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The Spherus Magna Chronicles - Book I: All That I Am

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Story by Jack-The-Writer
Cover and Other Artwork by Saronicle
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Prologue

 

               Gathered friends, listen again to our legend of the Bionicle.

              

In the time before time, the Great Spirit descended from the heavens, carrying we, the ones called the Matoran, to an island paradise, illuminating us with the three virtues: unity, duty, and destiny. We embraced these gifts, and in gratitude, named our island home Mata Nui, after the Great Spirit himself.

 

However, all was not well. Mata Nui’s brother, the Makuta, betrayed Mata Nui, casting him into a deep slumber. Makuta unleashed his shadows across the island, and all seemed lost.

 

               But all hope was not lost, for legends foretold of six mighty heroes, Toa, who would vanquish the evil Makuta and his shadows, and awaken Mata Nui:

 

               Gali, Toa of Water.

 

               Tahu, Toa of Fire.

 

               Kopaka, Toa of Ice.

 

               Onua, Toa of Earth.

 

               Pohatu, Toa of Stone.

 

               Lewa, Toa of Air.

 

               And they were victorious, defeating the evil Makuta and all the terrible menaces he unleashed. Makuta unleashed the Rahi, and the Toa found the Masks of Power, defeating the Makuta and saving the Matoran. Then the Makuta unleashed the Bohrok, and the Toa united to defeat their leaders, the Bahrag, gaining new and greater power, becoming Toa Nuva. With these new powers, they were able to combat more dangerous threats, like the Bohrok-Kal, and Makuta’s sons, the Rahkshi.

 

               Then, the Mask of Light was discovered, and Takanuva, the Toa of Light, appeared, defeating Makuta and reopening the way to the ancient home of the Matoran: Metru Nui, where, long ago, another team of Toa rescued the Matoran after the Makuta’s betrayal, despite being branded fugitives and being turned into monstrous versions of themselves by the Visorak.

 

               After the return to Metru Nui, Mata Nui’s life was discovered to be in danger, and with this new danger, new heroes arose. Six Matoran from Metru Nui journeyed to the dangerous island of Voya Nui to find the legendary Mask of Life, becoming Toa to fulfill their destiny. After braving the trials to reach the mask, they defeated the nefarious Piraka, only for the mask to plunge down into the depths of the sea. Despite, nothing would stop the Toa. They descended deep into the dark ocean, transformed into Toa Mahri, and fought the Barraki, imprisoned warlords, and Toa Matoro sacrificed himself in order to save the Greast Spirit’s life.

 

               The Toa Nuva descended into Karda Nui, the core of the universe, in order to fulfill their destiny and awaken Mata Nui. There they met with resistance from the Brotherhood of Makuta’s highest ranks. With the aid of the Mask of Life itself, the Makuta were defeated and Mata Nui awoken.

 

               But all was not as it seemed, for the Makuta’s plan had succeeded. While Mata Nui was dead, his mind had slipped in and taken the place of Mata Nui’s, making Makuta the ruler of a universe. He exiled Mata Nui, imprisoning him in the Mask of Life and banishing him from the universe.

 

               The Mask of Life drifted through space before crashing on the world of Bara Magna. He fashioned himself a body, and worked with the Agori and Glatorian, the inhabitants of the planet, to attempt to find his way back to his people. While there, he freed the Agori and Glatorian from the tyranny of the Skrall, and discovered a prototype robot built by the Great Beings, which had become buried in the sands of Bara Magna over a hundred millennia. Traveling north, he entered the Valley of the Maze to retrieve the power source for the robot.  Mata Nui placed his consciousness into the robot and activated it, hoping to use it to combat the Makuta.

 

               But Makuta was aware of Mata Nui’s doings, and flew to Bara Magna to confront his brother. What ensued was a great battle as the once-brothers fought. Makuta released Rahkshi and legions of Skakdi onto the surface of Bara Magna to destroy the Agori and Glatorian, but the Toa managed to escape the universe as well, and Tahu used the legendary golden armor to defeat the Rahkshi.

 

               The Rahkshi’s destruction gave Mata Nui an opening, and he pushed Teridax into the path of Aqua Magna, a moon of Bara Magna returning to its original position, killing him instantly. With Teridax defeated, Mata Nui fulfilled his destiny, and used the last of the robot’s energy to reform Spherus Magna. His destiny fulfilled, he retreated into the Mask of Life, leaving the Matoran, Toa, Agori, and Glatorian with a last request: find the Great Beings.

 

               But that task would not be as simple as it appeared. Teridax may have been dead, but new evil would follow in his wake. And it did; three evils moved across the land: one, bent on destruction, one bent on subjugation, one with motives unknown.

 

               Now comes the time when all, Matoran and Agori, Toa and Glatorian, must work together or be defeated. The time has come for our heroes to face the ultimate test.

Edited by Jack-The-Writer

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Chapter 1

 

               The sun shone across the landscape, sparkling through the dew drops. It glistened off the placid surfaces of water, shining brightly across the entire surface of Spherus Magna. The air was calm; insects and birds flitted through the air; various creatures darted through the grass; numerous fish gaped from underneath the placid water’s surface. The mood was calm. But it wouldn’t be for long.

              

               “You’ve disgraced us Pridak!” yelled Kalmah, “You promised to bring the league glory!”

              

               “And have I not delivered on that promise?” Pridak responded.

              

               “No you have not!” replied Ehlek, “We were beaten by those novice Toa, and sent back to The Pit!”

              

               Mantax stepped forward. “We’ve experienced nothing but defeat under you Pridak! We failed to destroy Mahri Nui, to gain the Mask of Life, and to conquer the universe!”

              

               “Now, now,” said Pridak in an attempt to calm them down, “Let’s talk about this…”

              

               “We’ve had too much talking under your rule Pridak,” snapped Takadox, “Too much talking and not enough doing!”

              

               Pridak gulped, “Hold on a second-”

              

               “I motion for a new leader!” Kalmah interjected, “Who’s with me?” Three ayes resounded.

              

               “Now, now, let’s not be hasty,” Pridak stammered.

              

               Kalmah lifted Pridak by the throat, “Shut up you worthless insect! We’ll decide what to do with you very shortly.”

              

               “I vote for Kalmah as leader!” trumpeted Ehlek.

              

               “As do I!” seconded Mantax and Takadox.

              

               Kalmah raised a fist triumphantly. “I will lead us to glory!” The other Barraki, sans Pridak, cheered. However, their exultation was disturbed by a sound. A few rocks had somehow come out of place and were tumbling down the hill behind them. They turned around and heard scuttling within the cave at the base of the hill. Scuttling of something heavy.

              

               Kalmah stepped forward. “Who’s there?” he cried threateningly. No response.

              

               He turned to Pridak. “Here’s your chance to prove yourself you sniveling coward. Go see what that is.” Pridak was in no position to disobey.

              

               Pridak cautiously advanced towards the cave, holding his shark tooth blade at the ready. “Show yourself!” he snarled as menacingly as he could. No response. He advanced closer. “I said, come out and show yourself!” He put as much venom into his voice as he could. No response.

              

               Reluctantly, Pridak advanced into the inky blackness. “Show yourself!” he snarled. Suddenly, there were footsteps behind him. He quickly turned, but there was nothing there. With a gulp, Pridak advanced further. “You’ll come out if you know what’s good for you,” he said, his confidence and venom fading.

              

               Pridak could barely see. But as he peered ahead, he saw a light. A faint light, but a light all the same. “Hello?”

              

               “AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHH!”

              

               The blood-curdling shriek reached the other Barraki.

              

               “No, no, no no no no NOO!”

              

               Sickening crunches and shrieks of twisting metal were heard from inside the cave. Loud gasps soon followed, followed by faint gurgling.

              

               Silence.

              

               Slow, purposeful steps came out of the cave. And into the light stepped Pridak. All the Barraki breathed a sigh of relief. “Oh, Pridak,” breathed Kalmah, “It’s just you. We thought you-”

              

               Kalmah had no time to finish his sentence, as Pridak’s form suddenly distorted itself as it sprouted extra limbs, silver tentacles with razor points. A gaping jaw, filled with row upon row of gnashing teeth, formed in Pridak’s midsection. Without warning, the tentacles flew at Kalmah and the others. They had no time to react as the tentacles reached towards their heads.

              

               The dead Barraki collapsed, their brains pierced through by the pointed tentacles. The points disappeared, the tentacles gaining mouths on their ends. The tentacles bodies slowly began to engulf their bodies. The lumps from the bodies slowly disappeared as they were absorbed. Light glowed around Pridak as his eyes shifted to a deep red. The tentacles retracted and the gaping maw in his midsection disappeared as he resumed his normal appearance.

              

               Pridak’s voice came out, harsh and grating. “Pridak. Kalmah. Ehlek. Takadox. Mantax. You have been assimilated.”

Edited by Jack-The-Writer

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Chapter 2

 

               “Vakama… Vakama…

              

               “Save Spherus Magna…

              

               “Time… is short…”

              

               Vakama was standing on the surface of an ocean. He hesitantly poked ahead with his firestaff to find that it was solid. Suddenly, there was a bright flash of light, and a golden Hau appeared in midair. Without a word, it flew off into the distance. Vakama followed. The mask never went out of sight, stopping at the edge of his vision, moving on as he approached it. After what seemed like hours, Vakama finally reached the mask, only for it to disappear. But where it was, he saw a sight he never thought he would see again.

              

               He saw the island… the island of Mata Nui. An island he knew no longer existed. He was ready to turn away, to forget what could never be, but he stopped when a silver beam of light shot up out of the island, creating a solid pillar of light. He could not very well resist.

              

               A while later, he arrived at the source of the light: the Kini-Nui. The light came from Makuta Teridax’s lair. He approached it, ready to descend, when he heard a loud rumble. Out of the tunnel erupted a large shape: a silver, glowing sphere, with a surface that shimmered like water. It looked like energized protodermis. It left the beam of light and came towards Vakama.

              

               Vakama turned and ran, but the sphere overtook him and dropped to the ground in front of him. Slowly, it began to coalesce into a new form, that of a hulking monstrosity. It looked somehow familiar, yet Vakama couldn’t place where he’d seen it before.

              

               The creature looked down at him with blood-red eyes. One of its arms lunged straight for him.

              

               “Ah!” Vakama woke with a jolt, breathing heavily. He hadn’t had a vision in a thousand years, nor had heard that voice. “Toa… Lhikan?” But he was dead. He grabbed his firestaff. He needed to think. He heaved himself out of bed, hearing his joints creak as he righted himself. He swung his feet to the side, settling them on the ground before throwing his weight onto them. As he stood, his hunched frame groaned in protest, struggling to stay upright. Vakama leaned heavily on his staff as he limped outside. The night air bit him, chilling him to his core.

 

               What was the meaning of this vision? Save Spherus Magna? How was he to go about doing such a thing? And who was to say that this vision was real? He was old, and not what he used to be. He felt beaten up, worn out, overused. Perhaps this vision was merely a figment of his mind, what was left of it. Perhaps his mind had finally gone. Or maybe not. But could he afford to ignore this vision? What if it was a real warning? Ignoring it could mean the destruction of all that he held dear.

 

               He heard footsteps behind him, and a hand on his shoulder? “Brother, what is troubling you?”

 

               “Nothing sister,” he lied. It would not do well for her to think him crazy.

 

               “Vakama, I have known you for more than a thousand years. I know you well enough to know that you are lying. I ask again, what is troubling you?”

 

               Vakama sighed. “For the first time since we left Metru Nui, I had a vision. A vision of Toa Lhikan, telling me to save Spherus Magna.”

 

               “That sounds an awful lot like what he said to you a thousand years ago.” After a long pause, she spoke up again. “What are you going to do about it?”

 

               “I wish I knew. I have no idea how to go about saving anything. I am not sure that as I am now I could save anything. I am too weak and feeble.” He sat down, as his legs had suddenly become unable to support his weight. “I saw the island, Nokama. I saw it, and there was a great monstrosity lurking there, something more dangerous than even the Makuta.”

 

               She sat down next to him, putting an arm around him. “Vakama, you are anything but weak and feeble. You were strong enough to lead us to victory over the Makuta and the Visorak, and I firmly believe that you have the strength to save our new home as well. Whatever this new threat is, we will face it together, just as we have always done.” She stood up, heading off. But before she left, she turned back. “Vakama, I will not force you to do anything, but you would be foolish to ignore this vision. Whether you choose to do what this vision asks of you or not, I will stand by you.” She turned and continued back to her hut.

 

               Just before she was out of earshot, Vakama turned. “Nokama?” She stopped and turned to face him. “Thank you.” That said, Vakama picked up his firestaff and returned to his hut.

 

               Morning arrived, and with it, newfound determination. Vakama raised himself out of bed and went off in search of Turaga Dume, to call a meeting of the Turaga.

 

               He found him talking to Onua. “Yes, that will do nicely Onua. Yes, if the village goes there, it can be used as a central hub for all the new villages we will have to build. That will be an excellent spot, yes.” He turned to see him. “Ah, Vakama. I was just discussing with Onua here the location of the new Onu-Koro.”

 

               “Thank you Turaga,” said Onua, “And now I have to go talk with Whenua, so we can start construction. I’m afraid I must take my leave.”

 

               “No problem at all Onua.”

 

               Onua turned to face Vakama. “Turaga,” he said, bowing slightly as a sign of respect.

 

               Once Onua was gone, Dume turned to Vakama. “Now Vakama, what is there that I can do for you?”

 

               “Turaga Dume,” replied Vakama, “I ask that you call a meeting of the Turaga.”

 

               “For what reason?”

 

               Vakama sighed. “I would prefer not to reveal my motives until the meeting.”

 

               Dume scratched his chin. “Vakama, I cannot call a meeting unless there is a reason for it. You will tell me the reason you wish for a meeting, or there shall not be one.”

 

               “Very well. Last night I had a vision, one concerning the future and safety of all of Spherus Magna. All of our lives may very well be at stake.” Dume was aghast. He was not expecting an answer like that.

 

               “Very well, Vakama. You want a meeting, and there shall be one. I shall assemble the Turaga.”

 

               As the meeting would not take place until the night, Vakama sought out Gali. He would normally seek out Gaaki, due to her Mask of Clairvoyance, but she was gone with the rest of the Toa Hagah, trying to find the Toa Mahri. Gali was the only Toa who could possibly tell him what his vision meant.

 

               He found her by the shore of the ocean, meditating. She sensed his approach. “Welcome Turaga Vakama,” she said, setting her feet on the ground. “What can I do for you?”

 

               “I need your wisdom, Toa of water.”

 

               “Of course Turaga. I will provide any assistance I can. But aren’t Turaga the wise ones? Why do you not ask one of your fellow Turaga?”

 

               “Toa, for reasons I cannot disclose, I cannot. You will simply have to accept that explanation.” Vakama looked into Gali’s eyes, checking to see if she really did trust him.

 

               “Very well. Now, what assistance do you require?”

 

               And so Vakama told her of his vision, of the mask, the island, and the sphere. “Turaga, it is clear that something very dangerous is afoot here. Whatever it is that you seek, whether it be this unknown villain or the means of defeating him, is on that island.”

 

               “But you know as well as I do that that island no longer exists, nor will it ever exist again.” No sooner had Vakama spoken these words than a flash of light erupted from the sky. It came from a gap between the stars, where there was nothing but blackness. A pillar of light, just like the one in Vakama’s vision, descended onto the body of the robot, the great robot that had carried his people for one hundred thousand years. Before Vakama’s eyes, the robot began sinking into the ground, burying itself. He was in awe at the sight; he had seen nothing like it before. As the robot descended, a large cloud of dust, hundreds of feet high, billowed towards the village.

 

               The dust cleared, and Vakama looked out upon the horizon, and there he saw a sight he had never thought to see again. “Toa Gali, look,” he said, pointing. Gali looked out to the horizon as well, and there she saw a fantastic sight.

 

               There it was: the island of Mata Nui. Where the robot’s head had once been now stood an extension of the great ocean, Aqua Magna. The island was unmistakeable. Curls of smoke rose from the Mangai volcano. Nearby could be seen the pristine white slopes of Mount Ihu, the tall trees of Le-Wahi.

 

               “How is it that Mata Nui has reappeared?” Gali asked, “What power could possibly be strong enough to create an island, with climates to match Mata Nui’s?”

 

               “Only the great creators, the Great Beings, could be capable of such a feat.”

 

               “If that’s true,” said Gali, “Then why would they do such a thing?”

 

               “Who are we to question the wisdom of the Great Beings, they who created us? Surely they have a plan, and why should we not trust them?”

 

               That night, the meeting of the Turaga began. They gathered in Dume’s hut around the fire, the flames crackling and popping, casting twisted shadows on the wall.

 

               “Brothers, sister,” began Turaga Dume, “our brother Vakama has called this meeting to discuss a matter of grave importance.” He gestured to Vakama, giving him the floor.

 

               “Last night,” began Vakama, “I had a vision. Toa Lhikan appeared to me, just as he did one thousand years ago. He told me to save Spherus Magna. He took me to Mata Nui, to the Kini-Nui, to Mangaia. There was something there, a powerful presence, more malevolent than even the Makuta.

 

               “I thought this vision to be mere fancy. After all, Mata Nui no longer existed. But Toa Gali, and our sister Nokama, managed to clear me of my doubts. I have no doubt now that there is an evil presence here, waiting for the right moment to destroy us all.

 

               “As you are no doubt aware, a large beam came from the stars today, sinking the robot we used to call home, as well as restoring the island of Mata Nui. I have no doubt that a key to defeating this villain is there.”

 

               “But,” spoke Whenua, “What of the possibility that this malevolent presence is in fact present there, instead of this supposed key? After all, in your vision, the malevolent presence was there, was it not?”

 

               “You raise a fine point Whenua,” responded Vakama, “And your point makes sense. However, the island has just appeared, and I find it unlikely that the villain was created along with it. I believe the villain is out there somewhere, but he is not on Mata Nui.”

 

               “Brother,” spoke up Nokama, “Do you have a plan?”

 

               “Of course I do Nokama. I propose that all of us, minus Turaga Dume, travel to Mata Nui to find out the meaning behind my vision.”

 

               “But the vision told you to save Spherus Magna Vakama,” said Onewa, “It didn’t mention any of us.”

 

               “No, no it didn’t,” said Vakama, looking around at his friends. “But I once made the mistake of trying to work alone, and I learned the hard way that I am strongest, that we are strongest, when we are united. So I ask you, will you journey with me to the island of Mata Nui, to find out the meaning of my vision?”

 

               “Well fire-spitter,” said Matau, speaking up for the first time, “I used to hate your thought-plans, but I don’t think-believe that you’d lead us astray. You can count on me.”

 

               “And I,” said Whenua.

 

               “And I,” replied Onewa.

 

               “Of course I’m coming,” said Nokama.

 

               “You can count on me as well,” said Nuju, leaving his language of clicks and whistles behind for the first time since they left Metru Nui.

 

               “Well, my friends,” said Vakama, “It is settled. Tomorrow, we depart for Mata Nui!” The other Turaga cheered this exclamation.

 

               “Very well Vakama,” said Turaga Dume, “I am appointing Toa Takanuva and Kopeke to join you, as well as Gresh if he will agree. This seems an excellent opportunity to prove that Toa and Glatorian can work together. And it could never hurt to have The Chronicler there to record what will surely be a momentous occasion.”

 

               “As you have said, so shall it be done.”

 

               The next morning, Takanuva and Kopeke were readying the boat that would carry them across the ocean, packing supplies and the like. Vakama came down to see their progress. “How goes the preparation, Toa of Light?” he queried.

 

               “Speedily, Turaga. We will be ready to leave within the hour.” He chuckled. “You know, it’s funny.”

 

               “What is?”

 

               “About a year ago, you sent me out from Ta-Koro on a journey. Now, here I am, accompanying you on a journey back to Ta-Koro.”

 

               “Ta-Koro will not be there, and you know it.”

 

               “I know, but maybe, once tensions between us and the Agori have died down, we could rebuild Ta-Koro. Just a thought.”

 

               “And a grand one at that…”

 

               In just an hour, the boat was packed and ready to sail. Takanuva and Kopeke assisted the Turaga getting in, and Gresh, who had decided to come, got in as well. Using her elemental powers, Nokama  sent the boat on its way to the island.

 

               After a few minutes, Vakama broke the silence. “Gresh,” he said, “What made you decide to accept this offer?”

 

               “Well, I was friends with Mata Nui while he was here,” he responded, “And I feel that if he was able to trust you, I should too. I know that most Glatorian are still warming up to the idea of having you around, and I think the only way to really get them to warm is to show them how well we all can work together.”

 

               “That is a belief I share,” said Vakama.

 

               Not much later, the boat arrived at the shores of the island. Takanuva was the first to go ashore. The rocky, volcanic soil felt good underneath his feet. He inhaled deeply through his nostrils. “Smells just like I remember it.”

 

               Vakama got out of the boat and looked around. “It looks exactly as I remember it.” He looked at the horizon. The sun was setting. “We should make it to the volcano by nightfall. It will be a good place to set up camp.”

 

               Night had fallen, and they camped at the volcano, the lava giving them ample light; a fire was unneeded. Vakama was home. He looked out over the lava to where Ta-Koro had once been. He reminisced about the construction of the village, as well as its destruction. He vowed not to let that happen to his new village, wherever it should be. He would not let his home be taken from him again. It had happened before, but never again.

 

               The very next day they had reached the Kini-Nui, the Great Temple. “I can see why you enjoyed it here so much,” Gresh said, “This island is truly a marvelous place.”

 

               “Why thank you Gresh,” Nokama responded, “However, this island is not all beautiful. There are truly some dark corners here.”

 

               “Much like the place we are trying to reach Nokama,” Vakama reminded her.

 

               The Turaga approached the temple. “Toa of Light, Glatorian,” Vakama proclaimed, “You shall remain here and guard the entrance. The Chronicler shall come with us to record what shall transpire.” Takanuva and Gresh nodded their assent, and Kopeke approached the temple as well. The Turaga surrounded it in a circle, before blasting the stone with their combined elemental powers. The rock shattered, leaving a tunnel open down to the Mangaia, Makuta Teridax’s former lair.

 

               The Turaga and Kopeke slowly made their dangerous descent into the darkness, Vakama’s firestaff providing the only light in the tunnel. The going was long and arduous; sometimes they all had to stop for hours as Vakama and Whenua tried to determine which route to take.

 

               However, soon they came upon the door to Teridax’s lair. They went inside cautiously, being on their guard for anything. Who knew what creations of Teridax still haunted the place? They cautiously approached and skirted the pool of energized protodermis in the middle of the room. That stuff was highly volatile at best, and downright dangerous at worst.

 

               The Turaga continued towards the gate, the gate leading to Metru Nui. However, a clink caused them to stop.

 

               “Did you hear that?” asked Onewa.

 

               *Clang*

 

               They turned around. “What’s that?” Nuju asked.

 

               Suddenly, out of the darkness came a bright light. As it got closer to the pool of energized protodermis, the light dimmed, revealing a silver sphere, ten feet in diameter. It approached the ground, its surface rippling and shifting.

 

               Oh no, Vakama thought to himself, If that thing got down here, what happened to Gresh and Takanuva? But he had no time to worry about that at the moment. There were more imminent problems.

 

               The sphere began to take on the shape of a body, and as it formed itself, Vakama gasped. He recognized the form. Impossible, he thought, He’s destroyed, dead. It can’t be him.

 

               The sphere finished changing form, and its liquid surface began to ripple and change, replacing itself with solid metal. The change crept up its legs to its torso, finally spreading to its arms and head. And there he stood: Makuta Teridax.

 

               With his piercing, blood-red eyes, Teridax stared them all down. “Surprised?” He asked in his deep rumble, “You should know by now I always have contingencies.” He gave them a wicked smile. “Spherus Magna will be mine.” With those words, Teridax’s form collapsed, reforming itself into a sphere again. It hovered directly over the pool. “However, before I leave, I think I should give you a parting gift.”

 

               With that, Teridax slammed his sphere form downward into the pool of energized protodermis. A wave rose, two dozen feet high, heading directly towards Kopeke and the Turaga. There was nowhere to turn, nowhere to run. Vakama closed his eyes and awaited the end.

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Chapter 3

 

Vezon found himself bodily lifted by Axonn, whose squinted eyes bored deep into his. “Why should we free him?”

              

Vezon smirked. “Simple. I made a deal.” He flashed a gruesome smile at Axonn.

              

Axonn turned and smashed him into the living wall, which reached out to embrace him. “Why should I care about your deal?” Axonn yelled, “I have no personal interest whether you live or die. In fact,” he tightened his grip on Vezon’s neck, “I could kill you right here if I wanted to.” He tightened his grip further, causing Vezon’s legs to begin to spasm as he pried at Axonn’s hand.

              

“But… you won’t,” choked out Vezon. “You… can’t.”

              

“And why can’t I, you sniveling whelp?”

              

“Because I won’t allow it,” replied the Great Being. “If you kill him, I will personally ensure your demise.”

              

Leaving Vezon thrashing, Axonn turned to face the Great Being. “How do I know you’re not bluffing? As far as I can tell, you’re incapable of freeing yourself on your own. If we just decided to leave you here, you’d be able to do nothing.”

              

The Great Being chuckled, slowly clapping. “Great Beings never bluff. But, unfortunately, you’re right. I can’t free myself at present, but who is able to say whether or not I will contrive a way to do so in the future?” A glint appeared in his eye. “Can you afford to take that chance? Can you afford to make me your enemy?”

              

Artahka decided to interject. “That is still to be decided.” He turned to his companions. “What do you think?”

              

Brutaka responded. “We believe that he, although a Great Being, must die. He is an unstable element in an unstable situation, and we will not have him wreaking havoc and destroying what has so recently been created.”

              

“You and your ‘we’s,” said Tuyet sarcastically, “Is there no I in there anymore?”

              

“There is no ‘I’, only ‘we’”, Brutaka responded, “It must be this way; there is no other; resistance would be futile.”

              

Helryx thought deeply. “We must somehow remove this antidermis from Brutaka.”

              

“It cannot be done,” Brutaka replied, “There is no Brutaka, only Makuta. What you propose is impossible.”

              

“On the contrary,” replied the Great Being, “It’s quite possible. Quite simple as well. Just a prick here, a prick there, and it’s gone like that.” He snapped his fingers to emphasize his point.

              

“You’re bluffing,” Brutaka growled.

              

“Tut tut. I guess I’ll need to fix your hearing as well. Great Beings never bluff.”

              

“We are Makuta. We cannot be stopped.”

              

“I created your creator. And you can be stopped, of that I am sure.”

              

“This is getting us nowhere!” roared Miserix, “What is to be done with him!” Miserix pointed at the Great Being. “Something must be done!”

              

“In due time, Miserix. There is still much to discuss.” replied Helryx.

              

“That much is clear,” responded Tuyet.

              

“How can we kill a Great Being?” asked Kapura. “They gave us life, and we owe them our existence. Surely we can extend this one some sympathy.”

              

“Sympathy? Sympathy! You believe we should sympathize with this babbling, incoherent, mad excuse for a Great Being!” Miserix raged, “If anything, it deserves a mercy killing!”

              

“Kapura is entitled to his opinion Miserix, as are you” piped Hafu.

              

“Beware crossing me, puny Matoran,” said Miserix, “I could destroy you with but a flick of the wrist.”

              

“Please, cease this bickering!” shouted Artahka. “There is still the matter at hand. Should we release this Great Being, or leave him here to rot?” A silence followed, punctuated only by the murmurings of the living, breathing bricks.

              

Vezon, still pinned to the wall by Axonn, choked out a response. “I vote for releasing him.”

 

Axonn tightened his grip. “No one cares about your opinion Vezon. I myself am for leaving him here.”

              

At this, the Great Being sunk back into the shadowy corner, seemingly resigned to his fate.

              

“A decision must be made,” Artahka stated, “on what to do with this Great Being. Axonn, release Vezon.” He did so, Vezon collapsing to the floor, gasping for breath.

              

“What do we do concerning the Great Being?” Artahka asked.

              

Axonn flexed his fingers. “I’m all for throttling him right here.”

              

“That’s impossible,” said Helryx, “I got a few yards from him, and my armor began to strangle me. By the time you’d get close enough to get your hands around his throat, you’d be dead.”

              

“How do you say Helryx?” asked Artahka, “Should we leave him here to rot, or release him?”

              

Helryx thought for a second. “Against my better judgment, I vote for releasing him. He is familiar with many things strange to us, and who knows what help he could provide us with in the future?”

              

Artahka smiled. “Well put Helryx. We should all reflect on her words.”

              

At this, Tuyet decided to interject. “Oh, shut it you little suck-up. Let’s leave him here to rot.”

              

Artahka’s eyes flashed with malice. “I should warn you against speaking to me in such a tone again. You may not live to regret it.”

              

Miserix interjected, “Ah, enough with the talk. Let’s leave the thing here with his bricks and chains.”

              

“I wholeheartedly agree with you,” replied Brutaka. They turned to leave.

              

At this, Kapura and Hafu  yelled and chased after them. “Hey, we haven’t gotten to vote yet!” They clung to Brutaka’s and Miserix’s legs.

              

“Let go,” warned Brutaka, “You don’t know what you want. That’s why we were made to guard you.”

              

“But we’re here too! We deserve to be heard just like everyone else!” Hafu pined.

              

Artahka plucked the two of them from their respective legs. “Now, they make a good point Brutaka. What were you two going to vote?”

              

“I was going to vote to free him,” said Hafu.

              

“Me too,” said Kapura.

              

“And so do I,” said Artahka. He looked up at Miserix and Brutaka. “It’s a tie.”

              

“And we’re right back at where we started,” sighed Tuyet.

              

“Not exactly.” Artahka turned to Vezon.

              

“Oh, you can’t be serious,” pined Axonn.

              

“He’s personally invested in this. He has more reason to decide than anyone else here.”

              

“But he’s raving mad!” raged Miserix.

              

“That may be,” replied Artahka, “But he’s a living being like the rest of us. He has a voice, and he deserves to be heard.”

              

At this point, Vezon muttered something unintelligible. “What, Vezon?” Artahka asked. Vezon mumbled again. “A bit louder Vezon.”

              

Vezon’s head snapped up. “I said, leave him here to rot!” he spat.

              

Everyone stared speechlessly at Vezon. “But Vezon,” questioned Axonn, “Wasn’t freeing him part of your deal.”

              

“To with the deal.” Vezon stood up. “This guy’s caused me more trouble than I ever wanted. I say goodbye, and good riddance.” Vezon spat at the unmoving Great Being.

              

Artahka quickly composed himself. “Very well. Great Being,” he said, turning to the namesake, “Do you have any last words?” The body didn’t stir. It was as if it was dead.

              

Miserix laughed. “Not very talkative now are you, huh? Come on, let’s get out of here. I have to get all this grime off my armor.” They all walked outside, closing the doors behind them. Brutaka grabbed the iron handles of the doors and twisted them together with impossible strength. “No one’s getting in there anymore,” remarked Miserix.

              

“And we have to find Lewa,” remarked Helryx, “Where’d he go anyway?”

              

“Oh, I’m sure he’ll turn up eventually,” said Axonn, “I’ve noted he has the habit of dropping in when you least expect it.”

              

Suddenly, a rumble reverberated through the ground. There was a large clattering sound behind. Everyone turned to look the fortress. It was collapsing! “Run!” Artahka yelled.

              

An explosion sounded, and bricks began pelting the ground around the company as they fled. Whistles could be heard as bricks whizzed by their heads, only to splinter apart on the ground right before them. It was a veritable tempest.

              

Kapura tripped, landing face first on the ground, shards of brick stinging his body. As he ran by, Axonn scooped him up, carrying him and protecting him from any more shrapnel.

              

Then the bricks stopped falling. Everyone turned. The fortress was a smoking husk. If they had stayed there but a minute longer, they would all be dead.

              

Gasping for breath, Axonn exclaimed, “What was that?”

              

Brutaka answered. “An explosive of some kind. It triggered just after we left the fortress.”

              

“But who, or what, triggered it?” Helryx asked.

              

“We do not know,” Brutaka replied, “Insufficient data. We must inspect the remains in order to ascertain the cause of the explosion.” Brutaka advanced. “Remain here. It is possible there is still danger.” Brutaka moved forward cautiously. He was near the epicenter of the blast when he tripped over something. He stooped to examine it. He brushed bricks aside to reveal what lay beneath. Wire. Obviously the wire used to relay the signal to the explosives. He yanked on it, revealing more of it, a trail of wire leading into the nearby trees. This was no remote system that had done this; someone had deliberately blown up the fortress. But who?

              

Brutaka cracked his knuckles. Whoever was in those trees had a lot of questions to answer. He advanced slowly and cautiously. For all he knew there were more about lying in wait for him. It would do no good to rush into a situation like this.

              

After a few tense minutes, Brutaka had reached the trees, and was poised to dive in. His fingers flexed in anticipation. Without a word, he dove in.

              

Miserix was using a nearby pond to wash his armor. “Ugh, that was disgusting. I’ll never be able to get this filth off of me.”

              

“I know what you mean,” said Vezon, who was washing his armor as well. “It feels as if this dirt is ingrained into my armor.”

              

Miserix raised an eyebrow. Something seemed off about the silver Skakdi, and yet he couldn’t place his finger on it. It was just something… different.

              

Vezon looked up to see Miserix staring intently at him. “Is there something on my face, or am I just that beautiful to look at?”

              

Miserix shook his head to clear his thoughts. “Shut up you Skakdi scum.”

              

Vezon cackled. “Oh, did little old me hit a nerve? Who would have thought I would be able to do such a thing to the ‘great and mighty’ Miserix?”

              

Miserix charged across the pond to grab Vezon by the throat. “I said shut up, filth!”

              

“Oh! You’re quite feisty aren’t you,” asked Vezon, “This is the second time today I’ve had my throat nearly crushed. I guess third time’s the charm.”

              

Miserix tightened his grip. “A third time and you’ll be dead.”

              

“Miserix!” cried Helryx, “Release him.”

              

With a low growl, Miserix complied. “As you wish.” He dropped Vezon into the water before leaving it himself. He had to get as far away from Vezon as possible.

              

“Where are you going Miserix?” Vezon taunted, “You’re just walking away? Pathetic.” Vezon snarled as he too left the pond.

              

Miserix heard whispers. He turned to face Kapura and Hafu. “Did you say something?”

              

They both gave him puzzled looks. “No,” said Hafu, “We didn’t say anything.”

              

Miserix continued walking. “I could have sworn…” His train of thought was interrupted by a large explosion in the distance.

              

Smoke curled from the trees. Miserix had seen Brutaka disappear in the same place not just a few minutes ago.

              

Axonn looked at the smoke in horror. “Brutaka!” he yelled, rushing to the source of the explosion.

              

“Axonn, no!” Artahka yelled, but it was too late. He ran after him, the rest soon following.

              

A few moments later, Axonn reached the site of the explosion. A large smoking crater extended fifty feet from the blast. “Brutaka!” Axonn yelled, “Brutaka!”

              

Soon the others showed up. Axonn turned to them, hysterical. “Help me look! He has to be here somewhere.”

              

“Axonn,” said Helryx, “That was a big blast. If Brutaka was around here, there’s no way he could have survived!”

              

“Don’t say that!” Axonn yelled. “Don’t say that! He has to be here somewhere!”

              

Helryx didn’t know what to do. But Axonn was set on finding Brutaka. If his body was here, at least the hysteria would end.

              

An hour later, they had scoured the explosion site for five hundred  feet in every direction. “There’s nothing here,” said Miserix, “This is hopeless.”

              

“He’s right Axonn,” said Artahka, “We’ve scoured this area completely, and we’ve found no remains whatsoever.”

              

“He has to be here!” Axonn yelled, “He has to be here!”

              

Helryx went up and held his hand in hers. “Axonn, there’s nothing here. It’s most likely that he was so close to the explosion that his body was vaporized.”

              

Axonn became despondent; there was no way he could accept that his friend was dead.

              

Helryx sighed. “We’ll keep looking. But if we can’t find him or his body soon, we’ll have to stop. We have to find a village of some sort.”

              

Axonn nodded. “Okay.”

              

Fifteen minutes later, Helryx decided to call off the search. They all assembled in the clearing caused by the explosion. “It’s time we all left to find civilization of some sort.” Helryx stated. “We can’t stay out here forever.”

              

“I concur,” said Artahka, “Earlier, I noticed some smoke coming from that direction, indicative of a village.” He pointed towards the setting sun. “I believe that if we leave now, we can reach it before nightfall.”

              

Just as Artahka set off, he slapped a hand to the side of his neck and collapsed. Everyone else assumed defensive postures. “What was that?” asked Kapura.

              

“I don’t know,” Helryx asked. “Vezon! You’ve been here longer than us. Do you know anything about this jungle?” No response. “Vezon?” Helryx turned around. Vezon wasn’t there.

              

“That slime! He abandoned us!” Miserix raged.

              

“But for what reason?” Axonn asked. “What purpose would it serve?”

              

“I think-” Helryx was cut short as she too clapped a hand to her neck and collapsed.

              

“They’re using poison darts!” Miserix yelled.

              

“How primitive,” commented Axonn.

              

“What do we-” Hafu collapsed as well, soon followed by Kapura.

              

“What do we do Miserix?” Axonn asked.

              

“I suggest we run.”

              

“Run! If we leave them here, they may die!” Axonn yelled.

              

“And if we stay we all may die!” Miserix yelled, “We must flee! Better to live as a coward than die a fool!”

              

“You are right, begrudgingly,” Axonn stated, “Run on my mark. Follow me.” He scanned the trees to attempt to spot any of the savages. “Go!” Axonn took off through the trees, Miserix close behind. “We have to reach the village!” he yelled.

              

Axonn and Miserix reached the clearing where the remains of the fortress lay. As soon as they cleared the trees, they stopped.

              

Surrounding them was a large circle of what must have been the savages. There must have been hundreds of them, all armed with spears.

              

Miserix roared. “Come at me! I will never surrender!”

              

“You just suggested running a minute ago. What makes this any different?” Axonn asked.

              

“Now we can see our enemies,” Miserix responded, “And I plan to kill every last one of them.”

              

“There’s too many,” said Axonn. “We’d be killed before we could kill them all. The smart thing to do is surrender.”

              

“Surrender! To run is one thing; to surrender is another. If we surrender we may die!”

              

“And if we fight we will certainly die,” said Axonn. “We must surrender.”

              

With a growl, Miserix ceded. “Very well. We’ll do this your way.” He adopted a nonviolent posture.

              

The savages closed in and surrounded them, their spear points dangerously close. One pack of savages lightly prodded them, signaling to them a way to go. “Do what they say,” said Axonn. “We may just get out of this.”

              

“I wouldn’t count on that,” replied Miserix.

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