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The Agent Crisis

Aethion

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#1 Offline Toa of Italy

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Posted Jul 16 2012 - 07:42 AM

THE AGENT CRISIS

ONE

Year 482Creva’s eyes slowly opened. Some part of his still partially-asleep mind registered his alarm clock ringing again. Almost automatically, he dragged himself close to the bedside table. Hands fumbled while searching for the alarm clock; found it; shut it down.He blinked. Do I really have to get up?Of course he did. Yet that knowledge didn’t make him any happier.A few seconds later he gave up and lifted himself off the bed of his hut. A few steps forward and he reached his table. He quickly prepared and ate a light breakfast. It didn’t take him much longer to find his public transport ticket and get his small pack ready. A glance outside his window then revealed dark clouds covering the sky. He sighed and grabbed his small umbrella. Then he was ready. He opened the door and found himself in a narrow street, one of the hundreds that connected every location in Bz-Koro.It took ten minutes for Creva to reach one of the larger streets. By that time, the rest of Bz-Koro had started to wake up. Creva preferred to get up slightly earlier than most people: it allowed him not to rush things.Some minutes later the bus reached the bus stop where Creva was waiting. A medium-sized walkcraft, it connected the area where Creva lived to the nearest transport hub, from which the Onu-Matoran would take another transport to work. It wasn’t the quickest route, a private vehicle would have made the trip faster, but Creva had never felt the need for one. Public transport was just fine for him.He boarded the walkcraft and found a seat. The bus line was never very crowded. He opened his bag and took out a small Gadget. It wasn’t the most common model, it was much smaller, for instance, and had no legs, but it still provided enough services for Creva’s standards and in addition the Matoran considered it easier to carry around.He turned on the screen and accessed Hanashi News. An image appeared on it, the image of a semi-collapsed Forum Plaza. Creva took a small pair of headphones out of his bag and connected them to his Gadget. Then he put them on.“Last night, an Olmak Anomaly materialized inside this Forum Plaza,” the reporterette was saying. “It immediately came in contact with its floor. Unfortunately, it turned abruptly into a matter-shredder at that very moment. Even though it lasted for a split second, it was enough to destroy most of the Forum Plaza and severely weaken the ground surrounding it, causing several buildings in the vicinity to partially collapse. The entire area has been evacuated until these can be stabilized and repaired. I am told that Toa of Stone and Earth are at work at this very moment to do so.There are no casualties, though there have been several wounded, eleven seriously. There hasn’t been such a destructive Olmak Anomaly in Bz-Koro for nearly half a year. In a few minutes I’ll be joined by an expert to discover what should and will be done to avoid this kind of damage in the future.”Creva turned off the Gadget and groaned. The Onu-Matoran worked in a government department subdivision which monitored and kept record of Olmak Effect damage on the Island of Time in Bz-Koro. He would undoubtedly be assigned this episode. Though perhaps, given the scale of the destruction, he could convince his boss to let a few more colleagues help… Such thoughts were temporarily banished at Creva’s arrival at the transport hub. He got out of the bus and made his way through the busy station to his next transport.Half an hour later the Onu-Matoran reached the floor of the giant multi-floored hut where he worked. It was almost completely occupied by a large open office containing several rows of tables. Creva went to his post and sat down. Most of his colleagues still hadn’t arrived. Suddenly one of his friends, Warin, strode inside the room and took a seat next to him.“Hey, there,” said the Glatorian. “Did you hear about the Forum Plaza?”“Yeah,” said Creva. “Who do you think the boss will assign it?”“Let’s see…” said Warin, as if actually thinking about it. “Could it be… you?”“Great. You really know how to cheer someone up.”“Oh, relax. It’s not that bad. Sure, it’s going to be at least 1000 Orbs of damage, probably more, but who cares?”“If I get it, I’ll be sure to ask the boss to assign you to the task as well.”“Good luck with that. We’ve all got a lot of work to do ourselves and she knows that.”Creva didn’t answer.“Oh, come on, cheer up! Listen, I’m taking a trip to the Island of Duty to hear what they’re saying at the Olmak Effect Forum this afternoon. Want to come along?”“I’ll think about it.”Meanwhile, more of their colleagues had started to come in. Half an hour later, Creva’s boss, a Turaga of Blue Energy called Yudra, walked out of her own office and called for Creva to come with her.The Onu-Matoran cursed and did his best to ignore Warin’s grin.It was worse than he had thought. Creva had to go on the site itself, spend hours talking at various people, file in a monumental report and, last but not least, get drenched by the rainstorm that had come about.Eventually he managed to get back to his post and relax for a few minutes in his chair. Then he finished his report and delivered it to Yudra.“Good job, Creva,” she said. “It must not have been easy.”“It wasn’t,” confessed the Onu-Matoran.“Go back to your post and resume your duties, but don’t concern yourself with anything major. For today you’re finished.”“Thank you, Turaga.”As the Olmak Effect was a very important issue in all Aethion, Bz-Koro had more than one Forum Plaza devoted to the topic. The discussions were quite similar in all of them, though there were some small differences. The Forum Plaza on the Island of Time, for example, mostly dealt with the scientific aspect of the Olmak Effect.However, the one Creva and Warin were interested in was the Forum Plaza on the Island of Duty. Since that island was mainly devoted to rules, laws and the Bz-Koro government in general took place, the Olmak Effect was discussed mostly in relation to how it was handled by the Bz-Koro institutions.When Warin, Creva and two other colleagues of theirs walked into the Plaza, they found it quite crowded, in spite of the still-falling rain. Creva guessed it was due to the rumors about the Bz-Koro government wanting to create a new department devoted exclusively to the Olmak Effect. It would bring together many divisions and subdivisions currently affiliated with other departments, including theirs. Sure enough, most of the Plaza was occupied by a large crowd of people standing in front of a lone speaker.“… and it would also mean having more money at the new department’s disposal. This would allow the government to deal with the Olmak Effect more efficiently and with fewer bureaucratic procedures. We’ve known since Creation that Olmak Anomalies would increase over time and yet until now this emergency hasn’t really been dealt as such. We have a handful of departments that have trouble coordinating together every time there is a real incident. This new reform will solve the problem.”Creva and Warin positioned themselves at the back of the crowd. Warin whispered:“I may have something to say. I’ll go closer. What about you?”“Not today. I’ll just listen.”“Do you mind if I cite today’s episode and your work on it?”“Go right ahead.”A Ga-Matoran had started speaking.“I disagree with what has been said until now. Though it is true that the Olmak Effect is dealt with by different departments, I think this organization works perfectly. We hear about more and more incidents, but there actually isn’t anything else we can do about it. Everything is being handled to the best of the government’s capability. On the other hand, creating a new department in this situation would only be detrimental to the efficiency of the system. If there is an incident while everything is being re-arranged, the response will be slow and ineffective. Let’s not waste time and money…”The problem with this kind of discussion, thought Creva, is the lack of any real data. Instead of quoting official information, people say things which they can’t prove to be right or wrong. That said, a new department would probably help, though the transition would be chaotic…A Turaga had taken the stand. His low voice could barely be heard amidst all the whispering going on in the crowd. The Forum Moderator called for silence.“I believe that whether this department is right or wrong isn’t the real issue here. The Olmak Effect is increasing and soon enough it won’t matter how Bz-Koro, or for that matter any other government, will be handling it. The only solution is preventing the incidents from occurring. There must be an effort to stop the Olmak Effect once and for all, or at least to predict it. The planets, good and evil, should come together to achieve this…”The cessation of the Olmak Effect would cause me to lose my job, but ultimately the Turaga is right. The situation can’t go on like this. Though what he’s saying seems slightly off topic…A Dendrokan was now speaking.“I wouldn’t speculate on how to stop the Olmak Effect. However, I agree on the fact that our efforts must be more widespread. The problem is universal. Olmak Anomalies teleport people between planets, so a single department on Bz-Koro isn’t enough. There should be one organization for the entire Multiverse, or at least that part which is allied to us.”I see the logic. Though creating such a thing would be enormously complicated.The next speaker made no real contribution to all the discussion, instead accusing the Bz-Koro government of not really caring about all the Olmak Effect issue. He felt Bz-Koro didn’t do enough to help its citizens transported to hostile planets. However, his story partially justified this hatred. He was a Bz-Koro citizen who had been teleported by the Olmak Effect to Tanuuk thirty years before. He had labored as a slave for twenty-six years before managing to escape through the then-unguarded Alarist Olmak Totem. Creva’s feelings of sympathy seemed to be mirrored by the Forum Moderator in charge of the Plaza. Despite his behavior, the Moderator didn’t really have the courage to stop his speech.After that, the speeches gradually became more similar. After some time, the Onu-Matoran felt like each new speaker was simply repeating what someone else had already said. Listening really wasn’t worth his time.I have to go.It was almost Warin’s turn to speak. He had listened to the other speakers and gradually decided what to say. His speech wouldn’t be too long, but it would certainly contribute to the topic. Then he spotted Creva walk toward one of the Forum Plaza’s exits. It was strange. He would have expected the Matoran to stay and hear his speech, or at the very least tell him before going away.The Glatorian sighed. He’d have liked to speak, but for Creva to walk off like this meant there was something important going on. He tried to make his way to his friend. It was difficult, people kept getting in the way. Eventually Creva vanished behind the wall of the Forum Plaza. Warin thought about returning to the discussion, but at this point he would cause even more disturbance by trying to do that and he would have to wait much longer before managing to take the stand.Finally he got out of the crowd and headed for the walls of the Plaza. He quickly reached its end. Creva was already outside and was walking rapidly.“Hey, Creva!” he called.The Onu-Matoran didn’t turn. Warin was surprised.“Creva!” he called, louder this time.Still the Onu-Matoran didn’t stop or even turn.He must have heard me.Warin tried to catch up with Creva. What could be happening? Creva wasn’t known for ignoring his friends.Creva turned into a small alley, disappearing from Warin’s sight. The Glatorian started running.He turned. Creva wasn’t there. He had disappeared.The Glatorian sighed.What could he be up to?Anyway, it was useless. If Creva didn’t want to talk to him he saw no point in trying to find him. After some time he would call the Onu-Matoran at home and try to understand what had happened.The discussion in the Forum Plaza seemed to be approaching an end. Warin decided it would be useless to return. He walked away, heading for home.Review Topic

Edited by Toa of Italy, Aug 28 2012 - 05:30 AM.

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#2 Offline Toa of Italy

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Posted Jul 17 2012 - 07:41 AM

TWO

From the monitor room, Rigri watched as the doors of the bank opened and the first, small crowd of people stepped inside. Most advanced to the employees’ desks, while others went off to their own destinations.“All regular, nothing to report,” she spoke through a radio to her superior, Huyr. It was simple routine, of course. Ever since Rigri had been assigned to this bank, there hadn’t been any robbery attempts. The bank was too well defended.Rigri was a Special Forces police officer. Normally, elite law enforcers like her didn’t protect banks. But this was an exception. It was one of the biggest banks on Alarist. Hundreds of Orbs were stored in its vault and many people worked in here too, so guarding it was almost a priority.Rigri had been assigned here after being involved in a terrible firefight with members of the Alarist Underground. Several of her colleagues had been killed and she had been wounded, though eventually the police had won. She had been assigned light duties for at least a month and guarding this bank was certainly a light duty. She didn’t mind. After seeing friends die before her, she reckoned she deserved a pause.She resumed watching the screen. Everything was going as it always went. There wasn’t much time left before her reassignment. She still didn’t know where she would go next, though she presumed…A figure appeared.“What the…!” gasped Rigri. Then the screen went dark.It was impossible. There were sensors in the bank designed to detect cloaked beings or objects. However, these thoughts didn’t last for long. Rigri grabbed the radio and shouted:“We have a security breach! Someone is in the main hall. All sensors in the room have been knocked out!”“We’re on it!” replied Huyr. “Stay there and try to…” Huyr’s voice was replaced by the sound of static.Rigri cursed and summoned her Light powers, ready for battle. Then she heard the sound of what seemed an explosion.Being completely unaware of what was going on unnerved her. However, Huyr had told her to stay there. She guessed he wanted her to repair the sensors, so she sat down and tried to reboot them. It had no effect. She tried again, but it didn’t work. The computer and sensors were completely dead.She was wondering what to do when one of her colleagues barged in.“Rigri, come on! We’re regrouping at the elevator shaft.”By elevator he meant the elevator, the one that led into the vault, the only way to access it. If they were regrouping there it meant the intruder and whoever else was with him or her had defeated the guards.Who are we facing?They reached the elevator. Huyr and the rest of the squad were already there.“What’s happening?” asked Rigri.Huyr brought himself the closest to the elevator.“All right, everyone, listen up! There is only one intruder, but he isn’t like anything we’ve faced before. He’s an Agent, and he’s aggressive.”Huyr didn’t wait for his subordinates to react.“Now, everyone, please don’t panic. I know this isn’t what you signed up for, but we still don’t know what this Agent wants. Sure, he seemed aggressive, but as far as we’re aware, he hasn’t killed anybody yet, so it’s safe to presume he won’t, as usual. Now, I want Kiar, Guelvra, Rigri and Oltemn to go back to the hall to ascertain the situation. The Agent should still be there. Try not to be seen and try to find out what he wants. You’ll use these radios. They’re isolated from the system so they should still work, but try to use them as little as possible. The Agent might try to interfere with them as he did before.The others will follow ordinary procedures. Most of us will go down to protect the vault; the rest will guard the elevator shaft. You have your orders.”Rigri quickly followed her three colleagues. There were three doors protected by passwords between them and the main hall. They passed all of them without any problem.Finally, they reached the door leading to their destination. They opened it and tried to look through.There were several bodies lying on the floor. Rigri couldn’t tell if they were unconscious or dead. She could see nothing else, no sign of a battle having been fought or of casualties.Guelvra beckoned them forward. They stepped into the corridor and peered around the corner. Rigri’s eyes widened. The hall was in perfect order. Desks, benches, everything was at it should have been. There were a few misplaced objects and Rigri did see some scorch marks on the wall, but apart from that, nothing indicated there had been a fight. But where people should have been, there were bodies: dozens of them, sprawled on the floor. They were dead, Rigri could see that now. But they weren’t the victims, accidental or intentional, of a great fight. No, they had been killed in a very precise and almost undetectable way: some had a snapped neck, others had been struck in a vital area by a thin laser, and still more had no injuries at all. This looked more like the work of a professional assassin than that of a warrior.The Agent wasn’t visible, but Rigri could hear small, minute sounds coming from behind the desk. She readied her Pulser Gauntlet, which she had chosen to fuse with a Nynrah Ghost Blaster. She raised it…Rigri suddenly felt like she was being choked. She couldn’t breathe. It took her only a fraction of an instant to realize the Agent was responsible. She tried to fire her weapon at the desk behind which she thought the Agent was, but it wasn’t work.She saw a flash of color coming from the desks. Then the Agent was in front of Guelvra. He was smaller than the Agents Rigri had seen on Hanashi News; almost Matoran-sized. His nanite suit was also bulkier than usual, completely hiding his true form. All these details registered as the Agent’s nanites morphed into a blade that he plunged in Guelvra’s neck, a blade so thin that when he extracted it, the wound could hardly be seen.Kiar tried to open fire, but his weapon wasn’t working either. Rigri was close to blacking out when the Agent used a thin laser to puncture Kiar’s chest.The Toa of Light summoned her last energies and blasted the Agent with lasers. None had the slightest effect on his nanite suit. She was forced to watch as Oltemn’s life force was drained out of her in an instant, killing her.Rigri slumped to the ground from the lack of air. Her death was approaching when she suddenly felt herself pushed backwards, into the corridor and apparently out of the Agent’s range. She gasped as she found she could breathe again. Even as the Agent turned toward her, Rigri saw Guelvra’s Kanohi Matatu glow. Then his eyes closed. She ran.After a few minutes she realized the Agent wasn’t in pursuit. She didn’t know what to make of it, but then again, with his power, he had to be confident he could catch her at any time.Once again, she passed the three doors. As she did, she changed each password. She doubted it would stop the Agent, but perhaps it would buy them some more time.She reached the elevator to find Huyr there.“What happened, Rigri?”“The Agent… he’s killed the others. They’re dead, everyone’s dead.”“What did he want?”“I… I don’t know, he attacked us before we had a chance to do anything. He seemed intent on killing us without causing too much damage.”“Where is he now?”“I don’t know. He didn’t pursue.”“Very well. If he wants to kill us, we’ll have to act accordingly. Everyone,” he said to the other guards in front of the elevator shaft, “we’re retreating to the vault. We’ll all make our stand there. We’ll mine the elevator and activate all automatic defense systems here. They may weaken the Agent.”“Sir,” said Rigri. “The Agent deactivated our weapons before attacking us. We found ourselves defenseless.”“I see. I’ll have everyone watch out for such an attempt. It won’t happen again.”All the defense systems had been activated. Gun turrets had been placed in front of the elevator, or had come out of the walls. A formidable firepower was arrayed against the Agent. Rigri doubted it would be enough to defeat him.Huyr’s squad entered the elevator. It was quite small and everyone was cramped, but Rigri knew the small dimensions gave a tactical advantage over any large group of intruders who managed to penetrate into the elevator shaft. This time, though, it would be useless.The elevator opened. Huyr sent a code to the mines already placed in the shaft. Anyone who tried to descend that way would be disintegrated.More than half the guards of the bank were in the vault, weapons and powers ready. All the armaments installed to safeguard the vault were also active. Rigri prepared for the imminent attack.Which never came. Minutes passed, but the Agent never came. The sensor net was still offline. There was no way to tell what he was doing.Several people volunteered to go out and discover what was happening. Huyr refused. He wasn’t sending anymore parties to be slaughtered like Rigri’s.Many people, Rigri among them, thought the Agent was busy disposing of the people still alive in the bank; after all, not every guard was there with them, not to speak of the ordinary employees. A continuous transmission was being sent on every frequency, telling anyone in the bank either to join them in the vault or to evacuate the building altogether. No one came, making everyone even more nervous.Then, finally, after half an hour, something happened. The independent sensor net in the spaces immediately outside the vault detected a lone figure.“He’s coming,” said one of the guards assigned to the sensors.The images fizzed as the Agent tried to interfere with the sensors once again.“Oh, no, not this time,” muttered a guard. After a few instants the sensors were stable again.“Ha, not easy as before, is it?” grinned the same guard.“Quiet,” said Huyr. “Be ready.”The Agent was now in front of the weapons guarding the shaft. Once again, he attempted to take control of them and deactivate them. A software war was waged for several seconds, ending with no complete winners. Half the weapons were seized by the Agent. These shut down. Half remained active. These fired.The Agent was enveloped by light and explosions. Then beams of energy sailed out of his nanite suit. They struck the weapons, instantly disabling them.Several people cursed. The Agent was undamaged. The elevator doors opened without resistance. They closed.The elevator came down. Everyone held their breath.The mines didn’t detonate. This time, the Agent had won completely. The correct deactivation sequence had been deciphered and sent. The elevator reached the vault.A hiss was heard. Then clouds of gas started filling the vault.“Poison gas!” yelled Huyr. “Stop right where you are, everyone. Put your gas masks on one at the time. We must remain concentrated on that door.”Slowly, gas masks covered everyone’s faces. The last two guards didn’t make it. They collapsed and died before it was their turn. Another two also collapsed, though they survived.Sorrow flooded Rigri, but she knew Huyr had made the right decision.The door opened. Once again, the Agent was enveloped in energy as the vault’s weapons fired simultaneously. Every guard unleashed his or her power and fired his or her weapon. Rigri’s Pulser Gauntlet fired as well. The projectiles should have allowed her to seize control of the Agent’s mechanical parts, but she didn’t feel that control. She hoped, however, that the light they were coated with had done some damage.“Bluespace weapons, fire!” ordered Huyr. They were the last defense. Four cutting-edge Bluespace weapons, installed to destroy anything that managed to circumvent everything else. Then finally the Agent did something. The Bluespace beams never reached their target. They vanished. A moment later, the Agent unleashed Bluespace himself, which vaporized the four weapons.Then the nanite-covered figure unleashed a wave of magnetism. No Toa of Magnetism or Iron was able to stop it. Almost everyone was stopped in their tracks, paralyzed by their own armor. Several automated weapons, constructed out of non-magnetic materials, kept firing. A moment later, a wave of plasma obliterated them, crushing the forcefields protecting them. That left the guards. The Agent stood in front of them. Then he unleashed a wave of pure disintegration energy. Those who were equipped with Masks of Shielding or devices with similar properties activated them. It did them no good. When the end came for Rigri, she couldn’t even move. She could scream though, and scream she did. Death, mercifully, was instantaneous.Review Topic

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#3 Offline Toa of Italy

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Posted Jul 19 2012 - 07:22 AM

THREE

Half an hour later, the law enforcement forces finally realized something was wrong at the bank. A deeper investigation revealed a sophisticated program had been downloaded into its network to prevent an alert from being broadcasted and make everything appear ordinary.At that point, police officers were ordered to converge on the bank. When the first rumors of an Agent started circulating, the official in charge asked for some weapons backup. As a result, by the time the first policeman entered the building, a formidable amount of weapons surrounded the building, ready for anything.The first who entered found themselves in front of a horrible scene. The bodies Rigri had seen were still lying in the main hall. The way they had been killed, in cold blood, shocked everyone profoundly. Any being capable of doing something like this had to be, at the very least, incredibly different from anything they had ever encountered.As the police explored the building, they found more and more bodies, all murdered in the same, cold-blooded way. But the worst was yet to come. It took almost an hour for the police to force its way into the vault. At first, they found nothing, just a few weapons lying on the floor. Then a Troak wearing a Mask of Psychometry used it on those weapons. Finally, the truth about the Agent’s actions was revealed.At first, no one could understand the Izumal operative’s purpose. Then attention was finally taken away from the casualties. It was then that it was realized that that purpose, after all, had been quite an unoriginal one. Every Orb, Gem and Gemsand in the bank had disappeared, as well as everything else that had been stored in the vault. What had happened had just been a colossal robbery.Another being shared the horror the policemen felt when they found themselves seeing the bodies. A lone spirit was floating above them, watching and registering what she saw.What kind of person could do something like this? wondered Toa Hanashi.The site wasn’t yet open to reporters, but the Toa of Lightning had never let that stop her. As soon as the first rumors had begun circulating, her bodyguards and she had taken a hovercraft belonging to Hanashi News and reached the bank in just a few minutes. Once there, Hanashi had gone into a small compartment and activated her Kanohi Iden.So now, while her body lay in the vehicle parked as close as possible to the bank, her spirit was flying through the corridors, investigating every room in the bank. In the back of her mind, there was unease at the thought of her body being so exposed, but the hovercraft was as anonymous as possible, with no trait linking it to Hanashi News.As the police scattered throughout the building, Hanashi headed straight for the vault. While they struggled to penetrate the defenses that were still active, her spirit easily made its way into the underground chamber. She observed with interest the weapons that had survived – there was no record of a few of them being installed in the bank and they were more advanced than most technology found on Wiki-Nui. And she quickly realized that what the Agent had taken was the money stored in the bank.However, the elation at the discovery was counter-balanced by the memory of the deaths that had occurred and by puzzlement. Agents usually appeared on the other planets to steal objects with no discernible value; while here this Agent’s objective was a perfectly understandable one. But what could Izumal, which allegedly no longer used Gem currency, want with this kind of money? And then there were the deaths. No Agent had ever killed, but with their advanced technology, Agents could potentially exterminate the population on all the other six planets. Just for a moment, she considered not going live with the news. There would be panic. The reassurance that Agents, despite all the damage they caused, didn’t kill would vanish. But that thought only lasted a moment.I’m a reporter, it is my duty to let the public know. And besides, the news is going to get out eventually. Still, it’s puzzling, and alarming. Will Izumal Agents start coming to kill people?She knew she wasn’t going to be the only one wondering about it. She stayed long enough to learn from the police conversations what had happened to the guards who had made their last stand in the vault. Then she sped towards the seat of Wiki-Nui’s government. She was sure Toa Swert had received the news and she wanted to know how he had reacted.Some time later, Hanashi had heard enough. Not everything, but she couldn’t wait forever. She had to return to her body for her midday broadcast. Once again, her spirit soared through the air and reached the hovercraft still stationed in front of the bank.She regained control of her body and stood up.“Come,” she said. Her Gadget obeyed, its robotic legs bringing it close to her. Hanashi activated the communication function and contacted her studio.“I’m going to broadcast directly from here today,” she said to the reporter who answered. “Call me as soon as we’re ready to start. “Keep displaying what my Gadget is broadcasting until I make this motion,” she showed it, “then switch over to show Wiki-Nui’s seat of government.”“Yes, Hanashi.”She waited two minutes. Then the reporter called.“We’re ready.”“So am I.”“Very well. You’re going live in 7 seconds… 6… 5… 4… 3… 2… 1…”“Hello. This is the midday broadcast of Hanashi News and I am Toa Hanashi. At this moment I’m standing in front of the Wiki-Nui National Bank in Ko-Wiki. A few hours ago, the most violent Agent attack so far occurred in the building behind me. An Agent, of whom we still have no image, but who, for his actions, we will nickname Rogue, appeared in the bank approximately two and a half hours ago. We still don’t know what exactly happened, but Rogue was able to kill every being present within the building. There were no survivors. For unknown reasons, everyone was killed in a minute, precise way. There were often no signs of violence on the bodies.The bank kept large amounts of money inside its vault and for this reason there were several Special Forces guards protecting the building. After a last stand in the vault itself, they too were killed. Apparently, Rogue also manipulated the sensors and alarm systems to delay police response, which came only an hour ago, too late for this massacre to be prevented. Investigations are still being conducted within the building, but Rogue’s purpose has already been discovered. Everything stored within the vault, as well as the money kept elsewhere within the bank, has disappeared. Considering that Agents are sent by Izumal, who allegedly no longer values Gem currency, the purpose of this robbery remains shrouded in mystery.”She made the gesture discussed with the reporter. Every being accessing Hanashi News saw now the Wiki-Nui seat of government.“Toa Swert and other members of the Wiki-Nui government are currently in conference with the leaders of Bz-Koro and of Alarist’s allies to decide how to respond to this new Izumal attack. While normally such an act would be equivalent to a declaration of war, Izumal’s sheer power means other options must be considered. No final decision has so far been reached, but we will keep you updated. To know the latest developments, please visit the Hanashi News Gadget webspot.”She terminated the broadcast. An Olmak Anomaly materialized several Bio above her. It wasn’t a danger, but as she watched, its dimensional gate switched to point at a road inside the Izumal City.Panic will break out, she thought. And it will be justified, especially if Rogue or some other Agent does something like this again. She ordered her Gadget to approach and started watching as the first comments to her news came in. As she suspected, several were fearful. People were wondering if they were going to be next.I’m a reporter. I shouldn’t get involved with the news. But then again, I have to make that news as complete as possible. Searching for an explanation won’t be an infringement of my policy.There was no guarantee she’d be able to find an explanation for Rogue’s actions. So far, she never had. But she knew a place where she could start.In the next few days, a good percentage of the population of the “good” planets reacted mostly as Hanashi had predicted.Toa Swert issued a statement in the evening after the robbery. He said that while the scale of the tragedy was horrifying, Wiki-Nui would take measures to ensure such a thing wouldn’t happen again. No one was very reassured by this. Hanashi didn’t help; though she herself wanted to believe Swert, her job forced her to point out the obvious flaws in the Toa Sectra’s words.Every government on the six planets was feeling alarmed. Weapons Science and its larger owner, Experimental Industries, earned thousands of Orbs in just a few days as the most sophisticated and advanced weapons were purchased. But the companies of Promathus itself, large or small, were also buying weapons to protect themselves, a phenomenon not often observed.Meanwhile, fear lurked everywhere. Several minor incidents were attributed to Agents and as a result panic erupted, sometimes for several hours. Hanashi was forced to cover several of these events, both on and off Alarist, so for some days she didn’t have any time to begin her investigation.Then one day she finally found some spare time. There didn’t seem to be any important news to report and she was confident that if anything came up her team of reporters would be able to handle it on its own.She spoke to the other reporters in the studio:“Everyone, I’m going to use my mask. I may be gone for several hours.”Then she stepped back into her office and activated her Iden. Her spirit flew away from the Hanashi News studio. She soared across the sea, heading for Bz-Koro. She took the chance to look inside the AAG island, hearing a curious conversation about the purchase of high-yield Bluespace weapons.Interesting, she thought, though perhaps I’ll let it be handled by the others.She almost turned back when she saw a small Olmak Anomaly appear on a ship and swallow a passenger before disappearing. However, she decided against it. The studio could take care of it.Finally, she reached Bz-Koro’s coast. Her destination wasn’t far away. The Atohune ITH, a relatively small building as ITHs went. There wasn’t much travel, at least of common citizens, to that planet.She slipped into the building and activated the Olmak Totem inside. An instant later, her spirit was on Atohune.She flew rapidly above the continent, finally reaching her destination.The inhabitants called it Light Spirits Lake; it was a small lake, no different from the hundreds that dotted Atohune, except for one thing: above its surface, occasionally, strange light phenomena manifested themselves. The local tribes believed they were the work of spirits, though not all of them agreed on the significance; but everyone came here and dropped offerings into the lake to please the deities. Hanashi, however, knew better.It was raining when she arrived and there were no lights visible. It didn’t matter. Hanashi dropped into the lake and reached its bottom.An old Izumal Macrochip lay there, transported by an Olmak Anomaly a long time before. It was malfunctioning and occasionally caused the lights the natives saw.Hanashi’s spirit floated toward it, slipping through its mud-encrusted walls. Then she settled down to wait.Time passed. This was nothing like when she inhabited the Cargo Stars’ communication systems to interpret the millions of messages that came through. Here there was no communication activity, at least for now. If her contact detected her, as he had assured her he would, he would send a short message, telling her where to meet.She waited. It could take hours for him to discover she had once again entered the Macrochip. After a while she lost track of the time.Suddenly she detected a faint signal. She focused on it, trying to understand it.“You wish to meet again with me. I can imagine why. You will receive the coordinates in a moment.” The coordinates were sent. The message ended.Review Topic

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#4 Offline Toa of Italy

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Posted Jul 23 2012 - 08:19 AM

FOUR

Creva woke abruptly. For a moment he sat in his bed, panting heavily. He had been having a nightmare, he was sure of it, but now details seemed to get fuzzier. He couldn’t remember.He shrugged and tried to dismiss it, but it kept coming back to him. Finally he gave up on going back to sleep and got up. He looked out of the window: the Cargo Star had just risen over the horizon.He prepared his breakfast, and then started eating it. A minute later he found he had already finished it.Hey, calm down a bit. Don’t rush things.He looked around for his ticket. He didn’t find it. He looked around again, more frantically. It wasn’t anywhere in sight.“Oh, no! Oh, no, I can’t have lost it! I can’t!”He walked around nervously, then his eye fell onto his bedside table. It was there, as it should have been.The Onu-Matoran took a deep breath. He got his pack and started filling it. Then a sound filled his ears.“What? Where?”He looked around, almost in panic. Then he noticed his alarm clock. It was ringing, since he had forgotten to turn it off after waking earlier than usual. He walked to it and picked it up. He fumbled with it until he managed to shut it down.He threw himself onto his bed and tried to relax. He grabbed his pack and took his Gadget out. He turned it to Hanashi News. Toa Hanashi was reporting a Ko-Clysmax attack on a Po-Clysmax facility. The event had degenerated when several people had thought it was an Agent attack.Creva’s heart did a little jump when he heard the word ‘Agent’. He didn’t know why. He certainly wasn’t like several people out there, panicking about Rogue’s attack.It was time to go. Creva put his Gadget in his pack and strode toward the door. In the corner of his eye, he saw something move. He turned abruptly. There was nothing.He took another deep breath and opened the door. He walked into his hut’s narrow street. He had taken a few steps when he realized he wasn’t the only one walking in the street. Someone else was walking behind him. He accelerated until he reached the corner. He turned without looking back.He finally arrived at the bus stop. Two other people were there, waiting for the bus. Creva joined them, but he couldn’t relax. He kept looking back and forth.An Olmak Anomaly materialized above them. People looked up, worry appearing on their faces, but the Anomaly just floated in the sky before disappearing.The walkcraft arrived. As Creva boarded it, he was jostled by people on either side of him. Suddenly, he saw someone looking at him. He cried out.People looked at him curiously. Creva shook his head. There was no one where he had been looking a moment before.What’s happening to me today?He reached the bus station. As he made his way through the large inter-connected huts that made it up, he thought someone was following him, but this time he managed to dismiss the feeling.He boarded the big hovercraft bus. This trip was uneventful and Creva allowed himself to think he had gotten over whatever had been happening to him.He descended from the bus in front of the giant hut housing his department. He walked in and climbed the stairs to his floor.As usual, only a few people were there; these included Warin.“Hey, Creva! Welcome back!” said the Glatorian.Creva nodded, but didn’t speak. He walked to his post, followed by the Glatorian.“So, what’s been going on with you? It’s been a week since you last showed up here.”“I wasn’t feeling well. I took some leave, that’s all.”“Yeah, so you told me when I phoned you. But how bad was it? Each time I called you, you seemed to be in a hurry.”“Oh, I’m sorry. I didn’t realize it.”“Ah, it’s all right. Listen, perhaps you don’t know, but Liak got promoted. Some of us are throwing a party. Want to come?”“I don’t know. I’ll call you.”“Sure.”Creva turned on his computer as Warin walked away. He gasped. Two eyes were watching him from the screen.Warin turned.“Are you all right?”“Yes,” said Creva. The screen was in its standard mode. “Yes, I’m fine.”After lunch, Creva went back to the office. Lunch break hadn’t officially ended yet, so Warin took the opportunity to speak with the Onu-Matoran again.“By the way, you never told me why you wandered off during the Forum Plaza discussion last week.”“Nothing, I was simply bored. There didn’t seem to be anything more to say.”“I called you. Didn’t you hear me?”“Er… no.”He turned around nervously. The figure he was seeing kept reappearing, even if just for a moment. He was seriously considering taking an appointment with a doctor after the day was over.“Hey, are you all right? You look awfully nervous today. It’s not like you.”“Don’t… don’t worry. It will pass.”Creva tried to sit down. He stumbled and grabbed the table to steady himself. Warin walked closer.“Creva, I really think…”Creva turned to look at him. He gasped. It wasn’t Warin standing over him. It was a dark, powerfuland bulky figure.“No,” he gasped. “Stay… stay away from me.”“What?”Creva punched him, making Warin stumble back.“What the…?”“Stay away! Stop persecuting me!” he screamed.“Creva…”Others were drawing closer, having obviously heard the yell. Yudra herself approached, making her way through the chairs until she reached them.“Hey, hey, what’s going on here? Creva, what in Mata Nui’s name is wrong with you?”Creva blinked. Warin was standing in front of him, not some strange being. Yudra’s gaze was demanding an answer. Others were watching him too, disconcerted by his scream.“I… I don’t know, Turaga. I’m just very nervous today.”“I can see that. Listen, take this day off too. Relax. See someone, maybe. But when you come back, I want nothing more of this.”Creva nodded. He turned to Warin.“I’m sorry. Really.”“Don’t worry, Creva, it’s nothing. But perhaps you should see someone.”“Yeah, maybe I will.”The Onu-Matoran gathered his things. He walked out and walked down to the ground floor. During the bus ride, he took out his Gadget and called his doctor, who gave him the number of a good psychologist.Finally, he descended from the walkcraft bus at his stop. He turned into the alley leading into his house.A glint of silver.He turned and pinned down the figure with strength greater than any ordinary Matoran.“I’ve had enough,” he said. “And more than enough.”Finally, the day for the meeting came. Hanashi had managed to avoid scheduling important reports that day, so she was able to use her mask without interrupting any essential activity. Her spirit glided across Wiki-Nui, heading for the island’s northern tip.The person she was going to meet was an Izumal hacker, one who had contacted her several years before; she didn’t know why, but he had offered to be her Izumal contact. She had accepted, though she hadn’t used him much: the only thing related to Izumal which she would have found useful was the reason for the Agents’ attacks and to that he had given no answer. However, Rogue’s actions were a huge change of policy for Izumal, one that even a hacker might be able to explain.She entered the building housing Alarist’s Olmak Totem which led to Izumal. There was no ITH, of course: nobody traveled to that planet.Hanashi hovered in front of the Totem for a while. It wasn’t the first time she went to Izumal in spirit form and so far nothing had happened. Still, she had no doubt Izumal could track her and if they were being more hostile, there was no telling what they might do.Oh, who cares? I’ll get back here instantly if something happens.Her immaterial hands touched the Totem and activated it. Hanashi teleported to Izumal.She found herself in the blank chamber of an Olmak Hovertower. When nothing happened, she shot through the walls of the nanite structure and found herself hovering above a golden plain. In the distance, she could see the skyscrapers of the City.She zoomed in the opposite direction, heading for the coast. She witnessed several Olmak Anomalies on the way, but none too close to be a danger. She also saw several Agents fly around, looking for hacker camps.She reached the sea. At this point, things became harder. Her contact had given her coordinates, but of course it was hard to reach them without any kind of instrument. Besides, she had no landmarks to use: Izumal’s geography wasn’t well known and the sea even less.Fortunately, her contact wasn’t expecting her in a particular place; he just wanted her to be inside a relatively large area. She would still have to be careful of how long she flew, though.She had to fly slowly, at least by her standards, to avoid overshooting, so it took her half an hour, but she finally reached a place she was convinced was within the area where her contact was expecting her. She dived into the sea and started moving around at random. A short time later, she found herself surrounded by utter darkness. She had made it. She was inside a Ghost Bubble.Her contact had assured her this was safer than a two-way subspace communication, which could be intercepted. His method was a short one-way communication through the Atohune Macrochip telling her where to rendezvous; then she would fly to the coordinates, always in the sea, enter a Ghost Bubble, where he had said it would be difficult to detect her, and wait.“Welcome back,” said a voice.He had never explained how he managed to speak of her. She theorized he projected himself into the bubble using some strange technology.“Thank you,” she said. He could hear her, though again she wasn’t sure how.“You’re here to talk about the Agent you nicknamed Rogue, aren’t you?”“Yes. Do you have any information on him, or on why he did what he did?”“No, and that is troubling. I’ve seen the image that was recovered from the bank’s sensors: Rogue has never been seen on Izumal before, which is strange in itself. Agents usually spend a period of time, of varying length, on this planet before being sent off-world.”“He committed a robbery. I thought Izumal had no need for Gems.”“They don’t, I can guarantee that. I was an Izumal citizen once, after all. No one knows what they do with what Agents steal, but they have certainly never stolen this way.”“And what about the killing?”“Good question. I can tell you Izumal hasn’t been behaving any differently with hackers. Two weeks ago the Agents managed to find a camp and its members were jailed, but no one was killed.”“So Rogue isn’t a normal Agent.”“No, but again, I can’t tell you why. What I can tell you is that killing and robbing aren’t the only two things out of the norm. He used a disproportionate amount of power during that fight. Agents usually don’t use that much power off-world, they risk running out of energy. So either Rogue has more power than most Agents or, for some reason, he doesn’t care if he runs out.”“Is there anything more you can tell me?”“No. I will investigate, though. Rogue has got me concerned, too. What I advise you to do if he attacks again is to use your best technology to scan him. Though I can’t guarantee anything, I suspect he may use different technology from the other Agents and if so, even your sensors may be able to tell the difference.”“All right.”“Go back to the Macrochip three weeks from now. If I have any news, I’ll tell you where we can meet again. Goodbye.”He didn’t say anything, leaving Hanashi uncertain. She always felt a bit spooked by her contact, especially since she had never actually seen him. But she had hoped him to be more helpful, though it had been a small hope at best. Still, his advice wasn’t bad.She flew back to the Hovertower and teleported back to Alarist. Until she heard from her contact, or an Agent killed again, she would have to abandon the investigation, she decided.Her spirit entered her body. As soon as she came out of her office, a Hanashi News reporter rushed to her.“You’re back, finally! Thank Mata Nui.”“Why? Is there something wrong?” asked the Toa of Lightning.“Not exactly, but something has just happened. There has been a murder on Bz-Koro.”Review Topic

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#5 Offline Toa of Italy

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Posted Jul 24 2012 - 09:25 AM

FIVE

When he walked into the police station he was aware that everyone was looking at him. It often happened. After all, he wasn’t the most common sight, not to mention a strange and possibly intimidating one.His complete name was SAWU0002, though now he simply called himself Sawu. His appearance was nearly identical to that of a Bionicle Core Dimension Vahki Keerakh, though he was slightly bulkier and his arms ended in hands instead of Stun Staffs.There was no clear and complete record of his history. Lost as it was between countless classified or destroyed documents, it probably would never be totally reconstructed. But the basic events were known. Some time in the past, the Promathus companies Experimental Industries and Weapons Science had designed a weapon of ultimate power, a technology which would allow its possessor to win any conflict. But it had soon become apparent that such a weapon needed a control system more powerful than anything existing at the time. Therefore, it had never been produced and its designs had been hidden and almost forgotten.Then, in Year 370, Experimental Industries had created a piece of hardware small enough to be held in one hand, but possessing immense processing capacity. Integrating it with the designs of the old weapon had been a simple matter. Other weapon types were added to it, until in Year 372 the Special Automated Weapon Units, or SAWUs, had been born.The buyers of the first SAWU were the Tanuuk Tyrants, who at the time were facing a consistent slave rebellion and, for a number of reasons, lacked the Deathwings necessary to eliminate them. Since the Tyrants intended to use the SAWU as a law enforcement weapon (even though it was their own tyrannical laws they were enforcing), its designers decided to employ the infamous Vahki shape as the unit’s body.The SAWU’s deployment on Tanuuk ensured the Tyrants’ complete victory. The power of the weapon was enough to smash the rebellion in less than two weeks. Seeing its effectiveness, the Tyrants commissioned a second SAWU, despite its high price, to be used as a last resort in case of future rebellions.Meanwhile, the SAWUs attracted other customers. While the “good” powers refused to acquire them, viewing them as weapons of mass destruction, others had no such scruples: Ko-Clysmax commissioned two, which were readily produced.At that point, things went wrong. The hardware invented by Experimental Industries proved to be more powerful than expected. As a result, one of the great popular myths came true: machines becoming sentient. The four SAWUs’ transition to sentient status occurred in different ways. SAWU0003, upon becoming sentient, immediately self-destructed, for an unknown reason. SAWU0004 attempted to take control of Ko-Clysmax, but was destroyed in a great battle which claimed an incredible number of Ice ships.SAWU0001 also attempted to seize power. But at that point SAWU0002 intervened. Unlike its kindred, SAWU0002 was animated by ideals of justice, righteousness and freedom, born in antithesis to the Tyrants’ evil and oppression. In a spectacular confrontation, SAWU0001 was annihilated. SAWU0002 then attempted to free Tanuuk’s slaves, but the battle had weakened him and the Tyrants managed to defeat him. However, the living weapon was able to make his escape through the Tanuuk Cargo Star (being a machine, he didn’t risk degradation damage as much as a living being did), which brought him to Alarist.Once there, his future became uncertain. He was undoubtedly a weapon, a very powerful one. More, he was technically a machine, something that had no rights. Weapons Science had a claim on him and some were perfectly willing to let them take him.But he was lucky. A good lawyer befriended him and brought his case before a Bz-Koro judge. In court, he was deemed a sentient being and, being an enemy of the Tyrants, granted asylum. In exchange, however, he had to remove all his weapons and give them to the Bz-Koro government, who would have the authority to decide if and when they would be reinstated.One year later he acquired Bz-Koro citizenship. The following day, he entered into Bz-Koro’s police forces, driven by the wish to defend the justice and freedom enjoyed by its inhabitants. This also allowed him to reinstate some of his less-dangerous systems, which still granted him a certain amount of power. For this reason, he quickly made his way into Bz-Koro’s Special Forces, where he was often employed when the police found itself involved in battles with criminals. His weapons usually made the difference.He entered the hut housing the office of the police chief in charge of this station.“Sawu, please sit.”“Thank you, sir, but I prefer to stand.”The police chief, a Toa of Plant Life, blinked. Then he shrugged.“Very well. I will be brief. I assume you know a murdered individual was found an hour ago.”Sawu nodded.“Then you also know finding the murderer is, at least for now, the task of this police station. But this murderer is violent. Very violent. It took only a glance at the body to learn that. And whoever he is, he’s also very powerful. If we found this individual, he might well force us into a fight, a fight we’d probably win, but I fear there would be loss of life. I heard the Special Forces, and you in particular, weren’t involved in anything at the moment, so I decided to ask for you to be assigned to this case.”Sawu nodded again.“One of my officials, Crewqua, is in charge of this case. You will report to him. For now, I think you should join him at the crime scene.”“Of course, sir.”“A police vehicle will bring you there.”As the hovercraft made its way through the streets of Bz-Koro, Sawu thought.The police chief had been perhaps too cautious; even though the murder had been violent, to ask the Special Forces to intervene, especially at this early stage of the investigation, was a bit of overkill. He didn’t mind, however. The official had been right to say he had nothing else to do at the moment and he appreciated being given the chance to bring to justice a criminal such as a murderer. Even in the Special Forces, it didn’t always happen.Then he started to look at the images and reports that the police had already filed in through his direct internet link. The victim, a yellow Skakdi, had been brutally tortured before being murdered. Electric shocks, fire… Sawu wasn’t a keen psychologist, but he certainly realized that either the killer was deranged, or he was incredibly angry, probably both.It wasn’t the end of it. The Skakdi’s arms had been both melted with acid. And the final cause of death was even more brutal and disgusting. Somehow, a plant had been grown inside his body, tearing it apart from the inside. It must have been an awful death.Sawu had felt a great loathing for murder ever since he had become sentient. The last person he had killed had been SAWU0001. But this killing also brought back memories of how the cruelest Tyrants used to torture slaves. His determination to bring the murderer to justice increased.The hovercraft arrived and Sawu got out. The body had already been removed from the crime scene. He disapproved. If the police chief had decided to call for him, he might as well have made full use of his abilities. Sawu, among other things, possessed a very comprehensive and powerful sensor suite, at least as accurate as the one in the police station’s forensics lab.Then he realized that the reason hadn’t simply been procedural. Toa Hanashi was standing very close to the cordon which surrounded the crime scene. Her Gadget was in front of her, sign that she was reporting.Sawu suppressed his irritation as he walked toward Crewqua, a green Glatorian. He had met the reporterette several times; after all, the actions he usually performed for the police tended to draw a certain interest from her audience. He had never liked her, even though he knew free reporting was a substantial sign of justice.Hanashi was now walking toward Crewqua, her Gadget following. Sawu stood back and considered activating his cloaking device: if the Toa of Lightning saw him, things might get much more complicated. He shrugged and simply waited.Crewqua tried to shrug off Hanashi, but she was very insistent. In the end he was forced to answer a few questions, though he tried to be as evasive as possible.As Hanashi left, Sawu saw she made sure to get her Gadget to film him. He sighed and walked to Crewqua.“Sawu, the chief told me you would come here.”“Yes, sir.”The living machine was surprised. Usually police officers were somewhat intimidated by him. The police chief certainly had been. Crewqua wasn’t, though Sawu didn’t see that as something negative, merely unusual.“I trust you reviewed the documents before arriving here.”“Yes, sir, I did. How would you like to proceed?”“I will explain that when we’re back at the station. I will also introduce you to the others that have been assigned to the case.”He didn’t need to, of course, Sawu had long since registered that information. For some reason, the robot thought Crewqua already knew that.“Shall we go?” asked the Glatorian.Sawu nodded.At the police station, Crewqua’s team assembled in the latter’s office. Sawu was quickly introduced. Unlike their leader, the other officers did find Sawu intimidating. It was somehow comforting, a thought which immediately upset Sawu. He didn’t want to inspire fear and the fact that he felt at ease when he did so certainly wasn’t good.These thoughts were banished as the case started to be analyzed. The victim had been on his way home when he had been murdered. He didn’t have any enemies. Nothing strange resulted from the analysis of his bank account, Gadget and other personal information. They were all forced to conclude it was unlikely the Skakdi had known his killer.“But it was done, violently, with hate. How could someone hate someone else to this point without even knowing him?” asked a Toa of Silver, Makiys.“They can, perfectly,” said Sawu. “Some people die or are tortured in more or less the same way on other planets. Most of the time, the culprit has never met the person before.”Silence followed this.“But here, on Alarist, who would do such a thing?” asked Bralkia, a Troak of Sulfur.“A serial killer, perhaps?” said Crewqua.The idea wasn’t a comforting one. It was several years since a serial killer had appeared in Bz-Koro.“If it is a serial killer, then we’ll have to turn to criminal psychologists to find an answer,” said, Sariw a male Toa of Lava. “And it will take time.”“So what do we do in the meantime?”Crewqua turned to Sawu.“You have a direct internet connection, don’t you?”“Yes.”“Then I want you to find every Bz-Koro citizen that has powers or weapons that might have caused what happened to the victim. Then try to narrow down the list: use whatever methods you deem appropriate. Bralkia, you will work with Sawu. Whenever he gives you a name, you go out and interrogate him or her. Sariw, I want you to investigate the victim a little more thoroughly. We might have missed something. Makiys, you work with forensics for now. I’ll go interview the victim’s friends. They may be able to tell us something more.”“OK,” said everyone.Lhiar’s work couldn’t be said to be boring. The Ta-Matoran’s job was to monitor Clysmax space from a station in Ta-Clysmax. Though it wasn’t particularly hard, he knew it was essential for the success of engagements against Ko-Clysmax ships. It was even exciting to watch the battles between the fighters, never knowing who might win but always hoping it would be Ta-Clysmax.There were times when an object couldn’t be identified. They weren’t rare, though they didn’t happen that often either. This was one of them.Lhiar activated his console’s communication system.“I have an unidentified object flying three Kio above Ga-Clysmax. It appears to be heading in Ko-Clysmax’s direction.”“Where did it come from?” asked someone through the radio.“Unknown. It just appeared.”“Can you get a closer look?”“Yes. I’m tapping into the telescope right now.”Though Lhiar worked mainly with radar, which displayed all objects as colored dots, he could also use a telescope to make out the details.“Hold it; the computer has extrapolated its trajectory. The object is heading straight for a battle between ten of our ships and eleven Ko-Clysmax vessels.”“But what is it?”The telescope fixed on the object. Lhiar displayed the image on his screen.“Oh no!” he gasped.“What? What is it?”“It’s an Agent. The one called Rogue.”Review Topic

Edited by Toa of Italy, Aug 03 2012 - 12:20 PM.

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#6 Offline Toa of Italy

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Posted Jul 25 2012 - 11:29 AM

SIX

Hanashi was working in her office when a reporter barged in.“What?” asked the Toa of Lightning, slightly irritated.“It’s Rogue. He’s been sighted.”That got Hanashi’s attention.“Where?”“On Clysmax. He appears to be heading for a battle between Ta and Ko-Clysmax ships.”It took an instant for an experienced reporter such as Hanashi to decide what to do.“Alert every correspondent in the area. They should to the nearest military installations and flight-monitoring stations to find out everything they can. I’m going to observe Rogue myself. You start to whip up my speech with the reports we receive.”The reporter nodded.Hanashi’s Iden glowed and a moment later her spirit had left her body. She headed straight for the Wiki-Nui Museum.She saw a large amount of people coming out. The rumor had already spread, prompting every person who’d been about to go through to Clysmax to decide to cancel their trip.Hanashi touched the Totem and found herself inside the large cave that housed Onu-Clysmax’s ITH.Hanashi flew through the walls of the cave. Outside, it was a maze of tunnels. She could see people walk everywhere: on the floors, the walls, the roofs. She’d been to Onu-Clysmax enough times, both in body and in spirit form, to get used to it, but it was still pretty impressing.She wasn’t there to watch Onu-Clysmax inhabitants, however. She made a brief stop at the local government’s building. All the Fragment’s defenses were being alerted, as were the Ta-Clysmax fighters positioned in its proximity.They’re panicking, thought Hanashi. And they’re not the only ones.She made another stop at a flight-monitoring station to get more precise coordinates of Rogue’s location. He was approaching the battle at supersonic speed. Hanashi calculated she would be there just as he reached it.Then her spirit was in flight through the artificial atmosphere surrounding the Fragments. She approached the location, passing through a Spacetrain on her way. She heard an announcement saying it was going to make a course change. No one wanted to get close to Rogue.The battle had broken up by now. Both sides had been alerted to the Agent’s presence and were starting to retreat. In the distance, she could also glimpse several Ta-Clysmax fighters flying to reinforce their ships in case of a confrontation. Ko-Clysmax, however, wasn’t sending any.Strange, thought Hanashi. But then again, Ko-Clysmax might not wish to antagonize Rogue and they would certainly be more willing to sacrifice their people.Rogue arrived. Hanashi looked at him with interest. She had seen images of him, but she was still curious.He was exactly as he had been when the robbery had occurred. Small and with a nanite suit so thick she couldn’t make out his features beneath it.Rogue stopped. Hanashi picked up several transmissions between the various ships that were now increasing their speed to get away from the Agent. Shields were raised, weapons locked on the small silver figure.Air started swirling around Rogue, in particular around his open hand. At first Hanashi didn’t realize what was happening, then she understood: Rogue was drawing all the air around him to his hand.It was becoming concentrated. Hanashi though she could almost see it: a small, transparent sphere hovering just above Rogue’s palm.Then it stopped. Rogue rotated slowly toward the Ta-Clysmax ships, which were more than a Kio away by now.A beam of ultra-compressed air shot out of his palm. It traveled fast, striking a Ta-Clysmax vessel. The beam was small, yet incredibly powerful. As Hanashi watched, the ship broke apart, pieces flying in every direction. Rogue turned toward the fleeing Ko-Clysmax ships. A beam of energy was unleashed by his nanite suit and struck them. Hanashi was puzzled when it had no effect. Then she realized the ships were no longer moving. The Agent had left them dead-in-space, so he could take care of them whenever it suited him.Rogue started moving. Abruptly, he switched to supersonic speed. Hanashi’s spirit matched his course, which was toward the Ta-Clysmax vessels. As the Agent got closer, they opened fire. Most of their weapons were Heatstones and other types of solid projectile, but there were also several energy-based weapons. Nothing affected the Agent’s suit. Rogue conjured a giant fireball and sent it hurtling to where the survivors of the destruction of the first ships were floating in zero-gravity. Hanashi didn’t look as it struck.Rogue was now approaching another ship. Weapons fire against him increased. Hanashi rejoiced as she saw it was actually slowing him down. Then the Agent unleashed magnetic energy which tore apart a ship and crushed its crew.Hanashi’s spirit followed as the silver figure flew under two Clysmax vessels. For a moment, he did nothing. Then everything stopped.Including Hanashi. She couldn’t move. It took her a moment, but she realized Rogue had used the Tyrants’ Space Shift power.Then she managed to look up. She gasped, though in spirit form, nothing happened. Both the ships had been cleanly cut apart by the Space Shift bubble’s rim. She saw the parts outside the bubble float away. And then she found out something else, something truly horrifying. Those ships only had one floor. Rogue had calculated so that the bubble’s rim would pass about half a Bio above that floor, effectively cutting in half the entire crew that had been standing on it.The bubble disappeared. There were six Ta-Clysmax ships remaining. Three were one-man fighters.Rogue seized them with tractor beams and made them crash together, obliterating them.The last three ships were by now close to a Ta-Clysmax asteroid outpost and were starting to land. As Rogue approached it, he was shot with missiles, powers and energy weapons, turning the air around him white. He made a small gesture and suddenly everything that was striking him was diverted, pummeling one of the three ships. It held for a few seconds, and then was destroyed.Hanashi was suddenly aware of three objects heading in Rogue’s direction. She recognized them since she had once reported on their construction. One of Ta-Clysmax’s ultimate weapons: long-range rockets which were guided by near-sentient software; they contained a very powerful warhead and could strike Ko-Clysmax itself. Ta-Clysmax’s government intended to use them if Ko-Clysmax’s threat dramatically increased. For them to use them now was a sign of desperation.The missiles approached Rogue. His size wasn’t a problem: their guiding software could target almost anything, big or small. The Agent unleashed plasma toward them. The missiles dodged and what struck them did no damage.Rogue fled, flying around the asteroid in erratic patterns, trying to lose the missiles. It didn’t work. Hanashi was following, secretly cheering the rockets on. If Rogue was fleeing, it must mean the missiles could damage him, mustn’t it?Then the Agent stopped and Hanashi’s hopes were dashed. A small point of utter blackness raced away from his hand, so small Hanashi had trouble spotting it. The missiles were torn away from their course and smashed straight into it. They were abruptly compressed and disappeared. The miniature black hole then raced back to Rogue. There was a small bright flare as the Agent converted it into energy and absorbed it. Then the silver figure turned back to the ships, which had landed. Their crews were already being led away.Rogue was obviously having none of it. Beams of white energy shot out of his hands, flash-freezing the vessels, which the Agent then shattered. Then small lasers were used to blast the members of the crews, who were systematically singled out, into oblivion.Hanashi could do nothing but watch in shock as Rogue flew away from the outpost.It immediately became clear that Rogue was heading back to the disabled Ko-Clysmax ships. Hanashi saw they were surrounded by other repair vessels. However, as soon as Rogue started heading for them, those vessels all started fleeing, leaving the original eleven ships behind. As Hanashi and Rogue got closer, the Toa of Lightning saw there were struggles at the repair ships’ doors. People were thrown out.The crews of the ships! realized the reporterette. Rogue just wants the ships and their crews and Ko-Clysmax has realized it. They’re not going to risk the destruction of more vessels and people to save those crews.Some members were floating in the air, unable to do anything as death bore down upon them. Others were still inside the ships and were frantically raising shields and preparing for the hopeless battle.Rogue’s speed abruptly increased, almost outdistancing Hanashi. She remembered her contact’s words. Rogue was using a disproportionate amount of power in this fight. Why?Rogue was now only a blur. His speed increased even more. Then he struck head-on a ship. His speed was such that the forcefield protecting it instantly collapsed. The explosion annihilated the ship and four fighters, as well as all the beings floating in the air around the ships.The remaining ships opened fire.Surely Rogue must be damaged by now? thought Hanashi. In truth, it was a fragile hope.Rogue was slowing down, but he wasn’t stopping. A wave of magma sailed from his nanite suit, melting another ship.Five ships left.The Agent used two tractor beams to pull apart a ship, then disintegrated the two pieces and its crew with incredibly-concentrated water blasts.Four left.The Agent drained the power from the shields of two ships, leaving them vulnerable. Then it used that same power to annihilate them.Two left.Rogue stopped. He floated toward one of the ships and passed through its forcefield as if it hadn’t been there. The ship fired continuously, but without effect.Rogue turned intangible and passed through the ship’s hull. Hanashi followed.The crew abruptly stopped. Then they abruptly turned to dust.Aging power, thought the spirit.She floated out to see what the other ship was doing. Surprisingly, it was standing still, doing nothing.Both ships started moving.Rogue must have restored propulsion and somehow taken control of the other ship.Hanashi got back into the Agent’s ship. She observed as he used nanites to connect himself to the vessel’s systems.She tried to get closer… then she slammed into a Ghost wall. She suddenly realized the Agent could see her. Rogue rose. A sword of energy materialized in his hand. A sword of pure Bluespace.Hanashi panicked. Rogue advanced toward her. She shot away. Surprisingly, nothing got in her way. She realized it was only because she wasn’t Rogue’s target.As she got away from the ships she saw them disappear. Rogue had cloaked them. She didn’t know why and right now she didn’t care. All she wanted to do was to get away from the terrible Agent.Not much time later, Hanashi’s body gasped as she regained consciousness. A reporter came in.“What happened? What has Rogue done?”Hanashi couldn’t help it. It wasn’t the first time she saw people get killed: when in her spirit form, she saw lots of things. But murdered with no reason, and in cold blood, like this: their screams of terror, the grief of those around them. And add to that the shock of being threatened while in spirit form, to know that even then, she was vulnerable. It was too much.Hanashi slumped on her desk and started weeping silently.Creva watched Hanashi News that evening. There was only one news item. Rogue’s attack, again and again. The telescopes in the monitoring stations spread throughout the Fragments had captured the details of the Agent’s attack and Hanashi News had managed to acquire the videos soon after Rogue’s disappearance.Toa Hanashi was commenting, as usual. The reporterette’s poise was mostly the same as usual, but when she talked about a particularly horrible detail, Creva could make out that she, who had witnessed in spirit form the entire attack, was as shocked as anyone about it, if not more. He considered it a good thing, a sign that no one was unaffected by the event.The Onu-Matoran was more relaxed now. He had not visited a psychologist in the end, but his panic attacks had ceased and the figure he had been seeing was gone. The day after his attack on Warin, he had returned to work and troubled no one. His only problem now was that he was feeling slightly weak physically. But it wasn’t something worth bothering about.When he turned Hanashi News off, he thought. Like before, he wasn’t too worried about Rogue, but he wasn’t at ease either. The Agent’s brutality was frightening. But if Izumal had wanted to kill them, it would already have done so. That was comforting.His Gadget rang. He turned the screen on. It was a colleague of his, a Matoran. Creva started greeting him, then saw his friend’s face.“What’s wrong?”“It’s Warin, Creva. I’ve just heard. He’s been murdered.” Review Topic

Edited by Toa of Italy, Jul 25 2012 - 11:30 AM.

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#7 Offline Toa of Italy

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Posted Jul 26 2012 - 04:16 AM

SEVEN

Sawu watched as the Glatorian’s body was taken away. This time he had made sure to scan the area before the crime scene was modified. Surprisingly, it hadn’t revealed much. Whoever was the murderer was very good at covering his tracks.Yet at the same time, he had obviously made no effort to hide the body. Both deaths had occurred in the same neighborhood, only a few streets away from each other. It was growing likely that the murderer lived here.Crewqua gestured for his team to assemble.“What have we got?”“The victim was on his way to visit a friend,” answered Sariw. “He knew no one else in the neighborhood. No enemies, nothing suspicious about him. Once again, nothing.”“Have you interviewed the friend?”“Yes. He claims not to have known the victim would visit him, but it appears it wasn’t the first time he dropped by unexpectedly.”“Okay. Now, the murderer probably resides here. It’s night, so we’re doing nothing. Tomorrow we split up and visit every hut within half a Kio. Every hut. Sawu, you aren’t interviewing anyone. Instead, I want you to go around on your own and scan the huts, always within half a Kio.”Sawu nodded.“Those names you were gathering, does any of them live here?”“No, none.”“Very well. Once we’ve finished here, we’ll go to speak with the victim’s friends and colleagues.”Sawu walked away. Then he suddenly detected a vehicle stopping a few Bio from him.Not again.Toa Hanashi and her entourage came out. Sawu tried to walk faster, but Hanashi was quick. She identified him immediately and came after him.“Special Agent Sawu.”“Toa Hanashi.”Her Gadget wasn’t recording, yet. A positive sign.“Another murder, I gather.”“Yes.”“They have both happened in the same neighborhood. Do you suspect someone living here?”“I can’t comment, Toa Hanashi. I’m sorry.”No, I’m not.“I understand. But how close do you believe you are to a resolution?”“No comment.”“Is it true that the murderer was even more violent this time? That there were signs of deep mental assault?”Sawu turned.“With all due respect, Toa Hanashi, I have work to do. Please save your questions for after the case is closed.”Hanashi’s expression was unreadable. Sawu walked away, this time without being followed.Hanashi watched Sawu go. She scowled. It was true that as a reporter she was somewhat intrusive, but then again, it was her job. The living machine didn’t seem to respect that, as his impoliteness showed.Then her mind went back to the murder itself. It was shocking to say the least. The images of the first victim were terrible and if her sources about the death of the second person were accurate, then this murderer represented a terrible danger for the inhabitants of this area of Bz-Koro. Of course, lots of people were already claiming Agents were behind it. Privately, Hanashi didn’t believe that, but she had to admit whoever was responsible was very powerful.“We’re leaving,” she said to her bodyguards and the reporters following her. “We won’t find out anything else tonight.”Sawu opened his eyes. He stepped out of the frame where he rested when he wasn’t active. Secondary routines ran a diagnostic which took less than a second.Sawu’s home was different from most Bz-Koro huts. Instead of furniture and lightstones, its walls were coated in metal, with the occasional control panel emerging.When designing the SAWUs, Promathus engineers had also designed a place where they would be placed while not covering any duty. Sawu had had one on Tanuuk, but he’d had to abandon it during his flight. Once he had started living in Alarist, he’d used all his money to buy the equipment necessary to build another one, along with a power generator. Much of it was expensive, but then Sawu seldom used his money for other things. He was rewarded years later with a station closely resembling the one he used to have, though it was less sophisticated.He walked to a platform at the centre of his hut. Robotic hands protruded out of the walls and started re-integrating into his form his armor and weapons, which he removed during the night for them to be preserved and eventually repaired separately. Of course, most of his weapons were currently locked in vaults belonging to the Bz-Koro government, so the systems here only operated with what he was allowed to use, though they could theoretically fit his entire arsenal on him.Recharging didn’t happen here, though. Instead, the SAWUs’ power sources were designed to draw power out of the Bluespace Walls themselves, allowing them to recharge whenever necessary.There were very few personal objects in the hut. One was a copy of the act through which the Bz-Koro’s courts had deemed him sentient, which was enclosed in a frame and hung on a wall. Next to it was another act, the one that had granted him Bz-Koro citizenship. On the opposite wall, finally, was a picture of his friend, the lawyer which had assisted him after his arrival on Alarist.There wasn’t anything else, because Sawu didn’t see the point. He had little sense of aesthetics and his interests, which weren’t many, could easily be pursued using his direct internet interface. He often wondered if this attitude made him less sentient and more machine, but so far hadn’t done anything to change it.He emerged from his hut. His personal hovercraft was parked beside it. He could fly, of course, but Bz-Koro restricted unauthorized flight in its skies, so instead he had purchased a hovercraft and heavily adjusted it to allow him to directly interface with its systems. He mentally activated the vehicle and set a course for the police station.An hour later he was there. No other member of Crewqua’s team had arrived yet, but since Sawu was supposed to work alone anyway, he saw no reason to wait for them. He left a message saying he was going to start scanning the houses and then left.He walked away from the police station. Once he had put about 200 Bio between himself and the station, he activated his cloaking device, vanishing. His cloak was much more sophisticated than a Kanohi Huna; no sensor would ever spot him. Then he floated off the ground, calling upon his flight power.This could be called breaking the law, but Sawu knew that if he flew at low altitude, which he would have to do anyway to get an accurate scan of the houses, he would cause no damage. Besides, it would be counter-productive for the killer to know how the investigations were proceeding. Sawu flew toward the neighborhood where the murders had occurred, his sensors already prepared.An hour later, the Vahki-resembling machine was back at the station. His sensor sweeps had been completely inconclusive. There was no powerful weapon, no being with strange abilities, nothing.He called Crewqua’s Gadget. The Glatorian answered.“Sir, I’m back at the station. I’ve finished my sensor sweeps. There have been no results.”Crewqua sighed in disappointment.“Okay, listen. We ourselves are not so lucky. I have to pull some people from other teams to help, or we’ll never finish this tour of the neighborhood. Anyway, I’m coming back to the station. I don’t want to delay the interview of the second victim’s colleagues more than necessary. You’re coming with me.”“Very well.”A few minutes later, Crewqua arrived. Sawu was waiting for him with a police hovercraft.“Let’s go,” ordered Crewqua.Sawu interfaced with the hovercraft. It was more difficult than with his personalized one, but it could be done. Then the two got in and the vehicle started moving.Sawu had delegated the hovercraft’s control to his secondary routines. He was therefore capable of answering the call which reached him a few minutes after the trip had begun. He displayed the call in his virtual vision. The face of a Dendrokan appeared. Sawu smiled, or at least he would have if he had been capable. It was his lawyer friend, Dialcun.“Hello,” said Dialcun.“Hello, Dialcun. It has been a while.” Crewqua, of course, couldn’t hear him. He was “speaking” using signals his mind transmitted directly to Dialcun’s Gadget, which then converted them into sounds.“Listen, Sawu, this is very important. I received a short while ago a call from the Bz-Koro government.”Sawu was suddenly interested.“What did they say?”“In light of Rogue’s attacks, they are considering restoring all your weapons and assign you to the Alarist Ambassadorial Government in order to defend the planet.”Sawu didn’t react, at least visibly. In his mind, he was thinking. Those weapons made him powerful enough to slaughter thousands of beings, something he had no intention of doing. Yet at the same time, he found himself wishing to have that much power under his control. He tried to shun the thought, but it wouldn’t fully go away.There was one problem though.“Dialcun, even with those weapons, I doubt I’ll be a match for an Agent.”“It would be indeed an accomplishment if you were, my friend. No one is expecting that much from you. But we’re hoping you might at least be able to lessen the damage if an Agent attacks again.”“All right. I’ll think about it. Goodbye.”He closed the call.Crewqua spoke:“We’re almost there. Now, I think I’d better do the talking. No offense.”“None taken.”“That doesn’t mean that if you think there’s something important I have missed, you shouldn’t say it.”“Of course.”Creva was at work when Yudra called.“Excuse me, could everyone pay attention for a moment?”Creva looked up from his computer. Two beings were standing in front of the entrance with Yudra. One was a green Glatorian. The other, however...Isn’t that… the living robot?Creva didn’t remember much of the SAWU0002 case, but he could still recognize the being. Besides, the cases he had dealt with had more than once appeared on Hanashi News. In fact, now that he thought about it, he had glimpsed him during the report Toa Hanashi had made on the murderer in his neighborhood. Warin’s murderer.Everyone was whispering softly. Yudra silenced them.“Now, the police here are going to ask us some question. I know it’s difficult to talk about Warin; none of us expected this. But please give them your full cooperation.”The Glatorian spoke:“Now, first of all, I’d like to know if anyone here knows a reason for which Warin might have been killed.”Everyone looked at each other. Several people mumbled: “No”, “I don’t think so…”“Okay. Can anyone tell us if something strange has happened recently, something out of the ordinary?”At first no one spoke. Then one of Creva’s colleagues, an Agori, turned to look at him. Creva understood immediately. He nodded.“Well,” said the Agori. “There was the accident with Creva.”“What accident?” asked Crewqua.“I… I attacked Warin, last week,” said Creva. “I don’t know exactly why. I was feeling strange. But I apologized and he accepted my apologies. The next day I returned to work and nothing like that happened again. There was certainly no animosity between us.”As he spoke, Creva saw a flash of silver in the corner of his eye. He took a deep breath, but didn’t turn.The police asked a few more questions. Then they left. Creva’s anxiety didn’t subside. He went back into his office and resumed working, but he was nervous. He kept seeing things move, only to turn and find nothing.No, no, it can’t be happening again.Time passed. Creva managed to steady himself long enough to avoid showing anything to his colleagues. When the work day ended, the Onu-Matoran took his stuff and got out of the building. He crossed the street to the bus stop. Sitting on the bench next to it was the figure. Creva backed away. No, there was no dark figure there.The bus arrived. Creva kept hunting for signs that someone was following him as he got on the bus. And something was. Behind Creva, a very small, uniform grey sphere floated into the vehicle. But the Onu-Matoran had no way of seeing it, for it was cloaked.Several Kio away, at the police station, Sawu said:“Sir, he’s on the bus.”Review Topic

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#8 Offline Toa of Italy

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Posted Aug 03 2012 - 12:21 PM

EIGHT

“What is he doing?” wondered Sariw.Creva was constantly looking behind his shoulders, staying as far away as possible from the other passengers. On one occasion, he nearly cried out in fright when another passenger brushed against him.“Good question,” said Crewqua. “When you interviewed him after the second murder, was he like this?”“Absolutely not. He was shaken, of course, but he certainly wasn’t acting out of the ordinary. He even seemed relatively relaxed.”“We need to call a psychologist,” said Crewqua. “Someone who’ll tell us if this kind of behavior can be associated with a murderer.”“I’ll do it,” said Bralkia.“Good.”“I think it will be interesting to see what happens when he gets home. Seeing how he behaves in his own private environment should tell us something,” said Makiys.“Bralkia, there is no need for the psychologist anymore,” said Crewqua sarcastically. “I’ve just found out we have one here.”Sawu’s voice immediately brought back seriousness to the conversation.“What do you mean, Makiys?”“Excuse me?”“Are you suggesting we observe him when he’s in his house?”“Well… yes.”“Impossible. It would be a violation of his rights.”“We’re already spying upon him, Sawu,” said Crewqua. “The microprobe is yours, to be exact.”“He’s still within a public environment. Other people are seeing him. In his hut, he has a right to privacy.”“Wait a moment, I don’t get it. You scanned the houses of an entire district with a very accurate scan and now you come to me speaking about privacy?”“That’s different.”“How so?”“My sensors were searching for something specific. Everything that didn’t correspond to those search parameters wasn’t even registered in my consciousness. To explain this point further, I don’t know what is in those houses; I only know there is nothing capable of doing what was done to the victims. If I sent my microprobe in that house, however, we would know everything about it and about his private life.”“It seems to me you’re interpreting the law according to your own criteria.”“Nevertheless, I will not go beyond certain limits. And, as you said, the microprobe is under my control.”Crewqua sighed.“Is there anyway to convince you to get that probe into that house?”“Of course. Ask for a warrant. If that is given, I will gladly fly the probe into that hut. I want to catch the killer as much as you do, if not more, and I too believe that this Creva is at least involved. I just don’t want to violate the law.”Crewqua sighed again.“All right.”He walked to where his Gadget was standing and connected himself with the attorney’s office. After ten minutes, he closed the call.“Okay, we have a warrant. I’m printing a copy right now. Is it all right now, Sawu?”There was an icy edge in his voice.“Yes,” replied Sawu, completely unperturbed.Creva reached his hut an hour later. As he got in, Crewqua clapped his hands.“All right, everyone. I have no intention of all of us remaining here to watch this guy. Bralkia, that duty is assigned to you. Sariw, Makiys and Sawu, you three keep working on everything else we have. I don’t want to ignore other possible avenues of investigation. As for me, I have an appointment with the attorney and the police chief.”The Glatorian walked out.Sawu joined Sariw and Makiys in the latter’s office. The two Toa immediately started working on the evidence. Sawu didn’t contribute much, simply helping them by accessing data from the police database and the internet in general.His primary consciousness was focused on Creva. Though he had connected the probe to the computer in the police station, he was still monitoring its feed. Creva was becoming more and more agitated. Every member of the team was convinced he was at the very least involved in the murder, if not the murderer himself. Sawu thought that too, though it still didn’t explain how he had accessed the power used on the victims.Outside, the Cargo Star had long since gone down. Only the eerie blue glow of the Bluespace Walls was illuminating the streets of Bz-Koro.Crewqua called three hours after his departure.“Sariw and Makiys, have you found anything?”Sawu noticed he’d been ignored. He wasn’t sure if it was out of resentment for his previous actions, but he doubted it. More likely, it was because Crewqua had understood that his investigative and imaginative abilities were relatively scarce.“No, I’m sorry,” said Sariw. “We just don’t have enough evidence. Our only hope is Creva.”“Yes, about him, we’ve been assigned a criminal psychologist who’ll help with the case. I’m sending you his Gadget address. Send him all the recordings on Creva and then get yourselves home. We’re done for today.”“Yes, sir.”Sawu thought that he’d heard relief in the answer. He didn’t feel any; on the contrary, he felt defeated and was angry because of it. But, he admitted to himself, the others didn’t feel the drive he felt to bring the culprit to justice. Their reaction, given the late hour, was understandable.On his way home, Sawu kept the connection with his microprobe open. He didn’t delegate the task to his secondary routines, since he wanted to keep a constant eye on Creva. The Matoran was trying to sleep, but he was too nervous and scared; he kept moving and trashing around. Sawu knew he should be feeling pity for him, but he couldn’t bring himself to it. His belief that Creva was involved in the crime was too strong, something that had also happened before. He knew that if he wasn’t careful he’d end up trying to arrest him with no proof at all.His hovercraft reached his hut. He walked in, but made no effort to deactivate himself. Creva remained fixed inside his primary thought routines and refused to go away.The sound of something cracking. Then yells and screams. Creva roused himself from his troubled sleep.“No,” he whispered.“Oh no, no, no!” he then screamed.He tried to find a way out, a way to flee. His hands clawed against the walls of the hut in a desperate effort to escape. The being was coming for him. He knew it.There was nothing. He was trapped.Slowly resolve filled him. If he couldn’t run, he would go down fighting.“I won’t let you!” he roared.And suddenly the feed ended.What the…? thought Sawu.Every weapon system simultaneously activated. He ran out of the hut and took off. At the same time, he called Crewqua.“Creva has somehow managed to do something to the microprobe. I’ve lost him. I’m heading for his hut.”“Understood,” said Crewqua sleepily. “Once you find him, don’t do anything unless he becomes a threat. Simply observe. I’ll see what I can do.”Sawu’s sensors detected an Olmak Anomaly in a district half a Kio from Creva’s hut. It had destroyed a hut and it probably explained the commotion Creva had heard, though it seemed he had heard it very clearly despite the distance. Sawu was uncertain how that was possible.He flew over the area. In this case, flight regulations didn’t matter. It was a possible emergency which legitimized rule violations.Sensors were trained on the streets below. They didn’t find Creva. However, there was a blind zone around the Olmak Anomaly, which was almost impossible. Sawu’s sensors were too sophisticated for an ordinary Anomaly to interfere with them.Creva was there, Sawu was sure of it. Again, it was strange. Sawu’s flight had only lasted two minutes, yet Creva had already covered half a Kio. Not totally impossible, but very unlikely.Sawu started landing. The interference didn’t affect his eyes, since his builders had made them so that they could still function even in a very strong dampening field.The Anomaly was there. Sawu saw it was already close to the end of its lifecycle. Three people were floating inside it. Sawu fired three harpoons from his wrist which latched onto them and pulled them out.Sawu couldn’t see Creva; the light from the Anomaly was making it difficult to see around. Sawu activated more sophisticated sensor equipment. They worked, cutting cleanly through the interference and finding Creva standing on the other side of the Anomaly. Sawu tried to understand how he was blocking his ordinary sensors, but he couldn’t.Creva was watching the Anomaly, transfixed. Then abruptly he cried out, in what Sawu interpreted as both fear and rage. There was a bright flash of light, followed by an immense sonic boom. Someone screamed, but this time it wasn’t Creva. The Anomaly was torn apart. Creva wasn’t behind it. He had disappeared. Instead, there was a Turaga’s body lying on the ground. She wasn’t dead, but her injuries were severe. The sound had been so powerful that it had damaged her body, critically wounding her internal organs.Sawu placed his right hand on her head. Small barbs were injected into the Turaga’s body and released a flood of medical substances. Then he called an ambulance, followed by Crewqua.The next day the area was still sealed off from everyone except police officers. Crewqua’s team rendezvoused inside it.“So, what exactly did happen, Sawu?” asked Crewqua.“This night, Creva heard, I don’t know how, the cries coming from this area. He panicked and at that point, the microprobe was interfered with and the feed ended. I flew to this area immediately and found him close to the Olmak Anomaly. I didn’t manage to reach him. He attacked the Turaga with a sonic boom which dissipated the Anomaly, then disappeared. I wasn’t able to track him.”“Had he sensed the microprobe?”“I can’t say, but the jamming signal he was broadcasting was indiscriminate. It might have not been triggered by the microprobe’s detection.”Crewqua nodded. He turned to the criminal psychologist assigned to the case, Liuywe.“What can you tell us?”“He is scared of someone,” answered the red-armored Vortixx. “I don’t know who. It might be a real person or his imagination, but he is terrified, to the point that he attacks anyone he believes to be this being.”“So he’s attacking because he’s afraid?” asked Makiys. “Like a wounded animal?”“In a sense,” said Liuywe.“Where could he have gone?”“I can’t say. He obviously doesn’t remember for long that he has already “killed” his opponent, which is why he attacks again. So for now he is simply fleeing. He might eventually seek shelter, either in his home or in another familiar place.”“Then we find out what familiar places he has and send someone to each,” said Crewqua. “Sariw, you’re on it.”“Anything else?” Crewqua asked.“Yes,” said Liuywe. “He is getting worse. The last time he killed, it took him a while to panic again. But this time he fled, he didn’t forget and go back home. He might gradually get more aggressive.”“One last thing. Is he insane?”“From a psychological point of view, that’s a question that can’t be answered. But from a legal one, he is. Absolutely.”Sawu was irritated by the fact. Other members of the team obviously were too. Creva would escape justice because of this verdict.No, he will not. This is justice. Never forget that. If he is insane, it’s not his fault.“Sawu,” asked Crewqua, “you confronted him. Have you got any idea of how he has the powers he has?”“No, I’m sorry. He managed to elude most of my scans, and those that did work were inconclusive.”“What do we know that might do that?”“Well, he might be using Power Keys to change power every time, though that’s unlikely. There are weapons that can duplicate those powers, but precious few that have them altogether. One of them is my weapon system.”Crewqua flinched slightly.“But I doubt that particular technology has been produced again. Then… of course… are nanites.”This time Crewqua’s reaction was very visible.“You don’t think he’s really an Agent, do you?”“It would be strange. I doubt Izumal would use a being who’s so obviously deranged. Yet, it is a possibility.”Crewqua groaned.“Then let’s hope it turns out not to be an accurate one.”Review Topic

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#9 Offline Toa of Italy

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Posted Aug 04 2012 - 07:42 AM

NINE

Three days later, the police chief called Crewqua in his office. The meeting went on for half an hour. When it was over, Crewqua emerged, flustered and slightly angry.“Everyone, get over here.”All obeyed.“The police chief, attorney and everyone else above us is not happy about our work. They want Creva caught and they want him now. They still haven’t threatened to assign the case to someone else, but it may be coming. We still have a chance to find this killer and I want to take advantage of it. So, what do we have?”“Nothing,” said Bralkia. “Absolutely nothing. Creva has disappeared.”“Are you sure? Have you checked?”“Yes, I have. We all have. He hasn’t been seen, heard and certainly hasn’t killed again. He’s gone.”“Makiys, what about those possible shelters?”“Precious few. Creva didn’t lead a very full life. He had some friends, mostly his colleagues, but we’re checking every day to see if they know something. He has always lived where he lives now. We’re keeping his workplace under surveillance too. If he turns up there, we’ll know, but so far he hasn’t.”“Yesterday I scouted and scanned a good portion of the region around his house,” said Sawu. “Either he’s perfected his dampening field to the point where everything around him seems normal, or he’s gone even further away.”Crewqua sighed.“You’re doing a good job, guys; I can’t blame you for our failure. But I want to catch this murderer and not just because of my career. I’m sure you all feel the same. So try to work as hard as possible. Find Creva. I know you can do it. I’m going to speak to Liuywe now and see what he has to say.”Sawu watched him leave the police station. He had to worry about his career even less than Crewqua. Dialcun had called him the day after Creva’s disappearance. The Bz-Koro government had made its decision. His armaments would be reinstated for at least a month and he would become part of a new planetary defense force. Sawu had asked a few days to wrap up this case, which he had been granted. So he, too, had a reason for wanting to catch Creva quickly. He wanted to know he had once more contributed to justice, that once more he had prevented murder. He knew Creva was turning into an obsession, one that could bring him to do things he shouldn’t do. But for now he was going along with that obsession. Slowly letting it control him.Kramiq was starting to get bored. Sitting in this hut for four days straight, doing absolutely nothing except staring at the hut of the serial killer with observation and sensor equipment.As if he’s going to come back here.Every few hours someone back at the police station called asking if they had seen something. The answer was always negative.If nothing happened for one more day, Kramiq was going to ask his immediate superior to pull him off this duty. It was pure torture.“Movement,” said one of Kramiq’s colleagues.“What? Where?”“Inside the hut.”Kramiq looked on the monitor himself. Someone was indeed moving inside the hut. Ripples of static started appearing on the screen.“Something is jamming our sensors. But it’s weak, they should hold.”“Could it be him?”“I don’t know. The image isn’t very clear,” said Kramiq. “I’m calling the station.”His Gadget walked to him and he composed the number. Bralkia answered immediately.“Someone is inside the hut, but we can’t make out whom. We don’t know how he got in, he just appeared.”“Stay there. We’re coming with reinforcements. Don’t call, don’t do anything. Just wait.”The call ended.“Big help,” whispered Kramiq.The figure inside the hut turned.“Uh oh,” said someone else.No one had time to react. A mind blast struck them, instantly knocking them unconscious.Sawu landed in the area a few minutes later. Crewqua and his team were following behind, but they were slower and it would take them time to reach him. It didn’t matter. Sawu had been assigned to the case for this final moment, the killer’s capture. He doubted he would need the rest of the team.Sensors activated, sweeping the entire area. Creva’s neighbors were all cowering in their huts after the police had called them to order them to wait for its arrival. Sawu connected himself to every Gadget he found and broadcast a message ordering them to get out of their houses. After a few moments, people began emerging. Sawu raised his voice’s volume and ordered them to get out of this road. As he did, he kept a sensor lock on Creva, watching for any attempts to flee. There were none.Once the road had been evacuated, Sawu walked to the observation team’s hut, where he had also detected Creva’s presence.“Drop your weapons and come out,” ordered Sawu.Creva didn’t move.Sawu activated all his weapons, trained them on the Onu-Matoran, and then walked inside. He already knew what to expect, but seeing it with his own eyes was somewhat startling.The four members of the observation team were lying on the ground. They all had terrible wounds, wounds that had obviously been inflicted to be painful. Nevertheless, they were alive and one of them was even conscious.Sawu didn’t have the time to worry about them. His attention was all riveted on the figure sitting on the ground with his back against the wall. Creva was trembling and his eyes were fixed on the bodies in front of him.Sawu approached him, ready for anything. But Creva didn’t attack, nor did he flee. He just sat there.“Creva,” said Sawu.Creva looked at him. Then he turned back to the bodies.“What… what… have I done?” he said, his voice broken. “They’re dead… they… are… dead…”Sawu was unsettled. He hadn’t been expecting this, though Liuywe had warned him of this possibility. He opened a link to the psychologist’s Gadget and showed him what he was seeing.“What should I do now?”“He is obviously in a stage where he doesn’t remember what brought him to do such an act. He isn’t aggressive and won’t be for a while. Don’t act in a hostile way. Be as kind and gentle as possible. Just hold him there until my arrival.”Sawu didn’t know how to be kind and gentle. But Creva wasn’t going to do anything for some time. So he just stood there, watching the Matoran’s despair. He didn’t speak again. Neither did Creva.The room was quite comfortable. A good bed, good lighting, a table and a chest of drawers. There was even a window which allowed him to look outside, and the building was situated close to the borders of the urban center, so he could see the mountains clearly.Creva knew it was a kind of prison, though. The room was small and its door was in very solid metal. He didn’t care. His thoughts weren’t on the accommodation, but on what he done.How could I have done something like that? he always thought. How could I go so far as to kill someone? And in that brutal and terrible way.While before his arrest, he hadn’t remembered almost anything of the murders during his calm moments, now flashes came back to him. He was horrified of what he had done and what he had felt when he had done it.For four days he had been in the clinic. He had spoken to his lawyer, who had been appointed by the state as he’d refused to pay for one, not seeing the need, a few times; they hadn’t been very conclusive meetings. Creva had said he wanted to plead guilty on all charges and that there was no defense which he felt necessary; his lawyer had tried to change his mind, but so far they hadn’t arranged anything. The trial was still some time away.In the meantime, Creva was lodged here. He knew he had been deemed insane, more or less, and he knew that even though now he was calm and rational, when he had killed he had been insane, so he considered the imprisonment in a clinic for mentally disturbed patients to be appropriate. He still hadn’t spoken to any of the psychologists, but today was supposed to be the first meeting.The three guards arrived. They were all Toa. Creva normally didn’t feel intimidated by the height of other species, but this time he did, for he recognized the power they carried. At the same time, though, they were afraid of him, as the manacles he wore all the time indicated. They were as comfortable as possible and they weren’t linked to chains or anything, but they were still manacles, used to prevent him from using whatever powers he had.Creva was escorted to a white room where a Vortixx was sitting at a table. The guards came inside with him and manacled him to the chair. Once again, he didn’t care.“Hello, Creva. I’m Liuywe,” said the Vortixx.Creva nodded.“A pleasure to meet you.”His voice was soft and sad.“You know why you’re here, don’t you, Creva?”“Yes… yes, of course.”“I’ve been told that you are behaving normally now. You’re calm, relaxed, you don’t cause any problems.”“I suppose so.”“Then what happened, Creva? Why did you kill those people?”Creva looked at him.“That’s it! I don’t know. Ever since I was brought here I’ve been trying to understand what had happened to me, and why. I can’t find any answer.”“Do you remember anything from those moments?”“Yes, now. Brief flashes, nothing more. But they’re terrible.”“Can you remember why you wanted to kill those people?”Creva nodded slowly.“Yes. I killed them because I was afraid of them.”“Really? Why were you afraid?”“I wasn’t afraid of them, exactly. I was afraid of the figure.”“What figure?”“About two, three weeks ago, I started seeing this figure. At first, it was nothing; I was just feeling nervous and afraid. Then it seemed to me like someone was watching me, someone that I could see only for a moment in the corner of my eye. I started seeing it more and more, until I saw it where only one of my colleagues was.”“Warin.”“Yes. I was so afraid I attacked; I needed to kill it before it killed me. And that’s the same thing that happened with all my victims.”“Can you describe this figure, Creva? What’s it like?”“It’s dark, it’s… evil, powerful…”“Is it taller than you?”“Yes! No, wait… I’m not sure, actually. But now that I think of it… I always see a gleam of silver before it appears.”“Of silver?”“Yes.”“But you can’t tell me exactly why you fear this being?”“No… no, I can’t.”“Are you seeing this figure now, Creva?”“No, I’m not. I haven’t seen it since I was first brought here. Do you think I’m… cured?”“I’m not sure, Creva. We’ll have to wait some more time to know that for sure. In the meantime, I want you to tell me the moment you start seeing this figure again. I need to know immediately. If you see it while you’re in your room, you can ask the guard to call me. I’ll make sure of that.”“All right.”“Then I think we’re finished for today.”A week after Creva’s arrest, Sawu moved out of his home. The departure was somewhat strange for him; he had lived in that house ever since he had arrived on Alarist. But it was necessary.Along with him came a cargo hovercraft, which carried inside it his weapon installation unit. His destination: the Alarist Ambassadorial Government island.After a crossing of several hours, the transport he was on docked at the island. An AAG official welcomed him; Dialcun was also there.“The vault is ready, Sawu,” said the official. “After your unit is also installed, it will be finished.”Sawu nodded.“Thank you.”He exchanged a few words with Dialcun, who had been on the island to represent him during the complex bureaucratic procedures that had accompanied Sawu’s transfer and the shipment of his arsenal to the AAG island.Sawu, the official and Dialcun entered the AAG building through an entrance meant for cargo transports and descended in a large cargo elevator, going underground. Once down to the right floor, they walked to a large, metal door. The official typed in a password and the door opened.The vault’s inside was hut-sized and didn’t contain anything, but cables and computer panels were protruding out of its walls, ready to be covered by the metal plates making up Sawu’s unit.“I will install the unit myself,” Sawu said. “It won’t be hard.”Once the unit’s integration was complete, this would be his home. All the weapons he needed would be stored here and installed on his form when necessary. To many beings this kind of residence would have been uncomfortable and even intimidating, but Sawu didn’t care.“As soon as you’re finished, the weapons will be transferred here and…”The official’s words were transferred to Sawu’s secondary consciousness when a priority message arrived from the Bz-Koro police network, to which the living weapon was still connected. Sawu opened it. A second later, he closed it.“I have to go.”Review Topic

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#10 Offline Toa of Italy

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Posted Aug 05 2012 - 08:30 AM

TEN

“Let’s talk about your powers. Did you know anything about them before this happened?”Three days had passed since the last meeting between Creva and Liuywe. Now they were speaking again.“No,” said Creva. “I didn’t. I had no idea I had any powers.”The Onu-Matoran was feeling slightly better now, though the flashes from the murders he’d committed kept tormenting him.“You said you remember committing those murders. Do you remember using those powers?”Creva’s voice grew hoarse as he remembered not only using them, but what he had done with them. His victims’ screams of pain, their begging, their terror.“Y…yes. I do.”“Do you still feel those powers within you?”“No, I don’t. At least, I don’t think so.”“All right. Now, I know this will be hard, but I want you to describe to me how you felt when you were using those powers.”“I… I…”A flash of silver. Creva started.“What? Creva, what is it?”“I… I think I’ve just seen it, the figure. The flash of silver. Oh… oh, no, it’s here.”“Calm down, Creva. You know it’s not real. You know.”But it was. It was standing in the small shadows projected by the room’s corners. Creva started trembling in terror. He had to run. He had to.“Creva!”Liuywe’s voice cut through the haze of fear surrounding him.“Creva, concentrate. It’s not real. It never was. Try to describe it and I’ll show you there’s nothing to be afraid of.”And Creva obeyed. He stared at the figure and mustered all his courage.It’s not real. I’m just imagining it.“It’s dark, I can’t see it well. It’s almost my height, only slightly taller. But it’s bigger than me.”“You said it was silver.”“I thought it was, but now I can’t make it out. It’s only… dark. Oh, no, it’s coming towards me.”“It’s not real, Creva. Listen to me, to my voice.”Creva did. The figure kept coming. Creva closed his eyes as he struggled to bring his fear under control.Pain flooded him, the pain of thousands of white hot needles penetrating his body. He heard something buzzing and spinning close to his head. He screamed.“Stop! Make it stop!”The guards clenched their weapons. Liuywe spoke again:“Creva, what’s happening?”Creva felt another pain, even stronger, in his head. The pain of something cutting, crushing…“Help!” he yelled. “Make it stop!”He started trashing in his chair. He had to break free. And then the power he had talked about with Liuywe only moments before came back, surging through him. He had to use it, to fight back.“Creva…” started crying Liuywe.Blinding light filled the room, dissolving all traces of color and shape.Hanashi’s Gadget rang. Its display named the caller as one of her reporters assigned to Bz-Koro, Buaran. She accepted the call. His face appeared on the screen.“What is it?”“I’m at a police station on the Island of Creation. The local officers have just received an alert from the nearby clinic for mentally disturbed criminals. There appears to be some kind of firefight going on inside.”“Clinic? Wait, this wouldn’t be the one that…?”“Exactly. It’s the one where the serial killer is being held. I don’t if it’s him, though.”“Never mind, good job. Once they start moving, follow them. Try to find out as much as you can. I’ll try to get you to go live as soon as possible. Call me when you’re ready.”“Okay.”The call ended. Hanashi called a few of her aides into her office.“There seems to be a firefight going on in Bz-Koro. I want you to be ready to go live anytime within the next hour.”They all nodded. One asked:“Are you going to be here yourself?”“Yes,” said Hanashi. “We already have someone on the spot. There’s no need for me to go. I have to act as newscaster.”The other nodded.Ten minutes later, Buaran called.“We’re en route to the place. The official in charge has authorized me to go along. They’re worried. There are at least thirty officers and they’re heavily armed. There are also five special forces officers with Exo-Toa armor.”“Good. How soon can you be ready?”“We’re here. I’m getting out of the hovercraft.”The Gadget was now filming a building very different from most Bz-Koro structures. Rectangular, four-storied and built in more solid-looking materials than most buildings in Bz-Koro, it possessed several windows, all with metal bars covering them. As Hanashi watched, flashes of light could be seen through some of them.“I’m ready,” said Buaran.“All right,” answered Hanashi. She got out of her office and walked to the studio. Her Gadget followed. Once there, she sat down behind her desk. Other reporters also entered the studio, but stayed outside the range of the Gadget’s camera. One of them counted down. Three… two… one…Hanashi activated the Gadget.“Hello, this is a special edition of Hanashi News. I’m Toa Hanashi. We are broadcasting due to a firefight which is occurring at this very moment on the Island of Creation in Bz-Koro, inside a clinic for mentally disturbed criminals. This particular clinic is holding, among others, the Matoran called Creva, who was arrested a week ago for the two murders which recently occurred in Bz-Koro. Up to now, we don’t know if he’s responsible for the fight or not. We now go to live footage from Buaran, who is with the police forces who have been sent to the clinic. Hello, Buaran.”The image changed.“Hello, Hanashi. As you can see, I’m at the Bz-Koro clinic right now.”Light flashed from the building behind him, followed by the sound of weapons’ fire.“That was one of the flashes we have been seeing since arriving here. We still don’t know exactly what’s happening, but the police aren’t taking any chances.”The Gadget was now filming the officers gathered in front of the building.“Those officers are all carrying heavy duty weaponry. And you can also see five of them wearing Exo-Toa armor. Oh, wait, someone is coming out of the clinic.”The Gadget changed position again.“They are three guards of the clinic. They’re now speaking with the highest-ranking official here.”The three exchanged a few words with the official. Then they walked away from the clinic, mingling with the police officers outside.“You can see the official waving his hands. I think… yes, they’re preparing to go inside.”The police officers were forming a perimeter around the building, while the five with Exo-Toa armor and another six were waiting in front of the main entrance.Another explosion was heard.“Something blasted a gap in the clinic’s wall,” reported Buaran. “Someone is falling down.”The Gadget was filming the clinic again. Then there was another explosion. The audience just had the time to see half the front wall of the clinic collapse before a cloud of dust rose, surrounding the building.“What’s happening, Buaran?” said Hanashi.Buaran staggered to his feet. He was clearly visible, but already the police officers closest to him were indistinct, mere shapes surrounded by red and white dust.“I think part of the clinic collapsed.”There were several booms. Static suddenly rippled across the screens of every Gadget connected to Hanashi News.“We’re losing you,” said Hanashi.“That’s weapons’ fire!” yelled Buaran. “I can’t see who they’re shooting at.”The connection with Buaran’s Gadget winked out.Hanashi didn’t speak for a moment. Then she said:“That was Buaran, one of Bz-Koro correspondents. The thoughts of this entire studio go to him and his wellbeing. And now we’re connected to Kiuv, who is at the central Bz-Koro police station. Kiuv, how is the situation there?”The setting changed again, to a view of the inside of the police station.“The police forces are getting organized. Global Moderator Hahli Husky and Forum Leader bonesiii are coordinating with them to evacuate the Forum Plazas close to the battle zone. It has also been confirmed that heavy artillery is being sent as reinforcement.”“Kiuv, has any word come through on who exactly is the enemy?”“No, not yet. Police aircraft is watching the area from above, but for now the dust cloud is still too thick to make out something. Oh, wait, they may have something. There is a screen here connected with those crafts, it’s showing the cloud dissipating. The camera is zooming in…”There was silence for a moment.“He’s small, a Matoran or an Agori. It may be… yes. They confirm. The adversary is Creva, the serial killer apprehended last week. It also seems some of the convicts who were inside the clinic are taking the opportunity to escape. None are joining the fight.”Kiuv’s Gadget turned to show the screen to the audience. Creva was advancing toward the police forces. They locked weapons on him. Creva put both hands against the ground. Nothing happened for a moment. Then a micro-quake sped toward the police vehicles, knocking at least half of the law enforcers off their feet. The rest opened fire.Alarist police didn’t use lethal weapons. Or rather, it did use them, but only when the situation left them no choice. The same applied to the natural powers of police officers. Therefore when a barrage of energy unleashed by a shocked and quite a bit frightened police squadron struck Creva, it didn’t kill him. Part of the energy contained the blast was absorbed by his body, knocking him unconscious but doing no permanent damage; however, there was enough raw power to blow the Matoran back and deal several wounds to his body.Creva didn’t get back up. After a few moments, everyone recovered from their shock. The officer in charge started calling the police station, informing them that reinforcements weren’t necessary. Others walked toward Creva to ascertain if he was still alive.“His heartlight is still flashing,” reported an officer. “But he’s unconscious.”“Very well. Take him and bring him to…”Everything happened in the blink of an eye. Creva got up so fast the officers barely saw him. Then a wall of air smashed into the officers, blowing them back. Creva turned toward the other policemen. They readied powers and weapons.Then suddenly the Matoran turned toward a hut and fired an energy beam, followed by a blast of pure telekinetic energy which flattened the structure. Its destruction didn’t affect the Matoran, who kept targeting the point where it had stood, slowly creating a deep crater.“What is he doing?” whispered an officer. “Those huts are empty, we already evacuated them.”“I don’t know,” said the one in charge. “But it’s our chance to take him down. Stun him again; as soon as you do, I’ll use my blaster to envelop him in an energy web. Then I want you,” he said to a Troak of Silver, “to use your power on him. It should be enough.”“Understood.”“Fire!”Energy beams flashed out of the weapons again. They struck Creva. The Matoran was suddenly enveloped in a purple hue, but didn’t react, continuing to blast relentlessly the point where the hut had stood.Several officers cursed. Creva was protected by a forcefield. Even the superior officer’s energy web dissipated on contact with it.“All right,” he said. “If we can’t hit him, perhaps we can block him. You use your power,” he said to the Troak. “All those who can also use their powers to imprison him do so. Ready? Go.”A Psiocage materialized around Creva, even as rock and iron bonds enveloped him. The Matoran stopped, staying motionless. He didn’t turn. There was no warning.Invisible energy sped out of his body. Where it struck, matter, any kind of matter, turned to stone. The police officers didn't even have time to scream.Creva effortlessly broke free of his bonds and strode forward in the street filled with statues. Occasionally, he turned and attacked a building or another object with no reason. As he headed into the core of the urban center, only a small police aircraft, flying high above him, watched him.Review Topic

Edited by Toa of Italy, Aug 26 2012 - 05:32 AM.

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#11 Offline Toa of Italy

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Posted Aug 26 2012 - 05:49 AM

ELEVEN

“Go?” asked Dialcun. “Go where?”“To Bz-Koro,” answered Sawu.“What? Why now? What’s this all about?” said the AAG official.“Creva has broken out of the clinic. I have to stop him.”“Creva?” said Dialcun. “You mean the serial killer?”Sawu nodded.“The local police forces will handle him,” said the official. “You are no longer in Bz-Koro police.”“He’s my responsibility. I have to go.”“Sawu,” said Dialcun in a tone that demanded attention. “Are you sure this is really the reason?”Sawu looked at him. He knew what Dialcun was going to say, and he knew he was going to be right.“This isn’t the first time you’ve become obsessed with arresting a particular criminal, to the point that you actively ignored orders and went after him on your own. I know fully well, I defended you when that happened. Are you sure this isn’t the case again?”The lawyer’s words cut deep into Sawu. He hated, absolutely hated himself for having given in so easily to his obsession. But he had, and now he had to do what it forced him to do.“Sawu, stop it. The Bz-Koro police are perfectly capable of handling Creva.”“They’re not. He’s already defeated and petrified the first squadron.”The AAG official flinched, but Dialcun didn’t stop speaking.“That doesn’t mean anything. You are not needed, Sawu. We need you here, now. This is your duty.”“I have to go. I really have to. I can’t live with the knowledge I let him escape.”“You can, because you won’t let him escape, since it’s not your responsibility. Stay here, Sawu. I can’t defend you forever, especially when I know you are wrong.”Sawu didn’t speak. Then he said:“I’m going.”“What?” said the official “You can’t just…”Sawu’s stare silenced him instantly.“Then go, Sawu. I doubt anyone is going to stop you,” said Dialcun. “But know this: this time, I won’t defend you, not when you did something I explicitly advised you against. You’re on your own.”Sawu walked away without speaking. He was filled with shame.Sawu sped over Alarist’s sea at a speed approaching supersonic. His interface was synchronized with the Bz-Koro police transmissions, allowing him to watch every moment of the battle.Creva was now standing in a large Forum Plaza, which however was empty, having already being evacuated. So far nothing had stood in his way for long, but that was about to change. A large Skopio XV10 was advancing into the large open space.The Matoran ignored it. He was surrounded by three cyclones, which he was using to smash the objects and structures in the vicinity.Sawu watched carefully. Creva’s power was amazing and still inexplicable, but he could see several weaknesses. The energy was erratic and it was obvious the Matoran didn’t have complete control over it. As if to prove his theory, the cyclones abruptly disappeared, replaced by five giant boulders. Creva didn’t seem to notice. He was striking at random, without any real target.The Skopio advanced. Protected by a powerful forcefield and armed with several weapons, including two explosive Thornax launchers, seven force blasters, two Cordak blasters and four Kanoka disk launchers, it was probably the most powerful weapon at the disposal of the Bz-Koro police… especially now that Sawu no longer worked for them.The Skopio’s pilot, a Glatorian, didn’t waste any time. Four harpoons shot out of the Skopio’s tail and struck Creva’s shield, using modified forcefields to keep themselves attached. Then they started draining energy from the Onu-Matoran, who once again ignored the attack.Creva’s shield was strong, but not strong enough. The Skopio was draining energy slowly but steadily, creating fluctuations in Creva’s shield. The pilot targeted them and started firing his energy blasters, setting them on stun.Sawu was receiving direct telemetry from the Skopio’s sensors. Creva’s shield was still absorbing most of the hits, but enough were penetrating to cause damage to his body and slow him down. A good part of the wounds were erased by some kind of healing power, but that too was erratic and didn’t do a complete job.Now Creva was realizing something was wrong. He gripped one of the harpoons and tried to throw it off himself, but he couldn’t. He screamed in pain and fury and directed the boulders at the Skopio. They struck its shield and shattered on impact. The pilot kept firing.Creva unleashed a powerful mental blast, which almost knocked the pilot unconscious; but police officers were trained to shield their minds, and the Glatorian didn’t falter. But then Creva exerted his telekinetic power over the entire Forum Plaza. Around him, the floor of the plaza rose, higher and higher. Then the earth waves crashed down on the Skopio. A second set of waves rose and did the same thing, followed by a third, a fourth, a fifth…The Glatorian could barely see Creva amidst the earth storm, but he didn’t stop firing, even as his energy shield was weakened by the pounding it was taking.Sawu could see the Skopio was going to lose; Creva’s power was simply too much. But while the Matoran was relying on brute power, the Skopio was targeting small, precise spots, allowing it to inflict a good amount of damage too. By the time Sawu arrived, Creva would already be weakened.Bz-Koro’s coast was visible now. Sawu increased his speed. A last set of earth waves rose, even higher than the previous. Sawu was less than half a Kio from the coast. The waves started collapsing. Sawu left the sea behind. The waves struck the Skopio, but on contact with its shield something else happened: they exploded, with a force equivalent to that of several Cordak Rockets. It seemed Creva had used a variant of the Kanohi power of Detonation.It was too much. The Skopio’s shield collapsed, allowing the entire vehicle to be buried by an enormous amount of soil. But now Sawu could see the Forum Plaza, or what was left of it. He went into a power dive and fired a harpoon straight into the earth mound which had formed. Sensors guided it to the unconscious form of the pilot. Sawu yanked hard, dragging the Glatorian out of what would have otherwise been his grave.Then the living weapon dropped on the ground and turned his attention to Creva. The Matoran was moving, but staggering, the damage dealt by the Skopio well visible. Healing energy had completely enveloped him. His shield was also regenerating.Sawu couldn’t let it happen. He wasted no time in words and activated his energy drain function. More sophisticated than that of the Skopio XV10, it didn’t require physical contact to work.This time Creva’s reaction was almost instantaneous. A blast of telekinetic energy struck Sawu. It didn’t move him. Sawu accessed the powers of Vahki stun staffs. He could use all six of them, and fired them through the gaps in Creva’s shield. He went for ordinary stun energy and the power of Command. Creva was only slightly affected. Stun energy made his reflexes and movements slower, but Command power used on a mind as chaotic as his had no effect. Creva fired a blast of disintegration power, which splashed harmlessly on Sawu’s shield. Then an orb of energy materialized in the Matoran’s hand. He flung it at Sawu.An explosion tore through the Forum Plaza, completely obliterating whatever was left of it, as well as several of the surrounding huts. It rose high enough to be seen from more than a Kio away. When it finally dissipated, Sawu was nowhere to be seen.Creva started walking aimlessly around the crater that had formed. His expression was still one of madness and fury, but his exhaustion was clearly visible.Something struck him with such strength it sent him flying. Then twin energy blasts hit him from above, driving him deep into the ground. Immediately he was pummeled by a barrage of energy beams, which got through the gaps in his shield and were absorbed by his body.Sawu, cloaked and hovering above Creva, reformatted his energy attacks to pass through Creva’s shield even where it was still working. Creva’s entire body was now riddled with scorch marks and burns. At the same time, the drain on his energy was intensified.Creva’s shield failed. Sawu moved like lightning, pinning him to the ground with a hand, which at the same time delivering a dose of stun energy which would have knocked a Tahtorak unconscious. Creva’s healing power was still active and deflected most of the attack. Sawu didn’t try to counter it, knowing it was the only thing which was keeping the Matoran alive. Instead, he imprisoned him in an energy web, constantly adapting its energy structure to prevent the Matoran from freeing himself, and generated a mind-resonant vibration to keep him from using whatever power he had left.The Matoran struggled, but he still couldn’t see him. Sawu had no intention of allowing him to do that. Instead, he infected Creva’s body with a swarm of artificial viruses. They wouldn’t do any damage for now, but if necessary would be activated to stop any further hostile activity by the Matoran. Then he subjected the Matoran to a very deep scan, trying to find once and for all the source of his power.There was an energy fluctuation in Creva’s body. Sawu tried to adapt the mind-resonance to counter it. It wasn’t enough. But no attack came. Instead, the ground beneath Creva was turned to quicksand. The Matoran was sucked in.Sawu tried to use a tractor beam to lift the Matoran out, but somehow Creva managed to counter it. Sawu’s sensors detected that the Matoran was moving underground, turning the soil around him into sand and moving through it.Sawu kept tracking Creva even as he activated the viruses within his body. The Onu-Matoran was moving away from the urban center, straight toward the mountains. It made sense. There was a lot of earth there. A Matoran affiliated with that element would feel at home there.Sawu launched himself in the air. The police aircraft still patrolling the area followed him, though it wasn’t nearly as fast as him. They didn’t signal him. Sawu assumed they had been warned of his arrival by the AAG. The living weapon sped toward the mountains, following Creva. A few minutes later, he landed on a slope covered by trees.Creva was coming straight in his direction. Sawu called upon his Molecular Disruption weapon, which in this weakened form was one of his most powerful armaments, though it was programmed to affect only inorganic matter. A beam of energy struck the ground beneath him, digging a shaft reaching down to the depth of Creva’s tunnel.Sawu dropped into it. Once at the bottom, he used the weapon again, creating a small cave around him to serve as a good combat space. Then he waited.Some time later, Creva flew out of the cave wall. He hadn’t detected the open space, he was too concentrated on escaping. Sawu, once again cloaked, landed a kick on him, followed by a series of other martial arts moves which battered his enemy’s body. Creva attempted to fly up the shaft. Sawu locked a tractor beam on him, but Creva disrupted it. He passed through the opening. Sawu pursued.The Onu-Matoran had no chance. Sawu was detecting the viruses in his body steadily attacking every system, preventing muscles from functioning and slowing down the respiratory system. The artificial microbes had program restrictions which prevented them from being lethal, but they could still deal a lot of damage.Finally, close to the mountain’s top, Creva dropped down, crashing on the slope. There were no trees here, only rock and some grass. Sawu landed beside him and once more encased him in an energy web.His sensors detected a spirit floating close to them. Sawu saw in annoyance that it belonged to Toa Hanashi.Not now.He ignored her and instead scanned Creva once more. An Olmak Anomaly materialized close to them, but he ignored that too.Creva’s body was a wreck by now, but his healing power was still keeping him alive. Sawu decided that until he discovered the source of that power he wouldn’t attempt to heal the Matoran.His deepest scan detected something. Small energy distortions throughout his enemy’s body. He couldn’t figure out what was generating them. They slightly resembled the energy at the base of a cloaking device, but they were different.A cloak? To protect what?Despite all his efforts, he couldn’t penetrate it. The cloak was too sophisticated. It had been a miracle that he had spotted the energy signatures in the first place.Hanashi was watching him curiously. Sawu was about to give up and take Creva away when something happened. A small transmission, so small and simple Sawu wasn’t able to intercept it or track it, was sent to Creva. Immediately, the energy signatures in his body became stronger. And then Sawu finally knew what the source of Creva’s power was. The Matoran’s body was being covered by a silver fluid which was flowing out of his tissues and armor. Except Sawu actually knew the fluid was made up of microscopic solid particles. All the conspiracy theories he had heard during the investigation came back to him, to be proven right. The fluid completely covered Creva, morphing into a well known figure. That of the Agent Hanashi, who was now hovering beside him with a shocked expression, had called Rogue.Review Topic

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#12 Offline Toa of Italy

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Posted Aug 28 2012 - 05:35 AM

TWELVE

Sawu was a much more complex robot than those normally seen outside Izumal. The hardware making up his thought processes wasn’t clockwork; it resembled more Clysmax’s computer technology and it was even more advanced than that was. Therefore, the programs which were contained inside his systems numbered in the tens of thousands and had been designed to interact, form new programs and delete old ones, edit themselves to adapt to every contingency and practically replicate all functions of a living mind, which was what had allowed Sawu to reach sentience.Yet this complexity didn’t come at the cost of efficiency. Therefore, when Sawu found himself confronting the Agent, his tactical program immediately activated to analyze the situation. Other algorithms were used to add to that analysis, adapting it according to a variety of factors. All this occurred in less than a second and manifested itself in Sawu’s primary consciousness as the same kind of thought which controlled the actions of every other living being.Questions on how it was possible that Creva was an Agent, why he hadn’t revealed himself before and many others were temporarily pushed aside; Sawu focused only on the current situation.In this weakened form, he had no chance of defeating an Agent, especially since he had lost all connections to the viruses inside Creva’s body. However, that didn’t necessarily mean the Agent could defeat him. Unlike most of his systems, his energy shield hadn’t been weakened after his arrival in Bz-Koro and remained one of the strongest in Aethion. In addition, Creva had used a lot of power in the fight and if that power came from the nanites then it couldn’t be too high.Rogue performed a very fast scan of Sawu. The living weapon wasn’t able to deflect it. He wasn’t even sure the Agent was going to attack him. During the Clysmax attack, Rogue had only targeted the crews of the ships he had assaulted, doing no harm to others.A moment later, that assumption was shattered as Rogue attempted to use powerful software to take control of Sawu’s mind. The programs were more complex than anything Sawu had ever faced, but the robot was far more sophisticated than an ordinary computer. Virtual defenses were activated, blocking the attack. At the same time, Sawu attempted to use the connection to Rogue to send some programs of his own into the Agent’s suit. It didn’t work, but then Sawu hadn’t expected it to.The Agent didn’t lose time. A Space Shift bubble materialized around him. Its edge sliced cleanly through Sawu’s forcefield and body, cutting him vertically in half. The bubble switched off.Both halves of Sawu’s body remained standing. Light suddenly engulfed them, only to vanish as fast as it had appeared. In its place, Sawu stood once again intact. His shield, too, was active and completely unchanged.A few seconds passed. The Agent did nothing. Sawu was starting to think he would have to attack himself when an energy sphere materialized in Rogue’s palm. The sphere quickly grew larger and Sawu’s sensors recognized its composition. Bluespace.The tactical program quickly analyzed this new development. Sawu’s regeneration power would be useless against Bluespace, which wouldn’t just cut his body, but dissolve it completely. Only one option remained. Flight.Sawu streaked into the air, but Rogue pursued. The sphere of Bluespace was now bigger than the Agent and kept hovering under him, waiting to be used. Sawu generated a blinding flash of light and at the same time tried to jam the Agent’s sensors, hoping to confuse him long enough to escape. It didn’t work.The Agent was now gaining on him. Sawu’s tactical program came up with one more, last-resort option. Sawu didn’t like it, but he didn’t have much choice. The Agent threw the sphere of Bluespace at him. Sawu accepted the option.When Sawu and Creva had flown away from the Forum Plaza, the police helicopter had lost them. Hanashi couldn’t afford that. Even though the battle scenes had been properly edited to avoid showing the worst violence, it was still live coverage. If Hanashi News had to lose it, they still had to learn what was happening before anyone else. It had been with that idea in mind that Hanashi, despite her previous decisions, had released her spirit and flown to the battle ground. There she had seen the final stages of the battle and then Creva’s astonishing transformation. She had almost returned to the studio to announce it, but she had decided against it. She had to learn how it would end.When Rogue had used his Space Shift power, Hanashi had given up hope on Sawu immediately, only to be astonished moments later as the robot literally pulled himself together.Then her hopes were dashed again. Rogue created a sphere of Bluespace to attack his opponent. Sawu fled, with the Agent in pursuit. Hanashi, too, followed.Rogue was clearly faster than Sawu. He closed in on him, getting closer and closer. Then he threw the Bluespace sphere.It never reached its target. An explosion tore through space where Sawu had been only moments before. It took a moment for Hanashi to realize what had happened. Sawu had self-destructed.Why? What could he possibly hope to gain?Rogue sped away. Hanashi didn’t follow. Instead, she flew back to the studio, preparing to report what had happened.“Sawu unsuccessfully tried to flee, but when Rogue threw the Bluespace sphere at him, he apparently self-destructed. As to now, we still don’t know the reason for this ultimate act…”Dialcun and the AAG official were still inside the vault where Sawu had left them only a few hours before. The AAG official had activated his Gadget and the two had used it to watch Sawu’s arrival, the battle with Creva and then, later, Hanashi’s final report.The official told his Gadget to turn off Hanashi News.“I’m sorry for your loss,” he told Dialcun. “I know you were good friends.”“So we were,” said Dialcun. His voice was that of a one-hundred-percent professional lawyer, careful not to display any emotion.“What will happen to Sawu’s equipment now?” asked then the Dendrokan.“I can’t say. That is a formidable arsenal and any decision on how to handle it will require consultation with my superiors, and possibly the Bz-Koro government as well.”A call suddenly came through the official’s Gadget.“Excuse me,” he said.Dialcun nodded.A Matoran’s face appeared on the Gadget’s screen.“Sir, I’m sorry to disturb you. I’m in the cargo craft where the unit for Sawu is. A few of its mechanisms appear to have activated and it’s making strange noises. I think you’d better come to see.”The official nodded and ended the call. He turned to Dialcun.“Would you like to accompany me?”The lawyer nodded and followed the official back into the elevator. Outside the building, the cargo craft was waiting for them. Both entered it.Immediately, they heard a voice, a computerized, artificial voice.“Installation required… installation required… installation required…”It was coming from one of the large crates containing the pieces of Sawu’s unit.“Do you have any idea why it’s doing that?”“No, sir. It activated several minutes ago, but it has just started speaking. We opened the crate to try and understand what’s happening, but we can’t figure it out.”“You said it activated several minutes ago,” said Dialcun. “Can you give me the exact time?”“I think it started twenty-two minutes ago, but I may be wrong.”“Twenty-two minutes,” said Dialcun. “More or less the time Sawu was destroyed. It may not be a coincidence.”“So what?” said the official.“So I think we should do what that voice is saying.”It took nearly five hours for the unit to be assembled. It was reconstructed, placed in the vault and connected to a power source and the AAG central computer. The voice had gone off as soon as the installation had begun and hadn’t spoken since.Finally, the unit was fully integrated into the vault. The technicians who had worked on it started filing out when, abruptly, the voice started speaking again.“Identity: SAWU0002.”“Sawu?” said Dialcun.“Affirmative,” answered the voice.“I wasn’t aware this unit had a vocal interface,” said the official.“It doesn’t,” said one of the technicians.“Communication node has been adapted as vocal interface,” said the voice.“Sawu,” said Dialcun. “Is it really you?”“Affirmative.”“Why are you speaking like that?”“Local processing power insufficient. Primary consciousness is unable to operate at optimal levels.”“Sawu,” said the official. “What happened? How can you be here?”“Full copy of thought routines was transmitted to weapon installation unit 1.62 seconds before self-destruction.”“All right. What exactly happened during the battle with the Agent?” asked the official.“Agent power was superior to SAWU0002 power. Battle result: defeat.”“All right, but why did you self-destruct at the end?”“Self-destruction purpose: escape.”“What do you mean?”“Bluespace attack projected result: complete destruction. Self-destruction result: incomplete destruction.”“Incomplete?”“Parts of SAWU0002 present in an approximately 0.3 Kio radius area.”“So pieces of your body weren’t destroyed,” said Dialcun. “How does that help us?”“Regeneration power is possessed by SAWU0002 parts. Complete regeneration potential: high.”“You can rebuild yourself?” asked Dialcun.“Affirmative.”“I’ll ask Bz-Koro police forensics to aid us in the recovery,” said the official.“SAWU0002 parts status: cloaked.”“What?” said Dialcun. “Why?”“Purpose of cloak: avoid enemy detection.”“Then how do we find them?” asked the official, slightly exasperated.“SAWU0002 parts emitting signal to aid location.”“What signal?”“Frequency displayed on weapon installation unit status screen.”One of the functions of the six Cargo Stars hovering above the respective planets was communication, creating an interplanetary communication and Internet network which could be accessed by Gadgets and other forms of computers. This allowed any sort of virtual content or transmission to be viewable throughout the planets.What almost no one knew was that there were ways for inhabitants of the seventh planet, Izumal, to view those same contents. Ordinary Izumal citizens had no interest in them; some hackers, however, were curious enough about the other planets to devise ways to access the Cargo Star network.One of the most common was using Izumal sensor technology to pick up the light signals used by the Cargo Stars to communicate between each other. Being simple passive scans, they didn’t always work, but several hackers were good enough to have a fair amount of success.Therefore, when Hanashi News broadcasted Hanashi’s report on Rogue’s identity, echoes of the signal reached Izumal and were picked up by several hacker groups. Most of them watched the transmission with interest. One of them even more so.In the deepest crevices of the Izumal seafloor, no light shone, meaning it was a good hiding place. Of course, in this case, light wouldn’t have made any different, for the object was cloaked beyond the ability of even Izumal to detect.But if someone could have seen it, they would have seen a small, irregularly-shaped submarine. If they could have even gone inside, they would have found themselves in a single space, with walls made up of Macrochips.Its sole occupant hadn’t built the submarine watertight, for he didn’t necessarily need air to breathe. He was a member of the species to which the Bionicle Core Dimension native Nocturn belonged and was therefore amphibious. Kiarkru turned off the Hanashi News broadcast. The three weeks deadline he had set to Hanashi was quickly approaching and he still hadn’t made any investigation on Rogue. Now, however, he finally had a starting point. The technology Rogue’s suit was made out of was a very particular kind of nanites. A type that wasn’t normally found on Izumal. If he could trace its origin, he would be one step closer to knowing how Izumal had kidnapped Creva and why they were using him to kill. He started working, tapping on primitive keyboards that were nevertheless connected to very sophisticated computers. But even as he did he thought.Izumal must be either mad or desperate to use this technology again. But why?Review Topic

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#13 Offline Toa of Italy

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Posted Aug 29 2012 - 09:47 AM

THIRTEEN

Despite the signals Sawu’s parts were broadcasting, it took the entire night and a good part of the following morning to recover them for those assigned to the task. But finally, the pieces were collected and shipped to the AAG island.Dialcun had remained on the island during the night, lodged in one of the few living quarters present there. For some time, he had attempted to start a conversation with Sawu, but his incapability of speaking normally while downloaded in his unit’s computer had made it unnerving. Finally, the Dendrokan lawyer had given up.When the pieces arrived at the island, Dialcun and the AAG official met once again in Sawu’s vault. Other AAG members were there as well; after all, Sawu was the most important member of the new planetary defense force.The parts arrived, contained in random order within a crate. Sawu had said it would not matter.“The parts are here, Sawu,” said the AAG official.The image of one of the pieces materialized on the unit’s screen.“Connect displayed part to power source.”A few technicians hastened to obey. A long cable was attached to a plug that was built within the piece.“Connecting to body part. Activating regeneration power.”The crate was suddenly engulfed in light. Several lights within the vault dimmed.Just how much power will he need? wondered Dialcun.Sawu sucked more and more power out of island’s grid. Some lights failed altogether, plunging the vault in darkness.“Regeneration complete.”The light vanished, revealing Sawu’s body, intact once more. It still wasn’t moving.“Downloading into body.”Sawu’s unit shut down. A moment later, Sawu’s body stood up.“Sawu!” exclaimed Dialcun. “Are you all right?”“Yes,” said Sawu. “Being within the unit’s computer was… limiting… but I’m fine.”“We’re all glad to hear it,” said the AAG official.“What will happen now?” asked Sawu.“What do you mean?” said Dialcun.“I will be able to begin the installation of all my weapons at any time. But does the planetary defense force still want me?”The AAG official looked embarrassed, as did his colleagues. The official did a small, almost imperceptible gesture with his hand. Immediately, everyone in the vault except him, Dialcun and Sawu turned around to leave.Once the vault was empty, the official spoke again:“We’re willing to overlook your… unannounced departure… in the light of the information you provided us, meaning Rogue’s true identity. Therefore we would ask you to begin the weapon installation immediately. Your equipment has already been placed in this unit.”Sawu nodded.“Yes, I know. I will need to recharge before beginning the installation. It shouldn’t take more than three hours.”“Then go, by any means,” said the official.“I think I’ll leave too. I’ve been away from Bz-Koro for too long,” said Dialcun. “If you need me, Sawu, you can always call me.”“Of course,” said Sawu.The three of them walked back to the elevator. On the way up, the official said:“The vault will be empty when you return. Once your weapons are installed, you should come to one of the conference rooms. I’ll be there and you’ll be able to meet with the commander of the defense force.”“All right.”The elevator arrived. The three of them got out and walked out of the AAG building on the short road leading to the docks.“Bye, Sawu,” said Dialcun.“Goodbye, my friend,” answered Sawu.Then, without further hesitation, he launched himself in the sky, heading straight up. He passed through a few clouds as he flew, and then left them below him as he rose through the higher strata of the atmosphere. After some time, he reached empty space. Despite having just rebuilt themselves, his systems were working at peak efficiency.He slowed down as he approached the Bluespace Wall. He activated his recharging device, a variation of the ones used by the Cargo Stars to extract energy from Bluespace. Rays of crackling Blue Energy started extending toward him from the Bluespace Wall. In a short time, a nimbus of energy partially resembling an Olmak Anomaly was created, with him at the centre. Large amounts of power poured into him every minute, but Sawu still needed almost two hours to collect the colossal energy required to power his complex systems and mighty weapons. During the process, he also created Blue Grime which was stored inside his body to act as an energy reserve. Once he was finished, he dropped back down into Alarist’s atmosphere.He landed exactly where he had left and made his way down. True to the official’s word, the vault was now empty. Sawu stepped inside and closed it behind him. He stepped onto the platform at the unit’s centre and ordered it to begin the installation of all his weapons.The robotic arms extended from the walls. They reached inside his body, fitting device after device, weapon after weapon. A good part of them were designed merely to be destructive, but there was also technology with more specific functions. Most were energy based, and the remainder was built on small scale, though the yield was the same, if not superior, of their larger counterparts. Altogether, they formed a truly fearsome arsenal.But these were weapons which, although they were very expensive, could also be found elsewhere. What made Sawu unique and so powerful was a technology that existed only within him, since the other three SAWUs no longer existed. Weapons Science had never produced again, since only a system so complex as Sawu and therefore prone to becoming sentient could control it.Eight Kanoka Disks protruded out of the unit’s walls. Sawu activated the technology, using the password which he had given to the Bz-Koro government ten years before and had after wiped from his memory, only to receive it back now. Beams of energy were unleashed by seven of the disks, bathing Sawu in white light.The beams contained the disks’ powers. That was the secret of Sawu’s power. The ability to convert the eight basic Kanoka powers into energy which could be stored in his body, and combine them in any possible way. One of the powers he already had within him: regeneration. But with all eight at his disposal he could theoretically use any existing power (with the exception of Legendary powers like Time and Life), making him nearly omnipotent. His power range was potentially the same of an Izumal Agent, though Sawu couldn’t match nanite technology in terms of energy and there were also powers that no one outside Izumal knew how to obtain. But apart from those opponents, he was stronger than nearly anything that existed in Aethion.It is ironic, he thought as the power beams died down. I am called to use these weapons of nearly unlimited power against the only ones that they won’t work on. What is their purpose then? The answer is simple: there is none. These weapons should never have existed.Kiarkru wasn’t the typical hacker, in more than one way. While most hacker camps focused on trying to damage Izumal by disrupting or destroying the governing software of various City systems, his area of expertise was information theft: he did little damage, but probably possessed more information on the planet’s society and government than the average camp. That was the reason he had contacted Hanashi in the first place; after all, information had no value unless it could be shared.Every part of data he had acquired was also archived in his submarine’s computer. So after learning of the technology Creva was using, Kiarkru called up the files he had on it. There wasn’t that much: the micro-nanites had been an experimental project aimed to increase Agent efficiency. But only a few Agents had been equipped with them: after a few weeks of tests, they had been deemed a failure and retired.But where did they go?The most common assumption was that things Izumal had no use for were converted into energy. However, there were storage buildings where samples of old technology were kept. Some, especially those containing Macrochips, were common knowledge on the planet and sometimes robbed by the hackers. But Kiarkru guessed one for military technology would be harder to find.In the following hours, he worked frantically. He compared the location of the labs where the micro-nanites had been produced with nearby storage deposits. Investigated on sightings of micro-nanite Agents. Tried to break into the Izumal records of its rare cargo transports, but failed. He even contacted other hacker camps, asking them for information.Finally, the following day, he had an idea. He started tracing other examples of military technology, such as Enlightened Exterminators. And, finally, his efforts rewarded him. He managed to infiltrate the nanites of a large storage deposit which confirmed that micro-nanites were stored there. He checked the amounts and discovered that it was quite possible that all the micro-nanites left on Izumal were there.Then something started bothering him. He couldn’t access the sections of the deposit’s governing software managing the micro-nanites.I may be onto something.There was a way he could discover more. It was difficult, but he managed to re-program the nanites to send a subspace video signal to him. An image of the deposit appeared. Kiarkru’s eyes widened. It was empty.That’s not right. Even if the micro-nanites had been taken out of storage, there should still be other things in here.He wiped the video connection and kept rummaging through the deposit’s network, trying to find some explanation. Now that he noticed it, some of the programs were corrupted, almost as if…A console beeped.“Oh, no,” he muttered.A program had managed to work its way back from the deposit into his computers. He tried to wipe it, but couldn’t. He tried to disable it, isolate it, freeze it. Nothing worked. The program lodged itself in his communication node and then started sending a subspace signal. A signal on a City frequency, telling the Agents his precise location.“Oh, no, no, no!” he exclaimed.There was only one thing he could do. He cut power to his submarine, except for the sensors. But it was too late. A partial signal had been sent. In a day at most, the Agents would know of his location.The day had come. Hanashi had canceled everything she was supposed to do that day in advance, so she was completely free to go to the appointment. She didn’t even go the studio. Instead, she stayed at home. She called the studio to tell them not to contact her for a few hours, and then she was ready. She called upon the power of the Iden and flew out of her house in spirit form. Within a few minutes, she was flying above Atohune. Not much time later, she reached the lake with the Macrochip. She floated down to it, and settled inside to wait.Kiarkru had been up all night to review his options. They weren’t good. To move his submarine he would need to restore all systems, allowing the insidious Izumal program to broadcast again. It would be futile.Leaving the submarine behind was a slightly better solution, but it was only temporary. Outside the cloak’s protection, the Agents would soon locate him, even underwater. There were a few hacker camps that would take him in, but he didn’t know the location of any of them. They certainly wouldn’t come to rescue him themselves.Hours passed as he worried away at the problem without finding any solution. Then, as on the surface the morning unfolded, his still-active sensors detected something: a small object flying above the water a short distance from him. A supersonic object.An Agent.Panic-riddled thoughts flashed through his mind. If Izumal had sent an Agent, it meant they knew where he was. He might as well reactivate the submarine and try to escape. He did so. Immediately, the Izumal virus started broadcasting again. A light also flashed. The one signaling Hanashi’s presence within the Macrochip.Kiarkru then made a decision. He might be caught, but he would at least divulge the last bit of information he knew. He opened a connection to the Macrochip.“Hanashi.”The spirit of the said Toa started as her contact’s voice came through.“I have no time, so listen carefully. I found the technology Rogue was using. It is a particular type of nanite which Izumal no longer uses. But the deposit where what remained of it was stored was robbed.”There was a pause.“Robbed, Hanashi. By someone else. It isn’t Izumal. Someone else is behind Rogue.”Another pause.“This will be our last contact. The Agents have found me. Good luck in your investigation. Goodbye.”The connection ended, leaving Hanashi puzzled and surprised.A moment later, she heard a boom above the lake’s surface. She flashed up, emerging from the water.An Agent hovered there. The Troak nicknamed Brute.Brute raised a hand. A cyclone came down from the sky, striking the lake. Eliminating any trace of the Macrochip, Hanashi knew. A few seconds later, the cyclone disappeared. Brute flew away at supersonic speed, leaving Hanashi floating there.The Agent was underwater now, in pursuit of Kiarkru’s fleeing submarine. He had time for one more call, even though he doubted it would be very effective. He was answered immediately.“Yes?”“There’s an Agent pursuing me. I need your help.”“And why should I help you?”“Why?” screamed Kiarkru. “I helped you, once. I taught you. Have you forgotten?”“No. But you are a hacker. You should have been prepared for this. It is your fault too that this has happened. And therefore, I won’t help you.”“Curse you! Help…”The connection ended.The submarine shook as the Agent collided with it. Kiarkru tapped a few controls. The submarine wall froze and then was shattered. A nanite-clad Toa wearing a Mask of Heatpulse and armor with crystalline patterns walked into the submarine. Kiarkru dove out of a hatch and into the sea. Behind him, the submarine exploded.The hacker swam as fast as he could. It was no use. A moment later, the Agent materialized in front of him. Kiarkru wasn’t a fighter, but his species possessed great innate strength. He swung a powerhouse fist at the Agent.It never reached him, striking instead a wall of spongy tissue which absorbed the impact without causing any damage. He looked around. A cage of that same material completely enveloped him. He screamed, in desperation and defeat.Review Topic

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#14 Offline Toa of Italy

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Posted Aug 31 2012 - 12:25 PM

FOURTEEN

As soon as Hanashi re-entered her body she was seized by an urge to do something. Going live with the news, calling the defense force to inform them, just doing something.Then her reporter mindset kicked in. She had something no one else had, and probably would never have. She could afford to go ahead with her investigation and then, once it had been completed, announce the results on her program. And even if the defense force discovered that Izumal wasn’t behind Rogue, what could they do? His power would stay the same; he would still be a danger.True, the police forces could launch an investigation to discover who was commanding Rogue.But I can do that, too. I’m an investigative reporter. I’ve done this before.There was a tiny voice at the back of her head telling her that if the police, too, were involved, there was a chance of coming to the bottom of this more quickly. But Hanashi didn’t hear it. She was already making plans on how to proceed and how to exploit the information she would gather.She started by analyzing Rogue’s targets. Who could profit from them? Who would have a reason to use an Agent like that?She used her Gadget to call up her reports of those attacks. The main thing in common between the two attacks was the wide range of power used and the targeted, efficient killing. It seemed almost a show of strength, a display of the Agent’s power. But to whom? There had been no follow-ups, nothing to indicate the Agent was meant to threaten someone. And while there were certainly groups that would be interested in possessing an Agent’s power, she doubted anyone controlling an Agent would be willing to lend or sell him to someone else.So, it wasn’t a threat, and it wasn’t an advertisement.She started sifting through the targets of the two attacks. The second was the most puzzling. Rogue had attacked both Ta-Clysmax and Ko-Clysmax, meaning he didn’t serve one of the two. But though the destruction of twenty-one ships and the murder of all their crews was an astonishing accomplishment, neither faction had been significantly weakened.The first attack was more understandable. Money had been the target, something useful and more than once robbed. Yet the systematic murders of all the people inside the bank were nonsensical.The most obvious conclusion, of course, was that a hacker camp was behind Rogue. Who else could have robbed an Izumal deposit, as her contact had said? But what could hackers want with Gems and destroyed Clysmax ships?It’s worth checking out, though. Hanashi walked out of her house, followed by one of her bodyguards.After two hours, she had to conclude that she had been right. She had visited the buildings in Wiki-Nui devoted to what little Izumal knowledge there was outside of it. A good part of it was about the hackers. Though the information on them was hardly conclusive as well, it certainly didn’t seem like they used the Gem currency. And hackers seldom interfered with the other planets, which made the Clysmax attack even more puzzling.Yet a hacker group must certainly be involved.But something didn’t fit. The hackers were, perhaps, more powerful than many groups on the other six planets, but how could they have taken Creva, a citizen of another planet, and made him into an Agent? It didn’t seem possible.Unless… someone else is working with them as well. Someone…And then she smiled.Someone who is more interested in money than they are.The following day was a busy one for Hanashi. She had to make a live broadcast of a massive Forum Plaza assembly called to decide how to respond to the recent developments of the Agent situation. The Bz-Koro Administrator Black Six participated himself, as did several other Bz-Koro leaders, AAG officials, the Wiki-Nui ambassador, the leader of the planetary defense force.Some measures were taken. A division of Bz-Koro’s counter-intelligence was created to investigate the presence of other Izumal collaborators in Bz-Koro. Financing of the defense force was approved. Experts on Agents, as far as any outsider could be an expert on Izumal, were consulted. But nothing substantial was decreed and eventually the assembly moved on to other, minor issues.Hanashi was somewhat relieved. If something more important had been decided, she would have felt obliged to reveal what she knew.There was no time for her to continue her investigation, so she postponed everything to the following day.On that day Hanashi didn’t take a vacation again, but she decided to pass in her office only in the afternoon. In the morning, instead, she took another trip with two bodyguards to a Wiki-Nui reference building. She had decided to work on two fronts: investigate Creva’s background and probable kidnapping, since his madness made it unlikely he had started to work with Izumal voluntarily, and trace the money that had been stolen from the bank and that, she believed, was still in circulation in the known part of Aethion.The particular building that she visited stored police records, to be precise Bz-Koro police records, which, once they were made public, were stored in Wiki-Nui as well as part of a treaty between the two nations. Since Creva had been abducted a week before, that investigation’s records were public and fortunately hadn’t been made classified again when Creva had escaped and revealed himself to be Rogue.She walked into the skyscraper’s lobby. Under the transparent floor, a giant gear was slowly turning, but Hanashi paid no attention to it. She strode to the desk, behind which a Dataguard was standing.“Toa Hanashi,” it said, recognizing her immediately. “Welcome. How may I help you?”“I would like to consult the Bz-Koro police records of the serial killer case. You know, the one who…”“Yes, the one who turned out to be an Agent. The records are public, yes. Use the elevator to get to the eighth floor. Another Dataguard will be there to help with your research if required.“Thank you.”The elevator quickly reached the eighth floor. Hanashi immediately asked to the Dataguard there for assistance, knowing well that the amount of data in that section was well beyond her ability to search through.The robot guided her through a door into a section filled with shelves containing hundreds of boxes.The Dataguard reached a particular shelf and extended its arm to take a box. Inside were several tablets of synthetic ultra-light protodermis which were designed to occupy little space and be as easy as possible to handle.“The material you requested is here. Please remain within this section while consulting it. Do not take it outside and return it within the hour, calling me if you need assistance again. There is a desk close to the door.”Hanashi nodded. As the Dataguard left, she found the table and sat down. Her bodyguards stood behind her. She lifted her Gadget onto the table and ordered it to make its keyboard emerge. Then she started reading the tablets, occasionally using the Gadget’s keyboard to take notes.There wasn’t much information on Creva’s kidnapping, mainly because the investigators hadn’t assumed there had been one. Creva had been the criminal, not the victim. However, Hanashi eventually discovered that before the first murder, Creva had been absent from work for a week. No one apparently had seen him and every Gadget conversation with him had been very brief. It seemed the best period for his abduction and transformation.When the allotted hour ended, Hanashi called the Dataguard again and with its help stored every tablet back in the box and on its shelf. Then she left the building, heading for her studio.During the afternoon, Hanashi was once again busy. Nothing new on the Agent crisis happened and the rest of the news didn’t particularly spark her interest, but she kept her true opinions hidden behind her usual reporter façade.While waiting for the evening edition of Hanashi News, she walked to the section of the studio devoted to financial news. She called one of her most capable reporters in that field, an Agori called Lwuquer.“What can I do for you, Toa Hanashi?” said Lwuquer.“I need to know if there have been any large amounts of money circulating recently. I mean very recently, the last two, three weeks. Money that is coming from an unknown source.”“No, not that I’m aware of. Do you want me to investigate?”“Not exactly. But you are an expert on these things. If you hear anything, could you let me know?”“Of course. Can I ask why?”“I may be on to something. But I want to investigate thoroughly before broadcasting my finds. And to do that, I need to know about that money.”He was good. He didn’t inquire further. It wasn’t the first time Hanashi dedicated herself to a large inquiry. Her work had always yielded results and that was the reason she had managed to create her news corporation. Every reporter who worked for her knew and respected that. So Lwuquer simply said:“All right.”A day passed. Then another. Then another again. Hanashi wasn’t making any progress. Creva’s disappearance during that week had been complete and she found no way to discover what had happened to him. Lwuquer, too, didn’t get back to her with anything.The issue didn’t fade from her mind, but she still thought about it less and less as a week, then two, passed.Then, two weeks and two days after making the request to Lwuquer, something happened. Hanashi had just finished her evening broadcast and was preparing to go home. Lwuquer walked in her studio.“What can I do for you, Lwuquer?” asked Hanashi.“I found it. The thing you asked me two weeks ago.”Hanashi suddenly began paying attention.“Go on.”“You wouldn’t believe what it took me. I had to trace old contacts, delve into I don’t know how much data, even bribe one or two people. But I think I found that money you were asking me.”“Tell me.”“Five days ago, on Promathus, Weapons Science received an order for a large amount of weapons. Nothing too elaborate, mainly small caliber, but it’s the number that was curious. The order came from Barrawahi, as one might expect, but it didn’t come from one of the six major clans. It came from a small clan, called Glacier Clan.”“Never heard of it.”“No one has ever heard of it, which isn’t that out of the ordinary. But a completely unknown Barrawahi clan that possesses a large amount of Gems is almost impossible. So I went to Promathus and, through a contact of mine, managed to get in touch with a worker who participated in the loading of those weapons onto a cargoshuttle. I had to bribe him, but I discovered that those weapons were disassembled in smaller pieces and sent by different shipments.”“A smuggling operation.”“Exactly. Unfortunately, that’s all I can tell you. Weapons Science, like the other Promathus companies, values the privacy of its clients. I don’t know who the shipment was sent to, but I doubt it was Barrawahi.”“You’re probably right. Send any piece of data you have to my Gadget. I will handle it from here.”“OK.”“Do me a favor. Don’t discuss this with anyone else, even our colleagues. I want this to be a complete exclusive.”“You can count on me.”Like the other five main organization HQs, the Guild’s main base was a large building, made out of non-corrosive materials. Its structure, though, made it unique and universally recognized as the ugliest Promathus building. Another uniqueness was the fact that it was guarded by Rahkshi.The reason for their presence was the identity of the Guild’s boss: a Makuta, Makuta Anaana, who was currently sitting in her office, managing day-to-day business. Her Gadget rang.“Yes?” said the Makuta.“There is a call for you, Makuta. It is Toa Hanashi.”Anaana didn’t speak immediately.“Put her through,” she then said.“Makuta Anaana,” said Toa Hanashi.“Toa Hanashi.”“Is this a private conversation? I would appreciate it if we weren’t overheard.”“You have nothing to worry about.”“Very well. I need some information. I was hoping you could provide it.”“What kind of information?”“Cargo Star shipments.”“That has nothing to do with the Guild. You should ask Experimental Industries.”“I am sure you can find out too. After all, almost all EI workers are part of your union. Besides, the workers who arranged the shipments did so in a very particular way. I would like to know about that too.”Particular way. Meaning illegal way. The Guild had several agreements with Promathus companies which basically allowed the latter to act this way without any interference from the former. To give Hanashi any information would mean breaking those agreements.“I’m not sure I can provide that. There are several rules we must follow too.”“I know. That is true for reporters as well. One of those rules is that we must always be impartial. Though I fear we have broken that rule occasionally. For instance, I seem to remember supporting Guild causes on my program a couple of times.”Anaana immediately saw where this was going.“I… may be able to tweak some rules here and there. Perhaps find out what you are looking for.”“Thank you, Makuta. I really appreciate that.”Review Topic

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#15 Offline Toa of Italy

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Posted Sep 01 2012 - 12:40 PM

FIFTEEN

Karosa stood on the walls of the fortress, keeping watch.In front of her a large valley unfolded. On both sides of it, steep walls of rock rose, eventually ending in sharp ridges, which were sometimes covered by snow, though there was none now.There were no trees in the valley, just naked rock. A river had once flowed here, but now it was mostly dry, except on the rare occasions when it rained or snowed.Altogether, it was a typical Barrawahi landscape. Scarce resources, forbidding land… nothing really worth coveting.Except that this valley was actually one of the most strategic locations on the planet. It allowed passage from the plains of Zien to some of the most fertile, and therefore heavily cultivated, Rockfoot lands. Any attack from one of the three clans not bordering with Rockfoot (Red Skull, Iron Hawk and Brethren) usually had to come through here. For that reason, the mountain pass at the beginning of the valley was guarded by a mighty fortress, Mangai Castle.As far as Barrawahi castles went, this one was very sturdy and resistant. Its walls were high and thick and, unlike most of the planet’s few buildings, weren’t made out of cobblestone, but out of highly-resistant protodermic concrete, which Rockfoot Clan had bought from Promathus using a significant part of their money. However, it had been worth it. For twenty-one years, this fortress had stood, possibly more than any other building on Barrawahi outside Zien. It had faced countless armies, but had always survived.From either side of the castle, a second wall departed, completely barring the mountain pass. And on the peaks on each side of the fortress, two watchtowers stood, communicating with the main fortress using a rudimentary cable-car. The long-range artillery positioned there could target the entire valley, sometimes annihilating the enemy long before it reached the fortress walls.Karosa wasn’t the fortress commander, but she nevertheless held an important position inside it. She was the gate guard. It was her job to let people exit and enter the fortress. And if an enemy reached the gate, she was supposed to coordinate its defense and prevent anyone from forcing their way inside the fortress.A yellow flag rose in sight above one of the watchtowers. It was a signal. Someone was approaching, though the yellow color meant that there didn’t seem to be a threat. Karosa took a pair of binoculars and looked for herself. Yes, there was someone walking the path leading to the fortress. A lone being, probably a Matoran or Agori.Strange. People usually don’t walk alone on Barrawahi.The green Glatorian wasn’t worried. It was just one being and he was still a few hours away from the fortress. By the time he reached it, his intentions would be clear.An hour later, two warriors left the fortress to rendezvous with the being and demand his identity and purpose. Karosa watched as their Rock Steeds approached the being, who was now clearly an Onu-Matoran. She took her binoculars again. Something about him was nagging at her. His appearance was now clearly distinguishable. She had seen him before, she was certain of that.Then it hit her. Even on Barrawahi, Gadgets existed. Through one of them, Karosa, two weeks before, had watched a broadcast of Hanashi News. A broadcast that had revealed the identity of the mysterious Agent called Rogue, the only Agent so far to have killed.An Onu-Matoran. An Onu-Matoran called Creva.The two warriors were approaching the Matoran. She cried out a warning to them, but they were too far to hear her. They stopped in front of the Matoran. Karosa blew the horn of alarm. The fortress suddenly was filled with activity, warriors preparing to defend themselves. One of the riders in front of the Matoran turned.The Matoran jumped. Before either warrior could react, he kicked at one of them, breaking his neck. The other tried to draw his sword, but the Matoran struck him too, sending him flying. Karosa knew he was dead too.Then the Agent turned. He rose into the air and sped toward the fortress. The guards opened fire, but somehow Rogue managed to dodge everything that was sent at him. Then he landed on the walls. Karosa turned to target him, but Rogue moved impossibly fast. With each movement, he struck a guard. Almost none got up again.This can’t be. He doesn’t even have a nanite suit.Now other warriors were climbing the stairs leading to the wall’s parapet. As they got there, Karosa led them to attack the Agent. Rogue was holding the sword of a dead guard. He threw himself at them. Every bullet shot at him was either dodged or deflected using the sword. A Toa of Plant Life tried to imprison him in vines, but Rogue simply slashed through them before killing his attacker.“Come on!” shouted Karosa. “He’s just one enemy!”The soldiers surged forward again. Rogue threw a few off the wall, but eventually it seemed he was too outnumbered to win. But no one managed to kill him. He jumped off the wall, landing in the courtyard without a scratch. He ran at those who were there, disposing of them brutally and efficiently. Then he ran into one of the barracks that were inside the fortress.Karosa descended into the courtyard. She had noticed the Agent still hadn’t used any of his powers, with the exception of flying and probably increased speed and strength. She couldn’t find a reason for it.One of the walls of the barrack collapsed as Rogue was thrown into it by a particularly strong warrior. The Agent got up again and impaled his enemy with the sword. Beams of energy sped at him as some Skakdi used their vision power. He managed to dodge all of them but one, which hit him on the leg, dissolving a small armor plate.Yes! He can be wounded!The warriors with Karosa ran toward the Agent as he charged into another barrack. The troops in the rest of the fortress surrounded that particular building. Cries and yells were heard from inside. The second-in-command of the fortress was organizing a force to rush into the building.Rogue smashed through the roof. He turned toward the inner ring of walls, protecting the central part of the fortress. He jumped.Why isn’t he flying? wondered Karosa as the Agent struck the wall itself. He didn’t fall. Instead, he somehow climbed it, dodging bullets and other attacks as he did.He reached the inner parapet. A Toa of Water tried to blast him with that element, but Rogue was completely unaffected. Then he went on the offensive, quickly killing the guards closest to him.The troops outside raced toward the inner gate. Then Rogue turned the inner fortress’s defenses against them. Cauldrons of boiling oil were poured on the Rockfoot soldiers, burning and sometimes killing those standing right below the walls.Then Rogue disappeared from sight. Karosa wondered what was going to happen.Suddenly, the Agent flew from the walls. But not under his own power. He had been sent flying. Someone jumped after him.Cheers went up as the fortress’s champion and commander, a Toa of Iron, entered the battle. The Toa was wearing a Mask of Strength and in his hands was a chain, connected to a massive iron sphere. The Agent landed on the ground. The Toa send the sphere into him, only to have Rogue dodge at the last moment.The sphere, created out of the Toa’s own power, split and reconfigured as a series of spikes which chased after the Agent. Rogue dodged and jumped. Then an incredibly long iron spear struck him, impaling him through the chest.The cheers got louder. Then Rogue moved. He gripped the spear, which started bending.Impossible.The spear broke. Rogue moved as fast as lightning, reaching the champion and punching him. The blow smashed him into the fortress’s wall.The troops were silent, astonished. Then, from the debris, the champion got up again. The iron sphere formed again, this time with spikes as well. The Toa started rotating it above his head, and then cast it toward Rogue.Everything seemed to happen slowly. Karosa saw Rogue preparing to jump, the muscles of his leg tensing. Then the leg gave way, inexplicably. The Agent stumbled. The sphere struck him.“Yes!” yelled Karosa, along with several others.The sphere held by the Toa became a giant hammer, which smashed once, twice, thrice, four times into the Agent. Rogue tried to dodge, but his legs wouldn’t move.Then there was a glint of silver. Silver was flowing from inside Rogue’s body, covering him. In less than a second, his shape was completely covered.The hammer rose again. A bolt of energy sailed from Rogue’s hand and disintegrated it. Then bolts of energy struck the champion. An Iron wall was no obstacle. After a few seconds, he stopped moving.Rogue took flight, though his legs still weren’t moving. He was heading for one of the watchtowers. He got inside.Suddenly Karosa realized what he was going to do. Once again, too late. The watchtower’s cannons opened fire. First on the other watchtower, which had no time to react and was completely demolished. Then on Mangai Castle itself.Explosions began. Karosa heard numerous cries to return fire. But the heaviest artillery was on the watchtower itself. The fortress’s cannons were aimed up, but most projectiles didn’t reach the watchtower and those that did didn’t inflict significant damage. Ordinarily, the artillerists posted at the tower should have destroyed the artillery before allowing an enemy to gain control of it. But such a rapid takeover had never been conceived and there was no defense against it.The inner fortress was the first to fall, pummeled by cannon fire. The building collapsed and little remained of the walls. The rest held for a little longer, but it was doomed too. There was no way to defend it. A few people had the power to fly and tried to reach the watchtower. None returned and the barrage didn’t stop. Two Toa of Stone tried to make the peak on which the watchtower stood crumble, but it was too large and resistant.Finally, the second-in-command of the fortress gave the order to evacuate. By then, people were already fleeing out of the back gate leading to Rockfoot territory. Karosa stumbled after them. She got through the gate and ran up the path leading beyond the mountain pass. Behind her, the last remains of Mangai Castle, which had stood for two decades, fell, destroyed by a single individual.The Glatorian got up the slope and started on the way down. Bolts of energy fell around her. She looked up.“No,” she groaned. “No!”Rogue was flying above the survivors, firing bolt after bolt of energy. Only a few missed.“Seek cover!” someone yelled. “Return fire!”But Rogue was out of weapon range. Toa and Skakdi targeted him with their powers, but once again to no avail. Karosa scrambled for cover, but there was none to be found. She saw a Toa speak with the second-in-command. Saw that same Toa being hurled up toward Rogue by a soldier possessing great strength. Saw him die before he could unleash the Nova Blast he had planned.“Why?” she muttered. “Why like this? What did we do to deserve this?”Rogue landed directly above her. He seemed to be able to stand again now. He raised a hand.Karosa aimed her gun at him and fired, again and again. Every bullet smashed harmlessly against his nanite suit.Rogue brought his hand to the ground, which split. A massive landslide rained down on the remaining soldiers.Karosa thought she saw him stumble. Then the earth was upon her, turning everything into blackness.The following day, a troop of Rockfoot warriors arrived at the mountain pass, responding to a Gadget call sent by the commander of Mangai Castle when Rogue had attacked. The landslide had completely eliminated the path, making it difficult for them to reach their destination. But finally they managed to do so. What they found astonished them.Calls were made to the current leader of Rockfoot. An army was dispatched to guard the now-exposed pass. No survivors were found.Review Topic

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#16 Offline Toa of Italy

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Posted Sep 02 2012 - 11:57 AM

SIXTEEN

Creva opened his eyes. He was lying on the ground. The powerful light of the Cargo Star made him blink.Where am I?He tried to get up. His legs didn’t hold him. He fell back down.What’s happened to me?He tried again. This time he managed to hold himself up. He couldn’t move one of his legs and the other was weak too. He found that he was also having trouble breathing.He looked around. He was standing on a plain. On the horizon, he could see several mountains. In the distance, there were also patches of greenery.Though Creva wasn’t particularly interested in the other planets, his work made it important to identify a place with only one glimpse of it, so to recognize the places where the Olmak Effect teleported its victims. He wasn’t on Alarist, since a plain such as this should have had some signs of inhabitation. Promathus was out for the same reason. It obviously wasn’t Clysmax or Atohune, Izumal should have been all silver and gold and Tanuuk hotter. That left Enigma, though it seemed very unlikely, and Barrawahi.He was still feeling weak and somehow he didn’t think feeling weak on Barrawahi would be a great advantage. He tried to locate some signs of which clan territory he was on, but his eyesight occasionally blurred and his knowledge of the other planets didn’t go down to that much detail.What do I do now?He looked around and saw a shrub growing nearby. There weren’t many leaves on it, but the wood looked thick and strong.Creva hopped toward it. After a few minutes, he managed to fashion himself a crude crutch.Unless I’m lucky enough to be in Hand of Faith territory, I’d better move. If possible, find an Anomaly to get back home. If not, get to those mountains. I’m too exposed on this plain.Sawu was in the niche of his unit in the AAG vault when he received a message. His primary consciousness immediately switched on to listen. It was the commander of the planetary defense force, Kiumyak, a leader class Skrall that had once been a Hand of Faith general“To all superior officers of the planetary defense force. There will be a council assembly at the Wiki-Nui Museum four hours from now. Please attend. An attached file will give you more precise information.”Sawu got up. He walked to the unit’s platform and outfitted himself with various systems and weapons. He left most of them in the vault, since this wasn’t a combat mission.Then he took the elevator leading to the surface. Though technically the defense force was under the control of the AAG, only Sawu actually lived on their island, meaning it would be difficult and impractical for the force to assemble there, both for council sessions and in a possible crisis situation. Far better to do so in Wiki-Nui, where most of the officers where based anyway.Sawu reached the surface and took flight. It didn’t take him much to reach the Wiki-Nui Museum. He spent the remaining time before the assembly by visiting the section of that building dedicated to Wiki-Nui law and law enforcement.Five minutes before the beginning of the assembly he took the elevator to one of the Museum’s small conference rooms, which had been booked by the force’s council.He entered the room. A few members of the council were already seated at the room’s table. The rest arrived during the following few minutes. Finally, Kiumyak came and sat down too.Sawu didn’t look around, since he knew the identities of every council member. Most were high-ranking police officers, usually former Alarist Planetary Authority Agency officials. One or two, like Kiumyak, had once been in the Hand of Faith. Sawu was there because he represented a significant part of the force’s arsenal.“Welcome, everyone,” said Kiumyak. “I’ve called you here to discuss a report from Hand of Faith intelligence, which they shared with Alarist and which, given its nature, eventually arrived to me. Yesterday, Mangai Castle, one of the mightiest Rockfoot fortresses, was attacked and destroyed by a single Matoran, who was recognized as Creva, in other words the Agent called Rogue. The attack was brutal and completely efficient. As in the previous attacks, no one survived. A few hours later, Creva was seen by a Rockfoot patrol several Kio away from Mangai Castle. He seemed wounded, was walking on foot and appeared to be lost. The patrol pursued, but somehow he managed to elude them. Now, I’ve called you here to ask a question: does this change our situation? And if so, how and how should we respond?”Other members of the council started speaking. Sawu registered what they were saying, but his primary consciousness wasn’t paying much attention. The moment Kiumyak had talked about Creva’s last sighting, an idea had started maturing inside his head. A reckless idea, but one he just had to act upon.Kiumyak turned to him.“Sawu, what do you have to say?”“I think we should go to get him ourselves. On Barrawahi.”“Excuse me?”“Our main theory, so far, is that Creva actually has two personalities: his, and Rogue’s. The way Creva was behaving when the Rockfoot patrol saw him may mean the Creva personality is now dominant again, at least for the moment. That gives us a window of opportunity. Creva has just regained his personality and experience teaches us that he won’t suffer another crisis for a few days more. If we go get him now, it might be our best opportunity to go to the heart of this matter.”“Provided you’re right,” said one of the council members, “how exactly are you thinking we’ll find him? We’d have to search a large area, not to mention we’d be in Rockfoot territory. Besides, I’m not sure we can carry out a mission on another planet. This force is for defensive purposes alone.”“It wouldn’t be an attack mission. And we have technology far more advanced than anything Rockfoot possesses.”“But not the people. If this fails, we’d lose a good part of our force.”That was true. Since raising an actual army was impractical, the force was centered on cutting-edge weapons and vehicles, which could be managed by a small number of people. Overall, the fighting force was made up of less than a hundred people.“It won’t. I would be going with them. I have no intention to boast, but I’m fully capable of safeguarding everyone who conducts such a mission. Only Rogue could stop me, but we were going to face him anyway eventually.”“Enough,” said Kiumyak. “I see your point, Sawu. I want a plan for the operation within the hour. A detailed plan. Then I’ll submit it to both Wiki-Nui and Bz-Koro governments. They will have to know, as will the Hand of Faith, though they shouldn’t present a problem, not with me introducing the plan. Since this must be done very quickly, you’ll leave within six to seven hours.”“Is he going to lead the mission?” asked another council member.“Yes, he is.”Six and a half hours later, Sawu and his team assembled at the ITH in the south of Wiki-Nui, the one containing the Olmak Totem leading to the Hand of Faith clan. They weren’t many: including Sawu, they were five. But their numbers didn’t count, Sawu knew. It was the firepower they were carrying with them. Each team member, except him, was wearing a highly-modified version of an Exo-Toa suit, bristling with powerful weapons. In addition to that, they would be using vehicles with an even superior arsenal.They walked into the ITH. There was no one there. The building had been closed for a few minutes, to allow them to pass through without trouble. At the entrance to the room housing the Totem, the guards nodded to them, allowing them passage without checking them. Sawu touched the Olmak Totem and willed it to activate.The next moment he was standing in another room, one with walls made out of cobblestone. Three guards and a Hand of Faith official were waiting for them.The official started to speak, and then blinked as the first of Sawu’s team materialized. Sawu guessed why. Inside the armor suits, his team seemed to be made up of four giants, completely enclosed in gray metal with the exception of their heads. In addition, the suits had a very advanced appearance, which perfectly mirrored the technology they carried. The Hand of Faith didn’t come even close to that.The official spoke again.“We have been told of your arrival. The general overseeing the battle at our border is waiting for you. Do you wish to leave immediately?”“Yes. We have no reason to wait.”Sawu summoned his powers. Inside him, the energies of several disks were merged, creating a new power. The power of a Kanohi Olmak. A dimensional portal opened. Sawu’s team stepped inside. Sawu himself followed them.They found themselves on a small rocky hill. Behind them, higher mountains rose. In front of them, on the other hand, was a relatively large brown plain. A short distance from the hill, long trenches had been dug into the earth. Soldiers were exchanging fire from inside them, using both weapons and powers. No man’s land was shrouded in smoke resulting from numerous explosions. As Sawu watched, a Toa or Troak of Earth from the Hand of Faith sent a series of earth waves toward the enemy trenches, trying to collapse them. Rockfoot retaliated by firing on that particular trench with heavy artillery, which was mounted on turrets behind their own trenches.“Where is the camp?” asked Kiaren, a silver-armored Glatorian.“Behind the hill,” answered Sawu, “where it isn’t exposed to Rockfoot fire.”The five figures marched down a small path. True to Sawu’s word, the Hand of Faith camp was there. It was mostly made up of tents. Around it, temporary walls of earth had been created.“Who goes there?” yelled a guard.“Sawu and his team,” answered the robot.“What’s a Sawu?”“Your commanding officer will know.”There were a few moments of silence. Sawu’s tactical program was making plans in case the Hand of Faith fired on them, but he wasn’t too worried. Then the guard spoke again:“Proceed to the west gate.”“OK.”The west gate was just a gap in the camp’s walls. The general overseeing the battle, along with a few soldiers, was waiting there.“You’re from Alarist, right?” said the general, a female Steltian.“Exactly,” said Sawu.“We were told to expect you. If I’m not mistaken, you are waiting for the cargoshuttle to arrive.”“Yes, some of our weapons are there.”As they made their way into the camp, the general eyed the team’s armor suits.“If we had one of those, we wouldn’t go searching for other weapons. We’d be more than content. I understand not taking a raid in enemy territory lightly, but what exactly do you expect to face?”“Classified.”The general nodded.“I understand. On Barrawahi, we have less need for secrecy than on other planets, but I still have experience with it. I have a tent prepared for you and your team, though I’m not sure those suits will all fit in.”“That’s all right. As you said, we’ll only be here for a couple of hours.”The rest of the time was spent discussing strategy, as far as possible from Hand of Faith ears. Then, finally, the general walked to them.“Promathus has just called me. The cargoshuttle is about to land.”Since the battle on this front wasn’t going particularly well for the Hand of Faith, the clan had ordered a new weapon shipment from Promathus. To get that technology to the battle as quickly as possible, Hand of Faith had asked for it to be transported directly to the front, despite the extra fee that required. Sawu had taken the opportunity to ship on the same shuttle the team’s vehicles, which at the time were part of a larger shipment Phantoka Motors was due to send to Alarist for the planetary defense force. Changing the route of a few items had been easy.The cargoshuttle was now visible, descending through the atmosphere with its shields raised. At it approached the ground, Sawu detected a disturbance in the air around it. He immediately realized what it was. Someone from Rockfoot was using his or her powers to try to hinder the shuttle. It was an impressing accomplishment, given the distance between the camp and the Rockfoot lines, but Sawu couldn’t allow it. He rocketed into the air in front of a startled general. The winds were picking up, trying to blow the shuttle off course. Sawu combined the Kanoka energies within him once more, calling upon the power of Suppression. The winds instantly calmed down as the power controlling them was severed. The shuttle landed without harm.Hand of Faith warriors and the rest of Sawu’s team strode to the shuttle. After a few moments, the team’s vehicles were taken out of the shuttle: an Axalara T16 and a Jetrax T10. The remaining team members would be riding these too, though their suits were also equipped for flight.The general walked to Sawu.“That was pretty impressive. I hate to ask you this, but before you go, could you give us a hand with the battle? We could use it.”Sawu’s mind went back to Kiumyak’s words for precisely this eventuality.“If, for any reason, the Hand of Faith asks for your help in battle… give it to them. We’re allies, and they will never again have such powerful weapons at their disposal.”Sawu checked his own power levels. His Kanoka energy technology took a lot of energy to function, but he still had enough for an attack against Rockfoot.“Sure.”He turned to his team.“I’m going to give the Hand of Faith some help. When I give you the signal, fly directly over the Rockfoot trenches. Don’t stop until you reach the rendezvous point we discussed.”Sawu took flight and sped toward the battle. Rockfoot spotted him and opened fire with their artillery. Sawu’s forcefield shielded him effortlessly. Then Sawu programmed and fired six micro-rockets. The small warheads took flight from his body and streaked toward the enemy lines. Sawu was rewarded moments later by several explosions as the rockets struck Rockfoot gun turrets, obliterating them.Sawu wasn’t finished. From his body, a large sphere of light expanded, temporarily blinding the Rockfoot soldiers. Under that cover, his team’s vehicles passed over the battle without being seen. As they flew away, energy started swirling in Sawu’s palm and was unleashed at a trench. Almost all the Rockfoot warriors within collapsed. Then, finally, Sawu flew away, leaving Rockfoot astonished. In part for the magnitude of the attack. But also for the fact that none of them had been killed.Review Topic

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#17 Offline Toa of Italy

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Posted Sep 03 2012 - 08:38 AM

SEVENTEEN

As night descended, the team made little progress. Rockfoot territory was quite large and Creva was just one Matoran. It didn’t help that they had to stay hidden as much as possible. The vehicles weren’t equipped with a cloaking device or something similar, meaning they were forced to remain high in the air, undistinguishable from birds to the naked eye, and hope there were no Rockfoot warriors with enhanced eyesight looking up. That also made it difficult to use their sensors, which were advanced but nevertheless hindered by distance, especially when using passive scans only, as Sawu had decided. Rockfoot probably couldn’t detect them, but it was still a risk.That left Sawu on his own. His cloaking device was certainly beyond Rockfoot technology to detect and his sensors could also be stealthed when performing active scans. Still, Creva never turned up. Sawu suspected the Matoran was, consciously or subconsciously, using the same dampening field that had been observed on Alarist, possibly explaining why Rockfoot hadn’t found him either.Finally, Sawu decided to order Vurioe, a Toa of Psionics, to use her powers to scan the area in search of Creva’s mind. This was a much more dangerous method than active scans, as there were undoubtedly Rockfoot warriors capable of detecting it, but they didn’t have any choice. However, nothing resulted from this either.Sawu rendezvoused with the vehicles at 10 Kio of altitude. The air here became rare and difficult to breathe, but the armor suits worn by his team members made up for that. At this altitude, the view of the Bluespace Ceiling was spectacular, with its blue glow more clearly visible than anywhere else, except in space. Sawu, however, didn’t pay any attention to it. Instead, he connected himself with the communication circuits of the armors.“We’ve searched the area where Creva was last seen,” he said. “Unless he has transformed into Rogue once again, which we’ll discount for the moment, he must be there, but invisible to our sensors. Suggestions?”No one spoke for some time, thinking. Then Vurioe spoke:“What about making Creva himself tell us where he is? If our theories are correct, he isn’t able to think very clearly. If so, he will be easily susceptible to a Psionic stimulus, something that will affect him and cause his mind to react.”“But you can’t broadcast it in a large enough area to be sure to find him.”“No, but you can. If I create the stimulus, do you have the ability to transmit it on a wide range?”“Yes. If we establish a mental link, I should then be able to use the stimulus you create.”“Rockfoot will detect it,” said another team member, Yourial.“Yes, it will,” said Sawu. “But unless they have very skilled telepaths I can prevent them from tracking it to its source.”“And what about Creva’s eventual response? They may track that.”“True,” said Sawu. “But once we’ve found him, we should be able to reach him before Rockfoot does. After that, it’s simply a matter of taking him and getting out of enemy territory.”“Then it’s decided,” said Vurioe. “But what kind of stimulus should I create?”Sawu’s consciousness sifted through all the files relative to the Creva case. After a few seconds, he reached a solution.Creva walked slowly, dragging his useless leg on the ground. Somehow he had managed to reach the lower slopes of the mountains. He had made his way through and around several farms and fields, which he guessed belonged to Rockfoot. Several times, he had been spotted and had thought he was done for, but somehow he had always managed to evade clan warriors.He was tired, dead tired. He was also hungry and thirsty. He had finally found a small creek descending from the mountains. He knew it was a risk trying to drink from it, given that, some Bio above him, the mountain had been terraced to house Rockfoot crops. There were sure to be guards nearby. But he had to.Creva approached the creek. He knelt next to it to get a sip of water. He bent down and was rewarded by the taste of cool water entering his mouth. The water was dirty, but it seemed the sweetest thing Creva had ever tasted.He heard a snort. He turned. Standing a short distance from him was a Kane-Ra bull, clearly attracted to the stream for the same reason as him.Creva was transfixed by fear. Even if he had not been wounded, he would have never managed to fight a Kane-Ra. But the Rahi didn’t charge. Instead, after looking at him for some time, it turned back to the creek. Creva sighed in relief and limped away.He had only gone a few Bio from the creek when he found himself unable to breathe. Air simply wasn’t getting into his lungs. He tried to inhale, but the air wouldn’t go down his throat. He began feeling dizzy, and then fell to the ground. He kept trying, but to no avail. He simply couldn’t breathe. Panic swelled within him.Then, suddenly, he managed to grab a breath. He gasped and inhaled again. He panted and once again relief flooded him.It wasn’t the first attack he had had. But he couldn’t explain it, like he couldn’t explain his limp. During his journey to the mountains, he had desperately tried to remember how he had got here. But he couldn’t. The last thing he remembered was being in the clinic with Liuywe. He had been speaking, talking about something… the figure…A scream escaped the Onu-Matoran’s lips. The dark figure was standing in front of him. It started advancing on him.“Help,” he whispered. “Oh, no, help! Help!” he screamed. His thoughts were filled with terror, pure fear. Then, suddenly, the being vanished. Creva blinked. It had completely disappeared.“Found him!” said Vurioe. “We were right. His fear rebounded into the connection and we managed to track him.”“Where is he?” asked Kiaren.“On the slope of that mountain,” answered Sawu, pointing to a peak some Kio away. He trained his best sensors on it. Now that he knew exactly where to look for, it took him only a few minutes to pierce Creva’s dampening field.“Do we go get him?” asked Brolq, an Agori.“No, not yet,” said Sawu. “I want to recharge first and wait for the day to arrive. If we get into a fight, we’ll be more visible at night. We’ll just keep a sensor lock on him and make sure no Rockfoot patrols get to him before we do.”The last few hours of the night passed without incident. Rockfoot had indeed detected Vurioe’s Psionic broadcast, but they hadn’t been able to track it. Patrols were intensified, but they didn’t find Creva. Sawu went to recharge exactly three hours before the scheduled interception, only a few minutes after dawn. During the process, he kept in touch with his team via a communication link.“I want to try to talk him into following us before trying to fight him. He may still be sane enough to listen to reason.”“All right,” said Vurioe. “But we don’t exactly inspire a lot of confidence, not with these suits. And if he recognizes you, he might turn against us. You were the one who fought him on Alarist.”“That’s true. What do you suggest?”“I’ve studied the files on Creva’s case,” said the Toa of Psionics. “There was one person he seemed to trust.”Creva yawned. The entire night had passed and he hadn’t slept an instant, being too scared and trying to keep moving. He was at the bottom of a valley now and was following it, despite having no idea where it led to.His good leg was burning, as were his lungs. His sight kept blurring, though that was in part due to his exhaustion.He walked around a boulder. He raised his head. In front of him was a being. A familiar one. A red-armored Vortixx.“L-Liuywe? Is that you, sir?” muttered Creva.“Yes, Creva. It’s me,” said the Vortixx. “We’ve come to get you back.”“To Alarist?”“Yes.”The Matoran was overwhelmed by emotion. He was saved. He was going to get home.“How did you get here?”“They escorted me,” said Liuywe, gesturing to four beings that had appeared beside him. They were clad in metal armor and looked very imposing. Creva didn’t care. They were there for him.“Thank you, thank you.”“It was my duty.”“How do we get to the Hand of Faith?”“We’ll use vehicles. But Creva, I need to ask you something.”“What?”“You are too weak to sustain a prolonged vehicle journey. I need to ask you to allow us to sedate you. That way we’ll be able to transport you without problems.”Creva breathed slowly.“A-All right, if that’s what it takes.”“Thank you.”Liuywe took out a small syringe. He approached Creva.Sawu suddenly detected something. A patrol of ten Rockfoot soldiers had entered the valley. Sawu immediately understood they had seen them. He instantly programmed a stealthed stun bomb to be fired at them. Then one of the soldiers took out a very long gun and aimed it at them.The invisible bomb was fired. It rocketed toward the soldiers, then exploded. The patrol instantly collapsed. But it was too late. The soldier had fired directly at Creva. The long-range bullet flew through the air. Even Sawu wasn’t fast enough to block it.The bullet passed through Creva’s stomach. The Onu-Matoran screamed. A forcefield instantly came on around him.Yourial acted instantly, using his elemental powers to increase the gravity around Creva, trying to prevent him from moving.The Matoran moved like lightning and jumped away from the spot. He roared and unleashed a blast of disintegration energy.Sawu shed the illusion of Liuywe and moved to block it. His forcefield held.Brolq and Kiaren ran for the vehicles. Vurioe opened fire with her suit. Three Cordak rockets exploded on Creva’s forcefield. That only enraged the Matoran more. Twin lasers impacted on Vurioe’s forcefield. They were followed by a magnetic wave.The suits’ forcefields were cutting-edge, designed to prevent even powers like gravity and magnetism from affecting the armors and their occupants. But somehow Creva managed to elude that protection. Vurioe was sent flying with her armor slightly damaged.Yourial fired a blast of energy at the mountain above Creva. The slope shattered, sending a landslide hurtling toward the Matoran. Creva didn’t see it and channeled a shockwave into Yourial. Then Sawu hit Creva with a quantum energy beam, immobilizing him. The landslide rained upon the Onu-Matoran.The vehicles arrived and hovered above the point where Creva had been standing. Sawu, Yourial and Vurioe also took flight and joined them.On Sawu’s mark, all five opened fire, bathing the cliff with energy. Sawu also fired his sonic cannons, powered up at a level capable of deafening anyone. Then the cliff split again and earth was telekinetically hurled at the team, but their shields protected them.Finally, Sawu ordered them to cease fire. A stasis field materialized on the tip of his finger and he hurled it at the crater where Creva was still standing. The Matoran swatted at it with his hand. The field disappeared, but Sawu created a larger forcefield encompassing the entire crater. Creva had no way out.Tendrils of energy reached from Sawu to create a web around Creva. His energy draining function activated, but this time it was complemented by a far more dangerous function. The energy web started draining air from inside itself and at the same time released toxic radiation into what remained of it. This was one of the weapons that had been removed from Sawu’s arsenal and for a good reason. Sawu had programmed it not to kill, but on Tanuuk, once, SAWU0001 had annihilated an assembly of rebel slaves in a cave by asphyxiating them with this.Creva started stumbling from the lack of air and energy. Yourial increased gravity again, making it impossible for the Onu-Matoran to move. At the same, Vurioe unleashed mind blast after mind blast at their enemy’s mind.Power surged from Creva in an attempt to break free. Sawu simply increased the power to the forcefield imprisoning the Onu-Matoran. Brolq’s armor fired a bundle of metal wires which passed through the energy web and wrapped around Creva, repeatedly jolting his forcefield. Finally, the Matoran’s shield failed and he collapsed on the ground. His heartlight was still flashing, but there was no sign of power within his body. Sawu trapped him in a powerful energy web. His team lowered to the ground.“Mission accomplished,” said Kiaren.Review Topic

Edited by Toa of Italy, Sep 04 2012 - 11:22 AM.

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#18 Offline Toa of Italy

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Posted Sep 04 2012 - 11:21 AM

EIGHTEEN

Sawu’s team stood in front of Creva’s immobile body.“Wasn’t it too easy?” asked Vurioe, something she wasn’t the only one wondering.“No,” said Sawu. “Last time, I managed to defeat Creva on my own before he turned into Rogue. And I was in a weakened form. This time, our firepower was several times superior to his. This outcome was obvious. Problems will arise if he turns into Rogue again, though. I’m not sure we can stop him if that happens.”“Do we proceed as planned?” asked Yourial.“I see no reason not to.”Sawu cast a powerful dampening field over Creva. Its purpose was completely isolating the Matoran from outside communication; the living robot hadn’t forgotten that Creva’s last transformation had been triggered by a transmission. Meanwhile, Brolq brought the Jetrax over. Fitted into its underside was a stasis capsule, which would house the Onu-Matoran until their arrival on Alarist. The capsule would also take over the dampening field’s function.Sawu lifted Creva and placed him in the capsule. The lid slid over the Matoran’s body.“Let’s go.”Sawu didn’t recharge. He hadn’t used much power in the battle with Creva. No attack had come from his Kanoka energy technology, with the exception of the illusion of Liuywe; even the quantum beam had been fired by a separate weapon, meaning his power levels were still sufficiently high. And while prudence dictated he should have his power levels as high as possible in this situation, it was also true that he couldn’t afford staying far from Creva for too long. There was no telling whether the stasis unit would be sufficient to prevent Creva from transforming.The vehicles now employed their full speed so as to get out of Rockfoot territory as fast as possible. Vurioe and Yourial didn’t fly under their own power and hanged instead onto the two vehicles. Sawu could have matched their speed, but it would have taken a significant amount of power, so he did so as well.Within slightly more than an hour, they had reached the Hand of Faith’s border. They transmitted a signal to the clan’s defenses, indicating they were friends. Then they headed straight in Horizon Castle’s direction.A flicker of energy. It might not have been noticed, since it had been so small. But Sawu’s sensors, connected at all times to Creva’s stasis capsule, managed to detect it.Sawu opened a channel to the rest of his team.“I’ve just detected an energy signature within Creva. Very weak.”“What do we do?” asked Kiaren.Another energy signature, this time stronger. Sawu detected a sensor sweep within Creva’s body. He thought quickly and tried to send a false reading back to whatever was performing the scan. Instantly he was confronted by the complexity of the analysis. A good part of his computing power switched over to creating a signal that might fool it. The scan was being very thorough. Sawu devoted his entire main consciousness to adapt the false signal, constantly changing it to avoid detection. The scan didn’t cease and Sawu found it increasingly difficult to trick it. Secondary routines were managing every other system in his body and even those were being redirected to aid him. It was a stalemate that couldn’t last. Eventually, there was no more computing ability to use. Every part of Sawu’s artificial brain not managing vital functions was being employed to fool the scan, which still wouldn’t cease. Finally, Sawu could no longer fight it.He stopped doing so. Instantly, the sensor scan detected Creva’s true surroundings. More energy distortions appeared within the Onu-Matoran’s body.“Eject the capsule!” Sawu told Brolq.The Agori instantly obeyed. The object detached from his vehicle and fell down toward an ice-covered peak below. The team turned in pursuit of it.“Viruoe, you must establish a connection with Creva’s mind,” said Sawu quickly. “You and I have to stop the Rogue personality from surfacing. The others must try to find out where these energy signatures are coming from and try to stop them.”“How? Our sensors aren’t as advanced as yours,” said Brolq.“Find a way! There isn’t time!”The capsule landed on the glacier covering the peak. Viruoe and Sawu jumped down after it, landing on slippery ice. It made no difference to them. They ran to the capsule. Viruoe opened it. Creva was still unconscious, but nanites were beginning to emerge from his body. Sawu yanked the Matoran out and threw him on the ice.“Now.”Vurioe concentrated and established the mental link. Sawu called upon his Kanoka energies to grant him the power of Psionics and did so as well.Creva’s mind was in turmoil. Sawu could feel the Matoran’s consciousness, largely inactive due to him being unconscious. But nevertheless feelings of fear and the sensation of being smothered could be clearly felt as the Matoran sought to hold back the other mind seeking to overwhelm his. Memories, emotions, everything was being mixed at random to serve as a rudimentary barrier. Sawu immediately understood that this was the state Creva’s mind had been in when he had committed the murders, unable to think clearly but shocked and frightened.Sawu detected Vurioe’s presence, feeling the same things he was.Beyond, said the Toa of Psionics.Beyond Creva’s feeble defenses was something else. Something smooth, clear, yet terrible, which was slowly driving its way through those walls. And then Sawu found himself confronting their enemy.Rogue.The chaos in Creva’s mind was completely absent here. Something much simpler, yet terrible, was driving Rogue. A single idea, a single purpose. Every emotion had been stripped from it; in a way, Rogue’s mind was very similar to a computer: cold, efficient and uncaring of the consequences of its actions. Sawu was struck by the similarity with him; he, too, had difficulty expressing emotions and he, too, was often driven by a single purpose.But no, he thought. I’m capable of independent thought, of self-determination. I can have emotions. This consciousness can’t. It is totally single-minded, unable to shake free of its commanding imperative. It can’t think for itself. It isn’t sentient, like I wasn’t sentient when I was first activated. For a moment, Sawu wondered if Rogue would ever be able to change as he had. Then he decided it didn’t matter. He had to be stopped, though preferably without being killed. So he concentrated on the task at hand.He poured Psionic energy toward Rogue’s consciousness, trying to halt its progress. Viruoe did the same, attempting to reinforce Creva’s walls and create new ones. Rogue, too, was now aware of them and trying to attack the obstacles they were throwing in his way with multiple methods, trying to exploit the computing superiority of Izumal technology. For Sawu was now certain, Rogue’s consciousness had to be, at least in part, computer-based, perhaps even created artificially to control the nanites in Creva’s body. The Psionic energy employed by Rogue also increased, though not overwhelmingly, something Sawu attributed to Rogue not having fully seized control of his nanites.In spite of Rogue’s attempts to circumvent them, Viruoe and Sawu were a match for him. Yet this only allowed them to achieve a stalemate, with Rogue pressing on one side and the two of them pushing him back on the other.I have a plan, said Viruoe. But you’ll have to hold him off for yourself.No problem. What is it?I want to awake Creva’s consciousness entirely. He might be able to give us the edge necessary to defeat Rogue.Very well.He felt Viruoe leave his side. Rogue also saw it and renewed his attempts. Sawu fought him, drawing strength from his emotions and his ability to think freely, those things that Rogue didn’t have. At the same time, he attempted to examine the Agent’s mind more closely. What he found confirmed his theory that Rogue was an artificially-created mind. His consciousness wasn’t fully rooted into Creva’s body. There were instabilities, which explained why the two personalities alternated. Rogue wasn’t yet able to exert full control. But Sawu had seen that Creva’s mind was getting weaker and weaker. Soon, the Onu-Matoran would be completely gone. For the moment, though, those remaining instabilities could be used to hinder Rogue and Sawu did exactly that, striking at them and thwarting the Agent again and again.The robot felt a change. Creva’s mind was awakening. Its activity increased emotions and memories became more tangible. At the same time, Sawu felt Rogue getting weaker as Creva grew stronger.Then, suddenly, Sawu was struck by a terrible blow. Not a physical blow, but a mental attack. Except that this wasn’t coming from Rogue, but from Creva. He detected a mental plea from Viruoe:Creva, calm down! Let us help you!But Creva wouldn’t. Awakening his mind had only increased the chaos inside it and that chaos was now attacking not only Rogue, but also Sawu and Viruoe.Feeling his weakness, Rogue attacked again, breaking through Creva’s defenses. That only enraged further what remained of Creva’s mind, which struck at Sawu and Viruoe again and again, who couldn’t withstand this double assault. Powerless, they were forced to watch as Rogue took control of Creva’s body once again. But he didn’t limit himself to that. Instead, he savagely attacked Creva’s already subdued consciousness. Creva’s panic-driven rage was no match for the Agent. Its strength slowly dwindled. Then Rogue took what was left of the Onu-Matoran and tore it apart. Nothingness replaced his mind. Creva was gone.Rogue now attacked Sawu and Viruoe. They had no choice. Without Creva’s consciousness to hinder him, the Agent had now full control of his nanites and was using them to boost his Psionic power. They retreated, preparing to battle against him on the physical level.Sawu opened his eyes. He immediately checked how much power remained to him. It was still more than half, but nevertheless the psychic battle had cost him dearly. He would have to be careful.He immediately registered the scene in front of him. Kiaren, Brolq and Yourial were huddled around Creva, using their suits to drain his energy. The next moment, a blast of power hurled them away. Rogue rose, fully covered in his nanites. The power sources that Sawu was detecting were abruptly shielded from his scans, as was the rest of the Matoran’s body.But Sawu had managed to grab a quick scan before the Agent’s attack. It was enough. The other three members of his team had done a good job, draining almost all Creva’s energy.We have a chance.Kiaren flew into the Axalara and powered it up. He opened fire, making bolts of energy, explosive rockets and much more rain upon Rogue. Brolq, too, was on the Jetrax. The vehicle’s weapons were delivering powerful, concentrated shockwaves at the Agent, powerful enough to crack the glacier on which they were standing in multiple places.Viruoe and Yourial struck at the Agent too, the former increasing Gravity around Rogue and the latter blasting his mind and assaulting him telekinetically.Sawu stayed back and concentrated on blinding Rogue’s sensors, making it difficult for him to scan his surroundings and therefore strike back. At the same time, he was generating a resonance capable of hindering powers, hoping to at least weaken their opponent.Rogue took flight. This didn’t allow him to escape the vehicles’ targeting sensors, which kept firing on him. Yourial’s power was also slowing him down and this allowed Sawu to get above him. A Bluespace bolt sailed from the robot’s staff. Somehow, the Agent managed to disperse it. Then he activated his Space Shift power, attempting to cut into the bodies of the team. But this time Sawu was ready for it. Energy surged from him, interfering with Rogue’s manipulation of space and rendering the attack useless.Rogue dropped back toward the other members of Sawu’s team. The living weapon tried to pursue, but found his way barred by a forcefield which he didn’t seem to be able to break. Meanwhile, Rogue bombarded the others with Bluespace bolts and Disintegration energy. They tried to fight back, but found themselves unable to access some of their powers. As the battle went on, the glacier underneath started to shatter or melt, rendering the ground unstable. This gave a further advantage to the Agent, whose suit enabled him to keep a better balance than Yourial and Viruoe. Then a Bluespace beam penetrated the Axalara’s forcefield. The vehicle disintegrated and Kiaren barely managed to jump out. He didn’t have a chance to fly back into combat. The Agent erased his flight power, sending him plunging down the mountain.Sawu finally managed to penetrate the forcefield, even as Rogue assaulted the Jetrax, which lost a turbine and several weapons. He was about to do worse when Sawu used telekinesis to throw the team in the air. The Agent turned. Sawu fired a missile. A missile containing the most powerful explosive in the living weapon’s arsenal. Telekinesis pinned the Agent to the spot. The warhead detonated. The mountain shattered.Review Topic

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#19 Offline Toa of Italy

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Posted Sep 05 2012 - 09:35 AM

NINETEEN

Sawu didn’t lose time. As soon as the super-explosive detonated, he dived down vertically, reaching the still-falling Kiaren and hauling him back to the Jetrax. Then he turned around to look at the result of his attack.Most of the mountain had been completely destroyed. A huge dust cloud was rising over what remained, mingling with the smoke from the explosion itself, while rock rained onto the surrounding valleys. There was little vegetation there, but what there was swept away by the incredible forces unleashed. The rockslides were so powerful they kept moving once they had fallen into the valleys, surrounding what remained of the original mountain with huge rivers of rock. There wasn’t much wildlife in those valleys, Sawu had made sure of that before firing the bomb, but none of the few animals that were there survived.No people were killed. Sawu had also taken care to scan the area for sentient beings in advance. In addition, only the surrounding land would suffer permanent damage, massive though it was. There had been no rivers or streams of significance coming from the glacier. There were no settlements in the immediate vicinity and while the shockwave of the explosion, as well as minor quakes, might do some damage, Sawu was sure that everything could be repaired. The dust cloud would have the greatest impact, spreading far from its origin and making the air difficult to breathe, though it wouldn’t be deadly. But eventually, that too would dissipate.Still, Sawu felt both amazement and horror at the sight of his own handiwork. Just the knowledge that he was capable of unleashing such a disaster made him feel guilty. But after a few seconds, he pushed that guilt aside. There was work to be done.Even his advanced sensors took some time to locate Rogue. They found him lying on the ground, on what was left of the mountain. Sawu cloaked and landed a short distance from him.The Agent, powerful though he was, had taken a beating. His nanite suit seemed unscathed, but Sawu noticed that he seemed to have trouble moving and could not get up. After a moment, he realized that the Agent could not move his legs and one arm at all. His mind went back to the scans he had taken of Creva. There had been heavy damage to his internal tissues in various places, though he hadn’t been able to identify the cause. It seemed to have had its effect.No time for sentimentalism. The nanites are still operational. Rogue can still strike back.Sawu fired an energy web, followed by a blast of heat vision. The energy web dissipated before reaching Rogue and the heat vision did no damage. Still, Rogue didn’t attack.Sawu ran forward and kicked Rogue, sending him flying. Then he granted himself the power of weather control. A cyclone came down from the sky, striking the Agent, as did several lightning bolts. A localized blizzard battered Rogue, as did fire and water blasts launched from Sawu’s staffs.The Agent finally reacted, dodging most of Sawu’s attacks, though his limbs still seemed inert and being dragged along by the flight power of the nanite suit. He seized control of the rock around them and created a fist which struck Sawu’s shield, though without doing any damage. Then he started draining Sawu’s energy.Sawu tried to stop the drain, but for some reason, he could not. When he realized that, he attacked the Agent, trying to disrupt his power. A giant lava sphere sped toward the Agent and engulfed him. Then Sawu drained the heat from it, encasing Rogue in rock. Gold, silver and iron covered his opponent’s prison, adding layer after layer to it. Then, finally, Sawu surrounded it with a forcefield, to prevent it from exploding from inside, and created a dampening field around it, preventing Rogue from using his sensors. Then he prepared his next attack.Rogue’s prison was converted into energy. Rogue seemed to have regained control of both arms, though his legs were still immobile, and he used a hand to hurl the energy sphere at Sawu. The robot simply drained that energy, then used it to create a beam aimed for Rogue’s left leg, one of his weak points. An instant before it struck, Sawu triggered the Kanohi power of Possibilities.The near impossibility of the attack penetrating the nanite suit became a strong possibility. The energy beam tore through Rogue’s nanites, exposing his leg. Then Sawu aimed a beam of electrified poison at the energy source in that limb and fired. The poison penetrated the Agent’s leg, even as the electricity attacked the place where whatever was generating part of Rogue’s power was located. Suddenly, the power reading vanished and the nanites around Rogue’s left leg fell away.Two rockets struck Rogue, coming from the dust cloud surrounding them. The rest of Sawu’s team, recovered from the shock of the explosion, attacked the Agent, peppering him with energy beams and explosives. Meanwhile, Sawu kept launching virus and poison attacks at the exposed leg, exploiting that passage into the rest of Rogue’s body.Sawu was abruptly surrounded by a cube of a strange consistency. He couldn’t understand what it was made of, perhaps it was even a spatial distortion, but he immediately realized what was happening. This was the perfect prison for him. The Agent had used that power on him, instantly taking him out of the fight.There was only one choice. Cycle through all his powers and hope Rogue hadn’t predicted one. He reached for his Kanoka energies, only to find that the cage was somehow preventing them from combining. He tried his other weapons, but they splashed harmlessly on the walls of the prison.He could still see through it, but since his lasers weren’t penetrating the wall, he guessed light didn’t pass through the barriers in both ways, meaning his team wouldn’t have been able to see him. Not that it would have made much difference. The Agent was assaulting them, attempting once again to overwhelm them with sheer power. His leg was now protected by a forcefield almost as strong as the nanite suit. Bluespace destroyed the Jetrax piece by piece, without Brolq being able to do anything. Then Rogue conjured a Bluespace sphere large as the Jetrax and hurled it at the vehicle. In the blink of an eye, Brolq and his vehicle vanished, dissolved as if they had never existed.Sawu couldn’t do anything to help his team. And they couldn’t do anything to help him. With both vehicles gone, their firepower had significantly decreased, not that it had ever been enough.Then Yourial threw himself at Rogue. His suit’s forcefield protected him for the time necessary to grab the Agent. Suddenly Sawu knew what he was going to do.“Don’t!” he yelled, though Yourial couldn’t hear him.The Toa unleashed a Nova Blast of Gravity. A split second later, a black hole had materialized at the center of his body. Yourial was instantly consumed by one of the most destructive Nova Blasts that there were. The Agent tried to resist the awesome gravity, but even he could only manage to avoid being sucked into the gravity distortion.Sawu’s prison vanished, the Agent’s power cut off. He immediately lessened the gravity around the remaining members of his team, rescuing them from the black hole. Then he threw himself at the Agent.There were no screams betraying his rage, only silence. Even as he used power after power on the Agent and everything around them was sucked into the black hole to its doom, he never spoke. But he acted. Rogue was closer to the black hole than he was and he didn’t have much power at his disposal anymore. Sawu’s attacks rocked him more and more, making it harder for him to maintain his position. Sawu kept up his attack, ignoring the signals of structural stress and power loss in his body. His final assault would be a shockwave, which would hurl the Agent into the black hole, never to return. He was about to unleash it when he hesitated. He couldn’t kill him. The image of SAWU0001 filled his mind, the shock he had felt at his death, the vow never to kill again. Justice didn’t mean death, or it wasn’t justice. As his team watched, Sawu stopped attacking.Rogue seized the moment. In an instant, he inverted the black hole’s gravity. All the matter that it had already sucked in was hurled out in a devastating shockwave. Sawu had little power left and he used it to create the strongest possible forcefield to protect himself and his team. Everything else around them was completely obliterated, leaving a circular crater in the midst of the mountain range.The Agent had had enough. As the shockwave battered the forcefield, he fled away using his last power to achieve supersonic speed. Sawu watched him go, knowing he had no more power to stop him. He was running on Blue Grime reserves and they wouldn’t be enough to defeat Rogue. The forcefield vanished. Sawu flew to Viruoe and Kiaren.“You’ll have to carry me back,” he told them.Then he shut down.Sawu walked out of the Museum conference room where he had reported to the planetary defense force council. Despite the failure of the mission and the death of two team members, he had got the impression of the council being somewhat relieved. The fact that they had managed to stand up to Rogue and force him to his limit meant that an Agent could be defeated. Sawu hadn’t reminded them that when they had faced Rogue for the second time, part of his power had already been drained and his body had been in bad condition. And if the battle had taken place on a more densely populated planet, such as Alarist, the death toll would have been catastrophic, and that only against a single Agent.As he walked away, however, these issues weren’t a priority for him. He kept thinking back to the battle, to the power he had unleashed and to the fact that he had come this close to killing Rogue. What had started as a battle to achieve justice and righteousness had almost led to one of the most wrong actions there were. And besides, the damage had been truly colossal. Though he had calculated the impact his weapons would have on the surroundings before using them, and found it acceptable, he was now plagued by doubt: had his calculations been correct? And even if they had been, had he, a denizen of another planet, had the right to interpret their results that way?He knew he was getting farther and farther away from the person he had been only a few weeks before, when he had refused to send a probe in Creva’s house to avoid violating his privacy. Would he eventually bring himself to kill someone? He didn’t know, and for all his efforts he couldn’t find an answer.The evening broadcast ended. Toa Hanashi got up from her desk and walked back to her study. Her main news item had been, of course, the planetary defense force’s raid on Barrawahi. Although the force had tried to keep it classified, Hanashi had learned about it within three hours of Sawu’s return. She didn’t have any images, though perhaps that was best, since the battle seemed to have been truly savage. But the story was what mattered.She sat at the study’s desk with her Gadget standing on it. After sifting for a while through the comments on the web about her broadcast, she signed a few documents and began preparing the news items for the following day.Her Gadget rang. Hanashi answered. The call was voice-only, so Hanashi couldn’t see the caller but could only hear her voice, which she didn’t recognize.“Hello?”“Hello, Toa Hanashi. I’ve been instructed to inform you that we have the data you requested. We will send it to you within the hour.”“Thank you. Anything else?”“No, nothing.”“Very well. Give my regards to… your boss.”The call ended. Hanashi’s mind went back to the Barrawahi battle. As soon as she’d learned about it, she had felt that she could no longer keep secret what she knew. Events were escalating quickly and who knew what would happen the next time Rogue appeared. But she was so close now. In a matter of days, she might finally discover who was controlling the false Agent. So, once again, she ignored her conscience and settled down to wait for Makuta Anaana’s data.Review Topic

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#20 Offline Toa of Italy

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Posted Sep 06 2012 - 11:52 AM

TWENTY

The Gadget’s screen lit up, announcing a message. Once again, the sender was unknown. Hanashi didn’t pay attention to that fact and looked at the information that was filling the screen. The Cargo Star shipments Lwuquer had found for her had all been destined to Alarist or Clysmax. The cargo they had brought had been bought by many different people and companies. It would be difficult to investigate them all, but just the planets they were on told Hanashi an essential information: whoever was behind Rogue was based on the “good” planets and fragments. The fact that no shipment had been destined to Ko-Clysmax, Tanuuk, Barrawahi and Atohune proved that. The two former were both “evil”, as was most of Barrawahi. And on both Barrawahi and Atohune it would be difficult to transport the cargo to its final destination.Hanashi was inclined to believe that Rogue’s controllers were mainly based on Alarist because Creva had been abducted from there. Besides, a smuggling operation of this extent had to have been arranged by a large crime network: on Alarist, there was the Alarist Underground, but on Clysmax there were only minor rings, which weren’t likely to have the resources to achieve something like this.Granted, that didn’t explain what relationship the Alarist Underground, if it was indeed them, could have with an Izumal hacker group. But Hanashi had given up on finding the answer to that question; she would uncover it once she exposed Rogue’s controllers. She began making plans for the following days.Three days later Hanashi and a bodyguard of hers took a chute to the Wiki-Nui spaceport. The chute was mostly empty. It was mainly used by those who worked at the spaceport, so during work hours it wasn’t at all busy.As they approached the spaceport, other chutes started flanking or even merging with their own. Most impressing were the giant cargo chutes which left the spaceport, carrying at least half of the goods arriving on Wiki-Nui or leaving it. The rest was handled by land vehicles and boats, some of which would carry their cargo to Bz-Koro.The chute slowed down as it reached the chute station. Hanashi and her bodyguard got out and the reporterette led the way, not inside the spaceport itself, but to a nearby building, which as far as Wiki-Nui buildings went was quite small. A lone Dataguard was behind the desk of the small, almost empty reception office.“Toa Hanashi,” it said when she entered. “What can I do for you?”“I need to consult the security recordings of the spaceport on these dates.”She showed the Dataguard a piece of paper she had written them on.“Of course, it shouldn’t be a problem. Follow me.”It led them to another room, slightly bigger, with walls covered by medium-sized screens. The Dataguard approached one and after tapping for a few seconds on the keyboard in front of it gestured for Hanashi to sit at the chair.“The recordings for the dates you asked are here. By clicking on them, you can select each location of the spaceport. If you’re looking for a specific shipment, you can simply type the code in the box above.”“Thank you,” said Hanashi.On other planets, such records weren’t as easily accessible. But Wiki-Nui, which was devoted to reference, prided itself on having almost any information available to its citizens. This had helped with her investigations in the past and it was doing so now. Hanashi found the shipments she had been looking for and started watching as they were unloaded, transported around the spaceport before finally being loaded either onto a vehicle or into a chute.It took her hours to sift through all the videos, but she didn’t see one suspicious thing. If there had been smuggled cargo in the shuttles, it hadn’t been taken away at the spaceport. This complicated things. Either it had been taken at some point during the journey to its final destination, or those who had bought the cargo in the shipments were controlled by whoever was behind Rogue. Neither option was good.“We have to go,” she told her bodyguard.During the next days, Hanashi reviewed every company that had arranged one of the suspicious shipments. Every investigative skill she had acquired in her life was employed to find something, anything out of the ordinary. It paid off, but only partially. Most of the people and companies she investigated seemed honest and legitimate. Five she discovered to be fronts, but as any good front anyone who had been involved with them had vanished. Hanashi tried to discover where the cargo they had bought had gone, but without success. It was beginning to look as if whoever had put together the smuggling operations had known what he was doing.Meanwhile, the other reporters of the studio had started to notice that something was wrong. Her frustration was showing and despite all the faith they could have in her, even they were beginning to have doubts. Hanashi, too, occasionally wondered if she was becoming too obsessive with this. She was considering more and more often broadcasting what she knew and then let the police and planetary defense force take over the job.Finally, she decided to try one last thing. If it didn’t work, she vowed to herself, she would go live with her knowledge and then end this investigation once and for all.She did it at night. After returning to her house, she sat on a chair and accessed her mask. A moment later, her spirit floated free.This time, she didn’t launch herself in the air, but instead flew into the ground. It wasn’t easy to get her bearings inside the apparently featureless rock, but this wasn’t the first time Hanashi had made the trip and she remembered well enough where to go, though she would have to move more slowly than usual.After a few minutes of flight, she found herself surrounded by air. Air filling a large, underground cave.Hanashi looked around to confirm she had arrived in the right place. She had. It was an underground lake below Ga-Wiki, formed by the infiltrations of Wiki-Nui’s sewers. Hanashi’s spirit face grimaced. Even in spirit form, she possessed the ability to smell, and the air above the lake was really foul. Luckily, the person she was interested in meeting didn’t live on or in the lake, but below it.Hanashi dove through the muddy water, crossed the lake’s floor and found herself in a tunnel. She quickly found the place she was looking for: a room carved in the tunnel wall, full of computers. As she floated into the room, one of those computers beeped.The room’s sole occupant, a Vortixx, didn’t move. Hanashi saw the Vortixx was looking at another computer screen, which depicted the cave, complete with her spirit hovering inside it.“Toa Hanashi, welcome. What can I do for you?”Hanashi felt a déjà-vu sensation. This was similar to her conversations with her Izumal contact. Both he and the Vortixx could see and hear her, though in the latter case the technology involved was probably from Promathus and not Izumal. But apart from that, and obviously the place where the meetings happened, there were several resemblances. Even what both contacts did was the same, for they were both hackers.She tried not to left this affect her and spoke:“I’m trying to trace several smuggling operations, but I can’t seem to get to the bottom of them. I wanted to know if you could help.”“Is that so? Do you have any suspects?”“The usual ones. Alarist Underground. Nothing more specific.”“Tell me more.”“Why should I? You don’t do anything for free. Neither do I. My information for yours.”It wasn’t the first time she bargained like this with the Vortixx. After all, she wasn’t exactly a generous, upstanding Alarist citizen. No, this Vortixx was a hacker that had once worked for the Alarist Underground. Two years before, she had left them, for reasons Hanashi didn’t know, and now lived in this remote underground tunnel. She traded with Hanashi in information and the reporterette suspected she did the same with others. However, it was difficult to find a sufficient payment for her, since there was very little she didn’t know.“I’m afraid that isn’t enough, Hanashi. I think I know exactly what you’re talking about. Well, exactly might not be the right word. I’ve been aware of the smuggling operations conducted on the shipments,” she named a few numbers and dates, which corresponded perfectly to the ones Hanashi had been investigating on, “but I haven’t been able to find out what is being done with the cargo smuggled, or how it was paid. But why do you want to know about them? The last I heard, you were investigating Rogue.”Hanashi was startled, but not completely surprised. After all, it wasn’t that strange that the well-informed Vortixx knew about her investigation.“That is my own business.”“But you do need a way to pay me, don’t you? Tell me this, and I will tell you everything I know on the smuggling operation.”“I can’t let you know. You’d tell it to someone else.”“No, I wouldn’t. I never tell other people what someone has told me until that person has used the information as he or she wants to. If I did, I wouldn’t be able to trade with them, for they wouldn’t trust me.”Hanashi thought. She didn’t know if the Vortixx was telling the truth, but she knew she wouldn’t be satisfied with anything else. In the end, there was no choice.“You’re right. I was, I still am, investigating on Rogue. This is part of my investigation. Rogue isn’t an Izumal Agent, he’s controlled by someone else, who has used the money Rogue stole from the bank to set up the smuggling operations.”For a moment, the Vortixx’s relaxed and even smug attitude was replaced by astonishment.“That is indeed a very precious piece of information. Many would go to many lengths to acquire it.”“Never mind. Now give me what I paid for. Who is behind the smuggling operations?”“As you suspected, it is the Alarist Underground. But not just them. I trust you searched spaceport recordings?”“Yes. There was no evidence of anything suspicious occurring there.”“There wasn’t because those records have been tampered with. Not all of them, but a good portion.”“That’s impossible. Spaceport recordings are routinely checked by the police, since it’s through there that most of the smuggled cargo comes. No one can hack them without the police noticing them.”“Almost true. Not even I could successfully perform such a thing. There is, however, someone who can.”“Who?”“No one knows his true identity, or where he lives, but he is known as “the Changer”. He is a hacker who specializes in altering virtual information. He’s very good. He changes the information completely and it is nearly impossible to detect the alteration and totally impossible to recover the original data. But he doesn’t work for the Underground. He works for the Wiki-Nui Vandals.”The Vandals. Unlike the Alarist Underground, they had no central command, but were divided into numerous completely autonomous cells. Their purpose was altering or destroying Bz-Koro and especially Wiki-Nui data, for a variety of reasons. Some cells being affiliated with the Alarist Underground wasn’t unheard of, but it was still bad news.“Which cell?”“The one that pays him to do a job.”“What else can you tell me?”“Nothing. It was very difficult for me to discover what the Changer had done and I wasn’t able to learn what had really happened in the spaceport. It is worrying, I must admit. I’d like to be able to tell you more, but I simply can’t.”“Can you at least keep an eye on the spaceport, so that you can warn me if another smuggling operation occurs?”“Yes, I can do that. It won’t be easy, but it should be possible.”“Thank you.”“You’re welcome, Toa Hanashi.”Review Topic

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#21 Offline Toa of Italy

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Posted Sep 08 2012 - 03:45 PM

TWENTY-ONE

Above the floor of the Alarist Cargo Star the crystal circle embedded in the ceiling started glowing brightly. For a moment, light filled the Cargo Star. When it dissipated, it left in its place a spacecraft, one of the many cargoshuttles used to ferry cargo between planets. The craft’s controlling software quickly turned on its propellers and lifted it off the platform. Then it started its descent toward the planet.Cargo Star shipments were mostly carried out during the day, simply because at that time the Cargo Star was closer to the continent, allowing less fuel to be used and therefore money to be saved. That, however, didn’t mean there were no shipments at night. And in this case, someone was particularly interested in the shipment being done at nighttime.The shuttle reached orbital height and ceased its descent. It flew above Alarist’s sea outside the atmosphere, to avoid being slowed down by the air friction. Only when, finally, it found itself above Wiki-Nui, it began losing height once more.The Wiki-Nui spaceport was comprised of several different structures. There were a few blocks of offices, cargo storage warehouses, chute stations and many other buildings with many other functions. And then there were the areas where the cargoshuttles landed and took off. Some were in the open air, with large platforms where the cargoshuttles could touch down. But there were also short, thick towers whose outer walls were dotted with large openings, hangars where smaller craft landed.Once the cargoshuttles had touched the ground, robots went to work, unloading the cargo and placing it inside robotic vehicles or small chutes, which would carry it through the spaceport either to a large cargo chute or to another vehicle, usually owned by whoever had ordered the cargo, which would carry it to its final destination. There were very few people involved in those operations.But this time waiting for this shipment inside the tower where it was supposed to land was a small group of beings. Three were Matoran, one was an Agori and two were Glatorian. They stood there, unnoticed by the robots that were preparing to receive the craft, simply because their presence was being erased from the surveillance records.The cargoshuttle tore through the layer of clouds covering Wiki-Nui at this particular time. Its most powerful propellers stopped working at about 190 Bio from the ground, replaced by smaller ones which made it fly horizontally to the hangar. As it slowly entered, long robotic arms seized it and eased its landing. The landing struts touched the ground.Like everyone, Hanashi had to sleep. But her sleep was always a light one, because she knew that if urgent news came through, she would have to be up in an instant. So when her Gadget rang, she woke up immediately and ordered it to come closer. It was a single text message.Smuggling operation in progress at Wiki-Nui spaceport.The number of a landing platform followed.Hanashi didn’t lose any time. She activated her Iden, sending her spirit soaring toward the spaceport.By the time she arrived, the unloading was already in progress. Robots were going back and forth through the hangar, transporting crates to a small chute internal to the spaceport. However, there were also living beings in their midst, who were opening certain crates and taking out objects before closing them again. Hanashi saw they clearly had done this before. They operated on crates the robots hadn’t yet touched, opening and closing them very quickly. While some carried whatever they had taken to two boxes, the others used some kind of device on the crates, possibly erasing evidence of their presence.After a while, they finished. The two Glatorian lifted the boxes and carried them down the narrow stairs leading to the tower’s ground floor. Once there, the group of beings waited for a few minutes. Then a small hovercraft approached them. The group loaded the boxes inside it, then jumped in themselves. The vehicle started moving along a track which led out of the spaceport. Hanashi’s spirit followed.After half an hour, during which the hovercraft had followed a twisting route through seldom-used roads, it finally parked in one such road. The group got out and split up. The Matoran all ran in different directions. The Agori and one of the Glatorian took a box and went one way, while the other Glatorian and the driver took the other and went the opposite one. Hanashi wondered who to follow, then settled for the first group.Five minutes later, the two reached a walkcraft where a Toa and another Agori were waiting. They took the box and drove off, while the ones Hanashi had been following separated and walked away. The reporterette kept following the box, which was transported back and forth through Wiki-Nui, changing vehicle two more times and following a route that would have lost any pursuer. Hanashi herself barely managed to stay with it, thanks to her unique abilities as a spirit.Finally, with dawn approaching, the hovercraft carrying the box turned into a narrow alley between two skyscrapers. It stopped. The people inside made sure there was no one in the alley, then three Matoran came out, carrying the box between them. A back door in the wall of one of the two buildings opened. The box was carried inside. The door closed.Hanashi passed through the wall. The box was being carried up a fire escape staircase. Five floors up, the Matoran turned into a corridor with doors on both sides, each leading to an apartment. The Matoran put down the box beside one and one of them knocked three times, then four times more quickly, then two times slowly. The door opened. The three carried the box inside. Hanashi floated into the apartment.Ten more people were waiting inside. One, an Agori, nodded to the Matoran, who placed the box beside the door and then walked out. Hanashi didn’t follow, now very interested in seeing what this box contained and why there were so many people in a single apartment.The Agori opened the box.“Everything seems to be here,” she said. “Assemble it. I’ll make the call.”She beckoned to a Gadget, which walked to her. She tapped a code on its keyboard. An audio-only call was initiated. Hanashi put a hand through the Gadget and found the signal was strongly encrypted and very difficult to detect. She had no idea who it was directed to. She would have to listen.“Have you got everything?”“Yes.”“Good. You are the last cell. The operation will begin next night. Your orders are to attack the building two blocks away containing records on Alarist’s history. Use the computer viruses to corrupt any virtual information and destroy the rest. If necessary, take hostages to ensure everyone’s cooperation. There will be no more calls until the beginning of the operation.”The call ended. Hanashi hadn’t liked what it had said. This was beginning to look like some kind of large attack on Wiki-Nui. This was the last cell. How many were there?The other cell members started distributing weapons. They didn’t look particularly powerful, but they were still more advanced than those the Alarist Underground got its hands on usually. Except this wasn’t the Alarist Underground. This had to be one of the vandal cells allied with it.“Each of us will keep a virus,” said the Agori. “Do we have anything else?”“A sensor device,” said a Toa of Sand. “It looks very advanced. I’ve never seen anything like it.”Hanashi was curious. She made her ghostly eye float into the device. At its center was a single Izumal nanite. Nothing very powerful, but she guessed it could still enhance the device considerably.So I was right. These people are involved with Rogue somehow. But why?The Toa turned the device on. It beeped.“What?” yelled the Toa. For a moment, Hanashi didn’t understand. Then she realized the device must have detected her.“What’s the matter?” said the Agori.“A spirit! A cursed spirit is watching us!” He fired a micro-vortex of sand at her, which flew through her harmlessly. It dissipated into individual sand grains when it hit the wall.“Stop it!” said the Agori. “You can’t harm it. “She looked at the device.“It’s Toa Hanashi. I’ll call the boss. You try to discover if there’s any weapon here that can do something to a spirit.”Hanashi wasn’t taking the risk. If these beings indeed had Izumal technology at their disposal, such a weapon was a distinct possibility. She flew away.The Agori turned on the Gadget. She called the same number as before.“You were supposed to wait for the operation’s beginning.”“It’s an emergency. The spirit of Toa Hanashi was observing us. We detected her through a sensor device. She is gone now.”“One moment. I’ll ask for instructions.”Four minutes passed. Then the same voice spoke.“Our leaders say to begin the operation within half an hour.”“What? That’s impossible.”“All the other cells were already ready. You were the last.”“But the dawn is less than an hour away.”“The power at our disposal will make that irrelevant. You already have your orders. Follow them!”The call ended. The Agori was silent for a moment. Then she said:“You heard the call. Hurry up.”Call received.<Caller identity> Alarist Underground sub-leader.<Call content> There has been a change of plans. The operation will start in half an hour. By then, everything must be in place.<Tactical analysis> Procedure inadvisable. Preparation of all participants may not be complete.Irrelevant. Alarist Underground leaders’ orders are to be followed.<Response> Understood.Call terminated.<Status> Micronanites and implants fully functional. Body health sufficient for mission completion.Propeller function activated. Emerging from hidden undersea cave. <Destination> Wiki-Nui Museum.Hanashi threw herself across Wiki-Nui at the maximum speed she could achieve. In less than a minute, she was back to her house and re-entering her body. She ran to her Gadget and placed a call to the AAG island.“Hello, Toa Hanashi,” said an AAG official.“Put me through to the planetary defense force.”“To whom exactly? And may I ask why?”“Commander Kiumyak or, if it’s not possible, a council member. I have information regarding Rogue and his intentions. Urgent information.”“I’m putting you through to Special Agent Sawu.”Great. Just the one who dislikes me the most.“Toa Hanashi,” said Sawu. “What information do you have on Rogue?”“Rogue may be planning an attack on Wiki-Nui. He…”Someone else called her. It was one of her fellow reporters.Not now.“He is not alone. I have reason to believe the Alarist Underground may be involved…”Static crossed the screen.“What?” gasped Hanashi.Sawu’s face winked out.The reporter’s call was still there, though. Hanashi put it through. That image, too, was filled with static.“Hanashi… there… an assault… Museum… The Gadgets…”The screen went black again.Hanashi was a Toa of Lightning. Electricity was her domain. And what she felt now was a very strong electric interference, extending as far as she could sense.Cutting communications, she realized. Making it easier for the Underground and the vandals to do whatever they want to do.She walked to a window. Heavy clouds were obscuring the sky. Hanashi could see they weren’t natural. An Olmak Anomaly appeared too, but Hanashi wasn’t concerned about it. She was looking at a medium-sized chute passing between two buildings. The Protodermis flow inside it stopped, leaving several travelers floating inside it. At the same time, lights in nearby buildings shut down, as did street lights.This is impossible. The Underground can’t do something on this scale. Then she realized it.But an Agent can. Rogue must be causing this, because he’s an ally of the Underground.Then another thought crossed her mind.I have to get to the studio.She didn’t have time to find one of her bodyguards.I’m still a Toa. More powerful than many people who are outside right now.She ran out of her house.Review Topic

Edited by Toa of Italy, Sep 08 2012 - 03:54 PM.

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#22 Offline Toa of Italy

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Posted Sep 10 2012 - 05:05 AM

TWENTY-TWO

When Hanashi’s call had come through, Sawu had been in the AAG vault. As soon as it was disrupted, Sawu detected a heavy interference covering Wiki-Nui, so heavy that even he couldn’t break through it.He was immediately aware of the last known locations of the other members of the planetary defense force. Three council members, along with him, were on the AAG island. Three more were on Bz-Koro, as were several lower-ranking members. But all the other council members, including Commander Kiumyak, were on Wiki-Nui and couldn’t therefore be contacted.He called all the available council members in conference mode, allowing everyone to speak with everyone, and relayed his findings.“Who could do something on this scale?” asked a council member.“Just before the interference began, I received a call from Toa Hanashi. She mentioned an attack on Wiki-Nui by Rogue, and the fact that the Alarist Underground could also be involved.”“That’s impossible.”“I don’t particularly like Hanashi, but her information always proves reliable. At this point, I think we must assume she is right. It may also clarify the reason Rogue robbed the bank on Wiki-Nui more than two months ago.”Another member nodded.“You’re right. The Underground never does things on such scale, but anyone with the power of an Agent available would be tempted to.”“But what could their intentions be? Take control of Wiki-Nui?”“No,” said Sawu, reviewing the conclusions of his tactical program. “Right now, law enforcement on Wiki-Nui is probably disorganized due to the lack of communications and power. But it won’t last forever. Eventually, they’ll manage to assemble a large enough force to face the Underground. If necessary, they’ll retake the island piece by piece. The Underground isn’t stupid, they know it too.”“A raid, then,” said another member. “A raid on a very large scale, encompassing the entire city. They will rob and damage as much as they can. Even after it is over, it will be a while before everything can return to previous levels and in that time the Underground will form new connections, new black market routes. And in the worst case scenario, if they can earn enough from this, they may become so economically powerful that they will be indispensable for Alarist’s economy. We’d never get rid of them.”“One more reason to stop them,” said Sawu. “I recommend the defense force is deployed to Wiki-Nui. Our targets must be Rogue himself, if we can find him, and the most powerful groups of Underground members. Using our faster vehicles, we must also start establishing communications routes between police stations, trying to coordinate all the effort.”“What about Bz-Koro police? Should we ask for their help?”“We can try,” said another member. “But I doubt it will yield great results. It would take some time for reinforcements to reach Wiki-Nui and besides, the Bz-Koro Administrators won’t let go of their protection easily in such a crisis.”“We should do it anyway.”“Very well.”“I will go to Wiki-Nui too,” announced Sawu, “and try to find Toa Hanashi. She may have more information that could be vital. Once I’ve succeeded, I’ll join the efforts of the rest of the force. I also suggest we establish a rendezvous point somewhere on the sea outside the area covered by the interference, a place where everyone can fall back to and receive new orders.”“Good idea. Let’s do it.”Fortunately, Hanashi didn’t live far from her studio. Twenty minutes after leaving her house, she walked into the building. So far, she hadn’t encountered any enemy, but she doubted it would last long.As soon as she entered the studio, she was surrounded by several of her colleagues.“Hanashi, what do we do?”“What happened?”“Should we…”“I think…”“Enough,” said Hanashi. “Now listen. The entire Wiki-Nui is suffering some kind of attack. Rogue is involved, as are the Alarist Underground and the Vandals. I’m going to warn the local police station, which isn’t far from here. The rest of you, don’t get out. Those who are trained to fight guard the entrances. The others, try to see if you can reestablish communications and write some reports on the situation. We may need them later. Don’t do anything else until I return.”Everyone nodded. Hanashi decided against going with a bodyguard, since they would probably be more needed in the studio. She was about to walk out when she heard an explosion near the entrance. A moment later a wave of acid melted through the wall of the room. Standing behind it was a team of six Toa. Hanashi was puzzled by their masks for a moment, before realizing they were painted to look infected, the symbol of several Vandal cells.The six didn’t lose time. One of them lifted a Cordak blaster and fired a rocket at the ground. The explosion blew everyone back. Suddenly a strange fog filled the room, preventing Hanashi from seeing anything around her. She recognized it as Ghost energy. She could still hear the other people in the room, but she didn’t dare unleash her power for fear of hitting one of them. Instead, she drew her Vortixx Rhotuka Battle Axe.She was just in time. A red Toa jumped in front of her. Hanashi fired a Rhotuka spinner of electricity, but the Toa activated his Mask of Pain Resistance, which allowed him to shrug off the attack. Then he held up his Visorak Gauntlet and fired a Zamor sphere, which struck Hanashi’s leg, instantly paralyzing it. The reporterette stumbled. The Toa raised the temperature around her by several degrees, making her head swim.The Ghost energy vanished. Hanashi turned and saw the reason: one of her bodyguards, a Toa of Plant Life, had attacked the Toa of Ghost generating it, distracting him enough for the mist to dissipate. Now he was attacking again.A tan and red Toa jumped to meet his assault. A moment later, the vines the bodyguard had been controlling withered away, killed by fungi generated by the Toa. The same Toa then put his hand on the ground. Mushrooms emerged, cracking the floor. Hanashi recognized them as a poisonous species. The mushrooms advanced toward the people in the room.“Run!” yelled Hanashi, getting up unsteadily and hopping to the door leading to another room. Her colleagues followed her. Five of the Vandals pursued. The sixth, the Toa of Fire, stayed behind and once his teammates were out of the room unleashed a fire explosion, melting and incinerating every carving, paper and Gadget in the room.In the next room, things weren’t going well for Hanashi’s group. The Toa were obviously trained fighters and they were carrying powerful weapons. Five Matoran were knocked unconscious by concentrated sound unleashed by one of the enemy Toa. One of Hanashi’s bodyguards was defeated as well, his armor and mask melted by the Toa of Acid.Hanashi unleashed another blast of electricity, but the Toa of Ghost protected his teammates with a wall of energy. He was about to attack her when one of Hanashi’s reporters, a purple Troak, jumped forward. Hanashi saw what she was going to do.“Get back!”The Troak triggered her Chaos power. Suddenly, things were moving and speeding up at random around the six Toa, who had been rejoined by their fire teammate, occasionally striking them with considerable force. The rest of Hanashi’s group had managed to get out of the area the Chaos power was affecting.The Toa of Water unleashed a water blast at the Troak, but it was caught by the random Kinetic currents and deflected. A chair struck the Toa of Sonics. Hanashi saw her chance and directed a chain of lightning at him, blowing him across the room and knocking him unconscious. The Toa of Fungi retaliated by making parasitic fungi grow on the Troak’s body. She screamed as they destroyed her organic tissues and collapsed. Her power cut off, the Toa advanced once again. A Glatorian swung a fist at the Toa of Ghost, who tried to block it, only to find his arm frozen by a Toa of Ice. The Glatorian’s fist struck the Toa’s mask, shattering it. The Toa of Ice then flash-froze the Toa of Ghost himself. His triumph was short-lived. A fireball slammed into him and two other fighters, downing all three of them.The Toa of Fungi was holding a Kanoka launcher. He fired it, striking a Matoran, who was instantly shrunk. The Toa ran forward and scooped her up.“Enough!” he roared. The shout was so loud that everyone ceased fighting.The Toa of Fungi turned to Hanashi.“If you move, if you do anything, I crush her,” he said. Hanashi could see it was a real threat. She gestured for her two remaining bodyguards to fall back.“What do you want?”“You all get out of this building. Once we’re done with our work, we’ll give our hostage back to you. If you come back in and try to interfere, I’ll kill her,” answered the Toa.“If I do that, you will destroy all our work. Hanashi News will be crippled and it will be far more difficult for the people to get information.”“You don’t have a choice!” snapped the red and tan Toa.And then Hanashi acted. She unleashed a bolt of electricity, aiming for the Toa’s shoulder. It struck home. Instantly, the Toa’s arm went dead. He dropped the Matoran, who was caught by another reporter just before she hit the ground.The Vandals immediately sprung back into action. The Toa of Fungi tried to attack Hanashi, but the reporterette swung her Axe at him, forcing him to get back. But then something distracted her: the sight of the Toa of Acid assaulting the last two bodyguards. One he downed by firing an energy bolt from his weapon, but the other suffered a much worse fate. As he swung a mace at the Toa, his opponent unleashed a giant sphere of acid. It enveloped him, then fell to the floor, melting through it. There was no one in its place.The killing shocked Hanashi and the Toa of Water didn’t lose the chance. A jet of water slammed into Hanashi, whose still-paralyzed leg prevented her from dodging. The reporterette went sprawling on the floor. Before she could get up, she found herself enveloped by a sphere of water. She aimed her Axe at the Toa of Water and unleashed a blast of chain lightning, but at that same moment part of her watery prison morphed into a liquid tentacle which struck an Agori close to her. Instead of flying through the air and hitting her opponent, the lightning bolt traveled through the water and struck the Agori, jolting him into unconsciousness.Hanashi wanted to scream in frustration, except that doing so would have allowed the water to get into her mouth. She tried to move, but the water sphere moved with her. Her vision was now blurring from the lack of air. She tried to heat the edges of her axe to vaporize the water, but there was too much of it.The water was partially isolating her from the sound outside, so she didn’t hear the Toa of Water cry out. The next instant, the water lost cohesion. Hanashi coughed and spluttered, then looked up. In the hall the Toa of Fire had burned before seven beings were standing. The Toa of Lightning recognized them as police officers. Their leader was a Makuta and it had been he who had struck the Toa of Water with a bolt of Shadow. Now he attacked the three remaining Toa with his many powers. The Toa of Fire tried to burn a hole through the Makuta’s armor, but the police officer was wearing a Kanohi Hau which deflected the attack. A second later, a stasis field enveloped the Toa.The Toa of Fungi fired a disk at the Makuta and at the same time caused the growth of Fungi over the eyeholes of his mask, trying to blind him. The Makuta dodged the Kanoka and used his sleep power to make the Toa lose consciousness.The Makuta turned, only to find the Toa of Acid gone. Hanashi tried to shout a warning, but it was too late. The Vandal dropped from the ceiling and unleashed a wave of acid which dissolved part of the Makuta’s armor. The police officer roared in pain, but before the Toa of Acid could attempt anything else the other policemen had hit him with their energy weapons. Even as he stumbled, the Makuta turned around and fired his Judgement Cannon. Instantly, the Toa lost any will to fight. Two police officers dragged him away without any problem.The Makuta turned to Hanashi, who in the meantime had regained the use of her leg.“Toa Hanashi, I’m sorry we took so long to get here. We were taken by surprise by this power loss, but as soon as we saw Vandal groups in the streets we reasoned that the place most likely to be attacked was this studio.”“Thank you anyway, officer. Do you need any help with that armor?” said Hanashi.“Never mind. I’ll to patch it up later. What about you? Have you taken any casualties?”“Yes, the Toa of Acid killed one of my bodyguards. Several others are wounded, as you can see. The Toa of Fire also destroyed some of the material my reporters were working on, though thankfully he didn’t have the chance to do the same in other rooms.”“I see.”“What is the situation outside?”“Not good. As far as we have seen, there has been a complete blackout. There are several armed groups in the streets. And we can’t contact the other police stations, so we’re basically on our own. The rainstorm doesn’t help. We can’t linger here for long.”“What caused it?”“I don’t know. The last we heard was that Rogue had attacked the Museum. Mata Nui knows what Izumal is up to.”Hanashi was silent. Then she said:“Then I must go to the Museum.”“I advise you not to do that. It’s dangerous outside.”“I’m a reporter and it is my duty to report what Rogue’s doing. Besides, if he’s at the Museum then the planetary defense force will be there too and I must speak with them.”The Makuta shrugged, but didn’t inquire further.“I certainly can’t spare anyone to prevent you from doing what you want.”“Thank you. Good luck, officer.”“Thank you, Toa Hanashi. We’re going to need it.”Review Topic

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#23 Offline Toa of Italy

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Posted Sep 11 2012 - 08:00 AM

TWENTY-THREE

The building housing the Hanashi News studio also possessed an underground parking lot. Several vehicles of the news corporation were parked there, ready to be used by any reporter who needed them.To reach the Museum, Hanashi picked one of the less used vehicles. It was an old police armored walkcraft which Hanashi News had managed to acquire. When reporters were assigned to dangerous situations, such as Agent attacks or Alarist Underground firefights, this vehicle came useful. In this case Hanashi considered using it a sensible precaution, even though it was slower than a hovercraft.Two reporters came with her, but no bodyguards, since they were all wounded.We’ll manage.Hanashi sat at the controls and activated the vehicle. The robotic legs quickly carried it out of the parking lot and onto the streets. It was raining terribly, making the road slippery for the vehicle’s legs and difficult to see for Hanashi’s eyes.The walkcraft turned in the Museum’s direction and accelerated. Hanashi kept watching for signs of other armed groups. More than once, she saw dark shapes flitting in back roads, sometimes even climbing on buildings and chutes. But for some time none of them dared to cross the main street. Then suddenly she saw an explosion right in front of her. She braked hard and activated her Iden. She knew these people possessed Izumal technology, so they probably could detect her, but unless they had a Toa of Ghost with them they wouldn’t be able to harm her.Her spirit floated out of the vehicle to find itself looking at a battle taking place in the street. Vehicles, debris and other object had been placed across the road to block it. Behind that makeshift barrier, a large group of beings was busy breaking into buildings on either side of the street. Hanashi recognized the area as one of the wealthiest in Wiki-Nui.There was no police in the area, but several civilians were trying to put up a fight. From two windows, bolts of power were sailing toward the street, from where the robbers were returning fire with energy weapons. Barricaded inside a shop, two Toa were also fighting and had so far managed to prevent anyone from reaching them. And Hanashi was sure there were more battles going on inside the buildings.There was fighting near the barricade too, where two more Toa were trying to force their way through. In front of them was a grinning Skakdi, who by the looks of it had already downed another Toa and a Steltian.As Hanashi watched, a Matoran threw something at the two Toa inside the shop. A moment later there was another explosion. Her mind made up to try another route, the reporterette returned to her body.She was about to re-enter the walkcraft when she saw its hatch open and one of her fellow reporters, a Glatorian, emerge, holding one of the guns they had taken from Hanashi’s unconscious bodyguards, and start running toward the barricade. She instantly realized he was trying to help the two Toa.She cursed as she entered her body. She got up and ran out of the vehicle herself.“Wait!” she yelled. “You’ll only get killed!”He didn’t hear her or didn’t listen to her, she didn’t know. She only knew he charged at the Skakdi, firing the weapon. The Skakdi dodged. His eyes started glowing.“No!” screamed Hanashi and unleashed a bolt of lightning. A moment before it struck the Skakdi was replaced by another image… her own. The next second Hanashi was thrown back by electricity. There was no real damage, but it still shocked her.One of the other Toa tried to crush the Skakdi’s armor with Magnetism. Again, the Skakdi’s appearance shifted into Hanashi’s, who screamed as her armor was mangled and torn. .The Skakdi grinned. Laser bolts came out of his eyes and struck the Toa of Magnetism’s mask, damaging it. A second blow downed him.The remaining Toa and the Glatorian started edging back, but now the Skakdi wasn’t going to let them go. He seized a gun and fired it at himself three times, switching appearance to that of the Toa, whose body was suddenly pierced by multiple projectiles. He was about to do the same with the Glatorian when, behind the barricade, there was a large explosion of light.The Skakdi turned and at that moment Sawu descended from the clouds, firing bolts of stunning energy. The Skakdi turned around again in time to see them. His shape became Sawu’s and the robot’s forcefield was suddenly struck by those same energy bolts.Though unconcerned, Sawu watched with interest the power display. It was a power even he didn’t have, simply because he didn’t know how to obtain it through Kanoka combinations.It’s worth acquiring.He fired another bolt of energy. The Skakdi grinned and repeated the procedure, but this time Sawu was ready for it. The moment his shape replaced the Skakdi he triggered another Skakdi power, that of copying the powers of his opponent. The bolt of energy he had fired was successfully redirected at him. But then Sawu held out a hand and activated a poison-based weapon programmed to be non-lethal. He fired it at himself but a moment before it struck his shape became that of the Skakdi. A moment later, the real being collapsed in front of him.Sawu took flight again and crossed the barricade, firing his weapons at the robbers who had withstood his stun bomb. In two minutes, they were all rendered harmless.He scanned the area. The two most serious wounded were the Toa in the shop, who were both alive but critical. Sawu walked to them and poured healing energy into their bodies, not restoring them completely but at least placing them out of danger. There was no time to bring them to a hospital, so he left them to be rescued by the other inhabitants of the area. Then he turned to the two Toa who had been facing the Skakdi and finally to Hanashi, whom he healed completely.The reporterette got up.“Special Agent Sawu, what are you doing here?”“I could ask you the same question, Toa Hanashi. The entire Wiki-Nui is a dangerous area today.”“Rogue is at the Museum and I am a reporter. I couldn’t go in spirit form because he once managed to detect and attack me when I was in that state. And I was hoping to find a member of the planetary defense force.”“You’ve found him. I was looking for you; I wanted to know if you had any more information on Rogue. I went to your studio first, but I was told you were on the way to the Museum.”“And so I am.”“Please turn back.”“I can’t. However, you could escort us to the Museum instead. On the way, I’ll tell you what I know. And during the trip, you can eliminate any other Alarist Underground groups.”Sawu was annoyed at her insistence, more so because her plan made sense.“All right. Let’s go.”As Hanashi predicted, with Sawu’s assistance it took almost the usual time to get to the Museum. On the way, the robot single-handedly defeated two other major armed groups.There were scenes of robbery and destruction everywhere. Shops filled with rubble, broken doors and windows and in one case even a partially-collapsed building. Few people were in the streets, thanks to the torrential rain, but more than once Hanashi saw wounded beings in the streets, sometimes left to themselves, sometimes being helped by others. Fear and desperation lurked everywhere.Finally, the walkcraft reached the border of the Pumaa Gardens. That place, at least, had escaped the destruction. A cordon of police officers surrounded it, while four large vehicles which Hanashi recognized as belonging to the planetary defense force were standing closer to the Museum.But it was the structure itself which drew the most attention: it was surrounded by a shimmering forcefield which flared slightly as the raindrops struck it.Sawu, Hanashi and the other two reporters descended. As they approached the cordon, Sawu held up a staff.“You remain here.”“I am a reporter. I have to be close to where the action is happening.”“Not this time, Toa Hanashi. If you force me, I’ll order the police to stop you. Do the sensible thing and don’t even try to get past.”Leaving an infuriated reporterette behind, Sawu walked to the cordon. The officers recognized him and let him pass without question. As he walked through the Pumaa Gardens, Sawu thought. Hanashi had revealed to him that Rogue was not supported by Izumal, but instead by an alliance between a hacker group and the Alarist Underground. She hadn’t said who had told her, but it was still astonishing. And it also revealed the reason he killed: unlike Izumal, who seemed to have some kind of morality, Rogue had no scruples whatsoever.“What is happening?” asked Sawu as he approached the other members of the planetary defense force.“I’m Koralwy,” said a Glatorian. “I commanded the squadron which first arrived here. We found the entire Museum enveloped in this forcefield. We were unable to penetrate it. To be honest, I suspect there is no weapon at our disposal which could do that.”Sawu scanned the field.“You’re probably right. Can you tell me how this happened?”“Several people managed to run out of the Museum before the forcefield came on. Apparently, Rogue broke into it less than two hours ago. He didn’t confront the guards, but instead shattered the walls separating the building’s halls from the machinery powering it. He then disappeared within the machinery itself. A few minutes later, the forcefield came on.”Sawu analyzed the situation. Rogue probably hadn’t wanted to confront the Museum’s defenses, of which there were several. Instead, he had infiltrated the machinery and somehow thrown a forcefield around the entire building.How much power would that take?He knew it would be beyond his abilities. Then it hit him.He is using Wiki-Nui’s power. Somehow, from the Museum’s machinery, he infiltrated the whole island’s power grid and took the energy from there. This also explains how he was able to conjure this huge storm and the island-wide interference. This worsened the situation. With so much power at his disposal, Rogue would really be unstoppable. To have even a slight chance of defeating him, the planetary defense force would first have to disconnect him somehow from the power grid.But first, they had to get through the forcefield, which would by itself present a very difficult challenge.Sawu scanned underground, searching for signs of a way in from there. There was none: the forcefield passed through solid rock, making it as hard to break in from below as from the surface.Suddenly, his tactical program came up with an alternative. Ordinary Bluespace weapons were useless, as the part of the field dissolved by a Bluespace beam would reform almost instantly. But if he were to project a Bluespace field around himself, that regeneration would be impossible.It was worth a try. Sawu told Koralwy he was going to give it a try, then accessed his most advanced Bluespace-based technology. It combined with his forcefield emitters and created a sphere of Bluespace around his body.Sawu advanced toward the forcefield. His Bluespace field came into contact with it. Suddenly Sawu detected a concentrated vibration coming from the field. It was destabilizing the Bluespace. He tried to counter it, but he couldn’t fully understand its nature or how it was generated. Before he could step through the field, the Bluespace dissipated completely.Sawu’s programs analyzed the event thoroughly, searching for alternative solutions, but ultimately could find none. Rogue seemed to have thought of everything.A new, small vehicle suddenly appeared above them. Sawu recognized it as the vehicle type they had chosen to carry messages between the various important locations on Wiki-Nui during the crisis. It descended slowly and came to a halt a Bio or so above the ground.“Special Agent Sawu,” said the pilot. “I’m coming directly from the rendezvous point. You need to get back there. We have detected five ships in flight above the island who seem to be allied with the Alarist Underground. Your help is needed to confront them.”Sawu nodded and took flight.Review Topic

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#24 Offline Toa of Italy

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Posted Sep 14 2012 - 10:22 AM

TWENTY-FOUR

Sawu landed on the ship which was anchored off the Wiki-Nui coast and was serving as the rendezvous point for the planetary defense force.“Special Agent Sawu,” said a member of the force’s council. “We’ve been waiting for you.”Sawu approached him.“What’s happening exactly?”“Five ships are flying above Wiki-Nui. They are lending assistance to the armed groups on the ground, especially those that are confronting police forces. When we tried to attack one, it fought back with weapons that may have been enhanced with Izumal technology. In addition, it seemed to be immune to the weather conditions, whereas our own vehicles were hindered by the rain and the wind.”“Where are the ships now?”“We don’t know. Our long-range sensors aren’t working with the interference. And the clouds are making it difficult for us to simply watch them from above.”“All right. I may have a plan for dealing with that.”“Good. We have also heard of the Museum’s situation. After you’ve finished, return there. If the interference and the weather are being controlled from the inside, then your mission is to sever that control. If we can get communications back, our battle should be much easier.”“Very well. If you need to contact me again, send someone like this time.”Then Sawu rocketed into the air. He did have a plan and, if it worked, it would enable him to disable all the five ships at the same time and perhaps do even more.He headed straight up, toward open space. It took him some time, but eventually he reached orbital height. He didn’t stop and headed straight for the Bluespace Ceiling. Then he acted. He activated the devices which enabled him to recharge, but this time he didn’t allow the energy which surrounded him to flow into his body. Instead, he used his Bluespace control functions on it, stabilizing the connection between himself and the Bluespace Wall. It wasn’t a quick process and it took some more time.Finally, Sawu was satisfied. He sped back toward Alarist, but the Blue Energy surrounding him didn’t leave him. Instead, a blue tendril of power formed between him and the Bluespace Walls, allowing him to draw energy directly from them.He re-entered the atmosphere. Now he had to be careful. A slight miscalculation and the Blue Energy around him would lash out, destroying everything in the vicinity.He penetrated the giant dark storm clouds Rogue had created. Then he exerted his control on the Blue Energy. Suddenly the cloud was torn apart, allowing him to see the island of Wiki-Nui below without needing a more complex sensor system.At this distance, he could easily see the five ships the Alarist Underground was controlling. They were flying quite low, occasionally opening fire on the ground. Two he recognized as Ko-Clysmax fighters. It didn’t take him long to remember that two such fighters had vanished during Rogue’s second attack. Somehow, possibly by taking temporary control of a Cargo Star, the Agent had got them here. The other three were Tyrant Deathwings. Sawu knew nothing about these, but he supposed Rogue could have stolen them without news of it getting out.The tendril of energy leading back to the Bluespace Wall split in five. Then the beams of energy lashed down, striking the five ships. They responded immediately, opening fire on him with surprising accuracy. His forcefield took several hits. Sawu hadn’t suspected they possessed such powerful weapons, though it could be explained by the fact that they had been enhanced with Izumal technology.It didn’t change anything. He wasn’t damaged, while the ships’ shields were rapidly failing. Finally, he managed to penetrate all of them and wreck their weapons and propulsion. They wouldn’t be destroyed as they would all have backup systems which would allow them to land; but they were no longer a threat.Sawu exerted his control on the Blue Energy again, but this time his target was the Museum’s forcefield. Now that he, too, had access to an unlimited power source, he had a chance of breaching it.Rogue reacted instantly. From wherever he was inside the structure, he seized control of the clouds closer to Sawu. Inordinately powerful chains of lightning struck the robot again and again. Sawu responded by tearing the clouds themselves apart, but Rogue’s control was better than his. Though his forcefield was not easily penetrated, Rogue’s attacks were disrupting the Blue Energy around him. Sawu couldn’t risk that. He cut the connection with the Bluespace Ceiling and then absorbed the remaining energy into himself.He landed back at the Museum. The first thing he noticed was that somehow Toa Hanashi had managed to bypass the police cordon and was now standing with her Gadget in front of the Museum’s forcefield. He ignored her. There was no time.More vehicles had arrived here. From talking to the police and planetary defense force officers, Sawu learned that most of the Toa Sectra had been evacuated from Wiki-Nui, as had Commander Kiumyak. Thanks to the messengers of the defense force, the police had managed to form a united force in the area which included the Museum and the seat of government, which had been secured. Now they were trying to push out from there and retake the island, but the armed groups were fighting back, aided by the weather and, until a few moments before, the ships. The police would eventually win, but it would take time and meanwhile, Wiki-Nui would be ravaged.We need to find a way to do this quickly.A few captured Vandals had revealed they could communicate even through the interference using Izumal subspace. But since nanites were needed to generate that kind of communication, it wasn’t duplicable.Several civilians had made it to the secure area. The stories they told weren’t very reassuring. Violence and chaos reigned on Wiki-Nui. Most armed groups weren’t targeting people, instead aiming either to rob anywhere they could or to corrupt Wiki-Nui information, but they certainly weren’t above beating and hurting them if they resisted.Sawu spent the next hour trying to find a way to suppress Rogue’s weather control power or the interference he was generating, but despite his best efforts, the answer eluded him. There had been talk of shutting down the Wiki-Nui power grid from outside, but when someone had tried it, he had discovered that Rogue had somehow prevented the power stations from being shut down.Eventually, he realized he was of no use here. He was about to join a party of police officers going to reinforce the assault on a neighborhood when another messenger transport landed. The pilot descended and started calling for all the superior officers in the area to assemble. Sawu walked toward him. Once everyone was there, the pilot started speaking.“The entire planetary defense force is assembling at the rendezvous point. You are all ordered to leave this location.”“Why?” asked someone.“Two Agents have been detected flying over the sea. They seem to be heading directly for Wiki-Nui. They must be stopped before they can reinforce Rogue.”A moment of silence followed. Then everyone started talking at the same time. Sawu raised his voice.“Silence!”As everyone turned toward him, he spoke again:“Follow the orders. Get to your vehicles and get back to the rendezvous point. No one must remain behind.”Everyone nodded and started heading for their assigned crafts. A police officer approached Sawu.“You can’t just leave us here! We need you. The police doesn’t have enough resources to carry on the fight on our own.”“I’m sorry,” said Sawu. “But we must obey our orders. The Agents are still the greatest threat. If we manage to deal with them, then I swear we will return.”Toa Hanashi was the next to confront him.“Have you already forgotten what I said?”“What do you mean?”“Rogue isn’t working for Izumal. I already told you this. Why are you attacking two Izumal Agents when the real threat is here?”Sawu started to answer, but then he stopped. How could he have not considered it?“Unless no Agent actually works for Izumal, those two are probably genuine. No Agent would help an ally of the hackers, which is what you seem to be thinking. There is only one reason they can be here at this time. They must be coming…”“… to defeat him,” gasped Sawu.“Yes. If you attack them, you risk making an enemy of the real Izumal this time, who controls many Agents, not just one.”Sawu thought quickly. Hanashi was obviously right. But how to convince the other members of the council?“You will come with me,” said Sawu. “Once at the rendezvous point, I’ll make you speak with Kiumyak or whoever else is in charge. You’ll have to convince them as you’ve convinced me.”“Of course.”“At my maximum speed, I am faster than most of these vehicles. I’ll carry you.”“All right.”Sawu floated off the ground. Hanashi grabbed onto his shoulders. Two bands of energy made sure she was secure. In the blink of an eye Sawu accelerated to the speed of sound.Sawu and Hanashi landed on the ship. It was filled with activity. The news of two more Agents was generating panic even among trained fighters.Sawu quickly identified Kiumyak and walked toward him.“Sawu, you’re here. Have you heard?”“Yes.”“Do you have some weapon which can take out both Agents? Anything. Both Toa Swert and Bz-Koro Administrator Black Six have given us the authorization to use even the most destructive force if necessary.”“I’m not sure. But before we do anything, you have to speak to Toa Hanashi here. She has important information on the Agents’ purpose.”Kiumyak looked surprised, but he didn’t object.As the two spoke, Sawu didn’t listen too carefully, though his secondary consciousness recorded everything. He was thinking. He was indeed equipped with a weapon which might be able to deal with an Agent. It was perhaps the most destructive technology ever designed by Promathus. Bluespace nukes. One was powerful enough to obliterate anything within a 40 Kio radius. Sawu was equipped with four. He didn’t know if any more existed, nor if an Agent would be able to survive one, but he knew one thing: he didn’t want to use them, because it would be the ultimate act of evil. Such a weapon had the power to kill millions. If Alarist sanctioned its use, there would be no going back, not for him and not for the whole planet. Inside himself, he prayed Hanashi would be able to convince Kiumyak not to attack those Agents.“Sawu?” called Kiumyak.“Yes?”“Toa Hanashi’s evidence has persuaded me. I’ll take responsibility for not engaging the two Agents. Still, I would prefer to keep an eye on them. Can you shadow them?”“If they’re not going at their maximum speed, I can probably follow them. I can also cloak, but whether it will fool them I can’t tell.”“All right. I’ll try to signal them, though history suggests we’ll get no response. If there is any change of plan, we’ll let you know.”“Then I’d better not lose anymore time.”Sawu launched himself off the ship’s deck. His virtual vision was showing the sensor recordings of the two Agents steadily approaching Wiki-Nui. Sawu focused his own long-range sensors on them. The Agents were flying quite fast, but not at supersonic speed. He could still match them. He activated his cloak. There was no point in wasting power to reach the Agents. Instead, he positioned himself on their estimated course to Wiki-Nui and waited.He didn’t have to wait long. Even at subsonic speeds, the two Agents were quite fast. In less than half an hour, Sawu’s eyes picked up their shapes above the stormy sea. They closed on him fast. Sawu activated his propulsion systems.The two Agents passed him. To anyone else’s eyes, they would have appeared as two silver streaks. Sawu’s own eyes possessed a much better vision. Even as he accelerated so as to stay with them, he noted their characteristics and compared them to known Agents. Results were instantaneous. The Agent on the right was wearing a Troak wearing a Mask of Floortilting and a bulky nanite suit with a fist pattern on it: Brute. While the one on the left was leaner than most Agents, a trait that was immediately associated with the Agent nicknamed Gears. That by itself was a surprise: Gears had never been seen with a partner before.But then he’s never had to face such a danger before.The height and size of the waves increased as the Agents and Sawu approached Wiki-Nui. Sawu quickly scanned the island. The police had made little progress in their battle, since most of the planetary defense force troops weren’t back yet. Rogue certainly didn’t seem to have reacted to the Agents’ presence yet.The Agents were almost at the coast. They never altered their course. Sawu wondered why they hadn’t cloaked to avoid being detected by Rogue, but put it down to Agents confidence or Izumal’s incomprehensible behavior.He called Kiumyak.“The Agents and I are almost above Wiki-Nui. Our suspicions seem to be correct. They’re heading for the Museum. How many troops can you get there?”“Many are already back in the area. The rest are due to arrive soon.”“Get them here as quickly as possible. This may be our chance to get through that forcefield.”The communication link was severed as they entered the interference. Suddenly, the air was alive with electricity. Bolts of lightning flashed from the clouds and headed straight for the Agents. Gears stopped and held out his arms. The lightning suddenly changed direction to strike him. As it came into contact with him, they vanished. Sawu realized Gears had absorbed it.The two Agents resumed their course. Rogue didn’t attack them again. They were getting close to the Museum.Suddenly they were above the structure. Sawu heard yells below as the Agents were noticed. The Izumal emissaries themselves ignored them. They approached the Museum. Suddenly Sawu detected an Olmak Anomaly about 200 Bio from their position. The Agents noticed it too. Brute held a hand toward it.The Anomaly suddenly turned into a matter shredder. Bolts of lightning erupted from it. One was longer than the others and crossed the distance between the phenomenon and the Agents. Brute directed it toward the forcefield.It struck. The forcefield was suddenly penetrated, to Sawu’s astonishment. Gears hurled bolts of energy at the “edges” of the gap. There was a flash of energy. Then the forcefield came down.Review Topic

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#25 Offline Toa of Italy

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Posted Sep 15 2012 - 01:17 PM

TWENTY-FIVE

The Agents didn’t lose any time. Gears used plasma to melt a hole into the Museum’s wall, then he and Brute flew inside. Sawu turned around and landed on the ground. Several planetary defense force officers headed for him, asking for orders.“I’m going after the Agents. You get a team in full armor, then enter the Museum. If I contact you to say there’s no danger, of if it seems to you that way, allow the police to enter to assist the people inside. You yourselves follow my signal, which I will keep broadcasting. If for some reason, it fails, head for the main power generator in the Museum. Rogue might be there. If so, your priority isn’t to engage him, but to cut him off from Wiki-Nui’s power distribution net. And if the two Agents appear, don’t attempt to attack either them or Rogue. Leave them to themselves.”The officers nodded. Sawu took off and flew into the hole the Agents had made. He glimpsed Toa Hanashi’s spirit do the same, but ignored her.His sensors were tracking the Agents, who had broken into an elevator shaft and were descending through it. Sawu followed them to the main hall of the Museum. Immediately, he noticed that one of its glass walls had been shattered, exposing the machinery behind it. Despite this, though, the mechanisms powering the building were operating as if nothing was wrong. He also saw several people lying among the large fragments of glass on the floor. Thankfully, they were all alive and unharmed. Rogue had apparently used a sleep power on them, which somehow had also affected the Dataguards.The Agents hadn’t waited, instead making their way into the machinery. Sawu walked to the shattered wall. Navigating through the giant mechanisms behind it wouldn’t be easy.Armored figures suddenly walked into the hall. Sawu beckoned to them.“Call the police inside to carry everyone out. Then go to the nearest inspection hatch and use it to get down to the power systems. I’ll try to follow the Agents’ same route. The power emissions may dampen our communications, so don’t split up. I’ll try to keep a communication link open for as long as I can. Good luck.”He jumped through the opening in the wall and found himself surrounded by gears and pistons. There were only tiny gaps between them, so he was forced to move carefully, sometimes flying, sometimes crawling. His forcefield would prevent him from being crushed, but he still preferred to avoid risking such a fate.He was passing between two giant pistons when he detected the first explosion. It wasn’t difficult to find. An enormous flash of light accompanied by a deafening boom split a giant gear in front of Sawu in two. The robot jumped as one of the two halves crashed on the pistons, twisting them beyond repair.Below Sawu, surrounded by ripped cables that had once connected the Museum’s power generator to the rest of the structure, three figures were fighting. They were difficult to see: they were surrounded by blazing energy, which constantly lashed out around them, doing more damage. Additionally, they were moving so fast even Sawu’s sensors couldn’t track them properly. Each blow struck was unleashing a devastating shockwave, which was pulverizing nearby matter. An unprotected being might have been killed simply by watching the fight; as it was, Sawu’s forcefield was under a considerable strain, though not to the point of being too worrying. It was nothing compared to what the combatants were going through. Incredible amounts of power were being unleashed every second, only to smash against the Agents’ nanite suits.Sawu opened a communication link with the planetary defense force squadron. There was heavy interference, but even so he was able to order them out of the Museum. In these conditions, their presence was pointless.Then he turned his attention back to the fight. The two Agents were using abilities never seen before, but nevertheless Rogue seemed to have a superior amount of powers and energy. Still, the strength of the Agents’ nanite suits and their greater martial arts’ prowess seemed to match that. But what Sawu was most worried about was the damage being done to the surroundings. A good part of the mechanisms powering the Museum had been completely destroyed and he had detected several cracks in the structure’s foundations. If the fight kept going on like this, the Museum would soon collapse completely.There was no choice. He would have to intervene. The analysis of the situation yielded a possible solution, though there was no guarantee it would work. But he had to try.He exerted his forcefield control functions and created a large forcefield around the fighters. Instantly it was subjected to enormous strain, but the Agents themselves seemed to ignore it, perhaps realizing this wasn’t an attack.Then he called on the power of the Kanohi Olmak. A dimensional portal appeared next to the field. Sawu’s power levels abruptly decreased, but he kept going. He started moving the forcefield, not an easy task due to what was going on inside. But eventually the fighters passed through the portal. Sawu followed them.The portal had opened above the Alarist sea. Unfortunately, Sawu hadn’t been able to place the opening too far from the Wiki-Nui coast, but it was still a safer distance. He let the forcefield dissipate. The fight continued as if nothing had happened.He trained his sensors on Wiki-Nui. As soon as the fight had begun, the interference blocking communications had ended and so had the power loss, except in the region around the Museum which was dependent on that building’s generator. The storm had remained, since it had grown too big to dissipate as soon as Rogue’s power had been cut off.Having confirmed that, Sawu kept watching the fight. It wouldn’t be too difficult for the police to get Wiki-Nui back under control now; his responsibility was preventing the Agents’ fight from causing too much damage.A quick scan also confirmed Toa Hanashi had followed him through the portal and was now watching the battle. She was prudently keeping her distance, though, as the energies unleashed might be harmful to spirits.Something changed in the battle. Rogue managed to push Gears and Brute off himself. Before the Agents could react, he exerted his power over water. The sea rose even as the raindrops coalesced together to add themselves to the giant mass of water Rogue was controlling. He directed it at Brute. Sawu suddenly detected an increase in gravity around the Troak. A moment later, water weighing a thousand times more than it should have struck the Agent, sending him spiraling down to the sea. The Agent sank and didn’t rise again.Then Rogue turned his attention to Gears. His nanite suit changed shape to create a blade which Rogue held in his hand.The Matoran attacked. Gears dodged and pushed himself away. Suddenly the air was filled with exact copies of the android. At first Sawu thought Gears had used the power of a Kanohi Mohtrek. But when Rogue attacked one of the copies, his sword passed right through it. They were just holograms, but somehow Gears was preventing Rogue from knowing the difference. Then the holograms attacked and Sawu realized they were more than simple light projections. They could be solid as well, as Rogue found out when they struck him with multiple blows. Yet when he tried to retaliate his sword only hit empty air. Fire and water attacks also struck him, but the Matoran was unable to pinpoint their origin.Rogue tried to dissipate the holograms using shadow and light powers. It didn’t work. He attacked them again, but without success. Then the holograms attacked all together and he found himself having to fend off the blows of fifty Gears at the same time. It didn’t help that he once more seemed to have difficulty moving.Then Sawu detected the use of a power he knew well. Rogue exerted his Space Shift variant. Suddenly, each hologram was split in two as the region of space each was in was divided in two parts. All except one. The real Gears, who had used his nanite armor to null the slicing effect. With his enemy now revealed, Rogue sent a shockwave at him, which blew Gears back.Before the android could react, Rogue was upon him and had grabbed his arm. Suddenly Sawu detected incomprehensible shifts in the structure of space-time around Gears’ shoulder. Strange energy struck the same point. He couldn’t even begin to guess the stress on Gears’ armor.Is this what it takes to break a nanite suit?Apparently, yes. Even as Gears was subjected to enormous strain, Rogue flexed his boosted muscles and pulled. With a snapping sound, Gears’ arm was pulled out of his body. Rogue conjured a blast of shattering energy, ready to channel it into the gap left in the armor of his opponent.A cyclone slammed into him. Another appeared out of thin air and did the same. Brute flew out of the water at supersonic speed and conjured twenty more cyclones which struck Rogue with terrible force. Though he was wounded, Gears pitched in as well, turning Brute’s cyclones into vortexes of fire and plasma. Ultra-hot steam rose from the water surface, cloaking the battle in a white veil.The surprise wore off quickly. Rogue activated an energy absorption function. When a fire cyclone struck him, he simply absorbed its energy, making it dissipate. Then tendrils of power radiated from him and he seized control of the other cyclones, turning them against their creator. In response, the Agents made them disappear.Now Brute conjured another cyclone around himself. It sucked him high into the air until he reached a height of two Kio. Then the Troak sped back down. His speed increased to several times the speed of sound. He struck Rogue at a velocity which would have disintegrated nearly anything. Then both hit the water.Finally, Sawu had to intervene. Brute’s speed had created disturbances in the air which Sawu contained using his own air power. The impact with the sea had generated an even greater danger. Giant tidal waves were rising from its point and would devastate the coast of Wiki-Nui if they weren’t stopped. Sawu accessed his forcefield control and water powers, which combined managed to blunt the force of the waves. The robot didn’t stop there. Brute was diving at an incredible speed, literally tearing through the water and causing it to move chaotically and violently. Sawu dived underwater and repeated the process, though the violent currents made it more difficult. He kept following Brute, though he was going so fast he couldn’t be overtaken.Suddenly the seafloor was in sight. And then Sawu realized the Agent hadn’t chosen this spot for nothing. Right below ran a lava pocket, which was connected to an undersea volcano a short distance away.Rogue was still trying to free himself, but Brute’s nanite suit and sheer speed made it impossible. The seafloor closed in. It was only five seconds away… four… three… two… one… Impact. Rogue was slammed into the rock with a terrible force. The seafloor bulged under him, cracking and allowing Rogue to sink into the lava beneath. Sawu strengthened his forcefield and prepared to use his powers again to stop the shockwave.A moment passed. Nothing happened. Sawu sifted through his memories of the event. Brute had done something before the impact, something that had prevented the impact energy from being unleashed in every direction. Instead, that energy had been employed to further damage Rogue.He swam closer to the impact point. Despite Brute’s efforts, the energy had created a deep crater around it, mostly filled with cracks through which lava was emerging. Around it, the seafloor was still breaking up.Brute was hovering over the crater as well. He completely ignored Sawu as he scanned it. There was no sign of Rogue.Sawu detected a vibration. Brute detected it too and turned abruptly. Another, greater. It was coming from the ground. The seafloor started vibrating more violently. Sawu suddenly realized what was happening. He strengthened his forcefield again.The seafloor broke. A ball of rock, lava and water rose, striking Brute head-on. Even as the Troak disappeared inside it, a monstrous shockwave was released. Apparently, Rogue didn’t know how to do the same thing Brute had done, or didn’t want to. The sound tore and dissipated two Olmak Anomalies in the vicinity. Then the wave struck Sawu, terribly straining his shield. He was hurled away, even as he transferred energy to water, telekinetic, forcefield and quantum energy powers to stop the tsunami which, after striking him, would go on and hit Wiki-Nui. His energy reserves plummeted. The tsunami slowed, but it didn’t stop. It passed him. Sawu desperately sent an alert to the Wiki-Nui coast, though he doubted that it would be of much use in the current situation. He couldn’t do anything else, his power reserves were too low. He could only watch as the waves sped toward the island, bringing destruction with them.Review Topic

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#26 Offline Toa of Italy

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Posted Sep 17 2012 - 09:55 AM

TWENTY-SIX

Hanashi had watched the battle until then. So far, nothing the Agents had thrown at each other had been harmful to her. She had kept the distance for safety reasons, but she had certainly ignored Sawu’s occasional glares and warning stares. The forces unleashed by the battle were majestic. She regretted not being able to film the event.All that changed when Rogue unleashed his catastrophic eruption. Wiki-Nui had to be warned. She had detected the desperate alert launched by Sawu, but, like him, she had her doubts about its usefulness.Her spirit flashed away and reached the ship where her body currently was. Fortunately, it was on the other side of Wiki-Nui, so it should be protected from the waves.The ship was moving. Now that communications were back, there was no real reason for the rendezvous point anymore. Instead, it was moving closer to Wiki-Nui to lend support to its squadrons.Hanashi rose and ran to Kiumyak.“What is it, Toa Hanashi?”“I’ve been watching the battle between the Agents. Rogue has just caused an eruption which has unleashed a powerful tsunami heading directly for Wiki-Nui.”“What?” said Kiumyak.“Sir, we have just detected an eruption off the western coast of the island,” said a sensor officer. “We’re still trying to…”“Report this to the Toa Sectra. I need to speak with our forces at the Museum.”Communications were established.“Sir,” said the ranking officer. “Sawu has just sent us a tsunami alert for the western coast. Is it true?”“Yes. How many people with Water or Kinetic powers do you have there?”“Several, sir.”“Send them all to the coast with the fastest flying craft available. Do the same with all police officers and even civilians you can find with those powers. Is there anyone already in the area?”“Yes, we have already retaken several districts.”“Get them to tell the population to take refuge into the highest buildings and then get out of there. I repeat, they mustn’t stay there for any reason. We don’t have time to run an evacuation operation. Once the tsunami has struck, send everyone back to the area and begin rescues. And remember, the population must not try to run away. There is no time for that.”“Yes, sir,” said the officer uncertainly.Communications ended.“I want a vehicle to take myself and anyone who has expertise on how to handle such crises to the Museum. We’ll coordinate from there.”“How do you know so much on tsunamis?” asked Hanashi.“When I was in the Hand of Faith, I spent several years at a fortress on the coast,” said Kiumyak absent-mindedly. “It was near an active seismic fault. Oh, we had our share of battles, but the greatest danger there wasn’t an enemy clan, it was the sea.”“Lucky for us,” commented Hanashi. “Would you mind if I came too? I have reported such events before, I know a little on how to handle them.”“Of course, of course.”Kiaren fired his armor’s weapons. Along with two other planetary defense force officers and several policemen, he was attacking this barricade which several armed groups had erected to slow their advance. Now that communications and power was back, it wouldn’t be long before this district, like several others, was back under their control.The barricade burst apart. They were about to run through when the three of them received a message from the Museum.“A tsunami is about to reach you. Try to warn the civilian population to take refuge into the skyscrapers and then get out of there. Don’t, repeat don’t try to run an evacuation operation now. There is no time.”Kiaren turned to watch the sea. He blinked. It was receding quickly, leaving stretches of sand and rock exposed to the open air that had always been underwater.“What do we do?” said one of his teammates. “We aren’t trained for this.”“Doesn’t take much to figure out,” said Kiaren. He switched on the suit’s speakers.“Attention. A tsunami is about to strike the coast. Everyone must take refuge inside the skyscrapers. Don’t panic, but do as I’ve said. This is a real emergency.”For a moment everyone around him stared without comprehending. Then they realized he was serious.Yells of panic started coming from everywhere. Some people obeyed Kiaren and fled into the buildings, but others ran out in fear, foolishly seeking safety by going inland. Some police officers tried to issue orders, but most just ran away. The sea was still receding.“That’s it, let’s get out of here!” said one of his teammates.“We can’t, we have to do something,” said the other.“We follow our orders,” stated Kiaren. “They told us to warn the civilians and then run away, so that’s what we’ll do.”Kiaren switched on his suit’s flying mechanism. He rose into the air. Then the sea stopped receding. For a moment, it seemed like there was silence. Then a giant wave rose from the horizon.Everyone started screaming. And then the wave struck. The streets were flooded with water in an instant. Most of the buildings held in spite of the water’s pounding, but the foundations of two or three snapped, leaving them to be swept away. Fortunately, Wiki-Nui didn’t have many low buildings, meaning most people that had taken refuge inside them managed to get above water level. It didn’t go so well with those who had remained in the open. The water swept them away along with the objects and vehicles that had remained in the street.New orders arrived from the Museum. They were now to assist the population in any way they could. The three of them flew down to the water, trying to rescue people caught in it. Doing all they could to alleviate this catastrophe.Gears was hovering over the water. His nanite armor had reconfigured to cover the stump of his torn-out arm. With an expressionless face and moving silently, he scanned the sea below.He detected a disturbance in the water. Izumal technology enabled him to instantly know what it was. He activated supersonic speed.Too late. A ball of magma, ash and water rose into the air, swallowing him. Steam instantly enveloped the whole area.Sawu rose from the water. A tower of ash and smoke was rising from the sea. Inside it, he was sure, Brute, Gears and Rogue were fighting madly.There was a blast of energy and then Brute flew out of the ash cloud. He managed to stop his fall an instant before falling into the water.The Troak’s nanite suit had been torn savagely, leaving multiple gaps in it. He no longer inspired that sense of might which characterized every Agent.A wave of energy tore apart the ash cloud, exposing Gears and Rogue. They were trading blows savagely, but though Rogue had difficulty moving, Gears’ missing arm gave him a serious disadvantage. Eventually, the false Agent managed to place a kick which send the android flying toward the sea as well. Gears was preparing to strike back when two tentacles erupted from the water to seize him.A Great Temple Squid, thought Sawu. The enormous sea creature was rising from the water, its tentacles wrapping around Gears. Then other sea creatures started attacking the Agent as well. Schools of usually harmless fish flung themselves at Gears, while a couple more sea monsters emerged from the water. Takea sharks jumped from the water to bite at Gears’ legs. From above, seabirds launched themselves down to peck at the Agent’s nanite suit.There were so many Gears had trouble fighting back. From each creature he brought down, several more attacked. Then Rogue flew forward, energy bolts flying from both hands to hit the two Agents, who were unable to respond.A cyclone erupted from Brute. Sawu thought he was going to fling it at Rogue, but he didn’t. Something different happened. Clouds assembled over their heads. A heavy rainstorm began in an instant. Lightning bolts rained down on the sea. Meanwhile, the original cyclone was expanding rapidly and its walls were thickening. It wasn’t a simple tornado. It was a hurricane.For now it was very small, but it was growing. Sawu was surprised to see the power waves emitted by Brute diminishing. He realized he was now letting the hurricane grow naturally or at the most he was accelerating the process.His long-range sensors were showing winds accelerating all over the area. For now, Wiki-Nui wouldn’t be in too much danger, but it wouldn’t last. If the eye of the storm expanded too much, its walls would come in contact with the island.The winds were very strong now. Sawu realized the four of them had all been encompassed into the wall itself, which surrounded an eye of at least a two Kio radius. Gears had freed himself, while Rogue was attacking Brute savagely, but he couldn’t stop the hurricane anymore. Still, Sawu failed to see what he could accomplish. The winds were very strong, forcing all of them to expend energy to avoid being carried away, but surely Rogue would manage it.Then Sawu looked at Brute. The normally-expressionless Agent was displaying anger, but anger full of desperation. There wasn’t a real plan. This was a desperation-driven attack.Sawu’s sensors, erratic in the chaotic environment, were showing an eye with a 9 Kio radius, where only a few minutes before there had been nothing. Fortunately, it had expanded in the direction opposite to Wiki-Nui’s coast, though Sawu didn’t doubt there would be damage.Gears was attacking Rogue now, trying to disrupt his concentration and let him be swept away by the wind, but the Matoran was striking back and doing damage. The one most likely to be carried away by the wind, though, was Sawu himself. Low power reserves were dropping further as he tried to prevent that.Then the winds stopped. Suddenly and inexplicably. Sawu’s sensors were trying to find the reason when they detected a sphere of concentrated energy in Brute’s hand. The energy from the hurricane, drawn to the Agent in a split second.Brute hurled the sphere at Rogue. The Matoran saw it coming and tried to use his powers on it, but Gears’ attack stopped him. The sphere drew closer and closer, then it finally struck. Concentrated kinetic energy hit Rogue, blowing his nanite suit apart. At the same time, Brute’s own suit fell apart, its power completely gone. The Troak dropped into the sea. Only Gears and Sawu were left to look at what was happening to Rogue.The Matoran was hovering in the air, nanite suit half-shredded. Apart from the power necessary to keep him flying, Sawu couldn’t detect any energy within him.Is it over?Then Bluespace flared in Rogue’s two hands. Bluespace bolts started raining on Gears, who tried to dissolve them, but ultimately couldn’t stop them all. Some of them got through, carving holes in his legs and torso. The android was devoting most of his power to protect his vital areas, meaning that he would be able to withstand the attack for some time, but Rogue had won. Brute was out and Gears could no longer fight back. It was over.And then Sawu knew what he had to do. He didn’t have much power anymore, but there was enough to make one last stand. And Rogue couldn’t have much energy left himself. It could be done.Two rockets flew from his back. At the same time, Sawu conjured energy bolts in his hand and fired them at Rogue. Then he threw himself at the Matoran.Rogue met him in midair. They traded blows almost as fast as the Agents had done before. Sawu was bombarding Rogue with every power he could think of. Yet for all his efforts Rogue resisted and fought back. Sawu attempted to drain his opponent’s power, but without success. Meanwhile, Rogue was conjuring some kind of Reality Shift around Sawu, which was mining to his forcefield’s integrity.Sawu fired another super-explosive, similar to the one used on Barrawahi. Rogue deactivated it in midair. Gravity energy and Bluespace had no effect whatsoever on his nanite suit. Then the Matoran managed to hook Sawu to an energy draining function and it was over.He didn’t go down easily, but down he went. He couldn’t find a way to prevent the energy drain and at the same time Rogue was using a suppression power to stop him from launching attacks. Sawu’s powers became inaccessible one after the other. A Psionic assault was repelled by iron-hard mental barriers. And then the robot was left with only one choice. The Bluespace nuke launch system, due to the power and importance of the weapon, had been built with multiple redundancy systems and was still working. It had to be done. Otherwise, Rogue would not be stopped. He would be free to kill again and again.Forgive me, thought Sawu, and he didn’t even know if he was speaking to himself, to Rogue, to the people of Wiki-Nui or to who else. The Bluespace nuke slid into the launching system.A figure materialized between him and Rogue. It was Gears, who reached out with his remaining hand to grasp Rogue. Attacks of all kind rained on him, inflicting heavy damage, but Gears ignored them completely. His hand passed through the remains of Rogue’s nanite suit to grab his body. Then Gears pulled and yanked the Matoran out of it.Rogue unleashed a wave of energy, which threw Sawu and Gears back. Sawu’s forcefield glowed as it was strained terribly, then broke apart. Rogue could destroy him with one blow and Gears wasn’t in better shape. Then Sawu took a look at his adversary.It was horrible. Creva’s relatively healthy Matoran body had been replaced by a skeletal being. Organic tissue was shredded in several places; in some it was rotting or was completely gone. Rogue’s lungs were actually visible as they struggled to contract and expand. Rogue looked at them through his mask’s eyeholes, behind which sunken eyes could be glimpsed. And then Sawu understood. The only thing keeping this… thing… alive had been the nanite suit. Without it, this inexplicable damage was bringing Rogue close to death.A dimensional portal opened around Rogue. Then it closed, leaving only empty air in his place. A small part of Sawu’s mind wondered if he had just seen the Agents’ method of moving from one planet to another. But Rogue wasn’t an Agent, and Sawu at this point couldn’t care less. Rogue was gone and, at least for now, Alarist was safe.Review Topic

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#27 Offline Toa of Italy

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Posted Sep 18 2012 - 09:22 AM

TWENTY-SEVEN

The following day many people in Wiki-Nui didn’t go to work. It wasn’t surprising. Many buildings and streets were damaged and power was still erratic in some areas. A good part of those that did go to work were the ones whose task was to repair damage done to public infrastructures. Since there were few, if any, plans for such an emergency, they were woefully underhanded and overworked. Help was coming from Bz-Koro and from large groups of volunteers, but restoring everything would still be a massive undertaking.The area most damaged was obviously the one where the tsunami had hit. Though most buildings had withstood the pounding of the water, all had been damaged in some way. In several spots the water still hadn’t retreated. People were missing all over the place.That was the place for Hanashi to be. As a reporter, she always had work to do and this day the workload was massive for her as well.As she walked in the ruined streets, she thought that the only good thing that had come from the tsunami was that it had put an end to all the fighting. When the disaster had struck, the whole island had taken cover, including the armed groups still at loose in parts of it. That had allowed aid to be delivered relatively quickly to the distressed area.Not that it was easy to notice. Hanashi and the team of reporters following her reached a square where the waters had struck particularly violently. Streetlights, benches and flower beds had all been flattened or swept away. There wasn’t one door left standing and the windows of the buildings’ lower floors were all shattered. Several vehicles and other objects were lying in the square, either because they had been there when the wave had struck or because they had been carried there from somewhere else. Most impressive were the remains of a collapsed building, which covered a good portion of the square. The rest was filled by tents and other makeshift structures housing the residents of the neighborhood while the buildings they had used to live in were inspected and declared safe. It wouldn’t be a fast process.Hanashi ordered her Gadget and her reporter team to film the collapsed building, where several people were suspected of being trapped. The confirmed survivors had also been particularly unlucky. Moments after the waters had receded, an Olmak Anomaly had appeared in the square, teleporting away several people who had descended into the streets and nearly destroying another already damaged building.Hanashi and her team went back to their hovercraft and drove it to one of the forested areas nearby. The destruction here was even more visible. Where trees had once been there was only a flat plain reaching all the way to the sea. The remains of the chutes that had once crossed this area where conspicuous and Hanashi made sure to film them carefully.Several interviews followed, either with survivors or with rescuers and repair crews. Many people were desperate about losing their homes. Most were still frightened. Surprisingly, there was little anger toward the government, though some people said that more could have been done to help them. And in many cases Hanashi picked up the terror of the Agents returning and devastating everything again.As they made their way back to the studio, Hanashi thought about herself. Guilt was something that had been plaguing her for a while now. If she had spoken sooner, this might all have been avoided. Might. Still, it wasn’t easy seeing all this damage and knowing that, at least in part, she’d been responsible for it.Sawu probably suspected she had known some information all along and maybe others did as well. Most likely there wouldn’t be a formal investigation, especially given the current state of things. Which meant that Hanashi would have to discipline herself to prevent something like this from happening again. She had already sworn to herself that she would never again place her own interest in front of the community’s. Only time would tell if she would be able to maintain that promise.The studio wasn’t too damaged. Apart from the two or three rooms where the battle against the Vandal Toa team had taken place, it was nearly intact. When Hanashi stepped inside, her first impression was one of total chaos. It was some time since every reporter who worked for Hanashi News had been busy at the same time. There were hundreds of facts waiting to be reported; several assignments that Hanashi would normally have taken herself were instead being handed out to others, overridden by services on the most damaged zones of Wiki-Nui.Hanashi managed to make her way to her office. The next thing waiting for her was an interview with Toa Swert, who would tell her, and through her, the population, what actions the Wiki-Nui government would undertake to return the island to normality.Her Gadget rang. Perhaps it was the fact that with all the calls coming in, she had asked the studio’s switchboard to sort through them, putting through only the most important after first informing her. Perhaps it was because it seemed that whoever was calling had waited for her to come back to the studio. Or perhaps it was some kind of instinct which she had acquired during her long reporter career.Whatever it was, she instantly felt like whoever was calling was dangerous, powerful and had important, but not good, news for her. She hesitated, then accepted the call, which she discovered to be audio only.“Yes?”“Toa Hanashi.”The voice corresponded perfectly to what she had been expecting.“Yes.”“I’m calling because I understand you knew Kiarkru.”“I’m sorry. Who?”There was a short pause.“I see. He didn’t tell you his name. That was only to be expected. To answer your question, Kiarkru was the hacker who sometimes contacted you from Izumal.”Hanashi suddenly felt cold, but when she spoke, her voice was firm.“And you? Are you calling from Izumal too?”“Yes, I am. I knew him. He helped me on some occasions, as did I on others. When he was captured, I managed to salvage some of his equipment. I discovered he had been in contact with you. I don’t know what you talked about. But I can guess that the last topic was the Agent you nicknamed Rogue.”“Yes, it was.”“I thought so. What exactly do you know about him?”Hanashi thought for a moment. But her instincts told her this person was telling the truth and was indeed calling from Izumal. After all, it was the only way he could have known about her contact.“I know that he works for a hacker group, who is, or was, allied with the Alarist Underground. I know his nanite suit is made up of a kind of nanite Izumal doesn’t use anymore and which the hackers stole from the City. And I know what everyone else knows.”“Yes, it’s correct. I have a certain interest in this false Agent and have managed to acquire information on him. I intend to share it, but not now. This call is most likely being intercepted as we speak. I’ll do so in person, on Izumal.”“You want me to come there in spirit form?”“No, it would be useless. I’ll share them only to someone I meet in the flesh.”Hanashi didn’t know how to reply. What the mysterious caller was asking was that she go to Izumal not just in spirit, but in body as well.“Don’t misunderstand me. I don’t want you to come to me. I have already picked a more suitable candidate. The sentient robot called Sawu, who has already fought Rogue three times, seems a better choice.”After the battle with Rogue had ended, Sawu had stayed in the area long enough to see Gears recover Brute and then vanish. He had then recharged at the Bluespace Wall and regenerated his damaged components. Once that had been done, he had rejoined the planetary defense force, which had been assigned to aid in the rescue efforts on Wiki-Nui. Of course, most of the technology the force possessed was meant for combat and was of little use in rescue and repair operations, but in such a crisis every help was welcome. Besides, Sawu possessed plenty of powers which could come useful in situations unrelated to fighting.Right now he was in the middle of what remained of a collapsed skyscraper. Several people were suspected of being trapped here and there was so much debris that melting it, shattering it or removing it would endanger the survivors’ life. With his extensive sensor suite and other capabilities, Sawu was perfect for the job of recovering the survivors. So after thoroughly scanning the area, he had reduced his size using the power of the Kanohi Pehkui and had started making his way through the ruins. When there was an obstacle, he used one of his many powers to remove it.He had already detected several survivors and was heading for one of them. He could already hear groans coming from ahead of him. Eventually, he burst into a larger space. A Matoran, barely conscious, was covered by metallic debris. He had been impaled in two places and one of his arms had been crushed. It was a miracle he was still alive.Sawu considered how to get him out. The easiest way would have been to transport him outside using a dimensional portal. But it would consume too much power. Instead, he pointed his hand toward the point closest to the outside. He unleashed a wide beam of energy which instantly melted a path through the debris. Before anything could move, Sawu used a forcefield to stabilize the walls of the aperture. Then he telekinetically maneuvered the Matoran into the aperture and sent him outside where the medical teams were waiting.The forcefield would hold without a power source for at least half an hour, so Sawu started making his way to the next survivor. This one was a Glatorian and, though she was unconscious, was in better conditions than the Matoran. This time, Sawu shrunk her to a size that was barely visible and then maneuvered her through the debris until she, too, emerged. In less than a minute she would return to her ordinary size.He received a call. It was Hanashi. Sawu answered.“What is it, Toa Hanashi?”“Special Agent Sawu. I’ve just received an interesting call.”She went on to recount what had happened.“The caller says you can speak with him if you want. You’ll have to come to my studio, though.”“All right. But first, I have to finish this rescue operation. Give me a few hours.”Three hours later, Sawu walked into Hanashi’s office.“Welcome, Special Agent Sawu,” said the reporterette.“Thank you.”“The Izumal hacker said he would call in less than an hour. He couldn’t keep the communication open for too long.”“I see. Can I wait here?”“Of course.”Sawu remained standing. Several minutes passed. Then the robot spoke:“Toa Hanashi, I have thought about what you told me yesterday. I won’t ask you to reveal your sources, though I have figured out that you must have, or must have had, a contact on Izumal. But how long had you known?”Hanashi didn’t answer immediately. When she did speak, Sawu noticed that the words weren’t coming out easily.“That, too, is something I cannot tell you. Despite all that has happened, I’m not willing to endanger my life and that of this studio. But rest assured that my guilt is genuine and will prevent something like this from happening again.”Sawu, too, didn’t speak immediately.“Waiting too long to speak is something you shouldn’t have done. It is inexcusable. But I can tell you this. I will not investigate further on this matter, because I do believe you feel guilty and that that guilt will make you think in the future. I, too, have to live constantly with the knowledge of having killed someone. In my case it was necessary, but it was still murder. I can still live with it because I know I won’t do it again because of it. Whenever I find myself in a situation where I might be tempted to kill, I see his face, that face which is identical to my own, and that vision stops me.”Hanashi looked at him.“A wise speech, for someone so young.”Sawu was taken aback. He had never seen himself as young. Yet he was. Hanashi was hundreds of years old. He, on the other hand, had come to sentience only ten years before. But especially now, after witnessing a battle such as the one between Rogue and the Agents and nearly setting off a weapon of mass destruction, he felt as old as anyone. He also believed most people he met considered him old too. Had Hanashi said that just to provoke him? He didn’t know, he wasn’t good enough at understanding people.Hanashi’s Gadget rang. Sawu detected a call coming through it, one that was heavily encrypted and whose provenance he couldn’t trace.“It’s him,” he said.Review Topic

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#28 Offline Toa of Italy

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Posted Sep 19 2012 - 08:58 AM

TWENTY-EIGHT

Hanashi called the Gadget to her and answered the call. As before, there was no video.“Hello again, Toa Hanashi.”“Hello,” said the Toa of Lightning. “Special Agent Sawu is here, as you requested.”“Hello,” said Sawu. “Toa Hanashi tells me you are proposing that I come to Izumal in order to learn information you have on Rogue.”“Exactly.”“How do we know you mean us no harm and that the information you have is genuine?”Hanashi winced at his bluntness.“I have already given Toa Hanashi information which guarantees my honesty, if not beyond doubt. She may not have shared it with you.”Sawu turned to look at Hanashi. She met his eye and nodded.“Very well, it seems we must trust each other,” said Sawu. “How do you propose I get to Izumal?”“It’s your choice. If you travel via Olmak Totem, I’ll make arrangements to extract you from the Olmak Hovertower when you arrive. The other possibility is to use an Olmak Anomaly. In that case I suggest that the meeting point be where Hanashi last met her Izumal contact.”Hanashi’s eyes widened. She hadn’t expected the caller to reveal her secret. But then again, Sawu had already suspected this.Sawu didn’t look at her this time.“I think I’ll take the second option. I don’t trust you enough to practically deliver myself in Izumal hands. But how will I evade detection by the Agents?”“You won’t need to. From their point of view, you haven’t committed any crime. As long as you don’t try to get into the City, hack Izumal technology or attack an Agent they will leave you alone.”“Very well. Once my superiors give me the authorization, I will come to you.”“I’m sorry, but you can’t reveal any of this to your superiors.”“Why not?”“This call is being intercepted at most by the Agents. But notifying your superiors risks revealingyour plans to Rogue’s controllers. That can’t be allowed to happen.”Sawu paused. Then he said:“All right. When shall we meet?”“Today. Decide for yourself the exact hour.”The call ended. Sawu would have liked to ask more questions, but it seemed like this individual wouldn’t be forthcoming with his secrets.“Where is this meeting point?” Sawu asked Hanashi.Hanashi gave him the coordinates of the last meeting point with her contact.“But it’s on the sea. It’s hard to believe he would actually meet you there.”“If we are to trust him, then we’ll trust him on this too. Before leaving, I’ll recharge and tell Kiumyak of my departure. Despite all the caller has said, I still prefer that he know of my absence and of its reasons.”“All right. Good luck.”“Thank you.”Four hours later found Sawu descending toward a canal in Ga-Wiki. A boat that had been using it to bring machinery parts to the Museum had suddenly found an Olmak Anomaly in its path, which had swept inside itself three crewmembers. One had managed to escape from it, though she was in severe shock. Another had been teleported to somewhere. The last was still inside. Worse, the Anomaly was starting to lower itself into the ship’s hull. Unless it were stopped quickly, it would sink the entire vessel.Sawu fired a harpoon which hooked itself to the Dendrokan inside the Anomaly and yanked him out. Then he fired two sonic charges, which detonated, sending concentrated sonic waves toward the Anomaly. Meanwhile, Sawu’s sensors fixed themselves on the dimensional gate at the phenomenon’s center. The Anomaly was shrinking now, weakened by Sawu’s weapons. The dimensional gate still existed. Through it, Sawu could see landscapes of Bz-Koro… Atohune… the sea… Ta-Wiki… Le-Wiki… Tanuuk… Bz-Koro again… Izumal. Sawu accelerated abruptly. A split second before the Anomaly changed destination again, he plunged into it and went through the dimensional gate. And he found himself on Izumal.The passage had had no ill effects on him. Sawu’s systems were perfectly functioning. He couldn’t help looking around, though. He seemed to have emerged inside a forest of golden trees. The vegetation wasn’t too thick, allowing Sawu to see in the distance some low mountains made up of gold and silver soil.The other six planets had managed to acquire some images of the Izumal landscape, but they were few, which made the place surrounding him even more astonishing. But to that astonishment was mixed the awareness of being on a mysterious and probably hostile planet.Sawu lifted himself in the air. Though it wasn’t easy, due to his little knowledge of the planet, his sensors eventually managed to discover his current position and establish the best route to the rendezvous point. He started flying toward it. He didn’t cloak, for he thought it useless to waste power on a protection Izumal would almost certainly be able to see through anyway.As he flew, he caught several glimpses of Agents. They didn’t seem interested in him, which seemed to prove the mysterious caller had told the truth. Sawu was beginning to believe there might be no ulterior motive beyond his actions, though he still wasn’t completely trusting. Kiumyak, who had given him the authorization to come here, had also ordered that he return to Alarist the moment the caller proved untrustworthy.Sawu also managed to see the Izumal City. He didn’t try to scan it, since there was no telling how the Agents might react, but he still saw enough of it to decide it was impressive. He could perfectly see how it inspired awe to some people and terror to others.After a two-hour long flight, he reached the sea. He kept going, sensors alert. Another hour brought him to the rendezvous point. He slowed down and descended toward the water. He couldn’t detect any kind of vessel. He activated some deeper sensors and scanned the location again. And finally he found something. Something that at first struck him as very odd. He checked his sensors, but the reading was accurate.Not far from him, a being was standing on the water.Sawu approached him. The figure was silver-armored, but was obviously not an Agent. Apart from the armor color, it resembled an ordinary Skrall, which made it even more puzzling. How could a Skrall, a species that normally had no powers, walk on water?Then his historical files cross-referenced with the being he was seeing in front of him and out of that process came a very interesting result.“I know you,” said Sawu.“Is that so?” answered the Skrall.“Yes. Eleven years ago, a silver-armored Skrall was involved in an effort by the Tyrants of Tanuuk to eradicate a sect of spirits which was allegedly threatening Tyrant dominance. A Skrall which exhibited strange powers. You.”“I didn’t know I was still remembered on the other planets.”“You aren’t. There is little information on those events. But I know because one of the reasons the SAWUs were first deployed on Tanuuk was the destruction of a great number of Deathwings during the final battle against the spirit sect.”“I see.”Now that he was closer, Sawu could detect minute, almost nonexistent distortions around the Skrall’s feet. He couldn’t discover their nature, but they were probably responsible for the being’s ability to stand on water. How they were generated, Sawu had no idea.“Those scans must have revealed by now that I have become more than I used to be at that time,” said the Skrall.Sawu stayed silent for an instant, then answered.“True. But your abilities are not what I came here to talk about. What information do you wish to share with me?”“It’ll have to wait until we’re in a more secure place. You have a cloaking device. Activate it.”“Why?”“Several Agents are probably on the way. They won’t touch you if they get here, but they are interested in me. I can get away, but for you to follow me, you must first activate your cloaking device.”Sawu cloaked. The words he’d exchanged with this Skrall so far hadn’t persuaded him to trust him at all. But the reason he had given was a sensible one.“Now drop all your defenses.”Surprised, Sawu didn’t answer immediately. Then he said:“I can’t do that. I still don’t trust you enough.”Sawu didn’t quite understand what happened next. The Skrall swung his sword at him faster than any ordinary being should have been able to. At the same time, the weapon was suddenly enveloped in incomprehensible energy manifestations and fluctuations. He barely had time to raise his shield. The sword struck. The forcefield was suddenly subjected to a colossal strain. Localized breaches allowed systems to be damaged.Sawu reacted instantly, firing beams of energy and explosives, only to see the Skrall deflect effortlessly what would have downed at least a couple of Makuta. He braced himself for another attack, but none came.“As you can see, I’ve damaged your propulsion systems. You can’t escape from here until you repair them, which will take time. You have seen my power. If I keep attacking you, I can either destroy you or damage you badly before the Agents arrive. Then, when they’re gone, I can come back and finish the job. But I have no hostile intentions towards you. If you do as I say, no harm will come to you. Now lower your defenses. What I’ll do, combined with your cloak, will prevent the Agents from detecting you.”Sawu considered. He still didn’t understand how the Skrall had done what he had done and anyone so prone to violence couldn’t be trustworthy. Still, he certainly wasn’t overestimating his power, which almost certainly surpassed his own. A battle would probably end with his defeat.“What do you want to do?”“Not yielding easily? All right. Watch.”The Skrall dropped into the water. A moment later, he emerged again, holding a squirming fish in his hand.“You must have some kind of transmitter with you. Attach one to this creature.”Sawu did so. The Skrall’s behavior was disturbing him, but he didn’t see any other choice. The Skrall launched the fish into the air, then struck it with the flat of his sword. Sawu detected again those incomprehensible fluctuations. Then the creature disappeared.A few minutes later, Sawu detected a weak signal from his transmitter. It was coming from an area of the sea almost fifty Kio away. The fish seemed to be still alive.“I will do the same to you. You won’t be damaged. It will send you to another location where we can speak freely.”Sawu thought again. The Skrall didn’t seem to have any reason for wishing to destroy him. And if he wished to acquire the technologies his body contained, he could easily self-destruct to prevent him from having them.“All right.”He cloaked again and lowered his forcefield. The Skrall drew back his sword.“You could probably stop if you wanted to. Don’t.”Before Sawu could reply, the Skrall swung his sword toward him. Sawu suddenly found himself flying through the air. His speed was higher than any he could have achieved. He remembered the Skrall’s advice and didn’t try to stop.He had trouble scanning around him. He seemed to be flying over the sea, though at this speed he would reach land soon. The air around him was behaving strangely, acting as if he weren’t moving through it. There was really nothing that might betray his presence.The flight took some time, which he employed by reviewing the scans he had taken of the Skrall. He could find no explanation to his strange abilities, which seemed to manipulate reality itself. He remembered that some of the capabilities Rogue had displayed had been similar, but while they had been generated by his nanite suit, the Skrall seemed to possess them himself.Suddenly, he felt himself strike the ground, though the impact wasn’t particularly strong. When he looked around, he saw that he had landed on a silver plain, next to a small shack made out of Macrochips. Suddenly, the Skrall materialized beside it. Sawu glimpsed a pink light in his eyes, but it faded immediately.“We can talk inside,” he said.Review Topic

Edited by Toa of Italy, Sep 19 2012 - 08:59 AM.

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#29 Offline Toa of Italy

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Posted Sep 20 2012 - 11:03 AM

TWENTY-NINE

The night slowly enveloped Izumal. It was an artificial night, generated by the deactivation of the process which brightened the planet during the day. But nevertheless, it was a time when most inhabitants turned in.Of course, not everyone slept. Some City inhabitants, albeit few, worked during the night. Agents patrolled the planet all the time. And some hackers used this time to perform their attacks against the City.The Skrall and Sawu did none of these things. Instead, they talked. Neither of them needed to sleep and while the Skrall’s needs and concerns weren’t easily determined, Sawu was very interested indeed in hearing what the former had to say.“So, what is the information you wished to share with me?” asked Sawu.“There are several things I have learned about the being you call Rogue in these last few weeks. Among them who is behind him.”“Who?”“A hacker group, as you suspected. They aren’t particularly known even inside Izumal. Their attacks are few. But when they do decide to act against the City, they are always successful and usually manage to inflict a lot of damage. The theft of Rogue’s micronanites, along with several old Enlightened Exterminators, has their signature on it.”“Micronanites?”“Yes. Several years ago, Izumal developed a new type of nanite, so small it could be housed inside an Agent’s body. There were several advantages. It made an Agent’s powers integral instead of depending on an external nanite suit and it was also discovered that micronanites could store much more energy than ordinary ones, allowing an Agent to wield a greater range of powers even off-world.”“So what went wrong?”“It was soon discovered that the micronanites damage terribly the body they are housed in and their damage isn’t repaired easily. Without treatment, an Agent using micronanites would die within a few weeks. Rogue has probably been healed by his masters to last longer, but you have seen the damage his body has suffered.”Sawu thought back to what he had seen the day before above Alarist’s sea. How could anyone force someone to undergo so much suffering?“But why attack the other worlds? Why kill?”“I still don’t know that. But it’s one of the reasons I decided to help you.”“I don’t understand.”“I knew Hanashi’s Izumal contact, Kiarkru. I helped him on a few occasions and he did the same to me, teaching me several things about hacking. When he was captured, I managed to retrieve the information he had collected, which allowed me to do some research of my own. But I had already decided I would oppose Rogue and his masters. They are committing a terrible crime. And by that I don’t mean that they use their power to kill. Killing is honorable. If someone is to become stronger, that person must kill and be able to kill anybody who stands in his or her way. But the killing of people who weren’t prepared to die, who didn’t choose to forfeit their lives, is wrong and disgusting. There is no honor in that.”Sawu shook his head.“Killing is wrong in all its forms. What is the purpose of becoming stronger? Is personal advancement more important than the lives of those who surround you? Besides, who is prepared to die and who isn’t seems a very subjective judgment.”“In every civilization, on every planet, in every universe, life is in a constant struggle. Survival is something awarded only to the fittest and the strongest. Those who choose not to take part in that struggle can and should be left alone, but the rest must be either eliminated or surpassed, so that they are no longer a threat.”“And yet, as you said, there are those who don’t take part in the struggle. If they don’t, why must you? Can’t you just learn to cooperate with those surrounding you? If you think killing is necessary to survive, then you’re a fool.”For a moment, the Skrall’s expression darkened. Then a small grin appeared on his face.“Well, to each his own. I believe that eventually everyone starts taking part in the struggle. You obviously don’t think so. Arguing is pointless. Time will say which of us is right.”Sawu stayed silent.“I’m curious,” he said after some time. “What exactly are you? You certainly aren’t a common Skrall. How did you acquire the powers you possess?”“That’s a long story. When I first realized my potential, I thought it was a question of willpower. I subjected myself to a long mental and physical training which allowed me to acquire abilities an ordinary Skrall doesn’t possess. While on Barrawahi, I believed that if anyone were to undergo my same training, they would also gain my abilities. It was only when I arrived on Izumal that I realized I was wrong. Izumal technology revealed to me that my powers are in me since my creation, about 300 years ago. All my training simply allowed me to exploit them. That knowledge also allowed, and still allows me, to become more and more powerful. For now, my powers don’t seem to have a limit. If that’s true, one day I may become superior to every being or natural force.”“You believe yourself to be superior to the rest of the universe?”“No, I believe I can become superior to the rest of the universe. But who knows? There may be other ways for beings to reach my same power level. Izumal technology certainly proves that.”“I see. And do those powers include teleportation?”The Skrall smiled.“No, at least not for now. That is granted to me by the Ghost Wormhole possessing me.”“What’s a Ghost Wormhole?”“A creature inhabiting the Ghost Bubbles of Izumal. They have Rahi-level intelligence, but are very, very curious about the outside world. So they telepathically scan anyone they meet and occasionally possess beings in order to be carried outside the Ghost Bubbles. When that happens, they gain the ability to teleport themselves and the being they are possessing across Izumal. Even the Olmak Effect doesn’t appear to affect this ability. When a Ghost Wormhole possessed me, I was able to communicate with it. I struck a deal. It would give me full control over its teleportation power and in exchange I would show it the planet. So far, the agreement has satisfied both.”“I see,” said Sawu. “Listen, is there anymore information you wish to give me? If not, I’d better go.”“Where? We aren’t finished here.”“What do you mean?”“I didn’t just call you to let you know the information I have, which for you is actually pretty useless.”“Then why?”“I want your collaboration in attacking and destroying the hacker camp controlling Rogue.”“What? You can’t be serious.”“I am.”“I can’t run a combat operation on Izumal. If the Agents were to detect it…”“They’ll do nothing. Against you, anyway. Unless you detonate a terribly powerful weapon, nothing will happen to you. As I already told you, you haven’t committed any crime by Izumal standards. As for me, I can easily get away.”“Still, I’m not authorized for combat, especially if I have no idea of what I’m up against. Izumal technology is far beyond my own. And besides, if Rogue is working for this camp he’ll defend it.”“That’s what I’m here for. Once the attack begins, I’ll take on Rogue, while you deal with the rest of the hackers.”“Take on Rogue? He has Agent-level power.”“So do I. Ever since reaching Izumal, I’ve faced several Agents. I don’t always win, but I’ve collected my share of victories. I’ve never been able to kill one, but then again they have never been able to catch me.”“You seem very sure of yourself.”“I have every reason to be.”Sawu thought. This Skrall was proving more and more unpredictable. Yet his motivations, while difficult to comprehend, seemed honest enough. Still, attempting a fight on Izumal would be very dangerous.But then he thought about the deaths Rogue had caused. Deaths whose motivations were still unknown. These hackers could keep killing people forever and there would never be a chance such as this to stop them.“Very well,” said Sawu. “I will help you. Just one more question. How will you find their camp? I’m no Izumal expert, but if they managed to elude the Agents, what chance do we have?”“True,” said the Skrall. “Even I wouldn’t be able to find a hacker camp unless by chance I teleported into it. But apparently there are people who can. Ever heard of Regno di Baraonda?”“Of course,” said Sawu. “They’re known even outside Izumal. Perhaps the one force capable of truly resisting the City.”“Yes. Well, they owe me. Many camps do. After all, more than once I’ve defeated an Agent threatening them. So I contacted them and they found me the camp. Don’t ask me how, they must have their own methods. Sufficient to say that I now know the camp’s location. We can easily reach it.”“And once there? What will we do? Do you already have a plan?”“Yes. First, we’ll sneak inside and try to discover their plans and motivations. This is mostly for your benefit, since if we fail you’ll need that information very much. Then we attack. Rogue will most likely be there, as he will need heavy healing after the fight with the Agents. I will handle him, while you will face the rest of the hacker camp. I suspect that whatever they have there will be a match for you, so be prepared.”“Won’t Izumal detect the conflict?”“Possibly, but that solves the problem, at least for you. If they capture the hackers, they won’t be able to do any more damage. I’d like to beat them myself, but I’m not foolish enough to believe I can already win against a squadron of Agents. If necessary, we will leave our enemies to Izumal.”The Skrall got up and opened a compartment in the wall. He took two items out and threw one to Sawu. The robot saw it was a nanite device.“That device will allow you to use the same concealment power possessed by the Macrochips, which is superior to your own cloak. In addition, it will allow you to contact me through Izumal subspace on a frequency that is almost impossible to intercept.”Sawu placed the device close to one of his interface ports. The nanites lost their cohesion and slipped into his circuitry. A moment later, a new connection was established between them and his mind.“I advise you to go and recharge now. We’ll meet back here within the morning. Then we’ll move to attack the hacker camp.”A few hours later, Sawu landed back at the Skrall’s home, fully recharged. If the Izumal day-night cycle was the same as on the other planets, the morning couldn’t be far off.When he walked inside, he immediately noticed a difference. The Skrall was sitting where he had left him, but his eyes were glowing pink.“Greetings,” he said, but it wasn’t his voice. It was a voice of a being Sawu couldn’t determine if male or female.“What is this?” asked Sawu. “Why is your voice different?”“Because this isn’t the Skrall’s voice and I’m not the Skrall,” answered the being, smiling. “I’m the Ghost Wormhole that is inhabiting his body.”“The Ghost Wormhole?” repeated Sawu. “How are you able to speak? No offense, but the Skrall had told me you only had Rahi-level intelligence.”“My race normally can’t talk, but after living so long in the Skrall’s body, I’ve become far more than I used to be. I wanted to meet you and speak to you myself. After all, it’s not every day that the Skrall has a guest.”The Ghost Wormhole rose and walked outside the shack. Sawu followed. This being didn’t seem dangerous. It actually seemed more trustworthy than the Skrall.“The Skrall. You call him like that. Doesn’t he have a name?”“No, he doesn’t. He believes that only when he’ll reach absolute strength he’ll have a right to be named.”“And you agree with him?”“It isn’t my place to agree or disagree.”“But surely you must have an opinion of him. He doesn’t seem to care much for you, you are just a tool for him and if he were to become able to teleport for himself, I think he would discard you without a second thought.”“Yes, he is like that. But, like everything, he is a part of this world. My race exists to experience this world and so experiencing his life satisfies me.”“I thought you had moved beyond the rest of your race.”The Ghost Wormhole smiled.“Yes, in a way. Perhaps one day I will be far enough from them to start judging what I see instead of just witnessing it. But not for some time. In this, we are alike.”“What do you mean?”“Like me, you have grown apart from your origin. And yet you can’t part from it completely. When you use your weapons, part of you is horrified, and yet you feel more comfortable with them than you do without them. Like me, you can’t fully forsake your nature.”Sawu felt cold. He started to answer, to tell this being that it was wrong, that he would have liked nothing better than to get rid of his weapons… but the words died in his mouth, for he knew there was truth in what he had heard. Instead, the words Hanashi had used with him only the day before rose to his lips.“A wise speech, for someone so young.”The Ghost Wormhole smiled again.“Indeed, I’m young. Though not much younger than you, Sawu. But, like you, I have seen and heard much. I can look into a person’s soul and see what truly lies there, what they want to keep hidden from others and what they want to hide from themselves. Think about what I have told you, Sawu, for in the battle that approaches you might have to question yourself and your ideals once more.”The pink light in the Skrall’s eyes disappeared. Sawu found himself looking at the real Skrall, who without a word went back into his home.But Sawu stayed outside, the last words of the Ghost Wormhole resonating in his mind.Review Topic

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#30 Offline Toa of Italy

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Posted Sep 21 2012 - 09:39 AM

THIRTY

Two hours later, the Skrall emerged from his shack. Light was starting to fill Izumal’s sky, though there was no sun visible.“Are you ready?” he asked Sawu.“Yes,” answered the robot.“Good. I’ll give you the coordinates of our enemies’ camp. Use the cloak I’ve given you to shield you while you fly to it. It’s on the other side of the continent, but I suggest you avoid getting too close to the City while traveling. There is still a chance they might detect you. I’ll join you about 300 Bio from it, using the device to find your position. We’ll discuss the final details of the approach there.”“Fine,” said Sawu.A moment later, the coordinates were transmitted to the nanite device the Skrall had given him. He activated his new cloaking device and rose into the air, rapidly accelerating. As the Skrall had advised, he didn’t fly directly to the coordinates, but instead made a long detour to bypass the City. Like before, he didn’t try to scan it, but he couldn’t resist using his zoom functions to get a closer glimpse.The first thing that struck him was the sheer size. Without a sensor scan, he hadn’t been able to appreciate its real dimensions. Overall, Wiki-Nui and Bz-Koro were more urbanized, but the urban landscape there was interrupted by forests, lakes, mountains and fields. This was tightly clustered together. The skyscrapers were also tall, taller than any building on Wiki-Nui. Though each one’s height was adjusted to preserve the curved shape the skyline had, it was still impressive.In the gaps between one building and another Sawu could see Hoverplatforms fly at high speeds. He was too far away to get glimpses of the inhabitants without a sensor scan, but he wondered if, in the end, Izumal citizens were that different from those of the other planets.As he flew, he could see no interruption in the buildings, which all had the same basic shape. There were no large construction areas, no obvious factories, almost no transport infrastructures. The City was uniform and perfect. He knew its government was secretive and dictatorial, but it still seemed an appealing place to live in.The only flaw in that perfection was caused by the Olmak Anomalies which Sawu occasionally glimpsed. The Olmak Effect was a problem here too. Though he pictured the reactions of the population to Olmak Anomalies as being more orderly and efficient. But there was really no way of knowing.Eventually he left the City behind. Once again he flew over virgin land. Land that wasn’t only different for its composition. What was perhaps even more striking was that there was no one there. Apart from the odd Agent, Sawu couldn’t detect anything moving. There was almost no animal life here, due to the lack of rain. He wondered if it had always been like this, or if by controlling the weather Izumal had altered the planet’s ecosystem to the point where almost no fauna had survived. Did the enlightened citizens of the planet care about their wildlife? An interesting questions, but not one Sawu could answer now.He flew between silver mountain peaks, some covered in plant life and others barren before reaching a hilly landscape and then finally a great plain. The hacker camp controlling Rogue was supposedly here. After about an hour, he reached the coordinates. As agreed with the Skrall, he stopped 300 Bio from its supposed location. He could see nothing and he knew it would be useless to scan the area with his sensors, which in addition might give him away.He settled down to wait.It only took a few minutes for the Skrall to teleport beside him. Sawu could see him, but a small, undetectable scan confirmed that to others’ eyes he was invisible too.“Is it there?” asked the Skrall, speaking to him through the communication devices.“Yes, if your information is correct.”“It is. Regno di Baraonda is reliable and they know me well enough not to try to fool me.”“So now we go in cloaked, right?”“Exactly. It probably won’t be easy to find a computer terminal from where we can access their information, but if we search long enough we’ll find it. I have a few programs of my own which might be able to initiate the download without them noticing.”“And after that? You want to face Rogue, but I would prefer to deal as much damage as possible before we are discovered. Possibly disable most of the hackers while still cloaked.”The Skrall shrugged.“You can try if you wish, but once you start firing weapons, they’ll probably be able to locate us. They do have access to Izumal technology.”“I’ll still try it. Now, are we going?”They started walking. Sawu covered those few Bio in apprehension. He had never felt much anxiety prior to a fight but he suspected this wasn’t going to be an ordinary one. Besides, he kept thinking to what the Ghost Wormhole had said. He believed it. But what exactly would he have to question? Would it be simply a way of fighting, or would he, as he feared, have to kill someone?Such questions were put aside, if not banished completely, as they closed on the supposed camp. His combat software activated, making him focus on the battle itself.About 10 Bio from the camp, the first buildings appeared. Initially, they seemed just shadows, ghostly outlines of an indistinct structure. Then, as they drew closer, they began to solidify even as others appeared behind them.And then they were walking between them. Since they kept appearing and disappearing according to how distant they were, it was difficult to estimate their number, but there seemed to be at least fifteen, their walls made of giant Macrochips with a few openings acting as doors and windows. Cables lying on the ground ran between them, giving the impression of a very messy place. And in the centre was another structure, one which was obviously not meant for inhabitation. It wasn’t very large and was roughly conical, with several irregularities on its surface. At the top a thin silver spike, which Sawu suspected was made of nanites, extended upwards. Sawu would have suggested starting their investigation there, but the array was protected by one of the strongest forcefields he had ever seen. He suspected it to be stronger than his own.There didn’t seem to be many people, but Sawu and the Skrall did glimpse two Toa and an Agori walking between the shacks.“Where do we start?” asked Sawu.The Skrall pointed.“There. That building has the greatest power consumption.”Sawu wondered how he had found that out without a sensor sweep. He decided it wasn’t the best time to ask.They walked to it. Like most shacks, there was no door, only an opening leading inside. It was much larger than the Skrall’s home and several computer terminals were embedded in the walls. Two of them were currently being used by a Matoran and a Glatorian. The wall also contained three niches which housed bunks for an equal number of hackers to sleep in.However, the most striking feature was a row of five silver containers, which looked suspiciously like coffins. They seemed to be made entirely of nanites.Sawu was uncertain whether to try to scan them. In the end he opted for a very basic scan, one which most likely wouldn’t be detectable, though it would also tell him very little.He activated his sensors. They quickly revealed that four containers were empty. The remaining one contained a body.“Any idea what they are?” Sawu asked the Skrall. “I’m thinking they might be some kind of medical devices.”The Skrall nodded.“Yes, you’re probably right. Though the presence of nanites is puzzling. An ordinary hacker camp would use them for other things, so what they do must be phenomenally important.”“It is.”Sawu and the Skrall turned abruptly. Even as they did, a powerful forcefield came on around them. Without a word, the two hackers in the shack got up and walked out.A large armored figure was standing in the doorway. Sawu’s sensors, which had activated as soon as he had heard the voice, revealed several more gathering outside the shack. They also revealed two more things which Sawu could already see for himself. The first was that the armored figure was actually an Enlightened Exterminator. The second was that the armor’s pilot was a black Nurops, his green eye looking at them.“Those portable cloaking devices are quite an interesting piece of technology. Not many hackers have them. But even with those, you can’t have really thought you could get into my camp undetected.”Sawu’s strategic and tactical programs were analyzing the situation. He could certainly bring down a few Enlightened Exterminators. But his sensors showed eight already gathered outside the shack. This hacker also had to feel confident the armor suits could match them or wouldn’t have deployed them. But the Nurops didn’t seem a completely professional fighter. Perhaps talking would get them somewhere.“Are you the hacker controlling Rogue?” asked Sawu, switching off his cloak.“Why, yes, that’s me. The name is Anst”“And why,” said Sawu, allowing some of his outrage to slip into his voice, “did you perpetrate those massacres on the other worlds? I thought your objective was Izumal.”“It is, it is. Don’t worry, that stage is over. For the moment, at least, we won’t be sending Rogue – nice nickname, by the way – on any more missions off-world. In the future, who knows? If we need something, perhaps…”Sawu was starting to think this hacker was mad, at least in part. Though he seemed both brilliant and dangerous as well.“But why the killing? Why slaughter all those people?”“Why, the answer is obvious. We needed to test what a micronanite Agent was capable of. Remember, all our attacks were focused on a single objective, with no apparent connection between the targets, and carried out each time in a different way. We needed to know if he could kill like a professional assassin, fight a space battle, win without using his powers and other things. And we even managed to discover how he fared against Agents. Though that battle did damage him a bit. He won’t last long, now. No matter, we’ll simply replace him.”Sawu contained himself. He wanted to fling himself at this Nurops and destroy him, but he knew it was neither right nor convenient.“You did this just for a test? Those were lives you took!”“So?” said Anst with a bored tone. “We certainly couldn’t fully test Rogue without having him kill someone.”“You said you would replace him,” said the Skrall. “How? And why did you go into all this trouble to capture and turn into an Agent a Bz-Koro Matoran? Surely there were easier targets.”The Nurops stayed silent for a moment.“Well, I suppose I can tell you this. Not every being is suitable for micronanites. There is a certain trait that only very few beings have. Finding one on Izumal isn’t easy. So we had the Alarist Underground find and kidnap one on Alarist. In exchange, we gave them the money taken from the bank and helped them in that little insurrection of theirs. We wanted five, but our collaboration was… interrupted… after the insurrection’s failure. No matter, with an Agent’s power at our disposal, we can easily find the others ourselves.”“And now what?” asked Sawu.“I beg your pardon?”“You obviously want to fight us, but it wouldn’t be very convenient for you, would it? No matter your firepower level, the Skrall and I would put up a fight which would be easily visible from the City. According to him, the Agents would have no reason to arrest me and he can escape. You, however, would be a very inviting target for them. And if you try to run, I’ll broadcast a signal to Izumal myself. So your best option is to surrender. I’ll take you into custody and bring you to Alarist for a trial.”Anst’s voice became gloating.“You’re smart, I’ll give you that. But so am I. Scan outside this shack again, please.”Sawu did. A forcefield was now extending to cover the camp.“It is within our cloak range, so no matter what goes on inside it Izumal will be none the wiser. And it is powerful enough to contain any kind of energy discharge you may unleash.”“Powerful enough?” said the Skrall. “Difficult to believe, especially seeing the power all of us wield. You’d need a lot of energy. Where would you get it? Unless… could it be? Could you have found a way to tap into the City power source?”“Why, you’re both smart! Good for you. Indeed, we tapped into the power source. Ten years ago. And it had taken us almost a century to design the program which would do the trick. But now we have access to an infinite power source without Izumal’s knowledge. So you see, you really are no match for us.”One of the five medical capsules melted to reveal the being inside. Rogue got up, with no sign of the damage taken during the fight against Gears and Brute.“I congratulate you. You almost achieved your objective, actually managing to track us down. It’s a shame neither of you will be able to tell the tale.”Review Topic

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#31 Offline Toa of Italy

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Posted Sep 22 2012 - 12:48 PM

THIRTY-ONE

<Location> Master’s camp, medical area<Mission> Eliminate enemies.<Status> Micronanites and implants fully functional. Body health unstable. Preparing contingency procedures in case of body part failures.<Enemy analysis> Enemy denomination: 1. Identity: Sawu. Cross-referencing with known information and previous analyses. Changes: equipped with nanite device. Device function: cloak, encrypted communication. Probable purpose: terminate Master’s activity. Threat: medium-high.Enemy denomination: 2. Skrall. Silver armor. Armed with sword and razor-edged shield. Cross-referencing with known information. Results: wielding unknown Agent-level power. Probable purpose: terminate Master’s activity. Threat: very high.Both enemies imprisoned by forcefield. Preparing for combat.<Ally analysis> Identity: Master. Armed with enhanced Enlightened Exterminator. Combat capability: medium-high.Allies’ denomination: A1, A2, A3, A4, A5, A6, A7, A8. Identity: hackers. Cross-referencing with known information and previous analyses. Armed with enhanced Enlightened Exterminators. Total combat capability: very high.Call received.<Caller identity> Master.<Call content> We’ll take on Sawu. You handle the Skrall. Try to avoid damaging the camp.<Response> Understood, Master.<Tactical analysis> Priority: confront 2 outside building.Approaching forcefield. Activating energy draining power and prison power. 2 raising sword. Forcefield struck by air blast. Subjected to spatial fluctuations. <Analysis> Inconclusive.Forcefield collapsing. 2 running forward. Unable to create efficient prison. Further analysis needed. Firing disintegration beam. Deflected. Energy drain ineffective. 2 swinging sword. Creating nanite blade to intercept. Suit and blade subjected to energy assault and spatial fluctuations. Integrity weakening. Collateral damage to building. Taking flight. Grabbing hold of 2. Taking blows. Suit integrity weakening. Flying toward unessential section of building. Wall destroyed. <Location> Camp center.Firing quantum energy. Creating Space Shift variation. Unleashing energy webs and lasers.Deflected. 2 exerting control over Space Shift attack.<Analysis> Methodology unknown.Nanite suit subjected to Space Shift. Disrupting. 2 firing energy blast. Nanite suit holding. Heavy collateral damage. Camp forcefield strained. <Tactical analysis> Protracted fight may damage camp. Priority: move fight elsewhere. Connection to power source will be maintained anywhere on Izumal.2 attacking. Nanite suit subjected to strong strain. Unable to effectively use power source to restore maximum functionality. Unleashing kinetic wave. Ineffective. Strengthening attack. Targeting multiple spots of 2’s body. Attack partially effective. 2 flung away.Opening dimensional portal around 2. Exit: Bluespace Wall. Disrupted. 2 unleashing kinetic energy. Suit weakened. Massive damage to surroundings. Power source forcefield strained. Camp forcefield strained. Allies’ protection weakened.<Tactical status> Allies handling 1. <Enemy analysis> In case of escape, 2 likely to follow.Opening dimensional portal. Exit: Izumal sea. Passing through. 2 following.<Location> Izumal sea.Sawu kicked upwards, reinforcing the blow with telekinesis. The Enlightened Exterminator pinning him down was sent flying. He fired another Bluespace bolt at it, but once again the forcefield surrounding the armor produced the vibration which dissipated it.His sensors detected a buildup of energy behind him. He tried to dodge, but it was too late. The synchronized energy blast of three Exterminators struck his forcefield. Sawu let the blow carry him behind the ruins of one of the buildings wrecked by the battle between the Skrall and Rogue. Then he started projecting the strongest interference signal he could create. When it reached its apex, he cloaked, hoping his precautions would prevent him from being detected.He flew up from behind the ruins and came to a halt above his enemies. They were scanning around, but so far didn’t seem to be able to locate him. Their armor suits’ collective power surpassed his own, but despite being from Izumal their systems seemed slightly less advanced then his. That was the only advantage he had.He prepared to activate his Bluespace cutting beams. Since the Exterminators’ forcefields were constantly recharged by Izumal’s power source, Bluespace was about the only thing capable of penetrating them. Though that vibration function they had was making it difficult.Sawu activated his Illusion power. It wouldn’t fool the hackers for long, but perhaps it would be enough for him to unleash an attack.A perfect duplicate of his appeared in front of one of the Exterminators. It raised its hand. Then two others opened fire.The real Sawu was blasted out of the air as his cloak faded. He had underestimated his enemies. Apparently, the simple power usage had betrayed him. Before he could react, five hackers ran at him. He fired Bluespace and quantum energy beams, but they had no effect on the suits’ forcefields. Then they reached and Sawu was suddenly exchanging martial arts blows with them. They were too strong. His reflexes were many times faster than those of an ordinary being, but so were theirs and they outnumbered him. Worse, every blow they delivered was accompanied by blasts of energy emitted by the forcefields themselves. He launched himself into the air to evade them, but they followed, giving him no respite. The three Exterminators still on the ground opened fire too, their weapons so accurate that in spite of the combatants’ speed they hit only him. He watched with growing worry as his forcefield’s strength lowered. He diverted more power from other systems to support it, but that was only delaying the inevitable. He needed to find a way to end the fight.Suddenly the forcefield around one of the Enlightened Exterminators fluctuated in a strange way. One of its swords connected with his forcefield… and passed through. Its forcefield was merging with his, allowing them to physically touch.Sawu activated his internal forcefields in the infinitesimal instant before the sword hit. It struck his armor.Instantly, the whole armor plate was converted to energy. A gigantic energy wave radiated from it, filling the whole camp with light. Sawu’s internal forcefields only managed to blunt the attack. Components were wrecked, weapons disabled, circuitry severed. Sawu landed heavily on the ground, his own artificial brain only partially functioning. His regeneration power immediately went to work, but it would take time to repair such a massive damage. His tactical program decided that staying here would only mean defeat. It would be much better to escape and alert Izumal of the camp’s location. He activated the power of an Olmak. A dimensional gate appeared next to him. He rolled toward it.The gate closed abruptly, throwing Sawu back into the hacker camp. Energy bolts flashed toward him. His forcefield managed to deflect them, but its already damaged emitters were being steadily overloaded.There was one more thing he could do. Something he had never done before because of the moral implications and the power required. But, though his systems were damaged, he still had enough power to do it now, and he considered more important stopping these hackers than carrying out a morally-correct fight.Of course, this is always the justifications for acts of this kind. But even knowing this, I still have to do it.He accessed once more his Kanoka-based technology. Even as he did, he searched in his memory for moments when, inexplicably, he had found himself damaged or with less power than he should have had. There were ten.Let’s start with eight.The eight basic Kanoka powers within him combined, giving him the power of the Kanohi Mohtrek. He activated it.Eight Sawus materialized around him. He sent a message to each of them, explaining the situation. He had been worried that some of them would refuse to help him, but they all acknowledged his authority.He knew these duplicates couldn’t use his Kanoka-based technology. But the problem could easily be worked around. As two Sawus positioned them in front of him, using their forcefields to shield him from harm, pouring regeneration energy into him and recharging his power cells, heaccessed the systems managing that technology inside all his duplicates, using the code he possessed, and they didn’t. He then infused it with part of the basic Kanoka energy flowing within him. In a matter of seconds, the duplicates were all equally powerful and ready to fight.Now it was the hackers who now found themselves outnumbered. The past Sawus instantly assumed an attack formation. Their tactical programs identified the best strategy as being rapid and constant attacks, not giving the enemy a change to recharge their forcefields or strike back. As one, they attacked.Bolts of Bluespace and Quantum Energy filled the space between the two groups. Jamming frequencies and flashes of light blinded the hackers’ eyes and sensors. Psionic energy tried to force its way into their minds.The hackers returned fire, turning the area covered by the camp forcefield into a hemisphere of energy and light. Still, both the forcefield around the camp and the one protecting the object at its center held.Sawu’s body was mostly regenerated and his own systems could handle the rest. The three of them joined the battle, which was going their way. Though power was constantly flowing to reinforce the Enlightened Exterminators’ forcefields, it couldn’t instantly regenerate them completely, meaning the Sawus were slowly weakening them. Two of them were scanning the area constantly, searching for a way to stop the power flow to the Exterminators, which would result in their certain defeat.Suddenly, the hackers’ fire started concentrating on one of Sawu’s duplicates. It didn’t take much to understand their strategy. If one of them was destroyed, they would all vanish from existence.The others all launched a flurry of missiles to act as covering fire. More jamming frequencies were broadcasted to disrupt the hackers’ targeting sensors. Then the nine Sawus launched themselves into their opponents, forcing them into one-on-one fights and preventing them from concentrating their firepower.Their tactical systems were analyzing in unison the situation, increasing their processing ability and allowing them to better coordinate their actions. Sawu was quickly presented with the possibility of using one of his super-explosives in a very particular way. So far, he had refrained from detonating one due to the fact that several non-armored hackers were still in the camp, cowering inside a heavily-shielded building; a shield, however, that wasn’t as strong as the forcefield around the camp and that would most likely be collapsed by the blast, killing the people inside. In addition, the camp forcefield would prevent Sawu from escaping, damaging him at least as badly as the hackers.But now his tactical program had come up with another possibility. His duplicates would use their own forcefield control power to contain the explosion, directing it only toward the hackers. Their forcefields would most likely withstand it, but would then be so weakened that it wouldn’t take much to defeat them.At his signal, six of his duplicates generated a forcefield tube with one end positioned toward him and the other toward the Enlightened Exterminators. Sawu armed his warhead. The hackers had understood what was happening and were trying to scatter in different directions, but the other two duplicates kept using kinetic energy to push them back together. Several messages flashed between their suits. Sawu intercepted them.There was no warning. Sawu didn’t even have the time to realize the messages didn’t contain any instructions. A torrent of corrosive software instantly invaded his processors, bypassing every defense. As he lost control of his Kanoka-based technology, his duplicates vanished. The SAWUs hadn’t been designed to feel pain, but what Sawu was experiencing was very different and far worse than conventional pain. He could actually feel his consciousness being eroded, his thoughts becoming nothingness, his control over his body withering away. He couldn’t help it. He screamed. But the virus quickly wrecked the software controlling his vocal systems. The scream ended as abruptly as it had begun, leaving nothing to suggest that his mechanical body had once been inhabited by a living being.The Skrall clutched his wounded arm. A plasma explosion had managed to get through the protection his energies wrapped around him, though most of its strength had been blunted. However, that success had come at a price for Rogue too. An energy discharge unleashed by a spatial distortion the Skrall had created had deactivated several of his micronanites, reducing his power. To prevent the Skrall from striking him again, the false Agent had cloaked, vanishing.The Skrall summoned his unique power and unleashed a wave of raw energy, which spread around him in a sphere. It didn’t work. Either Rogue had fled or he had a cloak so strong that it had managed to maintain itself despite the attack.A bolt of energy came out of nowhere, striking the Skrall. It slightly knocked him back from the point where he had been hovering, supported by his power, but didn’t do any real damage.Another bolt flashed from a completely different direction. Before it even struck, the Skrall had manipulated the air around him to form a powerful cyclone, which he directed at the point from which the bolt had originated. Once again, there was no result.Now a third energy bolt struck him, then a fourth. The attacks were becoming quicker and soon the Skrall was bombarded by energy coming from every direction. It didn’t take much to understand what Rogue was trying to do. After wearing him down slowly with these assaults, he would re-appear to finish the job.The Skrall was trying to strike back, but he couldn’t find Rogue’s position. His opponent certainly had the ability to direct the energy bolts so that they wouldn’t reveal his location, but he still had to be somewhere nearby. Or had he?The Skrall focused all his enhanced senses on his surroundings. When one of the energy bolts appeared, he sensed a minute distortion in its origin point.Another bolt appeared. The Skrall directed his energy at it. It struck the dimensional portal it had emerged from, preventing it from closing. Then the Skrall directed his power to the edges of the portal, expanding it until it was large enough for him to enter. He could see where it led to now.Clever.The portal led to outer space. The Skrall’s power surged into his body, enhancing dramatically his ability to hold his breath and his resistance to cold temperatures. Then he threw himself through.He found himself floating in the void located between Izumal and the Bluespace Ceiling. That Ceiling was close to his emergence point, as was Rogue, hovering in front of it.The false Agent seized control of the Bluespace close to him and hurled it at the Skrall, who dodged, despite the difficulty at moving in such weak gravity. Then he propelled himself toward Rogue so fast his opponent didn’t have time to react. He raised his sword and used the same technique he had employed to send Sawu to his lair, only that this time he put much more strength into it. Rogue was smashed down toward the atmosphere.Review Topic

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#32 Offline Toa of Italy

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Posted Sep 23 2012 - 11:58 AM

THIRTY-TWO

At first, there was only darkness. The darkness of blindness. He couldn’t see, hear or feel anything. The only think he could perceive was his own existence.Then came the knowledge of who he was. He was Sawu. Or, to be more precise, a backup copy of Sawu, stored in a secondary control system, built into him for precisely this reason.The SAWUs’ builders on Promathus had judged the possibility of an enemy managing to infiltrate a computer virus into the robots’ systems to be extremely remote, due to the number of cutting-edge defenses they were provided with. However, it wasn’t a complete impossibility. For this reason, the SAWUs had the possibility to create at any time a backup copy of their entire artificial consciousness. It would be stored in a control system completely isolated from the rest of the body and provided with sensors capable of discovering the failure of the primary control system.Sawu had created his latest backup copy as soon as the battle against Rogue and the hackers had begun. The new Sawu therefore had no memory of what had happened during the battle. But it didn’t take much to figure it out.Sawu was suddenly aware of several automatic procedures taking place within his body. Microscopic, independent drones were at work, physically severing the connections between his primary control processors and other systems and creating new ones leading to his own consciousness. His forcefield, the self-destruct device and passive sensors were linked to him by default. It was up to Sawu to decide what else to connect himself to. Unfortunately, though the secondary control system could house his entire thought routines, allowing him to think as clearly as in his ordinary state, it wasn’t as powerful as the primary one, meaning there was a limited number of systems he could be connected to.Before making any choice, Sawu used his passive sensors to discover what was happening around him. The Enlightened Exterminators worn by the hackers were advancing toward him. Scans were performed on his inert form, but the secondary control system and its connections were designed to be undetectable. The hacker camp itself was in ruins. Only two buildings, protected by forcefields, were left standing, along with the device at the camp’s center. There didn’t seem to be any sign of the Skrall or Rogue.Sawu didn’t know for certain how powerful the Enlightened Exterminators were, but he remembered that they were connected to the Izumal power source. He was sure that with his limited processing capacity he wouldn’t be much of a match for them. Flight also wasn’t an option. If the forcefield around the camp had withstood the battle that had taken place until then, he would probably be unable to penetrate it. And in this state he wouldn’t be able to use his Kanoka-based technology to create a dimensional gate.He didn’t dare try to reconnect himself to his primary control system. If the hackers had attacked it with a virus, he would only risk being infected by it as well. So his only remaining chance was to find something which had more processing power. Unfortunately, while a hacker camp might have been a good place to find such an object, there was almost nothing left that wasn’t damaged.The hackers had now surrounded him. He heard one of them say:“What do we do now?”“First of all, nobody turns his or her forcefield off,” answered Anst. “He is a clever one. He might still be able to self-destruct or something like that. Take him to the medical facility. We will disassemble him. He is equipped with some very interesting technology. Get the others out here as well. And one of you find a way to contact Rogue.”“But… we don’t know where he is, and most of our equipment has been destroyed.”“My dear, remember what happens to those who are too stupid to obey my orders?” said Anst. “Find a way!”Sawu felt himself being lifted telekinetically. He floated toward one of the two buildings left intact. It was the one the Skrall and he had first entered. Apart from a hole in its walls, it seemed to be in good shape. The forcefield protecting it had obviously done a good job.Sawu and three hackers, including Anst, entered the building. Sawu knew it was his best chance. He formed connections to his movement systems, including flight, Bluespace emitters and every other weapon he could.With his limited sensors, he couldn’t hope to find a system compatible with him. But luckily he had scanned the building before the fight had begun. Now he called up the memories of those scans. He quickly discovered that an organic memory storage system was connected to the nanite coffins inside the building. If it controlled nanites, it would have to be complex. He decided that it would be his target.The hackers were lowering him into one of the nanite coffins. He had to act now.Twin Bluespace bolts sailed from his hands to strike the Enlightened Exterminators. One of them managed to dissipate it by generating a vibration with her forcefield, like Rogue had done with the energy barrier surrounding the Wiki-Nui Museum. But the other hacker was caught by surprise. The Bluespace bolt blew a hole in his stomach. He screamed.Anst opened fire, but Sawu was already moving. His reflexes and speed weren’t as good as they would have been normally, but then again, he was simply running and jumping.He reached the storage device. A laser severed the metal sphere’s connection to the rest of the Macrochips and nanites. He immediately used his own devices to interface himself with it.Anst and the other hacker were pummeling his forcefield with an incredibly heavy energy barrage. His power levels weren’t at their highest, but for now it was holding. Interfacing with the storage device wasn’t easy, but at least there didn’t seem to be any safeguards. Sawu deleted everything he found inside, then completed his connection. His processing power abruptly underwent a massive expansion. He attached the storage device to his back, then ordered his drones to form connection to every system of his. It would take a few minutes, but at least he could now strike back.His attention focused on the hacker he had wounded. His Enlightened Exterminator was either equipped with a healing power or had injected him with a painkiller, for he was rising to his feet. Yet the damage done by the Bluespace bolt was clearly visible. He was vulnerable.Sawu gripped him telekinetically. His forcefield made it difficult, but he eventually managed to lift him and bring him closer. He ignored the damage he and the other two were doing to his forcefield. He had a plan and needed to defeat this particular hacker to achieve it.As soon as the wounded hacker was in front of him, he surrounded his forcefield with a cocoon of Bluespace. The hacker’s protection was vibrating constantly, dissolving the deadly energy, but a concentrated assault such as this wasn’t easily repelled. In addition, having the hacker in front of him meant that Anst and the other were finding it more difficult to hit him. Realizing this, they went to the aid of their comrade, using sound to try and dissolve the Bluespace surrounding him.Sawu was sensing the other hackers running toward the building. One was already inside, but the building’s small dimensions made it difficult for Sawu’s opponents to move. The available space was further reduced by the presence of small forcefields around the nanite medical capsules.Despite all these advantages, Sawu was still finding it hard to protect himself and at the same time continue his attack on the wounded hacker. Power levels dropped as he maintained the Bluespace cocoon in spite of his opponents’ attacks. Meanwhile, his forcefield was slowly approaching an overload. The situation wasn’t helped by the fact that he was having trouble at fully interfacing with the organic memory storage device and that his connection to all the systems in his body still wasn’t complete.Finally, Sawu could no longer afford to ignore the other hackers. He launched several automated mines at them. They activated. The Enlightened Exterminators were showered with light, jamming signals, sensor ghosts and more; all in an attempt to distract them and buy Sawu more time. Though his power was low, the hacker in front of him was also close to defeat. His forcefield simply couldn’t deflect all the Bluespace at once. Sawu locked an energy draining function onto it. It wouldn’t be long now.The impact was devastating. Sawu was blown out of the building by the combined attack of four Enlightened Exterminators. The Bluespace cocoon around the hacker vanished. Sawu couldn’t afford that. If the suit was connected to the Izumal power source, it wouldn’t take much time for its forcefield to regenerate. He summoned all his powers and subjected the hacker to concentrated weapon fire. His opponents struck back, their shots striking the straining forcefield. Localized breaches occurred. His software registered multiple strikes and component failures. He had to finish the job now.He fired three high-precision projectiles, aimed for his target’s forcefield emitters. Energy attacks caused the forcefield itself to fluctuate. The projectiles passed through it. They struck. Miniature explosions damaged the emitters beyond repair. The forcefield collapsed.Sawu was already on the move. The hackers hadn’t realized what his plan was, but they soon would. He subjected their suits to massive electromagnetic interference, isolating them electronically. Most of these attacks were directed at Anst, for Sawu knew the Nurops would probably be the first to understand what was happening and the quickest to act.Then he launched himself at the vulnerable Enlightened Exterminator. The hacker inside opened fire, but Sawu wasn’t going to be stopped now, so close to his goal. He reached it and yanked the hacker out. The now-defenseless being sped toward the forcefield-covered shelter. Meanwhile, Sawu interfaced himself with his armor.Unlike the storage device, the Enlightened Exterminator did have several safeguards to prevent electronic attack. However, there were some connections intended for the pilot alone which were unguarded. He used those, infiltrating himself into the suit’s systems, searching for a single thing. The connection to the Izumal power source. He found it.He didn’t have time to use that same connection to restore his power. The hackers were far more experienced than him at electronic warfare and were already breaking through his interference. Instead, he used it to feed power into the machine connecting the camp to the Izumal power source.Anst had broken through his interference. He tried to close down the connection, but it was too late. The machine at the camp’s center was pushed to an overload. Sawu overwhelmed what safeguards there were with sheer power. It exploded, its impenetrable forcefield broken from within.Sawu’s job still wasn’t over. Without the power source, the Enlightened Exterminators were weaker, but in his state he wouldn’t be able to defeat them. He had to trust someone else to do it.He loaded one of his super explosives into its launch tube and aimed it at the forcefield surrounding the camp.Anst and the other hackers peppered him with energy blasts and explosive projectiles, pushing his own shield on the brink of collapse. He fired.The explosion was devastating. Sawu and all the Enlightened Exterminators were picked up sent flying. Sawu was unable to do anything. His forcefield finally overloaded, coming down in a strong flash of light. If the explosion had been directed at him he would have been dead. But it hadn’t.For a few seconds the camp forcefield held. Then the strain became unbearable. The energy barrier ruptured, allowing the blast wave to expand in every direction. Any vegetation in the vicinity was killed off instantly.Sawu’s systems were broadcasting on every frequency a signal containing the camp coordinates. Not that it mattered. The explosion was powerful enough for most sensors on the planet to pick up. The other hacker camps… and the City.Review Topic

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#33 Offline Toa of Italy

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Posted Sep 24 2012 - 09:03 AM

THIRTY-THREE

Rogue’s impact with the atmosphere rivaled that of a small meteorite. Light surrounded him as his friction with the air around him produced heat.Suddenly the Skrall teleported beside him. Moving impossibly fast, he intercepted his opponent’s fall and struck him with the sharp edge of his shield. The micronanite suit held once again, but Rogue’s fall became even faster. The Skrall disappeared.The false Agent started to slow down as he lessened the gravity around himself. Then the Skrall appeared again, this time above him. A wave of energy sped down from his sword, striking Rogue and accelerating his fall once more.Another teleport brought the Skrall closer to Rogue. He moved incredibly fast once more and grabbed the Agent. Even as they both fell together, the Skrall conjured a nimbus of energy which surrounded both figures. Strange energy conformations attacked Rogue’s nanite suit, wearing it down.Then it was time. The two of them were falling over the Izumal continent. As it drew closer, the Skrall enhanced his senses and reflexes even further. Everything seemed to slow down. The Skrall raised his sword. Its point brightened as exotic forces focused on it. He brought it down onto Rogue.It all happened in a split second, but for the Skrall’s enhanced reflexes time seemed to slow down. Rogue touched the ground. At the exact same time, the Skrall stabbed Rogue with his sword as if it were a dagger. Caught between the impact delivered by the ground and the Skrall’s impossibly strong blow, the nanite suit struggled to protect the body it enveloped. The Skrall felt something give way beneath him. He teleported away.The violence of the impact was extraordinary. Gold and silver dust rose in the air even as a titanic shockwave radiated out in every direction, pulverizing anything in the vicinity. The ground cracked. Mountains crumbled. Hacker camps collapsed. Inside the City, the inhabitants kept to their routine, oblivious to the great forces the foundations of the nanite buildings were struggling to absorb.The Skrall re-appeared above the impact site. The only thing left was a gargantuan crater, the kind that would have been created by an asteroid impact.Rogue was lying at its center. He was obviously trying to get up, but was unable to move any of his muscles. In addition, the Skrall’s sword was deeply embedded in his stomach, pinning him to the ground.The Skrall lowered himself down to the crater wall, then jumped and landed beside Rogue. His opponent wasn’t in good shape. That first breach in the nanite suit had caused other, smaller ones to appear. Through them, the Skrall could catch glimpses of his ruined body.The Skrall gripped Rogue’s neck and prepared to snap it. A colossal kinetic force struck him, blowing him into the crater’s wall. Before he could rise, bonds of earth, silver and gold gripped him. Somehow, they were resistant even to his enormous strength.Rogue telekinetically drew the sword out of his body. Micronanites flowed over his wound, using their healing power on it. He managed to raise a hand and pointed at the Skrall.Pain gripped him. There was no obvious source, Rogue was not attacking him physically. He strengthened his mental defenses, but this attack didn’t seem to be mental either. Then the pain grew stronger, until it blotted out every other thought. He felt as if his body was burned, frozen, stabbed, whipped, shattered, crushed and suffocated all at the same time. He struggled and thrashed, but his bonds wouldn’t be broken. But even with the pain searing through his mind, he knew he had to be free, so he kept struggling and pushing.Then a new flare of pain came, almost unnoticed amidst the torture Rogue was subjecting him to. But this pain came from himself and with it the knowledge of being free. He unleashed his power blindly, without knowing if it would have an effect and what that would be.The pain lessened. The Skrall opened his eyes and unleashed another attack, this time targeted at Rogue, knocking back his opponent, weakening his attack further. Then he became aware of the damage to his body. To free himself he had broken most of his joints. Parts of his body had been completely shattered to allow his arms and legs to slip through his bonds.His energies flowed over him. Full healing would have to be done at a later time, but for the moment his power could allow his body to move even in such a state.Rogue attacked. Four vortexes of flame and plasma slammed into him. Kinetic energy tried to push him away while Lethargy and Slowness powers attempted to hamper his fighting ability. Bluespace beams sped toward him.In response, the Skrall generated intense spatial distortions around Rogue. Energy emerged from them, brightening the crater and the plain surrounding it with pure light.Rogue conjured a miniature black hole and flung it at him. The Skrall directed his energies at it and erased its gravitational pull. Then he launched a similar attack. The distortions around Rogue modified the gravity surrounding him in an attempt to crush him. Although damaged, the nanite suit deflected the forces bearing down onto his opponent.By now, both of them were surrounded by huge amounts of energy. And it was in that state that they finally collided, trading blows at great speed, even as around them the crater started collapsing. Rogue’s ability hadn’t fully returned, but he was apparently calling upon the power of the Mask of Ferocity, which made him a match for the Skrall, creating a stalemate that didn’t seem likely to be broken.Then, suddenly, everything changed. The Skrall perceived it. Rogue’s suit was no longer receiving power from the Izumal power source. The hackers’ servant pushed himself away from the Skrall. He realized that his opponent was going back to the hacker camp. Sure enough, a dimensional portal opened behind him.Before he could step through, the Skrall unleashed a wave of energy which collapsed the gateway. Then he threw himself once more at Rogue.Sawu tried to get up. He couldn’t. Most of his mechanical muscle had been damaged by the explosion. He checked his power levels. They were low, but he still had enough to use his regeneration power. He activated it, though he knew it would only be able to repair a small part of the damage.Meanwhile, he scanned around. Macrochip fragments spread out all around him. He noticed in relief that the building sheltering the non-armored hackers was intact, though its shield was very weak. He had hoped that the collapse of the camp forcefield would prevent the explosion from concentrating within the camp itself and lessen the damage inflicted to the objects and people within it, but hadn’t been totally sure until now.The eight remaining Enlightened Exterminators had also survived. Their occupants were getting up. As soon as Anst saw what remained of his camp, he screamed in rage. Before Sawu could react, the Nurops jumped toward him and pinned him to the ground using the enhanced limb of his Enlightened Exterminator. Sawu managed to project a weak forcefield around himself, but it immediately started to display signs of extreme stress.“Do you realize what you’ve done?” hissed Anst. “You’ve ruined centuries of work. Everything I have ever accomplished. Gone. You can’t even appreciate the effort I made. What right did you have to ruin my work? To rob me of my power?”“Sir,” said another hacker. “We don’t have time. The Agents will be on us in a matter of minutes.”“Shut up!” roared Anst.The hacker suddenly screamed in pain. His armored frame collapsed. Sawu knew he was dead.“The death caused by his implanted chip will be mercy compared to yours,” said Anst. “And you will die with the knowledge that you haven’t accomplished anything. We will flee and the Agents will never catch us. We still control Rogue. And you will have even more deaths on your soon-to-die conscience. For we certainly can’t bring everyone with us, now that you’ve destroyed everything.”He sent a transmission to the surviving building.“No,” said Sawu. “You can’t…”Screams echoed from inside. Sawu’s scan only served to confirm what he already knew. Fury swelled inside him. Where he found the strength, he didn’t know. But suddenly Anst was sent flying before crashing again into the ground.“I warned you. I gave you a chance,” said Sawu getting up. “You wouldn’t have been sentenced to death on the other planets. You would have had a chance to redeem yourself. But not anymore. I still hope not to kill you, Anst, but I will do everything in my power to stop you from fleeing. Even this.”And then Sawu called upon his remaining energies to perform one of his most powerful attacks. An attack he hadn’t used before simply because it meant surrendering the control his mind had over his actions. He wouldn’t be able to employ any tactics and he would risk killing the hackers. But unlike his other attacks, this would be self-sustaining, drawing energy from everything surrounding him. It wouldn’t have any limits of power and would unleash the kind of raw power necessary to defeat his opponents.He loaded in a time limit of thirty minutes, hoping it would be enough for the Agents to get to the camp. And then he did it. He called each elemental power to him, then combined it with the Kanohi power of Elementalizing.Sawu transformed. His body became one of Earth and Stone. Iron, Gold, Silver and Crystal surgedout of the soil, cladding him in an unbreakable armor with Lightning coursing through it. Water flowed out of him. In some places it remained liquid, in other it froze to Ice, still in more it allowed Plant Life to grow out of the Earth, which went to reinforce his limbs. Some of the plants released Acid, which joined the Water and Mercury already flowing over his form.Around his feet, the ground cracked. Tar gushed out of deep pits to attach itself to him while Lava enveloped his body, called by his power from Izumal’s core. The cracks also released thick clouds of Sulfur, partially obscuring his form.Air made it seem like his body was caught in half a dozen cyclones at once. Those cyclones tossed around thousands of Sand grains, as well as Viruses and spores, the latter multiplying to become visible Fungi growths when they touched him or the ground. A nimbus of Fire and Plasma surrounded him, even as he started emitting deafening Sound. Magnetism and Gravity radiated from him, pulling metallic and non-metallic objects toward him. Space around him was crossed by thousands of random Kinetic currents, tossing those same objects around and around in chaotic patterns. Veils of Ghost energy cloaked him, sometimes mingling with the miniature Olmak Anomalies which sprang into existence around him. Psionic energy from his mind touched every living creature in the vicinity. Then, finally, the last two elements manifested themselves. Half of his body brightened until it was difficult to look at it, while the other half was enveloped in darkness.Only one thought originating in Sawu’s mind remained in the consciousness of the new Element Emperor. The knowledge, reinforced by his Psionic power, that the hackers had to be defeated. The rest faded away, for nature itself could not be concerned with such trivial details. It was, and the universe belonged to it. That was all that mattered.As Sawu’s mind dissipated, he remembered the words of the Ghost Wormhole. He now knew the truth they contained, the lengths he would go to accomplish his goal.The hackers watched in awe and fear as the Element Emperor sprang into existence in front of them. The embodiment of nature stared at them, supreme. Then that same nature turned against them.Tornadoes of fire hit him, partially melting his armor. Blasts of energy flew from his sword and shield, seeping through the micronanite suit of his opponent to damage his vulnerable body. Forcefield petals surrounded him, seeking to block his every movement. They were thwarted as he used his power to reflect their energy back into Rogue.The sharp edge of the Skrall’s shield struck Rogue’s nanite sword. The latter shattered into globules of silver. The Skrall kept up his attack, stabbing and slashing at his opponent. Rogue dodged again and again. He could no longer afford to get hit by the Skrall’s attacks, not now that he no longer had any link to the Izumal power source.Once again, Rogue attempted to open a dimensional gate. The Skrall interfered with it again. Their two powers battled each other, their conflict visible in real space due to the enormous amounts of fluctuations and gaps in reality visible on the battlefield. And then the Skrall lashed out with his mind. Rogue managed to meet his assault, but his mind was artificial, generated by the implants within his body, some of which had been damaged by the Skrall. Though his mental defenses weren’t going to be completely brought down, the Skrall was still superior to him. He managed to slow down his opponent’s reflexes. Then he called upon his energies and brought his sword down on Rogue, who twisted away but didn’t manage to fully dodge the blow. There was an explosion of light and sound. The Skrall sensed another one of Rogue’s implants shutting down, this time on his shoulder. The remaining ones were struggling to compensate and maintain the integrity of the micronanite suit. Sure enough, several micronanites detached themselves from the impact point. The Skrall prepared to strike Rogue’s exposed body.The detached nanites coalesced together into a sphere. It flew into the Skrall and melted into individual micronanites which seeped into his body. The Skrall enhanced his immune system to fight off the attack. For a moment, he was distracted. It was enough. Rogue opened a dimensional portal. The Skrall tried once again to disrupt it. Too late. Rogue walked through it and the portal closed.Review Topic

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#34 Offline Toa of Italy

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Posted Sep 25 2012 - 12:39 PM

THIRTY-FOUR

An Izumal hacker would normally have welcomed rain. That phenomenon, nonexistent on the planet, would have allowed him or her to obtain water without having to hack into the City’s nanite pipe network.Gratitude, however, was the furthest thing from the minds of Anst and the others hackers facing the Element Emperor.In an instant, dark storm clouds gathered above their heads. Lightning surged from them. The hackers were engulfed by electricity, constantly slamming into their forcefields.Rain was also falling, but that was amplified by orders of magnitude as well. Individual raindrops merged again and again, until the rain became a true waterfall, threatening to drown the hackers. While above them tornadoes formed, below them the force of the earthquake subjected them to yet another assault. Miniature volcanoes erupted all around them. Steam caused by the contact between lava and water enveloped the whole battlefield.Vines grew out of the ground in the blink of an eye and wrapped themselves around the hackers. Anst fired on one of them. It converted into energy which his Enlightened Exterminator directed toward the Element Emperor. When the light dissipated, their opponent stood intact. The attack hadn’t even been slowed down. Nature couldn’t hope to be distracted like an ordinary opponent.Three hackers attempted to activate their suits’ flying power. In response, gravity increased around them, holding them on the ground. Magnetic fields sprang into existence out of nowhere, seeking to exert their power through the most minuscule distortions in the forcefield. Sulfurous emissions carrying powerful viruses inside them also threatened to do the same.The hackers opened fire again. Energy slammed into the Element Emperor, doing no damage at all. Energy-draining mechanisms attempted to take away his power, only for it to be replaced as the being drew strength from everything in the surroundings.The hackers were now blind and deaf as the filters in their suits effectively shut down those senses to protect them from the terrible light and sound growing around them. Every secondary function within the Enlightened Exterminators turned off in order to save power and use it to reinforce the forcefields, the only things standing between them and the lethal nature outside.In desperation, they moved closer to each other, combining their forcefields in the hope of strengthening them. The Element Emperor made no attempt to stop them. Such strategies were irrelevant to it. Ultimately, it knew nature would triumph, destroying anything attempting to resist it.The hackers knew this was true. Though the combined forcefield now protecting them would resist longer than individual ones, eventually it, too, would fail. Meanwhile, the Agents would be drawing closer, seeking to capture them.Minutes passed and they could only watch helplessly as their forcefield weakened. Outside it, the Element Emperor was no longer a visible figure. It had merged with the elements it was manipulating, itself becoming the attack. The hackers no longer knew where to strike, for it was everywhere at the same time.Suddenly, one of the hackers detected something. There was a dimensional portal opening close by. Not an Olmak Anomaly controlled by the Element Emperor, but a genuine dimensional gate, the kind that would be created by a Kanohi Olmak.The next thing they knew, energy waves were slamming into the elements around them, forcing them back. The Element Emperor coalesced back into a humanoid shape, bearing down on the small figure standing in front of it. Rogue.The false Agent looked, and was, battered. His nanite suit was torn in several places and Anst was aware that several implants were no longer functioning. Nevertheless, Rogue still had consistent power reserves, enough to at least hold off the Element Emperor.The latter raised an arm. Its hand grew as elemental energy flowed into it. It became Matoran-sized, then Toa-sized, until eventually it alone dwarfed all of them. Then the Element Emperor brought his fist down on them.It was a miniature cataclysm. Cosmic elemental waves slammed down on the hackers and on Rogue. The Enlightened Exterminators’ forcefield brightened as it tried to deflect the forces it was being subjected to. Eventually, it was too much. It shattered.However, it was Rogue who bore the brunt of the attack. The nanite suit ruptured in several places. Exposed parts of his body were completely obliterated. Implants shut down, power levels plummeted.Around the battlefield, Izumal’s natural balance was completely upset as the elements raged. Matter was destroyed and recreated in seconds. Lava erupted from the ground, micro-storms swept across the land, deserts became forests and forests deserts. Wildfires appeared, only for their flames to be frozen.Then, suddenly, it was over. Silence reclaimed the land around the former hacker camp as nature quieted down.The Element Emperor watched emotionlessly the eight figures lying on the ground in front of it. Soil around it slowly and silently swelled upwards to bury them forever.Suddenly, Rogue’s nanite suit brightened. Energy radiated from it and slammed into the Element Emperor. It ignored it and prepared to release the soil onto the beings in front of it. Then, abruptly, it found it couldn’t. It didn’t react, it couldn’t, because this was unnatural. Nature couldn’t lose control of itself. And yet it was. It never occurred to the Element Emperor that the suppression power Rogue was emitting was responsible for what was happening. It had been above these things a moment before and now it was too late. The elemental force surrounding it was swept away.Sawu collapsed. His power was almost gone. Even staying conscious was an effort now.The hackers were getting up and this time there was nothing he could do to stop them. It was over. Though he lacked the power to make a complete sensor scan, he sensed their flight systems powering up. Then they were in the air, flying away. Rogue, too, was flying, though only the flight power of his nanites was allowing him to move. His own body was completely paralyzed.The eight of them started cloaking.It can’t be happening. It can’t end like this. It can’t.Yet it was. Anst vanished. Only two hackers remained visible and they wouldn’t stay that for long.A monstrous shockwave appeared out of thin air to slam into the visible hackers. The others re-appeared as their cloaks failed. Only Rogue managed to stay in the air. The others all fell to the ground. The Skrall materialized in front of them.Anst managed to get up again, fury in his single eye. He glared at the Skrall, who faced him silently.“Deal with him!” he snapped.Rogue immediately flew down, landing lightly between the two of them.“I must congratulate you, Skrall,” said Anst. “You and your comrade almost managed to stop us. But it won’t happen. We all still have enough power to escape and, though you don’t look too weakened yourself, I doubt you’ll be able to get past Rogue. I suggest you leave. We’ve won and you know it.”“Fool,” the Skrall answered. “Never gloat. Never tease. Your enemy must simply be destroyed. As it is, you’ve lost a few seconds. The last seconds you had.”A shadow fell on them. Anst didn’t need to look up to know what it was, his sensors told him everything he needed to know. Not that it made any difference.“No,” he gasped.Above them, the sphere-shaped Titanmorph came to a halt.<Alert>Izumal Titanmorph approaching. Piloted by eight Agents. Designated Ag1, Ag2, Ag3, Ag4, Ag5, Ag6, Ag7, Ag8.<Tactical analysis>Enemy combat capability superior. Advisable procedure: flight.Priority 1: protect Master.Priority 2: protect Allies.<Status> 8 implants inoperative. Others… functioning below optimum level. Low power levels. Processing power below optimum level. Movement capability very low. Priority 2 is unable to be achieved. Focusing on Priority 1.Titanmorph nanites liquefying and dropping down. Opening fire on nanites with disintegration power. Compensating for nanite protection. Unable to… comply. Processing power insufficient. Activating electronic warfare procedures. Partially successful. Closest nanites deactivated. Titanmorph on the ground. Flowing forward. Taking flight. Master… taking flight. Ag2, Ag5, Ag8 intercepting. Suppressing flight power. Compensating. Unable to compensate for Master. Master falling to… the ground. Following. Intercepted by Ag5. Attacked by martial art moves. Unable to respond. Ag5 employing energy assault. Implant…… deactivated. Re-routing. More processing power lost. Temporarily trapping Ag5 in energy web. Flying down to Master.Ground completely covered…….. nanites. Master engulfed. Scanning. Master located. Attacking nanites with electronic warfare, disintegration power, Space Shift, gravity. Nanites deactivated. Power levels falling. Transferring power to M……… Master taking flight. Following. Titanmorph nanites rising to prevent escape. Master being enveloped…………. Master freed. Cloaking. Disrupting nanite sensors. Being enveloped by nanites. Micronanite suit being infiltrated…………… software. Implants deact………… Software eliminated. Emitting jamming frequencies. Partially………………… attempting to fly free.Interc………………………… 5 implants remaining. Rerouting inefficient. ……………………………………………………………………………… Body functions failing. Unable to m…………………………………………………………………………………………...4 implants remaining. Being…………………………………………………………………………………….Micronanite suit lost. Respiratory func……………………………………………………………………….………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………….………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………….Attempting impl………… activation. Uns………………………………………………………….………….2 impl………………………………………………………………………………………………………………. ………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………. ……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………….…………………..os…………………………….b………………………………………..1………………………..……???………………………………!………………………………………………?……#……………………………………………………The Titanmorph struck the ground. The nanites making it up spread across the ground quickly, like water during a catastrophic flood, violent and unstoppable. Occasionally, Sawu glimpsed an Agent flying above the nanites or surfing on them. What he did see clearly were the hackers desperately struggling to escape. Some tried to fly, only to be intercepted by Agents or yanked back down by nanite tentacles. Others, cornered, fought until the end, their weapons disintegrating numerous nanites until their overwhelming number finally prevailed, rising to envelop their prey.Throughout all this, the Agents completely ignored Sawu, as the Skrall had said they would. Instead of covering him, the Titanmorph nanites parted when they reached his body and merged again after having passed him, leaving the small patch of ground containing him empty.Despite the fearsome display of Izumal’s power, Sawu could not help but feel grateful toward the Agents. Thanks to their timely arrival, the hackers had been finally neutralized. And, though he had actually been stopped before that moment, he could not help but think that, hadn’t he known of their coming, he would have put much more effort into stopping the hackers, perhaps going so far as to kill them.Suddenly, his sensors detected two beings still trying to escape the Titanmorph. One of them was Rogue, the other was Anst. The latter was flying as fast as his Enlightened Exterminator could, while the former attacked the nanites trying to block his master’s escape. Then, suddenly, Anst cloaked. The Titanmorph nanites seemed to completely ignore that fact. Sawu realized Rogue had disrupted their sensors, while his own, though inferior, had remained unaffected.A million thoughts went through his mind in an instant. His power was almost gone. Trying to fight at this point would probably be suicide, but at the same time he simply couldn’t allow Anst to escape. He had to be stopped.There was one very last thing he could do and it probably wouldn’t work. But Sawu knew he had to try.Whether it was destiny, chance, or something else, Sawu didn’t know. In fact, he didn’t even consider it, because the beginning of the battle was no longer part of his memories. But when he activated the power of the Mohtrek for the last time, the two duplicates he chose were the ones he hadn’t chosen previously. For a moment, his power didn’t seem to be sufficient, as he had expected it wouldn’t. But miraculously, his two copies materialized beside him.Sawu was a second away from shutting down, but it was enough. One of the two Sawus poured part of his power into him, restoring his abilities. Even as a communication updated them, he rose into the air and unleashed the strongest shockwave he could muster.His power down to critical levels, Anst hadn’t managed to fly far away. The shockwave struck him, deactivating his cloak. Sawu’s two duplicates were on him in a second, catching him and pinning him to the ground just outside the area covered by the Titanmorph nanites. His weak forcefield was penetrated instantly. Then the present Sawu reached down and yanked the squirming Nurops out.“So, is this it, Sawu?” said Anst, his tone a mix of desperation, fury and laughter. “You’ve won. Do you kill me, or throw me to the Agents?”“Neither,” said Sawu. “As I told you before, I’m taking you to Alarist for a trial. It isn’t my job to decide your destiny.”He lowered his hand to touch the Nurops and injected him with a drug that plunged him into unconsciousness. He was preparing to send his duplicates back into the past and fly away when a figure landed in front of him.It was Gears. He bore no sign of his previous battle against Rogue. His arm had been replaced, or re-grown, or something else, and looked like it had always been there.The android Agent didn’t say anything. Instead, he pointed at Anst.“He is coming with me,” said Sawu. “His crimes on the other planets exceed those committed on yours. We have the right to judge him more than you do. You have nothing to worry. Justice will be served.”Gears didn’t react. He kept pointing at Anst.Sawu advanced toward the unconscious Nurops, preparing to take him in tow, while his duplicates came to stand between him and Gears. The android Agent didn’t move. Suddenly the two Sawus were gone, banished from this time. Gears advanced on the present Sawu and Anst.Regret swelled inside the living robot. He had more power than before, but he would be no match for an Agent. Besides, fighting over a murderer wasn’t simply dangerous, it was useless and stupid. Anst wasn’t worth it. He stood aside.Gears picked up Anst without the slightest effort. For a moment, he stayed there, looking at Sawu, who did the same. Then he walked away.Review Topic

Edited by Toa of Italy, Sep 25 2012 - 12:45 PM.

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#35 Offline Toa of Italy

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Posted Sep 26 2012 - 08:16 AM

EPILOGUE

The battlefield could still be distinguished for what it had been. Scorch marks and craters still dotted the land. But nothing suggested there had been a hacker camp here before. Obviously, the Agents had preferred to salvage all the Macrochip fragments.When the Skrall materialized, he found Sawu sitting there alone. His skull was partially disassembled and he was sweeping a low-energy beam over one of the pieces.“So you survived,” said the Skrall.“Yes,” answered Sawu. “And as soon as my primary control system is fully wiped clean of whatever program the hackers infiltrated it with, I will be back to normal. I’ll just need a recharge and then I’ll be on my way.”“I see.”Several seconds passed.“Your ambition is to become always stronger, so as to prevail over everything else,” said Sawu. “I don’t think I can be like that. My own power is simply a constant temptation to kill, and while you may believe that doing so is right, I don’t.”The Skrall was silent.“Before leaving, I will detonate my Bluespace nukes on the Bluespace Ceiling and I will also completely destroy my Kanoka-based technology. I’ll keep everything else, for I agree that this is a violent universe, copied from places were war and conflict were the norm. But there are some things, some weapons, that simply can’t be allowed to exist.”“And do you think your superiors on Alarist will approve? They won’t, because ultimately, as I told you, every being’s goal is to become more powerful, as they do through you.”“Perhaps. But it is my choice to make, and I have made it. And deep down, they too will know it’s right.”Sawu deactivated his energy beam. He took the pieces scattered on the ground and fitted them back onto his form.“Tell the Ghost Wormhole that I’m thankful for what it said. And tell it that, although it didn’t work out as I expected, and feared, what it predicted was right.”Then he rose into the air. For some time, the Skrall watched him fly, a small, almost invisible streak in the sky. Then the Bluespace Ceiling glowed more brightly four times. He teleported away.As always, Hanashi was busy. Though she acknowledged that the recent events made her busier than usual. The worst emergency was over, but the audience was still demanding frequent updates on the status of the repairs to Wiki-Nui. Most of her reporters were currently working on something related to that.Her Gadget received a call reporting that someone wanted to see her. When Hanashi heard who it was, she gave him permission to enter.Sawu walked through the door.“Welcome, Sawu.”“Toa Hanashi.”“We haven’t had any chance to talk since your return from Izumal. How did it go?”Sawu gave her a knowing look.“I was under the impression that you overheard my report to Kiumyak and the rest of the planetary defense force council while you were hovering above us in spirit form.”Hanashi smiled slightly.“So I did. But I think there is more to it than you told the council. Am I right?”Sawu didn’t answer.“I heard you discarded your most powerful weapons. Were there any consequences?”“Not really. I don’t think the council was happy, but it doesn’t matter anymore. Now that the Agent threat is gone, the planetary defense force is being disbanded. The Alarist governments are keeping its assets, and if a new threat arises it may once again be called upon. But for the moment we’re all going back to our old jobs.”“I see. I’d like to issue an invitation to you. In a few days, I’ll be doing a special edition of Hanashi News on the Agent Crisis. I’m inviting everyone who had something to do with it. Could you come as well?”“I will.”“Thank you.”Sawu turned to leave.“Sawu?”“Yes?”“One day, perhaps, we should meet and speak about this properly.”“Of course.”

THE END

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