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Chronicles of Tara: Ascension


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#1 Offline Mr. Coffee

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Posted Dec 27 2012 - 03:58 PM

Review topic: http://www.bzpower.c...?showtopic=8146

 

[font="'trebuchet ms', helvetica, sans-serif;"]Chronicles of Tara[/font]

[font="'trebuchet ms', helvetica, sans-serif;"]Ascension[/font]

[font="georgia, serif;"]Prologue[/font]

 

It was a dark time, when our courage was put to a test. Never before have we faced an enemy such as this. Or, at least, we didn't remember. They were strong. They were brutal. They were merciless. All they wanted was for us to be gone. They came from the void one day one day, and they attacked us, without provocation. This was a time when we rediscovered ourselves, and a great crime committed against us and our cousins by those who pretended to be our mentors. time when the only thing you could rely on were the friends around you. And I had no idea I would be caught up in the middle of all this.

My name is Ariaka, and this is the story of my people.

Many years ago

 

Before I tell you of our great adventures, it might be worth telling you who we were. The truth is that at the time, we didn't know. None of us remembered a bit from the past. All we knew was that one day, we awoke on a wild world that would become our home. I remember it like it was yesterday. For me, life begun on a beach, and my first feeling was... a great pain...

 

It was a sunny day. The nature of this world was untamed, yet strangely calm. Few birds were singing from the trees of a nearby forest, and the only other sound present was the splashing of the tide on the rocky cliff surrounded by a sandy beach. Everything seemed peaceful, until a fireball came crashing down from the sky.

 

The metal cylinder slammed into the beach, making a dent in the ground several bio deep. the birds took off in alarm, flying around the smoldering wreck in circles. All that was left was a huge crater and several bodies scattered around the crash site. Slowly, some of them begun to move, among them white and blue figures. The white survivor struggled to get up on her feet, losing balance momentarily and flailing her arms around in an attempt to remain standing. Just as she regained her balance, others started to move. They were all silent, until a terrifying scream cut through the air.

 

The white figure hurried to the source as fast as she could. What she found made her nauseated momentarily, but she took a deep breath and bent over the screaming person. It was a clear blue body, looking armed and armored beyond reason. Not that it did her any good. the white figure looked on the left side of the crying person. The left arm was nearly severed, hanging on few wires. She knew what had to be done instinctively. reaching out on her back, she pulled a white spear from her inventory (Where did she got it? She didn't know) and laid her free hand on the spasming blue torso. "This might hurt a lot, but I'm trying to help. try to hold still." she gave the only warning and then, in a single, precisely aimed swipe, cut the broken arm from the rest of the body. she shut her eyes as new, louder scream echoed through the place, forcing the blue person on the round with her weight. In few seconds, the screaming died off, replaced by heavy, irregular breathing. The white warrior opened her eyes and saw some fluids leaking from the shoulder of the blue being. She pointed her spear on the wound and a beam of light went off it, cauterizing the leaks. "It's OK, you're gonna be fine." she tried to comfort the wounded. Looking at the silver mask of the other survivor, she saw her own reflection. she was wearing the same armor, but her body was of different color and she was wearing a different helmet. Her own seemed to have round shape with optics over one eye.

 

All around her, more warrior looking people like herself gathered. Some of them were wounded, but none as badly as the one on the ground. she remembered she was still lying on the wounded person, and got off the heaving frame. "It's better now, thank you." the blue warrior said shakily, with distinctly feminine voice. "Don't thank me just yet." the white figure replied, looking at the severed arm now lying still in the sand and pool of golden fluid. "Can you get up?" she asked, and the blue female slightly nodded, still obviously in a lot of pain. Helping her up, she remembered she didn't introduce herself: "I'm Talya. you?" "Ariaka." the blue warrior hissed. The two females looked around. there were roughly three dozens of others like them, starting to talk among themselves. "Oh no... is that? What did you do to me?" Ariaka gasped when she saw her arm lying below her. she was staring blankly at her shoulder where it used to be. "by the time i got to you it was beyond recovery, i know that much. I'm sorry." Talya said, putting her hand on Ariaka's healthy shoulder comfortingly. Ariaka shook her head, looking around as well: "Where are we? How did we get here? Uh... I can't remember a thing, i must have been rattled pretty badly by whatever caused... This." she said, nodding towards the dismembered limb. "I can't remember either." Talya said, looking to the round, "We'll figure that out later. Right now, we need to see how many others are here. Can you walk?" she asked. "I lost an arm, not a leg." Ariaka snapped, making Talya put her hands up defensively.

 

The two of them went around the crash site, counting the survivors and helping those injured to the best of their abilities. Sadly, they also found several bodies that weren't moving. After few minutes, they had everyone rallied in a small circle, talking about what to do. "So, nobody remembers anything?" Ariaka asked, looking around. Silence. "We can figure this out later," another blue warrior said, "Right now, we need to find shelter. we know nothing of this place, and if we don't prepare, the night might be our last!" The group nodded as one, so far accepting the blue warrior, Aquinas, as a leader. He looked at Talya: "Can you go check the wreckage and pull out anything that might be useful? Take... him, him, and her. The rest of us, we'll search in all directions, somebody has to stumble upon a defensible position. Are you all right?" he asked, looking at Ariaka. "I see a vantage point, I'll go have a look." Ariaka said instead, pointing to the rocky cliff not far away. Aquinas nodded and went to search with the others. Ariaka huffed and begun walking towards the cliff. It didn't take her long, and what she saw took her breath. Not far away, there was a lagoon, and in it was a village that looked like it was built on Lilly pads. On the first glance, it looked deserted, yet it looked maintained, or brand new. She hurried back to the crash site with the news.

 

In the evening, all of them have moved to the discovered village. they brought whatever had any value from the crash site, mainly a pile of tools. They gathered in a large hut on the westmost pad to talk about what to do next. Proper introductions were made, and they assessed their skill sets. Several engineers present managed to build a prosthetic arm for Ariaka from the materials found at the crash site. Eventually, they agreed on the idea that they must have come from space, either in a ship or escape pod, they couldn't tell from the wreckage, as it was scattered all over. They posted guards and in the morning, they will send scouts to seek out if there were other landings. Before the rest went to sleep, they gathered the less fortunate and buried them on the beach, building only a small stone pyramid to honor them. The first day of the Tarans on their new home ended.

A bit of lore

 

OK, now that the premise is set up, I believe some clarifications are necessary :)  The story takes place in the Bionicle universe, but on a planet very far away from Bara Magna and it's moons, roughly at the same time as the Mahri Nui storyline.

Tarans are a race similar to the Matoran, but the organic element in them is supressed even more, limited to organic brains and several minor organs mostly serving as transfer points between the brain and mechanical organs. Their consciousness is in fact an AI, rather than a soul. Their bodies are powered by crystals of unknown structure, capable of sustaining them almost indefinitely. Tarans do not use Kanohi and do not need them to survive, but their helmets can be equipped with Solix power chips granting the same powers. Unlike the Matoran, Tarans can use both Kanohi powers and their elementals powers, however doing so will severely deplete their power source, limiting their lifespan or, after several uses, depleting the power source completely and killing them. Tarans are led by village elders, who are merely other Tarans who have earned the respect and trust of the others.

Tarans have smaller variety of elemental powers than Matoran, but some of the Taran versions of elements may include two or more versions of Matoran elements. Tarans of these elements are present:Te-Tarans (fire, water, ice)So-Tarans (earth, stone, iron)Mi-Tarans (light, shadow, psionics)Fi-Tarans (magnetism, gravity, lightning)Ky-Tarans (sound, air)

I believe that's enough for now, the rest will eventually be explained in the story itself.

 

Nohiki

 

Attacked

 

Once we shook off the initial shock, all went quite nicely. Our scouts found other landing sites with more Tarans that camped in the jungle through the night. Later, we found three more villages, one built high in the trees, one deep in the desert, and one in the freezing mountains on the north. The greatest discovery came when we found the Great Fortress, Zarta Nui. It was there we discovered the name of our people, our home, and our religious texts. The old texts contained a warning of what lies below, but we paid little attention to it, as it also said that we were a race of mighty warriors. That we could see. None of us lacked armor, we could all control various elements of nature, surely we could overcome all.

 

We were wrong.

 

And I was about to be the first causality of this war…

 

It has been several months since the Landing. Tarans have found home in the four villages across the small archipelago they lived on. They lived from day-to-day, each eventually finding a skill they excelled in – making tools, mining materials, crafting goods – and the strongest warriors guarded the others during nights, when they went to their homes to power down and rest. Everyone seemed to find their place. All but one. Crippled from the crash, Ariaka wasn't allowed to be a guard and didn't have the precision to be a crafter. The So-Taran roamed the villages, looking for a job she could do, from time to time passing a message or carrying a parcel. Eventually, she realized that was how she could make a living, and become a messenger and travelling merchant. Perfectly able to defend herself from most of the wild rahi, she spent her days alone, far from the other Tarans, only joined by her friends in the guards of the four villages on her way out.

 

It was a warm evening, and she was on her way to Ga – Koro. Ariaka was slowly pulling her cart towards the village that was just behind the horizon, and was silently praying for someone to finally succeed in taming any of the stronger rahi to pull for her. Fortunately for her, the prosthetic arm could easily be modified, so right now her appendage ended in a large hook that was perfect for tugging heavy loads. But this one was extra heavy. She was carrying a load of lightstones from Po – Koro, as the ones in Ga – Koro were getting dim. She couldn't wait to see Talya again, after weeks on the way. The sun was about to set though, and she just arrived on the foot of the tallest hill in the wahi, so like it or not, she had to stay out one more night. She let go of the cart and unscrewed the hook from her arm, plugging in a three-fingered hand. She parked the cart close to the stone road and made her camp – a simple rug on the ground close to a fire.

 

Shortly after she lied down to sleep, she heard a dry branch snap. She was on her feet in a second, holding a small folding blade. She looked form behind the cart where she was hiding in the direction where the sound came from, but saw nothing. Despite the fact that it was probably a gukko landing on a too thin branch, she needed to investigate. Last time she didn't, it turned out to be a muaka sleeping in the bushes to make the sound. Fortunately, Talya was there to pull her out of the fire again. Ariaka crept from her hiding spot and copied the line of the forest, carefully looking for any sign of danger until she reached the suspicious bush. Not waiting for anything, she slid the blade in, satisfied when it didn't hit anything. Smiling, she folded the blade and put it back to the slot on her back and turned around. She froze where she stood. Looking at her was a giant, four legged insect. The armor on it was white, it's mouth fancied six sharp tusks, and the creature's green eyes were shining menacingly into the night. Ariaka knew immediately. This was the creature from the warning they found in the fortress. Instinct told her to run, but she was petrified. The creature grabbed her head and pulled to the air. She tried to break free for a few seconds, but then the other hand landed a punch with such force that it sent her flying several bio away. She hit the ground hard and rolled some more. Sparks blossomed all over her chest with a pain she didn't feel since the Landing. She did not dare to move. Play dead, she told herself, barely holding agonized screams. What she saw then made her freeze with fear. It wasn't just one. There was a dozen of them, and they were all advancing on Ga – Koro!

 

She wanted to go and warn them, but a sharp stab in her left side made her stop and spasm in the excruciating agony. No longer able to hold it, she cried out in pain. One of her attackers looked back at her, but then it's head turned back as it continued on it's way. And Ariaka realized why. They left her, because they knew she wouldn't live beyond today. With more sobs, the So-Taran started dragging herself towards the rocky hill, desperately holding on to one of the lightstones. With any luck, the villagers will be able to see her and either they send help, or at the very least she might be able to warn them before she passes away.

 

She was almost there, but she could also feel herself slipping away. The pain in her side was so bad her body refused to register it any longer, allowing her to at least stumble towards her target on foot, instead of crawling there. She would have made it, were it not for her rotten luck. Only a dozen bio far from the horizon the ground below her collapsed and the blue Taran sunk into the depths.

 

Ariaka smashed to the rocky ground. She heard more of her armor crack, but the pain wasn't there anymore. Her vision was blurry, and even her hearing was impaired. She looked up and saw a cave. Despite her expectations, it wasn't pitch black. The large dome looked like it was carved into the rock, and in the middle, there was a big cylindrical structure, emitting aqua blue light. To Ariaka, the light felt strangely comforting. She managed to move closer to the structure. There seemed to be a chair in front of it. The blue figure collapsed on it. If this was her last minute, at least the homeland provided her with a nice place for an eternal rest. Thinking a final goodbye to the few friends she made, her final thought was a prayer for the Ga – Koronans not to share her fate. Then her body went numb, and shortly after her mind was enveloped with darkness.

Downloaded

 

This is how I died for the first time, or rather, as it would be called later, cheated death itself of it's victory. My body was beyond help, and soon the Ga – Koronans should join me. There was no way they could survive against this enemy. They could blow up the bridge that led to the Lilly pads, but eventually, they will be overwhelmed. Or at least, that's what I thought.

 

She was still alive, although she was certain she should be dead. Did her mind managed to linger on the plane of existence? Did somebody find her and repaired her? She didn't know. All she could see was blackness, because she had her eyes shut.

 

Eyes.

 

So she was still inhabiting a body. Ariaka didn't feel any pain though. Somebody must have repaired her then. Surely, the chair she collapsed on was some sort of restoration mechanism? There was only one way to find out. Slowly, she opened her eyes.

 

The azure light she remembered blinded her briefly, as if her eyes didn't see light for years. How long was she in this cave? She had no idea. Her vision finally cleared, and the sight chilled her to the bone. She was staring at herself, her lifeless, broken body. There goes the repair theory. Did she remain as spirit then? Do spirits have eyes to shut? Wordlessly, she reached out to her body, and stiffened as her hand came to her sight. The hand she couldn't remember ever having. But that was not the strangest thing. It was huge, and heavily armored.

 

Ariaka turned her head to see more of her surroundings, and her surprise had no end. She was a giant, standing more than twice the size of her former self tall. Her body was of dark blue shade, with silver armor pieces. She was hung up by several hoses in a vat, which she guessed was the cylinder in front of the chair she… died on. She slowly tried to move, unplugging the hoses from herself. To her surprise, she could breathe even though she was submerged. When she got around to her back, she gasped. Attached to her shoulders was a pair of silver wings. Somehow, she became this warrior. And then a single thought filled her mind.

 

Punching on the wall of the vat, she easily broke through, all the water rushing out. She jumped on the ground and stood firm. This body – perhaps she could use it to save Ga – Koro. She spent only a second looking at the dead corpse she used to be and then rushed to where she landed. There has to be a way out of this cave. Far up she could see daylight. She was here at least through the whole night. Hopefully the Ga – Koronans were able to blow the bridge in time. She was sure they did. Talya would have thought of it. Talya. Perhaps now she could repay the countless times the Mi – Taran saved her life. The thought of the village being destroyed now that she had power to prevent it fuelled her determination.

 

She thought of the wings, but realized she had no idea how to use them. Right now, she had to climb. She probed her inventory. If she had her old folding blade, she could use that to climb the rocky chimney. What she found blew her mind. She was holding silver, double-bladed sword. There was no doubt in her mind this body was built for war, just like the Tarans seem to be. Somehow, she could feel a mechanism in the handle of the blade. Bussing at the bottom of it, the blades split into two thin swords. Ariaka looked up and started climbing.

 

Talya dodged another stream of liquid protodermis coming from one of the blue insects. They had no way to the village as the sea was very angry that day. Waves up to two bio tall would easily break any ice the white invaders could create, and the few blue ones that tried to swim over were quickly dispatched by her fellow guards. Although they were half the invadres' size, Tarans were far from defenseless. So - Tarans summoned sharp projectiles hurled at the enemy by Fi – Tarans, while Mi – Tarans kept blinding the enemies and using their mind powers to coordinate the defense efforts.

 

"Another one heading to the port!" somebody yelled and Talya was there in a second, blasting the finned insect with an intense beam of light, splitting it in half. She took a second to celebrate her victory by catching a breath, but was cut short by all of the bells in the village ringing. General alarm. Usually that would mean they would evacuate on the mainland and seek shelter in the caves, a practice well used during the hurricane season. That was the reason Ga – Koro always looked like it was new, because it was practically rebuilt every year. Right now though, they were trapped here. Talya fired up the jet pack she was wearing since the Landing. She high jumped to the observation tower, trying to spot the danger approaching. She was about to call false alarm, when she saw it. Several of the red insects were blasting away on one of the large jungle trees. Too late did Talya realize what they meant to do. The tree fell and created a new bridge to the pads. They were doomed. "Boats! Get to the boats!" she ordered, cursing the day she chose to be the captain of guard. The So guards erected a stone wall where the bridge connected to buy some time, but Talya knew they wouldn't all make it. Just as she was about to resign to her fate and go make her last stand with the guard, her ears caught a high pitch whistling sound coming from above.

 

A blue form slammed into the fallen tree, making the makeshift bridge explode into splinters and jumping to the pad before the wood floated away. The insects on the shore paused their efforts and withdrawn to a safe distance as the blue giant kept blasting them with high velocity streams of water from the sea below. Several of the insects were lying in pieces before they escaped to safety. The blue and silver warrior finally stopped attacking, standing there and watching.

 

Talya slowly approached the figure. It helped them now, but she had no way of knowing what were it's intentions. The white Taran stopped in her tracks when the giant's gaze fell upon her. There was something familiar on the aqua blue eyes looking at her from behind the silver kirill shaped helmet. To her relief, the giant smiled. She warmed up herself, enough to talk: "Than you. You saved our hides here." Talya said, returning the smile. "I guess I'm just returning a favor from a long time ago." The giant replied.

 

That voice.

 

Talya's jaw swung open, her eyes flashing as she did a double take, putting two and two together. "Ariaka?" she whispered and ran to the giant figure. Ariaka knelt as the two fell into embrace. "I can't believe this! Is that really you?" Talya said, unable to hide the sobs in her voice, "When they arrived, I first thought that you were on your way and they destroyed you? How did…? Mhmmmph!" Ariaka stopped the Mi – Taran, putting a hand over her mouth. "Slow down." She smiled, "It's me, and… they did find me. That's why I'm like this…" she said, looking at her arms again. "But we'll get reacquainted later, right now we need to deal with those things. I doubt they're done!" Ariaka suggested. They broke their embrace and stood at the side of the Lilly pad, looking at the shore. True enough, the insects were already up to something. Several of the brown ones were gathering close to one another. "Rally the guard and everyone else who knows how to hold a blade. I'll try to keep the pressure off of you, but I'm new to this, so few of them might get through." Ariaka said and jumped into the sea. Talya nodded and went to give the orders.

 

Ariaka continued to observe the invaders, puzzled by their current moves. They were making no effort whatsoever to get to the village; instead they grouped around the few brown insects. But why? Then Ariaka remembered one of the drills Talya put the guard through once when she was visiting. "They're forming a defense line between me and the brown insects." She realized as she broke the surface and landed on the shore. She equipped her offhand weapon – a silver double talon mounted on her forearm – and charged at the invaders. She was greeted by a hail of icicles, bursts of fire and streams of water. She barely managed to dodge the fire, but the small chunks of ice bounced off her armor harmlessly. She would have favored stealthier and more agile build instead of strong and heavily armored one, but she wasn't about to complain, as without this body she would have been dead. Quickly assessing her options, she checked the Solix chambers on her helmet. One was empty, but the other contained a Huna, the Solix of invisibility. Her mood raising a peg, she engaged the chip and watched herself vanish from sight. The insects looked at the place she just stood at for a second before one of them split in half. All ###### broke loose for them as Ariaka danced through their lines, mowing them down like grass. She only had to dodge random swipes of their weapons, but suddenly, they become a lot more accurate. Ariaka realized they figured out what she knew already – they were looking for her footsteps she left in the sandy beach to track her position.

 

She jumped away, giving herself a boost with her wings, slowly getting used to them. There was a mild tremor. An earthquake, here? Then a thought struck her like lightning from clear sky. They were throwing all sorts of attacks at her, but one thing was missing. There wasn't a single stone thrown at her, although the beach was littered with them from the Tarans' defense artillery. Because the brown insects are the ones controlling the element of stone. Alarmed, she looked towards the village, just in time to see a solid, rock bridge rise from the depths and shoot above the surface. She was about to run over and stand between the bridge and the invaders, but a familiar grip tightened on her head. One of the insects snuck behind her, it's pointy tail flying at her throat with high speed.

 

A beam of light from the sky severed the pointy metallic tail. In a second, Talya came crashing down from the sky, pinning the insect to the ground and running it's head through with one of her spears. "We'll never be even at this rate!" the white female commented. "The bridge!" Ariaka shrieked, seeing a large group of the insects advance on the village. "What are you waiting for? Use your elemental power!" Talya shouted at her friend. "I don't even know what it is! I was able to control the water and make few pebbles explode, not to mention I was never good at it in the first place!" Ariaka said as the two ran toward the bridge. "Remember when the Ramas attacked? How we handled those?" Talya thought out loud, recalling another battle, defending from the airborne rahi at the time. "It has to work, no other choice!" Ariaka gasped as the insects were almost at the village. Ariaka knelt, a sphere of liquid protodermis forming between the talons on her left hand. Talya put her spears on each side of the sphere, focusing her light energy through them. The protodermis started to hiss and buzz, starting to glow violet, than orange and finally turning yellow. "Eat plasma!" the two females said and Ariaka forced the protodermis towards the invaders. The yellow stream of superheated metal cut right through the insects lined up on the narrow bridge, leaving nothing but smoldering corpses in it's wake.

Evacuation

 

That was how my first battle ended. For now, the village was safe, though I was worried about the other three. If they sent similar force at them at the same time, there was no way to help them all. We sent out scouts to check on them, and one to the Void. The Void was a strange area in the middle of our small continent. It looked like death made that place it's home. The only color was gray, once from volcanic ash that covered the entire area, once from the clouds that forever obstructed the sun. The strangest thing though was the place we called the End of the world. All of a sudden, the ground opened up into a large, dark and seemingly bottomless hole. And as our scouts confirmed, that was indeed where the invaders came from. The prophecy didn't lie. The monsters from the depths have arrived.

 

There was a lot of commotion in Ga – Koro after the siege. Particularly because of the damage that needed to be fixed, but most of the inhabitants were gathered on the central pad in a circle around the tall warrior. A warrior whose first thought was to run away from all the attention and questions. Ariaka was relieved when the village leader arrived at the scene with some answers even to her own questions.

 

Over the months since their discovery, the village leaders have been translating more of the prophecy. The only parts they were able to read right away was the warning about the Voidwalkers (That's what they were calling the invaders, since the scouts confirmed that is where they came from), and the Trinity – three guidelines that shaped their life. Their military code. Loyalty, obedience, sacrifice - all represented by three diamonsd drawn in a vertical line, surrounded by two jagged lines. The rest was written in a strange dialect of their own language. The letters were all composed of hexagons, rings and lines, and were written from left to right, whereas Tarans used only bars of various thicknesses written top-down.

 

The turmoil seemed to come to a stop as the elder started speaking. The red Te – Taran rolled up a scroll made of materials harvested from local plants, with the prophecy already translated to their own language. "As you all know, the attack has been foretold. The monsters from the depths have arrived, and the End time is near. Sooner or later, the world as we know it will come to an end." A few gasps rose from the crowd, followed by whispers as everyone started fiercely chatting about the commander's words. Ariaka snapped her fingers in a loud metallic clang. The effect was immediate as the whispers died down and everyone focused their attention on the commander. Ariaka couldn't hide a smile on her face. Apparently being two times taller than the others earned you respect by default.

 

"I and the other commanders have been trying to translate the rest of the prophecy." The leader continued, "We do not know what the end of the world means, but even if it is as bad as it sounds, we now know, that in the darkest hour, mighty warriors called Integra will rise to banish the enemy and unlock the gates of Tara." The elder trailed off, looking at Ariaka. The blue Integra (she loved that name) gave the words a thought. "Wait, warriors… As in plural?" she said, her eyes widening. "That is what the texts say, though they do not mention when they will arrive. Anyway, the others and I agree – it is no longer safe to stay in the villages. We will evacuate to Zarta Nui!"

 

Silence fell upon the gathering. Ariaka wasn't too happy, as she saw where this was going. Sure, the Great Fortress was built for defense, especially if Tarans from all villages were dug in there. But they would need her and the guard to escort them there. The commander sensed her worry: "Our scouts have informed the other commanders. All other Tarans are on the sea and on their way here. Our strength is in numbers." Ariaka nodded as the commander dismissed the gathering to start preparing for the evacuation.

 

Ariaka caught up with Talya in her hut. The Mi – Taran asked her to accompany her while she scouts ahead. They need to plan the road to take them well around the void. Wordlessly, they picked up their gear and left the village. "So, what happened? You said they got to you?" Talya inquired. "I have trouble making heads or tails of it myself. Come, let me show you." The integra said, leading to the cave she fell into. They carefully slid down the crevice, landing in the dome. The sight made Talya gasp. "Just as I left it." Ariaka said, stroking the cheek of her dead Taran body. She couldn't shake the feeling that the fact her original helmet and the one she was wearing now were exactly the same wasn't a coincidence. "Oh my, they messed you up!" Talya exclaimed, looking at the broken figure on the chair. Ariaka waved her hand and the ground not far away opened up to a bowl shape. She picked up her dead body and carried it to the grave.

 

"You know, huge as you are, how are you alive? We know these are the source of our life, and they do not last long in combat." Talya said, pointing at a green crystal at her chest, "I don't see any on you." Ariaka smiled: "Maybe that's the point." She said, taking the chest plate off of her. And in the middle of her bare chest was a giant teal crystal, pulsing as it was sending power to every part of her body. Talya's jaw flew open. "That could last for eternity!" Ariaka smiled and put her plate back to it's place. "Speaking of which…" the integra said and bow down and snatched the power crystal off her former body. "I saw how you exerted yourself. You'll need all you can get." She said and pushed her crystal over Talya's. "It's also a promise," she said, "You're the best friend I have. I want us to be together until the world ends, and beyond. Or, at least, a part of us." She said, looking the Mi – Taran in the eyes. Talya was speechless for a whole minute. "With the two of us, we will never fall." She finally replied, bumping fists with her friend. They buried the dead body. "Goodbye old friend." Ariaka whispered, and then it happened.

 

She felt herself flatten on the ground and heard Talya's concerned shouts, but she couldn't see her. She saw the fortress, with all the Tarans gathered, facing hundreds of Voidwalkers laying siege to the Zarta Nui. As far as she could see, they were holding out. But she wasn't with them. She was out in the field, devastating the enemy charge. The vision then shifted, and she saw the world through her eyes. She was on her knees. The insects have grabbed her arms. She was defeated. Raising her sight, she saw a white blade flying towards her head.

 

The vision ended there. Her eyes were recovering from the dark, and she heard muffled talk. "…iaka! Talk to me!" Talya's words were pounding on her receptors. She felt her fist slamming on her chest. She forced her eyes open and sat down, if only to calm Talya down. "What happened to you? And why is your helmet shining?!" she shouted her questions. At those words, something unlocked in Ariaka's head. She took her helmet off, and the white shine vanished from it. "Kanohi…" she whispered, looking at the silver mask. "Come again?" Talya said, quizzical look on her face. "Kanohi. It is an ancient word. I do not know where that came from, but this is no ordinary helmet. This is a kanohi. It means mask. They have powers like the Solix we use." Ariaka explained. "And what kind of Solix would make you pass out cold for a minute? What power is that?" The Mi – Taran shrugged angrily. "I think I saw future. We were at the fortress… I was defeated. They were just about to terminate me!" She shuddered, her head hanging down in a resigning motion. Talya grabbed the integra's shoulders and shook her violently: "About to! But you didn't see them do so! Or did you already forgot that promise?" she said hardly. "No!" Ariaka shook her head, "You're right. Let's go!" she said and pushed the Kanohi on her face, getting up.

 

They didn't talk much for the rest of their mission, alone with their thoughts. When they found one answer, they found three more questions to be answered. Nothing made sense. Who made the prophecy? Why did it happen now? Was it a coincidence she fund the integra now? The more she thought about it, the more she believed their lives were not in their hands. They were merely pawns in some greater power's hands. And no matter how the vision she had ended, she knew one thing. She didn't want to die as somebody's pawn, and she will do everything to protect her people from the same. And in time, she will find those who controlled their fates, and free herself and the Tarans, or perish trying.

 

When they returned to Ga – Koro, the villagers form Le -, Po - and Onu - Koro have arrived. Ariaka was put through more torture as all the glances were cast towards her. She was praying in her mind for the Voidwalkers to attack now, just so she could avoid the questions.

 

There was a lot of weight on her shoulders. She used to be a lone wolf until few hours ago. She only had to care about herself most of the time, sometimes she even had others looking out for her. Now, EVERYONE was looking to her for protection. It will be her crucible. If she survives this, she would feel confident on taking on anything. At least Talya promised her to be there with the guards of all four villages to help her. She would take point, leading the large group towards the fortress, with guards covering the flanks. Talya and other elites will be coming last, setting up traps behind them as they went. They will leave at midnight in the cover of the dark.

 

The evacuation was almost a success. They didn't meet any Voidwalker on their way to the fortress, but that came as no surprise to Ariaka. Her vision was pretty clear. The Voidwalkers were gathering for one final battle at the fortress, like they knew they were coming there. "Integra Ariaka!" somebody shouted behind her just as the fortress came into view. She turned to face a green and grey Ky – Taran. "Yes? What is it?" she asked, kneeling to be in eye to eye height with her comrades. She wasn't sure if they appreciated the gesture, but she wasn't doing it for them. She did that for herself, to convince herself she was still one of them. "The rear group!" The villager gasped trying to catch a breath, apparently after a long run, "We lost contact with them." Ariaka's heart sunk, but she could not leave the point, or the Voidwalkers might change their mind. Their defeat at her and Talya's hands might have caused them to stay back for now, but if both of them were absent, they might just take the chance. It was probably just a rahi anyway. The Tarans entered the fortress, and not a moment too soon. Just as the gate was barricaded behind them, the first insects appeared on the horizon.


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#2 Offline Mr. Coffee

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Posted Dec 30 2012 - 04:53 AM

Siege

 

This was it. The army that stood against us was numerous and terrible. We didn't fear them. It wasn't an emotion easily evoked in us. But the realists among us saw that there was no way we could hold them off for long, even with the protection of the fortress and the new me to help. And I was in no condition to fight this battle. I was fine physically, but my thoughts kept straying to the missing Mi – Taran. I felt hopeless, just like that time I was ambushed by the Walkers. It won't be until after the battle when I would realize what I felt.

 

Ariaka was silently standing in one of the fortress buildings. Zarta Nui was nothing like the villages they occupied before. There were two lines of high walls protecting the buildings inside: A castle with enough room to house all Taran at the time of need, a complex of buildings to support the defense – forges to repair weapons and armor, hospital to repair injuries and more. And the most impressive of all, a massive temple, the Kini Magna. That was the place where the prophecy was found, carved into it's walls. The integra was staring at the walls of writing, brushing her hand over the relief of strange letters. It was still a mystery. Who built all this, and their villages?

 

As far as their sailors and fliers dared to go, there was nothing but endless ocean around their small continent, and on it, Tarans were the only species capable of building such things. Were the buildings a remnant of a civilization gone extinct? Did the Voidwalkers vanquish them? Or did some higher power built the villages for them? Ariaka shook the thoughts away. She could be a philosopher when she cannot fight anymore. Now she had to deal with something much more dangerous than the mysteries of existence.

 

She informed the Commanders on her plan to go out of the fortress to actually counterattack the enemy while the Tarans made their last stand. If the insects' attack stalled, then they would all go on the offensive and hopefully drive them back to the worldhole they crawled out of. If they gained the upper hand, Volunteers from the guard will stand with her to buy the others time to flee back to Ga – Koro and board the ships they used to get there. Then they will set in different courses, in hopes of finding new land to build a future on. And if she was the last Taran standing, Ariaka would elease all the power contained within her crystal. Such intensive blast of elemental energy would short her out, but it would also obliterate the Voidwalkers, preventing them from endangering anyone else anymore.

 

However, the Commanders did not agree with her plan. It was the Le – Koro commander who finally dared to summon her. She reached the central chamber of the castle, where the four commanders were sat behind a crescent shaped table. She did the formal salute, although seeing the giant showing respect to the four Tarans was an amusing sight to the guards at the chamber's door. "Ah, Integra. We have gone over your proposal of our strategy, and unfortunately, we can not agree with it." The commander said to her. She stood there silently, bidding them to continue with their opinion. "We feel that you should remain in the fortress, and if necessary, escort us to Ga – Koro. There is no knowing if this army is all of the insects, or if more groups are waiting for us somewhere else." They continued, but Ariaka wasn't listening. Her mask lit up again, this time not giving her a vision, but telling her there was a selfish motive behind their leards' words. Not in a voice, more like a feeling. And the feeling made her boil.

 

"Lies!" She shouted, her hands clutching into fists. The sight of the angered integra with her mask giving of bright white light was enough to put the commanders to their seats. "You, they are looking up to you for leadership! And you would put your own safety ahead of them?!" she continued yelling. "Someone will have to look out for them, ensure the survival of our way of life, respect for the Trinity." One of the commanders objected, but Ariaka's fists slamming into the table with enough force to send chips of it flying made them all shut up. She laughed madly into their faces: "The Trinity! Do you even know what it stands for anymore? What you are trying to do here is not anywhere near loyal to our people! No – This is where you can make your sacrifice for the people, if you dwell on our ways so much!" There was genuine fear on the commanders' faces. Ariaka could hardly blame them. She saw herself in a mirror earlier that day, and she had to admit she wouldn't want the image to be mad at her. She even understood the commander being afraid for their lives. But putting the lives of the others on the line was unacceptable. She might be an idealist. She might want to save them all, even though deep down she knew that was not an option. But she will try, even if it's the end of her. "Ariaka, we can get the guard captains to talk about this…" the commander tried one last save, but Ariaka waved her hand at them: "Then tell them how you want others to die to save your skins, and that I could use four Tarans in the field with me." She threatened and left the chamber.

 

It was only after the door shut behind her that she realized what she has done. By challenging the leaders, she assumed command herself. All deaths because of bad strategy will now be on her. But strangely, she felt ready for the task. Now that she looked back, her personality suffered a complete overhaul since she woke up in the warrior body. Suddenly, she felt better about their chances. Since she shown up, Tarans were looking up to her for protection and guidance. Was this the step she needed to make? If only she had Talya on her side. But she didn't.

 

She made her way to the central square, where majority of the Tarans were gathered. Judging by the absence of the guards at the end of her conversation with the former commanders, the word has already spread. She leapt on to the small podium in front of the gathering. All eyes focused on her in an instant. "Warriors of Tara!" She begun, "The End time has arrived! This is our greatest battle, on which end is either salvation, or extinction! I can not offer safety for all of you. I can not guarantee we will all survive. But I promise you, I will do my best to try! Stay strong and look out for each other! Do not doubt yourselves, do not cower! United, we will prevail!" she shouted over the crowd, raising her sword. A single cheer was all the response she needed. "Man your stations! Show them just how strong we are!" she shouted and the masses begun to move. She herself summoned her weapons from her inventory and unfolded her wings. Picking up a spare Hau solix from a nearby storage, she opened the spare chamber in her mask and put it in gently. The circular chip started to glow, integrated into her system. Satisfied, she locked the chamber shut and swung her wings.

 

The integra landed on the crenellations just above the gate. The Voidwalkers were indeed lining up for their charge already. There were hundreds of them, and only one of her. But she wasn't afraid of them. Her determination banished her fear into the darkest corner of her mind, freeing her senses and preparing her for the battle. She stood firm on the wall. The Voidwalkers were standing on the plains, their glowing eyes all pointed at her. "We got them Zeroed in." the taran on her right side reported. A hateful frown appeared on Ariaka's face: "Fire…"

 

Dozens of ballistae hidden behind the walls launched long iron projectiles, aimed at the Walkers' front line. At the same time, the insects started running towards the walls with speed Ariaka didn't think they could make. The spiked still decimated their center. She let out a roar and jumped down from the walls, landing in front of the gate with a large thud. She chose this place as the gate was the wall's weak link. In a response, hail of ice shards and stones carried by strong blows of wind was headed for her. She felt the solix of shielding activte, and a bubble appeared around her, blocking all the projectiles. She smiled as it didn't take nearly as much power from her as she expected. End time has come indeed - she thought - but not for us. With that, she charged at the approaching group of black insects. Their claws slammed to the ground, opening a crack beneath her. She responded with her wings, launching and flipping in midair, swinging her doublesword and slicing their heads off. At the same time, another volley of arrows launched from behind the walls, but missed terribly. "They are too close for the cannons! On the walls, now!" she ordered as she made her way in the middle of the enemy.

 

The competition was getting fiercer as the strikes from Tarans on the walls weren't nearly as destructive as the ballistae. She was still learning something new about herself with every blow. For one thing, she figured her offhand weapon was an elemental energy focuser. Using that to strike her enemies with jets of liquid protodermis took much less power from her than any other means. She also found out she couldn't make the liwuid turn into stone on it's way.

 

The worst part were the red insect though. The streams of fire lashed at her were blocked off by her Hau, but that did not neutralize the heat. Slowly but steadily, she was overheating from their charge. "ENOUGH!" she yelled and jumped, as she forced great amount of power through her circuits. A small tidal wave rose all around her, filled with sharp spikes and splashed on the offenders, making holes and deep dents in them. The attack left her body slightly smoking. She wasn't sure if it was the result of the overload or just water vaporizing from her heated surface, but she didn't have time for that now. As it turned out, the green insects were actually able to fly, and one group of them was headed straight for the walls.

 

In a desperate attempt to stop them from their goal, she engaged her Huna and moved slightly, growing several stalagmites of metal where she stood. Then with a swing of her hand, they broke off, flown in the direction of the fliers and impaled them. Then she felt a strong kick to her back and was sent flying.

 

She crashed into the mud and immediately rolled out of the way, just in time to see a white blade splash where she just was. She kicked the legs from under the insect and jumped to her feet, roundhouse kicking it few bio away. She was surrounded. Apparently, the insects noticed her shadow. She switched back to the Hau, but only sparks exploded in her face. The impact must have damaged the solix. Hearing another blade whistling through the air, she turned around and slammed her fist into it from the side, breaking it to pieces. She countered with her own blade, stabbing it into the creature's side. But she knew where this was going.

 

This was the scene from her vision. True enough, another flat strike from behind, this time to her knees, made her fall to the ground. She felt grip on her arms as two of the creatures raised her, facing the one to deliver the blow that would end her life. She could her a few desperate cries from the wall, but any strike the Tarans could launch would be too late. She couldn'T even use another overcharge like with the fire insects, still not recovered enough from it. At least the vision didn't show her dying, like Talya said. The ice walker's blade shot towards her throat.

 

Her mask lit up, and her time perception slowed down. All of a sudden, the walker's blade simply cracked and shattered just before terminating her. That however only seemed to halt her demise for a few seconds. As soon as the insects recovered from the surprise, all of them lunged at her… and were shortly after pierced by beams of white light. With a whizz, a white and gold figure appeared in front of her. "That's one more life you owe me!" the warrior said. Undoubtedly, she was looking at another integra. But those words and voice were familiar. "Tal!" Ariaka shouted in surprise. The light integra nodded, readying her two lances for a fight. "How?" Ariaka inquired. "Later, we have a bug problem to deal with!" Talya replied as the two got up. A wave of cheers roared from the walls, as the Tarans noticed the new warrior on the field. The two integra nodded at each other and charged towards the voidwalkers.


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