This is my entry into the first BZPower Fanfic Exchange. It was written for Toa of Gallifrey.
Nikila gave a sigh as she trudged up the mountain behind Lesovikk. She'd been listening to the argument taking place behind her for nearly an hour now, and it showed no signs of letting up. Now the Toa of Lightning was pondering whether her Mask of Possibilities could alter the likelihood of their argument coming to an end... or if she should just tell them to shut up for the sixteenth time in the last hour.
“Couldn't your mask have prevented this?” growled Ynok. She recognized the Toa of Iron's deep voice, his tone hard as ever. “No,” came the reply. This was Barma, Toa of Gravity. “I told you already, the Mask of Clairvoyance only shows me what it wants to.” His voice was nervous and high, and for good reason. Ynok made a noise of disgust and walked ahead of Barma, leaving him behind. The Toa of Iron was not known for his good moods, but Nikila knew he had a good reason to be this angry.
Two Matoran had gone missing tonight: Sarda and Idris, their latest additions to the team. Or, as Ynok liked to put it, Lesovikk's latest mistakes. The Toa of Iron had long made it known that he didn't approve of having the Matoran accompany the group on their travels. It gave the Toa a weak point, he said- a vulnerability that their enemies would be all too happy to exploit. What if the Matoran were captured, or worse? The first Toa team in history risked being known for all time as a failure.
But Lesovikk had insisted the Toa Cordak needed the Matoran's help if they were going to make a real difference in the universe. He said they needed ordinary beings who could be their eyes and ears, meeting with nearby villages to learn their problems and figure out how Lesovikk's team could be of help. The sight of six heavily-armed Toa marching into a village often upset the locals- quite understandably- and so the Matoran messengers were to be of great assistance to the Toa.
At least, so the thinking went. Nikila had backed up Lesovikk, arguing that the additions made sense. Barma, too, had supported the idea. He only joked that Sarda and Idris were the shortest “Toa” he had ever seen. Palek, Toa of Stone- ever practical- had to think it over for a few days, but soon found the idea reasonable and agreed. As for Kotoro, Toa of Sonics, he hadn't seemed to care much either way- as long as the Matoran didn't get on his nerves. He was always complaining about someone or something making too much noise.
That left Ynok the sole voice of dissent. And so it was that Sarda and Idris became the newest members of the Toa Cordak. In addition to serving as the Toa's envoys, the pair fulfilled a second role as Chroniclers, record-keepers who would document the Toa Cordak's deeds and spread news of their accomplishments. Many Toa across the universe were still reluctant to form into teams, and Lesovikk hoped that the tales of the Toa Cordak would show them all just how much good the Toa could do by working together.
Who better to carry out these important roles than Sarda and Idris, Lesovikk's best friends from his Matoran days? The two villagers joined the team just some days ago, and already Lesovikk's group had respectively dubbed them their honorary Toa of Fire and Water. The Ta-Matoran and Ga-Matoran may not have looked like Toa, but throughout their journeys they had certainly proven themselves worthy of the title.
Tonight's events, however, put Lesovikk's experiment to the test.
“Zyglak,” muttered Lesovikk. “Of all the...” He paused, realizing that Nikila had walked up behind him. The Toa of Lightning put a hand on Lesovikk's shoulder.
“There's no way we could have known. Nothing we could have done.”
As the Toa of Air turned, Nikila could see the worry in his eyes. “I know. I just...”
“That tunnel was barely big enough for a Matoran to squeeze through,” Nikila offered. “Let alone a Toa. How could we have known there would be Zyglak inside?” She shook her head. “Could we have lived with ourselves if we hadn't let Sarda and Idris at least take a look in there? What if they had found those missing Matoran?”
Lesovikk sighed. “Thanks to me, two more just went missing.”
Ynok trudged up beside Nikila. “Hey air-head, she's right,” he jeered. “Looks like you don't have to be a Toa to be a hero after all...” He shrugged his broad shoulders. “I mean, as long as you're not expecting your career to last very long.”
Nikila shot him a look, but the Toa of Iron ignored her. “So Lesovikk, what's your next big idea? Can Zyglak be Toa? Maybe they should join our team too!”
A sudden wind kicked up around Lesovikk as he took a step toward Ynok. The Toa of Iron stumbled for an instant, startled by the team leader's sudden fury. Thick metal gloves formed around his hands, ready to pummel Lesovikk if he came closer. Nikila got between them before it came to blows.
“That's enough,” snapped the Toa of Lightning. Sparks sizzled around her hands, stretched out between the Toa. For an instant, Lesovikk and Ynok only glared at each other. Nikila sighed. “You two are impossible.”
“We're wasting time,” said Lesovikk finally. He resumed walking up the path, not bothering to check if the other Toa were following. His teammates looked at each other.
“Come on,” Nikila said, motioning to them. She took a few steps and the others fell in line behind her. Ynok resisted, but after a moment he rolled his eyes and followed after them.
Nikila said nothing, but she knew the Toa of Iron's words must have stung Lesovikk. No doubt he feared the worst had happened to their Matoran friends, and it must have weighed on him like a herd of Kikanalo. The trio walked in silence, the three rookie Toa quiet as mice behind them. Barma tried humming a tune, but stopped after Kotoro shot him a dirty look. The sound of the argument had already been more noise than he could bear.
Ynok looked up at the sky where the twin suns were beginning to sink into the horizon. A scowl formed on the Mask of Accuracy he wore. “Getting dark,” he snorted, returning his attention to the Toa's leader. “So, air-head, what's the plan now?”
Nikila recognized the tone Lesovikk used when he was trying to sound braver than he really felt. “It doesn't matter,” said the Toa of Air quietly. “We follow the Zyglak's tracks and we get our teammates back.”
Ynok rolled his eyes. “Sure, air-head,” he said, “I'm sure rescuing those two will be a bowl of bula berries.” He turned to Nikila. “OK, sparky, let's try you. How about a better plan?”
Nikila shrugged. “Those tunnels were too small to hold a Zyglak nest. The beasts just take advantage of the darkness they provide to ambush whatever Rahi happens to wander through. The Zyglak will take any prey they've caught back to their home, away from the tunnel. So we go around the mountain to where the tunnel ends, and follow any tracks we see back to the Zyglaks' lair.”
Barma chose that moment to speak up, sounding uneasy. “And if they've already... you know...”
Nikila looked serious. “If the Zyglak wanted to kill those Matoran, they wouldn't have made such a show of things,” she said. The Toa of Lightning stopped, pointing to a series of deep gashes along the trees on either side of them. The worn trunks were riddled with claw-marks. “This looks to me like we're being led into a trap.”
“A trap?” Palek exclaimed. He had been reading passages from the Matoran's chronicles, left behind with him for safekeeping before Sarda and Idris ventured into the tunnels. His sudden yelp startled Kotoro, causing the Toa of Sonics to give him an annoyed look.
“You hear that, air-head?” growled Ynok. “What exactly are you leading us into?” He stopped short, folding his arms. The rest of the Toa paused, unsure of what to do. A silence hung in the air for several moments until finally, Lesovikk stopped in his tracks and turned to face his team.
“Zyglak are just dumb beasts,” he said angrily. ”They don't set traps, and even if they did, they would still be no match for six Toa.” He paused, letting his words sink in before continuing. “If you lot are afraid of them, then go back to the village and wait. I'll rescue the Matoran myself.” Lesovikk's eyes held no hint of doubt as he stared at each of his companions in turn.
Nikila knew how much Sarda and Idris meant to him, and that he would never back down at a time like this. The Toa of Air would never forgive himself if he didn't at least try to rescue his friends, especially given that he felt responsible for what had happened to them. She hoped the other Toa could see that too.
“Good,” remarked the Toa of Air, seeing that no one had objected. He tapped the side of his Kanohi mask, which Nikila just realized had taken on a faint glow. “I've used my Mask of Kindred to borrow the powers of a tunneling Rahi. With my night vision, I can see the Zyglak just up ahead.” He pointed down the mountain to a clearing. Sure enough, a large group of Zyglak was waiting at the bottom. In the faint light of dusk, Nikila could just make out two spots of red and blue in the center of the ring: Sarda and Idris, taken prisoner no doubt.
“Hmph,” Ynok grunted, squinting down at the Matoran. “You're lucky they're OK.”
“No, they're not,” said the team leader. “But they will be.” He guided the rest of the team toward where he had spotted the Matoran. Ynok unlimbered his hammer and began tossing it from hand to hand, gearing up for a fight.
“Y'know, air-head,” said the Toa of Iron, “This may come as a shock to you, but I'm here for a reason. Matoran lives matter, and now two more are in danger. Why else do you think I didn't want them joining the team?”
“We can talk about it once they're safe,” Lesovikk snapped. “For now, we wait until dark, and then we-”
The Toa looked around in confusion. Nikila turned to see Barma on his knees in the dirt, his hands clutching the sides of his head. The Mask of Clairvoyance he wore had taken on a bright glow.
Nikila rushed to support the Toa of Gravity as he fell forward. At times like these, all the other Toa could do was wait out the masks' effects. Nikila had seen it play out many times before: in a few moments, the Toa would return to consciousness with news of a vision he had seen. With any luck, the mask would have shown him how they would defeat the Zyglak.
Lesovikk came over to them. “What is it?” he pressed Barma. “What did you see?”
“Death,” Barma gasped, his eyes wide. “For all of us. Except...” He reached a shaky hand toward Lesovikk. Nikila couldn't remember ever seeing Barma so badly shaken. Her friend, so often full of humor and cheer, could barely form words. Even his prized longbow lay forgotten in the dirt.
Lesovikk's eyes were wide. “What?” he pressed Barma, shaking him. “What did the mask show you?”
“We were dead,” whispered the Toa of Gravity. “All of us... Except you, Lesovikk.”
The team leader was stunned. For a few moments, no one spoke. Lesovikk's comrades waited for him to say something- anything- to reassure them that everything would be alright. The thought of such a fate was unthinkable. It was impossible.
“I don't...” he began, but words failed him. He looked at Nikila, but she too was speechless. Even Ynok looked uneasy.
“The Mask of Clairvoyance has never been wrong before.” For a second, Nikila didn't recognize the voice. Then she realized that Kotoro had finally spoken up for the first time all day. “If it showed our deaths, then that must be our destined fate.”
“Question is,” Ynok grunted. “When is this our fate? Tonight? Next week? A thousand years from now?”
“It might not be the case that we die tonight,” Barma offered. “Sometimes the mask shows me things that are far off in the future.”
“Oh, wonderful!” Ynok groaned. “What a cause for celebration!” He turned to Lesovikk. “Hear that, air-head? I always said you're gonna get us all killed one day!”
“Perhaps Ynok is right, Lesovikk,” said Kotoro, leaning on his staff. “Perhaps our mission is doomed to failure.” Next to him, Palek wore an expression of worry on his Mask of Translation. He had begun scanning his carvings, no doubt searching for some scrap of information to help the Toa. “This can't be, this can't be...” he muttered. Between him and Barma, the sense of anxiety was palpable.
Nikila could see Lesovikk's resolve beginning to evaporate. This was a critical moment, and if he couldn't get the Toa to stand together, they stood no chance of rescuing their friends. She had to intervene.
“If it's true,” she said, “Then it doesn't change a thing. We're Toa, and we still have to rescue our friends.” She put a hand on the Toa of Air's shoulder. “Right, Lesovikk?”
The Toa of Air took a deep breath, and she could see the gratitude in his eyes. He didn't have to say anything, didn't have to thank her. One look shared between the close friends said everything. “Nikila's right,” he said, confidence restored. “We stick to the mission. Now, let's-”
“Look out!” Nikila cried. Lesovikk turned his head just as a spear flew past his mask, burying itself in the trunk of a nearby tree. As one, the Toa Cordak turned to see Zyglak emerging from the forest around them. No doubt they had heard the commotion caused by Barma's episode, and they had taken the opportunity to strike at the Toa first. One glance down at the clearing below showed that it was now empty of Zyglak, save for a pair that had stayed behind to guard the Matoran captives.
The Zyglak crawled forth from gnarled tangles of shrubbery, shallow pools of water and even the earth itself. In seconds, the Toa were surrounded by dozens of the lizard-like beasts. Nikila had never seen so many in one place before. Something about it didn't seem natural.
“Toa!” shouted Lesovikk. “Ring formation, NOW!”
The Toa formed a circle, backs toward the center and their weapons extended out toward the Zyglak. No sooner had they clustered together than the beasts began to rush them. Wicked spears sailed at the Toa from all directions.
“Watch their blades!” Palek warned. “One hit will turn your armor to dust!” He block a spear with his short swords, then followed up with a horizontal slash that relieved a Zyglak of its head. As two more closed in, he fended them off with a series of cuts and jabs.
“Palek's right,” Lesovikk shouted, burying his sword in a Zyglak's belly. “Watch those spears!” He wrenched his blade free just in time to slice an oncoming spear in two. Beside him, Barma was trying to slow the Zyglak with his power over gravity, only for the beasts to shrug it off like a spring rain. Lesovikk grabbed his arm, shaking his head. “It's no use!” he snapped. “They're immune to our elemental powers!”
“Stand back, rookie,” grumbled Ynok, shoving Barma aside. “They're not immune to this!” He batted aside a Zyglak's spear, then brought his hammer down on the monsters' head. In the din of battle, his eyes met Lesovikk's for a brief instant. “You go after the Matoran!” Ynok shouted. “We'll handle these freaks!” Ynok's savage kick knocked another Zyglak down, allowing Lesovikk to finish it off with a quick swipe.
But instead of running off, the Toa leader stopped. Nikila knew he couldn't bear to leave his comrades. He was hesitating, as he too often did at these crucial moments.
“What about the vision?” he blurted. “Barma saw you all die!”
“Lesovikk, you're wasting time!” Nikila cried, “We can handle the Zyglak ourselves!”
“I'll kill you myself if you don't get moving!” Ynok roared. “Now GO!”
Their combined protest snapped Lesovikk out of his stupor. He ran off in the direction of the Matoran, disappearing in the thick of battle. Nikila watched him for an instant, then turned her attention back to her own struggle.
“Ynok, over here!” Nikila cried. Her trident was locked against a Zyglak's spear. Something was wrong, distracting her from the battle. She couldn't shake the feeling that this wasn't right, that the Zyglak should never have appeared in such numbers. The monsters must have sensed her confusion, and they swarmed in to attack. Ynok arrived in time to parry yet another spear.
“What's the matter, sparky?” he teased. “Never fought a Zyglak before?”
He stopped short. Nikila turned to see Ynok fall to his knees, a spear protruding from his chest. Stuck battling two Zyglak at once, all Nikila could do was gasp. With a mighty flurry of blows, she knocked her attackers back and rushed to her comrade. Something wasn't right. The blade hadn't struck him from the front. It had struck him from behind. And it had come from-
“Kotoro?” Nikila tried to say his name, but no sound came from her throat. Her teammates, locked in combat, didn't notice what had just happened. Nikila tried again to speak, more desperately this time, but something was wrong. Kotoro looked oddly peaceful, walking toward Nikila with an eerie calm. The Zyglak seemed to ignore him. It was as though he wasn't there at all.
“Silence,” grinned Kotoro. “Such an undervalued power among my kind. And yet, it has its uses.”
Nikila looked down to see Ynok's body begin to spasm. The Zyglak spear was doing its' work. Armor and tissue crumbled from his body before Nikila's horrified eyes. In seconds, his once-massive frame had become frayed and skeletal. A sound came from him that Nikila had never heard before, and one she would never forget.
“Is he ever quiet?” growled Kotoro. Before Nikila could react, he dealt Ynok a swift kick that sent him sprawling. “Not at all like his friend Kotoro... He didn't even scream when I ripped the heartlight from his chest this morning.” Seeing Nikila's shock, he continued. “Silent types like him are so easy to impersonate. I killed him hours ago, and none of you were any the wiser.”
The impostor looked at Nikila with a coldness in his eyes she had never seen from any Toa. Seeing her stunned horror, an expression of satisfaction crept over the pretender's face. His eyes fell upon the gruesome remains of Toa Ynok, laying no more than a body's length away.
“Another Toa of Iron felled,” he said. Although his lips didn't move, Nikila could hear his voice in her head. “My master will be pleased. Not that I expect any recognition from my brothers for my generous deeds.”
Understanding then dawned on Nikila's face. Her look of shock became one of grim resolution as she raised her trident. Lightning flashed around the tip. Around her, the other Toa were still busy fending off the oncoming tide of Zyglak. She would have to take care of this all on her own.
“I don't know what's going on,” she said, projecting her thoughts mentally to overcome the theft of her voice. “But you're not Kotoro. And you'll pay for what you just did.”
The false Toa laughed. “No, not Toa Kotoro, you little fool. Makuta Spiriah.” For the briefest instant, the Mask of Truth he wore shifted to reveal a different shape: the Mask of Corruption. In the darkness and chaos of battle, Nikila was the only one who saw it.
“Toa,” Spiriah's voice came to her again. He raised his arms, gesturing to the battle raging around them. “Such simple beings. Like moths to a light, they will go wherever danger and glory beckon.”
“Where's the real Kotoro?” Nikila pressed, gripping her trident harder. She was buying time, trying to think up a strategy. “What did you do to him?”
The Makuta's laughter filled her head. “Nothing my friends won't soon do to you as well.” Nikila's eyes darted to the side to see her enemy's Zyglak followers closing in on her. Although they now seemed to be restraining themselves, she had a feeling that one sign from Spiriah would unleash them all upon her.
“They're no Visorak,” Spiriah said. In the dark light of the Zyglaks' torches, she watched Spiriah's features morph and change. “Not so disciplined. Not as obedient. But perhaps that is precisely what I like about them. Unlike my brothers' servants of choice, the Zyglak don't bow to authority so readily.”
Now a reptilian beast, he towered over Nikila. To her comrades, the Makuta looked like just another Zyglak in the horde. There was no time to explain to them what was going on, no way to make them understand. Not before it was too late.
Spiriah's eyes narrowed. “But make no mistake, they will lay waste to your comrades just as easily.”
“You planned this,” Nikila said, once more directing her inner thoughts at the Makuta. “We knew the Makuta weren't to be trusted, no matter what anyone else said. What are you and your leaders planning?”
Spiriah shrugged. “Nothing you and your little team will ever know of,” he taunted. “You'll be long dead by the time our plans come to fruition.”
“And somehow that involves our failure,” Nikila ventured. “You wanted the first Toa team in history to end in disaster, so that future generations wouldn't dare join together and stop... whatever it is you're planning. You wanted the very concept of a Toa team to fail.”
“And what better way to ensure its failure,” Spiriah agreed, “Than from within your own ranks?”
Around him, the sea of Zyglak parted to reveal the bodies of Palek and Barma. With a grim acceptance, Nikila realized they too had fallen to the Zyglak's spears. Her friends were dead.
“And now,” Spiriah said, gesturing to Nikila's fallen comrades. “Once I've finished you off, I'll see to Lesovikk. And then I will have defeated all six of you.”
Nikila shook her head. “Lesovikk? You mean him?” She pointed to something behind Spiriah.
The Makuta hissed, turning in time to feel the Toa of Air's sword graze his mask. The thrown weapon sailed past him, burying itself in a tree. Lesovikk was running directly toward the Makuta, his eyes full of madness and rage. He summoned a massive cyclone and hurled it right at Spiriah.
“My team!” he screamed. “You'll pay for this!”
For an instant, the Makuta was stunned. Lesovikk's tornado battered his armor, threatening to rip it apart. With a massive effort, Spiriah recovered in time to send a blast of lightning at Lesovikk. Nikila saw her friends' eyes fill with surprise before he was jolted into unconsciousness. She ran to him, cradling Lesovikk's still body as she flashed a look of hatred at Spiriah.
“By the way,” Nikila said, panting, “You counted wrong. There are eight Toa on this team.”
Freed by Lesovikk, Sarda and Idris chose that moment to strike. Together, they leaped out from behind a boulder and picked up a fallen Zyglak's spear. Hoisting it overhead, they tossed it at the monsters' leader with all their might. “Take this!” the two Matoran cried as one.
Their aim was true, and Spiriah howled in pain as his armor began to dissolve. The Matoran looked on in shock as a strange green gas began to leak from the Zyglak's armor. Before they could figure out what was happening, a second blast from Spiriah took them out of the fight.
In Nikila's thoughts, Spiriah's voice grew thick with hatred. He wrenched the spear free from his body and aimed it right at Lesovikk. “Your little friends may have saved you,” said the voice in her head. “But Lesovikk will die. And he will never know that his demise came not at the claws of the Zyglak, but at the hands of the Brotherhood of Makuta.”
“No,” Nikila seethed. With the Makuta wounded, his Silence power subsided, and at last she could speak again. “You might defeat me... you might have defeated the rest... but Lesovikk will survive. And the example of our team will live on.”
Spiriah's eyes grew slitted with rage. “Then allow me to test your little theory,” he spat. A crackle of energy swirled around him as he began to teleport away from the battle. But as he faded from view, he gave a final bellow of anger. Raising the Zyglak spear, he prepared to hurl it directly at Lesovikk. Instinct took over as Nikila activated her Mask of Possibilities. And for just the briefest instant, the Makuta's grip on the spear slackened.
A second later, the spear connected... burying itself in Nikila's chest. Her eyes widened for an instant. Then, a feeling of extreme calm washed over the Toa of Lightning and she collapsed next to Lesovikk. As her vision darkened, the last thing she saw was Spiriah's expression of disbelief. The Makuta was running away like a coward, and his Zyglak were scattering in all directions. The victory brought one last smile to her lips before everything began to fade away. Today, she knew, the Toa Cordak had done the impossible and earned their place in Matoran legend forever.
Indeed, many impossible things had happened tonight- events that Nikila knew would never be forgotten. The Toa Cordak had defeated an army of Zyglak. Two Matoran had helped battle a Makuta. And Nikila and her teammates had met their destiny. Even if it wasn't the best destiny possible, Nikila embraced it. She and her teammates had fought bravely, done their best against impossible odds, and died as heroes. And as she joined her comrades in death, one glimmering thought brought her peace:
Lesovikk was still alive, and for him, anything was possible.
Edited by Disciple, Dec 31 2017 - 03:27 PM.