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Now and Always (Fanfic Exchange)


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#1 Offline Master Inika

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Posted Dec 26 2017 - 06:13 PM

Hello! This is my contribution to the BZPower Fanfic Exchange, based on guidelines from AZBlue. Here it is:

Now and Always

The Great Furnace laid in ruins. Even if the war with the Dark Hunters ended that day, which it certainly wouldn’t, it would be years before the Furnace was fully repaired. An outsider visiting for the first time would have thought it had been wrecked and abandoned for millennia, not fully functional mere days ago.

Toa Lhikan, Toa of Fire, surveyed the destruction along with the Ta-Matoran foreman, who explained to him the full extent of the damage. All five of the Toa assigned to guard the sensitive location, along with their few brave Matoran volunteers, had been killed. Massacred, as the foreman put it. It was only thanks to the bravery of the deceased that the foreman and his workers had been able to evacuate.

“May the Great Spirit watch over them,” Lhikan said solemnly. No matter how many battles he saw, be they victories or defeats, news of fallen comrades never got any easier to hear. It was no mystery why the Hunters had targeted the Great Furnace. Ta-Metru was the industrial backbone of all Metru Nui and the Toa army’s war effort. Without the Great Furnace, Lhikan and his troops would no longer be able to rely on a steady flow of armor and weapons to replace what was damaged in battle. Even if every other foundry in the metru was working at maximum capacity, which they weren’t, the Toa were placed at a distinct disadvantage.

“How many Hunters were there?” Lhikan asked. In his mind, judging from the utter devastation, he expected the answer to be about six or eight, maybe closer to four if there was a particularly powerful single Hunter on the team. Due to this expectation, the foreman’s reply came as a shock.

He simply said, “One.”

A chill ran up Lhikan’s spine. He looked down at the foreman’s masked face, looking for some indication that his answer was some ill-timed joke. The look in the foreman’s eyes as he scanned what remained of the workstations he oversaw so recently was deadly serious.

“I wouldn’t believe you, either, if that’s what you told me,” the foreman continued, sensing Lhikan’s surprise, “but ask any of my workers, and they’ll confirm it. All anybody saw beforehand was a single being approach, tall and powerful-looking, and that same being leave after the battle, in the same direction he came from.”

“Where did he go?” Lhikan asked.

The foreman said nothing and simply pointed east, in the direction of the Silver Sea.

----

The other Toa were just as incredulous when Lhikan told them the attack had only a single perpetrator. They were even more surprised when Lhikan announced he would leave Ta-Metru in pursuit of the mysterious Dark Hunter alone. Lhikan’s reason for going by himself was simple: It was almost certainly a trap. Especially now that the Great Furnace was out of commission, it was of the highest importance to keep the rest of Ta-Metru and its industrial capacity protected. For him to lead Toa away from that role and leave it vulnerable to attacks from other Dark Hunters would have been foolish. At the same time, he couldn’t let this menace continue to roam until he was ready to strike again. Ta-Metru wouldn’t survive another attack of that caliber. The only way was for Lhikan to face him alone, away from Ta-Metru, and hope the Great Spirit provided a way to defeat him.

Not all the other Toa agreed with Lhikan’s reasoning. Still, they all had served under him long enough to respect his judgment, trust that he knew what he was doing, and understand that keeping your opinion to yourself when speaking to your leader was sometimes an important part of being a Toa.

Well, not quite all of them.

“Are you insane?” Toa Ceria, Toa of Lightning, raged at her leader. “I know you’re smarter than just running off on some suicide mission. What’s going on?”

Lhikan didn’t let his eyes meet hers as he continued to pack a small bag. “I’ve made my choice on the matter clear. The other Toa have accepted it. Why, once again, aren’t you?”

Ceria forced herself to silence, pushing from her mind what she had wanted to say next. It was so uncharacteristic of Lhikan to speak to anyone like that, but particularly her. Instead of replying, Ceria stepped closer to him, handed him the last lightstone he wanted to put in his bag, and when he placed it in, put her hand on the side of his Kanohi Hau and gently pushed it, moving his eyes to finally meet hers.

“You know why,” she whispered after a long moment of staring into each other’s glowing orbs. “I’m not like the other Toa, and neither are you, Lhii.”

Lhikan couldn’t stop himself from looking over his shoulder and past Ceria’s. They were still in his private quarters, with the door closed and locked, where no one could hear them. But he was always afraid of being heard when Ceria spoke like that, by both the Dark Hunters and his fellow Toa.

When he realized they were truly alone, he turned his attention back to her and moved his mask as close to hers at it would go, practically touching it, only prevented from doing so by the magnetic “kiss” that formed between them. But as soon as he leaned into her, he leaned back.

“We agreed that we wouldn’t entertain these thoughts until after the war,” Lhikan said resolutely.

“We can’t force ourselves not to feel the way we do about each other,” Ceria countered. Now it was her turn to look away. “At least, I can’t.” Knowing he couldn’t see it, she smiled slightly as she allowed her voice’s pitch to rise as she whined, “I understand if you can.”

Lhikan put his armored hands on her shoulders, pulled her close, and rested his hands then on her waist. “You’re so dramatic,” he said. “I love you now and always will.”

All his life, Lhikan had harbored a secret. For as long as he can remember, even as a Matoran, he suffered from the “glitch,” as it was called. He looked at the Ga-Matoran in the village across the river from his with a gaze that his fellow Ta-Matoran didn’t. When he was transformed into a Toa over 14,000 years ago, he thought bearing that burden would get easier. He was wrong. He longed for the love of the Toa of Water, Lightning, and Psionics he fought alongside and was forced to live with the knowledge that, to them, he was simply a brother.

Ceria turned to face him, looking up with brightly-glowing blue eyes. “Now and always?”

Lhikan nodded reassuringly. “Now and always.”

He carried this burden with him to Metru Nui. As bad as it had been before, it came to a head when Ceria arrived with the rest of the reinforcements to fight the invading Dark Hunters. The more he fought alongside, talked with, and was simply near her, the more he pined for her. But he was commanding nearly a hundred Toa in a war for the fate of the most important city in the universe. If such thoughts weren’t appropriate before, they most certainly were not now. Of that, Lhikan was sure.

And then Ceria confronted him and confessed that she suffered the “glitch” as well. It was the first time either of them had confessed it to another soul. And it was felt perfect. When they were together, alone and away from the war, the feeling was so fulfilling and pleasant that Lhikan always thanked the Great Spirit for blessing them with it. Unfortunately, it was not a common occurrence for the pair to be together, alone, or away from the war.

“But my mind is made up,” Lhikan reasserted. “I’m going after this Dark Hunter.”

“Well then so is mine,” Ceria said in the way an indignant Matoran would to her Turaga. “I’m going with you.”

----

Lhikan and Ceria stood at the edge of the Silver Sea, their boat floating gently in the protodermic ocean. The waves were calmly lapping at the shore. Lhikan had followed the trail of destruction to this very spot, though. The Great Furnace’s mysterious attacker couldn’t have flown away, as the no-fly zone was still being competently enforced over Ta-Metru, so he had to be somewhere underwater.

He looked to her with concern. “Are you sure you want to come?”

She looked to him with a smirk. “Are you?” Then, her smirk vanished, replaced with a look of deep seriousness that she wasn’t used to wearing. “It’s not just because of us, as in you and me. You’re not just my love, you’re my leader and the leader of all our brothers and sisters. If you die… then a Dark Hunter-free Metru Nui dies with you.”

Toa Lhikan had thought of this. “If I die, I trust the Toa of Iron I left in command to see this war through to the end.” He took a deep breath. “I can’t explain it. I just feel safer leaving the fate of the city to my brothers and sisters than leaving this single menace to them. I cannot betray what I truly feel to be right.” When Ceria reluctantly accepted his words, Lhikan added, “One more thing. When we find him—”

“I know, I know,” Ceria said. “I’ll try to... limit the power,” she promised with a snap of her fingers, producing a few electric sparks. “No promises, though…”

“Just making sure,” Lhikan said. “Otherwise we’ll fry every Ruki from here to the Great Temple.”

Without another spoken word, but many sad and wistful thoughts exchanged through glances and the touching of hands, Lhikan and Ceria set off in their small boat. At the bottom of the boat were their feet, Lhikan’s bag, and their weapons, Lhikan’s two Fire Greatswords and Ceria’s Electric Speargun.

They rowed out into the open waters, only to find very soon their rowing ineffective as the sea guided the boat along a predetermined path. No attempt to turn, or even to row backward, could stop it.

“I think someone knows we’re here,” Ceria commented.

“This might be worse than I thought,” Lhikan said. “I’ve heard legends of elemental beings within the city, powerful creatures composed purely of the element they control. The legends always say they came from somewhere else. A forgotten creation of the Great Beings, an escaped project of Makuta, a monstrous invader from the south… But they are always dangerous and never friendly.”

“Marvelous, a being made of water,” Ceria replied, looking out at the sea as they floated through. If they were being transported by a thinking, malevolent force, then its waters were deceptively serene. “And who goes off to fight it? A Toa of Fire and a Toa of Lightning.”

Lhikan gave her a smirk. For all they knew, the two of them were being taken to their deaths, and she was making jokes. Even a Toa of Air would grow tired of her attitude after a while. Lhikan had a soft spot for it even at the worst of times, though.

The two Toa let themselves be taken along. Whatever they were fighting, they knew, this was the only way to reach it. They were carried along gently, as if by a natural current, though they both knew Metru Nui’s surrounding waters well enough to know they were on no naturally-occurring path. It would have been romantic if not for the circumstances.

“Any funny stories from when you were a new Toa?” Ceria asked, allowing her arm to hang over the side of the boat and brush the water.

Lhikan shuddered. Even his early days as a Toa were filled with fallen comrades and battles abandoned to be won another day. But, for every few dozen somber tales of tragedy, there was a quaint anecdote.

“My team was summoned by the Turaga of a Matoran village. Every night, her Matoran reported the sound of metal dragging against the stone ground, right outside their huts. She feared the worst, like some sort of dangerous Rahi beast. That night, we were ready for a fierce battle, only to discover the true cause of the noises… a restless Matoran engineer, walking from his hut to his workshop each night, dragging his bag of parts behind him.”

The two shared a laugh. Lhikan asked Ceria if she had any. The Lightning Toa responded: “Well, there was one mission. My team was infiltrating a Dark Hunter base. We were each approaching from a different direction. I was to take the west entrance. There was a single Nektann robot guarding the gate. Not a problem, right? Well, it is if you’ve been a Toa of Lightning for less than six months. I tried to send out a fraction of Elemental Lightning to deactivate it quietly—and wound up overcharging and blowing it up. Before I knew it, every Hunter and Nektann in the base was on top of me.”

Lhikan looked at her in amazement as she calmly told her story. “What happened?” he asked.

Ceria laughed lightly. “It worked out, in the end. The explosion drew all the other guards away from their positions, and my comrades were able to slip in easily. They took back the Power Crystals the Hunters had stolen from the local villages while I kept the Hunters busy. Then, I fled the battle in time to meet with my teammates, and we returned the crystals before the Hunters knew what hit ‘em.”

“That’s quite a story,” Lhikan reflected. “I remember, in my early days, trying to summon small flames for light and accidentally causing huge fires. How long ago did you blow up that Nektann?”

Ceria sighed, focusing away from Lhikan and on her arm floating in the water. “About a year ago.”

Lhikan looked at her in disbelief. “You’ve only been a Toa for a year and a half?” He had many things to tell her, most of them disapproving. Most of his soldiers had been Toa for at least a century. An active warzone was no place for one still learning to control their power. By keeping this fact from him and their teammates, she had compromised the cohesion of the entire army.

But just then, the boat came to a stop. Their conversation would have to wait. Lhikan looked and saw what destination they had been brought to: The Great Temple.

Even in wartime, the temple abided, a symbol of hope for the Ga-Matoran near enough to the coast to see it. The Hunters could have struck the temple and delivered a devastating blow to their morale, but it had so little strategic significance that they never bothered. Until now, Lhikan realized with dread.

He nodded to Ceria, and the two Toa readied their tools and left the boat. They entered the temple’s main sanctuary, their footsteps echoing through the vast chamber. As they both stopped, they still heard more footsteps, light and wet, behind them. They turned to see their opponent, a roughly Toa-sized being made entirely out of water. He shared the Toa’s general body shape, save for a long, winding tail that went all the way outside the temple and into the ocean.

Lhikan’s suspicions were confirmed. “So, you are a creature of the sea.”

Somehow, it laughed from an unseen mouth. “To me and my kind, you are the creature, Toa. I come before you now in a recognizable form. You are fortunate. Your fallen teammates encountered me a hulking leviathan. I wiped them out and destroyed your precious furnace. I have no love for the ones who call themselves Dark Hunters… but I am full of hatred for you and your kind.”

Lhikan believed in fighting only as a last resort. Surely some sort of agreement could be reached with this entity, if it was intelligent enough to speak so articulately. Before he could, though, the water being launched two streams of itself at him and Ceria, slamming them both against the far wall of the temple, making the foundation rock and crack.

Lhikan activated his swords and both were suddenly surrounded by flames. All else being equal, water had a natural advantage against fire, but Lhikan was a veteran who knew how to hold his own against beings of any element. He combined his swords into a flaming shield, producing a barrage of steam. Using the cloud as a smokescreen, he leapt to Ceria and pushed her out of the water stream. The monster roared in anger.

The fight dragged on. The monster was not used to Toa fighting in unison so well. Whenever he came close to drowning one of the two, the other would suddenly have revived and jump in to rescue their partner. It was getting annoying.

The monster had meant what it said. While not all water contained its consciousness, it could control and felt connected to all water. It was bad enough there were wretched islands and continents breaking the beauty of his domain. The beings who inhabited them made it even worse with all their boats and barges, but the worst offender was this disgusting temple. The Dark Hunters promised, if he allied with them, he could send the deplorable structure to the bottom of the sea where it belonged.

The water monster cried out in anger and frustration as the female Toa dodged another stream of water. She charged at him, and he effortlessly engulfed her in a ball of water. He savored the look of terror in her eyes as she realized she couldn’t breathe. He swung her around and shot the ball out of the temple and into the surrounding sea. That ought to keep her away from the action enough to deal with the male.

A well-placed water blast sent the male flying into the wall once more, the force causing him to drop his tools. The being dispersed the water blast and carried the swords away from their owner. Now unarmed, the Toa would be an easy kill. The being conjured a ball of water around the male’s head, using it to lift him into the air. The ball of water, while not physically connected to its creator, was still very much under his control.

Behind him, Toa Ceria came to. Through the transparent form of her enemy, she could see Lhikan struggling. She had no time to rush to his aid now. Whatever she did, she would have to do within the next five seconds, or her comrade and greatest love would die.

There was no deliberation in her next action. Treading water, she raised her Electric Speargun. She did her best to control her power. Only a small electric spark was needed to defeat this enemy. But Ceria knew even as she did that her attempt would fail. She would destroy her enemy, certainly, but the destruction would not stop with him.

As Lhikan faced what could have been his last moments, Ceria fired a bolt of lightning from her weapon. The bolt pierced the liquid skin of the water being, and immediately he lost all control of himself, all consciousness. The sphere around Lhikan’s head popped, and Lhikan fell to the ground, safe from the unpredictable power of pure electricity.

Miniature arcs of lightnings jumped from droplet to droplet as the water being collapsed onto the ground, defeated. But the arcs continued down what used to be his tail, and into the ocean, and into everything in the ocean.

Ceria had no time to shout a final declaration of love as, an instant after activating her weapon, the electricity reached her and fried all her mechanical and biological systems.

One by one, dead Ruki fish rose to the surface of the Silver Sea. Lhikan nearly slipped on the wet floor a dozen times running to the ocean, and then struggled to pull Ceria’s body from the water before it sank. The battle itself had been short. He spent many times its length simply kneeling beside her, with her unmoving head on his lap, stroking her side. It was at that moment he realized his glitch truly was exactly that, because he couldn’t stop part of himself from wishing it was every other Toa on Metru Nui and not her.

But he knew what a selfish and senseless wish that was. Ceria had just given herself for him and the city. The least he could do to remember her was to guide the remaining Toa to victory, to be the leader they needed him to be.

He removed her mask. It would be preserved by their brothers and sisters to honor her. Having come to terms with what had happened, he gently placed her body back in the Silver Sea, which thanks to her was now dormant and peaceful once more. As soon as he took his hands away from her, she descended to a final resting place. Lhikan retrieved his swords and placed them on his back. Tightly clutching Ceria’s mask, he returned to the boat and began back to Ta-Metru. His report would be objective and professional. In the stone, he would carve a memorial of her as a brave and honored sister, the same way he would for any fallen brother or sister, but in the privacy of his own mind, she was much more. She was the woman he loved, now and always.

----

I hope you all enjoyed it! It was based on one specific prompt from AZBlue: "Lhikan and his love must defeat a powerful Dark Hunter on the outskirts of Metru Nui."

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"You are an absolute in these uncertain times. Your past is forgotten, and your
future is an empty book. You must find your own destiny, my brave adventurer.
"
-- Turaga Nokama

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#2 Offline Disciple

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Posted Dec 28 2017 - 02:12 AM

I enjoyed reading this. That's saying a lot too, because I don't usually enjoy romance in BIONICLE. :P

 

The concept of romantic feelings as a "glitch" in certain MU beings' programming was really fresh and interesting. It made me see the stoic, heroic Lhikan in a whole new light. I could really imagine how tortured he would feel to have those kinds of feelings in a world without any concept of romantic love. The fact that his one romantic relationship was doomed to fail really left me feeling pity for him. Poor guy.

 

Ceria was a pretty interesting character too. She had a lot of personality, and I like how she challenged Lhikan at times. They had good chemistry, and I liked the part where they shared stories of their mistakes as rookie Toa. I wish Ceria had a little more dialogue towards the climax, but I figure there wasn't much time to talk what with the battle against the water creature. The only thing that stood out to me as jarring was the description of her death. "Frying her biological and mechanical systems" seems very literal, when it might have been better to go with something more subtle and poetic.

 

I like your writing style though, it's detailed yet straightforward and reminds me of the G1 serials.  Overall, this was an enjoyable read. Congrats on finishing. :)


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#3 Offline DuplexBeGreat

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Posted Jan 11 2018 - 12:15 AM

Loved this! It was a very good expression of Lhikan's character and I liked how you visited the ideas of the elemental beings, which otherwise have gone pretty much unnoticed throughout the story after the Fire Entity's initial appearance.


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idk man


#4 Offline Master Inika

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Posted Jan 12 2018 - 12:06 AM

Loved this! It was a very good expression of Lhikan's character and I liked how you visited the ideas of the elemental beings, which otherwise have gone pretty much unnoticed throughout the story after the Fire Entity's initial appearance.

Thanks! The elemental beings were one of the details I wish got more attention. There was a Sonic Entity, too, who was seen after the Fire Entity (although they both only appear in BIONICLE Adventures 7). Fun fact, according to BS01: Fire Entity has entries in the BIONICLE Encyclopedias but Sonic Entity doesn't.

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"You are an absolute in these uncertain times. Your past is forgotten, and your
future is an empty book. You must find your own destiny, my brave adventurer.
"
-- Turaga Nokama

nichijou2.jpg

Click here to visit my library!


#5 Offline Iron_Man5

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Posted Jan 12 2018 - 07:41 AM

 

Loved this! It was a very good expression of Lhikan's character and I liked how you visited the ideas of the elemental beings, which otherwise have gone pretty much unnoticed throughout the story after the Fire Entity's initial appearance.

Thanks! The elemental beings were one of the details I wish got more attention. There was a Sonic Entity, too, who was seen after the Fire Entity (although they both only appear in BIONICLE Adventures 7). Fun fact, according to BS01: Fire Entity has entries in the BIONICLE Encyclopedias but Sonic Entity doesn't.

 

I believe that the Sonic Entity was suggested as being a byproduct of the mutated Lohrak (via Hordika venom) which gave it sonic powers, and somehow created it with that. (At least that's the official description on Biosector01) I'm pretty sure that in BA#7 the Toa come to that conclusion as well...

 

But I digress.

 

I loved the story. I always enjoy seeing romance in BIONICLE, I was saddened when it was decanonized, but I am always interested to see how it is implemented into various stories through different means. That being said great job with Llhikan, he's definitely one of my favorite characters to read about, and you did him justice. 

 

I am very rapidly becoming a big fan of your work (well, bigger than I was before, I've already read many of your other works) :P Keep up the good work!


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#6 Offline AZBlue

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Posted Mar 24 2018 - 10:11 PM

I never got around to reviewing this, Master Inika, and for that I apologize.

This story met and surpassed the prompts that I gave! The romance is really cool, and terribly heartbreaking, a plot thread that I love to read even as it breaks me. The character you created was interesting, and I wish that I could see more adventures with her and Lhikan. Ceria will go down in the history of my favorite OCs. The plot was well built, and the way you reintroduced love to Bionicle worked well. I could see this being a piece of Lhikan's history that he only recorded once and locked away, never to be seen again.

Thank you so much for this short story!


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#7 Offline maletoaofwater

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Posted Apr 27 2018 - 09:11 PM

i liked this one - i thought the concept of the "glitch" was pretty neat.

 

one thing though - as a toa of lightning, wouldn't she be resistant to the electricity, and not harmed by her own power like that? or at least resistant enough not to kill her...


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#8 Offline Master Inika

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Posted Apr 30 2018 - 07:43 PM

i liked this one - i thought the concept of the "glitch" was pretty neat.

 

one thing though - as a toa of lightning, wouldn't she be resistant to the electricity, and not harmed by her own power like that? or at least resistant enough not to kill her...

 

I never thought of that. I feel it's possible that using elemental energy, even to absorb your own element, requires intentionality, and she might have been too tired from the battle or concerned for Lhikan to absorb it properly. If her mind was at full capacity, it might have been possible.


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"You are an absolute in these uncertain times. Your past is forgotten, and your
future is an empty book. You must find your own destiny, my brave adventurer.
"
-- Turaga Nokama

nichijou2.jpg

Click here to visit my library!





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