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Makariri.  Some 10,000 years ago.

“Vesker?  What are you doing?”

     The being called Vesker turned from packing his belongings to address the question.  He saw his wife, Tohra, standing in his doorway, a concerned and confused expression on her face.  Dropping his case, he held his arms out to her.

     “My dear,” he said, “I’m afraid I have to go.”


     “Yes.  The wider world has called to me, and I must answer.”

     Tohra drew close, and wrapped her arms around her husband’s chest.  “But the war is almost over, Vesker!  We’re this close to victory!  Can’t you stay for just a little bit longer, and leave when the fighting’s finished?”

     “I can’t, Tohra,” purred Vesker, stroking his wife’s head.  “Conquest waits for no man, especially not me.”

     “Conquest?”  Tohra withdrew, her expression now mixed with a small amount of fear.

     Vesker resumed his packing.  “Yes.  Conquest.  That is the call that the wider world has issued to me, in the form of this.”  Rummaging through a stack of parchment, he withdrew a particular piece of it and held it out to Tohra, who slowly took it.  Before she could ask what it was, he explained: “It’s a letter from my fool older brother.  Apparently, he dodged the war and conquered himself a nice little island.  Did you know that he’s apparently taken to calling himself ‘The Conjurer?’  As if he’s some sort of grand wizard.”  He gave a single dark chuckle.  “But from his letter, it sounds like he can’t even conjure up a proper army.”

     “What does your brother have to do with you leaving?  Or conquest?” asked Tohra, incredulous.

     “Conquest, my dear, is a delicate game that my brother has played, and spectacularly lost.  Father must be practically rolling in his tomb at his eldest son’s incompetence.  I intend to show him up, show him how conquest is really done, and let Father rest easy once more.”

     “So this is about your pride.”

     “Our pride.  I can’t have my older brother tarnish our family lineage with his sheer incompetence.  We’d be the laughingstock of Makariri.  ‘Oh, look at that Conjurer and his family, they can’t properly subjugate entire islands!’” he said mockingly.  “I won’t stand for it.”

     Tohra began to tear up.  “You’re abandoning your home- your family- because you’re afraid of a bruised ego further down the line?  That’s so selfish, I could vomit,” she said quietly, her voice trembling mightily.

     “No, no, don’t cry,” said Vesker soothingly.  “I’ll go out and conquer us a nice little island south of Odina, that we can all go to when the war is over.”  He attempted to hug Tohra again, but she recoiled.

     “That doesn’t make it any better.”

     Vesker’s brows beetled in anger.  “Fine.  If that’s what you think.”  He closed his case and made to leave.  “You still can’t stop me.  I’m going to conquer that island.  I’m going to show up my brother.  Now get out of the doorway, Tohra.”

     “No!” cried Tohra.  “I won’t let you!  You can’t just leave!  What about me?  What about your son?  If not to win the war, at least stay for him!  He needs you!”

     That was enough to make Vesker stop.  His expression changed from stubborn anger, slowly, to something resembling repentance.  “Our… son…” he said quietly.  He dropped his case.  “He… he does need me.”   For a third time, he held out his arms to his wife, who, equally slowly, wrapped herself up in them.  “I’m so sorry.  You’re right.  I should stay for him.”

     And then Vesker drove his bladed tail directly into her stomach.

     “But I’m not going to,” he whispered, a nasty grin on his face.  “He’ll get along just fine on his own.  Won’t you, son?” he added, sneering at his now-awake son standing near the doorway, aghast.  With a wet noise, he withdrew his tail, leaving Tohra to fall on the floor, gasping heavily, bleeding.  He picked up his case again, stepped over her body, pushed past his son, and went out the door.

     Before he left, he turned to gaze at his rapidly dying wife.  “I told you that you couldn’t stop me, no matter what you tried.  See you when I see you, my dear,” he said.

     Vesker made his way to the docks, vaguely aware of the sound of his son crying in the background.


The sea, off the coast of Maero.  Months later.

The prow of the ship sliced easily through the waves, carving a steady path towards the beaches of Maero.  Aboard, three beings stood at the bow.  Vesker was one of them.  He peered through a telescope at the approaching coast, observing every detail and the activities of the gathered natives.

     Above the three, a black flag waved, bearing an angular insignia.  The universal sign of warmongers and conquerors.

     Vesker put away his telescope.  A smirk bedecked his face.  “Those tiny little Matoran appear to be bolstering themselves for battle.  Likely they’ve seen our flag and know that we’ve come for them.”

     “Shall I prepare the cannons, Vesker?” queried Riingter, the tallest of the three.

     “No, no,” said Vesker, holding up a hand to stop his companion.  “Let us see what they do.  Let them have the first move.  We will answer accordingly.”

     Riingter stood down, but his expression indicated he was eager to battle the Matoran of Maero.

     On the coast, Vesker could see a large increase in some sort of orange shimmering light.  A pinprick of it suddenly sailed high into the air, arcing up, and then down.  Down toward the ship.  As it drew closer, Vesker could discern its details.  It was an arrow, tipped with fire.  The Matoran sought to burn the ship, or burn those on it.  It was of no matter to him, but to his compatriots…

     He stepped easily aside, and let the burning arrow hit his other companion squarely in the neck.  The struck being let out a strangled cry, a stream of smoke issuing from his throat, before falling heavily to the deck.

     “That looks like the first move.  Prepare the cannons, Riingter.”

     Within moments, crackling booms were heard as Riingter launched cannonball after cannonball at the Matoran.  They scattered as each shell breached the shore; some were flung high into the air, dead before they hit the ground.  Full volleys of flaming arrows now rained down irregularly upon the ship, and soon, it was up in flames.  And through it all, Vesker remained unperturbed.  The heat bolstered his strength.  The flames fortified his body.  Though his face was blank, inside, he felt a giddy joy.  He hadn’t expected Maero’s natives to put up such a delicious fight.

     There was a crack, and the rear mast slowly toppled.  Vesker was aware enough to hear it, but Riingter was not.  The mast fell directly on top of him.  His scream was lost among the sound of the roaring flames.

     The crippled ship finally made landfall, despite its damage.  The attacking Matoran slowly ceased their volleys of flaming arrows, clearly thinking that they had succeeded in destroying those who were aboard along with the vessel.  A small group of them approached, slowly, slowly…

     Vesker drifted down from the blazing bow of the ship, the heat in the air helping him almost hover down onto the charred beach.  One, two, three arrows stuck out of him.  His armor and skin glowed a crackling orange.  An expression that was more grimace than grin was upon his face.  He approached the group of Matoran, who had now stopped dead in their tracks, very afraid.

     “What an appropriate response,” Vesker hissed.  “Exactly the kind of welcome that a conqueror deserves.”

     One of the Matoran fired another flaming arrow directly at Vesker.  He caught it in one hand, and ate the flaming tip of it, to the horror of everybody on the beach.

     He unleashed a massive burst of fire from his mouth, instantly severely burning or completely cooking all of the Matoran in front of him.

     And then the real carnage began.

     Vesker pounced effortlessly from Matoran to Matoran, using his claws and bladed tail to score deep gashes in, or dismember, his targets.  Every now and again, he used his tusks to impale an assailant that got too close.  Blood soaked the sand with every slash, every swipe; their armor crumpled like paper.  Many Matoran ran in fear, but others charged him with weapons, shot at him with burning arrows.  It was inconsequential.  His skin was scored, his hide pierced, but the pain and the heat and the fire goaded him on in a rage.  When his strength had reached its peak, and he could no longer absorb heat, he breathed out another inferno.  Once, twice, three times.

     After what seemed like hours, the onslaught slowed to a crawl.  The Matoran ceased their attack and dropped, now aware- woefully late- that they could not defeat this new enemy.  Vesker tried to goad them on, but reluctantly, he too stopped attacking.

     Though he had sustained injuries, he was happy.  This battle had been an exhilarating experience, the first time in a long time he could really let loose and revel in making carnage.  Exactly what an aspiring conqueror needed to start his career off on the right foot.  He hoped that there would be more fights like this in the years to come.  But before they came, he had other matters that required his more immediate attention.

     “Who among you is leader of this land?” he asked loudly, walking over the charred, bloodied, dismantled bodies he had created in his gleeful rage.

     One Matoran, a brown one, hesitantly, fearfully, approached Vesker.  “I am, my lord,” he stuttered.

     My lord.  Good.  These Matoran knew just who they were dealing with now.

     Vesker did not immediately reply; instead, he bent down to pick up a spear from the ground.  The Matoran leader cowered, but with two strokes of Vesker’s bladed tail, he ceased cowering.  He ceased everything, for his head had been separated from his shoulders.  An outcry issued from the survivors as Vesker took the rolling head and planted it firmly on the spearhead.

     “Not anymore, you aren’t,” he said to the head.  Naturally, it did not respond.

     “Listen here, you Matoran worms,” he addressed the crowd.  “Your leader is dead.  Your people have been slaughtered.  You have seen what I am capable of.  If you wish to avoid seeing it again in the future, then you will do exactly as I ask, when I ask you to do it, from now until the day you all die.  Am I understood?”

     There was a hesitation.  Vesker tossed a fireball at a random Matoran, who was promptly consumed.  “AM I UNDERSTOOD?!” he bellowed.  At that, there was a resounding “yes.”

     “Then grovel before me, your new king.”

     In waves, the Matoran survivors, despite their injuries, prostrated themselves before Vesker.  He grinned.  The easy part was over.  Now the real challenge of conquest was at hand: ensuring the continued obedience and competence of his subjects.  If he could maintain that, then his goal of overshadowing his brother would be reached.

     “That’s enough groveling,” he said, waving a dismissive hand.  “Quit licking the sand, and start building me a tower.  A big one, maybe 50 bio high, made entirely of black stone.  With a point on top.  Come on, chop chop.  Or I’ll burn another one of you to a crisp, and eat you for dinner.”


Maero.  Two years later.

Vesker ambled carelessly through the huge construction site, watching his Matoran subjects scramble about as they continued construction of the tower he had ordered.  Their progress had been swift and, so far, satisfactory: the tower- made entirely of black stone, as he had commanded- stood unwavering, unyielding in the wind that rocked Maero.  Its cylindrical bulk was jagged near the top, where construction was still incomplete.  About at that point, the tower began to taper into the point that Vesker had desired.

     He smiled to himself.  These Matoran, so far, had turned out to be much more obedient and capable than the ones his brother had described in his letter.

     “My lord?” came a voice from around his knee.

     “What is it, foreman?” Vesker replied, not bothering to make eye contact with his new conversational partner.

     “My lord,” continued the foreman, “we, ah… we’ve hit a snag in the construction of your tower.”  Vesker cocked an eyebrow, silently prompting him to go on.  “Our miners have turned up dry.  They can’t find any more black stone anywhere on the island.  I’m afraid… that we can’t make your tower any taller.”

     Vesker was silent for a long moment.  “No more black stone?  Anywhere?”

     “No, my lord, and because you closed the docks, we can’t send for Odina and ask them to ship us more.”

     “How tall is the tower currently?”

     “45 bio, my lord.”

     “And how tall did I ask you to build it?”

     “50 bio, my lord,” stammered the foreman.

     There was another long silence.  Then Vesker smiled.

     “Very well,” he said.  “If those are the circumstances.  Order your men to dismantle the unfinished portion of my tower.  Then have all the workers gather at the foot of it.”

     “Yes my lord,” said the foreman, before scrambling off to relay the orders to his workers.

     Two days later, the black tower had been completed.  Its height was now 43 bio, and it lacked the point Vesker had requested on top.  A small swarm of Matoran miners, masons, stonecutters, and other workers gathered at the foot of it, as had been ordered.  They nervously muttered and chattered to one another, wondering just what was going on.

     From the very top of the tower, Vesker drifted down, rocked by the wind that still blasted the whole of Maero.  The air beneath his feet shimmered with heat as he descended.  He alighted on the ground directly in front of the gathered masses.  A displeased expression was on his face, but he otherwise said nothing for several minutes, opting instead to nonchalantly examine his claws, pick up a discarded chunk of black stone, and examine it.  Internally, he relished keeping his subjects in suspense.

     “When I first arrived here, two years ago,” he said finally, “I gave you all three simple instructions.  Do exactly as I say unquestioningly, grovel before me, and build me a tower 50 bio high, with a point at the top, out of black stone.  And yet, you lot have only done one of those.”  He pointed at the monolithic tower behind him.  “The tower you have given me is only 43 bio high.  There is no point on top.  By failing in that task, you have failed in doing exactly as I say.  And when you don’t do exactly as I say, it makes me a very grumpy king.”

     “You’re no king!” came a voice from the crowd.  “You’re a tyrant!”

     Vesker whipped his head around to glare into the crowd.  “Who said that?” he asked, his tone remaining relatively calm and passive.  “Come on, no need to be shy.  Who said that?  Come here and make yourself known.  I promise I won’t bite.”

     Slowly, a single Matoran, blue in color, pushed her way to the fore of the crowd to stand directly in front of Vesker.  The overlord gazed down at her, cocking an eyebrow.  She was an overall unremarkable specimen, he thought.  “Now then.  Go on.  Say that again.  Vent to me, if you want to.  I want to hear exactly what you think of me.”

     And she did.  “You’re a tyrant!” she repeated.  “A dictator!  All you’ve done since coming here is kill us and drive us to work constantly, like slaves!  You claim to be a benevolent ruler, but you haven’t shown one scrap of kindness to us in these two years!  No king should ever treat his subjects like that!  I’d rather die than be subjected to one more day of your rule!”  She spat on the ground at his feet, punctuating her short speech.

     As she vented, Vesker internally boiled with every word.  He struggled to maintain passivity on his face; the only indication of his growing rage was the tightening of his fingers around the chunk of stone he still gripped.

     “Is that truly how you feel?” he hissed, clearly struggling to keep the rage out of his voice.  “Would you rather die than remain under my thumb?”

     The Matoran’s expression changed from defiance to fear.

     “I can arrange that.”

     With his bladed tail, he swept the Matoran’s feet out from under her, and pinned her to the ground with his own large foot.  She struggled against the pressure, but to no avail.  He lifted the chunk of stone, and with a roar from him and a scream from her, he brought it down hard directly onto her head.  Once, twice, three times.  She twitched, then did not move.

     “I promised I wouldn’t bite,” he whispered.

     Panting slightly, he straightened, dropped the bloodied stone, and removed his foot from the Matoran’s oozing body.  He glared at the crowd of workers, fury now clearly evident in his eyes.  The crowd was pallid, shaking, and silent in horror.

     “Let this be a lesson to you lot, and all on this island,” he announced.  “If you dare to question or challenge my authority, you will meet the same end as this unfortunate soul.  Maybe worse.  I am a king and a conqueror, and I will not stand for being treated or spoken to in any other manner!  Add this to the list of my commands I give you:  do not fail to treat me with the glory due to my position!

     “And as for you…” he finished, “you who have failed to follow the greater part of my very simple instructions… I promised her I would not bite.  But I promise you no such thing.”

     The sun set that day on a small swarm of headless bodies.


Maero.  Many, many years later.  Some 3,500 years ago.

It was nighttime.

     Vesker sat lazily on his throne, in the very top story of his tower, staring at the ceiling and picking out all the intricate patterns carved into it for what felt like the millionth time.

     It had been a long several thousand years.  Subjugating an entire island had been more difficult than he had thought early on, what with rebel cells popping up every other week, subtle workers’ revolts, protests in the streets, and so on.  He had had to perform a lot of executions in order to drive the concept of obedience into their heads.  Obedience, or death.  The piles of bodies had finally gotten to them around 500 years ago, and molding them had grown much easier.  He now had a sufficient workforce, a small army, and a select few councilors who rarely disagreed with him, else they be executed spectacularly.  Sure, the population of Maero had been drastically reduced, but that was sometimes the price of conquest.

     He grew bored with picking out the ceiling patterns and returned his attention to the letter from his brother, which he had kept for all these years.  Oh, if only he could see me now…

     The door burst open, and a Matoran messenger hustled through, flinging himself at the foot of the throne.  “My lord,” he panted, “a ship approaches!  We just saw it five minutes ago.”

     Vesker sat up.  “A ship?  Coming here?  But I thought I closed the docks.”

     “You did, my lord, but they don’t seem to know that.  Or if they do, they don’t care.”

     “What insignia does it fly?”

     “A new one, my lord.  One I’ve never seen before.  Three fists, one black, one gray, one yellow, all on a white field.  I don’t know if it’s a new conqueror’s insignia.”

     “Hm.  I should hope not.  I can’t afford to have competition.  It would make me look bad.”

     Of a sudden, there was a noise not unlike a sharp pop, and two new figures appeared in the throne room, seemingly out of nowhere.  One was a being clad in black armor, with yellow accents and a black cloak worn over his shoulder; in his hands, he held a staff and a strange disk.  The other was a tall and wide blue-skinned being in gold armor, with a barbed tail poised over his shoulder; he too held a strange disk, similar to the one that the black-clad being held.  Their sudden appearance frightened the Matoran messenger into fleeing, but Vesker sat impassive, merely cocking an eyebrow.  (That particular expression was getting to be one of his most frequently-used.)

     “Who are you, and why have you come into my presence so suddenly?” he asked.

     “Such imperiousness,” sneered the black-clad being, hiding away his disk.  “But then, you were always that way, Vesker.”

     “I’m sorry.  Do I know you?”

     “You should.  You abandoned the war in our homeland when you were needed.”

     “Ah.  And how did the war go?”

     “We lost.  Not that it matters.”

     “I’m sorry.”

     “You’re not.”

     “You’re right.  I’m not.  But you still haven’t answered my questions.  Who are you, and why have you come into my presence so suddenly?” Vesker asked again, his brows beginning to beetle.

     “I am The Shadowed One,” said the black-clad being, “and this is my cohort, Ancient-”

     The Shadowed One was interrupted by Vesker’s chortle.  “Oh, what delightfully edgy titles!” he laughed.  “How positively juvenile!  Did you have an adolescent Namastean come up with those for you?”

     The one called Ancient growled, but otherwise said nothing.

     “We have come for you, Vesker,” The Shadowed One continued, after Vesker had stopped laughing.  “Our organization has engaged in dire warfare with the Toa of Metru Nui, and we are running low on forces.”

     “So?  Find some somewhere else.”

     “You do not understand.  You are the one we need.”


     “That is none of your immediate concern.  You will come with us to Metru Nui, and aid us in our struggle against the Toa.”

     Vesker held up a hand to his ear, frowning.  “Is… is that what I think it is?  I think it might be.  It sounds like you’re… ordering me around.  You must be mistaken, Shadowed One.  Around here, I order people around.  Nobody orders me.”

     “Until today.”

     “Apparently so.  Regardless, I will not help you.  A regime needs to last at least 75,000 years before its ruler can be spirited away.  Find someone else to fight your stupid battle.  Go away, and never come back.”  Vesker pointed at the door with finality.

     Ancient growled again.

     The Shadowed One sighed.  “Rest assured that after tonight, we will never come back to this island.  But neither will you.”

     “Is that a threat?” Vesker hissed.

     “It is a command.”

     Vesker rose from his throne.  A fearsome look was on his face.  “I thought I told you, Shadowed One, that nobody commands me here.”  His skin and armor began to crackle orange.  He felt a buildup of heat in his throat, and prepared to release it.  “I command you… to leave.  NOW.”  He opened his mouth, the air around it shimmering with heat.

     “I grow tired of telling you, Vesker,” said The Shadowed One.  “If you will not listen to me, then perhaps Ancient will be able to convince you.”

     Just as Vesker released his flaming breath, Ancient leaped between it and The Shadowed One with surprising alacrity.  The fire dissipated around him, leaving hardly a scorch mark.  When it cleared, Vesker saw that the large blue being wore an expression of quiet fury, clearly displeased about the attack on his companion.  Vesker smiled, his tusks gleaming wetly.

     A challenge.  How… lovely.

     Without warning, Vesker lashed out with his bladed tail.  Ancient deflected the blow and answered with one of his own, which just barely missed.  Vesker used his claws to strike one, two, three times at Ancient’s chest, but the larger being’s hide had become thick and hard with age; the slashes did nothing.

     A fist was driven hard into Vesker’s diaphragm.  The overlord staggered back, the wind knocked out of him.  He tried to catch his breath.  Out of seemingly nowhere, something struck out and slashed him in the left eye.  He roared in pain, his vision blurry.  With his good eye, he saw Ancient’s barbed tail retreat.  He remained impassive, but he, Vesker, was furious.  He released another roar, this one in anger, and charged Ancient, tusks aimed below the ribs.

     Surprisingly, they met their target.  Ancient let out a grunt as the tusks pierced his body.  Vesker’s momentum held up for another few seconds, driving Ancient back a solid ten feet.  Suddenly a great pain hit Vesker’s head as Ancient drove his knee into his assailant’s chin, the force knocking free some of his regular teeth.  Vesker groaned, but did not dislodge his tusks from Ancient’s body.  He instead opted to release another fiery blast from his now-aching mouth, absorbing a small amount of further strength from the heat that engulfed Ancient.

     Releasing himself, Vesker stood back for a few seconds.  His slashed eye dripped on the floor, and his good eye never left Ancient’s burning form.  But Ancient did not seem to be roasting.  With a final charge, Vesker leaped over Ancient and wrapped his tail around his opponent’s neck, pulling it tight, choking him.

     Ancient’s growl weakened as his air supply diminished; he could not breathe in too much, else the heat would scorch his lungs.  A sinister, chipped grin spread across Vesker’s face, as he grew close to driving Ancient to his knees…

     And then he felt a sudden pain in his right arm.  It felt… lighter.

     Looking down, he saw that his right arm had been severed at the elbow.  The stump had been cauterized, but not completely; it oozed slightly.  He could see a bright light fading around The Shadowed One’s eyes.  The pain was excruciating.  He let out an involuntary moan of pain, released his tail from Ancient’s neck, and dropped to his knees, cradling his stump and futilely trying to put his forearm and hand back where it belonged.

     The flames dissipated around Ancient, who returned to stand behind The Shadowed One, seemingly unperturbed by the holes left in his stomach by Vesker’s tusks.  Vesker was aware of the two of them leering at him.

     “I’m impressed,” said The Shadowed One.  “Most of the individuals we’ve recruited did not put up as much of a fight as you.  Your tenacity and rage will be a valuable asset to us.”

     Through the pain, Vesker stammered, “I cannot be removed.  I will not be removed.  I… I am a king!”  He let out a weak puff of fire, struggling to his feet weakly.  He had never felt such pain before.  But Ancient batted him back down to the floor with his tail; his head slammed heavily on the floor.  His ears rang.

     The Shadowed One’s voice permeated the ringing.  “You are a tyrant and a war deserter.  For the former, you have my respect, but for the latter, you must be punished.”  The Shadowed One grabbed Vesker’s shoulder tightly and turned to Ancient.  “Let’s go,” he said.  Though his vision was cloudy with pain, Vesker could see Ancient toss the two strange disks into the air, letting them fall and hit both him and The Shadowed One.  And just like that, all three were suddenly relocated to the deck of a ship that had made haphazard landfall.  A crowd of curious and confused Matoran gathered around.

     “Your overlord has deigned to relocate himself,” The Shadowed One announced to the impromptu assembly.  “No more will you have to subject yourself to his rule.  You are free.  Free to live your lives as you did before this conqueror came.  Go.  Live.  Work.  Play.  Love.  You are, now and forever, out from under this tyrant’s thumb.”

     As the boat drifted offshore to the sounds of scattered cheering, Vesker felt hot breath on the side of his face as The Shadowed One bent down to whisper in his ear.       “One last thing, Vesker.  In our organization, we do not use names,” he said.  “We strip ourselves of them, and only use titles, like the ones Ancient and I have, which you so rudely mocked.  I think for you, we will call you by the name your people call- or once called- you behind your back.

     “Henceforth, from now until forever, you will no longer be called by the name ‘Vesker.’  You shall be known…

     “As TYRANT.”


Stelt.  Two years later.

“There you are.”

     Vesker- no, he was “Tyrant” now- tossed a body onto the desk of the client that The Shadowed One had assigned to him.  The body was covered in slash marks from his claws, puncture wounds from his tusks and tail, and charred marks from his flaming breath.  It flopped heavily onto the desk before sliding slowly to the floor, leaving a trail of fluid.

     The client started as the body hit the desk.  He examined it as it slid to the floor, with a confused expression; that confusion turned to anger as he reached a realization.  “What?  No, no!  I asked for him alive!  Alive, blast you!”

     “Hm,” hummed Tyrant, scratching his right elbow where his prosthetic arm fused to his original flesh.  “The Shadowed One told me you wanted him dead.”  This was, of course not true.  The Shadowed One had said that the client wanted the target alive, but Tyrant had chosen to deliver the target dead.

     “I told him alive!”

     “And he told me dead.  Clearly there was some miscommunication.”

     The client slammed his fists on the desk.  “Is this the sort of service that the Dark Hunters offer?!” he yelled, spit spraying.  “Ignoring the specific requests- no, demands- from their clients?  Because if it is, I have some strong words to give The Shadowed One!  Unbelievable!  How am I supposed to learn the location of the secret vault, if the only one who can tell me lies dead and oozing on my floor?!”

     “Perhaps you should take your complaints directly to The Shadowed One, to avoid any further miscommunications,” suggested Tyrant.

     The client snarled.  “Maybe I’ll shoot to be the new leader, because clearly the current leadership is lacking.”

     “Would you like me to take you back to Odina?”


     Tyrant grinned.  “Very well.  Come on, Sidorak.  I’ll take you to my ship.”


Odina.  210 years later.

Crouching in the rafters of the Dark Hunters’ fortress, Tyrant and his companion, Vanisher, loomed over The Shadowed One’s throne.  The plan was simple: while he was otherwise occupied, they would drop down on top of him and attack.  Short, sweet, surprising slaughter.  Tyrant swung his bladed tail slowly from side to side, practically itching to get this done and over with.  Though that could have just been his elbow.

     This was due justice, he thought to himself.  This coup, this assassination would rid him of the one who had forced him away from his perfectly lovely kingdom, stripped him of his pride, and forced him to do menial tasks alongside a bunch of undisciplined riffraff.  And with him gone, he would take the vacant seat and rule the Dark Hunters as he once ruled Maero.  He grinned.  Oh, the executions he would perform…

     He moved his foot.  The rafters creaked loudly.

     The Shadowed One looked up, his red eyes immediately locking on to the two Dark Hunters poised above him.

     And Tyrant felt a sudden impact on his spine.  He lost his grip and balance, and fell hard to the floor, the wind knocked out of him.  A great pressure landed upon him, pinning him to the floor; he felt hot breath on his neck, viscous liquid dripping on his head and back.  Claws dug into his shoulders.  He bit his tongue to keep from whimpering.

     “Hello, Tyrant,” said The Shadowed One.  “So sorry to have Sentrakh interrupt your pleasant stroll in the rafters.”  He rose from his throne and approached Tyrant, crouching down to get on his level.  “But I’ve had enough people drop down from the rafters to know what’s going on.  You were trying to assassinate me, weren’t you?  Planning on dropping down while I was busy and slitting my throat?  Hm?”

     Tyrant did not say anything.

     “Your silence says more than your words ever could,” said The Shadowed One, smirking.  “You really should be more creative with your assassination plans.  I’ve had other Dark Hunters try that one out countless times.”

     Of a sudden, The Shadowed One grabbed Tyrant’s prosthetic arm and tore it away.  Tyrant screamed as the metal tore away from the flesh, taking with it skin, bone, and blood.  Lots of blood.  He panted heavily through the pain, pain he had not experienced since the first removal of his arm, back when The Shadowed One had come to claim him.  His good eye blurred with… were these tears?  They were.  He bit his lip hard to keep him from crying out more, drawing more blood.  Sentrakh increased the pressure on his back, claws still digging into his shoulders.

     “Enough.  Sentrakh, release.”

     Mercifully, Sentrakh stopped stepping on Tyrant.  The former overlord remained where we was, whimpering pitifully at the pain.  His false arm clattered to the floor, just out of reach, its claws twitching weakly.


Odina.  280 years later.  Some 3,000 years ago.

Tyrant knelt in his cell, his wrists and ankles bound behind him, his jaw clamped together with a steel muzzle.  His right elbow itched mightily, but he could not scratch at it now.  His body ached, covered in bruises and still-open wounds from the beating he had received from Eliminator two months prior.  It was a testament to the skill of the Dark Hunters’ executioner, if he could beat his victims down so hard that they still hurt so long after.

     The cell door opened, and Tyrant looked up weakly to see The Shadowed One looming in the doorway, still carrying around that staff and cloak.  Tyrant glared as defiantly as he could through his one eye, to The Shadowed One’s apparent amusement.

     “Hello, Tyrant.”

     Tyrant, having his jaw clamped shut, said nothing.

     “It’s been a while, hasn’t it?  Cooked up anymore assassination attempts since I put you here?”

     Still, Tyrant said nothing.

The Shadowed One knelt down to Tyrant’s level.  “It won’t work, you know,” he said.  “No matter how much you try to undermine my authority, no matter how many times you try to have me assassinated, I will not fall.  I will not be deposed from my position as rightful ruler of the Dark Hunters.  Does that sound familiar?”  It did- Tyrant had said similar things when he had first been approached to join the Dark Hunters.  “I hope, for your sake, that you take this discipline to heart now, and stop.  Not only are you getting on my nerves, but you’re also getting repetitive.  Predictable.  I can’t really be on my toes around you anymore, because now I know what’s coming.”

     He was mocking him.  Tyrant’s eye burned.

     “But enough of reminding you of your sins,” The Shadowed One continued.  “You are being released, given an opportunity to receive your due justice.  I have urgent need of you in the battle.”  Waving his hand, he released the restraints binding Tyrant.  Tyrant stood slowly, his joints aching from disuse, and took the opportunity to finally itch his scar tissue-riddled elbow.

     “What… do you need?” he asked, the words rusty in his throat.

     “Your full cooperation, firstly.  Have Screamer patch you up, and I will tell you the details when you return.”

     Slowly, Tyrant left the cell block for the Dark Hunters’ medic, ignoring the wails, jeers, and reaching limbs of his once-fellow inmates.  He was too hurt, too weary, to rebel against The Shadowed One right now.


The sea, off the coast of Metru Nui.  Two weeks later.

For the third time in his life, Tyrant found himself on a ship heading for a life-changing destination.  This time, it was to Metru Nui, to lead an assault on the Toa defending the city, and breach their defenses to create an opening for the Dark Hunters to enter and take hold of the city.  With him were five other powerful Dark Hunters: pompous shapeshifter Devastator, trophy collector Gatherer, former Kane-Ra Bull Charger, cell-bound Savage, and fellow troublemaker Primal (whose leash he, Tyrant, was tasked with holding until the attack).

     Tyrant looked down at his prosthetic right arm, now outfitted with an impact launcher in place of a hand.  It was not as dexterous, but it was significantly more deadly.

     Primal suddenly barked and tugged on his leash, alerting Tyrant.  He returned his eyes to what was in front of the ship, and what was in front of the ship was Metru Nui, specifically the coast of Ga-Metru.  Lined up to meet them was a small contingent of Toa, prepared to face the Dark Hunters.  They had arrived.

     Tyrant smiled his still-broken smile.  How he longed to lay into these Toa, redeem himself in the eyes of the Dark Hunters, cement his position in glory.  Glory that he deserved, that had been stripped from him so many years ago.

     The boat made landfall.  Tyrant handed off Primal’s leash to Devastator, and disembarked, using his heated air to hover down to the beach.  He met the battle-ready gazes of the assembled Toa head-on, unflinching at the seemingly overwhelming odds that faced him and his fellows.  But he relished the opportunity for challenge; his first battle against Ancient had helped him appreciate difficulty in battle.  He would rise to the occasion once again here, he told himself.  He would be an integral part of capturing victory here today.  And he would be one step closer to returning to the prestige that had been his, so long ago.

     “Attention, worthless Toa!” declared Tyrant.  “We offer you this one chance to surrender.  Release your claim on Metru Nui and leave forever.  If you do, we will spare you, but if not, you will die.”

     A red-and-gold-clad Toa stepped forward, brandishing two large cleavers.  “We offer you this one chance to surrender,” he said, mirroring Tyrant’s words.  “Cease your attempts to capture Metru Nui and leave forever.  If you do, you will be spared… for the moment.”

     “I decline your offer,” said Tyrant.

     “And we decline yours,” replied the Toa.

     “I suppose, then, that it must come to battle.”

     “It must.”

     “Have at you, then.”

     The Toa said nothing, instead getting into a ready stance, cleavers at the ready.  Behind him, the whole squadron of Toa did the same.

     Tyrant cracked the knuckles on his remaining hand, rolled his shoulders, and prepared himself for battle.  He had never faced a Toa before, let alone a whole squadron of them; it would be a refreshing new experience.  One that he could hopefully use to his advantage later on down the line.  “Dark Hunters, to me!” he cried.

     There was no response.

     “I said, Dark Hunters, to me!” he said again, more emphatically.

     Still no response.

     Tyrant turned about in anger to face his allies, who were still on the ship, doing nothing.  “Are you just going to stand there, or are you going to help me beat these Toa into submission?” he asked.  “The Shadowed One didn’t send you with me just so I could do all the work, you know.”

     Still again, no response.

     “If you don’t help me in this, then I’ll get all the money that The Shadowed One promised you lot,” he finished, trying to appeal to the base greed of all Dark Hunters.

     Then Devastator spoke.

     “Reverse your two statements.  That would be the truth of this situation.”

     Tyrant cocked an eyebrow.  “What does that mean?  You know what, it doesn’t matter.  I’m going to lay into these Toa, by myself or not.  Feel free to join me when you’ve grown spines or decided to stop talking in nonsense.”  And with that, he began his lone assault on the Toa, bellowing as he charged them.The Toa did the same, and they met on the beach.

     Tyrant had the first blow, his tail slamming hard into the midsection of a silver Toa.  He swiped with his claws at two others, and hit one.  The one he had missed, a Toa of Water, spewed a jet of water at him.  It splashed over him, knocking him backward slightly.  In response, he thrust his tusks at the Toa, puncturing the soft flesh of their lower jaw, killing them.  He aimed his impact launcher and fired at the red-and-gold Toa, who batted the shot aside with his cleavers, a familiar orange glow flashing around him.

     Oh my.  A Toa of Fire.  How delicious.  This was to be his new target.

     Tyrant fired other shots from his impact launcher to get another Toa off his back.  In the brief freedom, he charged at the Toa of Fire, who launched a fiery blast at him.  This was no problem, as Tyrant absorbed the power of the heat into his body.  His skin began to glow orange; the glow grew brighter as more heat was pulled into his veins.  Bursting from the fire, he pounced upon the Toa of Fire.  The Toa did not react in time, dropping his cleavers as he fell.

     The two struggled, interlocked in what could have been a lover’s embrace if they hadn’t been trying to kill each other.  Tyrant snapped his jaws at the Toa’s masked face.  Somehow, the Toa’s hand found its way to Tyrant’s throat; the Dark Hunter felt a searing heat as the hand around his neck heated up mightily.  He roared, but the roar was not from pain.  Not immediately.

     He felt a Toa try to wrench him away; he stabbed them in the leg with his bladed tail, and chopped off their head.  He opened his mouth at the Toa he grappled with, preparing to release a scorching blast.

     A sharp pain hit his side, interrupting him.  A black Toa had thrown a dragon-tail-and-chain at him, and hit him.  This time, the roar was one of pain.  He yanked the weapon out of his side and pulled on the chain, drawing the Toa closer so he could drive his claws into their neck.  But in doing so, he let go of the Toa of Fire, who kicked him off.  Tyrant stumbled back, grabbing at his dripping side.  He opened his mouth again, and released that blast of fire, heat, and death at the Toa.  But a gust of wind blew the fire back at him.  A Toa of Air had leaped between Tyrant and his target, blowing a steady, strong stream of wind from his scythe.  The blowback bolstered Tyrant, the heat absorbed into his body.  He tapped these new reserves and strengthened his fire breath, to little avail.  The backdraft just kept coming.

     For many moments, the two were locked in a stalemate, until Tyrant had to pause to inhale.  At that moment, both the Toa of Fire and the Toa of Air leaped forward to attack directly.  Their blows landed on Tyrant, who stumbled back again in surprise.  He growled, and fired his impact launcher once, twice, three times at them, but missed.  He was slashed across the chest with the scythe, and bellowed in pain.  His good eye blazed in rage.  He charged them again, and was knocked back by a joint attack.

     Tusks, claws, launcher, tail, fire.  Tyrant used them all, but the two Toa matched him blow for blow.  Cleaver and scythe opened his skin, pierced his armor.  His body burned, but not with heat.

     Why hadn’t his fellow Dark Hunters come to help him yet?  Could they not see that he was in need of aid?  That he had, gods forbid, gotten in over his head?  Reverse your two statements, Devastator had said.  The Shadowed One… had sent him to do all the work himself?  He would not be paid for his fellows’ lack of initiative?  This didn’t make sense!

     A heavy slash hit his shoulders.  He groaned as he felt his armor and skin part.

     The Toa of Air lopped off his remaining original arm.


     The pain.  The pain.  THE PAIN.

     Tyrant fell to his knees, his impact launcher failing to cradle his new stump as his hand would.  His groan grew louder, louder, until it was a scream.  A scream of primal rage, pain, sorrow, betrayal.  In his scream, he released one last burst of fire, one that was much, much larger than any he could have made at any other time, fueled not just by the residual fire in him, but his almost tangible emotions.  Ever after, it would be said that a star seemed to descend on that beach in that moment.

     The Toa of Air hit Tyrant in the diaphragm with the butt of his scythe.  With a burst of air, the Dark Hunter was knocked, flung back, where he crashed into the Silver Sea.

     Blood and armor trailed as Tyrant sank.  His consciousness began to ebb.  As everything grew black, one thought crossed his mind.

     The Shadowed One had ordered the other Dark Hunters to abandon him.


     With one last shout, muffled by the water surrounding him, he cried vengeance on The Shadowed One, even if he had to come back from the dead to have it.  He promised that he would make The Shadowed One suffer for all the abuse, all the abandonment, all the glory and prestige that he had robbed him of.

     Never once did he think that this was a result of his own treachery.

     That this was the justice he was due.



Here's my end of the bargain for this year's Fanfic Exchange.  I was assigned a story for Xccj, who asked for stories focused on secondary characters or events not directly addressed in the main story.  So I thought, why not combine the two and write a story chronicling the life of perhaps one of the more interesting Dark Hunters?  I set out to fill in some of the blanks presented in Tyrant's biography in the Dark Hunters encyclopedia, as well as flesh out what was already there.  I suppose I was in a bit too much of a Dragon Ball mood, because all throughout the writing process, I tried to characterize Tyrant sort of like Frieza: an imperious, arrogant conqueror who ultimately got in over his head.


As always, comments and criticisms are welcome.

Hope you enjoy, Xccj.

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Wow, that started with a mild, domestic tone and then took quite the drastic turn. And it only got more brutal from there!


This did a great job of filling out the backstory of one of the minor Dark Hunter characters. His rule on that Matoran island was totally over the top, but it really built up his character. As surprising as it was for TSO to liberate the Matoran of their dictator, it all felt natural for him as a way to get one over Vesker. And then the way TSO just slowly wore down all his various attempts to usurp him was great. Honestly, I was expecting a reveal towards the end that The Shadowed One was actually the son Vesker abandoned at the beginning of the story, which would make TSO's actions more of a personal revenge. The fight sequences between Vesker and Ancient and Vesker and the Toa were both well done (if a little brutal at times), and I also appreciated the various cameos from the other Dark Hunters.


Great story! Thanks again!



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