The Shadows Inside
I feel fine and I can smileBut I feel the anger coming.It's underneath I don't know whyIt's always overflowing.It's a constant fight deep insideAnd I want to forget it.I confess I’m always afraid,Always ashamed of what's inside me.I confess I’m always afraid,Always ashamed of what's inside my head.REDInnocents and InstinctCopyright 2009
The Toa Nuva, accompanied by their leader Toa Mata Tahu, struggled against their chain bonds as the Shadowed One examined each of them with the utmost care. Their Kanohi had been stripped from them, as well as their weapons. Even their Toa Symbols had been taken from their makeshift villages in the newly formed Matoran settlement on Spherus Magna. It had started off as any other day, but without warning, the Dark Hunters had appeared, taken the Toa Nuva and Tahu captive and brought them to their newly built fortress on the outskirts of Bara Magna. After they had been beaten and battered by a variety of the Shadow One's cronies, and each of the Toa was strapped to a large pillar in the fortress's dungeon, where the Shadowed One now paced, as if waiting for someone to arrive.
"You are probably wondering why I brought you here," he said, stopping in front of Tahu. "Well, if you must know, I am here to become the next great hero of this world."
"What in the name of Karzanhi are you talking about?" exclaimed Gali, lifting her head high enough to meet the Shadowed One's gaze.
"Silence you pathetic waste of Protodermis!" said the Dark Hunter Amphibax, who was standing next to Gali. There was a loud thud as the Dark Hunter punched Gali in the stomach, causing her to lost her breath and keel over, help up only by her bonds. The Shadowed One snickered.
"Foolish Toa. You think your insults phase me? I have your powers, your precious Kanohi and even your Toa Symbols. I could incinerate you right now, but fortunately for you, I have bigger plans than just destroying the most powerful Toa in the universe." His back was to them now, and Tahu could see the Shadowed One's third leg. He then turn to gaze at the Toa out of the corner of his eye, an evil sneer across his face. "You see, I am the one who is going to destroy Teridax one and for all, but I will need your 'help' to do so."
"Then why did you feel the need to kidnap us? And what makes you think Makuta is still alive?" asked Tahu, struggling against his bonds.
"It's quite simple, Toa of Embers. Teridax cannot die unless all of his antidermis is destroyed," said the Shadowed One, his voice barely above a whisper.
There was a loud bang, followed by a serious of grunts and clang of footsteps on the cold, stone floor of the dungeon. Tahu strained his eyes to see what was causing the commotion, but whatever it was, it was making sure to stay out of a sight. When the footsteps stopped, the grunts increased, as well as the rustle of what sounded like fabric. There was a loud thud, the sound of a small scuffle, and then two Dark Hunters appeared, dragging something behind them. Tahu recognized them as Gladiator and Minion, two of the organization's strongest members. After they slammed and fastened what they were dragging onto a rack of some kind, Minion began to shift and almost pace as if irritated by being in the room. The Shadowed One approached him and spoke softly.
"He's here, isn't he?"
Minion spoke, in a garbled voice, like he was speaking with a mouth full of water. It chilled Tahu to the core as it echoed eerily in the room, thought it was barley over a whisper.
"Yes…he is here…I sense him…all over…like…he is…them!"
"Then your usefulness has ended," he said, and blasted Minion with his laser vision. There was an explosion of energy, and the massive Dark Hunter fell to the ground and lay there in a pile, unmoving. The Shadowed One turned around and pointed at the rack. "Remove the shield!"
Gladiator nodded and ripped something off the rack, holding it high in the air for all to see. Tahu thought it looked like a Kanohi of some kind, but it was solid protosteel and shapeless, with no slits for eyes or any other notable features on its surface.
"Bring him forward," said the Shadowed One, stepping to the side. Gladiator pushed the rack forward into the low light from the various candles that filled the room. Strapped spread eagle to the rack was a Toa with dark silver and white armor. He gasped and coughed as he tried to lift his head up to see his surrounding. Tahu felt helpless as he stared at the battered Toa. As a moan escaped the Toa's mouth, and he gasped under his breathe, his voice almost cracking.
The Shadowed One rapped his staff three times on the ground, and another Dark Hunter, one called Airwatcher, appeared with a two, small bundles to the Shadowed One's left. He gave one to the Shadowed One, and emptied the contents of the other onto the floor near him. Tahu heard a loud clatter as what seemed like Kanohi of some kind hit the floor, though he could not tell which ones they were in the dim light. The Shadowed One removed the cloth from his bundle, and revealed a golden Kanohi, which lit up the cavern and nearly blinded the Toa as its bright light fell on them. The Shadowed One then placed the Kanohi on Takanuva, which made his body lurch as if he had been electrocuted. The Tahu and the others cried out in utter helplessness as the golden armor of Takanuva, the Toa of Light, now shone in the dimly lit dungeon. The Shadowed One leaned in, his face just inches from Takanuva's mask and spoke to him in a chilling voice.
"Now, just as we discussed," he said, pointing to the Toa.
"I…can't…I…won't…" he gasped, laying his head back against the rack.
"Then I'll make you!" said the Shadowed One. With blinding speed, he grabbed a Kanohi from the ground and slammed it onto Takanuva's face, banging his head against the back of the rack with a loud thud. Takanuva seemed to be filled with energy now, and began to fight against his bonds. The Shadowed One picked up another Kanohi and slammed it on Takanuva's face, causing the Toa of Light to start to glow more brightly, and once again bang his head on the back of the wooden rack.
"How long can you hold all this energy, Toa of Light?" cried the Shadowed One, slamming yet another mask onto Takanuva's face. "If you release too much, you'll incinerate all of your fellow Toa. Release too little, and you'll destroy yourself. Is that a gamble you honestly want to take?" He slammed yet another Kanohi onto Takanuva's face, causing him to glow even brighter. As the Shadowed One raised another Kanohi from the ground, Tahu gasped as he caught the mask's outline in the dim light.
He's giving him Masks of Elemental Energy! Thought Tahu. But if he isn’t more careful, he's going to knock Takanuva unconscious! Doesn't the Shadowed One realize that he could kill us all if he keeps doing that?
The Shadowed One slammed another Kanohi onto the Toa of Light's face, causing the Av-Toa's head to bounce violently off the back of the rack yet again. Even as the leader of the Dark Hunter's raised another Kanohi up, the Toa of Light did not utter a sound of protest or pain. This seem to anger the Shadowed One even more as he screamed at Takanuva, his voice echoing several times over in the large, empty chamber.
"Release your powers Toa of Light! Do it now!"
The Toa of Light looked up and gazed into the eyes of the Tahu's team.
"I'm…sorry,” he whispered, and as his head collapsed back onto the rack, he let out a shout of pain. Tahu closed his eyes as an explosion of light came from Takanuva, and washed over the Toa's bodies. Maybe it was his body shutting down, or his mind blocking it out, but Tahu felt no pain from the light. Instead, he felt like something was coursing through out his body, causing him to writhe and struggle to get away. Then, the pain hit him. It was pain like he had never known before. It was like his very soul was being torn from his body, and then torn in two. Memories flashed before his eyes, blurring and stirring his thoughts into a confusing swarm of consciousness, preventing him from distinguishing reality from his memories. Suddenly, the scattered fragments of his psyche then began to focus on one event. It was fuzzy at first, but eventually stabilized and he could now see a figure before him, black as soot and battling against him, a rusted Kanohi Hau on his face. He fought off several blows before his attacker spoke to him.
"Take care, Tahu," said his attacker, his voice crackling like fire. "Lest the fire of your anger blaze out of control."
"We'll see how you like my fire now," he said and unleashed a wave of fire that melted the very rock between them. He continued to battle his attacker, matching him blow for blow. Tahu felt like his mind was caught between the past and present, melding into some strange time paradox. Around him, the other Toa were battling versions of themselves, with little success. Then, his memories began to shutter, like his vision was trying to correct itself. There was a sudden blast and he saw Gali's attacker vanish in a cloud storm of fire, only to have his vision shift to the shadowy attackers regrouping to face the Toa as a group.
"We can't beat them, they are just too powerful!" exclaimed Gali.
His vision shifted again, showing Gali washing away Onua's attacker with a massive flood. As Onua went to attack Lewa's opponent, his vision shifted back to their enemies closing in on them as a group as he had seen before.
"They match us move for move, as if they know what we are going to do next!" said Pohatu. Tahu's vision shifted again to see Pohatu suddenly fighting his attacker in the corner of the room.
"Guys?" he called breathlessly. "Um, hey- anyone want to give me a hand here?"
As Kopaka turned towards the Toa of Stone, Tahu's vision shifted again to see Kopaka and the other standing in a line around him, preparing to attack the Shadow Toa who were closing in on them.
"It's because they are us!" said Kopaka, unleashing a snowstorm against their attackers. The Shadow Tahu released a torrent of energy, and Kopaka quickly created a wall of ice all around the Shadow Toa, allowing the Toa Mata to retreat to another section of the cavern while they tried to escape from.
"What do you mean, brother?" asked Onua, summoning a massive dome of earth over their attackers as they huddled up, still facing the spot where their attackers were imprisoned.
"Remember that Matoran was selling the infected Koli balls to the Matoran? The one Takua told us about?"
"Yeah, he disappeared. What does that have to do with these Toa we are fighting now?" asked Pohatu, adding another wall of defense to hold their opponents captive.
"Everything! Don't you see? We see the Matoran as faithful servants of Mata Nui, but then why would Ahkmou purposely sell those Koli balls to the Matoran?" said Kopaka. The Toa looked at him perplexed, but then Gali seemed to understand.
"It is because we all have the choice to do great good or great evil," said Gali. "What is to stop us from now from ending this battle by offering our service to the Makuta? Nothing but our free will, and our heartfelt destiny to reawaken Mata Nui. It is our choices that make us Toa Heroes, instead of tyrants like Makuta."
An explosion rocked the room, sending ice, earth and stone flying through the air. The Toa each summoned the power of their Kanohi Hau's, and shielded themselves from the onslaught of debris. As the Shadow Toa emerged from a cloud of dust, Lewa jumped in front of the other Toa and crouched into a battle ready stance.
"Well, this has been a great deep-thought conversation, brothers," said Lewa, unleashing a blast of air at their attackers. "But how does that help us stop those things from making us Rahi-bones?"
Tahu thought about Lewa's words carefully as he summoned a wall of fire to help impede their steady march towards his team. He thought about how he had nearly lost control of his anger not long after he had landed on the shores of Mata Nui and how tempting it had been to give into his anger and unleash all of his power on that beach, and even the world. It had made him realized just how close he came to giving into his inner darkness, even though he fought for justice and freedom of his Matoran friends. Tahu knew what he had to do and looked around at his fellow Toa.
"If those things truly are reflections of us," he said, preparing his sword. "Then perhaps it's time we had a heartlight to heartlight talk with ourselves!"
The others understood and readied their weapons as well. Giving a battle cry, Tahu charged, and the other Toa followed suit, yelling at the top of their lungs. The Shadow Toa charged as well, and the two forces met in the middle of the chamber. Locking weapons with his attacker, Tahu pressed his mask up to his shadow version's mask.
"So, you say we are one in the same, monster?"
"Of course I am you, foolish Toa! Do you finally see the truth?"
"Yes I do, and it is time we see how alike we really are!"
With a sudden burst of strength, Tahu broke free from his attacker and slammed his body into his Shadow self. As the being seemed to disperse into the air, he found himself engulfed in pain as the Shadow Tahu began to swirl and mass of shadow energy around him. To his left and right, his fellow Toa were also crying out as their enemies were covering them in a whirling mass of darkness. As the darkness continued to whirl around them, the voice of his enemy filled his head, and seemed to break apart as if being cut off by another voice trying to communicate with him as well.
"This is not the end, Toa! I shall return!" Tahu suddenly felt his head fly back and he gazed up at the cavern's ceiling, as the dark mass seemed to enter his body from his mouth. As the dark mass seemed to fill his body, his vision once again began flash back and forth between his current battle and the images of the Toa destroying the other's Toa's shadow doubles with their various elemental attacks. Then the world began to swirl, almost blending together in a chaotic mixture of past and present, fact and fiction and light and darkness. With a final convulsion, Tahu found himself gasping for air and staring up at the ceiling of a dark room, pinned to a massive pillar by metallic bonds. As the Toa Nuva came out of their daze, they all looked up to see the Shadowed One getting into a battle stance and shouting at a large, greenish mass that was now floating in the middle of the chamber.
"Get his body ready! He won't last long without something to house him!"
"What is the meaning of this? What is going on?" said a deep, raspy voice in Tahu's head. He knew that voice. It was the voice of Makuta Teridax communicating through telepathy. The voice made even Tahu cringe, and he now knew what the greenish cloud must be. It was the last remaining portion of Teridax's antidermis, which had housed itself inside the bodies of the Toa Nuva, like they had taken him hostage. Our souls must have kept Makuta pinned down inside of us, knowing what great evil he would have committed should he have escaped! Thought Tahu, as he stared at the swirling cloud above them. But why is the Shadowed One giving him a body? He will only grow stronger if he finds something to house his spirit!
"I have freed you from your Toa captures to finish what we started on Metru Nui over 1,000 years ago, Teridax! And today, you will not be able to escape!"
"Foolish, Shadowed One. You claim to the all knowing leader of a powerful organization, but you do not realize how clueless you really are!"
"What do you mean? I was the one who discovered the full layout of your plan to take over the universe! Did you really think I would not consider you would have a backup plan in case you failed even after your greatest victory? Surely even you cannot be so headstrong you would have an oversight like that? No, I know you have schemes within schemes and plans within plans so that even if you fail, you still keep yourself five steps ahead of your enemies! Well, I have learned from your treachery and I did some scheming of my own! And now, I will be the one who will finally destroy you, and claim my rightful place as the rightful ruler of this universe!"
"Against my knowledge, you are nothing more than a Hoto bug in terms of intelligence, Shadowed One. Which is why I will not fight you today. Instead I will leave you now, and let you rethink your glorious plan." The mass suddenly dove towards the ground, and dissipated into Minion through the small gaps in his indestructible armor plating. The massive Dark Hunter then rose from the ground writhing and squirming as if in massive amounts of pain. After Minion rose to his full height, he writhed for several more seconds, and then suddenly roared in the voice of Teridax, raising a massive clawed hand high into the air. Before he could counter the attack, Teridax struck the Shadowed One with a massive blow to his face. The other Dark Hunters sprang into action to subdue him, but Teridax struck them with a blast of laser vision, combined with his chain lightening power from one hand and sonic power from his other. As the various Dark Hunters collapsed to the ground, Teridax turned and unleashed a similar attack on the Shadowed One that sent him flying through the air and through a nearby wall. When the dust settled, Makuta had vanished from view leaving Tahu and his fellow Toa chained to the wall. As the Shadowed One began to stir and recover from the massive blast, Tahu suddenly felt himself being freed. He turned to see Takanuva, using small beams of light to break the Toa's bonds. As soon as he was free, Tahu helped free his fellow Toa. The two Toa worked quickly and as soon as Kopaka's bonds were destroyed, they ran up the flight of stairs that lead out of the dungeon toward the main level of the fortress. As Tahu collected his Kanohi and weapons from a room just to the left of the stairs, he turned and unleashed a torrent of fire at the doorway, blocking any pursuit from the Dark Hunters. The Toa continued to run out of the Dark Hunter's fortress, battling its various members as they went. When they finally reached the exit, the Toa hijacked several of the Hunter's vehicles from the fortresses courtyard and took off towards the Matoran settlement.
Edited by Ignacis, Aug 10 2013 - 06:35 PM.