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Toa of Gallifrey

[For Torran] Time and Again

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Based on the prompts provided by Torran. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year! :)

 

            In the time before time… in the decadent city of Metru Nui… two valiant heroes, Toa Lhikan and Toa Nidhiki, fought from the shadows to protect the population of the once-great city from the evil dictator Turaga Dume. It had been many long years since their friends had been assassinated and Turaga Dume revealed his true motivations: to arm Metru Nui with an invincible fleet of airships and conquer the universe. Those who did not comply were spirited away, only to reappear shortly after at the Coliseum as a warning for those who would disobey. Lhikan and Toa Nidhiki were losing hope… until they discovered an ancient legend of six Great Disks imbued with powers beyond belief. When combined, these disks would create a formidable tool: the Kanohi Vahi, Mask of Time. According to ancient scriptures, this mask could slow down or speed up time for everyone but the user, allowing them to perform otherwise impossible feats. The two Toa had just recently unearthed the final disk and were heading to Ta-Metru to seek help from the most skilled mask-maker: Vakama. As they got closer to Ta-Metru, disaster loomed closer…

 

 

 

Time and Again

 

 

 

1

 

            My name is Takua. I’m a Ta-Matoran who’s accompanying Toa Lhikan and Toa Nidhiki as their Chronicler. I’m aware of the fate that befell the last Matoran who served as Chronicler for them, but I don’t fear anything. I believe in Toa Lhikan, who has saved me countless times in the past; and in Toa Nidhiki, who Toa Lhikan trusts greatly. We just arrived at the Great Furnace in Ta-Metru to speak to a mask-maker called Vakama, who has a reputation as being the most skilled in the craft. I know him personally and can vouch for his skills; he repaired my friend’s shattered Kanohi Komau in no time. We’re hoping that he can make a legendary Kanohi called the Mask of Time. I’ll write down the details of our journey another time; however, I will mention something troubling that happened mere moments ago. On our way here, we saw a hulking monster behind us in the distance. It was very far away, and I couldn’t determine what kind of Rahi it was. I could only tell that it must’ve been about twice as tall as Toa Lhikan, since it towered above the rock formation we went past earlier. For reference, those rocks were taller than Toa Lhikan, if not by much. Toa Nidhiki said that it was like no Rahi he’d ever seen. I thought so too, but I’d rather say it was a Rahi than think Turaga Dume sent a monster after us. Normally, I’d just write some rough notes of the adventure for an egghead Ko-Matoran to develop into a proper composition worthy of the Wall of History, but as soon as I got here I felt a sense of dread that compelled me to organize my thoughts on this tablet. Toa Lhikan just informed me that Toa Nidhiki found Vakama. I’ll resume this chronicle in another tablet when I find some time.

 

 

 

2

 

            “Here you go… it is finished.” the Ta-Matoran mask maker known as Vakama said as he approached us.

 

            “It looked half-done. Are you sure this can defeat the Turaga-dictator?” asked Nidhiki, peppering his speech with the ever-puzzling chutespeak his Metru is known for, albeit using some of the easier-to-understand phrases. I echoed his sentiment; this mask would only cover the lower half of a face.

 

            “Yes, I followed the instructions in the scriptures to the letter. It was almost as if I didn’t have to do anything, though… that Kanoka you brought, the Disk of Time… when I set my torch against it, I felt as if my hand was being guided to make the same shapes that the scriptures indicated.” he affirmed.

 

            “Very well. I’ll trust you, Vakama.” I replied as I took the mask. I suppose a legendary Kanohi would appear different from your typical mask. There are countless flawlessly-created masks lining up the massive racks in this chamber. Each rack is like a pit, containing around five hundred Great Kanohi. Each wall, at least as high as a medium-sized Knowledge Tower, contains racks all the way up to the top. They’re all the work of Vakama. Our Chronicler, Takua, is eyeing some of them. Maybe he wants to change out of his Kanohi Pakari, a mask that not many Ta-Matoran seem to appreciate anymore. They are just powerless masks when worn by a Matoran, after all, so all they’d have to be concerned about is how they look. I’ve always preferred the aesthetic of the Kanohi Hau and felt somewhat averse to that of the Kanohi Pakari, so I understand his sentiment. Still, there’s no time for that now. We must get going and formulate our plan of attack before it’s too late. “We’ll leave you now before the Vahki notice our presence. Thank you once more, Vakama. Nidhiki, I and all of Metru Nui will forever be in your debt.”

 

            “You’re quite welcome, noble Toa. I pray to Mata Nui that you succeed in freeing us from the shackles of Turaga Dume’s reign. I must ask you to please be careful handling the mask. I let it cool down longer than I normally do since I’m unaware of the material the Disk of Time is made from. Seeing as it was created from merging the Great Disks, its composition is a complete mystery to me and I’m unsure how much damage the mask will be able to sustain.”

 

            “Understood.” I turn to face Nidhiki. “Come, brother—AAGH!”

 

 

 

3

 

            As soon as the Toa had the Kanohi Vahi in hand and were getting ready to leave, a wheel of energy was shot from behind them and hit Toa Lhikan in the back. He felt a dizzying disorientation, losing his sense of time. Seconds become hours before compressing into minutes. These few seconds felt almost like a lifetime for him and allowed the assailant to charge in and only receive blasts of wind from Nidhiki’s Air Scythe, as opposed to additional fire from the incapacitated Toa. Nidhiki and Takua’s eyes widened in fear once they got a good look at the incoming creature, for it was the giant monster they saw at a distance before. The speedy gusts of wind dissipated into nothing as soon as they came within five meters of the creature.

 

            The giant creature impaled the dazed Toa Lhikan with its massive claws. The injured hero began aging rapidly when the creature brought him closer. Toa Lhikan’s armor quickly rusted from the small particles of moisture coming from the troughs in the cooling chamber a few rooms down. The tissue within the armor decayed in strength as it experienced an eternity in mere seconds. The Toa closed his eyes and went into an eternal sleep, his weak body unable to process the air through his rusted internal mechanical components or bear the weight of the rusted armor he wore. The creature removed the Toa from its claws and set him aside, wasting no time in charging at Nidhiki.

 

            The Toa of Air grabbed Takua and Vakama, and leapt into the air. He wanted to reach for the Vahi as well but there was no time. He landed on the highest rack of masks and dug to hide beneath them. “My Kanohi-mask only camouflage-hides me. You two stay here and keep dead-quiet.” Nidhiki looked at a mask next to him and grinned. “I just quick-thought of a plan.” The Toa dug his way out of the pit, grabbing a Kanohi Kualsi on the way out. He took off his Volitak and donned the Kualsi, the Mask of Quick Travel. He used its power to teleport himself to the next rack up on the opposite wall and continued the upward zigzag teleportation pattern, avoiding blasts from the creature’s launcher, until he found a ventilation shaft. He crawled inside and swapped out the Kualsi for his original mask. The Mask of Stealth allowed him to blend in with his surroundings and mask the sounds he made, but he’d still cast a shadow. This was very dangerous in any building in Ta-Metru, where there was warm lighting just about everywhere; let alone the Great Furnace. Nidhiki had hoped to find a Kanohi Komau in the racks but unfortunately had no such luck with the first rack and couldn’t afford to dive into the other pits and search.

 

            Takua and Vakama weren’t in a very safe spot, but Nidhiki thought the creature was more concerned about dealing with him. It’d be dumb for it to waste time searching the pit and risk letting Nidhiki run away, especially since the creature saw him using the Kualsi. Indeed, as soon as Nidhiki dropped into a different room, the creature came barreling through the wall. The path Nidhiki had baited the creature into following was away from where the Ta-Matoran were hiding and towards the outskirts of the factory, where the chances of putting innocent Matoran in danger were low. Hiding was Nidhiki’s priority right now, but he was also considering what the best course of action for attacking was. He thought of finding a Pakari and using the strength it would provide for firing projectiles at the creature as a sneak attack. His reasoning was that the floor the creature stepped on and the objects he approached weren’t aging the way Lhikan and his elemental attacks did; therefore, the power the creature held must have been one that required activating rather than a passive one.

 

            Nidhiki swapped his Volitak for the Kualsi again and teleported to a rack once the monster left the room. He quickly found what he was looking for: a Kanohi Pakari. There was also a Komau, to boot. The Toa took both and used the Kualsi to teleport to the floor. He removed the Kualsi and equipped the Komau, activating its power of invisibility. Nidhiki chased after the creature into a circular room with a vat of Molten Protodermis in the middle. He smiled, it was perfect for his plan. The Toa of Air scaled the circular wall, using as footholds the pipes lining it and the indentations formed in the metal of the wall itself, until he reached a catwalk. The noise coming from the machinery all around disguised his climb. The catwalk jutted out a few meters out of the walls and formed a cross shape in the center above the vat. Nidhiki pulled loose a small cylindrical piece of the railing. He walked closer to the center of the catwalk to figure out what the optimal angle for the throw was. The creature below was standing in front of the pit. Nidhiki couldn’t ricochet the shot against the wall and risk alerting the creature or accidentally hit one of the poles supporting the catwalk, but he also did not have a clear shot. He decided to turn back and stay hidden for the moment and wait for the monster to move into a better position.

 

            As Nidhiki turned around, his senses were shocked by a warped perception of time. The monster below had spotted Nidhiki and was waiting for him to get into a good position for firing its Rhotuka at him. It knocked off one of the poles with its claw. The true attack was the power the touch carried: the power to accelerate time. The pole softened into mush from the combination of heat and rapid aging. The effect spread to the entire catwalk, with the whole thing coming down. Nidhiki’s perception of time slowed down to a crawl, with seconds turning into hours. The catwalk’s destruction had a far graver consequence: he was falling straight into the vat of Molten Protodermis. His mind wasn’t concerned with what awaited below but with thinking how to take the monster down with him. Despite having hours to think during his elongated fall, he was unable to come up with anything he could do with such slow movements. Time suddenly accelerated, and both the fall and his death blended into one. Nidhiki didn’t have time to become aware of it; he only wondered what he could have done to avenge his friend.

 

 

 

4

 

            It’s been hours since Toa Nidhiki left. I dare not move, but the Chronicler seems to be getting antsy. Oh, dear. Takua is digging himself out of the pile of masks. “We have to stay put.” I reminded him. “Toa Nidhiki said not to move.” No reply. I’ve known Takua for a very long time and not once has he failed to talk back when scolded. “Takua?”

 

            “I’m worried.” he replied. “It’s been too long, he should be back by now.”

 

            “Maybe he chased the creature off into a horde of Vahki as a distraction and wound up getting caught. It’s not an optimal plan, but escaping the Vahki seems easier than escaping that thing.”

 

            “No, he wouldn’t risk putting the rest of the Metru in danger. He’d try to defeat it here.”

 

            “I suppose.” I said after a short pause. Takua surfaced and I followed him out. Toa Lhikan’s corpse and the Mask of Time were there. I fitted a ceremonial mask from the pit we were in upon the Toa’s head and left him to become one with Mata Nui. Takua picked up the Mask of Time.

 

            “You can stay hidden here, but I’m gonna go find him.”

 

            “What about the creature?”

 

            “I’ll go down that chute when I get to it.” he responded cheekily, slipping back into his normal self. I could not muster up the courage to say I would join him. I just stood in silence as he started walking away.

 

            “Wait, Takua. At least take a disk launcher. There should be one near—T-Takua!” I screamed out to him. The creature had emerged behind him. Takua didn’t spare a second and ran towards me. We both ran into the room ahead of us… a dead end! The creature is approaching slowly, but it’s not openly hostile the way it was towards the Toa. I—I can’t do anything. Takua is hurriedly grabbing disks from the table behind us, but all I can do is kneel on the floor cowering.

 

            “C’mon, Vakama! I need your help!” He begins while scrambling across the table. “Here’s a teleportation disk. Keep it handy, it’s our escape route. There’s a stack of weaken disks over there. I’m gonna keep throwing them at that thing to keep it busy. When you see an opening, hit it with that miniaturization disk. If we fail, throw your teleportation Kanoka at me. I have one for throwing at you. If we do it at the same time, both of us get to teleport outta here. We could end up anywhere in Metru Nui, but it’s better than being trapped here. If we die, no one will know about it. No matter where we end up, the plan will be finding help.”

 

            Takua sounds a lot like Jala, a Ta-Matoran who leads a faction of rebels. He’s responsible and has a strong sense of justice. Just about the opposite of Takua… yet Takua is showing courage in the face of a creature that Toa were no match for. It is almost—no, it is inspiring. “Alright, open fire!” I shouted, standing up. Takua flings disk after disk at the slowly approaching creature. All the disk turn to nothing as they get close it… but they’re slowly gaining ground! The disks are still disappearing but they’re getting closer. Takua’s running out, though. I can’t wait for a better opening, this is it!

 

 

 

5

 

            Vakama threw the Kanoka of miniaturization at the oncoming creature. The barrage of weaken disks were seemingly distracting the monstrous creature, but it still made short work of the miniaturization disk. The creature aged every disk that approached it to the point that they broke off into powerless particles of Protodermis that seemingly disappeared. The Matoran were left with no more ammo and no choice but to escape.

 

            The creature stood still for a moment, piquing Takua’s curiosity. “Takua! We have to escape!” yelled Vakama. The monstrosity suddenly lurched forward and dashed at them, this time startling Vakama. The creature made it to their room but did not attack the Ta-Matoran. It acted as if they were not in the room. It moved towards the table at the back of the room, which the Matoran had moved away from. Takua realized what it was after: the Kanohi Vahi.

 

            “It doesn’t care about us; it wants the Mask of Time!” Takua yelled as he lurched forward. Vakama ran towards the creature as well.

As the two got close, time froze. The hulking beast had placed the Mask of Time upon its face. After what felt like an eternity to the two Matoran, time resumed at an incredible pace. Matoran came and went into the room in the blink of an eye, unaware of the three beings standing frozen in the room. There was an explosion, the room blew up and left behind a view of the Great Furnace as a mountain of rubble. Ship flew above, dropping bombs. All the buildings in Metru Nui were razed. The skyline was gone; the Great Coliseum was no more. Troops marched back and forth, elemental blasts flashed. They were witnessing a war sped up to occur in seconds. Night and day cycled thousands of times until the two suns shone no longer. The fires that burnt brightly seconds prior were now extinguished. There was only stillness. For the first time since the creature donned the Mask, the two Matoran only witnessed a static image. The universe itself was dead. A blinding light slowly encompassed their view. Standing still and unable to move, the Matoran could do nothing but wait until the light reached them. As it did, blackness followed. They slipped into unconsciousness.

 

 

 

6

 

            I can hear waves crashing. A sound foreign to me yet recognizable from the rare visit to Ga-Metru. I wake up and finally regain control after the nightmarish episode I went through before going unconscious. I don’t know how I’ve retained my sanity. I’m on a beach. I’m not sure what happened, but I’m clearly not in Metru Nui. There’s a lot of vegetation inland and no visible islands in the horizon.

 

            “Hey, what are you doing here?”

 

            I turn around and see someone approaching from the forest. It’s a hideous, horrifying monster. I have nothing to defend myself with. I can only hope it’s friendly.

 

            “You, what are you doing on Voya Nui? Are you an envoy from Metru Nui? Where’s your boat?”

“I—I washed ashore. I cannot explain why I’m here. I don’t remember anything.” I lie. This brutish figure is certainly not going to believe me.

 

            “Y’know, on any other day I’d drive my harpoon through your armor for wasting my time, but I just had a great Hoi Turtle soup, so I’ll play nice. I’m Vezok. This is Voya Nui. You’re our slave now.

 

            “O—our?”

 

            “Yeah, me and the rest of the Piraka.” Piraka… a vulgar word in Matoran language meaning murderer or thief. “Me and Avak are going fishing and you’re coming as our deckhand. Avak! You coming?” Another Piraka emerges from the brush. I suppose this one’s Avak, He’s larger and more intimidating than the comparatively slim Vezok. Judging by the shape of their heads, I’m guessing they are Skakdi. Vezok’s blue armor indicates that he controls the element of water. Avak’s brown armor implies he controls stone.

 

            “If you rush me again, I’ll see to it that your room in the stronghold is renovated into a torture chamber.” Skakdi cannot control their elemental powers the way Toa do; they require the presence of another Skakdi to be able to use their powers. I suppose this is why they’re working together despite not getting along.

 

            “Look, I found a Matoran who claims he can’t remember anything.”

 

            “You don’t need memories to work hard.” Avak addresses me directly. “If you slack off, you’re bait for the Takea sharks.” I nod. Being stuck on a boat with them will be a problem. It’d be much easier to slip away from them in the forest. Oh, well. It is what it is. I have no idea if Takua or that monster are on this island. I have no idea what to do.

 

            “Hey, don’t lag behind! Keep up!” Vezok yells at me. He and Avak are walking towards a skiff docked some distance away. I suppose I’ll have to play along for now.

 

 

 

7

 

            Vakama set off with the two Piraka on their fishing skiff. They sailed for about an hour until they stopped at their preferred fishing spot. Vakama was forced to keep the deck clean and work the rigging. It was a brand-new experience for him. Avak sailed while Vezok kicked back in a chair on deck. He occasionally looked at Vakama smugly. Vakama realized that he was doing Vezok’s job. Once they started fishing, it was Vakama’s job to put away the catches in ice below the deck. After the third trip below deck, Vakama’s view of the sea was different. There was a massive war galleon getting closer. Vezok and Avak were standing attention, reading their weapons to fire with the might of their combined elemental powers. As soon as they saw a certain figure on deck, they dropped their weapons and their faces turned stern and respectful; a stark contrast to their normal roguish and crass expressions. The ship got close enough to lower a gangplank onto the skiff. A figure walked across the plank and onto the skiff. It was a regal knight clad in white armor. Tall and dignified, he addressed the Piraka: “You are fishing in unauthorized waters. Return to your island or suffer the consequences.”

 

            Vakama’s eyes widened as his memory was able to identify the imposing figure: it was Pridak. Once the unofficial leader of the League of Six Kingdoms, now a casualty of Turaga Dume’s war machine. He wondered how Pridak could be standing before him.

 

            “The League of Five Kingdoms bids you farewell, Piraka.” Pridak turned to look at Vakama. “You, Matoran. Come with me.” He returned to his ship as Vakama hurriedly followed him. Vezok and Avak looked dejected. Vezok picked up his harpoon from the ground, perhaps entertaining the idea of plunging it into Pridak’s back. The thought was quickly snuffed out when he saw the cannons on the galleon being aimed at the skiff. Avak quickly took the helm and retreated.

 

            “Guess we’re not getting anything this season either. We lost a set of hands, too. If you numbskulls let me breed the Rahi instead of greedily killing them and making a feast every day, we wouldn’t be having this food shortage problem.” Avak snarled angrily. Vezok snapped back with a few choice words that would get him kicked out of any reputable establishment in Metru Nui.

 

            On the war galleon, Vakama was guided below decks by Pridak. “You’re welcome.” said the warlord. “I do not tolerate slavery. You’ll be taken to Stelt. You seem to be a Ta-Matoran, I’d suggest you seek work at a foundry. Slavery is not tolerated but neither is laziness. If you do not work, you’ll be sent to the fighting pits. I’m sure you do not want to end up there.”

 

            Vakama thanked Pridak for giving him the opportunity to escape. “Might I ask, warlord, why are you alive?”

 

            “What do you mean?”

            “When Turaga Dume’s forces invaded Stelt, you were brought back as a war prisoner and executed publicly at the Great Coliseum.”

 

            “What are you talking about? Turaga Dume would never invade my territory; Metru Nui does not have a military force strong enough to pull off such a feat. He is smart enough to realize that. Our swift defeat of the Brotherhood of Makuta a decade ago and lack of hesitation in executing the treacherous Takadox earned us the respect of every power from Metru Nui to the farthest islands south of the Southern Continent. Are you well, Matoran? Did the Piraka do something to you to alter your memories?”

 

            “Y-yes, I am well. I do not know what I was thinking. I suppose my lack of rest is catching up to me.” Vakama lied to end the conversation.

 

            “Very well. We will be arriving at Stelt within the hour. I have other matters to attend. I welcome you in advance to my kingdom.”

Vakama understood he was in a different timeline. He was in a world where Turaga Dume didn’t fall into decadence and desire to conquer the Matoran Universe; where the League of Six Kingdoms was the League of Five Kingdoms and they were in control.

 

            Once the ship arrived at Stelt, Vakama hurriedly got to land. Unsure of what to do, he wandered aimlessly for hours around the merchant district hoping to clear his mind. As he reached the end of a road and turned to what seemed like the residential area, Vakama froze in fear. The hulking creature from before was standing in front of him.

 

            “Matoran… stop. I need help.”

 

 

 

8

 

            “Time. Time. Time. Time. Time. Must find the Mask of Time. Must return to the Shadowed One. Must reach a new world. Stelt. Home. Past.” Many thoughts raced across Voporak’s head. He used to be a member of the ruling class of Stelt until he was betrayed by his friend, Sidorak. He was sold to the Brotherhood of Makuta. With the help of Roodaka, they mutated him, and he became a being driven solely by one instinct: finding the Mask of Time. Upon finding the Mask of Time, Voporak discovered a new instinct: to hone its powers. He donned the mask and discovered he alone could unlock its true potential: to reverse time and see it take a different course. This action usually caused the destruction of the mask; but this latest time, the mask survived the trip. Moreover, two Matoran were brought with him. They each appeared in a different place at a different time. Voporak could sense when they arrived and where they were. Every time he reset time, he would arrive in his homeland at the beginning of time itself, and every time he’d be drawn to killing his self from that universe. This time, he did not. Instead, he lived out his life in silence watching his other self from afar. When the time came that his other self was supposed to become the monster he is now, he interfered and allowed his other self to escape. In the ensuing conflict, he forced Roodaka to shoot him with an antidote Rhotuka. She obliged, and his sanity returned. Voporak then went into seclusion to wait for the two Matoran who came with him to this new world. However, Voporak also senses something very wrong with the fabric of time and space…

 

 

 

9

 

            Vakama was skeptical but did not sense hostility from Voporak.

 

            “I was going to Voya Nui… but sensed your approach. I need help… I need the Mask of Time. It is only half a mask…”

 

            “What about Takua?”

 

            “The other one… Voya Nui.”

 

            “We will find Takua first and then I’ll help you with the Mask of Time.”

 

            “Hold… There is more you must know…”

 

 

 

10

 

            The ground is shaking. I can hear muffled explosions and metal clashing. I have to wake up, what’s going on? This place… a fortress? The caches of weapons nearby seem to imply so… but it’s awfully overrun with combatants to be a fortress. If your walls break down and allow the enemy in, that turns your fortress into a battlefield. That’s a Makuta if I ever saw one. No idea who he’s fighting, though. Not that it matters to me right now, I have to get out of here.

 

            “You, there! Who are you!” Uh oh, he finished fighting that guy. Oof, heads should not twist that way.

 

            “Um… I was sent from Metru Nui.”

 

            “Tell Dume that Teridax is too busy to go back to his post.”

 

            “Icarax! Help me set up a barricade! Wait… who’s that?” Uh oh, someone else came.

 

            “He says he’s from Metru Nui.”

 

            “You’re such a fool. He’s clearly a spy; why would he be within our fortress’ walls if he was just trying to deliver a message? Furthermore, why would Dume try to send us a message? He made it clear to Teridax that he supports the kingdoms.”

 

            “A-actually, he said he was wrong. He wants to help the Makuta win the war.” What’s going on? Dume had Makuta Teridax executed ages ago. Unless…

 

            “Gorast, it’s just a Matoran. Let’s take him to Teridax and hear what he has to say. If we don’t like it, just throw him in the Kraata pit.” That’s… an undesirable fate. I need to slip away from them.

 

            “Stick close to us. Try something funny and you’re Kraata food.” said the scary one called Gorast. All I can do is follow them. I guess I’m in a different timeline where Dume didn’t get greedy. Ugh, we’re here already? Usually the throne room is deeper into the fort. I didn’t get a chance to escape. Guess I’ll have to improvise.

 

            “Makuta Teridax, this Matoran says he was sent from Metru Nui.” said Icarax.

 

            “What does Dume want with me? I believe he told me that my work was unsatisfactory. When I humbly asked for his help against my aggressors, he told me that Pridak was a better ruler. What could he possibly have to say now?” He slowly and intimidatingly got closer to me as he spoke.

 

            “Turaga Dume apologizes. He saw the atrocities that Pridak is committing and wishes to ally himself with you.” I bluff. There’s a mask hung on the wall next to me. It feels like it’s calling to me.

 

            “What atrocities? Pridak is ruthless, but not cruel. He’s only attacking me because I conspired with Takadox. You’re a spy. Take him away. Do as you please with him.”

 

            I can’t say grabbing the mask and trying it on is a smart move, but I also can’t say I have anything better to try. Whoa. I grabbed the mask and put it on and I feel a strange sensation. I think… I’m changing! My limbs… my torso… they’ve gotten longer. My armor… I… I’m a Toa! Not a Toa of Fire, a Toa of… Shadow? My armor is umbral. My thoughts… such thoughts of destruction…

 

            “That was the Mask of Light. It was a threat to me, but I couldn’t find a way of destroying it, so I turned it over to Chirox and Mutran. They discovered that it contained a bounty of light for Kraata to feast on… and the space left behind was perfect for filling with shadows. You’re an Av-Matoran, yet you’re now a Toa of Shadow.”

 

            These thoughts… I can’t get them off my mind… The desire to destroy, to burn, to pillage, to dismember, to desecrate… Is this what it feels like to have darkness coursing through you? Is this what it feels like to be a Makuta? To be consumed with the need to bring pain and suffering…

 

            “I planned on trying out the experiment with Turaga Dume’s mask. He fired me from my position before I was able to, but I’m glad to see the experiment found a practical use in the end.”

 

            Is this what he did to the Dume from my universe?

 

            “I’ll have you go to Voya Nui so you can retrieve something for me. Actually, don’t retrieve it. Guard it. I can’t risk someone intercepting it. Once it’s safe, I’ll send someone to escort you back. There’s no risk of anyone impersonating my messenger; only those of us in this room know about this. In fact…”

 

            I instinctively acted as Teridax signaled, as if he uploaded his instructions to my brain just with the motion of his finger. He tossed a spear my way, which I swung at the two Makuta who escorted me here. I tore them in half with a single motion.

 

            “Your brute strength is impressive; I expected you to have some trouble taking down two of my soldiers. All the light has been drained from the mask, yet your body is still able to channel latent light powers. Still, all the Kraata that corrupted that mask come from my own essence. Your actions cannot betray my will. Go to Voya Nui and seek out the Mask of Life. You’ll find clues there. I don’t know if the island is still inhabited. If it is, do not arouse suspicion from the locals. Act like a benevolent Toa. If it’s deserted of Matoran and only the guardians of the Chamber of Life remain, do as you must. I cannot tell you when you will hear from me, so be patient. Your loyalty will be rewarded upon your return.”

 

            “Yes, Makuta. I will guard the Mask of Life.” I don’t have much choice; my will is controlled by him. I’ll just have to endure the boredom and take it out on the rest of the universe when I return.

 

 

 

11

 

            No… It can’t be. Takua…

 

            “I see the doubt in your eyes. My visions… are infallible. Takua is now Takanuva… Toa of Shadow.” he says, forbidding my denial.

 

            “Then… what? What is the point?”

 

            “The Mask of Time… if completed, we can turn back this timeline… we can save him from Makuta.”

 

            “Then we go to Metru Nui first. How will we find the disks?”

 

            “No need… I already asked… Toa will meet us here soon…”

 

            “Toa?” I asked.

 

            “We have the disks.”

 

            It’s Toa Lhikan and Toa Nidhiki. They’re alive!

 

            “What you predicted… it all came true. We… agreed to trust you. It took some doing, but we got what you requested and came here at the agreed date.” Toa Lhikan handed him the disks.

 

            “Thank you… Toa… I apologize… for dishonoring your other selves…”

 

            “What other selves?” asked Toa Lhikan.

 

            “In another world… I killed you. I apologize.”

 

            “I… don’t follow” answered a bewildered Toa Lhikan.

 

            “Look, we need to quick-move. Enemies are marching on Metru Nui as we idle-speak. The League of Five Kingdoms betrayed us. Best-luck to you.” The two Toa dashed away.

 

            What? I was speaking to Pridak hours ago… He didn’t have any reason for attacking Metru Nui…

 

            “What I mentioned… Timelines converging… universes melding… what happened in other worlds will happen here. Time and space growing unstable… unless the Mask of Time is made whole.”

 

            “Very well, I’ll get to work.”

 

            Again, the Disk of Time guided my hand. The final result will be the same mask.

 

            “Um… you said your name was…?”

 

            “Voporak.”

 

            “Right. The Disk of Time is influencing the way the mask is crafted. I cannot make any shape other than that of the one you have.”

 

            “Exert you will over the disk. Imagine how it would look as a completed mask… craft the shape using your instincts.”

 

            I take one last look at the mask he holds in his hands and close my eyes. If the mask I made earlier is the bottom, I imagine what its top would look like. I replicate its design language… two triangular prongs top off the existing mask’s cheeks. The texture extends to cover the whole face. More triangular prongs adorn the top. The circular indentation at the bottom is reflected at the top, like an hourglass. I open my eyes and see the fruit of my labors. It looks well enough, but Voporak looks at it grimly.

 

            “It’s powerless… your will did not overpower the disk’s destiny. Not all is lost… Artakha can help… He has the Mask of Creation… Takanuva… he guards the Mask of Life. We will give Artakha the Mask of Life.”

 

 

 

12

 

            Vakama and Voporak gathered supplies in preparation for their journey to Voya Nui. Vakama purchased a disk launcher and a special dagger. They acquired a boat and set off. Pridak’s mobilization of his armada to Metru Nui made for clear waters. Many hours later, they arrived at the island. They made their way inland, with Voporak’s detection of Takanuva guiding their way. Getting close to the Piraka’s stronghold, they treaded carefully to avoid alerting the Piraka of their presence. Undetected, they made it to a cave mouth that Voporak indicated led to the Mask of Life. Once they entered the cave, Vakama was startled by a horrifying sight: Vezok, whose legs were gone, desperately trying to crawl up the stairs.

 

            “Vezok! What happened?” Vakama ran down the stairs to where Vezok’s reduced form struggled to move. Voporak trailed behind.

 

            “You… turn back… run…” Vezok stopped struggling and his life faded away.

 

            “Timelines converging… In other worlds, the Piraka wanted the mask… They suddenly hungered for it… They fought against each other… Takanuva defeated the rest.” The Piraka were compelled by their wills from other universes to seek out the Mask of Life, but only found death.

 

            Vakama’s heart was overcome with fear but stoked with anger. He stepped next to Vezok’s corpse and continued to walk downward. Vakama rummaged through the pack of supplies Voporak carried. He loaded a Kanoka onto his launcher and kept more on hand. He also uncovered the dagger he bought. It was sensitive to latent elemental powers. Voporak told him that, in other universes, he was destined to become a Toa. That meant Vakama could channel elemental powers from the dagger, though not of potency anywhere close to those of a Toa.

 

            “Timelines converging… maybe you will draw more power than expected.” Voporak shared. This didn’t put Vakama at ease, but it strengthened his resolve.

 

            “We’ll get the mask and turn Takanuva back to normal.” he said, trying to assure himself that they’d be able to achieve their impossible goal.

 

            The stairs led them to a chamber glowing with broken red lightstones. There were scorch marks all over the cavern.

 

            “This is the Chamber of Death… those seeking the mask must make a sacrifice to move on… but the Piraka broke the chamber.” Voporak explained.

 

            “And Takanuva broke the Piraka. That’s… really not a comforting thought.” Vakama lamented. They continued their descent and Vakama’s spirits were not lifted by the sight of Protodax corpses strewn about, nor a shattered Kanohi Ruru.

 

            “The guardians were killed…”

 

            “Was it

Edited by Toa of Gallifrey

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Thank you so much for the time and effort you invested in creating this adventure for all of us to enjoy.

 

And wow, what a crazy adventure it was!

I love that you intertwined so many different threads of characters and plotlines together to create this story. I especially appreciate your explanation for Vakama's visions as residual memories from all the time-skips.

 

At first I wondered if Nidhiki had his own Suva with masks, but the idea of him swapping out masks as he jumped around scrounging for them definitely seems like something he would do. A shame both he and Lhikan had to die but you used Voporak's powers well with how he handled the battle.

 

Time is a hard thing to navigate but I think you did a good job. A couple of times I had to go back and reread a paragraph to try to understand the passage of time - such as Voporak explaining how he and Vakama and Takua had managed to survive to an alternate timeline with the Vahi intact. That was another piece I really liked, the fact that each being seemed linked to every version of themselves through each timeline. That in itself is a story worth pursuing.

 

Oh and when you explained that the Avohkii had been drained by Kraata? What a move! I can really see Teridax pulling something like that, but wow good on him for coming up with it!  :P

 

I hope you had fun writing this. It was a pleasure to read!

Edited by Torran
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Thank you so much for the time and effort you invested in creating this adventure for all of us to enjoy.

 

And wow, what a crazy adventure it was!

I love that you intertwined so many different threads of characters and plotlines together to create this story. I especially appreciate your explanation for Vakama's visions as residual memories from all the time-skips.

 

At first I wondered if Nidhiki had his own Suva with masks, but the idea of him swapping out masks as he jumped around scrounging for them definitely seems like something he would do. A shame both he and Lhikan had to die but you used Voporak's powers well with how he handled the battle.

 

Time is a hard thing to navigate but I think you did a good job. A couple of times I had to go back and reread a paragraph to try to understand the passage of time - such as Voporak explaining how he and Vakama and Takua had managed to survive to an alternate timeline with the Vahi intact. That was another piece I really liked, the fact that each being seemed linked to every version of themselves through each timeline. That in itself is a story worth pursuing.

 

Oh and when you explained that the Avohkii had been drained by Kraata? What a move! I can really see Teridax pulling something like that, but wow good on him for coming up with it!  :P

 

I hope you had fun writing this. It was a pleasure to read!

Thank you! I had a real blast writing it.

 

I'm very glad you liked the ending with Vakama, I was concerned about it seeming like a cheap fansevice-y move.

 

Initially, Nidhiki's mask-swapping was just gonna be via Suva but I thought that it wouldn't make sense for the Toa to have Suvas if they're on the run, so the idea for the Kanohi pits was born. That also made the Great Furnace seem more interesting and akin to how it was portrayed in LoMN and gave Nidhiki an environment much better suited to what I envisioned to be his fighting style. I wanted to give the next universe's Toa more of a role but I could only work in getting the disk off scene and going back to fight, since anything else I thought of just led to weird side trips that hurt the pacing and contributed nothing of value. A prototype example that made it to serious consideration was showing a battle in Metru Nui and having Vakama participate with some unique Stelt masks that functioned for Matoran. This was when the idea was for Vakama and Voporak to get the disks themselves (probably via montage as setting up a new adventure for a single disk, let alone six, would've dragged on with little payoff). When the mask was replaced with the dagger that made into the final cut (a less contrived way of giving Vakama something to fight with other than a disk launcher) and the final battle was moved from the Archives to the Chamber of Life (too cool a setting to pass up), the Toa's roles were shifted into what ended up as the final product. The only thing from all that I would've liked to incorporate was showing off Pridak in combat, which I'd still like to do as I'd like to explore this particular universe in more detail someday.

 

I wanted to avoid involving more than one Takua or Vakama in the story. I had to address the Voporak of this next universe, but that as the extent to which I wanted to involve a duplicate of the three main characters; mostly because I didn't wanna deal with having to keep clear who was who to the reader, since the language would get repetitive. Not to mention that I didn't have any fun ideas for them. I definitely wanted to keep a strong connection between the alt universe characters and their core counterparts, which is why it was implied implied that Teridax had Kraata'd Dume's mask in the universe the story started off with before being done in by the Dume he'd created; that in itself tying into Makuta's impersonation of Dume in the core universe.

 

The initial idea had Takua die with Nidhiki and Lhikan and only Vakama would've made the jump to a new universe where he'd have gained powers similar to Voporak's (albeit much weaker) and journey to find Voporak through a couple different universes, with time passing faster and characters becoming more distant to their core universe counterparts with each jump. I always wanted Voporak to play a more heroic role after a certain point so I just streamlined the story into working with that aspect as the main mechanic. Takua then found himself a role as the antagonist in the form of a Shadow Takanuva, which is an idea I borrowed from another fanfic I was working on (which helped me test the waters for him and got me excited enough to consider bring back that other fanfic from the mothballs if a couple other things click). The Kraata pit Gorast mentioned was my initial idea, but the corrupted Avohkii worked much better with the story and definitely felt better to me. I wanted Teridax to be an indirect antagonistic force, even posthumously.

 

Sorry for the walls of text, it's just too much fun to talk about the process of writing this.

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If it was a cheap fanservice-y move then considered me fanserviced.  :D

 

I think you made a good call not including the Toa's adventures to retrieve the disks. It made it seem like that universe was still running on its own, rather than needing Vakama to show up for any action to ensue. Voporak was already at work preparing for Vakama's arrival, so the Toa arriving when they did having already accomplished the mission allowed you to not need to explain how Voporak convinced them to trust him.

 

Getting just the glimpse of "heroic" Pridak was chilling - the Barraki are some great characters with lots of malleable story threads.

 

It was a good twist having Takua think he would somehow rise above the challenge by donning the Avohkii, only to have it turn him into the opposite of who he was meant to be. And then to have him plead with Vakama at the end in the brief moment of old-Takua - solid.

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