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Right of Law

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#1 Offline Pahrak #0579

Pahrak #0579
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  • 19-August 04
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Posted Mar 23 2018 - 11:12 PM

SECTION I
 
The sun had set over the Great Desert, but one corner of it was still bathed in light.  Wedged between a large oasis and the border of Iron Canyon, the imposing city of Xia gleamed like a vast array of lightstones, visible from miles away and audible from almost as far.  The entire population buzzed—Glatorian, Agori, Matoran, Toa, Vortixx, even a few Vorox and Zesk, all clamored excitedly in the streets, most of them trying to squeeze into the main square to get a good view of the stage that had been built just for this occasion.  And then, as a Toa of Fire stepped onto that stage, the noise all suddenly ceased.
 
“Gathered friends,” said the Toa, his voice weathered yet clear.  “Listen again to the tale of the Bionicle.”
 
At the rear of the stage there was a flash of light.  A large three-dimensional image appeared, a depiction of the planet of Spherus Magna that turned slowly in place.
 
“In the time before time, Spherus Magna was without leaders.  All were lost, drowning in strife and confusion, fixated on selfishness and separateness.”
 
The Toa snapped his fingers.  A small pillar of flame appeared behind him for a moment, and when it vanished, a Glatorian wearing a purple cloak stood there.
 
“Yet out of this chaos rose those who would bring order: the Great Beings.  They took control of the lawless word, taught us the Virtues of Unity, Duty, and Destiny, and led the way to a new age of enlightenment. Under their rule, Spherus Magna prospered, and the land was at peace.”
 
Six more Glatorian walked in from the sides of the stage, each wearing a cloak of a different color.  The one in purple raised their hands.
 
“To better organize the masses, the Great Beings selected a warrior from each Tribe to serve as their appointed leaders.  Upon these six, the Great Beings bestowed the fantastic power of the Elements.”
 
A ring of light pulsed outward from the projection.  The six Glatorian raised their swords, and the light vanished as it brushed against them.
 
“For a time, the Tribes were ruled over by these Element-Lords.  But this was not to last.”
 
The image of Spherus Magna took on a silvery hue.
 
“It was discovered that a precious, mysterious resource known as protodermis lay beneath our feet.  The Element-Lords wished to control this substance, and entered into competition with one another.  Their greed overtook them.  Their lust for power drove the entire planet into war.”
 
The six Glatorian plunged their swords into the stage.  The one in purple crossed their arms.
 
“Displeased by the Element-Lords’ shameful display, the Great Beings ordered them to relinquish their commands.  The arrogant Lords saw fit to challenge the beings who made them…and were struck down.”
 
Four of the Glatorian crumpled, ending up sprawled on the floor.
 
“The brutal Skrall even sided with the Rock-Lord, thinking they could overthrow the Great Beings and seize power.  They shared in his punishment.”
 
One of the remaining Glatorian fell like the others.  He opened his cloak as he did, letting several replica skulls spill out.  The last Glatorian, however, simply knelt.
 
“Only the Sand-Lord had the wisdom to surrender to her betters.  She was allowed to live, and would rededicate her life to the serving the Great Beings.”
 
The five “fallen” Glatorian exited the stage.  The one in purple drew their arms wide, and at this signal, several Matoran and Toa came to join them.
 
“The Great Beings knew they could not trust just anyone to solve this crisis.  And so, they created the perfect servants to accomplish it.  Matoran were born to loyally bear the burdens that lay ahead, while Toa were made to enter the depths of the planet and wield its own Elements to repair the damage done to it.  It took several years, but in the end, the Great Beings’ plan was successful.  The Melding was complete.”
 
The image of Spherus Magna returned to its original shade.  The one in purple nodded, and everyone else on the stage (save the Toa of Fire) left them.
 
“With the safety of all assured, the Great Beings wished to turn again to their work.  To better guide us, they taught us the Principles of Courage, Purity, Faith, Creation, Prosperity, and Peace.  However, they knew that this would not be enough, and had learned that not just any being could be trusted to lead in their stead.  They decided that it was time for new leaders to be forged.”
 
Six new Matoran approached the swords left earlier, each wearing a white cloak and a mask of gold.
 
“And so the Great Beings crafted the perfect servants: the noble Makuta, second only to their makers in power and wisdom.  With these valiant champions carrying out their will, the Great Beings led the world to peace once more…and this time, peace has remained.”
 
The Toa drew the swords and raised them high.  The one in purple nodded, looking satisfied, and then walked off-stage.
 
“For a thousand centuries, we have been at peace, watched over by the Great Beings and the Makuta.  All of Spherus Magna has prospered from their guidance, and perhaps none so much as our own great city.  Not only is Xia home to the finest smiths, and the hardest workers, but it is also home to the noblest Makuta of all.”
 
The Toa in cloaks backed away, and the image of Spherus Magna vanished.  From behind the stage, a new figure stepped onto it.  Much of her armor was white, but at least as much was a dull, stony shade of gray.  Her hands and feet were clawed, two large, streamlined wings were attached to her shoulders, and while she wore a white and gray Kanohi Kiril, its shape had been altered just enough to give the appearance that its wearer had vicious fangs.  Attached to her waist was a sheath decorated by an ‘M’-shaped insignia, holding a blade within.  The crowd cheered at her appearance.
 
“With the leadership of Makuta Antroz, Xia has had yet another successful business year!  We thank you for all you have done for us, great Makuta, and will continue to work under your guidance for as long as you will have us.”
 
Antroz nodded and smiled.  “The pleasure is all mine, Toa Vakama.  And the success belongs to all of you!  So let us end this ceremony, and let the annual Festival of Bounty begin at last!”
 
The crowd cheered again.  Fireworks exploded overhead, and music began to play from somewhere.  Antroz said a final farewell to the Toa, and then turned, stepped off the stage, and began to wade through the masses.
 
“Spectacular as always, Makuta!” cheered a Matoran.
 
Antroz smiled at them.  “Thank you, my friend.”
 
“Makuta!” shouted an Agori.  “Good, I wanted to see you directly!  Thank you so much for all your hard work!”
 
“You are very welcome.  It is an honor to serve such fine people.”
 
“Join us, Makuta!” a Glatorian said.  “Why not take part in this glorious festival?”
 
Antroz shook her head.  “I’m afraid I can’t.  But please, enjoy yourselves, all of you.  You’ve earned this.”
 
Eventually she reached the edge of the square, and the crowd gradually began to thin.  She continued to converse with the citizens as she wove through the street she found herself on, slowly but surely making her way towards the tall tower at its end, and eventually passed a fruit stall on the side of the road attended by a Vorox and a Zesk.
 
“Oh, Makuta,” said the Vorox, quickly pulling out of his slouch.
 
“At ease,” Antroz said.  “Not many customers?”
 
The Vorox chuckled awkwardly.  “Yeah, uh, not really.  I guess most people want something tastier than a madu to celebrate the occasion.”
 
“I suppose.  Be sure to enjoy the festival yourself before it is over.”
 
The Zesk turned to the Vorox, looking a bit excited.  The Vorox’s eyes focused on the ground.  “That’s very generous of you.  But, we’re still a fair bit behind our quota for the week.  Maybe next year.”
 
Antroz hummed.  Her hand began to glow faintly with black energy, and she flexed it lightly.  “There is still time for you to prosper.”
 
The Vorox’s eyes widened.  Antroz stepped away, and an Agori came in behind her.  “Hey, how much for one madu?”
 
As the Vorox made his sale, Antroz continued on until a familiar Toa of Ice bounded up to her.  “Makuta Antroz!” Ehrye greeted.  “I guess I missed the opening ceremony, huh?”
 
“Oh?  Where were you?”
 
“I was double checking that all the cauldrons at my factory were properly cooled.  You know, just to be on the safe side.”
 
“You are very dedicated to your work, Ehrye.  Toa like you are the reason why we are able to celebrate like this.”
 
Ehrye puffed out his chest and grinned.  “Haha, thank you, Makuta!  I hope the Great Beings find my work as satisfactory.  It’s like you always say: there’s no greater reward than making the Great Beings proud, and I think I made a good impression on Lord Angonce when he visited last!  I’m going to keep working until they all see how dedicated I am!”
 
Antroz smiled a bit.  “…A noble goal, Toa.”
 
“Well, if you’ll excuse me, Makuta—I’ve got a festival to catch up on!  Catch you later!”
 
Ehrye took off the way Antroz had just come, quickly gravitating towards the now-surrounded fruit stand.  Antroz stood there for a moment before resuming her walk.
 
“Wouldn’t you like to join the celebration as well, Emsar?” she asked.
 
A Vortixx slid out from the crowd, falling into step directly behind Antroz.  “Won’t you ever let me have fun?  Honestly, I never dreamed sneaking up on someone without sight would be so difficult.”
 
“Perhaps your efforts would be put to better use on something other than sneaking.”
 
Emsar shrugged with one shoulder.  “First you say I work too much, now you’re saying I should be working, which is it dear Makuta?”
 
Antroz sighed.
 
“Come now, be a good sport.  I just want to cheer you up.  You’ve seemed a bit out of sorts lately, not really carrying yourself with the same sureness you usually do.  If something’s troubling you, why don’t you tell me?”
 
Antroz stopped at the foot of the tower, seeming to ponder this for a moment.  Turning around, she asked, “Is there something you were coming to report?”
 
Emsar rolled her eyes.  “Yes, actually.  As a Vortixx I’m still offended we aren’t included in the grand tale of the Bionicle.”
 
“And I must again reply that listing off all of the Great Beings’ creations would have the opening ceremony last for at least a full day.  But you aren’t actually angry about that.”
 
Emsar let out a small gasp.  “Makuta, did you just read my mind?  I can’t believe you’d violate my privacy so!  I demand you shut off that telepathy this second.”
 
“You know very well that all I can sense is where you stand, Emsar.  The reason I know you aren’t irate is because I know you very well.”
 
“Oh, yes.  Pity that.”
 
“You’d rather I walk around bumping into walls?”
 
“Well, only for a few minutes.  Then it’d get old.”
 
“I’m touched,” Antroz said.  She undid the door.  “Will that be all?”
 
Emsar shook her head.  “No, I’m afraid there is something serious I should be mentioning.  Lord Angonce is here.”
 
Antroz paused for a moment.  “Perhaps you should have led with that?”
 
“Oh, lighten up.  You do have power over Light, it shouldn’t be this difficult for you.”
 
“Where is he?  Why did he come here—why didn’t he inform me?”
 
“He said he’d be in the weapons district.  That’s all I’ve got for you.  Now if you’ll excuse me, I think I will go enjoy myself after all.”
 
She vanished into the crowd before Antroz could say anything else.  Grunting, Antroz closed the tower door and reached out with her mind, broadening the range of her telepathy to cover all of Xia.  To her dismay, she was still unable to sense the presence of Angonce.
 
Then I can assume he will be in disguise.  I suppose I should’ve expected as much.
 
Antroz walked down the street, smiling for the sake of her many citizens as she passed them.  Truthfully, she felt slightly anxious about this meeting: it was very unusual for a Great Being to show up unannounced, and there was a good chance Angonce had come with another Makuta as a bodyguard.  Many of her brothers and sisters did not approve of the Festival, and she had long since grown tired of explaining her reasoning to them.  More than that, though, she could not help but think of the last time Angonce had visited, of the criminal who had insulted the Great Beings, of Angonce vetoing her usual trial in favor of a brutal beating and execution…of how she had known it was cruel and wrong, yet done nothing to stop it.  Then again, she had already been spending a great deal of time thinking about that.
 
Antroz shook her head as she set foot in the weapons district.  She focused her mind on the area directly around her, getting an idea of how many people there were and which way they were moving.  After she had greeted a dozen or so citizens, a Matoran sitting on a nearby bench waved to her.
 
“Are you enjoying the festival?” she asked as she approached.
 
“Oh, most definitely!” the Matoran said, nodding excitedly.  “I just love the sheer frivolity of the whole thing—and they’re enjoying themselves so much!  Look at that one!  Well, not ‘look’, but…”
 
Antroz sat down.  “Is something amiss, Lord Angonce?”
 
The false Matoran sighed.  “…Yeah, I guess you could say that.  I really am sorry for interrupting, I wanted to wait until the festival was over but this is pretty urgent.”
 
“No apology is needed, my lord.”
 
Angonce looked up at the sky, lost in thought for a moment.  “So what we need is for you to go to Nynrah.”
 
Antroz tilted her head.  “…I see.  May I ask why?”
 
Angonce looked around, and then leaned in closer.  “The Makuta there has taken someone awfully dangerous into custody, and we want you to go get them, since, well…”
 
As he hesitated, Antroz finished, “The Great Beings lack confidence in Krika.”
 
“You said it, not me,” Angonce muttered.  “Thing is, we need to be very careful bringing this person to the Valley of the Maze.  And hey, the way you handled that last prisoner was great, so I thought of you immediately as the most qualified applicant.”
 
An uneasy feeling began to overtake Antroz.  “If I may, my lord, I believe it was more you and Gorast who handled that prisoner.”
 
With a shrug, Angonce said, “Well, you held him until we arrived.  That’s basically all we’re asking you to do here.”
 
“I see.  May I ask what makes this individual so dangerous?”
 
Angonce shook his head.  “Sorry, Antroz.  We’ve gotta be real tight-lipped on this one.”
 
Antroz shifted.  “…Forgive me, my lord, but I feel it is important for me to know.  Not only do I need to be prepared to deal with this person, I would feel uncomfortable delivering them to punishment when I do not know their crime.”
 
Angonce stared forward for a moment.  He turned slightly to look at Antroz, not saying anything, his mouth slightly open.  A long moment passed before he said, “That’s…really all I’m allowed to tell you, Antroz.  Sorry, but it’s just gonna have to be enough.”
 
Antroz faced forward.
 
“Believe me: this is absolutely necessary, and you need to be ready for anything.  This person…”  He stopped, looked around, and then quietly resumed, “This person could tear down Spherus Magna: all the cities we’ve built, all the people we’ve created, this whole society we’ve nurtured…it’s all at risk.  If you don’t do this, then all of this…”  He paused to gesture to their surroundings.  “…could easily go up in smoke.”
 
The Makuta turned.  “There exists an enemy that could do that?  That could challenge even the Great Beings?”
 
Angonce looked up and grimaced.  “Not quite yet.  Technically speaking.  But that’s exactly why we need to get them to the Maze ASAP, before they have the chance to become a real threat.”
 
After giving it a bit more thought, Antroz said, “I shall leave at once.  I should be able to reach Nynrah before sundown tomorrow.”
 
Angonce grinned and nodded.  “Good.  Be careful, okay?  I’ll be waiting for you at the Maze.”
 
Antroz stood, bowed, and headed off.  After a minute of walking, she said, “Emsar.”
 
The Vortixx sighed loudly.  “Really?  Again?  You just can’t let me have the satisfaction, can you?”
 
“I trust you weren’t eavesdropping?”
 
“Give me some credit, Makuta.  I kept my distance.  But if you’re offering, I am dying to know.”
 
“Unfortunately, there is little I can share.  I must depart at once, and it may be some time until I return—you will be responsible for Xia in my absence.”
 
Emsar raised her eyebrows.  “I see.  Well I suppose I can manage for a while by my lonesome—it’s not as if anything special is scheduled in the immediate future.”
 
“Have you forgotten about the conference with the Sand-Lord?”
 
“Oh, that’s not that special.  I suppose I can handle that.”
 
Antroz stopped at the edge of the city.  “I have the utmost confidence in you, Emsar.  Please take good care of our city.”
 
“Aw, how can I refuse now?” Emsar said, her teeth showing through her smirk.  “Good luck on your mysterious journey, Makuta.  We’ll be eagerly awaiting your return.”
 
The Vortixx disappeared once more, leaving Antroz alone with her thoughts.  She still wasn’t entirely satisfied—the sheer lack of information she had been given was far too unsettling to her.  It was not long ago that the Great Beings had seen fit to torture someone for a petty crime.  How could she know for sure that this was different?  But as she thought about it, her mind wandered outward, reaching into the city and brushing past several of its citizens as they celebrated.  Their joy flooded out from them, filling the crowded streets and reaching back to try to pull her into its flow.  Despite her misgivings, Antroz could only smile.
 
This peace is something I must do my best to preserve.  I still believe I can trust Lord Angonce…so I will do what I must.
 
Antroz spent the night gliding silently over the Great Desert, doing her best to keep her mind empty.  She kept close to the southern border of the wastes, noticing only the occasional creature below—though she did take care to slow down as she passed an outpost around dawn, sending a telepathic message to the Makuta who ran it so he wouldn’t shoot her out of the sky.  She felt the warmth of the sun as it rose behind her, letting it seep into her armor.  Her ability to feel had dulled when she evolved beyond her physical body, but there were still some sensations to be felt, and she was sure to appreciate each one.
 
The sun was high when she reached the shore of the Great Sea.  She landed a few miles away from Nynrah, her wings kicking up a small cloud of sand, and prepared to walk the rest of the way.  It wasn’t long after she landed that a Toa of Plasma ran out to meet her.
 
“Greetings, Makuta Antroz!” the Toa shouted.  “What brings you all the way to our humble settlement?”
 
“Greetings, Toa,” Antroz replied, nodding once.  “I am afraid I come on urgent business from the Great Beings.  May I return to Nynrah with you, so that I may speak with Makuta Krika?”
 
The Toa jumped.  “Urgent business?!  My word, that sounds dreadful!  Yes, of course—follow me!”
 
Nynrah didn’t cover as much area as Xia, and its buildings were a fraction of the size.  It had no factories, its inhabitants lived in huts, and the people all seemed to move at their own individual paces without any cohesive structure to the community.  As Antroz and her escort came through the gates, a few citizens looked up, most of them smiling, but many were too engrossed in their own projects to notice.  There were so many sounds: clinking, scraping, sloshing, clanging, none of them loud enough on their own to be a nuisance, but all of them together formed a wretched cacophony that made Antroz glad she hadn’t taken Vamprah’s suggestion of mastering echolocation.
 
“Beautiful, isn’t it?” the Toa said.  “That’s a symphony of creation!  Oh, making another attempt, Onewa?”
 
A nearby Toa of Stone waved dismissively in their direction, grumbling as he squinted at the statue before him.  He slowly raised his chisel as they walked past.
 
“It is…certainly a unique sound,” Antroz offered.
 
The Toa of Plasma chuckled.  “You don’t think much of Nynrah, do you Makuta?”
 
Antroz took a moment to construct her reply.  “It is quite different from Xia, and given that both cities share similar purposes, it is a bit jarring to see things run in such a way.”
 
“We aren’t that similar, really.  True, the Great Beings sought to foster twin cities of builders, but Xians are more focused on…the matter of fact.  You make weapons, and armor, and all sorts of things that are made a specific way for a practical purpose.”
 
He leaned over a railing.  Down next to the ocean was a Toa of Water standing before a canvas, furiously assaulting it with two brushes.  Antroz couldn’t help but notice that the sea itself was calm.
 
“In Nynrah, we use emotion to create.  Our works might not have any particular purpose, but for us, creating without needing a purpose is the noblest pursuit of all.”  Turning back to Antroz, he asked, “Who’s to say which approach is correct?”
 
Antroz said nothing for a moment.  Then, with a sigh, she said, “Those are the words of a lazy Guardian.”
 
The Toa laughed.  His body began to change suddenly, reshaping into a tall, lean figure clad in sleek black and gold armor, a Kanohi Mahiki sitting on his face.
 
“You are meant to enforce order, Krika.  Not let them simply float about in pursuit of their own selfish goals.”
 
“Thank you for the words of wisdom, great Makuta,” Krika said, giving an exaggerated bow.  “But as long as the Great Beings are not beating down my door, I’d say I haven’t exactly failed in my duties.  Wouldn’t you agree?”
 
Antroz turned and resumed walking.  “I have been sent to transport your prisoner.”
 
Krika sighed, and then teleported ahead of Antroz.  “Always business.  This is exactly what I’m talking about.  Isn’t your Festival of Bounty going on right now?  That was one idea you had that I always liked.”
 
“This matter is too urgent, it would seem.”
 
Krika frowned.  “Hm.  Indeed. Indulge me, Antroz: what did the Great Beings tell you about this prisoner?”
 
“We should not discuss this out in the open.”
 
“You just saw how focused they are.  No one will hear a word we say.”
 
Giving an unsatisfied grunt, Antroz called upon her Sonic powers.  She created a wall of random sound on either side of her and Krika, cutting them off from the din that permeated Nynrah and, more importantly, keeping their words firmly within these invisible boundaries.
 
“Lord Angonce said this was a person who could destroy everything the Great Beings had created,” Antroz said.  “I am to escort them to the Maze before they are given that chance.”
 
Krika nodded thoughtfully.  After a few more steps, he stopped, turned, and looked Antroz in the eye.  “I hear Gorast murdered the last criminal you got your hands on.”
 
Antroz stopped abruptly.  Lowering her eyebrows, she replied, “I did what Lord Angonce asked of me, nothing more, nothing less.”
 
“Yes, I know.  And you would never even think to question the Great Beings, no matter the order they gave you.”
 
“We were created to serve them, Krika.  We are required to be absolutely loyal.”
 
Krika shook his head and kept walking.  Before Antroz could say anything more, he called back, “I wonder if you recall one of our earlier assignments.  A number of the Great Beings’ experiments got loose, and we were tasked with hunting them down—do you remember?”
 
“Of course I do!” Antroz said, rushing to catch up.  “We had to scour all of Aqua Magna to find them all.  Not an exhaustion one forgets, especially considering we were still flesh back then.”
 
The streets soon gave way to sand.  A cliff face could be seen up ahead, but Krika stopped and looked out at the ocean.
 
“We had to kill each and every one,” he mused.  “Dozens of creatures, all one of a kind, all gone forever.  All because the Great Beings told us to.”
 
“Those creatures posed a danger to the citizens.”
 
“That’s what they said.”
 
“One of them had a thousand teeth, and Gorast’s temper to boot.”
 
Krika shrugged.  “Okay, fair enough, they were dangerous.  But being a Makuta of such upstanding moral character, do you really think killing them was the right thing to do?”
 
“Our first duty is to the citizens of Spherus Magna.  We had to keep them safe.  What alternative was there?”
 
With a flick of his wrist, Krika exerted his own Sonic power, shattering Antroz’s walls.  It was now that Antroz realized they were not completely alone: not far away, a lone Toa of Earth sat on a rock watching the tide go out.  They looked over their shoulder at them.  Krika smirked for a moment, and then kept walking.  “Oh, who knows?”
 
The Toa of Earth faced the sea again.  Growing frustrated, Antroz walked until she overtook Krika, and continued leading them to the cliff face.  “Enough.  If you don’t take me to the prisoner, then I’ll be forced to search your compound myself.”
 
Krika rolled his eyes, but didn’t stop walking.  “There’s no need for that.  I’ll take you to her.”
 
“Thank you.”
 
At the foot of the cliff was a large metal door, beyond which was the entryway to a small network of tunnels running through the rock, its interior coated in metal and lit by lightstones.  Krika led Antroz through a tunnel that sloped upward sharply.  As they went, Antroz noticed several doors hanging wide open.
 
“Aren’t you the least bit curious?” Krika asked eventually.
 
“About what?”
 
“You know what.”
 
“…I do find it hard to believe that anyone could pose a true threat to the Great Beings.”
 
Krika nodded.  “Right?  And how we Makuta could have the means to detain and transport someone supposedly on par with our creators?  You’re smart, Antroz—you must see that it doesn’t add up.”
 
“It doesn’t seem that you have been able to detain her,” Antroz said, pointing to the doors.
 
“Ah, yes.  She has proved quite troublesome.  I’ve been using the most advanced electronic locks you Xians have produced, but every time I leave her alone I come back to find her hacking her way through them like it’s nothing.”
 
Antroz turned.  “What?  That shouldn’t be possible.”
 
Krika glanced over his shoulder.
 
“…More importantly, if she’s capable of escaping electronic locks, perhaps you should instead use physical locks.”
 
“I tried.  As best I can tell, what she did was pull off a wall tile, rip out some of the piping, and pound the metal into crude lockpicking tools.  Just a guess, of course—I didn’t realize she was out until she was trying to sneak out one of the maintenance tunnels.”
 
Antroz’s footsteps slowed.  “She sounds quite resourceful.”
 
“That’s an understatement.”
 
“You left her with guards, I assume?”
 
Krika rubbed his neck.  “I was going to, but—“
 
He was cut off by the sound of another door sliding open just ahead.  Someone stumbled out into the hallway: a Glatorian, a relatively young-looking one, with armor that was a shade of teal rare amongst the Jungle Tribe.  The Glatorian immediately spotted the two Makuta, and her body froze.  A long moment passed before Krika sighed in exasperation.
 
“Zaekura,” he said, “I thought I already demonstrated good faith.  If you keep breaking out the situation is only going to get more difficult.”
 
The Glatorian eyed Antroz.  Resting a hand on her sword’s pommel, the Makuta asked, “Krika, I take it she is the one?  I must admit, I hardly expected a mere Glatorian.”
 
Glaring at her, Zaekura muttered, “Yeah, well you’re not much to look at either, fangs.”
 
Krika stepped between the two of them.  “Why don’t I just introduce you, and we can all sit down and discuss matters?  Zaekura, this is Makuta Antroz, Guardian of Xia.”
 
Antroz nodded.  Zaekura grimaced.
 
“Antroz, this is Zaekura, a citizen of Nynrah.  Her crime is that she possesses a talent not seen fully in hundreds of thousands of years.  This girl is a Great Being.”
 
 
ADDENDUM:
 
-This story takes place in the Melding Alternate Universe first seen in the Brothers in Arms serial, albeit with a few creative liberties taken.  Also important to note, this continues off from my story The Gargoyle Knight, which is essentially the prologue.  Reading that will give you a much better understanding of where Antroz stands right now.
 
-Kicking off with the legend of the Bionicle seemed like a good way to pile on the backstory without it sticking out like a sore thumb.  Granted, it isn’t done with rocks, but I think the theatrical telling better fits an industrialized place like Xia.  It’s also more fun to write this way.
 
-The one representing the Great Beings wears purple because the Great Beings have purple armor.  I wanted to give them one unifying color that stood out from the existing Glatorian tribes, and since purple is associated with royalty it was my first choice.  Also I like purple.  Don’t we all?
 
-Eliminating the Element-Lords and the Skrall was done mainly to cut down on the potential number of factions present on Spherus Magna, as well as to show just how strongly the Great Beings react when challenged.  I have some plans for the Vorox, though.  Also, while not explicitly mentioned, the Iron and Earth Tribes are more or less in the same state as they were in the prime reality (or possibly even worse off)—the Dreaming Plague happened pre-Core War, and the Earth Tribe was ostracized for the hand they had in its start, so that all happened before the divergence occurred.
 
-I should try not to go on too long about Antroz, but I should probably clarify a few things.  I wanted the Makuta to be more active leaders of their domains, and this presented a problem if I kept Antroz in Xia: a place known for being run by women isn’t really run by women if the appointed governor is male.  Making this Antroz female seemed the easiest fix.  She is similar to her prime counterpart in appearance because she wants to show that she has “defeated her demons”, and took their appearance to serve as a warning to anyone who might challenge her.  She also lost her sight, though this was back when the Makuta purged themselves of darkness; she opted not to have her sight restored because she thought that if her eyes were cast out alongside her darkness, it meant she didn’t need them, and instead has adapted to telepathically sense were other people and objects are.  Her sword has a sheathe to show she values restraint, because she is a beacon of righteousness, justice, and honor to the people of Spherus Magna.  This is going on too long, basically Antroz was designed to seem really pretentious!
 
-BS01 says the Great Beings used the Thornax as a base for madu.  I didn’t know that.  But then it makes sense that in this world they would introduce madu as a more edible, equally-resilient alternative for their subjects to cultivate.  The energy Antroz uses at the fruit stall is one of her Makuta powers: it’s been established that the Melding Makuta use powers tied to the Principles from MNOGII rather than the original Rahkshi powers that counter them, so in place of Hunger she has Prosperity.  Some of these Principles are really vague when you think about how to use them as powers, so here I’m presenting Prosperity as a general luck buff—the target becomes much more likely to succeed in their endeavors, at least until the effect wears off.  Think of it like a less physical variation on the Calix.
 
-Now, in the prime reality, Krika was not the Makuta of Nynrah—he was in charge of the northern part of the North Continent, which…sounds beyond vague in my opinion, so I freed him up to be put anywhere in this world.  Krika was an obvious choice to include in this story, and I thought it would make sense for Nynrah and Xia to be rivals of sorts, so the two just ended up together.  It was actually Tridax who watched Nynrah in the main universe, but don’t you worry, Melding Tridax is otherwise occupied.  And with Teridax gone, there’s no one for him to get his name confused with!
 
-A few of the Kanohi the Makuta will be wearing are going to be redundant with some of their powers, unfortunately—it would just be too difficult to pick really good Kanohi without having any overlap.  Let’s say that using the Kanohi doesn’t actually drain the Makuta’s energy, while their equivalent Rahkshi powers do.
 
-I think those are all my notes for now.  Time to get to work on Section II!
 
-Reviews to be submitted here

Edited by Black Six, Jun 07 2018 - 10:12 PM.

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#2 Offline Pahrak #0579

Pahrak #0579
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Posted Apr 10 2018 - 01:13 PM

SECTION II

 

Antroz and Krika sat on one side of the table, while Zaekura fidgeted uncomfortably across from them.  Antroz was facing her directly, and though she knew she was blind, the Glatorian still couldn’t help but feel she was being stared at.

 

“I still do not understand,” Antroz said quietly.  “She is intelligent and inventive—and you think this alone makes her a Great Being?”

 

Krika sighed, taking a moment to shake his head.  “Seems I should go back further.  You will recall that the Great Beings are from the Glatorian species, correct?  They arose from various tribes during the dark ages, realizing they had a gift no others did, and used it to guide the world forward.”

 

“Of course.”

 

“Do you know what it was that caused them to be so different from the other Glatorian?”

 

Antroz thought for a moment, but no answer sprang to mind.

 

“In the interest of time: it started with a genetic quirk.  Something in those Glatorian’s DNA altered the structure of their brains in a way no one predicted.  Of course, even that doesn’t fully explain it.  There must have been some other factor, some catalyst that caused them to develop farther and faster than was wholly natural, but I’ve no idea what that was.”

 

“You are sure about this?”

 

“Absolutely.  When this case presented itself to me, I did a little digging.  Unfortunately any information on the ‘catalyst’ must in a place one cannot dig into without being caught.”

 

Antroz turned towards him.  “It sounds as though you were already someplace you should not have been.”

 

Krika rapped his knuckles against the table.  “Now now, let’s focus on the matter at hand, shall we?”

 

Reluctantly, Antroz followed the change in subject.  “Then why has this quirk resurfaced in her?  Why now, all of the sudden, after so many millennia?”

 

The other Makuta smirked.  “Now you’re asking the right questions.  The answer is that this isn’t sudden at all.  The potential for that quirk still exists in the Glatorian genome, and my working theory is that every generation or so, one or two Glatorian with this mutation will pop up again.”

 

“What?  Impossible—we would have known of such a thing.”

 

“Would we?  You hadn’t the faintest knowledge of this quirk until I just told you.  Yet here you are, trudging out to Nynrah to escort an individual who possesses it to the Maze.  We’ve all delivered plenty of prisoners to our leaders over the years.  How many times have any of us questioned why?”

 

A sick feeling started to form within Antroz.  Hoping to combat it, she said, “That sounds like conjecture.  Can anyone corroborate your claim?”

 

Krika gestured to Zaekura.  The Glatorian looked away, but after a few moments, she closed her eyes and sighed.

 

“I’m…not the first one in my family to have the mutation,” she muttered.  “My grandfather was a brilliant man.  He was always working on some invention none of the rest of us could understand, usually saying it would help out someone who was having a problem.  And it usually worked, even if we couldn’t understand how.  It was like he was just exploding with creativity.  Like he had some kind of magic.”

 

She glared at Krika.

 

“But one day, he was taken away.  I never saw him again.”

 

Krika nodded.  “I was told to discourage anyone who asked questions about that Glatorian.  Of course, I myself didn’t feel particularly discouraged by that.”

 

“Should go without saying, my family’s become a bit skeptical of the Makuta and the Great Beings.  I’ve been trying to lay low…but I guess someone still found me out.”

 

“It wasn’t me,” Krika said, raising his hands.  “The Great Beings don’t want to hear from me these days.”

 

“So,” Antroz interrupted, “you claim that this mutation was the reason your grandfather was taken away?  And that it then skipped a generation to appear again in you?”

 

Zaekura looked down again.  “Something like that, I guess.”

 

“I have copies of the records I…perused,” Krika offered.  “I’d be happy to share them with you.”

 

After a short pause, Antroz said, “Krika…if what you are saying is true, then what do you theorize becomes of the mutant Glatorian taken to the Maze?”

 

Krika got a grim look.  “Again, it would be impossible to dig that up without getting caught.  But I think it’s worth noting that even though they had the potential to become Great Beings, our leaders’ ranks have never grown.”

 

Zaekura wrung her hands.  Antroz could sense her fear, her anxiety…and the fact that she wasn’t lying.

 

But, this could merely be her perception.  This is not conclusive proof that the Great Beings…that we have led innocent Glatorian to…

 

Antroz stood.  “Krika.  I must speak with the Great Beings.”

 

Zaekura flinched.  Krika rose slowly, saying, “I, uh, would advise against that, Antroz.  Even supposing they’re honest with us, they’re not going to like us questioning our orders.”

 

“If what you say is true, then we cannot simply hand her over.”

 

“Of course not.  I was never going to.  But if we confront the Great Beings, we lose any opportunity for her to sneak away.”

 

“But if you are wrong, Krika, and there is some other reason the Great Beings have condemned this girl, then we cannot allow her to escape.  I must know.”

 

“Seriously?!” Zaekura said, leaping to her feet.  “What is it going to take to convince you?  They just want you to bring me in so they can kill me!  There’s no way I’m…going to…”

 

Suddenly, Zaekura sank back into her chair and slumped against the table.  Antroz released her Sleep power and turned back to Krika.  The Makuta of Nynrah stared at her for a moment before shrugging.

 

“I know that there’s no easy way for me to stop you, and that even if I did put in the effort it wouldn’t really achieve much,” Krika said.  “The communications chamber is on the level below this one.  Third door to the left of the stairwell.”

 

As Antroz walked out, Krika added, “I’ll be listening, of course.  And you should know that no matter what you end up deciding, I have no intentions of letting you take her.”

 

Antroz stopped.  “I’ve never known you to be all that protective.”

 

“She’s a citizen of Nynrah.  I’m not a completely worthless Guardian.”

 

Antroz offered a nod, and then left the room.  The chamber Krika had indicated was a small box lined with numerous control panels, and one wall was taken up by an enormous screen.  Antroz reached for one of the panels, typed into the keyboard, and then patiently waited until the screen flared to life.  A Glatorian clad in purple armor was there to greet her.

 

“Ah, Antroz!  Wonderful to hear from you—and I see you’ve safely made it to Nynrah!  Good, good.”

 

Antroz bowed.  “Lord Angonce.  Pardon the intrusion, but it is urgent that I speak with you.”

 

Angonce raised an eyebrow.  “Oh, is that so?  Well, alright, what is it that you want to talk about?”

 

The Makuta hesitated, but eventually, she said, “I have met the prisoner.  Krika has explained her crime to me—at least, his understanding of it.”

 

“Ah.  And Krika’s understanding is…?”

 

“He claims that she possesses a mutation seen very rarely in Glatorian.  A mutation that would allow her to become like you, Lord Angonce.”

 

Angonce nodded slowly.  “I see.”

 

“He believes that, over the years, we may have delivered many such Glatorian to you without even knowing it.  I must say, my Lord…that possibility frightens me terribly.”

 

“Really?  Why’s that?”

 

Antroz clenched her fists.  “If I have captured someone for committing no crime…if any have been condemned simply because of the way they were born, then I would be deeply ashamed to be a part of it.  I am sorry, Lord Angonce, but…please, tell me.  Is Krika right?”

 

Angonce stared at her for a very long time.  At last, he sighed, leaned back in his chair, and, just as casually as ever, said, “Antroz, I really don’t see what the problem is.”

 

It felt to Antroz as if her armor had gone hollow.  “W…what?”

 

“You have your orders, so follow them.  You’ve always been really great about that, I’m not sure why you’re messing up all of a sudden.”

 

Taking a step forward, Antroz said, “Lord Angonce, are you really telling me to bring this girl to be killed?!  Simply for one strand of DNA?  How can such a thing be right?!”

 

“Because we’ve ordered it,” Angonce said, spreading his arms and looking upward.  “Antroz, we’re the Great Beings.  Our word is law—we’re the ones who decide what right and wrong is.  So if we say something is right, then, I mean, it is.  It’s not that complicated, really.”

 

Antroz gaped.  Her thoughts were racing, but they felt a million miles away, separated from her by a river of shock and horror.

 

“I don’t know what’s gotten into you, Antroz,” Angonce said.  “Look, just bring the girl to the Maze, alright?  We can’t have someone like her running loose.”

 

Angonce reached for the button to end the call.

 

“…This…is not right…”

 

The Great Being leaned forward.  “Hm?  What was that?”

 

She waded through the river, letting her emotions wash over her, filling her to the brim until she overflowed.  Facing the screen, Antroz said, “This is not right, Lord Angonce.  This girl has done nothing wrong, and I will not have innocent blood on my hands.”

 

Now it was Angonce’s turn to be shocked.  He watched Antroz with wide eyes, speechless for perhaps the first time.

 

“Just because she has the potential to rival you does not give you the right to execute her.  So I am sorry, Lord Angonce, but I must refuse the orders you have given me.  Zaekura will remain in Nynrah.”

 

The silence stretched on and on.  It seemed like an eternity before Angonce sighed, his expression drooping into one of frustration and disappointment.

 

“Then we’ll have to come to her, I suppose,” he muttered.  “For shame, Antroz.  I really expected better of you.”

 

The communication was terminated.  Antroz turned on her heel and stalked back out into the hall.

 

“Some comments,” Krika said, appearing as she rounded a corner.  “Lovely conscience, was hoping that would make an appearance.  Not sure you’ll take this as a compliment, but I was really very impressed to see you, of all people, standing up to the Great Beings.  But, there is one major criticism I have.  You see…”

 

He grabbed Antroz by the shoulder.  Using his Elasticity powers, he extended his arm rapidly, slamming her into the far wall and pinning her there.  His eyes narrowed until they were almost shut.

 

“You just brought the wrath of the Great Beings down upon my city.  You’ll understand if I’m a small bit livid, yes?”

 

Antroz batted his hand away.  Despite the assault, her fury was actually beginning to abate.  “…I acted impulsively, I admit.”

 

“Impulsively, yes, of course,” Krika said, retracting his arm.  “Impulsivity is exactly what we need right now.  Why tread carefully when trying to have a polite disagreement with those capable of bending the fabric of reality itself?”

 

Antroz said nothing.

 

“…Well, there’s no way to undo it now.  I suppose we’ll just have to fight back when the time comes.”

 

“I have no intention of fighting,” Antroz said calmly.

 

Krika scratched his head.  “…Did I say ‘a small bit’?  I think my initial estimate was off.”

 

“We cannot fight the Great Beings, Krika.  All we can do is hope to reason with them.”

 

“Reason?  You think they’ll be willing to listen to reason, after all that?  My word, Antroz, you really are deluded.”

 

Antroz walked towards him.  “The Great Beings have made a mistake.  But, I still believe their intentions are good.  I will not turn Zaekura over, but I will not turn against the Great Beings either.”

 

They’re mutually exclusive!” Krika screamed.  The entire hallway shuddered.  He took a moment to regain his composure before continuing, “More importantly, you just put all the citizens of Nynrah in danger.  And you aren’t going to lift a finger to defend them?”

 

“We have no reason to think the Great Beings will use lethal force.”

 

“And is that what you thought when Gorast killed Krekka?”

 

Antroz turned and continued down the hall.

 

“…So what do you propose we do?” Krika asked.

 

“We wait,” Antroz said.  “When the Great Beings arrive, we will speak with them, and hopefully come to an understanding.  I imagine we will need to keep Zaekura here until then, but she should be returned home shortly.”

 

Krika laughed.  “Well, you try telling her that.  If it’s all the same to you, I’m going to round up some forces to protect my citizens as they evacuate.”

 

When Antroz returned to where Zaekura was, she sat and waited for the Glatorian to awaken.  The moment she did, she jumped backward, knocking over her chair.

 

“What was that?” she asked, rubbing her head.

 

“I apologize, Zaekura.  It seems you were right all along.”

 

Zaekura grimaced.  “Please tell me you didn’t talk to them.”

 

“I did.”

 

“Oh for the love of…that’s just great.  When do I die?”

 

“You aren’t going to die, Zaekura.  I will not be turning you over to the Great Beings.  When they arrive, I will—“

 

“They’re coming here?!” Zaekura interrupted.  “Oh no no no no no, this is bad, this is really, really bad.”

 

She began to pace.  Holding out a hand, Antroz said, “Please, settle down.”

 

“Put that away!” Zaekura shouted, pointing at Antroz’s hand.  “I don’t want you throwing any more of those rotten powers at me!”

 

With a sigh, Antroz lowered her hand.  “Listen to me, Zaekura: I will do everything within my power to sway the Great Beings, and I am convinced that they will come to understand our point of view.  You have nothing to fear.”

 

Zaekura put both hands over her mouth.  She stared at Antroz for a minute, and then turned around and pinched the bridge of her nose.

 

“Is this real?” she wondered aloud.  “I mean, you go from stage one, perfectly willing to take me to be killed, to stage two, thinking that maybe that’s a tiny bit rash, to stage three, ‘trust me to protect you’.  Can you understand why I might have trouble buying that?”

 

Antroz paused.  “I have acknowledged my mistake, and I wish to take steps to fix it.  Is this not enough to prove myself?”

 

Zaekura stared at Antroz again.  “You…you’re not kidding, are you?  What is that, is that ego, or do you just not have social skills?”

 

The Glatorian leaned against the wall and slowly slid down to the floor.  Antroz sat still for a moment, and then rose and took a few steps forward.  Zaekura tensed up immediately.

 

“If I have to earn your trust, then so be it,” Antroz said.  “But for the time being, I think it best you remain here, so that Krika and I can keep you safe.”

 

Rolling her eyes, Zaekura said, “Well if the alternative is being out in the open while the Great Beings are on a hunting trip, I guess that actually is the better option.”

 

Antroz nodded.  “Thank you.  I will go see Krika, then.  Please be here when we return.”

 

Zaekura didn’t say anything as she ran her hands over her face.  When Antroz made it outside, she found Krika standing not far away talking to a small group of his citizens, while various types of Rahkshi could be seen approaching their location from every direction.  She got just close enough to be able to listen.

 

“I’m sorry, but I can’t tell you,” Krika was saying.  “I know that’s a miserable excuse, but if you knew exactly what was coming for us, it could ruin your chances to escape it.  Please, just do as I ask.  And if anyone asks you why you fled Nynrah, say that it was because I forced you out.”

 

A very concerned-looking Agori stepped forward.  “But, Makuta Krika, this is our home!  Shouldn’t we stay to defend it?”

 

With a sad smile, Krika reached out and set his hand on the Agori’s head.  “I’m sorry, Kirbold…but there’s no defense against what’s coming.  Anyone who stays behind to fight it would only get killed.”

 

A Matoran asked, “But then, what about you?”

 

“Don’t worry about me.  Just get to Ga-Koro as quickly as you can, and I’ll meet up with you soon.”

 

Hesitantly, the citizens departed.  Krika eyed the Rahkshi as they lined up, and his gaze eventually reached Antroz.

 

“I find this all rather unnecessary,” Antroz said.

 

“You would,” Krika sneered.

 

Antroz walked closer, continuing, “It sounds as though you agree with me, that fighting the Great Beings is impossible.  I do not understand why you think escaping them will work any better.”

 

Krika counted the Rahkshi in front of him.  “All accounted for.  Though, suddenly this feels like a much smaller number.  Anyway, Antroz, I’ve deceived them before, so please butt out and allow me to work.”

 

He got a few steps before Antroz said, “I beg your pardon?  What are you referring to?”

 

Krika stopped in his tracks.  Looking towards the ocean, he muttered, “I’m not sure I should trust you with this, but…”

 

The Toa of Earth from before was still there, sitting on the same rock.  They looked over their shoulder again, and this time Krika beckoned to them; with quite a bit of reluctance, they complied.

 

“Ga-Koro, then?” the Toa asked, their voice slow and quiet.  “I think I’ll take my chances in the depths.”

 

“That’s quite alright, Mavrah, but please help me prove a point first,” Krika said.  “Antroz, about those experiments we hunted down?”

 

Not having the faintest idea where he was going, Antroz said, “Yes…?”

 

“Oh,” Mavrah said, “are we doing this now?”

 

“Do you mind?” Krika asked.

 

“I suppose not.  I hope she doesn’t damage my lure, though.”

 

“Krika,” Antroz said, “please, elaborate.”

 

“It’s really quite simple, Antroz,” Krika said.  “While you slaughtered indiscriminately, I decided to push my luck just a bit.  I let one of our targets live—a small feat, to be sure, but I thought it the only realistic approach.  I wanted to see if they were really as dangerous as we were told, if it was completely impossible for them to be tamed.  If I was wrong, then I could just kill it anyway, and if I was right then I knew how guilty I needed to feel.”

 

Antroz’s jaw dropped.  “You let one of those things loose?!”

 

“Not loose, no.  I brought it back here.  And over these millennia I’ve cared for it, taught it not to endanger any of my citizens, and of course, kept it a secret from every other living being until now.  It was really an ingenious concept the Great Beings were pursuing—Mavrah, if you would be so kind?”

 

The Toa of Earth nodded, and then they were gone.  In the blink of an eye their body vanished, and in its place, a roughly-spherical device twice as large as Antroz’s fist floated, bobbing slowly but maintaining a height of a about a foot off the ground.  Antroz stepped back in surprise.

 

“It’s sort of like an anglerfish.  Except the lure can be operated remotely over a distance of several miles, controlled via a telepathic link to the main body; it can project a hologram of whatever the creature envisions, whatever they think is most likely to draw in their prey.  Of course, I may have tinkered with it a bit over the years—I thought making the hologram solid would allow Mavrah to take a more active role in the community.”

 

The “Toa” reappeared.  Antroz heard a bellow in the distance, and sensed something breaking the surface of the ocean: a massive, hideous creature the likes of which she’d never sensed before.  It submerged just as quickly as it had appeared.

 

“I’ve learned a lot in my time,” Mavrah said.  “Speech was probably the trickiest, but I think I’ve become rather good at it.  I should probably mention that I never really had any desire to harm the citizens, and I’ve actually grown quite fond of them.  It’s saddening to see them leave.  When will they be back, Krika?”

 

Krika shook his head.  “I don’t know, Mavrah.  It might be some time before you hear from me.”

 

“Oh, that’s a pity.  But I don’t think even Ga-Koro would welcome someone like me.”

 

Antroz stood perfectly still as she tried to process this information.  Krika dismissed Mavrah, and then said, “Turns out there was another way.  I’ve been feeling quite guilty for some time now.”

 

He took a few more steps before Antroz called, “Krika.”

 

“Hm?”

 

“What exactly is your plan?”

 

“Cover the citizens as they escape, by any means necessary.  Once they’re safely on their way to Ga-Koro, I aim to fake my death and let the story spread that I went mad out of the blue, and the Great Beings had no choice but to put me down.  They’ll like that.  It lets them stay the heroes.”

 

“And Zaekura?”

 

“Get her to the most secluded spot I can find, and keep her out of the Great Beings sight just like I’ve been doing with Mavrah.  It won’t be a great life, but at least she’ll be alive.  It’s the best I can do on such short notice.”

 

Antroz walked forward, saying, “If this course of action is so unappealing, then why have you already committed to it?  We may yet be able to salvage this situation!”

 

They both heard it at the same time.  It was far away still, but footsteps were undeniably getting closer to Nynrah, and they were not the steps of a Great Being.  They were the steps of many marching in unison, an entire battalion that moved with an eerily methodical focus.

 

“Blast it,” Krika said.  “I figured they had something nearby as insurance, but I thought I had a least a little more time!”

 

Antroz broadened the range of her telepathy, sending her mind out over the approaching mass.  While there was definitely something on the move, whatever they were, they did not possess minds of their own, so she gleaned very little.  All that was truly clear was that they greatly outnumbered Krika’s Rahkshi.

 

“How bad is it?” Krika asked.

 

Antroz hesitated.  “They are soulless, and there are enough to storm this entire city…supposing that is their goal.”

 

“I think I’ll make that supposition,” Krika grumbled.  “Let’s see now, I should be able to spare enough power to spawn another handful of Rahkshi…Antroz, if you’re not going to fight, then I recommend you leave this place.”

 

“I have no reason to flee.  I shall continue to watch Zaekura until the Great Beings arrive.”

 

Krika gritted his teeth.  “Fine.  But when your delusions end and you realize what’s actually happening…get her out of here.  In case I don’t get the chance myself.”

 

Antroz turned in the direction of the army.  “If that were to happen, where would you have me take her?”

 

“Hard to say.  Taking her to Ga-Koro would endanger the rest of my citizens, but there aren’t any other settlements within reasonable walking distance.  I’ll leave that up to you.”

 

Antroz nodded, and then she headed back towards the cliff.  She paused when she noticed Mavrah nearby, though the illusory Toa quickly vanished, and the remote lure descended into the ocean.

 

…I must believe that the Great Beings are reasonable.  We must not resort to senseless violence.

 

ADDENDUM:

 

-Originally I planned for this Section to include more, but the complete rough draft ended up being 7000 words and I felt that was a bit too long.  This seemed like the best point to divide them up, and it might actually improve the pacing a bit.  Best of all, this means Section III should be up very soon!

 

-I know that the Great Beings being Glatorian is a contentious bit of trivia, but I thought it held the potential to be an interesting plot, so I decided to go ahead with it.  If you remember the serials you might know what the ‘catalyst’ was, but if not don’t worry: the complete picture will be explained soon enough.

 

-The later serials were setting Angonce up to be the Great Being our heroes could turn to, saying that he was always curious about the other species and showing him express concern over the release of Marendar.  For this iteration, I thought that would translate to a “man of the people” image, though with the small twist that, in curiously observing these species, he’s looking down on them.  He considers them pets at best.  These people fascinate him, sure, but it’s not like they actually matter in his eyes—he could replace them in an afternoon.  And if he’s the nicest Great Being…

 

-I felt a more gradual shift in Antroz’s view of the Great Beings would be more realistic.  It’s hard to learn that there are huge flaws in something you’ve believed or followed your entire life—that you’ve been complicit in terrible things without realizing it, or that you’ve held a viewpoint that’s actually pretty awful when you take a different look at it.  Antroz doesn’t want to admit that to herself.  So for now, she’s going to hold out hope that she can still reason with the Great Beings, and that everything will go back to normal.  Cognitive dissonance is a beautiful thing, isn’t it?

 

-Kirbold was chosen more or less at random.  Not many Agori stand out in my mind, and none of them seem like they would have much inclination towards Nynrah’s idea of art.  This kind of decision-making will probably come up again.

 

-Ga-Koro was one of the few places in the Melding Universe actually visited in Brothers in Arms, though not many details were given about it.  Since I had already said Nynrah was along the coast of Aqua Magna and Ga-Koro must be in a similar location, it made sense that they’d be near each other and would make a good default evacuation route, which led me to craft a more specific purpose for the city as a sort of sanctuary.  More details on that should come in a few chapters.  And, yes, it has a Makuta, though I won’t spoil who.

 

-If I recall my thought process correctly, I wanted there to be some early event that sparked Krika’s distrust of the Great Beings, and thinking about what could have happened so long ago reminded me of the ancient aquatic Rahi from Voyage of Fear.  The anglerfish is one of the weirder real-life creatures I know about, and I thought the projection lure would be a neat idea—at that point it was obvious said lure would be named Mavrah.  Also I just realized that I messed up in Section I: the Toa of Earth is referred to as “he”, but Mavrah actually uses “they” pronouns.  I’m going to edit that, and I’ll be more consistent going forward.

 

-Like I was saying earlier, Section II was originally going to include the upcoming battle, but it looks like the nature of this army is going to remain a mystery for now.  Antroz’s telepathy doesn’t work very well on non-living things when they’re very far away.  You may be surprised to see what’s coming, though it’s not impossible to guess either. (Gosh I’ve missed making pointless, cryptic remarks.) I do want to finish work on something else before I finish editing Section III, but I’m going to be optimistic and say it won’t be all that long.  Stay tuned!

 

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#3 Offline Pahrak #0579

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Posted Apr 16 2018 - 09:53 PM

SECTION III

 

Antroz stepped just inside the compound, closing the doors as a precaution; she remained standing in the entryway, using her telepathy to sense what was going on outside.  Krika had centered the majority of his forces at Nynrah’s gate, with a few smaller pockets taking cover in more strategic locations and a single Chameleon Rahkshi stationed next to the line of fleeing citizens.

 

He thinks that if they don’t see anyone guarding the escapees, they won’t suspect their target is among them.

 

The army was closing in now.  At this range, Antroz could sense them better, and found that there was something familiar about them, though she could not place what exactly.  They halted their march, and Krika walked out to meet them.

 

“My, more visitors already?” the Makuta said.  “We’re becoming quite the hotspot.  Tell me, what brings you all to Nynrah?”

 

The forces remained silent for a time.  Eventually, one stepped forward, and in a harsh, metallic voice, it barked, “Identified: Makuta Krika.  Command: Release prisoner ‘Zaekura’ into our custody.  Failure to comply will not be tolerated.”

 

Krika rubbed his chin.  “Zaekura?  Hm, Zaekura…apologies, friend, but I haven’t the foggiest who you’re referring to.”

 

“Failure to comply will not be tolerated.  Final warning has been issued.”

 

“Oh come now, don’t be like that,” Krika said.  Turning slightly in the direction of the compound, he half-heartedly added, “Can’t we just talk this out like reasonable beings?”

 

Antroz grunted to herself, thinking, This is hardly the time for mockery, you oaf.

 

“Compliance absent.  Directive: Seize prisoner by force.”

 

Krika raised a hand over his mouth and gasped.  “Oh my!  What a surprising turn of events!”

 

The army began to march forward again.

 

“Are you certain you don’t simply want to talk?  I think you look quite reasonable.”

 

Krika pointed at one of the soldiers, but it didn’t react.

 

“No?  Pity.”

 

In an instant, a long, thin spike extended from Krika’s fingertip, reaching over the few dozen unoccupied yards to impale the attacker.

 

“I know some consider fighting an art form, but to be honest it doesn’t really suit my preferences.”

 

The army raised their weapons and began to fire.  As they charged forward, Krika retracted his spike, and the soldiers finally came close enough that Antroz could sense them in greater detail: they were machines of roughly humanoid design, with long, spindly limbs and small torsos, their hands fused with tube-like cannons, and aerodynamic heads with vaguely insectoid faces.  They were a new type of security drone, Antroz recognized, designed by Velika and tested extensively over the past several months.  She hadn’t realized that he was so far along, or that so many models had already been made.

 

So then…Velika is simply eager to test his new inventions.  Yes, that’s all.  And I know that these machines possess non-lethal weaponry, and will only strike to kill if absolutely necessary.  Krika’s worry was unfounded.

 

The main Rahkshi force scattered as energy shots came in fast.  Rahkshi of Heat and Laser Vision unleashed the first counter, making sweeping attacks with their powers that toppled huge swaths of the enemy forces.  However, when the machines fell down, their limbs twisted and swiveled, instantly putting them upright again, and they continued their march as if nothing had happened.  Krika snapped his fingers—a cyclone kicked up amidst the drones, yanking many off the ground and tossing them about the sky, and when Krika pointed down they were all flung directly into the ground and pinned there by intense gravity.  Rahkshi of Electricity made the next attempt to thin the enemy lines.  The drones were stunned by the electric blasts, but they recovered quickly and managed to land a few hits of their own in return.  The Rahkshi in question stumbled a bit, but then resumed their offensive.

 

I remember hearing that the drones use some sort of stun weapon, Antroz thought.  Whatever the specifics, it seems they are not properly calibrated to be used against Rahkshi.

 

Drones and Rahkshi were trading blows now.  The machines had an edge in agility, allowing them to outmaneuver most of the Rahkshi’s attacks and slowly batter away at them; the lone Rahkshi of Accuracy present seemed to be doing the best, although their attacks did not cause much apparent damage to their targets.  A Rahkshi of Density Control lunged at a stumbling drone, making their staff a hundred times heavier in mid-swing.  The drone’s torso shattered on impact.  This first casualty drew the drones attention, and while they were all looking at the same spot, Krika hurled a blinding orb of light, though it didn’t seem to hinder the advanced machines much at all.  At this signal, however, a Power Scream Rahkshi leapt out from behind a nearby crag, unleashing their shriek from the drones’ left flank and catching them by surprise.  The Rahkshi with vision powers took advantage of the confusion and were able to sear the limbs off several drones.

 

“I’m almost insulted,” Krika declared, standing tall so the drones could see him.  “The Great Beings believe a few inept robots can overrun Nynrah?  I knew they thought little of me, but this is truly absurd!”

 

Suddenly, the drones all froze.  Feeling nervous, Krika commanded his Rahkshi not to exploit the opening.

 

“Threat assessed as ‘severe’.  Releasing weapon locks.”

 

Krika’s eyes widened.  He threw a massive blast of light, incinerating several of the drones, meanwhile his Rahkshi all joined in the attack with renewed vigor.  Despite all this, they only took down an infinitesimal percentage of the overall force, and the rest soon raised their weapons and returned fire.  The next blast that hit a Rahkshi punched a hole clean through it.  Krika shouted.

 

This is less than ideal…but, they are only doing this in response to his attack.

 

Some of the drones were within range of Krika now.  He was sure to keep his Dodge power active, expertly dancing around each blast.  When he saw a chance, he threw a punch with his Elasticity powers, though his foes easily avoided the blow.  What they could not avoid, however, were the twenty spikes that spontaneously grew from Krika’s long arm, severing their cranial units before retreating back into the Makuta’s limb.  Krika reeled his arm in and then slashed the air with it: a repulsive magnetic force flung the decapitated drones backwards into their comrades, sending many stumbling back into the ongoing power scream from the flank.  They tried their best to destroy that Rahkshi, but the oppressive sound waves were just enough to deflect their blasts by a few degrees and leave it unscathed.  Unfortunately, many of the other Rahkshi were not faring as well.  Krika teleported into the mass of enemies with his arms out—nearly a hundred spikes lashed out from his arms and back, each slaying a different foe, but a hundred more stepped into their place.  Narrowly escaping, Krika took to the skies and reduced the density of his body to stay there a moment while a Rahkshi of Plant Control made itself known by commanding vines to rise from beneath the sands to entangle the invaders.

 

“What’s going on?”

 

Antroz jumped.  She had been so focused on the battle that she hadn’t even sensed Zaekura’s approach.  Facing the Glatorian, she said, “I was under the impression you would remain in that room?”

 

Zaekura scowled.  “I can hear something going on, so I came to see just how bad it is.  Can you blame me for being curious who they sent to kill me?”

 

“There’s no need to overreact.  I’m sure that once Krika stops being aggressive, they will stand down and resume their search peacefully.”

 

“Yeah, happy thought there.  Again: what did they send?”

 

Antroz briefly relayed what she knew about the drones, as well as how the Rahkshi were faring against them.  As she talked, she could sense that a great many drones were being destroyed, but at the rate the Rahkshi were falling it was still just a matter of time until they overwhelmed Krika.  Antroz thought it best not to mention that part to Zaekura.

 

“Drones, huh?” Zaekura said.  “Well that’s better than what I was expecting.  Should be easier to sneak around those…”

 

“We are staying right here,” Antroz said.  “When this skirmish is over, we can negotiate properly.”

 

Zaekura didn’t say anything.  Antroz turned her mind back to the battle, though she was sure to keep a few thoughts on Zaekura lest she try to escape.  She came back at about the same time a drone finally managed to get behind the Power Scream Rahkshi, disintegrating its head and neck in a single shot.

 

“Wretched machines!” Krika yelled as he loosed another light blast.  “You’re proving quite the inconvenience, you know!”

 

He quickly activated his Invulnerability power to defend against an oncoming blast.  When that was done, he extended both hands and triggered his Slow power, the effect gradually spreading over more and more drones the longer he focused.  The remaining Rahkshi were quick to press their advantage and began mowing down row after row of machines, though they still had to deal with a few blasts from the drones that remained outside the range of Krika’s power.

 

“I think we might’ve finally made it through a third of them,” Krika mumbled.  “Good grief, this is really trying my patience.”

 

“Makuta Krika!”

 

He looked over his shoulder to see almost a dozen of his citizens running towards him.  Each was holding some kind of weapon, though most could be best described as makeshift.  Krika’s focus was gone.

 

“What are you doing?!” he cried.  “I told you to get out of here!”

 

“We’re not going to abandon you!” Kirbold said, hefting a length of pipe.  “You’re our Guardian—if anything happens to you, who would protect us?”

 

“I can’t protect you in this fight!  That’s why I told you to—“

 

He was cut off as he heard a Rahkshi die.  One had tried to reduce their density to survive a blast, but the energy was so intense it was still enough to vaporize the nearly-intangible armor it struck.

 

“Darn,” Krika said, trying to refocus his power.  “Please, I’m begging you: get out of here!  You see what these things can do, don’t you?”

 

“It’ll take more than some fancy ray guns to scare us off!” said a Glatorian.  “We’ve got something to protect, so we aren’t backing down!”

 

They let out a battle cry and charged to meet the enemy.  Krika quickly tried to adjust the energy he was projecting so that it would move around them, but that caused the entire energy field to waver to the point where it was useless.  The Makuta teleported in front of the group and grabbed as many as he could.

 

“I said get back!” he shouted.  “This isn’t your fight!”

 

The Glatorian was upon the drones now.  “I beg to differ!”

 

Raising his axe, he bellowed and lunged at the nearest target.  It tumbled back to avoid his swing.  He moved to follow up, but the next thing he knew, the barrel of its cannon was right in his face.

 

Krika’s scream could be heard all the way at the compound.  Zaekura took a step back, saying, “That…doesn’t sound good…”

 

Antroz didn’t respond.  She couldn’t.  Her mind was lost in the mix of confusion, fear, and failure that had been the Glatorian’s last thoughts.

 

Krika teleported with the citizens he had stopped over to his Chameleon Rahkshi, who took custody of them as he returned to the fight.  Kirbold, a Toa of Fire, and a De-Matoran were still following through with their attack, either unaware of what had just befallen their friend or worse, emboldened by it.  The De-Matoran was closest, so Krika went to them first.  He commanded his Rahkshi to defend the others, but they were too busy dealing with their own opponents, and Kirbold was soon sent flying back into Nynrah’s wall.  Thankfully the Toa of Fire seemed to be alright at the moment, smothering a drone with a flamethrower, so Krika teleported to Kribold’s side and gently picked him up.

 

“Urgh…I’m sorry…Makuta,” the Agori croaked.

 

“Stop talking,” Krika said.  He turned to the De-Matoran.  “Take him and get out of here—and don’t you dare come back!  Use whatever medical supplies you have, but don’t stop moving unless you absolutely have to!”

 

The Matoran was stunned for a moment, but then nodded and took the Agori.  Krika turned around, trying desperately to spot the Toa, but he was the shortest combatant on the field by far, and there were fires burning everywhere.  The Makuta ran forward blindly, shooting light at every drone he saw.

 

“Jaller!” he called.  “Jaller, where are you?”

 

A jolt of pain brought him to his knees.  One of the drones advanced upon him, cannon still smoking.  Krika put a hand over the new hole in his armor, but antidermis continued to pour out of it.  Before the drone could attack again, however, a fireball struck it in the head, and then the Toa sprang up onto its back and set the entire machine ablaze.

 

“You worry too much, Makuta,” Jaller said, walking forward.  “I’ve got this area covered, so why don’t you—“

 

He stopped mid-sentence as a blast tore open his stomach.  Krika roared, starting forward to catch the falling Toa while also obliterating the drone that hit him with a plasma bolt.  He set his citizen down and tried to examine his wound, but more drones were moving in, and they demanded his attention.  Krika dispatched them as quickly as he could, but they just kept coming.

 

“Y-You…can’t stay here,” Jaller groaned.

 

“Well I can’t exactly move you in your condition!” Krika said.  “I’m going to put you in a stasis field for now, and then—“  He yelled as a drone destroyed a piece of his essence.

 

“No...you can’t afford…to waste that much…”

 

Krika turned and hurled an endless stream of chain lightning, carving a line straight through the enemy ranks.  “Excuse me?  I’m a Makuta!  I’ve got energy to spare, dear Toa!  Now save your strength, so I…”

 

He released his power and looked back at Jaller.  Though he was trying to keep a straight face, the small being was weeping uncontrollably.

 

“M-Makuta…please,” he whispered.  “It’s too late…for me…you must know it…too…”

 

Another drone fired.  Krika bent over the Toa to shield him, barely able to make himself Invulnerable in time.

 

“Don’t talk like that,” Krika said as he destroyed the drone.  “I can still save you!  You’ve much more to do, don’t you, Toa Jaller?”

 

“Makuta,” Jaller said.  “I know…I know…I’m going to die…I don’t want to…but there’s no way to stop it…now…”

 

Krika just kept attacking.

 

“I don’t want you…to waste power…trying to save me…b-but…if it isn’t too much to ask…”  He sobbed.  “I’m afraid…I’m so afraid to die…can you…”

 

As he blasted away another line of enemies, Krika grunted, and knew he had to admit defeat.  His hand shone with red light as he waved it over Jaller.

 

“It’s alright, Jaller,” he whispered.  “You can face your death with Courage.”

 

In seconds, Jaller grew calm, his expression turning into one of acceptance.  He looked up at Krika and said, “Thank you.  Even if it’s borrowed bravery, it’s better than nothing.”

 

Krika smirked.  “That’s not how our powers work, Toa.  We just bring out what’s already there, and you’ve given me more than enough to work with.”

 

“Heh…thanks…for saying so…”

 

Krika turned around to blow away an attacker.  By the time he turned back, Jaller had stopped breathing.  He stared at the Toa for a moment, and then surveyed the battle, realizing that he had only four Rahkshi remaining.  The drones kept coming.  Krika chuckled to himself.

 

“So I am a completely worthless Guardian.”

 

He threw back his head and laughed.  Several drones began to circle him, but spikes shot out from his body before they could aim their weapons.  Krika faced the oncoming horde and slowly walked towards them.

 

Antroz could take no more.  She reached out to Krika’s mind, taken aback for a moment by the rage swelling within it.  She righted herself quickly, and said, Krika, do not be foolish.  You must not give into this anger.

 

“You’re one to talk,” Krika laughed, stirring up another cyclone.

 

There is no strategic advantage to charging them head-on.  These are foes that can kill you, and should that happen—

 

“Stop it, Antroz.  I can feel you trying to use your Peace powers, but I’m not going to let you sway me.”

 

Krika!  This violence is unlike you.  A victorious battle is meaningless if you lose yourself in the process—you are a Guardian, a thinker, a builder!  You are a Makuta!

 

“I know exactly what I am, Antroz, and I’m not about to betray it,” Krika said.  He opened his palms, and they began to shine with blinding white light.  “After all…a builder still has the power to destroy.”

 

In the next moment, Antroz could sense nothing else through the rage.  Reluctantly, she pulled away, and hung her head.

 

“Hey,” Zaekura said.  “Are you going to give me an update or what?”

 

“…It would seem things have taken a dire turn.”

 

She turned and headed down the hallway.  Zaekura said, “Not all that helpful.  Where are you going?”

 

“They will spot us if we leave via the main door.  We’ll make our own exit and slip away while we can.”

 

Zaekura blinked.  Taking off after Antroz, she called, “Wait, are you serious?  You’re actually going to help me escape?”

 

Antroz nodded.  “I…I was wrong.  Again, I was wrong.  These creatures have no qualms killing the innocent.  Any attempts to negotiate would only meet with disaster.”

 

Zaekura tripped.  “Someone died?”

 

Antroz didn’t answer.

 

“…Anyway, where are we going?  The official evacuation plan is to head to Ga-Koro, but to head there we’d have to cross the warzone.”

 

Antroz came to a wall and set her hand on it.  Exerting her Plasma powers, she started to melt the rock away, carving the beginnings of a tunnel that would fit both of them.  She didn’t say a word.

 

“…Hello?  Makuta?  Where are we going?”

 

“There is no truly safe place we can get to, if Ga-Koro is out of the question,” Antroz mused.  “There is only one chance…one place we can escape to where we may be able to find temporary safety.”

 

Zaekura rubbed her neck.  “Well this is sounding better and better.  Can’t wait.”

 

Antroz stopped what she was doing and turned to face her.  “Zaekura…I know you do not trust me, but at least believe me when I saw you must tread very lightly where we are going.  This is the last place I would want to take you, but if we are careful, we will be safe enough.”

 

Zaekura narrowed her eyes.  “…Hm.  Might be easier to go along with if I had some more details.”

 

“We will have to manipulate our host—appeal to his ego.  He is far from an understanding being, but if you claim to understand him, he will typically give you what you want.”

 

Zaekura barked a short laugh.  “Sounds like a real winner.”

 

Antroz sighed, resuming work on the tunnel.  “I will admit…I do find him to be a rather disgraceful Makuta.”

 

ADDENDUM:

 

-Told you it wouldn’t be long!

 

-My first thought when picking a look for Melding Krika was something spiky—he’s lined with spikes in his Mistika set, and even the Toa Empire Krika seen in Dark Mirror is said to have many small blades on his armor.  Still, I wanted to do something unusual with it if I could, so my solution was for Krika to normally look very sleek, but to fight mainly by instantly growing spikes from his body as he attacks.  I’ll probably have him explain the minute details in the near future.

 

-The drones are a Melding equivalent of Vahki, with some small differences.  They may appear later and may change in future appearances, but for now, this simplistic interpretation will get the job done.  Side note, if you remember Gargoyle Knight it was mentioned that Krekka was named a criminal because he destroyed a drone Velika had made.  It was a prototype of this drone.  A criticism I received was that said crime had little to do with the rest of Gargoyle Knight, so I thought bringing the drone back in somehow might help tie it together more nicely.

 

-I really, really wish we had proper names for more than just six Rahkshi.  I foresee this desire intensifying as we progress.

 

-To paraphrase Prime Antroz, the challenge of writing a Makuta battle is choosing which of their many powers to use.

 

-I wonder if using Jaller as the victim is a bit cheap, but it’s only part three, I haven’t had time to build the emotional tension that this death needed.  Borrowing a beloved favorite from the prime universe seemed like my best bet.  I’ll try not to do this too much, of course—I don’t want to run out of characters to use!

 

-To be honest, I was going to save that MNOG reference until later, where one of the Great Beings would say it.  However, as I was going back over this chapter, I thought using it now might better punctuate this moment for Krika: saying one of our most beloved villainous lines makes him more morally ambiguous, and that ambiguity has always been one of our favorite things about Krika.  Plus, it’s just more fitting for that line to be said by a Makuta.  Also don’t worry about him, he’s going to survive this fight, I promise.

 

-I can’t guarantee when Section IV will be done, but I’m hoping it won’t be too long—I can’t wait for you to get a look at what the next Makuta can do.  I think he’s going to be a lot of fun to write.

 

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#4 Offline Pahrak #0579

Pahrak #0579
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Posted Apr 26 2018 - 11:14 PM

SECTION IV

 

After making it out of the compound, Antroz led Zaekura north until she believed they were out of the drones’ range, and then headed east before eventually turning to the south once more.  Antroz used her powers of Weather Control to make the conditions of the Great Desert easier for Zaekura, but she could only go so far without creating a suspicious event someone would surely take notice of.  They managed to circumvent the enemy forces and make it safely to the outpost that lay between Nynrah and Xia, but as they approached it, Zaekura’s steps began to slow, so Antroz stopped and turned to her.

 

“We have no other options,” the Makuta said.

 

“Yeah, you said that,” Zaekura said.  “Still, my survival instinct can’t quite understand why I’m letting one Makuta lead me to another, and it just got a whole lot louder.”  She paused to look over her shoulder.

 

“You sense it too, then?  We are being watched.”

 

Zaekura groaned.  “I really should’ve spoken up sooner, huh.”

 

Antroz turned sharply, making Zaekura jump.  The Glatorian looked where she was facing to see a lone Rahkshi coming across the sand.  That didn’t surprise her all that much, but she did find it a bit curious that the creature wasn’t carrying a staff.  She heard Antroz make a guttural sound just before it came into earshot.  The Rahkshi strolled up to where they stood and stopped a few paces away, looking them up and down in a way Zaekura had never seen a Rahkshi do before.

 

“Greetings, Makuta Antroz.  I must admit, it’s quite a surprise to see you…and your guest.”

 

Zaekura blinked.  She could hear the voice clearly, but she wasn’t sure who was speaking—it wasn’t Antroz, but no one else was around.

 

“I apologize for arriving unannounced,” Antroz said, bowing slightly in the Rahkshi’s direction after a momentary pause.  “Circumstances are rather extreme, and I am afraid Bitil is the only one I can ask for help.  It is most urgent that I speak with him.”

 

Squinting, Zaekura thought, Is she talking to…the Rahkshi?

 

The Rahkshi nodded, turning slightly towards Zaekura and giving her another once-over.  “I see.  May I ask who this is?  I will need to tell Lord Bitil something before he agrees to an audience.”

 

“This is a Glatorian named Zaekura,” Antroz said, gesturing in her direction.  “I am afraid anything I could say about why she is here is very sensitive information, and I must insist on sharing it with Bitil alone.”

 

The Rahkshi inclined their head.  “Hm…and that is why you’re interfering with my telepathy?”

 

“Yes.  As I said, the matter is highly sensitive.”

 

She began to feel a dull pain in her head, but Zaekura did her best to ignore that for the time being.  Finally, she was starting to realize what was going on, and desperate situation or not, she had to know.

 

“I’m sorry,” she said, pointing to the Rahkshi.  “Is that you talking?”

 

The Rahkshi stared at her for a moment in silence.  Then, they gave a peculiar noise, and the voice took on a tone of amusement.  “Of course, you came here without receiving a proper explanation.  Perhaps I should have given you a more formal greeting—my apologies.  My name is Charla, and I am a Rahkshi of Telepathy.”

 

Zaekura stepped forward, eyes wide with awe.  “You have a name?  I didn’t know Rahkshi had names, or that even telepathic ones could, well…talk.”

 

Charla waved her hand.  “Well no, most don’t, and most can’t.  But Makuta Bitil has refined the Rahkshi spawning process to a degree no other Makuta has, granting us all…’specialties’, as he typically calls them.  And as an added effect of the process, we tend to possess higher sapience than your average, run-of-the-mill Rahkshi.”

 

“That’s incredible!” Zaekura said.  “And you don’t need a staff?”

 

“I possess an internal focal point for my power, so there was no need for me to possess a weapon.”

 

“Really?  Is that the case with all Bitil’s Rahkshi, or—“

 

“Zaekura,” Antroz interrupted.  Her tone was a bit blunt, making the Glatorian recoil a bit.

 

“What?  I’m just curious, or is that…”  She trailed off, putting a hand to her head.

 

“Oh, are you in pain?” Charla asked.

 

“Likely from travelling through the desert,” Antroz said.

 

The Rahkshi glanced at her.  “In that case, we’d best get her inside, I suppose.  Please follow me.”

 

She turned and headed towards the wall of the outpost, Antroz and Zaekura right on her heels.  As the pain faded, Zaekura looked up at the imposing barrier, forming a perfect square around a patch of desert that looked large enough to house a small town.  She craned her neck as they approached a gate: two Rahkshi stood guard there, both head and shoulders above Antroz and bearing heavy armor, a massive sword strapped to the back of one while the other leaned against a great hammer.

 

“Charla,” she asked, “I’m guessing those weapons replace their staffs?”

 

“That’s correct,” Charla said.  “Most Rahkshi here do still use weapons to focus their energy, but Lord Bitil thought it would be repetitive if they all carried simple staffs.”

 

The sword-wielding Rahkshi eyed Zaekura as they closed in.  She said, “Have to agree.  Though, isn’t it tough to use such a huge weapon?”

 

The Rahkshi blinked, and then turned to Charla and made a series of garbled, hissing grunts.  She made one such noise herself before saying, “Regrettably, most types of Rahkshi still have not found ways to communicate with other species; as a telepath I spend a good deal of time playing translator.  Virban here says no weapon is too great to handle if you’re determined enough.”

 

Virban beat his fist against his chest.

 

“Courage Rahkshi, they’re of simpler stock,” Charla added.

 

As Virban hissed furiously in protest, Zaekura turned to the Rahkshi with the hammer, who had an odd look—like he would be smiling if he could.  He stepped back and lifted his hammer off the ground.  The weapon floated up like a feather, rotating up to balance gingerly on his fingertip.

 

“Oh, you’re a Rahkshi of Gravity!” she said.  “Right, so you can manipulate the weight of that hammer to make it easier to swing.”  She smirked. “But I bet it gets a lot heavier right before it hits them, eh?”

 

The Rahkshi nodded, setting his weapon back down.

 

“That’s enough showing off, Neton,” Charla said.  “If you two will please allow us inside, Makuta Antroz wishes to speak with Lord Bitil.”

 

Virban and Neton each knocked on the wall behind them, and soon the massive gate swung inward.  Charla brought the visitors inside, and as the door closed behind them, Zaekura let out a low whistle.  Dozens of Rahkshi were going about inside the perimeter, and each one looked even more unique than the last.  She saw one that carried eight small firearms on a belt worn across their chest, another that had two heads that seemed to be arguing with each other, and one that looked more like a special breed of ussal than a Rahkshi.

 

“Wow,” she said.  “How many Rahkshi live here?”

 

“Over 200, and I wouldn’t be surprised if more are on the way,” Charla answered.  “Lord Bitil is always thinking of new specialties to try out.  This also allows the outpost to run far more efficiently: Rahkshi need very little, so even the standard fare of other Makuta can be more useful workers than Matoran and Agori at times.  And, given our loyalty to our creator, the risk of a security breech is non-existent.”

 

Zaekura stopped to examine a Rahkshi with four arms.  Antroz called back, “Zaekura!  Keep moving.”

 

Groaning, Zaekura caught up and said, “Fine, fine.  You’re so on edge.”

 

“As were you, a minute ago.”

 

“…Yeah, well…”

 

At the dead center of the outpost was a stout tower with several spotlights fixed to its balcony.  A figure could be seen moving about behind them, but it was impossible to get a good look at them from this distance.

 

“Lord Bitil!” Charla called.  “You have visitors!”

 

The figure leaned over the railing.  Bitil’s armor was completely gold from head to foot, sporting massive shoulder spikes, numerous decorative chains and gems, and banners of white cloth (with gold embroidery), topped by a glimmering Kanohi Faxon.  He gave a smug grin when he recognized Antroz.

 

“Well well, look who it is!” he shouted down.  “I didn’t expect you’d cross our way again so soon, Antroz.  Needed to stop for something on your way back to Xia?”

 

“I have something I must discuss with you, Bitil,” Antroz replied.  “Privately.”

 

Bitil glanced at Zaekura.  “Privately, you say?  I get the feeling you want your companion present as well.”

 

“Yes, but just the three of us.  No need to trouble any of your Rahkshi.”

 

“What trouble?” Bitil replied.  “Anything you have to say to me, you can say before them.”

 

Antroz said nothing.

 

“…Well, far be it from me to order around the Great Antroz.  Charla, please show them in.”

 

Bitil vanished, and Charla opened the doors to the tower.  Zaekura thanked her.  Once they were inside, the Rahkshi closed the doors behind them, and Bitil soon emerged from the central stairwell.

 

“Why don’t you introduce us, Antroz?” Bitil said.

 

“Bitil, this is Zaekura,” Antroz said shortly.  “Zaekura, Makuta Bitil.  Now then—“

 

“That was awfully brief!  Where are the manners you’re renowned far and wide for?  Or is your business here really just that pressing?”

 

“I’m afraid it is.”

 

Bitil rolled his eyes.  “Oh, I’m sure.”

 

Zaekura waved.  “Hey, nice to meet you.  Love what you’ve done with your Rahkshi.”

 

This surprised Bitil.  After gawking at the girl for a moment, he said, “Really?”

 

“Yeah.  I mean, I didn’t get a good look at too many of them, but I think it’s a really neat concept that you’re messing around with.  Hopefully I’ll get to meet a few more while I’m here.”

 

Bitil beamed.  “Why thank you!  Oh, that is such a nice change of pace—the only ones who normally come by here are other Makuta, and they’re always repulsed by my offspring.”

 

Zaekura turned to Antroz and raised an eyebrow.  “What?  Is that why you’re being so uptight?  What do you have against these Rahkshi, is it just that they’re not yours?”

 

Antroz adjusted her mask.  “No, it is the enhanced sapience that we find disagreeable.  Rahkshi are like an extension of the Makuta who made them, so to see one with its own identity…well, imagine if your hand developed a mind of its own.”

 

Zaekura stared at her palm.

 

“But we have far more pressing matters to attend to,” Antroz said.  “Bitil…we have come to request temporary asylum.”

 

Bitil crossed his arms, giving one slow nod.  “I see.  What a very unusual thing to ask, especially considering you came in from the west.  Was Ga-Koro booked full?”

 

“Our route to Ga-Koro was cut off.  You are the only one who can help us now.”

 

“Hm.  You come here and insult my Rahkshi, yet you expect me to help you?”

 

“…I…apologize.”

 

“That sounds convincing.  Am I supposed to accept it?”

 

“Surely, someone as intelligent as you would not let a simple, regrettable insult affect his judgment?”

 

Bitil smirked.  “Well when you put it like that…combined with the refreshing enthusiasm of Lady Zaekura, I suppose I can forgive and forget.”

 

Lady Zaekura?” the Glatorian repeated, the words bursting out like laughter.  “Pal, do you have me pegged wrong!”

 

Antroz bowed and said, “Thank you, my friend.  Your compassion serves as inspiration even to me.”

 

Bitil leaned to the side.  “Never turn down a title, Zaekura, even if it is given to you by mistake.  You never know how many people will believe that you deserve it.”

 

“Uh…thanks for the tip,” Zaekura said.

 

“So Antroz,” Bitil said, “you said you need asylum, but from what, exactly?”

 

“You may recall that Lord Velika has begun work on a new breed of drone,” Antroz said.  “A battalion of them has malfunctioned and gone rogue, and attacked us as we were leaving Nynrah.  We managed to give them the slip, but thought it best to wait here a day or so, just to be safe.  Afterwards we will return to Xia, where I can contact the Great Beings about the incident.”

 

“You don’t say?  Shame my outpost is not equipped with a direct line to our lords, not like the grand cities you Guardians watch over.”

 

“Indeed, it is quite unfortunate.  I will be sure to mention this in my report—I may be able to convince them to grant you one.”

 

“Oh I don’t think that will be necessary.  I am still sent messages when something is required of me.  Why, just today, an automated courier flew here to deliver a message to me…word that one or two Makuta were staging a coup, alongside a certain fugitive.”

 

Zaekura tensed.  Antroz hoped it wasn’t obvious on her face.

 

“Let’s see, who was it again?  I know they gave me names, but I’ve been so busy since then, I just can’t seem to recall.”  Bitil shrugged.  “Anyway, they said to detain them by any means necessary, and to either take them to the Maze myself or send for someone to pick them up.  I do hope I get the chance.  Such a thing would surely curry the Great Beings’ favor.”

 

Antroz inclined her head.  “…You should play the fool more often, Bitil.  It suits you.”

 

“Ordinarily I’d be upset, but I’m just so glad you’re here, Antroz, that I’m willing to let it slide.  Now, you understand that I have you vastly outnumbered, yes?  It would be much easier on us all if you just cooperated.”

 

“Wonderful,” Zaekura grumbled.  “Absolutely downright wonderful.  I’m so glad I followed the Makuta’s plan, it’s working out tremendously.”

 

“Bitil,” Antroz said, “you do not understand the situation.  There is no coup, and this girl is not dangerous.”

 

Bitil turned around and took a few slow steps.  “Sure, Antroz, sure.  Whatever you say.”

 

“She possesses a special talent, and that is all.”

 

“A talent for crime?  Odd to hear you put it that way, but—“

 

“They wish to execute her simply to protect their own authority, Bitil!”

 

Bitil looked over his shoulder.

 

“Zaekura has done nothing wrong.  But the Great Beings have deemed that because of something she was born with, she is to be killed.  Krika and I agree that such a thing must not be allowed to happen.  So, we refused to turn her over…and Lord Velika sent his drones to attack Nynrah.”  Antroz hung her head.  “Two of its citizens…two innocent people died, trying to defend their home, while their neighbors fled to the safety of Ga-Koro.  Krika flew into a rage…I know not what has become of him.  These drones are equipped with weapons capable of killing even us.”

 

Bitil stared at her for a long time.  Then, he closed his eyes, smiled, and turned away, giving a forced laugh.  “An excellent try, Antroz.  But it will take more than that to turn me against the Great Beings.  My loyalty will earn me a place in history, remembered forever as our lords’ most trusted servant and confident, standing by them when even the noble paragon Antroz turned to dark deeds.  Your lies have no merit here.  Now, surrender.”

 

Antroz gritted her teeth.  “…That’s all you care about, isn’t it?  Yourself, your own glory.  Haven’t you yet realized that’s precisely why the Great Beings stuck you out in the middle of nowhere without a city to call your own?”

 

Bitil faced her and said, “I am trusted with a very important outpost, and am grateful that the Great Beings have deemed me worthy of its ownership!  The trade route between Nynrah and Xia is the backbone of Spherus Magna’s economy, and it is I who have the privilege of keeping it safe.”

 

“Krika and I could easily keep a small stretch of desert safe, and you know that!  But no, you’ve spent so many years lying to yourself, deluding yourself into thinking you’re the most essential of us all, trying to console yourself in this earned loneliness, that you’ve actually begun to believe it!  Open your eyes, Bitil: you are so insufferably arrogant that the Great Beings dare not sentence anyone to tolerate you, and so you have been left with nothing but your precious Rahkshi, offshoots of your own being!  At the end of it all, you still have only yourself for company!”

 

Bitil glared at her for a long moment.  “…And what, exactly, is the point of this slander?”

 

Antroz stepped forward.  “The Great Beings have gone too far this time.  They have endangered and ended innocent lives out of nothing but frightened vanity.  If you truly cared for the people of this world, as we Makuta are meant to do, you would take a stand against this injustice, and not seek to profit from it!”

 

Bitil looked at Zaekura, then back to Antroz.  “I still have no reason to believe you.  It’s unthinkable, what you claim—the Great Beings are benevolent by nature!  Even you have always said as much.”

 

“And doesn’t the fact that I’m not saying so now mean anything to you?”

 

He had no answer for that.

 

“Bitil…I do not ask you for much.  All I want is for Zaekura’s safety to be guaranteed until she can be moved somewhere else.”

 

The glittering Makuta crossed his arms and paced across the room, appearing to think the matter over quite thoroughly.  Zaekura sweated as she watched, and when the door opened behind her, she nearly leapt out of her armor.

 

“Lord Bitil,” Charla said, taking a hesitant step inside.  “Forgive the intrusion, but…Makuta Antroz is not lying.”

 

Bitil’s eyes widened.  Antroz muttered, “I should have expected.”

 

Zaekura retorted, “Hey, if it helps, don’t complain.”

 

Bitil walked forward swiftly, saying, “Charla, what are you saying?  Tell me exactly.”

 

Charla gave a wary glance in Antroz’s direction.  “I was monitoring the conversation, and when she explained what happened at Nynrah…the emotions she’s feeling are very powerful, and memories came up with them.  Reading them without drawing her attention was easy.”

 

Bitil took a step back.  “…Then…”

 

“I’m afraid so, my lord.”

 

He stood perfectly still for a moment, and then put a hand over his mask.  “…Thank you, Charla.  Please, if you could step back outside, I would appreciate it.”

 

The Rahkshi nodded and ducked out.  A thick silence filled the chamber in her wake.

 

“It really is unthinkable,” Bitil mused.  “I need to know more, Antroz.”

 

Antroz nodded.  “Of course.”

 

As Bitil turned, he caught sight of Zaekura.  “You will not be harmed here.  You have my word, and Charla will personally see that it is carried out.”

 

Zaekura let out a long breath.  “Thanks, that’s, uh…that’s really nice to finally hear.  Is there someplace I can lie down?”

 

Bitil opened the door, ushering her out.  Facing Antroz once again, he said, “Alright, Antroz, I want all of it.  Down to the last detail.  I need to know just what you’ve dragged me into.”

 

***

 

The wind blew through Antroz’s wings.  She stood with Bitil at the top of his watchtower, and while it wasn’t exactly the same, it did remind her of her own tower in Xia.  The nostalgic feeling eased her, if only a little.  Across the balcony, Bitil was gripping the railing tightly, leaning forward like he was about to be sick; he knew everything now, and it didn’t sit well with him at all.

 

“This is…terrible,” he said.  “How could the Great Beings do such a thing?  And to think, that we may have been…complicit in this, this…”

 

Antroz said nothing.  She too lacked the words they both needed.

 

“What are you going to do?” Bitil asked, turning around.  “There’s no way you can keep her safe from the Great Beings!  They’ll find her eventually!”

 

“Krika has shown me it may be possible, but I am still hoping for a more ideal resolution.  Once I am certain none of the drones have picked up our trail, I will return to Xia, and I will arrange to meet with the Great Beings to negotiate with them.”

 

Bitil shook his head.  “It doesn’t sound like that approach has been working.”

 

Antroz shifted.  “…The Great Beings have fallen into an irrational, reprehensible course of action—that I cannot deny.  But I also cannot deny that they are more intelligent than anyone else on this planet.  It may take time, but I am sure I can help them to look beyond their fear, to see the error of their ways and resolve to make amends.  When that happens, Zaekura can return safely to Nynrah.”

 

“Hmm.  Well, I suppose I can keep her here for a while, as long as the Great Beings don’t know that she’s here.  It may be nice to have a house guest.”

 

“Yes, especially one that’s taken an interest in your…hobby.”

 

Bitil threw up one arm as he turned back around.  “Why must you be like that?  The point is, she will be cared for, so you can focus on your negotiations.  I dearly hope they go well.”

 

“Thank you.”

 

“But, what about Krika?  Assuming he survived fighting these drones, will he know that you’ve brought Zaekura here?”

 

“I burned an image of a Faxon into the rock around our tunnel’s exit.  He’ll understand my meaning.”

 

Bitil smirked.  “So, you really felt you could trust me?”

 

“I felt we could trick you, Bitil.”

 

He scowled.

 

“But I will admit, I do now find myself feeling a modicum of trust.”

 

“How touching.  Though perhaps I should simply take what I can get…”

 

The two Makuta moved towards the stairwell.  Antroz stopped suddenly, sensing a new source of movement above them.  She told Bitil, “Something’s coming.”

 

He went back to the railing while she ducked inside.  It was another courier, a small, flimsy-looking sheet of metal with two propellers and a clamp that held a wrapped tablet.  It flew away as soon as Bitil took the message from it; he quickly removed the covering and read over the message, while Antroz cautiously poked her head up from the stairs.

 

“Seems we’ve hit a bit of a snag,” Bitil said.  He held the tablet out in Antroz’s direction so she could read it too.  When he eventually remembered she couldn’t, he pulled it back and said, “It’s an update from the Great Beings on your situation.  They want to make it easier for us to turn you in, so Lord Angonce is heading back to Xia to wait for you there.  Returning home no longer seems advisable.”

 

Antroz stepped back onto the balcony.  “No, this is good.  It means I can negotiate with Lord Angonce directly.”

 

“You can’t be serious,” Bitil said.  “He’ll reduce you to dust the moment he sees you—Zaekura too.  And if not him…”  He looked back at the tablet.  “It may not specify, but it’s hard to imagine he left without any of the Guards…”

 

“I will still go.  I trust that the Great Beings will listen to me.”

 

Bitil sighed.  “If you want to walk right into your death, then fine, but I insist you leave Zaekura here.  She has no means of protecting herself in a worst-case scenario.”

 

Antroz reached out with her mind.  She could sense Zaekura down at one of the outpost’s storehouses, conversing excitedly with a group of Rahkshi thanks to Charla’s assistance.  The fear that had constantly exuded from the girl was still there, but it was now much harder to sense, buried in the back of her mind to allow her a moment of relaxation.

 

“…Very well, Bitil.  I can agree to that.”

 

ADDENDUM:

 

-Since Bitil’s best known for surrounding himself with his time duplicates, I thought giving him a large horde of Rahkshi would be a reasonable equivalent since, as Antroz says, Rahkshi are also extensions of the Makuta who made them.  But having them all just be plain old Rahkshi would be boring!   I’ve got a handful of ideas for Rahkshi variants that I’m really looking forward to testing out.

 

-I worry that the names of Bitil’s Rahkshi might grow a bit silly, but I’ll do my best to keep them respectable.  “Charla” was originally “Charlotte”, but I thought that would be too mundane—I wanted a name similar to “Charles” in reference to Professor X.  “Virban” was derived from “viking” and “barbarian”.  And of course, “Neton” is based on “Newton.”

 

-In the Prime Universe, Bitil controlled a group of Southern Islands, so he was free to be anywhere in this world.  I don’t want all the Makuta to use the exact same color scheme, and with Bitil being so utterly obnoxious and self-important, I felt the only thing he would accept was armor that was pure gold.  The ornamental design and spiked shoulders were loosely inspired by Exdeath from Final Fantasy V.  The Kanohi Faxon is meant to be a bit ironic, a being who repulses everyone possessing the Mask of Kindred.  I was also considering giving him a Sanok, but I couldn’t think of a particularly good reason why, so the Faxon won in the end.

 

-A bit of quiet chapter, admittedly, but this seemed the best place to stop for now.  Section V is shaping up to be quite the turning point.

 

-Reviews to be submitted here


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              Right of Law (Epics) -- Shooting Star Sonia 3 (OTC)


#5 Offline Pahrak #0579

Pahrak #0579
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Posted May 09 2018 - 06:07 PM

SECTION V

 

Krika kept his senses sharp as he approached the outpost.  With the last of the drones gone and his people’s safety secured, he had been able to take a moment to repair the damage done to his armor, but it was very much a rush job and he knew he needed to be careful.  Knowing where he was going only made him all the more paranoid.

 

What was I thinking, telling her to decide? he silently bemoaned.  She took her to Bitil?  Of all Makuta, Bitil?  Storming this den of freaks is going to be far trickier than smashing a few puppets, that much is certain…

 

He stopped as he saw movement.  From a few dozen yards away, Charla waved to him, calling, “Makuta Krika!  I am most glad to see you unharmed!”

 

Krika raised an eyebrow.  “…Beg pardon?”

 

Charla came closer at a slow, steady pace.  “Makuta Antroz and Lady Zaekura have already arrived—the situation has been explained to Lord Bitil, and he has agreed to grant them asylum.  We were waiting anxiously to see how you fared against your opponents.”

 

Lady Zaekura?” he chuckled.  “My word, she’s ingratiated herself with Bitil somehow, hasn’t she?  Oh, if she wasn’t already troublesome, now she’s got that encouragement…”

 

“Please, this way.”

 

Krika hesitated.  Eventually, he let Charla lead him inside the outpost, though he didn’t relax even when he saw Antroz and Zaekura standing next to Bitil unharmed.

 

“There you are, Krika,” Antroz said.  “I am relieved to know you survived.”

 

“I’m glad one of us is happy,” Krika grumbled.

 

“Yes, yes, I know you can’t be pleased to be here, old friend,” Bitil said.  “But look, I’ve been nothing but helpful to your little band of fugitives—you can stop boiling your antidermis any time now.”

 

“Yeah,” Zaekura said, “we’ve got a new problem.  Fangs here thinks it’s a good idea to turn herself in.”

 

“Of course she does, I expected nothing less,” Krika said.  “Though to be honest, ‘Fangs’, I’m feeling rather inclined to let you do it.  Why don’t you help me decide?”

 

“I am going,” Antroz said.  “Lord Angonce is in Xia, and if I speak with him I can—“

 

“Make the exact same mistake you made in Nynrah!” Zaekura interrupted.

 

“Please, listen to me,” Antroz said.  She waited a moment to be sure she had their attention.  “I recognize the mistakes that I’ve made in handling this situation thus far.  I offer my sincerest apologies for them.  Rest assured I have every intention of helping, and my goal is simply to negotiate.”

 

“But that still brings up the question of why you expect that to work, Antroz,” Bitil said.  “The rest of us all seem to have about the same idea of what’ll happen if you go.”

 

Using his Mahiki, Krika took on Angonce’s appearance, and reached out his arms while donning an incredibly fake smile.  “Oh, Antroz, there you are my beloved pet!  Wonderful to see you again, really—now I get to kill you with my own hands for betraying me.  Well, I say my own hands, but I still mean someone else’s of course, I just had my gauntlets polished and you know how long that lasts if you don’t keep an eye on it.  Anyway, enjoy oblivion, I’ll be sure to make the others’ deaths extra painful just for you!”  He returned to normal, snapped his fingers, and shouted, “BANG!”

 

“Spot on,” Bitil said as he clapped his hands.  “Really, it’s like I was there.”

 

Zaekura snickered.  “Is that what this guy’s like?  Yikes, and I already thought the Great Beings were full of it…”

 

Antroz shook her head.  “I predict things going very differently.  Lord Angonce has always been the most approachable of the Great Beings—I am sure that he will be willing to have a civil conversation about this, now that we’ve both had time to cool down.”

 

“Just for clarity, this is the same guy who ordered the attack on Nynrah, right?” Zaekura asked.

 

“Right you are, Lady Zaekura,” Krika said.

 

“Ah, you heard.  I’m nobility suddenly.”

 

“Yes, we really must catch up once we get the chance.”

 

“Once again,” Antroz said, “I am going.  And I will go alone.  If I am wrong, then only I will suffer the consequences for it.  Surely, none of you have any objections to that?”

 

Krika rubbed his chin.  “Well, you have become quite a nuisance quite quickly.  I certainly wouldn’t shed any tears over your ashes.”

 

“You’ll do what you want, as always,” Bitil said.  “I won’t strain myself holding you here.”

 

“Excellent,” Antroz said.  “Now if you will excuse me, I—“

 

“Hang on!” Zaekura said.  “I’m still not convinced here.”

 

Antroz turned towards her.  “…I apologize.  You were the last one I expected to show concern for my safety.”

 

“Don’t go getting a swelled head about it.  I’m just thinking that if a couple of Makuta are the only things standing between me and the Great Beings, I can’t afford to lose even one.  Seriously though, how do you see this as anything other than a bad idea?”

 

“Zaekura, if I do not go, the fighting will only continue.  And it will escalate.  Given the chance, this will become a war fought over custody of you, and that is something that we must do our best to avoid.”  Antroz shivered.  “War with the Great Beings…it is impossible to know what horror and bloodshed that would entail.  Are you prepared to follow such a path?”

 

Zaekura bit her lip, staring hard at Antroz.  It wasn’t long before her eyes fell.

 

***

 

The air of Xia was not as welcoming as Antroz remembered it.  Most of its citizens were indoors, and those that did see her ran the moment they did.  She had an idea of why, but it still pained her: these were people she had nurtured and protected for as long as she had existed, and now, after mere days, they regarded her as a thing of fear.  However, she knew she could not allow herself to remain distracted.

 

“Welcome back, Makuta.”

 

Antroz stopped in her tracks.  “Hello, Emsar.  I appreciate the greeting.”

 

The Vortixx casually crossed the street behind her, barely concealing her protosteel dagger.  “I must admit, Makuta, I’m quite confused as to what’s going on.  The things I’ve been hearing don’t sound like you at all.  But, loyalty to the Great Beings must come first.  You used to say something to that effect, didn’t you?”

 

“I did.”

 

Emsar twirled the blade around her fingers.  “I don’t know if you’ve heard, but Lord Angonce is back yet again.”

 

“I have, actually.”

 

“Good.  He wishes to see you.”

 

“That is why I’m here.”

 

“Well then, don’t let me keep you.”

 

Antroz resumed walking, now with Emsar only a short distance behind her.  Eventually she reached the tower she called home, finding the doors unlocked and ajar—and beyond that, Angonce stood in the center of the chamber, with none other than Gorast positioned between him and the entrance.  The other Makuta sneered at Antroz as she entered, one of her four arms reaching for the cache of weapons on her back.

 

“Lord Angonce,” Antroz said.

 

Angonce sighed heavily.  “Great, I guess I have to do this now…”  He spun around, arms outstretched.  “What are you doing, Antroz?  Really, what—this is such a simple thing, and you…my gosh, where do I even begin?”

 

Antroz knelt and bowed her head.  “It is most regrettable that we should meet again like this, my lord.  I have come to discuss our dispute in greater detail.  It is my dearest hope that we can resolve this in a way that is acceptable to all parties, and avoid anyone else coming to harm.”

 

Gorast unlimbered a sickle.  Angonce waved her off, saying, “No, no Gorast, just give me a moment.  Antroz, I’ve already told you our stance on this.  Why didn’t you just bring the girl with you?  It would’ve been so much simpler that way, I can’t tell you how utterly simple that would’ve made it.”

 

“Lord Angonce…I do wish to apologize for my previous rudeness, but nevertheless, my feelings on the matter remain the same.  I do not feel that killing Zaekura is right.”

 

“And I told you, right and wrong are what we say they are!  This shouldn’t be news to you!”

 

“Forgive me, Lord Angonce, but I believe the issue to be more complex than that.”

 

Angonce ran a hand over his face, taking a few wandering steps to the side.  He pulled his hand down over his mouth and stared at the ceiling for a moment.  Then, he turned back, pointed at Antroz, and said, “This is about our visitor, isn’t it?”

 

Antroz inclined her head.  “…I’m sorry?”

 

“You know, ‘the visitor’, that person from the other world where Makuta are evil, Vulture or whatever his name is.  I know how shaken up you are about that—so now you’re clinging harder than ever to this whole bit about righteousness and justice, to prove to yourself that you’re different from Otherworldly Evil Antroz.  That’s what this is about, isn’t it?”

 

She thought back to her meeting with the visitor, and suppressed a shudder.  “I…I admit to be disturbed by the revelations the visitor brought.  But my lord, this matter is not about another world: it is about our own.  You are asking me to knowingly take part in the execution of an innocent—“

 

She is not innocent!” Angonce shouted, stalking a few steps forward.  “Get with the program, Antroz: I am a Great Being!  I am right!  I declare her guilty, so that’s what she is!  Now do!  Your!  Job!”

 

A stunned silence was all that came from Antroz.  Even Gorast turned a nervous glance in Angonce’s direction.  He spun in place, muttering mostly to himself.

 

“Honestly, you’re the last one I thought I would ever have to explain this to!  Maybe we should’ve just had Krika do it, I don’t know, I’m sure it wouldn’t have gone well but this is just so unbelievably taxing…”

 

Taking a deep breath, he faced Antroz again.

 

“Now please, Antroz.  I won’t give you another chance.  Tell me where Zaekura is, and just maybe, we’ll be able to put this whole nasty incident behind us some way or another.  Doesn’t that sound great?”

 

The silence dragged on.  Eventually, Antroz hung her head again, but she now rose to her feet.  “Lord Angonce…I cannot do that.  Please, let us have a reasonable conversation.  There is no need for more of this—“

 

Angonce slashed his hand through the air.  A second later, Antroz crumpled in a heap.

 

“…Lord…Angonce…?”

 

“You really were my favorite,” Angonce said.  “I guess all that’s left now is to hope you take to recalibration.  Ugh, how did it come to this?”

 

“No…” Antroz groaned.  “No…this can’t be…they were…right…?”

 

Gorast’s eyes widened.  “Recalibration?  She should face death!”

 

Angonce rubbed his neck.  “Yeah, but…she’s still got some key information in that mind of hers, and we can’t let an opportunity to get it slip us by.  We’ll try a partial overwrite, hopefully she’ll come back more dedicated and tell us where the girl is hiding.  If that doesn’t work…”

 

Gorast reluctantly put away her weapon.  “We could always break her down and extract the memory data.”

 

“Yeah, but this is a really good model we have here, I’d hate to scrap it like that unless we absolutely have to.  Guess we’ll just have to wait and see.”

 

Angonce walked out of the tower, not giving another look to Antroz.  He stopped next to Emsar, who still waited in the doorway, and said, “Emsar, was it?  You’re being named Temporary Guardian of Xia.  With luck Antroz will be back to her usual self…someday…or we might just make a new Makuta to take over, I don’t really know right now, just continue holding down the fort if you would.”

 

“Of course, Lord Angonce,” Emsar said with a bow.

 

Taking another step, Angonce called, “Gorast, collect her and let’s go.  Sooner we start on this thing the sooner I’ll know how many centuries of my life are going down the drain here.”

 

Emsar watched as Gorast knelt to scoop up the disabled Antroz.  However, she found that her hands passed right through her.

 

“Huh?”

 

“You were right,” Antroz murmured.  “You were all right…”

 

Driving her fist through Antroz’s arm, Gorast said, “No, he disarmed you—you can’t be phasing…what is this?!”

 

Angonce turned, giving the Makuta a curious look.  To his surprise, Antroz began to move, and was soon back on her feet and facing him.  Gorast and Emsar leapt away with their weapons drawn.

 

“Lord Angonce…really will not listen to me,” Antroz said.  “And if not him…then there is no way to resolve this peacefully…”

 

Angonce walked forward.  He waved one hand through the immaterial Antroz, saying, “What is this, some kind of illusion?  But that can’t be right.  Antroz, explain.”

 

“I had hoped this was an unnecessary precaution,” Antroz said.  “I had hoped we could avoid any more violence…but, if that is what it will take to end this…then I suppose I don’t have any choice, do I?”

 

Angonce narrowed his eyes.  “Oh, I don’t think I like the sound of that.”

 

“…Good bye, Lord Angonce.”

 

With that, she vanished.  A small, roughly-spherical device floated about a foot off the ground where she had been, bobbing slowly for a few more seconds before falling to the ground and emitting one loud clicking sound.  Angonce gently picked it up and furrowed his brow.

 

“Huh.  I swear I’ve seen this somewhere before, but…”

 

“Lord Angonce,” Gorast said.

 

He looked up.  “Hm?  Oh, right, right I, uh…hoo, how am I going to explain this one to Heremus…”

 

***

 

At the same time, in Bitil’s outpost, Antroz lifted a helmet-like device off of her head, setting it down in her lap and sitting in silence for a moment.  Around her stood Bitil, Krika, Zaekura, and one of Bitil’s Rahkshi, one with blue and yellow armor that looked no different from a normal Rahkshi.  When Zaekura had insisted on finding a way to carry out the meeting without Antroz physically being there, Krika had mentioned the possibility of recreating the lure that Mavrah used and finding a way for Antroz to link herself to it.  Antroz had been concerned about how long it would take, but that was when Bitil called in Kameter, a Rahkshi of Slow who he had created with a total absence of Slow power, a process which actually inverted his ability into the power to speed up time in a limited area.  With help from him, Zaekura and Krika had completed the device in minutes, and Antroz had been forced to relent.

 

“Sounds like you made the right call, Lady Zaekura,” Bitil said.  “We narrowly dodged a deathblow.”

 

Zaekura massaged her temples, sitting down at a nearby table.  “Yeah, go me.  I feel great about how this turned out.”

 

Bitil turned to Krika.  “And you are sure there’s no way for them to trace the psychic link back here?”

 

Krika nodded.  “I must’ve disassembled and reassembled Mavrah’s lure a thousand times over the years—I perfectly replicated the dampening module, and Zaekura did a flawless job wiring it into the mechanism.”

 

With a grin and a nod, Bitil turned to Kameter and set a hand on his shoulder.  “Well done, Kameter!  It was your help that made all this possible.”

 

Kameter gave a few excited hisses in reply.  That was when Antroz finally stood, and everyone went silent.  She stepped forward and deposited the transmitter helmet on the chair she had just been sitting in.  Then, she made her way towards the room’s exit.

 

“Where are you going?” Krika asked.  “I think it’s only appropriate we begin formulating our strategy.”

 

Antroz stopped with one hand on the door.  “I am sorry…I require a moment to myself right now.”

 

She left the room, and Krika rolled his eyes.  “Well, here’s hoping we have a moment.  Once Angonce gets back to the Maze, I’m sure the Great Beings will waste no time scouring the area for any trace of us.”

 

Bitil crossed his arms.  “…I shall ready my Rahkshi for battle.  If more of those drones arrive, we will need to be prepared.  They shall not breach my walls!”

 

“Good,” Krika said.  He tapped his fingers for a moment.  “Well then…if you’ve got that under control, then I suppose that frees me up to take care of a personal matter.”

 

“Personal matter?”

 

“If Antroz gets a moment to herself, so should I, don’t you think?  I need to pay a visit to Ga-Koro, make sure Kojol is taking good care of my citizens.  And, of course, if I should happen to convince her to join our cause while I’m there, that’s just fine with me.”

 

Bitil thought for a moment.  “Having Ga-Koro’s army as reinforcements does sound appealing.  But, the Great Beings will likely start their search in Nynrah and the surrounding areas—you could very easily be captured.”

 

Krika’s mask shone as he shook his head.  He seemed to disappear in the next second, but then Bitil saw movement: an extraordinarily tiny insect was buzzing about in the air before his face.

 

“Alright, that could work.  Just don’t dawdle, Krika.  We won’t know for sure when Angonce will make it back to the Maze, or if they could already be searching.”

 

Krika returned to his normal self.  “Really?  Here I was planning to go sightseeing.  But alas, if you insist, I suppose I mustn’t drag my feet.”

 

Bitil grumbled to himself as Krika left the room next.  Zaekura looked up and asked, “So, uh…what should I do?”

 

The Makuta shrugged.  “You look like you could use some more rest.  Other than that, I can’t say I have a task in mind for you.  We’ll need more information, not to mention our allies, before we can cook up a war plan.”

 

Zaekura set her face down on the table’s surface.  “…Is it really…going to be a war?”

 

Bitil closed his eyes.  “I’m afraid it looks that way.”

 

After a moment, Zaekura quietly said, “Bitil, I…I barely know how to throw a punch.  I never wanted to actually get into a fight.  And, if this does become a full-on war, then it really is all because of me.  People are going to get hurt, and even die…because of me.  I don’t…”

 

She trailed off.  Bitil turned and looked at her for a moment.  Then, he sat down across from her and said, “You are not the aggressor, Lady Zaekura.  It is the Great Beings who are spurring on this conflict.”

 

“Not sure that makes me feel better about it,” came Zaekura’s muffled reply as she pressed her face harder against the table.

 

Bitil sighed.  “Then I don’t know what to say.  But there’s no way we can stop it now.  The best we can hope to do is to reduce the intensity of the fighting, or search for a quick route to victory—something to lessen the inevitable damage.  Rest assured that the three of us have that goal in mind as we proceed.”  As he got up, he added, “Four, if we can sway Kojol.”

 

He left next, followed by Kameter, and Zaekura was left to sit in solitude.  She remained that way for she knew not how long before finally deciding to get on her feet.  She stepped outside and looked around, wandering aimlessly through the moonlit outpost until she spotted Charla.  The Rahkshi pointed to one of the walls—following, Zaekura saw a figure standing atop the barrier, and then she turned and nodded her thanks to Charla.  It was a bit of a climb to reach the top of the wall, but she didn’t stop until she was standing right next to Antroz.

 

“I suppose I should apologize again,” Antroz said.  “I am in your debt, Zaekura.  If you had not insisted I take precaution, then right now I would be…”

 

Zaekura crossed her arms, turning to look at the stars.

 

“It’s still so hard to believe that all this is happening.  For the first time, I…I’m not sure what I should do.  My path always seemed so clear to me.  I could always act decisively, single out my goals and bring them to fruition, and know exactly who I was making myself out to be.”  She raised and clenched her fist, but then slowly relaxed her fingers.  “But now, all that is gone.  And I can’t help but wonder who I am without it.”

 

“At least you had something,” Zaekura mumbled.  “My whole life, I’ve never had a clue who I was or what I was doing.  Gotta tell ya, it’s…a bit hard to feel like I’m really worth all the trouble I’m causing.”

 

Antroz turned her head.

 

“I mean really, I’m nobody.  And people are going to die just so my worthless life can continue?  Doesn’t seem entirely fair, when you think about it.”  She sighed.  “Maybe you should’ve just taken me in after all.”

 

“Don’t say that, Zaekura.  Just because you don’t yet know the meaning of your life does not mean that it has none.”

 

“Sure, whatever.”

 

The conversation lulled briefly.

 

“If I want to stay alive, then I guess I’m stuck with you Makuta, whether I like it or not,” Zaekura said.  “So tell me.  Are we gonna fight back, or are we just going to run?”

 

Antroz shook her head.  “I think our chances are slim either way.”

 

“Okay, well…suppose we run.  If we can get away, what do you think the Great Beings would do?”

 

“Their search efforts would persist.  It’s also possible that they could put several cities on lockdown, or even send for the Odinans.”  After a pause, she finished, “And when another generation goes by, and someone else like you is born…they would call them in to die.  And then again, with the next generation.  And on, and on, and on.”

 

Zaekura threw her head back.  “…Yeah, guess there wouldn’t be anything we could do to stop that.  And if we fight?”

 

“Even if we did our best to restrain ourselves, it is still possible some combatants would die.  We cannot risk thinking the Great Beings would not send Toa and Glatorian to fight us, and to defend ourselves, we may be left with little choice.”

 

“Isn’t that also possible if we run, though?”

 

“…I suppose so.”

 

“Either way people are probably going to get hurt.  And, not much of a chance, but if we were to fight and come out on top, then we could put an end to it—no more fighting, no more hunting, and no more offing innocent freaks like me.”

 

Antroz said nothing.

 

“I don’t know, I’m still not convinced.  I’m just trying to work this out somehow.”

 

Antroz sighed.  “I don’t know either, Zaekura.  When the time comes, I will make a choice…but, I don’t think that I can right now.”

 

Zaekura stared at her for a few moments.  Eventually, she turned back towards the stairs, saying, “I’m going to bed.”

 

Antroz didn’t reply.

 

ADDENDUM:

 

-Between skimping on the description of Gorast and calling back to Vultraz, this Section is fairly reliant on The Gargoyle Knight, but hopefully it’s clear enough that things still make sense.

 

-Also seen in The Gargoyle Knight, I thought it would make sense for the Great Beings to have some device that “disarms” Makuta, as a failsafe in case of…well, something like this.  Now that I’m trying to think ahead, though, I am feeling I might’ve made this a bit more difficult than it needs to be…our heroes have their work cut out for them.

 

-The original plan was to have Zaekura quickly whip up a countermeasure for the disarmament, but upon further reflection I thought that would be a bit too sudden.  Bringing some more relevance to Mavrah seemed to make more sense given Zaekura’s current resources and experience.

 

-Not every Rahkshi has an inverted power, but Slow to Speed seemed reasonable enough so I wanted to try it out.  I was going to give Kameter some gear designs and maybe a pendulum-like weapon, but then I thought that Bitil couldn’t have been sure this process would even work, so it would make sense that he just created a normal-looking Rahkshi and directed all his focus on messing with the power.  Also, “Kameter” comes from “Kakama” and “kilometer”.

 

-A bit of an early reveal, but the dialogue would have awkwardly danced around the point otherwise: Ga-Koro is watched over by Kojol, who in this universe is female for the same reasons as Antroz.  Kojol was actually a last-minute addition, after I had found places for all but two or three of the Makuta we knew and figured I may as well put in the effort to place the rest, but I think it worked out well.  Prime Kojol watched Artakha, spoken of in legend as a paradise, and now Melding Kojol is watching over this world’s renowned sanctuary.

 

-The ending does feel a tiny bit…unfinished.  I opted to leave it that way because I thought it would help reflect the way Antroz and Zaekura are feeling right now, and because I thought moving onto another scene (such as Ga-Koro) would be bad for pacing.  I will try to get Section VI out soon so that feeling doesn’t drag on too long.

 

-Reviews to be submitted here


Edited by Pahrak #0579, May 10 2018 - 11:44 AM.

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#6 Offline Pahrak #0579

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Posted May 22 2018 - 02:42 PM

SECTION VI

 

“Ga-Koro is right this way,” Toa Macku said.  “So, are you another refugee from Nynrah?”

 

The Toa of Gravity behind her shook his head.  “No, I came from the south, actually.  Did something happen in Nynrah?”

 

“We aren’t sure what exactly, but apparently the Makuta there drove out all his citizens.  One of the Agori who showed up here was in bad shape…makes you wonder.”

 

“My word.  And that’s so close…”

 

Macku waved her hand dismissively.  “Not to worry…um…”

 

The Toa of Gravity smiled.  “Call me Arik.”

 

“Not to worry, Arik: Makuta Kojol has never failed to defend Ga-Koro in the past, and she’s certainly up to the challenge of one rogue Makuta if that is what we’re dealing with.  You’ll be safe here.”

 

Arik sighed.  “I certainly hope so.”

 

Ga-Koro itself was a small distance from the shoreline, built upon a massive metal platform just above the ocean’s surface.  A long bridge was the only path in or out of the city, and scattered about the surrounding water upon giant lily pads were a few dozen Rahkshi, most of them being of the six Principle varieties, all of them constantly surveying the area with deadly focus.  Several Lerahk were spaced evenly around Ga-Koro in a rather tight ring—each sat in a meditative pose with their staffs in the water, using their powers of Purity to turn the area of ocean within their perimeter from salt water to fresh, never budging an inch as they concentrated solely on their vital duty.  Arik casually glanced over the lot of them as Macku led him across the bridge.

 

“Makuta Kojol should be right this way,” Macku said, gesturing to a steepled building that rose well above the domed huts that surrounded it.  “Hopefully she’s free to speak with you now.”

 

Arik turned towards her.  “Hm?  What do you mean?”

 

“She had an unexpected visitor earlier, and it seemed like…”

 

Macku trailed off, and her steps slowed a bit.  Arik looked up to see two figures coming down the street in their general direction.  One was a tall Makuta clad in intricately-carved gold and green armor, a golden cape hanging from her shoulders; she wore a Kanohi Rode on her face, and in one hand she carried a long golden scepter topped with the symbol of the Three Virtues, a set of three concentric circles.  The other was curiously similar to the drones recently unleashed upon Spherus Magna, but its body looked fuller and sturdier, and its limbs looked much more powerful, ending in hands rather than weaponry.  The two were in the middle of a conversation, and Arik listened carefully as they came closer.

 

“…therefore I must demand extradition,” the drone said.  “Trust me when I say this matter is of the utmost importance, Kojol.”

 

The Makuta just stared straight ahead.  “Preserving the sanctity of Ga-Koro is my only priority—it is the reason I was created, after all.  I cannot simply send off those who come looking for my protection.  Without knowing anything about this mysterious threat you speak of, it is hard for me to justify sending Nynrah’s citizens for questioning.”

 

The drone clenched its fists.  “But they could be hiding information vital to our search!”

 

“I assure you they are not.  As I already said, I have spoken with each of them, and not one has lied to me.  Unless of course you believe I am lying to you, Lord Velika?”

 

Arik froze in his tracks.

 

“Are you?” the drone asked.

 

Kojol turned, eyes wide and mouth agape.  “Am I…Lord Velika, with all due respect, I am insulted!  I cannot believe you would even entertain the idea that I would lie to you!”

 

“I think it’s understandable given your lack of cooperation.”

 

“I am cooperating, but I must also operate within the limits of the position which you imposed on me!  Is it not enough that I let this weaponized avatar of yours walk my streets?  Should I question your deservingness of my trust?  Honestly, the nerve…”

 

As Velika grumbled to himself, Kojol caught sight of Macku and Arik.  She stared hard at the Toa of Gravity for a moment, and then closed her eyes, sighed, and faced Velika again.

 

“Apologies, my lord, but it would appear I have someone new to welcome.  Please excuse me.”

 

She came forward, Velika saying, “This conversation is not over, Kojol.  I will be waiting.”

 

Velika headed back towards the steepled building, and Kojol stopped in front of the two Toa.  Macku bowed and said, “Makuta Kojol, I present to you Toa Arik.  He came here from the south, hoping to take refuge here.”

 

Kojol looked down her nose at the Toa of Gravity.  “Toa Arik?  Hm.  Where exactly is it that you come from?”

 

“I come from a small village just outside of Artidax, Makuta,” Arik said.  “I was out scouting when something attacked me.  I was able to get away, but I did not think it safe to return home—I came here because I thought it would be better to send word to Artidax from here, so that their Toa can handle the problem before someone else gets hurt.”

 

“I see,” Kojol mumbled.  “Well, thank you for bringing him in, Captain Macku.  I shall take over now.”

 

Macku bowed again before departing, and then Kojol led Arik down a side street.

 

“Honestly, was ‘Arik’ the most creative name you could think of?”

 

Arik smirked.  “What’s more curious, dear Kojol, is that you didn’t tell Velika who I really am.  For a moment I thought perhaps your mask had stopped working.”

 

“Hmph!  If I did tell Lord Velika, he surely would have threatened you, and that would have been unacceptable.  Once you tell me more of what’s going on, I have every intention of turning you away and letting him take care of you elsewhere.”

 

“Ah yes, that does sound like you.  Nevermind then.”

 

Kojol took another glance around.  “What have you done now, Krika?  You overstuff my city with your citizens, then drones begin scouring the desert, and now Lord Velika appears at my door.  I am due a proper explanation.”

 

“Believe it or not, I agree, and I will give you one…as soon as I am satisfied with the care you are giving my citizens.”

 

“Bah!  Of course I have treated them as well as any others!  I take my job very seriously, unlike you.  See for yourself!”

 

She stopped and pointed with her scepter.  On the other side of the street, a bandaged Kirbold sat conversing with a number of Matoran whom Krika recognized.  Krika smiled, but then turned and resumed walking, Kojol quickly catching up to him.

 

“I had a prisoner,” Krika said.  “I was ordered to hold her until Antroz arrived, and then turn her over to be taken to the Maze.”

 

Kojol’s grip on her scepter tightened.  “And you did not?”

 

“It’s a bit more complicated than that.”

 

“Is this fugitive here?”

 

“No, she is not.”

 

“Then where is she?”

 

“I’m going to hold onto that for now.”

 

“Hmph.  Will you at least tell me her crime?”

 

“I most certainly will, Kojol.  But is there some place less public where we can speak?”

 

With a frustrated sigh, Kojol ushered Krika into a small, empty hut, shutting the door behind them.  Krika then explained to her what Zaekura was and why the Great Beings wished her gone, and of the attack they had launched on Nynrah in an attempt to retrieve her.  He also mentioned Antroz’s last bid to negotiate and how poorly it had gone, but by that point, Kojol already looked sufficiently horrified.

 

“…Perhaps my mask really has stopped working,” she said at the end.  “These things cannot possibly be true!  How could the Great Beings do such terrible things?!”

 

She paced across the hut, Krika watching in silence.

 

“The girl, Zaekura: she is safe?”

 

“For the moment.  I’d like to keep it that way.”

 

“Indeed.  Though I am loathe to take part in any deception, speaking of this to Lord Velika would bring about only needless death, and that is not something I shall enable.  Tell her and whoever else aides you that you may consider yourselves under the protection of Ga-Koro.”

 

Krika rolled his eyes.  “What a privilege.”

 

Kojol turned towards the door.  “With that settled, I think it best you leave.  I shall return to Lord Velika and dissuade him of his intent to question your citizens.”

 

“One moment.  Just for clarification, do we have your support in our stand against the Great Beings?”

 

“You should listen.  I just said you would be safe in Ga-Koro.”

 

“Yes, but if we were to end up doing battle, could we—“

 

Kojol whirled and interrupted, “Battle?  Do you really intend to wage war against the Great Beings?!  My, what a fool you are!”

 

“Nothing’s decided.  I simply want to know that if it should come to that, would you offer us aid?”

 

“Of course not.”

 

Krika blinked.  “…Excuse me?”

 

“Ga-Koro is a place of peace.  We shall not take part in any war.”

 

“You have a legion of Rahkshi, and quite the militia of sentient beings—they would be of great use.”

 

“My army exists to defend Ga-Koro.  Were I to send my troops into battle, that would leave my city unprotected, and I cannot abide by that!  My only priority is the sanctity of—“

 

“But that task was given to you by the Great Beings, who you now know—“

 

Kojol jabbed her scepter in Krika’s face.  “Do not interrupt me!  Regardless of this task’s origins, it is still a noble one, and I refuse to give it anything less than my all!  Should war break out, I will not fight for either side, and instead provide a neutral ground where the wounded can gather for protection.  If it is soldiers you desire, Krika, you will have to look elsewhere.”

 

Krika gently pushed the scepter away.  “…Well, that’s a bit disappointing.  But so long as you aren’t our enemy, I suppose I don’t have excess reason to complain.”

 

Planting her scepter and standing tall, Kojol said, “Quite.  Now I suggest you leave this place, before Lord Velika has a chance to uncover your identity.”

 

The two Makuta stepped out and quickly returned to the main street of Ga-Koro.  When they arrived, however, they spotted Velika talking to a Glatorian, one that had come from Nynrah.

 

“I grow tired of asking you,” Velika said.  “Where is Makuta Krika?”

 

“I told you, I don’t know,” the Glatorian said.  “He barely said anything at all, just insisted we leave.  The last I saw of him, he was fighting those robots.”

 

Velika grunted.  “Those robots are my property.  Krika must face accountability for his deeds, and it is you people who know him best.  Surely you must know where he would run to?”

 

“I’m sorry, Lord Velika, but there really isn’t—“

 

Velika clamped a hand onto the Glatorian’s shoulder, leaning in to look them dead in the eye.  “I detest it when people hide things from me, you know.  And I am not one to let such things go unpunished.”

 

“Lord Velika!” Kojol shouted, striding over to where they stood.  “Unhand him at once!  This is a violation of our peace, which you agreed to uphold!”

 

Velika half-turned in her direction.  “Remember who you are speaking to, Kojol!  We may tolerate your disobedience for the most part, but this situation is far too dire for such games!”

 

“Disobedience?  I am only performing the duties—“

 

“Duties that we assigned you, yes!  And as the one who assigned them to you, I now order you to make an exception and allow me to extradite these citizens of Nynrah.”

 

Kojol slammed her scepter against the ground.  “I will not!  Even if you are a Great Being, my lord, that does not give you the right to violate this sanctuary!  Now I say again: unhand him!”

 

Velika stared at Kojol for a few seconds.  He kept one hand on the Glatorian, but raised the other, made a fist, and pointed it at Kojol.  As it began to glow with energy, he said, “For far too long, you have considered yourself exempt from our rule.  I believe it is time to put an end to that.”

 

Kojol narrowed her eyes.  “Do you forget why it is you tolerate my perceived ‘disobedience’?  The sanctuary of Ga-Koro is a symbol to the people of Spherus Magna, and it is I who am responsible for maintaining that symbol.  Should you harm me, Lord Velika, I assure you that you will lose the support of a great many of your people.”

 

Velika took a step forward, dragging the Glatorian with them.  “Somehow, I believe we will manage.”

 

Kojol tightened her grip on her scepter.  Before anything else could be said, Krika approached them, saying, “Stop this, Lord Velika.  There is no need to threaten anyone to get what you want.”

 

Glancing at him, Velika said, “And who are you?”

 

“Stay out of this!” Kojol demanded.  “I am more than capable of handling this situation!”

 

Krika deactivated his mask, returning to his usual appearance.  He took another step and said, “Apologies, Kojol, but I believe it’s time that I had my chance in the spotlight.”

 

Velika gave a short laugh as he lowered his arm.  “Well, what a surprise this is!  It appears the time I’ve spent arguing was not a waste after all: now the one I’m looking for has come straight to me.”

 

“Yes, but may we do this outside?  I don’t want both you and Kojol displeased with me.  Oh and, I will insist that you unhand my citizen, of course.  You understand.”

 

Velika shook his head.  “You are in no position to be making demands, traitor.  Amends must be made for the crime of destroying my work.  I will take great pleasure in obliterating you before this entire city, but before that, there is something I am required to ask of you.”

 

Krika tried to discreetly move towards the bridge.  Velika cut him off.  Breathing deep, Krika said, “Seems I don’t have much choice.  Alright then, what can I help you with, my lord?”

 

“Don’t feign ignorance.  Where is Zaekura?”

 

“Oh, is that all?  You don’t want to know why I’m doing what I’m doing, or what my grand scheme might be?”

 

“Why should I care why you’re doing this?  The fact that you’ve done it makes you a traitor, and all that matters is rectifying this unfortunate turn of events.”

 

“Even if it means threatening the weak to get what you want?” Kojol asked.  “Is it wise to let your people know you care not for them?”

 

“Not that this concerns you further, Kojol, but you are incorrect,” Velika said.  “I care a great deal for the weak—they are, after all, our most precious resource.”

 

Kojol’s brow furrowed.  “Resource?!”

 

Velika gestured casually to the confused Glatorian.  “Without the weak, how would the strong know that they are strong?  It is their feebleness that proves our superiority, so of course they must be cherished.  I have no intention of destroying this resource.  I do, however, intend to make full use of it.”

 

The Great Being raised his mechanical body’s fist and pointed it at the Glatorian.  The two Makuta started, but then grew deathly still.

 

“Back to the topic at hand,” Velika said.  “Krika.  Where is Zaekura?”

 

Krika locked his eyes on Velika, slowly saying, “I will take you to her.  Please, just let my citizen go.”

 

“He will come with us.  So long as you uphold our agreement, no harm will come to him.”

 

“…Very well.”

 

Krika walked forward, and Velika pushed the Glatorian next to him, while he followed a step behind them both.  The Makuta glanced at the Glatorian briefly.

 

“I must say, Lord Velika, I find it curious you haven’t simply disarmed me.”

 

“You think I would equip this body with such a function?” Velika said.  “That technology is old—it holds no interest for me.  I much prefer displaying the genius of my newest creations, and how they outdo ancient models such as yourself.”

 

“Ah, I see.  It is a rather ingenious design, my lord.  I had quite a bit of difficulty when you sent them against me.”

 

Velika chuckled.  “Thank you, Krika.  I have put a great deal of work into them.”

 

“Another curiosity, if you will indulge me…do these automata have any means of flight?”

 

“Flight?  Not yet.  I plan to add it soon, but for the time being it seemed unnecess—“

 

Krika moved faster than he ever had in his life.  While Velika was talking, the Makuta extended four spikes from his back, puncturing and pushing back the drone’s arms, and then he activated his teleportation powers to remove them both from Ga-Koro.  When they rematerialized, it was a hundred yards in the air above what appeared to be a shimmering lake.

 

“Wh—“

 

Krika unleashed his powers of magnetism, repelling Velika’s drone towards the water at top speed.  The water moved, but in a very unnatural way, almost as if it were aware of the thing headed straight towards it.  In a second, the drone made contact with the surface, and in a fraction of that time, its metal body was transformed into a bright silhouette made only of energy, which slowly faded into nothing.

 

Hovering there, Krika let out a long sigh.  “I’m certain I’ve only dug my grave deeper…but then, I suppose I could use the elbow room.”

 

He transported himself back to Ga-Koro, surprising Kojol and the Glatorian.  The other Makuta asked, “What happened?  Where is Lord Velika?”

 

“Still at the Maze, of course,” Krika answered.  “If you’re referring to the drone, I fed that to the crystal slime you have guarding your southern border.”  He paused to turn to the Glatorian.  “Are you alright?”

 

“Um…y-yes, Makuta,” the Glatorian replied, shaking slightly.

 

“Good.  Why don’t you go get some rest?”

 

Nodding, the Glatorian headed off.  Kojol said, “I suppose that’s one way to solve this problem.”

 

“A bit of gratitude for preserving your precious sanctuary would be appreciated, you know.”

 

After a long moment, Kojol nodded.  “Thank you, Krika.”

 

Krika looked at her in surprise.  Choosing to let the moment pass, he said, “Well, my questions have been answered, so I really should take my leave.  Don’t be surprised if we pass by again, though.”

 

“Are you sure you do not require rest?” Kojol asked.  “You’ve earned one, foiling a Great Being the way you did.”

 

Krika shrugged.  “It really wasn’t that impressive.  Truly, I’m convinced that’s the single easiest victory we’re going to get.”

 

***

 

“So in summation,” Krika said, “Kojol is not our ally, but she is not our enemy either.  Drones are patrolling the southwestern area of the Great Desert, but none are especially close to this outpost yet.  And, unfortunately, we’ve now managed to personally agitate two Great Beings.”

 

Zaekura put her head in her hands.  “Krika, none of that sounds good.  At all.”

 

“Better to know of our displeasure than to be taken by surprise.”

 

“Oh, shut up.”

 

Bitil hummed.  “If Kojol is expecting another visit…then it might be possible to catch her off-guard and seize control of Ga-Koro.”

 

Krika, Zaekura, and Antroz all turned towards him in incredulous silence.

 

“…I was merely voicing our options.”

 

“That’s messed up,” Zaekura said.

 

“Indeed,” Krika said.  “Admittedly I might’ve entertained the thought if my citizens weren’t there to be swept up in it…”

 

Zaekura squinted at him.

 

“But, more importantly, Kojol was right: both she and Ga-Koro are important symbols to the people, meaning such an attack would cast us in quite the unfavorable light.”

 

“Sorry, I thought that was the only light we had,” Bitil mumbled.  “Once word gets out about our disobedience, people are going to take the Great Being’s side without even thinking about it.  We are traitors.”

 

“But again, Velika threatened Ga-Koro,” Krika said.  “That word will get out as well.  In addition, if we can get the truth about Zaekura into the conversation, I’m certain some will believe us.  At the very least, it is bound to give many pause.  I suspect we still stand a chance in the war of public opinion.”

 

“Yeah, this is all fascinating stuff,” Zaekura said, rubbing her temple.  “What’s more concerning is that flock of drones—they’re going to be here sooner or later.”

 

Krika nodded.  “An excellent point.  Defending this outpost demands our immediate attention, and then we can work out what we’re doing next.”

 

“The matter is already taken care of,” Bitil said.  “My Rahkshi and I are ready for battle.”

 

Krika cocked his head.  “…Is that all?”

 

“What do you mean?”

 

“Well I just assumed you were going to give specifics, not just say you’ve got fighting gloves on and expect that alone to reassure us.”

 

“What would you have me say?  When we see the drones, my forces will march.”

 

“Oh Bitil, we really do need to introduce you to the concept of ‘tactics’ sometime soon…”

 

Bitil growled, but before he could say anything, Zaekura held a hand out.  “Can’t we avoid a fight?  If Antroz, Krika, and I just stay hidden when the drones come here, then they’ll have no reason to attack.”

 

“And should they search and discover us,” Krika said, “we would have them surrounded.”

 

“What, let them inside?” Bitil said.  “That would put my Rahkshi at far greater risk!  I have a hard time thinking that’s the better idea.”

 

Zaekura looked up and thought for a moment.  “Bitil, do you have some kind of list?  Of all your Rahkshi, what each of their specialties are?”

 

“Not written down, but I know every one by heart.”

 

“Okay, I’m going to need to write it down, but start talking.”

 

“Lady Zaekura, I remain thrilled by your interest in my work, but now is not the time to—“

 

“I need to know what they can do so I can help you with a plan of attack!  Some of them might have abilities that will make this a lot easier, I want to know what they are.”

 

Krika stepped forward, saying, “Zaekura, you don’t have to concern yourself with this.  We’re the ones responsible for your safety.”

 

Zaekura scowled and pointed to her head.  “Well what’s the point of this dangerous fancy brain if I don’t put it to use?  Besides…I don’t want anyone else dying for me.  If there’s something I can do to prevent that, I’m going to do it.”

 

Krika stared at her for a moment, but then nodded.  Bitil led Zaekura out of the room, already listing off Rahkshi, and Krika then turned to the corner of the room where Antroz sat.

 

“…What does she know, exactly?” Krika asked.

 

“I told her there were two casualties at Nynrah,” Antroz said.  “I did not say who.”

 

Krika nodded.  “Do you suppose we should tell her?”

 

“I don’t know.”

 

“My word, you’ve really become useless.”

 

He received no response.

 

“…Have you made your decision yet?”

 

Antroz shook her head.  “Everything has changed, Krika.  I’m in a place I have no knowledge of, one I’ve never given any thought to.  Even when I lost my sight, I still knew that I wanted to carry on without it.  But what I want now, I have no idea…because I’m beyond the horizon of what I never, ever wanted to happen.”

 

Krika crossed his arms and took a seat.  “Do you expect sympathy from me?  What I see, Antroz, is someone who thrives on attention moping about for having her personal spotlight shut off.”

 

Antroz turned sharply, but said nothing at first.  After a moment, she said, “Perhaps I deserve that.  Perhaps I enjoyed the praise of the people too much.  But that was never my only motivation: I have always done my best to do what I thought was right.”

 

“And if keeping Zaekura alive is right, then you are willing to fight for it?”

 

She hesitated.

 

“Hm.”

 

“It is not…”  Antroz paused to reorganize her thoughts.  “Have you ever spoken with the visitor from the other world?”

 

“No, I haven’t.  I am vaguely aware of what he’s said, however.  You’re still upset to know there are evil Makuta in existence?”

 

“In that reality, the Makuta were consumed with vanity, and so sought to seize control of an entire universe.  If we rebel against the Great Beings…are we not doing the exact same thing?  Now that we know Makuta are not innately good, who is to say that we are not innately evil?”

 

“Oh for goodness sake,” Krika groaned.  “Your pride is astounding, Antroz.  I wonder if this ever occurred to you: if the existence of an evil Antroz proves that whatever makes ‘an Antroz’ is not innately good, then does not your existence also prove it is not innately evil?”

 

Antroz inclined her head.

 

“All that aside, the idea of people being inherently good or evil is such an archaic concept that it’s frankly embarrassing that this affects you so deeply.  Everyone has the capacity for good and evil within them.  It should be enough to know that you prefer to indulge the good.”

 

“But this was brought about by circumstance.  Were circumstances different, I could have turned out just the same as my doppelganger.”

 

Krika looked at her sideways.  “Are you truly about to let that stop you from making a decision?”

 

Antroz paused for a long moment.  Finally giving a sigh, she said, “I wasn’t going to.  Truth be told…it was this distraction that led to me turning Krekka over to Gorast.  When I realized my mistake, I was ashamed, and I vowed I would never let such a thing happen again.  Yet here I am, still so distracted I am willing to give up another important decision.”

 

Krika leaned back.  “…In all fairness, a massive change in perspective is quite difficult to enact, even if you know it must be done.  I’d recommend trying again.”

 

Antroz thought about this for a time.  Eventually, she stood and took a few steps, but then stopped and turned to Krika.  “Thank you, Krika.”

 

“What, for saying what I think of your nonsense?  It was my pleasure, Antroz—I’ll happily repeat the service any time.”

 

Antroz opened her mind as she left the room, trying to find which direction Zaekura and Bitil had gone in.  She caught up with them in an empty warehouse near the perimeter of the outpost, and as she slowly approached it, she realized there was music coming from within.  Bitil and Zaekura stood at the open door; inside were five black and yellow Rahkshi of standard design but varying sizes, each playing a different instrument as Bitil nodded along gleefully.

 

When the song was over, Zaekura said, “Nice.  Didn’t realize how much I missed music since coming out here.”

 

“We take requests,” said a Rahkshi holding a guitar.  “Not like there’s anything else to do around here!”

 

As the other Rahkshi snickered, Bitil said, “Natan, I know we don’t get guests often, but you should know better than to give that sort of impression of our outpost!”

 

“Don’t worry about it,” Zaekura chuckled.  “So what inspired you to make them this way?  Picked up a good album off a caravan from Nynrah?”

 

“No, I was just considering what weapons and tools might work best with specific powers.  By giving my Sonic Rahkshi instruments, it provides them an alternate method of creating sound for them to utilize, making the process much more efficient by reducing the need to use up energy reserves to create the sound.  In addition, through developing their musical skills they’ve gained a much finer control over their Sonic powers—hence how they can now manipulate sound to produce speech.”

 

Zaekura rubbed her chin.  “Cool, cool.  Well we’ve got a lot more to cover, but I’m definitely going to be back soon.”

 

“We’ll be ready for you!” Natan said.  “Closest thing we’ve ever had to a concert, eh gang?  Better brush up before she gets back.”

 

They resumed playing, and Bitil and Zaekura started walking.  Antroz came up behind them, saying, “Zaekura.  Can I speak with you?”

 

The Glatorian looked over her shoulder.  “What is it?  I’m gonna lose track of what everyone can do if I don’t stay on it.”  A second later, she grumbled, “Actually, I think I already have.”

 

Bitil glanced at Antroz, and then said, “Why don’t I just go make that list, and give you two a moment to talk?  If you still want to meet the others face-to-face, there will be time later, I’m sure.”

 

As he walked away, Zaekura turned to face Antroz.  She waited to see if the blind Makuta was going to speak first, but eventually, she gave up and asked, “So is it time now?”

 

“I think it is,” Antroz said.  “But…I do not think it is a decision that I should make alone.  This is about your future, Zaekura, and I think it only fair you deserve a say in it.”

 

Zaekura nodded.  “Okay, strong opening.  What’ve you got for me?”

 

“I’m afraid my assessment hasn’t changed much.  Whether we run or fight, there exists so much risk, and our chances are not especially appealing.  But, what I wanted to tell you is this.”

 

She inclined her head and stood tall.

 

“Whatever you decide to do, I am with you.  And I will give my all to protect you.  I understand if you may not entirely trust me yet, but I am determined to prove myself.  Difficult as it may be…I am certain that this is the right thing to do.”

 

Zaekura stared at her.  “…You’re pretty much just dropping the decision on me, then?”

 

Antroz drooped slightly.  “…I’m sorry?”

 

“I mean I’m touched, but it sounds like all you’re really doing is avoiding making the decision yourself, saying you’ll just follow my lead, so now I have to make it for you.”

 

“That’s not…I didn’t intend for…”  Antroz stopped and shook her head, starting to feel terribly frustrated.

 

Zaekura shrugged.  “If you want to help, I’ll take you up on that.  But I’m still not entirely sure what to do either.”

 

She turned and began to walk away.  Taking an angry step forward, Antroz said, “What more do you want of me?!”

 

Zaekura whirled.  “Make your own decision!  Would you rather fight, or would you rather run?”

 

“I…”  Antroz ground her teeth.  “It isn’t…wise…to fight.”

 

“So you want to fight?”

 

“I can’t let my emotions get the better of—“

 

“Your emotions are gonna tell you what you want!  Try listening to them!”

 

“I must temper my emotions with reason!  Charging in without thinking is what leads fools to their death.”

 

“Yeah, like you were just about to reasonably charge to yours?”

 

“I know I’ve made mistakes!”

 

“Then try a different approach!  Stop being so darn hesitant and just pick one, Antroz: run or fight?”

 

Antroz’s frustration boiled over.  She snatched up her sword and beat it, still sheathed, against the ground, at the same time baring her fangs and unfurling her wings.  “I want to fight!”

 

Zaekura stumbled backwards.

 

Settling down, Antroz said, “And that’s exactly why I’m hesitant.  Maybe I have put our lives in danger already, but it would only be more dangerous to let myself be carried away by some violent urge.  So perhaps I’m hoping you can give me something noble to fight for instead.”

 

It took a few seconds for her to react, but in the end, Zaekura laughed.  “Yikes, you sure got me!”

 

Antroz sighed, putting away her sword as she waited for Zaekura’s laughing to stop.

 

“Haha…ah,” the Glatorian chuckled.  “Look, Fangs: despite what Bitil likes to say, I’m not noble.  You’re probably fishing in the wrong pond.  Still…I guess I kind of get what you mean.”

 

“You do?” Antroz asked.

 

“I want to fight, too.  Maybe I’m just getting stir-crazy, or maybe it’s just me wanting revenge, I don’t really know—I’ve just kind of got an itch to strike back.  But despite that…I still don’t really want anyone getting hurt.  Well, not permanently hurt, you know what I mean.”

 

Antroz nodded.  “…Yes, I think I do.”

 

“Maybe it’s not time after all.  Let’s just focus on defending this outpost for now, I’m sure it won’t be much longer before those things show up for round 2.  If we survive that, then we’ll talk.”

 

“I’ve never been a fan of doing things last-minute.”

 

“It works out more often than you’d think.  Anyway, that’s what I’m doing, if you’ve got a problem I don’t know what to tell you.”

 

Zaekura sat down to wait for Bitil.  Antroz stood there a moment, but then, to Zaekura’s surprise, she chuckled.

 

“Not what I was expecting.”

 

“Pardon me,” Antroz said.  “I was just thinking…in spite of this indecision, you still seem more sure of yourself in a way.  I suppose it’s comforting.”

 

Zaekura scoffed.  “Another first: me, comforting.”

 

Antroz turned, saying, “I suppose some more time to consider might be advantageous.  If you require my assistance in your defense planning, I imagine I’ll remain somewhere near the watchtower.”

 

Zaekura didn’t say anything as she left, simply leaning back and looking up at the sky.

 

ADDENDUM:

 

-As mentioned before, Ga-Koro is considered a sanctuary, as well as a very spiritual place, which is why Kojol mainly employs the Principle Rahkshi to keep it safe as they embody ideals Ga-Koro’s citizens strive for.  I also decided to change the Three Virtues symbol: since it was originally intended to be a map of the shattered Spherus Magna, but Spherus Magna never shattered in this universe, it would have felt a little inconsistent to use the original symbol.

 

-Kojol does have some similarities to Antroz, but while Antroz is definitely pretentious, Kojol has an overbearing “holier than thou” air, not to mention she is far more stubborn in her disagreements with the Great Beings in contrast to Antroz’s history of subservience.  Despite how abrasive she is, however, she does truly care about her job and the people of Spherus Magna.  I was going to go with white and gold for her armor, but then I thought using green might go well with the Lerahk surrounding the city, as well as serve as a subtle nod to Artakha’s armor color since that’s the island Prime Kojol watched over.  She holds a scepter to make her seem more regal, and the Kanohi Rode seemed like the best fit for a heavily spiritual Guardian of a sacred city.  I was thinking of showing her in battle at some point, and probably being a specialist in long-range Light attacks, but with how things played out her fighting style is relegated to trivia for the time being.

 

-Velika being Velika, it only makes sense he’d be using decoy bodies.  I envisioned the special drone used here as something like a cross between a Vahki and a Matoran (Melding Matoran, so the tall ones); it can fire the same types of blasts as regular drones from its fists, but we were able to avoid seeing those this time.

 

-While technically under the Great Beings’ rule, Ga-Koro’s status as a sanctuary means that not even they can just stroll in and drag off whoever they want: they need to explain the situation to Kojol, and if she feels the suspect in question needs to face judgment, she will cast them out of Ga-Koro and let the Great Beings take them.  This isn’t exactly what the Great Beings had in mind when they originally conceived of Ga-Koro, but they decided to just go along with it rather than deal with the hassle of convincing Kojol otherwise.  In order to keep the city defended, Kojol has a large army of Rahkshi, and quite a few citizens of Ga-Koro serve in a militia ready to be called upon when needed.  Aside from a small handful of incidents, she has not had much need for these forces as of yet.

 

-Rereading the last few chapters of Brothers in Arms, I felt I should do something with the strange creature seen briefly outside Ga-Koro, and it ended up proving quite handy for Krika.  Of course, it had no name in the serial, so I had to come up with one.  I worry that “crystal slime” doesn’t quite sound…Bionicle enough, maybe a bit too JRPG, but it’s functional.

 

-I also worry that this is retreading The Gargoyle Knight a bit too much, but as Krika says, major changes happen slowly—just because you know something shouldn’t bother you doesn’t always mean that it stops doing so.  In a similar vein, the ending feels a bit similar to the end of the last chapter; originally I did plan to end with Antroz’s statement of allegiance to Zaekura, but then I felt Zaekura wouldn’t be so easily moved, so they ended up arguing.  Gradual, gradual shifts.

 

-In recent years I’ve really become enamored with the idea of music-based fighting abilities, and of course I simply can’t have an army of specialized Rahkshi and not include a Rahkshi Rock reference.  It’s iconic.  “Natan” is a Hebrew verb from which t

Edited by Pahrak #0579, Jun 06 2018 - 11:15 PM.

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Posted Jun 15 2018 - 10:58 PM

SECTION VII

 

The drones trudged onward, sand whipping violently around them.  One of many squads currently searching the areas around Nynrah, this particular unit had already combed over several sectors without finding a single sign of their targets, and so were expanding their search eastward while their allies had gone either up or down the coastline.  It would take more than a sudden sandstorm to turn them away, but the automata had engaged a somewhat cautious protocol.  While such storms certainly weren’t uncommon in the Great Desert, the data provided on their targets made note of weather-altering abilities, meaning there was at least a chance that they were closing in on their mark.

 

One drone looked up.  Several of the others turned as it transmitted its observation to them: for a moment, it had seemed that something was going against the wind just above the squad, but it had been quick enough that none of the units could fully register what it was.  This was taken as an increase in the probability of battle, prompting the drones to pre-emptively arm their weaponry.  One drone pulled ahead of the rest—according to their navigational data, a settlement was just ahead, and it would need to deliver a statement of intention upon arrival.  The statement was compiled in a matter of seconds.  An instant afterward, the leader went offline and collapsed.

 

The army stopped in their tracks.  Analysis of the slain leader revealed a protosteel-tipped arrow lodged in its cranial unit, having fatally punctured the drone’s processor.  The threat was deemed severe, and as the drones took another step forward, their weapon locks were disabled.

 

A signal from the back caused them to halt again: something had attacked several of the rear units from behind before retreating, though drones in visual range had not registered anything visible.  Before sense could be made of the event, a loud thunderclap came from nearby, and a bolt of lightning struck one of the forward units, frying it and those closest to it.  Another drone was struck down with an arrow.  It was apparent that combat had begun, and so one of the remaining drones assumed command.

 

The horde was split into two groups, one of which continued to march forward as the other made an about-face and opened fire.  The sandstorm quieted with unnatural swiftness, and a large wall came into view not far ahead: dozens of Rahkshi could be seen perched atop it, and roughly a hundred stood before its sealed gate.  Aiming at the nearest guards, many of the drones fired.  One Rahkshi stepped forward, hands outstretched—a distortion filled the air in front of her, and the blasts suddenly froze as they entered it, being sealed in stasis until the Rahkshi reached up to redirect them into the sky.  A large Rahkshi with an even larger shield came next.  Not a single blast could get through his guard, and several actually ricocheted and struck down drones instead.  The lead drone moved to rush at him.  Another arrow smote it before it had the chance.  The stasis Rahkshi moved to catch more blasts, but more curious to the drones, they registered a steep increase in temperature in their immediate vicinity.  The wave of heat quickly focused upon three drones in particular, causing them to burst into flames.  Four Rahkshi were coming out to meet them now, each carrying different weapons but all with aquamarine coloration in their armor; the drones readied to engage, just as the heat began to rise again.

 

The rear squad was not faring much better.  Their blind shots had yet to strike their imperceptible foe, yet their forces continued to be picked off one or two at a time by their devastating blows.  As they looked about for any indication of where the next attack might come from, two Rahkshi suddenly appeared at their flank: one with blue and green armor, the other clad in red and orange.  The latter had four long eyestalks that each twitched in different directions, and a moment later, each spawned a laser beam that carved deeply into the drones’ ranks, and they were gone before a counterattack could be made.  Another physical blow demolished drones not far away—but at the same time, a drone in the back had its head sliced clean off.  The Laser Vision Rahkshi reappeared in the space between the two squads, attacking both, while at the rear of the invading force there now appeared a Cyclone Rahkshi with a second Rahkshi of Teleportation.  A large chunk of the squad was soon scattered through the air.

 

Up front, the drones had managed to beat back the few melee fighters who had approached them, but as they retreated a new presence made itself known.  As arrows and lightning continued to fly and more drones succumbed to the heat, a massive Rahkshi the size of a small building could be seen moving through the gate of the outpost, the treads on its feet groaning as they pulled the behemoth forward.  Many of the drones focused their fire on this newcomer.  The Rahkshi with the shield got in front of him, keeping careful watch so he could move and jump to block all shots aimed at his brother.  The armored giant, a Rahkshi of Plasma from the look of it, sluggishly raised his arms—they ended in cannons the size of an average Rahkshi, and a faint orange glow soon came from their barrels.  A deep hiss came from his mouth.  The shield-bearer signaled when it was safe to reach forward, and then two intense blasts of raw energy collided with the enemy ranks, annihilating all caught in their wake and kicking up a huge cloud of sand afterward.  One shot grazed the Plasma Rahkshi’s cannon.  He recoiled, hugging the injured limb close, but was relieved to see the wound was not severe.  Energy started to build up again, and he prepared himself to make another shot as soon as he could.

 

Antroz stood in a small guardhouse just above the gate, mere steps away from the Accuracy Rahkshi firing arrows.  She turned to the others and said, “Their forces are in disarray.  We have yet to suffer any casualties.”

 

Bitil nodded, though he continued to grind his fingers into his palm.

 

“As expected, the attack from the rear has led to the drones separating into two forces.  The teleporters and chameleons are carrying out things on their end.”

 

Zaekura hummed.  She glanced down the wall at a Rahkshi of Heat Vision with a rounded protrusion atop their head that glowed bright orange.  “Should we have Serk quit so we can send in more melee fighters than just the Heat Resistance Rahkshi?”

 

“I think it’s too soon for that,” Antroz said.  “While things are going smoothly at the moment, we are still outnumbered.  We should have the main forces wait until their numbers have been reduced further.”

 

A bright flash signaled another attack from the giant Plasma Rahkshi.  Krika rubbed his chin, saying, “Shouldn’t be too much longer with Artil tearing them apart like that.  I must say, Bitil, it’s scary to think you’ve had such a destructive creature so close this whole time.”

 

“Have some respect,” Bitil snapped.  “Artil’s down there risking his life while you sit safely up here!  You don’t exactly have good standing to jest, Krika.”

 

“I meant it as a compliment.  Besides, I’ve done my part: the effects of my Prosperity powers are holding strong, and I’m alert and ready to top off any who need it.”

 

Bitil grunted.  Stepping forward, Charla said, “Please, Lord Bitil, we must remain calm.  The others will be fine.  You did your best to equip us for the day we would march in battle, and I am certain it will be enough.”

 

Antroz turned sharply.  Bitil asked, “What is it?”

 

“It would seem one of them has injured Azin.”

 

“What?  How?!”

 

“It was a lucky shot.  He’s being brought in now.”

 

A Rahkshi of Teleportation appeared just long enough to deposit a cloaked red and gold Rahkshi, two daggers at his belt as he clutched a wound on his arm.  Bitil knelt and grabbed him by the shoulder, saying, “Azin!  Are you alright?”

 

The Rahkshi turned his head, making a short hiss.

 

“This doesn’t look like something you should brush off so casually!  Where’s Surja?”

 

A black and brown Rahkshi came rushing over.  Once she was at Azin’s side, she gripped his arm with both hands and stared at the wound intently, and slowly it began to mend.  She hissed something, and Bitil stood and sighed.

 

“She says he’ll be fine,” he muttered.  “He’ll be fine…”

 

Krika glanced at Zaekura.  The Glatorian had her arms crossed, one finger tapping incessantly.  Looking back at the battle, he commented, “It’s really going quite well.”

 

Zaekura’s finger froze.  Turning her back, she grumbled, “Don’t patronize me.”

 

“No, I’m being genuine.  I’d already lost several Rahkshi this far into the battle when I went against these machines.  You’ve put together an excellent strategy, Zaekura—it’s only a matter of time until victory is ours.”

 

Zaekura turned around, but stopped when she saw Charla.  The Rahkshi was staring forward blankly in a way that seemed vaguely nervous, and that made her nervous too.  “What’s up?”

 

Charla jumped a bit.  “Oh, forgive me, I was just…”  She hesitated.

 

“Is something wrong, Charla?” Bitil asked.

 

“I don’t know that I’d say that.  I’m just sensing something unusual.”

 

Antroz cocked her head.  “What do you mean?”

 

It took a few moments for Charla to reply.  “The drones are emitting some type of energy.  It’s not psychic energy, but it’s…similar, somehow.  Makuta Antroz, do you sense it as well?”

 

Reaching out again, Antroz picked one specific drone to focus on as she tried to feel what Charla was describing.  Slowly, she became aware of a very strange feeling that spawned from the being every few seconds, always passing very quickly but continually returning without fail.

 

“…Curious,” Antroz said.  “It’s so faint I hadn’t noticed it at first.  I’m afraid I can’t identify it—I’ve never encountered this particular sort of energy before.”

 

“Is it dangerous?” Bitil asked.

 

“Calm down,” Krika said.  “If this energy becomes a concern, we shall deal with it then.  Right now we’ve nothing to worry about.”

 

“Easy for you to say…”

 

Zaekura walked up next to the archer, peeking over the wall at the forces below.  “Maybe…we should speed things up, just to be safe.”

 

“Acting with haste can often make things more dangerous,” Antroz advised.

 

“I’m not saying we get sloppy.  I just think we can send the heavy hitters without it causing any problems.”  She turned to Bitil.  “Yes?  No?  What do you think?”

 

Bitil surveyed the battle himself, looking very uncertain.  “…Perhaps sending one to the rear would be beneficial…I just don’t like the idea of sending them out front right now.  The ranged assault is working, and it’s far safer for them all—let’s keep that going as long as we possibly can.”

 

“Alright, who do we send?”

 

Suddenly, a look of shock swept over Antroz’s face.  Charla shivered as well, saying, “What is that…?”

 

Bitil whirled.  “What?  What is what?”

 

“Oh no,” Antroz said.

 

“What do you mean?  What’s going on, Antroz?!”

 

Charla closed her eyes.  “I’ve never felt a mind like this…where did it come from?  It’s so foreign, it’s…indescribable…”

 

Bitil’s eyes widened.  He slowly turned to Antroz.  She nodded once, and he felt his antidermis thin.

 

“That,” Antroz said solemnly, “is the mind of a Great Being.”

 

Krika was on his feet.  “Where?”

 

“Somewhere down there,” Antroz said, making a sweeping gesture.  “I can’t determine exactly, but it’s somewhere in that flock of drones; it just appeared a second ago.”

 

Thinking quickly, Krika said, “That energy you were sensing…it must be some kind of beacon, linked back to the Maze.  And Velika, I’m sure he’s keeping a close eye on those signals: if many of them start dropping at once, he can guess that we’re demolishing more of his prized inventions.  Of course that slippery eel would outfit them all to receive a remote consciousness upload.  After I broke the first batch, he wanted to be able to see my demise personally.”

 

Zaekura looked about frantically.  “Not to complain, but uh, why isn’t he just blasting down the doors already?”

 

“These are all just standard drone bodies,” Krika said as he gently pulled her back from the wall, “probably not as strong as the special one I found in Ga-Koro.  He’s just as vulnerable as any of them right now…but knowing Velika, it won’t stay that way for long.”

 

Antroz leapt onto the side of the wall.  “We must act.  Eradicating all drones before Velika can make a plan to turn this in his favor is our only hope.”

 

“I’m afraid I agree,” Krika said.  He waved one hand out.  “After you.”

 

Antroz grunted as she took off, shooting through the air over the assembled drones.  Bitil turned and shouted, “Charla, find Kameter and call him back—our snipers here are going to need all the advantages they can get!  Advise everyone to be extremely careful, and to see if they can break up the forces any further!  If any drone is acting unusual, it becomes top priority to dismantle it immediately!”

 

Charla went to work at once.  Zaekura watched as Antroz reached out both hands, sending beams of white light down to pulverize the unfortunate drones below.  Krika jumped over the wall and landed on Artil’s back.  He glared at the approaching drones, exerting his gravity powers to slow them down, and with a laugh, Artil destroyed them easily.  The Rahkshi all seemed to double their efforts, and the number of drones only continued to dwindle.  For some reason, despite all of this, the sense of dread Zaekura was feeling just kept growing.

 

“So…those heavy hitters…”

 

Bitil nodded.  “I’ll have them form up at once.  Serk, focus your power on the south flank!  We’re about to fully engage!”

 

Serk hissed in affirmation.  Bitil used his powers of teleportation to make a quick exit, and Zaekura turned back to the fight, hoping there was a way they could still win this battle.

 

Krika turned his fingers on one hand into spikes, extending them and impaling a line of drones from the safety of his perch.  He pulled them to the side, sweeping several still-functioning units off by themselves, and then used his Stasis powers to keep them isolated as he shook his hand clean.  Artil spared one blast to eradicate them.  With that done, Krika leapt forward and activated his Chameleon powers, becoming undetectable as he rushed into the enemy ranks.  He looked up: Antroz was still mowing them down with her light powers.  However, in a few seconds a number of drones suddenly looked up and began firing straight at her, only a quick application of her Dodge ability allowing her to evade.  The blasts all seemed to come from the same area, so Krika headed there as Antroz continued maneuver.  He took a moment to just observe when he was close enough.  Aside from changing their targets, nothing seemed particularly out of place about these drones, so he lunged past them and swept both hands, rending them into shreds with his claw spikes.

 

Above him, Antroz leveled out and scanned the area with her mind.  Krika had yet to receive any retaliation for his interference, so she guessed Velika wasn’t actually in proximity to the drones he had sent after her—turning sharply, she made for the opposite flank, using only a spray of light bolts as she went to make it easier to sense incoming attacks.  She reached her destination with no further trouble, but still, nothing seemed out of the ordinary.

 

“Where are you…?” she mumbled.

 

Her mind swept over the battlefield once again.  This time, as she passed over a particularly dense cluster of drones, she realized that they weren’t firing wildly like the others were.  Rather, they would wait until one of Bitil’s Rahkshi appeared and then react to it.  Antroz focused upon them and discovered why: one drone was in the middle of the unit, hunched over a deactivated automaton and busily working on something with a set of spindly, claw-like arms that had extended from openings in its torso.

 

“There!”

 

Antroz created a ball of dense light energy in her hand, taking aim at the cluster of drones.  She threw the attack with all her might, and it soared through the air like a bullet—the drones took notice and raised their arms to block, while the one in the center grabbed something and scuttled away.  The blast detonated, wiping out those that blocked it and producing a shockwave that reached out to the one that fled.  While its limbs twisted to prevent in from falling down, it slowed enough that Antroz could teleport directly to its side, and she reached out to try to grab hold of her target.  Her claws just nicked its armor.

 

“Lord Velika!” she said.  “Stand down at once!”

 

A scoff came from the drone.  Adjusting the bundle of parts it carried in its hands, it said, “You’ve no right to order me, Makuta.  I remember your place even if you no longer do.”

 

Antroz grabbed the hilt of her sword.  “I shall give you one last chance.  Call off your army, and leave this place.  Otherwise, I will be forced to defend myself.”

 

“Leave?  I only just arrived.  And it is here I plan to stay, until I’ve eradicated you traitors and seized that wretched girl!  It is you who should stand aside, ignorant fool…or shall I show you the level of intellect you are dealing with?”

 

Antroz shook her head.  She slowly drew her sword from its sheath, the pure white blade gleaming in the sunlight, shining as brightly as if it were brand new.  Antroz gripped the weapon with both hands, held it in front of herself, and bared her fangs.  “You were warned.”

 

The drone tumbled to the side.  Antroz had teleported behind it before she was even finished speaking, swinging the blade and just narrowly missing.  She teleported again before it completed its arc.  The drone hopped back to avoid a cut and pointed one cannon, firing a counter blast, but Antroz was gone before it hit.  She came from above next, forcing the drone to roll away on its cannons—as soon as it was upright, it was immediately manipulating the mess of parts in its hands.

 

“Come now,” Velika laughed, “you really think you can best a Great Being?  And here I had hoped the Makuta had rid themselves of their arrogance.”

 

Antroz rapidly teleported in a circle around the drone, executing seven feints before thrusting her sword at its torso.  It crouched and prepared to fire, but then realized the blade was glowing orange, and scampered away as plasma burst outward from it.  The attack singed the machine, missing all vital components.

 

As he continued to work, Velika said, “We are inherently your betters!  No matter what competition you engage us in, you are bound by fact to fail every time!  Yet you think you can challenge a device of my own making, one that I have assumed direct control over, and somehow overcome this total manifestation of my brilliance?”

 

Not saying a word, Antroz simply exerted her powers of magnetism.  The drone was pulled through the air towards her, pushing off the ground just as she swung to tumble over her head; she flexed her wing, sending it spinning, and then whirled to make another slash.  Her sword was blocked by a well-placed cannon.  She opened her mouth and let out a power scream, flinging the machine away, and then teleported forward.  Unfortunately, Velika had anticipated where she would reappear, and a blast grazed her leg, disrupting her balance.  He laughed as the drone readied another attack.  That was when Krika, in the shape of a giant snake, leapt up and wrapped himself around the drone, restraining its movements and slowly crushing it.

 

“Pardon me,” Krika said.  “It dawned on me that I’d yet to properly greet you, my lord.  Allow me to rectify that offense.”

 

The drone turned, Velika murmuring, “You insolent…”

 

As its body began to break, the drone held forth the device it was working on.  Antroz moved to claim it, but withdrew immediately—a blast came from behind her, and before she could move to counter, another drone rushed forward, snatched the device, and hurled it through the air.

 

“You truly don’t comprehend, do you?” Velika said as Krika tackled this new drone to the ground, overloading its circuits with electricity.

 

Antroz teleported in an attempt to intercept the device.  Searing pain was all that met her, as yet another drone blasted her away to catch the small machine.

 

All of these drones are equipped to receive me!” Velika said, ripping a few extra pieces out of a fallen drone.  “I am here, and it here I shall stay.  For here…I can be everywhere!”

 

Krika threw a punch, implementing his Elasticity and Accuracy powers—his fist chased Velika’s drone as it danced away, and though Antroz tried to aid him, another blast was soon sent towards her.  She pressed herself against the ground and cursed silently.  When she looked up, she saw that Krika had grabbed the drone by the neck, and hoped for one moment…but then another drone shot Krika’s arm, forcing him to retract it on reflex.  The new drone approached the old and gave the device a once-over.

 

“Yes, flawless at last,” Velika mused.  “This is the end of your little rebellion, Makuta.  But not your lives—no, net yet.  I’ll be taking you to Karzahni myself, so that I can personally oversee your suffering…though I’m afraid I don’t know how many eons it will take to accumulate all that you have earned.”

 

The drone squeezed the device, and it lit up with bright light.  A familiar, terrible feeling washed over Antroz and Krika, and they both sank into the sand.  Velika laughed as his drone approached Krika.

 

“I may not have had time to install flight capabilities, but your suggestion of disarmament was easy to take into consideration.  It’s really a very simple mechanism, if you have the parts…and I thought incorporating suitable components into my drones would be a reasonable back-up plan.  One can never be too careful.  Now then…”

 

The drone turned to face the walls of the outpost.  As it walked forward, the other drones parted to make way for it, save those that threw themselves forward to block any attacks aimed at Velika.  He looked up at the wall and spotted Zaekura standing there.  Handing the device off to another drone, he switched his weapon to stun and raised the barrel.  Zaekura just stared down at him, an uneasy defiance in her eyes.

 

“Heremus was insistent I show mercy,” Velika muttered.  “Although…I wonder if his definition is accurate?”

 

A loud roar was all he heard in the next second.  A massive wave of plasma washed over him and many of the other drones, severing his link to his current body.  When he arrived in another, he looked to see the source: it was Antroz, on her feet with her blade in one hand, while Krika was just starting to unleash a volley of light blasts on the rear unit.  Velika ran a quick check to ensure the drone’s sensors were functioning properly.

 

“How…can they be standing?” he asked.  “The disarmament mechanism worked perfectly—I built it!  And it can’t be the same as when they fooled Angonce, otherwise…”

 

It struck him then.  Glaring back at the wall, he continued, “The lure…transmitted back the data it received…and that vile Glatorian…!”

 

His current body suddenly went stiff.  Antroz appeared behind it to run it through, and as Krika released his magnetic hold he said, “If it’s any consolation, the experience is still nauseating.  I’d be quite ill right now if I had a stomach.”

 

Jumping to another body, Velika whirled back and fired at Zaekura.  Unfortunately, she was gone by the time he turned around, and Velika groaned as he was forced to switch bodies once again.

 

“So what now, milord?” Krika said, readying more light blasts.  “Your current body isn’t quite up to the task of taking on two Makuta.  And we’re not the only things you need to worry about.”

 

He allowed Velika to look to the outpost gate.  Emerging through it were a line of figures almost as large as Artil, each armored in a rainbow of hues and looking unusual even by Bitil’s standards.  Velika growled in anger.  Deformed as they were, he still knew how to recognize a Rahkshi Kaita.

 

“We shall give you one last chance to surrender,” Antroz said.

 

“Normally I’d disagree, but I suppose we can’t stop your mind from fleeing as easily as we could your body,” Krika said.  “You should take advantage of this once in a lifetime opportunity.”

 

The drone just stood there, watching the Kaita as they advanced on the drones.  One of them transformed into a living cyclone, blasts bouncing off its form like they were pebbles as it ravaged the invaders; another simply stared down a group of enemies, and when they tried to fire their weapons, the mechanisms locked and backfired, destroying their wielders.  Velika watched this unfold…and began to laugh.

 

“You are due some credit, I suppose,” Velika said as his drone turned back to the Makuta.  “You cretins have managed to outdo my expectations.  But do you think that’s all it will take for you to claim victory?”

 

Antroz pointed her sword.  “Whatever else you plan to do, we will stop you.”

 

“Let us see if you can, Makuta.  I’m almost grateful: for the first time in quite a while…I’m actually curious.”

 

The drone raised both weapons.  Krika froze it in stasis before it could fire, and then Antroz sliced it in two.  They both looked around to see which drone Velika had taken now, but no other machines were particularly close to them, and even the closest seemed occupied with other matters.

 

“I suppose we’ll have to hunt him down again,” Krika sighed.

 

“I believe we should stick together,” Antroz said.  “We must make it as difficult as possible for him to surprise us.”

 

Krika shook his head and began to walk away.  “Just call if you need me.  I’m a bit too impatient to do this your way.”

 

With a huff, Antroz took to the skies again.  Bitil could see her from the wall, but he quickly returned to the crowd below, searching frantically for Zaekura.

 

“Can’t you sense her?” he asked.

 

“I am trying, my lord,” Charla said, hands to the sides of her head.  “The thoughts have become extremely chaotic down there, and the minds of the Kaita are the only ones that manage to stand out.”

 

Bitil glanced at the fusions as she said this.  Then he stopped suddenly, looking back and gripping the wall: one Kaita in particular stood in the scorched wake of Antroz’s surprise plasma attack, resembling a very large humanoid with six arms clad in blue, black, green, and gray armor.  A shimmering veil surrounded them, but now that Bitil took a closer look, he could make out another form next to him.

 

“Lady Zaekura!” he said, teleporting down next to the barrier.  “What do you think you’re doing?”

 

Zaekura leapt to her feet.  “Yeesh, don’t scare me like that!  I was just checking something out is all.”

 

She raised her hand: in it was the disarmament device Velika had constructed.  Bitil paused a moment, and then asked, “Why do you want that thing?”

 

Before she could answer, the Rahkshi Kaita moved their hand suddenly.  The veil slid open and they took a lumbering step towards Bitil; immediately, the veil closed, now around all three of them, and Bitil heard a blast fizzle against it.

 

“Thank you, Ramier,” he said, glancing back over his shoulder.

 

“Look, I’ve got an idea,” Zaekura said.  “Charla told me what’s going on with Velika, and—“

 

“Then you should know it isn’t safe to simply rush out onto the battlefield!” Bitil interrupted.  “Ramier, take us back at once!”

 

They nodded, and in the blink of an eye the three of them were back on the wall.  Ramier departed immediately, leaving Zaekura to look around in bewilderment, before sighing and turning back to Bitil.

 

“Was that entirely necessary?” she asked.  “Because my best guess would put it at about 10% necessary.”

 

Bitil locked eyes with her.  “You are their target.  If any one of them catch you, this battle is lost!  How can you chide Antroz for her impulsivity only to make the same mistakes yourself?!”

 

“I didn’t just charge out there on my own!  Some Rahkshi helped me get over to Ramier, and then I asked him to get me over to where this thing was!”

 

“But putting yourself in such great risk—“

 

“You were just talking about how your Rahkshi are risking their lives for us!  I decide to do the same to help them, and you’re still complaining?”

 

Bitil clenched his teeth, unsure what to say.  He averted his gaze, but before he could think of a retort, something caught his eye.  Several drones appeared to be running away from the fight.  There were at least a dozen of them, all by themselves, all headed in different directions.

 

“What is Velika doing now?” he said as he stepped forward.  “Concentrate fire on those runners!”

 

As the Rahkshi adjusted targets, Zaekura said, “Don’t suppose there’s much chance he’s actually taking the opportunity to surrender, do you?”

 

Bitil turned back to Zaekura.  He stared hard at her for a long moment, before finally closing his eyes and crossing his arms.  “…Tell me.  What is this idea of yours?”

 

ADDENDUM:

 

-Sorry to split this battle.  I’ll do my best to get Section VIII out before too long.

 

-“Serk” is a corruption of “circle”.  The protrusion on his head is actually his eye, and it gives him a 360 degree field of vision that allows him to set anything around him on fire without moving.  He does have to narrow his focus quite a bit to cause real damage, however.  But, just in case, Bitil thought it seemed like a good idea to send only Heat Resistance Rahkshi out to meet the drones while he was focusing on their front line.

 

 -“Artil” is derived from “artillery”.  I don’t know that there was a specific thought process for this guy, I’m pretty sure I just thought “A Rahkshi that’s basically a giant living tank would be super cool” and then went through with it.  I’m quite satisfied with the results.

 

-Krika implies this, but to clarify: there are certain powers that a Makuta cannot use on themselves, and this extends to their Rahkshi (they can’t use them on Rahkshi they’ve made, their Rahkshi can’t use them on them, and their Rahkshi can’t use them on each other).  Prosperity is the big one, since it has the potential to be a bit broken if a Makuta were to spawn ten Vorahk and have them all stack major luck buffs on them, and the Great Beings thought it best to avoid that.  So here, Krika has used his Prosperity to boost Bitil’s Rahkshi, and Antroz may have given them a second application as well.  Courage, Creation, Faith, and Peace also have this stipulation, but for now I think that’s all.  The Great Beings probably would have limited Kameter’s time-quickening powers as well, but Bitil discovered those through his Slow powers, and the GBs didn’t see a reason to prevent a Makuta from using Slow on themselves.  Why would they do that in the first place?

 

-“Azin” is derived from “assassin”.  I figured it would make sense for someone as stealthy as a Chameleon Rahkshi to try to emulate the classic rogue look.

 

-“Surja” comes from “surgeon”; she’s a Rahkshi of Quick Healing with an internal focal point for her power, making it strong enough that if she focuses she can actually share it with someone she’s in physical contact with.  While she can use this on anyone, it is most effective on Bitil and her siblings due to them all being offshoots of the same being.

 

-Velika is incredibly vain, proud of anything and everything he does, content to believe himself better than all others, and cruel in his petty revenge on those he believes have wronged him.  Sure would suck to be led by a tyrant like that, right?

 

-Since the projection lure has such a strong link to the headset used to control it, I figured it made sense that it had registered some data on the disarmament device Angonce had used and transmitted it back, and that by analyzing those recordings, Zaekura could find a way to jam the signal and keep the Makuta on their feet.  It still requires some fine-tuning, but this will prevent the GBs from being able to keep Makuta out of every fight.

 

-The Rahkshi Kaita are a bit of a tease here due to where the chapter ends, sorry about that.  I’m sure you recognize the Kaita Za and its random living tornado powers—I don’t know where those come from, but I figured I might as well leave them intact.  I did, however, change up the Kaita Vo: it’s the one that causes drones’ weapons to misfire.  When I was coming up with the effects of Prosperity, it occurred to me that the Mask of Possibilities’ powers were somewhat close (Prosperity is a luck buff, but the Mask of Possibilities lets the wearer alter probability to cause one very specific thing to happen), and since Kaita Vo’s original energy ray power was an extension of Vorahk’s Hunger abilities, I thought this would make a suitable replacement.  And rounding out the Kaita we see here, “Ramier” is a mix of “rampart” and “barrier”; they are made of Rahkshi of Invincibility, Teleportation, and Stasis Field.  Their gestalt ability allows them to create an impervious shield in a small radius around themselves, one that cannot be teleported through.

 

-That about rounds out this Section.  Next time we’ll find out what Velika’s up to, and bring this fight to a close one way or another!

 

-Reviews to be submitted here


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