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Where Words and Steps No Longer Hasten

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#1 Offline Sumiki

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Posted Aug 01 2016 - 05:18 PM

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By Epigo, Southern Continent Gazette

 

BO-KIMA, TREN KROM PROVINCE—A reclusive Bo-Matoran (name unknown) was forcibly taken from the public square several bio outside the local Suva by several Toa, one of whom operates from said Suva.  Confirmed reports state that at least three Toa, as well as two unidentified bipedal Rahi, rushed and apprehended the Matoran.
 
--It is unclear exactly why the Matoran was detained.  Bo-Kima’s own Turaga Drekka came forward with a statement saying that the Matoran was arrested for “illegal experimentation on Matoran and Rahi of the Southern Continent,” with no further details given.  The local Toa involved with the arrest could not be reached for comment.  Requests to disclose the Matoran’s name were also ignored.
 
--Several Matoran in Bo-Kima offered their own theories, the most popular of which links the arrest to the mysterious disappearance of a Ta-Matoran named Luqyr three weeks ago, who was discovered about a kio down the Tren Krom River with his heartlight missing and his chest armor removed.  Official investigation into this apparent homicide is “still ongoing” according to a statement given last week by Turaga Drekka.  Further inquiry into the status of this investigation has been ignored.
 
--Two independent reports state that several large and unidentified footprints were seen in the mud and flora near the Suva around the area of the arrest.  The reports also state that the Bo-Matoran appeared to struggle with thin air prior to the appearance of the Toa and Rahi.  These eyewitnesses claim to have seen the Bo-Matoran in question “knock his mask sideways” on something.  “It must have been completly [sic] invisible,” one of the reports state.  However, none of the witnesses saw a Huna—a Mask of Invisibility—on any of the Toa involved in the arrest.
 
--“I always thought that he was strange,” an anonymous Matoran told the Gazette, referring to the arrested Matoran.  “He would always keep to himself.  I talked with him  a few times and he always seemed nice enough, but just a little … odd.”
 
--Other citizens expressed similar feelings, and no one seemed to know his name.
 
--“I always thought that he always wanted to keep something for himself, you know?” a Ga-Matoran, Puone, told us. “This community is so tight-knit that I always wondered if he was just an outsider, just wanted to be left alone.”
 
--When asked about the claims of “illegal experimentation,” the citizens were mixed.
 
--“Yeah, it makes sense that he might be involved with Luqyr’s death,” Puone said. “With the town mostly made of Bo-Matoran, those not of that element are outsiders by nature.  It makes it even weirder that he was an outsider to everyone.
 
--The Matoran’s whereabouts are currently unknown, leaving prominent Matoran activists in the Tren Krom River province aghast.
 
--“The actions of the Toa and Rahi against a member of the Bo-Kima community cannot be overlooked,” said Hakoar, a Vo-Matoran and right hand of provincial capital Kima-Nui Turaga Qaiu. “There is no accountability or oversight to their actions and given the lack of official statements, no evidence that the accused will receive a fair trial for his alleged crimes. Those responsible for his arrest should come forward for the sake of transparency.”
 
--More to this story will be added as the case unfolds. ■

 

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#2 Offline Sumiki

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Posted Aug 02 2016 - 09:43 PM

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-----Turaga Qaiu’s office was one of those quaint little affairs that always seemed to house so much junk and paraphernalia that its walls always seemed in danger of imploding due to sheer weight.  Generally, visitors to the office were either overwhelmed by the presence of so much in such a little space or were intrigued enough by some small item that the Turaga had to call in security just so her next meeting could begin on time.
 
-----It was into this office that two Toa entered, one a jet-black Toa of Stone and the other a milky white Toa of Ice.
 
-----“Ah, friends, good to see you,” Turaga Qaiu said. “I’m sure you have some thought as to why exactly you are here.”
 
-----“There’s a lot of stuff in the Gazette,” the Toa of Stone said.
 
-----“Ah, yes, yes, that much is true,” Qaiu said. “But there is one headline in particular that has caused quite the fuss … the one about the mysterious disappearance in Bo-Kima.”
 
-----“Kind of a sleepy town, isn’t it?” the Toa of Ice said. “Carraig, you were there once, right?”
 
-----“I was,” Carraig replied. “I’m amazed that something so weird would happen … anywhere, really, but much less there.
 
-----“Well, you’ll have a chance to return. I’m sending you and Cantai there immediately. There’s definitely more to this story than meets the eye and it would be wonderful if you could find any leads as to where the abducted Matoran went off to.”
 
-----“And what of Kima-Nui?” Cantai asked. “If there is some kind of threat to the region, the capital needs to be protected.”
 
-----“Which is why I’ve contacted Turaga Jovan about sending in several Toa to beef up local security in your absence,” Qaiu said. “Our northern neighbors are perfectly willing to help in times of crisis, but I doubt such a move will even be necessary.”
 
-----“Well, I suppose we’ll be off, then,” Cantai said. “We will return once we’ve found and exhausted any possible leads.”
 
-----“Excellent. I hope to hear from you soon.”
 
-----The two Toa exited the office, relieved to be out of the claustrophobia-inducing experience.
 

*-----*-----*

 

-----Cantai and Carraig boarded a small boat on a harbor along the north side of the city.  Kima-Nui, as the capital of the Tren Krom Province of the Southern Continent, was not a particularly large city, but it was on the river and in the middle of the Continent as a whole. To the immediate north was the Voya Nui territory, a barren wasteland of a subcontinent whose desert reached all the way up to the northern shore of the river.  Downriver a good ways lay Bo-Kima.
 
-----Cantai settled down into the boat, occasionally pushing off with a large ice paddle he made.  “So why is it still called ‘Bo-Kima’ if more than Bo-Matoran live there?” he asked.
 
-----“It was founded by them,” Carraig replied. “Others moved in later.”
 
-----“I guess I’m just used to the single-element villages,” Cantai said.
 
-----“Maybe on the Northern Continent, but here we’ve got much more inclusion. Voya Nui has almost nothing like that.”
 
-----“They’re too busy trying to survive, I would imagine.”
 
-----Cantai absorbed his ice paddle, letting the current carry them down to Bo-Kima.

 

*-----*-----*

 

-----“I think this is it,” Carriag said. Cantai mumbled, waking up in the bottom of the boat.  The Toa of Ice eased himself up to see a rickety pier stretching out from the woods as the sounds of the native Rahi filled the canopy above.
 
-----As Cantai tied up the boat, Carriag went on ahead into the woods. The pier turned into a path that led them to a clearing filled with huts and buildings of all sorts. The Matoran that were out and about were mostly of the Green, but a few others were mixed in.  They did not regard the Toa with undue suspicion; in fact, those who acknowledged them at all did so with a brief glance and a shrug to themselves.
 
-----The Toa strode through the village and stopped at the first shop they saw.
 
-----“Excuse me,” Cantai said. “We’d like to have a word with the Turaga. Where can we find him?”
 
-----“Down there a ways,” the Matoran shopkeeper said, pointing. “You can’t miss it. There’s two large gold stars outside the hut.”
 
-----“Thanks,” Cantai said.
 


*-----*-----*

 

-----“Toa,” Turaga Drekka said, looking up from his desk. “We’re honored. What brings you here?”
 
-----“I think you know,” Carraig said. “A member of your community has been taken. You know what he was arrested for but you’ve refused to say who or what was responsible for taking him.  What gives?”
 
-----“You’re from Kima-Nui?” Drekka asked. “Wonder why Qaiu wants to know. It’s certainly none of her business.”
 
-----“It’s every bit of her business, as well as every bit of ours,” Cantai said. “If it’s something you know of, she should know whether or not you’re overstepping your boundaries as a Turaga.  If you don’t know, then, well, by all means, we need to know so we can try to protect ourselves and help Kima-Nui help you.”
 
-----Drekka fell silent.  “I can assure you that as a Turaga and a proven leader of this community that I did what was right,” he said at long last, clearly deliberating. “But I swore upon my dignity and upon the safety of myself and Bo-Kima not to reveal the responsible party.”  He began fidgeting.  “Please … please leave. You will find nothing. They don’t want you to find anything.  Tell Qaiu it was the Dark Hunters or something.”
 
-----“So they told you to keep quiet?”
 
-----“It could be much worse if I opened my mouth to anyone.” He glanced backwards. “They have ears.  I can’t even talk to myself anymore.”
 
-----“I’m sorry to hear this, but we need to know something,” Cantai stated. “Was there a link between Luqyr and this abducted Matoran?”
 
-----Drekka bowed his head, clearly holding back emotion. “Please,” he said. “I beg of you. The only thing I could provide is a danger to your lives.  Go back to Kima-Nui.”
 
-----Cantai turned Carriag around. “We’re not doing any good here,” he said.
 
-----They quietly ducked out of Drekka’s office as the Turaga was still sobbing.
 

*-----*-----*

 

-----“You think he’s telling the truth?” Cantai asked.
 
-----“Don’t see why not,” Carriag said. “Everything checks out.  I’m inclined to believe him unless we can prove otherwise.”
 
-----“So we know it’s not the Dark Hunters,” Cantai said. “I will admit that was my first thought.”
 
-----“Or it could be and he’s throwing us off the trail?”
 
-----“We don’t have time for speculation. Let’s ask the Matoran.” He approached the shopkeeper. “Listen, uh, we want to talk to some folks about the recent arrest. Can you point us to anyone who might know something?”
 
-----The shopkeeper put down the fruit he’d been slowly tossing back in and forth in his hands. “I actually knew him a little bit.  Never got a name, but he came by a few times for some odds and ends—spare parts generally.  I tinker with some stuff out back and I put the interesting stuff on sale.”
 
-----“What kind of parts, exactly?” Carriag cut in.
 
-----“Generally the ones he bought were old tools in really odd sizes. Really rusted out, too. Some Nynrah Ghost stuff washed ashore a couple of years ago; could have gotten a good deal if I could clean it up and lug it back upstream to Kima-Nui.”
 
-----“And he was interested in this stuff?” Carraig asked.
 
-----“… yeah, but again, it was really just practical stuff.  Seemed to me like he was working on projects.  I know he must have lived off in the woods somewhere near the shore ‘cause he’d always come in and leave from there.” He waved to a local who tossed him a few widgets while picking up some fruits. “Hate to think that I might have sold him a murder weapon, but I just thought he was keeping up a little hermit hut out near the river.  Seemed harmless, really.”
 
-----“Who knows the river well?”
 
-----“There’s a Ga-Matoran in town, came here a couple of years ago. Her name’s … Puone, I believe. But if you’re trying to find that guy’s hut, believe me, I think we’ve all tried. We’ve been up and down this side of the river within a day’s walk in either direction, and no signs of settlement.”
 
-----“Did she know Luqyr?”
 
-----“Yeah, I think a little bit, yeah. Non-Bos tend to bond here since they’re pretty outnumbered, and they’re all newcomers, relatively speaking.”
 
-----“Where can we find her?”
 
-----“She lives at the far end of town, closest to the water. She’s always outside. Look for the purple mask.”
 

*-----*-----*

 

-----“Puone?”
 
-----The Ga-Matoran turned her head toward the Toa.  Despite her inherent affiliation with water, she appeared to be attending to some particularly gorgeous local plantlife.
 
-----“I’m Cantai, and this is Carraig. We’re investigating the recent arrest of the Bo-Matoran who frequented your village and his possible connection to the murder of Luqyr, who we’ve been told that you knew.”
 
-----“Yeah, sure, what do you need?”
 
-----“We need someone to show us where he was found.”
 
-----“I … sure, yeah, I suppose I can do that. I’m assuming you can both swim?”
 
-----“I’m actually a Toa of Stone,” Carriag said. “The black is deceiving, I know.”
 
-----“Don’t worry about us,” Cantai said, smirking. “We have a boat.”

 

*-----*-----*

 

-----“So what got you to come to Bo-Kima?” Carraig asked.
 
-----“I always liked nature. I suppose water is a very nurturing element and I always wanted to see the countryside after spending so much time in the city.” Puone heaved a small sigh. “Luqyr loved the countryside too. He came along with his old friend Kohi. They never grew apart even when Kohi became a Toa.”
 
-----“Kohi’s Suva is on the other side of town, right?” Cantai asked. “Where exactly is he? I kind of thought we might run into him.”
 
-----“He was involved with the arrest but no one has seen him since. Occasionally someone will claim to see a puff of smoke out in the distance.”
 
-----“So there’s a missing Toa and no one’s saying anything? Sweet Mata Nui, isn’t that dangerous?”
 
-----Puone shrugged. “Bo-Kima lasted for a long time without a Toa. I’m sure they cam survive until you two get back.”
 
-----The three had arrived at the bank of the water. Puone dove into the river while Carraig unhitched the boat from its moorings.
 
-----“I discovered him, actually,” Puone said, her purple mask bobbing in the river. “Found him on one of my swims. Barely been back in the water since.” With that, she took off, emerging several bio downstream.
 
-----The Toa followed behind Puone downstream to a significant turn in the river before Puone jumped out of the water towards a low-hanging vine. “I know it’s around here,” she said.
 
-----Carriag moved the boat towards the shore and tied the boat to a particularly sturdy limb.  The Toa climbed out and began moving through the thick brush.
 
-----“Don’t worry, it’ll get thinner as we move in,” Puone said.
 
-----“If you couldn’t see from the river,” Cantai said, pausing to spit out a leaf. “Why in the world would you know Luqyr was dead?”
 
-----Puone pushed into the clearing. “The smell.”
 
-----The silence between the three was mitigated by the unrelenting squawks, squeaks, and tweets of the birds around.  A patch of grass and moss in the middle of the clearing showed the outline of a Matoran body.
 
-----“I … I don’t know what you’re hoping for,” Puone said. “They took him back to Bo-Kima soon after he was discovered. It’s what he would have wanted.”
 
-----“Did Kohi investigate?” Cantai asked.
 
-----“Of course. He was quite … shaken … by it. Like all of us were. Him probably more than most.”
 
-----“Do you think he was thorough?”
 
-----“Of COURSE he was thorough! His best friend died, he’s not sweeping this under the rug!”
 
-----“And yet he’s missing—not to mention that he missed something.” Cantai rummaged in a shrub and retrieved a rusted-out tool that looked like a cross between a shovel and a wrench. “Your Toa friend might not be as innocent as you think.”

 

-------------


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#3 Offline Sumiki

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Posted Aug 04 2016 - 10:18 AM

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-----He awoke with a start, his eyes chained to his sides, a bright light in his face, and a sense of dread throughout his entire body.
 
-----“I’m dead, right?” he asked. No one responded. “Please tell me I’m dead. Or just anything in general.”
 
-----He opened his eyes and looked around the room. It was small, damp, and very very cold. Bo-Matoran didn’t have a built-in temperature preference, but very hot would have been preferable to him.
 
-----“Yo. What’s going on?” he yelled at a protosteel door. “As a citizen of the Southern Continent, I cannot be held without good reason or imprisoned without a fair trial!”
 
-----“If only you were still on the Southern Continent,” came a voice from behind him.  “Welcome to Daxia, Crallin. We’ve been expecting you for some time.”
 
-----“Well, it’s a lovely little resort village you’ve got here.  I just love the atmosphere.”
 
-----“It’s very conducive to … information.”
 
-----“I’m being informed of something?”
 
-----“On the contrary. You are telling us what we want to know.”
 
-----“Aw, but why would I want to leave? I just got here.”
 
-----Crallin’s head suddenly jolted sideways, slamming up against the table next to him. He glanced up to see a set of very odd tools scattered across the table.
 
-----“What did you learn?” The voice was closer now, quieter yet more menacing. Crallin tried to move his head but realized that it was being held down against the table by an invisible force.
 
-----“Numbers, letters … I mean, y’know, the basics.”
 
-----His head suddenly jolted off of the table as he felt a punch hit his chest.  He wheezed and coughed but could see no sign of the assailant.
 
-----“You’ve been experimenting on Matoran and Rahi,” came the voice. Its calm tone combined with its disembodied nature was a highly unnerving combination.
 
-----“… oh, come on. Don’t tell me that a mysterious faction has some kind of dominion over morality.”
 
-----“Our authority comes directly from Mata Nui himself, and the only reason that you’re not in the Pit right this second is that we need to know what you know.”
 
-----Crallin chuckled. “So you know who I am, you know a bit about what I’ve done, but apparently you need the details? Why would you want details unless you want my research for yourself?”
 
-----Crallin suddenly found himself being tossed against a wall. He crumpled to the ground, mask knocked slightly askew.
 
-----“You are interfering with destiny,” came the voice again. “Your crime is inexcusable.”
 
-----“Don’t tell me you believe in destiny.”
 
-----“I swore to protect and serve the interests of Mata Nui. So yes, I do.”
 
-----“Destiny …” Crallin said as the invisible creature dragged him upright. “Whatever happens is what you call destiny. Why don’t you try to shape it once in a while?”
 
-----“Some Matoran are destined to become Toa. Most are not.”
 
-----Crallin smiled. “Oh, so you’re trying to be clever now. A li’l more than you first said. Y’see, this is why I can’t really trust you—I can’t see you, you’re not forthcoming with information, you beat me up, you’ve got bad brea—”
 
-----The Bo-Matoran flew across the room and hit the far wall.  As the room spun around him, he heard the door open.
 
-----“That’s quite enough from you, Jerbraz,” came a female voice.  A black-armored figure entered the room. “I’ll take this from here.”
 
-----“Ah, that’s on old trick,” Crallin said.
 
-----“My name is Johmak,” she said, lifting Crallin up off of the floor and unlatching him. He sat upright on the table to be closer to Johmak’s eye level.
 
-----“Your invisible friend is a coward,” Crallin said.
 
-----“He can’t exactly help his … status,” Johmak said.
 
-----“He’s very aggressive.  Is he compensating?”
 
-----Johmak grinned. “I wouldn’t say that too loud.”
 
-----“Why not?”
 
-----“He’s still behind you.”
 
-----Crallin cleared his throat and adjusted his mask. “So … you’d like to know a little more about what I’ve been up to these days.”
 
-----“It’d help us.”
 
-----“Somehow, I don’t think that’s the real motivation here.”
 
-----Johmak smiled. “Well, we wouldn’t want to do anything with the information. The affairs of ourselves and Toa do not often intersect. We’d rather your research not fall into the wrong hands.”
 
-----“And who says your hands are the right hands?”
 
-----“There are organizations and beings in this universe who manage to be far worse than us in our … weakest moments,” Johmak said, staring brief daggers at Jerbraz.
 
-----“So riddle me this: if destiny is—excuse the tautology—destined, why do you feel as if you have to interfere?”
 
“We are executors of the destiny and will of Mata Nui.”
 
-----“And your authority is granted by Mata Nui himself?”
 
-----Johmak was silent.
 
-----“As I figured. Carte blanche.”
 
-----“You have managed to come very close to circumventing the natural order,” Johmak said, pausing to consider every word. “There are beings who can and would exploit that for their own ends and kill you.”
 
-----“And you won’t kill me just so I wouldn’t fall into the wrong hands?”
 
-----“That’s not how we operate.”
 
-----Crallin shrugged. “I wouldn’t blame you.  I mean, I would.” He got up off of the table and began stretching his arms. “So what exactly do you know?”
 
-----“We have reason to believe that you were attempting to find a way to artificially create Toa from undestined Matoran subjects.”
 
-----Crallin smiled. “You know more than I gave you credit.”
 
-----“So you were experimenting in that way?”
 
-----“Well … not so much in your exact wording, but I don’t want to blow your mind with my more groundbreaking theories.”
 
-----“Do tell.”
 
-----Crallin flashed a nasty grin. “Well, they’re theories. And I didn’t have a large enough sample size to confirm anything. Besides, you said yourself that you don’t interfere with the affairs of Toa, so what I do shouldn’t concern you or your friends.”
 
-----“Your cooperation with us can save your life,” Johmak said.
 
-----“I thought you didn’t kill?”
 
-----“Oh, we don’t. We have something far, far worse.”
 
-----Crallin smiled again. “And you don’t think there’d be … uproar? Outrage? Look, I might not have been a real beloved figure in Bo-Kima, but just abducting me like that … it’s not going to win you any friends.  Tactics like that are why you have to stay in the shadows.  Doing it out in the open?  Bad idea.”
 
-----“We stay in the shadows because our enemies are in the shadows.”
 
-----Crallin threw his hands in the air. “Well, I can’t cooperate with anyone who claims to be above the law.  Someone will find me, of that I can be certain.”
 
-----“Your certainty is misplaced.”
 
-----“I’m willing to take that chance.”
 
-----“Well,” Johmak said, walking towards the door. “When you’re willing to tell us more information, I’ll be interested in speaking again. Until then …” She turned to the wall behind Crallin. “… I’m afraid he’s all yours.”
 
-----As Johmak exited the cell, the last thing Crallin remembered was his feet being knocked out from under him.

 

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#4 Offline Sumiki

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Posted Aug 05 2016 - 09:54 AM

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By Epigo, Southern Continent Gazette
 
BO-KIMA, TREN KROM PROVINCE—As reported earlier this week, the abduction of Bo-Matoran, whose name has been revealed to be Crallin, has left citizens throughout the Tren Krom River area concerned.
 
--This reporter returned to Bo-Kima in a second attempt to interview Turaga Drekka, whose silence on the issue has been baffling to all and indicative of conspiratorial action to many.  Upon my return to Bo-Kima, I encountered two Toa Kima as well as a Ga-Matoran named Puone, who had been independently investigating the abduction as it related to the earlier death of Ta-Matoran Luqyr.
 

--“We’re not entirely sure how much of a link there is,” one of the Toa told me. “At present we cannot rule out [Crallin] as a suspect, but several other circumstances have thrown some doubts over the situation.”
 

--The Toa also mentioned the absence of Bo-Kima Toa Kohi, who has served the region for several years and whose Suva is on the far side of town.
 

--Puone doubted Cantai’s suspicions. “Kohi and Luqyr were like brothers,” she told me. “There’s no way Kohi was involved.”
 

--However, she also had no way of explaining Kohi’s absence after his involvement with the arrest.
 

--“We’re not as concerned about Kohi,” the other Toa said. “We’re mostly concerned about [Crallin] and finding his home, wherever it might be.”
 

--Together with these Toa, I went to Turaga Drekka’s office. The Toa had said that they had questioned Drekka earlier in the day and found him very emotional, but that the Turaga was still not forthcoming with information they were sure he had.
 

--The conversation between the Turaga and the anonymous Toa is reprinted below in its entirety.
 
DREKKA: Why are you here? I told you to leave.
TOA #1: We had another plans. We were sent to investigate and we’re still investigating.
DREKKA: I told you, you would find absolutely nothing.
TOA #1: On the contrary. [Toa #2], would you show him the tools?
[Toa #2 produces several odd rusted objects from a knapsack.]
TOA #1: Certain members of your community remembers selling these kinds of tools to the Bo-Matoran.
DREKKA: Crallin.
BOTH TOA: Crallin?
DREKKA [beginning to cry]: His name was Crallin. They told me the night before what was going to happen.
TOA #2: They? They who?
DREKKA: I didn’t know their names and I didn’t know who was speaking to me. I was about to go to sleep and this … this voice came out of nowhere, saying that Crallin had frequented the town and … and he would be arrested for illegal experimentation.
TOA #1: And?
DREKKA: He wanted to keep it a secret and he only told me what he said I needed to know. I’m just as in the dark as everyone else, and now I’m going against the one thing he told me to do.  You can see why I didn’t want to tell you earlier … I couldn’t and now I’ve risked my own safety.  I don’t know what they’re capable of.
TOA #2: Don’t worry. We’ll stay as long as you need protection.
TOA #1: Speaking of which, where is Kohi? The Matoran we’ve talked to say that he’s gone missing since the arrest.
DREKKA: I don’t know where he is either. Believe me, now more than ever, I want him here.
TOA #2: Let’s keep on track. We need to lead an expedition into the surrounding area, on both sides of the river, focusing downstream. This Crallin fellow had to have a home if he was experimenting. Finding that should be our number-one priority.
DREKKA: I agree, but I cannot force the Matoran to do anything against their will.
TOA #1: We’ll spread the word ourselves. And thanks for talking to us.
DREKKA [smiling]: I already regret it.
 

--If Turaga Drekka’s account is to be believed, then there is an organization behind Crallin’s arrest.  While due process has been ignored, time will tell if evidence for experimentation is uncovered. ■
 

-------------

 

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#5 Offline Sumiki

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Posted Aug 09 2016 - 07:55 PM

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-----Crallin had been left alone for quite some time, which was a welcome respite from the constant physical abuse he had endured since he had initially awoken in the dank cell.
 

-----“You’re a fighter,” came a female voice—no, not Johmak—another one. This one was older.
 

-----A Toa of Water entered the room. “Any word, Jerbraz?”
 

-----“Nothing,” Jerbraz replied.
 

-----“You could have just asked me,” Crallin said. “Isn’t that … y’know, what I’m here for?”
 

-----The Toa bent down and looked Crallin straight in the eyes. “Why won’t you tell us?”
 

-----Crallin reached up to rub his shoulder, exaggerating the motion. “A bit hard to believe that you’re the ‘nice ones.’  I can take a bit of torture, believe me.”
 

-----“What would it take?” The Toa was quick and firm in her responses.
 

-----“Unconditional release. I don’t even need an apology, although I feel like the invisible thing over there owes me a few.”
 

-----“This is your idea of being reasonable?”
 

-----“Sure.”
 

-----“This is mine.”
 

-----The Toa snatched Crallin’s mask off. The Matoran grappled with his consciousness as his eyes rolled around, his breathing becoming shallow and erratic.

 

*-----*-----*

 

-----The streets of Kima-Nui were always busy, yet not ever too busy.  Those who visited from other lands—or even other areas of the Continent—always remarked about how the capital always felt like it was both a big city and a small town.  It was a city of opposites, a city of contradictions, a city that felt both self-contained and open to the natural wonders at the doorsteps.
 

-----It’s a wonder I don’t come back around here more often, Mutran thought. His duties as Makuta were generally confined to the sometimes-nasty business of viruses and Rahi  and mutagens and biology and he rarely gave heed to the area he was assigned to oversee.  When he did, he was just as drawn into Kima-Nui and its outlying areas as he was to what he saw as his more pressing work.
 

-----Of course, in order to perform his duties, he had to shapeshift into the form of an innocuous Le-Matoran.  He wasn’t too upset with this, but it was something upon which he had to keep focus, and shapeshifting wasn’t even his favorite power.  No one seemed to give him any attention as he strolled through the downtown area.
 

-----Alright, focus. What’s the latest?
 

-----He leaned against a building and casually snatched a copy of the Southern Continent Gazette from a nearby dispenser.
 

-----“BO-KIMA CONSPIRACY REVEALED” ran the headline.
 

-----Mutran was intrigued.  Illegal experimentation?  Abduction?  All of this was very much up his alley.
 
-----Miserix will be surprised that I’m paying attention to my duties, Mutran thought as he ducked into an alley to shed his Le-Matoran form and teleport to Destral.

 

*-----*-----*

 

“I’m surprised that you’re paying attention to your duties,” Miserix said, examining the Southern Continent Gazette.  “But it seems to have paid off.”
 
-----“You’re as intrigued as I am, then, sir?”
 
-----“I want to know what you think.”
 
-----Mutran cleared his throat. “Well, sir, I don’t know for certain, but it seems as if the Order of Mata Nui is behind the abduction.  The Dark Hunters have very little business in my area, generally, and the reports of an invisible creature in on the plan seems to denote an Order agent.  It would make sense also considering that their operatives are occasionally known to recruit local Toa for help on missions.”
 
-----“And what do you think this Crallin fellow is doing?”

-----“That … is obviously a matter of more conjecture, but I would assume that if the Order was involved, he was doing something to upset the status quo.  If he was operating on Matoran, the most obvious experiment would be to attempt to transmute their biological components to that of another, similar organism.”
 
-----“You mean to say that he was trying to turn Matoran into Toa?”
 
-----“That would be the first step to take. After that, one could attempt to transmute Matoran into other forms of life. If such transmutation is possible on a larger scale, then one could theoretically attempt to transmute a Muaka into a Toa, or something like it.  Also, being a Matoran himself, it is likely that his experimentation is fueled by a desire to be a Toa himself, but if he’s ambitious enough to do this in the first place …”
 
-----“It seems rather far-fetched that it’s possible at all,” Miserix said. “Would not our research have revealed some link?”
 
-----“I checked all records we have, and it doesn’t appear that any research has been done whatsoever.  This is entirely novel.”
 
-----“So you think a reclusive backwoods Matoran of the Green has figured out something which we have never even considered as a possibility?”
 
-----“But if it were, sir … would that not make for a highly potent weapon? An improvement over Rahkshi?  I mean, if this transmutation is in any way possible, one could create functional Toa of Shadow, corrupted to do our bidding and our bidding exactly.  Combined with our viruses and our Energized Protodermis, we could create a small but unstoppable army.”
 
-----“Your theory is … oddly compelling,” Miserix said, after spending some time in thought.  “But the Order has him now.  Getting Crallin out will be difficult and would amount to an act of warfare.”
 
-----“Which is why I’m informing you, sir.  I’m sure you’ll make the right decision.”
 
-----“If you feel as if you can break Crallin out of the hands of the Order, then you’re free to do so,” Miserix said. “But if you are caught, the Brotherhood will not be behind you.  You’ll be entirely on your own.”
 
-----“I understand, sir.”


-------------

 

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#6 Offline Sumiki

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Posted Aug 10 2016 - 04:30 PM

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-----I’m here.
 
-----Mutran rendered himself invisible far outside the Order of Mata Nui’s compound.  Better be safe than sorry.
 
-----He poked his head out above some rocks. From his cliffside vantage point, he could see the Order’s compound below.  The area was eerily quiet, as if all natural life had been eliminated.
 
-----Mutran glided down to the compound.  As he approached, he tried to glean as much information as he could from the air.
 
-----Living quarters, check.  Garden, check.  Nondescript huts? Check.
 
-----A long drab building caught his eye.  Two muscular axe-wielding members were guarding the entrance.
 
-----No windows, check. Protosteel door? Check.
 
-----Can’t teleport since I’m still invisible.
 
-----Hmmm.
 
-----Mutran glanced down and picked up a small boulder, chucking it a good ways from the entrance.
 
-----The guards mumbled and pointed to each other before one of them went out to check it.  The remaining guard moved forward a few feet to look around the edge of the building.
 
-----Okay, calm down, he’s not looking at you. He’s looking through you.
 
-----Mutran snuck around the peeping guard and slipped into the building.
 
-----Exactly as planned.
 
-----It took a few seconds to adjust to the mustiness of the building.  Many of the hallways were still barely more than pitch-black even with the installed lightstones.  It smelled of despair.
 
-----Just like back home.
 
-----Mutran opened the first cell door he saw.
 
-----No one.
 
-----Down the hall, then.
 
-----After several empty cells, he opened a stiffer door. This one led to a staircase, and it looked well-traveled; new lightstones adorned the walls and footprints could be seen in the dust on the steps.
 
-----Careful, now. Hard to know where you’re going when you can’t see.
 
-----Gingerly, he reached the bottom of the steps, which led to another whole level of dank hallways and Protosteel doors.
 
-----Where do the footsteps go?
 
-----Mutran strained his eyes to see the well-traveled path, but footsteps were everywhere.
 
-----This is where they keep everyone.  Decoy rooms all upstairs—smart thinking.
 
-----Mutran froze as one of the doors opened and a small Toa of Water emerged.  She walked past him as he kept as still as possible against the far wall.
 
-----Alright, she’s past.
 
-----
 
-----No, best wait a little while longer.
 
-----
 
-----Alright. Time to go.
 
-----Mutran opened the door the Toa had come out of. Ducking through slightly, he saw a maskless Bo-Matoran slumped over in a chair.
 
-----Once the door closed and locked behind him, Mutran released his invisibility and breathed a sign of relief. He took the mask off of the hook on the wall and placed it over the Bo-Matoran’s face.
 
-----The Matoran immediately shot to life, coughing and wheezing. He looked up and nearly fell out of his chair when he saw Mutran’s mask staring right back at him.
 
-----“Who … who are you?”
 
-----“You’re Crallin?”
 
-----“Yeah, I figured anyone who came in would know that.  Who are you?”
 
-----“I am a Makuta.”
 
-----Crallin looked impressed. “Makuta. I’ve heard a lot about your kind.  Interested in my research?”
 
-----“I read the articles in the Southern Continent Gazette.
 
-----“Oh, I’m a celebrity now, aren’t I?  Fancy that.”
 
-----“You’re working on biological transmutation?”
 
-----“Yes! Finally, someone who speaks my language.  Have you done any research in the same field?”
 
-----“No, but that’s why we’re interested. Could you make a Toa for us?”
 
-----“I’d be happy to, as long as you give me the right resources.”
 
-----“We have all the resources you need. Want to get out of here?”
 
-----“Please. The massages here are rough.”
 
-----Mutran focused on Destral in his mind and placed his hands on Crallin’s shoulders, spiriting him away to the Brotherhood’s hands.
 
-----Need to rest. Lots of power used today. I’ll need a few days off when I get back.
 
-----
 
-----Uh-oh. Footsteps.
 
-----He just barely was able to turn back invisible when the Toa of Water returned.  She calmly scanned the room.
 
-----What’s she doing?
 
-----Suddenly, the Toa let out a terrifying scream.  Johmak soon appeared behind her.
 
-----Uh-oh.  I’m not getting out of here any time soon.  Got to keep focus.  If I can wait them ou—
 
-----His train of thought was broken when he was suddenly struck by a table.  The Toa had flung it clean across the room towards what she thought was merely the far side of the cell, but it had hit him squarely.  He tumbled to the floor, visible.
 
-----“Makuta!” the Toa screamed, aiming a blast of water at him.  Mutran leapt out of the way, but they were still in a cell and there wasn’t a whole lot of room. It was a glancing blow but enough to spin him around.
 
-----“Let’s neutralize him,” Johmak said.
 
-----Mutran mustered his willpower and teleported, reappearing outside the cell.  The Order members were confused, and the Makuta smashed two of them with pulses of pure shadow energy, shattering their bodies and knocking the other present members clean into the cell.
 
-----Mutran rushed forward and slammed the door.  Should buy me some time.
 
-----Voices upstairs. They’re coming down.
 
-----Time to go.
 
-----He shut his eyes on Daxia, and he opened them on Destral.

 

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#7 Offline Sumiki

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Posted Aug 11 2016 - 01:27 PM

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-----“Ah, Toa!” Turaga Qaiu said, opening her arms. “We’re always honored to have guests in Kima-Nui, but this is a superb hono—”
 
-----“The formality can wait, Turaga,” the Toa of Water said. “I’m older than you are, after all.”
 
-----“Well, ma’am, you certainly don’t look it. So how can I help you?”
 
-----“I am the leader of an organization known as the Order of Mata Nui. We were behind the arrest of a Matoran named Crallin in the outlying area of the province.”
 
-----“Yes, yes, Bo-Kima, yes,” Qaiu said. “I’m very familiar with that case. I just sent two of my finest Toa to find what they can about the situation.  Didn’t think the case would come here!”
 
-----“We had reason to believe that Crallin was experimenting on Matoran subjects.  Specifically, we were concerned that he was trying to subvert destiny by transforming Matoran into Toa.”
 
-----“Is that even possible?” Qaiu asked.
 
-----“We’re not sure, but we hope it’s not.  We were not able to ascertain the information because our prisoner was abducted from us.”
 
-----“By whom?”
 
-----“The Brotherhood of Makuta.”
 
-----“To … spite you? I don’t understand.”
 
-----“A local reporter was writing about the story, which is why we try our best to keep these things under wraps. Usually that happens without a hitch, but this time all of our worst fears have been realized.  We had to get him out in the open because we couldn’t track his hut, and … you can figure the rest.  The Brotherhood and ourselves have long been at odds, and Crallin’s research can be weaponized.  It’s a matter of life and death for ourselves, but also for your city.”
 
-----“… I don’t understand why you’re telling me any of this,” Qaiu said. “Turaga Drekka of Bo-Kima is who you should be talking to.”
 
-----“Makuta are often stationed in larger cities to monitor the activities of larger areas.  This situation has become very precarious and unless things are handled carefully, we could see a war between the Order and the Brotherhood with Kima-Nui directly in the crossfire. I need full cooperation from yourself and the Toa Kima.”
 
-----“I will recall all Toa and brief them of the situation,” Qaiu said.
 
-----“No need to recall those in Bo-Kima. They can stay to help with the effort in locating Crallin’s hut, but I suspect they are already searching for it.”
 
-----“Should I declare a state of emergency?”
 
-----“No.  Unless the Makuta make their presence known, keep the city running as efficiently as possible.  We don’t need to tip them off.”
 
-----Qaiu nodded. “It will be done.” 


*-----*-----*

 

-----“So,” Mutran said, sitting down opposite Crallin. “First of all, I’m very sorry to hear that the Order treated you in such a way.  That’s completely inexcusable.”
 
-----“It could have been worse.”
 
-----“Anyway, we’d like to know of your research.”
 
-----“I’m hesitant to just share it without knowing what you’d end up doing with it.”
 
-----“We will do what we can with whatever information we have to fight the Order and to bring justice and peace to the universe.  They hide behind Mata Nui’s name to act as vigilantes, and unfortunately their influence has only spread, despite our best efforts.”
 
-----“Makuta aren’t trusted.”
 
-----“Order propaganda. They act like we’re inferior because we control shadow.”
 
-----“Shadow is considered evil.”
 
-----“And why do you think that is?”
 
-----Crallin shrugged. “It’s what I was always taught.”
 
-----“And yet?”
 
-----“I don’t subscribe to the idea of ‘inner shadow’ as a bad thing. Besides, my investigation into Matoran physiology has nothing to do with morality and everything to do with curiosity. ”
 
-----“Believe me, I’m just as curious as yourself. I bring a little more … practical experience, shall we say, to the table.  Are you familiar with the Lohrak?”
 
-----“I’ve read about them. Never met one though.”
 
-----“That’s a bit of my handiwork. With your groundbreaking research combined with my skill in crafting warriors, and we can end the stalemate and bring peace to the universe.”
 
-----“The universe is pretty peaceful, I thought.”
 
-----“You’re lucky that the Southern Continent is so stable.  It’s not like that everywhere.  Just because you’ve never seen a war doesn’t mean that they don’t happen.”
 
-----Crallin was lost in thought for a moment. “Here’s what I’ve found,” he said. “The structure of Matoran organs is actually fairly simple. Intelligence, memory processing, as well as auditory and visual input centers are located in the head. Everything else vital to continued existence rests in the chest.  Once you get the armor off, the inner processing functions are all there.”
 
-----“Much like a Rahi.”
 
-----“Exactly.  Comparing my Rahi dissections to my analysis of Matoran internal structure reveals many of the same attributes; the Rahi organs have direct correlations in Matoran, with a few differences. These differences are solid evidence in favor of my theory.”
 
-----“Your theory?”
 
-----“I’m getting there. My theory is derived from the idea that the idea of destiny doesn’t actually exist.  I believe that Matoran have free will.  And if we all have free will, and Toa come from Matoran, then every Matoran has the capacity to transform into a Toa.  See where I’m going with this?”
 
-----“So you’re looking for some kind of physical internal structure that would allow for this.”

-----“Precisely. So behind the heartlight is a small cylindrical organ which appears to be for general elemental power. It’s hooked up to the heartlight and keeps the body functioning. However, we know that it’s not elemental power that creates Toa, it’s Toa power.”
 
-----“Jump-starting the process?”
 
-----“Actually, it seems more like a … latent reserve of energy.  The Toa Kima were eight Toa created from then-Toa Qaiu, so the threshold for activating this reserve seems to be at most one-eighth of a Toa’s total power.  It seems to generate a set amount of itself upon transformation, and I theorize that elemental power is converted since new Toa aren’t really known for throwing their element around.”
 
-----Mutran nodded. “So where were you in your research, exactly?”
 
-----“I believe that I was able to locate the Toa power receptacle above the heartlight.  It’s simply an empty cylindrical space which connects on the back to every part of the body through various cables.  It appears to have no other purpose, whereas every other organ has previously established purpose.”
 
-----“All you need is Toa power, then? To test it?”
 
-----“Ah,” Crallin smiled. “There’s the rub. My one test subject, Luqyr, died while I was rummaging around his body.  His longtime friend was the local Toa named Kohi—and of the same element, no less.  Imagine that—a Toa of Fire guarding a village of the Green!  That’s a recipe for disaster if I ever heard one.”
 
-----“We have a great many resources on this island, but we have no Toa power.”
 
-----“Can’t you get it?”
 
-----“Certainly. But you also have no test subject and I doubt you’d want to operate on yourself.”
 
-----“Of course not. I intend to finish the work I started. I’ll need Luqyr’s body as well as an incapacitated Kohi.”
 
-----“Luqyr … has been dead for some time. Don’t you want to start fresh?”
 
-----“Not at all. But Luqyr’s time off is exactly why I want Kohi. If anything will work, it’ll be elemental power coming from the same element.”
 
-----“And you think this will work?”
 
-----Crallin looked indignant.  “We’re scientists,” he said. “There’s a reason we try.


-------------


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#8 Offline Sumiki

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Posted Aug 13 2016 - 01:12 PM

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-----Cantai and Carraig sat down across from Puone in the makeshift hut in the woods.  Most of Bo-Kima had answered their call to comb the forest along the Tren Krom River, and they too were settling in as night was on the verge of falling.
 
-----“Cantai?” The voice belonged to a Bo-Matoran—Drekka’s right hand, Zel.  “We ran into a being in the woods.  He’s friendly enough but wants to speak to you.”
 
-----“Bring him in,” the Toa of Ice said.
 
-----Zel jogged off and soon returned with a stocky-looking fellow, with armor of red and silver and a Mask of Truth.  A large axe was strapped to his back.
 
-----“This is Cantai and Carriag, Toa Kima.  Toa, may I present Axonn.”
 
-----“How can we help you?” Carriag asked.
 
-----“We’re after the same thing,” Axonn said.
 
-----“I’m sorry?”
 
-----“You’re looking for Crallin’s hut and I’m here to help.”
 
-----“Whoa, that’s a little abrupt,” Cantai said. “Who exactly are you?”
 
-----“I am a member of the Order of Mata Nui.  Several other members were behind the arrest of Crallin.  I wasn’t part of it, but I was called down from Voya Nui to help with locating his hut.  My station in the territory has made me a fine tracker.”
 
-----“Good,” Carraig said. “Not to mention that we could use an axe like that.”
 
-----“Wait … so the group behind the arrest is affiliated with Mata Nui?” Cantai asked. “How have we never heard of you before?”
 
-----“We keep quiet because of the Makuta.  The less everyone knows about our activity, the less they’ll know.  But these are fast becoming trying times.”  Axon stared at the Toa. “I do hope you can keep secrets.”
 
-----“Of course,” Cantai assured him. “But that doesn’t mean I don’t have questions.”
 
-----“That doesn’t mean I have the answers.”
 
-----“Where’s Kohi?” Cantai asked. “There hasn’t been a word from him since the arrest.”
 
-----“As I said, I wasn’t involved in that.  I don’t know where he could be.”
 
-----“It’s been nearly a week now,” Carriag said.
 
-----“Perhaps the Makuta got to him.  They took Crallin from us, which is why I’m here to help find his hut.”
 
-----“We’ll be up first thing tomorrow morning to head out,” Cantai said.
 
-----“No. We leave now.”
 
-----“Axonn, the Matoran are tired—”
 
-----“Then we move out ourselves.”
 
-----“Doesn’t the camp need defending?”
 
-----“We’ve got much bigger problems.”
 

*-----*-----*

 

-----Axonn chopped a path through the thicket as the Toa followed behind.  Night had long since fallen, and Cantai’s thoughts often wandered around back to the Bo-Koro Matoran he had been able to befriend during their short stay.
 
-----A great tree fell from Axonn’s singular fiery blow and splashed into the Tren Krom River.  “We go across,” Axonn said. “It has to be across the river.  If it were on this side, you would have found it by now.”
 
-----One by one, they crossed over the water on the tree, illuminated by the light of a Ruru that Carriag had picked up on a previous adventure.
 
-----Silently, they followed Axonn in his interminable crush through the thicket.
 
-----Soon enough they entered into a clearing.  A small but sturdy boat had been dragged in front of a small hut.
 
-----“Good enough as any,” Cantai said.
 
-----Carraig illuminated the inside of the hut while Axonn rifled through rusted tools and various files.
 
-----“Looks like he encrypted these,” Cantai said, handing a stack of diagram-laced sheets to the Order member.
 
-----Axonn flipped through them. “Looks like this is exactly what we’re looking for.”
 
-----“You can read code?” Cantai asked.
 
-----“Mask of Truth.”
 
-----“Convenient.”
 
-----“Less than you might think.  Anyway, I don’t want to risk taking these back to your camp.  We’ll rest here for the night and go through these in detail in the morning.”
 

*-----*-----*

 

-----Mutran looked down from a treetop vantage point into the town of Bo-Kima. It seemed almost deserted.
 
-----The Order, Mutran thought. Then: Miserix is going to kill me.
 
-----He was too valuable to be knocked off, he knew, but he might still get a whipping or three for letting his presence be detected.  Setting off a war with the Order wasn’t on the Brotherhood’s bucket list.
 
-----Digging up Luqyr’s body was enough punishment.
 
-----He glided down from the treetops down to the Suva.  The Suva was rather small and housed the few odd Kanohi that Kohi had managed to accrue.  He tapped a finger on it, and the sound of metal on metal resonated through the streets.
 
-----I should find Kohi.
 
-----He shapeshifted into his Le-Matoran disguise and entered the Turaga’s office.  To his surprise, the Turaga and his left hand were still there.
 
-----“Good morning,” the Turaga said.
 
-----“I’m a reporter for the Gazette,” Mutran lied. “Rumor has it that Qaiu is very concerned about the whereabouts of Toa Kohi.  He has not been seen since the recent arrest.  Do you know where he is, or can you confirm his absence?”
 
-----“Well, I don’t really keep up with what Kohi does, but I cannot imagine him ever shirking his duties to the town.”
 
-----“A town with no one in it?”
 
-----“Ah, most of them went downriver to look for Crallin’s hut. They were led by the two Toa Kima.”
 
-----“Thank you for your time.”
 
-----Mutran slithered out the door and shed his disguise outside, flying far above the village.
 
-----They’ve all got to be somewhere. If they’re gone, they had better be together.
 
-----There. He had spotted most of Bo-Kima’s residents off downriver a few kio.
 
-----If Kohi is worth anything, he’ll be protecting his citizens.
 
-----Mutran sailed low across the canopy, landing outside the camp. The Matoran were just awakening.
 
-----The Toa aren’t up yet.  Good.
 
-----Mutran flew invisibly over the temporary Matoran campground, landing on the far side.
 
-----Kohi better be here, or I’m taking one of the Kima and calling it a day.
 
-----Come on, Kohi.
 
-----Come on.
 
-----He better be here.
 
-----Crallin can g—oh, there he is.
 
-----Being a Toa of Fire, Kohi stood out like a sore thumb in the greenery.  Mutran glided down next to him and reached down to rip off his mask.
 
-----Kohi let out an incoherent yell, blasting Mutran with flame. His armor was singed, but the brush was on fire.  Mutran sent a few volleys of chain lightning towards Kohi, but the Toa was quick up on his feet, backing up through the thicket.
 
-----Mutran took a quick look back. The Matoran had heard their skirmish, and he had a few moments left before his cover was completely blown.
 
-----The Makuta ran towards Kohi, felling a tree with a single blast of shadow. A branch clipped Kohi, knocking him off balance and sending him head over heels when he hit a rock.
 
-----Time to go.
 
-----Mutran yanked Kohi’s Zatth off and sent the Toa to sleep before teleporting him back to Destral.  He thought he caught a glimpse of several Matoran armed with water-filled buckets coming towards the scene, but he opened his eyes on Destral before he could tell for certain.

 

*-----*-----*

 

-----“Did you see that?” Zel asked frantically.
 
-----“Yeah, that was Kohi alright,” his friend said. “That was a beatdown.”
 
-----“That’s not good. The Toa left last night and they’re not back with their new lumberjack friend, and now this.  I don’t like any of this.  It’s too dangerous.”
 
-----“With all due respect, we have a pressing need to find Crallin’s hut.”
 
-----Zel sighed. “I don’t want you to, but I can’t order the entire town around.  I’m going back to Bo-Kima to tell the Turaga.  If you want to stay, you can do so at your own risk, and that goes for the whole town.”
 
-----“It doesn’t matter if we’re here or there. We had three Toa in and around us and now all three are gone.  If something wanted us dead, whether we’re here or in Bo-Kima doesn’t matter.”
 
-----“The Turaga still needs to know.  I’m putting you in charge until I return.”
 
-----“Can you do that?”
 
-----“These are desperate times.”
 

*-----*-----*

 

-----“Kohi is alive?” Turaga Drekka asked.
 
-----“He was when we caught a glimpse of him,” Zel said. “But he was easily overpowered by a tall and vicious creature who vanished soon after he did.”
 
-----“Teleportation,” Drekka mumbled. “This development is more bitter than sweet.” 
 
-----“I agree. But this throws a new wrench into our plans. Not only are the citizens out in the woods completely unprotected, but even when it was there, their protection was essentially worthless.”
 
-----“I have to go to Kima-Nui immediately,” Drekka said. “Qaiu needs to know in person.”
 
-----“And what of the town?”
 
-----“Get the citizens back from their trip safely.  Zel, you’re coming with me to Kima-Nui.”
 



*-----*-----*

 

-----“This confirms our suspicions,” Axonn said, placing the last sheet down. “He was trying to turn Matoran into Toa, and he had larger plans for modifying elements as well.”
 
-----“And now the Makuta have their hands on this,” Carriag said. “With their lust for power, I’m not surprised they were interested.”
 
-----“It’s far worse than just a tool, it’s a potential weapon.”
 
-----“Shadow Toa?”
 
-----“That’s just the start.”
 
-----A silence fell over the group.  Cantai put some of the more important files in a knapsack as they prepared to retrace their steps to the campsite.
 

*-----*-----*

 

-----“Where is everyone?” Cantai exclaimed.  “Where’s Zel?”
 
-----“He went back to Bo-Kima,” a Matoran said. “We’re packing up to leave.”
 
-----“Good, because we found the hut.”
 
-----“Anything good?”
 
-----“I wouldn’t call it good,” Axonn said gruffly.
 
-----“Why are you leaving?” Cantai asked. “Did you get word?”
 
-----“Zel and I saw Kohi get attacked and he left to tell Drekka. Miqus showed up a little while later and arranged the retreat back to town. You showed up on the tail end of things.”
 
-----“Wait—Kohi? What happened with Kohi?” Carriag asked.
 
-----“Zel got a better look at it than I did, but he got attacked by a winged creature with teleportation and few other powers.  Didn’t get a good look at the attacks themselves.  They both got teleported away.”
 
-----“Makuta,” Axonn said. “No doubt in my mind.”
 
-----“At least you three are back.”
 
-----“You two stay with Bo-Kima,” Axonn said. “As far as I’m concerned, they’re on high alert.  Kohi out of the picture seems like a set up—for what, I don’t know.”
 
-----“And where are you going?”
 
-----“Kima-Nui,” Axonn said. “If war is coming, we need to prepare.”

 

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#9 Offline Sumiki

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Posted Aug 15 2016 - 10:57 PM

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-----“Helryx,” Axonn said. “News from Bo-Kima.”
 
-----Helryx put down a copy of the Southern Continent Gazette to look at Axonn.  Her features were more gaunt than usual, and it struck Axonn that behind the mask was a truly old being.  Kima-Nui, under the circumstances, had not been kind to its newest visitor.
 
-----“Kohi was taken by the Makuta,” Axonn said. “And we found Crallin’s hut. Our suspicions are confirmed.”
 
-----“They’ll kill him,” Helryx said. “Or worse.”
 
-----“Bo-Kima is in grave danger. The Makuta continue to be in the area.”
 
-----“The Matoran are of little concern right now.  I’ve called an emergency meeting of all Order agents on the Continent.  The Turaga has lent us use of the basement of his building.”
 
-----“What’s the plan?”
 
-----“We’re sitting ducks without Crallin, and Crallin’s on Destral.  Our top priority is finding Destral and getting Crallin back in our hands as soon as possible.”
 
-----“This means war.”
 
-----“I’m afraid that nothing can stop that now.  The question is if we want to fight against shadow Toa or not.  Our only move is now.”


*-----*-----*

 

-----“Drekka!” Qaiu exclaimed, embracing the other Turaga. “It’s been far too long, my friend. What brings you and your right hand to Kima-Nui?”
 
-----“Unfortunately, nothing good.  The situation with Crallin has gone from bad to worse, and I fear it may be time for full-scale evacuation to Kima-Nui.”
 
-----“I’ve been hearing quite about it recently myself,” Qaiu said. “They’re afraid that the Makuta have their hands on information that would put Kima-Nui in the crossfire of a war.”
 
-----“You’re kidding me!”
 
-----“I wish I was.  I’m terrified for my city, and we have nowhere to turn to help.  We have to keep up appearances here just to keep from making the Makuta suspicious.”
 
-----“It would make sense that the Makuta are active, because one of them abducted Kohi.  We have no full-time protection aside from the Toa Kima you assigned, and after what happened to Kohi, I can’t imagine that they’re safe either.”
 
-----“We’re not any better off together, Drekka. We’re just a larger target. I won’t stop you if you feel like moving your citizens here temporarily, but I don’t think you’re making them any safer.”


*-----*-----*

 

-----“Ah! Wonderful, Mutran. Just what I wanted.”
 
-----Mutran latched the slumped body of Kohi onto a table.  “You take it from here.”
 
-----“On the contrary! I’ll need some assistance. Now, I’ve heard of something called a Mask of Elemental Energy. Could I get my hands on one?”
 
-----Mutran nodded and silently exited the room.
 
-----“Now,” Crallin said to himself. “Finishing what I started.”
 
-----He popped the armor off of Luqyr’s body.  The organs inside were more intact than he had anticipated, but they had still begun to decompose. He tried to ignore the smell.
 
-----Mutran returned with a mask. “I know it looks odd,” the Makuta said, “but it’ll have to do.”
 
-----Crallin took the mask and hooked it up to a cable.  He put the mask up on a rusted hook on the ceiling on the far side of the room and ran the cable over to Kohi.
 
-----“Hope you knocked him out well enough,” Crallin said as he hooked a crowbar under one end of Kohi’s armor. Metal groaned as Crallin heaved, but he sunk back dejected.
 
-----“I’ll give it a shot,” Mutran said. With one fell swoop, he yanked Kohi’s armor off.
 
-----Kohi woke up from the pain and let out a scream as he attempted to wrest his way out of the chains.  Crallin jammed the cable into Kohi’s heartlight before allowing himself to cover his ears. As energy jolted through the cable into a mask that was now slightly glowing, Kohi’s screams faded as he collapsed exhausted back onto the table.
 
-----Do you want me to put him back to sleep?” Mutran asked.
 
-----“If he starts screaming like that again,” Crallin said. “But there may be something we can learn from a live subject.”
 
-----“… you,” Kohi said, spitting the word out with great pith but little strength. “What … do you want?”
 
-----“It’s very simple, really. We’re going to extract your Toa power and turn your dead friend into the Toa he never thought he could be.”
 
-----“You’re … sick.”
 
-----“Better than someone who was laying down on the job.  Your cahoots with the Order sealed your fate.  Since when do Toa betray Matoran?”
 
-----“I … was keeping tabs on them … trying to find … trying to find your hut …  didn’t want … questions … they said … they said you’d … you’d do something like this.”
 
-----“And I might not have gotten away with it if your lot hadn’t intervened, now would I?”
 
-----“They’ll … they’ll find you.”
 
-----“I don’t just want to be found. I’m going to be known.
 
-----“You’re … sick.”
 
-----“You’ve mentioned. But I’ve never felt better.” Crallin acted like he was lifting a glass. “Cheers!”
 
-----Crallin grabbed a pair of tools and moved the cable around. He carefully picked at Kohi’s mechanical organs as the Toa squirmed.
 
-----“Put him to sleep,” Crallin said. “I can’t work with this kind of movement.”
 
-----Mutran obliged, and within short order, Crallin had produced a cylinder about the size of a Matoran’s hand. It glowed a faint orange and was very warm to the touch. Kohi’s unconscious form had jerked one final time as Crallin had pulled it out, and now was very clearly dead.
 
-----“Toa Power?” the Makuta asked.
 
-----“I’m hoping,” Crallin said. “So far, so good.”
 
-----The Matoran walked behind Kohi’s body to Luqyr’s body and pressed the cylinder of Toa Power into its allotted space above the heartlight.  Crallin placed Luqyr’s armor over him and stepped back quickly.
 
-----Nothing happened.
 
-----“I told you that you needed a live Matoran,” Mutran said. “You should have taken him as a casualty of your research and moved on.”
 
-----“If living in the wilderness has taught me anything, it’s the power of conservation,” Crallin said. He walked over to the Mask of Elemental Energy, unhooking it from its moorings and turning it over in his hands. “I wasn’t just using this as a way to protect myself from Kohi’s elemental energy.  I thought it might come in handy.”
 
-----Crallin placed the mask over Luqyr’s powerless Komau. It began to sink into his face, and the faint orange glow of the Toa Power swept through his body in a cascade of convulsing light.  Crallin and Mutran cowered in the corner from the glow.
 
-----When the light subsided, Crallin was the first to investigate.
 
-----There, behind Kohi’s body, was an unconscious Toa of Fire.

 

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#10 Offline Sumiki

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Posted Aug 16 2016 - 04:54 PM

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-----“Success is ... wonderful,” Crallin said. “And it's good to see that my theories will prove useful.”
 
-----“Is there a next step?” Mutran asked.
 
-----“There are many next steps.”
 
-----“I thought you might want to make yourself a Toa.”
 
-----“I don’t want to be thought of like that. Toa are supposed to be heroic, they’re supposed to abide by a Code or something stupid like that.  I got enough attention as a simple Matoran—who knows what forces I would run afoul of as a Toa.”
 
-----“You’re a smart one, Crallin.”
 
-----“Besides. The Green is such a useless element. I’d much rather use these resources to change beings’ elements.”
 
-----“Now that’s quite a concept.”
 
-----“It would be … more challenging, certainly.”
 
-----Mutran paused. “Are you afraid?”
 
-----“I’m timid of uncharted waters.  I’m dealing with powerful forces and I’m on a journey where words and steps no longer hasten.  But I’m also ready for the next chapter.”
 
-----Mutran smiled. “You would make a good Makuta.”
 
-----Crallin returned the smile. “Speaking of further research, I have some information I left back at my hut outside Bo-Kima.  If I’m going to start on manipulating elements, I’ll need to get at them.”
 
-----“Bo-Kima’s on high alert right now. The whole town's out there, looking for your hut.”
 
-----“I wouldn’t be long.  And I doubt they’d find it; it’s on the other side of the river.  Those nosy idiots have tried to look for it before, but they’ve never looked there.”
 
-----Mutran looked skeptical, but agreed. Crallin blinked to find himself and the Makuta standing in the woods.
 
-----“I didn’t know the exact location so I had to approximate,” Mutran said.
 
-----“You’re close enough,” Crallin said, leaping over downed trees. He was making a beeline for a nearby clearing.
 
-----Crallin entered the clearing and stooped into his hut.
 
-----“Someone’s been here,” he said.
 
-----“They must have already found it,” Mutran said. “We should have come earlier.”
 
-----“I can still get some other files. Give me a second.”
 
-----Mutran looked around as Crallin gathered his things.
 
-----I don’t like this, Mutran thought. Something’s going on.
 
-----A solid mass of stone materialized and smacked into the Makuta, throwing him across the clearing.
 
-----“Told you they’d come back!” Carraig said.
 
-----Cantai hurled ice pellets in Mutran’s direction, but the Makuta had already bounced back from Carraig’s attack and hurled two badly aimed fists of shadow at the two Toa, who dove away in opposite directions into the treeline.
 
-----“What’s going on?” Crallin asked, poking his head out of his hut.
 
-----“Get out here!” the Makuta ordered.
 
-----“Give me a second, I’m not done,” Crallin said, obliviously going back in.
 
-----Another chunk of stone smacked Mutran, this time throwing him into Crallin’s hut, which collapsed.  Crallin screamed in surprise and fear.
 
-----Carriag ran across the clearing with his Hau activated and his jet-black sword drawn. Cantai followed close behind him.  Carraig readied his sword to fight … but saw no sign of the Makuta in the wreckage of the hut.
 
-----“He might be invisible,” Cantai said, activating his Arthron. “… nope. Not here.”
 
-----In the collapsed hut, Crallin let out a series of muffled curses.
 
-----“Let’s get to Kima-Nui,” Carraig said, letting his shield down to reach into what remained of the hut. “And tell the Order that we got him.”


*-----*-----*

 

-----“So this is our little outlaw now, then?” Helryx said. “Returning to the scene of the crime.” She turned to the Toa. “Thank you. You’ve saved Bo-Kima from the line of fire.”
 
-----“We’ll go back and restore order there,” Cantai said.
 
-----“Not yet," Helryx said. ”This game has not yet been played and I may need you here.  Running off a Makuta is no small feat.”
 
-----“It wouldn’t be,” Crallin interrupted. “Mutran was a coward.  He left me there at your hands because he got what he wanted.”
 
-----“He did?” Helryx asked.
 
-----“They wanted to know what you had asked me.  They helped me.  Then as soon as I proved my concept … I was expendable.  So much for their support.”
 
-----“You proved your concept?”
 
-----“Kohi is dead.  Luqyr is alive and a Toa, but unconscious last I saw.”
 
-----“They’ve done it,” Helryx breathed. “Mata Nui, they did it.”
 
-----“I thought Mutran wanted my further research, but as soon as those two charged, he barely even put up a fight.  He’s a coward.”
 
-----“To be fair, though, I did hit him with some pretty big rocks,” Carraig chimed in.
 
-----“We’ve still got a slight advantage,” Helryx said. “They know we have Crallin but they don’t know that we know that they’ve been successful.  Axonn, alert all agents to be on the watch for a Toa of Shadow. Orders to neutralize on sight.”
 
-----“Is it really wise to continue operations from Kima-Nui?” Cantai asked. “We’re putting thousands of Matoran needlessly in danger.  If it’s basic infrastructure you’re looking for, Bo-Kima is obvious choice for a command post.  We can move the Matoran there to Kima-Nui for the time being.”
 
-----“I met with Turaga Drekka and Qaiu earlier, and they mentioned a similar plan,” Helryx said. “And I certainly don’t want urban warfare.”
 
-----“So Bo-Kima it is?”
 
-----“If you can't pick your battles ... pick the battlefield.”

 

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#11 Offline Sumiki

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Posted Aug 17 2016 - 10:03 PM

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-----Mutran stumbled into Miserix’s lair.
 
-----“Such an unexpected entrance … and so graceful,” Miserix said. “Trouble on the Southern Continent?”
 
-----“I’m sorry, sir … I wasn’t intending to teleport here … but I felt like the Brotherhood had to know.”
 
-----“Know what?”
 
-----“Crallin has been recaptured by the Order.”
 
-----“… and?”
 
-----“You’re … you're not upset?”
 
-----“We got what we needed out of him.  And he hates the Order; I doubt he’ll crack to them very easily.  He's of no use now; our mission is accomplished.”
 
-----“We still need to turn Luqyr into a Toa of Shadow, don’t we?”
 
-----“Teridax has been sent to do just that while you were away.  We need a proof of concept in the field before we move to create more Toa.”
 


*-----*-----*

 

-----“Where am I?”
 
-----Luqyr looked up from the floor to see a dark figure towering over him.
 
-----“Am I dead? Mata Nui, I feel dead.”
 
-----“You’re not dead,” the figure said, offering a hand to help him off the floor. “But you were for a while.”
 
-----Luqyr began walking around, getting used to the sensation again. “What happened? The last thing I remember is that creep from outside town dragging me away and … ripping my chest open. And now I’m in a room that seems really small.”
 
-----“You’re a Toa now, Luqyr. Destiny has selected you for an important purpose.”
 
-----“No offense, but you don’t exactly look like the bearer of good news,” Luqyr said, screwing up his face and igniting a small fire at the tip of his finger. “Sorry, does this seem threatening? I’m just testing what I’ve got.”
 
-----“No offense taken. But I suppose you’d want an explanation yourself. I am Makuta Teridax.”
 
-----“Makuta? Ooh boy, we’re getting fancy now. Didn’t know your type had it in you.  You had a hand in this?”
 
-----“Not me personally. But one of my colleagues assisted in turning you into a Toa.”
 
-----“Boy, Kohi’s going to flip out when he hears about this.”
 
-----“Sadly … Kohi sacrificed himself for you.”
 
-----A stunned look hit Luqyr. “Wh … why?”
 
-----“Because you alone hold the key to bringing balance to the universe. He took your place among the dead so you could take his place amongst the Toa.”
 
-----“I’d rather have stayed dead, then,” Luqyr said. “I guess it wasn’t that bad.”
 
-----“Kohi is enjoying that same peace now.  But you also have a job to perform.”
 
-----“What job?”
 
-----Teridax walked up to Luqyr and placed a hand on his heartlight. “There are agents working in Mata Nui’s name against his will.  As guardians and protectors of his universe, we must do what we can to restore the balance … to restore justice.  And we have been deadlocked.  You are the difference maker in our war.”
 
-----“I don’t want to fight in any war.  I haven’t come back just to be someone’s mercenary!
 
-----Teridax sent a blast of pure shadow energy deep into Luqyr’s core. The Toa collapsed on the floor, coughing as corruption spread over his body, blackening and chipping away his red and silver armor.
 
-----“You are unique in this universe,” Teridax said. “You are a Toa of Shadow, sent to seek and destroy those who would do harm to our dear brother Mata Nui.”
 
-----Luqyr got up, wisps of shadow emerging from his clenched fists. Orange eyes glowed with hatred behind his blackened Komau.
 
-----“Your first mission is to go to the Southern Continent. We had captured your murderer, and we were going to see him brought to justice, but he was taken by two Toa Kima: a jet-black Toa of Stone and a Toa of Ice.  You need to seek out and destroy all three of them, and then we can win the war against the Order.”
 
-----“For Kohi,” Luqyr said. He grabbed a dagger off a nearby table.
 
-----With a touch, Teridax send him to the Southern Continent.

 


*-----*-----*

 

-----Cantai and Carriag walked through the main street of Bo-Kima.  It had changed since they had first arrived; while its citizens were now all back in their homes, few were out on the streets. Even the vendors had all closed.
 
-----“They’re living in fear,” Cantai said. “We need to get them out of here.”
 
-----Carriag walked to Puone’s hut and knocked on the door. The Ga-Matoran opened the door to look at the Toa. “Any news?” the Matoran asked.
 
-----“We got Crallin, but now orders are to evacuate the town,” Cantai said. “You’re being moved to Kima-Nui for the time being. Orders of Turaga Drekka and Turaga Qaiu.”
 
-----“I’m not going anywhere.  No one is going anywhere.  If there’s a war coming here, we’re going to fight.”
 
-----“Matoran are no match for an angry Makuta,” Carriag said. “Or even a docile one, for that matter.”
 
-----Puone swung the door open to reveal a large weapon in the other hand. “Authentically hand-crafted on Xia.  I don’t like supporting that Xian lot, but when you live in the wilderness, you can’t always count on Toa.”
 
-----“What does it do?”
 
-----“It vaporized a tree at half a kio. Haven’t tested it since, but I’ve kept it in good condition.”
 
-----“How many citizens have these things?”
 
-----“Most of us, I think.  Doesn’t make sense to keep ‘em around in some place like Kima-Nui, but out here? Let’s just say that I don’t wanna wake up to a Muaka trying to bite my leg off and not have any say over whether or not it succeeds.”
 
-----“Our orders are to evacuate the town.”
 
-----“And my answer is no. I respect what you’re trying to do, I really do, but I’m going to defend my town with my life,” Puone said. She shut the door.
 
-----Cantai walked towards the center of the village. “Attention Bo-Kima: your town has been ordered to evacuate.”
 
-----“Well, I’m not,” said a Bo-Matoran from behind them.  Others still began sticking their heads out of their huts to voice their opinion.
 
-----“Seems like a consensus,” Helryx said, suddenly behind Carraig. “If they want to fight, we’ll let them.”
 
-----“Our sworn duty is to protect Matoran,” Carraig said. “If just warning them isn’t enough—”
 
-----“Warning them is enough.  They have free will, and we’d best honor that.”
 
-----“You really think the Makuta are going to attack?”
 
-----“We have Crallin with us, and he is still valuable to them on some level. If they cut their losses, we’re here for nothing, but if they come at us …”
 
-----“If they come at us?”
 
-----“It may be our last stand.”

 

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#12 Offline Sumiki

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Posted Aug 18 2016 - 10:22 PM

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-----The town of Bo-Kima was dead quiet.  Fear may have gripped the town, but determination held it in place.  Order agents and Toa alternated between patrolling the streets and scanning the horizon.
 
-----“Turaga Drekka has returned,” Carriag said, walking up to Cantai at his post near Kohi’s Suva.  “He brought back several of the Kima.”
 
-----“We better get them around Crallin,” Cantai said. “Where’s the Turaga now?”
 
-----“He’s in his hut.  But the rest of the Toa were posted on the outskirts to act as scouts.”
 
-----“Lot of good that does when our enemies can turn invisible.  And teleport.”
 
-----“They’re probably safer out there, then.”
 
-----A windless chill ran through the town.  In the distance, towards the Tren Krom River, a jet-black cloud emerged from the trees.
 
-----“That doesn’t look good,” Cantai said, jogging towards the cloud.
 
-----The two Toa Kima ran through the village and entered the dense jungle towards the river.  An acrid smell filled the air as they went.
 
-----Carriag activated his Hau as Cantai scanned the area.  The black cloud was now towering above them, but its presence was dissipating.  The unnatural chill remained.
 
-----Cantai leaped over a downed tree and let out a gasp.
 
-----“What happened?”
 
-----“Maldro. Something got Maldro.”
 
-----Carriag bent down to examine the body of the Toa Kima of Earth.  His heartlight wasn’t just out, it was jet-black and smoking, and the armor immediately around it corrupted.
 
-----“Shadow,” Carraig said.
 
-----“Makuta, or Toa?”
 
-----“Don’t know.  But it’s gotta be heading towards the village.”
 

*-----*-----*

 

-----Crallin sat in the dank cellar of Turaga Drekka’s office.  An Order agent had thrown a lightstone down a while back, and Crallin could make out the occasional patter of feet outside.
 
-----This is all because of me, Crallin thought. The Makuta used me, but the Order has abused me.
 
-----Time to change things up.
 
-----Crallin pushed on the cellar door.
 
-----Locked.
 
-----He picked up the lightstone and examined his confines.  There were some old tools down here—most of them rusted.
 
-----Must be left over from the building process.
 
-----He rummaged through what he could find, but slipped on the muddy surface and fell into the wall.
 
-----Ow. Chipped my shoulder armor.
 
-----He bent down to examine the shard that had come off.  It glittered when he held it up in the light.
 
-----I wonder …
 
-----Crallin walked over to the cellar door and shoved the shard through the center. The chain on the other side creaked, and with a final push, Crallin opened it.
 
-----He popped his head out and glanced around.  He saw two Toa running towards a cloud of black smoke in the distance, while the Order agent posted to guard him was equally entranced by the same development.
 
-----Crallin shoved the door closed behind him and ran into the woods as fast as possible.


*-----*-----*

 

-----Carraig kept his Hau activated as the two Toa Kima made their way back to Bo-Kima a silently as was possible.
 
-----What’s that? Carriag thought.
 
-----A black cloud came barreling towards them, immediately engulfing them in a dense, unbreathable smog.  Carriag lost his focus and his shield dissipated as the two Toa were left gasping for breath on the forest floor, immersed in the thick darkness.
 
-----The cloud passed as soon as it began, and Cantai was only able to stand up before he was whacked into a tree behind him by a battering ram of solid shadow.  Carraig pulled out his sword only to be frozen stiff, as if he could no longer control his body.  He felt himself hurl his own body backwards.
 
-----“You two better learn to stay out of my way,” came a voice. “You’re lucky I don’t want a part of you.”
 
-----“What do you want?” Carraig asked, still unable to move.
 
-----He saw a corrupted Great Komau appear above him.  “I want my murderer dead.  They want you dead too, but one dead Toa is enough.  Don't want to overstay my welcome.”
 
-----“Luqyr …” Carriag said. “You killed Maldro.”
 
-----Luqyr sighed. “When you’re new to the business, sometimes you don’t know your own strength.”
 
-----With that, Luqyr ran towards Bo-Kima. As he left, taking the power of his Komau with him, control of Carriag’s body returned to its rightful owner, and the Toa of Stone immediately got up to run towards Cantai.
 
-----“I’m okay,” Cantai said, waving Carriag off and scrambling to his feet.  “I’m not letting that happen again if I can help it.”
 
-----“Ready to stop him?”
 
-----Cantai grimaced as he popped his shoulder back into place. “As much as I’ll ever be.”

 

*-----*-----*

 

-----Crallin maneuvered through the woods, trying to keep himself away from Bo-Kiman eyes while at the same time moving ever closer towards the waters of the Tren Krom River.  His path was circuitous—and arduous, for a Matoran—but soon he heard the rushing water of the river—water that meant freedom, now more than ever.
 
-----No sooner had he caught sight of the river through the thicket than was he knocked down by a massive black fist that came out of nowhere. He spun in midair and landed awkwardly on a large rock, crying out as he slumped to the ground on his side.
 
-----“There you are …” came a voice.  “Didn’t think I’d get even, did you?”
 
-----“Who … who? Where? What's happening?” Crallin asked, trying to get the world to stop spinning.  He could see the outline of a black being in front of him, but he could discern nothing further.
 
-----“I’m Luqyr, and I’m going to return your favor.”
 
-----“I—I—NO! This is a big—this is a big misunderstanding—I saved you! You’re alive because of me!
 
-----Crallin’s vision fully returned for him in time to see Luqyr’s hand yank him upright.
 
-----“I was dead because of you.  I’m alive because of Kohi.”
 
-----Luqyr threw the Matoran against the rock, further chipping his armor.  Again he was yanked and again he was thrown.  Again the Matoran screamed.
 
-----“Oh, screaming’s not going to get you anywhere,” Luqyr said, kicking the Matoran into a rotten stump that kicked up a cloud of sawdust upon impact.  “It certainly didn’t get me anywhere.  REMEMBER!?
 
-----He picked Crallin up and tossed him on his back, this time on a relatively clear surface on the forest floor.  Crallin could hear the distinct and spine-chilling sound of a razor-sharp blade being unsheathed.
 
-----“No,” Crallin said, his energy now completely spent.
 
-----“Oh yes,” Luqyr said, angling his blade near the chip in the Matoran’s armor.  He pulled back with a mighty grunt, ripping off a large chunk of the armor.  Crallin screamed again, his throat hoarse.
 
-----“Please …” the Matoran said. “I didn’t … I brought you back … I made you a Toa …”
 
-----“Toa don’t kill,” Luqyr said. “So I guess I’m not a Toa.”
 
-----As the Toa of Shadow reared back to slam the dagger deep into Crallin’s chest, he was frozen solid by a blast of ice from behind him.  His entire body, save for his head and the hand that held the dagger, were encased in ice.
 
-----“Not so fast, buddy,” Cantai said.
 
-----Luqyr turned his head to look at the Toa.  He was smiling.  “Rookie mistakes,” Luqyr said.  “But you have to agree that this Matoran deserves death.”
 
-----“He deserves punishment,” Carriag said. “He does not deserve death.”
 
-----“Can’t I have my revenge?” Luqyr asked, after letting out a sound halfway between scream and groan. “I didn’t kill you even though my orders were to do so because I know you were doing your duty.  You were destined to be Toa.  I was just an accident.”
 
-----“You are a Toa,” Cantai said. “Controlling shadow doesn't have to make you evil.  It makes you unique.  You have free will.  You have a conscience. You’re still the Luqyr that Bo-Kima knew.”
 
-----Luqyr sighed. “I should be dead, right now.  I shouldn’t even be in this position.  But you’ve never been dead. You haven’t lived this.  And I can tell you from experience that death is the most compassionate thing for a murderer.”
 
-----The three Toa and terrified Matoran exchanged looks for a moment.
 
-----“Why did you kill Maldro?” Cantai asked. “He was our brother.”
 
-----“I ... I didn’t mean to.  I was sent to kill you two and him, but I’m only going to kill him,” he said, gesturing to Crallin.  I know what the Makuta are, and I know that they’re just using me as a weapon of war. I’m not going to bring peace; I’m a mistake that they want to use until I collapse on the front lines of some far-flung campaign … and I don’t want that. I’m not going to be their mercenary.
 
-----“You’ve been given a new lease on life,” Carriag said. “The least you can do is pay that forward.”
 
-----Luqyr turned back to look at Crallin.  After a moment, he dropped his dagger, and it bounced off of the ice before falling to the forest floor.
 
-----“No …” Crallin said, as his outstretched hand grasped the dagger.
 
-----“Just put it down,” Carriag said.
 
-----“I can’t … I can’t stop … my hand …” Crallin said, his voice laced with fear.
 
-----“Luqyr!” Cantai said, hurling disks of ice at Luqyr’s Komau.
 
-----The disks shattered on the back of Luqyr’s head as Crallin’s hand shuddered, aiming the dagger at his own torso. As that effort failed, Carriag raced forward to shatter Luqyr’s prison with his sword.
 
-----Crallin watched in horror at the sight of his own hand plunging the dagger deep into his chest.



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#13 Offline Sumiki

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Posted Aug 19 2016 - 10:57 AM

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-----Luqyr walked into Bo-Kima in front of Carraig and Cantai.  The Toa of Shadow strode past the huts with his head held high and his dagger firmly in Carraig’s hand.
 
-----“Is this who I think it is?” Helryx asked, walking up behind the two Toa Kima.
 
-----“He came of his own accord,” Cantai said. “He killed Crallin and one of our brother Toa, the latter by accident, he claims.”
 
-----Luqyr stopped in his tracks and slowly turned towards Helryx. “I was given orders by the Makuta to kill them, but I didn’t.  I still have my own free will.”
 
-----“They clearly thought that they had created a warrior, not a Toa,” Helryx said.  “It’s good to see that you still have something of a conscience.”
 
-----“I do have questions.  The last thing I remember, I was being murdered. Then I woke up as a Toa of Fire, only then a Makuta … corrupted me.  Tell me: am I even a Toa?”
 
-----Helryx smiled a smile that could only come from a being of her age. “That is for you to decide.  You have the capacity for great harm, but so do us all, and there’s never been a being like you before.  So yes, I believe that you are a Toa—but it is up to you to decide what that means.”
 
-----Luqyr nodded. “And Crallin. He said that he created me.”
 
-----“He … did, in a way.  He was searching for a way to turn Matoran into Toa, and … he succeeded. But not in the way he expected, I wouldn’t think.”
 
-----“Did he kill Kohi?”
 
-----“Kohi was abducted by the Makuta not long ago.  I suspect Crallin used him to turn you into a Toa yourself.”
 
-----Luqyr hung his head silently for a few moments.
 
-----“Still, I’m glad that Crallin’s dead,” Helryx said. “He was too dangerous to be kept alive, and now that he’s dead, we can be assured that the Makuta won’t come after him.”
 
-----Luqyr shook his head. “They never were.”
 
-----“I’m sorry?”
 
-----“I was sent to kill him too.  They didn’t want him spilling the beans to ‘the Order,’ whatever they are.  But they’ve done nothing to me, and I didn’t kill him because some Makuta told me to.”
 
-----Helryx smiled. “I can assure you that the Order would be happy to have someone with your attitude and … unique abilities.  But unfortunately they don’t accept Toa.”
 
-----Cantai shot a confused glance at Carraig, who simply shrugged.
 
-----“So am I free to go? I don’t really feel safe … if the Makuta found out I disobeyed orders—”
 
-----“The Makuta are unused to defending themselves against their own element,” Helryx cut in. “A rogue Toa of Shadow is exactly what is needed to keep them off-balance.”
 
-----Luqyr turned back to Carraig and Cantai. “I’m … sorry. I didn’t mean for any of this to happen. I just wanted to make things right, and … one of your brothers got caught out there.  Shadow’s really powerful, and I didn’t have any practice, and my anger blinded my force …”
 
-----“Death comes for us all, eventually,” Cantai said.
 
-----“But I want to make it right.  I want to save as many lives as I can.”
 
-----“I think you’ve already done that,” Helryx said. “Crallin could have wreaked much more havoc if he’d gotten out and somehow made himself a Toa.”
 
-----“Somehow, I don’t feel like that was enough,” Luqyr said. “What I did was … personal. It was revenge.  That score is settled, but many others aren’t.”
 
-----“You would be well served to protect Bo-Kima,” Helryx said. “The rest of the Toa Kima will be back in Kima-Nui soon, and you can fill Kohi’s role.”
 
-----Luqyr smiled wistfully as he thought of continuing Kohi’s legacy, but it just as quickly morphed into a frown. “I don’t think they’d want a Toa of Shadow around.”
 
-----“Well, they have Luqyr back.”
 
-----Luqyr looked over his shoulder to see several of his friends run towards him and engulf him in a group hug.  He smiled as he bent down to talk to them.
 
-----“He’ll do fine,” Helryx said, turning to the two Kima. “But you two might want to keep an eye on the town for the next couple of days.”
 
-----“I’m sure Qaiu isn't expecting us back immediately,” Carraig said.
 
-----Helryx ducked behind a hut.  “Was he telling the truth?” she asked Axonn.
 
-----“As far as I could tell.”
 
-----Helryx smiled as she allowed herself to breathe a deep sigh of relief. “Crisis averted.”
 

*-----*-----*

 

-----Mutran entered Miserix’s lair.
 
-----“Ah … news on our latest agent. How has our first Shadow Toa done?”
 
-----“He … he went rogue, sir,” Mutran said. “I tailed him from the treetops the whole time.”
 
-----“Rogue?”
 
-----“He killed Crallin, but he didn’t knock off those pesky Toa Kima even though he had the chance a couple of times over.  Yet he killed a third Kima just out of nowhere. He went to Bo-Kima with the two Toa he was supposed to kill, which is when I came back.”
 
-----“It appears that he still had his own brain in there after all. No wonder Rahkshi are our best servants—they don’t have any remnants of morality.
 
-----“Sir, the concept could still be viable if I could—”
 
-----“It’s too risky, and it’s too costly on our resources. We nearly got dragged into a war with the Order—because of your sheer incompetence in the field, might I add—and I don’t want to set off another.”
 
-----“But sir—”
 
-----“I don’t want to hear about Crallin’s research.  It backfired.  File it away in the archives with a lengthy addendum on its outcome, and hopefully no one ever accesses those files ever again.”
 
-----Yet as Mutran exited the room, all he could envision was a way to turn his species back into the flesh and armor of their past.

 

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#14 Offline Sumiki

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Posted Aug 20 2016 - 12:54 PM

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-----“So what’s it like? The Shadow?” Puone asked.
 
-----“I don’t know. I wasn’t anything else for all that long. And fire’s cool, and all, but with all the Green around here, it’s … kinda risky.”
 
-----Puone laughed and hugged her friend. “I’m glad you’re back,” she said.
 
-----“I am too … in a way.”  He looked at the huts, then up to the stars. “I just … feel like there’s something new in me. Like I could do something … evil.”
 
-----“We all have that,” Puone said. “I could slap you across the mask right now, but I’m not going to.  See?” She smiled. “Evil contained.”
 
-----“It’s just … uncharted territory.  Not even other Toa know what it’s like.”
 
-----“But it’s not about who you are or what your powers are, is it? I always thought it was what you did.
 
-----“So if I let a wild Muaka rampage through the town and do nothing?”
 
-----“Then I get to blast it myself,” Puone said, smiling. “Then I get to slap you.”
 
-----Puone relaxed against the outside of her hut and began to fall asleep, while Luqyr continued looking out and up, into the distance, through the fog of the night to the far side of Bo-Kima, towards Kohi’s Suva.

 

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