now unresponsive frozen hand, Hakkzan was unable to fend off Icthilos’ next attack, a backhanded blow across the face with his shield that bowled him over. “I’ll be back for you.” Icthilos promised the Skakdi, shooting him with a blindness spinner to keep him from causing any more problems for the time being.

Icthilos started to run up the slope to help Trina, but something hammer into his chest, driving the air from his lungs and momentarily staggering him. He looked down, seeing the shaft of a crossbow bolt protruding from his chestplate.

“Great…” he managed to wheeze sarcastically, before he fell backwards.

* * *

Maliss met the lightning bolt head on, stabbing it in midair with his sword, which then reshaped itself, diffusing the lightning bolt and scattering it harmlessly around him.

“Here’s a little science lesson for you, my dear Trina,” Maliss mocked. “Metal conducts electricity. Normally, you might think that would be good news for you, since it means I’m that much easier to electrocute, right? Wrong. I can also redirect your electricity away from myself. I’m untouchable!”

“I wouldn’t be so sure about that.” Trina said with a wry smile. “Ackar, Kiina, get out of the way!” she shouted, before flinging another lightning bolt at the towering stone pillar. It struck a weakened suction of rock, melting the stone to slag. The structure teetered for a moment, and then began to pitch forwards.

“You stupid bit-” Maliss started to curse, before the pillar of stone slammed down on top of him, crushing him into the desert floor.

“Say hi to Makuta for me,” Trina spat at the dust plume. Whatever sort of afterlife awaited the foulest souls to live in this universe was surely where Makuta Teridax had wound up, and Maliss would no doubt soon be meeting him there.

“And do yourself a favour,” Trina added after a moment, “stay dead.”

* * *

“Well, look what we have here.” Icthilos mused, standing over Crahkna where he’d landed. Ackar and Kiina stood further up on the rise, dusting themselves off. Trina was climbing triumphantly on top of the stone pillar that had crushed Maliss. None of them were looking down towards where Icthilos stood, his shield and tri-claw sheathed.

“Nice shot, by the way,” Icthilos added, pulling Crahkna’s arrow out of his chestplate and flinging it to the ground. Only the very tip was stained with blood. “I’m sure if you were closer to me, you might have done more damage. Unfortunately for you, that wasn’t the case.” He paused for breath. “You killed my friends, and now, I’m going to kill you.”

“No!” the Vortixx pleaded, as Icthilos hoisted him up by the throat. “Show mercy, please!”

“Like you showed mercy to my friends?” Icthilos roared, “Toa Bakr and Toa Ecco. You killed them both in cold blood. Shot them dead like the coward you are.”

“I was just doing my job…” Crahkna croaked, gasping for breath.

“And now I’m doing mine. Unlike you, I’m no coward. When I kill someone, I do it up close and very personal.” He squeezed harder, crushing Crahkna’s throat in his iron grip.

“Toa don’t kill…” Crahkna panted weakly.

“I’m not a Toa.” Icthilos whispered, and with a sickening crunch, he completely crumpled the Vortixx’s windpipe. He let Crahkna fall to the ground. The Vortixx writhed, clutching desperately at his broken throat, gasping and wheezing for breaths that would never come. After a few moments of frenzied struggling, he went limp, oxygen starvation ending him.

“I guess we won.” Icthilos said as he approached Trina.

“We’d best get back to the camp.” Ackar said, and he and Kiina headed back down towards the now-smoking camp.

“It’s over now,” Trina said, once the two Glatorian were out of earshot. “Maliss is dead, somewhere underneath me, actually.” She patted the stone pillar she was sitting on, indicating for him to sit up beside her. He pulled himself up and edged closer to her, putting a supportive arm around her shoulder.

“This certainly turned out a lot better than I might have hoped.” He admitted. “I didn’t expect to have any help in getting my revenge. I didn’t expect anyone to care. In all honesty… I didn’t think I’d survive the experience. I’m happy to have been wrong, on all of those accounts. So… now what do we do?”

“Remember what I said earlier? About you making a team of your own?” Trina reminded him. “I’ll be your second in command, if you want.”

“Well, I’m not going to refuse an offer like that, am I?” Icthilos laughed. “I need someone I can rely on, and you’re the only real friend I have left.”

There was a pause, before Trina finally spoke up once more. “Icthilos, I…” she hesitated again, and in the moment of awkward silence, everything went wrong.

Spears of metal ripped upwards out of the sand, tearing apart the stone structure, pulling the two Toa away from each other and flinging them into the air, only to fall back down towards the ever-growing field of spikes. Then the entire dune exploded in a geyser of raw, jagged metal that rained down like a hailstorm from hades.

When the cloud of sand finally settled, a malignant monument to malice was all that remained of the site of the battle. Of the two Toa, there was no sign.

The End…? 


Author's note: wow... that took longer to write than I thought it would. I'm fairly certain that's my longest chapter so far. Now, as I mentioned in my last post, this may be the last chapter for a little while. I'm going to be out of the country, sightseeing and doing all sorts of touristy things, so I don't know how much time I'll have to write and plan out more chapters. But if I really don't end up writing anything for another month, I'll try to put you all somewhat at ease. 


Rest assured that Icthilos and Trina aren't dead... yet. 

Edited by NatoGreavesy, Oct 13 2014 - 12:57 AM.

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#13 Offline Nato The Traveler

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Posted Sep 20 2014 - 09:07 AM

Think of this as the start of, I dunno, season 2 or something. I don't really know where I'm going to go with the story yet, so I guess we'll all get to find out together. As always, any sort of advice, ideas, criticisms or suggestions would be appreciated. Without further ado... Welcome back!


Code of the Cold Hearted

Part 1 – Welcome Back

Icthilos was honestly surprised to still be alive. Everything hurt. Everything. He tried to get up, but couldn’t. Pain flared through his leg where Hakkzan had hit him, and in a dozen other places besides. He strained his neck to take in his surroundings. He was on his back on the rough sands of Bara Magna, somewhere on the far side of what had been the dune where he and Trina had fought Maliss and his Dark Hunters.

Rising up out of the sandy earth where the dune had been was a twisted nightmare of jagged, rent metal, the result of an Iron Nova Blast. Maliss’ dying gift. Seeing the mountain of blades rising out of the sand gave Icthilos a pretty good idea of why everything hurt. He tried once more to sit up, but his battered, broken body refused to respond. His vision blurred, and he lowered his head back onto the dirt, feeling dizzy.

“Help…” he wheezed weakly, before succumbing to unconsciousness.

* * *

“Hey, wake up,” a friendly, familiar voice said softly. Icthilos blinked himself awake, momentarily blinded by sunlight streaming in through a nearby window. “Welcome back,” Trina’s voice said; he felt her hands gripping one of his tightly. She sat in a chair beside the bed he was in, somewhere inside a large shelter of some kind. There seemed to be more beds nearby, and he realised he was in some kind of infirmary or hospital within the camp.

“What happened?” he groaned, trying to sit up. Trina immediately grabbed him firmly by the shoulders and held him down. One of her arms was partially wrapped in bandages, and she had several gashes in different parts of her armour, but she didn’t look all that worse for wear. Especially not when compared to Icthilos himself. “Ow…” he groaned.

“Maliss must have been readying himself for a Nova Blast before I crushed him. When he died, all of that energy still needed to be released. Because he was buried under the stone pillar and the sand, the blast was a lot more concentrated. We got caught right in the middle of it.” She smiled brightly. “But we still survived. That’s all that matters.”

“Is it?” Icthilos groaned, trying once more to get up. “Why did it take so long between Maliss getting crushed and the energy being released?”

“He didn’t die right away?” Trina suggested, “Why does it matter?”

“Because he might not be dead.” Icthilos growled. The thought filled him with dread, and a touch of sorrow as well. When he and Trina had sat atop that fallen pillar, he’d felt like everything was finally going to be alright. They’d won, and he had a chance to live a happy life in the company of someone who actually cared about him – who he cared for as well.

But now, with that lingering doubt that Maliss may not be dead after all, Icthilos realised he couldn’t be happy. Not yet. He had to know. After so many centuries, he needed closure.

“I need to know.” Icthilos grabbed Trina’s hand. “We need to get out of here and dig up that mountain piece by piece if we have to. I need to see him dead to know for sure. I can’t live with myself unless I know my friends – our friends – have been avenged. Please, Trina, help me get out of here.”

Trina sighed tiredly. “Fine. The healers say you’ll need to stay here a few more days, maybe more, before you’ll even be able to walk around again. It’ll be even longer before you’ll be back to your usual self. We got really lucky out there. Don’t ruin that by hurting yourself more. You won’t be going out there before you’re ready.”

“But…” Icthilos began to protest weakly.

“No.” Trina said softly, but firmly. “I’ll search instead. Can you trust me to do that?”

Icthilos hesitated for a moment. There’d been a time in his life when he thought he couldn’t trust anyone. He’d had no one left, and no one else except him cared anymore anyway. How things had changed, and only for the better. “Yes.” He said with complete confidence. He took a deep, shaky breath and lay back down on the bed, closing his eyes. He heard Trina start to rise from her chair, and his eyes snapped open as a thought crossed his mind.

He shot out his arm and caught her wrist, making sure to grab her unbandaged arm. “Trina… thank you. For everything. I’m glad I have one good friend left.” He felt like there was more he wanted to say, but he couldn’t find the words. He let his hand linger on hers a moment longer, then let go. Those words would have to remain unsaid.

* * *

Trina emerged out into the sunlight, a maelstrom of emotions clouding her consciousness. A mix of anger, sadness and something else, unfamiliar and strange, but comforting at the same time. After everything she had been through, she’d finally found someone she completely trusted. Together they’d gotten their revenge, and… and then what? What had she expected to do? Live a happy life with Icthilos together forever?

Like that was ever going to happen. She should have known that things could never be simple. But Maliss was dead, surely? No one could have survived being crushed like that. He was gone forever. But the only way to prove that to Icthilos, to make him let go and move on with his life, was for Trina to somehow dig down into that mountain of metal to find whatever was left of the rogue Toa of Iron.

Only then could Trina leave her past behind, and work towards her new future.

* * *

In the distance, a red Skakdi watched the camp with baleful eyes. Maliss was gone, it seemed, but the fight was far from over. The Shadowed One had given Maliss a mission, and Hakkzan intended to finish it, if it was the last thing he ever did. Failure wasn’t an option.

Death was preferable to what The Shadowed One would do to him if he didn’t succeed.

To be continued…

Edited by NatoGreavesy, Oct 13 2014 - 01:03 AM.

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#14 Offline Nato The Traveler

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Posted Oct 13 2014 - 12:45 AM

Okay, sorry it's been a while since I last updated. I've been caught up with returning to Australia, and then the bionicle 2015 hype. I've planned out a little more about where I want the story to go from here, and will try to do at least one chapter each week from now on. So, here we go... :)


Code of the Cold Hearted

Part 2 – Buried Deep

“You have a plan?” Icthilos asked groggily, sitting up in his bed as Trina entered the room.

“I guess you could call it a plan…” she said hesitantly, “I’m getting a team together to dig through the metal. That’s about it. We’ll see what we find, and I’ll get back to you. I’ll also go look around the camp and see if there are any other Toa or Matoran of iron who’d be willing to talk to me about what happened. Wish me luck?”

Icthilos smiled. “You won’t need it,” he assured her, “you never have.”

Somehow, that earnest comment meant more to Trina than if he had wished her luck. Nodding wordlessly, she ducked out of the tent and vanished into the camp.

Icthilos lay back, tucking his pillow under his head, and sighed. He felt worthless sitting here, waiting to recover. For centuries now, he’d had to rely solely on his own strength, his own skills, to survive. Now he was putting all of his faith in someone else to do it for him. Even though it went entirely agaisnt his nature, he knew he’d made the right choice.

* * *

Trina watched the team of Skakdi labourers march up the slope to where the metal monolith stood. The eight of them, with their heat and laser vision powers, drills, saws and other technology, would hopefully make short work of the mess, and find whatever was buried underneath. But while they did that, she had other things to do.

She’d tracked down one of the Order’s old contacts, a Nyrah Ghost who’d gone into hiding ages ago, but been flushed out when Makuta had been defeated. In return for protection from his old enemies, her contact had promised to tell her anything she needed to know about Toa of Iron, and Nova Blasts.

He was waiting for her in a small shelter on the edge of the camp, hidden away from most of the populace. The shelter was small, too cramped for Trina to even stand up straight, so she had to duck her head as she stepped inside and sat down in a chair, her contact, Ferro, closing the door behind her.

The short, stocky Fe-Matoran seemed even more nervous than usual, and that was saying something. “Are you okay?” Trina asked, watching carefully as he sat down across from her, leaning agaisnt the back wall of the tent, nervously clutching at a disk launcher, which he pointed towards the doorway behind her.

“You expecting trouble?” Trina asked.

“I always expect trouble,” Ferro said quickly, “now, what did you want from me?”

“Toa of Iron. Nova Blasts. I told you all of this before.” Trina said, confused. What was wrong with him today? It had her worried, and she was already feeling concerned about other things. More worry was the exact opposite of what she needed right now.

“Right, well, yes…” Ferro stammered, “You told me your… friend… was buried under a stone pillar before releasing the Nova Blast, yes?”

“Yes…” Trina hesitated. Something wasn’t right here. Ferro’s hand had shifted slightly as he spoke. He was stalling with his words, and the disk launcher was now aimed ever-so-subtly at her. “What we want to know is if my friend could have survived that?” Trina rubbed her hands together, leaning forward as she spoke. Flickers of blue lightning crackled between her palms, a silent warning to Ferro not to try anything.

He didn’t notice, or if he did, he gave no sign, but he did point the disk launcher away from her once more. That was a sure sign of something. Ferro had been completely agreeable the last time she’d spoken to him, but now he looked ready to shoot her. Something had him spooked. Was he being threatened?

“Well, if this person was buried, and then released the blast, it probably would have killed them too. The organics would have been completely ripped away, leaving nothing but the metal parts, which would have been dispersed through the rest of the blast. I don’t know what your guys are digging for, but there’s not going to be anything left to find. I’m sorry.”

“Don’t be.” I assured him, “there’s no way they could have absorbed the metal around them to save themselves from the blast?”

“No. From what I understand of Toa, a Nova Blast involves releasing a huge amount of pent up elemental energy. It’s impossible to absorb and release the energy at the same time. Now, was there anything else you wanted to know about… that stuff?”  

“No. I do have one question for you, though. You do seem a lot more nervous today than you did yesterday. Has anyone spoken to you since our last chat?”

“I…” Ferro swallowed, “I’m sorry.” He raised the disk launcher to fire, but before he could, something cold and grey sprouted from his chest, and he dropped the launcher, blood gurgling in the back of his throat. Trina cursed and threw herself to the ground, flinging a bolt of lightning through the cloth wall of the tent. She got up and ran outside, hitting her head on the low doorframe as she passed through, but managing to keep on her feet.

But by the time she reached the back of the tent, sword drawn, intent on brutally attacking the unknown killer, there was no sign of them. She lowered her weapon, biting back another string of vicious profanities, and pulled the stone sword out of the back of the tent. Whoever had killed Ferro must have been just outside the entire time, listening to everything that was said.

She sighed, sheathing her own weapon and holding up the stone one up in the sunlight. It was a short blade, and almost two thirds of it was streaked with Ferro’s insides. There was absolutely nothing remarkable or identifiable about it. She lowered the blade and stalked away to go find the guards, to report the killing and hand in the weapon as evidence.

In the shadows of a nearby shelter, the killer lowered his secondary weapon, a crossbow he’d taken from the corpse of a dead Vortixx up on the slope near the camp. He could have killed Trina now, or even let Ferro do it in the tent, but now was not the time for her to die.

The time would come, but not yet…

* * *

Hakkzan had it easy. When the group of Skakdi had arrived, he’d joined them. None of them even looked up from their work. As the hours went by, they slowly chipped away at the metal, searing and cutting and grinding their way through into the deepest part of the metal pile. Once they hit stone and sand, they knew they’d found the epicentre of the explosion.

Unsurprisingly, there was nothing left to find.

* * *

Sitting dejectedly on a rock outside of the camp, Trina watched the troupe of Skakdi return from their trip. She didn’t need to ask. From the expressions on their faces, it was clear that there was nothing left to find. “Sorry to waste your time,” she told them, handing a pouch of coins up to the leader.”

She sat there, staring down at the sand, seeing the feet of the nine Skakdi out the corner of her eye as they passed. Wait… nine? She’d only hired eight. She jumped to her feet, and heard the sound of running even before she’d had a chance to turn around. By the time she had, all she caught was a glimpse of a fire Skakdi bolting into the depths of the camp.

A Skakdi with a buzzsaw axe.

* * *

“Icthilos, wake up,” Trina nudged him awake and helped him sit up.

“Ugh, what time is it?” he asked, blinking several times to clear his eyes.

“Late afternoon. Sorry to wake you, but this is all important. My contact told me that Maliss couldn’t have survived, that his body was likely destroyed by the blast. The Skakdi didn’t find anything either.”

“So, case closed?” Icthilos grinned, “We won?”

“Not quite. Someone threatened my contact. He pulled a disk launcher on me, then someone else stabbed him through the back of his own tent. He’s dead.”

“What… Why?”

 “I don’t know, but that isn’t even our biggest problem.  You know they found the bodies of Graedak and Crahkna, right? And you remember the other Skakdi, Hakkzan?”

“Don’t tell me…” Icthilos groaned, already knowing what was coming next. “He’s alive?”


To be continued…

Edited by NatoGreavesy, Oct 13 2014 - 01:04 AM.

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#15 Offline Nato The Traveler

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Posted Oct 15 2014 - 08:25 PM

Surprise everyone; two chapters in one week! Enjoy!


Code of the Cold Hearted

Part 3– Manhunt

“Yes, Hakkzan is alive.” Trina confirmed. “I saw him sneak into camp with the rest of the Skakdi workers, which means he wasn’t the one who killed my contact,” she added “which means there’s two potential killers on the loose in the camp right now.”

“That… could be a problem.” Icthilos agreed. He heard a noise behind him, outside the back of the tent: the sound of careful footsteps crunching in the soft sand. “What do we do?”

“I’ve already told the council about what happened to Ferro. The guard is on the lookout, combing the camp for more stone swords like the one I found.”

“What if they were a Toa of stone?” Icthilos pointed out. “They could have made the weapon with their powers. The guard won’t find anything that way.” In the corner of his eye, he spotted movement outside, a shadow agaisnt the tent wall. There were two people spying on their tent? Didn’t anyone understand the meaning of the word privacy anymore?

“Right now, it’s the only lead any of us have,” Trina shrugged, “what other choice do we have? I haven’t gone to the guard about the Skakdi, though. Not yet.”

“You want to deal with him yourself?” Icthilos guessed.

“You bet I do.” Trina grinned. “You were right. This is something we need to do ourselves.”

Icthilos smiled, getting up out of the bed despite his body’s protests. “If he’s here to finish what Maliss started, he’ll be coming for me, we both know that. Our best bet would be to lay an ambush, with me as bait.”

“I don’t know if that’s quite what I had in mind…” Trina trailed off, knowing he wasn’t going to take no for an answer. “But if that’s how you want to do this, then fine. So what, are we just going to wait around here for him to arrive and try to kill you?”

“We don’t need to wait,” Icthilos grinned. “He’s already here.”

“What?” Trina exploded, “How…?”

Icthilos very calmly picked up his shield, charging up the built-in Rhotuka spinner. “Well, clearly you aren’t the being who’s been standing right outside the back of the tent ever since you got here, listening to our every word.”

As he spoke, the sound of panicked running came from outside. The shadow loitering near the wall never moved, though. “Go get him.” Icthilos nodded to her. He waited a few moments until she’d gone, then fired his spinner straight through the tent wall, at the spot where he’d seen the shadow.

He picked up a knife off the table and limped through the shredded hole in the fabric, expecting to find a stunned and blinded enemy waiting on the other side. Instead, there was nothing. Somehow, he’d missed. “Impossible,” he breathed. He never missed.

* * *

The killer was close enough to Icthilos to just make out what he said, and he did his best not to laugh at the Toa’s ironic choice of words. Impossible indeed. Slinking off into the dim evening air, the killer considered his options. He had to clean up all of the loose ends. Icthilos was one, Trina was another, but Hakkzan was a third.

He needed to be cleaned up as well.

* * *

“Stop!” Trina shouted, flinging a lightning bolt from her sword at the fleeing Skakdi. Hakkzan let out a yelp of surprise as he was flung onto the sandy ground. Trina struck again, but he rolled aside, getting back on his feet in an instant, flinging a burst of impact vision her way.

The invisible blow struck Trina like a flying anvil (she actually knew what getting hit by a flying anvil felt like – long story, that) and knocked her onto her back on the ground. Before she could even try to get up, he hit her again. She gasped in pain, feeling something crack from the force. She tried to get up once more, and he hit her again, this time sending her skidding backwards across the rough sand.

With each attack Hakkzan moved closer, readying his buzzsaw axe to deliver a killing blow. Trina saw him coming and desperately raised her sword to fend him off, but he knocked it from her hands with another blast of impact vision, never giving her the chance to fight back or recover. “I should have done this last time,” he spat, “instead of giving Maliss his time to gloat. We had a job, and we should have done it, without letting his personal grudges take over and get in the way. Now look where he is! Gone. It’s up to me to finish the job.”

“Get it over with already,” Trina wheezed, not seeing any way out. The moment she tried to make a move, he’d just hit her again. And again. And again. That wasn’t going to stop her from trying, though. She forced her battered body to roll sideways, and felt his impact vision blast the sand where she’d been.

She made a grab for her sword, but his vision power struck her in the back, pummelling her past the weapon, out of reach. “Enough of this…” Hakkzan snarled, striding forwards, axe raised. He started to swing it down, then suddenly stopped, eyes wide, jaw slack. His axe fell from suddenly his slack hands, and he fell to the ground without a sound.

The feathered end of crossbow bolt was clearly visible in the back of the skakdi’s head. Shaking with both fear and relief, Trina got slowly to her feet and retrieved her weapon, wincing at the pain stabbing through her lower chest. He’d definitely broken one of her ribs. What in the name of Mata Nui had just happened? Had the same killer from yesterday taken out Hakkzan as well? Or was it a third party?

She wasn’t sure, but since she didn’t have a crossbow bolt sticking out of her own skull, she assumed that whoever had killed the Skakdi wasn’t after her. But at least she could give Icthilos the good news. With Hakkzan dead, they had one less enemy to deal with.

She limped back towards the tent where she’d left Icthilos, using her sword to support her, when a pair of burly Glatorian moved to block her path. “You’re the one they call Trina?” one of them asked in a gruff voice.

“Ah… yes?” she replied. The question in her tone was clear: what did they want with her?

“You’re to be taken into custody for the murder of the Fe-Matoran Ferro.” One of them said, “hand over your weapon and come with us.”

“You’ve got to be kidding me…” she muttered in disbelief, doing as they ordered.

This day had just gone from bad to worse.

* * *

Watching from the darkness, the crossbow killer smiled. Perfect. His plan to frame her for the murder had worked perfectly, and he couldn’t wait to see how she tried to explain away the dead Skakdi with the crossbow bolt through his head. The killer didn’t feel bad. After all, Hakkzan had been the one to cut his arm off. He’d had it coming.

As for Trina… well, the only reason he hadn’t let Hakkzan kill her now was so that he would have the satisfaction of killing her himself later on. He was going to take his time with her.



without another sound, Maliss turned away from the scene and vanished into the growing night.  

To be continued…

Edited by NatoGreavesy, Oct 15 2014 - 08:28 PM.

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#16 Offline Nato The Traveler

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Posted Oct 24 2014 - 01:24 AM

Code of the Cold Hearted

Part 4– Framed

“What in the name of Mata Nui is going on here?!” Icthilos stormed into the camp’s main tent, where Trina was already waiting, watched over by a pair of guards.

Tahu looked up from the stone sword he was examining. “Nice of you to finally join us.” Was all he said. He went back to examining the weapon.

“Trina, are you okay?” Icthilos asked her, pushing one of the guards aside. “What happened?” She looked a little worse for wear, but she was alive; that was a good start.

“These idiots think I murdered Ferro!” she spat.

Icthilos rolled his eyes. “I know that, I meant with Hakkzan.”

“Someone put an arrow through his head. I don’t know who it was,” Trina muttered, “but I didn’t kill anybody!” she shouted towards the front of the tent, where Tahu was now conversing with Ackar in hushed tones.

“I know that,” Icthilos assured her. He believed her, but he wanted to know why the guards thought she was responsible in the first place. He rounded on the nearest guard, ignoring the aching protests from his battered body. “What evidence do you have?”

“A stone sword identical to the one used to kill Ferro was found in her tent,” one of the guards intoned gravely. “That’s reason enough to bring her in for questioning.”

“Are you kidding me? That’s-”

“Enough,” Tahu cut in. He gestured for the guards to leave. Once they were gone, he spoke up. “Anything you’d like to say in your defence?” he asked Trina, holding up two identical stone swords. One, which was covered in blood, was obviously the one that had slain Ferro.

Trina did her best not to laugh. “Do I look like an idiot to you? If I was the killer, why would I hand in the murder weapon and report the death? Ferro was a recluse, he was in hiding. If I hadn’t said anything, it might have been days before the body was discovered, and there would have been no way to connect it to me.”

“Unless…” Icthilos said cryptically, “…you wanted to get caught?”

“I will hurt you,” Trina managed to keep a straight face. “Could you at least try, for once in your life, to take something seriously?”

“How can I possibly take this seriously?” Icthilos snorted, “This is ridiculous!”

“If you two are done…” Ackar cut in, “it’s obvious you were framed, but… he held up his hand to silence what Icthilos was about to say, “…this still needs to be taken seriously.”

“A Matoran is dead,” Tahu reminded them, “and now, a Skakdi as well. And the only suspects right now are you.” He pointed at Trina. “This presents a problem.”

“But why frame me for a murder?” Trina asked. “I mean, sure, I’ve irked my fair share of beings in my time, but I can’t think of anyone who would resort to murder.”

“I know a couple of people who might,” Icthilos added, “what if some of my enemies decided to get revenge on me by going through you?”

“That still makes no sense,” Trina shook her head. “Hardly anyone knows who I am, let alone my relationship with you…” she trailed off awkwardly, “…you know, being friends, or whatever…” Maybe relationship had been a poor choice of words.

“I think this was personal,” Ackar tossed something to Icthilos. A crossbow bolt, presumably the same one that had killed Hakkzan. “Look familiar to you?”

Icthilos remembered how many friends he’d lost to projectiles identical to this one. His free hand brushed a puncture hole in the middle of his chestplate, where a bolt like this had punched through. “Crahkna’s crossbow… someone found it?”

“I would guess so.” Trina snatched the bolt out of Icthilos’ hand and looked at it. “It’s been modified. The steel head’s been replaced with stone.”

“Give me one of those swords,” Icthilos said suddenly, taking back the arrow and comparing it to the weapon that was handed to him. “What a surprise…” he held them up for everyone to see, “…they match.”

“Great!” Trina said brightly, “now all we have to do is find out where that type of stone comes from; it has to be somewhere nearby, and…”

“Actually, no.” Ackar interjected once more. “While it is now safe to assume the skakdi’s killer and the person who framed you are the same being, it still doesn’t tell us who they are. Secondly, there’s still the problem of everyone thinking you’re a killer.”

“Until you’re innocence is proven, we can’t let you wander freely,” Tahu said. He didn’t sound very happy about it, either. “Everyone in the guard currently thinks you killed a Matoran, and while they may take my word that you didn’t, they might not. I’d rather not take that risk in the first place.”

“So you’d rather lock her up with the other prisoners for something we all know she didn’t do?” Icthilos snapped. “Yeah, I don’t think so.”

“Will you please let me finish?” Tahu asked impatiently, almost marvelling at the fact that a Toa of ice was being more hot-headed than him. “Gali is setting out early tomorrow with a group to go scouting a location for New Atero. I went with her a while back but didn’t find anything. I intend to send Trina with her. That way, she’s in safe hands.”

“In safe hands?” Trina snapped. “I won’t be able to do anything to help.”

“You’ll help by not being in the firing line when whoever’s after me comes.” Icthilos cut in, agreeing with Tahu’s plan. “This isn’t about you. At least, I don’t think it is. You’ll be safer this way, and the rest of us can figure out who’s behind this.”

“I can’t believe this.” Trina muttered, “You know this is exactly what they want, right? They want to get me away from you so that you’re on your own; an easy target. Once I leave they’ll come after you for certain.”


A cold smile flashed across Icthilos’ face. “That’s what I’m counting on.

To be continued…

Edited by NatoGreavesy, Oct 24 2014 - 01:25 AM.

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#17 Offline Nato The Traveler

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Posted Oct 27 2014 - 10:02 PM

Code of the Cold Hearted

Part 5 – Parting Ways

“This is a stupid plan,” Trina repeated, “It’s a stupid plan.”  

“I know,” Icthilos said grimly, as the pair of them walked towards the edge of the camp. It was morning now. Trina had spent the night in a spacious cell under heavy guard – for her own safety, of course – and now she was leaving with the rest of Gali’s group while Icthilos stayed behind. “But at least you aren’t in the camp with the crazed killer.”

“That’s the problem!” Trina protested, “I can’t help you if I’m…” she trailed off, realising they were out in the open where anyone could overhear. She just shot him an angry look and stormed off ahead.

“Great…” Icthilos sighed, “…and now she hates me.”

“It’s alright,” Kiina popped up beside him, with another Glatorian, and an Agori in tow. “Gresh, Berix, and I’ll take good care of her.”

“I’m not worried about something happening to her,” Icthilos tried to clarify. “I’m worried about what she’s going to do to me when she gets back.” It was funny how quickly things changed. A few weeks ago he’d only been looking out for himself. Now here he was, surrounded by allies and more worried about someone else’s feelings than his own. “Good luck on your mission, anyway,” he hung back, watching Trina strike up a conversation with one of the other expeditioners. “I think it’ll be best if I hang back and leave her be.”

“Save your luck for yourself,” Ackar joined them, “using yourself as bait isn’t a good plan.”

“Don’t remind me,” Icthilos turned and walked away, back towards the centre of the camp. What no one saw was the figure in the dark cloak shadowing him through the crowd.  

* * *

Trina turned away from the Matoran she’d been speaking to and looked back towards where she’d last seen Icthilos. She sighed dejectedly; he was already gone. She’d wanted to apologise for the way she was acting. She was frustrated, to be sure, but she recognised that the plan was sensible, even if she didn’t like it. She just didn’t want the last words between her and Icthilos to be bad ones.

But it was too late for that, since it seemed that he’d left already.

She was overreacting anyway. He’d been through too much to be broken by a few harsh words. Trina, on the other hand… well, she’d lost a lot of friends over the years, and Icthilos was starting to feel like more than just a friend to her. She didn’t want to lose him as well.

“Is that everyone?” she asked no one in particular.

“Yes,” Gali, Toa Nuva of water confirmed.

“Then let’s get out of here,” Trina replied.

* * *

Icthilos rounded a corner and stopped, pressing his back agaisnt a wall. He could hear footsteps following his path, and he activated his mask, quickly jumping past the hooded figure as soon as they came around the corner. With their peripheral vision cut off by their hood, and unable to hear where Icthilos was, the stranger was taken completely by surprise.

Icthilos struck out with his foot, hitting his opponent in the back of the knee, causing his leg to give out. Deactivating his mask, Icthilos knocked them entirely onto the ground and tackled them, grabbing them by the throat. “Why are you following me?” he hissed.

The hood fell back. It was a male Glatorian, clad in orange and grey armour. “Relax, I’m here to help you.” He seemed earnest, but Icthilos no longer trusted appearances.

“How could you possibly help me?” Icthilos challenged.

“Pull back my cloak, look at my dagger,” the Glatorian said. Icthilos carefully reached around the Glatorian’s side and drew the dagger sheathed on his hip. “Now you see?” the Glatorian asked, nudging the hand away from his throat.

Icthilos got to his feet and helped the Glatorian up, looking at the grey stone dagger in his hand. “Where did you get this?” he asked. The stone was identical to what he’d seen on the two swords, and the crossbow bolts as well.

“I made it.” The Glatorian explained. “This type of stone can only be found at one specific location, and not many people know about it. Fewer still actually use it. I saw what the murder weapons looked like when the guards came through last night, so I decided to pass the information along. I can even take you to the place, if you like.”

“You come with me. Ackar and the others will want to hear about this.”

“Uh… I’d rather not,” the Glatorian hesitated. “I’m part of the iron tribe – or whatever’s left of it. We aren’t the most popular beings around… the Glatorian and Agori think we’re cursed, and Telluris and Sahmad did little to help our reputation.”

“Well what do you suggest?” Icthilos snapped, handing the dagger back. “I’m not really in the mood to go out in the middle of nowhere with a complete stranger.” He vaguely remembered Sahmad; one of the first beings he’d met upon his arrival on the island. If he was part of the same tribe as this guy… maybe it was worth a leap of faith?

“That’s my offer, take it or leave it,” the Glatorian started to walk away.

“Fine.” Icthilos scowled, “Let’s go. But first things first, you got a name?”

“Gerrok,” the Glatorian introduced himself, throwing up his hood. “Now, follow me.”

* * *

Maliss watched, hidden in the crowd, as Trina left with the rest of the expedition party. She was no longer a problem. It meant he’d have to travel a little further to find her later on, but it also meant she couldn’t interfere with his plans here.

Now… to find Icthilos… and finish him once and for all.

* * *

Trailing after the rest of the group, Trina pulled a battered notebook from her pocket. It had been Ferro’s journal, and also contained his schematics and a few other things. It had been put along with the rest of Ferro’s belongings into an evidence chest somewhere in the main tent, and Tahu had let her take the book with her. She also had a list of all of the items in the evidence chest, and an autopsy report, not that she really needed that last one.

She’d seen him die; she knew what had happened.

She hoped that the journal or the list might give her some kind of a hint as to who had killed Ferro, and why they’d killed him to begin with.

The longer she thought about this whole incident, the less sense it made. There was something going on here that she was missing… and whatever it was, it couldn’t be good.

To be continued…

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#18 Offline Nato The Traveler

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Posted Nov 12 2014 - 07:12 AM

I'm so sorry it's taken this long to update.

I've been very busy with my final university assignments and exams for this year.

Anywho, here's the latest chapter. Enjoy.  B-) 


Code of the Cold Hearted

Part 6 – Quest for Evidence

“So Gerrok, why choose to help a complete stranger?” Icthilos asked as the pair left the camp and started out into the open desert.

“Like I said, I’m Iron tribe. I know firsthand what it’s like to get blamed for a crime I didn’t commit. You’re strangers to this world; you’ve done no wrong to me. I saw no reason to let your friend suffer the same fate my tribe did.”

“She’s innocent. We know she’s innocent, we just need to prove it, and figure out who is trying to frame her, and why.” Icthilos explained, “Trina won’t be suffering anything.”

They walked in silence for a while longer, until Gerrok spoke up once more. “So… you mind telling me who might want to frame your friend for murder?”

“I don’t know. We think it might be someone trying to get her out of the way so they can get to me.” Icthilos saw no reason to lie to the Glatorian. “I wasn’t exactly the most popular guy around back… home. I made a lot of enemies.”

“I see.” Gerrok thought this over. “Maybe this wasn’t the best idea.”

“Too late to turn back now,” Icthilos said flatly. “How much further.”

“Another-” Gerrok was interrupted by the sound of something big crunching through the sand nearby. A moment later, four of the large, reptilian beasts Icthilos had encountered a while back crested the rise, with their Bone Hunter riders already pointing Thornax launchers down at the two travellers. More Bone Hunters, these ones on foot, swiftly appeared, following the mounts.

Some of them had weapons that looked to have come from inside the Matoran Universe, disk launchers and protodermis blades and the like.

“Friends of yours?” Icthilos growled, readying his own weapons.

“I wouldn’t call them friends…” Gerrok said hesitantly, “…more like forced acquaintances.”  

“What is that meant to mean?” Icthilos snapped, trying to decide which of the Bone Hunters to strike down first should they attack.

“They own this patch of desert. We have to pay our way past them.”

“Why didn’t you tell me that before we left?” Icthilos snapped.

“Because I thought we could sneak past them.” Gerrok muttered. “I guess not.”

“What happens if we don’t pay them; because I’ve got nothing on me.”

“They might decide to kill us on the spot, or they’ll drag us off to their leader so that he can decide what to do with us. Do you want me to ask them?”

“You speak their language?”

“Of course I do.” Gerrok said in mock offence. He stepped towards the nearest of the mounts and called up to the rider in the guttural language of the Bone Hunters.

The rider barked something back, and Gerrok sighed. “Looks like they’re taking us to their leader. Turn off your weapons and follow them. If you try to turn, they kill us both.”

“Ugh, fine.” Icthilos collapsed his shield and blade, and fell into step beside Gerrok, the group of Bone Hunters forming up around them.

Gerrok suddenly laughed. Icthilos gave him a questioning glance. “It’s just like you said before,” Gerrok exclaimed, “it’s too late to turn back.”

* * *

Maliss had turned the camp upside down looking for Icthilos. The Ko-Toa was nowhere to be found. He could have snuck off and gone after Trina, or ventured into the remnants of the Matoran Universe, or wandered off into the desert.

Maliss punched his remaining fist into the nearest wall, denting the metal. So close, yet so far. His prey had eluded him once more. He would have to bide his time, and wait for Icthilos to return. And when he did… Maliss would finish him.

Only then would he go after Trina.

* * *

Trina sat on her own when the rest of the party stopped for lunch. She was distracted with something she’d found in the book scrabbled notes, next to a schematic for some kind of rounded saw-like weapon. It looked familiar, but she couldn’t think of any projects of Ferro’s that it reminded her of. She kept skimming through, finding the most recent journal entry.

He’s asked me if I wish to help him, but he isn’t giving me a choice. If I go agaisnt his orders, he’ll kill me. He wants me to attack Trina when she comes to see me tomorrow. He thinks she’ll kill me; I don’t understand why. Trina isn’t a murderer. No one was crazy enough to believe that someone like her would actually murder a Matoran.

Toa or not, it’s still her duty to protect the Matoran. She’ll save me from this maniac.

I have faith.

Trina snapped the book shut and lashed out in anger, blasting a scorched crater in a nearby sand dune with a searing lightning bolt. She’d failed Ferro. He’d been waiting and hoping for her to save him, and she’d failed.

* * *

“Who’re these guys?” Icthilos asked Gerrok, as they were led towards what seemed to be a camp of some kind.

“They’re… Skrall?” Gerrok seemed confused. “These guys weren’t here before.” Dozens of red and black armoured warriors with razor-edged shields stood around the edge of the camp, silent, watchful sentries. “They must have banded with these Bone Hunters.”

“Is that a problem?” Icthilos asked.

“Well, if one of these Skrall are in charge, yes, it could be a problem.” Gerrok admitted.

“It’s not the Skrall you have to worry about,” Icthilos looked up towards the familiar voice. A white-clad Agori stepped forward, intercepting the party. The last time Icthilos had seen him, he’d been running for his life, terrified, shaken, nervous and uncertain.

All of that was gone now. The Agori was confident, calm and collected. The Skrall and Bone Hunters parted to let him pass. A hulking brute of a Skrall stood to one side of him, and another of the warriors stood to the other.

“I know you…” Metus said with a smug smile, fixing his gaze on Icthilos.

To be continued…

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#19 Offline Nato The Traveler

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Posted Nov 22 2014 - 11:49 PM

 Code of the Cold Hearted

Part 7 – Rebuild

“Yes, you do.” Icthilos relied calmly. He didn’t want to provoke the Agori when he was surrounded by what he assumed to be trained killers, but he wasn’t going to back down either. “Made some new friends, did you?”

“Old friends actually,” Metus said, completely at ease, “I led them once before, but then Mata Nui ruined my plans. Now that this giant robot business is over, I’ve convinced them to let me lead them once more.” Icthilos started noticing more Agori nearby, some dressed in stony armour, others dressed more like Gerrok. Iron Agori?

“What are you doing in the quarry?” Gerrok cut in. “Hardly anyone ever comes here.”

“That’s the point.” Metus said, “it’s the perfect place for all of the refugees from Roxtus to regroup and rebuild. The rock Agori came with Atakus. And Branar and Stronius,” he indicated the two Skrall standing to either side of him, “managed to gather up most of the remaining Skrall. I’m building a new army.”

“You failed to take over Bara Magna last time,” Gerrok growled, “what makes you think you’ll do better this time around.”

“We don’t need to take over anymore,” Metus brushed off his comment, “there are plenty of resources for everyone now. We just want to carve out our own little piece. An empire unto ourselves. We may not have to compete with you lot anymore, but let’s face it, we aren’t going to cooperate either. The iron and rock tribes will never be trusted by the others. We’re outcasts. So we’ll create our own villages, secure our own resources.”

“And surround yourselves with allies so you’re safe from the Agori you’ve angered?” Gerrok guessed.

“Well, I’d be lying if I said I don’t feel a lot safer surrounded by Skrall and Bone Hunters,” Metus admitted, “but you… You’re iron tribe. You’re welcome to come and go from here as you please. And you…” he rounded on Icthilos, “…what are you doing here?”

“I’m looking for someone,” Icthilos replied, “someone from my world.”

Metus’ expression briefly changed to something resembling fear. “What would I know?”

“I know they’ve been here, to this quarry, to get stone weapons. They used it to frame a friend of mine for a murder we all know she didn’t commit.”

“I might know something, but I don’t just give information out for free.”

“What do you want?” Icthilos narrowed his eyes.

Metus smiled slyly, “I’m sure we could come to some kind of arrangement.”

* * *

Trina looked at the ruins before her, and felt nothing but sadness. The expedition had made a major detour to visit old Atero, and now that she was there, Trina had a pretty good sense of exactly what had been lost. The city would have been magnificent once, she could tell. Now the sands were reclaiming the shattered stones and charred ruins.

Some of the group ventured inside to take a better look, or to mourn what they had lost, but Trina had seen enough. It reminded her too much of all the things she herself had lost. Her team, her friends and her home were all gone. Except Icthilos. He was all she really had left, assuming he was still even alive when she got back.

She wasn’t sure she could live with herself if he died on her account.

She’d lost too much already.

* * *

“What kind of arrangement?” Icthilos asked tiredly. Normally, he wouldn’t negotiate with anyone, but since he was surrounded by Skrall, Bone Hunters, Rock Steeds and two different types of Agori, all of the armed, he didn’t like his chances of bullying Metus into telling the truth.

“I’m looking for someone,” Metus explained, “someone who was unfairly beaten by your so-called god Mata Nui, and thus robbed of his rightful place as leader of the Skrall.”  

“There’s no way we’re going to…” Gerrok started to say. Clearly he knew exactly who Metus was talking about.

“Who?” Icthilos asked, cutting Gerrok off midsentence.

“His name…” Metus said calmly, “…is Tuma.”

* * *

In another part of the desert, a being who had long-ago forsaken his name brooded in a dark cave. Maliss and his team had not returned. They were probably dead, or captured by the enemy. Either way, he needed to know.

The Shadowed One summoned a group of his agents to him, and gave them their orders. Their job would be to discover the fate of Maliss’ team. If the original team had been captured, the new group were to silence the failed agents before they could say anything they shouldn’t. Likewise, if the first team had failed to complete their mission, the second group would finish the job.


There would be no loose ends this time.  

To be continued…

Edited by Roman Torchwick, Nov 22 2014 - 11:49 PM.

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#20 Offline Nato The Traveler

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Posted Dec 07 2014 - 02:20 AM

Code of the Cold Hearted

Part 8 – Secrets of the Sands

“I can’t believe you agreed to that,” Gerrok snapped, as soon as he and Icthilos were out of earshot of the Skrall who had escorted them to the edge of the quarry camp. “Do you have any idea how dangerous these guys are? What they’ve done?”

“I don’t know, and I don’t care. No offence.” Icthilos brushed him off. “Metus claims to know something that can help me. Even if it turns out he’s lying, he’s the only lead I’ve got. I have to take the chance. Why do you care what I do, anyway?”   

“Because you don’t know what you’re doing!”

“You’re afraid I’m going to fail?” Icthilos rounded on the Glatorian.

“No, I’m worried that you’re going to succeed.” Gerrok answered calmly. “Tuma is, no was, the leader of the Skrall. He was the one who ordered them to destroy Atero. He wanted to take over all of Bara Magna, and if it hadn’t been for your Mata Nui, he might have done it.”

“Like Metus said, it doesn’t matter. They have no interest in conquering anything anymore.” Icthilos knew he couldn’t believe a word that came out of that little snake’s mouth, but even if this Tuma did try to take over the planet again, he’d lose. Whether Metus was lying or not meant nothing, then, since he simply didn’t have the resources to combat the Toa, or the more advanced technology that had come from with the Matoran Universe.

“You’re insane.” Gerrok sighed, shaking his head.

“No, I’m not,” Icthilos assured him, “I’m as sane as you are, just more pragmatic. I’m willing to do just about whatever it takes to get what I want. And right now, I want to know which coward framed my friend for murder. If Metus can do that, I’ll find his bloody warlord.”

“Do you know where to start looking?” Gerrok prompted.

“Not a clue.”   

“Ugh…” Gerrok scowled. He didn’t want to help Icthilos find Tuma, but he did want to help him find out who had framed his friend. And to do that… he had to help him find Tuma.

* * *

The expedition had spent a few hours at Atero, but now they were moving again, racing the sun. No one wanted to camp for the night in that ghost city. Trina still hung at the back, skimming through Ferro’s notebook again. Something in it was giving her a bad feeling, but she couldn’t pinpoint it. Was it some hidden message in the words, tugging at her subconscious?

She wasn’t sure, and she hated the uncertainty more than anything else.  

* * *

“The last sighting I heard about was in this area of desert,” Gerrok explained. He and Icthilos were standing on a plateau, and Gerrok was pointing to a particular patch of sandy waste that stretched out towards the horizon.

“Okay, let’s go.” Icthilos started to move off.

“Wait. That place is full of Vorox nests.” If we try just walking, we’ll be killed for sure. We need to go back to the camp and get reinforcements, or mounts. If we have enough people with us, the Vorox will be less inclined to attack. But if we have mounts, we should be able to outrun any that ambush us.”

“Or…” Icthilos pointed down towards a disturbance on the desert floor. Something was throwing up a plume of dust. It looked like a chariot of some kind, “…we could ask him to help us.”

“That looks like…” Gerrok trailed off, “…oh no, you don’t want to ask him.”

But Icthilos was already gone.

* * *

The five Dark Hunters stood atop the rise, briefly surveying the metal mess left in the wake of Maliss’ Nova Blast before turning their attention towards the sprawling encampment below. That was where their prey awaited them.

They were a fearsome group. Arrowhead, a Le-Skakdi with insane archery skills. Trapper, a Nyrah Ghost who loved making diabolical booby-traps. Then there was Demolisher, a creature of unknown species with the ability to generate seismic shockwaves with his bare hands. Countdown was a she-Vortixx who specialised in explosives and other nasty tech. Finally, the leader of the team, a cruel, sadistic Fa-Toa who was known as Puppetmaster.  

As one, the five Dark Hunters began to slowly walk down the slope.

* * *

Icthilos jumped down a short slope and started running out into the open sands, aiming to intercept the approaching chariot. It slowed as it neared him, then stopped entirely. The two-headed beast pulling the chariot snarled and snorted, but Icthilos didn’t let that intimidate him… even if the two heads did look really weird.

“Who are… you.” The driver stepped down, a Thornax launcher raised warily.  

Icthilos smirked at the sight of the familiar being. “Small world, huh?”

“Something like that…” replied Sahmad.

To be continued…

Edited by Roman Torchwick, Jan 31 2015 - 06:27 AM.

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#21 Offline Nato The Traveler

Nato The Traveler
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Posted Jan 31 2015 - 07:47 AM

Code of the Cold Hearted

Part 9 – The Last of the Skrall

“Could you please stop pointing that gun… thingy… at me?” Icthilos asked hopefully, ready to spring at Sahmad if the Iron Agori tried anything.

“What do you want from me?” Sahmad demanded, barely seeming to acknowledge Gerrok’s presence.  

“Your help. Or, failing that, just your chariot.”

“Is there a particular reason why I would do such a thing?” Sahmad seemed amused.

“Because otherwise you’ll become the first being to ever freeze to death in a desert,” Icthilos replied tonelessly, and Sahmad abruptly dropped his launcher, which was now encased in a block of ice. “But I’m sure it won’t come to that.”

“Fine. Where did you want to go?” the Agori picked up his frozen launcher and dumped it in the chariot.

“Show him,” Icthilos told Gerrok, who reluctantly stepped forwards to show Sahmad the map. “Can you get us there?”

“The Vorox are animals, but they aren’t stupid. They’ll avoid us. But….” He looked up at the pair, “What are you looking for in that patch of desert? The only thing I’ve heard about being there is….” He trailed off. “You wouldn’t….”

“Tuma, yes.” Icthilos replied brusquely. “His buddy Metus wants him back.”

“I can get you there,” Sahmad said, “but I can’t take you back. You won’t all fit.”

Icthilos shrugged, already climbing into the chariot. “I don’t care. Just get us there.”

* * *

“You okay?” Trina looked up to see Gali Nuva standing over her. “You’ve been awfully quiet for most of this trip.” She knelt down beside the other Toa. “If you don’t talk to us, we can’t help you.”

“It’s not something any of you can help with,” Trina replied icily, “I just hate that I’m stuck all the way out here, when I should be back at the camp, proving my own innocence. How can I defend the Matoran if I can’t even defend myself?”

“Speaking from experience here, I know there are some fights that can’t be won. Sometimes, there are things we just aren’t fated to do. Those tasks fall to other heroes.”

“Icthilos is no hero,” Trina shook her head, “he’s just…. a survivor, I guess.”  

* * *

“Karzdamnit,” Maliss pressed himself up agaisnt the side of a shanty as the five Dark Hunters entered the camp. It seemed The Shadowed One had sent in the clean-up crew. If they found Icthilos before Maliss did, there’d be nothing left for him to get revenge on.

He needed to eliminate them before Icthilos returned from wherever he was.

Stepping out behind the group, Maliss fired off a bolt from his crossbow, hitting Trapper square in the back. The Matoran fell dead without even having time to cry out, but the sound of him falling was enough to get the attention of the others.

“Maliss….” Puppetmaster crooned, whirling to face him. “….I’ve been waiting for this.”

Arrowhead didn’t wait around. He loosed an arrow, but Maliss simply raised his hand, taking control of the metal arrow and sending it flying back the way it had come, spearing the Le-Skakdi right through his monstrous smile. He gagged, coughing blood as he slumped to the ground.

Countdown and Demolisher attacked as one… without any sort of tactics or coordination. She flung an explosive of some kind while he tried to hug Maliss from behind. The Dark Toa of iron merely rolled forwards, out of rage of the explosive, and let Demolisher get blown to pieces by his own stupidity.

He came up in front of Countdown, driving his sword through her gut before she could ready another of her weapons. She slumped agaisnt him, eyes wide in surprise.

Puppetmaster, standing a few bio away, heard a click as Countdown fell forward, her weight crushing Maliss to the ground. There was a split-second of loud beeping, and then the dying Vortixx exploded in a brilliant fireball. When the smoke cleared, there was no sign of Maliss.

The lone surviving Dark Hunter quickly strode away from the scene, vanishing deeper into the camp before any guards showed up.

* * *

On the opposite side of the camp, a shadow rippled, and Maliss stumbled out of it, scorched, smoking, but alive. His mask had saved him once more, but the Puppetmaster was still out there. This wasn’t over yet.

* * *

The journey into the desert was an uneventful one. They saw a few Vorox, but the beasts kept their distance, mostly out of fear of Sahmad’s Spikit.

“This is the spot,” Sahmad stopped the chariot and climbed out. They were in a patch of desert, indistinguishable from any other, except for a large outcropping of rock jutting out of the sands, with a gaping maw of a cave mouth.

“Right….” Icthilos climbed out and approached the cave mouth, blades at the ready. “So how do we…?” he heard the sound of the chariot moving off and whirled around. To his surprise, it wasn’t Sahmad fleeing with their transport, but Gerrok.

“Karz….” Icthilos started to run after the vehicle, but Sahmad caught his arm as Gerrok and the chariot vanished over the next slope.

“You dragged me out here,” the Agori all but snarled. “You’re not going to ditch me.”

“And who are you?” a voice echoed from the cave, and a tall warrior clad in black and green armour emerged from the darkness.

“It’s me…. Sahmad?” the Agori said. “Surely you can’t have forgotten me already?”

“Not you,” Tuma growled, pointing his heavy sword past him, to Icthilos. “Him.”

To be continued…

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