IC: Sala (Farshore, Le-Metru Nuva)
Swiftly exiting the holding chamber, Sala followed behind the battle-ready Toa Juno as he led the way towards where he knew the Toa were being held, and most likely currently fighting to get out. Although the Vahki were on high-alert, as cell block upon cell block began to fail, they were still momentarily surprised when they spotted the two unknown intruders, being left with just a moment to process the two intruders before being struck by stone projectiles, consumed in the fiery explosion of a Rhotuka, or cleaved in twain by the air itself.
Running forth through the halls, having already dispatched more than a dozen Vahki on the way, the two took a bend and at last arrived at the Toa holding block. Throughout the chamber, Toa and Vahki were engaged in a vicious battle. Though the Toa lacked both masks and weapons, they still fought with both skill and power, that which was expected from such heroes, even after being trapped for who knows how long. But both Sala and Juno could tell that the fight was going south. The Vahki had both numbers and abilities, with a number of Toa having already been incapacitated.
Quickly jumping into action, Juno tossed Sala a sack that clattered into the Su-Matoran’s arms as he himself went to work. Materializing and launching chunks of stones, Juno both struck and crushed several Vahki while also reshaping the place to help separate the wearied Toa from the relentless police force.
Looking into the bag, Sala found it filled with Kanohi of various types, and though none looked to be great, let alone noble Kanohi, he already knew what to do with them. Running towards the nearest Toa, Sala tossed them one of the masks from the sack. Catching it and placing it upon their face, a noticeable shift was seen throughout their body as the mask transitioned in color into a crimson red. Filled with a strength that they hadn’t felt for decades, the Toa of Fire let out a mighty roar as he blasted out two terrible columns of fire that instantly incinerated a dozen Vahki.
And so it went, as the tide of battle slowly shifted to the Toa’s favor, with Sala passing out the masks he carried, and with Toa once again being able to wield their elements and unleashing them upon their mechanical oppressors. Within a matter of minutes, the sound of crackling flame and lightning, rushing wind and water, crunching earth and ice, and warping gravity and magnetism ceased as the Vahki were at last dealt with. But the Toa didn’t have long till reinforcements arrived, and more than a quarter of their number were currently out of commission.
Standing within the middle of the cell block, Sala felt like an odd-man out amongst all these Toa, who were briefly celebrating their escape with each other. Then, he heard as Juno called out his name, as the Toa of Stone was quickly approaching him.
“Hey Sala! We did i-”
“JUNO YOU KARZING BRAKAS!”
The angered voice of a female Toa of Lightning broke the general murmur within the room as they approached Juno, who for his part, had a wide grin plastered on his face...Till the Vo-Toa gave them a fierce backhand slap to the face, eliciting a collective wince from most of the other Toa who were watching, and then dragged them in for a brief kiss.
Shoving Juno away and wiping her mouth, they at last spoke again. “Juno you karzing brakas, what did I tell you. Don’t do anything stupid. This...This is stupid, you could’ve been captured.”
“First off, I missed you. Second off, I’m sorry Vulimai, but I had no choice. Dume was really twisting my arm on this one. And besides, it wasn’t like I was doing everything by myself. I had help from Sala over there.” Juno said, gesturing towards Sala, causing Vulimai to snap her attention in his direction.
Being put on the spot, as nearly every Toa within the room were now looking at him, Sala shifted uncomfortably as Vulimai approached.
“Sala? What sort of Toa are you?”
“Um, Uh...Well...Actually, Uh...Here, let me just show you.” With a hiss of steam, the chestplate of Avagah once more lifted up, revealing Sala and his Matoran self.
From the assembled Toa, a few gasp, others looked on incredulously, and some simply nodded impressed. Vulimai for her part, gave Sala a once over as he sat within Avagah, before speaking once more.
“Well...If you were able to deal with this Brakas till this point, then there must be something Dume saw in you. Good work and welcome aboard, Sala.”
Turning her attention to the assembled Toa, Vulimai barked out in the military tone she was known for. “TOA, LISTEN UP! The Vahki are going to be on us soon! We need to get to the evidence hold and retrieve both our masks and Toa tools! Me, Juno, Bronk, Twesh, and Sala will take the lead!”
“Any Toa of fire, plasma, and lightning will follow behind and strike down any resistance we encounter! Toa of earth, stone, and ice will create fortifications for us to hide behind and close off our escape! Toa of air and gravity will deflect and redirect any Kanoka disks the Vahki launch at us! Toa of Iron and Magnetism will help wherever they are needed! The rest of you will carry the incapacitated behind us!”
“Understood? Good! Now move out Toa!”
Through sheer commanding presence, all of the Toa in attendance silently nodded their heads in agreement with the comparatively young Toa’s commands, with even the more hardened and grizzled Toa veterans begrudgingly respecting Vulimai’s orders.
Though Sala personally didn’t want to spearhead this escape, he already knew he wasn’t going to be able to argue with Vulimai. Following after Vulimai and Juno, Sala looked on as Juno greeted his friends and fellow Toa, Bronk and Twesh, giving the stoic Toa of earth a traditional Toa greeting and the anxious Toa of air a pat on the back.
Staring ahead, Sala wasn’t sure what to do till he felt a hardy slap on the back as Vulimai spoke up, nodding towards the hatchet within Avagah’s clutches.
“You know how to use that thing?” Sala only numbly nodded. “Good, we’re going to need your help to get out of here.”
With the Toa at last ready to move out, Vulimai, her Toa team, and Sala began to lead the way out towards the evidence hold, to retrieve the tools long taken from them. The Toa moved swiftly and cautiously through the tower’s halls, keeping the incapacitated within the middle of the group, as walls of stone, earth, ice, and iron blocked the corridors behind them, preventing pursuit from the Vahki. Near the front, Juno, memorizing the route and tracing it himself while Sala was in the vents, led the way forwards.
But their travel wasn't unimpeded, as the occasional patrol of Vahki would appear. But quickly the mechanized security force were annihilated by a destructive display of fire, plasma, and lightning, the Vahki’s attacks deflected and thrown off course by either gusts of wind or twists of gravity, or being blocked entirely by walls of earth and stone.
Sala, though he tried to help as best he could, launching Rhotukas or cutting waves of winds from his axe, mostly watched in awe as the other Toa exhibited such control and power with their elements; Vulimai, launching crackling bolts of lightning while dodging just as fast as the bolts, Twesh, redirecting and launching back Kanoka disks with unerring accuracy through wind currents alone, and Bronk and Juno combining efforts, cutting off side passages and smashing Vahki units with collapsing walls of stone and earth.
Reaching the evidence hold, the doors of the room were sent flying off their hinges, one of the doors striking down and crushing a Vahki who was stationed to keep watch. Swiftly entering the room and blasting any Vahki who attempted to stop them, Vulimai quickly shouted out yet another string of orders.
“Bring the incapacitated in first, then retrieve the tools and masks for everyone else! Toa of earth, stone, and ice, further secure the entrance! Toa of magnetism and iron, breach the walls! Toa of air and gravity, get ready to ferry everyone out! MOVE!”
Doing as they were told, the sounds of battle, accompanied by the crackling of ice and rumbling of stone and earth, were heard just outside the room as Toa broke into the evidence hold to retrieve their and their fellows' lost gear. Tearing into lockers and storage crates, Toa came rushing out, arms laden with masks and weapons, many of them being reclaimed by their former owners.
Looking on towards the proceedings from the side, Vulimai gratefully freed the armful of items that Bronk had taken from the locker, a black Matatu now upon his face and a large club with an iron spear tip on his back. Reclaiming her items, Vulimai placed her old Kaukau back upon her face, strapping her large shield to one arm while doing a quick flourish with her halberd in the other. Twesh, with his finicky hands, eagerly took the double slotted Kanoka launcher, his hands quickly growing still as they settled into their natural place along the weapons form, him strapping his shortsword to his hip while once again donning his mask of sensory aptitude.
At this rate, nothing was going to stop their escape; the Toa were freed and armed once again, eager and capable of retaking this city from Ehlek and his army. But...Something lingered in the back of Sala’s mind, something that Dume told him before he left...
“Sala...You must know that I have reasons to believe that what you seek lies within the deepest levels of that prison. There, your path will be illuminated. That is all.”
…With those words lingering within his mind, the Su-Matoran knew that he couldn’t leave. Not yet.
The entrance to the hold was completely sealed by overlapping layers of earth, stone, and ice, as Vahki on the outside beat against it, trying to break in. Many of the Toa who had been incapacitated earlier, were beginning to come to, ready to assist in the escape, as a large gaping hole out into the outside was on one wall, with Toa of gravity and air ready to assist the descent and escape.
Turning towards Juno and Vulimai, Sala spoke out, before it was too late, “Toa Vulimai, Toa Juno, I can’t leave yet. Turaga Dume told me something before we left, that what I sought was within the deepest levels of the prison. You all can escape while you can, but I can’t leave.” Sala said, determination filling his voice.
Vulimai looked towards Sala, before turning her attention towards Juno, who only shrugged in response, till catching two nearby Toa’s attention, a Toa of iron and a Toa of magnetism, both bearing a red and blue Kakama respectfully. “You two, can you two tear a hole leading into the floor beneath us?”
“Yes, but...Why?” The Toa of iron asked. “You don’t question me Toa, I gave you an order.” Vulimai quickly snapped back.
“Alrighty then, Ms. Commander and Chief.” The Toa of iron rolled his optics as he gestured for his female companion to assist him, the two of them quickly boring a hole into the floor and dashing off towards where the other Toa were getting ready to escape.
“My duty is to my charges Sala, and you as a Matoran are one of my charges. You lead the way, we’ll have your back.” Vulimai said, as Juno gave a thumbs up and Bronk simply offered a nod in agreement.
Sala was surprised at the willingness of Vulimai and her team in helping him, but he appreciated it all the same. As Toa began to either fly or slowly descend out of the side of the tower, Sala led the way down into the hole below, Avagah landing with a heavy thud as the other four Toa followed behind. Exiting the room they all found themselves in, the five of them began to rush through the halls, seeking the elevator, with them thankfully not encountering any resistance from the Vahki, who had abandoned this floor.
Reaching the elevator, the five of them crowded into the space, as Sala inspected the elevator panel. Looking towards the panel with a scrutinizing optic, Sala noticed a closed hatch at the bottom of the panel, and ripping it off with Avagah’s strength, he found a singular button. Pressing it, the doors quickly sealed shut as the elevator began its descent into the depths of darkness that soon enveloped them.
As the elevator descended, deeper and deeper into the tower and its sublevels, the lights eventually gave way to a dim red glow as Bronk informed everyone that they had surpassed the Archives in depth. “Where are we going?” Sala thought to himself at that comment.
Eventually at last, the elevator halted and opened its doors, though no sound came from it, as a haunting silence pervaded the shadowed room ahead of them, a light mist weaving its way along the floor. Sala, taking the first step, momentarily hesitated as a sickening wet sound squashed beneath Avagah’s foot.
The large chamber they all stepped in had a damp, sickening stench to it, a smell that made one choke on it. It was like that of rotting fruit and flesh, yet it also stung the senses, like burning ozone. This initial sensory reaction made it hard for Sala and the Toa to take more than a few steps into the room, with Twesh even removing his own mask of sensory aptitude to save himself from the scent of it.
But, trudging on, they made their way forwards, their feet making wet sopping noises all the way. Reaching a brief corridor, Bronk held his hand against the walls of it, and was left disturbed. Though the wall appeared to be made of solid silver protodermis, it held an all too organic texture and left a numb electrical sensation on the Toa’s hand. The next room didn’t lift their spirits anymore, as it only beheld more horror.
Exiting the corridor, they entered a long chamber, the floor was still lightly obscured by mist, as all along the walls were large test tubes, filled with some silver liquid and lit by a sickly green hue that reminded Sala of the Far Shore all too much. Approaching one of the large tubes, Sala peered in through the glass, seeing that whatever substance filled it was silver like Protodermis, yet electrical currents seem to flow through it. But, as he looked into it, his breath caught in his throat as his heartlight shuddered, as a shape of a body became apparent.
The shape was vaguely like that of a Vortixx, though severe alterations had been done to it, as cybernetic augments covered its body, with tubes and wires sticking out and attaching it to the device that held the container. But that wasn’t the worst part, as other body parts, from other Protoderms, were seen attached to the horrifically altered figure. Then as Sala stepped back, a golden light from above lit the entire chamber, revealing the contents of the dozens of test tubes, each containing a poor non-Toa, non-Matoran, non-Turaga Protoderm, each being grafted with mechanical parts and pieces from other beings. It was a gruesome display, a lab of a mad man.
<< Ah, it appears I have guests. Welcome to my laboratory >> A mechanically synthesized voice came from all around them.
Vulimai was the first one to speak up, holding her weapons in a readied position, “Ehlek! You sick monster! What have you done?”
<< Oh, you mean my experiments? I will admit, these Failures have not lived up to my expectations. But in the name of progress, not much can be done for them >>
Trying to find where the voice was coming from, the Toa and Sala followed their gaze upwards, and could hardly believe what they beheld, with Twesh vomiting on the spot and Sala nearly doing the same. The chamber’s ceiling rose needlessly high, for everyone to crane their necks back to look at it, but they all wished they hadn’t; as covering the ceiling and the upper portions of the walls were bodies, their limbs fused together, their torsos torn open, as black wires and cables ran through...A sickly green light shimmering throughout.
Sala fell backwards, gazing at the grotesque image. Those faces, he’d seen them before, in the Far Shore. The winds, the desperate winds, they were them. But, Sala, and the horror-stricken Toa couldn’t look for long, as the synthetic voice spoke once more.
<< But, these failures could be of use in another way...Eliminating pesty intruders. >>
With that, a hissing sound came from around them, as the pods began to open, draining the silver energized fluid and releasing the monsters inside, who shakily jerked to life. One command was on Vulimai’s mind as the Things soon began to move for them.
Bronk, Twesh, and Vulimai immediately began to run towards the other end of the chamber, but Juno turned as he went to help Sala back onto his feet. With Sala now up from the floor, the two of them began to bolt after the other three Toa. All around them, horrors shambled forth; Monstrous blends between Steltian species, Skakdi fused down the middle, Vortixx reconfigured into Rahi-like shapes, it was a new-breed of terror on every side.
Utilizing their elements as best they can, the Toa attempted to slow the pursuit of the shambling creatures, with gusts of wind, arcs of lightning, and walls of stone and earth. Sala for his part simply ran as fast as he could, his eyes near-shut to the grotesques around him. But even with all their efforts, the occasional claw still swung out, cutting into flesh and frame. The only one untouched was Sala, warded by Avagah’s mechanized construction, though still bits and pieces were damaged.
Nearing the end of the chamber, another passage made itself evident as the five of them neared it. Reaching the archway, Vulimai waited and waved in everyone else, loosing another arcing chain of lightning to keep the horrors away from them. With everyone out of the previous chamber, Vulimai rushed in as she called out to Bronk and Juno, “SEAL IT!”
On command, the two Toa strained their elemental might, as they pulled on the earth and stone nearby and materialized it before them, sealing the way out in rubble and rock. Granted a brief moment reprieve, their moment of peace was shattered as they looked at the room around them.
They found themselves within a large, domed chamber, with no other apparent entrances or exits being obvious. Along and across both the floors and walls, were flowing veins of circuitry, the same sickly green light flowing along them. Within the center of the chamber, was a ring of consoles and terminals, circling a raised pedestal. Upon the pedestal, sat a chair, currently facing away from the five of them. And extending down from the ceiling just above it, was a tangled mass of metal and wires that seemed to coil around...Something.
As the five individuals looked towards the chair, Vulimai carefully led the way as they stepped around the chair and central platform, ready for whatever they may find sitting upon it. But what they weren’t expecting, was the desiccated remains of a Matoran, an orange Pakari upon his face.
Sala muttered out from under his breath, as realization took hold. “Wait...That’s, Nupar-”
“So...You have made it to the Codrex. I suppose congratulations are in order. I would clap, but...Well...I’m not exactly corporeal anymore.”
The optics behind the mask began to flash alongside the words that were spoken, a golden light filling through them. The voice was distinctly Matoran, yet it was still mechanized and unlike the one spoken in the previous chamber.
“Before you begin asking inane and obvious questions, let me answer them for you. Yes, it is I, Nuparu, the greatest inventor this universe has ever known. The peak of my genius having been achieved the day Metru-Nui fell. It was there, with the city’s collapse, that I integrated myself into the Vahki network. It was only through that I survived.”
“As for the Barraki and the guise of Ehlek still ruling the city, well...It seems Ehlek attempted the same thing as I, unfortunately for him, my will was stronger and I quickly overwhelmed his mind, turning him into a puppet. Through that, I sent the Vahki after the other Barraki and quickly captured and killed them. As punishment for their sins.”
Though the attention of the attending Toa were squarely upon Nuparu, or at least his corpse, Sala’s eye was on another portion of the room, one that wasn’t immediately obvious upon first entering. It was a large device, in near pristine condition, unlike the one Sala saw before he entered the Far Shore. It was the same device that seemed to have willed Nuju’s presence.
“Ah, I see you have been infatuated with my second greatest achievement. It's a machine capable of infusing a being with a Kanoka disk of time. I originally was building it for Dume...Till he replaced me. Apparently he was intending on using it to prevent the League’s war before Tuyet stole it and finished it. BUT, unfortunately for her, she never got the chance to use it. I made sure of that.”
“But...Why? Why do all this?! The oppression, the experiments, the guise? Why are you doing this Nuparu?” Sala cried out, turning his attention on the body upon the silver throne he sat upon.
“Because Sala...̶I̴ ̴h̸a̸v̵e̶ ̴g̵o̸n̴e̸ ̴b̶e̴y̷o̷n̴d̵ ̷m̷y̶ ̸m̴o̵r̶t̵a̷l̵ ̷c̴o̸n̶c̴e̶p̸t̸i̷o̶n̶s̷.̵ ̶I̷ ̵h̴a̶v̸e̷ ̵s̴e̸e̷n̷ ̵t̶h̸e̶ ̶l̵i̵g̴h̶t̴ ̶o̵f̶ ̶M̶a̶t̷a̵-̷N̷u̴i̵.̵”̸ ̵
The voice that was Nuparu’s voice suddenly changed, as a new tone took hold, golden light beginning to flood his body's optical sockets, as the screens of the terminals illuminated a golden glow silhouting a mask, though the exact features of it were obscured in shadow.
“̷T̶h̸e̵ ̷L̶e̸a̵g̷u̸e̵ ̴s̶o̸u̸g̵h̸t̸ ̸t̸o̶ ̴d̷e̴s̷t̴r̵o̴y̵ ̶m̶y̴ ̷c̵h̶o̷s̸e̸n̶,̵ ̵t̵o̶ ̷d̴e̵f̴y̸ ̶m̷y̸ ̶w̵i̵l̷l̵.̵ ̶S̵o̷ ̴i̶n̶ ̴t̴u̷r̸n̶,̷ ̶I̵ ̵s̵o̴u̶g̴h̴t̸ ̵t̶o̶ ̷d̵e̶s̴t̸r̶o̴y̶ ̶t̴h̸e̴m̶.̵ ̶B̵u̷t̸,̸ ̷t̸h̶a̵t̸ ̶w̸a̷s̵ ̴n̶o̴t̴ ̶e̶n̷o̷u̸g̷h̵.̴ ̴T̴h̶e̶y̶ ̶n̶e̴e̷d̸e̷d̵ ̶t̸o̸ ̵a̶t̶o̴n̶e̷ ̶f̴o̸r̷ ̷t̸h̷e̴i̵r̷ ̷s̸i̵n̵s̴,̶ ̵a̶n̵d̷ ̵s̷o̴,̷ ̴I̴ ̷s̴h̸o̷w̷e̸d̴ ̷t̶h̵e̷m̶ ̶m̶y̷ ̵v̶i̸r̵t̸u̶e̶s̴ ̷a̵n̸d̵ ̸b̷e̶n̷t̸ ̵t̸h̷e̸m̸ ̶t̷o̷ ̴m̵y̷ ̴w̴i̴l̸l̴.̵”̴
Rising from the sides of the room, came five canisters, the fluids slowly draining as the voice continued.
“̴B̶u̶t̷ ̶i̶t̸ ̶s̸e̸e̸m̶s̵,̷ ̸t̶h̸e̵y̵ ̶w̸e̸r̷e̸ ̵n̵o̵t̵ ̴t̴h̵e̶ ̷o̸n̸l̵y̸ ̸t̸h̴r̵e̴a̷t̴s̶ ̷t̷o̷ ̵m̵y̸ ̷w̴i̵l̶l̸.̶ ̷I̵ ̷s̴h̸o̴w̶e̴d̷ ̵m̶e̵r̶c̵y̸ ̶t̵o̶ ̵t̸h̷o̸s̶e̸ ̷w̶h̷o̸ ̸p̸r̵o̶t̶e̶c̶t̶e̴d̸ ̵m̶y̵ ̵c̵h̵o̷s̵e̶n̸,̸ ̶a̶s̵ ̸a̸ ̶f̸i̵n̴a̷l̴ ̵t̵h̸a̶n̴k̶s̴ ̵f̴o̸r̸ ̵t̵h̵e̴i̴r̸ ̴D̸u̶t̸y̵ ̵a̶s̸ ̵t̷h̵e̴i̸r̷ ̶D̵e̷s̸t̴i̶n̷y̶’̸s̶ ̷w̴e̸r̸e̶ ̶f̶u̵l̶f̵i̴l̸l̸e̵d̸,̷ ̸b̸u̷t̸ ̸y̸o̸u̶ ̴h̷a̶v̴e̵ ̴b̸e̶t̴r̶a̵y̷e̵d̴ ̵m̷y̷ ̶t̵r̴u̴s̵t̴.̵ ̵N̸o̴w̷,̷ ̶o̴n̴c̵e̴ ̷I̷ ̴d̵e̷a̴l̸ ̷w̸i̸t̴h̸ ̴y̵o̴u̶ ̸f̵i̶v̶e̶,̸ ̷t̷h̵r̶o̸u̵g̸h̵ ̸t̴h̸e̴ ̵V̸a̶h̸k̴i̷,̴ ̵m̵y̸ ̶w̷i̵l̴l̸ ̵a̶t̴ ̷l̸a̶s̷t̵ ̶w̷i̵l̶l̶ ̸b̷e̸ ̷f̶u̵l̴l̷y̶ ̸r̶e̴a̶l̸i̵z̷e̶d̸.̸ ̴A̶n̶d̶ ̷i̷t̶ ̷w̷i̵l̷l̴ ̸n̸o̶t̵ ̷s̵t̸o̸p̵ ̵a̸t̸ ̴t̶h̴e̵ ̸T̷o̶a̷ ̸a̷n̸d̶ ̴t̸h̶e̷ ̶T̸u̶r̷a̸g̶a̷,̴ ̸e̴v̵e̴n̸ ̸t̸h̷e̸ ̷M̷a̸t̶o̸r̷a̴n̴ ̴s̵h̴a̴l̴l̷ ̸b̸e̴ ̵s̷h̷o̸w̵n̴ ̸t̷h̷e̴ ̸t̴r̸u̸t̷h̸ ̷l̶i̶k̷e̵ ̸N̸u̴p̵a̴r̷u̴.̸”̴
With those final words, the screens died as only a dim light remained behind Nuparu’s eyes. The canisters, fully draining the energized protodermis that filled them, opened, as a thick wave of mist piled out and filled the room, as the shadows of figures lurched, jerked, and skittered out. As the mists started to clear out, the figures at last came into sight, as they either loomed or stood near the central platform.
The figures were, or at least once were, the Barraki. But whatever noble warrior visages they had, whatever image they upheld as self-righteous justicars of an oppressed people, was long since gone, having now been turned into nightmarish versions of themselves longing to be unleashed.
The first that caught the attention of the Toa and Sala, was the figure that once was Takadox, now standing far above his comrades, as he seemingly stood uneasily upon four long needle tipped legs that rose into a Thorax-like construction that extended out of where his legs would be. His body was extended by the waist and shoulders, as the organic muscle of his arms were extended and left exposed, attached by a wire frame and ending in a vicious set of jagged hooked claws. His head, placed upon an arched neck, was the least modified, though still no less grotesque, as his mouth was turned into a series of mechanical mandibles and his eyes had been replaced with cybernetic sensors.
The next figure that stood out, was the mound of flesh and metal that once made up Carapar. Sala didn’t know how much of the damage that covered the melted flesh of the warlord was from Nuparu’s experiments or from another source entirely. But regardless, nearly the entirety of Carapar’s body had been replaced, the only thing that was obviously from his original form, was his plated head, his blank yet battle-hungry gaze peeking from the reinforced metal body that surrounded his head, the entire mass being supported by a pair of thick iron legs as it wielded a pair of powerful claws. In addition, traces of blue and red could be noticed behind the plating of his legs and arms.
Then there was the third figure, whose true form was hidden behind the two large black pauldron-like shields it wielded. But behind them, leered the hunter’s eye of Mantax, his other eye having been replaced with multiple red, gleaming optics. Amongst the form beneath the head of the warlord, was a writhing mass, with no solid shape being discerned from it.
On the far left of the assembled ex-warlords, the sound of scrapping metal was a constant, as the red form of the chain lord himself stood. Where his arms once were, there now existed a writhing mass of silver tendrils, extending far beyond his height, forcing him to drag his arms behind himself as they grated against the floor. In addition, seemingly coiling beneath his skin, writhed more of these tendrils, the silver tentacles occasionally peeking out through cuts within his flesh, a mass of them out his back, along his spine and going directly into the back of his head. Peering about, he gazed with his three cold optics, though the two optics below his central eye did not quite seem to be his own, a slight blue tinge around the edges.
The last one that shambled out, was the most grotesque and horrific. Pridak, the Takean King, The king of the League of Six Kingdoms, the one who first perpetuated the single greatest war the universe had ever known, now stood as a monstrous mockery of his former-self. Across his body, his skin had been flayed and removed, revealing the bare muscle and circuitry that laid beneath it. In addition, across his body existed dozens of blades and spikes that seemed to have been surgically implanted into his body, though around the edges of some of them, fresh blood oozed out. His limbs, they had been pulled and distended, out to an ungangly degree, braces wrapped around his joints keeping him from collapsing in on himself. Where once were the hands of a warrior, now existed half-a-bio long razors, borne to only rend flesh, and where once was the face of a king, now existed the hungry maw of a predator, his jaw evidently having been removed and reattached in order to accommodate the oversized teeth buried in it. His torso was hollowed out, with nearly all of his organs having been removed and instead replaced with various tubes and pipes, pumping in and out of some mechanism, which inside floated a silver and red fluid, bolts of energy coursing through it. The worst part though, was his eyes, as they were, unlike the others, aware. They were bloodshot, held wide open by metal staples, constant fury and agony clearly painted across them, though no sound came from his throat to vocalize these emotions.
Faintly, the voice came out once more, the faint glimmer of gold in Nuparu’s sockets although the monitors remained dead. “̶S̷a̷l̵a̵,̵ ̴I̸ ̸s̴h̸a̸l̴l̸ ̷e̷n̶j̴o̷y̴ ̷l̶e̵a̴r̷n̶i̶n̸g̵ ̴b̵y̷ ̷w̸h̷a̸t̵ ̴m̵e̸a̵n̶s̶ ̸y̶o̷u̸ ̷h̵a̴v̵e̷ ̸a̴r̶r̵i̷v̵e̴d̷ ̸h̵e̵r̴e̵.̶.̴.̵a̵n̵d̴ ̵w̵h̴y̷ ̸i̸s̶ ̷i̸t̶ ̷y̸o̸u̴ ̷h̷a̶v̴e̸ ̶c̶o̵m̵e̴ ̴t̵o̶ ̵b̷e̵ ̴m̷a̵r̸k̴e̴d̵ ̷b̵y̸ ̴o̴n̸e̴ ̶o̷f̵ ̵m̴y̴ ̷k̴i̸n̸.̴ ̴N̶o̸w̶,̸ ̷m̸y̷ ̶s̴i̵n̷n̵e̶r̷s̷,̷ ̵g̵o̶,̷ ̸a̶n̵d̴ ̵p̴a̵y̸ ̷y̸o̸u̷r̴ ̸p̸e̵n̷a̷n̴c̵e̴.̶”̶
Swiftly, the Barraki moved forwards in a vicious assault, their bodies shuddering in protest as they did so with the Toa immediately readying to defend themselves. Vulimai, standing in front of the rest of her companions, raised her shield upwards to take the reckless slashes of Pridak’s claws, it screeching in protest. Meeting as the two fought, the mad look of Pridak’s eyes gazed wrathfully and hungrily towards Vulimai’s own determined and defiant ones.
To the side of the once-king and Toa Captain, the Captain’s fellow Toa fought as bravely as they could against the once-Barraki. Lashing out in fierce wide arcs, Kalmah’s tentacles whirled and lashed out, crackling of energy being heard as they did so. Towering above them all, Takadox’ sharpened limbs stabbed and slashed out beneath itself, seeking to pierce any prey beneath the towering mantid. And lastly, skirting the perimeter was the shadowed form of Mantax, as the hunter slinked along the edges of the chamber, losing out volleys of barbed red stingers.
All the while, the Toa did the best they could to fight against these horrific foes, with Bronk and Juno working to create earthen and stone cover to block the attacks against them, with them occasionally trying to work out a swing against the two engaged foes, though the reach of Kalmah’s tentacles and Takadox’ elevated position made such counterattacks minimal at best. In the backlines, Twesh tried his best to help his allies, attempting to launch disks of concentrated air at the two Barraki who engaged them, but his focus was taken by the Mantaxian hunter who sought the need to single him out.
Distracted by the sudden engagement and displays of the Toa, Sala was caught off-guard as the hulking figure of Carapar came down upon him, the horn lord’s claw swinging in a back-handed motion that sent Sala and Avagah flying against the back wall, the brute continuing to charge forwards. Instantly, Sala knew he was in danger, as he could have figured that if it wasn’t for the incredibly sturdy frame of Avagah, which was still noticeably bent from where it was struck, that he would have died.
Lifting up from his shoulder, Sala unleashed a Rhotuka as the blazing white-hot spinner struck the monster dead-on, though from the cool temperatures within the chamber and the horn lord’s own resilience, it seemed to do minimal damage as Sala was forced to move before another devastating blow came down upon him.
Once more, a great blow slammed down onto Sala, though he thankfully was able to avoid it before it hit him. Trying to keep his distance and constantly being on the backfoot, Sala knew he couldn’t win this fight as he lacked both the power and ability to defeat such an unrelenting foe. And that seemed to be the case with the rest of the Toa.
They were either being overwhelmed or separated, with Pridak continuing to press his assault on Vulimai, and though the Toa’s shield and reflexes allowed her to avoid most of their attacks, her ability to counterattack was severely limited without opening herself open to reprisal as well. Bronk and Juno were being pressured fiercely by Kalmah’s whipping arms and Takadox’ skewing limbs. And lastly, Twesh was having difficulties striking out against the Mantaxian hunter, as though he was able to send an occasional shot from his launcher, the shielded plating of Mantax easily absorbed any harm from them as it continued to strike back.
At this rate, they would be defeated and their bodies would be taken and turned into even more monsters. They needed to do something, Sala needed to do something. “Juno! Help!” Sala cried out, as he managed to step past Carapar as he made his way towards the two Toa of earth and stone.
Looking back, Bronk gave Juno a nod as the Onu-Toa focused his efforts on holding back the two Barraki as Juno made his way over towards Sala’s defense. His Mahiki glowing, two more of himself appeared as two more Avagah’s appeared next to Sala, the two illusions quickly catching Carapar’s attention as Juno’s own illusions joined them, playing and dancing around the former warlord.
Breathing heavily for a brief moment, Sala looked up towards Juno with fear in his optics. "What were they going to do? How were they going to make it out of this? Who was he to even be here in this situation? He was just a Matoran, he didn’t belong, he couldn’t help, he shouldn-"
“Any ideas Sala?” Juno asked, jogging the Matoran out of his spiral as he looked up towards the Toa of Stone. "Ideas? What ideas could he possibly provide? He wasn’t a soldier, he was a scholar, how could he-"
“Yeah, well, that doesn’t matter now. We need all the help we can get, okay?” Sala didn’t realize he was talking out loud. But spurred on by Juno’s words, Sala did his best to quickly analyze the situation, trying to figure out what to do.
They were separated, divided against powerful foes. Pridak’s ferocity, Kalmah’s and Takadox’ reach, Mantax’ speed, and Carapar’s resilience. But, looking, there were weaknesses. Though some were not so obvious, they were there. They just needed to be exploited in the right way.
“Juno, you need to help out Vulimai, distract Pridak as long as you can.” “What about Carapar?” “Get them fighting, I’m going to help Twesh, now go!” Sala replied, already running to the Le-Toa’s aid.
Shrugging, Juno dashed over towards Vulimai, with the illusioned clones right behind him, and Carapar behind them. “Vulimai! Move!” Juno called out, stamping his foot as a column of stone jabbed out towards Pridak, striking the mutilated Takean in the side as they whipped their head. What they saw was Juno dashing to the side, two more Juno’s dashing towards them, and then the bulk of Carapar crashing into them.
Grinning at each other as the two once-Barraki briefly quarreled, Juno nodded towards Vulimai as the Vo-Toa went to assist Bronk, who was straining to protect himself from the twinned assault of lashing tendrils and piercing limbs.
As for Sala, dashing towards Twesh, another searing Rhotuka shot out towards the black shelled form of the Mantaxian, drawing their attention as it flew overhead. As the Mantaxian focused on Sala, a lash of red barbs shot out as they embedded into Avagah, poison injecting into the suit. But doing nothing as the machine lacked any veins to poison.
Nodding his head, Twesh took the opportunity as he went to assist his other companions as Sala engaged the mass of tentacles that was Mantax, loosing cleaving swings of air and searing Rhotukas while deflecting and blocking the barbs.
As Bronk looked back, glad to see that assistance was coming, he failed to raise up a barrier in time to halt one of Takadox’ skewering limbs, the appendage about to pierce the Toa. But before then, a burst of air struck the once-Barraki in the side as Twesh, freed from his little conflict, whirled around in time to launch a concentrated air disk, already readying another shot. Coming to help as well, Vulimai quickly interjected herself in between Bronk and Kalmah. Readying her halberd and shield as another lashing of tendrils came towards her, she avoided most of them, getting in the lucky swing with her halberd as Kalmah let out what could best be described as a screech of pain through his synthesized and mutilated vocal cords.
And like that, the flow of the battle began to shift in the Toa’s favor. Juno by himself was able to handle the brute charger Carapar and the mad-ripper Pridak with surprising ease, getting the two to fight and collide against each other often with his illusions, dodging and parrying the few attacks they were able to send his way. Though, it was becoming very clear that Carapar’s shell was more than a match for Juno’s blade to pierce, with the only signs of damage being from Pridak’s claws.
With Vulimai, Bronk, and Twesh facing off against both Kalmah and Takadox, the trio handled themselves easily. With Twesh and Bronk easily keeping the Mantid off-balance with bursts of air fired towards them, with the ground beneath the horrors' spikes becoming rocky and uneven. As for Vulimai, even with the few tendrils that are able to lash around her, she is quick to sever them with her halberd, shifting into a more flexible handaxe.
And Sala? Sala was being a good distraction against Mantax, with Avagah easily allowing him to shrug off their attacks and close distance quickly with no fear, forcing the Mantaxian to flee. Eventually corning them, Sala was about to land what was hopefully to be a finishing blow, when in a flash, Avagah’s limbs were lashed tight as the Mantaxian lept at Sala tentacles out. In a vice-like grip, Sala was restricted in his motion, unable to swing the air axe effectively and unable to use the Rhotuka launcher without putting himself in danger. With the large shield plates out of the way, Sala saw in horror the mass of metallic wires and crudely fused flesh that formed the underlying core form of the monstrosity, with the only mostly organic portion being the head of what was once Mantax, now about to end Sala with the grotesque maw of metal mandibles and buzzsaws. Sala was doomed, the Toa couldn’t save him and he couldn’t save himself, he couldn’t do anything, even as the creaking sounds of Avagah’s chestplate being pried off rung out in his ears. He was...wait…
Quickly fumbling, Sala’s hands found the handle of something as he pulled it out, trying to get the thing to work from the small space he inhabited, with the compartment being opened with the sound of metallic tearing. Holding the handle outwards in his trembling grasp, Sala thought he was about to meet his end as the maw of Mantax grew dangerous close, till in a flash and the sound and feeling of searing heat, Sala’s piece of junk plasma sword finally activated as it went through the mass of tentacles. Not wasting another second, Sala raised the blade as the plasma edge cut through Mantax like buttery, cauterizing and boiling the internal systems as they were completely bisected, freeing one of the Barraki from their wretched existence.
Around the same time as Sala’s triumph and near death, on the other side of the chamber, Juno once more got the two once-Barraki to collide into each other, with Carapar sending himself and Pridak into the wall. Pridak impacted with a sickening crack, noticeable damage being seen with their exposed artificial organs. With their organs working in overdrive to compensate for the damage, Pridak’s eyes became enveloped by the swirl of silver and red blood, their nostrils flaring as a rage began to build within them. Blinded with fury, Pridak’s claws swung forth, slashing into the backside of Carapar as the larger Barraki was getting up and about to charge Juno once more.
Watching the two, it was clear that they were going to be at it till one of them died; and Juno was perfectly fine with that, taking the chance to move towards the rest of his team. Moving towards his team, Juno quickly joined with Bronk and Twesh, the two trying their best to ground the Mantid for a final blow. Giving Bronk a nod, Juno quickly started exerting his element, doing much the same as Bronk was doing, leaving the other Toa free to utilize his mask, a telekinetic grasp taking hold over Takadox. With a tug and another impact of air, Takadox finally lost balance as they struck their lower limbs against the jutting stones, collapsing in a heap as they frantically tried to stand back up. But before that could be achieved, Bronk and Juno rose their arms as they willed the rock and stone to rise above the once-Barraki, putting the poor thing out of its misery and freeing another one of the Barraki.
It was then that a horrible screech came to all of their ears, as looking back, they witnessed as Carapar, covered in deep gouging slashes, wrapped their massive claws around Pridak’s midsection. In a singular motion, a sickening, squelching sound came as Carapar crushed the Takean before picking them up and ripping them in two, splattering silver and red as the once-Barraki leveled its gaze towards the Toa and charged, seemingly still dauntless as ever. Having looked away, Vulimai didn’t notice till too late as Kalmah’s tendrils swung and wrapped themselves around her axe hand, immobilizing and constricting her as the hooks and barbs dug into her skin.
And then, crackling filled the air as the tendrils surged with energy, momentarily making Vulimai cry out, before breaking into a smile as she took hold of the electrical energy, drawing it and more out of Kalmah, the chain lord unable to stop the flow now. Dropping her shield, Vulimai stuck out her other hand towards Carapar, and like a living storm, channeled her element, siphoning more energy from Kalmah to fuel the arc of lightning. In a flash that made everyone except Sala, who was still forced to squint, to look away, they would look back to see the faint lights of Kalmah’s optics to go dead as their suddenly desiccated form collapsed with a blackened and scorched figure replacing where Carapar once was.
And like that, five of the six Barraki were at last fallen, freed from their torment. Only five of the Barraki? Was a thought that Sala had before the terminals once more flashed to life, that same silhouetted mask appearing as Nuparu’s optics, mouth, and heartlight shone in tune with the voice that came out.
“̷T̸h̷i̵s̸ ̶f̷a̵i̶l̵u̵r̴e̸ ̷i̶s̸ ̶i̶r̸r̵e̶l̶e̸v̸a̷n̴t̴.̵ ̴Y̴o̶u̶ ̷a̷r̸e̵ ̴s̴t̷i̵l̸l̵ ̷t̷r̴a̷p̴p̷e̸d̶.̵ ̶T̴h̸e̶ ̸o̴t̶h̵e̸r̴ ̵s̷i̴n̷n̵e̶r̷s̶ ̴c̷o̶n̷t̵i̴n̶u̴e̵ ̸t̶o̷ ̴d̸i̶g̴ ̵a̵w̵a̸y̶ ̸a̶t̵ ̵y̵o̷u̵r̴ ̶m̶e̴a̶g̷e̴r̴ ̶b̶l̸o̶c̷k̵a̶d̶e̴.̶ ̴Y̸o̷u̷ ̸c̷a̷n̵n̸o̶t̷ ̷d̶e̵f̶e̷a̶t̷ ̴m̶e̴,̸ ̵t̴h̶i̷s̷ ̶i̶s̸ ̵y̷o̷u̴r̷ ̴e̴n̴d̴,̴ ̸I̶ ̷h̶a̸v̴e̶ ̵w̸o̶n̵.̵”̸
“They were right, they were trapped. They couldn’t stop them. Not really. They had lost.” Sala thought to himself, moving to stand alongside the Toa, the sound of clawing and digging coming from the blockade of stone and earth that blocked the only entrance. There was no way out....
“No! This isn’t the end, there has to be a way...And I think I know how.” Sala said defiantly, moving towards the device, quickly inspecting it. Quickly looking it over, Sala smiled as he saw what they needed. The disk of time was still there in the motion, they can use this. But before Sala could suggest anything more, a horrific simulacrum of a scream rang out, forcing the Toa to cover their ears as the voice screeched out in an almost indecipherable frequency.
“̸̘̹̎C̷̘͈̫̃̑̕Ë̴̛̥̼͇̍A̶̗͒S̷̤̄̈́͊Ę̶̤̈̚!̵̼͙̏̄͘ ̶͍͎͒Y̴̩̎O̸̜̭̜̅̏Ū̸̹͜͝ ̶̟̮̭͛̌͠D̷͙̼̓͊̽ͅÖ̴͙͖̽̚ ̸̧̮̃̑̒N̴̤͇͖̈́Ȯ̷̯͛T̵̻͎̏̓̃ͅ ̷̯̳̖͐Ŭ̸̻̘͛̉N̴̗͇̽D̶̖̆̊͊E̴̤̕R̵͔̺̙͐͂͒S̸̝̙͑͗Ţ̸͎̽̀͝Ă̶̤͕͇̚N̶̬̟͈̂͑̕Ḋ̸͈̬̩́̉ ̸̨̛̉̀W̸̘͍̄̎̃Ḩ̵̲͔͂̈́Ą̷̾͘T̷̢̬͛̈̀ ̵̦́̐̃Y̶͙͐͜͠O̴̘͉̙̅̅͝U̴̺̕ ̵̢͉̲̍̀̚Ȃ̸̺̤̚͝R̵̯͋̔̚E̵̝͘ ̷̱͛̈́̿T̵̝̠̮̏͑A̸̤͗̀M̵̛̭P̴͔͚̈̋E̶̡̲͒͠ͅṚ̴͎͉͆I̵̲̅̇́N̸̟̗̆ͅG̴̺̥͔̓ ̶̮̼́̈́͝W̶̛̘̻͛͛ͅI̷̫̞̓͆̍Ṱ̴́͗̾H̴̥̮̦̀̃̕!̴͔̀̐̚ ̵̗̽̉Y̸̠̓̽̓O̴̡͇͝Ų̴̭͔͝ ̶̗̙̿̇́D̷̨̛̖O̷̬̰͔̒̒́ ̷̜̄͜N̷͓̱̝̉O̷̧̺̕͝T̸̨̃͗̌ ̸̩̖͙̋Ù̸͓͠N̸̢͙͆͋͒Ḍ̸͕͌Ė̴̯͚̌R̵̳̿͒S̴̜̋̚T̵͔͂͊Ä̴̘͘N̸̩̤͌͑͝D̴̟̙̋!̷͓̅”̵̺̥͒͌̚
Fighting through the pain in his ears, Sala retorted, confidence in his voice. “No, I think I do. I know how to beat you, I know why Dume sent me here. Gu-” Before Sala could say anything else, he felt himself thrown aside.
Uncoiling down from the ceiling, supported by a mechanical arm built around some form of black etched obelisk, with cables and mechanical tendrils wrapped around it, was revealed the last of the Barraki, Ehlek. Hardly anything was left of their original body, with only the upper part of their head and the spines of their back remaining, all of it blended into the mechanized appendage as numerous limbs hung down of varying sizes and forms, their sight consisting of numerous opticals as they glared with expressionless wrath.
Suddenly appearing from the walls, Vulimai and her team were quick to react as they were fired upon by multiple Zamor launchers, with Twesh and Bronk using their abilities to deflect the projectiles while Juno quickly constructed stone palisades.
Holding his head, Sala looked up from where he landed, watching as his companions were being bombarded with no way to strike back, with what-was-once Ehlek looking on with eager anticipation. Gritting his teeth, Sala began to rise up to his feet, looking towards the ceiling that connected them to it, as he swung his axe with all the strength he could muster. Forming along the trail that the axe head went, a crescent blade of air flew near invisible, till like a sharpened blade through a leaf, it sliced through the appendage, causing Ehlek to fall and collapsed atop the central platform, crushing the numerous terminals and Nuparu’s withered corpse.
And with that, the battle was over, but all of them knew that they still had only a few moments before the horrors broke through. Not wasting a moment more, they made their way towards the machine, quickly surmising its functions as best they can, with only Sala and Bronk being able to get the faintest clue on how it operated. But left with no other options, they knew they had to try.
Getting the gist of it from the two of them, Vulimai quickly took command as she started to speak. “Okay Bronk, you and Sala will send-” “No...I’m going.” Sala said, looking towards the Toa as he interrupted Vulimai.
“Pardon?” “I’m going. It’s why I’m here. It’s my Destiny here.” Sala responded. Juno was about to protest, but was stopped by Vulimai with a nod and understanding look. She knew there was something more here, but she didn’t need to know it to know that this was true, and Juno understood that as well as he stood back.
“Okay, Bronk, you will prepare the machine and send Sala back in time. We will make sure nothing interrupts you while the process is happening. Sala.” Vulimai looked directly towards the Matoran, who tried his best to keep his expression neutral and confident despite the nervousness he felt. “Good luck, may we meet again, at least in another time.” “Yeah, I would love to see you again. Or would it be for the first time? Doesn’t matter, just make sure this doesn’t happen. Okay?” Juno added grinning.
“Yeah...I will, thanks.”
And with that, Vulimai, Juno, and Twesh were off to guard the entrance, leaving Bronk and Sala who shared a look that said “You sure?” “Yes…” And with that, Bronk simply nodded as he worked to activate the device. Getting into position, Sala braced himself as the machine powered on with a thrum. He expected there to be a moment of pause, of it reaching a peak before it finally went off, but there was none, as in a flash, it activated, and Sala was sent hurling through time. The ripples of which crashed across the universe as the head of the Great Spirit Robot finally broke off and began its descent upon a watery world and a barren island, one it was destined to land upon so many centuries ago.
Opening his optics, Sala reawoke in a similar manner to when he first arrived to the universe, the feeling momentarily making him panic before he realized where he was. He was in Onu-Metru, the real Onu-Metru and not the one from before. It was a breath of fresh air, till he heard it, the sound of conquest. Sala had returned to the day when the Barraki came, when the Barraki won.
For a moment, Sala was afraid, like he was back in Ta-Metru back in his own timeline. But that fear quickly dissipated, he knew what he needed to do, he needed to get to the Vahki hive and fast.
Running with great speed, bounding and leaping with the massive stride length afforded to him by Avagah, Sala did his best to ignore the sounds of battle in the distance. There was only one way he could help them, and that was stopping Nuparu. Reaching the hive, Sala rushed inside, with there thankfully not being any Vahki currently inside to stop him. Moving through the empty halls, having explored the Vahki hives once before long ago, he did his best to follow his mental map as he soon arrived at the core chamber, where Nuparu stood, with a retinue of four Zadahk beside them.
“Nuparu! STOP!” Sala shouted, making the engineer look back in confusion and concern. “What?! The League? Here already? Vhaki, stop them!” Nuparu commanded.
Before Sala could explain himself, the two closest Zadahk’s fired off their beams, striking Avagah in the chest, the staves effects doing nothing. Returning the attack Sala with a Rhotuka, the searing disk struck the nearest Zadahk on the left in the head, destroying it instantly in a searing blast.
But the other three still remained and quickly charged Sala, ready to engage. Swinging his axe, the two closest Vahki were caught off-guard as they were severed in two by the swathe of air, them falling onto the ground as they flailed uselessly. Before Sala could launch another swing of air, a Kanoka struck the already weakened chestplate of Avagah, weakening it further as the piece fell away, revealing Sala inside.
“What? A Matoran? What are you doing? What do you think I’m doing that you need to stop?” Nuparu asked, now more confused than concerned, with the fourth Vahki standing down by Nuparu’s command.
“I’m here to stop you from linking yourself to the Vahki, you’ll regret it, trust me.” Sala replied, taking the opportunity to step a little closer, which was immediately met by the Vahki readying another Kanoka. “What? How do you know about that? How did you know I was going to do that?” Nuparu replied accusatively.
Sighing, Sala tried his best to explain. “I’m from the future. I used your device to go back in time. In the future, what ends up happening is that the Matoran become enslaved, forced to work under strict control with the Toa becoming prisoners and the League subjects to cruel and terrible experiments. You need to stop this now before that happens.”
Hearing Sala’s explanation, Nuparu thought for a few moments, before asking. “And what if I don’t? The Matoran get enslaved anyways? Or worse, killed? The Barraki win? The spirit of Mata-Nui is lost with his chosen people? I thank you for coming here Sala, but your fears are now unfounded. With this foresight given to me by you, I can now avoid the worst of it while still saving the Matoran people. Now if you don’t mind.”
“NO!” Sala cried out as Nuparu turned away, charging forth. Quickly though, the Vahki went to intercept the Matoran, with Sala having to raise up the arms of Avagah to avoid the flurry of attacks that came at him. Backing up at the Vahki’s rapid and mechanical swings, Sala did his best to defend himself, though the machine was unrelenting, with Sala having no room to swing back with his axe or to shoot off his Rhotuka, being pushed back more and more.
Little by little, the servos and joints of Avagah creaked and groaned, tanking the damage but slowly but surely grinding away. At this rate, Sala knew he was going to be beat, to be stopped, to have failed all over again. Like he failed Ta-Metru, like he failed Metru-Koro, like the failure he is-...
No...none of that.
As the next swing came in, rather than backing up, Sala pushed back against it, with the strength of Avagah allowing him to match the Vahki’s, as the machine stumbled backwards. Moving with the momentum, Sala slammed the full weight of the ACR into the Vahki as the two went crashing into the ground, Sala falling and rolling out without the chestplate to keep him fastened.
Taking in a brief breath, Sala got back to his feet once more as he ran for Nuparu, who just turned back around from the crashing sound to see Sala before being tackled by them. Rolling on the ground, the two Matoran fought each other for several moments, till Nuparu with a kick was able to pull away, running back towards the terminal before turning towards Sala, grinning.
“What is your plan here? You’re going to beat me up till I’m unconscious? It’s not going to stop the Vahki from showing up here, and once they do, I’ve won! You can’t stop me!”
Sala stopped in his approach, stumbling for a brief moment as he thought upon Nuparu’s words. They were right, what was he supposed to do? What could he do? Other than…
Mist began to roll in, coiling around Sala’s feet as the Su-Matoran looked up towards Nuparu, only to be met with a being masquerading as a Matoran. The body of it was like Nuparu’s but the mask on its face was different entirely, as it was silver and ornate, bearing a design like that of a figure with a wide stance and arms outstretched. With a white light pouring out of the optics, it spoke.
“̴O̵t̸h̴e̵r̷ ̷t̶h̷a̴n̷ ̴w̵h̸a̸t̵ ̵S̵a̶l̴a̵?̵ ̶K̴i̸l̶l̵i̶n̸g̴ ̶h̸i̸m̶?̸ ̸I̸ ̵m̷e̸a̸n̷,̸ ̵t̸h̶a̷t̸ ̵I̵S̴ ̶t̵h̷e̴ ̴o̶n̷l̸y̷ ̴w̷a̸y̷ ̶t̷o̵ ̵s̴t̸o̷p̸ ̴h̴i̵m̵ ̴r̶i̸g̷h̷t̶?̶ ̸T̸o̷ ̴k̷i̸l̶l̴ ̶h̵i̶m̶.̴.̵.̶B̴u̶t̴ ̴t̵e̷l̴l̸ ̶m̸e̶ ̵S̴a̷l̵a̴,̵ ̷i̷s̶ ̸t̵h̷e̴ ̴f̸u̴t̸u̴r̸e̸ ̷N̸u̸p̴a̷r̵u̸ ̸w̸a̷n̵t̴s̶ ̷t̴o̸ ̸m̷a̴k̴e̶ ̸s̸o̵ ̵m̸u̷c̴h̷ ̵w̶o̶r̸s̵e̷ ̶t̵h̶a̴n̵ ̵y̶o̸u̶r̴s̸?̸ ̷I̴ ̶m̵e̸a̶n̷,̶ ̸i̷n̵ ̵N̴u̵p̷a̸r̶u̸’̷s̴,̶ ̶t̶h̸e̶ ̷M̶a̶t̵o̷r̴a̶n̴ ̵s̷t̸i̸l̶l̸ ̸l̶i̶v̴e̷,̴ ̸a̸l̶l̷ ̵o̶f̶ ̶t̶h̸e̶m̵,̴ ̴a̵l̸i̵v̵e̶.̴ ̵U̴n̴l̸i̷k̸e̸ ̴t̸h̷e̶ ̸s̵c̴a̵n̶t̴ ̵f̵e̷w̵ ̴p̶i̶t̸i̸f̵u̸l̵ ̴s̸u̶r̵v̵i̷v̴o̵r̵s̸ ̴f̸r̵o̸m̷ ̸y̵o̸u̶r̶ ̸t̸i̴m̷e̵l̴i̸n̵e̷.̵ ̸Y̶o̴u̴ ̵c̴a̵n̶ ̶s̵a̸v̵e̷ ̷t̴h̷e̷m̸ ̸S̷a̷l̵a̶?̷ ̸Y̶o̷u̷ ̵c̵a̵n̸ ̴s̴a̸v̸e̶ ̵a̴l̴l̶ ̸o̷f̶ ̷t̵h̶e̵m̷ ̵b̵y̵ ̷j̶u̴s̶t̷ ̶l̴e̶t̷t̷i̷n̷g̴ ̶t̶h̴i̸s̵ ̶h̸a̵p̶p̴e̷n̷.̵ ̸O̶r̷.̷.̷.̸y̴o̸u̴ ̵c̷a̸n̶ ̷k̸i̵l̸l̶ ̴N̷u̵p̴a̶r̷u̸ ̷h̸e̸r̶e̸ ̸a̴n̶d̸ ̶n̶o̵w̸.̸”̶
Hearing the voice, hearing its words, Sala couldn’t help but grit his teeth, stepping forwards as he held his plasma sword in hand, the blade moments from igniting and swinging down when another voice broke through the mist.
“Hey now Sala, let’s not get ahead of ourselves?”
Sala stopped, shocked and surprised by the voice. “Wait, that couldn’t be-"
“Hey, maybe you should stop overthinking for once and just look over towards me to prove what you’re thinking.” Looking over, Sala was stunned to see Juno, not the Toa he had met, but the Matoran he briefly encountered back in Metru-Koro. “Why are you-” “I’m here, to help you make the right choice and to keep you from making the wrong one. And I think you already know the right one, you just forgot in that mess of a head of yours.” Juno grinned, pointing towards his own noggin.
“My head? But that still doesn’t explain why-” “As much as I would like to explain to you, I don’t think bright and ugly will give us that much time. But trust me Sala, trust me like you’ve been doing. I got your back. Hahaha!”
And with that, both the mists and the two figures were gone, leaving only Sala and the now fear-stricken Nuparu remaining. Looking down towards his plasma blade, the searing blade radiating out, Sala let the weapon die down as he met Nuparu’s optics once more, striding towards them. Before Nuparu could get in a word, Sala’s hand was on Nuparu’s chest, as flowing out from it, came a wave of energy as Nuparu felt his entire body freeze up entirely.
Stepping away at the now frozen Nuparu, the faint shimmering of energy around them, Sala plainly spoke. “That should keep you in stasis long enough for me to get someone to deal with you. That...or for the League to win. Either way, I’ve saved your world from a worst fate, I just hope I’ve made the right choice. Good luck Nuparu.”
Turning around, Sala returned to Avagah, activating the ACR once more as it briefly struggled to its feet. Stumbling, Sala gave Nuparu one last look to ensure they were still frozen before running out to get someone to help, unknowingly passing through the portal back to his own doomed world.
“Think they were another Dark Hunter?” “Naw, too much talk, too much semantics. Besides, this was our bounty.” “Fair. Regardless, guess we gotta thank them for making our job so much easier.” The two Skakdi conversed with each other as they stepped out of the shadows, approaching the frozen Nuparu, a look of fear behind his purple Pakari.
OOC: @Unreliable Narrator @Eyru @Vezok's Friend Sala's back!