Rise of the Rahkshi
"You don't hurt 'em if you don't hit 'em."- Lieutenant General Lewis B. "Chesty" Puller, USMCHafu looked down on the assembled Ta-Matoran from a rooftop. Their movement into Po-Metru had gone unchecked for days now. The mostly barren district, dotted with a few carver’s homes and sculptures, provided little in the way of natural barriers to keep out invaders or provide cover for the defenders. As a result, the 1st Po-Metru Squadron had been pushed back time after time and was in danger of being marched right into the sea.The fiery tempers of Ta-Matoran that started this civil war also made them very effective at prosecuting it. Their warriors were unafraid of collateral damage, Kanoka disks, and pretty much anything the Po-Matoran could throw at them. If there was one thing they feared, it was their commander Riami.Riami was a powerful trader before this whole mess started and was known for his hardline negotiating style and refusal to quit until his goals were met. This translated into warfare with considerable effectiveness. An old proverb went “the Great Spirit is in the heartstone of every Matoran”. That considered, Riami seemed to be on a mission to slay the Great Spirit himself judging by how many Matoran had fallen to his brutal, elite unit. Their merciless fighting style led to the nickname “Rahkshi” by both their allies and opponents.And now it was up to Hafu and his scouts to hold them off.Hafu had received word from the chain of command that their new Le-Matoran allies were cooking up a surprise for the Rahkshi. As a mere sergeant it wasn’t his place to know what this plan was, just that it was up to him to keep the Ta-Matoran occupied long enough to spring it.“Well, just me and my favorite Ta-Matoran marauders,” Hafu mumbled to himself. “I don’t care what rank Ahkmou is, he’ll get a piece of my mind after this.”Hafu grimaced as one of the wandering Ta-Matoran raiders kicked a statue over. He worked hard on that! His first reaction was to shout obscenities as he would have before the war, but then he remembered the assembled army below him. Not a good idea, Hafu.There was a tap on his shoulder that made Hafu jump up as if stung. “Mata Nui, Onewa! Announce yourself next time,” whispered Hafu. “I’m sure the Rahkshi would love that,” replied Onewa. “I have word from Ahkmou. Our spy reports that the Riami’s men plan on a rendezvous at the Archives, where they can meet up with Nuparu’s men. We don’t want them to get there. The last thing they need is that blasted Nuparu working on their weapons.” Hafu frowned. While Po-Metru was very much the manufacturing core of Metru Nui, the Onu-Matoran were mostly responsible for the design of the products produced there, including weapons. Allowing the Rahkshi to break through would practically hand them the district.“Alright, I think we should act now,” said Hafu, handing Onewa a Kanoka disk. “You run over to that other rooftop and shoot that guy in the face with this disk.” “What? What kind of plan is that?” said Onewa, flabbergasted. “Shoot that guy in the face? What guy? What disk is this anyway?” “Read the code genius, and I assumed you would realize Riami is the guy we want,” replied Hafu tersely. “Oh yeah great idea, let’s shoot a disk at the leader of a murderous band of Ta-Matoran and then walk away clean. Another Hafu original.” Their argument was interrupted by the edge of their rooftop being turned into some sort of topiary.“You Po-Matoran really need to learn some discretion,” yelled a Ta-Matoran from below. Hafu peered over the remains of the wall and saw about sixty Kanoka disk launchers pointed at him. “Oh yeah Onewa, my plan was awful. I like the “get everyone’s attention” tactic you’ve just employed, they’ll be teaching it in Ko-Metru –“ The rooftop froze. “Never mind, we can discuss this later,” said Hafu.Hafu and Onewa scampered across the rooftop, ducking all manner of Kanoka disks being lobbed at them. “You know, here’s a new plan,” panted Onewa. “We keep running around until they run out of Kanoka disks.” “I think a better plan would be to just trust my plan,” hissed Hafu. “If they run out of disks they take out their swords, and they may not have any fancy Kanoka powers but stabbing still seems pretty severe.” “Such a critic!” yelled Onewa, and threw the disk Hafu handed him into the crowd of Ta-Matoran. About forty-five of them vanished.“Wow, good deal,” said Hafu. “Glad I grabbed that high powered teleporting disk before the war broke out and the Ta-Matoran monopolized the darn things.” “I agree, this is probably one of the better results of a teleportation disk I’ve ever gotten,” said a voice behind Hafu. Hafu turned and saw Riami along with about ten other Ta-Matoran, now behind them on the rooftop. “Well that went poorly,” said Onewa.“Do you really think that we would so willingly let our Kanoka stockpile vanish?” smirked Riami. “Deceit is a funny thing, stone rat. Every Kanoka produced for export in the last three months has been mislabeled. That level eight disk was more like a level two. I’m surprised I moved as far as I did, although I can’t complain about the strategic value of ending up right behind your opponent.”Hafu grinned and held up a disk marked 421. Riami was visibly shocked. “I take it this isn’t a low powered disk?” smirked Hafu. “Wha-where did you get that?!” demanded Riami, and put a foot on Hafu’s chest, drawing his sword. “You don’t think we’re aware of your little plot? Reverse order is a terrible, terrible way to disguise something,” chided Hafu. “And judging by the look on your face I’d say this is the Great Kanoka Disk of Ko-Metru. Not something you should try to vandalize.”Riami looked like he was about to explode with anger, but his blade held fast out of fear of exploding with the most powerful freezing effect on Metru-Nui. “How do you know of the great disks, carver? That is considered a maskmaker’s secret,” growled Riami. “I personally dabble in maskmaking. It’s one of my favorite hobbies along with Akilini, Muaka wrestling, and helping Ta-Matoran with their anger issues,” joked Hafu. “Hafu, why would you view it as wise to annoy this guy?” sighed Onewa. “Well, we have the most powerful freezing disk on Metru Nui right now. If anyone tries anything, we’re all popsicles. Now I love me, but in terms of strategic value I think two carvers is a small price to pay for stopping the pride of the Ta-Matoran military,” explained Hafu.Onewa was startled. Hafu never spoke so selflessly before. His sole aim in the war had always seemed to be his own hide. Onewa remembered groaning when Hafu was promoted to sergeant and thought of entire units of Po-Matoran fleeing across the desert. What had changed? “I thought about it when I saw your man kick over that statue. I can run, I can hide, but not before you destroy everything I ever worked for and loved. I guess I’ve decided to make a stand.”The Ta-Matoran who hadn’t been teleported to the rooftop watched, transfixed by the exchange up above. One of them drew a fire staff.“Well, it’s been real Riami. You do have some anger issues to work out, so I think we should all chill out for a bit.” On that note, Hafu froze the entire rooftop.The dozen or so remaining Ta-Matoran were shocked. The majority of their chain of command was frozen on a rooftop, and there they sat almost leaderless. “Well what are you waiting for?” said the Matoran with the fire staff. “Let’s go thaw them out!” The Matoran raised his fire staff high and fired off the symbol of unity, duty, and destiny into the air. “Sergeant Vakama, with all due respect, what does that accomplish for us?” asked Nuhrii, looking up at his sergeant with a bemused expression. “This,” grinned Vakama, and a airship sped across the sky dropping several Le-Matoran in its wake. The company of Matoran levitated above the ground momentarily, and then spread out to surround the remainder of Riami’s troops.“Traitor!” gasped Nuhrii. “Am I?” asked Vakama. “I had a dream the other night; a dream of death. I’m sure you all have, but this was far darker. It was the death of the Great Spirit. If we are all part of Mata Nui, then why would we kill each other? This has to stop before everything ends.” “I knew it,” said Jaller, standing off to the side. “I say we kill him!” There were general yells of agreement from the surrounded Ta-Matoran. “Did you not hear anything I just said?” yelled Vakama. “You will kill Mata Nui, and for what? Border disputes? The price of protodermis?” “Shut your traitorous mouth!” said Kapura, drawing his sword. “Look at what you’ve become. They call you Rahkshi. Is that what you are, a beast? A monster?”“Hey, um, firespitters,” interrupted Matau, leader of the 1st Airborne Le-Matoran Squadron. “Before you kill old futurewatcher here, I’d just like to remind you that we have you surrounded. Just something to considerthink.” “You don’t think we can fight our way out? We’re Rahkshi! The most feared force on the –“ The Le-Matoran opened fire with a wide variety of disk powers. The boasts stopped, as did most other movement.“Well that should cease his bragsaying,” said Matau with a sense of finality. “You alright firespitter?” Vakama got up and pushed his way out of the circle of frozen and otherwise altered Ta-Matoran. “I think I got hit with a regeneration disk, so I feel great. By the way? Not the best disk to shoot at your opponents,” Vakama replied. Matau chuckled. “Oh firespitter. You truly are a joy to work with.” “Likewise,” said Vakama. “Maybe we’ll see each other again someday.” “Believe me, I’ll make a point of it,” said Matau and raised his hand to signal for his unit to fall in behind him. A small stasis bubble descended from the airship and picked up the Le-Matoran, returning them to the skies.Vakama now stood alone in what seemed like a vast field of icy sculptures. The Rahkshi would thaw, no doubt, but they had prevented what seemed to be inevitable defeat. Perhaps these Po-Matoran could return to their homes soon. Perhaps a settlement could be reached.But first, his friends had to be taken care of.Vakama climbed the steps of the half frozen carver’s hut and reached the roof. Taking out his fire staff, he thawed out Onewa and Hafu.“Thanks Vakama. Knew you’d come through,” said Onewa gratefully. He then turned and punched Hafu square in the jaw. “Ow! What was that for?” gasped Hafu. “For that obnoxiously corny line! Up until that point I hoped you would have been remembered in tales as a hero, but if the legends include the whole ‘chill out’ pun I think I’ll be sick.” “Yeah, you need to work on that a little. Now let’s get out of here, these guys won’t be frozen forever.” Vakama, Onewa, and Hafu turned away from the battlefield and walked off.---The trio of Matoran left just in time, as Riami was among the first to thaw. “Men! Rally around me! We will seek vengeance for this humiliation!” he yelled. Few Ta-Matoran joined him. He drew his sword. “You fight with me, or against me! Pick a side!” “Do you think the Great Spirit’s really dying?” asked Jaller, concerned. “Be concerned about your own death if you trouble me with such thoughts,” Riami replied. “Rally! We will make these stone rats pay!” “I don’t think the Great Spirit would take kindly to being killed,” said Jaller. “Have you considered that there may be some divine intervention coming our way if this continues?” “Nonsense. You make as much sense as those moronic seers on the Knowledge Towers. Fall in! We own Po-Metru tonight!”There was a horrific hiss from the direction of the Archives, and all of the remaining Rahkshi turned to see a massive horde of actual Rahkshi descending upon them. “Well, it was nice knowing you,” said Jaller, and moved in the opposite direction of the incoming horde along with a majority of Riami’s unit.Riami stood alone against the horde. “Come on, you ugly beasts! Face me! Face Riami, the true Rahkshi!” A large being appeared, grabbing Riami and disappearing.---The next thing Riami knew, he was walking with a strange giant with giant golden fangs. “I appreciate this whole ‘massacre’ thing you had going on,” said the being. “What – who are you?” gasped Riami, confused as to where he was. “I am Botar,” the being replied. “And you have given me quite the mess to clean up.”The lumbering Botar stopped short of a large imposing gate guarded by a silver giant. “Hello Hydraxon,” said Botar. “We’ve got another one.” “Great news, great news,” nodded Hydraxon. “Soon this entire ordeal will be over. Any news on the big man upstairs?” “Kind of a casual way to refer to the Great Spirit, but the news is not good. They’re dispatching a Toa team as we speak.” Riami, bold up until now, was horrified. What had he done?“And the Brotherhood?” “Oh you know Teridax,” spat Botar. “Has all the finesse of a Tahtorahk on ice. There’s roughly six hundred Rahkshi just ravaging Metru Nui right now. Because, you know, the best way to stop Matoran from killing each other is to kill them all.”“That’s a shame. At least we stopped this so-called ‘Rahkshi’,” mocked Hydraxon. Riami shook with terror. “How’s it going? That whole ‘fearless monster’ thing working out for you?” asked Hydraxon. Riami stammered but before he could answer Hydraxon aimed a sharp punch at his ribs. “You are not fearless it seems,” smirked Hydraxon. “But you are a monster. Have fun in there. Maybe you’ll make some new friends!” The jailer chuckled as he threw Riami roughly into The Pit.---As Vakama, Onewa, and Hafu continued their long foot journey back to the Po-Matoran headquarters, they found their way blocked by Jaller and a few other remnants of Riami’s Rahkshi.“Still? Have you not learned?” cried Vakama, exasperated. “No, I believe I have,” said Jaller. “Unity, duty, and destiny. It’s more important than I thought. It’s not some battle cry or anthem, it’s a way of life. Maybe I got so caught up in unity with my district that I forgot unity with my brothers.” “Agreed,” said Nuhrii. “When Riami stood there in front of that horde of Rahkshi I saw a madman. He truly is an affront to Mata Nui and I hope he gets his just desserts.”“Glad we’re in agreement then,” said Vakama. “So can we stop trying to kill each other?” Nuhrii laughed. “Of course…brother.”Hafu had to admit he was glad with how all this turned out. These ‘Rahkshi’, for all their faults, were some decent people in the end. He was glad to see them rise above the mob mentality of their leader and become something greater: Matoran, not beasts. “So Onewa,” began Hafu. “Yes, oh great one, your plan worked to perfection,” finished Onewa, rolling his eyes. “No, no. Nothing of the sort. I’d imagine that now that this whole thing is over they’ll probably get Akilini going again. Want to try out for the district team?” Onewa chuckled. “Akilini sounds like a great way to resolve our issues. Nobody gets hurt and everybody has a good time. How refreshing, actually.”“We just have to wait for those darn Rahkshi from the archives to stop their pillaging. Who thought that was a good idea, in all honesty?” frowned Hafu. “Actually,” said Onewa. “I’d prefer it if we didn’t mention Rahkshi for a while.”__________________________Well guys, there's my SSC8 entry. I'd never entered one of these before so I figured I'd give it a shot. Let me know what you think!