Jump to content

  • Log in with Facebook Log in with Twitter Log In with Google      Sign In   
  • Create Account

Welcome to BZPower!

Hi there, while we hope you enjoy browsing through the site, there's a lot more you can do if you register. The process is easy and you can use your Google, Facebook, or Twitter account to make it even faster. Some perks of joining include:
  • Create your own topics, participate in existing discussions, and vote in polls
  • Show off your creations, stories, art, music, and movies and play member and staff-run games
  • Enter contests to win free LEGO sets and other prizes, and vote to decide the winners
  • Participate in raffles, including exclusive raffles for new members, and win free LEGO sets
  • Send private messages to other members
  • Organize with other members to attend or send your MOCs to LEGO fan events all over the world
  • Much, much more!
Enjoy your visit!

Photo

The Best Kept Secrets


  • Please log in to reply
25 replies to this topic

#1 Offline The Dandy Automaton

The Dandy Automaton
  • Premier Member
  • Premier Outstanding BZP Citizens
  • FFM Bionicle Winner

  • 8,007 posts
  •   Outstanding BZPower Citizen

Posted Dec 28 2011 - 04:23 PM

Chapter 1: LifeSiril marched the lonely wastelands, scanning the barren ground for distant prey. The Skrall paused and held his armoured hand over his eyes, shading himself from an aggressive sun. Something was moving behind the rocks. And he could tell it wasn’t an unsuspecting Sand Fox.Cautiously, he took a step forward and placed his hand on the hilt of his sword. There. A figure shifted slightly, ducking down lower behind the rocky formations. Whatever it was, it clearly did not want to be discovered.Too late for that, Siril mused. He tensed himself, pulling his sword from its leather sheath and readying his shield at his side. Steadily placing one foot in front of the other, he shifted steadily closer.It was then that the emerald armoured figure burst from its hiding spot and charged towards Siril, a wicked looking blade steady in front of it.It all occurred too quickly for Siril to register. At first the attacker struck out at his left side, so the Skrall instinctively raised his shield. With lightning fast speed, so his eyes could barely keep up, the blade clashed against the shield just as a foot lashed against Siril’s shins.The Skrall hit the ground hard, his blade sliding out of his reach. Slowly, he looked up, blinking the dust from his eyes. The attacker stood above him, silhouetted by the sun behind him. Squinting, Siril managed to discern a shape and recognised the species. He was one of the newcomers, a Vortixx, if he remembered correctly.“Nothing personal, you know,” the assassin smirked, readying his blade above Siril’s mid-section, “it’s all just good business.”And with that, the Vortixx plunged down his sword into the Skrall’s stomach, the metal armour cracking audibly. A scream ripped from his lips, as scarlet mixed with dull brown beneath his twisted body.And then the Skrall went limp, a final breath seeping from his lifeless body.With a sigh, the Vortixx placed one foot onto his victim’s chest and pushed down as he tore the blade out of the corpse. The once-shining metal was now stained a dark red.“Ugh, that’s the trouble with natives around here. They just leave a mess instead of going quickly,” the assassin grumbled, pulling out a cloth from an armour compartment, to wipe his sword clean, before pausing and muttering irritably, “maybe now the queen of a Piraka might keep her word and free me…”“I wouldn’t count on it. You need to finish the job first.”With a yelp, the Vortixx turned and crashed to the ground in horror as he saw Siril’s corpse gently drag itself back to its feet. He stared, his eyes bulging out of their sockets as he watched the freshly torn hole in the middle of his victim’s body start to twist and shift, flesh beginning to knit itself back together in a horrific dance. Within seconds, the wound had healed itself, the torn armour remaining as the only reminder of the Vortixx’s attack.“H-how did you…”“Me? Believe me, I wish I knew,” he walked over to his blade, keeping his eyes locked on his attacker as he bent down, “I assume it’s a gift…Or a curse. I suppose either way it doesn't matter. But...I guess you could say that it means I’m immortal,” he began to walk forward, the stunned Vortixx in front of him desperately trying to crawl away, “you on the other hand, my friend…are not.”With that, Siril raised his blade above his head and brought it down on the cowering Vortixx. There was a sickening crack, followed by a squelch, then silence as the would-be assassin slumped down on the dirt.The fourth this week. Siril thought to himself. No coincidence, I guess. Somebody wants me dead, and fast. He thought back on the previous encounters, trying to piece together a theory out of what little evidence his attempted-killers had provided. So far, they had all confirmed their contractor – or at least one of them – to be female, which barely narrowed it down. He could assume them to have arrived from the other universe, but there was little evidence to suggest that either. So far, his assassination attempts had been carried out by a Skakdi, an Agori, a Toa and now a Vortixx.Siril also considered the quality of the assassins. They were all amateurs, with perhaps the exception of the latest attack, and they all displayed little subtlety. Whatever the case, these were not trained, professional assassins. They seemed more like they were picked up randomly from off of the streets. But what had the Vortixx just said?“Maybe now the queen of a Piraka might keep her word and free me…”By the tone of voice, Siril deduced the phrase “Queen of a Piraka” was a curse, but still logged it just in case it should prove useful. However, the idea that the Vortixx desired freedom intrigued him.He frowned, his brow pushing against itself as his stomach began to moan for attention. First Siril acquired this mysterious power and now someone is trying desperately hard to make sure he stays dead. This was not going to be easy.***The hooded figure gently began to ascend the stone steps, footsteps clanking in the empty air. He sniffed, the long-forgotten scent of age and power mingling together before reaching his nostrils underneath his helmet.The stranger outstretched his left arm and glided his hand against the rock wall. The tips of his armoured fingers brushed the ancient symbols adorning the tunnels, a language long since forgotten, the last remnants of a race now gone from living memory.Shadows danced on the wall behind the figure, cast by the torch light. In the distance, the figure could hear the scuttling of terrified rodents, unfamiliar with intruders breaking into their homes. But the cloaked figure carried on, as if unaware, with just one destination in mind, propelled onwards by a fierce determination for redemption.And at last he had arrived. Climbing the final step, the figure emerged into an enormous cavern, littered with enormous stalactites, dangling over the massive stalagmites, like the jaws of some vicious beast.And there, in the middle, stood the being’s prize. A wicked grin slashed across his ebony helmet, and he lowered his hood marching forward. His red eyes fixed themselves upon the centrepiece, a glimmering, purple blade streaked with whispers of black, embedded within the chest of a pile of rusting armour, which had long since lost its colour, surrendering it to rust. Three crimson rubies, embedded within the hilt of the sword, in a triangular formation shimmered in the blazing torchlight.He stretched out a lime green hand and coiled it around the hilt. The being stamped his foot down on the armour, causing it to shatter into thousands of empty pieces, whilst heaving upwards at the same time, with a deep grunt. The blade swung free for the first time in centuries, held high in the air.The figure grinned menacingly, already his plans flittering through his mind. Now, the fabled Kazyshian sword was in his grasp, he was promised certain victory in any battle. As if responding to his thoughts, the blade shimmered, and vibrated gently as if quivering with excitement at the blood it would now draw.They’ll see, the being thought, Now they’ll regret shunning me. Calling me weak. I will return to my people. And they. Will. See!With that, Tuma turned and marched down the steps once more.Review Topic

Edited by Sechs - King of Facade, Oct 14 2012 - 06:18 AM.

  • 0

shadowofthisredrock.png

Chapter four - Desire

Coming soon!

Short Stories: The Commute ~ Rasinov ~ In Your Absence ~ Hunter's Game ~ Suchia (Coming soon)

Epics: The Best Kept Secrets (Chapter 27: The Shadow Walker coming soon) ~ The Shadow of this Red Rock


#2 Offline The Dandy Automaton

The Dandy Automaton
  • Premier Member
  • Premier Outstanding BZP Citizens
  • FFM Bionicle Winner

  • 8,007 posts
  •   Outstanding BZPower Citizen

Posted Jan 11 2012 - 06:34 PM

Chapter 2: Atero NuiThe gleaming new city of Atero Nui buzzed with fresh excitement in the evening sun. The sky was dyed a brilliant red, streaked with grey clouds, whilst underneath Agori and Matoran mingled together, forming a thick crowd, with Toa and Glatorian sprinkled here and there amongst them.It was rare to see the two races mixing so contentedly, recent events withering their blooming relationship. Debates and feuds sparked in merely the first few days, souring any chances for co-existence. Several of the natives of Bara Magna were hostile, viewing the newcomers as mere automatons and blaming them for the widespread destruction their Makuta Teridax had wrought. The residents of the Mata Nui robot were distrustful of the natives, as several months of slavery would result in.Further rivalry developed during the construction of the city. The Po-Matoran gradually became controlling perfectionists towards the less skilled Agori, who protested against the harsh working conditions, yet refused to allow the city to be built without their participation. They viewed the city as a symbol of their union, and anything else to be an attempt at domination over them.Conditions worsened when an elderly Glatorian known as Harmaisis viciously attacked an unwitting Vortixx , in a fit of discriminatory rage, blinding her in one eye. During confrontation, Harmaisis vowed he would refuse to ever live with what he described as artificial life, and with a large group of like-minded individuals, he stormed away to live far in the desert.Now when the atmosphere was heavy enough to suffocate the two races, moods appeared to lighten when the city of Atero Nui was finally completed, named in honour of the once great fallen city in Bara Magna, and in respect to Mata Nui, the saviour of every living thing on the planet.And so, for the first time, the market district was filled to bursting point as traders and merchants set up shop, verbally clashing with each other in an attempt to win over the nearest buyer, their words sharper than any sword. And yet in this roar of battle, two voices echoed louder than any other.“Roll up, roll up, we’ve got fresh weapons here, fresh out of the oven and ready to sink into your nearest foe!”“We’ve got everything for the sadistic freak inside you. We’ve got swords, spears, scythes, bows, daggers, pots, pans, and even a rock for the adventurous sorts.”Gresh waded through the thick crowd of shoppers, navigating his way towards the source of the noise. As expected, an audience had gathered to gaze at the two merchants who stood proudly on a stage, on which was perched a stall covered in an assortment of all kinds of vicious looking weapons. Next to them stood an incredibly odd duo, both of whom almost appeared to be surrounded in an aura of mischievousness.“Xavor, please. I really don’t believe our beloved audience appreciate your cruel words,” one of the two said to the other, a wicked grin slashing across his features.“Neither do I imagine they appreciate your hideous face, my dear Zhorya,” the other retorted.Their armour and facial features made them instantly recognisable as natives of the now abandoned island of Xia. Gresh noted that they were both male, which was definitely surprising, given how even in the new world of Spherus Magna, the females still remained dominant in Vortixx society and only an incredibly small percentage decided to release their servants. The two were incredibly similar, both black and green in armour and with hauntingly similar facial features. Perhaps, their only discernible features was that the one who was referred to as Zhorya was slightly taller, with deep blue eyes, whilst Xavor was shorter had two striking red orbs.Gresh finished analysing them before eventually stepping forward and gently easing his way through the crowd stood at the front of the stage, looking up at the two. He puffed out his chest and took a deep breath, trying to muster some confidence. The jungle Glatorian may have fought in wars, but public speaking still made him feel uncomfortable.“Sorry, but could I interrupt you for a second?” he forced himself to say.The two paused and snapped their heads in the Glatorian’s direction. With grins as comforting as a Talon Snake, they took a step towards him.“I see we have a very eager customer here,” Xavor announced.“I wonder what’s put you in such a hurry. Who will you be offing tonight then?”Gresh cleared his throat, thankful for his helmet, as he could feel the blood rushing to his face as all eyes set on him.“I’d like to see your permit please,” he said.The two merchants eyes widened, the grins fading from their faces. Zhorya licked his lips nervously before saying, “Our what?”“Your permit. You can’t trade here without one. Especially not weapons.”The duo seemed taken aback for a split second, before they shared a swift glance and turned back, fresh grins stretching across their faces, “Well my my, such stern rules. I’ve never heard of one of these fabled perm-hits, have you Xavor?”“Never before, my good Zhorya. Please, tell us what great quest we must embark on to find this noble artefact.”“Or just point us in the right direction and we’ll get someone to do it for us.”“Look”, the jade armoured Glatorian sighed, “If you don’t have one, clear off. Come back next week and sort one out with Raanu.”“Or…”, Zhorya declared dramatically, holding his arm out to Gresh and looking out to his audience, “Or you let us stay now. And we shall tell thee a tale.”“Go. Now,” Gresh growled, his hand resting threateningly on one of his blades.“Very well, very well. We’ll go. We suppose you didn’t want to hear the rumours of Tuma rebuilding his army anyway.”The crowd around them hushed, the chatter that hummed in the background beginning to fade away. At this statement, heads began to turn to towards the stage.The two Vortixx grinned maliciously at each other, smiling in the same way some foul beast teases its unfortunate prey. They turned to their audience, then back to Gresh.“We’re leaving the option open,” Xavor chuckled toothily, as Zhorya walked slowly towards the stall, half-heartedly packing away their wares.Gresh struggled with himself, trying to force himself to walk away. He clenched his fists and gritted his teeth in frustration, his curiosity starting to get the better of him. If he were older and wiser, he would know to drop the subject and walk away, but as he was, rumours intrigued him. Tales were common these days, the slightest movement causing an avalanche of tales and warnings. But was there never truth to these? All rumours had to start somewhere.“What are you on about?” A nervous Agori in ebony armour yelled.“The Skrall are disbanded! Tuma’s gone! They’re lying!” Another villager roared, jabbing a finger in the Vortixx’s direction.Clearly loving being the centre of attention, the duo made a show of waving to the crowd and egging them on.“Oh, we tell no lies. But so sorry, we’re not allowed to stay. Maybe next time, in a week or so.” Xavor jeered, shooting a glare at Gresh.“Of course, there’s one way you could make us speak.” Zhorya yelled over the noise, indicating the Glatorian at the front.Gresh shrank at the pressure building up on top of him, the weight of hundreds of eyes bearing over him. He felt himself get smaller, the rush of shouts and demands overwhelming him. The anxiety only lasted a few seconds, but it was enough to break him.“Alright,” he yelled, his eyes clamped shut. The roar of voices faded slightly, “Alright, fine, I’ll…I’ll see what I can do. Stay. Just, go on, tell us whatever it is you know.”Just when it seemed impossible, the grins on the Vortixx’s faces widened further still. Xavor shot a wide smile at Gresh, saying, “We knew you’d see it our way,” before turning back to the crowd.“Well, seeing as you so politely allowed us to stay,” Zhorya announced to nobody in particular, “We’ll keep our end of the bargain.”“Tuma’s looking for something, known in Skrall legend as the Kazyshian sword,” Xavor declared, “And if he finds it…Well, hide in your tin cities, folks, because all of Karzahni will be let loose on you.”“And with the sword, Tuma’s honour is restored. The Skrall will follow him like hungry pets.”“And all of you lot have defeated them, shamed their army. Twice for some. If the Skrall unite again, they’re coming back to you with a vengeance.”Nobody was speaking anymore. The once bustling district was now still, each of the many numerous inhabitants holding their breath, like trees waiting for the breeze. The silence felt like it lasted eons, before a loud slapping noise, of metal and against metal pierced it. And again. And again.The crowd turned inwards, looking towards the centre until they found the source of the noise. A red and orange armoured Glatorian stepped forward, gently clapping his hands in a mock applause.“Lovely story, gentlemen, very entertaining,” Ackar said, none of the enthusiasm showing on his face, “I’ll compliment you on the imagination. One problem. I can’t see a shred of truth in there. I’ve never heard of a ‘Kazyshian sword’ and neither has anyone else here.”“You’re not meant to have,” Xavor growled, “It’s Skrall legend, Elder. The clue is in the title.”“There is no evidence,” Ackar snapped, his voice growing steadily sterner, which was beginning to make some of the villagers around him quiver, “That anything is occurring with the Skrall. I have assigned several of our best warriors to keep track of the more dangerous outlaws. So if you don’t mind, I’d appreciate it if you stopped spreading panic and worry and returned to your miserable job.”The last few syllables were practically a hiss, which made Gresh’s spine quake. Ever since Ackar had been made one of Atero Nui’s Elder’s his temper had grown shorter and his patience was exceedingly thin. It made the young Glatorian wonder if his age was truly starting to catch up on him.As for the two Vortixx, they stood in stunned silence, glaring viciously at the one who had dared challenge them. For a second, it looked like Xavor was about to say something, and Gresh noticed his arm flit into a compartment in his armour, where he seemed to pull out the corner of what appeared to be parchment, before thinking better of it and hiding it away, again.“Oh, and one last thing,” Ackar said, stepping up on the stage and frostily walking past the two merchants. He approached the rack of deadly looking weapons and picked up a particularly nasty looked spiked blade, clearly the kind for torturing the unfortunate receiver. “How much is this?”A vile grin darted across Zhorya’s face as he said, “Not as noble as we would have liked to have believed, are you? Now, that’s a very rare weapon, wielded by a very charming Skakdi Warlord.”“He saw himself as undefeatable,” Xavor nodded pensively, “We enjoy correcting the mistakes of others.”“So, I’d call that a very fine choice. If you’re willing to part with a fairly hefty portion of cash. Assuming you’re willing to use the traditional Matoran system until you get your little currency solved, we’d estimate a rough 10,000 widgets,” Zhorya summed up, while stretching out his palm.Ackar looked from the two Vortixx to the blade in his hand, then back again. He seemed to be making a decision, until with lightning fast speed, he whipped the sword downward on its side, sending it crashing down onto his knee, where it snapped with a painfully loud crack.“It’s counterfeit,” the Elder said smugly, tossing the broken edges to the feet of the stunned pair, “I just thought I’d let your audience see what they’re buying. In case you forget to mention, of course.”And with that, the Glatorian stepped down off of the stage and walked through the laughing and jeering crowd, not sparing Gresh a single glance, leaving his former comrade feeling curiously alone in a sea of villagers.Review Topic

Edited by The Wretched Automaton, Jan 14 2012 - 11:06 AM.

  • 0

shadowofthisredrock.png

Chapter four - Desire

Coming soon!

Short Stories: The Commute ~ Rasinov ~ In Your Absence ~ Hunter's Game ~ Suchia (Coming soon)

Epics: The Best Kept Secrets (Chapter 27: The Shadow Walker coming soon) ~ The Shadow of this Red Rock


#3 Offline The Dandy Automaton

The Dandy Automaton
  • Premier Member
  • Premier Outstanding BZP Citizens
  • FFM Bionicle Winner

  • 8,007 posts
  •   Outstanding BZPower Citizen

Posted Jan 14 2012 - 03:36 PM

Chapter 3: First BloodThe door exploded outwards as Ackar burst forward, barely contained anger seething from his tense form. In front of him, the other Elders of Atero Nui were gathered, eyes wide at his rude intrusion. They were Tarix, Raanu, Turaga Vakama, Toa Norik and Hydraxon. Next to them stood their assistant, a Steltian known as Thantox, who reacted with a start at the loud crash of the fuming Glatorian, and was now on the floor gathering a pile of dropped stone tablets.The enormous metal room surrounded him, lined with shelves filled with scrolls and tablets, records and histories from both societies. They were as neatly arranged as possible, but here and there a tablet had been clumsily stacked and fallen, crushing whatever was unlucky enough to be underneath. Besides from the other six inhabitants, the room was empty and every step the Glatorian took echoed noisily around him.Hydraxon raised himself from his stone seat to confront his livid partner, “Ackar, this is highly innapropria-”“Shut it.” Ackar responded shortly. He met Hydraxon’s glare, before turning to Turaga Vakama, “Xavor and Zhorya. Are those two names you’ve ever heard of?”The aged Turaga sat awhile in thought, contemplating deeply, “If ever I heard of them before, that was a long time ago. I’m afraid I can’t help you.”“What about you?” Ackar turned sharply towards Norik.“They ring a bell,” Norik sighed, “Not a strong one. But something. I’m not sure I may have heard of them somewhere in Stelt once.”At the mention of his homeland, the black and blue armoured Steltian raised his head and looked around. His pupils dilated as he noticed everyone was staring at him and he licked his lips nervously, “I…I might have heard of them. Are they…two Vortixx?”Ackar marched forward to face the kneeling assistant. “Where?” he demanded, “Who are they?”Thantox looked to the ground, a subtle anxiety holding him, “Well, I mean I don’t really know them…I’ve heard of them…Sort of. It’s just they were sort of regulars in Stelt. Used to frequent the inns. I mean, I never spoke to them, I just knew they were there. They were sort of loud and they had a lot of friends…Well, I wouldn’t say friends, they fought a lot. But, well, I guess there were people they spoke to.”“And can I ask what significance this has to anything?” Raanu interjected, “They sound vaguely unpleasant, but I don’t see how this is relevant to anything.”“They know.” Ackar barked, “They know about Tuma. How? We vowed to keep this secret and I don’t distrust a single one of you. So where did they get that information?”This caught the city’s Elder’s off-guard. The news that Tuma was trying to rebuild his army was horrifying enough, that they vowed to keep it secret from the population in order to prevent more mistrust and hatred. But now, there were two complete strangers, spreading rumours with possibly malicious intent.“We need to monitor them.” Tarix decided, “I don’t want to, but we don’t have a choice.”“What is this, the fiftieth group we’re tracking? We can’t build a society like this, Tarix.” Raanu sighed, holding his head in his hand.Vakama paused for a moment, “It would be unwise of us to send yet another of our people to watch them. I needn’t remind you how many of our agents have failed to return, and I’m reluctant to encourage that.”“So our option is cowardice,” Ackar fumed, “Do you even realise what they’re threatening? The social unrest and tension this could cause. We don’t need a threat of war hanging over Atero Nui when it’s on civilians are ready to slit each other’s throats.”“Be that as it may, Ackar, the Turaga raises a point,” Norik said calmly, “We can assume some of our agents are dead and I don’t see why we have to add to this list. We can’t keep sacrificing others purely because we don’t trust others.”“Then I’ll do it,” the crimson Glatorian decided, “I can hold my own in a fight, if it ever comes to it.”“No!” Hydraxon protested, “Your place is here with us, Ackar. You would shirk your responsibilities at the hint of a slight bit of unrest?”“This is not a slight bit of unrest, Hydraxon!” Ackar shouted, “This is dangerous! If they know about Tuma, they could know about anything else. And I want to know where they found this information from. So try to stop me if you have to, but you’ll just be unsuccessful.”Hydraxon leapt from his chair and raced towards Ackar. For a second it looked as though the two were about to brawl, before Hydraxon caught himself and stopped in his tracks. The two glared at each other, like two wolves ready to tear the throats out of one another, before they both turned away, Hydraxon returning to his seat and Ackar storming out again in the same manner he had entered.The silence was heavy as a mountain in the next few seconds, not a single one willing to disturb the atmosphere and instead opting to stare at the table in front of them, until Thantox bravely coughed into his fist and muttered, “So…About the currency?”***The beautiful landscape would forever be ingrained in Tuma’s mind. It had been a day since he stepped out of the ancient cavern, leaving the world of those who came before behind in pursuit of a new life, and a perfect new opportunity for redemption. His days mindless wandering had led him from the ancient desert into the brand new gleaming forest, raised from the very dirt by the immense powers of Mata Nui.The moonlight danced through the treetops, bathing his path in a gorgeous silver gleam. The trees were evenly spaced, leaving a clear path ahead of him with only a few mildly bothersome branches in his way. The calls of several different animals, whether indigenous creatures, or the immigrating Rahi, resonated around him in a gentle song, calming his nerves, as a cool breeze carried itself over to him and gently massaged him. And down by his feet quivered a terrified Metus.It was a truly beautiful scene.Tuma had been ambling through the scenery when he saw a white figure dart, in the distance. Out of sheer curiosity, the Skrall had kept an eye on the swift moving runner, keeping just far behind enough to stay out of sight, but to hear whatever it is the stranger was mumbling about. Something about a glowing monstrosity fighting a golden God. Whatever the maddened ramblings of this panicked figure, it meant nothing as soon as Tuma realised just who it was.A wolfish grin passed under the warriors scratched and dented helmet as he realised it was his darling traitor, the one who had allowed his fall to occur all that time ago. Alone and lost. Tuma had begun to move steadily faster, until he was practically bursting into a run, weaving through the trees, hoping to outrun his prey and him off. Eventually, he overtook him and finally leapt from his hiding spot.His old ally had frozen with fear when he witnessed the great Elite Skrall emerge from the trees, and a glance at the glowing sword now strapped to Tuma’s back had assaulted his mind like no other weapon, causing him to sink to his knees, whilst trembling.“Hello, Metus,” Tuma crooned, his voice now soft with a lack of usage. He waited patiently for the stammering Agori to say something before stepping forward and lashing his foot forward, connecting painfully with his former ally’s jaw, sending him sprawling across the forest floor in a hilariously comical fashion. “You never were good at showing respect for your superiors. I said, hello, Metus.”Metus sat up, rubbing his throbbing chin and trying desperately hard to avoid looking at his attacker. “Tuma…I…I didn’t expect to see you again.”“And neither did I expect to see you, friend,” Tuma growled, his words dripping with hostility. He took a step forward, which sent the Agori scrambling backwards, “Why are you scared? It’s as though you did something to betray me…”“B-Betray you? Never!” Stammered Metus, “I’d never…never betray you…Leader!”With a yell of fury, Tuma charged forward and wrapped his fist around the Agori’s neck. With a painful yank, he pulled Metus up to his helmet, so they could stare eye to eye.“You had planned all of this,” he snarled, “You wanted that golden freak show to defeat me. You wanted me to be humiliated, just so you could take it all from me. And you made me lose EVERYTHING! I EVER! LIVED FOR!”“That’s…that’s a bit extreme, don’t you agree?” Metus gulped, “I could never, never try to stop Mata Nui from defeating you.”“You didn’t have to stop him. You just didn’t have to start him.” Tuma was clenching his fist so tightly, his captive was writhing for breath, “If you WEREN’T trying to destroy me, if you’d LISTENED to me, you would have kept out of the way. But you ANTAGONISED him! You attacked his friends and for that I suffered!”“I-I did to!” Metus choked, gasping for breath underneath the huge metal fist, “I…Lost…Everything…Too…We’re…Not…Different.”“DON’T COMPARE YOURSELF TO ME, SNAKE!” Tuma threw Metus from his grasp, sending him flying into a tree. He breathed heavily, before composing himself and returning his attention to his captive, “But the question is, what now…?”Metus’ eyes bulged as he climbed to his feet, “Please, Tuma, I can help you. You want your respect back, I can get it.”“I don’t need you for that, Metus, I never did. And I definitely won’t, now that I have this.” From it’s scabbard, Tuma withdrew the glowing sword, lowering it down from his back.“Is that the…?”“So you recognise it, then” Tuma grinned, although not with the slightest hint of humour. This was more the grin in a curved blade as it sinks into the flesh of its victim, “The Kazyshian blade. A weapon from the ancients, destined to lead its wielder to victory.”“So…So, you will be waging a war. Against the Agori, right?”“There’s nobody else to worth fighting. Yet.”“Then we can fight them together! We’ve both been shamed by them and we deserve our revenge!”Strangely, the Kazyshian blade seemed to glimmer brighter than before, momentarily. It vibrated momentarily in Tuma’s hand and a wave of anger swept through him, “Together?! You will not be a part of this, traitor.”“No! Please, Tuma, I can help you! I can…I can use my skills. I can sneak back into society and I can help you again!”“They know what you are, Metus. They know you’re a filthy, pathetic liar and they will treat you as such. You have no use to me, or the Skrall army any more, rat.”Metus collapsed to his knees, “No, I have contacts. You need me!”“No, I don’t. Nobody does” Tuma said, coldly, a look of horror crossing the Agori’s face. The Kazyshian blade stirred again, momentarily, met by a fresh surge of aggression, “But I guess one thing you said was right. We do deserve our revenge.”The Agori began to back away as he saw Tuma raise his blade high above his head, before gently slowing down and stopping. Tuma emotionlessly studied his victim and his countenance which, as he threw his blade forward, changed from fear to an almost serene expression, as he closed his eyes and wordlessly stood completely still, even as the sword penetrated his armour, and blood seeped from the wound. There were no final words or curses, the Agori merely opened his eyes weakly and stared at his killer, and the Skrall could almost swear seeing a faint smile seep across the Agori’s face.Withdrawing the sword he looked down at it, preparing himself to have to clean it off, but was shocked instead to see it gleaming, as if brand new, not a single stain on it. The black veins still streaked up the purple metal like snakes, almost sparkling in its ethereal glow. Weirdly, it seemed to be glowing slightly brighter than beforehand.A moment of pity passed through Tuma’s mind as he looked down at his adversary. He looked strangely at peace and, if it weren’t for the huge hole in his chest, may have been sleeping. But he wasn’t. He was dead. Quite dead in fact, Tuma was sure.But the sympathy faded as quickly as it arrived, replaced now by a confidence and a new steadfast determination to prove himself. He had shamed himself with his defeat that short while ago, but now with the Kazyshian blade, it was all behind him. And proudly, he stepped over the body of the one who had taken it all from him once, moving onwards, now singlehandedly declaring war on all of Spherus Magna. The only thing that mattered to him now was who would fight for him, and who else would die by his blade.Review Topic
  • 0

shadowofthisredrock.png

Chapter four - Desire

Coming soon!

Short Stories: The Commute ~ Rasinov ~ In Your Absence ~ Hunter's Game ~ Suchia (Coming soon)

Epics: The Best Kept Secrets (Chapter 27: The Shadow Walker coming soon) ~ The Shadow of this Red Rock


#4 Offline The Dandy Automaton

The Dandy Automaton
  • Premier Member
  • Premier Outstanding BZP Citizens
  • FFM Bionicle Winner

  • 8,007 posts
  •   Outstanding BZPower Citizen

Posted Jan 18 2012 - 05:11 PM

Chapter 4: Queen of the NestAtero Nui was always a beautiful concept. Two very different residents of two very different universes coming together to live in harmony. They would build the city together and it would be together that they maintain it. The idea was that the two species would pull together and crime would be but a forgotten memory in the eyes of the denizens, who would clearly want peace after the numerous wars they fought in.Unfortunately, that , like a lot of things, was just something that sounded right on paper. However, what they didn’t account for is that some old habits die hard. Smugglers and thieves, assassins and murderers, they all joined the city seeing fresh potential for mischief and profit. And those that didn’t find it left to one of the outer cities around the planet, where they would swiftly be assigned a mission that led them back to Atero Nui.A city free of crime would be a nice idea, but like a plague, it spread once more through Atero Nui, just as it had done in the old universe of Mata Nui and just as it had done in Spherus Magna beforehand.Ackar accepted he probably should do something about it. This wasn’t the ideal city he ever had in mind, once the issue of Bara Magna was fixed. But then, why should he bother? He was getting old and, even though it was painful to admit it, less able in battle. His actions in the war against the Skrall were noble and courageous, but they’d taken a lot out of him. Now he was weaker, he was beginning to slow down and take in the situation. And he could see that crime was unavoidable, and no matter how hard he fought, it could never be taken down.So, wearily, he decided that instead of trying to destroy it, the best he could do was to remedy its effects. But secretly, he could feel a darker reason possess his heart. Years and years ago he would have crushed any sign of villainy like an insect, lest it harm any innocent before he could prevent it. But now, with his weaker and aged body, he could see the potential for good in allowing criminal activity to thrive in the darkest depths of Atero Nui. Especially with contacts where one needs them.And so it was with a feel of heavy shame and the weight of eons and eons of history collapsing down on his shoulders, he walked through the darker, barren section of Atero Nui. Unlike the gleaming, glorious city centre, the outskirts were mainly crafted of wood, giving the area a far more run down and unwelcoming image.Meekly, and hoping to avoid detection, he approached his destination, a large and foreboding tavern. On the front there was a large sign where Glatorian characters crudely spelt, “The Nest”.Taking in a deep breath, Ackar raised his fist and hammered three times on the door. He paused, waiting for three seconds, before hammering three times more. At this, a hatch in the door slithered open, to reveal the recognisably unpleasant eyes of a Skakdi leering back at him.“We’re full,” the eyes said in a gravelly slur.“I’m here to speak to Kurot. Just say to her, “Harmaisis”. She’ll know who I am.”The eyes looked confused for a second, before shrugging and blundering away, shutting the hatch sharply behind them. Ackar stood looking around, before he heard a soft voice yell, “What do you mean he’s outside? You didn’t let him in?” This was followed swiftly by the tell-tale sounds of a struggle and a low pitched yelp. Moments later, a fumbling of chains heralded the door which swung swiftly inwards, to reveal a sour faced, female Vortixx staring him in the face.Ackar recognised her instantly. Her one eye examined him, the other hidden underneath a deep and unpleasant scar. Unfortunately for Kurot, she had been in the wrong place at the wrong time, and had suffered a violent mood swing of Harmaisis’, being regrettably on the receiving end of his knife. It had only taken a quick intervention of Ackar’s that stopped him from finishing the job. And it was for this, she was eternally grateful.Unbeknownst to Ackar, Kurot was beginning to set herself up as the heart of criminal activity throughout Spherus Magna. Once a Dark Hunter under the name of Malevolence, she quickly rose the ranks and upon finding out The Shadowed One had mysteriously disappeared, seized as much power as she possibly could. Venturing into her new planet, she had begun to build a name for herself in the Underworld, to the point where she was now almost instantly recognisable to any professional thief or assassin. Anybody who wanted respect and good pay, headed to her base of operation, The Nest.“I said you should warn me before you turn up. That way we can avoid leaving the dregs of this place guarding the door,” She growled, gesturing her head at a white Skakdi, who was lying with his eyes closed and the fragments of a chair littering around his body.“No time. I need to speak to you, soon.”“Imagine this, eh”, she grinned, turning to face the Elder. “The great elder of Atero Nui, conspiring with thieves. Now, just imagine what your old pal, Mata Nui would have thought of this.”Ackar shuddered at the thought, “He would have thought it wise to get the job done as efficiently as possible. Through any means necessary.”“Would he now…?” She led him through the crowd of Vortixx, Steltians, Agori, Skakdi and Glatorian. “I’ll be honest, old age doesn’t suit you. I heard you were far nobler than this back in the day.”“Needs must, Kurot,” he grimaced. Frankly, he agreed with her, although he refused to say. He shuddered again as he thought of what he was doing now, the guilt weighing heavily in the bottom of his stomach. Eventually, they reached a murkily lit table in the centre, and gently lowered themselves into two of the four chairs.“Now, what can I do for you? Ooh, wait, don’t tell me,” she cut him off before he had a chance to speak, “It has something to do with that little scene you caused in the market earlier. Well, if you’re looking for confirmation, I’m sorry to disappoint, but I don’t actually know anything about that myself. I’ve sent some of my best to go and search, but they won’t be returning for a couple of days.”“I’m not concerned about Tuma,” Ackar sighed, “I was hoping you could tell me where the two that I was speaking to are. I assumed that given the counterfeit weapons, they’d be one of your boys, so around here probably.”“Believe me,” Kurot said, her one eye wide in a disbelieving grin, “If those two worked for me, I’d be singing it off of the top of that Mata Nui robots head. I can’t tell you where they are, because they’re freelancers, they go wherever they want to go, and they usually spread mayhem and discord in their wake. That could be a good sign if you needed it.”Ackar frowned. This wasn’t appearing all too helpful, “Well then as you’ve heard of them, I trust you’ll at least tell me who they are.”“Them?” She asked incredulously, followed by a cackle, “Let me tell you, you’ll never truly find out who they are because you’ll never get the same answer. They are merchants and thieves. They’re Mercenaries and Noblemen. Anarchists and revolutionists. Divinity and disgrace. But there is one thing you'll be told time and time again, that will never change. They are not to be trusted.”“That really isn’t being useful,” Ackar said wearily.“It’s the best I can offer you, friend,” Kurot sighed, “I can tell you they’ve got a history. The Shadowed One wanted their heads on a platter more than anything, next to Dume. They were unpredictable back in my universe, absolutely maniacal. Sometimes they would assist the Dark Hunters and sometimes they would claim the goods for themselves. Occasionally they just destroyed whatever it was our great leader wanted. But they never seemed to have a reason for it, they just did it.”“You wouldn’t know anyone else that knows of them, would you?”She gestured around the room, “I can safely bet at least half of the Mata Nui crowd here have had some sort of run in with them. But they’re not going to tell you any more than I did. I’m sorry I couldn’t have been much more help. If you need an idea of where they are, I’d recommend the nearest settlement northwards from here. My sources said they came from the south, so they’re probably travelling trying to sell their wares.”Ackar opened his mouth to say something, before she interrupted him again, an intense look of seriousness burning in her eyes. She leaned in closer, lowering her voice to a mere murmur, “But I will warn you of this, Ackar. I think you of all citizens should have to know. They’re up to something, something big. I may not know much about them, but I can tell from their behaviour what they’re up to. And when they’re as excited and arrogant as they are at the moment, it usually means they’ve got something terrible planned. Or they know something terrible is in the works. Keep an eye on your back, Elder and don’t trust anybody.”“I see,” Ackar raised himself from the chair. “Well, thank you anyway. What you’ve said has been at least a little…informative. I’m sure I can put it all to good use.”“Not at all, my friend.” Kurot said, a grin suddenly bursting on her face. “But I recommend you don’t try to find me over the next couple of days. It’s lucky you caught me now. I’ve got some business out of Atero Nui for a week or two, that can't be put off. Purely professional of course, some of my men have been acting up.”Ackar decided he didn’t want to find out about what she and her employees were up to, so said his thanks and turned away, more questions running through his mind than when he entered. He left The Nest and turned his back on the dark deeds that were no doubt being organised within, with his head bowed low, one particular phrase rushing through his mind repeatedly, searing into his conscience like a burning poker.“Now, just imagine what your old pal, Mata Nui would have thought of this.”Review Topic

Edited by The Wretched Automaton, Jan 19 2012 - 05:55 PM.

  • 0

shadowofthisredrock.png

Chapter four - Desire

Coming soon!

Short Stories: The Commute ~ Rasinov ~ In Your Absence ~ Hunter's Game ~ Suchia (Coming soon)

Epics: The Best Kept Secrets (Chapter 27: The Shadow Walker coming soon) ~ The Shadow of this Red Rock


#5 Offline The Dandy Automaton

The Dandy Automaton
  • Premier Member
  • Premier Outstanding BZP Citizens
  • FFM Bionicle Winner

  • 8,007 posts
  •   Outstanding BZPower Citizen

Posted Jan 25 2012 - 05:40 PM

Chapter 5: An Unwelcome ReunionThe melancholy clouds rolled miserably overhead as Kurot trudged down the slowly declining hill. She glanced up at the gloomy sky, trying to see any hint of blue in the thick, grey blanket, but saw none. Instead, she felt the gentle patter of rain drops drip down to her, softening the already slippery mud underneath. Ever since the planets had reunited, sun had become a luxury. The brilliant weather over the past few days had been a heaven in the downhearted storms of Spherus Magna.From the top of the damp hill, the thief queen looked down on the scene underneath her. Two Matoran wrestled with restless Kikinalo, trying desperately to calm them and convince them to remain in place. Between the two rested her carriage, a dilapidated heap of wood with four wheels, being pulled by two Ussal crabs. The Rahi were the worst part of this journey as Kurot had always considered them disgusting beasts, most commonly associated with Matoran trash who would pathetically keep them as pets.She traipsed down towards the crowd as the heavens began to open up over her, slipping slightly in the soaking mess. Hurriedly, she reached the closest Matoran who saluted her.“We’re ready and waiting for you, m’lady,” the orange armoured guard said.Kurot glanced at him and trekked past, swinging the door open and slamming it behind her. She leaned out the window and called, “How long until we reach Toro City?”“It’s roughly a few kio from here. I’d estimate we’re half a day away. We should be there by nightfall.”Kurot glanced at the dark sky overhead. How could you tell the difference? She looked back at the Matoran off to the side and asked, “What’s your name, by the way?”“It’s Pirok, ma’am.”She nodded in response. Leaning back, she heard the shouts and crack of a whip which heralded the slow vibrations of the moving carriage. She looked out the windows and saw the two Matoran following, trailing gently behind. They were meant to guard her through the journey, should it prove necessary. Of course, Kurot didn’t expect them to succeed. The whole journey had been paid for cheaply, as she felt the upcoming ordeal would require more than a few spare widgets. No, the guards were present as a decoy, to hold any attacker back and give Kurot time to prepare for an intruder.But so far, it seemed unnecessary. Besides the occasional bump in the road and the leak that had developed in the roof, the journey had slipped by relatively quietly. Kurot relaxed in the seat and pondered over the conversation she had indulged in last night with Atero Nui’s elder. A pang of guilt struck her stomach as she looked back, accepting she had not been truly honest. Well, she hadn’t told a lie, but she had omitted several details of the truth. There was something going on in the background, and while she didn’t fully understand what it was, she had information that could’ve helped. With a heavy sigh, she resolved to finish up the ordeal in Toro City as soon as possible, before digging up some more information and finally presenting it to Ackar, with an apology.The rain had slowed down slightly, the fall of water not hitting as hard against the fragile roof as before. Just enough to hear the silence of the outside world now, nothing but the wind on the sodden countryside and the rolling of the wheels of her carriage. It was surprisingly peaceful.Too peaceful. She realised something was missing and lurched her head out of the window. Sure enough, her suspicions were correct, the heavy footfalls of the Kikinalo had disappeared, replaced with an empty nothingness, and in the place of their physical forms were now lifeless shells off once-proud Rahi. Lying next to them were the Matoran guards, completely stationary and Kanohi facing the dirt.The Vortixx took a sharp intake of breath and fumbled for the knives under her seat. She held them both with the blades facing downwards, like two fangs ready to sink into unsuspecting prey, holding her breath in the silence. Nothing was stirring outside besides the ignorant Ussal crabs and the never ending rain.And suddenly both doors were flung open and in stepped the creatures from her worst nightmares.“Evenin’ m’lady,” Zhorya said cheerfully.“Terrible weather out there,” Xavor groaned, “Mind if we hitch a lift?”The two lumbered into the carriage sitting either side of her, Zhorya perching himself on her blindside much to her resentment, as they both blissfully ignoring the blades aimed square at their faces.“Did you do that? Back there?” Kurot panted.“Ah, you spotted our handiwork then.” Zhorya grinned.“Trademark blade to the throat. Always quick, always quiet.” Xavor smiled.“That’s how we work.”“Surprisingly efficient.”Kurot glared at the duo, never lowering the knives in her hands that were pointing firmly at the midpoint between each invaders eyes, “So, go on then, get it over with. Blow up the carriage, or stab me, or whatever it is you were intending to do.”Xavor groaned and rolled his eyes, before placing his head in his palms in mock irritation, “You need to stop all the worrying, my dear.”“Paranoia is not good for your charming beauty,” Zhorya sighed.“If we really wanted to kill you, we’d have done it weeks ago.”“And if we wanted our own guild,” Zhorya added, “We’d have done THAT decades ago. And it would have been two times cooler than yours.”“Maybe even three…If we’re pushing it.”Kurot glanced from one Vortixx to the other, the knives still steadfast in her hands."So then, if you're not here to kill me, why did you kill my guards and proceed to waste my time?""Mainly because we could."“Also, because you have information we want,” Xavor said, the smile dripping from his face, replaced by an almost intimidating seriousness.“Oh, aye,” Zhorya said, copying his partners expression, “We have a question, and you better answer it as accurately as you can.”Any lesser being would have broken down in Kurot’s position, but she refused to be stirred. Determined to hold her ground, she lowered her blades slightly and met the gaze of her attackers, “Go on then.”Xavor stared at her in her one eye for a few seconds, allowing the tension to raise, before opening his mouth and with a low growl, stating, “Which one of us…Is the anarchist? And which one is the revolutionist?”A wicked grin burst on their faces as they howled with laughter at this, the carriage shaking slightly. Kurot rolled her eye and glared at the ceiling, her breath escaping her in brief waves. She glanced at the two of them as they began to calm down, the echo of the joke still ringing from their mouths. “So, you were there then,” she sighed, “Last night, I mean?”“Oh yes indeed,” Zhorya said, the laughter suddenly disappearing from his face, “Front row seats to the Ackar and Kurot show.”“Very charming, very moving. Five stars, I’d say,” Xavor said, “I particularly liked the part where you crushed his spirit by reminding him he was conspiring with the queen of thieves.”“I didn’t see either of you,” the female Vortixx muttered.“You weren’t meant to,” Zhorya chuckled, “We were wearing a disguise.”“It wouldn’t have been a very good one if you had seen us.”“We decided to stay incognito after the scene we caused down in the Market District that day.”“Good thing too, our new nemesis decided to stroll in that very moment,” Xavor added, “We learnt a lot of interesting things too, though.”“Did we?”“Oh, aye. For example, Zhorya, did you know we’re up to something?”“My word, no I didn’t Xavor, do go on.”“It’s something big apparently.”“Clearly not that big, otherwise we would have known about it.”“I think she’s making things up again. Clearly being a queen has cooked our fair lady’s head.”Feeling her anger boiling inside her, Kurot gripped her knees tightly, trying desperately hard to ignore the irritating duo either side of her. After counting to one hundred, she finally barked, “Any time you two are ready to talk reasonably, please say.”“Of course, m’lady, anything the damsel requires,” Xavor grinned, his eyes alight with mischief.“What did you two even want? Nobody goes through all this effort just to drive me insane,” Kurot growled.“Ah, there’s your mistake, my queen,” Zhorya sighed, the typical smile sneaking across his face, “We’re not just anybody. We’re us.”“Of course, now that you mention it, we do have something for you.”“Consider it a peace offering, from us to you and your charming band of vagabonds and rapscallions.”Kurot saw Xavor open a compartment of his ebony armour, located midway down his thigh and reach in, eventually withdrawing a curious spherical object, about the size of an eyeball and made of a shining silver coloured metal. It had strange indentations snaking all along its surface, not unlike scratches, but too organised and too frequent to be anything but a pattern from the strangest artist. Xavor held out his hand and dropped the sphere into the palm of the Thief Queen’s hand, landing with a “thunk”. It was surprisingly heavy.“Oh, and don’t forget this,” Zhorya said, out of eyesight. Kurot turned to face him as he grabbed her free hand and placed a tiny ring on her index finger. Under closer inspection, the ring had tiny decorations lining its surface too, giving it a strong resemblance to the object in her hand.“Thanks,” she said slowly, carefully examining the two gifts, “What exactly are they?”“If we’re honest, we’re not overly sure ourselves. We just got them,” Zhorya said, tilting his head to one side.“Of course, the seller told us it’s a bomb, and we don’t doubt him. But, it’s a very special kind.”“The kind that explodes, but won’t actually harm the one who detonates it.”“You see, each of these bombs comes with four rings,” Xavor indicated the sphere in her hand and the ring on her finger, “When it goes off, the rings create a force field, surrounding all four of the bearers and protecting them from harm.”“Now, we couldn’t have you just detonating our little gift and risking our beautiful lives now,” Zhorya added, “So we took the liberty of removing two of the four, just in the interests of health and safety.” He held up his hand and wiggled his fingers, displaying an unsettling number of rings on all of his fingers.“Of course, we aren’t monsters; you still have one ring left. Feel free to give it to whoever you deem worthy.”Kurot stared at the metallic object in her hand, now discovering the detonation button. It was so small it was practically invisible, and embedded inside the sphere. She looked from the bomb to the duo sitting either side of her, before deciding to ask, “So, who do you want me to kill with this, then?”“Nobody,” Xavor scoffed, “Well, nobody specific.”“We don’t have a reason to give this to you, my dear,” Zhorya said gently, reaching out and wrapping Kurot’s fingers around the offering, “All we want is to see some fireworks. We’re sure you can promise us that.”Kurot stared, but said nothing. There was something suspicious about this, but she decided to think nothing of it. Opening her own thigh compartment, she slipped the bomb in and closed it up again, hoping she wouldn’t have to use it any time soon. She tried to slip back into melancholy thoughts, but the duo between her seemed fixated on bothering her.This was going to be a long ride.Review Topic

Edited by The Wretched Automaton, Feb 17 2012 - 03:47 PM.

  • 0

shadowofthisredrock.png

Chapter four - Desire

Coming soon!

Short Stories: The Commute ~ Rasinov ~ In Your Absence ~ Hunter's Game ~ Suchia (Coming soon)

Epics: The Best Kept Secrets (Chapter 27: The Shadow Walker coming soon) ~ The Shadow of this Red Rock


#6 Offline The Dandy Automaton

The Dandy Automaton
  • Premier Member
  • Premier Outstanding BZP Citizens
  • FFM Bionicle Winner

  • 8,007 posts
  •   Outstanding BZPower Citizen

Posted Feb 11 2012 - 04:58 PM

Chapter 6: The Quest BeginsIt truly is amazing how quickly one can become bored of something when they do it in excess. For example, an Agori may grow weary of one particular route on their way to work, a direction which having once brought joy, now brings nothing but tedium. A Ta-Matoran may find the creation of a Kanohi in the forge to have lost the pleasure it once provided and must now search for a way to fill that particular void. For Siril, the Skrall was discovering just how tiring getting repeatedly murdered could be.At one point he considered whether eternal life was a gift from the Great Beings or a curse from some malicious deity. Now it was neither. It was a nuisance that just wouldn’t leave him alone.These thoughts were reflected in the Skrall’s mind as he felt the dagger dig through his heart, as when dying, there’s not a lot else to do other than think. Sinking to his knees yet again, he looked up and saw the confusion in his assassin’s eyes, who was no doubt pondering just why her victim looked so uninterested.Once again, the spark of life burned out in Siril’s mind, leaving nothing but an empty, black and silent void. He waited there for a few seconds before he heard a rush of wind around him, like the roar of a God and felt his eyelids burst open, followed swiftly by a burning sensation in his chest. Without shifting any part of his body, his eyes flitted upwards to face his killer. A Toa again, the third one since the killings began. This one was female, which he could tell from the narrower shoulders and sleeker figure, although the colour scheme was unfamiliar. She had her back squarely facing him, busying herself with her blade which she rubbed gently with a cloth like her dearest friend. Straining his ears, Siril could just about hear her muttering something under her breath, although the wind carried it away, making it inaudible.This had been the twelfth time so far that he had been attacked, and Siril was no closer to getting an answer as to who or why he had such a price on his head. To his irritation, the assassin’s had been getting sneakier and more determined in their pursuit, meaning there were far less tell-tale signs of an attack and they had been catching him off-guard. Lately, he had attempted to ask his killers politely why they wanted him dead, but they had been remarkably unhelpful. He then shifted to some more conventional methods of torture, but a Skrall is a warrior and built for battle, so generally clumsy when it comes to extracting delicate information, so in the end Siril received an unfortunate mess that had once been alive, instead of any answers.This time, however, he was more determined. He waited as still as the grains of sand around him before the Toa finally sheathed her blade and set off southwards, towards the green expanse where plant life flourished and overhead hung hideously dark and ominous clouds. He waited until she was small enough in the distance to enclose his hand around, before climbing to his feet and determinedly trailing after her. If nobody would give him an answer, he would find out for himself.***The rain lashed hard against the huge, metal structures of Atero Nui, bouncing off with a sharp ting and falling on the already drowned earth beneath. The wind followed in pursuit, howling at anybody foolish enough to dare step out into the clash of nature.Jaller was one such fool who found himself cursing Spherus Magna and all within it as he hurried through the empty streets, with his arms wrapped firmly around him and his head bowed to the roar of the elements. Behind his crimson Kanohi, his eyes were squinted and ahead he could see only the blur of his guide.In front strolled Thantox, the Steltian appearing to not even notice the harsh weather surrounding him. He seemed completely nonplussed about this situation and instead delighted himself in hammering Jaller with constant questions about his many battles. At the moment, he appeared to be begging for the story about the Kardas Dragon, although he could just as easily have been asking about Kalmah for all Jaller could hear. The rain seemed determined to drown out any noise.Yet in his blissfully ignorant state, Thantox continued on asking questions to the silence behind him. Jaller had decided that he’d rather keep his mouth shut and let Thantox ramble madly instead of bothering to answer, yet. When they stepped inside he might open up.Thantox had gained something of a reputation on Spherus Magna in the month since they had first colonised it. Gone were the days when he was the nobody of Stelt, the lonely outsider who amused himself with his collection of foreign plant life, his obsession now was finding out more about the Toa. Like an over-affectionate Rahi, Thantox had clung to every warrior he saw and begged them to tell him about their triumphs and failures. The Toa of Fire grinned to himself as he remembered how Takanuva had exhaustedly approached him one day and complained how Thantox had spent the entire day pestering him about the fall of the Makuta. His thirst for tales and legends were everyone’s suspicions as to why he applied for the role of assistant to the Elder’s. Were he a Matoran, it was doubtless he would have demanded to become the new Chronicler.As the two hurried through the city, there destination loomed ever closer, towering above them and almost delving into the clouds above. A majestic monument, the coliseum stood proudly above the rest of Atero Nui, the hopeful symbol of unity between the two nations and a call for peace. Its success at such a feat was yet to be seen.The two quickly stepped inside and shook themselves, water pooling at their feet. Jaller held his hand to his sword and exercised his control over the elements by raising the temperature around the two. On command, he felt himself begin to warm up and likewise saw steam escape from Thantox’s black and blue armour.“That must get in handy sometimes,” the Steltian grinned.“From time to time,” Jaller replied, “Only on days like today of course. Not much use when the weather’s a bit more cheerful. Hopefully I can go a week without having to change a single degree in the temperature soon.”Thantox frowned at the Toa, the irritation clear in his face, “Amazing. You have a gift, Toa Jaller, an amazing power that some could only ever dream of. How could you ever ask to squander it, just because you’re bored? You should treasure every second of it.”Jaller looked around awkwardly. Thantox always acted surprisingly confidently when on the subject of Toa and their powers. He was starting to prefer the awkward and silent denizen of Stelt who sat in the background and obsessed over plants, “Well, I guess but-““-But nothing.” Thantox interrupted frantically, “Just think of what you’ve done! The people you’d helped and the lives you’ve saved! The entire universe! You have a gift my friend, treasure it and everything that can be done because of it!” he looked off into the distance and abruptly shook his head like he was coming out of a trance, he looked around sheepishly and turned to the Toa before him, “But…I guess I’m rambling again, I should probably stop…Um, so I’m guessing you want to go upstairs now?”Jaller blinked awkwardly. It felt weird to be scorned for not caring enough about his powers. Normally anyone with just amount of authority would leap upon an opportunity to scold his carelessness, but now he was getting the opposite treatment. Pleasing everybody was difficult.With a returned sense of humility, Thantox quietly escorted Jaller up the polished metal steps of the Coliseum towards the meeting room of the Elders. Pausing only to apologise for his outburst, the Steltian carried onwards up multiple, never ending flights of steps, before finally stopping in front of a huge wooden door.The escort leaned forward and timidly knocked a few times before nodding to himself and swinging it open. Inside, Jaller’s eyes widened as he momentarily took in the sight around him, of the huge expanse, the silver walls lined with shelves covered with books, tablets, scrolls and maps of all origins and designs. On the ceiling dangled a massive candelabra, with flames blazing inside, underneath rested a huge stone table surrounded by six chairs of a curious grey rock.Of course, more curious were the inhabitants of the room. Jaller spotted the Elders, scattered like a broken puzzle, Ackar and Norik, the only two sitting comfortably in their seats, with Raanu pacing anxiously back and forth, with no clear destination. Hydraxon sat gloomily in the corner, a heavy shadow over his head and Vakama stood pensively, looking out of the window, down upon the drenched city.More surprisingly were the extra and more unexpected guests, all either Toa or Glatorian, most of whom were familiar. Toa Hahli stood with her hands behind her back chatting quietly with an emerald armoured Glatorian he recognised as Gresh. Next to them stood Kiina who leaned against a wall with her arms folded and head facing the floor, occasionally bobbing back up and staring in the direction of Elder Ackar before disappearing back down. Toa Bomonga was standing behind Norik, the two in deep conversation with their brows closely knitted together and punctuating their points with occasional nods. Perhaps most interestingly was an aggressive, broad shoulder Glatorian in shimmering ice coloured armour, who sat by himself, his head swinging around the room casting a suspicious glare upon its residents with a massive axe lying at his feet.All eyes turned towards Jaller as the two walked in, Thantox quietly shutting the door behind him. All was quiet as they looked around, assessing the other as the newcomers questioned the reasoning behind their summons.“So we’re all here then, are we?” Norik checked, glancing around the room and pointing a finger at each of the entrants as he turned, “Gresh, Jaller, Hahli, Strakk, Bomonga and Kiina. Great, I guess.”The snow coloured Glatorian’s head darted upwards at the mention of his name, “Great, they took their time,” he muttered bitterly, rolling his eyes, “Now I’d like an explanation what’s going on and why I’m here. And make it quick, I’ve got some lovely wasteland to explore.”“All in due time, brother,” Vakama breathed, “But before we begin, I think an explanation is in order. We have kept too many secrets for so long, I fear we may begin to destroy ourselves if they continue to build up.”Ackar stood up and paced around the room uncertainly before turning to the gathered group, “Well, there’s no need to sugar coat it. Gresh, you heard it first and I wish you never did. Tuma’s back. He was being tracked in the desert lands and the latest report says he was looking for exactly what’s been rumoured he found. The Kazyshian sword.”“And then the reports stopped,” Raanu interjected, “An unpleasant affair, we dread to think what happened to our unfortunate partner. But with rumours spreading by some…undesirables…I think we can assume he got what he came for. And now all that remains is to see what happens next.”“That’s all well and good,” Kiina suddenly said, standing straight, “But why the secrecy? All the elders have done is deny and deny anything to do with it and now you’re telling us it is happening?”“Because, Kiina, if you look outside, you’ll realise we have enough problems of our own as a society. What do we have at the moment? A planet filled with residents each suspicious of the other. Organised crime set up faster than peace and nothing is helped by the sudden murders and disappearances. Atero Nui has enough problems standing on its feet without the threat of invasion,” Ackar explained, tiredly.“But if you’d told us,” the aqua armoured Glatorian argued, “If you’d announced it, we could have united. We would have put our differences aside and fought together. We did it before and we’d do it again any day.”“Listen, this isn’t like the old days. Back then, we knew each other. Heck, we were all the same species. Now, trust is just too difficult to gain. If a war breaks out, accusations and treachery will follow. We’re keeping this secret from the public for their safety. It’s not pleasant, but nothing seems to be anymore.”Kiina frowned again and looked like she was about to argue back. However, she paused and appeared to mull it over in her mind before sighing and returning back to her original position. Jaller looked at her to see if she had any more to say, before turning to the elders, “So what does this have to do with us?”“Thank you for asking, Jaller,” Norik said, “We hope you don’t get the wrong ideas about us. We’re not cowards. When the time comes, we will stand up to Tuma, just like we will to anyone else who threatens our survival. But first, we need to assess the situation, determine the risks, the advantages and the threats. Without that, we’re running blindly into battle. So, that’s what you need to do us.”“So, we’re the investigators,” Gresh asked.“I guess you could put it that way. You need to go north and find out as much as you can about Tuma and his activities. Report back to us as and when you can. When you find out if there is a threat, then we’ll take action, and then all of Spherus Magna will know for sure,” Norik continued.“Yeah, great, recon, fun,” Strakk muttered sarcastically, “One issue, wise one. How are we meant to contact you? Letters would be too slow. Any messenger can be taken down and left on the roadside, and we wouldn’t be any the wiser.”“We’re arranging that,” Raanu said, “If you hadn’t noticed, Tarix is missing from our ranks. You need to travel north as soon as you can and reach Toro City. There you’ll find Tarix and Krakua who’s taken up residence there. He and his Suletu will be the messenger you need.”“Toro City is a day’s trek from here.” Norik announced. He then turned to his ebony armoured ally who had kept silent throughout the discussion, “Bomonga will lead you there, and then onwards.”“Wait, trek?” Strakk asked incredulously, “We’re working for you guys! Why haven’t we got carriages or vehicles?”“We’d prefer the mission to be inconspicuous,” Ackar said, “There’s an undesirable bluntness in a group of carriages, compared to a more silent hike.”At this, Strakk snorted and kept quiet. Silence crept into the room once more as each inhabitant sank back into their thoughts to consider all that had just been said. The sound of the storm outside was beginning to soften as the rain gradually let up and the sun broke through the dark and heavy clouds. Jaller was considering the uncertain future ahead of them when all of a sudden the emptiness was broken once more.“Well, if you’re really going to be honest, then what are the chances of most of us returning alive?” Gresh asked cheerfully. The silence from the elders was uncomfortable and from underneath his helmet, it was clear his face was dropping, “Oh. It’s going to be one of those kinds of missions, is it?”Review Topic

Edited by The Wretched Automaton, Feb 17 2012 - 03:48 PM.

  • 0

shadowofthisredrock.png

Chapter four - Desire

Coming soon!

Short Stories: The Commute ~ Rasinov ~ In Your Absence ~ Hunter's Game ~ Suchia (Coming soon)

Epics: The Best Kept Secrets (Chapter 27: The Shadow Walker coming soon) ~ The Shadow of this Red Rock


#7 Offline The Dandy Automaton

The Dandy Automaton
  • Premier Member
  • Premier Outstanding BZP Citizens
  • FFM Bionicle Winner

  • 8,007 posts
  •   Outstanding BZPower Citizen

Posted Feb 15 2012 - 06:34 PM

Chapter 7: The PromiseNight had fallen once more upon Spherus Magna, and in the light’s departure, the darkness had swooped in to shroud the land in shadows. From on high, the stars glimmered in the sky like millions of crystals and the light of the distant moons beamed their solitary rays upon the lonely lands.In the empty desert wasteland of the planet lay and assortment of tents and caravans, around and between which nestled numerous campfires, which burned furiously against the dark night’s sky. Around which were gathered groups of figures in deep ebony armour which camouflaged perfectly against the black backdrop, were it not for their bright secondary colours, red, green and blue. They sat in a moody silence and glared into the dancing flames, which shone from its base of sticks and painted their helmeted heads a luminescent orange.The Skrall settlement was motionless as it rested for the night, preparing to move again when the sun resurface, their destination unknown. Wherever they could find a location that might be hospitable towards the warring species.From the heavy atmosphere, heads began to rise and turn towards the distance as a low pattering and the clink of metal snuck towards their location. The Skrall wordlessly craned their necks and reached for their swords as they saw the huge, hulking figure lumber towards them, a menacing red crackle in its eyes leading the way and a curious purple glow emanating from something strapped to its back.As the beast approached, its features grew more and more familiar. The large, rounded green armour. The four swords, decoratively attached to his back. The specially designed ebony helmet, adorned with the markings of a leader. From out of the darkness, Tuma crawled, a wild look of pure victory streaking across his face.“Brothers,” the titan cried, “My brothers, how good it is to see you all again!”“You’re not welcome here, Tuma,” One unnamed Skrall growled, rising to his feet and beginning a threatening march towards his old leader, with his sword gripped firmly by his side.Tuma stared past the challenger, before sharply turning his neck in the Skrall’s direction, “You wouldn’t treat an old friend like that, would you?”“You have no friends, scum.” The Skrall hissed, “Turn around now, or we’ll ensure you never-” Whatever the Skrall was threatening would forever remain unknown as his words were cut off by the massive blade passing through his throat.Tuma snarled as he kicked against the lifeless body hanging onto his sword and wrenched it out of the fresh, but curiously bloodless wound. He spared a moment to glance at the sword in his grip, as it vibrated menacingly and from its polished surface, the wisps of black seemed to strengthen in appearance.The others observed the death and gave a start when they witnessed the lightning fast execution Tuma had carried out. Several held their weapons defensively in front of them and began to back away as Tuma raised his hand high above him in a recognised sign of peace. The brute turned his neck and glanced at the large group of warriors before him, forming a fair sized audience for the performance he was about to make.As he readied himself for speech, one recognised figure stepped from the sea of identical faces. The Skrall held his right arm stiffly to his side, as on the adjacent shoulder lay a nasty looking wound which still seemed to leak blood and pus on the once clean bandage strapped across it.“Stronius,” Tuma croaked, attempting to affect a friendly tone in his voice, “Is this how you treat old friends? Send the trash to greet them and turn them away?”“What are you doing here, Tuma?” Stronius shot back with a dirty glare, “You’ve ashamed the rock tribe once. And in the headstrong foolhardiness you encouraged in us, we tried it a second time. Don’t try making us embarrass ourselves a third time.”With this, Tuma threw his head back and cackled. The gathered Skrall who stood closest to him began to step back in fear, lest his madness worsen and he begin to strike randomly. For half a minute he roared his laughter into the night, before lowering his face down to his audience’s level. With a purr, he looked around and began to unstrap the odd, glowing instrument on his back. As he lowered it to his side, several eyes widened and the noise of audible gasps washed over the crowd of spectators.Tuma glanced approvingly around as he indicated the sword in his grasp, “I don’t encourage fights with lost causes. That’s why I brought this. With the Kazyshian sword in our grasp, failure is impossible. Its aura will bless us on the field of battle and victory is assured for its bearer!”Light-hearted cheers rose from the crowd as they felt themselves turned towards the titan’s declarations, but still remained unenthusiastic and fearful of battle. Stronius looked around the Skrall standing with him and turned to Tuma, asking, “Why would we want to? There’s nothing to fight for. Something happened to the Battera and now they’ve disappeared, so we no longer have to fight and hide from them.”“We have our dignity, Stronius,” Tuma said, “We have the pride of our nation. They dare think they are superior to us, that the Skrall are pushovers who can just be knocked aside or batted on the nose if we dare stand too upright. Let them think we’re still weak and who knows, maybe some of you are, but I can promise you that when victory is in our grasp, they won’t mock or scorn us anymore. They’ll worship us, and mewl at our feet, begging us for their lives, like they should have done in the first place.” Tuma raised the sword above his head as his voice grew steadily louder into a pride filled bellow, “The Skrall should always have been the dominant society over these worthless piles of filth, but we’re not. Well I say it’s time this changed. Tonight, we build the foundations to our return! And I promise each and every one of you, that we will be victorious in our efforts, once more!”This sparked confidence in the crowd, whose cheers grew louder but still wavered in their certainty. Stronius looked at Tuma with arrogance and again chose to speak up, “So it’s all for revenge? You’re going to risk more lives and put more of our species in jeopardy because they hurt your feelings? You may have won some of these over with your little speech, but I’m not convinced.”A fire sparked in Tuma’s eyes at these words and he stalked over, pushing his way through the crowd towards the wounded Skrall. He looked down fiercely, and those around him backed away, fearing he would select his swords next victim. All except Stronius, who stood firmly in his place, looking up at the brute before him. Just as the tension reached its peak, a smile broke across Tuma’s face, before he grasped his old friend’s good shoulder, saying, “You always were one of the best soldiers. Unwavering. But if you truly want a good, noble reason, then hear me out. Because I’ve been hearing rumours and secrets and tales, from all around Spherus Magna. I’ve been told that the world is ending, my friend. And do you know the best we to stop it?” Tuma stared into Stronius’ eyes, the latter of which was filled with curiosity and intrigue. Tuma held his breath dramatically, before turning to the rest of the crowd, “We have the key to preventing the end of Spherus Magna. And the only way we can properly do this is to burn Atero Nui to the ground!”Review Topic

Edited by The Wretched Automaton, Feb 15 2012 - 06:35 PM.

  • 0

shadowofthisredrock.png

Chapter four - Desire

Coming soon!

Short Stories: The Commute ~ Rasinov ~ In Your Absence ~ Hunter's Game ~ Suchia (Coming soon)

Epics: The Best Kept Secrets (Chapter 27: The Shadow Walker coming soon) ~ The Shadow of this Red Rock


#8 Offline The Dandy Automaton

The Dandy Automaton
  • Premier Member
  • Premier Outstanding BZP Citizens
  • FFM Bionicle Winner

  • 8,007 posts
  •   Outstanding BZPower Citizen

Posted Feb 19 2012 - 07:24 PM

Chapter 8: Toro CityUnder the brilliant blue sky of the early morning, a carriage trundled through the borders of Toro City. Bearing it, two Ussal Crabs began to grind to a halt at the heed of their Matoran master’s command. The driver breathed a sigh of relief as the carriage rolled to a halt. Despite the swift and vicious murders of the guards tailing him earlier, he had fortunately remained alive and well. That was fortunate. Quickly remembering his manners, in order to stay on the good sides of the two monsters inside the vehicle, he leapt down from his post and scuffled over to the doors. He reached outwards to open it when, without warning, he was knocked onto the dirt by the large shape of wood flashing forwards and connecting painfully with his Kanohi.“Toro City,” Zhorya beamed, leaping out of his side of the carriage, not sparing the fallen Matoran a thought, and slamming the door in an unfortunate Kurot’s face, “The ‘Metropolis of Dreams’.”“Some say it was built by a single Po-Matoran in a day,” Xavor grinned, again closing the door with more force than Kurot anticipated, knocking her back into her seat despite her best efforts to exit swiftly, “Of course, some people are stupid and don’t deserve to talk. But it’s always good to share different theories.”There was a shuffling behind them and the two Vortixx turned to see Kurot kicking the left door open with frustration and scrambling out, glaring menacingly at the duo. Shooting a murderous, one-eyed stare at her travelling partners, she turned and paid the shaken Matoran who scuffled away with lightning speed. Turning back around she looked as though she was about to say something, before she sighed and huffed off, clearly looking forward to being alone. So, naturally, the two followed her."What was it named after?" Xavor asked, killing his fingers and creasing his brow."I'm not sure, I think it was that bloke who died and ended up condemning the entire universe to slavery.""Now, he," Xavor said proudly, "He was a true hero."Zhorya sighed and looked off into the distance, "If only he had a name worth remembering."“Now, of course we both know this humble city is nothing compared to the great grandness that is Atero Nui,” Xavor said, adding a hint of sarcasm to his words.“Of course,” Zhorya responded, “In fact, the tallest building here is only a meagre four stories.”“Oh aye, the library,” Xavor nodded, “Nothing compared to the twelve story eye sore that is the coliseum.”“Perhaps it’s not as fun to see fall over,” Shrugged Zhorya, “But it’s the quieter things in life one has to appreciate. And I’d like you to find me somewhere quieter than a library.”The duo looked forward and looked at Kurot who they noticed was clearly biting her lip, probably holding back some sarcastic retort. The shared a mischievous grin before following her as she turned left down the street, passing through a crowd of wandering Agori.“Don’t you two have some place to be?” The Thief Queen asked eventually.“Oh, my dear Kurot, the main event’s not for another few hours,” Zhorya said, effecting a mocking tone in his voice.“We’ve got a lot of time to kill between now and then,” Xavor nodded, “So we’re pacing ourselves.”“And what better way to spend a morning than with our favourite queen?” Zhorya leapt forward and wrapped an arm around Kurot’s shoulder. He began to regret this as he noticed something menacing flash in her eyes. Before he could retreat, he felt her hands wrapped around his upper arm, which was met with a sharp tug and he felt himself weightlessly flying over her head. He let out a cheerful whoop, which was brought to an end as his head made a painful connection with the pavement. “Okay,” he groaned, rubbing his head, “Not a big fan of the touching”.Kurot glared at him and carried on walking, ignoring Xavor’s hysterical laughter. She turned down another street and looked back at the two who were once again on her trial with grins streaking across their faces. “You wouldn’t find much joy in stalking me today,” she shrugged, “I’ve got a lot of business to do.”“Don’t flatter yourself, ma’am,” Xavor chuckled, shaking his head, “You’re not worth the entire morning.”“We have our own business to carry out.”“First we’ve got that Glatorian fellow who’s not paying up,” Xavor said, holding up his hands and pointing to particular fingers as he spoke, “Then there’s the Steltian git who’s been badmouthing us for killing all of his friends, ever since that day we killed all of his friends.”“We have a lot on our plate, basically. Things to do, people to see.” Zhorya smiled.The two exchanged sudden strangely concerned glances before turning back to their victim. “On that note, much as it pains us to say, I think we’ve reached the point in our journey where we must part ways,” Xavor said hurriedly.“But fear not, we’ll be back sooner than you hope.”Kurot glanced back curiously at the two, “What’s with the rush?”Zhorya chuckled and playfully bounced the palm of his hand off of his forehead, “We were so busy having fun with you, we’d forgotten we had somewhere to go as soon as we touched down in this place.”The two turned to go, when a thought suddenly passed through Xavor’s mind and he wheeled around to the Thief Queen before him, “One last thing. Keep our gift close. Hate to say it, but I fear it may come in useful later.”***Deep in the alleyway, the hooded figure stood hidden away from the watching sun, shrouded in shadows. They stared anxiously through the veil covering their face, twitching their head around every now and then in order to avoid detection. At the sound of footsteps, they shrank back against the wall, until two very familiar voices came into hearing.“A little overdressed for the evening, aren’t you?” Xavor grinned, raising an eyebrow at the strange garments.“You look like an over-wrapped Naming Day gift,” Zhorya said with twinkling eyes.From under the veil, it was clear the figure was staring daggers at the two before it, “I’m not supposed to be here, especially with you two. I felt secrecy was essential.” The figure spoke with a low, guttural voice that was clearly forced.“Well, you look ridiculous,” Xavor chuckled.“And you sound hilarious.”“You’re just ridiculously hilarious.”The figure continued talking, cutting them off from continuing their conversation, “I need you two to deliver this.” It thrust its hand under its cloak and withdrew a stone tablet, etched with carvings in the familiar Matoran language.“The usual place, we assume?” Xavor grinned, with his eyes twinkling mischievously at the sight of the tablet.Wordlessly, the figure passed the package towards the two where it was snatched away by Zhorya who instantly began scanning his eyes over the contents, absorbing the words etched deeply in the stone. Finishing, he let out a low whistle, and passed it casually to his accomplice, whilst turning to the figure before him. He raised an eyebrow and said, “So, I’m guessing you’re really going through with it then.”“I have no choice now,” the hooded figure bowed their head, “It all ends in a week. I need you two to ensure that happens.”Both Vortixx raised their arms in a mock salute. The strange individual’s silence indicated that the conversation was at an end“One more request,” the figure said, turning their neck back to glance at the duo behind it, “The Elders are beginning to grow more and more paranoid and frantic. I think we need to send them one more message that they have good reason to be, before the fun can really begin.”“We’re all ears,” the two Vortixx grinned in perfect unison.“I don’t care how you do it,” The cloaked figure said slowly, “But I want you to find the servant, Thantox, and, as unsubtly as possible, I want you to have him killed.”Review Topic

Edited by The Wretched Automaton, Feb 20 2012 - 04:47 PM.

  • 0

shadowofthisredrock.png

Chapter four - Desire

Coming soon!

Short Stories: The Commute ~ Rasinov ~ In Your Absence ~ Hunter's Game ~ Suchia (Coming soon)

Epics: The Best Kept Secrets (Chapter 27: The Shadow Walker coming soon) ~ The Shadow of this Red Rock


#9 Offline The Dandy Automaton

The Dandy Automaton
  • Premier Member
  • Premier Outstanding BZP Citizens
  • FFM Bionicle Winner

  • 8,007 posts
  •   Outstanding BZPower Citizen

Posted Feb 20 2012 - 03:55 PM

Chapter 9: Friends in Strange PlacesKiina was beginning to hate the constant trickling sound of running water. It never shut up. Unlike sand, water was ever flowing and felt it had to herald its movement with ceaseless noise. At least sand stayed stationary, and when wind saw fit to carry it away, there was little more than a whisper to follow it. Of course, these thoughts of hers then led to more hatred directed at the element, because she was then aware that she should be more than grateful for her gift. When Mata Nui blessed her with the power to call water into being, she had thought of nothing but of how she could save Bara Magna from its droughts and end the plight her people had suffered. Now that the Shattering had been resolved, Aqua Magna had returned and water was in abundance. This meant that Kiina’s gift had been rendered useless. She hated being useless.The group tramped through the grassy field, the damp soil giving way under their heavily armoured feet. Above them, the cool blue sky offered optimism for the trek ahead, whilst the dark grey clouds dotted here and there smudged those hopes like a spoilt painting.Bomonga stood before the other five in an effort to lead them, despite his only current direction being to travel north, following the flow of the river. Behind him stepped the two other Toa, Jaller and Hahli who were busying themselves by chatting lazily between themselves. Their high spirits frustrated Kiina, who felt that they should be taking their quest a little more seriously and applying some thought to the uncertain future ahead. After these two, Gresh wandered lazily, his head in the clouds as he glanced admirably around at the surrounding scenery. His head was currently fixed to his right, as he admired a herd of Kikinalo basking in the sunlight. He had tried to engage the blue-armoured Glatorian in conversation several times before, but she had proven unresponsive, preoccupied as she was with mulling events over in her head. Finally, behind her, a sulky Strakk stamped unpleasantly through the great meadow, his eyes locked downwards. From his ignored complaints, Kiina picked up that he hadn’t expected to be taken on a “servants quest” when offered redemption. She enjoyed his unhappiness though, so instead of trying to cool him down, she elected to leave him to boil, stewing in his own irritation.The six of them had been marching for the best part of a day now, having rested under the starry sky the previous night. In the distance, they could already see a few hazy shapes, which they all deduced to be their current destination, Toro City. After that, who knew? Further north, probably.As the group carried onwards, serenaded by the endless river in her grating voice, they gradually became aware of a distant shuffling noise from some unknown source. Their heads darted around and Bomonga uncertainly raised his arm, reaching for his spear. As it grew louder and closer, they traced its source to below the earth, and Bomonga managed to detect something tunnelling down below them. At least one something. They debated moving onwards hurriedly, but eventually decided that whatever was underneath them would more than likely overtake them at some point so they may as well reserve their strength and stand their ground. As soon as they came to this conclusion, the noise was greeted with another series of underground scratches, originated from the first series of shuffles, which proceed to carry on in a different direction. The unknown tunnelers shifted to either side of the six, who backed away into a tightly knit circle, all facing a different direction with weapons drawn. Once more, both noises split apart again, until the tunnelers formed an imaginary square, each at one corner.Bomonga took an apprehensive step forwards when the dirt suddenly exploded upwards and four figures leapt from the newly formed holes. The group only need a quick glance at the tan-armoured beings, wielding their crudely crafted spears and their vicious tails poised fiercely over their heads, in order to recognise them.“Vorox!” Strakk yelled, readying himself for an offensive charge.Before he could throw himself forward at the primitive attackers another entrant joined the fray. A red blur darted from one of the holes, appearing before them in ancient crimson armour, scratched and chipped from an age resting in the deserts of Bara Magna. “I wouldn’t do that if I were you, Strakk,” Malum smirked, “The Vorox are under my command for now, but if you kill one of them, no amount of my influence will save you.”“What do you want, Malum?” Kiina growled in his direction. She didn’t see him as a threat, but more as a pest that could make the mission unnecessarily difficult.“Relax, please, I’m not here to loot or kill you,” the crimson Glatorian laughed, “I’m here to offer your services.Bomonga’s eyes narrowed behind his Kanohi at this. “What do you want?” he asked suspiciously.“Merely peace of mind, to know that you and your little gang will be safe,” he looked around at them all, before turning his attention to the soil, which he patted gently with his foot. “I can feel something moving under the earth. Just subtly, every now and again. I’ve also been hearing whispers, as one does when they live in the shadows. Something is about to hit Spherus Magna hard and I fear you lot play a bigger role in the upcoming events than you’re aware. That’s why I’m offering my Vorox and I to your protection.”The group stood with eyes wide and jaws agape. Bomonga still looked questioningly at the Glatorian before him. “You want to travel with us?”Malum burst into cackles at this. He looked at the Toa of Earth with genuine mirth in his eyes and shook his head. “The Vorox aren’t sociable creatures, as you may have noticed. As such, neither am I. No, we offered to protect you, not to travel with you. We will remain at a distance to ensure you don’t fall prey to any ambushes,” he said. He then turned to Strakk with a glare, who returned the unpleasant gaze. “Besides, if we stay too close we may suddenly remember a few old feuds.”“Why are you doing this?” Gresh asked.“Someone is playing a game against you,” Malum shrugged, “I’m merely trying to ensure you have a few more pieces on your side of the board. So, do you accept?” He released his grip on one of his massive clawed blades which fell to the ground with a heavy thud. He stretched his grey hand towards Bomonga who uncertainly took the gesture and shook. With that, Malum nodded and turned to his followers. who were already making their way back to their tunnels, as he picked up his weapon. “Keep your eyes on your backs, friends. I fear our enemies can strike silently and they can strike fast. And even the Vorox need to blink.” And with that he was gone.The group looked around as though waiting for someone to start laughing and reveal it all to be a joke. Nobody did.“Okay, that was weird,” Jaller decided.Review Topic

Edited by The Wretched Automaton, Feb 20 2012 - 04:08 PM.

  • 0

shadowofthisredrock.png

Chapter four - Desire

Coming soon!

Short Stories: The Commute ~ Rasinov ~ In Your Absence ~ Hunter's Game ~ Suchia (Coming soon)

Epics: The Best Kept Secrets (Chapter 27: The Shadow Walker coming soon) ~ The Shadow of this Red Rock


#10 Offline The Dandy Automaton

The Dandy Automaton
  • Premier Member
  • Premier Outstanding BZP Citizens
  • FFM Bionicle Winner

  • 8,007 posts
  •   Outstanding BZPower Citizen

Posted Feb 24 2012 - 06:03 PM

Chapter 10: The Conspiracy BeginsThe grand chamber of the Elders rested suspended in silence. The books sat quietly on the shelves and the great candelabrum was suspended without complaint. The scene would have been pleasant and relaxing, were it not for the rooms two inhabitants.Ackar and Hydraxon sat alone at the table, facing each other. The other Elders were absent, Raanu and Vakama attempting to invent a new, shared currency and Norik claiming to be spending time with the remainder of his team. The atmosphere hung heavily as the two remained seated, wordlessly staring each other down. They both looked equally unhappy, and Hydraxon began restlessly drumming his fingers against the stone table.“I suppose you’re happy now,” Hydraxon sighed, relenting in the battle of stubbornness. He leaned back in his seat and stared up at the grand ceiling. “Six more warriors sent into the unknown. Will they return? I doubt it.”Ackar grunted in response. He conceded that the other Elder held a good point. Given how many other agents had disappeared over the past month, it wasn’t impossible for six more to go the same way. But he wasn’t content with having to make the decision. In selecting the warriors best suited for the mission, he had to sacrifice two of his best friends, a decision which had hurt far more than any battle wound. “I don’t see why you’re complaining,” he sighed eventually, “Last I heard, you tried to kill two of our selections back in that Pit. I don’t know about you, but I’d rather they died for a good cause than for mistaken identity.”Hydraxon smiled at this, a slight chuckle escaping from behind his faceplate. “I tried to imprison them, not kill them.” The ex-jailer straightened up again and stared at the old Glatorian face to face. “I think I preferred working in the Pit though. The criminals were smart enough to obey my orders. I guess I always got my way. Now, everyone seems to be trying to defy me.”“That seems to be what happens with responsibility. Everyone thinks they can do it better,” Ackar smiled. “But I did it because I want to make stop a war breaking out. I may have made a sacrifice, but I’d rather get at least a little more knowledge of what’s going on, rather than swinging my sword at the shado-“His sentence was cut off by an apprehensive knock at the door. The two Elders glanced at each other, and proceeded to call the new arrival in.A Po-Matoran clad with brown armour and a noble Komau adorning his face stepped uncertainly in, a roll of parchment gripped tightly in his fist. “Um,” he started with a stammer, “Elder Ackar, this was addressed to you. It was left the other night in The N-…In a tavern and I was told to bring it to you today.”Ackar beckoned the Matoran over, who handed him the scroll. He tore the red ribbon holding it together and stretched it apart, to look over its contents.Our dear beloved Ackar,We have been observing your actions for a while now. Yours and the rest of the Elders. From evidence gathered, we have determined that you have one great weakness. You fear your people. You fear them discovering the truth and descending to a point where you lose all control over them. This is cute. Adorable. As a result, we’ve noticed that you’ve withheld some of the most valuable information, that they will soon be at the mercy of a Skrall army. Now, we despite what some may say, we’re not anarchist, nor are we seekers of justice. We did this for fun. And what we did was definitely fun. If you go through your notes and files, you’ll find yourself missing one letter in particular, documenting Tuma’s quest for the Kazyshian sword. That’s ours now. Was ours. We may have carelessly left it on a table in some random inn. We’re not around anymore, so we can’t go back to fetch it. We hope you can find it before some poor Matoran or Toa finds it and discovers the truth you’ve so cruelly kept from your people. We’d surely hate to see what would result from that.Sincerely, from your favourite subjects, Mata-Nui and Teridax.Ackar’s eyes narrowed as he read it and he felt his heartbeat quicken as each word sped by. No. It couldn’t be. “Who gave you this,” he growled at the Matoran, ice dripping from his words.The Matoran took a step back, uncomfortable with the change of tone, “I- Uh, I don’t really know their names. They never told me. B-but, they were Vortixx. Two of them. I’ve never met them before though so-“But the Matoran never did finish his sentence as Ackar had already charged past him and out the door, nearly knocking the poor message bringer off of his feet. He wasn’t sure where he was running, but he could feel the rage building in his heart, laced with a fear that it may already be too late.***The Nynrah Ghost’s eyes glanced over the tablet in his hands. Xavor and Zhorya stood behind him, mindlessly wandering around, fiddling with whatever discarded weapon they came across. In the corner a large blanket covered some unknown pile, which the two Vortixx stayed clear of. The Matoran paused midway through and his eyes ran over the same line one more time, before he closed them in a frustrated sigh. “Very funny,” he said humourlessly, carelessly tossing the stone to the ground beneath him. “But I’m busy now, boys. Everybody wants new ways to kill one another and I don’t intend to be the one to stand up to them.”A pained look crossed Xavor’s face as he watched the request be manhandled so heartlessly. “We aren’t joking,” he growled. “Our jokes are far funnier.”“Never for the victim,” the Nynrah said dryly, glancing at the duo to his side.“Why would it need to be? They’re not alive anymore to laugh,” Zhorya shrugged, picking up a heavy projectile weapon.“Please put that down,” the Matoran said plainly, not looking up from his work, “It bites.”Zhorya glanced uncertainly at the weapon in his hands as he began to hear a metallic gnashing sound rumble from within, and proceeded to set it down with a wary glance. As he did, Xavor strutted past him and lifted the discarded tablet from the floor, turning it over once or twice, checking for damage. Once satisfied, he proceeded to throw it back at the silver armoured Matoran, where it span through the air and hit the desk, knocking the item the Nynrah was working on out of his hands, landing on the ground with a sharp crack.The Matoran rolled his eyes and turned to the two Vortixx bothering him. “This’ll be done in a month. I’ll deliver it to the usual place then and only then.”“Great, that’s great,” Zhorya said, walking towards the desk, the broken device crunching under his heel as he carelessly trod on it. “But, let’s say instead of a month, it’s…a week?”A dark cloud passed over the Matoran’s countenance as the Vortixx spoke. “Do you two ever think rationally? I’m busy. All of the Nynrah are busy. You two don’t hold priority over more reliable customers.”“We’re aware of that,” shrugged Xavor, “That’s why we will now be your only customers. From this point onwards, we’re cancelling all of your other orders.”“You’re insane.”“We’re practical,” Zhorya glared. He then shuddered. “It’s dreadfully boring. I need to break something.” Before he could reach for the nearest object, the Matoran stood up angrily and paced the room, holding his attention.“You two aren’t capable of rational thought anymore, I always did suspect that. But now…” he paused and turned to them, “I can help you whenever you want a new toy to play with or another trinket to make a loud noise. But for this…You’d want the entirety of Xia.”“But we don’t want the entirety of Xia,” Xavor smiled, encouragingly, “Believe it or not, we’re not on the best terms with other Vortixx.”“I think it was the vast number we killed on our first escape out. Then the numerous victims we killed when we broke back in. They take offense to that over there.”“No, my dear sweet comrade, we want you. And the rest of the Nynrah.”The Matoran shook his head, “They’re just as likely to refuse your request. We’re all busy.”“Their orders will be cancelled to,” stated Xavor, matter-of-factly.“And what? You intend to pay for each one?”“Oh yes,” Zhorya promised, “We have access to an almost unending supply of money. More than you could ever imagine. Do what we ask, drop everything and we will make up for the losses.”The Nynrah paced restlessly on the spot, intermittently glancing at the two figures before him, before coming to a decision. He walked up to Zhorya and outstretched his hand, “I can’t make promises for the other Nynrah. I can’t see why they won’t, but I don’t want you to get your hopes up. But I’ll make a start.”“It’s a pleasure doing business with you,” the Vortixx grinned, grasping the offered hand and squeezing with enough force to make the smaller being standing beneath him wince. He turned to the covered objects stacked against the wall and nodded in their direction. “We’ll be back soon to pick those up. Then in a week, we’ll pick up whatever you’ve managed to make.” He turned and made for the door.“I don’t like to ask questions about whatever my clients are doing with my creations. Nor do I like to theorise. If I did, I wouldn’t be sleeping soundly at night,” the Nynrah Ghost sighed, stopping the two Vortixx in their tracks, “But just looking at what it is you two are asking for, I can’t help but wonder what the end result will be. And whatever it is, I don’t like it. I’ll do your creating, Vortixx, but if you dare endanger me or any of my friends, I will stop at nothing to show you whole worlds of pain you can scarcely imagine.”“We’re terrified, I’m sure,” Xavor chuckled, and with that he turned and exited with his comrade out into the bright blue world outside.Review Topic
  • 0

shadowofthisredrock.png

Chapter four - Desire

Coming soon!

Short Stories: The Commute ~ Rasinov ~ In Your Absence ~ Hunter's Game ~ Suchia (Coming soon)

Epics: The Best Kept Secrets (Chapter 27: The Shadow Walker coming soon) ~ The Shadow of this Red Rock


#11 Offline The Dandy Automaton

The Dandy Automaton
  • Premier Member
  • Premier Outstanding BZP Citizens
  • FFM Bionicle Winner

  • 8,007 posts
  •   Outstanding BZPower Citizen

Posted Mar 03 2012 - 04:58 PM

Chapter 11: The Cult of the Virtuous OnesThe humble settlement of Toro City bustled mindlessly about its way as the six adventurers stepped confidently into its borders. The sun was hanging low overhead, ready to start its final descent which would herald the return of the brilliant night sky. Gukko birds soared overhead before whistling down and perching themselves upon the low wooden rooftops, their heads darting nosily around at the residents.Bomonga led the way forward and navigated the group through the labyrinthine streets. Their goal was simple. They look for Tarix, they talk to Krakua, they rest for the night and then they travel north on their goal. No messing around, no distractions. What could possibly go wrong?The Toa of Earth turned left into a heavily crowded street, filled with merchants, traders and bargain hunters. The unforgettably familiar aroma of searing meat drifted lazily towards him and despite not having the ability to digest food, he found himself wondering what it might taste like. It was clear that those thoughts were not unfamiliar to the other two Toa behind him, who were glancing curiously around for the source. Interestingly, the three Glatorian carried on strolling as though they could barely even notice it.Amidst the rumble of the conversing crowd, another voice sounded, much louder than any other and clearly wanting to be heard. After a swift examination, Bomonga matched the shouting’s to a young and blue armoured Glatorian, only a little older than Gresh. The speaker was holding his arms out like a startled Rahi and rotating constantly to gaze at his audience, which consisted of a few curious Agori and other Glatorian. Interestingly, Matoran, Vortixx and Steltians alike merely shot a glare at the speaker before continuing on shaking their heads.“-An insult to our proud nation to believe we can co-exist with falsifications of life! The blasphemous insistence of our senile leaders brainwash the weak-minded and easily influenced among us to think that they are the same as us!” As he shouted, the Glatorian darted his head around at anyone who would give him a slight acknowledgment. Should a passer-by stop to investigate, he would shift his attention and speak almost directly to them until they walked away.“Falsifications of life?” Jaller snorted, his voice hardening, “What’s this joker talking about?”Bomonga glanced at Jaller, before turning his attention dead ahead and determinedly ignoring the speaker. “Let’s just ignore him. Tarix is in an inn just a few minutes from here.”“The wretched automatons force themselves into our lives and demand we regard them as equals!” The Glatorian continued, “What right do they have to dare stand by us and call us brothers when they exist purely because we allow them to? You, the three of you, it is not too late to redeem yourselves!”The six travellers suddenly stopped and turned when they felt the eyes of the crier resting upon the three Glatorian. Gresh, Kiina and Strakk glanced at each other before folding their arms and glaring at the azure-toned figure. “And what do you mean by redeeming ourselves?” Gresh asked icily.“For consorting with the machinations, you have spoiled your mind by comparing yourselves to them. But it is not too late, for if you join with me, The Virtuous Ones can cleanse you and prevent you from making such mistakes again!” Despite standing just a few bio away, the Glatorian was still yelling for all to hear.“Wait, The Virtuous Ones?” Jaller frowned.“I don’t converse with your kind, machine,” the speaker hissed.“They’re a group of nutjobs who think they’re better than anyone from our universe,” Bomonga explained.“Because we are not forgeries of the Great Beings!” the Glatorian cried. “We were intended to exist, whereas you were not.”Hahli rolled her eyes, “I thought you don’t talk with us.” The speaker clamped his mouth shut and glared.“I’m surprised you’re rearing your head around here,” Gresh said. “You would have thought there’d be too many machines for you.”“Sacrifices must be made. I sacrifice my purity for the sake of offering salvation to those I consider worthy, and I insist you join our noble cause!”Strakk clicked his fingers and tapped his foot on the ground. “Now I remember you lot. You guys are the ones that followed Harmaisis out of Atero Nui.”“And we would follow him anywhere else,” the Glatorian claimed proudly, slamming his fist on his chest. “Our leader was the first to recognise the impurities of the new society and he dared to stand up. Now he is criticised by the weak, those who fear his free thoughts.”“Isn’t he the one who stabbed that Vortixx in the eye?” Strakk asked. “Quite the gentleman, that one.”“She was lucky that our leader permitted her to continue her miserable existence. That eye was never hers to begin with.”Bomonga sighed irritably. He could see there would be no reasoning with this one and all they were doing was wasting valuable time. He was about to encourage the group to leave when he felt the temperature around him start to rise. He turned to Jaller who stood next to him and could see the waves of heat leaking out of his armour. The Toa of fire was a few seconds away from losing his temper with the Virtuous One."Well, I'd love to say it was a pleasure talking to you," Kiina said quickly, ready to end the subject, "But it wasn't and you're an insane freak. So I won't." With that, she swung an arm around Jaller’s shoulder, having clearly noticed his sudden change in mood, and dragged him away before anyone could be turned to ashes. The Glatorian looked like he was about to shout after them, but a murderous glare from Strakk and Gresh made him think better of it and he returned to yelling at whomever would listen.Hahli glanced at Jaller who was starting to cool down, his expression lightening. “I think it’s a good thing they have their little group. Better they live together and away from us, than leaving us to have to put up with them.”Jaller grunted in agreement and they carried on in silence. After a short while, Jaller sighed and said, “I don’t think I’ll like that Harmaisis guy.”The leading Toa of Earth was about to respond, when he noticed a unpleasantly familiar ebony form glint far down in the crowd. Nervous whispering replaced the excited calling and the deeper down the road the group travelled, the more uncomfortable the civilians of Toro City appeared. Finally, they reached a point where the crowd parted allowing a single figure to walk unbothered. The black and red armoured wandered stared straight forward as they walked, not paying any mind to the mix of fearful and angry countenances around him. The Skrall clearly had other things on his mind.Bomonga froze, panicking and unsure how to react. Delving deep, he found his answer, which was to reach for his spear and try to take the warrior down, asking questions later. As his fingers brushed against his weapon, the Skrall’s eyes suddenly darted in his direction and with a fearful speed, he leapt forward and slammed into the Toa Hagah, knocking him to the ground.The Toa of Earth looked up with a gasp and saw the black blade pointed squarely in his face. He could hear the scrape of metal as his comrades drew their weapons, but they sounded uncomfortably distant in comparison to the sword facing him. “Who are you?” he croaked.“The name’s Siril,” the Skrall growled, “And I think this time, assassin, I'll have the first kill."Review Topic

Edited by The Wretched Automaton, Mar 04 2012 - 10:21 AM.

  • 0

shadowofthisredrock.png

Chapter four - Desire

Coming soon!

Short Stories: The Commute ~ Rasinov ~ In Your Absence ~ Hunter's Game ~ Suchia (Coming soon)

Epics: The Best Kept Secrets (Chapter 27: The Shadow Walker coming soon) ~ The Shadow of this Red Rock


#12 Offline The Dandy Automaton

The Dandy Automaton
  • Premier Member
  • Premier Outstanding BZP Citizens
  • FFM Bionicle Winner

  • 8,007 posts
  •   Outstanding BZPower Citizen

Posted Mar 11 2012 - 12:02 PM

Chapter 12: A Meeting In The Broken ToaDark clouds above threatened rain in Toro City. Bomonga noted this as one of the interesting things he could see as he laid on the cobbled streets. Another thing to note was the massive blade hanging over his face. He saw the Skrall raise his sword and tense his muscles, ready to push it downwards, straight onto his Kanohi. The Toa braced himself for an untimely end, and squeezed his eyes shut, so at least he wouldn’t have to witness his death.As he did, something rolled forward and bounced against the side of his head, with a metallic ting. He was about to open his eyes out of curiosity, but something inside compelled him not to. Moments later, he decided it was for the best that he didn’t, as even behind closed eyes, he felt the world around him burst into a surge of a brilliant white light. Accompanying it was a painfully loud roar that tore into his ears and descended all other noise into a high pitched whine.Bomonga felt the weight of the Skrall dive away from on top of him and he seized the opportunity to roll away in the opposite direction. He prised his eyelids apart, to give himself a sense of location, but his eyes still burned from the sudden assault. Instead of the labyrinthine streets, everything was hidden behind attention-hungry red and green smudges. He groped around to find a way to support himself, and after a short while of stumbling, he found a wall to lean against and recover.Gradually, Toro City swam back into his vision. The wooden buildings seeped through the blurry mist. Swaying slightly, he turned his head downwards, where he could make out his previous attacker rolling on the dusty ground with his hands clamped to his eyes. Clearly he hadn’t thought to shut his eyes as the object exploded. A short distance away stood his five teammates, who were still gathering their bearings and stumbling towards the Toa of Earth.Then, on the other side of the street, Bomonga could just about make out two unfamiliar figures standing back to back, each wearing menacing grins across their ebony and silver faces. They held their hands splayed out in front of them, and in between each finger, a small and metallic sphere nestled comfortably, roughly the size of a bula berry. More bombs, no doubt.As the squealing began to drift from Bomonga’s ears, he could make out one of the two figures speaking casually to the group, as though he were discussing the weather. “No fighting on the streets, gentlemen. The street cleaners have just been and gone. Who knows how long your corpses would be left rotting before someone dealt with them?”“Now, now, brother,” the other grinned in response. “Let’s not be too hasty. This could be a fun show, for free. We could place bets.”The first speaker hummed in response, considering the proposition. “Not a bad idea. I’d place half a Suletu on the one who didn’t nearly get their Kanohi punctured.”“Fine, but in return I get first dibs on looting.”“But you looted the last load.”“And I’ll do it again.”As they spoke, the world began to grind to a halt around Bomonga. He felt dizzy, but was now capable of standing upright on his legs. The figures before him began to take on some more recognisable shapes, shifting into the familiar forms of two male Vortixx. The Toa was sure he had never seen them before, but the memory of Ackar and Gresh’s stories left little doubt as to who they could be.“Oh, by the Great Beings,” Gresh moaned, still blinking, “You two again.”Quick as lightning, the attention of the two Vortixx shifted from each other immediately to the young Glatorian before them. In response, he took a nervous step backwards. “We’re touched you would remember us,” the one with blue eyes grinned. “We certainly remember you, dear Gresh.” They regarded the group with mischievous eyes, and seemed to finally decide that nobody would pose an immediate threat, so they fitted the metal spheres between their fingers into three empty slots on their shoulder armour.Bomonga glanced around the streets, expecting to have to usher an audience away. As it turned out, that wouldn’t be necessary as the crowd had decided it would be better to preoccupy themselves elsewhere.“And you two are Xavor and Zhorya, right?” asked Gresh. As he spoke, the jade armoured warrior indicated them respectively with a finger.“For the time being, yes,” the Vortixx named as Zhorya smiled.“It’s funny, I don’t remember giving you my name,” Gresh said suspiciously.Xavor looked down at the Glatorian before him like a predator sizing up his meal. When he spoke, his voice was rich with awe, but his condescending expression added a mocking tone to his words. “How could we not? Gresh, the hero of Bara Magna. The back-up sidekick of Mata Nui. Now you’re part of a mission that could be best described as pointless.”“Pointless?” Hahli asked, casting an irritated glance at the duo. Toro City was already proving to be filled with odd sorts.“Your beloved Elders are already aware Tuma’s been busying himself. You’ve only been sent off so that should anyone find out that they’ve been keeping secrets, they can say they’re on top of it.” Zhorya grinned. Clearly, he was delighted to be sharing this.“Oh, and not forgetting you,” Xavor turned to the Skrall who was only just clambering to his feet, “Siril, if I heard right. I assume you have a reason to be concerning our civilians and trying dig holes in our apparently competent heroes.”“I thought they were someone else,” Siril glowered. His blue eyes were streaked with tendrils of red. He had a look on his face that indicated he was strongly considering skewering the two Vortixx. “You know how it is. You find an old friend, you want to stab them in the face.”“Her name is Ihrey,” Zhorya shrugged, breaking the silence. Beneath his helmet, Siril’s eyes filled with suspicion. “The Toa you’ve been following. She’s a Toa of Psionics, just so you know. I’d says she’s already aware you’ve been trailing her.”The Skrall stared directly at Zhorya, his eyes boring into the Vortixx’s. “Let her. I don’t care who knows, I just want to find out who employed her.”“Doubt you’ll find out here,” Xavor said, his smile sliding slightly from his face. “If she’s really aware you were behind her, she wouldn’t go straight to the one who hired her.”“She’s just a mercenary,” Siril reasoned. “She wants payment either way. Or to warn whoever wanted me dead. Either way, I’m not leaving this wretched city until I find out.”Strakk frowned and raised a hand to interrupt. “Wait, aren’t you part of Tuma’s army? What are you doing here?”Siril’s response was a low growl. “I’m not part of that army anymore. They hold no sway over me, nor any of the choices I make. That’s why I have a name. I’m free, and can give one to myself if I choose.” With that he turned and stalked away, abandoning the clearly sore subject.As Siril marched off into the parting crowd, both Xavor and Zhorya stared after him with a distant look fogging over their eyes. A ripple of concern mingled in with their vicious grins. “I can’t help but wonder whether we should follow after him?” Zhorya pondered wistfully.Xavor shrugged and turned away, “Our queen can handle herself. She’s a stubborn one, she is.” He shifted his attention to Bomonga and his team. His bared his teeth again in a menacing grin. “Now, onto you lot.”“I’m sure we’d love to keep chatting,” Bomonga lied, “but we’ve got somewhere to be. We don’t have time to waste with either of you.”“So aggressive,” Zhorya sighed, shaking his head. “We know where you’re headed, too. That inn. What’s it called? ‘The Broken Toa’. Something cheerful like that, if I recall.”“What a coincidence,” Xavor smiled, nudging his partner. “We were just on our way there ourselves. We have a few debts to collect, and we’re in need of a good drink.”“A…Drink?” Jaller asked curiously, his voice gratefully having abandoned the hate it had inherited after his conversation with the Virtuous One. “You’re Vortixx. You don’t even have digestive systems.”“No, that’s true,” smiled Zhorya. “But it sits in the body and tickles for a bit until it all evaporates. It’s quite a pleasant feeling.”***The Broken Toa was a mere few minutes’ walk away from where Bomonga nearly met his demise. Inside, the building was exactly as they expected. A dozy and quiet collection of dark brown wooden furniture, littered here and there with occupants readying themselves for travel or busying themselves with meetings and transactions. A surly Steltian stood behind the counter eyeing the eight of them suspiciously as he took a wet rag to the surface.Nestled in the corner sat Tarix, leaning against the wall with the mouth guard of his helmet retracted. He was looking pensively at the flagon in his hand. Facing him sat a grey armoured Toa, who Bomonga recognised as Krakua.At the sound of their arrival, Tarix twisted his head up to face them, the light of a smile crossing his mouth. It faded slightly at the sight of the two unexpected guests.“Yeah, that’s how people usually greet us,” Xavor grinned.The assortment of Toa, Glatorian and Vortixx made their way over to the table, Strakk breaking off halfway there, deciding to purchase a drink for the Glatorian. Bomonga theorised that he would only return with a single mug for himself.“Can I ask what you two are doing here?” Tarix scowled at the two Vortixx before him. An edge of hostility sharpened his words. It was clear he’d made the same association Bomonga had.“Spectating,” Zhorya declared. He turned and grabbed a chair, swung it round and threw himself down on it in one smooth motion. He planted his feet on the table as his comrade did the same.“Spherus Magna is boring,” Xavor said, feigning a yawn. “We’re finding where the fun stuff is.”“Look elsewhere,” Krakua said shortly. “We have important matters to deal with. We don’t want an audience.”Zhorya didn’t glance up at Krakua, instead finding the sharpened ends of his fingers more interesting. “Whatever’s said here, we’ll find out one way or another. You may as well save us both some time.”Behind his Kanohi, Krakua’s eyes narrowed. A faint shimmer surrounded his Kanohi as he focused on Zhorya, who still wasn’t paying attention. Krakua was about to start probing the Vortixx’s mind, before he clapped his hands to the sides of his Kanohi and yelped in pain.“Oh, and stay out of our minds,” Zhorya still hadn’t looked up. “We know how to deal with trespassers.”“You don’t really have anything to hide anyway,” Xavor grinned, watching Krakua shake his head. “We know what the subject will be. Krakua’ll keep in contact with you. Blah, blah, blah, stay away from the Skrall army, they bite. Blah, blah, blah, disappearing travellers. Yadda, yadda, yadda, Toa of Shadow.”Tarix’s features darkened as the Vortixx spoke. “Toa of Shadow? What do you mean?”“I don’t think they know,” Zhorya cackled, elbowing his partner. “Should we tell ‘em?”“On one condition,” Xavor smirked. He opened his storage compartment in his thigh armour and withdrew another spherical object, similar to the kind he was holding earlier. This one was slightly larger and looked a good deal heavier though. “They have to accept our little present.”The group stared at it, warily. Finally, Jaller was the first to speak up. “What exactly is that?”“A gift,” Xavor tossed it upwards, keeping an eye on it. Zhorya stretched out his arm and caught it, one handed.“A sign of goodwill. You don’t have to use it, we just want you to take it,” Zhorya finished.“It’s an explosive,” Kiina frowned. She had her arms crossed and was once again leaning against a wall. “Like the kind you threw at us earlier.”“Which you still haven’t thanked us for, by the way,” Zhorya noted. “If it weren’t for us, you would have been short one leader.”“And why do you want us to have it?” she continued.“Because we’re curious what you’ll do with it,” Xavor shrugged. As he spoke Zhorya spun the silver sphere in his fingers, before tossing it towards Jaller, who caught it and eyed it uncertainly, as though it might explode at any second. “Now, as for this Toa of Shadow.”“We thought you might like to know about him,” Zhorya said. “You guys are scared of the dark and all.”“He’s hiding in some cave up north. Poor blighter’s a nervous fellow.”“Can’t blame him. He’s the result of Makuta experiments. You know, before the days of shadow leeches. Can’t imagine what they did to him.”Bomonga watched the pair as they announced the details. “If he’s in hiding, then I’d say he can stay there. There’s no need to get him involved in anything.”The two Vortixx shrugged simultaneously. “Feel free. We just wanted to let you know.”“Wait, I’d like to back up a little bit,” Jaller interrupted, stashing the bomb into a small pocket. “What’s all that about missing travellers? Skrall?”Tarix shook his head mournfully, “If only we knew if it were Skrall. Nobody’s sure what’s doing it. All we know is that people have been going north, and not returning. Some other travellers have reported hearing screaming in the night.”Strakk mingled into the crowd, a frothing mug resting in his hands. “Wait, don’t tell me. I’m gonna take a guess and say our destination is west, away from whatever’s lurking up north?” Tarix stared uncomfortably with his former sparring partner and wordlessly shook his head. Strakk groaned at the response and took a swig from his flagon. “It never ruddy is.”

Edited by The Wretched Automaton, Mar 11 2012 - 02:46 PM.

  • 0

shadowofthisredrock.png

Chapter four - Desire

Coming soon!

Short Stories: The Commute ~ Rasinov ~ In Your Absence ~ Hunter's Game ~ Suchia (Coming soon)

Epics: The Best Kept Secrets (Chapter 27: The Shadow Walker coming soon) ~ The Shadow of this Red Rock


#13 Offline The Dandy Automaton

The Dandy Automaton
  • Premier Member
  • Premier Outstanding BZP Citizens
  • FFM Bionicle Winner

  • 8,007 posts
  •   Outstanding BZPower Citizen

Posted Mar 21 2012 - 06:09 PM

Chapter 13: StruggleThe one thing Kurot would never admit, she pondered as she stared bored up at a mahogany ceiling, was that nobody had ever actually declared her a queen of thieves. There was no initiation ceremony, no public vote, not even a registration tablet. She just turned up one day and like Rahi, the scum of society flocked to her, largely due to her history in the Dark Hunters. She turned the attention to her advantage and began to build a reputation for herself amongst them. Her cold cunning and quick wit were two of the largest reasons nobody would oppose her title. The other was because she was organised.In efficient and profitable crime, organisation was the key. Too many thieves sent after a single object would increase chances of getting detected and, assuming all went as planned, the end result would be far less than satisfactory once the profits had been shared out. Poor and inadequate planning for an assassination and the hired killer could be stumbling around clumsily whilst the target slips away, intact. Fortunately for the low lives of Spherus Magna, Kurot was the first to offer to coordinate any and all plans, in return for their worship and loyalty. She found herself praising Mata Nui that nobody else had realised they could get anyone else to do the work she does, who would probably even do it without desiring to lead the planets underworld.It was in a show of her leadership now that Kurot sat, absent-mindedly staring off into space, her feet propped up against a deep brown wooden desk, etched in hundreds of scratching’s from uninterested daggers, mainly on the Vortixx’s side. Her eyelids felt heavy and she was grateful as she spotted the sky dyed a deep red outside, through a barred window. The day had been filled discussing plans, filing requests and assigning missions to any who wanted blood spilled, objects to mysteriously vanish or items to be smuggled into places where they weren’t wanted. It had been wholly boring for the more adrenaline-fueled Vortixx.She sat in a dingy little office, nestled in the back of a tavern, Toro City’s own duplicate of The Nest. From behind the door she could hear calls and jeers of mercenaries and thugs, verbally abusing each other from across the room. At times, Kurot was surprised by the intensity of the language used and every now and again would pick up a new phrase which she decided she would try out some time.To her left and right stood two heavily armoured Skakdi, each holding onto their own individual tool. After the misfortune with the Matoran, Kurot had decided to invest in more capable guards, just in case there were any more attempts on her life. So far, the day had gone by uneventfully and the guards had been keen to show it in their sagging shoulders, lazy postures and occasional grunts. At least, that’s what the guard on her right did. To her left, her missing eye made visibility impossible and she couldn’t tell what the other guard was doing. From the occasional smirks and chuckles of the guard on her right, she was sure she approve of it.Just as she felt her eyelids drooping shut and she felt on the edge of dozing, Kurot heard the office door groan open. Sitting more upright, she turned to face the newcomer and was greeted with the sight of a blue and gold armoured Toa with an expression that could freeze a Makuta’s antidermis.“It’s good to see you again, Ihrey,” Kurot smiled warmly, taking her feet from the desk. If she was going to greet old friends, she would do it without appearing like idle slob.The Toa of Psionics grunted in an exchange. Good, a warm greeting. This meant the news she brought wouldn’t be too terrible. “I found that Skrall you sent me after,” she said. “Stuck a knife in his heart, simple as that. I thought you said it’d be challenging.”Kurot frowned. “Well, eleven of our more amateur assassins didn’t return when assigned to the same target. I thought something was up. So I sent you, one of my more capable killers.”“So, you sent me to my death because you were suspicious?” Ihrey asked. Kurot immediately regretted her choice of words, not that it mattered much. Ihrey would have found the same answer in the Vortixx’s head should she get bored. “Thanks, I’m flattered.”“Clearly I didn’t send you to your death as you’re still here,” the queen stated plainly, raising the brow over her remaining eye.Ihrey looked as though she was about to say something when she was interrupted by a brisk rapping at the door. Turning, Kurot bid the newcomer to enter. The door slid open with a heave of complaint and the figure who stepped through made Kurot leap from her chair. Ihrey on the other hand regarded them coldly.“You,” the Skrall glared murderously in the queen’s direction. “I’ve heard you’re the one who wants me dead. I want to know why.”“And who might you be?” Kurot responded, ignoring the Skrall’s demands. She already knew, but she would answer his questions on her own terms and drag out as much time as necessary before that.“My name is Siril, a Skrall, formerly a general of the fifth regiment of the army of Elite Skrall Tuma before I abdicated the role in favour of freedom. And you are the one who has been demanding my death. You will explain this to me or I will have my revenge.”Kurot folded her arms insolently and frowned in Ihrey’s direction. She thought the Toa was a better killer than this. “I don’t take threats kindly,” she growled. She turned to her guards and took a step backwards. “Kill him. Properly this time.”Immediately, the Skakdi guard to the left surged forward, at the same time brandishing a large and brutal looking war hammer. A fearsome cry tore from his lips and he swung his weapon behind his back, ready to send it flying into his opponent.Siril’s eyes narrowed and Kurot could see him coldly processing a strategy for his next movements. Unfortunately for the Skakdi, his movements had been clumsy and as he lumbered towards the patiently waiting Skrall, he telegraphed his intentions for all to read. At the last moment, Siril sidestepped the charging guard and before he could shift his arms to swing the hammer, had already drawn his sword and planted it into his foes spine. The Skakdi howled in a mixture of surprise and pain and fell to the floor, his war hammer clattering noisily beside him.Kurot watched wordlessly, analysing the Skrall’s movements and fighting style. She had already come to the conclusion she needed to invest in more competent guards in the future. Ihrey stood on the other side of the room with her arms folded and a small smile lightening her face. To her, this was entertainment. To the right, she could see out of the corner of her remaining eye the last guard readying his weapon, a hefty crossbow. He loaded a bolt into his tool with swift ease and took aim at the Skrall.However, at the same time as Kurot, Siril had also noticed the unsubtle motions of the second Skakdi. As he raised the crossbow, the Skrall was already charging forwards. The mechanism clunked with a noisy roar and the bolt soared forwards. Siril plunged himself to the ground, just in time as the bolt flew heavily over his head and collided with a painful crunch into the wall behind him. Siril launched himself back up and into a sprint as he charged at the panicking guard. Feebly, the Skakdi fumbled with the remaining bolts and clumsily tried to reload the crossbow before the approaching warrior could reach him. He stepped backwards, but his eyes widened in terror when he met resistance. He had backed himself into a corner.The ensuing struggle ended swiftly. Siril tore his blade from the guard’s chest and watched the body slither down the wall he had so foolishly walked into. With cold and murderous eyes, he turned to the Vortixx he had come for.“Impressive,” Kurot shrugged. As the Skrall had charged past her, she had casually strolled around the desk, placing a barrier between the two. She placed both hands on the wooden surface and leaned forwards, her eyes narrowed at him like a waiting Muaka’s. “So what happens now?”“You tell me why you’re sending assassin’s after me,” Siril demanded, holding his blade in front of him. “If I’m happy with your excuses, you get to live.”“And if you’re not?” Kurot lowered her brow over her remaining eye in a frown.Gripping his sword and shield tightly, Siril took a threatening step towards the desk. “Then you’ll be going the same way as your pathetic guards.”With agility that surprised even herself, Kurot pounced onto the desk and launched herself feet first into the Skrall before her. With a sickening crunch, a heeled foot collided with his face, sending him sprawling backwards. He hit the wall and was about to regain his senses before Kurot span herself to land upright on the ground and at the same time, drew her daggers and jammed them into his neck.With a garbled cry, blood seeped from his wounds, staining the ground beneath him. He stumbled forwards, pitifully reaching for his sword, until his legs finally gave out underneath him and he fell in a crumpled heap on the floor.With a frustrated hiss, Kurot tore her weapons from the fresh injuries and immediately set to wiping the blades clean with a rag. Midway, she glanced up to see Ihrey who had stood back and watched the entire scuffle unfold with her mildly uninterested expression. “Thanks for the help,” she grumbled.“I killed him once, that’s all you asked,” Ihrey replied coolly."Great job you did there," Kurot muttered, eyeing the fallen corpse of the Skrall. "Normally when you kill your targets properly, they stay dead."Ihrey shrugged casually. "This one didn't."Kurot frowned in frustration. She scanned the room and surveyed the damage. Two Skakdi killed, a few blood splotches on the floor, no objects broken. Far worse had befallen her. “I want you to go back outside and search the streets,” she instructed, turning to the Toa of Psionics before her. “Make sure this one didn’t decide to bring any friends with him. I don’t need any more company of this sort.”Ihrey nodded and without a word, turned to leave. She placed a hand on the bronze door handle and a frown fogged over her features. She glanced at her old friend and leader. “He’s stopped bleeding, by the way. Just in case you hadn’t noticed.” Then, opening the door, she stepped outside and left, leaving Kurot alone with the three corpses.Confused by the Toa’s departing message, Kurot slowly stepped forwards. The room was deathly quiet now and suspense hung like a thick mist. She could hear the clacks of her metallic feet resonating against the wooden flooring beneath her whilst she stepped forwards. Besides from her, all was still. The Skrall lay face down, a small puddle of his own blood pooling around him.Too small. Ihrey was right, it had stopped developing. The blood had ceased dribbling from the wound. But then that would mean the wounds had inexplicably healed. Which would mean…With a terrifying cry, Siril lurched from the ground and slammed his weight into the off-guard Vortixx. She let out a shout of anger and confusion as she was lifted off of her feet and found herself barrelling backwards, unable to catch herself. As she collided with a painful crash into the wall behind her, the Vortixx gasped the wind lurched from her lungs. Kurot felt the Skrall release his grip and looked up in time to watch his fist soar into her face. Her head snapped backwards, cracking against the wall behind her. She yelled out in pain and felt herself slide onto the ground in a manner not unlike the Skakdi who had fallen not five minutes ago.Behind a field of hazy stars, she could see the Skrall walking away and for a moment her heart leapt at the notion he might be leaving. It quickly sank back down to disappointment as he stopped and bent down, wrapping his fingers around the hilt of his dropped blade. Placing a hand on her head, she grunted and staggered to her feet. She would not look weak. She would not fall.“I killed you,” she said, dumbly. “Those knives went right through your neck. Why aren’t you dead?” As she spoke, an understanding washed through her. Ihrey had been successful. As had the other assassins. But somehow, he had risen again.Confusion clouded the Skrall’s face. “You don’t know?” he muttered. Frowning, he shook his head and tightened his grip on his sword. They were both perplexed, but also aware they couldn’t let it distract them.Siril recovered from the bewilderment first and charged forward, raising his blade. Or so he thought. Kurot had regained her senses long before him and was simply waiting for him to make the first move. What she had next was insane, but given her disadvantage, was the best she had. As soon as he moved forwards, she dove down towards the ground, aiming herself at the corpse of one of her fallen guards. Next to his broken body lay the war hammer, which she snatched up quickly and efficiently. As soon as she held it in her hands, she titled her body and swung it around at the air in front of her. It was a one in a million shot, highly unlikely that she would make contact. The best she could hope for would be to drive the Skrall back.And yet it made contact. Siril howled in pain as the hammer was driven heavily into his helmet, which shattered under the weight. Metal embedded itself in the Skrall’s head and drew blood which dripped lazily down the ground. He lurched aside, his head clasped to the wound as though that would help. In some way, it did, as when he pulled it aside, the skin had healed where the hammer had lacerated his face. Horrifically, around the shards of metal, an image that would no doubt remain lodged firmly in Kurot’s mind.With seething eyes, Siril bellowed once more and propelled the hilt of his sword at Kurot. Caught off-guard by the sight of the shards of metal and still recovering from the exertion involved in swinging the hammer, she couldn’t react fast enough and gritted her teeth as the handle flew into her face, introducing a whole new level of pain to what she was currently going through. Driven by an uncontrollable rage, Siril didn’t allow Kurot time to recuperate and instead continued his assault by smacking his shield into her head.He threw his weapons aside and lunged at the Vortixx, sending a flurry of fists in her direction. Already in pain, she had no way of fighting back and cried out as punch after punch met her. This was no longer about just killing her, Siril wanted to cause as much pain as possible. As the waves of pain passed through her, she considered it amazing nobody from the tavern had come to her assistance. But then, over the noise they made, who would have noticed?Battered and broken, Kurot breathed heavily as the Skrall held her pinned against the wall, a hand clamped tightly around her throat. She grappled weakly against his fist, the efforts of the fight leaving her exhausted and so helpless. “Any last words?” Siril growled menacingly, tightening his grip on the Vortixx’s throat.There was only one last option. Kurot hated herself for having to take it, but it was all she had left. Hoping he wouldn’t notice, she relinquished her grip on the Skrall’s hand and let it her arm hang loosely at her side. Or so she wanted him to believe. “Go…To...Karzahni…” she choked, and spat at his helmet. He snarled at looked as though he were about to snap her neck when a faint bleeping noise made him pause. He looked down and saw a small spherical object wrapped by her fingers. His eyes widened as he took a guess at what it might be. The explosive given to her from Xavor and Zhorya.Siril swore loudly and threw the Vortixx aside like a ragdoll. Panicking, he turned and sprinted for the door. Just as he made it half way across the room, he felt something bounce against his right heel. From the high pitched ringing from below him, the Skrall knew he didn’t have to look down to figure out what was just thrown at him. “Oh, bugger,” was the last thing he managed to say before the world ripped apart around him with an unearthly roar and the flames consumed them both.Review Topic

Edited by The Wretched Automaton, Mar 22 2012 - 10:53 AM.

  • 0

shadowofthisredrock.png

Chapter four - Desire

Coming soon!

Short Stories: The Commute ~ Rasinov ~ In Your Absence ~ Hunter's Game ~ Suchia (Coming soon)

Epics: The Best Kept Secrets (Chapter 27: The Shadow Walker coming soon) ~ The Shadow of this Red Rock


#14 Offline The Dandy Automaton

The Dandy Automaton
  • Premier Member
  • Premier Outstanding BZP Citizens
  • FFM Bionicle Winner

  • 8,007 posts
  •   Outstanding BZPower Citizen

Posted Apr 04 2012 - 07:23 AM

Chapter 14: The Main EventUnderneath the burning crimson sky, red with the blood of a dying sun, the ground was littered with the horrific signs of chaos. Debris was scattered haphazardly around forming a large radius around the skeletal remains of the inn. The cobbled streets were littered with chunks of wood that burned bitterly in the light from the setting sun, surrounded by shattered glass, which turned the fires into an extravagant dance. It would have looked pretty, were it not for the gore splashed here and there from the bodies of unfortunate drinkers. In the corpse of the once proud building, Hahli, Kiina and Tarix were moving swiftly around with a group of other assorted blue-armoured Toa and Glatorian, working desperately to extinguish the flames. Jaller stood back and did his best to control the flames and prevent them from spreading.He watched as the survivors were evacuated from the building, carefully so as not to upset the remnants. The entirety of the ground floor was demolished and around the back, at the source of the explosion, the first floor had collapsed down on whoever might have been underneath. Nobody had checked there yet for survivors. It was unlikely there would be any.Once he decided his partners had complete control over the situation, Jaller turned away, deciding he could stomach no more of the scene. The charred meat and blood was making him feel ill and he resolved to get away as quickly as possible. Turning, he noticed two familiar forms watching him from an alleyway, a single silver coin reflecting from one of their hands. The light from the descending sun left a triangle of light in the mainly shadowy area, in which one of the two Vortixx stood. The other was shrouded in shadows, creating imagery Jaller found unsettling.“I’m sure you’re loving this, my dear,” Xavor said as he noticed the Toa’s approach. He grinned sweetly and flicked his thumb upwards, watching the coin spin up into the air. Zhorya reached into the shadows and plucked the coin away as it began its descent. Xavor kept his eyes on Jaller the entire time. “Heads.”Zhorya placed the coin on the armour of the back of his left hand and pulled his right away. “Heads.” Xavor clicked his fingers in approval.“Loving what?” Jaller frowned. “The blood? The destruction? Nobody could find something here to love.”Zhorya moulded his features into a sneer. “No, no, my dear. None of those. We mean the chance to be in the spotlight.”“The opportunity to lap up the praise of the citizens of Toro City,” Xavor said as he outstretched his arm in a grand gesture. “Isn’t that what you do it for?”“That’s pathetic,” Jaller spat. “I do what I do because I’m ensuring a better way of life for anyone who lives here.”“Right,” Zhorya snorted. “Keep telling yourself that. But in the meantime, how about you tell us what you’re really fighting for?”“We can tell you’re not really in it just for a silent smile from a Matoran. Otherwise you’d feel underappreciated. Who knows what you might do then?” Xavor sneered, stepping further back into the shadows.“No, you fight for something else,” Zhorya continued. “So what is it, Toa? Is it glory? Fame? Maybe it’s profit, do they pay Toa well? No, of course they don’t, just look at you.”Jaller opened his mouth to object, but was cut off as Xavor began to speak over him “But whatever the case, you’d just deny all that, wouldn’t you. No, it’s clearly as you say, it’s all for the Matoran, all for their sake.”“And when this quest for the Skrall, this battle is done, you will victoriously march home where you will no doubt expect to be praised and rewarded just as any true hero would be for their deeds.”“This is of course, before the next threat arrives, at which point you will then be dispatched to fight another day.”Zhorya flicked the coin again, which was snatched from the air by his partner. “Tails,” he said confidently. He was right, which earnt a broadening of his grin. “And when you come back from that, you’ll be praised once again, and on and on in a continuous spiral. But every spiral has to end, doesn’t it?”Jaller narrowed his eyes in frustration and glared at the duo. He hated to admit this to himself, but he was intrigued by their words. They reminded him of an old foe, not even a year ago, he stood face to face with the Piraka Hakkan who’d been trying to shake his confidence then. He prided himself in knowing it hadn’t worked. Would it be the same again? “Where are you getting with this?”Xavor’s eyes started to crackle with menace as he spoke. “What we’re getting at is That all this is temporary, Toa, that there will come a time when you fight your last battle and you’ll be left lying in the dirt, the final breath leaving your broken and battered body as the terrible realisation comes over you. You’ve failed.”“Now that you’ve lost, all that you’ve strived for is destroyed, all that safety you’ve built up for the Matoran and for the Agori and for every other blasted villager is gone as the latest enemy steps over your corpse. You have fallen and everyone else is vulnerable,” Zhorya continued.“Of course, that’s not entirely the case. Because at this point, the status quo will be defended as a new hero rises up to fight them off. They will replace you in every way and tread the exact same path you followed all those years ago.”“The spiral will begin again and then again and again and then, maybe you’ll realise, you’re not a hero, Toa. You’re not a saviour. You’re just another solider sent to die.”A cold breeze drifted through the alley as Zhorya concluded the point. Jaller shivered, though whether from the cold or from the Vortixx’s words sinking in, he wasn’t sure. He didn’t want to think about it, wanted to avoid even considering what the two said might have been true. “That was a nice speech,” Jaller sighed, trying to prevent his voice from quivering. “What was the point of sharing it?”“There wasn’t really much of a point. Never really much of a point in doing anything,” Xavor shrugged, leaning against the alley wall. Xavor flicked the coin in the air, returning it to Zhorya. He guessed the result correctly once again.“But if you really have to know, we don’t have to keep lies from you. We’re curious, my dear Toa. The rage of a Toa is a thing to behold, so they say. One of the most fearsome things a breaker of crime can witness.”“But, we believe there’s one step above that. The insanity of a Toa. What happens when one of these so caller keepers of the peace loses all control over who they are and gives in to their emotions, becoming a hate filled machine, leaving nothing but devastation in their path.”Zhorya winked at the Toa of fire who stood dumbstruck, a slow realisation dawning in his head. “You understand it’s nothing personal. We’re just curious as to who could be the first to go over the edge. How quickly will it take one of your little gang members to snap like a twig?”A chilling realisation swept over Jaller and he turned to the destroyed inn. Of course, that’s exactly the kind of thing they would do. Mindless destruction in the effort of bringing about an insane rage. He watched Zhorya spin the coin into the air and followed as Xavor announced his partners guess as incorrect. Zhorya winced mournfully at that. “You…You did this!” Jaller roared, snapping his hand to the hilt of his sword and tensing his bicep.“Oh, please,” Xavor smirked, enjoying the Toa’s sudden aggression. “I wish this were our doing. All this chao-“ His words were cut off by an all too familiar sound in the distance, a rumble like thunder. Something invisible shimmered around the two Vortixx and one of the numerous rings on their fingers glowed. “Okay, that one was ours.Jaller tore around the corner of just as he saw the first fireball burst from the walls of a distant four story building that hung high above the city. The library, he realised. Just as the flames fled the site of the devastation, a second explosion rocked the city, bursting lower one level. Screams shattered the stunned silence, even as the first floor erupted into a terrible fire and the building began to collapse down on itself, groaning as the wood crumpled and snapped. A final explosion ripped through the buildings foundations and set debris soaring, colliding with and even impaling those unlucky enough not to run fast enough.“What have you done?!” Jaller screamed. “What have you done?!”He whirled around in time to see a flash of silver streak across his vision. Zhorya took a step forward to balance himself and the Toa of fire saw the cold, serrated blade resting firmly inside his clenched fist. “Good, good test. You’re quick, Toa. And a very good reaction speed. I’d be very disappointed otherwise. Because you’ll need to be fast now. If you’re really going to go through with this trek, then you’d better get ready to run.”As he finished, Jaller saw a flash of movement and before he could even turn to run, he felt the small, metallic sphere that Xavor had lobbed at him collide with his Kanohi, even as it exploded into an intense ball of light. The brightness burnt into his eyes and he fell backwards, screaming.The world had been shrouded in the burning chaos of the whiteness and he began to fear he might never retrieve his vision. Just as the horror sank in, images finally began to swim back to him. The alleyway that still lurked, dark and menacing. The crimson sky, now tinged with shades of purple and blotted with smudges of dark black smoke from the fires. In front of him, he could make out the familiar form of a Faxon looking down on him. Hahli’s bright orange eyes burned with concern for him, which left him feeling secure in their glow. With her attention on him, surely this meant that the danger had passed. He felt warmer with her, just as he always did, since their escapades back on the island of Mata Nui. It was a curious thing, friendship.He blinked and shook his head with a ground. His brain seemed intent on escaping the back of his head by pounding on its metallic casing as much as it could. He watched the relief was over her face and she sighed contentedly. “Where’ve they gone?” Jaller asked.She shook her head. “I don’t know. When we got here, they’d already blinded you and they dropped a smoke bomb. We couldn’t chase after them in time. They’re gone, but we’ve no idea where to.”Jaller groaned irritably. “What about the library, what’s happened?”A voice rumbled over his head, which he recognised as the deep voice of the Toa of Earth and current team leader, Bomonga. “It’s disgusting. The entire building’s been ripped to shreds. Kiina and Tarix have taken the rest of the water patrol over to tend to what’s left, but I don’t think it’s even worth that. All this destruction, they’ve caused. For what?The Toa of fire rested his head on the dirt covered cobbled streets and stared up at the sky as the first stars of the night began to wink into existence. Somehow, he had a horrible feeling he knew.***Ihrey stalked through the panicked streets of Toro City. The library may have just gone up in flames, but she couldn’t give two Fikou’s about the fate of that pathetic waste of space. All that mattered was the first explosion, the one that had taken place where she had been barely ten minutes ago. She pushed through the crowd, knocking several Agori to the ground and ignoring their angry complaints.How could she be stupid? Why didn’t she just tell Kurot the Skrall was still alive and stick with her, instead of leaving her to die? No, she couldn’t be dead. She wouldn’t be. Not like this. Not after everything they’d seen and done.The streets around her buzzed with nervous conversation. Here and there theories over the evening’s events were passed between friends and hidden away from enemies. Scanning into the minds of a few of the denizens, she discovered the Skrall had been sighted by almost the entire city. They then began to try putting two and two together and came to the conclusion the Skrall must have been responsible, perhaps in a suicidal attack. Maybe even a threat, foreshadowing a coming war. That can’t go down too well.So lost in her own thoughts she was, she jumped when she felt a hand place itself on her shoulder. She span around with her daggers drawn to face an all too familiar Vortixx who jerked both arms forward and caught her wrists before they could do any lasting damage.Ihrey glared with venom at who she recognised to be Xavor with his piercing orange eyes. “You wouldn’t be anywhere near an explosion without being partly responsible. What have you done to Kurot?”Xavor’s eyes bored into Ihrey’s as he stepped back with a mirthful expression. “I believe a thank you would be more appropriate,” he smirked. He raised his hand and began examining the tips of his fingers. “I believe I just saved her life.”“Nice try,” the Toa of psionics spat, readying herself to lunge forward. “But she was in the blast. You killed her.”Xavor flicked his hand in her direction and gestured to his ringed fingers. “She was wearing one of these if you remember correctly, dear. At least I hope she was. Believe me, as soon as the bomb detonated, she got shrouded in a forcefield and is probably quite warm and safe, even as we speak.”“Then why are you trying to stop me getting to her?”“I’m not. I’m just trying to ask a favour of you.”Ihrey narrowed her eyes and growled. She hated both of them, so why she’d ever do a favour for them she had no idea. Wait… “Where’s your other half?”“Oh, he’s around,” Xavor smirked. “He has a few things he needs to take care of before we meet back up.”The thought of that made Ihrey shudder. All too often she’d heard one of the two of them say that. Usually when the other was on a rooftop aiming a crossbow at their targets head. “So what’s this favour you want from me?”“Tell me, how good are you with public executions?”***To put it simply, Kurot was in agony. There wasn’t an inch of her body that didn’t screech with pain at the slightest echo of movement. A lot of it was attributed to the vicious beating she so narrowly avoided getting killed by just a few minutes before. The other reason was because of the building that had fallen on her directly afterwards.That was annoying. As she had been promised, she was enveloped in a forcefield as soon as the explosion began that shielded her from danger. Unfortunately, what she hadn’t foreseen was the after-effects and how that with the foundations of the building torn to shreds, there was little to prevent the roof from coming down on her.So she lay, buried in rubble, too weak to cry out for help. She wasn’t sure if she was the only living thing trapped under all this, but she hoped not. Not just for her own sake, but also for that of the Skrall. He had been ripped to shreds by the force of the explosion, of that she was certain, but would that really be enough to stop him? He had survived everything else she had thrown at him, so would that mean that even now, when scattered around like small pieces of a puzzle, he was being knitted back together? Was new flesh growing around some central point, nerves sewing themselves back into place before muscle or skin? She hoped not. Nobody deserved that kind of agony.A flash of hope lit her world as she began to hear a slight scuffling sound. She could feel the vibrations as wood began to shift away from on top of her. Someone was coming, she was saved. She just hoped they knew how to take the pain away. But her hopes fell as the last chunk of rubble was shifted away and she gazed up at the features of her saviour. He smirked down at her, the recently risen moon hidden behind his head and large metallic hair. The pain began to seer all over her body as he continued freeing her and before she could black out, the last sight she took in was that of Zhorya's glowing sneer.Review Topic

Edited by The Wretched Automaton, Apr 05 2012 - 05:55 AM.

  • 0

shadowofthisredrock.png

Chapter four - Desire

Coming soon!

Short Stories: The Commute ~ Rasinov ~ In Your Absence ~ Hunter's Game ~ Suchia (Coming soon)

Epics: The Best Kept Secrets (Chapter 27: The Shadow Walker coming soon) ~ The Shadow of this Red Rock


#15 Offline The Dandy Automaton

The Dandy Automaton
  • Premier Member
  • Premier Outstanding BZP Citizens
  • FFM Bionicle Winner

  • 8,007 posts
  •   Outstanding BZPower Citizen

Posted Apr 06 2012 - 05:10 PM

Chapter 15: A Dance in the MoonlightIt was on the nights like these that he could be anything he wanted. Underneath the jewel studded sky, he would dance in the shadows. Gone was his old life, his old reputation and his old inhibitions. Now, all that remains was himself and the Atero Nui that would be his stage. He was a performer and every few nights, he would master his art under the watchful eyes of the moons as they cast their pearly white spotlights upon him.He wouldn’t wear a hooded cloak on the nights like these. He had nothing to conceal, for in these nights, he was himself. There were no plans to veil or executions to plan. He was free from all constrictions and alive. So he would perform to the city, as just that.A spin of movement attracted his attention. There. There would be his assistant, his accomplice in his spectacle. He was an Agori who donned dazzling jade armour upon himself. He was unaware of the role he was yet to play. They always were.He pranced forwards, keeping his eyes watchful on his partner at all times. There was nobody around, which led to some disappointment. But it was best that way, for in the mornings, life would return to normal. It would be best if neither trace nor memory were to carry itself over. His assistant and the support of the skies was all he needed.Close to his side, he kept his best friend, the only companion he would keep on the nights like these. The hilt of beautiful dagger led to a vicious looking curved talon. But to him, it wasn’t just a dagger, it wasn’t just a weapon. It was a part of him and he was a part of it.He was a bird now and ahead of him was his unsuspecting rodent. The rodent seemed nervous, apprehensive. Stage fright, perhaps? The Agori paused, just for a moment, to look around. Had he heard the hawk’s footsteps? Not like it mattered though, for in the moment of hesitation, he swooped in for the kill.The Agori span around and his eyes burst open in recognition. He tried to cry out, but the killer was too fast. They were always too slow. The dagger sank into his neck and all the Agori could do was gurgle and writhe around in his emerald armour. A bouquet of blood washed forward to greet his glimmering dagger. He was a musician. This was yet another of his greatest masterpieces.The body slumped forwards and a surge of disappointment washed over the killer. Now they could no longer mingle in the glory of his talents together. But it drifted back, receding into the ocean of emotions that roiled deep inside of him. For now, he realised, he was an artist. The blood splashed out of the Agori, free from its prison at last and painted the streets a magnificent rouge shade. The result was beautiful.He guided the empty vessel down to the stone, cold floor and examined his work. He would leave the Agori where he lay, so when dawn approached, they could all appreciate his art. And appreciate it, they always did. Whenever they found his masterpieces, they would hunt him down, perhaps to praise his glory. But they would always fall short.The killer plucked the dagger from his newest piece and sheathed it back away. His work was done, there was nothing more to wait for. The night like this was about to end and so his old life would rush back, now with the fresh memories of what he had done. When he came to, he would look back on what he did and realise he was no musician, no artist, no hawk. He was a murderer and a cold blooded one at that. But that term meant nothing to him, because on the nights like these, he was a god and so he would bask in his holy power over life and over death.***It had been a productive day for Tuma. The previous night had supplied him with a small army of around fifty Skrall, of which eleven had been wounded in battle or during their escape. To make an example of his grasp over them as leader, he had ensured their execution. No need in carrying around dead weights when an army is all that is needed. He had personally carried out four executions when his soldiers seemed too reluctant to kill their partners.But he had kept Stronius alive, and instead promoted him to the rank of advisor for Tuma. The army of Skrall had begun to complain over unfair discrimination and several had tried to stick a sword in their new general as a result. They would later be pruned from the ranks as a result, for their insubordination. But before that, Tuma insisted that Stronius would survive as a punishment for his weakness. He claimed that any worthy Skrall would die with honour, yet despite Stronius’ reputation, he clung onto life. So he would be kept alive to suffer and reflect on his mistakes. But to keep him useful, he would be tasked with offering suggestions and strategies to his superior.In reality, the answer was a little simpler. He was lonely. His isolation in the desert after his defeat had sparked a new fear in him, paralysing him at the concept of solitude. Perhaps his army would be there, but to them he was just a leader, the authority figure who would order them to march to their slaughter. But what the warrior needed was a companion to whom he could talk to from time to time, a friend with whom he could spend the hours with instead of marching with only his thoughts to mull over. And so as an old partner, Stronius would have to do, though perhaps he may have to be kept in the dark over the purpose of his survival.After he had set the foundations for his army, they had rested for the night. As the sun rose, they did too and began the long march to scout for new applicants. Their crushing defeat had scattered the Skrall across Spherus Magna, but a significant portion had all had the same idea, to travel north in the hopes of a new home. As they combed the wastelands, they uncovered camp after camp filled with potential soldiers. At the sight of the ever growing army and the Kazyshian sword in their leaders grasp, the Skrall had jumped at the chance for revenge, and by the time the sun had descended once more, the army had reached between three and four hundred. Almost four hundred warriors, all hungry for battle and thirsty for vengeance. No leader could ask for more.But still Tuma felt unsettled. In his hands, he carried with him the object of desire that a thousand Skrall before him had lusted over, the Kazyshian sword, a weapon that would promise victory to all who bear it. But something felt wrong. The way the blade would draw all blood from its victim’s wounds felt eerie and the way it vibrated as if shivering was joy made Tuma shudder in horror.And even worse, the sword now trembled constantly, quaking restlessly in the leather sheath on his back. The violet glow would burst forth in beams that hurt the eyes of all who looked at it when drawn, so all Tuma could do was keep it hidden. On top of it all, something buzzed inside his head, as it had done ever since he had risen earlier that day, when the dawn soaked the sky in blood. He told nobody of the constant droning within his skull, in fear it would be interpreted as madness, or worse, a weakness. As his army set up camp once more for the night, Tuma departed for his tent, ripping the animal-hide door from out of his path as he stalked into the darkness. Frustrated as the ache in his head refused to depart, he pounded his fist against his helmet, as if he could punch it away from him.And that’s when he heard it for the first time. Deep in his mind, a voice he hoped never to hear again spoke to him.Can you hear me now? You can? Good. Because I think now, we’ll make a great pair together, again. You with your brute strength and me with my incredible wit and intelligence. No, no, I’m just kidding. That’s a joke.Review Topic

Edited by The Wretched Automaton, Apr 06 2012 - 06:50 PM.

  • 0

shadowofthisredrock.png

Chapter four - Desire

Coming soon!

Short Stories: The Commute ~ Rasinov ~ In Your Absence ~ Hunter's Game ~ Suchia (Coming soon)

Epics: The Best Kept Secrets (Chapter 27: The Shadow Walker coming soon) ~ The Shadow of this Red Rock


#16 Offline The Dandy Automaton

The Dandy Automaton
  • Premier Member
  • Premier Outstanding BZP Citizens
  • FFM Bionicle Winner

  • 8,007 posts
  •   Outstanding BZPower Citizen

Posted Apr 14 2012 - 03:47 PM

Chapter 16: Assassination Norik slid his way through the densely packed throng of spectators. Ahead of him, Toa gave their best efforts to subdue the crowd of onlookers, but with little assistance. Honestly, the killings lately had become so frequent, they were practically turning into a spectacle. Everyone wanted to know who the latest victim was.“It’s an Agori this time,” Vastus explained as Norik approached. “Name was Rossi, on his way back from a night drinking with friends. Obviously, he thought he could take a risk.”Norik frowned at the news. Surely by now the citizens should be smarter than this. Do they really think they can keep gambling with their lives. Though it was a subject that was usually avoided, the Elders had been proposing a curfew, for the safety of the public. But despite the best intentions, they knew it wouldn’t be interpreted straight away. But there were more pressing issues at hand. “He was an Agori, so I guess I need to ask. Any significant others? Children? Anyone at all who needs to be notified?”“We’ve already sent a notice out to the parents,” Vastus informed, ahead of the game as ever. He had an unusual ability to take the gritty details of murder mysteries in his stride. “But we’ve asked around and he doesn’t seem to have had a wife and definitely no children.”“Well, we can be relieved at that, I guess,” the Toa of fire sighed. As a being from the Mata Nui universe, the concepts of romance and reproduction still confused him, but he knew they created a bond strong enough to leave an Agori or Glatorian a tearful wreck at the deliverance of bad news.It had been happening too much lately. A night would pass by silently, with barely even a stir and then the sun would rise to find yet another corpse lying in the road. The numerous hunts staged had been fruitless. From the month since the Shattering had been reversed, the kill count stood at eleven Matoran, eight Agori, four Toa and a single Glatorian.Norik shuddered at the memory of the Glatorian corpse. This one was different. Instead of the usual clean cut in the throat, this victim had been riddled with lacerations across his entire body. Even after they had died, the killer had uncharacteristically continued stabbing them, puncturing their armour and tearing off chunks of flesh, even leaving teeth marks in the Glatorian’s neck, which had unsettled everyone who had seen them. Norik’s theory was that the Glatorian had spooked his attacker and tried to fight back. The killer then managed to overpower him and in a frenzy, kept cutting and slashing. This would also account for why there hadn’t been any more dead Glatorian. The teeth marks were a sign they were dealing with a monster.“Well, get rid of the body, look for any evidence that might have been left behind and we’ll set up another search,” Norik ordered. Aware of the crowd, he then dropped his voice. “I fear it’ll end the same as all the others, but we have to make it look like we’re trying.”Vastus nodded and turned to leave, just as a call sounded from somewhere amidst the crowd. The two warriors faced the source of the shout and were greeted with the sight of Thantox nervously stepping forwards. The crowd was beginning to thin as the civilians decided the show had now ended.Thantox finally pushed through and took a moment to catch his breath. From the rise and falls of his chest, it was clear he had just been running. "Ackar's going mad," Thantox panted, holding up a hand. "I think he's going to kill somethi-" He paused and noticed the dead body in the process of being carried away. He winced. "Ah, um, bad subject."“What are you talking about,” Norik frowned. The idea of Ackar killing sent a shiver through his spine.Thantox paused. “Um, it was a figure of speech. I didn’t mean he’s going to kill someone…Well, he might. He seems pretty angry.”“About what?” Vastus asked. The Glatorian exchanged a glance with Norik. The two had a firm guess as to what had ignited Ackar’s temper. The letter detailing Tuma’s intentions to rise to power had been discovered by a De-Matoran. Since then it had exchanged multiple hands, before landing in those of a copier, who delighted in produced replicates of the letter and pinning them all over Atero Nui. After that, it was official. The citizens worst fears were about to be confirmed. Tuma wanted his army back and the Elder’s had been lying to them. If that was the case, then what else were they hiding from them?“About who betrayed us,” a voice growled. The three of them span around to see Ackar striding towards them from an alleyway. He towered over them and he spoke in a low grunt, indicating he was only just keeping his temper under control. “They got the letter somehow. There’s only a handful who have ever been in the Elder’s chamber before it went missing.” He turned and glowered at Thantox, who whimpered in response.“Well, that’s undeniable,” Vastus shrugged. “Unless the Vortixx somehow managed to break in. It’s nigh-on impossible with the levels of security we set up, but we can’t rule it out.”Thantox began to whimper again, but it went unheard as Norik interjected, “But who would do it? And why?”“Help me,” a small voice moaned. Norik frowned at Thantox who was cradling his head in his hands and looking straight at the floor. At first, it looked to the Toa as though he was frozen in place, until closer inspection indicated he was shaking.An alarm began to ring in Norik’s head as he saw the Steltian begin to convulse. He stepped forward and, in an attempt to comfort the Steltian, he stretched an arm out to place on his shoulder. “Thantox, what’s going-“His words were drowned out by a shrill shriek piercing the morning air. Norik jerked his hand back as Thantox threw his head back and began to scream, a blood-curdling howl of pain. Vastus surged forwards, trying to restrain the frantic servant as he lunged back and forth as though he could escape whatever was tearing inside his mind.Amidst the howls and shrieks, Norik could just about make out pained words, pleas for mercy tearing themselves from Thantox’s lips. Though most were indiscernible, some he could just about make out. “Make it stop!” he could hear Thantox screech. “Someone please, please help me! It burns! I’m sorry, just take it away! Please! I’m sorry, please make it stop!” Whatever followed was lost as the screaming intensified.Norik looked around hopelessly. Around them, the crowd had reformed, watching fearfully as the servant of the Elder’s thrashed around wildly. They stared on with wide eyes, probably wondering what secret they were trying, and thoroughly failing, to hide this time.In his desperation, Norik turned just in time to see a blue armoured figure sprint from the shadows of the alleyway Ackar had emerged from not seconds ago. The being had the sleek feminine figure and blue armour tinged with gold recognisable of a Toa of psionics. Her malicious eyes were fixated on Thantox as she charged. Of course, it would be one of them wouldn’t it? Norik deduced she was sending intense waves of pain straight into Thantox’s mind, right where he couldn’t even fight back. He would then distract the crowd as she moved in for the kill but…What then? She would have just drawn attention to herself and her kill. Why?She hadn’t noticed she’d captured the attention of the Elder, as all other eyes were still on the screaming Thantox. She charged forwards knives in hand and was just seconds away from sinking them through the Steltians armour.And then she hesitated. It was only for a moment. Her eyes winced as though she was recognising pain and she stopped. She continued on as normal, but it was the edge Norik needed. That moment of hesitation had allowed him to regain his senses and step in before any damage could be done. Her daggers were just a whisper of a second away before the shaft of Norik’s spear connected with her Kanohi.She reeled back and Thantox crumpled to the ground, free from the mental torture she had been inflicting on him. She hissed and was about to lunge at the Toa of fire when a green blur passed in front of her. Vastus raised his scythe and swung forwards. With nothing but daggers, she was helpless. The blade of the scythe swooped above her shoulder armour, heading straight for her neck.And stopped. The blue armoured Toa collapsed to her knees, breathing heavily, having escaped death so narrowly. Vastus pulled his scythe back and settled for kicking her in the face. At that, two Glatorian rushed in and bound her wrists. The emerald Glatorian strapped his scythe back on his back and walked over to Norik. “Good spot there. If you hadn’t noticed her…” He looked pitifully at the shivering wreck that Thantox had become. Ackar leaned down and placed the Steltian’s arm around his shoulder, preparing him for the escort home.“Why didn’t you kill her?” Norik inquired. “You don’t follow the Toa code. You would have done us a favour.”Vastus paused. “I’m no murderer. We have enough of those running around,” he shrugged. “Of course, it’s also more practical to interrogate her later. That wasn’t some unorganised attack. She brought attention to herself for a reason.”Norik nodded in response. “But we have a bigger mystery than that to solve,” he said.“You heard it too, then?” the Glatorian asked.“Barely. But I know I did. Thantox was screaming for forgiveness. But for what?”“And from who?”Review Topic
  • 0

shadowofthisredrock.png

Chapter four - Desire

Coming soon!

Short Stories: The Commute ~ Rasinov ~ In Your Absence ~ Hunter's Game ~ Suchia (Coming soon)

Epics: The Best Kept Secrets (Chapter 27: The Shadow Walker coming soon) ~ The Shadow of this Red Rock


#17 Offline The Dandy Automaton

The Dandy Automaton
  • Premier Member
  • Premier Outstanding BZP Citizens
  • FFM Bionicle Winner

  • 8,007 posts
  •   Outstanding BZPower Citizen

Posted Apr 24 2012 - 05:03 PM

Chapter 17: The Soul Stealer“Metus…?” Tuma spoke in little more than a whisper, his voice practically undetectable underneath his breath.How kind, you still remember me. Tuma flung his hand to his forehead as Metus answered. No. No, he didn’t speak. There was no noise. He’d thought his response. He was inside of the Skrall’s head and he was thinking. We used to be the best of friends after all. I’d hate to let all that companionship go after just that little…papercut…“You’re in my head,” Tuma croaked. “I killed you. I drove my own sword through your body. I stepped over your useless corpse. You can’t be in my head.” He must have gone insane. That was the only answer. But that didn’t help at all. Would he be able to hide it, or would his own army put him down as mercilessly as he had executed his own wounded soldiers?The idea of Metus chuckling floated into Tuma’s mind. He supposed that would mean he was laughing from now on. All of Metus’ actions would be Tuma’s thoughts from now on and there was no way to ignore them. Now, now, Tuma. You almost seem surprised. Even with all that research, don’t tell me you still don’t know the true purpose of the Kazyshian sword?The Skrall leader looked around, scanning his tent with narrowed eyes. He stomped forward and parted the canvas that hid him from both the outside world and his bloodthirsty army. Nobody was listening. Nobody was coming. Good. If anyone were to catch him standing around talking to himself, it would have immediately been interpreted as a sign of madness. Not that he was sure it wasn’t. “I know what it does. It ensures my victory,” he growled.But it extends beyond that. This is a sword that spans across the legends of a dozen cultures. Of course, I imagine that never would have interested you, would it? After all, I seem to recall every reading of every scroll ending as soon as you reached the words ‘victory assured’.“No,” Tuma scowled. He was still talking to himself, despite being half aware that he could simply communicate via thought. But he couldn’t dare let his mind wander. “The sword is one of the many legends of the Skrall. It was a gift to our greatest warrior from Angonce himself. That’s all I care for.”Except that’s wrong. There was an edge of superiority cutting through the Agori’s thoughts that made Tuma’s blood boil. The sword’s gone by so many names in its time. The Kazyshian sword, by your kind of course. The bloodless blade, from the Great Beings. The glory of the Watcher, the tooth of the divine, Fillik’s curse. And of course, the most relevant to our current situation, the soul stealer.Tuma’s eyes began to widen beneath his helmet as realisation sank in. “The…Soul stealer?”In a corner of his mind, amusement washed over him. Metus was frustratingly happy about this. I have no idea why it was forged or just who imbued this kind of magic into it. But I can tell you hope it works. The sword goes into its victim and drains the blood. I guess that’s where the Great Beings got their name for it. But when it drains the blood…With it comes the soul. Think of it as a syringe, if you will. But believe me when I say it’s not an overly pleasant experience.“So, when I stabbed you with the sword…”Yup. You left my body behind, but you took me with you. Very kind of you, if you don’t mind me saying. It was getting dark and I needed a lift.” Another image of Metus’ infuriating howls of laughter. …That was another joke.Tuma felt his frustration boiling over inside of him and he had the urge to hit something. Preferably something living that would scream for mercy. But he restrained and forced his mood to cool itself. “Then how are you in my head? You should be in the sword.”I should be, but I’m not. You see, the sword isn’t so much a prison as it is a pathway. When I’m drained inside, I just have to wait for an entrance to be opened up to me. Of course, it’s not quite as simple as that, given the sword needs to make contact with someone first. And of course, who better than my old friend, Tuma?“But that’s impossible,” Tuma frowned. “The sword has never injured me. And I’ve cut down more than just you, so why aren’t they in my head too?” Not that that was a bad thing.Well, you did. But can you remember a single distinguishing feature about them? It’s doubtful. You didn’t even give them a name, let alone individual armours. Metus’ thoughts jeered. The difference is, I was something of a large part of your life, though you may wish to deny it. You had so many memories of me; there was so much time we spent together. Therefore, from the connection the sword had been bonding with you as its bearer, it was easy for me to bleed through those particular thoughts, which led me to be here now. Quite simple when you think about it.“Then you can leave just as easily,” Tuma growled. He reached for the glowing violet sword and wrapped his fingers around the hilt. “The pathway is opened again. My mind is my own, and you will leave.”As nice as that would be, I can’t anymore. The only way to exit a particular vessel is through the blood. Before Tuma could raise the sword to his wrist, Metus’ thoughts quickly cut in. But, you should probably know, the sword doesn’t distinguish between souls, so if I go, then have a guess who follows. And here’s a hint: It’s you.”The Skrall began to feel his blood run cold. He hated the traitor with all of his being, but now in an act of thoughtless revenge, he had condemned himself to eternity with him. “Get out. Now.”Believe me, I’m not liking our new arrangement either. I’ve had to sit through every one of your thoughts and I wouldn’t consider a single one of those pleasant. Is there a single being in existence that you haven’t imagined driving a sword through? Well, except maybe for that Stronius guy.”“Shut it,” Tuma whispered quickly. Though Metus’ voice stayed only in his own thoughts, he still returned to his post at the canvas of his tent to inspect for spies. It was all clear once again.A river of mirth flowed inside the buzzing corner of Tuma’s thoughts. Personally, I’ve always preferred the company of women, but whatever floats your boat, I guess.”“If you say another word, I swear to Angonce, I will rip off your head.”I’d like to see you try. No, really, I would. We share the same head now, in case you didn’t notice. Besides, I’m not one to judge. I’m just surprised to discover the leader of the Skrall himself…“It is irrelevant!” Tuma snapped. He paced back and forth, his armour feet trampling over the canvas beneath. In a fit of rage, he turned to a pile of armour and kicked it away, sending it flying, where it landed with an ear shattering clatter. He heard a shout of alarm and a number of Skrall charged inside. With a scowl, he glanced over them.“Is everything alright, sir?” the lead Skrall questioned, kneeling in a bow.“Everything is fine,” Tuma snarled, gripping his forehead. Metus was remaining quiet, but he could still feel his presence, buzzing on the edges of his thoughts. “Of course it is. Why wouldn’t it be?”The Skrall nodded and gazed over at the scattered piles of armour. He said nothing, but Tuma could tell he was trying to assess the situation. “Would there be anything else, sir?”“No, that will be all.” He strode past his bowing warriors and looked over at the morning sun. He had been conversing longer than he expected. “But tell the rest of our army we leave now. Gather the supplies and we will march onwards to find more Skrall for our ranks. Then tomorrow…We march towards Atero Nui. And leave nothing but ashes in our wake.”***In her dreams, Kurot was where she would always be. High above the confines of her island home, Xia, she was buried in the thick fumes of pollution. One hand passed over the other as she clawed her way up the face of the mountain. Her fingers ached and her body complained with every motion, but she carried on regardless. She had to proceed. She had to succeed.Behind her, she could hear her partner scrambling helplessly. Without even turning, she knew what had happened. His hoarse voice called hopelessly up to her. “Kurot, please! Help me! I’m stuck!”Of course, he knew what was to come. It was tradition after all. Kurot had to ascend the social ladder, if she ever wished to feel worth and this was her greatest opportunity. If her partner perished but she survived, then that was it. She would get what she dreamed of. Notability. And she wouldn’t even have to move a muscle to do it.“Kurot, please…” the voice called again. He was weak from thirst and exhaustion. Even before the ascent had begun, it was unlikely he would have lasted long, given the poor condition he had been kept in. “I don’t want to die…Not here…Not alone…”Her heart wrenched in her chest and she gazed back down at her partner. His foot was snagged in a coiling, twisting, writhing line of vegetation, even as a hole began to swell beneath him. He would be sacrificed to the mountain any second now and then the only problem Kurot would have to deal with would be the climb back down.But that wasn’t her way. Her stomach felt hollow and weightless as the mountain prepared itself to accept the offering and she knew she couldn’t let this happen. She may be ambitious, but she wasn’t a cold blooded killer. She wasn’t like Roodaka or Gherik. They were cold, calculating and ruthless. She was going to prove that she wasn’t always.“Hold on, Xavor!” she yelled. She turned and began to tread carefully down the steep and unsteady slope. Ahead of her, Xavor shivered, feeling the imminent death. His eyes were alive with fear and he glanced up at her, his free foot beginning to slip into the growing maw beneath him.Kurot swiftly slid one of her daggers from its pouch and flung it at the vine. It cut straight through and began to wither away, leaving grey dust in its wake that was caught by a sudden gust of wind. Like the mountain was roaring at her.Xavor lost his balance and began to slide down into the jaw of the mountain, until Kurot threw her hand forward and yanked him up to safety. There he collapsed to the ground and lay there panting. He looked so weak, so ineffectual, Kurot began considering whether it was fair to even keep him alive. But she resolved to have mercy. She extended her arm and offered to help up the Vortixx shivering at her feet.And there her memories ended and her true dreams began. Instead of the one being, two accepted the gesture and pulled themselves to their feet. Kurot sank to her knees from the weight and looked up as Xavor and Zhorya leered down at her, straightening themselves up. The clouds twisted and span, before forming the familiar skyline of Atero Nui. She looked down again and found herself kneeling in a field of burning red blades of grass that stung as she ran her armoured fingers across them.She turned her head back up to face the duo again, only to discover them vanished. Around her, the winds picked up at whispered into her ears, carrying all too familiar voices. Ihrey, Suchia, Viroki, Rasinof and so many others that she longed to shut out. They called to her and clawed at her mind, screaming curses or for help. The ghosts of her past tore at her and threatened to bring her to insanity, as even clamping her hands over her ear holes failed to aid her.Just as she felt her mind about to snap, she whirled around and found herself confronted by a memory more haunting than even the screeches of phantoms. For in front of her stood the one creature she feared more than anything in the universe, a hulking mass of bleached armour with a malevolent expression like none she had ever seen. She had only ever seen this creature once in the corner of her eye, but that had been enough to embed it in her mind. The beast had leered at her and vanished from sight, but she knew it was no illusion. She had seen it, and in return it had seen her.All that Kurot could do was gaze at it as the beast made no motion to move. The monster that she had only encountered once. And the monster that she had seen following Xavor and Zhorya.With a lurch, she sprang upright from her dreams. The Vortixx then began to immediately regret this decision as a terrible pain bit through her midsection. With a wheeze, she lay back down and slowly opened her eyes to examine her surroundings.The last thing she remembered was the malicious smile of Zhorya as he uncovered her from the rubble, before she slipped out of consciousness. Now, she was in a dark, wooden room. There were no windows, but a few lightstones rested here and there to provide the assistance required to see.In the corner, she could hear a slight metallic tapping. She tilted her head as far as her aching neck would allow to see a silver armoured Matoran sitting cross legged on a chair, tinkering with a small half complete sphere in his hands. He glanced up and his blue eyes met hers. She frowned and tried to put a name to a Kanohi. The only image she could conjure up was a Nynrah Ghost she had conversed with a few times before, mostly back when she was still part of her old gang. With a sigh, the Nynrah set his device down on the floor. “You’re awake, then.”“I feel like I’ve just been trampled by a herd of Tahtorak,” Kurot groaned. She clutched her head as she risked getting up again, slower this time. She winced as she felt the waves of pain sear through her mind.“You look like it,” the Nynrah sighed. Kurot glanced over blearily at him, expecting to see a grin. There was none. Just weariness. “Splintered jaw, severely damaged shoulder armour, cracked chest plates and a whole heap of other breakages that I only just managed to fix up. That Skrall didn’t just want you dead, he wanted you completely unrecognisable. You’re lucky to be alive, but I think I managed to save roughly every part of you. Except for your left eye. Sorry, I couldn’t save that.”She reached her hand over her eye and patted it gently, before a shadow of a smile slipped over her face and she remembered Harmaisis driving his blade through her face. The smile then slid away as fast as it had begun. She considered pretending to be distraught, to tease the Matoran into feeling guilt, but she was too tired and every inch of her hurt to even bother with menace. Kurot stroked her chin, searching for any signs of damage. There was nothing notable. “So, you saved me. Thanks, I suppose. But…Why?”“I didn’t want to, trust me. If I had the choice, you would have died on my floor and been cleared away as soon as I could spare the time. Don’t take offense to that. I manufacture weapons, I don’t put pieces of broken Vortixx back together,” the Nynrah shook his head irritably. His attitude was making Kurot consider sticking a knife or two in that throat to shut him up. If only she didn’t hurt so much. And he did just save her life, she supposed. “I’ve enough on my plate as it is. Those two infernal Vortixx have already got me working my back off for them, trying to finish their latest little project. So there I am, I’m making good progress, I’ve got a good three quarters of the Nynrah working besides me, the less said about the others the better, when they just burst in and drop you in front of me. I try to tell them I’m not a nurse, but they won’t hear it. Eventually, they make an offer I see no need to refuse and next thing I know, I’m patching you up. At least I can see it wasn’t too much of a waste of time.”Kurot grunted in response. She looked around the room, but besides from a large pile of something curious underneath a huge, grey canvas, she couldn’t find anything of interest. “So, where are they?”“Who?”“My saviours.”The Matoran shrugged and picked up the circular shape he had been fiddling with. “Gone again, taken by the wind to only Artakha knows where. They’ll be back in two days though, if you were that eager to see them.”It was actually completely the opposite. Her dream had brought back unsettling memories and the faster she could get away from them, the better. Besides, she had a feeling her dream was a warning. She had to get to Atero Nui and soon. “So, they didn’t tell you to keep me here?”“Nothing of the sort.” The Matoran didn’t look up from the work as he fiddled with his contraption. In his hands he manoeuvred parts around with a long, thin, metallic stick.Deciding he was so absorbed in his work he wouldn’t care if she departed, Kurot swang her legs off of the table she’d laid on and stood. As soon as she lifted herself from the table, her mind went fuzzy and she began to sway. She feel unceremoniously back on the table.“Not that I’d recommend a hasty exist,” the Matoran frowned. “You’re in pretty bad condition. You’ll need another days rest, at least.”Oh. Great.***The day finally neared its inevitable end. Strakk dragged his feet as he looked up and observed the sun, readying for its final descent. He groaned with frustration and carried on. Ahead of him, Kiina shot back a glare. He considered her reaction fair game, given he had spent the day in almost the exact same mood, but her irritation was no cause for a change.Ahead of him, Bomonga marched onwards, leading the rest but refusing to engage in conversation. The group had eventually gathered that he spent his time conversing telepathically with Krakua, who had no doubt been relaying news from the other Elder’s. Behind him, Strakk was amused to note that since the destruction at Toro City, Jaller stood closer by Hahli than before. If he weren’t mostly machine, he would have interpreted it as a sign of love. Instead, it seemed to be little more than affection. Further behind them, but ahead of the ice armoured Glatorian trod Kiina and Gresh who strode forward silently. Occasionally, Gresh would try to encourage Kiina into a conversation, but her responses suggested disinterest and Gresh soon learnt to give up.Strakk grumbled silently to himself as they marched further and further up north. Since his exile, he had regretted his actions in Vulcanus and searched endlessly for a way to earn his redemption. When the Skrall launched into a second attacked, followed by the army of Teridax and numerous Skakdi, Strakk had fought by the side of his comrades, expecting them to respond gratefully. Instead, they seemed disinterested and merely shrugged off his efforts. Upon his pleading, they decided that they would consider allowing him back into society if he went on a quest of their choosing for them.What he didn’t expect was this quest. While he imagined a small bit of guard duty or clearing out a nest of bandits, he instead received a lengthy and dull walk, into a treacherous landscape filled with an unseen murderer and a supposed army lying in wait just over the horizon. It didn’t put him in a good mood.“We should find a place to rest for the night,” Strakk heard Hahli suggest to the ebony armoured Toa.Bomonga looked back at her and nodded. “We have a clear night ahead of us. We should set up camp here. If Strakk wanted to go find something to burn, we could get a fire started.”Strakk looked around. Nothing but rolling meadow as far as he could see. The ground was littered with miniscule tree stumps which suggested something had been through here and decided to take every piece of wood with it. To the south, he could spy the moving figures of the occasional Vorox. Good to see Malum was keeping his promise. Bad to remember it was Strakk’s fault the Glatorian was even exiled, so keeping him so close set him on edge. “There’s nothing significant to burn, unless you want me to pick at grass for the next century,” he said eventually.Bomonga’s gaze lingered on Strakk for a while. Eventually he shrugged and turned to Jaller. “Fine. Then Jaller, keep a flame on your sword. If only to keep us warm for a while.”Jaller nodded and reached for his sword, but stopped as Hahli took an apprehensive step forward. She squinted and raised her hand over her brow. “Wait, don’t bother,” she said. “There’s another village.”“What? Where?” Bomonga explained. He stepped forward and stared after Hahli. “Well, that’s a surprise. She’s right. That’s weird, Krakua said there wasn’t anything for another few kio around.”“Probably just an unofficial settlement,” Gresh shrugged. He strode forward and the others kept pace, Bomonga speeding up a little to return to his position in the lead.Though unhappy to continue walking again, Strakk did feel at least a little relieved at the idea of another village. His time at Toro City had been less then pleasurable as the explosions had left the area in chaos. There was barely time for sleep as he had been required to assist in scavenging for survivors and then placed on patrol. He’d gotten about two hours’ worth of sleep. Now, the thought of a proper night’s sleep in a bed entertained him and kept him going.The village itself was larger than average and placed in a large bowl-shaped dip in the meadow. It was unsurprising they had missed it, far below the surface as it was. The village was bordered on all sides by steep, grassy hills.As they skidded down, to the level of the ground the buildings rested on, they took in their surroundings. The residences were all humble sized, small and quaint. They were almost all made of wood, which explained what had happened to the trees. All in all, there must have been at least a hundred homes set up here, all tightly packed together to minimise the space taken up.They strode through the centre of the village and glanced curiously around at the resident. Smoke coiled its way out of chimneys, suggesting they had arrived in time for the evening meals, but nobody looked too invitingly out at them. From windows, figures stood and glared at the outsiders, silently judging their progress.“I don’t think they like us very much,” Kiina said slowly. Strakk looked at her and noticed the frown creasing her brow as if she were trying to recall something.“I know why,” a low voice said. Strakk watched Jaller walk nervously forward, his eyes darting to every face he could see. “Haven’t you noticed? They’re all either Glatorian or Agori.”A frown knitted across Strakk’s expression and he scanned the area. Surely not… No, Jaller was right. There wasn’t a single Toa or Matoran to be seen. Nor a Skakdi, Vortixx, Steltian or anything that could possibly be from the Mata Nui universe.“Oh. This was a mistake,” Strakk whispered, loud enough for his comrades to hear. Jaller nodded in response.“So, they’re not glaring at us,” Gresh grimaced, indicating himself, Strakk and Kiina. “They’re glaring at you three.”“We shouldn’t be here,” Bomonga said quietly. He turned to leave, before a voice called after him, holding him to stay.“It was a bad idea to come here, automatons,” the voice called. It sounded confident and was lined with an edge of authority that had been blunted with age. The group turned back to see a tall, silver armoured Glatorian stride over to him. Strakk had to admire his presentation in glimmering armour, polished so brightly he could see his own helmet in the reflection, line with spikes so sharp they sliced gracefully through the air. Beneath the helmet, two startlingly bright blue eyes looked down plainly at them, not betraying any form of emotion. “My name is Harmaisis,” the newcomer said slowly. “And I welcome you to the home of the Virtuous Ones.”Review Topic
  • 0

shadowofthisredrock.png

Chapter four - Desire

Coming soon!

Short Stories: The Commute ~ Rasinov ~ In Your Absence ~ Hunter's Game ~ Suchia (Coming soon)

Epics: The Best Kept Secrets (Chapter 27: The Shadow Walker coming soon) ~ The Shadow of this Red Rock


#18 Offline The Dandy Automaton

The Dandy Automaton
  • Premier Member
  • Premier Outstanding BZP Citizens
  • FFM Bionicle Winner

  • 8,007 posts
  •   Outstanding BZPower Citizen

Posted Jun 16 2012 - 01:44 PM

Chapter 18: Village of the Virtuous OnesInteresting, Krakua’s thoughts resounded deep within Bomonga’s mind. Ever since they had parted ways after the events of Toro City, Krakua had sustained a mental link with the Toa, for the purpose of monitoring the group’s progress. Krakua would share every one of Bomonga’s senses, who would in turn try to prove himself useful by supplying the ex-Order of Mata Nui member with his opinions and advice. It never provided much opinion, but Krakua was kind enough to take it all into consideration. This is truly Harmaisis? As in the Harmaisis of the Virtuous Ones?I think so, Bomonga responded in turn, broadcasting his thoughts into the air. In reality, he simply stood his ground in front of the rest of the group and frowned silently. I thought he went further north into the desert…Why would he stay so close to Atero Nui?I’ll go see what I can find out. Krakua responded, almost instantly, leaving the silence in his wake that informed Bomonga he wouldn’t respond for a while. In his absence, Bomonga decided to return his attention to the titan before him.Just from the way he held himself, it was clear that age was no more than a mere number to Harmaisis. He practically radiated authority and his dazzling blue eyes burned questioningly behind his narrowed eyelids. A question danced unspoken over his expression, but he didn’t even have to say a thing, for all who were present knew just what it was he wanted to know.The sound of footsteps made the six travellers whirl around in surprise. They were greeted with the sight of three Glatorian, each armed with vicious looking weapons, striding over to flank them. From one Bomonga could tell, underneath their helmets, two of them were male, whilst the third appeared to be a female. What made Bomonga shiver at the sight of them was that fire burned in the eyes of the first two, whilst the third simply stared forward, no emotion reflecting from her dull, blue sockets.“Harmaisis, we apologise if we’re intruding,” Bomonga said, turning back to the leader and hoping his lack of confidence didn’t betray him as he spoke. “We’re on a quest from the Elders of Atero Nui and-“Harmaisis raised a hand and Bomonga ceased talking. The Glatorian stared sourly at the assembled team in front of him, his gaze lingering on Strakk, who smirked innocently. “Say no more,” he ordered. “So, you saw our settlement and regardless of the fact we built it as a sanctuary from your type, you decided to see that we would offer our own homes to you.”“We didn’t mean to cause offense,” Bomonga frowned, shooting a glare at Strakk who had begun to snort with chuckles. What had gotten into the ice-armoured Glatorian to take this situation so lightly? “But, I’m sure the Elders could repay-““-The Elders hold no jurisdiction over us anymore,” Harmaisis snarled, striding forward. He stood a head taller than Bomonga, and looked perfectly capable of crushing his head with the slightest bit of effort. Bomonga gulped and shrank back. Perhaps not the wisest action for a leader. “We deliberately left them and their weak ways. Now, how about you turn around and-“His words were cut short by a loud and obnoxious cackle from Strakk, who flung his head backwards and laughed uproariously. He clapped his hands and moved a finger to wipe away an imaginary tear from the eye-holes in his helmet. Kiina looked at him with a mixture of mirth and irritation in her expression. “Okay, okay, I think we’ve seen enough,” he chuckled, stepping forward, past Bomonga. “Stubborn as a hungry Spikit and twice as vicious, eh?”The Toa of earth stared incredulously with his jaw hanging open as he watched Strakk boldly step forward and reach up, placing his hand on Harmaisis’ shoulder, which he proceeded to shove playfully. He looked back at his group, as if waiting for an answer, to see Jaller glaring with his arms crossed at the silver Glatorian before them, Hahli glancing nervously at her friend, Gresh in the same position as his leader, looking from face to face and Kiina who was covering her mouth to hide a smile. “Alright then, we lose,” she chuckled, although her voice sounded curiously humourless to Bomonga. “You can recognise us now.”Harmaisis looked dangerously down at Strakk and Bomonga considered drawing his spear, just in case this curious encounter was about to meet a bloody end. Harmaisis’ electric blue eyes crackled with menace and he flexed his muscles intimidatingly. Every inch of him threatened violence and even Strakk began to step back, his smile wavering. Until Harmaisis’ scowl broke into a grin.“Strakk, brother, it’s good to see you again,” Harmaisis roared cheerily, shoving the smaller Glatorian, before embracing him in a crushing bear hug. “How long has it been?”“Not long enough,” Strakk wheezed. “You can let go now, I think I heard something crack.” Harmaisis chuckled and let his friend drop unceremoniously to the ground. He turned back to the rest of his group. “We’re old friends.”“Old drinking buddies, to be more accurate,” Harmaisis winked, grabbing Strakk by his breast plate and tugging him back to his feet. “Occasionally sparring buddies.”“More often the latter than the former,” Strakk said rolling their eyes. “Although, the two were often related.”Bomonga jumped as he heard a voice rise from the behind him. He had almost forgotten about the armed trio behind him. “With all due respect, Pure One,” a Glatorian coated in blazing red armour, who Bomonga perceived to be the leader, said as he stepped forward and bowed his head. “But would you like us to escort them off the premises?”To the surprise of the Toa of earth, Harmaisis stared incredulously at his associate. “Were you not paying attention, Acisor? I wouldn’t turn away old friends when all they want is a roof over their heads for the night. The bonds between Strakk and I are too strong to let our petty virtues break them.” He shook his head in mirth, before looking up and focusing his eyes on Kiina. “And it’s been a while since I last saw you, Kiina,” he grinned, parting his lips to reveal a row of sharp but glistening white teeth.Kiina nodded in response, before turning to the rest of her group. “Harmaisis was a tutor of mine, back in the earlier days of Bara Magna. He wasn’t part of the Glatorian system, but the Agori leader of Tajun let him stay around because he proved useful. He taught me a few moves…I replaced them with some better ones.”Harmaisis chuckled heartily at this and walked over to Gresh. “I don’t believe we’ve ever properly spoken before, but I’ve heard tales about your recent exploits,” he said, towering over the young Glatorian. He stretched out a hand, which Gresh hesitantly took. “For one so young as you to so heavily influence the outcome of not just one, but two battles against Skrall is impressive. And not even a first Glatorian, why, Vastus should be ashamed.”“Well, he took part too,” Gresh muttered, inspecting his own feet. Despite his apparent timidity, Bomonga could detect a hint of pride in Gresh’s voice, which made him smirk.“So, you’ll find us a place to stay the night?” Strakk asked eagerly, his eyes twinkling with delight.“Of course. I imagine your travels haven’t been too easy. The countryside has become a rough place and definitely a mysterious one, what with the shadow lurker and all,” the leader smiled, as he walked over to Acisor and his partners.“So…So, you’ll offer a place to all of us?” Gresh asked hesitantly, watching Harmaisis walk away. “And I mean…All six of us?”Harmaisis leaned in to whisper something in Acisor’s ear, until he was cut short by Gresh’s question. He paused and regarded the three Toa as if he had only just noticed them. His countenance was similar to that of one who contemplates the future of a particularly bad insect infestation. “Hm? Oh, yes, of course.” With that, he turned back to the red armoured Glatorian and continued his surreptitious conversation. Acisor seemed not to respond back, but only to nod.“Wait, did you say ‘shadow lurker’?” Jaller finally asked, as the short conversation between the two Glatorian ended.“Yes, my people have sighted a demon in the countryside during the nightly hunts. One who hides in the shadows, but flees when approached. It’s made some of our best hunters a little hesitant to go back out. I was just encouraging Acisor to try and round up a few more, stronger hearted Glatorian to join in tonight.”Hahli placed a hand on her chin and frowned as though considering something. She looked up at the silver armoured Glatorian before her and said, “I think we might know who your shadow lurker is.” She turned to the rest of her group. “Those Vortixx yesterday, they said something about a Toa of shadows.”“So he’s one of yours, is he?” Harmaisis grunted.Hahli shrugged, “It looks like it. That’s not a problem is it?” When Harmaisis didn’t respond she continued. “I was wondering, would you allow us to join you tonight?”Acisor frowned and stepped forward before his leader could open his mouth. “The hunt is strictly for those of the Virtuous Ones. You should count yourself lucky you weren’t struck down for entering our village, automaton, do not expect to partake in our traditions.”The tall village leader shot a vicious glare at his associate which quickly persuaded him to stop talking. He sighed and looked over to Strakk. “I apologise, while most of our followers are well mannered and polite, some seem to take our virtues a little too seriously, to the point where they forget we are not barbarians. We simply choose not to share our lives with your kind.”Humbled, Acisor eyed Bomonga with eyes of distaste but bit his tongue all the same. Harmaisis seemed content with impression he had made and nodded, barely concealing a smirk that had crossed his face. In the moment of silence between the two factions, the Toa of earth dared to glance at the scenery around him. It was as it had looked from the hilltop, a conglomeration of tightly packed huts, all practically stacked on top of each other, as if to conserve space. All one storey tall. All made of wood. Through the windows, Bomonga could spy the Virtuous Ones living inside, all settling for their evening meal or even wishing the day away by descending to sleep there and then. That is, except for the ones who considered the unfolding scene outside to be far more entertaining. At first, Bomonga simply paid them no heed, for he assumed they would detest his presence. But eventually, his eyes drifted back to them to discover they hadn’t looked in another direction for a considerable length of time. They just stared forward, their eyes glassy and unresponsive. But from what he could see, they were breathing. It was only the emotion in their eyes that was dead.“Those would be the wanderers,” Strakk said, his voice devoid of just as much emotion as he followed Bomonga’s line of sight. “Glatorian and Agori who weren’t accepted back in Bara Magna, or thought they could do better if they struck out on their own. Shows how much good it did them.”“You nearly ended up as one of them,” Bomonga breathed, not taking his eyes away from those emotionless gazes.Strakk snorted and looked away uncomfortably. “Yeah, and don’t remind me. The desert can do terrible things to a traveller. Whoever these Glatorian were…They’re not anymore.”Their conversation was interrupted as Jaller stepped forward, a deep frown fixed on his face. “Yeah, I’m just staying closer to you two,” he said in little more than a whisper. He glanced over his shoulder at Harmaisis who was still chatting to Kiina, with both Gresh and Hahli standing awkwardly to the side. He chuckled loudly, whilst Kiina’s lips only stretched thinly. “Our host just tried to make conversation to me. Started by asking something about whether we drink oil or not. Given I hate everything about this place, I’m keeping quiet.”Bomonga nodded pensively in response. He’d already deduced that much from the way Jaller’s body seemed to tense every moment the subject of the Virtuous Ones was brought up. He decided not to press the issue, especially when surrounded by so many who likely wouldn’t accept insult.After a few moments, the Toa’s thoughts were interrupted by a loud and deliberate cough that echoed from Harmaisis’ throat. It sounded to Bomonga as though the very mountains themselves were moving. “So, I assume your request for staying the night remains unchanged? Well, I see no reason to refuse. If you remain here for a few minutes, Acisor, Jeryll and I will organise a few extra meals for the three who can actually eat.” Bomonga winced at the emphasis the Glatorian had placed on those last few words. It seemed as though he was almost accusing the Toa of refusing hospitality. But, even if Bomonga wanted to defend his current brother and sister, the moment had passed as Harmaisis, Acisor and a white armoured Glatorian, of whom he could only presume to be Jeryll, turned and left them, making their way towards a significantly larger hut that Bomonga was surprised has escaped his notice. It seemed unnecessarily large in comparison to the other assorted residences that surrounded them, taking up the same amount of its space on its own that ten of them together would have been able to fit with room to spare.“What building is that,” he heard Jaller ask, who was looking directly at the female Glatorian who had barely even moved throughout the entire conversation with Harmaisis.At the sound of the question, her head twitched and she glanced up to stare deep into the crimson armoured Toa’s eyes. As Bomonga had deduced earlier, hers were just a barren as those of the other villagers who had now returned to their labours, deciding the absence of their leader was enough to make the scene uninteresting. Clearly this emerald armour-clad Glatorian had been a wanderer at some time in her life. Or, perhaps something else, he wasn’t aware if the hideous blank expression was exclusive only to those who had spent too long in isolation.“That is Harmaisis’ quarters,” she said quietly. “It is open for all Virtuous Ones to visit. In it is his office, the training grounds and the laboratory.”Bomonga’s eyes widened at this. He mourned Krakua’s absence, who would surely have something to say at the idea of a secret laboratory in the possession of the Virtuous Ones. But he wasn’t, so it was up to Bomonga to press on and gather information, as a true leader would be expected to. Except, he wasn’t a true leader. He was a Toa of earth. Jaller was more experienced as a leader than he was, yet he was expected to simply follow. Bomonga felt a pang of guilt, but tried to push those thoughts away. Jaller couldn’t lead them, he’d never be able to. For him to do that, he would first have to know the Elder’s true intentions for their expedition, and that was something he couldn’t know. Not yet, anyway.Just as he was about to press the issue, Jaller spoke first, cutting Bomonga’s question off and perhaps dashing his hopes to find out more. “And why does Harmaisis get such high priority quarters when everyone else lives in these tiny things?” He swept his arm around as he spoke, indicating the meagre buildings that surrounded them on almost all sides.“You’re angry about how you think Harmaisis lives a better life than we do?” she asked, tilting her head slightly to add a confused tone to her words. “Please, let me explain. I had nothing to live for any more. I spent too long in the desert and had no family, no friends, no future. But Harmaisis came to me and offered me a place in his society. We owe all we have to Harmaisis. If he requests something of ours, we give it to him. No matter if it’s our loyalty, our material wealth, our mind, our…” She paused and looked around uncomfortably. Finally, she finished meekly. “Our bodies.”Bomonga frowned at the curious statement the Virtuous One had finished with, not truly understanding its meaning. The effect was clear on his three Glatorian partners though, who all shared the same disgusted expression. Kiina made a disgusted noise a looked away.“You scorn,” the green armoured Glatorian said, her tone of voice getting stronger and more insistent, “but my dignity is a small price to pay for a place in society once again. Your elders disgrace themselves by thinking such conflicting races could ever live together.” She glared accusingly at Hahli, Jaller and Bomonga in turn. “The stories say that yours is a race born of war. You were created whilst our species did battle against itself, so that would make us two separate factions. There could be no peace in that life.”“Why the laboratory?” Bomonga asked quickly. The Virtuous One turned to look at the Toa with her head tilted in a gesture of curiosity again, but didn’t object. The Toa of earth had realised that if she continued to get as riled up as she was getting, she would never even consider answering his question. So he had to take her by surprise and ask then and there.“So that the Virtuous Ones might achieve their purpose,” she said simply. “So we can distance ourselves even further from our enemies and discard our metallic burdens. We will become one with nature.”“What does that mean?” Hahli interjected, copying the Virtuous Ones tilted head movements almost exactly.“We…” the Glatorian faltered. “It means we will become one with nature. It is Harmaisis’ will.”“Why, why would he want that? What does becoming one with nature involve?”The Glatorian stammered and looked helplessly around. It was clear that she had no answers, so she simply repeated what she had already said. “It involves becoming one with Spherus Magna…Harmaisis…Harmaisis said it was our destiny.”Jallers brow creased at this and Bomonga felt the urge to drag him away from the scene. Something was clearly passing through the Toa’s head and he felt he needed to stamp out whatever flames of an idea were beginning to burst forth. However, before he could, he was interrupted by the arrival of unplanned thoughts in his head. Bomonga, you need to listen to me and follow what I say without question.It was the sense of urgency that immediately followed that froze Bomonga in his place. Krakua’s sudden thoughts were mixed with a hint of fear and dread that clutched at the centre of the Toa’s mind and ascertained that his attention would be fixed nowhere else. What’s wrong, what have you found out? was his response.A chilling moment passed as the Virtuous One turned to Strakk and suggested that he join them in the hunt. The Toa weren’t allowed but there was nothing that limited the types of Glatorian that could follow. And if he was such good friends with Harmaisis, there should be no problem. Hahli nodded in agreement as Jaller simply folded his arms and looked away. I don’t know why they’re still here but-Bomonga couldn’t help himself. I think I do. They have a lab-Don’t interrupt me! Krakua’s thought was followed with a feeling of rage and horror. Listen, tell me later. But what I can tell you is what they do here to pass the time. Another moment passed, and the feeling of dread sank like a rock into Bomonga’s mood. Hahli was encouraging Strakk to accept the offer, who was looking uncertain. Eventually, the ice-armoured Glatorian shrugged and decided he may as well join the hunt. He then turned to Gresh and starting trying to encourage him. It’s the travellers, the ones who go missing. I can’t believe we never spotted this before, but they’re all connected. Bomonga, you have to take the others and get out of there as soon as you can. The travellers who go missing…Every single one of them is from our universe.And at that moment, Bomonga realised. The hunt. The reason the Toa wouldn’t be permitted to join. Worst of all, the reason why Harmaisis allowed them to stay. There was only one logical reason. They would be easy targets and they would never even have suspected anything.He charged forward and grabbed Strakk by the shoulder, and roughly pulled him around so they could stare mask to helmet. At first, Strakk looked irritated at the rough treatment, but seeing the horror in the Toa’s eyes swiftly pushed those feelings aside. Now, the other four in his group were staring at him, wide eyed and curious. “Bomonga, what’s wrong?” Hahli asked, stepping forward.“We’re going. Now,” he responded hurriedly. Strakk was about to pull a face, but then remembered Bomonga’s panic so simply nodded and looked at the others. Bomonga faced the Virtuous One and looked deep into her eyes. They weren’t just the eyes of the broken minded now. He could see a predator gleaming deep inside of them. “Tell Harmaisis we realised how little time we had. Tell him thanks for his hospitality.”He turned to charge away with the rest, who were all looking nervous and uncertain, when a voice rang behind him. He didn’t turn to look back as the female Glatorian spoke in her soft, meek voice. “You can’t run from us, you know.”And he knew. But that didn’t stop him as he ran, without looking back, without even caring for the sneering faces that he passed, as Virtuous Ones all looked out at them from their huts, each one aware who the freshest targets in the nights hunt would be. He ignored those faces, for they would be matters for later. For now, all he could focus on was the heavy footfalls of himself and the five around him.He reached the hill and scrambled up it, slipping once or twice, but determinedly pulling himself up, ripping grass from its domain as he tried to reach the summit. He grappled with the earth, kicked and pulled at it until eventually it submitted to him and he reached the top. Seconds later, Kiina, Hahli, Gresh and Strakk followed, all panting and looking terrified, staring down at the village below them. Now all they had to do was escape the hunters before it was too late and then they would all be safe. All of them.But something was wrong. They weren’t all safe.It was Hahli who asked first, the panic already set deep in her voice. “Where’s Jaller?!”***“Come on, gather round, gather round,” the voice soared through the emptying market street like a bird of prey, gripping the ears of all who stood to listen. The lane was dyed in the dying light of the sun and tinged with the glow of roaring flames from torches. These fires shivered in anticipation, waiting for the oncoming battle against the cold and darkness of night. The illumination they threw on the street fell upon the speaker, a Vortixx who looked around at a group of curious Matoran, Agori, Steltians and all other assorted species. The Vortixx sized his audience up with a mischievous twinkle in his eye and continued. “We all know, nobody wants to live forever.”The Vortixx stood in front of a ramshackle wooden stall that rested in the middle of the cobbled road. On the surface sat rows upon rows of clear, crystal containers, all piled on top of each other. Inside these vials was a curious turquoise liquid. One of these vials was lifted from its home by a hitherto unforeseen figure who had been concealed in shadows from the crowd. The second Vortixx curled his fingers around the container and held it high for the thin crowd to observe. “But we all want to try putting death off for as long as we can. And that’s what we’re here to offer you.”Vastus observed the unfolding scene from the depths of an alleyway nestled to the side of the display. He crossed his arms and frowned, then looked up at the darkening sky. A cloudless night lay ahead of them, one that would be greatly appreciated after the waves of miserable weather the city had suffered. He sighed and shook his head, considering the day he had managed to endure and the evening he had yet to suffer. Since the attempted assassination of Thantox he had been spending his time trying to get the mysterious Toa of psionics to talk. All attempts had been unsuccessful, and he would have to wait until Krakua was finished with cleaning up the damaged Toro City and available to travel to Atero Nui before any kind of mind reading could be attempted. After a few hours of futile effort, he had then been called out to settle a minor riot that had broken out in response to the temporary grounding of all hover-based vehicles until a later date. Now, he faced a night duty to try and find the mysterious killer that had been haunting the streets, which he already imagined would be hopelessly uneventful. So the sight of the two Vortixx in front of him was the last thing he needed.“Now, what we all know is that something out there has been slaughtering your friends and family like animals,” the Vortixx that Vastus could identify as Zhorya cheerfully declared. “But what you don’t know is that the killer is little more than a beast!”Cynical mutterings rose from the audience like steam and a couple of onlookers elected to walk away. The second speaker who Vastus presumed to be the troublemaker known as Xavor shot a glare at his associate. Quickly, he took the mantle of public speaker and continued the speech. “It’s true, he wears the form of one of us, but in his mind he is little more than a Rahi! And from this discovery, we have been able to concoct this beautiful little potion.” He shook the vial he held in his hands vigorously and watched the contents splosh around. “A repellent for the beast.”Zhorya took a step back, keeping his eyes on the crowd around him. He stretched his hand back and removed a second vial from the display. He fiddled with the cork over the opening, which tore off with a satisfying pop. He raised the vial to his lips and tilted his head back, allowing the fluid to exit the container and down his throat. He let out a painfully false sigh of satisfaction and grinned at the audience. “One swig, that’s all that’s required. And you will be safe for exactly twenty four hours. And only twenty four hours, might I add, so I would be happy to recommend you stock up. We’ll be back of course, at some point over the course of the week.”Vastus rolled his eyes and readied himself to intervene before anyone could foolishly waste whatever currency they carried with them. Just as he was about to exit his cover from the depths of the shadows, an Agori donned in purple armour nervously approached the two Vortixx and cleared his throat. “So, how exactly is it meant to work?”Xavor glanced down at the small villager and raised his brow. He looked over at Zhorya who was leaning against the stall with his head tilted, showing no sign of assisting his partner anytime soon. “That’s a good question,” the Vortixx nodded at the Agori, before turning and walking away. He kneeled behind the stall, and proceed to fiddle around as though rearranging something.Zhorya watched his associate’s swift surrender and shook his head with a chuckle. He looked at the irritated expression on the Agori and shrugged, realising the question would have to be answered one way or another. “It enters the system after digestion. From then it spreads around until it begins to evaporate out of the pores and releases a scent the beast considers repulsive. After that it’ll refuse to approach you and you can avoid dying a miserable death for yet another night.”As he spoke, the top of Xavor’s metallic head poked over the top of the stall and observed the explanation. Finally satisfied with the Zhorya’s story, the merchant rose back up and joined the conversation, clearly content with the description. The Agori, however, was not.“So, if the purpose of it is to give off a scent, then why isn’t it a spray?”The Vortixx’s eyes flashed. “Because I’ll cut you if you keep asking questions,” Xavor hissed. To emphasise his point his slipped his hand to a pouch around his waist and revealed a wicked looking serrated dagger. “Now buy it or go.”At this, the Agori visibly flinced and swiftly dove his hand into a compartment in his armour. He clumsily fished out a few golden coins which Zhorya promptly snatched from his hand. After counting, the Vortixx nodded and walked to the stall with a malicious smile, before tossing his customer a couple of vials.Vastus shook his head irritably and decided he’d seen enough. He watched the Agori shuffle away quickly with his head low, and began to walk towards the crowd, most of whom had departed, though roughly around seven or eight remained. He folded his arms and glowered at the two Vortixx who had yet to notice his arrival, before clearing his throat. “And what evidence do you hold to support your claims, then?”The two Vortixx span their heads in the direction of the newcomer, and Vastus felt their eyes scanning his figure, analysing every detail. He frowned and watched as the two raised their brows and grew their smile to be more condescending than before. “Oh, and who might you be, dearie?” Xavor smirked.“Vastus, Atero Nui’s current captain of the guard,” the Glatorian said quickly and efficiently. He took in the approving glow from the shoppers with the slightest hint of pride.“Ah, of course,” grinned Zhorya, as he leaned back on the stall with his arms crossed. “No wonder we didn’t recognise you though, pretending to be some who you’re not. We know of Vastus, deputy captain of the guard. Not regular captain.”“I am captain of the guard, under the sudden absence of Toa Jaller,” Vastus glared.Xavor’s eyes glittered. “Sudden absence? You mean you don’t know where he’s gone?”“I’m aware he was last sighted in Toro City,” the emerald Glatorian asserted. He didn’t like how the conversation had so swiftly been turned on him, and was determined to get back on track. “As for why he was there and where he intends to go next, it is none of my business. For now I am in charge of cleaning up the scum from the streets. And right now, I’m seeing some how the worst stains on our society right in front of me.”The Vortixx winced and looked dejectedly down on the ground. Zhorya shook his head morosely and looked up at Vastus with hurt eyes. “You could have called us tricksters or terrorists, y’know?” he said sadly. “Left us a little bit of dignity.”“That just hurt our feelings,” Xavor chipped in. “We put a lot of planning into what we do. To be called scum is just rude.”“Well, isn’t that just sad,” Vastus said flatly as he stepped forwards. “But frankly I don’t really care and will be placing you two under arrest for suspicion of your involvement with the destruction of the library of Toro City and acts of treason against the elders of Atero Nui and the city itself.”With an overly enthusiastic sigh, Zhorya placed his hand on his chest and fluttered his eyes. “Well, that’s much better. I was beginning to think you didn’t care about us.”“This isn’t a joke,” Vastus snarled. “Innocents died due to your actions and I’m going to ensure the ones responsible for their demise pay.”This comment was met with a snort from Xavor who shook his head and began chuckling. “This is what I hate about you authoritative types. You can never see the fun side of life. Yeah, it had an unfortunate and messy end, but wasn’t it beautiful? The colours, the sounds, the smell?”“You are severely messed up in the head,” Vastus glowered as he retrieved two lengths of chain with metallic hoops on either end from a satchel around his waist. He looked at the crowd severely, and they took it as their cue to back away out of harms reach. “Now, you can come quietly or you can make a fuss and I can enjoy the quick fi-.”“Ooh, wait, wait, wait,” interrupted Zhorya who quickly jogged towards behind the stall. He bent out below the counter out of sight, moments before reappearing with a hefty leather pouch the size of his fist. He tossed it towards the Glatorian, who caught it with one hand. “Don’t spend it all at once.”The pouch jingled as it moved and felt awkwardly lumpy in the Captain of the Guard’s grip. He undid the straps and peered into the opening. What looked back at him was a vast array of gears of all kinds of shapes, sizes and colours. If his memory served him well, Vastus recalled them to be known as widgets. “What’s this?”“Paying back a fine,” Xavor explained. “We might have taken out some books from the library and they might have gotten damaged, so we’re trying to recuperate the costs.”Vastus tossed the pouch into the air and caught it, checking its weight. There must be a small fortune in this bag. He placed it into his satchel and looked up at the Vortixx with curiosity. “You’re still under arrest.”“We wouldn’t have it any other way,” Zhorya sighed. He raised his arms and splayed out his hands in front of him. “We needed a break anyway.”“We’ll consider it like a holiday,” grinned Xavor optimistically, following the actions of his partner. “Getting some time off work, meeting new people, rent-free residences.”With hesitant steps, Vastus walked forwards towards his eager prisoners. Their cheerfulness unnerved him and he considered the many ways it could be a trap. He mulled over the idea of calling in for reinforcements, but decided that by that point, the Vortixx would probably have attempted and succeeded in a getaway. The possibility that they had plans once they arrived in a jail cell made him shudder, but he was sure that once their armour and weapons had been stripped from them and they were behind bars, they could be no trouble. Perhaps they were telling the truth and they merely wanted to ‘have a break’.He fastened the cuffs around their wrists in turn, waiting for either to lash out unexpectedly. When they didn’t he frowned and looked them over. The maliciousness was still strong in their eyes, but they showed no signs of wanting to fight back. Finally, Zhorya spoke up. “So, now that you have us under control, there’s not going to be any danger in filling us in?”“Depends on what,” Vastus said, feeling his blood run cold. So, that was simple enough. They just wanted information.“In regards to the little scene you dealt with earlier this morning,” Zhorya explained. “Nasty business with that slave of the Elders. What did they call him? Thantox?”“It would have been nasty if he had died,” the Glatorian said. “But he didn’t. I made sure of that.”“Good for you,” Xavor nodded. “And what happened to the would-be assassin?”“She’s in captivity, where you’ll be going soon enough. When you come with me, I’m sure you’ll see her soon enough.” He began to push Xavor in the right direction, until a sudden thought dawned on him. “Wait…You didn’t have anything to do with it, did you?”A sudden crack and a flash of light from Zhorya’s direction answered his question. The Glatorian turned in time to watch the cuffs fall from the Vortixx’s wrists, even as a similar flash of light burst from Xavor’s. Zhorya examined his vambrace and smiled in approval. “Good to see these still work,” he said. “That would have been embarrassing otherwise.”Vastus roared in frustration and moved to dislodge his scythe from his back. Even while his arm stretched backwards, Xavor looked at the Glatorian and smirked, fiddling with one of the many rings on his finger. “Oh, and in answer to your question earlier, you wouldn’t want to fight with us. You’re not nearly on our level.”The Glatorian was seconds away from swinging his weapon with the intention of slicing the smiles away from the jeering faces of the Vortixx when the stall lit up in a plume of fire. Shrapnel rocketed in every direction, pieces of glass and wood rocketing this way and that. The force of the blast knocked Vastus off of his feet and onto the cobbled street below him. He looked up at the two Vortixx who looked cheerfully at him as he lay sprawled across the floor. The air around them glimmered curiously as the bits of debris bounced harmlessly off of some kind of invisible forcefield.Zhorya took in the sight of the momentarily helpless guard and charged forward. He delivered a heavy kick into the side of Vastus’ helmet, an act that made his head explode with pain. “That was for calling us scum earlier, by the way,” he snarled.“We’ll be off now if that’s alright,” Xavor piped up, turning his back. “Hope you enjoy the donation to the local library. And thanks for telling us about what happened to Ihrey, we were wondering about that.”Vastus snarled and rolled onto all fours. Zhorya observed this and detached a small silver sphere from his waist. He pressed a button on it and rolled it in Vastus’ direction. The Glatorian leapt up and began to charge forward before a cloud of smoke enveloped him and cut him off from the outside world. He stumbled blindly through the smog, coughing as he went. Eventually the wind separated the white veil, but too late. The two Vortixx had successfully disappeared into the now fresh night making Vastus’ day that little bit worse.Review Topic
  • 0

shadowofthisredrock.png

Chapter four - Desire

Coming soon!

Short Stories: The Commute ~ Rasinov ~ In Your Absence ~ Hunter's Game ~ Suchia (Coming soon)

Epics: The Best Kept Secrets (Chapter 27: The Shadow Walker coming soon) ~ The Shadow of this Red Rock


#19 Offline The Dandy Automaton

The Dandy Automaton
  • Premier Member
  • Premier Outstanding BZP Citizens
  • FFM Bionicle Winner

  • 8,007 posts
  •   Outstanding BZPower Citizen

Posted Jun 23 2012 - 06:44 PM

Chapter 19: The Lies of the Glatorian HarmaisisAs soon as Hahli surged forward, Bomonga had already leapt forward and wrapped his arms around her. He pulled away and sent her flying backwards, where she skidded and landed heavily on the ground. As she hit the dirt, she cursed and shot a glare up at the Toa of earth. She opened her mouth to argue with him, but Bomonga saw it coming and had already cut her off.“We can do nothing for him,” he said simply. He looked out towards the small village that sprawled across below them, nestled snugly in the vast ditch of the countryside. Night had settled overhead where it would stubbornly remain until the sun broke the sky, leaving all that was not illuminated by open windows or torches in a cold darkness. “All we have to do is hope that he’s on his way.”Bomonga turned his head as he felt a hand rest on his shoulder. Looking back, he saw Strakk peering intently into his eyes. “What did Krakua tell you?” the Glatorian asked with a steely tone cutting across his voice.The Toa of earth glanced around at the four warriors who surrounded him. Feeling overcome with shame at the idea of losing one of their numbers so quickly, he turned his eyes to the ground as he spoke. “They would have killed us if we stayed. Krakua believes that all those travellers who wandered across these grounds fell victim to their nightly hunt. That’s why we can’t hang around here for any longer.”Hahli’s head snapped forward at this and her expression grew colder. Gresh stepped forward, ready to restrain her if she should suddenly lash out. “We’re not going anywhere. Not without Jaller.”“He’s dead, Hahli,” Kiina snapped. She strode forward to place herself between the village and the Toa of water. “He’s dead or he just got lost. Which do you think happened, in a village filled with xenophobic creeps?”The wind swept through the grass, icily cutting through the silence that descended over the group. Hahli’s expression had grown darker and she looked as though she were seconds away from ripping Kiina apart. It was only when Bomonga decided to step in that the tension began to dissolve.“If we stay for too long, that’s precious seconds wasted that could be used to putting as much space between the Virtuous Ones and ourselves, assuming they really are a society of killers. Would you want to take that risk?”“There has to be something we can do,” pleaded Hahli. She stepped forward gently, though Kiina took an aggressive step forward to assert herself. The Toa looked helplessly around, clearly distressed at the idea of the peril her old friend could be in.Bomonga’s heart sank as he watched her helplessness , and he admitted that he himself was concerned for the fate of the one he could refer to as his brother. “Five minutes,” he said weakly, earning a glare from Kiina and a light smile from Hahli. Gresh and Strakk merely exchanged glances and looked down at the village. Bomonga followed their vision and stared down at the rows and rows of tiny huts and shivered as the cold night hair brushed through the gaps in his armour.***Three times Ackar rapped his knuckles on the wooden door, before taking a step back. He held his breath and waited for a minute then frowned at the lack of a reply. He glanced around the hut and moved in front of the windows. The shutters were closed, but a thin stream of light poured its golden glow throw the narrow slit between them.He moved back to the door and knocked again. Again, no response. He sighed with irritation and placed his hand over the handle of the door. He hesitated for a moment, running through what he would say in his mind, before pushing down and swinging the door forwards.The hut inside was moderately large, with the ceiling hanging comfortably high over the Glatorian’s head. The wooden flooring had recently been swept clean and was fairly bare, besides from one grass mat placed in the centre of the room, on which a table and a few wooden chairs rested. The walls were the most interesting feature, lined as they were with row upon row of an assortment of different plants of varying shape, size and colour. There were familiar floras dotted here and there amongst the vast collection, as well as some rarer varieties that the Glatorian had never dreamed off. Each one was potted and the soil around each stem was a deep black, suggesting they had all recently been fed. Towards the end of one arrangement there lay a collection of seeds in crystalline containers, each with a small stone tablet to distinguish one from the other.Towards the corner of one wall, however, was the reason for Ackar’s expedition. The Steltian, Thantox lay rigidly across his bed, with one arm rested upon his forehead. His eyes were directed straight up at the ceiling overhead, though they darted in the direction of the intruding Glatorian as he entered. Seeing the visitor, Thantox mumbled wearily and made the effort to sit up. “Good evening, elder,” he said weakly. “To what do I owe this pleasure?”“I wanted to check up on you. I understand the incident today has likely unsettled you, which I’m not really surprised by. You’re not a warrior. You’re not used to being so close to danger.” Ackar stepped to the sides and leaned against the metallic wall that lay in front of Thantox’s resting place. Their eyes met momentarily, though the Steltian swiftly pulled away.A small puff of air escaped his nostrils in a snort as he chuckled at Ackar’s comment. “No, I suppose you’re right. It was an unfamiliar experience. Though, Macku has already been through to check on my condition. She seems content and apparently all will be well by tomorrow, though I thank you for your concern.”Ackar tilted his head at the idea of Thantox dismissing him so quickly. “You don’t seem okay, if you don’t mind me saying,” Ackar admitted bluntly. “You’ll be excused from your work tomorrow if you don’t feel up to the task.”“The offer’s appreciated, Ackar, but I will try my best to return to normal by the morning. I’d hate to appear tardy and who else would fill my duties?”The crimson Glatorian chuckled at the comment and shook his head gently. “The majority of us elders may be warriors, but we are capable of carrying out ordinary tasks. We are not as unorganised as you may think us.”“Right,” Thantox said silently, and made no further effort to continue the conversation. His eyes returned to the ceiling and he appeared to sink deep into thought.Ackar sighed and drummed his armoured fingers against his elbow. It was now or never, he had to ask, else it would be a wasted journey. But how could be put it delicately? “Thantox, I need to ask you something, and I want you to answer me honestly,” he said slowly. Thantox’s deep blue eyes drifted downwards to meet Ackar’s red, and the two looked quietly at one another for a moment. Finally, Thantox grunted in agreement and continued watching the Glatorian. “During the attack, you screamed something that Norik, Vastus and I considered curious. You were disorientated and in intense pain, I understand, but you begged for mercy. You started apologising to somebody. Why?”The Glatorian gulped as he watched Thantox’s expression all the while he spoke. The Steltian’s countenance did not shift for a second, and even as the final question rolled from Ackar’s tongue, Thantox didn’t flinch once, nor did he say anything for a long period of time. The seconds rolled by slower than Ackar would imagine possible and the air lay thick around them. Finally, Thantox sighed and closed his eyes.“You’re right, I did beg for mercy. But would you not, when your mind is tearing apart at the seams? I screamed apologies at whoever might have been listening, simply because I hoped they might take pity on me and stop the agony inside of me.” As Thantox finished speaking, he nodded his head along with every last syllable, then opened his eyes to hold contact with Ackar.“Are you sure that’s all?” The crimson armoured warrior asked, unfolding his arms and taking a wary step towards the foot of the Steltian’s bed. He decided to loosen the softness of his voice slightly, just so Thantox would know how serious he was. “Because I am here to help you. And if anyone is threatening or attacking you, I want to know. Please don’t keep secrets from me.”For a split second, Thantox’s gaze wavered. His eyes flicked the corner of the room behind Ackar, though for what reason the Glatorian could not place. The black and blue Steltian swallowed and looked back at his superior. “I assure you that I am not under any kind of threat. I am perfectly safe and intend to remain that way. You don’t need to be concerned for me”, Thantox said quickly.Ackar merely paused in thought, and then nodded. Perhaps it would be better not to press the subject. He would return soon and try again, he decided. For now he would leave it and let Thantox decide what he would do next. With that in mind, he bid the servant adieu and began to walk towards the door.Just as his head hovered over the metal handle, a voice called out to him. “Elder Ackar, I do have one question, if you’ll permit me.” With a frown, he turned back to look at Thantox, who was now sitting a little straighter in his bed. His eyes were fixed on his hands, which he rubbed together nervously. When Ackar grunted in response, Thantox wasted no time in letting go what was on his mind. “What is it that you fear?”The question caught Ackar off-guard. He had not expected such a curious query from someone as normally quiet and subdued as Thantox. Despite the shock, though, he knew he was obligated to respond, which he did after a moment’s thought. “Failure, I guess. Letting my friends down when they need me the most. I guess most would answer with spiders or snakes, but that’s mine.” He paused. “And what of yourself?”"What do I fear?" Thantox paused. He sat awhile in thought and stared over at the rows of flora that lined his shelves. "I fear the darkness. I'm scared of what lurks in it and what could live in it. And I fear what some of us can become in it."Ackar nodded solemnly, mulling over the curious subject Thantox had so eagerly brought up. “Why do you ask?” he questioned, finally.“I’m sorry; it was just a mild curiosity.” He stared forwards, just as a frown darkened his expression once more. Without turning his head, he carried on speaking. “But perhaps it’s relevant. It’s good to know ones weaknesses at a time like this. The gears are spinning, Ackar. A storm is gathering and now our darkest hour dawns upon us. The time has come to confront all of our greatest fears..."Ackar nodded silently in response. Thantox looked up into the elders eyes and chuckled again, wearily shaking his head. “But of course, I guess I’m just being dramatic. I beg you to not take anything I say seriously at this time. Anyway, I’ve had a long day and I would appreciate a nights rest. Not to appear rude, but I would be grateful for some peace and quiet from the steady stream of those who see fit to check up on me.”With that, Thantox then slipped back until he was lying on his back, with his head fixed on the ceiling. Ackar paused for a moment, but seeing the Steltian’s eyes droop, he decided that any further attempts at conversation would apparently be futile. With that final thought, he turned and opened the door, stepping out into the mercy of the freezing wind.***At any other time in his life, the shadows would have been Jaller’s enemy, but now they proved his greatest ally. With confidence in his stealth, he slipped by from dark cover to dark cover, keeping his eyes open for any guards on patrol. So far the night had been quiet and there was barely a Glatorian to be seen, besides from the odd civilian, purposefully walking fast with some unknown destination in mind. When they appeared, Jaller would shrink back into the depths of whatever alleyway he was concealed in, and open his crimson and black armour would provide an adequate camouflage.The panic in Bomonga’s eyes had been what inspired him to stay put in the village. Clearly he had been telepathically informed of something groundbreaking by the Toa of sonics, Krakua, which had urged an early departure. And though following his party would have supplied the answers to that question, he knew bigger ones remained hidden in the mysterious laboratory that had earlier been alluded to.So with his destination in mind, as the other five had charged forward, he slipped off at the first chance he got, delving into an alleyway even as his partners raced away. There he waited until the darkness descended to an appropriate amount to hide him from prying eyes. Hopefully his group would see fit to wait for him, and even if not, he knew the way back to Toro City. Surely, there was little that could go wrong with his plan.Tentatively, he stepped forward and poked his head from the narrow gap between huts. Just a short pace away from him lay the large quarters that held both Harmaisis and the mysterious laboratory. He twisted his head around, but could see no signs of life, so with snake-like smoothness, he darted forward and slipped through the large, wooden double doors.A long corridor greeted him, which ended in yet another doorway. Along the path, the entrance to a room marked “Harmaisis” in Glatorian script sat firmly in the wall, giving cause for Jaller to slow his pace and reduce the strength with which his armoured feet fell upon the ground.As he reached the final doorway, he placed the side of his Kanohi firmly against the wooden panels. No sound reached through the woodwork and he built up the confidence to risk opening it a crack. He peered through, but could see no signs of life. Finally, he mustered whatever courage he could manage and dared himself to step through, silently closing the door behind him. What he saw took the breath from his chest.The place was littered with all sorts of different scientific equipment, from beakers to test tubes to long contraptions of which he could only dream of knowing the name to. Strange liquids boiled over unwatched flames, and differently coloured fluids sat ignored in tightly closed tubes. Jaller stepped forward with some apprehension, watching the processes that surged ever onwards around them, curious as to their meaning.Around each piece of equipment there lay countless sheets of paper, all lined with hastily written notes, diagrams and graphs. The Toa of fire could barely understand their meaning, besides from one that stood out. On top of a cupboard kept firmly shut tight with a padlock for extra security, there sat a detailed drawing of some unrecognisable beast. He turned the paper and tried to view it from different angles, but it made no more sense no matter what way he looked at it. The image was riddled with annotations, emphasising particular features, though Jaller still had trouble discerning any kind of meaning. But it was the title, however, that caught the Toa’s attention and made him frown in curiosity.The Ultimate SoldierBeneath this heavily detailed sketch rested countless other diagrams, each one depicting the same beast though from multiple different angles, or others with some slight, almost unnoticeable difference. To the side of each drawing Jaller could see a chart filled with names of things he could just about distinguish as ingredients, next to which in a different column were varying units. As he pored over every detail, trying to make sense of it all, he barely noticed the change in the atmosphere, until it was too late.“Enjoying yourself?”Jaller froze in his place, feeling his own limbs tense at the sound of the new arrival. Ever so slowly, as if hoping the threat would leave by the time it came into his vision, he turned to face Harmaisis.The lone Glatorian stood proudly before the intruding Toa, positioned just in front of the entrance, blocking off any attempt at escape Jaller could have made. He wore a crooked grin underneath his open helmet, and the light from the various experiments around them bounced radiantly off of his shining, silver armour.The Toa of fire gulped and considered his situation. “What is all of this?” he asked, gesturing about the room around them, having decided that no excuse could justify his presence.Harmaisis appeared to have been expecting the interrogation as he answered almost immediately. “This is progress,” he walked forward and brushed his fingers along the counters. “The next step forward for the Virtuous Ones.” He stood in front of one set of equipment and examined the contents of a boiling tube. His grin grew brighter as he assessed the mysterious green liquid. “You are aware that nothing could stop me from killing you at this very second, right?”“I know. Nothing except me,” Jaller said determinedly, though his wavering confidence rang clear through his voice. He took an assertive step forward and placed his hand on the hilt of his sword.A vicious laugh echoed through the room as Harmaisis pulled his attention away from the equipment and turned to face the intruder. “Do not fool yourself, machine. You may be what your people call a Toa, but you are no match for me. I have lived through countless battles and each time my opponent has been left a rotting pile of flesh and armour, baking under the sun. Besides, I have no intention of killing you. I’m curious as to what the Elders of Atero Nui will do next.” At Jaller’s confused glare, the Glatorian threw his hand back and laughed. “I’m not a fool, Toa. I know the Elders sent you to check up on me. Why else would they send six capable warriors into my land?”“The Elders had nothing to do with us finding you,” Jaller protested. “We stumbled across your village on our way to find the Skrall.”“The Skrall?” Harmaisis tilted his head. “Why would the Elder’s be interested in the Skrall?” He chuckled again, before beginning to walk back to his original position before the great, wooden door. “Don’t answer that. I don’t care. Whether you’re telling the truth or not, the Elders are likely suspicious of our activities and I want to see what follows.”“And what about this?” Jaller asked, returning his attention to the pressing matter of the equipment surrounding them. If he could leave with any extra knowledge of the Virtuous One’s activities, he would be content. He looked down at the drawing he held tightly in his fist, creasing the edges of the page, as a slow and terrible realisation began to dawn on him. “’The Ultimate Soldier’?” This isn’t just about any kind of pathetic prejudice. The Virtuous Ones are more than just a cult, aren’t they?”The icy blue eyes of the Glatorian crackled with a maniacal energy as he drew his lips back in a terrifying, wolfish grin. “Very clever, Toa, very clever. But you’re absolutely right. I created the Virtuous Ones for the sake of separating Glatorian from Toa, yes! But I couldn’t care less about who lives on this worthless chunk of rock and who doesn’t. I simply wanted a following. All I wanted was a collection of loyal Agori and Glatorian who looked up to me and saw me as their saviour. Under one common hatred I united them and gave them a purpose.”“So that’s why you took in the Glatorian who had lost their minds, because they were so easily persuaded?”“Right you are. They would have followed me for anything if I told them I could give their lives meaning. But by pretending the sight of machines and organic life forms mingling disgusted me, I gathered another following, those driven by rage and anger. Uniting them under one cause, they saw me as a saint. And who am I to correct them?”Jaller felt his rage building inside of him, the same rage he had been trying to force down for so long. All of this was just some selfish act by one sick-minded Glatorian with a god-complex. The idea made him sick, and he clenched his fists even tighter around the hilt of his sword, putting every amount of effort into his body to stop himself from pulling it from its sheath and impaling the monster before him. “So that’s all the Virtuous Ones are, then? Some personal army that’ll blindly do your bidding, because they think you’re doing them a favour? You’re disgusting. And what are they even fighting? What’s the purpose you’re giving them, then?” From all his years as a soldier, he had faced Rahkshi, thugs and warlords. Every piece of scum in his universe had somehow crossed his path and tried to slaughter him in some needless and selfish way. And even now, when the last Makuta had fallen and when the world should finally be at peace, he found himself confronted with the threat of war, a sadistic duo who took pleasure in the sight of death and now a true monster who would corrupt all around him to let them charge to their deaths in his name. The injustice of it all filled his mind and pressed against the sides of his skull, threatening to burst forth.“What’s the point?” Harmaisis grinned. His eyes grew colder and he took a few steps closer to the shivering Toa. “The final purpose is war. I don’t care against what. The Virtuous Ones will think it’s against the society that let themselves be so easily dirtied, but it has nothing to do with that. I just want to see the ensuing battle.” He glanced down at the crumpled mess in Jaller’s hands that was once the diagram. “And I want to win.”“And ‘The Ultimate Soldier’?” Jaller noticed the way his own voice shook as he spoke. “That’s how you’ll win?” He looked around and bit back the temptation to smash every object in the vicinity. “With potions?”“Oh, it’s better than potions,” Harmaisis purred. “So much better. In fact, I can show you if you really want.” Jaller watched as the silver beast lumbered forwards and strode past where he stood. As Harmaisis traced his armoured hand across the wall whilst muttering to himself, Jaller turned and stared at the abandoned door that lay before him. Nothing stood to prevent him from departing this foul spectacle and he could so easily put all of this behind him and leave the Elders to take action. But some sick curiosity restrained him and kept him waiting, waiting for whatever discovery lay beyond. With a satisfied grunt, Jaller heard Harmaisis step back from the wall, even as a portion slipped away to reveal a long stairway leading down into the deep and desolate darkness. “I should warn you,” the Glatorian said, keeping his attention fixed on the stone steps, “I will not be joining you. You will go alone, and when you return, I will be gone.”Jaller only nodded in response. He wanted nothing more to do with Harmaisis and was overjoyed to hear that their discussion was at an end. Warily at first, he began to walk forwards, uncertain whether a trap may lie before him. But the further he walked, the more his curiosity grew in intensity until he began descending the cold stairway, his heart hammering against his chest in protest.As the stairway made a sudden turn, the shadows enveloped him. The only source of light was a faint glimmer of the flames from the room above him, leaving the underground shrouded in darkness. With a slight shiver, Jaller drew his sword for his sheath, and sent forth a burst of elemental power. The blade began to glow with a bright crimson fire and revealed the horrific sights to his eyes.The floor was stained a deep red with hideous patches of dried blood. Two stone operating tables were sprawled out before him, likewise coated in the horrific fluid, along with the bodies that originally held them. On top of one table lay the mutilated body of what Jaller could only make out to have once been a dune wolf. On the other lay the desecrated corpse of a Glatorian, his face curled in a picture of agony.Jaller stepped forwards and gulped at the sight of the Glatorian’s body. Its eyes were tightly closed shut, but its jaw hung upon, revealing rows of abnormally sharp teeth. The lips seemed to protrude in an unnatural manner, and under closer inspection, the nails on the Glatorian’s fingers were irregularly sharp.The Toa of fire gripped his forehead and gagged as the details of the scene before him became undesirably clear. So wrapped up was he in the horror that surrounded him, that even as he sank to his knees, he could barely hear the gentle clank of the assassin’s approaching footsteps…Review Topic
  • 0

shadowofthisredrock.png

Chapter four - Desire

Coming soon!

Short Stories: The Commute ~ Rasinov ~ In Your Absence ~ Hunter's Game ~ Suchia (Coming soon)

Epics: The Best Kept Secrets (Chapter 27: The Shadow Walker coming soon) ~ The Shadow of this Red Rock


#20 Offline The Dandy Automaton

The Dandy Automaton
  • Premier Member
  • Premier Outstanding BZP Citizens
  • FFM Bionicle Winner

  • 8,007 posts
  •   Outstanding BZPower Citizen

Posted Jun 30 2012 - 04:00 PM

Chapter 20: FireA warm breeze wafted through the orange dyed blades of grass that lined the village of the Virtuous Ones. To the powerful element, they bowed and allowed themselves to be swept around, though still staying resolutely deep in the cold, brown earth.A hand collapsed on top of one unsuspecting patch. The fingers tightened and gripped the side of the hill, and muscles shook as the figure dragged himself upwards. Weakly, Jaller tugged at the amber ground, sobbing as he climbed. Behind him lay the reminder of all he had done. He didn’t want to remember.But his mind wasn’t to be so lenient. In his head, visions flashed around him. He remembered all that had come about. Every moment since he bore witness to the results of whatever hideous experiments the Virtuous Ones conducted burned into his mind, where it would remain forever, the hideous reminder of his darkest moments.***Earlier… It was the faint scraping of metal against stone that had alerted Jaller. Any other moment and he would have missed it. His breathing had grown hoarse and ragged. Every muscle shook beyond his control, and he clenched the sides of his Kanohi tightly, every corner of his brain screaming in horror. It was wrong.Everything was wrong. The bodies lay splayed out on the table before him where he wished they would soon disappear forever from.And then he heard it. A whisper of noise in the darkness. With his fist wrapped so firmly around the hilt of his blade he feared it may break, he turned his head and saw the Glatorian stand over him. The Glatorian had his arm raised, and in a crimson fist, he aimed a hideous dagger down, straight towards the Toa’s skull.From Jaller’s lips a heart-wrenching scream tore free. Broken from the shackles of all the hatred and loathing the Toa held deep inside for all those years. Every single moment of fury and frustration ripping from the darkest depths of his emotions. Every fight, every failure, every deceitful lie mixed into this one wild cry rent free from its bonds and surged into the dark chamber, encompassing all that Jaller had been.The assassin staggered back in horror. That was his first and last mistake. Now swallowed in his wild fury, Jaller surged forward and lashed out with his sword. The point made contact and burst through the chest of the killer. He gurgled in horror, but obediently fell to the floor clutching his wound as Jaller wrent his blade free.The Virtuous Ones had been the final straw. Why? Why was it that the enemy could always leave with their lives intact? Why did the Barraki still live and wander free when Matoro was required to surrender his own existence to fix the actions of the shadows? Why did the heroes always have to suffer? Why did Toa exist to clean up somebody else’s mess.Well, no more. Now Jaller would do more than clean it. He would destroy it. Purify it.The following events were lost in a blur of motion to him. He remembered exiting the chamber, entering the laboratory and giving into his wrath. He left the building a shattered mess, all glass and spilt fluid. Nothing left intact. But it wasn’t enough. For the walls still stood strong. It would be easy to fix the damages. He needed something more.And the inspiration came to him. From the moment he stood in the hallway facing the exit, he remembered gripping his sword tightly. And then he raised his sword and faced the lab. With his eyes cold and absent, he sent forth a surge of energy through it and watched as the flames screamed forward and leapt across the walls. The room began to glow a furious red, but by that point, Jaller had already turned and walked away, keeping his back even as the fire started to spread.The night air was cool and the stars above gleamed forward, free to shine above Spherus Magna without the veil of clouds. But even this serene sight of silent beauty grew corrupted as fire began to lick free from the wooden boundaries of Harmasis’ quarters. Smoke belched upwards, blotting out the stars and escaping the hiss and crackle of burning wood.Shouts began to spill forth into the air. Jaller turned and his dead eyes met the lifeless glare of a pack of the monstrous Virtuous Ones. They jogged forward to him, their expressions twisted in fury, though their eyes were as empty as the lifeless husk of a Glatorian that lay underneath their feet. Did they know of its presence? Did they care? To Jaller, it didn’t matter. They were all guilty in his eyes. They now stood a few paces away from him and screamed futilely at him.Whatever they said went unheard as Jaller’s fury began to spread, collapsing on top of his mind and crushing his conscience. He gripped the side of his head and swayed on the spot.But even amidst all the chaos, the rage, the hatred, one word rang true in his mind like a single star visible on a stormy night. Justice. They were all impure sinners and they had to be purged from existence.He screamed again and leapt forward. Flashes of silver whipped through the air and the lead Virtuous One fell, already dead. Two more dove to the ground clutching wounds. The others looked on in fright as this beast stood before them, a hideous smile curling underneath his Kanohi. He looked back at the burning building behind him and tilted his head as he considered the sheer beauty of it all. A burst of flame leapt forth onto the unfortunate hut next to it, and a spark of inspiration flashed in Jaller’s head. With it, a red haze began to cloud both his vision and his mind. His muscles began to move on their own, far beyond his control.The old Jaller was gone. The loyal captain of the guard had died back in the underground vault beneath the laboratory. Now, the new Jaller cackled as he cast aside his care for the code of the Toa. It meant nothing to him now. It was a lie that existed to save the sinners. But they didn’t need saving. The innocent did, and they would never get their rescue if mercy was all the heroes showed. There had to be something more. A sign. A signal for all the shadows that lurked in this wide, ugly world, warning them of the fate they deserved to suffer.And that signal was for Jaller to deliver. He felt his arm direct itself at a hut to the side of him, and from then, everything became a blur of motion. He saw the flames leaping from his blade, engulfing all that stood before them. He felt himself running, Virtuous Ones all around him charging forward, struck dumb by the scenes of chaos that swallowed the village. A gentle thunk momentarily brought him back to reality. He examined a compartment on the armour of his shoulder and found himself holding the explosive given to him by the two Vortixx back in Toro City. And he knew what he had to do with it.He flung it through the air, brushing his fingers against a miniscule switch as it departed his grip, and watched as it soared through the night sky. There was a moment of steady silence as the Toa and the scattered, disorientated Virtuous Ones watched. Then found themselves swept to the ground as a monstrous blast ripped through the various residences.***Every step Jaller took sent scores of pain searing through his limbs. His feet reluctantly trod heavily, step after step as he forced himself further and further up the hill that encompassed the village. The sound of splintering wood behind him drew his attention away and he slipped. The floor came crashing to meet him and he landed Kanohi-first in the damp grass. As he lay there on the dark orange grass, he watched the shadows dance before his eyes. They slithered across the ground and taunted him, twisting and turning menacingly.He tried to close his vision from the world, to pretend that it wasn’t happening. But his ear holes betrayed him. The sound of the screams followed him with every step he took, and he knew he could not escape. Not by staying here.With a heavy heart, he pushed himself up on to his hands and knees. He tried to shift his weight onto his feet, but the sheer exhaustion that bogged down his mind held him down, and he knees buckled beneath his own weight. All he had left was to crawl through the amber grass, trying as hard as he could to block out the horror that unfolded behind him.But as his hand clawed to the very top of the hill and he painfully pulled himself onto level ground, he knew that he could delay the inevitable no more. Every impulse in his brain screamed to look away, to close his eyes and pretend it was all a terrible dream. Because then he might just wake up. But he knew it wasn’t.For as his eyes focused on the village engulfed in fire, he knew there was no going back.He tried to turn away now, but his body rebelled. The guilt seared through every fibre of his being and blazed deep into his conscience as he watched the devilish flames dance on the rooftops. His flames. The flames that he had concocted in a moment without control, when he had allowed himself to give into his darkest temptations.The fires clawed into the woodwork and consumed all that lay before them. Somewhere in the inferno, the blazes burned so deep into the foundations of a shack, the ramshackle building conceded the wearying struggle for life and collapsed with a mournful groan. A shower of spikes lurched into the air in celebration.So entranced was he by the sheer dismay he felt watching the terrible spectacle, he was only dimly aware of the five figures that walked cautiously to his side. He felt a hand rest on his shoulder, but didn’t dare tear his eyes away.Deep in the centre of the flames, he watched figures dart this way and that. Disorientated, Virtuous Ones sped looking for an exit in the labyrinthine inferno. As they scurried around like panicked ants, Jaller could make out one familiar form. The fires danced in the reflections on his shining silver armour, casting an orange aura around his very being. He watched as deep in the epicentre of the blaze, Harmaisis paused. The Glatorian stood for a split second, then span his head in the Toa’s direction. Even from such a distance, Jaller felt their eyes make contact. Then it broke again, as Harmaisis turned and sped away, far into the night.“They deserved it,” Jaller sobbed. His voice was low, and for the first time he found himself able to slam his eyelids shut and turn his head away. He felt the eyes of the Glatorian and Toa focused on him, watching every shivering motion that he displayed. “Those scum. All of this…They…They deserve every moment.” And with those words, his mind gave into the burning guilt and reluctantly allowed him the peace he so desperately craved. With a single pained scream, he collapsed back to the ground, and felt his mind slide down to what he could only hope, though grimly doubted, would be a peaceful slumber.Review Topic
  • 0

shadowofthisredrock.png

Chapter four - Desire

Coming soon!

Short Stories: The Commute ~ Rasinov ~ In Your Absence ~ Hunter's Game ~ Suchia (Coming soon)

Epics: The Best Kept Secrets (Chapter 27: The Shadow Walker coming soon) ~ The Shadow of this Red Rock


#21 Offline The Dandy Automaton

The Dandy Automaton
  • Premier Member
  • Premier Outstanding BZP Citizens
  • FFM Bionicle Winner

  • 8,007 posts
  •   Outstanding BZPower Citizen

Posted Aug 02 2012 - 05:19 PM

Chapter 21: The True QuestWhat has he done? The question burned deep inside of Hahli’s thoughts, rising to the surface where it rested and plagued her through every moment in which she watched over the scene of destruction that lay before her. Above her the once tranquil night sky was now smudged with the presence of an oily black cloud that loomed over them like a waiting predator.“We have to go,” Bomonga ordered finally, breaking the horrified silence that had enveloped and occupied the group. They had wasted too much time marvelling at the sheer ferocity of the flames. As her attention drifted from the fire, Hahli could hear the sounds being carried to her over the breeze, dimmed as they were by the hiss and crackles of the inferno. Footsteps thudded across the ground towards them from the darkness, followed by an angry roar, like a call to arms. The hunt had begun.“Go where?” Kiina asked, as Bomonga knelt down and slung the unconscious Jaller’s arm around his shoulder. Her eyes were aflame with concern and the Toa of water noticed how they kept flicking towards the darkness surrounding the burning village.Before answering, Bomonga called to Strakk for assistance, shifting the surprisingly heavy Toa of fire to a more comfortable position. He looked over Kiina’s shoulder into the vast chasm of darkness that yawned beyond. Hahli followed his gaze and could guess what thoughts he was mulling over in his head. He knew it was their only logical option. That they could try their chances to fend off an entire army of Glatorian or simply run like cowards in the opposite direction.“We head back to Toro City,” he sighed, shaking his head. He shifted Jaller’s weight again, grimacing as he did so. He looked over to Strakk, whose attention was still fixated on the destruction below. Gresh stepped forward and took the other arm, allowing the two to carry the fallen warrior more easily. “And then we tell Tarix that we failed. This whole mission was for nothing in the end.”Hahli looked into the distance and from the glow of the rising flames, could just about make out the silhouettes of shifting figures. The Virtuous Ones were already on their ways, weapons in hand. “I don’t think we’ll make it,” she called out as her heart sank. There was no way they could make it even halfway to the city before they could catch up.She turned back to Bomonga, whose expression was growing more and more exasperated as the pressure began to pile. He too could see the charging pack and knew his time was limited. “We’ll…We’ll have to try,” he stammered, stumbling over his words as he threw them out of his mouth. He gestured to Gresh and the two of them began a steady pace, dragging Jaller along. “And if they catch up, we’ll fight them off. It’s all we can do.”None of the others had to wait for a command before they began to set off. Their footsteps thudded against the dampening ground as they charged forward into the darkness, the intensity of the blaze lessening the further they travelled. The darkness swallowed them as they progressed and they began to stumble in their blind rush. And yet, even with the distance travelled, she could tell that her pursuers were closing in. The sound of their charge and cries grew louder and stronger the further they ran. They weren’t going to make it.“Go!” she heard someone yell behind them. As she span her head around, she saw Strakk drawing his axe and turn towards the rushing crowd. Her heart leapt as she saw at least two dozen warriors, all leering menacingly at the group with drawn weapons, just a kio or two away. Strakk visibly trembled as he stood his ground, bouncing the blunt side of his axe on his shoulder, waiting to be consumed by the horde.A sharp yelp followed by a dull thud brought her attention back to the front of the group. With a start, she realised that Kiina had disappeared, lost in the rolling valleys of grass and stumps of trees. As her stomach began to fill with dread, her eyes fell on Gresh and Bomonga as they suddenly cried out in surprise and disappeared from sight, swallowed by the darkened earth. Hahli’s breath caught in her throat, but she found no time to weigh up the possibilities as the ground beneath her feet disappeared and she tumbled blindly into the darkness below.With a heavy thump, she felt the ground surge upwards to greet her. The wind tore itself from her lungs and she groaned in discomfort whilst rolling onto her side.Above her, the night sky looked down tauntingly, encircled by the thick darkness of soil.As she raised herself to her feet, she flinched as a hand brushed against her shoulder. A high pitched squawk followed the brief moment of contact and she found herself face to face with one of the curious beasts that had been introduced to her as a Vorox.Seeing that the Toa was not injured, it seemed pleased and began to bound away into the darkness, following the only path seemingly available in this underground realm. At first, Hahli pondered as to how she would climb back up to the surface. However, when she glanced back to the spot where the Vorox had disappeared, she was surprised to find it had returned, staring at her with its head tilted in a curious manner. It gestured at her to follow before vanishing into the darkness.Hahli frowned, but decided that she had little few other options. As far as she was aware, Malum was in charge of these beasts, and he had already proposed himself to be an aid to the group, rather than a threat. So unless this was some rogue or wild Vorox, she could consider it safe to follow. And either way, it had just saved her from the incoming mass of Virtuous One’s. So with that in mind, she willed herself to walk forwards and be swallowed by the darkness.Gradually, her eyes became more and more accustomed to the darkness. Until then, she guided herself through the ever-winding tunnel by placing the palm of one of her hands on the wall and checking for any twists. She was also accompanied by the sound of the clicks and grunts of her guide, though the creature remained out of sight. Bit by bit, the further she travelled, the more of the scenery around her bled into her vision until eventually she could make out the dark figure of the lumbering Vorox before her.After ten minutes of stumbling through the underground passage had passed, she finally found herself walking into a wide, expansive underground cavern. A few thin holes above allowed the dim light of the night sky to seep through, casting spotlights here and there. The Vorox that had guided her, having deduced that its duty was done, sauntered away towards a group of other similar-looking beasts who paced the room back and forth. To the other side of the cavern, Hahli could just about make out the forms of her partners, Bomonga and Kiina leaning against the wall as Gresh, recognisable from his three-pointed helmet and spiked armour, knelt over the still unconscious form of Jaller. The sight of the Glatorian protectively examining the Toa set off a pang of both concern and envy deep within Hahli’s mind. Concern for Jaller and his current condition, and envy for Gresh who was taking over a role that should have been hers. Jaller was her friend, so how could she just sit back and let a stranger examine him?With a steady pace she wordlessly edged towards the group. A network of tunnels surrounded this small clearing, leading to Mata Nui knows where. She shuddered to imagine just what it must be like to lose your way down this labyrinth of a domain. With a nod of acknowledgement, she took her place at Bomonga’s side and regarded the beasts that milled around and watched them with curiosity. Every once in a while a Vorox would take a step forward, only to be encouraged to think better of it by way of a threatening movement from Bomonga. It hissed in response, but decided it would be better to drop the matter.A few minutes passed in this manner with little more than a whisper passing between the adventurers. The question that stood most resolutely on their minds was what happened to Strakk who had so bravely stood behind? And just what they had to wait for in the oppressive darkness.The answer to these questions arrived not long after. A low moan entered the chamber first through one of the many tunnels, followed by a short, thick Glatorian lugging what appeared in the darkness to be a heavy sack. Malum dropped the awkward weight onto the floor as several Vorox filed in from behind and went to mill with their companions.“We need light,” Malum said quietly, looking up at Bomonga. The Toa of earth stood dumbly for a second, looking from the pile on the floor to Malum, before finally shrugging and turning his attention to the ceiling. By bending the earth to his will, the Toa managed to force the earth over their heads away, letting it pile up on the ground outside their ditch.The moonlight flooded the premises and Hahli had to clutch her mouth to prevent herself from gasping. What she had initially thought to be a hefty sack was instead the ice-white Glatorian they had left behind. Strakk groaned on the floor again and tilted his head to the side. Around him, a puddle of blood formed, leaking from a gaping wound across his chest.With a concerned frown, Hahli immediately rushed towards Strakk’s side. Hesitantly at first, she unstrapped the now-torn armour and peeled it away from the Glatorian’s chest. The layer of cloth underneath, which she immediately set to tearing off of his body with her protosteel talons, was stained a deep crimson and stuck to his skin where segments had dried. Her hands gently brushed against the flesh of his chest, before she placed her palms flatly on his stomach and willed a fragment of her power to course through her fingertips and into the jagged gash. “The Virtuous One’s got him?” she asked, keeping her eyes on her duties.Malum nodded solemnly. “By the time I had arrived, they’d set upon him. Though I’m hesitant to admit it, he fought nobly. It’s a pity that nobility had no effect on the outcome in the end. I only just managed to get him out of there with his life. At the cost of plenty of my own Vorox.”As he spoke, Kiina had knelt down by Strakk’s side and watched Hahli with interest as the Toa began calling upon a fraction of her powers. She watched as small rivulets of water washed over his skin, snaking their way towards the bloodied region. “Washing the wound?” she asked.“Toa Gali taught me to do this,” Hahli answered, her brow knitted with concentration as the water drifted over the injury. “She used it a while ago to wash Rahkshi poison from Toa Tahu. I understand this is more physical, but for now it’ll do to clean him of any infections.”Kiina nodded in response, drawing a piece of cloth from a pouch around her waist as Hahli spoke. She dabbed it across his chest, cleaning away the blood that had leaked over his skin. As she did, she set about examining the cut. “It’s bad, but it’s not fatal,” she decided finally, “but he’s losing a lot of blood. We need to close the wound and fast.”Bomonga nodded and turned his attention towards his own pouch. After a few long seconds of careful searching, he finally pulled out a needle, along with a few rolls of thread. “You’ll need to clean these too,” he said, handing the needle to Hahli.The Toa of water nodded and trained her eyes on the thin stick of metal. After she’d washed away all bacteria, she handed it to Kiina who displayed her appreciation with a thin smile. Gravely, the Glatorian then turned back to Strakk, who was still moaning in pain, and began to thread the needle. “This is going to hurt a bit,” she said in a low, calming voice. She pressed a soothing hand to his helmet, at the point where underneath his forehead lay. “Well, no worse than what you’ve already been through. But stay calm.”As Kiina gradually began teasing the needle in and out across the wound in a zigzag motion, Hahli thought it better to leave her undistracted. Picking herself up, she made her way over to Gresh’s, and more importantly, Jaller’s side. “How’s he doing?” she asked.“Who can say? Besides from a few chunks of wood I found lodged in his armour, there’s no external damage. But as for mental…Well, he’s been through a lot. A terrifying lot, I’d guess. But until he wakes up, I doubt we’ll know,” he replied. Hahli nodded and fixed her gaze on the unconscious form. With his eyes closed as they were and with the slow rise and fall of his chest, she could have fooled herself that he were merely sleeping peacefully through all of this. But his expression was that of despair, and every now and then he would kick out and allow a low moan to escape his lips. Whatever visions lay before him in his dreams, she doubted they were peaceful ones.“I wonder what happened down there,” Hahli said, shaking her head as she spoke.“We all do,” Gresh said. “But maybe it would be best if we didn’t know. After all, whatever it was set this one off on a flaming rampage…I’ve never seen a fire like that before. I don’t want to again.” Hahli nodded in response again, but said nothing. It hurt to look at her friend in this way, both of them helpless to fix his problems at this time. Gresh sat a while in silent thought, watching Hahli’s concerned gaze over Jaller, before finally asking, “did you love him?”The question caught Hahli off-guard. She frowned for a moment, then smiled thinly as she considered the question. Gresh caught her expression and cast his eyes at the ground. Hahli noticed that in the sections of his face noticeable from underneath his helmet, he was turning a few shades redder. “Sorry, I didn’t mean to intrude…I was just wondering,” he mumbled quietly.“It’s alright,” she said, chuckling nervously. She thought a while, descending the two of them into an uneasy silence, punctuated every now and then by the occasional hisses of agony from Strakk. “I think…I think we’re friends,” said replied finally. She kept her eyes on the ground and occasionally toyed with the dirt beneath her. She wondered briefly as to what Gresh had specifically meant and recalled the mandatory Spherus Magna biology lessons that her kind had attended. “I don’t think I could love him in the way that you mean. We don’t have any marriages in my universe, for example. There’s…there’s really no real reason for them.”Gresh grunted a response and kept his eyes downcast. “So…You can only ever just be friends in your universe…No real love…That sounds lonely, really. In my opinion.”The Toa of water smiled thinly but didn’t respond. His words lay heavy upon her shoulders and she turned her gaze skyward, as if looking for answers. She considered the vast blanket hung overhead, dotted with an endless number of stars. At any other time she would have found them beautiful. Poetic. But now she realised just how distant they were. Both from her and from each other. Though they looked close, in reality, she realised, they were in fact thousands upon thousands of mio away from each other. She frowned as another realisation fell upon her as her eyes roamed the infinite darkness, lined with an uncountable amount of silver specks. Still keeping her head up, she spoke softly, “It’s strange. I’ve only just realised what’s missing. Back in my universe the sky would be more vibrant. There would be colours in some of the stars. Red, blue, green, purple…All kinds. But there aren’t here. I can’t see a single Toa star in the sky.”“What was a Toa star?” Gresh asked, craning his neck upwards.“It was the proof we existed,” Hahli said quietly. “And that Mata-Nui had accepted us as heroes. But I guess they were just like the rest of the stars in our sky…Like everything in our universe. Artificial.”Below them, Jaller stirred, kicking out his right leg and mumbling feebly to himself. Hahli watched over him and tenderly placed a hand on his forehead. It was alarmingly warm. She called upon her powers, not for the first time that night, and directed a flow of cooling water over his Kanohi. In response, his eyes flickered and fixed on Hahli’s beryl Kanohi, just as they had done the day before, following the explosion in Toro City when she had found him unconscious in the alleyway. Though this time, things had changed. He did not smile this time. Inside, his eyes were filled less with warmth and more an unholy fire.Gresh seemed to smile boyishly at her as she looked back up to face him, and opened his mouth to say something. However, whatever words he was about to use were left unsaid as the shouting began on the other side of the cavern and Bomonga thrust his spear in Malum’s direction.***It was under Krakua’s advising that Bomonga had lunged at the Glatorian. The conversation had gone as pleasantly as was possible between a guardian of justice and a guardian of corrupt beasts at first. Bomonga had been wholly grateful for Malum’s timely intervention and the two had set about discussing the oncoming chain of events that must later unfold.The two had deemed the outside world to be unsafe due to the presence of the hostile Virtuous One’s that now roamed the wilderness without homes. That meant that the Vorox tunnels were the team’s only hope of getting around. Bomonga had suggested they return to Toro City first, in order to ensure that Strakk receives proper medical attention, though Malum had refused insisting that time was of the essence and that the attention of Hahli and Kiina had seemed more than satisfactory to heal his wounds.The conversation then followed on to Malum consulting one of his beasts in their strange manner of clicking and whistling that Bomonga found hard to comprehend. Malum used the creature to gain an understanding of the current tunnels standing and whether any of them could be used to travel northwards easily, without having to wait for any extra tunnelling that the Vorox might have to perform.Finally, when Malum had determined the appropriate route for them to undertake, he turned to Bomonga and finally offered his ultimatum. He would offer them the usage of his tunnels on two conditions. The first being that none of the travellers may disturb or harm his Vorox, of which Bomonga was sure Malum needn’t even have asked. The second was that Bomonga finally reveal the truth of their quest to the other members of his team.“I don’t know what you mean,” Bomonga said quickly. As he spoke, his eyes flickered to the tunnel behind Malum. The Glatorian caught the flicker of movement in his eyes and smirked.“You may be a good warrior, Toa, but you are no leader, that much I can see.” Content with watching the growingly flustered Bomonga in the awkward situation he had placed him in, Malum folded his arms. The massive claws he still held onto closed around on his elbows. “I know of your secrets. A messenger had been intercepted by a couple of curious Vortixx on his way to Toro City. He carried a message detailing the facts of the quest you are currently undertaking. I was too late to save him, but I still managed to get hold of his supplies. Though you needn’t worry as to the messenger’s duties, for I completed those in the dead of night, under the veil of darkness. I left the scroll by Tarix’s door, where I assume he collected it that morning.”He’s lying, Bomonga heard Krakua’s head echo within his mind. The Elder’s use me to communicate with one another. No scroll was dispatched.Bomonga recounted the facts that he had just received to Malum, though omitting the fact that he had received them from a Toa that was watching the entire scene through his own eyes. Malum smirked. “Then it’s curious as to how one ended up in my possession. Judging from your reaction I am sure that there is at least one secret you want to be kept hidden from your little puppets, but I do not believe in sending them to their deaths like animals to the slaughter. Even I have some values, Toa. Even I let my Vorox know why they have to die.”A feeling of despair resonated within Bomonga’s mind. He knows! He heard Krakua cry. Don’t let him tell them!“They are not going to find out,” Bomonga snarled, taking a step forwards.“And you will stop me? Surrounded by all of my Vorox? With the outside world as hazardous as it is?”“If I have to.”“Then strike me down, Toa. Do what your code forbids you. In the meantime, I will obey my code of honour and ensure that your allies know what is in store for them.” With a wry smirk, Malum turned his body towards the unknowing warriors. At the same time, Krakua’s voice screamed in Bomonga’s mind, forcing him to take the only action he could think of.He grasped the shaft of his spear and unlimbered it from his back. With one smooth motion, he swung it forward and aimed the point at Malum’s neck. The Glatorian kept his eye on the attack and stood unwavering as Bomonga lunged towards him.Bomonga stopped the thrust when the sharp end his weapon was merely a hair’s breadth away from Malum’s neck.“Don’t push me,” Bomonga snarled gently.Malum kept his gaze, an amused expression crossing his face. "By all means Bomonga, strike me down if it will win you my silence," he smirked. He looked from the spear tip aimed squarely at his throat to the Toa's acquaintances. "But will they trust you now that they know you would kill the one Glatorian trying to help you just so you may keep some little secret away from them?"Krakua cursed and Bomonga felt an accompanying wave of frustration wash over him. In his own heart, he felt only desperation. His grip on the spear wavered and he felt himself tremble. He swallowed uncomfortably and looked to the side. His outburst had caught the attention of every one of his allies. The Vorox watched the attack on their master warily, hissing at him every now and again. They held back though, waiting for Bomonga to make another sudden movement before they swooped in to kill the offendor.With a heavy sigh, he pulled the spear away. Malum allowed his smile to grow broader, a look that appeared strange on the old warrior’s face. “Then I will tell them,” he said.“Tell us what?” Hahli asked, wearing a confused frown on her face.“Why you travel all this distance,” Malum replied.“Don’t listen to him Hah-”“-We know why we’re travelling,” Gresh cut in. “The Elders need confirmation about the Skrall. We’re here to find out whether an army really is on their way.”“So the Elders would have you believe,” Malum purred. “The other day when I introduced myself, I said that I would offer you my Vorox, with the purpose of adding more pieces to your board. But I lied. Because it’s not your board. It is the Elders. You are no more than pieces to them and they consider you expendable in the grand scheme of things.”Bomonga placed his hand on his forehead and walked away. Krakua was keeping silent, though Bomonga could still feel the frustration and hopelessness ebbing through his skull.“What are you talking about,” Kiina asked. In front of her, Strakk groaned with pain again, though did his best to keep his head raised. He was conscious enough to follow the conversation and to have an interest in it. “You’re saying that there’s another reason entirely we’re coming up here?”“You’re absolutely right, my dear,” smiled Malum. “If you’ll forgive my cheerfulness, for I do not actually consider your plight amusing. Frankly I find it downright horrifying the Elders could consider this. But there is a specific reason all five of you were selected. All of you have one thing in common. You have all been the key players in at least one major war. You are all heroes of the highest calibre. Granted, the decision regarding the numbers of each of your species is one of an attempt to force a message of unity, but the original point stands. You would never be selected for the sheer sake of just looking at the Skrall forces.”Bomonga looked over at the faces of his allies. All five of them wore faces of confusion, but also anger as the realisation that they may not have received the whole truth. Bomonga’s reluctance to allow this truth to be leaked was sign enough that he was hiding something, so what reason did they have to doubt Malum’s speech?Malum continued. “No, spies are used for information gathering. And warriors? Warriors are used for fighting. When you reach the Skrall army, your job is that of a suicide mission. The Elders did not tell you of their true intentions because they believed that you would act on their wishes by instinct. And if not, Bomonga here would offer the suggestion. And then the adrenaline of going the extra mile, doing your duty by your own free will would inspire you and encourage you to victory.”All eyes fixed on the Toa of earth. “Is this true?” Gresh asked. His voice was quiet and Bomonga could hear an edge of desperation lining the tone.“I’m sorry,” Bomonga responded. “They asked me not to tell you.”“So then what are we doing here?” Kiina asked angrily. Her fingers were dripping with blood, specks of which flew onto the ground as she gestured with exasperation. “What’s the big suicide mission that we’re not meant to know about?”Finally Malum smiled. Bomonga could tell that he knew he had won. He had lost Bomonga his role as the leader and inherited it as a result. The five warriors would follow him now, and Bomonga would be little more than a liar in their presence.“Your mission,” Malum finished, “is to fight your way into the middle of the Skrall army and from there, find Tuma. And when you see him, you will take his sword and execute him. It is unlikely you will survive on the way out.”Review Topic
  • 0

shadowofthisredrock.png

Chapter four - Desire

Coming soon!

Short Stories: The Commute ~ Rasinov ~ In Your Absence ~ Hunter's Game ~ Suchia (Coming soon)

Epics: The Best Kept Secrets (Chapter 27: The Shadow Walker coming soon) ~ The Shadow of this Red Rock


#22 Offline The Dandy Automaton

The Dandy Automaton
  • Premier Member
  • Premier Outstanding BZP Citizens
  • FFM Bionicle Winner

  • 8,007 posts
  •   Outstanding BZPower Citizen

Posted Aug 11 2012 - 02:21 PM

Chapter 22: A Fragmented BeautyIn the heat of battle, the two warriors lunged at one another. Spakrs flew as their swords clashed under the dark night sky. Tuma looked on with interest as the two Skrall tested each other’s abilities in combat, leaning against the side of a caravan and keeping his arms crossed. Pulling away from their brief moment of contact, the two paced the crudely drawn circle, watching each other intently like dune wolves.Around the Skrall leader, an audience gathered. Assortments of other matches were occurring at the same time around them, but the soldier’s interests were caught by the one battle that their leader, had felt the need to keep observe. Around the training arena, the camp surged with life. Fortunately for Tuma, when his army had been defeated and fragmented, the majority had fled in almost the same direction, all heading towards the far north where the desert region would welcome them home. They had decided that they would rather brave the assault of the Baterra than to live as war criminals, held captive by the victors.Tuma and his gathered army had swept over the lands, reforming as much of his army as he possibly could. The Kazyshian sword strapped to his back, they had proved more than willing to join in his efforts. Now, after two days of careful searching, they had amassed an army of almost 300 soldiers and were beginning their march towards the cities beyond. Already the terrain below their feet had faded from sand to grass.Finally as the steady pacing breaking the flow of the battle began to grow wearisome to behold, one of the combatants, adorned in a dark blue and spiked armour leapt forward at his foe and swung his blade horizontally in front of him. Unfortunately for the soldier, his impatience proved to be his downfall as his opponent had been more than ready for such a clumsy assault. The following dodge was expertly timed and as soon as his feet landed on the ground, he immediately surged forwards. The blue Skrall, still only just finishing the swing and pulling the sword back to his side, could only watch in frustration and terror as the hilt of his opponent’s sword came crashing into the side of his helmet. He staggered backwards and felt his opponent’s shield come rushing to the opposite side of his face. The accompanying blow sent him sprawling the ground, where he skidded for a few moments and came to rest on his front.A cheer rose from the crowd, accompanied by the sound of jeers and hisses at the fallen Skrall, who groaned in a mixture of pain and irritation at his failure. The victor raised his arms in celebration and left the ring.Well, that was over disappointingly quickly, Metus remarked.A low growl reverberated from the back of Tuma’s throat as the words echoed through his mind. Other spectators to the side of the elite Skrall backed away warily, unsure of the cause of their leader’s displeasure. Even in spite of the day’s proceedings, Tuma had still not yet grown accustomed to having to share his mind with another. Indeed, he severely doubted that he ever truly would.As it was supposed to, Tuma replied. One change he could be grateful for adapting to was that now he had resorted to responding with his own thoughts, in fear of appearing mad in front of his subjects. They are soldiers preparing for war. I’d rather they didn’t treat the match like a dance. In battle they must be swift and brutal whilst eager to move on to the next enemy.All I’m saying is that it doesn’t provide much entertainment, said Metus. Back when all this was Bara Magna, a good Glatorian match would last five minutes. A better, for fifteen. There’s not much to keep your army amused.Tuma grunted to himself and chose not to respond. He could tell the ex-Agori was being deliberately argumentative for the sake of extending conversation, so chose not to rise to the bait. Instead, he marched over to the fallen Skrall, who still lay in the circle even after his foe had wandered off into the depths of the camp. The warrior nursed his head and looked up blearily as Tuma advanced.So now you execute him for failing? A feeling of mild curiosity and hopefulness crawled through a small corner of Tuma’s mind.That would be wasteful, Tuma responded quickly, sensing his irritation mingle with Metus’ inquisitiveness. In a battle, there can only be one winner. Why would I prune half of my army for conforming to the rules of combat?Whatever Metus’ response, Tuma ignored as he stood above the fallen combatant. “Get up,” he hissed. When the Skrall did little more than groan in response Tuma kicked at the ground, sending a wave of dirt flying into the losers’ eyes.The Skrall yelped in surprise and clambered to his feet, rubbing madly at his helmet. He looked up at Tuma sheepishly and inclined his head in what was intended as a courteous gesture, muttering as he did: “My apologies, mighty Tuma.”Tuma said nothing at this comment. He was well aware that the title, though said in a respectful manner, was a sly way of mocking the elite Skrall for his outburst when challenged to the fateful duel by Mata Nui all those months ago. “Don’t I know you?” he said brusquely, eyeing the gleaming ebony armour that implied a higher status for the Skrall.“You do, Tuma,” the Skrall smirked. “For it was you that named me after all. It’s Bragh, in case you had forgotten.”“Ah yes, I recognise you now,” Tuma said flatly, betraying no emotion. He did indeed remember Bragh and the circumstances under which he had been rewarded with a name. Bragh had been part of the company that had scouted for a suitable place that the Skrall may reside in when they had been chased away by the Baterra. Though reports from the others of the company had indicated that Bragh had spent the entirety of the journey complaining about whatever inconvenience crossed his path, and then declaring the location that would later be named as Roxtus to be too stuffy and unpleasant to ever consider living in, he had immediately leapt at the chance to receive a name and had worn the title with pride. More pride than any he attempted to surround himself with had appreciated.“That was a poor display in the arena. Why was there no strategy behind your attack?”“It appears I underestimated my opponent, mighty Tuma,” Bragh apologised, lowering his eyes to the mud beneath their feet. “I did not anticipate him to be so…swift.”“Then that is a fault you will need to overcome, swifter than your opponent. I expected better from a warrior who I deemed worthy of identity.” Bragh kept his eyes down and his expression grew gradually more upset as the weight of Tuma’s words sank. Tuma considered leaving the discussion at that so that he may revel in the Skrall’s sorrow. In the end he thought better of it. There were things that had to been done and he couldn’t risk putting them off for the sake of petty taunting. “However, there is a chance for you to redeem yourself.”Bragh perked up at this offer. “Depending on the circumstances, I’m sure I can find a way to remind all of your subjects just how useful I am to you, mighty Tuma.”He bowed his head again, and glanced around at the tribe, who were beginning to quieten down, readying themselves to rest before the ensuing march that the day would bring. “I believe they’re starting to forget the higher status I hold that the name you presented me with grants me.”“A pity that,” Tuma said shortly. He regarded Bragh coldly and decided he was beginning to like him less and less as the conversation dragged on. He was almost considering reassigning the task to someone a little more likeable. “I had a pair of contacts that assisted me in the locating of the Kazyshian sword. We were to meet in a small inn located south of here tomorrow at roughly midday. However, due to the search for the fragments of the rock tribe, I have been delayed. And since I cannot leave my army unattended for any length of time, I am in need of someone to go forward and greet them on my behalf.”“That sounds…easy,” Bragh said, mulling over the information in his head. From the light of his eyes, Tuma could see that a smirk was spreading across his face underneath his helmet. “What am I to tell them?”“Just get them to wait. We should be there by the time the sun starts setting.”The Skrall nodded and stretched his arms. He looked around and rubbed the side of his helmet. “Well, if that’s all then I guess I’ll get a good night’s rest and be on my way in the morning.”“I think not.” Tuma stepped in Bragh’s path as soon as the Skrall had begun walking in the direction of the designated sleeping grounds. “The inn is a fair ride from here, and I would rather you appear early, lest my contacts take a disliking to your tardiness. As my representative, surely you would rather sacrifice a few small hours of sleep for the sake of good form.”The elite Skrall kept his eyes cold though smiled inwardly as he watched Bragh’s face fall to dismay. He looked pitifully from the sleeping grounds, where soldiers were already beginning to doze under the watchful eyes of the stars; to the rock steed pen, where the beasts were chewing away at the carcass of a spikit that had been deemed a waste of resources once it had broken a leg. Bragh whimpered and walked away, keeping his head low.“Oh, and if we find you sleeping on the side of the road, Bragh,” Tuma called after him, “don’t expect to ever wake up again.”A small wave of amusement flooded through him and Tuma could tell Metus was amused. That was rather cold-hearted of you. I approve.It couldn’t have happened to a more deserving Skrall, Tuma replied. Though it was all with good reason. I would rather he meet my contacts on time rather than delay them. I have heard that they can be unforgiving.Have I ever heard of these associates of yours? Perhaps dealt business with them in the past?Unlikely. They are called Xavor and Zhorya. Two Vortixx. They arrived from that other world that came down last month.So how is it that two beings joined us from the stars and already knew the location to an artefact we have spent hundreds of years scouring the desert for? Metus’ thoughts were tinged with curiosity, though Tuma could also feel hints of frustration. Clearly the Agori did not like having been bested so easily.Tuma considered the question for a few moments, before replying shortly, I know as much as you do.And did they even give a reason for helping you?Silence was beginning to settle over the camp. Realising how curious it would appear to be standing alone in the middle of the training grounds, Tuma made his way towards the tent that had been erected for him when they had resolved to stop for the night. You know the answers to these questions, he replied irritably. Why ask them when you can merely search my memory and get a more accurate response?Because, mighty Tuma (A small tingling of amusement accompanied those words) believe it or not, I am bored and there is little to do inside of your head. So I ask questions for the sake of giving me something to do. Perhaps if you could kill a few more of your friends, they could all join me up here and we could have a merry time out of your way.A small shiver shook Tuma’s spine as he imagined what it might be like to have anyone else invading his thoughts. He decided to change the subject before Metus could develop the idea any further. They simply said that by reforming my army and attacking Atero Nui, what we would be doing would be for everyone’s benefit. I don’t see how but I don’t need a reason to want to crush the enemy’s that took everything from me and built themselves a new life on my failure.Of course. But they must have given a reason. I don’t think even somebody as weak-minded as you would just obey the commands of two passing strangers.They led me to the sword. That alone deserved my trust. Tuma paused as he looked at the blankets that had been provided for him to sleep on as the night passed by. He considered Metus’ question, and recalled the one piece of information that had been given to him, though he had little idea as to what it meant.They did say that they were in the middle of something so that my army would encounter little resistance when we did attack. And that we needed to be there in a matter of a few days.So there’s a time limit? And why must we have to attack Atero Nui so soon, then? The Agori was getting more and more interested in the discussion and Tuma could imagine him as he was a few months back, wrapped in his physical body, knees crossed, leaning over intently and watching the Skrall’s every moment, making his own analysis of the situation.They said we have to destroy Atero Nui or else the world will be damaged. They claimed that we had to reach the city before the phoenix rises.***It was on the nights like these that he felt most whole. The stars beamed forth from the untainted sky and the city lay in silence, all hushed up and eagerly watching his performance.Already he had spied his assistant. In his hand he gripped his tool, his pen. For in this instance, he was a poet and with the pen, he would write a beautiful sonnet that all would weep to behold. He shivered with anticipation, sure that this would be his greatest work yet.And so, not daring to tease himself, nor his audience, any longer he pounced. And he wrote.As the Matoran fell to the floor, he stood revelling in his glory. Any second now would come the euphoric feeling of completion that always came with a success such as this. Any second. Perhaps just a few seconds more.His assistant lay stiff on the ground, only twitching whenever the horrid muscles spasmed as they so often do after death. Something was wrong. Oh, so very wrong. Where was the joy? Where was the satisfaction in producing yet another grand spectacle? It lay before him, as they did every other night before, yet for the first time he felt no pleasure.He had done it wrong. Of that he was certain, for he had never failed before on his excursions into the night. No, he would perform for Atero Nui again, let it be his treat for being such a great audience. And so he sighted his next assistant and leapt forward so that they may dance under a star studded sky.The Agori lay sprawled on the ground, a thin trickle of blood pooling next to the wound in his neck. Fear began to grip his heart and he looked wildly around. Up atop a large and gleaming silver building he saw the white, titanic beast looking down at him, watching him with its luminous red eyes. He shivered. No, it was not time yet. He had not had his moment of glory. He was not yet complete.His dancing began to falter. He found he swayed more and had difficulty keeping to the shadows. He grew dizzy, and had to cling onto the walls to support himself.Nothing was going as it should. He waited for another victim – no, performer! – to pass by and lunged. The Matoran fell onto his back, screaming as he did. The small being tried to hold onto his leg, gurgling with dismay. He kicked it away and began to groan in horror.He could not be anything. He began to run through the shadows, trying to find anyone that might join him. He was a musician. He was a painter. He was a craftsman, a historian, a baker, he was something! He was all of those things and more, he told himself, for if he was none of those things then what was he?And slowly he began to realise. A cold shadow passed through him as he realised that he was no talented performer. He was a murderer and around him laid those who had fallen to his insane wrath. He fell to his knees and began to shake. He dropped his knife and groaned in consternation. He raised his fist and pounded the streets, cursing them for taking away the one joy he had. How had he let himself be fooled so easily? Did he really think he could give himself meaning by deceiving himself like this?But it wasn’t as though these nightly adventures were for nothing, he thought. There was so much happiness to be gained from them. Especially when he looked back to all those times when he had returned, content and ready to face a day that would bring nothing but frustration to him.As he lay and tried to justify his actions, a figure materialised before him. He looked up and saw the pale armour of the beast, towering over him. A writhing mass of twisted metal formed the brutal titan. “It is time to go,” it said in a deep and threatening voice.“Not yet,” he replied weakly. His voice caught in his throat and emerged as little more than a whisper.“You have done terrible things this night,” it retorted. “Nothing that cannot be hidden or used to deceive the Elders, of course. But you have never claimed more than one life before.”The words struck him like a blow. He felt the rage build up inside of him, strengthening him to stand, though he still stood smaller than his master. "More," he hissed through gritted teeth. He looked down at the body by his feet and he felt his eyes burn with fury. If he could not live for the satisfaction of creation then he would have his fill with destruction.A shadow of a smile flickered over the titan’s face. It said nothing but simply stretched out its hand. Though the gesture was intended to be friendly, its eyes burned with an intimidating coldness and behind, it swished a long and lethally sharp tail in plain view. He knew better than to protest at this point, as he was well aware that his master would go to any method to bring him back to society, for he was of little use to anything in captivity. Resentfully, he reached forward and placed his hand on the beast’s bleached white armour.A rushing feeling encapsulated him as the sound of roaring wind echoed through his ears. Darkness sprang before his eyes, hiding the world from his vision. Slowly, they crawled away revealing the new location. His home. The same place where he had ended up at the conclusion of every night that had taken place before. Though normally he had felt more…satisfied.“Do not resent me, servant,” the titan said quietly, “For I act in your best interests. The time is drawing near where you may finally reveal yourself, though I would not encourage you to act too hastily. For now, wait. But soon, so soon, the clouds will gather over this wretched city and we will bring forth something far more beautiful. The final day approaches. The day of the phoenix’s rise grows near.”Review Topic
  • 0

shadowofthisredrock.png

Chapter four - Desire

Coming soon!

Short Stories: The Commute ~ Rasinov ~ In Your Absence ~ Hunter's Game ~ Suchia (Coming soon)

Epics: The Best Kept Secrets (Chapter 27: The Shadow Walker coming soon) ~ The Shadow of this Red Rock


#23 Offline The Dandy Automaton

The Dandy Automaton
  • Premier Member
  • Premier Outstanding BZP Citizens
  • FFM Bionicle Winner

  • 8,007 posts
  •   Outstanding BZPower Citizen

Posted Aug 27 2012 - 02:42 PM

Chapter 23: Meeting of the EldersTarix watched on with interest as the heavy cart trundled noisily through the streets of Atero Nui. Sheets of steel rested on the back, accounting for the notable strain that the vehicle appeared to be going through as it dragged its contents down the road. Passers-by acknowledged the vehicles presence and were sure to step out of its way, then turn to watch as it gradually disappeared into the distance.Heading towards the east of the city, Tarix pondered, striding towards the central tower at the cities heart. The great building loomed over him, pointing skyward like a great finger directing him to the heavens. Which is strange. I thought those grounds had been reserved for traders and their storerooms. Stepping into the lobby, he regarded the large crowd that had amassed around the reception desk even at this early hour of the morning. The air was abuzz with commotion as Matoran and Agori alike all battled to have their urgent matter brought to the attention of the Elders.With his mouth guard parted, Tarix shot the receptionist, a kind and admirably patient Ga-Matoran, a reassuring grin. She returned the gesture in kind, though her expression appeared more strained as she turned back to face the roiling mass of civilians.He thanked the Great Beings that so far he had entered unnoticed, as once he had been spotted, they would all converge on him, determined that he would be capable of fixing their problems, or considering their pleas. As Tarix made his way quickly to the stairway that would lead him to his fellow Elders, the occasional discernible cry reached his ear:“If we’re not allowed to take sky vehicles into the air, then how can I move my cargo to Xero Magna?”“The guards are doing nothing; if you could just get the Elders to look into it then maybe they could find him!”“It’s an outrage we’re letting him get away with it! The Elders have to know that he’s spreading rumours meant to hurt the Matoran!”Each step higher up the tower brought him further and further up the tower, floor by floor and closer to his brothers. He shook his head, relieved to be away from the commotion taking place below him. It hurt to think that there was so much wrong, so much that had yet to be dealt with and still there just wasn’t enough time to do it all. If it weren’t for the serial killer that had been prowling the streets, or the riots that keep breaking out left, right and centre for every petty restriction, then the guards might have been able to deal with cases of discrimination or theft. And the Elders had their hands full trying to balance both the growing city and the foreboding approach of the reformed Skrall army.Much to his disdain, as he reached the required floor and the grand, wooden door presented itself to him, an all too familiar sound of unrest reached his ears. Though there were only two voices battling each other from the other side, they were still unwelcome to Tarix.“You had no right to authorise the construction! We had already agreed that that land was for warehouses and warehouses only!” the first speaker cried.“No, you agreed,” the second voice raged. “I made my point clear and you flat out ignored me!”Tarix swung the door open and found the source of this commotion to be none other than Hydraxon and Raanu, leering at one another from across the table, both looking ready to pounce over the obstacle and go at one another’s throat. Also seated at the table was the Turaga, Vakama, who shook his head at the two combatants, though said little else. Over to the side, Vastus was slumped into a chair, his head lolling to one side as he dozed quietly. Tarix was amused at how he could so easily rest through all this commotion.Nobody seemed to notice Tarix’s entrance, as the battle waged on. “We didn’t ignore you; we pointed out how this city doesn’t need an arena right now!” Hydraxon roared, gesticulating wildly to emphasise his point.Raanu tutted and shook his head. “And what, so what it needs is a few cluttered buildings? That’ll fix the relationship between our people, won’t it?!”“Perhaps it might if the traders actually had somewhere to keep their stock! Would you rather they just left it in the open for the weather and bandits to get at?”“We have plenty of warehouses for them to keep whatever trivial nonsense they keep!” Raanu cried.“And we have the coliseum beneath our very feet to host your worthless Glatorian battles!”“The dimensions are all wrong! The grounds are too large, and the seats are too high up! Nobody could enjoy a good battle from that distance! Nobody would even bother going!” He raised his arms wildly and then indicated the window. “And the view from the east side of the city is far superior! Why would we put a group of ugly, stone storerooms on the highest point of the city overlooking the river?”Tarix forced a chuckle, and then clapped his hands. The noise caught the two Elders by surprise and their heads jolted towards the source. “Impressive display you two, very impressive. I can only wonder what our people would think to see you two squabbling like beasts. And Raanu, I think you spent a little too much time around Metus. Certain elements of his personality are rubbing off on you. I’m almost concerned you might start selling us to the Skrall if you imitate him anymore.”Raanu scowled and folded his arms. “So good to see you here now, Tarix. You joined us just in time; Hydraxon and I were in the middle of a…debate. I think you should be able to have your say.”“What’s the issue?” Tarix asked, though more out of politeness than curiosity. He was well aware what the two were fighting over.“Raanu decided that the coliseum didn’t provide a good enough area for the Glatorian matches he likes so much,” Hydraxon glowered. “And that the coliseum has too much Matoran architecture in it for his liking. So he’s been campaigning for the last couple of weeks to get an arena like the ones from his old villages built over the eastern district, which is incidentally where we’d arranged to build the warehouses.”“But I just saw a cart bearing whole plates of steel passing by on its way down east earlier. Surely you don’t need to decorate a bunch of storerooms with steel.” Tarix said, remembering the vehicle that had crossed his path just those few minutes ago.“Indeed you did,” Hydraxon replied. “And no, we shouldn’t need to, but what I found out earlier was that they weren’t going towards the warehouses. This steel was going to be used to create an arena, alarmingly similar to the one that Raanu had proposed we build.”“Right,” Tarix said, trying hard to suppress the smile that was passing across his face. It was almost comical how childish the two ‘Elders’ were behaving. He looked up at the crimson Agori, who was tapping a finger restlessly on the table. “And so you decided that since nobody was supporting you, you had the right to overrule them and went ahead and authorised it anyway?”Raanu huffed irritably, and then turned his gaze skyward, tutting as he did so. “It was all for a purpose, you see. The other Agori weren’t fond of the coliseum as it was, saying that it was far too different from what they were used to. I wanted to put their minds at ease by creating something a little more homely, so that they didn’t feel they were being forced to accept Matoran architecture. Were you actually around at the meeting, instead of gallivanting around Toro City for whatever reason, perhaps I would have received your support and my decision might not have appeared so selfish.”“Well, for one thing,” Tarix began, folding his arms over his golden chest, “I’m not gallivanting anywhere. You know I’m a representative, overlooking the cities construction. For another, I wouldn’t have supported you anyway. The coliseum is fine and Hydraxon is right. The traders need a place to keep their stock. Especially with the weather we’ve been having lately.”The scowl on Raanu’s face darkened. Were Tarix not a veteran Glatorian, he may have backed away from the multiple and various threats that the glare promised.“You’ve spent too long in Toro City,” Raanu muttered quietly, keeping his voice dangerously low. “I always thought the population of that place was leaning too much towards the machines. They’ve influenced the way you think.”“Don’t be absurd,” Tarix heard a gentle voice to the side say. He turned to look at Vakama who leaned over the table, his chin resting on tented fingers. Beneath his Kanohi, his eyes were brimming with disgust. He continued: “Ackar also bid in our favour. It has nothing to do with our species, merely on common sense. And I find it disrespectful and insulting to here you generalise my kind as machines. I expect better of one who would choose to rule over these people.”“Of course,” Raanu hissed. “I see how it is. I’m the last one of us truly trying to hold onto Agori culture. So I’m in the wrong then, I take it? Well, I see how it is.” He pushed away from the table, his chair grinding noisily against the metal floor. He leapt to his feet and glared at everyone in the room in turn, even the sleeping Vastus who was unaware of the events transpiring. “Then we’ll let the machines have what they want. Let them have the whole bloody planet because that’s the idea I’m getting from all of this.”And with that, he looked to Tarix hoping for some form of assistance. When he received none he growled and stormed from the room, closing the door loudly behind him.A low whistle rang in the air, intercepting the silence that attempting to settle over their heads. Vastus was awake now and was staring on at the door that was now firmly shut, shielding them from the sight of Raanu descending the stairs. “That was rather dramatic,” he said.“You’ll have to forgive him,” Tarix said, fixing his attention on Hydraxon and Vakama, both of whom were expressing both frustration and resentment at the insults they’d received. For some reason Tarix felt the need to apologise on Raanu’s behalf. “I don’t think he’s quite used to this new system of ruling. In Vulcanus, he was used to the system of fighting for what you want and taking it if you were the strongest. He always wanted peace, but…I don’t think he knows how to use it now that he has it.”Hydraxon grunted in response, shooting a disdainful look at the door. Then he turned to regard Vastus. “So you’re awake now are you?”“Have been for a long time,” Vastus replied, stretching his arms out and yawning. “Impossible not to be with the way you two were going at each other.”The sound of the door opening and closing caught their attention and they turned to watch Ackar stride into the room, regarding them all quietly. Tarix nodded his head at the Elder in respect, and Ackar returned the gesture in kind. “Vastus,” the Glatorian said, “how was your night on patrol?”“Uneventful. As they always seem to be,” Vastus cursed. His expression turned sombre and when he spoke, his voice was hard and cold. “Though I did have a run in with our most wanted.”“The Vortixx,” Ackar said, not as a question but more as a statement.Vastus’ nod confirmed Ackar’s suspicions. Tarix’s blood ran cold as he gained a fair idea just who they were talking about. No doubt the same two Vortixx that had accompanied Bomonga and his companions to The Broken Toa two days before. The same two that had then been responsible for the destruction wreaked on the library, which was still little more than a collection of splinters and rubble on the ground.“I found them in the western market district last night. I attempted to apprehend them, which was foolish, I’m aware, but they evaded me.” He spoke quickly and kept his eyes downcast. Tarix felt a pang of sympathy for Vastus, the Glatorian who rarely lost an arena battle. The veteran who had participated in countless wars and survived. Deceived and made to look a fool by a pair of tricksters.“What were they doing in the market district?” Hydraxon asked, coldly.Vastus shrugged. “Trading by the seem of things.” He told the Elders about the vials and the Vortixx’s assurances that they would work as a serial killer repellent.“How absurd,” Vakama said, shaking his head. “And how disappointing that we have people foolish enough to believe it.”“Perhaps not foolish,” Ackar said. “Perhaps hopeful. Those two…Whatever it is they’re doing, it’s strange. Is there a chance they were trying to poison their customers?”“Unlikely. We had a sample retried from one of the unfortunates who fell for the scam. A quick analysis of the substance revealed it to be little more than water mixed with the juices of…bula berries, was it?” Vastus replied.“What’s there for it to be strange?” Hydraxon asked, as he leant back on his chair, folding his arms. “It was a scam, pure and simple. I wouldn’t expect anything better of those two rats.”Vastus frowned, and then knelt forward. He delved his hand into a leather satchel that lay by his feet and withdrew a dark brown pouch. He tossed it onto the table where it landed with a heavy thunk in front of Hydraxon. The ex-jailer’s eyes flickered with interest as he examined the contents. “How much is in here?” he asked, withdrawing a single gold coin and flicking it into the air with his thumb.“Enough,” Vastus replied shortly. “And they mentioned the library. I think they want us to put this towards its reconstruction.”“So they tore it down to build it back up again,” Hydraxon said, eyeing the coin dubiously as though it might explode at any second. “Forgive me for sounding sceptical, but I’m suspicious. Why?”“To run rings around us? To make things difficult? Think about it. Think about everything they’ve done. They brought public attention to the fact that Tuma was planning to rebuild his army. They denounced the six of you Elders by highlighting the fact that you were deliberately keeping the issue from them. Then after they’ve gone and leaked our information to the people, they disappear to Toro City and the largest building there disappears in a ball of fire. To make matters worse, there was the incident with the Skrall attack on the tavern, which I can’t help but wonder if they were in any way responsible.”Ackar shook his head in frustration. “Then they’re just being absurd. Chaotic. While we’re trying to build a city, they spun us around and are now making sure we’re going to keep spinning. So what’s the point?”“Perhaps they’re just anarchists,” Vastus shrugged. “It’s not impossible. Back in the Core War there would be Glatorian who would take no side, who would just seek to add fuel to the fire so to speak. I battled with a few of them and not a single one showed regret for their actions. They loved the mania that followed.”“No, this is something else,” Hydraxon interrupted. He continued gazing at the coin in his hand, his eyes shrouded with confusion beneath his silver face plate. Tarix followed his gaze and looked towards the brown bag that now lay on its side with its innards spilling over onto the table. If all they wanted to do was to spread mischief then there was no reason to repay anyone. They could have kept the money for themselves and done whatever it was they needed to do. Hydraxon was clearly thinking along the same line as he spoke his thoughts aloud: “Why break something to insist we fix it again? To tear it down once more? But that would bring them nothing…Unless…No, surely not…These coins…They were apologising…?”“Now that’s ridiculous. When I saw them yesterday they never showed a hint of remorse for their actions.”“So then why insist we rebuild the library? Why not leave us struggling to fund its reconstruction? They may have destroyed it but what if it wasn’t their idea?”“Which makes sense,” Ackar intervened before Vastus could offer an objection. “If they’re being used by somebody else then that answers another question. How did they get hold of the message about Tuma? It’s not that simple as to just walk in and pick it up from our shelves. Somebody wanted them to have it. Somebody gave it to them so that they could make the information public.”Vastus’ gaze hardened. He folded his arms and cast a wary glance around the room at each individual. “So we have a traitor,” he said coldly. “Then that’s just what we need among all this turmoil.”“There’s always a traitor these days,” Tarix said wearily, casting his thoughts back to the events prior to the reformation of Spherus Magna, and even further back to the Core War. It seemed there was always somebody looking out only for themselves, putting everyone in danger for the sake of their own welfare. “So how would we find them?”Ackar shook his head. “I think I have an idea. But I don’t like it.” He opened his mouth to continue speaking but was cut off by a series of short raps against the door. A few seconds later, the wooden mouth yawned open and Toa Hewkii strode in, his chest rising and falling from heavy breathing. He looked over at Vastus and paused for a few moments to regain himself before speaking. “The assassin, sir. She’s…she said something.”Vastus immediately rose to his feet, a smile spreading across her face. “The one who tried to kill Thantox, right? Well, what did she say.”“Well…Nothing.” Vastus’ face fell. “Except that she would only speak to Elder Ackar. Nobody else.”“Did she say why?” Ackar asked.“No. She went quiet again. I’ve carved rocks more sociable than her, I swear.”Ackar nodded solemnly than glanced around at his fellow elders and Vastus. “Well, I apologise but I guess we’ll be calling this meeting short. I have a bad feeling about this assassin… And Vastus, I want you to come with me. There are a few things to discuss that I think you should know about.”Vastus nodded and stalked after Ackar, even as the Elder swept from the room, leaving its denizens in an uncomfortable silence.“So a traitor, huh?” Tarix said finally. “Maybe we should start making bets. After that little outburst I could put good money on Raanu.” Nobody grinned. Review Topic
  • 0

shadowofthisredrock.png

Chapter four - Desire

Coming soon!

Short Stories: The Commute ~ Rasinov ~ In Your Absence ~ Hunter's Game ~ Suchia (Coming soon)

Epics: The Best Kept Secrets (Chapter 27: The Shadow Walker coming soon) ~ The Shadow of this Red Rock


#24 Offline The Dandy Automaton

The Dandy Automaton
  • Premier Member
  • Premier Outstanding BZP Citizens
  • FFM Bionicle Winner

  • 8,007 posts
  •   Outstanding BZPower Citizen

Posted Oct 11 2012 - 03:24 PM

Chapter 24: The WarningKurot had many enemies in her life. In her line of work, that was typical. She would have been offended if she did not, for that would imply that her actions changed nothing. But they did, and so rivals would emerge, ready to be dispatched by a loyal companion or by herself if she felt in the mood.But there was one enemy with which she was begrudgingly aware that no knife would fend off and no well-placed bomb would dispose of. It was ever present and tortured her very existence as she lay back on the desk of the Nynrah Ghost, waiting for her wounds to heal. Monotony had struck.As the day had turned into night and the night slowly drift back into the aether, she would lie there and watch the Ghost at work. At times she would attempt to engage him with conversation but he would prove resistant at best. From what he had said, she learned that his name was Subia, though he preferred to live without using it. Why, she was could not fathom and when she pressed the matter further, he gave an exasperated sigh and turned away.At one point he had left the workshop to fetch more materials for his crafts. When he returned, she asked if he had learned any details about the explosions that had landed her here. The most common rumour was one that suggested it was a suicide attack, pulled off by a Skrall warrior who had been sighted wandering the city and disappeared not long after. This tied in with the latest news that the Skrall army were indeed reassembling their army and that the Elders were aware but chose to hide these facts from the world. As such, the logical conclusion cam that the disaster was to be a prelude to the battle. This then led the city to become abuzz with fright, paranoia and distrust. Arms were being raised and battalions assembled all readying themselves to fight off the oncoming forces. The Nynrah Ghosts had rarely received such a fast and sudden demand for weapons from so many potentials clients, though were unable to accept as all but a few were preoccupied with another project that Subia had refused to discuss.Kurot was surprised when he announced that he had also been asking around through contacts in the criminal underworld. It would appear that Xavor and Zhorya had kept her rescue quiet, for she had been presumed dead and struggles swiftly broke out across the city. Lowlifes and masterminds alike clashed in a desperate struggle for the power that her vacant position provided. But before any danger could truly spread out to innocents, one lone Skakdi had stood up and fought off all competition and claimed the title of ruler of the nest for themself.The sound of this new information filled Kurot with dread. There were only a few Skakdi she cared to know by name and one in particular who she feared fitted the description just well enough to fight off any potential threats should it mean a higher status for herself. And if Viroki had returned and claimed leadership over the Nest…As the night began to fade into a new day, Kurot fell into a restless slumber. Her dreams were filled with echoes of a past she would rather forget, faces that brought nothing to her but pain. The Lost Souls, her old gang, were with her. They were happy again, their heads filled with foolish dreams and illogical expectations. They would take on the world if they felt they had to. They walked side by side through the streets of Toro City, until a shaking brought them to a halt. The ground underneath their feet tore itself apart and into the darkness, all but Kurot plunged into nothingness.In a blind panic, she forgot her allies. They were lost to her and now she had her own problems to face. The ground turned into a steep slope and she crawled her way up, the coarse ground scratching at her armour. Finally, she burst into the nearest building. It turned out to be none other than Subia’s workshop, devoid of all life and furniture, except for one solitary patch, stashed away in the corner. Closing the door tightly, she approached it. A solitary brown length of fabric lay draped across a large, lumpy bundle.She breathed heavily and quickened her pace. She had no idea why but she was entranced by the very sight of it. Something underneath it called her name, singing sweetly in her head and filling her mind with countless promises. It wanted her to see it. The blanket needed to be lifted.She grasped a corner of it and tugged sharply. With one fluid motion, it fell away and the contents that lay beneath it were revealed.And when she saw the white monstrosity staring back up at her, she screamed and bolted awake.The fear lingered long after the real world rushed back to her. She could hear birdsong outside but the gentle reminder of reality brought no comfort. She could not forget what she had seen. Even the vision in her dreams had echoed the malevolence she felt when she saw the beast the first time. That one time it had appeared in Xavor and Zhorya’s presence. But why is it haunting me now? With a shiver, she realised she wasn’t sure that was a question she wanted answered.She swallowed and glanced around the room. To her surprise she found a thin blanket covering her. Subia must have placed it over her while she was asleep. She hadn’t expected any extra hospitality from the Nynrah but she was grateful for it nonetheless. Her neck ached and she began to wish he had provided her with something to support her head, but she pushed the thoughts away. She had little right to complain. If it wasn’t for his help, she would have a lot more problems than just a sore neck.Besides from herself she found that the room was deserted. Kurot saw the empty material box and deduced that Subia was out collecting more supplies.Carefully, she picked herself off the bench and tested her ability to stand. As she shifted her weight to her feet a wave of dizziness washed over as though it had been waiting all night to be called upon. Closing her eyes, she shook it away and took a few tentative steps forward. She swayed a bit at first but as one foot passed the other, she found an increasing confidence until she was almost as good as new, give or take a splintering headache.A little faster now, she strode towards the door. She was appreciative of Subia’s assistance but there were things she had to do. She needed to find out who had taken her throne and how she would reclaim it and she knew that lying around trying to get better would take her nowhere.She rested her hand on the door handle and was about to leave when something tucked away in the corner caught her eye. A worn, brown blanket bundled over a curious pile of something large and bulky. She felt her hand shaking as she regarded it and a familiar sensation filled her head. The secrets were tantalising. She wanted to look underneath, if only for a quick peak. But it wasn’t just her. Whatever was underneath there wanted her to pull the thin covering away and be revealed to the world.Hurriedly, she turned her back and left the shop.***Ihrey was no stranger to cells. In her time she had been in more than her fair share of cages. She had been the prison of Metru Nui, the dungeons beneath Xia and even awaited execution in the holding pens of Zacax.Unsurprisingly she had escaped each time, even if by some lucky fluke or a conveniently hidden lockpick. Every time she walked away with a little wisdom gained from the experience.She sat alone in her cell, watching the dust dance in the river of daylight that streamed through the barred window high above her head. Her hands were shackled together with a curious pair of cuffs that glowed bright red. They hummed gently in the vacant silence. Ever since they had been applied she had been overcome by weariness. As such, she presumed the manacles were meant to sap her strength and leave her too weak to attempt an escape and weaker to still to resist interrogation.A loud creak snapped the silence. Behind the cold, grey bars the door leading to her cell began to open. Two of the native race of Spherus Magna stepped inside, one clad in red armour, the other in a dark green. From the way they held themselves, she managed to presume that they were of high status, not that she needed her intuition to find out.As they approached, Ihrey cast her mind outwards. At the same time, theirs unwittingly crossed into hers. The shackles may be preventing her from using her full potential, but to prevent a Toa of psionics from entering nearby minds, one would have to shut down her own.She looked at them coldly, never allowing her expression to waver. She fixed her attention on the green Glatorian with the curious snake design coiling over his armour. She found out that his name was Vastus and that he was the captain of the guards for the time being. As carefully as though she were treading on ice she pried deeper and deeper still into his mind, trying to collect the threads of his thoughts. She had to restrain herself lest she alert him to her actions. From what she could unearth his partner, the Elder Ackar, had parted ways with news that had left him unsettled. His thoughts were a wild hurricane of shifting thoughts that surged through and around each other. They whizzed by so quickly she found it was difficult to hold onto any single memory for more than a second without applying any extra force.When she shifted her attention to Ackar, however, she found him to be much calmer and far more subdued. His mind flowed swiftly but in a more controlled and linear fashion, like a powerful river. She probed deeper into the stream and drew out a question that kept recurring at a startling rate. Where is he?With it came an image of a warrior clad in shimmering, gold armour as new as the morning sun. The figure held a mighty broadsword aloft in one hand and in another, an intricately designed shield. His body was young but behind his eyes was so much more. Stories and legends that could be told for generations and never reach their conclusion. Untold years of wisdom, suffering and recognition. This was Mata Nui."So it's true then," Ihrey remarked as the two Glatorian stood in front of her cell. "You've really met Mata Nui?""That surprises you?" Ackar asked, tilting his head to one side.The closest thing that would ever come to a smile played upon her lips as she said, "When you've lived the life I have, you begin to doubt an awful lot."A wry smile passed over Ackar’s face. He stood a moment in silence before finally straightening up and setting his expression into a serious composure once more. “Hewkii informed us that you wanted to speak to me. So here I am. Say what you have to see and we’ll see how this influences your case.”For a while longer, Ihrey sat in a stubborn silence, fiddling with her shackles. When they proved just as resilient as they had the hundred other times she had fiddled with them, she finally looked up and said: “Hewkii…Was that what the Toa was called?” When Ackar nodded, she tilted her head. “Tell him he has a stupid name.”This time Ackar’s expression did not waver. Vastus shifted uncomfortably on the spot and looked towards the door. She sensed an urgency in his mind and one that he could not push aside. Ackar folded his arms and tapped at the floor with his steel cased foot. “Why did you try to kill Thantox?”Because I was told to, she thought, though she had no interest in saying it. There were more important things to deal with for the time being. “Come closer,” she ordered. She could commune with his mind at this distance, but the link would be too weak for her to trust it. There were individuals in the city who she feared could try to listen in on their conversation at any moment. Ones that she knew she had to keep the information they were about to share away from.Reluctantly at first Ackar took his place directly in front of her cell. The moment his feet hit the ground, she surged forwards and stretched her wrists as far apart as the shackles would allow. Her hands clamped on either side of his face and pulled him forwards so close she could feel his breath on her Kanohi.Vastus started forwards, already drawing his scythe. She could feel his intention to strike her down in a heartbeat, just as he nearly did a day ago. Just before he could lash out, a grey hand shot up and halted him. Without turning his face away, he commanded Vastus to stand down and simply wait for Ihrey to do what she intended to do. He looked at her with a determined expression. His eyes broed into hers, leaving her feeling painfully uncomfortable. At the best of times she hated close contact. The sustained eye contact was a nightmare.She tuned into his mind and felt herself drift through the labyrinthine corridors of his consciousness. She passed alleyways filled with hopes, dreams, fears, fantasies and nightmares. A thousand tunnels stretched away through the expanse of his mind and through it all she soared, questing for the one safe, insignificant thought she could hide her message in.As she travelled she felt overwhelmed by the surge of emotions that rocked through his thoughts. This Glatorian held so many years upon his back, lived through so many decades of conflict and turmoil. She could not help but feel sympathy as the disappointment mingled with her own mind, crumbling dreams of a perfect society where two universes might live in harmony. He had dreamed of the perfect Spherus Magna but as issues arose, frustration snagged onto his optimism and he fell. He gave into the rage that boiled within, just beneath the surface.She didn’t have time to dwell on these issues. Finally, she secured a place in one random, insignificant memory. The entire process had flown by in less than a heartbeat. The rush of emotions staggered her but she pushed them away and immediately sent forward her words. Atero Nui is in danger.Who are you? A voice called back, echoing in the wide expanse of nothingness.My name is Ihrey and I am a friend of Kurot’s. You saved her once and now I must rely on you to save her again. To save all of us. There is a threat coming. Time is running out.I know that. The Skrall-Have nothing to do with this. They are nothing but a distraction. As she spoke, she called forth images from memories of her own. In it, she showed him a city wreathed in flames, cast under the shadow of a dark cloud of soot. Its inhabitants choked on their own ashes as chaos took hold. The city in question was unmistakeably the corpse of Atero Nui. You need to evacuate. Get everyone out before it’s too late.How do you know this is going to happen? Ackar’s voice was laced with suspicion. Ihrey reluctantly realised that it was only natural. To have such precious knowledge would imply a dark secret.I was visited last night. Xavor and Zhorya. They were the ones who ordered me to kill Thantox. I think they expected me to succeed as they seemed disappointed. They told me I was their best hope and then told me to go into their minds. They have a shield to defend their thoughts from priers, so I was surprised but then I saw this vision. And then I was horrified. They told me I had to tell somebody and then left.Their voices were silent awhile as they solemnly watched the destruction unfurl. Fire scalded the buildings and explosions soared into the air like blossoming flowers. Finally, Ihrey spoke again. I had to plant these thoughts into your subconscious. You won’t remember our discussion when I bring you back to reality.Why?Because whatever’s out there will kill you if it finds out you know this. I don’t know what it is but when I entered the Vortixx’s minds I could feel the damage. Their shields were fractured as though something had broken in. Something powerful. And I could feel their fear. They were terrified.So you’re saying they’re being threatened? Acting against their will? Ackar’s thoughts grew colder and with it, other visions burst through. Scenes of Ackar’s first encounter with the duo and recollections of stories told by witnesses. Their sneering faces peered into the scene and loomed over the fallen Atero Nui.Yes, was all Ihrey said in response. She could understand Ackar’s disgust. For two victims, they displayed an unreasonable amount of joy in their actions.That won’t save them. They’ve taken innocent lives and I can’t let that stand, whether they were blackmailed or not. I will find them one day and then I will kill them.I know, Ihrey said reluctantly. She could feel the hard determination in Ackar’s voice and didn’t want to contest against it. She hated the two Vortixx almost as much as he did, as much as anybody did. But she wasn’t sure if she wanted them dead. Just far away from her. They had their uses, so long as they were restrained on a leash.But that was a matter she had no control over. With a sigh, she pulled her arms away, snapping the link that connected their minds and sending them both reeling back into reality.Ackar leant against the bars, breathing deeply and massaging his temples. Ihrey could still sense his mind and with it the threat of impending danger which she had hidden away in there. He would not remember their conversation, but he would recall the sense of urgency and desperation. That was why she had been so thorough in locating an insignificant memory. The unknown enemy they were facing could clearly break into minds, even despite the presence of a mental shield, so she knew that to supply him with anything definite was to make him a threat. And a threat that would no doubt be eliminated. So instead of sealing his fate she gave him the echoes of their conversation and with it the feeling of dread and the compulsion to act.“Your kind still confuses me,” a soft voice said to her. She looked up to see Ackar staring, a confused expression masking his otherwise passive face. She could feel his reaction to having his mind invaded for the first time, the horror and the confusion that was natural for a species that had no access to such a power. It was an unpleasant feeling for those unaccustomed to the treatment, which Ihrey was still struggling to learn was almost everyone.“What did she do?” Vastus asked, taking an uncertain step forwards. Ihrey noted that he still held his scythe in his hands. When Ackar simply shook his head in a bewildered manner, the acting captain of the guard shrugged and looked around impatiently once more. “Well then, shall we depart? We have a…traitor to apprehend.” He cast a wary glance at Ihrey.Ackar frowned and looked around as though waking from a dream. “What? Oh, yes. The killer. Yes, we’ll deal with that but…But later.” He looked suspiciously at Ihrey for a while, then turned back to Vastus. “There’s a more pressing matter to look into first, though. I need to speak to the Elders. I don’t know what she did, but I know that I need to get in contact with them. Atero Nui must be evacuated fast.”***The first thing Kurot decided as she manoeuvred her way through the streets of Toro City was that she needed a settlement of her own. Given the vast size of the mainland on which Atero Nui, along with several other major cities, was based she doubted she would be as indulgent as The Shadowed One. But perhaps a city of her own was what she needed; somewhere close enough to be able to carry out business whilst inaccessible enough to prevent any law enforcers from stumbling across their base.With these thoughts circulating through her mind she approached her destination. A dingy yet plain looking tavern called The Broken Toa. The name was rumoured to have been based on a fond memory of the Steltian owner’s. He had built it with the ambition of creating a highly regarded and beloved tavern that would be one of the main attractions of Toro City and constantly frequented by the upper class of society. It amused Kurot to imagine his dismay at the discovery that it was actually being used as a meeting place for shady activity and occasional hideout for criminals.Stepping inside she was greeted to the gentle rumble of hushed conversation. After the destruction of Toro City’s Nest, thieves and mercenaries had unanimously decided to claim this place as their temporary safehouse. As such, the building was packed with every table surrounded by crowds of seedy individuals all from a variety of species. How strange it was that unity was common in the darker activities, yet not in the innocence of day to day life.Nobody had noticed Kurot’s entrance. She scanned the room quickly before her eye fell upon one Agori in particular that she recognised as Rax. He sat at the edge of a round table and was throwing his head back in a hearty laugh as a Vortixx whispered something into his ear. He had been a client for Kurot not a few weeks ago, and now she decided she had more unfinished business to deal with him.She waited until he righted himself again before sneaking up behind his chair. She reached out and hooked her sharp fingers through the eye holes of his helmet before tugging back sharply. He yelped as she pulled his head up to stare him eye to eyes. At first his face was contorted with irritation, followed by confusion and finally a dawn recognition that flowed across his face, tinged with horror.“K-Kurot!” he stammered. “Back from the dead already?”He opened his mouth to say more but by that time Kurot had relinquished her grip on his eyes and was now moving her hand to the back of his head. With a vicious shove she slammed him forwards so that he hit the table with a satisfactory thud.An awed silence settled over the room as heads turned to find the source of the commotion. Taking advantage of the sudden quiet, Kurot saw fit to cement her return. “The rumours of my death have been greatly exaggerated,” she declared, stretching her arms out wide. She hoped that had been enough to announce the reclamation of her title. From the mixture of expressions, ranging from bewildered to furious she couldn’t help but doubt that was the case. After all, thrones were fought over with actions, not words.But first she had more important matters to deal with. Rax groaned and lifted himself back up, nursing his injured forehead as he did so. Kurot reached down and span him around to face her. He squawked uncomfortably when he felt the cold, steel tongue of a knife being held against his throat.As if from a dream, his accomplices suddenly burst forwards in a flash of movement and metal. All around her, blades and blasters were levelled, all ready to exact a vicious revenge should she make another move. With a groan of exasperation she glared at them each in turn. There were roughly twelve of them and believed she might be able to take down five of them before she received a fatal wound, not including her hostage Rax of course. With the remaining seven, she didn’t fancy her chances. Slowly, she untensed her muscles and began to pull away. She couldn’t dare make a sudden movement, as any interpreted threat could bring about a fight she knew she needed to avoid.It was lucky, then, that as a particularly overconfident Glatorian stepped forwards with menace in his eyes, a crossbow bolt suddenly materialised where the centre of his neck had been a heartbeat ago.A few cries of surprise pierced the silence and a segment of the crowd parted to allow a better view at the individual had fired. Kurot furrowed her brow at the sight of an all-too familiar grey-skinned Skakdi looking squarely down the sights of his crossbow, already waiting for his next target to make the first move.At his side a small mob of multi-coloured Skakdi stood patiently by, bearing a variety of aggressive and sinister weaponry. They watched the small cluster of Rax’s accomplices with hungry eyes. Kurot didn’t doubt that they barely needed a moment’s notice before they would charge forward and claim blood.The room waited with hushed breath to see who would make the first action. Those who didn’t want to risk getting caught in the crossfire were backing away quickly, wincing with each step as though every movement would label them the member of one of the other gang. The only bystander who dared to make a noise was a particularly surly looking Steltian bartender who glared down at the dead Glatorian and tutted in disbelief.Kurot stared at the grey Skakdi, unsure what she should do next in the midst of the stalemate. As if reading her thoughts, he inclined his head and raised his brow. She nodded her thanks and turned back to Rax.“You were the one who asked me to see to the death of an unnamed Skrall in the desert,” she declared loudly, so that everyone could hear the reason for such a fuss. “Why?”The Agori’s eyes bulged as he struggled against her grip, conscious all the while of the hungry knife pressing against his juicy throat. “Th-That’s none of your business! He’s my problem and y-you…you just need to take care of him!”Feeling her frustration begin to simmer, she grabbed his head and crashed it back down on the table. Something cracked and she was unsure if it was the table of his helmet. She wasn’t interested enough to find out. When he finally stopped howling in pain, she continued. “It’s my business when your problem kills my assassins and then comes after me!” Her voice was gradually growing in volume until every word made Rax wince visibly. “And I don’t know about you, but I consider it very strange that you should happen to hold a grudge against one non-specific Skrall. A Skrall who just so happens to be immortal. So why? How about you tell everybody here what your problem with him was?”“I…I…I don’t know! Please, don’t kill me! I’ve got so much to give!” The sight of the snivelling Agori was beginning to fill Kurot with disgust which he must have detected, as he quickly amended his last words. “Wait! It’s…I don’t know why he was meant to die! He’s not my problem, he’s somebody else’s! They hired me to hire you! They said that you would find them too suspicious!”“…Who…?” Kurot asked slowly, though she feared she already knew the answer to that question.“The Vortixx! Xavor and…and Zhorya! I didn’t want anything to do with them, but they said they’d pay handsomely a-and they did! How could I refuse?!”He continued to prattle on about the fortune they offered him in exchange for such a small service but by this point Kurot had stopped listening. She no longer cared for the wriggling wretch under her grip. Instead she was fixed on a desire to hunt down the two Vortixx and rend them limb from limb. So they were responsible for one more part in this curious puzzle that surrounded them. From the public humiliation of the Elders to the destruction of the library, now they were also responsible for an immortal Skrall attacking her in The Nest. But why?Wordlessly, she let Rax go and stalked away. She no longer cared for the pathetic creature and was happy to let him snivel and whine to his friends who were no doubt reconsidering their relationship with him now that she had exposed his true nature. Instead, she turned her attention to her Skakdi saviour. She approached Rasinov’s table.The Skakdi nodded at her approach. His comrades stepped away and found their own table, immediately falling into a quiet conversation. Rasinov stood up and indicated her to take it in his place. He then stalked around the table to claim the chair opposite.Sitting down, she understood his reasoning. The chair rested against the wall, which meant there was a far smaller chance of a surprise attack catching her off guard. The gesture was appreciated, though she was sure it was unnecessary. Her senses hadn’t been damaged following the explosion and as long as nobody attacked in a large group she would be able to handle the situation.“It’s good to see you again Rasinov,” she nodded, meaning every word. It had been at least three centuries since they had last crossed paths, even with the rich history they shared giving enough reason for them to meet up again. But she knew why they hadn’t seen each other in such a vast length of time. The past that connected them both hurt. They didn’t want to reopen closed wounds.In response to her greeting, Rasinov said nothing. This didn’t surprise Kurot as it was only natural for him to behave in this manner. He didn’t care for pleasantries or idle chatter. He rarely opened his mouth unless he had something meaningful to say. Instead he regarded her stoically, folding his arms and waiting. It was a strange formality that he was waiting for. Instead of being bad-tempered and noisy like most Skakdi, Rasinov was quiet and reserved and instead of starting a conversation by himself, he would wait for permission first.Finally Kurot broke. “Okay, go on then. You have something to say, so speak. I’m listening.”“You’re not The Shadowed One,” he said.Kurot’s face fell. So much for only speaking when he had meaningful things to say. She pressed on regardless. “What?”“It’s true,” he continued. His voice was deep but gentle, like the roll of the ocean. “You have no hold over these people. You do not control them through fear and kindness will only get you so far. You look weak to everyone here.”Before she could open her mouth to say anything in response, Rasinov reached across and plucked a pitcher of water from the table directly behind. Besides a frustrated tut, the group did little more than watch as he liberated it from their possession, making Kurot wonder what reputation he had created for himself that would prevent any complaint.“This is The Shadowed One,” he declared, indicating the thin, crystalline shell encasing the clear water. “Now cup you palms together.”Confused, Kurot obeyed orders. She tried to speak but he simply gazed levelly at her until she fell quiet again.“And this is you.” He tilted the pitcher forwards sending its contents gushing down into Kurot’s hands. The water formed a puddle at first, but began to leak from the imperfect gaps between her fingers and eventually overflowed. Rasinov kept going until the jug was empty at which he set it back at its original home, earning a few more tuts from their neighbours.Kurot let the last dregs of water fall into the settled pool before shaking her hands and rubbing them against her thighs. “Well that was unnecessarily drawn out, but I understand. But you shouldn’t doubt me. I’ve been doing well so far.”“It’s been a month. The only reason you haven’t faced a rebellion is because nobody has figured out a suitable replacement. But your absence over the last couple of days has inspired something in even the lowest life forms. Everyone was clamouring for power. People started realising that you barely offered them anything useful that they couldn’t do for themselves. I had to step in and maintain order, even though I wasn’t particularly interested.”“So it was you who took the title of king?” she asked, raising a brow. Inwardly she sighed with relief. So her worst fears weren’t coming to light yet. “When I heard my replacement was a Skakdi I feared it might have been-““Viroki,” Rasinov finished sullenly. A disgusted expression crossed his otherwise placid face and he looked around. “No, you can consider yourself fortunate it wasn’t. But this little uproar might have reached her ears by now. If the news that you’re in a position of power hasn’t sent her running already.”Kurot bowed her head, a deep frown creasing her expression. Viroki was an old ally, a member of the Lost Souls as she, Ihrey and Rasinov had been. Unfortunately, events drove them apart and now they drifted along in their own lives. But Viroki had never truly let go of the Lost Souls. She was power-crazy and would stop at nothing to find herself in a place of leadership. Kurot shuddered to think just what she would do if she received her wishes.Rasinov sighed loudly and changed the subject. “What about your search? Have you gotten any closer to finding-““No,” Kurot interrupted. Rasinov dutifully closed his mouth and nodded in acknowledgement. Some names were too difficult to hear, let alone say. She didn’t want to hear his name be said and be faced with the guilt of her failure to find him again.This time it was her turn to change the subject, and though Rasinov was so often reluctant to engage in conversation, his presence was comforting enough. She discussed ways to cement her rule and offered to share her power with him which he promptly refused. So immersed was she in their conversation that eventually she began to lose track as the hours melted away and the past faded back into what it should always have been. Nothing more than a faded memory. Review Topic
  • 0

shadowofthisredrock.png

Chapter four - Desire

Coming soon!

Short Stories: The Commute ~ Rasinov ~ In Your Absence ~ Hunter's Game ~ Suchia (Coming soon)

Epics: The Best Kept Secrets (Chapter 27: The Shadow Walker coming soon) ~ The Shadow of this Red Rock


#25 Offline The Dandy Automaton

The Dandy Automaton
  • Premier Member
  • Premier Outstanding BZP Citizens
  • FFM Bionicle Winner

  • 8,007 posts
  •   Outstanding BZPower Citizen

Posted Oct 15 2012 - 03:06 PM

Chapter 25: RebirthThe smoke hung heavy in the air, creating a thick veil that the eyes would refuse to pierce at more than a few paces length. Here and there, small fired still danced merrily atop their wooden victims, jeering the Virtuous One’s with their stubborn refusal to be quenched. Over the course of the night the flames had eaten quickly away at their homes, taking with them lives and possessions, until finally fuel became scarce and they withered away. Now sparse flames still quivered in the cold morning air, but it was safe enough for them to dare root around for anything of value that had not been singed.Little more than a lump of charcoal, the remnants of a chair were sent soaring through the air by a powerful kick. Where it landed, Harmaisis did not care to find out. The warrior strode through the crumbling remains of his village, surveying the aftermath of the destruction with a cool expression.He wasn’t angry. He found it difficult to admit but in place of the burning rage he should naturally be expressing, he felt awe. He was impressed. Impressed by the sheer amount of damage one lone Toa could do when left unattended. Impressed by how he had murdered several warriors and got away despite being in the thick of the battle. Impressed by how he had evaded capture and was still out there at this very moment, no doubt congratulating himself on such a noble victory.Besides, it wasn’t as though he had grown attached to the village. Granted, it had taken a lot of effort to gather the wood from the now desolate forest and then to craft it all into the village in little more than a month, but it would never have been more than a temporary residence.No, his true prize would be Atero Nui. And soon if all went to plan, it would be his. One day the Elders would bow to him. But first, he would need to find the safe.His search didn’t take him long. Though it was difficult to find at first, with each charred skeleton of a hut looking indistinguishable from the next, all he had to do was find the largest. And managing that, he travelled inside the belly of the corpse and knelt before a scorched cabinet that had somehow managed to evade utter destruction. At least, until Harmaisis arrived.Sending his fist resolutely through the door, he tore away the panel of wood and looked at the large metal box that rested within. He drew it out and breathed a sigh of relief at its undamaged condition. He flicked a key inside the lock and prised open the lid and held his breath as he admired the countless rows of large vials, all containing a deep crimson liquid.The crunch of snapping wood caught his attention and he turned to see Acisor emerging from the gloom, holding his hand to his face and violently coughing the ashes away. “The last search party just got back. No sign of the Toa and his accomplices but some unfamiliar Vorox trails were found. Some of our men were suggesting we follow them and…” His voice trailed off as his eyes fell upon the opened steel box.“No, I think we can allow them an escape for now,” Harmaisis decided, baring his teeth in a vicious grin. He chose to ignore Acisor’s gaze and stood up, so that he might tower over his soldier. “If we keep separating our people, they will just be all the easier to pick off. Let the Toa think he’s won for now. He will see.”Acisor nodded and turned to go, but finally shook his head and glared back at the container in Harmaisis’ arms. “What do you intend to do with those, sir?”“What we were always meant to, my dear Acisor,” Harmaisis grinned. He stepped forward and thrust the box into Acisor’s chest, who quickly hooked his arms around the base lest it drop onto the unforgiving ground. “Gather our finest soldiers. I believe we bring our army to its fullest potential now.”“Sir, you can’t be serious. You insisted there would be a few more weeks of testing yet. The results could be uncontrollable still.”“The last subject was a perfect result. We have made a note of the formula used in her dosage and withdrawn her blood at the same time. Having just lost a small fraction of our army to one of those foul…machines, it’s only logical we strengthen ourselves for the coming battle.”“The…coming battle?” Acisor asked slowly. He fidgeted uncomfortably on the spot in a manner that irritated Harmaisis and would have prompted the Glatorian to cuff him were it not for the precious cargo in his arms.“Oh yes. You see, the Toa was here on a mission representing the Elders. And he just committed an act of war.” Harmaisis grinned wolfishly, his muscles already aching for the liberation of battle. “I believe it’s only appropriate to issue a prompt response. The Elders want war? Then let us give it to them.”***There was a question that had always plagued Siril the Skrall, though he had never been eager to pursue it. To him, the answer was undesirable at best as he was aware that it may not offer the kindest result. That question was to what extent his immortality would keep him alive.Now, lying in the rubble of the recently exploded tavern, he was receiving that answer. Even the complete obliteration of his body would not free him from the chains of life.The healing process was slow and torturous. For reasons he could not discern his body had begun rebuilding itself at his right shoulder and continued outwards from there. As the nerves began to knit themselves back together, the pain was so overwhelming, so truly blinding that his mind offered him one last resort. Madness.And with great eagerness, he accepted it. To escape the immeasurable waves of pain his rebirth caused him, he allowed himself to fall backwards into the dark recesses of his mind as though he had plunged himself from a cliff. Further and further and fell until he reached the long forgotten dreams and visions. And suddenly he found himself inside a memory that had not long ago been sealed away. A memory that had been hidden so far back in his mind, he could not believe it was anything more than a dream. The memory of his rebirth.***The rain feels strange. It drums against my armour and slithers down onto my skin through any openings it can find. It makes my under-armour cloth cling to my flesh in a manner that I can’t help but find uncomfortable. But I don’t resent it for this. I adore its beauty and was I not in a hurry, would outstretch my arms as if to embrace nature for such a gift.But this is not a gift for me. And regardless I must hurry through the throngs of short metallic beings as they surge through the yawning chasm that only a few hours ago had for them been solid ground. They do not look my way as they pass. What reason would they have to do so? Confused as they are, they would never notice one more strange occurrence in this day of endless oddities. After all, two titanic gods waging a vicious battle for survival is hardly an event to be outdone by the arrival of a Skrall.I step into this strange world and drink in my surroundings. The overhanging sky is iron grey and rain falls heavily as a final goodbye to the escapees. I force my way through the crowd with determination at which point I hear the cries of identification. Without looking back, I run.I am being hunted. I was a Skrall who refused orders to attack. I knew our efforts were to be a hopeless cause and I’m not the least bit upset to see I was right. But insubordination is not an appreciated trait in our species, especially in a general such as myself. I denied all calls for my head by fleeing. Perhaps a cowardly option, but I had already renounced my people’s ways. One more crime on my head would hardly matter.Now my feet slap against the cold, grey streets. Behind me I hear my pursuers shouting encouragement to one another. They nearly have me, until I suddenly spin around a corner, surge into an alleyway, and then turn right once again.A vast tunnel built into a wall is open before me, inviting me in. Without a thought I oblige and make my way down a gradually descending slope. My lungs are starting to scream in protest, but I am sure they will thank me later if I lose my hunters.The convoluted maze of the tunnels reveals itself to me bit by bit. At first a simple fork in the road creates a moment’s hesitation but little more. Further down I am halted by several more tunnels that branch off in five different directions. I consider turning back when I hear the echoes of frustrated footsteps falling against the earth and I immediately go for the one furthest to the left. I am confronted by several more of these passages. Eventually I begin to fear that even if I lose my pursuers, I myself will eventually lose my way. I’m surprised by how I can still see my way before I notice the glowing rocks lodged into the walls of the tunnels. How curious this world appears to be, I think. The distraction turned out to be a bad idea. Suddenly, I stumble and crash unceremoniously to the ground. I scramble to my feet and look behind me when I notice with dawning horror the trail of footsteps in the dirt that mark my passing. The voices of my old allies drift downwards towards me and I realise that I truly am doomed.But I press on regardless.Eventually, just when I’m sure my muscles can take no more, my journey reaches a dead end. I enter a huge chamber littered with tables and benches. It’s empty, which is no surprise. Holding my chest and massaging a stich that pushes remorselessly into my side, I approach the table. It’s covered in slabs of stone, adorned with rows and rows of tiny, circular symbols. Eventually I realise it’s supposed to be some kind of language, though I’m unsurprisingly unable to determine its meaning or origins.Turning my back on the mysterious tablets, I back away from the now ominously dark entrance whilst simultaneously unsheathing my sword and removing my shield from its holder. If I am to die, then I will die as a Skrall. If they are insistent on taking me, then I will vow to take a few of them with me.As I bump into a shelf lined with vials containing a strange purple liquid, they emerge from the gloom. Five of my old brothers, panting from the effort of their journey.“There’s…no running now…coward…” one of them calls to me. He draws his broadsword and readies himself for a charge, which signals to the others that it is time for them to do the same.I bend my knees slightly, ready to accept them. I hold my shield in front of them which greets the first clashing blade with an eager clang. I knock the sword away and skewer my opponent. He looks at me with wide eyed surprise as he falls to the ground, but by that point I have looked away, my attention focused on other opponents.My second opponent is less clumsy. He fights with fury and stabs his sword with deft swiftness. I parry and deflect each blow, trying to find the opportunity to throw in one of my own. As I try to do so, another attacker joins the fray and now the pressure mounts. As they charge me at the same time, one from either side, I dodge backwards, hitting the shelf again with a clatter. A few of the vials fall to the floor and smash, filling the room with a strange flowery scent. At last, I manage to find an opportunity to drive my blade into the chest of my second attacker. I kick him away with a growl and lunge at the third. I slash him in the shoulder and he screams and backs away. I’m about to jump in for the killing blow when something round and hard smacks into my face. One of my pursuers had thrown his shield with surprising accuracy. I try to blink the stars out of my eyes, which is why I don’t notice when the sword crashes down into my left shoulder. The pain explodes through me, and I fall backwards. I try to raise my arms to swing my sword but succeed in nothing more than hitting the shelf, causing the last remaining vials to fall with me. The ground rushes forward to meet me as I slump against the wall and slide downwards. Something wet dribbles into my fresh wound. Bleary eyed, I squint to see a thin river of purple making its way into the gaping, bloody hole in my armour. It reminds me of the rain.I smile warmly at the thought of the weather outside. Perhaps the citizens of this universe detested it, but to me it was one of the most beautiful things I had encountered. Water was sparse in Bara Magna and here it was so abundant it fell from the sky in vicious torrents. To me, little else was so beautiful.These were my last thoughts as I felt the killing blow be delivered in the form of a sword being driven through my chest. By this point, my body was shutting down and I slid into the desolate blankness of the end.That was the first time I died. Oh, how I wish it was the last.When I awoke, the chamber was eerily silent. I blinked in confusion and raised my arm to wipe the sleep from my eyes. I paused a moment, shocked at the lack of pain. I looked around and tried to remember what had just occurred. I had died. I was sure of it, and the sight of the sharp gashes in my armour confirmed my beliefs. So why was I alive? And where had my wounds gone?Before me lay the bodies of five Skralls. The sight of them startled me and I immediately clambered to my feet. I had thought I was alone, but then my eyes fell upon another being who sat on a table with crossed legs.The beast was like nothing I had ever seen. Cruel red eyes were fixed upon me with such a burning curiosity that not even the suns of Bara Magna could have matched their intensity. His bulging, pale armour shone in the light of the glowing stones and behind him, a long bone-like tail that ended in a hideously sharp point waved menacingly at me. His face, though it looked more like a mask, ended in a series of viciously sharp spikes, which I assume were meant to be fangs. “You do not know what you have done,” the beast hisses. His voice echoes in the wide expanse of the room and bounces back at me several times for added emphasis. Every syllable sets me on edge and I shiver as his eyes narrow. “The contents of those vials were irreplaceable. I do not know how to recreate them.”“What…What are y...-” I begin to stammer, though suddenly think better of it. Such childish questions will get me no closer to the real answers that I seek, and as it was perhaps I didn’t really want to know what the nightmarish apparition before me is. I take several breaths, and then quickly amend myself. “What was…in those vials?”“Life,” the creature says simply. “Such valuable life and now you have stolen it. And you will continue to steal it until the end of eternity. Even I cannot save you now.” I shudder again. There’s something about the creature’s voice that seems so unapologetic. If anything it sounds amused. I begin to start doubting the beast is even capable of feeling sympathy. “I took the liberty of removing our other unwelcome guests,” he says, gesturing to the fallen warriors littering the ground. “I would do the same with you, but now…I don’t know how. I could kill you but that would solve nothing. I could torture you for as long as I live but I am very busy and grow bored easily. No…Perhaps I must set you free.” He said those last words with a particular malice that makes me start backing away.I begin to sidestep, hoping that he won’t notice me making my way towards the exit. I keep my eyes fixed on him, determined to raise my blade the moment he flexes a muscle. I would happily have done so, were it not for the fact he disappeared in the blink of an eye.I barely have time to react before he materialises by my side. I let out a shriek of surprise and raise my blade to smite the beast before his gnarled hand catches my throat and he holds me aloft.His eyes bore deep into my soul as I kick and struggle. “A Skrall, hm? Oh, I know that name. He mentioned it during one of his rambles. So it’s true…We have truly arrived at Spherus Magna. The time has come! The Kazyshian sword is within reach!” He began laughing a terrible, mirthless laugh that sounded like something akin to two swords scraping down each other’s lengths. Just as I felt the breath finally leaving my lungs, he turned his attention back to me and placed a hand on my temple. “You are nameless. How curious of a species to refuse identities to its underlings. But I shall give you a name. You will forget me and all that you have just seen of this place, because that is a necessity. But you will remember this name I grant upon you, Siril. In my tongue it means ‘accursed’, and nothing could better match your description. You may know me as Divenlus, though I doubt that name will mean anything to you. Now sleep, Siril. Rest awhile and when you awaken, you will be far from this world. Far from this land and all of its mysteries. I will return you to the desert where you belong and from there you may begin your endless journey. Alone.”And with nothing to say in response I simply watch helplessly as my head begins to feel lighter, my lungs heavier with stress and my vision begins to fade.Siril awoke with a start. His head pounded a vicious rhythm in his skull, that he sought to fend off with his fingers. With a start, he looked down at his bare flesh. He was naked, save for a strand of cloth that had been tied around his waist for dignities sake. The floor beneath him shook and when he looked around he locked in the confines of a carriage as it trundled its way to Angonce-knows-where.To the side of him, a trio of Glatorian stared at him with wide eyes. Siril could see they were trying to put on a brave air of authority, though any attempts were ruined by how they seemed unable to stop themselves from shaking. When he moved to climb out of his bed one of them levelled a blade at his throat.For all the good that would do, he thought dryly to himself. Sullenly returning back to silence he began to consider his situation. He was alive again. So not even getting torn apart could save him from life. The insanity his mind had relinquished control over trickled into his thoughts as anger and frustration boiled just beneath the surface. Death would never claim him. He could never be free, no matter how much torment and suffering he was forced through. For what purpose? What reason did he have to go on existing when he was no more than an insignificant Skrall. An exiled Skrall that was no longer even part of his tribe.When no answers he came, he lost control and began to scream.Review Topic

Edited by Sechs - King of Facade, Oct 15 2012 - 03:09 PM.

  • 0

shadowofthisredrock.png

Chapter four - Desire

Coming soon!

Short Stories: The Commute ~ Rasinov ~ In Your Absence ~ Hunter's Game ~ Suchia (Coming soon)

Epics: The Best Kept Secrets (Chapter 27: The Shadow Walker coming soon) ~ The Shadow of this Red Rock


#26 Offline The Dandy Automaton

The Dandy Automaton
  • Premier Member
  • Premier Outstanding BZP Citizens
  • FFM Bionicle Winner

  • 8,007 posts
  •   Outstanding BZPower Citizen

Posted Nov 11 2012 - 01:54 PM

Chapter 26: ConfessionAckar couldn’t help but be suspicious as he stepped into the Elders’ chamber. Silence wasn’t the usual practise in the room, or so he had learned from previous experience. To walk in and find the room not only void of all noise, but full with all Elders besides himself present was curious indeed.Leaving Vastus to stand guard by the door, he strode forward and took his place at the large, circular table next to Norik and Vakama. Across from him, Hydraxon kept his gaze down, staring at the table with all the murderous intent of one whose family had been victim to a particularly nasty furniture related accident.“What’s the problem,” he asked, leaning in to Norik. His response was a finger raised to where Norik’s mouth would be had he not been wearing a Kanohi mask. Seeing the Glatorian’s confusion, Norik then gestured towards the window at the far side of the room and indicated the figure he had not seen upon entry.A tall purple armoured Toa stood with his back turned to them, staring down upon the entirety of Atero Nui. His arms were folded behind his back and whether he had noticed Ackar arrive, he did not show any acknowledgement.The room sat in stony silence for a few minutes before Hydraxon finally cleared his throat and began to politely introduce the mysterious stranger. “Now that we’re all here, I’m sure you’d all like to know who let the poisonous snake into the room. Well, nobody did, he snuck in by himself. Apparently he has a few words to say, if he can get them out from behind that forked tongue of his.”A light ripple of uncomfortable laughter brushed through the air from the gathered Elders’ before it was quickly hushed as the Toa turned to face them. His mask was an unfamiliar design to Ackar, though he was struck by the cold blue orbs that glowed from beneath. There was something unnerving about the figure’s intense gaze that would have made a lesser Glatorian quake. The silky tone of his voice offered no consolation as he began to speak. “Thank you Hydraxon. My name is Toa Bastral. Now, I don’t expect to be a familiar face to any of you. But I will be. In the absence of Toa Helryx, as her most loyal advisor I have been appointed the role of leader of the Order of Mata Nui.”“And what does the Order of Mata Nui have to do with the way we choose to run our city?” Raanu said slowly. The Agori was leaning back in his chair with his arms folded, fixing a furious glare on the Toa. Ackar began to wonder if his attitude was related to his outburst earlier or if the Order of Mata Nui leaders’ presence was just that offensive.“Nothing at all, Raanu,” Bastral said. If it were possible even his voice was now beginning to make the room’s temperature drop. “But we will remain as observers, as is our duty. After all, you have one of our own members sitting amongst yourselves.”All eyes turned to focus on Hydraxon, who continued staring resentfully at the surface before him. Bastral continued on. “Ordinarily I would have pardoned him from our ranks and left him to deal with his own issues. But, you see, Hydraxon is an odd case. He has spent several thousands of centuries isolated from the rest of the order with nothing more than the companionship of criminals, most of who managed to escape when the Makuta attacked the Great Spirit. I act not only in the Orders’, but in everyone’s best interests when I step forward every now and then so that I might keep an eye on your ally, lest he begin to show any abnormalities.”“I did the duties that the Order requested me to. Do not act as though I’m infected,” Hydraxon snarled, raising a finger at the amused Toa. “Besides, you say you were appointed yet why do I doubt that? I have a few theories involving Order members with their pockets lined after a brief meeting with you.”“That’s very sweet,” Bastral replied slowly. His eyes narrowed and beneath his mask Hydraxon believed a smile was beginning to grow. “You can make allegations if you wish but ultimately they sound like little more than your impotent whining’s. You ought to watch your tongue around me, though. I always believed that Trinuma would be a far better choice for your place though from what I hear Tobduk and Johmak were highly insistent you be given the title of Elder. Frankly I don’t agree with their reasoning, which was that you ‘need to get out more’. However, I will be willing to let it slide. For now.”With a shove, Hydraxon pushed himself upwards, sending his chair scattering across the floor. “I’ve been out of the pit for a month now, Bastral but with the way you talk whenever I’m around you I begin to think I never left.”“With the right word I can send you back there if you really wish, Hydraxon. Maybe if you beg I’ll even let you do guard duty again.”Hydraxon began to surge forwards until Vastus placed a reassuring hand on his shoulder. Realising the scene he was about to make, the Elder simply flexed his shoulders and turned back to pick up the fallen chair. He sat down again and said no more.The attention returned to Bastral whose eyes were alight with pleasure derived from victory. However, there was a certain menace to them and Ackar realised that he was not going to let the insult lie any time soon. However, whatever his plans might have been he said nothing about them and simply turned his attention to Ackar. “You arrived before we had even sent out a summons for you. From what I hear you had left to interview a prisoner. How did that go?”“Uneventfully,” Ackar said in response. “I could get nothing tangible from her. But she did deliver a warning, if an unspecific one. She said that we must evacuate Atero Nui. Something was going to happen and it was going to happen soon. And though I don’t know the events in question, she used some strange power to make me feel the same fear she felt so what I do know is that I don’t want to risk putting the civilians in any danger. I think she’s right. Atero Nui must be evacuated.”He allowed a few moments for his announcement to settle and watched the realisation dawn on the expressions of those around him. Most looked curious, some sceptical. Finally, one voice spoke up. “No.”Ackar turned to see Vakama staring at him intently with a fury that matched the flames he once wielded. “You have an objection, Vakama?” Ackar asked.“We will not run,” Vakama said firmly. “I am tired of abandoning my home. The Makuta forced us to leave Metru Nui all those years ago, and so we built our lives on Mata Nui. He followed us there and we were driven back down to rebuild Metru Nui from the rubble he had broken it into. But once again our efforts were in vain as he forced us out yet again and now here we are in a new land. And yet, even though the soil is fertile and the trade is just beginning to move, you say we must run once again. I can not take this anymore.”“I understand Elder Vakama’s sentiments,” Tarix said, “though I disagree with you for different reasons. You say the criminal was the one who tipped you off about the threat. Did she say anything else? Perhaps she meant the Skrall?”“No,” Ackar replied, remembering her words. The Skrall have nothing to do with this. That had been what she said…maybe. Her words were distant, losing themselves in the recesses of his mind. She had put them so far back it was difficult to reach for them. Why? For his protection? Protection from what exactly? “She believed the Skrall were…something else. Perhaps a distraction. No, she detailed another threat entirely.”“And you have no more details on this supposed threat?” When Ackar shook his head, Tarix almost looked relieved. “Well then that settles it. We don’t have a reason to trust some criminal who just tried to assassinate our finest secretary. It’s likely she was making it up, maybe trying to fix our attention elsewhere whilst hoping the Skrall forces sneak up on us.”“Even if his reasons seem confused, shouldn’t we take Elder Ackar’s suggestion into account?” Raanu asked. Ackar frowned, feeling more than a little frustrated his warning had been tossed aside so easily. They weren't even interested in pursuing the matter. Raanu continued on regardless for Ackar’s irritation. “As Tarix just said, the Skrall forces are approaching. If Bomonga’s team do not succeed in their task, then surely we should be prepared by removing those who do not want to be caught in the conflict to a safer environment.”“And where might you be suggesting?” Norik asked with a frown. “Atero Nui is already far south enough of this land. The Skrall are coming down from the north. The west is nothing but harsh desert for as far as the eye can see and the further east we travel, the closer we get to Skakdi territory. If we travel south we’ll get to the coastline and maybe that would take us to another land, but isn’t that little more than a surrender? What would stop the Skrall from taking a ship and following us?”The meaningful expression in Raanu’s eyes said enough. Ackar began to realise where the Agori was suggesting and was about to say something before Vakama intervened, louder than before. “No!”Leaning against the window, Bastral snorted and looked across at the Turaga. “He sure likes that word, doesn’t he?”“You will not take anyone to Fort Lhikan,” Vakama ordered. He raised his fist and slammed it against the table. Fort Lhikan was a fortress built not too far away in the desert, constructed as military barracks for an army the Elders had hoped they would not need to use. Its construction had been swift due to the organisation of the Po-Matoran though some of the Elders had abandoned it once a certain individual had moved in and taken a role of authority. The individual’s presence was so controversial Vakama had forbidden even the mention of his name, insisting instead that be referred to simply as the Red Phantom. “I will not allow anyone to be near such a monster. Please, Norik. You understand my concern. The Phantom will corrupt them. Twist everyone around him.”“I know how you’re feeling, Vakama,” Norik said sadly, “but this is neither my decision nor yours to make. It is everyone’s. I stand by you in refusing to allow Fort Lhikan to be our sanctuary but I also believe that an evacuation must take place if only to save those who can or won’t fight. Understand how torn I am in this decision.”“We must settle this in a vote,” Tarix said before Vakama could respond. “That is why the Elders were brought together after all. We will only act as the majority decides. We are all in agreement that the city must be evacuated before the Skrall…or Ackar’s shadowy threat…arrives. So Fort Lhikan is the safest structure that that’s not still in development though it’s clear there is some resistance to moving the innocents there. So we must take a vote. All opposed to evacuating to Fort Lhikan, please raise your hands.”Vakama’s hand shot up into the air before Tarix had even finished speaking. Norik paused for a few moments before hesitantly decided to let his join the Turaga’s. A few silent moments passed before Tarix continued. “And all in favour, now do the same.”This was nothing more than a formality, Ackar realised. The answer was obvious, though Tarix continued on, dragging the procession further than it needed to go. Raanu raised his hand almost immediately, followed closely by Hydraxon. Ackar had already made up his mind before the question was asked, though still paused for thought for a few seconds before finally raising his arm in agreement, almost at the same time as Tarix. Across the room, he saw even Bastral was raising his arm.“Then it’s decided. We will issue the command for all who do not wish to fight the Skrall to depart the city as soon as possible. I will arrange transport for a speedy departure and hopefully before too long we can get them to safety.” He cast a wary glance at Vakama’s brooding figure. “Or as safe as relatively possible.”“I hope you know just what you’ve done,” Vakama said quietly. The fire had left his voice leaving his tone dry and crackly like charcoal. In just a few seconds the Turaga suddenly looked far older than he had done when protesting earlier. “It seems I cannot prevent this. Very well. I will go with the evacuees and offer them any protection I can. I am not capable of combat anyway, so it would be best for me to leave the battle to the more physically able.” And with that he tented his fingers and left the conversation, choosing to simply stare off into the distance.“Right, next on the agenda,” Tarix continued and began to trail off into a discussion of proposed strategy. As the other Elders nodded and looked forlornly at the blue Glatorian, Ackar looked around as Vastus gestured towards the door. Ackar gave his apologies and left the table, making his way towards the door.“I don’t know about you, but I can’t help but dislike that Toa Bastral,” Ackar muttered quietly as soon as he was out of earshot, bouncing down the stairs.Vastus said nothing for a few moments but closed his eyes and nodded. “I have to agree. Though frankly, Ackar…I’ve yet to find a single one of those Mata Nui species that I do like.”***The idea of meeting the outsiders had a certain appeal to Bragh, even if the lowliness of the job in question did not. He knew he was far better than some mere messenger but at least it would be to deliver information to a new species that he had never encountered before. During the battle of the two titans he had caught a glimpse of what others had called “Toa” fighting off swarms of “Rahkshi” and he had been overwhelmed by a sense of awe that the first contact with alien life had been through war. That was an experience he was certain his ancestors would envy him for, though he never did get the chance to try the newcomers’ hands in combat. By the time he had weaved through the throngs of Skrall the retreat had already been declared. A brilliant glow was tearing through the Rahkshi and that was more than enough incentive for him to turn tail and flee.The bitter taste of disappointment was still alive in his mouth as he approached the sorry looking excuse for an inn, standing solitary against the looming barriers of the forest as though it had been abandoned midway through transportation. Though it had only been erected in less than a month, as a rest zone for weary travellers, the two story building had been thrown together so shoddily and beaten so mercilessly by the cruel weather, it gave the impression of being a structure far older than it actually was.The Skrall tied his rock steed to a post, almost willing to bet that by the time he had finished the beast would have snapped its restraint like a twig and escaped, and walked inside. As soon as he entered, he couldn’t help but to wrinkle his nose and the dingy smell of damp wood and cheap alcohol.He stepped over to the counter and regarded the petrified Agori with a gaze of disappointment. He had hoped for a species a little newer. Instead he got little more than an eyeful of yet another quivering Agori, though he supposed that was flattery in itself. At least the mere sight of Skrall armour was still intimidation.“My name is Bragh, morsel,” he declared proudly, puffing out his chest in what he hoped was a sign of authority. He waited for a sharp intake of breath, the dawning realisation in the Agori’s eyes, maybe even a few futile prayers muttered to the Great Beings. When nothing came, he coughed slightly and added, “You may have heard of me.”“N-no sir,” the Agori replied. “I-I didn’t even think the Skrall had names.”Oh. Feeling a little deflated, Bragh tried to press on regardless, trying to keep the hurt he felt from welling up into his voice. “Well my leader, the mighty Tuma, has a mission for me involving the meeting of two vital contacts…Contacts for the coming war in which we will crush every one of your pathetic people. To death. With our swords. Do you understand?” The Agori nodded uncertainly, the fear in his expression slowly fading into a confused manner of mirth that filled Bragh with a prickly irritation. He was starting to believe the Agori wasn’t taking him seriously. “Look, their names are Xavor and Zhorya. I was told they’d be here, so are they?”At the mention of those two names, underneath his helmet the Agori’s face darkened. He seemed to have forgotten his fear of the Skrall before him as a low growl began to reverberate from the base of his throat. When he spoke it was with a steel edge that Bragh could almost have fought off with his sword. “Yes, they’re upstairs now. If you’re here to kill them, please do it quickly.”As soon as the Agori stopped speaking, a loud crack filled the air, making him wince visibly. Bragh saw that in his surprise he had unconsciously reached for the hilt of his sword. Disguising his involuntary arm movement by coughing into his fist, he looked up to the ceiling which he deduced to be the source of the noise. A hushed sniggering leaked from between the panels of wood, punctuating the silence.“Well, I wish you luck Brug,” the Agori hissed, casting a vicious glare at the ceiling as though it were that which was to blame for the disturbances.Bragh wordlessly left the Agori alone, casting a dark glance behind him as he began ascending the staircase. It had barely been a minute of two and the Agori had already forgotten his name. He will pay dearly for this insult, Bragh decided. It was such a complete sign of disrespect that surely a high class Skrall such as himself should not be allowed to tolerate.The sound of commotion was getting louder and more frequent the higher up he got. Each step creaked in protest as his foot fell upon it, making him jump more times than he would be willing to admit. When he finally reached the second floor he approached the only room with the door firmly closed. At first it refused to budge, not opening further than an inch. With a grunt, Bragh slammed his shoulder into it. The splintered a little and fell forwards a tiny bit further, though still not enough to even see through.“Password?” an airy voice called out to him. For a moment Bragh froze. Tuma hadn’t mentioned any passwords. Surely they couldn’t refuse to speak to him without it. Wasn’t his armour indication enough just who was representing?“Let me in,” Bragh ordered, affecting the most authoritative tone he could muster. He hoped that he had only imagined the slight quiver of impotence in his voice. “Tuma has a message for you.”His response was a series of hushed whispers that he had difficulty discerning. He pressed his ear to the door in the hopes that he might be able to make them out. Without warning, something heavy crashed into the door with an ear-splitting bang, sending the Skrall reeling back with a small, suppressed yelp. “Wrong answer,” the voice called.The anger that had been boiling under the surface was finally beginning to reach its peak. Through gritted teeth, Bragh spoke slowly and very clearly. “I’m not asking anymore. Let. Me. In.”No response.Finally, Bragh let out an exasperated sigh and began to back away. “Fine. If that’s the way you want to play it. I’m coming in anyway,” he declared. Tensing his muscles, he leaned forwards, aimed his shoulder at the door and began charging forwards. He braced himself for impact, closed his eyes and surged ahead, ready to drive through the wood and whatever obstacle it was keeping it closed.And then it opened.Bragh barrelled into the room, taken completely by surprise. As soon as he passed through the doorframe, the same voice drifted to him, saying “Well if you insist.” Unfortunately unable to stop completely, the Skrall’s momentum carried him ever onwards until finally he tripped over his own feet and landed in a crumpled heap onto the wooden floor.“Wow, you really were eager to get in,” somebody behind him said.“Though I don’t know why your first instinct was to hug the floor,” said another, who seemed to be standing right next to the first speaker.“Were you two close?”“Did you miss it?”“Do you need some time alone?”“What-?” Bragh began before shaking his head. He was too confused to feel any kind of anger so simply settled for a frustrated groan as he began to pick himself up from off of the cold floor. “So, stay where you are.”“Come now, young Bragh, we know better than to come between a man and his floor,” the voice retorted. The silence that followed was more than enough indication that despite the speaker’s insistence neither had yet departed. Bragh was beginning to regret this.Turning around he finally caught his first glimpse of the two creatures he had been sent to speak with. He marvelled at just how differently they looked from any other being he had encountered before. Instead of the armour being an additional layer between the world and skin, the two creatures appeared to have been fused to their armour, with sheets of metal woven into their very being. Just underneath gaps and creases he could make out the sight of a constant whir of spinning cogs and gears. Their faces were elongated and slightly flat, with their located on either side of their angled heads, an appearance than reminded the Skrall of the many venom snakes that used to lurk just under the sands of Bara Magna. The backs of their heads were decorated with what appeared to ribbons of glowing metal, lined with glowing blue lights that shone dimly through the midday sun that cut through the window. These appeared to resemble the follicles of hair that he was so used to seeing on the Sisters of the Skrall, yet far more unnatural and so in a way, eerily fitting given that they had been designed for them.The most striking feature in their possession, however, was the constant leering grins attached to their faces as though the afterglow of a joke echoed on their face and would do so for all eternity.“I think he’s violating us with his eyes,” one of them whispered to his partner, loudly enough for Bragh to hear.His associate nodded and forced a shudder, at the same time raising his arms to cover his chest. “So bad mannered. Was he never taught that it’s rude to stare?”“I guess it’s because of his foul species. They’re so brutish. I bet this is just their usual way to greet strangers. I knew we shouldn’t be dealing with that Tuma bloke.”“Wait? What?” Bragh asked, now beginning to get even more and more flustered. There was something insincere in their smiles that made him think he was being played for a fool. That very same look was starting to grate on him, tempting him to wipe them away with a slash of his sword in the name of his own honour. He restrained himself, thinking of the reward Tuma would hopefully bestow upon him for the completion of this mission. “No, I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to cause offense.”“We know you didn’t sonny,” the one on the left said and then outstretched his arm for Bragh to shake. The Skrall carefully returned the gesture, wary of any traps.“Now, onto business I think. He’s Zhorya.”“And he’s Xavor,” said the other who Bragh now identified as Zhorya. He tried to look for any tell-tale differences but could discern only a few, being perhaps a slight difference in height and the different eye colours. “And you of course, are Bragh.”“I don’t remember introducing myself.”“You didn’t need to. We could hear you downstairs,” Xavor said cheerfully, striding over to a desk placed on the far side of the wall. With him, he carried a chair that had been suspiciously close to the doorway Bragh had just fallen through and placed it next to two similar seats. “Now, please don’t stand around gormlessly all day. It’s quite embarrassing.”Bragh needed no further instruction and lowered himself into the chair provided. The two Vortixx followed and placed themselves either side of him, making him feel curiously surrounded. Their proximity alone was unnerving enough even without the growingly menacing grins adorned on their faces. In front of him were three copper tankards which Zhorya began to fill.“So, we were quite surprised to catch you snooping around our nest. We’d come here believing Tuma would be the one to grace our presence,” the Vortixx said, tilting his head as he brought his flask to his lips.“He has an army to lead. So instead he gave me the task of meeting you here,” Bragh responded. As he finished, he lifted the cup and swallowed the contents in one gulp. He lowered it, appreciating the warm sensation as it spilled down his throat. On either side, the two Vortixx had done the same. Xavor began to refill them.“And then what?”Bragh paused. In his head, he ran through all the instructions Tuma had given him. Get to the inn. Find Xavor and Zhorya. Tell them he would be late. Surely there was something next. “Um…I don’t think he said.”Zhorya’s smile sank slightly and he eyed the Skrall with disappointment that didn’t make him feel the least bit more confident. “So that’s it? He just told you to make us wait?”“He didn’t even have a real message? Just sent some foot soldier to tell us to be patient?” Xavor added, sounding curiously hurt.However, whatever discontent they might have felt with the message barely even registered to the actual messenger as he processed their words. “Some foot solider?” he cried. In that moment everything was beginning to rise to the surface, every lost battle, every time somebody had forgotten his name, every time he had been addressed without the proper respect. In the flood of frustration he was swept away, losing himself in the outrage that now flowed freely from his mouth. “How dare you refer to me like a common Skrall! My name is Bragh! Bragh! Why would Tuma give a full name to just some foot soldier? He wouldn’t! I was the one who found Roxtus! I’m sorry if the message wasn’t what you were expecting but it doesn’t devalue in any way the one who had to deliver it”There. He had said it. He had let the irritation that had been welling inside of him go. Or at least he thought he had, until Zhorya winked mischievously at his partner and leaned over to the panting Skrall. “If you’re really that important then why are you here? Is it not the least bit strange that Tuma would send somebody so significant to deliver a message so unnecessary? It sounds to me like he just wanted to get rid of you. You must have been pretty pointless to be tossed aside so quickly.”It looked as though he would have had more to say if it weren’t for the fist that flew down onto the table before them with an almighty crash. It took the last of Bragh’s remaining effort to restrain himself from skewering the Vortixx where he sat for all the unjust insults. “You insolent hunk of scrap metal,” he spat. He could feel a vein throbbing somewhere beneath his helmet and now his fist was aching too. “What do you know of significance? Here, I am ten times the worth of both of you! Combined! Don’t you dare call me unimportant when I’d wager that neither of you are little more than street rats in whatever hole you crawled from! You’re probably not even wanted there anymore…”He could have gone on and described the grandeur that being a named Skrall allowed. He could have compared his position in his society to theirs and knocked them from whatever pedestal they thought they stood on with his own success. But he knew better than that. The look on their faces had told him he’d gone far enough. Their smiles had all but vanished and the dark glares that had replaced them offered countless promises of revenge.“I think you’ll find you’re quite wrong,” Xavor snarled. His eyes were narrowed until Bragh could only see a thin pinprick of light glaring out at him. “We were wanted in the land we came from.”“Most wanted in all of Xia,” Zhorya added, leaning forwards. “And we might have been less than the rats in everyone’s eyes but we lived like kings regardless.”“You’re exactly the kind of arrogant bag of scum we stepped on to get to where we are today, so don’t you dare try and take a high and mighty tone with us.”The threats he could read in their scowls were more than enough warning for Bragh who coughed uncomfortably, raised his arms in a sign of deference and apologised as politely as he could manage. “Please, I realise I spoke out of turn. That was…rude of me. Very rude. But I’ve had a long nights ride and I feel embarrassed to come to you with such little information. I…I lost control.”Zhorya closed his eyes and shook his head lightly, the familiar smile widening once again. “So you were embarrassed enough to proceed to take out your angst on poor, innocent us. How cute.”“Still, we’re all stressed from time to time so we’re quite happy to let this slide for once,” Xavor said as he raised his tankard, watching the contents churn around as he swilled it. “Just once though,” he added warningly, then tilted both his head and the cup backwards.“I understand,” Bragh nodded, shivering slightly. He coughed again, then considered taking the tankard in front of him but thought better of it. He didn’t feel like drinking again for the moment. Instead he decided to change the subject and satisfy his curiosity at the same time. “So, there are rumours circulating amongst the Skrall that Tuma was helped to find the Kazyshian sword with the help of two outside contacts. Assuming that the two in question are the both of you…how did you find it?”Zhorya looked relieved at the question and confidently puffed his chest out. “Well, it wasn’t difficult of course. We know somebody who knows somebody and from there we told Tuma.”“Turns out what we knew wasn’t as specific as we hoped. We heard the sword was being held above ground but as it turns out it was being held beneath it.”“But it was close enough and from our ever so valuable research Tuma was able to find it.”“So why would you even help Tuma locate it in the first place? The warrior was a wretch. When he was cast into exile he had nothing valuable to offer anything. He was little more than a hollow shell of what he had once been.”“That might be true but it wasn’t what he offered us that made us help him. It’s what he would do with the gifts we bestowed upon him,” Xavor said, and his eyes began to glint like two glistening jewels.“You wanted him to build an army?”“Of course, it served two purposes at once,” Zhorya smiled. “You see, we’re being hired to do what we’re doing. You might not know this but down in Atero Nui we’re starting to become something of a household name, particularly with the Elders.”“Our employer has a task to fulfil and he needs us to help him with it.”“Something to stop the Elders from prying too much and stumbling across something they’re not meant to.”Xavor reached up to his shoulder and prised away two spheres that had somehow been held firmly in place by hollows in his armour. Bragh stared in curiosity at the two devices. They were strange contraptions covered in tiny indents and crisscrossed with lines. They were like nothing he had ever seen before.“These are a special kind of bomb,” Xavor grinned proudly, looking down at them as though they were his own offspring. “Powerful devices. You heard this type on your way in. They’re linked to our minds so when we want them to go off, then boom.”“This particular type is a sonic bomb. It’s not much in the way of damage but it can make for a great distraction or entertainment if there’s a particularly surly bar-Agori downstairs.”“There are other types too. Flash bombs, smoke bombs and even bombs that set off a strobe light.”“What we’re trying to say is that these are our favourite kinds of weapon. We’re covered in the things because we hold them close to our hearts.”Xavor mimed his partner’s statement by holding the two bombs in his hands close to his breast, maintaining eye contact with Bragh the entire time. “They remind us of ourselves. Loud, dangerous and particularly uncontrollable once let loose.”“But there’s another kind of weapon that we enjoy just as much for when we need a….a subtler approach,” Zhorya said, lifting himself to his feet. Bragh stayed where he was and coughed nervously, wondering just why they were telling him all of this. “Poison is a fantastic weapon for subtlety, but then it’s only as good as the user.”“You see, there’s an art in applying poison in the right manner. If you’re too blunt about it, people will figure out something’s wrong and investigate,” Xavor grinned. He leaned back in his chair and raised both legs onto the surface of the table.“What you need to do is distract your victim, make them think that everything’s alright or alternatively, that something is very wrong and then keep them focussed on that thing.” Zhorya had begun pacing around the room at this point, though his face never left Bragh’s.“Multiple things work even better. If we keep our victim looking in too many directions to handle then that’s perfection.”Bragh hadn’t noticed at first, but his jaw had ever so slightly begun to drop as their words fell upon him like rain. He didn’t fully understand every detail but the strategy made sense. “So you convince Tuma to build his army so that the leaders of Atero Nui have something to look at?”“Now you’re getting it!” Zhorya exclaimed happily. At the same time Xavor slapped him encouragingly on his back which triggered his tickly throat into a coughing fit.When he finished, Xavor continued. “So they deal with an army. But that’s not enough so what do we do? We realise there’s some friction between the people and we make that worse. We know there’s a civilisation of xenophobic creeps hiding just out of sight so we give a particularly fragile member of the species they hate something to anger them with and wait to see how it all unfolds.”“But we wouldn’t want them to forget Tuma though, so we find an immortal Skrall that just so happens to be wandering a little way away from a city and find a way to lead him there.”“Although I hasten to point out we didn’t just randomly stumble across some immortal warrior. That was down to an accident caused by our employer.”“It wasn’t originally part of our plans but we’re resourceful. We let everyone feel involved,” Zhorya smiled. He had stopped pacing and now stood behind Bragh, leering down over him.“And that’s how we poison Atero Nui. We keep it looking away even as the venom begins to spread.”“You have to understand of course, wars just aren’t our thing…they’re too noisy. There’s too much clean up following afterwards. We prefer a quieter approach. After all, it’s the best kept secrets that do the most damage.” Bragh shivered suddenly as though Zhorya’s words were icy water trickling down his back. He looked at his palms and his eyes widened to see just how viciously they were shaking.He gasped in surprise and tried to stand but was caught in a vicious fit of coughing; keeling him over just as his legs gave in and sent him tumbling back down onto the ground. When he pulled his hands away he was horrified to see the once shining, ebony armour was stained with crimson blood. Without warning, two pairs of arms snaked out from above him and hoisted him unceremoniously up onto the table.He looked up to see the faces of the two Vortixx leering viciously down at him like two snakes poised to strike. “Y-You’ve poisoned me!” he croaked.Xavor tutted and rolled his eyes, sharing a glance of mock disapproval with his partner. “Not very bright, is he?”“You would have thought when the very subject was about poison he might have noticed something.”Bragh hacked again, a mist of blood blooming from his lips as he tried to pull himself away from the Vortixx’s grip. Still they pinned him down with relentless ease and simply watched as he futilely fought against them. Even as he did so, questions whizzed through his mind, pounding relentlessly at his thoughts, each one demanding answers. How could this be happening? Why had they done this? Was it because he had insulted them? No, surely it couldn’t be. They hadn’t had the opportunity to poison him afterwards which meant…“Th...The drink you gave me…before…” he tried to force out.“Was poisoned, yes,” Xavor interrupted. “Don’t worry though; there wasn’t any danger for us. Our organs don’t process consumables so we can’t be poisoned so easily.”“Why, you ask? Well, we needed to let Tuma know that we weren’t to be trifled with. If we’d have known you’d be so rude…well…Let’s just say we don’t regret our actions.”Bragh choked again, feeling his muscles begin to spasm. His vision was beginning to darken and he could feel the force of his struggle weakening. That, or their grip was tightening. He couldn’t be sure. He didn’t really care at this point. “Wh…Wh…Why did y-you tell me…a-about your plans?”The Vortixx shared a knowing look and their smiles wavered momentarily. “We needed someone to confess to,” Xavor said.“Because what we’ve done is terrible and we’re too far gone to pull back now,” Zhorya added. “We wanted to see if telling somebody would make us feel any better. Maybe we shouldn’t have poisoned the same person, who knows?”“We told you there were two reasons we helped Tuma find the sword. The first was that his army would be able to do our job for us.”“The second…Well, the second is so that his army might prevent our work from succeeding. If Atero Nui must be destroyed as a result, then so be it.”“We’ve played with fire and we lost control. It burned us for our foolhardiness.”“Now we’re trying to stop it from burning anyone else. We may not look it but we’re trying to be good people.”“Though we’d understand if you didn’t believe us…You kind of have a reason not to.”Bragh said nothing as the two prattled on. If he wanted to, he couldn’t anyway. His muscles were giving in the fight. All sound in the room was fading away until he could hear nothing more than his own dying heartbeat. And then, even that disappeared too, leaving him alone, staring up at the two Vortixx until his world fell away into nothingness.Review Topic

Edited by The Wretched Automaton, Nov 11 2012 - 04:42 PM.

  • 0

shadowofthisredrock.png

Chapter four - Desire

Coming soon!

Short Stories: The Commute ~ Rasinov ~ In Your Absence ~ Hunter's Game ~ Suchia (Coming soon)

Epics: The Best Kept Secrets (Chapter 27: The Shadow Walker coming soon) ~ The Shadow of this Red Rock





0 user(s) are browsing this forum

0 members, 0 guests, 0 anonymous users