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The Universe of the Cyclical Paradigm

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Alrighty folks! This is my first time posting any of my work, so feedback is definitely welcome! (Review topic: http://www.bzpower.com/board/topic/28099-universe-of-the-cyclical-paradigm-review-topic/   )

This takes place after Spherus Magna is made whole again and Teridax in destroyed. You may notice a few things that initially seem to conflict with the established cannon, so I wanted to clarify a few things to preface the story. First, I see just about everything up til the end of Journey's End as cannon, but I don't pick up where any of the unfinished serials left off-so Kopaka and Pohatu did not go to the red star in my story. I might at some point use some ideas or characters introduced in those stories, but in reinvented ways. Second, this takes place in an alternate universe, so certain things might be different. So! Without further ado, The Universe of the Cyclical Paradigm:

 

Chapter 1

 

Mata Nui was gone. 

After defeating Makuta Teridax and restoring Spherus Magna, after having freed his people, after completing his destiny, he was gone. He was not precisely dead, however. His consciousness came to rest in the Mask of Life, and after leaving his people one last message, he began a long, well deserved, peaceful rest. 

Toa Tahu stared into the empty eye holes of the Ignika, the Mask of Life, through which Mata Nui's eyes once saw out. The pedestal on which the mask now sat was housed inside of the massive metal cave that once formed the skull of the now shattered robot of the Great Desert, the titan of Bara Magna. Mata Nui's last great act was to simultaneously call upon the Ignika's powers of restoration and to release all of the remaining energy reserves powering the desert titan. The resulting explosion rocked the entire planet of Spherus Magna; however, this explosion left not death, but life in its wake. The Ignika had summoned all of its powers over regeneration, restoration, and creation-a whirlwind of energy swirling and crackling with beauty and white light in the core of the colossus. Thus, when Mata Nui overloaded the desert titan’s energy reserves, the resulting explosion carried the power of the Ignika with it, spreading the forces of that whirlwind across the battle scarred and broken planet. Tahu himself had been at the feet of the colossus when the explosion occurred; his entire being was bathed in the maelstrom of healing. He could feel his armor growing hot, his body beginning to smoke and sizzle within and without-but there was no pain. He felt all his battle wounds being restored, even the old scar he bore under his mask from his battle with the Rakshi Lehrak, a wound which not even the greatest healers of Ga-Koro could heal, slowly grow together to form undamaged tissue. 

The familiar light "clomp" of Turaga Vakama's staff on the floor pulled Tahu's mind back to the present-all sounds, big or small echoed all through the cavern, growing to a volume that somehow felt both deafening and faint.

"The Cave of Memory is indeed a fitting name for this place, Turaga. Your wisdom again brings our people much good." Tahu did not look away from the eyes of the mask as he spoke to the old teacher and dear friend behind him.

"I benefited much from the council of Raanu, for through the eyes of him and his people we may see Mata Nui anew." The wizened mentor placed a hand on his former pupil’s shoulder. Vakama remembered well the day he realized his destiny was complete as a Toa.

"Tahu, I know the path you walk." Vakama wistfully gazed at his own gaunt hands and stumpy fingers, remembering the strong fists that once grappled with Makuta Teridax, forged the Great Kanohi Vahi, bent fire itself to his will, hands that had surrendered their power to save the lives of millions of Matoran long ago. Vakama’s spoke in a mere murmur as his eyes saw memories of battles from long ago. "It is a difficult thing to be in complete control of fire, to become one with the flames dancing at your command...To be asked to surrender that power, truly there is no greater test that a Toa can face." 
 

Tahu looked away from the mask, slowly rising from his knees as he addressed Vakama behind him. "Turaga, your words mean well, but what I am asked to do is more than you know." He slowly turned, sorrow in his eyes. "Toa Mata, Toa Nuva, Mistika, Phantoka. We have born many names over the ages, fought with new weapons and armour, but always with the same objective-protect Mata Nui. But in his hour of darkest, most desperate need, I could do nothing to aid him. Yes I fought Makuta's armies, but what did it matter? Even in the final battle the role I played was trivial at best." 

"Tahu, if you were not a Toa of Fire, I would say this desert heat has addled your mind. Must I remind you of how your instrumental defeat of the armies of Makuta's Rakshi gave Mata Nui the moment he needed to deal the final blow to Makuta?" 

Tahu was silent for a long time. He slowly turned to look back into the eyes of the Ignika. 

"The Golden Armour failed. Turaga, I was not the one who killed the Rakshi." 
 

 

 

Chapter 2
<<>>one month prior<<>>

There is an enemy more savage than a Kanohi Dragon, more cunningly cruel as Ten Krom, quieter than Stone Rat, and more deadly than the Dreaming Plague.

Panic. 

In a time nearly beyond Tahu's memory, Hydraxon had once said "If you find yourself impaled on a spear or feel a deadly poison coursing through your veins, you may yet survive; however, if you lose yourself to panic even in the safest of situations, I assure you that you will not live long enough to even understand what killed you." 

Right now, there was only one thing that kept Tahu safe from panic-purpose; namely, the Golden Armour. Takanuva and Gresh raced toward Tahu, each carrying two pieces of the Golden Armour. The words of the Ignika echoed in his ears:

"I can create the armor, but be warned... it can be used but once, and there is no telling what its use will do to you."

This was it. The moment for which Tahu was created. The leader of the Toa Mata, the elite bodyguards of Mata Nui, was to save his charge from this ancient foe, Makuta Teridax. Tahu, taking the armour from his companions, donned the powerful relics. As he felt the Golden Armour's power surge through him, the sound of the chaos of battle, the touch of the swirling sand, and the blistering heat all grew dim and distant. 

Tahu looked up and saw the surrounding armies of Makuta charging through the sand, and in that moment, it became clear-he knew what he must do. Tahu saw the battle unfold as it should: using the Golden Armour to kill the Rakshi: Makuta's distraction, the impact with Bota Magna, and the restoration of Spherus Magna. But as he readied himself, Tahu happened to glance at Makuta, and saw something in Makuta's eyes. It was a glint of green, just a quick flicker. For a quick second Tahu saw in Makuta the eyes of Lehrak-the Rakshi of poison who had destroyed his home, turned Tahu against his fellow Toa, and gave him the painful scar across his face. 

In that second, the meaning of the word Rakshi became all too clear: 

Sons of Makuta. 

Makuta. 

Makuta the betrayer, Makuta the destroyer, Makuta the murderer, Makuta the thief, Makuta the deceiver, Makuta the manipulator, Makuta the dictator, Makuta the possessor, Makuta the fate twister. 

Fate twister. 

What if Tahu's face had never been scarred? What if Tahu had never turned on the Toa Nuva? What if Tahu had led the Toa to guard the Herald of the Toa of Light? What if Tahu, the leader of the Toa... had been destined to become the Toa of Light? To wield light against the shadow, fire and light as glorious as the sun.... but Makuta sent Lehrak to prevent it. 

Tahu felt his scar throbbing, burning, pounding through his whole being, like acid coursing through his veins. He knew he wasn't thinking clearly, but he didn't care. His vision became unfocused, a sickly green glow creeping around the edges of his sight. He knew that this was the power of poison, that somehow his scar had power over him again, that Makuta was reinfecting him, that he must not give in to the poison. But he didn't care. All he wanted was revenge. Revenge for his scar, for all the Matoran killed by mutated Rahi, for the destruction caused by the Bohrok and the Barang, for the savagery of the Rakshi and the destruction of the island of Mata Nui, for all the Toa that had died before him, for Matoro, for the evil of this long, long war. 

The pain of Tahu's scar burned hotter and hotter, bore deeper and deeper-until one thought filled his mind: 

"I should be the one to kill Makuta." 

At first, the Golden Armour resisted Tahu, as if it knew that this was not what it was destined to do; however, Tahu forced it to his will, and unleashed all of the power of the armour in one massive shockwave aimed at Makuta Teridax. The energy roared through and out of the armour, the metal itself dissolving away from his body. Tahu watched the shockwave gather before him, felt the energy depart from his possession-and enter that of another. Some unknown presence took control of the energy and sent it flying away towards the Rakshi, obliterating the mightiest army of Makuta Teridax in one massive blow.

The shock of such a loss distracted Makuta for one critical second. Mata Nui used this critical moment to grab the evil giant and shove him into the oncoming path of Bota Magna, a distant moon summoned by the battle between the two titans. 

Makuta was obliterated. Mata Nui was safe. But Tahu was filled with rage. 

He was robbed of his rightful place. 


 

 


Chapter 3
<<>>present day<<>>

"The poison didn't leave me until The Restoration. Then, once my mind cleared, I realized what I had done." Tahu stared at the floor of the Sanctuary of Peace, unable to face his old mentor. 
"When the time came, when my destiny was to be fulfilled, I failed." 

Turaga Vakama stood in silence, his emotions not registering on his face. When he did speak, his old voice croaked. "And you feel that to become a Turaga would rob you of any opportunity to redeem yourself" he murmured. He again fell into silence, one hand behind his back, leaning heavily on his staff in a posture he often adopted while thinking. 

After a long silence, the wise Turaga looked into the warrior's eyes. 
"Tahu, I remember when you first came upon the shores of Mata Nui and stumbled into Ta-Koro. I have watched you and guided you through your whole journey, as a friend and a mentor." The hunched shoulders of the Turaga lurched and shook as he slowly began to cry and his voice began to crack with emotion. "But when I look at you now, all I can feel is my shame." The old leader, now openly weeping, dropped his staff, covering his face and sobbing into his hands. He fell to his knees, wracked with sorrow and guilt. Tahu stood watching his old teacher

 


Vakama, turning his back on his beloved pupil. He slowly turned to the exit and beckoned Tahu to follow. "You must reclaim your honor, now." 

Tahu eagerly caught up to Vakama, relieved to have a direct task set before him again. "Where do we travel to, Turaga?"

The old Turaga turned his back on the leader of the Toa Nuva. Quietly, controlling his voice with great effort, Vakama spoke to his pupil; 

"Leave, Tahu. Leave and don't come back until you are redeemed." 

The warrior looked at the hunched figure, began to protest, but then closed his mouth, and fixed his gaze on the horizon. 

"Farewell, Turaga. I am sorry to have failed you." The Toa of fire began walking into the desert. With every step he took, he realized more and more that he did not know where he would go, but he took each step faster and faster until he was far beyond the sight of his mentor. 

"Farewell, Son of flame." Murmured Vakama as Tahu vanished into the desert haze. "I pray you will find peace faster than I did." 


 

Edited by MoarBotar
Streamlined review topic link

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Chapter 4

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Chapter 5


Axonn studied the cliffs below him. He was standing on the precipice of a massive valley, a valley which seemed barely able to contain the tangled maze of sharp crevices and ravines that had formed inside of it. Perhaps this valley was once a mighty river, carving its way south and west through the Black Spike mountains into the Bara Magna desert and the Sea of Liquid Sand. 
"Now it's just hot" he muttered. Axonn and his Kikinalo steed had first felt the signs of the Great Volcano three days ago, after passing north of Roxtus village when they were crossing to the east bank of the Skrall River. That first tremor was barely noticeable; Axonn himself would have missed it if his Kikinalo didn't pause when it felt it. But here the tremors shook the earth and caused frequent rock slides, accompanied with thick soot hanging in the air and sweltering heat that made Bara Magna at noon feel like an oasis. The sky was tinted a deep red where it could be seen through the clouds of ash, and always above it all a rumble could be heard from the rage of the Great Volcano. 

The Kikinalo beneath Axonn suddenly reared and shuddered, wheeling to face away from the mountain in the east. Axonn felt the muscles in the mighty beast tense as it turned to face something unseen. Trusting in his animal's instincts, he unlimbered his axe and dismounted to stand beside the animal. When angered or cornered, a Kikinalo was one of the most dangerous creatures alive, and a rider would just encumber it during battle. Of course, Axonn was known for similar traits himself, and despite the fact that he very rarely became truly angry, one might say that it would be the Kikinalo encumbering him. 

"Tell your animal to turn back." The voice was haggard, almost heaving, as if the owner was greatly taxed from the effort of using it. Yet there was a distinct edge in that voice, an edge that commanded cold authority. Axonn stared into the ash, but he couldn't see where it came from. 

"Who speaks to me?" Axonn replied flatly. He appeared calm, but under the surface Axonn was coiled like a spring, his whole body tensed. His eyes scanned the dark haze, calling on the powers of his Kanohi Rode, his mask of Truth, he searched for any sign of illusion or deception. 

Again the voice came from the dark; "There is no lie..... There is no trickery....... Your Rode can't help you now........ Your Kikinalo won't survive out here-send it back the way you came." 

Axonn didn't move for a moment. Then with a slight turn of his head and a clicking sound from his mouth, the mighty animal reared and charged at full speed back towards Roxtus. "Whoever you are, if you have thieves waiting to try and stop the Kikinalo, you'll find that very little in its path survives a charge like that." 

"Thieves? I do not keep company with thieves." Axonn whirled around to see a figure emerging from the clouded ash. The tall figure's body was bent and twisted and he leaned heavily on his staff, a limp leg dragging behind him. His cloak was tattered and discolored, patched and faded, hanging off of his body as if it would fall apart if completely removed. Beneath it could be seen parts of the beaten and battered white armor that he had worn his entire life. Behind him stood two creatures, wolves, with white fur. Partially mechanical, iron plates could be seen jutting through the fur at certain places. One wolf was of a natural size and had eyes that glowed in a dull blue, but the other, the Alpha, was easily twice as tall and stared through scarred green eyes. The old warrior's broken mask revealed parts of a scarred face, the features of which bent into a lopsided grin as he stared at the mighty titan. 
"Surel's only company is the wolves."

 

Edited by Donkay Kooong

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Chapter 6

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I see leaves. 

Chapter 7
Pohatu was sick of the dark. That tends to happen when you haven't seen the sun for a few weeks. 

When the fight between Makuta and Mata Nui had finished, the inhabitants of the body that Makuta stole began to evacuate, to be reunited with the Toa and build a new society dedicated to their great hero, Mata Nui. But with the entire head of that robot shattered, and its body beaten and impaled on the Black Spike Mountains, there were bound to be problems. 

The biggest of these problems was that many were not able to escape the world within the titan. With the many injuries that the robot had sustained, the world inside had become equally twisted and broken. Travel was dangerous and impossible. Thus, the rescue team was assembled, heading into the robot with a twofold mission. 

First, to rescue and evacuate the trapped inhabitants. 

Second, to prevent certain beings from escaping. 

After drilling for two weeks, the rescue team had penetrated the outer shell of the robot, gaining access to the city of Metru Nui. After a fierce battle with the many panicked Dark Hunters and beasts from the Archives that had taken up residence there, the Coliseum had become their base of operations. The rescue effort was a massive effort, with over a hundred active volunteers, Pohatu included. Everyone from Matoran to members of The Order were involved, even the Shadowed One was involved, though Pohatu suspected he was less concerned about Matoran and more about certain beings who might reveal certain things about the Dark Hunters that the Shadowed One would rather stay trapped. 

Of course, that's not to say that the others didn't have private agendas of their own. The Order of Mata Nui, secretive as always, was refusing to work in teams with anyone from outside of the Order. At least Botar was cooperating enough to act as Pohatu's point man, reporting on the Order's rescue efforts, though Pohatu also suspected Botar himself was one of the ones pushing for all this secrecy. 

Activating his Midak Skyblaster to illuminate the rubble that was once the Great Furnace. As he began searching for survivors, Pohatu sighed. All this nonsense just seemed ridiculous-The Order of Mata Nui. A secret organization dedicated to the protection of the inhabitants of Mata Nui from Makuta Teridax and to the safety of Mata Nui himself. Only now, the organization wasn't secret, Teridax was defeated, and Mata Nui was gone. What secrets could possibly be left? 

He heard a loud hiss as one of the walls melted and crumbled from the heat of the molten protodermis on the other side-protodermis that was now rushing towards him. Quickly turning left to face the glowing liquid head on, he began spinning his twin propellers, trying to hold back the steaming, gelatinous mass. The protodermis was blown back by the force of the wind, spreading up and out like a wall, threatening to climb above the force of the wind and entomb him. He activated his Kakama Nuva, his mask of speed, calling on its power to force the blades to spin even faster; yet even as he did this, Pohatu realized that there was simply too much protodermis. The protodermis spread up and out before him, forming a towering, glowing, steaming wall of heat. Spinning as fast as he could, he began to see the limits of the wind, and far above him, glowing red in the darkness, the protodermis began to drip down onto him. Eventually, he would have to try to outrun the torrential flood of molten metal.

He turned his shoulder mounted Midak Skyblaster behind him, and fired two quick blasts-the prearranged distress signal. The flood of protodermis gave off an orange glow that filled this part of the dark cavern. As Pohatu's mind was racing through different ways to stop the flood, a portal opened beside him. A tall figure stepped out, silhouetted by the glow of the protodermis. It plunged a clawed hand into the molten substance as the portal closed behind it. Instead of screaming in pain, the figure remained still. Its armour began to glow and the flow of protodermis grew slower. Eventually Pohatu realized that the being was absorbing the heat from the protodermis into itself, and soon the substance cooled, hardening in the flowing shapes it had taken.

 

The golden armored titan glowed from the heat it had absorbed from the protodermis. It waved its hand in the air and a portal opened before it. The heat began to radiate off of it, jets of flame from the eyes, mouth, and hands, but also from the skin. The heat, now burst into flame, tore through the air and into the portal. Pohatu heard a noise from near the Coliseum, and when he looked, he saw that a much larger portal had opened up over the massive arena, and the flames were hurtling down into the Coliseum.

"What are you-!" Pohatu started to yell, but Brutaka cut him off.

 

"We discovered a large, cold furnace of protodermis. We have now relit the fire and restored the protodermis to its molten state. We have prepared these resources to aid in the rescue effort." Brutaka, now cooled down and no longer glowing, often still spoke in the third person, as he had ever since he absorbed the essence of the Makuta's Antidermis. But it was clear that a battle was being waged within him, and he hated speaking in that way. Brutaka snarled in frustration, muttered "I'll cut it out of the lizard if I have too", and vanished into a portal.


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Chapter 8

The construction New Atero was well underway. A great deal of deliberation and thought had been put into the location of the construction site. It was felt that an area located in the desert would be appropriate, as a reminder of the Shattering and a warning to future generations of the consequences of war. The geographical shape of the land had to be considered as well; though the crowning jewel of he city was to be the New Arena Magna, New Atero would also be much larger than the original Atero. After all, the population of Spherus Magna had dramatically increased in recent times-people needed places to live. In the end, the crater made by the impact of Mata Nui and the mask of life had been selected. It took some time to find, as Metus, the only one who had actually seen the site, had disappeared after his transformation was rumored to have been reverted. But Mata Nui had told Ackar the story once and had described the area, and after a search of the lands surrounding the Vulcanus lava flow, the crater had been found. New Atero would be a monument to Mata Nui, who came to Bara Magna to prepare the foundation of their new home, both literally and metaphorically. 

With teams of Agori and Glatorian working with various Toa (especially Toa of Stone and Iron), construction was proceeding along quite smoothly. While the actual buildings of the city had yet to be completed, hundreds of ramshackle huts had been put up to shelter the workers from the elements. It was to one of these huts that a quiet Agori from the Ice Tribe was headed. 

He had been part of a team assigned to Toa Hewkii and had been hauling containers of sand to the Toa, who then compressed them into bricks for the buildings. It had been a long, hot, tiring day, and he was ready to rest. The sun was setting, and as the air began to cool down, the workers began to relax. Some of the other Agori were learning how to play Kohli from some of the Matoran. A few of the Agori from his team waved at him, inviting him over, but he smiled, shook his head, and walked to his hut. 

He pulled back the curtain that acted as a door to the igloo shaped sandstone dome, and walked inside. There was not much in the simple room, one bed with a blanket and a small chest with a few belongings inside. The Ice Agori sighed and placed his tools in the chest, sitting down on the edge of the bed. He would have gone to sleep right then, but he was expecting a visitor. 

When the visitor had actually arrived, the Agori had just nodded off and woke with a start. A Toa with white and silver armor walked across the room and sat beside the Agori. The Agori looked up at the Toa of Light gave a tired smile.

"So you found me then."

 

Takanuva looked at the smaller figure beside him and sighed. 

"Hello Miserix." 

 


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Chapter 9

"... And so I felt I had no other option" the shapeshifted Makuta said with a haggard voice. "I fought Teridax when he wanted to rebel against Mata-Nui, but I am still a Makuta. I am hated for the crimes committed by my people. I went into hiding. It was my hope to wait until New Atero was completed to reveal myself." 

Takanuva sighed. He knew Miserix was right, his presence could upset the delicate relationships that the Agori and Matoran were forming. The new society they were forming had the potential to be a paradise, but there was distrust and fear on both sides. The last thing anyone needed was an enormous shapeshifting Makuta wanting to coexist. But difficult as the situation was, the leaders of the society needed to know. 

"Turaga Dume and Raanu need to know about you. Tomorrow I will send for them and they will decide what should be done. In the meantime, stay hidden." The golden armored stood and walked out of the hut without another word. The last Makuta was left alone in his hut. He laid down on his firm bed but he did not sleep that night. 

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Jaller was tired but content. The construction of New Atero was hard work, but it was fulfilling to see it take shape. He watched a group of Matoran try to teach some of the Agori how to play Kohlii in a clearing near the huts. A hand grabbed his shoulder as an old friend came up behind him. "If we had gone up against these teams at the tournament, Ta-Koro would have had a pair of champions."

Jaller grinned as he turned to face Takanuva. "Seems that being Kohlii champions was far too great a title for us-it's our burden to settle merely for saving the universe." The two Toa chuckled and embraced like brothers. Then they sat down behind one of the huts, reclining against it to watch the match. Jaller tapped the tip of his sword on the ground, starting a small fire to keep away the night's chill. The two friends watched the small figures running around the makeshift arena. Some of the Agori were really getting into it, sprinting and yelling and hurling the ball as hard as they could. There was only one actual Kohlii stick that one of the Matoran happened to have, so they were playing in the old style with their hands. 

Jaller noticed that Takanuva wasn't watching the match, but kept looking at one particular hut not too far from where they sat. The Toa of Fire was worried about his friend: Takanuva looked like he was just tired, but Jaller knew him better than that. All of the disputes that the Toa of Light had been moderating, all the arguments and distrust between the two societies that were attempting to merge weighed heavily on him. Eventually, the Toa of Light quietly spoke. "Do you ever wonder what..... Do you ever wish that we had won that tournament?" Takanuva didn't look at Jaller, but stared into space absently. 

Jaller looked at his friend, concerned and curious. "What do you mean?" 

Takanuva sighed, frustrated but was more confused and distressed. "I mean, what if we had won the tournament? What if none of.... this happened? What if I had never found it?" 

Jaller knew exactly what his friend meant. Right before the Kohlii tournament, Takanuva, then called Takua, had found the Mask of Light which eventually turned him into the Toa of Light. "Well," Jaller said with a slight smile, "if you hadn't found it I bet you Vakama would have given you the lecturing of a lifetime for being late to the tournament." Jaller playfully punched his friend in the shoulder. 

Takanuva grinned. "I'm sure it's on his to-do list still. When we were migrating to Metru Nui he spent an hour scolding me for tricking him when I tilted the mask to made it look like you were the herald." Jaller burst out laughing, and Takanuva started laughing as well. 

They grew quiet for a time, and silently watched the Kohlii match. Eventually, the Matoran and Agori left one by one to get some sleep before the next day of work. Soon it was just the two Toa left. Jaller's fire went out, and the clearing was lit only by the stars and by a dim glow that constantly emanated from the Avohkii. Takanuva sighed again, and started to get up to leave.

"...Every day..." 

Jaller's quiet voice startled Takanuva, and he slowly sat back down, looking at his friend. The red Toa stared at the ground as he spoke.

"I wonder about that every day. All my life I've felt this... call. This calling to protect the places and people I love. That's why I became the captain of the Ta-Koro guard. But then I died, and then came back to life. After that, I knew it had to be my destiny. I can't help but think about all the sacrifices we've made and all the pain we've had to endure... I wonder... has it been worth it?" He sighed and closed his eyes, his pain showing in his expression. "Every time I close my eyes, some horror I've faced haunts me. The Piraka, the Rahkshi, the... things from The Pit..." He tilted his head back against the wall of the hut behind them, his eyes still closed. "I've been guarding the things I love for all my life, and I don't know if I'll ever be able to stop. When will it all finally be safe?" Takanuva felt his own thoughts being spoken by Jaller's words, and he shut his eyes tight as his heart ached and despair fought to overwhelm him. 

But soon he felt Jaller's hand on his shoulder once more, and he opened his eyes. His friend was looking directly at him. "When we were fighting the Barraki and I was getting ready to unleash a Nova Blast, I was afraid. I was so exhausted from the fight that I wasn't sure if even would be able to survive. I can remember what it's like to be... dead. And I was afraid." Slowly, the gleam came back to Jaller's eyes and he relived the moment, and a contented smile very slowly began to spread across his face. "But I thought of all the people we were fighting to protect. I thought of the Great Spirit, and I thought of all the Matoran I fight to protect. I was fighting for this!" He waved his hand at the partially constructed New Atero. "Yes, relations are struggling and there are still threats. But utopia is coming! Peace is coming! Every brick that is laid down is building a foundation of trust and hope. For every angry and fearful citizen there are three more who embrace our new culture! We are building a city of peace my friend! These are our dreams being realized! This is what we protected Mata Nui for." 

Jaller's enthusiasm was contagious, and Takanuva felt hope welling up within himself for the first time in days. He answered Jaller's smile with one of his own. 

"Well, I guess it's not all that bad then is it?" 

"No my friend, it is not." 

The two Toa, encouraged by each other, stood up and prepared to go to their huts for some sleep before the next day of work. But before they left the clearing, a large portal opened up in the sky. A golden armored titan fell out of the portal and smashed through the roof of one of the huts. Before either Toa could react, Brutaka leapt back into the portal, clutching a small white figure in his claws. The two Toa sprinted towards the portal, racing to enter it before it closed. Jaller yelled over his shoulder "just like old times!" 

As they hurled themselves through the air, Takanuva called back "by the way, there's something you should know about that particular Agori..." 

With that, they vanished through the portal just as it closed. Two Matoran were woken up by the noise, but they soon went back to sleep. 


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Chapter 10

When he was first assigned this task, Vastus was excited but also nervous. Officially, the mission was to begin preliminary exploration of the jungles of Bota Magna, but in reality it was just an opportunity to develop relationships between the Jungle Agori and Le-Matoran on his team. The veteran Glatorian at the time couldn’t have thought of anything more important or more tedious. He prefered to let others work with the larger groups while he was most comfortable to mentor just a few at a time. And admittedly, the first few days were awful. His patience had been tested in ways he didn't realize possible. Matoran pestering him with questions in that exasperating treespeak dialect, the timid Agori panicking every time they heard a strange sound, not to mention that blasted Tarduk nearly killing himself on a regular basis by climbing trees and running off to explore alone. But he had to admit that the quirky little group was beginning to grow on him. It was heartening to watch friendships develop between them, and it was encouraging to see the timid ones being inspired and empowered by the brave ones. He smiled to himself as he watched the group scamper about through the jungle. He had shown them in the past how to build a shelter out of tree branches, leaves, and vines, but today it was their job to build the shelter while he stood watching from a distance. A Le-Matoran who had gathered a number of vines together hauled the tangled mass over to where the structure was being raised. Dropping them in a pile, he worked together with an Agori to wrap the long thick vines around the exterior while another Matoran used the smaller ones to tie sticks together for the frame. Two Agori were in the trees gathering large leaves to cover the walls of the hut after everything else was done. 

He smiled as he watched with his hands clasped behind his back. The little newcomers were different to be sure, but they had an enthusiasm they brought to whatever they did. "The Agori and the Matoran will learn much from each other" he mused. He sighed contentedly. They were doing fine on their own. Finally he had some time to himself. Vastus was known for his commitment to meditation, normally meditating multiple times a day, sometimes for hours on end. But with this group in his constant care he had simply been too busy to meditate for several days, and it was taking a toll on him. He was normally a very patient warrior, but even the wisest and most patient beings had their breaking points, and he was surprised to realize how close he had come to reaching his. He took a long deep breath and visibly relaxed on the exhale, expelling all the tension and stress from his body. "Just some time to re-center myself" he reflected as he slowed his heart rate with his careful breathing. Closing his eyes and tilting his head back he listened to the sounds of the jungle fade away, and a stillness came to his heart. Yes. This is exactly what he needed. 

Presently, he sensed someone approaching from behind. He opened his eyes. The sun was just barely beginning to set, and it took him a moment to reorient himself to the realities of the present moment before him. The Agori and Matoran had the frame and basic structure of their hut completed, and now they were laying down the leaves to build up the walls. Turning, he saw one of the Le-Matoran running up to him with that funny little gait they had. Even after months of walking on the ground, they still felt clumsy and awkward away from their natural environment of the treetops. There was something humorous about the way they almost hopped from foot to foot, as if they brought their enthusiasm even into the very way they moved. Perhaps even he could have something to learn from their spirited vigor. Vastus smiled to himself again and knelt on one knee to bring himself down to the Matoran’s height. 

“Yes little one? Do you have something to tell me?”

Tamaru came up to Vastus and started talking urgently and rapidly, gesturing wildly with his hands. “Toa-hero Vastus! With happy-smile Tarduk Tamaru think-talk and seek-find how to spirit-lift Toa-hero Vastus! We deep-think and terrible-bad dark-luck if we wrong-turn in huge-big deep-wood and ever-forget quick-fast ground-path to bald-land. Like ever-quick leaf-runner in tree-bright Le-Koro, rapid-quick up-tree to top-leaf! Proud-stand Tamaru quick-see spirit-blessed smart-plan, true way-finders we seek-find bald-land and ever-remember how to quick-find at far-distance! Rapid-quick down-tree like true-shot vines-man. Way-finder Tamaru late-knowing realize Tarduk wrong-turn and quick-vanish! Quick-return to Toa-hero Vastus, crave-need spirit-lift smart-plan quick-fast to seek-find Tarduk! Rapid-quick or hard-luck Tarduk seek-find fear-dread deep-wood dark-time!”   

Vastus stared at Tamaru blankly for a few moments, slight confusion on his face. Presently, the old warrior hesitantly ventured a guess. “So.... are you.... happy?” Tamaru yelled in exasperation and started talking even faster and gesturing even more wildly.

A nearby Agori was passing by with a bundle of tree branches under his arm. He called over his shoulder to translate for the warrior: “Tamaru and Tarduk climbed a tree and Tarduk got lost.” Tamaru started nodding furiously.

Vastus gave an irritated moan and bowed his head limply. “Right. Of course. The one time I close my eyes.” He gave a long sigh. “Ok. Let’s go find him.” He looked over at his staff leaning against a tree nearby, but he didn’t move right away. He just stared at it for a bit, indecision on his face, as if he were trying to decide whether or not to actually get up and go rescue Tarduk yet again.

Tamaru was already running off into the trees, yelling over his shoulder. “Rapid-quick! Past-late to seek-find Tarduk! Deep-wood huge-big, leaf-runners little-small, crave-need ever-quick fast-chase! Happy-smile Tarduk maybe hard-fall from top-leaf! Fast-chase! Ever-quick!”

Vastus gave a long sigh that turned into a frustrated grunt of resignation, and with annoyance quickly grabbed his staff and set off at a light jog. As he chased after the enthusiastic Matoran, he muttered to himself “I wonder of Malum needs any help with his Vorox...”

Edited by MoarBotar
Grammar/clarity edits

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Chapter 11

The two warriors sized each other up through the hot, hazy smoke. Axonn held his axe in both hands, ready to turn the stationary object into a whirling extension of himself. Surel's dagger, crudely made from a broken fragment of a once-great sword, was held loosely in one hand. With his other hand he clutched an old staff that he leaned heavily on. The exiled glatorian carefully studied Axonn, a slight smile on his face. "You don't know me, do you?" Surel muttered, almost more to himself than to the titan before him. 

"I know many faces" Axonn replied cautiously, not wanting to reveal anything to the stranger. He glanced towards the raging volcano in the distance, then back at the pale warrior. 

Surel looked at Axonn, then turned to face the volcano, then back at Axonn. He looked back at the volcano again. One of the wolves nearby snarled at Axonn, but the Alpha gave a short growl that checked the other wolf's aggression. Suddenly, a look of sudden realization appeared on Surel's face, and he gave a delighted chuckle. He slammed the bottom of his staff on the ground a few times as he laughed, and then looked back at Axonn. He quietly spoke to himself. "I see. It's all about to happen! Of course..." Then the glatorian snapped back to the matter at hand. He spoke again, this time addressing Axonn. "Now, I know what you are hunting, but there are some things you need to know. First off" he pointed towards the mountain spewing fire "that should be the site of an extinct and long dead volcano. Second, you will meet someone as you approach the mountain. You will require his help to regain the object you seek. Third, take this wolf with you." He bumped his staff against the side of the younger wolf, releasing it into Axonn's command. The wolf reluctantly walked over towards the silver warrior, quietly growling at Axonn. Surel continued "the one you meet will need its help. Lastly, remember this: everything will fail and fall apart unless you tell him exactly what he needs to know." With that, the mysterious figure turned and began to disappear into the smoke, leaving the growling wolf with Axonn. 

The wise old titan was confused, and wanted to follow after the glatorian, but his errand was urgent. He set off at a run towards the massive volcano, the ill-tempered wolf skulking about through the smog. Axonn reflected on what Surel had said to him. "... extinct and long dead volcano..." It was true. The volcano hadn't naturally erupted in several millennia, since before times long forgotten. The Great Beings had chosen it as the site of one of their laboratories, which they had constructed in the Valley of the Maze-a series of natural chasms and ravines that had been sculpted and carved into an organized and logical maze. But now the volcano was extremely active, and the Valley of the Maze was a jumble of senseless natural ravines. It was the first sign Axonn had seen in weeks of the creature that he hunted. Though, to be precise, it was not the creature that he was hunting so much as the mask which it had stolen.

His thoughts were interrupted by something that had silently crept up behind him and now held a sword to his throat. The unseen attacker spoke in Axonn's ear: "I don't know who you are or what you are doing here, but Angonce ordered me to-" He was cut off when the Iron Wolf that had been following Axonn leapt at the attacker and pinned him down. Axonn spun around to face his assailant, who had thrown the wolf off of himself and was now scrambling to his feet. The Iron Wolf snarled at the figure, but suddenly stopped and cocked its head, giving off a confused grunt. Axonn brandished his axe, ready to cut down the figure, but then stopped and stared at him, confused. 

Though he was considerably younger and wore much nicer armour, the unscarred face was unmistakable, and even his voice was recognizable now that Axonn saw him. Somehow this was Surel. Yes, the more Axonn looked at him the more clearly he saw him. Even the armour was the same set-the exact same set in fact, but before it had been broken and battered by use. Still, Axonn had to be sure. "Tell me your name-but be warned, this is a Kanohi Rode, it will tell me if you are lying." Even as he tapped his mask, he remembered the other Surel's words: "... Your Rode can't help you now..." Axonn thought to himself "'exactly what he needs to know'... better think carefully about what I say then".

The younger warrior, now standing upright again, stared at Axonn. Seemingly distracted from Axonn's question, he quietly spoke to himself "... Kanohi..." The word was familiar, but he could not remember where he had heard it before. Abruptly a look of realization crossed the younger warrior's face. "Kanohi! Angonce was telling me about them-helmets of power... but they aren't finished, yet you wear one?" 

Axonn replied calmly, becoming increasingly certain of the connection the more he carefully watched the other figure. "Yes I wear one, and if it tells me you are lying I'll let you know-with my axe. Now tell me: are you Surel?" 

"Yes" the young warrior seemed to relax slightly, but he still held his sword tight. "Now you tell me who you are-and how you got that mask." 

Axonn’s Rode confirmed the younger warrior’s words. The old Surel's words echoed in Axonn's head once again, and he carefully replied. "I don't know if I can tell you that, but I can tell you this: I am hunting a creature with another Kanohi, a mask of time. I don't know what exactly is going on here, but I'm beginning to think that the mask is somehow behind all... this." He waved his hand towards the thick haze of smoke as he spoke.

Surel nodded as Axonn finished his reply. "Yes, it is strange for the volcano to be erupting at this time of year." The white warrior lowered his sword as he looked at the ash and smoke. 

"Well where I come from, it is strange for the volcano to erupt at any time of year" Axonn cringed behind his mask and inwardly scolded himself "only tell him what he needs to know.He continued, but more carefully this time. "Look, I was told I would need your help to get the mask back, and I was told you would know how to handle this wolf. But I was also told that I cannot tell you anything beyond what you need to know. Will you help me?" 

Surel looked thoughtfully at the Iron Wolf. "I have been thinking about trying to train some of these wolves, and this one seems pretty reasonable." It was true. The Iron Wolf, perhaps realizing that this was its master (though from a different time), was now standing quite calmly and obediently at Surel's side. The young warrior looked back towards the mountain in the distance. "Angonce did ask me to see what was disturbing the mountain" Surel thought to himself. Finally, he looked back at Axonn. "Who told you these things?"

Axonn started to speak, then stopped himself. He pondered how to best proceed, then finally spoke with carefully measured words. "I don't know who he was, but he trusted you, and I have no other option than to trust him and you in turn." 

Surel seemed to accept this. He looked at the wolf, then at Axonn once more. "So what must I do?" 

~~~

Axonn had to sprint to keep pace with the swift Iron Wolf. Once it recognised its former master, the wolf became obedient to Surel's every command. All Surel had to do was figure out how to command it. It didn't take long for him to figure out how to ride the wolf, though of course only he could ride. Axonn was too for the wolf to carry even if he were alone. Besides, of the two, Axonn had more stamina to run longer. "Though this one will have to develop his own stamina if he's gonna survive as many fights as it looked like he did earlier" Axonn mused. He shook his head. This time-displacement stuff was confusing. They were approaching the base of the volcano, where Axonn thought Voporak would be. They would need to be cautious though, the creature could emanate a strange force field that could manipulate time itself-a being could die from old age and decay into dust in a matter of seconds just by being near it. The plan they had come up with was simple. Once they snuck up close enough to the creature, Axonn would hurl Surel at Voporak, Surel would grab the Vahi, then get it back to Axonn as soon as he could. In the meantime, Axonn would attack the creature to try and distract it. The plan hinged on Surel's presence. Because he was younger and smaller, Axonn was counting on being able to throw the warrior quite far quite fast. More than that, because the warrior was so young, he would take slightly longer for Voporak's abilities to age him to death.  Axonn had managed to figure out approximately what time Surel came from. Based on that, Axonn guessed that Surel could probably survive for approximately three seconds. The only concern Axonn had was, ironically, also Surel's presence. The mask of time was extremely powerful, but Axonn had never heard of it being used to displace someone from their place in time-let alone an entire mountain. Whatever Voporak's plan was, it needed to be stopped. 

There was a small ledge around some sort of natural crater at the base of the volcano. That crater was where they thought Voporak was. Surel dismounted and the trio crept silently towards the ledge. They peered over the edge and spotted their quarry. Voporak stood in the middle of the crater, his arms outstretched in the hazy air. The Kanohi Vahi hovered above him, surrounded by a swirling vortex of golden light. Occasional bursts of energy leapt from the vortex, striking the ground nearby in the form of golden lightning bolts. Axonn had never seen anything like that vortex before, though it somehow reminded him of the portals Brutaka was always conjuring up. It almost looked like the creature was trying to use the mask to summon something-or someone. "That can't be good" Axonn thought to himself. 

"That light..." Surel whispered to Axonn. "I saw a golden light right before I saw you... I must have been pulled through that vortex somehow."

That made Axonn pause. He had no idea what Voporak was doing, and he had no idea if it could be replicated. "That vortex might be the only way to return you to your time" Axonn whispered back. 

Surel took a deep breath and set his face with grim determination. "I'm prepared to stay if I must. We must do whatever it takes to make sure Voporak does not alter the course of events." 

"You're right" Axonn replied. "That's why it is imperative that you return to your time." Surel began to protest, but Axonn cut him off and stared him in the eyes. "You must return to your time. If you stay, then everything will fail and fall apart." 

Surel looked confused, but soon accepted Axonn's instructions. "So what's the plan now?" 

"Well, normally the Vahi can only slow or speed up time in a particular area, so my guess is that as soon as... whatever it's doing is interrupted, that portal will begin to close. You need to enter through it as quickly as possible. I will deal with Voporak myself." 

"Ok" Surel took a deep breath, then suddenly stopped. "Wait, am I alive in your time?"

Axonn paused, unsure how to answer. "I don't know if you need to know that..."

"That's exactly what I need to know!" Surel pleaded with the titan.

Axonn stopped. "... Everything will fail and fall apart unless you tell him exactly what he needs to know" Axonn muttered to himself, remembering the old Surel's words.

"What?" the young Surel asked, confused. 

Axonn looked at him and didn't hesitate for another second. "Yes. You are alive in my time." 

Surel looked back at Voporak, a small smile on his face. "After this, find me." Axonn nodded. He couldn’t help noticing that Surel wore the same expression that the old Surel had worn when he realized what Axonn was about to do.  The younger warrior took a deep breath. "Ok, let's do this."  

"Right" Axonn replied. With that he jumped to his feet, hauling Surel up with one hand and with the other aimed his axe at the ground around Voporak's feet. He unleashed a barrage of energy bolts around Voporak's footing, throwing the creature off balance. It caught sight of them and glared at Axonn. Surel whistled a command to the wolf nearby. The Iron Wolf tore across the surface of the crater, snarling and growling. It leapt at Voporak's face before he could activate his force field. “Well, I’m glad that worked” Surel muttered. With the wolf clawing at his eyes and snapping at his neck, Voporak was too preoccupied to pay attention to Axonn and Surel. The Vahi still hung in the air, the vortex swirling around it. "Now's as good a time as any" thought Axonn, so he slammed his axe into the ground beside him and grabbed Surel's feet with his now free hand. Hefting the young warrior over his head like a javelin, he called out "safe travels!" Then he gave a loud grunt as he hurled Surel with all his might. 

The young warrior sailed through the air faster than even Axonn expected. He was just a white blur as he flew through the smoke filled air towards the glow of the mask and the vortex around it. Just as he was about to grab it, a bolt of golden energy from the vortex happened to strike the Iron Wolf, knocking it off of Voporak's face. Looking up, Voporak suddenly saw Surel hurtling towards the mask, and he activated his force field, trying to envelop Surel within it. Voporak reached out with one clawed hand to grab the young warrior, but Surel pulled off his own helmet and slammed it down on Voporak’s claw. With the other hand, Surel grabbed the Kanohi Vahi. The second he disturbed the mask, the portal began to shrink and close. Axonn saw the rate that the vortex was closing at, and his heart fell. “He’s not gonna make it” he grimly realized.

Then, Surel slammed the Vahi onto his own face. Closing his eyes and calling on the power of the mask, he slowed time down around the portal until things barely moved-including the portal itself. Axonn blinked to make sure he was seeing things clearly. It was odd to be able to move normally, but to see time progress so slowly just a few feet away. Voporak’s field, though slowed by the time distortion, now enveloped the Iron Wolf. The poor creature was ash and bones before it knew what had happened. Surel was facing the vortex now, preparing to pass through. But Voporak was charging up its Rhotuka launcher. The swirling disk of energy would, once changed up, move fast enough to strike Surel, who was struggling to move and maintain the Vahi’s powers at the same time. He did not notice Voporak’s last desperate scheme. Axonn took in what was happening in seconds, and without a moment of hesitation threw his axe at Voporak. He knew he had no time to waste, even though he was not currently under the effects of the slowed time, as soon as his axe entered the area effected by the mask, its flight would be slowed. As the axe whistled through the air, Axonn began to sprint around the two figures in a wide circle, hurling bolts of energy at Voporak. Everything hung in the air as time slowed to a near standstill. Surel heard the axe whistling through the air, and turned to look even as he stepped into the portal. With one hand he caught the axe, and seeing Voporak’s launcher for the first time, used the axe’s momentum to swing the heavy weapon and severed the arm that held the launcher. Then, with the axe in one hand and his old helmet in the other, Surel passed through the vortex with the Vahi still on his face.

Several things happened at once. First, the Vahi, having traveled through the portal to Surel’s time, no longer affected the area in the crater. Thus, everything began to suddenly move in normal time. Voporak’s limb fell to the ground with a thud, as did the remains of the Iron Wolf. Voporak, who had been leaning forward trying to reach Surel, lurched forward and stumbled over his own limb. All the bolts of energy that Axonn had aimed at Voporak suddenly flew freely and slammed into the creature. There were well over twenty in total-Axonn had been too busy hurling them as fast as he could to keep track of how many there were. Voporak let out a bellow of pain that was suddenly cut short as it was destroyed. His corpse fell forward and hit the ground, never to rise again. All this happened in less than a second.

Axonn looked up to see that the sky had cleared and the volcano had returned to normal. The bright blue sky had a cool breeze in it that blew on Axonn’s face gently. He sighed, exhausted from expending so much of his energy at once. He cautiously approached the corpse, unsure if the field was still active. He got just close enough to pick up the metallic skull of the disintegrated Iron Wolf nearby. He looked at the skull in his hand, then at the corpse. He stood looking at Voporak for a long time. Then he turned to leave. Massive walls rose up before him where valleys and ravines used to be. “Ah, yes” he thought to himself. He rummaged through a small pouch at his hip until he found a small coin. The coin had the complex pattern of the Skrall shield on it, which happened to be the shape of the famed Valley of the Maze, where he now stood. He examined it for a moment, then set out towards an opening in the wall, tossed the coin in the air with his thumb, letting it spin for a moment, then caught it. He left the corpse behind as he pondered his place in the world and all the forces that had contrived together to bring him to his own time. He also pondered what Surel might be doing with his axe.  

 

*Addendum* 

I thought I'd add a few clarifying things here as these details didn't seem to fit naturally into any point of this chapter. First off, whatever Voporak was trying to accomplish (which will be discussed before too long), it was a complex and difficult task. Normally, the Great Volcano is dormant (its eruptions were mechanized by the Great Beings for safety reasons). But Voporak arrived at the volcano three days ago and had undergone several attempts to do what it was trying to do-the first few times failed, but the preliminary tests were powerful enough to alter the landscape around the volcano to its pre-mechanised state. The last test Voporak was conducting was interrupted by Axonn and Surel's attack. Surel was brought forward in time only by the last test-so though the volcano was active for three days, Surel only arrived on the last day. The tests were more time disruptions rather than actual time travel, so the volatile active condition (past) of the volcano was superimposed on the current volcano (present). 

My estimate puts young Surel's time somewhere shy of 300,000 years ago (near the beginning of recorded history, as the Great Beings were rising to power), making him quite young. I might (if I find enough time in my schedule) post a short story about some of young Surel's doings in the past-stay tuned! 

I've always thought that Voporak's accidental attack on the Shadowed One was a relatively weak show of power, seeing as in Destiny War he aged a Order of Mata Nui member "tens of thousands of years" in a few seconds with ease (the Shadowed One only aged 3000 years and it took about the same amount of time). So it seems to me that he can control the rate which his force field speeds up time, thus enabling him to turn the wolf to ash.

I did intentionally use "it" and "him" interchangeably for Voporak-he seems to me to be on the cusp between being a creature and being a person. I kinda pity it, his is a tragic story.

Things start to heat up now! Again, comments are welcome here: http://www.bzpower.com/board/topic/28099-universe-of-the-cyclical-paradigm-review-topic/

Edited by MoarBotar

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