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The Gargoyle Knight

fanfic exchange

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#1 Offline Pahrak #0579

Pahrak #0579
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Posted Dec 26 2017 - 12:32 PM

(I decided to participate in this year's Fanfic Exchange, and was matched up with Nick Silverpen!  The suggestions offered included alternate universes and Makuta, so I ended up writing about Melding Universe Antroz.  Merry Christmas!)

 

 

The Gargoyle Knight

 

 

In the corner of the sandy plains of the Great Desert, curling protectively around the lava that flowed from Iron Canyon, was the sprawling, shimmering city of Xia.  Vortixx, Agori, and Matoran hustled busily from small skyscrapers to stout factories, most moving some sort of goods or raw material.  An oasis filled with clear water lay just beyond its borders, and the sky over it, while marred by a few clouds of pale smoke, still looked bright and clean.

 

At the very center of it all was a tall tower, almost taller than the walls of the nearby canyon.  A wide ledge reached out from just beneath the tower’s roof, and on one side of this ledge was perched a single being who stood above all of Xia.  Much of her armor was white, but at least as much was a dull, stony shade of gray.  Her hands and feet were clawed, two large, streamlined wings were attached to her shoulders, and while she wore a white and gray Kanohi Kiril, its shape had been altered just enough to give the appearance that its wearer had vicious fangs.  She knelt on one knee, head bowed, eyes closed, hands locked around the hilt of the sword planted directly in front of her, its simple iron sheath having no decoration aside from the white “M”-like insignia emblazoned upon it.

 

She was Makuta Antroz, appointed by the Great Beings as Guardian of Xia.  And she was troubled.

 

Her head inclined.  The telepathic field she had laid over the city had been wavering in her introspection, but a powerful presence now shocked her senses straight, and she bowed her head once more as she teleported to its side.  Antroz, still kneeling, rematerialized at the gates of Xia, and knew at once that her two guests had taken note of her arrival.

 

One was another Makuta, whose white and gold armor shone a little more brightly than hers, possessing four arms and a weapon for each stored on her back.  Her eyes pierced out from behind her gold Mask of Conjuring, quickly sizing Antroz up.

 

The other had the appearance of a Glatorian, though the armor beneath his brown cloak was an odd shade of lavender that didn’t match any particular Tribe.  He smiled as he faced Antroz.

 

“Lord Angonce,” Antroz greeted.  “It is truly an honor for you to visit my humble city.”

 

“An honor to be here, Antroz!” said the Glatorian.  “I always look forward to checking in on Xia.  So many people, always working, always smiling—it’s simply wonderful!”

 

“Thank you for your praise, my lord.  I am pleased to inform you that we are as productive as ever.  Our crafters have made great strides in refining a new protosteel alloy that should—“

 

“Yes, yes,” Angonce interrupted, “but let’s save the business talk for a bit.  I want to look around first!  It really has been too long since my last visit.”

 

Antroz rose to her feet, magnetically fixing her sword sheath to her hip once she was upright.  Her eyes remained closed.  “Of course, my lord.  Right this way.”

 

Antroz walked through the gates, hearing the other Makuta grumble, “You sure you know the way?”

 

Not stopping, Antroz nodded and said, “All will be fine.”

 

Angonce followed.  “Let’s be courteous to our host, Gorast.  Though Antroz, I feel I should remind you that the offer to heal your eyes still stands.”

 

“I greatly appreciate your kindness, my lord.  However, I still feel that I should continue to live without my sight, unless the Great Beings should deem otherwise.”

 

Angonce glanced to Gorast, who shrugged.  “No, if that’s your decision then we’ll respect it.  Ah, here we are!”

 

He clapped his hands together as they came upon a small city square.  The inhabitants quickly took note of the three, and all immediately stopped what they were doing to bow.

 

“Oh no, that’s fine, we don’t need all that—please, as you were!”

 

After a bit of a delay, the crowd began moving again.  As they did, a Toa of Ice wearing a white Mahiki ran right up to them, earning a glance from Gorast which he seemed to ignore.

 

“Lord Angonce!” he exclaimed, bouncing up and down.  “Spectacular to see you!  I heard you were due for another visit, but I had to see it for myself!”

 

Bouncing slightly himself, Angonce said, “Oh this one’s so excited!  Hello, little one!  Antroz, could you introduce us?”

 

Antroz stepped forward.  “This is Toa Ehrye.  He joined us approximately eight months ago, and has managed to earn a position in the Great Forge faster than I’ve ever seen.”

 

Gorast snickered a bit at her final word.

 

“That’s right!” Ehrye said.  “I help keep the machinery from overheating.  I’m super-tough, so I’m able to stay in the access tunnels longer than anyone else!”

 

“How astounding!” Angonce said, crouching and lightly poking at Ehrye’s armor.  “Hm, did we slip a little Ta-Coding into you, perhaps?”

 

The Great Being and Toa laughed, meanwhile the Makuta didn’t make a sound.  Ehrye soon turned to Antroz and said, “Makuta Antroz?  You seem a little quieter than usual—is everything alright?”

 

Smiling, Antroz said, “Indeed it is, Ehrye.  Forgive me, I suppose I was a bit distracted.”

 

A whistle sounded in the distance.  Ehrye turned and said, “Whoops, I have to get back.  It was fantastic meeting you Lord Angonce, sir!”

 

Angonce grinned and set a hand on Ehrye’s shoulder.  “Fantastic meeting you as well!  I won’t keep you—hurry along now!”

 

As Ehrye scurried off, Angonce stood and turned to Gorast.  “I like that one!  We need more—remind me when we get back, I want to make more energetic Toa sometime next week.”

 

Gorast grunted.

 

Turning then to Antroz, Angonce’s enthusiasm dimmed a bit.  “…Still thinking about our house guest?”

 

Antroz hung her head.  “I must admit, my thoughts are still lingering there.  I apologize.”

 

“You apologize too much.  Come on, let’s find something entertaining to get into!  What is it you do for fun around here?  I always just watch the people, I can never remember where the actual buildings are.”

 

“I’m afraid I don’t have much ‘fun’, my lord,” Antroz chuckled.  “I take my duties as Guardian very seriously, and I think getting back to those might be what’s best for me.”

 

“In that case,” Gorast said, “let’s talk about Krekka.”

 

Antroz turned to her.  Angonce frowned before doing the same, saying, “Gorast, this isn’t really the…oh, boy…”  He slid a hand over his face.  “Sorry, Antroz, I wasn’t planning to bring that up until later.”

 

Turning back, Antroz said, “That’s alright.  If you wish to save this discussion for later, I shall wait until then.”

 

“No, now that it’s on the table I suppose I should get it over with.  Let’s get to your tower.”

 

“As you wish, my lord.”

 

The group continued on, though Angonce continued stopping to observe groups of workers.  Eventually Gorast suggested they simply teleport, and upon breaking free from his latest subjects, Angonce agreed and snapped his fingers.  At once, the three of them stood in a massive foyer with tall windows on all sides that allowed sunlight to totally fill the room.  The walls were made of gray stone, but the floor was covered in polished white tile, and an elaborate chandelier filled with hundreds of small lightstones hung from the high ceiling.  Angonce walked until he had nearly reached the staircase on one side, and then stopped and thought for a time.

 

When he finally turned back around, he had a grim look on his face.  “So.  Krekka.”

 

“He is being held beneath our very feet,” Antroz said, quickly gesturing to the floor.  “I have plans to carry out his trial and, most likely, execution tomorrow.”

 

Angonce nodded.  He placed one hand on his hip, covered his mouth with the other, and took a few paces to his right.  “And the trial?  Your typical method, I assume?”

 

“That is correct.  I will give form to the darkness within him, and have him combat it to determine his fate.”

 

Angonce breathed deeply.  “So if he beats this…doppelganger, ‘Shadow Krekka’ or what have you…you would set him free?”

 

“That is the condition typically put forth, yes.  However, of all the trials I have conducted, none have been able to pass, and to be somewhat blunt, I find it extremely unlikely that Krekka will be the one to change that.”

 

“But, still…the possibility remains,” Angonce said.  “And you always carry these things out in private.  I’m just concerned…if, by some freak chance, Krekka stumbles upon some secret to defeating the trial, and he walks out of here, you’re going to have to justify that decision to everyone.”

 

Antroz nodded.

 

“…Antroz, I really am concerned by that possibility.  This is quite a high-profile prisoner you’ve captured—the populace would likely be up in arms if he walked free, and I can tell you for a fact that Velika would be livid.  You have any idea how hard it was to get him not to come here?  I thought we were going to have to shackle him.  I’m not totally convinced he’s not watching us.”  Angonce paused to glance around the room.  “My point being, if you end up letting Krekka free, the backlash you’ll get is going to be…well, I don’t know, I’m a Great Being and even I don’t know how to describe something that strong, it’ll be that intense.”

 

“I thank you for your concern, Lord Angonce,” Antroz said.  “However, with the utmost respect, I do believe you may be worrying a bit more than is necessary.”

 

Angonce raised his hands and shook his head.  “I know, small chance, probably going to lose, probably right.  But you’re a talented Makuta, Antroz—one of the finest we’ve ever made, I’d say!  I’m still trying to convince Heremus to transfer you to the Maze to take over the opening Teridax left.  In the incredibly unlikely event that this goes wrong…well, I would hate to see so much potential go to waste.”

 

Antroz took a moment to figure out how she wanted to respond.  “Shall I transfer Krekka into your custody, Lord Angonce?”

 

“No no no, he was caught within your jurisdiction, I can’t just take him or we’ll have a whole new problem.  I was just hoping you might be open to…suggestions.”

 

“Always, my lord.”

 

“Great!  Wonderful!  Here’s what I’m thinking: just kill him.”

 

Gorast added, “In front of a crowd.”

 

“Yes, good!  It’ll be cathartic for everyone who hates the guy, which is…well, everyone!”

 

Antroz turned slightly.  “…If that is what you order, my lord—“

 

“No, it can’t be an order.  It’s a suggestion.”

 

“…Well…then, may I respond to it as such?”

 

“Of course.”

 

Antroz nodded.  “My lord, I am afraid I do not feel entirely comfortable with that alternative.  I devised the trial because I believed it to give the condemned a fair chance, and a meaningful one.  If they are able to defeat their doppelganger, if they can find a way to best their own darkness in one sense, then does that not prove that they have the capacity to do so in another sense?  If someone proves that they are capable of changing, of growing, of overcoming that darkness and stepping into the light, then I would feel great remorse at robbing them of that chance.  I…I do not honestly feel it is right for me to take that from them.  Even if I do not think Krekka has that capacity, I feel compelled to erase all doubt before I act.”

 

Angonce just stared at Antroz, absorbing her words.  Gorast, on the other hand, rolled her eyes and reached towards the floor.  “I’ll just flood the dungeon with plasma.  This is a waste of time.”

 

Antroz turned her head immediately.  Suddenly, the air in the room began to feel heavy, and as Antroz set a claw on her sword, she calmly and clearly stated, “You will not.”

 

Gorast stopped and looked up at her.  “What?”

 

“Xia is my realm.  You do not have the authority to execute my prisoner without my permission.  I will not allow you to.”

 

Sneering, Gorast said, “Really…”

 

Just as she started to move again, Angonce flourished his hand, and both Makuta collapsed.  With a sigh, the Great Being said, “This isn’t going the way I’d hoped…”

 

He walked over to Gorast first.

 

“Gorast, she is right.  You can’t just go over her head like that.  Just calm down a little, alright, and we’ll talk this out, and it’ll be fine, okay?”

 

Gorast grumbled something.  Angonce waved his hand once more; both Makuta stood, and then he walked over to Antroz.

 

“You make a fine argument, Antroz.  However, under the circumstance, I just can’t leave it at that.  So, my next suggestion is that we compromise: we will allow Krekka a trial to earn his freedom, but, it’s going to be a little different…and public.”

 

“Different in what way, my lord?”

 

“You just let me worry about that.  You know, just…we’ll do a trial, that’s your part, but I’ll decide the details of it, that’s mine.  Compromise!  What do you say?”

 

Antroz felt something odd in the back of her mind.  For a second, her thoughts wandered, remembering her last visit to the Valley of the Maze, but she quickly snapped back to the present.

 

“Very well, Lord Angonce,” she said, bowing.  “I formally request you oversee the trial of Krekka.”

 

Angonce’s entire body relaxed as he breathed out.  “Delightful.”  Perking back up, he went on, “Let’s talk about something else, then!  I’ll have the full report on Xia’s status, and then we can go watch the people some more—I’ll tell you what I’ve decided about the trial in the morning, and then we’ll do it around midday.”

 

“Of course, Lord Angonce.  Where shall I begin?”

 

Antroz related all the information she could about Xia in excruciating detail, taking some time to complete.  Angonce nodded along, if somewhat absently, while Gorast slowly tapped her foot.  When the briefing was finally complete, Angonce practically ran back outside.  Antroz resumed showing him around, and they carried on quite a ways into the night, before Angonce eventually decided it was time to return to the tower and get some sleep.  As he went to the prepared quarters, Gorast went to stand at the tower’s door, taking a seat and sharpening the sword she carried, and Antroz returned to her perch and knelt.

 

Using her telepathy, she could be vaguely aware of everything that went on in Xia.  Many Vortixx and Glatorian were still hard at work.  Toa casually patrolled the outskirts.  Matoran and Agori were sleeping peacefully.  And directly below, she felt a being radiating hatred, a being who wanted only to fight against his inevitable doom.

 

No, she thought, Krekka will never be able to defeat his darkness.

 

She was not one to question the Great Beings, but despite that, she felt displeased with the change in the situation.  Even if he was acting out of concern, Angonce seemed to lack faith in her trial, something that she had grown quite proud of.  He had decided it best to slant it against the condemned—and while she understood why, given the circumstances, a part of her couldn’t help but feel it was unfair.  But, he was a Great Being, and Antroz dare not step out of line.  She moved to push the thoughts from her mind.

 

With that aside, she found her former distraction returning.  She remembered the Valley of the Maze.  She remembered visiting it after hearing that something had happened to Teridax.  She recalled the explanation of the Great Beings, the tale of the visitors from another reality, and the invitation to observe one of them.

 

Antroz had walked into a narrow control room set next to a large cell with transparent walls.  Inside had been a being the size of a Toa, with red and black armor, and a Kanohi she did not recognize.  He had immediately looked up and squinted at her.

 

“Antroz?” he had said.

 

She had been startled.  “How…do you know my name?”

 

“Great, you’re here too.  Seems like all the Makuta from my world have twins in white running around over here.”

 

“Ah, I see.  So there is another Antroz in your reality.”

 

“Gotta say, though, you two don’t look much different.  What’s with the claws and bat wings?  Aren’t Makuta here supposed to be bright and sunny?”

 

“We were not always ‘bright and sunny’.  We had our demons.  But we defeated them.  And when I defeated mine, I decided to take their visage as my own, to serve as a warning to any other demons who would try to threaten my charges.”

 

The stranger had twisted his head, as if baffled and disgusted, and turned to walk across the chamber.

 

“…Does this mean the Makuta you are familiar with are not beings of light?”

 

He had laughed harshly.  “Farthest from it.”

 

“Do you mean to say…your world’s Makuta are made of pure shadow?”

 

“It’s not hard to follow.”

 

“…Absurd.  Makuta could never be twisted by the darkness!”

 

“Maybe that’s how it works over here, but back home, you’re all pretty completely evil.  It’s a lot nicer, really.”

 

After a long pause, she had asked, “Even the other Antroz?”

 

“Yeah.  I mean sometimes he says something about ‘honor’, but I’ve never seen him act any different than the others, so I don’t really buy it.  Ugh, you’re probably all about that stuff though, aren’t you?  I’m starting to figure out how these reversals work.”

 

Snapping back to the present, Antroz turned—she sensed a sudden burst of emotion nearby, but it subsided just as quickly.

 

Someone was just surprised…

 

She faced forward again.

 

...In another reality…there’s another me.  One who is evil.  An evil…me…

 

Throughout her life, Makuta Antroz had always sought to do the right thing whenever she could.  She took matters of morality very seriously, and had developed a strict code of conduct for herself, honing her into the person she was today.  Everyone saw her as a beacon of righteousness, including herself.  She had come to feel that she was, frankly, inherently good.

 

But if another Antroz could become a being of evil, then it was impossible for that goodness to be inherent.

 

Is my goodness truly a result of the person I am…or have I simply been shaped by the circumstances of this reality?  Am I merely a passive element, thrust into goodness by sheer luck?  Everything about me…it seems I may only be a result of things far beyond my control.

 

Xia slept through the night without incident.  It was fortunate, for Antroz may have been too preoccupied to notice otherwise.

 

When Angonce awoke in the morning, Antroz and Gorast made their way to the foyer to meet him.  The Great Being yawned, stretched, and held out an open palm—a green fruit appeared in it.  “So.”  He paused to take a bite.  “Krekka’s going to fight Gorast.”

 

Gorast grinned at this.  Antroz would have tensed if she had muscles.

 

“I mean, with conditions, of course.  Gorast will stay in the form she’s in now, can’t use weapons, no Light or Kanohi or Kraata powers either—you’ll just use your fists.”

 

“Fine by me,” Gorast said.

 

Angonce glanced at Antroz.  “And by you?”

 

“…If that is your decision, Lord Angonce, then I will abide by it.”

 

Angonce hummed, but then nodded.  Consuming the rest of the fruit, he shook his arms and said, “We’re gonna need a place to hold this trial, of course.  Antroz, tell all the citizens they’re invited to watch.  Gorast, I’m having trouble waking up, think you could give me a push?”

 

Gorast held out one hand and called upon her Kraata power of Creation, wreathing her palm in brownish-orange light.  Angonce inhaled sharply and his eyes lit up.

 

“Ah, there go the creative juices!  Thank you, my dear!”

 

The Great Being and his guard made for the outskirts of Xia, and not long after a storm of movement appeared there.  Steel and mortar rose from the ground, or simply blinked into existence, and floated into place piece by piece, gradually shaping into a structure of some kind.  Afraid the citizens might grow worried, Antroz took to her perch quickly and reached out with her mind.  Once she could sense every mind in Xia, she gave a gentle push against each one, and within seconds, each citizen opened a part of their mind to hear what she had to say.

 

“Greetings, my citizens.  I can feel that some of you are perplexed by the developments in the outskirts, but I assure you there is no need for concern.  Lord Angonce is constructing a building to host an event…the trial of the criminal Krekka.”

 

Those minds that were tense relaxed at once.  At the mention of Krekka, many more started to grow angry, or even excited.

 

“Today at midday, Krekka will battle for his freedom against Makuta Gorast.  All of you are welcome to spectate.”

 

The excitement grew.

 

“That is all I have to say for now.  Though, if you do attend the trial, please be sure to check your work station before you depart—we don’t want to see a factory damaged by forgetfulness.”

 

Antroz withdrew her mind and faced in the direction of Angonce’s construction.  Thinking about what was about to happen there, she wondered if it might have been kinder to kill Krekka when she had been asked to.

 

When it was complete, the new structure looked like an open stadium with more than enough seats for everyone in Xia.  Nearly the entire city crowded through its gates when midday came, and when they were all settled, Angonce rose from the throne at the back of the stands and spread his arms, signaling them all to grow silent.

 

“Hello, everyone!” he said.  He wasn’t speaking very loudly, but something was transmitting his voice throughout the stands.  “Sorry if I startled you earlier, but I wanted to get to work right away.  This event has been a long time coming!”

 

He paused, beaming as the crowd gave him a round of applause.

 

“I’m sure you all know why we’re here.  Last month, my associate Velika installed a new type of security drone at key locations across Spherus Magna.  Shortly after the installation, however, the sentinel in the White Quartz Mountains was found in shambles, broken beyond repair.  After salvaging its memory, we found footage of someone attacking the drone, and immediately put out an order for his arrest.”

 

Angonce turned and gestured to Antroz.

 

“And what do you know, it was your own Guardian, Makuta Antroz, who finally managed to subdue the criminal just a few days ago!”

 

The crowd applauded again.  Antroz bowed, saying, “It is my honor to serve you, my lord.”

 

Angonce smiled and turned back to the crowd.  “Well, why wait any longer?  Let’s see this outlaw!”

 

At the snap of his fingers, there was a flash of light in the center of the stadium.  Where there had once been empty space, there now stood a tall, hulking brute clad in white and blue armor, who looked around in bewilderment as the crowd jeered at him.

 

“Krekka!” Angonce declared.  “Why don’t you tell us why you destroyed Velika’s invention?”

 

Krekka snorted.  “It got in my way.”

 

Angonce cocked his head.  “…That’s it?”

 

“It bothered me!”

 

Shrugging, Angonce said, “Well, I’m not sure what I really expected.  Regardless, you have committed treason against the Great Beings, and the penalty is death.”

 

The crowd cheered.

 

“Of course, the noble Makuta Antroz feels you should at least have a chance to earn your freedom.  As a sign of respect for her act of capturing you, I have agreed to give you such a chance.  Krekka, if you can defeat just one opponent, you will be set free.  But of course, if you lose, you will be executed.”

 

Krekka laughed.  “That all?  Who’s the sucker I gotta fight?”

 

Angonce gestured over his shoulder.  “Oh, just Gorast here.”

 

Krekka frowned.

 

“Gorast, if you would be so kind.”

 

Vaulting over the edge of Angonce’s balcony, Gorast leapt into the stadium and landed a few yards away from Krekka.  She spread her arms as the crowd roared.

 

“Makuta Gorast is forbidden from using any of her numerous powers in this fight.  This will be a competition of raw strength!  Do you have any objections, Krekka?”  Before Krekka could form a syllable, Angonce said, “Oh, wait, you’re already condemned.  Never mind!  Let the trial begin!”

 

Gorast advanced slowly, but before long Krekka panicked and rushed her.  He threw a haymaker at Gorast’s shoulder.  The blow seemed to turn her slightly, but then two of her arms wrapped around Krekka’s, a third took hold of his other wrist, and the final was thrust directly into his face.  Krekka’s body rocked from the force of the blow, and was soon reeled back in so that an elbow could be placed firmly into his gut.  He managed to headbutt Gorast when he hunched over in pain, and then tried kicking her feet out from under her.  The Makuta shifted her leg to absorb the blow, twisted around, and pulled Krekka off his feet and over her head to be slammed down into the ground.  Krekka’s senses went dull for a moment as he bounced up, and were quickly snapped back in place as Gorast used a kick of her own to send him flying into the wall.

 

The tremors from the impact reached all the way to Angonce’s balcony, where Antroz shivered.  While it was always difficult “watching” a fight the way she did, sensing where the combatants were and feeling the sparks of pain burst from them at every blow, this time she felt it cut deeper for some reason.

 

Krekka pulled himself onto his feet and looked at Gorast.  She was making her way towards him, walking only a bit faster than before.  He turned and tried to scramble up the wall, but the surface was too smooth for him to find any handholds.

 

“Hold on a sec!” he shouted, still clawing at the wall in vain.  “Fightin’ a Makuta ain’t fair!  What kinda sick joke is this, you crazy old—“

 

He realized too late that Gorast had quickened her pace, and had now grabbed the back of his head and given his skull a quick shove.  The wall cracked around the point of impact.

 

“You really shouldn’t continue to harass the Great Beings,” Gorast said as she peeled him off the wall.  “You’ll only make it worse for yourself.”

 

Angonce waved his hand, and in a second the wall had returned to its pristine condition.  He turned to Antroz and said, “You know, I’m glad we did this.  The people are loving the spectacle!  You were really onto something with this trial business, Antroz, I should’ve known it.”

 

As Gorast effortlessly hurled Krekka into the wall on the opposite side of the stadium, Antroz nodded once.  “I am content simply to hear that it pleases you, my lord.”

 

Krekka pushed himself off the ground, coughing loudly.  Stumbling back to his feet, he staggered around a little, and then bellowed as he rushed headlong at Makuta Gorast.  When he was almost on top of her, one of her arms shot out, almost too quick for the crowd to see, and grabbed onto the side of his face, stopping him short.  With a grin, Gorast twisted, producing a hideous crunching and tearing sound.  Krekka’s screams intensified.

 

Gorast turned and took a few steps away, tossing one of Krekka’s eyes up into the air before catching it.  “You disappoint me, Krekka.  I would have hoped someone unafraid of the Great Beings would be someone who knows how to fight.”

 

Krekka collapsed in a heap, clutching his empty eye socket.  “Rrrgh…you…you stupid Makuta…”

 

His hushed grunts were drowned in the cheers of the crowd.  Antroz clenched and unclenched her fists, trying to keep her eyes on the fight (so to speak) without being overwhelmed by the agony radiating from Krekka.  Gorast looked directly at her.  Without a single word, the Makuta in the ring crushed Krekka’s eye into paste.

 

“Lord Angonce!” she shouted.  “He cannot continue.  May I kill him now?”

 

Angonce waved a bit, quieting the crowd.  “Hang on, hang on.  Krekka?  Do you concede?”

 

Krekka spat.

 

“Hm, seems he’s not quite done yet.”

 

Striding over, Gorast stomped on Krekka’s leg.  Antroz flinched as she felt the limb fracture.  Gorast hoisted Krekka by his neck and said, “It’s over.  Accept your death with a little dignity.”

 

Krekka bared his teeth and swiped, trying to grab Gorast’s Kanohi.  She grabbed his arm with one of hers.  In the next instant, her white and gold armor was doused crimson.

 

“Now, Lord Angonce?”

 

The Great Being tilted his head, smirking a little.  “Krekka?  Will you concede now?  You have been disarmed, after all.”

 

Krekka found the strength to writhe in his opponent’s grasp.  “Curse…you…”

 

“Drat.  Gorast, it seems he’s not quite ready yet.”

 

Gorast shook her head.  As she turned back to Krekka, Antroz decided she had had enough.  Gorast raised two of her arms…and Antroz retreated into herself, no longer able to feel anyone’s mind but her own.  A scream more terrible than any before came next.  It was followed by Krekka mumbling something, Angonce declaring Gorast the victor, and the cheers of the crowd saving her from having to hear Gorast finish the trial.  She opened her mind a bit then, just enough to sense Angonce as he rose from his throne.

 

“Feeling a bit squeamish, are we?” he quietly asked.

 

Antroz hung her head.  “…I am sorry, my lord.”

 

“Well, I suppose it’s a bit different for you, isn’t it?  No harm done.”

 

“Thank you, my lord.”

 

With the event over, the spectators slowly made their way out of the stadium and back to their workplaces.  Angonce disposed of Krekka’s corpse, told Antroz to keep the stadium as a gift, and then bid farewell to the Makuta with the promise of visiting her again as soon as he had the chance.  Antroz saw him off, and then half-heartedly walked back towards Xia.

 

“Oh, did he leave already?”

 

Sharpening her mind, she realized Ehrye was nearby.  “Ah, yes, Lord Angonce has departed.  He expressed interest in returning soon, however.”

 

“Think he’ll bring someone other than Gorast next time?” Ehrye asked in a hushed tone.  “I mean, I’ve heard she was tough, but that…well, it’s just that Makuta are beings of light, so I wasn’t expecting…”

 

Antroz nodded.  “Light comes in many forms, Toa.  Gorast’s light is that of the harsh sun beating down on the desert.”

 

“Huh.  Well, at least Krekka won’t muck anything else up.  Bet you’re relieved this whole thing is over, right?”

 

“…I suppose so.”

 

Ehrye raised an eyebrow.  “Are you alright, Makuta Antroz?”

 

Antroz smiled.  “Yes, I’m fine.  Thank you, Ehrye.”

 

As the Toa went on his way, Antroz turned back towards the stadium.  She thought of the screams she had heard.  She thought of the agony she had felt, and of how she knew this event could only play out horrifically as soon as it had been mentioned.

 

And what did I do about it?

 

She realized that she had chosen to do nothing.  She had chosen to simply accept Angonce’s decision, despite her misgivings, and had let Krekka die in agony rather than swiftly and painlessly.

 

This was wrong.  I knew it was wrong…so why did I let it happen?

 

She knew why, of course.  It had been Angonce’s decision.  She had been so preoccupied wondered if she was truly good, and so had just passed Krekka’s fate on to someone else.  He was a Great Being, of course, but she found it curious: in lamenting that her circumstances might be more important than her own decisions, she had chosen it best to forfeit an important decision.

 

…I truly have become blind.

 

She had always thought the light of the Great Beings was a brilliant beacon, something that granted life and prosperity to all life on Spherus Magna.  Now, she wondered if perhaps that light was the kind that obscured something.  Whatever had made her who she was, she did not want to be a person who simply handed morality off to others—she refused to think that could be right, even if she was handing it to the Great Beings themselves.

 

Makuta Antroz turned back towards Xia.  She had allowed something terrible to happen, and that had been her decision.  But she silently promised herself that she would never allow such a thing to happen again.


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#2 Offline Master Inika

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Posted Dec 26 2017 - 08:51 PM

Brilliant. I enjoyed reading this so much, for no many reasons. The descriptions and pacing were optimal, and the mediation on the different natures of light I found very thought-provoking. I'd read a sequel to this in an instant. I'm so eager to see she-Antroz have to live up to her vow at the very end. Also very interesting way to draw similarities to the Krekka vs. Gorast match in the prime reality.

I'd also love to see one of Antroz's self vs. shadow self trials. It would be interesting with pretty much any character.

It took me a second to realize she was talking to Vultraz, but that's just because I hadn't read Brothers in Arms for the longest time.

Favorite line: "Yeah. I mean sometimes he says something about ‘honor’, but I’ve never seen him act any different than the others, so I don’t really buy it." Great jab at how prime reality Antroz was ostensibly more "honorable" but it was never really shown. A lot of characters had more interesting descriptions in guides and magazines than they could show in the official story.

Overall, a great read.

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#3 Offline Nick Silverpen

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Posted Jan 14 2018 - 10:55 AM

My only qualm is the crime that Krekka is being executed for— smashing machinery is penalized by loss of life? I’ve read this story several times, but I feel like it is missing an element to it. There could be something more that he was persecuted for, something more personal to the city. Besides the Great Beings and their creations being so great to the people, why does some security device in the mountains far away being smashed resonate so hard with the people of Xia? I like the character— it’s funny how most of us picked Dark Hunters for our stories— and appreciate the relatively unexplored bad guy.  It was just lost on me as to why you picked that crime. 

 

Other than that, I loved this.  I’ve never really looked beyond the serials in regards to the Melding Universe— always saw it as a great twist on the main story, “if the Great Beings managed to do things smoothly the first time around,” but never pursued exploring it further. Thank you for developing it into an awesome read!

 

It’s amazingly interesting this Utopia that you’ve whipped up. I love how it’s placed on Spherus Magna and a polar opposite of the main universe city. It’s a utopia, but its not this holy “ in your face” place. It’s the place that I think the movie Tomorrowland was striving to be. Yet… there still is this burden that Antroz has on her shoulders. She’s a complex character at that she isn’t complete, and I don’t mean on just her sight. While she has accomplished much in this way of running the city, she still doesn’t see herself a full ruler, a decisive one like the Antroz of the core universe. It makes the interactions between her and Angonce’s— who is a wonderful bubbly character by the way— fun to read, because she knows what she’s doing but has this incompetence mentality, if I am reading it right.

 

The little bit of dialogue leading to the central plot of the core universe is throwaway but done so well! I thought the cast you chose was very well written. Gorast is a savage yes, but she is quiet here, and I think I needed that. Your choice of the Great Being— he characterizes just the way a Great Creator should be, so curious about the results and interactions. And he doesn’t look down on them, he sees them as equals, which says something good about him as a ruler. 

 

Ugh there were so many good things about this story that I appreciate. And didn’t even know I wanted. Very well done, and thank you very much for writing this. If you are ever looking to continue this, please let me know.  :) 


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#4 Offline Pahrak #0579

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Posted Jan 14 2018 - 08:33 PM

I'd also love to see one of Antroz's self vs. shadow self trials. It would be interesting with pretty much any character.

It took me a second to realize she was talking to Vultraz, but that's just because I hadn't read Brothers in Arms for the longest time.

Favorite line: "Yeah. I mean sometimes he says something about ‘honor’, but I’ve never seen him act any different than the others, so I don’t really buy it." Great jab at how prime reality Antroz was ostensibly more "honorable" but it was never really shown. A lot of characters had more interesting descriptions in guides and magazines than they could show in the official story.

 

I’m still frustrated by how underutilized the Shadow Toa were, so I wanted to throw the ability in here.  Ironically…I ended up underutilizing it!  Sigh, maybe someday I’ll create an excuse to make the most of this power.
 
Sorry about that—I’m not sure why I didn’t just have him say his name.
 
Honestly, that one description was what made Antroz one of my favorite Makuta!  That’s why I’m still so frustrated he didn’t show it in story, and why I saw this as the perfect chance to make the idea stick.
 

 

 

My only qualm is the crime that Krekka is being executed for— smashing machinery is penalized by loss of life? I’ve read this story several times, but I feel like it is missing an element to it. There could be something more that he was persecuted for, something more personal to the city. Besides the Great Beings and their creations being so great to the people, why does some security device in the mountains far away being smashed resonate so hard with the people of Xia? I like the character— it’s funny how most of us picked Dark Hunters for our stories— and appreciate the relatively unexplored bad guy.  It was just lost on me as to why you picked that crime. 

 

Your choice of the Great Being— he characterizes just the way a Great Creator should be, so curious about the results and interactions. And he doesn’t look down on them, he sees them as equals, which says something good about him as a ruler. 

 

 

Krekka being executed for a minor crime was intended to make the Great Beings out as somewhat petty, and show that people don’t typically question them.  He smashed one of Velika’s inventions, so Velika took personal offense and declared him public enemy number one—and the people, who blindly follow the Great Beings, took this to heart and didn’t see it as an exaggeration in the slightest.  Though now that you mention it, something more specific to Xia would help the story feel a bit more cohesive, I probably should’ve put the crime scene a bit closer.
 
Angonce was definitely a lot of fun to write!  Since it seemed like the 10/11 story material was setting him up to the “sane one” the heroes could turn to, and it was already stated he was curious about Agori and such, I thought it was natural to turn that curiosity up a bit and have him be the “Man of the People” out of the Great Beings. (Though my goal was to have a hint of condescension in his actions—he’s fascinated by the people, sure, but sort of in the way you’d be fascinated watching your dog learn a new trick.)
 
 
I'm glad to hear you've enjoyed the story!  I had a lot of fun writing this, and it gave me way too many ideas to properly flesh out before the deadline.  I've tentatively begun work on a follow-up epic, but I can't promise when that'll turn up--I've got too many things distracting me these days!  But hopefully it won't be too long before we see what's next for Makuta Antroz!

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#5 Offline Master Inika

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Posted Jan 15 2018 - 01:18 AM

On the whole, it's super impressive to me how much thought you've put into the idea of a Matoran-integrated Spherus Magna. More than I think I've seen from anyone else, including myself.
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#6 Offline FallenAtlas

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Posted Jan 15 2018 - 09:49 AM

 That was crazy good.

 

 I was instantly hooked when you mentioned "Melding Universe" as I'm a sucker for anything to do with alternate personalities and places. The attention to detail, like how the Matoran are Toa-sized and the Toa are Matoran-sized, was great.

 

 I kept picturing the GB in this story as the Grandmaster from Thor: Ragnarok for some reason. It felt fitting in my head.

 

 The portrayal of Light v. Shadow in the Makuta here was very interesting. I hope to see more of this, or along the same subject lines.


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#7 Offline Pahrak #0579

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Posted Jan 15 2018 - 11:17 PM

On the whole, it's super impressive to me how much thought you've put into the idea of a Matoran-integrated Spherus Magna. More than I think I've seen from anyone else, including myself.

 

What can I say, every now and then my maladaptive daydreaming actually works to my advantage. :P

 

 

 I kept picturing the GB in this story as the Grandmaster from Thor: Ragnarok for some reason. It felt fitting in my head.

 

 

That was actually my source of inspiration!  I ended up seeing Ragnarok about when I started working on this, and since the Grandmaster was so much fun to watch I thought he'd be a great model for my portrayal of Angonce.  No question he's in charge, probably up to something you should be questioning, but dang it, he's just so entertaining!


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#8 Offline DuplexBeGreat

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Posted Jan 20 2018 - 03:44 AM

Holy cow.

 

This was just fantastic. Antroz being female worked incredibly well and I have no idea why. Antroz being literally blind to match her prime-reality counterpart, and then realizing she was metaphorically blind at the end, was a great narrative motif. The idea that there's authoritarianism and cruelty hiding beneath the crystal-clean surface of The Melding's society is wonderful and I'd love to see it explored more. As a fan of Transformers's Shattered Glass stories, exploring Good Antroz as a character fascinates me so much and you portrayed her perfectly, in my opinion.

 

Other stuff: Krekka losing his eye to Gorast, in reference to the prime reality. Angonce being cheerful and upbeat but terrifyingly harsh. Ehrye as a Toa, because why not? Antroz's inner monologues about Vultraz's troublesome remarks. This entire thing was just superbly written and I'd love to see you do more Melding oneshots.


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