Stelt, 993 years after Great Cataclysm
Emeder tried to concentrate on the task at hand despite the chaos as primitive knives, daggers, and more clashed against Tignioni’s sword and bursts of elemental flame whipped through the area. After the first container sank into the abyss there were only two left. After a few seconds passed Emeder thought he had figured out the loading crane’s controls. With a few motions, he positioned it over one of the containers and grappled it. A Zyglak that had climbed it for a height advantage began to try and destroy the grappling claw once it grabbed the target.
“Tignioni, get that monster!”
With a glance, Tignioni unleashed a torrential stream of fire onto the Zyglak. To prevent itself from being boiled within its armor, it jumped off, ran to the ocean, and dove into the water. “Still seven in fighting condition,” Tignioni observed. With that he leapt onto the container himself and crouched underneath the crane’s grabbing claw. “I’ll give you close cover from up here on top.” Emeder began to shift the container into position as Tignioni unleashed flames on the Zyglak, searing the streets and lacing the air with fire.
One of the Zyglak reared back, and removed a small package. It then hurled it at Tignioni. The throw was a miss and hit the container that the crane was moving through the air. One impact, it melted a hole in its side. Tignioni relayed the situation to Emeder, saying, “Uh…Drop this load.”
“Are you insane?”
“It’s not going to be watertight. It sustained some collateral damage from the Zyglak’s attacks.”
“Mauka dung,” Emeder cursed. “I’m dropping this in front of the other container so you can use it as cover and still keep the fighting from damaging the other container. That’s the only one left.”
“Understood. Drop me anytime.”
With a twist, the crane dropped the container and Tignioni with it.
Emeder successfully got hold of the only suitable container left and moved it over the water in preparation. Meanwhile, Tignioni began to shower the assembled Zyglak in front of him with a rain of fire from above. A lucky hit torched one Zyglak sufficiently enough that it fled for the sea, ignoring the container swinging in the wind at the end of Emeder’s crane. Another Zyglak became too confident and tried to leap up to Tignioni. With his height advantage from standing on top of the damaged container, Tignioni simply landed a massive, elementally-infused blow with his Charger Blade. The combined weight of the weapon and heat of the elemental energy smote the Zyglak to the earth so powerfully it hit the ground motionless and smoldering, presumably dead. “Five left,” Tignioni declared.
At this time, the engine of the boat was heard. In their heads Emeder and Tignioni heard a voice announce: It appears we have arrived before you two were reduced to Zyglak food. Good. I had only just gotten to know you guys and it’d be a shame to see you die so soon, Imegna added with a touch of humor.
Tignioni fell back from his roost and hopped into the back of the boat. Meanwhile, Emeder released the container into the ship. Guftivei then exclaimed “Perfect! That’s just the thing!” Emeder then abandoned the controls and ran down the length of the crane’s arm. As he reached the end he acrobatically bounced off of it and landed in the boat.
At this point the Zyglak were getting extremely close. Emeder called out to Tignioni. “Get moving! They’re almost on top off us!”
With a look of horror, Tignioni screamed “The engine stalled!”
Guftivei however, was unconcerned. “I know you’re a Fire Toa, so you’re naturally hot and bothered or whatever, but – chill. I got this!” Imegna, mind-reading his plan, gave him a mortified look and said “You can’t be serious. You’ll kill us all!”
“Nah, I won’t. At least I don’t think so.” With that he fired explosive darts from his modified Cordak blaster at the flimsy scaffolding supporting the giant explosive tank Emeder and Tignioni had noted as they entered the area. As soon as it crashed to the ground with a metallic thud, he fired at the tank itself. When it ruptured, a wall of flame coursed forward scalding all the remaining Zyglak…and then continuing onwards to the boat. The sheer velocity of the explosion would make uncontrollable even for Tignioni.
Emeder, however would save all four of them. With a burst of air he split the wall of fire in two. The two halves passed on either side of the boat, leaving its passengers unscathed.
After a few minutes, the unharmed, but badly shaken crew got the engine working again. With that, they sped off, leaving the blazing shores of the burning port on Stelt behind them.
Various locations, 993 years after Great Cataclysm
After Stelt, the party of four made the necessary modifications to prevent them from being injured in transit. A part was sectioned off to accommodate for weapons and padding prevented them from shifting too much on the rough seas that would follow. By the end, there was surprisingly little room left. As Guftivei put it “This is gonna be awfully intimate…,” earning a calculating glare from Imegna.
Upon arrival, Tignioni wanted to try and communicate with the villagers; maybe some were from his area before the Great Cataclysm. Imegna warned him against it, however. She spoke of hardships he would be devastated to learn of as well as endless distractions that could deviate them from their task. Reluctantly, he agreed to avoid meeting any of them, and the four hid away from any signs of civilization they came across.
On Voya Nui, little happened worth noting for a long time. Imegna located several beings that had shielded minds she couldn’t break through with her mind-reading…and it seemed they knew she was trying to get into their heads. She realized it was possible she had overlooked such beings in her previous information searches. How much information was she still in the dark about? All she gathered from these minds was something about an Order. An Order of Something or Other.
Finally she found what they were looking for. She could feel psionic waves similar to the light menace’s coming from somewhere underground. She didn’t know it, but it was the path to the Chamber of Life. They proceeded to it the next day.
A being in the caves felt his brain being searched and moved from his appointed cavern to the front of the underground pathway. He wanted to meet this mind-reading adversary as soon as possible.
That was why the group never came across any of the Chamber of Life’s trials. What they were coming for was ready – and it had come to them. That being had a name. And its name was Umbra.
Voya Nui, 993 years after Great Cataclysm
The cavern seemed to be a maw of stone gaping open in front of them. It almost felt as if energy emanated from deep within. Imegna announced that the source seemed to be inside, but everyone had already assumed as much. The cave just exuded an aura of power. Unable to cope with the knowledge that they were this close to the origin of the light menace, the four of them stood in silence, staring into the void ahead. It was Guftivei who initially broke the eerie calm. “Come on; I don’t care how freaky this whole thing is – we’re not doing any good just standing here.”
Guftivei blazed a path into the darkness followed by Tignioni and then Emeder. Imegna took the rear. A soon as she passed the threshold of the cave’s entrance, a cascade of rocks sealed it off and reduced vision to nothing. Light returned as Tignioni allowed a flame to flare up on his fingertips and then course down his arm. The glow was just enough for them to make out each other’s masks, or in Guftivei’s case, face. Worriedly, Tignioni spoke “That seemed too convenient to be natural. Someone knew we were coming…” Before any of the others could speculate, a voice echoed indistinctly, yet regally, around the walls from an indeterminate source.
“You judge correctly. I am Umbra, and you have trespassed on the 777 Stairs. I am here to honorably defeat and then dispose of those beings with soul that attempt to reach the Chamber of Life. Now you shall fall at my hand.” Instantly, chaos erupted.
“What in Karzahni’s…”
“ Stop! You don’t…”
Disregarding the protests, Umbra prepared to attack, transforming into light and illuminating the entire cavern, which now appeared to be a room of sorts. As he reflected off of the walls, Tignioni realized the time to avoid a conflict had ended and it was time to act. Taking note of this…Umbra’s extreme power, he decided to attract its attention to give the others a chance to formulate some sort of plan. He bellowed “Get me! I dare you!” and activated a Hau mask he had found many years ago. Umbra immediately charged him, still as a living beam of light, but he was in for a surprise. The Hau’s protection field reflected him off and he became trapped, reflected between the Hau’s shielding and one of the walls.
Emeder caught on to what was happening and began to shriek “He’s a light being! HE IS THE SOURCE! KILL HIM!” Imegna realized Emeder’s epiphany must have been correct and saw this as her queue to act. In a heartbeat, she projected every memory she had about the light menace into the consciousness of Umbra. As soon as she did this, the battle ended as suddenly as it had started. As the room lapsed into darkness once more, Umbra’s voice was heard “I understand now. You came about…that.”
Emeder, however, was not ready to end the conflict so quickly. “Murderer! Monster!” he ranted. “You killed them all! ALL OF THEM! I’m going to kill you!” he raged, lashing out randomly into the all-consuming darkness. Following the sound of Emeder’s shouts, Guftivei located him and wrestled him into a headlock. “That’s enough. We get your point. Now shut up or we’re never finding out the truth.”
“We can tell the truth clear enough!” Emeder retaliated, still in the headlock. “He caused all of this and we should kill him for everything he’s done.” Guftivei responded “Yah…sure, whatever. And then what about stopping the light thing? How will we ever find out how to do that with him dead?” As Emeder held his silence, Guftivei said “Yeah…Glad to see your brain started working again,” and released Emeder from the restraining grip.
Umbra spoke into the blackness. “As I stated earlier, I guard the Chamber of Life. Inside is a relic that could spell salvation or doom for our entire universe. In an attempt to strengthen the security measures, as would be a logical thing to do with an item of such power present, I tried to create a light elemental with my powers over light. It did not go as planned.”
Emeder was enraged by the nonchalance with which Umbra pronounced these words. “I’d say it didn’t go as planned- ”
“That’s enough, Emeder.” Tignioni cut him off. Then, to Umbra, he added “Continue.”
“My primary ability you have already witnessed: the ability to become living light. Other than that, I have limitations. I lost control over the Light Ravager I made and it broke loose. The Light Ravager was meant to kill any sentient it found and it attempts to complete this task wherever it goes. Fortunately, it cannot kill indefinitely without stopping now that my power no longer feeds it. Occasionally, weak areas between dimensional planes appear. From what I can tell, the Ravager forced one of these open into a plane where light and shadow exist almost as… substances.”
“How is that possible?” inquired Imegna.
“It isn’t, not in this dimensional plane. Other planes can have different elementary physical properties – different fundamental concepts of physics and science. There are alternate existences where gravity is non-existent, others where motion is impossible. Some may possess additional forces that are non-existent here. We call these dimensional planes...Realms. I’m surprised you aren’t familiar with the concept. You have had considerable exposure to a Realm over a different Rift.”
“The Realm of Thought. An existence where psychic energies fuel all fundamental forces such as gravity, kinetics, and the elements. It’s not entirely dissimilar to the Light and Shadow Realm the Ravager returns to, but based off of Psionics instead.”
“How can you know this?” Tignioni pressed.
“A being with the proper training can detect residues of Realm Rifts. She is coated in them. Of course the residues diminish with time if you do not remain in the vicinity of the Rift. With that diminishment, she will lose some of her unnaturally extreme control over her element. You build-up is massive, however. That could take years before you would notice your powers reverting to a normal state. You must have been in the proximity of the Rift for over a century.”
“…of course,” Imegna whispered. “My powers spiraling out of control that one day…the ability to read minds continents apart…it isn’t natural. My village must have been on the Rift.”
Umbra continued. “The Light Ravager travels to an area near the Sea Gate south of Metru Nui in order to travel through this forced-open portal to the Realm, where it recharges its energies before continuing with another genocidal act. The amount of time it spends in this Realm before it leads another attack varies from days to centuries with no logical pattern behind it. I know this because, having made it myself, I can track it with my mind. I regret to say I am powerless to stop it, and had I not been, my responsibilities here supersede the responsibility to stop it.”
Now understanding the situation, Tignioni finally asked the question they were all burning to ask: “How do we stop it then?” Silence fell in the darkened chamber as they all listened for the answer.
“It has grown wild with its abilities from feeding off of the Light and Shadow Realm. No being with powers over light will be able to stop it. Elemental Shadow is needed. The only beings I can think of with enough power to do so would be a Rahkshi of Shadow or a Makuta. At a time such as this, the Brotherhood of Makuta would only benefit from the chaos this monster causes. I am sorry…If only there were such things as Toa of Shadow…”
Silence paradoxically thundered away in the ears of the four heroes. Only a Rahkshi of Shadow or a Makuta? Imegna thought. How will we ever stop it!
Voya Nui, 993 years after Great Cataclysm
“Should you proceed with your attempt to defeat the Light Ravager, you have my endless thanks. Should you not, I wouldn’t blame you,” Umbra proclaimed. Then he concentrated light into a laser beam and obliterated the rockfall that had blocked the entrance. As daylight filtered into the chamber he said “I will see that you are sent back to the world below this one. Return to this cave at this time tomorrow with anything you wish to take along and I will have one that can send you back waiting for you.” With that, Umbra transformed into light again and disappeared into the depths of the 777 Stairs.
Each of them was lost in introspection that night, and none debated the horrifying news. How could they hope to stop it, now knowing what they did? Little discussion took place the next morning, either, as they prepared their materials and carried them to the cavern entrance. Waiting for them was a very tall blue and gold armored being.
Even now, Emeder could hardly control his temper. “So you’re the one sending us back? Get it over with; I’m sick of you fools that make monsters you can’t control.”
“Emeder!” Imegna cried. “That is hardly a just accusation. You heard what Umbra said about that Chamber of Life he is trying to protect.”
Surprisingly, the being agreed with Emeder. “No, he’s right! This incident is just another example of what a group of incompetents we are. The Order of Mata Nui - ”
“- is an organization trying everything it can to set things right. It just has flaws – like everyone, even you Brutaka. Perhaps your greatest flaw is just that: your lack of faith in the Order,” interjected a gray armored being who had just walked out from behind a stand of trees while toting a massive ax. “Plus, Umbra is only loosely connected with us. We need to keep the Chamber here safe, just in case the artifact inside is ever needed to save Mata Nui.”
Brutaka, as they now knew him to be called, viciously replied “Sure, Axxon, that’s assuming our Mata Nui hasn’t just died. I never have believed your ‘Great Spirit in coma’ theory anyway and you know it. You’re just another Kikanalo telling yourself the leader of the herd knows what it’s doing until the whole herd goes stampeding over a cliff.”
Axxon turned to address the assembled party. “I have to apologize on behalf of Brutaka. The self-appointed genius here seems to think the universe would continue to function even with the Great Spirit actually dead. As I said earlier, the Order is doing everything it can to set things right, but we haven’t been able to deal with Umbra’s Light Ravager because of the complications we have recently had in our undercover war with the Makuta. Luckily, we managed to make a couple key…neutralizations…but there always seems to be more trouble inbound.”
“You hunt Makuta?” asked Emeder incredulously.
“Them and their cohorts. It’s an uphill battle, but we’re making progress.”
“Then…I’m sorry about what I said,” Emeder apologized.
“Don’t worry. You didn’t know the whole story at the time. Now you do, so you best choose your friends and foes accordingly,” Axxon declared.
“Glad to hear we’ve sorted things out. We gonna go somewhere know?” inquired Guftivei.
Imegna still had questions, though. “Your mind…I can’t read it and I can read every mind on a continent, given enough time!…Or at least I thought I could. And what’s this about this Order of Mata Nui? I’m…interested…in what you’ve said.”
Axxon smiled. “Even you have some things to learn about the mind. As for the Order, I’ve told you more than I should have already, but I felt you had a right to know. Listen to this, if you choose to take down the Light Ravager, the Order will notice you. We’ve wanted it out of the picture for a while. You have no obligation to do as much, but should you do so, the Order will make sure you know more about them. You can continue on with your lives in peace, or you can take down the Ravager – it’s your choice. Now, it is time for you to leave.”
Brutaka spoke up. “Use your psionics to give me a view of a destination.” With that, Imegna projected an image of the foothills leading up to the mountains where her cavern resided. Before anyone could ask what Brutaka meant to do, a dimensional portal, created by his Kanohi Olmak, opened with that exact spot visible on the other side.
Guftivei grinned and yelled “Awesome!” before leaping through. Tignioni wordlessly followed. Emeder gave one glance backwards to Axxon as if to say “I understand now; don’t worry” before he too went through the portal. Only Imegna was left. She turned to Axxon. “I don’t have any idea how we will, but we’re defeating it, whatever it takes. We won’t let you down.” Then Imegna did something very strange: she winked at Axxon.
“I thought I could count on you. Now go. Your future awaits you,” Axxon knowingly declared. Brutaka simply gave a curt nod of acknowledgment. With that, Imegna entered the portal and stepped onto the arid foothills on the Northern Continent. She had made a promise…and nothing in realm of Karzahni would stop her from fulfilling it. The conquest to put an end to the Light Ravager had finally begun in earnest.
End Part 2