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Lightfall - Paths Of Warriors

light shadow lightfall part 3 paths of warriors

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#1 Offline Maganar

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Posted May 20 2012 - 11:08 PM

It's time for things to heat up in Lightfall. If you've missed out on the action so far, start out right here. For the central hub of Lightfall, go to the review topic. Now, if nothing else must be said, I think some of the epic's characters have debts to settle...and they would like to started. Like...Right. Now.

Part 3 – The Paths of Warriors

Chapter 22

Zakaz, 995 years after the Great Cataclysm

“…So you’re up to it then?” said a gray-armored Toa. A squad of Skakdi restlessly waited around him. “Sure, Toa. If we’re in on the bounty, we got your back,” responded a vicious overlord, the leader of these Skakdi mercenaries. The Toa said “Then we’re sealing the transaction, I get one third of the total payment from AlBeGam, your party gets the other two-thirds to split as you see fit. I still support the 50-50 split - ”

“Shut it, Toa, if you want your deal. The time for haggling is over - now it’s business or bust.”

“Fine. Then let’s go. Reiterate your squad’s names again, Falkhan. I got to call them something.”

“That’s Chief Falkhan. As for my squad, that’s Rayzan there, our demolitions expert. Krazann here specializes in close combat, and is generally our primary combatant. Morgoz is the last one. He makes sure nothing escapes alive, so he’s a secondary brawler and long-range specialist.”

“A well-balanced group. I suppose that’s why you stood out to me when I went looking for a team. Our destination is here,” said the Toa, pointing at a cove of the Northern Continent on a tattered map. There’s…some sort of fortress there, which is why I needed aid. Rayzan will be indispensable into gaining access. I believe our targets are holed up inside with the aid of at least two other Toa.”

The deal was made. The Toa in question wanted no longer just wanted payment, but also revenge. Revenge for the fool they had made him appear to be on Stelt. Order must be established once again. Justice must be dealt. Rynekaad was going to set things straight.

Chapter 23

Northern Continent, 995 years after the Great Cataclysm

“Well, this is bad,” sighed Emeder. Guftivei contradicted “What? I was getting sick of just sitting here. Time we put things in motion!” After mentally scanning numerous areas to assess the situation, Imegna had found the mind of Rynekaad. She had just notified them of his intentions.

“Don’t forget, he doesn’t actually know what’s going on here. He thinks the fortress down the cove is under our control. He doesn’t realize we have been trying to break into it for over a year already, waiting for the opportune moment,” reminded Imegna.

The fortress was formerly a Brotherhood of Makuta outpost. It had since been abandoned, but the building still swarmed with their forces. After Imegna had approximated its location with psionic searches, they set out to pinpoint the exact location with traditional exploration. This had taken the better part of the last year. Now that they had found it, they had set camp for a few weeks, uncertain of what step to take next. They wanted to infiltrate it in order to obtain a very specific prize: shadow leeches.

After the revelation about the power of the Light Ravager, Imegna had been the least fazed. Certain some way to defeat it existed, she searched her memory of mind-reads to ascertain a feasibly obtainable shadow substance. After discussing possibilities she knew of with the others, the general consensus was that their primary objective would be to steal shadow leeches from a Makuta facility. This outpost, abandoned by its original overlords, seemed like a perfect starting point…until they saw the Rahkshi patrolling it. The party had remained unnoticed so far and determined that there were at least two Exo-Toa suits, a minimum of ten Rahkshi (quite possibly as many as twenty), and who knew what else. Imegna’s mind-reading was unsuccessful in obtaining more information as she had little practice with the unusual minds of kraata, if they could even be considered to have minds.

“How did he ever find out we were here?” Tignioni questioned. Imegna answered “It wasn’t clear in what I saw…sometimes - fine, frequently, I only get fuzzy views when trying to use my psionics over such distances or vast groups of people. When I said I read the minds of everyone in several continents, I didn’t mean that it was simultaneous or clear. It was in groups and often very vague.”

“Honestly, we passed several settlements on the way here. He could have been tipped off by someone in one of those, or he could have been in one himself. Long-range scouting on his part may have made it clear to him we were in the area and he might have assumed we were in the fortress when he saw it,” contributed Emeder. “We’re totally fried either way.”

“Nah…I say the fun’s just beginning,” said Guftivei. “Seriously, I say we blow that rock pile sky-high!” Even Tignioni had a hard time agreeing with this call to action.

“Actually, Guftivei –” Imegna started “Your enthusiasm just gave me a great idea. Somehow, I have a creeping suspicion that Tignioni isn’t going to like it too much…”

Chapter 24

Northern Continent, 995 years after the Great Cataclysm

Rynekaad and Falkhan surveyed the beach. “This looks good. Relatively unassuming, near the ship, fortress in view. Get your squad over here with our supplies, Chief, and we got a camp.” Rynekaad said as they found a seaside opening behind a cluster of boulders. On a hostile rise above them was the fortress, but the boulders would prevent anything from seeing their camp. The terrain was simply austere. Crags of sharp rock existed in place of soil and rubble was littered around the area. Sickly bushes clung to life as unforgiving salty winds raced inland from the ocean. The fortress was about three hundred bios inland and their camp was set almost on the beach and skewed away from it by a slight amount to the right. The fortress walls were about twelve to fifteen bios in height. Sheer escarpments rose up a hundred or so bios out from either side of the fortress with the only gap being a valley that the fortress had been situated in the center of. The cliffs themselves were about thirty bios tall, with talus slopes cascading down them at intervals. Atop these cliffs were thickets of undergrowth that thrived at their elevation, free of the harsh winds in the valley. The valley, by its very nature, funneled foul weather both from the continent and the ocean to this point, leading to perpetually gray skies.

- - -

Tignioni looked down from the cliff face. From his vantage point he could see everything: the abandoned Makuta outpost to the northwest, the bounty hunter camp to almost straight west, even his own camp to the north. His camp was difficult to see from his spot due to thickets of trees obscuring it. Matter of fact, all he could see of it was the glow of the campfire. Rynekaad and his Skakdi were just getting settled in. Now was his time. With a deep breath in preparation, he jumped off the edge and began to slide down a talus slope.

- - -

“What in the name of Irnakk?” Falkhan asked himself. Not removing his eyes from the red streak hurtling toward the ground, he called out “Rynekaad, what do you make of this?” Rynekaad came over to assess the source of Falkhan’s confusion. As soon as he saw it though, he was flabbergasted. At the center of a dust cloud that was just starting to dissipate was the very Toa of Fire that had possessed the audacity to challenge him on Stelt. “Get him!” he roared. The rush to secure the enemy wasn’t all that necessary, however. The Fire Toa was almost incapacitated after riding an avalanche of rubble down to the valley bottom. The Toa glanced up to see every Skakdi in the squad with armaments trained on him. He dropped his sword at his feet. Rynekaad stalked forward and removed one of the conventional daggers from the row strapped over his chest, then held it to the newcomer’s throat. “Well, if it isn’t Red Head again.” “It’s Tignioni, if you wanted my name.” “I’ll remember that Hot Shot. Get it? Fire, Hot?” Rynekaad continued, the dagger steady the entire time. “Funny.” “You betcha’ fancy mask I’m funny.” “Right. Um…so, I’m formally handing myself over. If you will just let me go when the battle’s over, I’ll tell you everything you need to know.” “Considering there’s no price on your head, I say we got a deal. But first, I want to know just why you suddenly seem all excited to get on our side of things, when you pulled a sword on me back in Stelt. If I even smell a lie, I’m going to let my Skakdi acquaintances have fun with you. From what they’ve told me, they’re pretty creative when it comes amusing themselves. How’s this sound to you, Chief?” “Fun.” “And you, Red Head?” “Fine by me; I’ve nothing to hide. Just one question: Why do you call me Red Head when my mask is yellow? As I said, you can call me Tignioni.” Ignoring the question, Rynekaad concluded “Deal. We’re taking you back to camp Hot Shot…”

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#2 Offline Maganar

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Posted May 21 2012 - 10:56 PM

Chapter 25Northern Continent, 995 years after the Great Cataclysm Sure enough, there were Rahkshi aiding Emeder, Rynekaad observed. He could see them flying like a swarm of insects over the fortress. It was unfortunate that Tignioni had been right when he said he was certain he’d seen Emeder bargain with a wild Rahkshi leader. The story seemed a bit outlandish until Tignioni had elucidated that Emeder had come across a Kanohi Rau and used it to translate the Rahkshi “language.” If Tignioni was right, there were about five to eight Rahkshi inside. A formidable force, but these Skakdi were the best of the best. It should still be possible. Of course, the Exo-suits would be nothing – just a little magnetic power and they would be scrap. He looked to Falkhan. “Let’s put and an end to these pitiful fools. They need to learn you can’t evade the law.” Falkhan, in turn, looked to his squad. Then he yelled “Charge!” As the five attackers raced up the incline with wind whipping their faces, nothing happened for the first hundred bios. After that, it became a nightmare. A rock by Rayzan exploded into dust. Chain lightning, ignited by a Rahkshi in the fort, rained down. Blasts from the Exo-Toa suits peppered the ground. Rynekaad was nearly struck by a projectile, but recovered in a stumble. “Morgoz, find a spot at this distance and cover from afar!” Falkhan ordered. As the others scrambled onwards over the rocks, Morgoz found a cleft in a large boulder and hunkered down, ready to provide covering fire with his long-range weaponry. Still about a hundred bios left to go, thought Rynekaad. At this distance, his magnetic powers would be effective. Spotting the Exo-Toa, he prepared to use his power. With only mild mental exertion, he crumpled both suits into one metallic ball. The he flung the conglomeration into the fortress wall, but it was insufficient to destroy the sturdy construction. As soon as he had done so, he was struck from behind. For a moment, Rynekaad was sure he was living his last moments. A Rahkshi had somehow flanked him and now raised its staff. He was incapacitated on the ground and defenseless. Then, with the sound of rending armor, a hole tore its way straight through the Rahkshi’s body. Rynekaad didn’t stop to question what wicked weapon had dealt that damage to the Rahkshi. The kraata inside must have been reduced to atomized meat. Whatever it was Morgoz had done from his concealed location, Rynekaad was indebted to him for it. He caught up with the others. Explosions hurtled through the air all around. Rayzan had set an explosive charge up on the main gate. Everyone backed away…except Rayzan himself? What was he doing! …and then Rynekaad saw it. A Rahkshi of Slowness, projecting a field around Rayzan. It had only just registered in his mind when the charge detonated. Rayzan’s body flew through the air. With a sickening thunk he slammed headfirst into a large rock, his neck bending to an unnatural angle. There was no way he could have survived, Rynekaad realized. When he looked around for the Rahkshi that had brought about the Skakdi’s doom, he saw nothing. It must have retreated back into the fortress. With a flare of hatred Falkhan screamed to their foes “You will feel the wrath of Falkhan now! All of you!” No sooner had he said this than three Rahkshi acrobatically leapt over the detritus from Rayzan’s explosive charge. Then the Rahkshi raised their staffs.If Tignioni was right, there shouldn’t be many more Rahkshi left, Rynekaad suddenly thought. As if to crush his hopes, four more soared over the walls and the seven total Rahkshi encircled the remaining assault forces.…Where were all these Rahkshi coming from?Rynekaad would have expressed his concern to Falkhan had he not been showered in acid as soon as he had begun to panic…

Chapter 26

Northern Continent, 995 years after the Great Cataclysm

As soon as the explosions had begun to ring out, Guftivei, Emeder, and Imegna began their infiltration. Tignioni must have been successful in his attempt to fool Rynekaad into attacking. Now that the diversion was in effect, they were ready.

When the front gate detonated, the two Rahkshi that had been guarding their intended entrance fled to the scene of the chaos. As far as they could tell, this door led to some sort of annex on the back of the fortress. With all enemies now clear of the area, the proceeded up to the annex’s backside. Emeder created a vacuum and then unleashed a blast of concentrated air into the door. With a shudder, it broke free. This sound would have normally attracted the attention of every Rahkshi in the base, but with the diversion caused by Rynekaad it was lost under the sound of echoing explosions.

Lightstones lit the interior. The annex appeared to be an armory. “Hey, we got a task here, right?” Emeder said, trying to get Guftivei’s attention. Guftivei had stopped to admire the weapons on the racks. “Yeah, sure. But…these could be important,” he countered. “Like…what’s this?” he continued, picking up a wide-barreled range weapon.

Emeder didn’t have time to remind Guftivei about the Kanoka launcher incident they had on Xia before a Rahkshi charged into the room from deeper in the fortress. He turned just in time to see it stab its staff right into Imegna’s torso…and hear the screams.


Edited by Maganar, Jun 27 2012 - 10:50 PM.

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#3 Offline Maganar

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Posted May 23 2012 - 09:29 PM

Chapter 27

Northern Continent, 995 years after the Great Cataclysm

“NO!” exploded Emeder. As soon as he had let the exclamation leave his mouth, the Rahkshi slumped forward, disabled, and Imegna’s body began to…fade? Then, standing up from behind the Rahkshi, was Imegna, grappling with the writhing kraata extracted from the Rahkshi armor. It had all been an illusion projected by Imegna to trick the Rahkshi into exposing its backside.

As Imegna tossed the kraata aside, it scuttled off, terrified. Guftivei decided to try out his new weapon on the abandoned armor. The weapon unleashed blasts of concentrated shadow energy which reduced the suit to rubble. “Hey, you think this might help us fight that thing?” he queried. Imegna responded “Probably. Hold on to it, but we’re still going to search for those shadow leeches. You all right Emeder? You like you’ve seen someone rise from the dead.”

“Uh…I did. I saw you die…now you’re standing right in front of me. Next time, don’t make the illusion that horrifically convincing. I really don’t need the violent details of your self-imagined demise.”

“Yeah,” Guftivei added. “That was a little scary there. How much time have you spent thinking about death, anyways?”

“Gee, you two are wimps. I saw many different deaths through many different eyes in my mind-reading. Let’s not discuss it in any further. You can imagine how horrific it could get at times.” Emeder decided he’d rather not imagine that. He got what she was saying.

As the sounds of battle raged outside, they proceeded uneventfully through the corridors. After searching a couple rooms to no avail, they came across a promising door. “Stand back,” Emeder commanded as he noted that it was sealed shut. As the others two gave him a wide berth, he repeated the compressed air blast procedure to break the door clean out of its housing.

They’d found it. It was some type of laboratory. After ages of neglect, it had fallen into the throes of entropy. Shattered and broken supplies littered the floor. What they were all looking at, though, was on the far side of the room. A container filled with shadow leeches.

They all broke out of their stupor simultaneously and raced up to it. Gingerly, Imegna opened it, but was not pleased at what she found. “Oh no. There all dead. What were we thinking finding an abandoned outpost? They’ve been to long without care. ACK!” Guftivei caught the leaping leech on his armblade just in time. The lone surviving shadow leech had pretended to be every bit as dead as the other twenty or so until Imegna had leaned in close. “That was close. I figured you hadn’t fancied becoming a Shadow Toa just today, had you?” With that, Guftivei scraped it off one armblade with the other one and into the sack Emeder was holding open. Then he took that sack and slung it over his shoulder. “Let’s head out.”

Unfortunately, something did not plan to let them do as much. Just as they turned to exit, a Rahkshi of Plasma dropped from the ceiling. It must have been waiting the entire time! thought Guftivei. Just then, the Rahkshi began to superheat the air in the room…

Chapter 28

Northern Continent, 995 years after the Great Cataclysm

It hurt. It hurt so much. Rynekaad could feel the acid burning its way through his armor, trying to reach the flesh deep below in his biomechanical body. So he sprinted straight for the ocean, barely able to see with acid clouding his vision. No thoughts passed through his head other than a maniacal fear of the acidic agony and a subliminal desire to wash it off in the ocean. A hundred bios from the shore. Fifty. Twenty. Ten, nine, eight, seven, six, five, four, three, two, one-

He launched his body into the surf breaching on the shoreline, but in his reckless, agonized frenzy he had overlooked the danger of drowning. He inhaled draughts of seawater. The violent waves swept him off his feet and disoriented him. Somehow, someway he managed to crawl out of the sea’s deadly grip and onto the shore, the acid now washed away.

Gasping, he released copious amounts of seawater. And the burning! The acid was gone, but it had corroded his armor enough to expose living, organic parts. The salt, traces of acid, and more burned, burned, BURNED on the wounds. He lay there, inert, as the ocean raged around him and the battle raged on the rise above.

- - -

“Chief?” Krazann called out. He skewered another Rahkshi in a vital location and watched it fall. “Is this…you know…?”

“What, warrior?”

“You know…when we…uh, we…”

“SPEAK! We’re on a battlefield.”

Finally Krazann admitted what he had ashamed to utter aloud. “Is this when we…retreat?”

“What?! I thought higher of you! You fool. We are the best! None can take us on; we will take on every one of them! There can hardly be any left by-”

Those were his last words. Fitting words, too. He died while proclaiming the egotistical bigotry that had caused his death. Krazann didn’t even know what had defeated – no, annihilated – his former leader, but he saw it happen. Some catastrophic explosion threw the Skakdi veteran hurtling forwards headfirst at breakneck speed into the fortress wall. It had presumably been some distant mounted weapon he had not taken note of. He scrambled to Falkhan’s body, which lay face down. As soon as he turned it over, he looked away. It had been mangled beyond all recognition or comprehension.

- - -

No time to think. Only time to react. Guftivei hurtled into the Rahkshi with his armblades flashing. Multiple connected blows caused it to lose concentration and the superheating of the room’s air ended in a fizzle. The Rahkshi, however, was an adept fighter. It took Guftivei’s blows, feigning defeat, until it saw an opening. Then it retaliated, rapidly raising its staff. It struck Guftivei in the chin. The force was sufficient to cause Guftivei to collapse backwards and he fell flat on his back. The Rahkshi now had the advantage and planted a foot on Guftivei’s chest. Then it began to charge a bolt of plasma on the tip of its staff, preparing to discharge the attack into Guftivei’s head… This was not good for Imegna. The precarious location of the Rahkshi staff above Guftivei’s face meant any attempt to intervene could result in the Rahkshi prematurely discharging the plasma, still potentially killing Guftivei. She glanced to her side just in time to see that Emeder had not noticed the danger of interference. There wasn’t enough time for her to give him a telepathic warning. Just as he was about to charge, she slammed her body into his, causing both of them to crash into a laboratory table. Equipment crashed, shattered, and broke all around. The ensuing destruction distracted the Rahkshi for a split-second. It was just what Guftivei had been hoping for. He hooked one of his legs under the leg the Rahkshi still had planted on the ground while grasping the Rahkshi’s leg on his chest with both of his hands. Before the Rahkshi realized what Guftivei had just done, he pulled both of its legs forwards and now the Rahkshi fell flat on its back. Guftivei then rose to his feet and pinned the Rahkshi to the ground. With a flurry of armblades, he landed a number of critically damaging attacks. The Rahkshi squirmed free, but only with escape as its intent. It had taken far too much damage to continue the skirmish. It disappeared down the corridors. “Hey, you have to admit: I got some combat skills,” Guftivei boasted. “No doubt. But let’s get out of here now. Or was nearly getting your head blown off not enough of an incentive?” Emeder inquired. “Couldn’t agree more. Let’s burst out the front gate.” Imegna evaluated the suggestion. “I believe the Skakdi we tricked did blow that gate down already. It would also offer a shorter route to the headhunter camp where we can find our friend Hot Shot and bust him out.” “Hot Shot?” Guftivei pondered. “Right, you guys wouldn’t know. It’s what the mercenaries were calling Tignioni while I was keeping a telepathic eye on him.” “Is he safe?” asked Emeder. “For now. But I’m reading his mind as we speak and he seems more than a little impatient for us to liberate him…”

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#4 Offline Maganar

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Posted Jun 11 2012 - 03:08 AM

Chapter 29

Northern Continent, 995 years after the Great Cataclysm

Tignioni cursed his captors’ forethought. There was nothing he could do if anything went wrong due to the elemental-inhibition restraints they had bound him in. The device’s links chained him to a stake that was far too stable to uproot. By now they had to know he had fooled them. If one of them returned…he’d be defenseless against their certain wrath.

As if his thoughts had triggered it, the Skakdi that carried all those fearsome range weapons came around the edge of the boulder. Morgoz.

The Skakdi began to speak in broken Matoran. “Ya thought ya was being all smart. Ya thought ya was gonna get us all deadified by those scrawny Rahkshi. Only some fool think they gonna cross Morgoz and live. You some fool. Lucky fool you, it’ll all be o’er so fast when this thing blow yer head’a pieces ya won’t know what just made ya dead.” Morgoz raised the barrel of an indescribably massive and frightening weapon. Rather than fire it, however, he found himself being electrocuted.

Electricity sparked over Morgoz’s body as he let loose unearthly screams for several seconds. He fell to the ground as the electric surge ended, his armor smoking from the energy. Two Rahkshi rounded the bend. One was a Rahkshi of Chain Lightning. They came to inspect the corpse of the Skakdi. But it wasn’t a corpse just yet.

The resilience of a Skakdi is almost inconceivable. As the Rahkshi of Chain Lightning came in close, Morgoz surged back to life and fired the weapon he had been prepared to execute Tignioni with. Projectiles connected with the Rahkshi’s armor and tore right through it. Morgoz spun around to face the other Rahkshi…and found nothing.

Morgoz would never find out what killed him, but Tignioni witnessed it. The other Rahkshi had been a Rahkshi of Chameleon. It materialized behind Morgoz and drove its staff into the base of the Skakdi’s skull. Then it turned to face Tignioni.

Realizing the irony, Tignioni moaned. His executioner had just been killed, but now his savior was about to slay him. However, the Rahkshi would have the same fate as Morgoz.

A flurry of armblades flashed into action behind the Rahkshi. It fell to the ground at the hands of Guftivei. Tignioni had never observed Guftivei fighting in close range before. He watched, wondrous, as Guftivei destroyed what had once been the Rahkshi.

“So…I guess you owe me one now,” Guftivei said, relishing in his success. Upon hearing that, Imegna failed miserably in an attempt to suppress an amused smile.

I owe you? I just sat through the entire battle defenselessly hoping that no one showed up and killed me just to give you and your group an entrance. You must be kidding!”

Guftivei began “Well-”

“I understand you two want to bicker and argue all day long,” Imegna started. “…but if we don’t move, nobody’s owing anyone anything. We’re all going to be dead. The remaining forces are rallying at the top of the rise right now.”

“Uh…that sounds great. Now can some get off these restraints?” Tignioni requested.

Guftivei came forward and destroyed the restraints. Meanwhile, Imegna scanned the surrounding minds. She found Krazann’s and used his memories to locate where the mercenaries’ boat had been left. She also noticed a faint mind; it almost seemed to be just barely holding on to life. It came from the same direction the boat should be, according to Krazann’s memories. However, it was so faint, it could have been nothing at all. With an idle thought she dismissed it as irrelevant…

Chapter 30

Northern Continent, 995 years after the Great Cataclysm

The group found the mercenaries’ boat with little difficulty. It was an armored vessel, coated in metal plates. Emeder and Guftivei, familiar with the ways of bounty hunters, explained that they had seen such vessels before. They were frequently used in assaults due to their ability to withstand unprecedented damage from conventional weapons, but it was generally unwise to deploy such craft when you were uncertain of your enemy. One foe with power over iron or magnetism…it could be sunk in seconds.

As they stepped aboard, the boat’s combat effectiveness became apparent. A canopy was raised up about three bios over the deck and made exclusively of metal plates. Any attempts at aerial bombardment would be ineffective on such a vehicle. The only obstructions on the deck were the support struts for the canopy, allowing the crew to fire out of the boat and repel boarders. A hatch in the floor led into a belowdecks hold that stored sufficient arms and ammunition for even quite large-scale conflicts. It was essentially a floating fortress.

Emeder jumped out of the boat and into the surf. He waded ashore and began to undo the mooring so that they could leave. He had just finished releasing the first two anchor points and was making his way to the third and final one when he heard the Skakdi scream. Krazann was only about fifty bios distant as making a mad dash for the watercraft.

That was as far as he would get. Eyes affixed to his goal, he failed to see the Rahkshi flying a short distance behind him. He failed to see it descend and use its power to extract four or five slender, two-bio-long needles of iron from the rocks and suspend them in mid-air. And he failed to see it launch these lethal spikes at his back with invisibly high velocity. The only thing he saw were the metallic shards protruding from his chest after he became impaled by them. Then he fell to the ground, never to see anything again.

Emeder could only imagine what damage a Rahkshi of Magnetism could do to their metallic boat. Without hesitation, he sliced his glaive right through the last mooring cable and scrambled aboard. Tignioni set a course and they left the devastated coastline of the cove behind them.


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#5 Offline Maganar

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Posted Jun 25 2012 - 05:29 AM

Chapter 31

Offshore from the Northern Continent, 995 years after the Great Cataclysm

Revenge. It was all that remained. Everything else was lost to him…but revenge – it hung in the air tantalizingly possible and imminent. In the darkness of the hold he shifted. Had any seen him, they’d have thought him to be a corpse. Yet, he held onto life. Only one thing kept him going…hunger – hunger for revenge.

- - -

All four of the crew had come to the bow of the ship.“We’re far out from shore now,” Emeder observed. “Where are we actually going?”“Very soon, we will make some sort of decision,” answered Tignioni. “Up until now, we’ve just been putting some distance between us and that fortress.”Suddenly, a shiver ran down the hull of the vessel. It emitted a metallic groan. Guftivei, Emeder, and Tignioni exchanged concerned glances.“What was that? Some sorta… random wave?” pressed Guftivei.“Unlikely, the sea’s calmer than a sleeping ash bear,” Tignioni responded.Imegna had not entered the conversation. Instead, she had been intently staring towards the aft of the ship. She sensed that faint mind again, barely more than a void that needed to be filled by something… As another moaning creak ran along the ship, it finally occurred to her.“This is about to go very wrong very fast! Everyone get ready!”“What do you-”The question answered itself. The metal of the ship’s deck near the stern began to twist and reshape itself. It created a new entrance to the hold below, and a spindly ladder hung into to the depths. Then, the formerly unseen assailant made its appearance. Clambering up the ladder, grievously wounded, was Rynekaad.He was hardly recognizable. The acid had degraded his armor into a horrendous appearance. His mask had malformed into a demented visage. In some areas, the organic parts of his body were visible, all the armor above corroded away. Unable to stand, he crawled up from below on all fours. When he spoke his only words, they almost seemed disembodied.“This time…you fall. Justice…finally…you die.” As these foreboding and somewhat disjointed words were uttered, the four remained rooted to the spot. Rynekaad’s appearance was simply mortifying.The following events happened within a matter of a few seconds. Unable to read the feeble mind of Rynekaad, Imegna had been forced to predict what he would do based on his words and the only thing she had sensed in his mind: a void, a hunger. A void that could only be filled by revenge. Meanwhile, Rynekaad began crushing the ship under his magnetic power, intending to sink it and kill everyone aboard, himself included. Everyone mobilized as the saw the deck deform, but Imegna had already crept around and was standing behind Rynekaad, after having predicted his intentions. No one could stop what they saw next. Imegna kicked Rynekaad in the back, sending him sprawling onto the decks, and then planted the blade of her staff into his neck. With a sputtering gasp, Rynekaad died and the ship ceased to change shape. Imegna removed her weapon from his neck.“Mata Nui above!” Tignioni screamed. “You just killed him!”“It was him or us. Just look around you,” Imegna calmly noted. She gestured around at the grossly misshapen decks and warped panels. There was no doubt. Without Imegna’s intervention they would be dead at this point. However, Tignioni wasn’t done. He felt that even that wasn’t enough to explain the lethal force.“You know what I mean! What about the Toa code? In the state he was in, I can hardly imagine that heavy staff of yours would be unable to put him unconscious. And your psionics – your telepathy! On someone that weak, an idle thought from you could have probably overloaded his mind and knocked him out just as well!”“Or maybe not. Given his ability to survive in that state, maybe he could stay conscious in extreme cases as well. It’s just not worth the risk. Weren’t you there at the battle we just left, anyway? We didn’t actually kill anyone ourselves, but we caused them to enact their suicidal assault. Did you just miss all the dead bodies we passed? Wake up to what’s going on!”Tignioni was livid. “Do you just not care? Just because they had to die in order to stop the Light Ravager it’s suddenly alright? Did losing your village make you insensitive to death?”“Don’t you dare to say that!” Imegna retaliated with sudden fury. “It did just the opposite. That’s why I’m doing this – to trade a few corrupt freelancing fighters’ lives for hundreds if not thousands of innocents that the Ravager will slaughter! I’m trying to save as many lives as possible, Tignioni, not killing for personal ends.”“Just go belowdecks and keep out of my sight while I think about this, this atrocity I just witnessed. And throw that accursed body off this Mata-Nui-forsaken ship! ...and that’s not all! I definitely saw the bodies. It made me sick. It was essentially a roundabout way to violate the code. You-”“OK, that’s enough.” Guftivei interceded. “She did what she had to in order to save us all. Emeder and I have some fatalities on our hands too, even if we don’t like to admit it. We owe our lives to her quick thinking.”Silently, expressionlessly, Imegna did as Tignioni had commanded. Emeder stayed out of everyone’s way, not wanting to get caught in a verbal crossfire. The remainder of the voyage was encumbered by an air of hostility projected by Tignioni that was only prevented from boiling over into a continuation of his earlier tirade by the knowledge that Guftivei was supporting Imegna’s actions.Within a few days, everything would change. The Light Ravager… was about to return.

Entr’acte

Excerpt from the private log of Toa Helryx, recorded on Daxia 995 years after the Great Cataclysm

We’re in an uncomfortable spot. The Light Ravager was a mistake and now it’s causing global problems, even at some our own outposts. Now this team shows up, confuses the matter, and all in all makes my job harder. As if fighting a covert war with the Brotherhood isn’t hard enough. Mata Nui help me.

We always expected a team would rise to take down the Ravager and we had been patiently waiting for this to happen. When one did show up, the plan was to drop a few key hints as to how to take it down, give them a little bit of undercover help, and conscript them once they succeeded. It would be perfect. People that would go that far to right wrongs are just the people we could use in the Order.

…and now I discover the team is almost entirely Toa, plus one shady Vortixx. What a headache. I may be a Toa, but most Toa these days don’t understand how the world has changed. The code is...restrictive at best. They don’t understand that death is a necessary part of life and that we must be willing to remove certain evil elements from the equation in order to protect those who cannot defend themselves. I don’t need Toa in the Order; I need soldiers. This is not good.

Additionally, Axxon and Brutaka decided to go right along with the original plan. We’d never considered the possibility that Toa would take up on this lead. Now we have potentially untrustworthy Toa aware of the Order of Mata Nui. I don’t know what I would have done in their place. Stick with the plan despite the unexpected circumstances or alter it to suit the changes? I just hope these Toa are useful enough that they are worth the logistical nightmare they have caused me.

Of course, I’m not sure an untrained squad of Toa with their Xian acquaintance will actually be able to take down the Ravager. If they truly do engage it, the problem may solve itself. If they are all dead, what do I have to worry about? Some might say that is cold; I say it is convenient.

On a more positive note, we have successfully eliminated any pertinent threats from the Brotherhood. Even that bizarre incident involving the gelatinous tentacles erupting out of the ground on the Tren Krom Peninsula got sorted out. Turns out part of Tren Krom’s biological signature was being stored in a now-defunct Makuta outpost that had just started to leak its biohazardous components into the surrounding ecosystem. No Brotherhood experiment in progress, just some mutant plants that may or may not be omniscient. I think I’ll vie to believe in the “not omniscient” possibility. Otherwise, I might have trouble getting to sleep at night. In the possibility they are omniscient, it’s not like they could actually cooperate and focus a Tren-Krom-style psychic attack that would allow them to enslave all biomechanicals for their own purposes, right? Wait, hold on. Forget I said anything – there are some things better not known.

Considering the hiatus in assassinations, I am temporarily reassigning agent code-named Viper to study the Ravager team. A stealth commando like her should have no problem following the wake of destruction this group seems to leave behind everywhere they go. Meanwhile, I will consult with codename Primordial on this matter to see what his opinion is.

I just hope this works out according to plan. It would be a pity to have to assassinate this team if they succeed in their task and then proceed to cause too much trouble by virtue of their knowledge of the Order…but I’ll do what I must.

Chapter 32

Northern Continent, 995 years after the Great Cataclysm

Emeder frantically scanned the coast for the settlement they were trying to find. The anxiety was palpable as they pushed the heavily damaged vessel to its limits in an attempt to arrive in time.

Imegna had located the Light Ravager. Using the information provided by Umbra, she had sifted through the minds of the beings near the probable location of the rift…and she’d found it. The sinister programmed mind of the killing machine was on an inexorable and fairly rapid approach of a settlement that was just downshore on the Northern Continent. They had a chance, right here, right now, to put an end to this. There were no plans for what to do when they found it, but they were not going to let it pass them by again and leave another community devoid of life.

“There! Look ahead! I see it. It’s more of a city, though.” Emeder announced.

Just on the horizon, buildings could be made out. The civilization they had come across was rather small in size, but relatively advanced. The town was comprised of something more akin to skyscrapers than village huts. “We’re close enough now,” Imegna realized. “I can establish a telepathic connection.”

In the town of Modos, everyone heard a voice in their heads. Get out! Escape before it comes. A terrible evil is about to arrive and will destroy anyone it finds. If you value your life, get out! You can’t fight it, the voice claimed. Panic erupted in the streets, for no one understood what the source was, but everyone could hear the words being spoken. The voice began to repeat: Get out! Escape before it comes… Some took heed and fled in terror. Others remained, clutching their heads, trying to remove the foreign voice.

As the warped metallic vessel pulled up, its crew leapt up and ran from the docks, screaming about the need to evacuate. Many had left, unwilling to question what they could not comprehend. For any that remained, however, time had run out.

A second sun rose in the sky, but this one with malignant intentions rather than life-giving rays. Thus, the razing of Modos began.

Just as before, the Light Ravager lashed outwards with beams of light, combing the area and vaporizing everything where it connected. In the streets, everyone ran in terror except some brave souls that had grabbed weapons and attempted to attack it. Every attempt was met with failure. Umbra hadn’t lied when he said it was invulnerable except to shadow. The unsuspecting would-be heroes that stood up against it were all vaporized in their tracks; those that attempted to flee were given the same treatment.

Gazing at the carnage from the docks, the foursome had stopped. They were uncertain of what to do, and – above all else – left in awe of the power of the Ravager. None of them had actually seen it destroy an entire city before; Emeder was the closest to having witnessed such an event, but he had been unconscious at the time.

“So this is what the end looked like for so many innocent lives,” whispered Tignioni.

And that was all it took. With that, they charged into the streets and prepared for destiny to decide the outcome.


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#6 Offline Maganar

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Posted Jun 27 2012 - 10:40 PM

Chapter 33

Northern Continent, 995 years after the Great Cataclysm

Guftivei raised the shadow launcher they had found in the Makuta outpost as he ran, trying to line up a shot as his feet pounded the streets and buildings collapsed. Tignioni and Imegna both bellowed warcries as they ran, weapons raised. Emeder sprinted forward, silent.

Perhaps the Ravager sensed the shadow weapon Guftivei carried or perhaps it was just chance. Either way, a beam of light shot out and cut diagonally through a skyscraper. It slid off its foundation and into the street smashing into the building across from it. Flaming rubble showered everywhere.

For a moment they thought they had been trapped on one side, unable to reach the Light Ravager and stop it, forced to listen to the wails and screams of the dying. Emeder would not let that be so. A massive cyclone formed, enveloping the crashing buildings and consuming them. “Now go get it!” Emeder shouted, forced to hold his position in order to maintain the cyclone and prevent anymore collapses from blocking their path.

The scene was nightmarish. The Ravager, pure energy and unaffected by physical matter, was residing inside the center of the cyclone’s vortex. Massive portions of buildings, still flaming, swirled around it. Those that had called Modos home fled screaming or were caught in the cyclone themselves. All the meantime, fatal blasts and rays of light permeated the surroundings.

Imegna paused as it occurred to her that the Ravager targeted sentient beings. That meant is searched for intelligence and…the mind: her element. Stopping to concentrate just as Emeder still was, she masked the psychic signatures of everyone in the area.

Amazingly, the beams of light simply stopped. In retrospect, the epiphany was obvious. Something made of light would not be able to see using light. It could only “see” minds. The Ravager was not finished, though. It struggled to locate the source of the intervention. After several seconds, it found Imegna’s mind, but couldn’t locate her body’s physical location. A battle begun in Imegna’s head as the Ravager attempted to increase its output of energy into searching for the minds of the others.

Tignioni noticed the similarities this form of light energy shared with fire and got an idea. He climbed a heap of rubble just beyond the edge of the cyclone and attempted to absorb elemental fire from the Ravager, and succeeded in siphoning off some. Fire arched through the air as it travelled from the Light Ravager into Tignioni, but this only succeeded in weakening it.

Guftvei took advantage of the now blind and weakened state of the Light Ravager. He knelt down and repetitively depressed the trigger on the shadow energy launcher. Bolts of shadow hurtled into the vortex of air, fire, and light.

The unnaturally bright light cast by the Light Ravager began to dim. For a few precious moments, the attackers dared to hope that they were on the verge of defeating it. They were mistaken.

The Ravager let loose a pulse of light energy that transformed into a shockwave as it exited, hurtling everyone to the ground and breaking their concentration. The cyclone stopped, the psychic masking ended, and the fire siphoning halted. Rather than attack, though, the Light Ravager sped off inland, presumably in the direction of the Rift.

At first no one spoke. No one could comprehend anything to say that seemed adequate as they surveyed the destroyed city of Modos. Flaming rubble was all that remained. Finally, Emeder said “I guess it got loose again.”

“Yes, but this is still amazing,” Tignioni countered. “We did it.”

“What are you talking about?”

“Yeah,” added Imegna. “A lot of people still died.”

Exactly,” responded Tignioni. “A lot. Not everyone. There are survivors of a Light Ravager attack this time – and for the first time ever.”

Everyone glanced around. It quickly became apparent Tignioni was right. All around, survivors attempted to dig free of the demolished buildings or were returning from beyond the city limits to which they had fled upon Imegna’s warning.

Real, legitimate survivors. Not the lucky misses from the Ravager such as Tignioni, Emeder, and Imegna themselves. An actual group of survivors.

The Light Ravager could be forced to retreat…and if it could be forced to retreat, maybe, just maybe, it could be eliminated.

Chapter 34

Northern Continent, 995 years after the Great Cataclysm

They had just finished consulting Tol, the leader of Modos. They had explained to him what had just happened to his town and what the Light Ravager was. “So we’re going to leave now and track it down. We have to stop it,” finished Emeder.

“But you can’t leave us!” cried Tol. Our last Toa team was lost long ago and we need someone to keep us safe while we rebuild. We’ll never make it otherwise!”

“I’m sorry, but there are situations like this all over our world. Look at us Tol. We Toa are dying out. There aren’t enough of us left to do these jobs anymore,” explained Imegna.

“No, it’s fine. I’ll stay.”

Everyone turned to Tignioni. Emeder asked “What do you mean?”

“I’m done with this. I’ve hunted it for about a thousand years. That’s just too much. Today I saw victory over it for the first time ever, and that is enough for me. The things I have seen in this voyage are too much. The destruction is getting to my head. I’m staying here, where there at least some sort of hope for the future, and I’m saving these people.”

“The destruction? This city is even more-” Emeder began.

He’s thinking of the destruction of life, not places, Emeder, Imegna clarified telepathically. Trust me, I’m in both of your heads right now. Then she looked towards Tignioni. Still telepathically, she addressed him: The pain I see in your memories is…extreme. Don’t worry. We’ll carry your torch on and destroy it in your name. Stay here. Stay where you’re needed.

Tignioni looked around. Then he said his final farewells. “The only reason I can leave this task unfinished is because I know you will not. I know nothing is stopping you from carrying out your task…and after today, I can see nothing can. We defeated it, but I was barely able to contribute anything. I was only able to weaken it, but with those artifacts of shadow warfare from the outpost, you will be able to finish this. Go on and kill that beast.” Finishing with that, he faced Imegna. “Imegna, after having some time to reflect I realized-”

Don’t bother. I already know you have forgiven me for what I did to the headhunter, having decided I really was doing what was necessary.

Tignioni smiled. “I should have assumed you had figured that out with your mind reading. You sure are a character, finishing all my sentences for me. I’ll-”

-never forget you. Likewise.

As they all turned their backs on the teammate they were leaving behind, the last thing they saw of him was him shaking his head in amusement at Imegna’s antics.

[Tignioni's story will soon be continued! While his place in Lightfall is... mostly... over, his personal tale is far from it. Continued in THE SORDID SHAFTS, coming soon to BZP!]


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#7 Offline Maganar

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Posted Jul 06 2012 - 06:56 PM

Chapter 35

Northern Continent, 997 years after the Great Cataclysm

“I need a straight answer, Imegna. Will he pull through?”

I need to concentrate.

“That isn’t an answer.”

It’s all you’re getting in the way of an answer. Now, once again, I need to concentrate.

“I’ve got all the time in the world. To put it bluntly, I’m going to break your concentration quite a bit more by smacking you with these armblades you gave me several years ago if you don’t tell me: will he pull through?”

Fine. He will pull through. He has to. He has to because he trusted me to make sure he would.

“I know this part already.”

I’ve given you my only answers and this conversation is over. If you continue to distract me, I will be forced to digress from my task – which, if you haven’t noticed, your – our – friend’s sanity depends upon – in order to cause an overload of psychic energy in your brain that will put you to sleep. I can guarantee you that you will wake up with the worst headache of your entire life. Trust me on that if nothing else.

“You’re so enigmatic about everything! Can’t you just– ”

With a thud, Guftivei struck the floor. Just as Imegna had promised, his brain had been overloaded with psychic energy, knocking him unconscious. His prone form seemed to mimic that of Emeder’s on the cot in Imegna’s cave. One thing was very different about Guftivei’s prone form, however.

It was not suffering from mutations.

As he slept, courtesy of Imegna, Guftivei began to dream. He began to dream about what Emeder did to cause the entire debacle they were in right now. This was what he dreamt of…

Chapter 36

Northern Continent, 996/997 years after the Great Cataclysm

“So, what do we do?” inquired Guftivei. “Isn’t there anything else?”

“I’m working on it!” Imegna exclaimed irately. “I’ve been desperately trying to formulate some form of strategy we could use to make further progress, but the shadow leech is – so far – a dead end. Like I told you before, this one is appears to be a prototype model and it will probably turn any host it attaches to into a raving lunatic, infecting their mind with an absolute excess of shadow energy as it drains their natural light. The Makuta appear to be refining this model so that the impact on cognition will be minimal, but this one is dangerous. Interestingly, it appears that reducing the mental damage makes it less effective against non-light-affiliated targets, but that doesn’t matter to us because this is an earlier model. As I explained last time, it’s advantageous that we have it, but there is little that can be done to utilize it unless we have a host of some sort: some beast of our own that we can control to fight the Ravager.”

“I have an idea.”

Emeder had decided to speak up. He looked at the other two. Guftivei could see something in Emeder’s eyes that he was unsure of. What was it? Fear, maybe? What did he have to fear in talking to the two people he trusted most?

“Great! What is it?” Imegna enthused, forgetting the impatience she had felt prior when Guftivei had been pressuring her. She had temporarily ceased any telepathic activities because she had used up all of her elemental energy reserves for the time being as a result of another bout of long-distance mind-reading and fatigue was starting to set in.

Emeder looked into her excited eyes. How could he do this to her? His plan would put so much weight on her shoulders after she had already bore such a burden for the lot of them. With a hesitant sigh, he said a few cryptic words that would be the last intelligible ones he would utter for quite a while.

“Look, just let me, uh, you know, let me do my thing. I’ve got a plan. It’s just… Well – you’re not going to like my plan. Not at all.”

"What in Karzahni’s name are you implying?” Guftivei responded. Both his as Imegna’s faces possessed expressions of shock and confusion. They had no idea where Emeder was headed with this discussion. Imegna began to absorb elemental energy as rapidly as she could, trying to accumulate enough to read Emeder’s mind. Emeder continued.

“I don’t know if I’ll ever be able to forgive myself for doing this to you- ”

“Look, if it seems like such a bad idea, maybe it is. Think about whatever you’ve got planned for just a second,” Imegna urged, trying to stall until she was able to read his mind.

“No, I’ve got to go through with this. Look, everything’s going to depend on you, Imegna. That’s why I know this will work. Because I know I can trust you to make this work. Just know this: I know you will pull this off, so I have no fear about this, because you will save me.”

Just as he finished saying this, he ran off into Imegna’s cavern. Imegna, now thoroughly disturbed by what Emeder had said, was calling upon every last reserve of elemental energy in the area to charge up just enough to look into Emeder’s mind and determine his plan. No sooner had he passed the cave’s mouth that Imegna screamed “Mata Nui above! Stop him! We can’t let him do it!”

Guftivei didn’t pause. The two of them scrambled into the cave to see Emeder smashing the vial with the shadow leech in it…and then reaching out to touch it. Guftivei pounded forward and wrestled Emeder into a restraining grip. “You fool! Thank Mata Nui above we stopped you in time!” he bellowed. Emeder was incapable of moving, trapped by Gutivei’s powerful arms. “We have no idea what that prototype might do to you!”

…but Emeder would be victorious. He had known Guftivei for a long time, long enough to know every trick Guftivei could pull. He knew that the grip Guftivei was using could be dislodged if the victim attempted to lever their weight backwards into the person restraining them…

Emeder slipped loose for a second - just long enough to grab the shadow leech and allow it to bite him.

EMEDEEERRRRRR!!! The instinctively telepathic shout slammed into Guftivei with the physical force of a mauka crashing into him headlong. For a brief instant, Guftivei felt a fraction of the psionic force that Imegna had unleashed long ago, inadvertently shredding the minds of the innocent inhabitants of her village. The overload of psychic energy was too much for his brain and he lost consciousness.

He awoke with the worst headache of his life. The splitting pain was so great he temporarily forgot what his friend had just done.

Wait…he wasn’t dreaming anymore. He really had woken up once again, with what was once again the worst headache of his life, once again in the same spot in Imegna’s cavern. And once again, the first thing he would take note of upon waking up was an exasperated Imegna trying to resuscitate the mind of a mutated Emeder that was releasing primal, barbaric sounds while strapped down to a cot.

Once again.

:tohu: End Part 3 :tohu:

!!!Part 4!!!


Edited by Maganar, Jul 06 2012 - 07:14 PM.

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