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Corpus Rahkshi: Sibling Rivalries

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Corpus Rahkshi was a popular game from the Bionicle RPG corner of the forums, which ran from 2014 through to 2019. Set in an alternate version of Bionicle canon where Rahkshi began developing sentience, the game charts the story of the students of "Corpus Rahkshi", a pseudo highschool/military academy built on a small isle near Nynrah, where the Makuta could send their intelligent rahkshi to train, learn, and socialise. 

With 700 pages and nearly 28,000 replies, Corpus Rahkshi is full of stories and subplots, and the following scene is just one among the multitudes. 

Originally told in five posts over the course of several days, Sibling Rivalries was the culmination of a years-long conflict between two of my characters in the game: Exxan, a Level 5 vacuum rahk who was one of the school's first students, and his sister Sliver, a Level 6 cyclone rahk who was sent to the school some time later. There are a lot of references and details in their battle that will probably go unappreciated by those who aren't well-versed in the game's history and lore, but hopefully it can still be enjoyed as a standalone scene. The game petered out shortly after I wrote this scene, so sadly its where the story ended for these, and my other characters.

 

Siblings Rivalries

 

Sliver

I found him in the infirmary. After failing to find him in the library, I figured that was the next most likely place to look. It was the last place I’d seen him, and given the way he attracted misfortune like a magnet, it seemed as good a place as any to wait for him.

He was with Palma when I entered, having a wound on his leg seen to. He looked up as I entered, and I saw the resignation in his eyes, just as he no doubt saw the resolve in mine.

He turned back to Palma, mumbled a quiet thanks when she was done, then stood up, testing his leg.

Then he looked at me, sighed, and made his way towards me.

It was time.

We both felt it.

We both knew it.

 

Exxan

I didn’t have much regard for the three virtues the Matoran put so much stock in.

Unity lasted only as long as it served the self-interest of those involved.

Duty was a damper, something to keep them blind and unambitious.

And their precious Destiny was nothing more than a fairytale, a delightful lie to give them hope for a future that could only ever be improved by their own efforts.

What I believed in was fate. While there are many beings who might used the words destiny and fate interchangeably, I’ve always seen them as distinct concepts. Destiny is a virtue, a personal accomplishment, something to be striven for and attained. Fate, by contrast, has always had connotations of finality. Fate is something that befalls, that follows, that we all one day meet.

This was my fate, come to find me at long last. I’d walked, run, and hid from plenty of fights in my life, but not this time. This was a foe I had to face, be it with words or weapons.

And so, I didn’t try to run. I didn’t try to remain in the neutral ground of the infirmary. I rose to my feet, gave my thanks to the rahk who had healed me for what might very well be the final time, and strode forth to meet my fate.

 

Sliver

I’d been hoping for panic or protest.

What I’d gotten instead was grim, resolute acceptance.

It was disappointing, but not entirely unexpected. Exxan had always hidden how he truly felt, always tried to appear more confident and certain than he truly was.

His lies had clearly worked well on others in his sphere of influence, but he had never been able to fool me. I knew him better than anyone else. I knew what lay beneath his mask.

And before I finally allowed him to die, I was going to see the fear in his eyes.

 

Exxan

I was the one who broke the silence as we walked the cold corridors. There hadn’t been any kind of spoken agreement as to our destination, but we were both bound for the Chirox Causeway. I could feel raw power radiating from her even from a few bio away; she’d gained a level, maybe several, since I’d last crossed blades with her.

There was no telling how much devastation we would’ve wrought if we unleashed our full strength within the confines of the corridors.

Even Sliver, sadistic though she was, didn’t seem to want to risk collateral damage this time.

The only one she wanted dead was me.

“We don’t have to do this,” I pleaded, “You don’t have to do this.”

“Why not?” She sounded genuine, though I knew better than to put too much trust in her tone.

“Father isn’t here. You can make your own choices.”

I knew there was more to her hate and rage than that, but I hoped that invoking Father might at least give her pause.

Sliver laughed, and I felt my heart sink.

“I want you dead because I want you dead,” she sneered, “Father didn’t put me up to it. He actually sent me here to help you – can you believe that? One minor, miserable little murder, and suddenly you’re all that matters to him? It’s pathetic!”

“Why would he care?”

“Why?” Sliver stopped, staring at me, “Because you were his first, his best and brightest. You were always so karzing clever… you were just missing that killer instinct. When he thought you’d finally found that...” she shook her head, seeming upset by the memory.

The doors to outside were within sight, but I stopped walking to turn and stare at her in turn. My father had been never been the type to offer encouragement or compliments. I’d always thought he’d sent me to Corpus Rahkshi to get rid of me… but what it had been something more? Sliver delighted in her lies, but the hate and pain in her voice seemed all too real this time.

Which could only mean…

“You’re doing all of this because you’re jealous? You’re afraid I’m going to steal father’s favour away from you?” I shook my head, an exasperated laugh escaping me, “I don’t want his approval. I don’t give a karz what he thinks of me. You shouldn’t either. He’s nothing but a twisted, insa-”

The rest of the insults I’d been preparing were ripped away from me by the savage slice of air that flung me towards the open doors of the school.

“Where is your respect?” Sliver’s snarl pursued me, “We owe the Makuta everything! They made us!”

Cushioning my impact with an air blast of my own, I skidded to a stop at the edge of the drop-off onto the Causeway, sliding Remembrance from its sheath and shifting into a defensive stance.

“The Makuta may have made us… but not in their own image,” I replied, “We have free will, our own thoughts and minds. We can be more than what they want us to be. You can be more than this.”

“I am this. Without the Makuta, without their example to guide us, we are nothing!”

I felt a pang of regret at the prospect of what was going to happen next. There would be no talking Sliver down, no outside interference to defuse the situation, no slipping away or faking defeat as I had so many times before.

One of us wouldn’t be leaving this island alive. 

“You’re already nothing,” I retorted, “You have ambition, but no aspirations. You have hate, but no one to blame. You have power, and only know how to abuse it.”

“And what do you have?” Sliver countered, drawing a sword of her own – a strange blade that seemed to vanish in the shadows of the dim corridor. “Ending the life of another makes for a good story, but that’s all it is: a story. It doesn’t make you a real killer. It doesn’t make you a match for me.”

“You’re right, I’m not a match for you,” I smiled, “I’ve survived far worse than you already.”

 

Sliver

It wasn’t the arrogance of his words, or the audacity of his boast that did it.

It was that smug, certain smile that pushed me over the edge.

I lunged at him, crossing the distance in an instant, my twilight blade a blackened blur burning forth to bury itself to the hilt in his too-soft heart.

At least, that was the plan. I wanted it to be that easy.

I wanted to watch his façade of fearsomeness fall away to reveal the meek, simpering wretch I knew had to be hiding behind it. People didn’t change. I had always been powerful, and he had always been pathetic. Nothing would change that.

Instead, he moved to meet me and parried my strike with practiced ease, before responding with a riposte of his own, appearing far more familiar with his blade than I was with my new weapon.

I sidestepped his strike, all too aware of the detriment even a single scratch from that green-tinged blade could bring.

He didn’t relent, following up with a horizontal slice that I blocked with my own blade.

There was no emotion in his face, just an irritating expression of concentration I knew all too well. He was studying me, as if I were some project to be assessed.

Snarling, I delivered a sequence of swift, savage strikes, aiming to shatter his concentration with the sheer relentlessness of the assault. I was no book. I wasn’t going to let him try to read me.

He met me blow for blow, never wavering, never betraying a hint of emotion.

Time lost meaning. We fought for what felt like forever, sparks flying as our blades battered one another again and again, always falling short of finding flesh. I could feel my arms beginning to tire, my muscles unused to the strain of this particular type of combat.

But I could see Exxan weakening as well, his face strained, his blows becoming more sluggish. He was giving ground, drawing ever closer to the very edge of the school. I just had to outlast him. One opportunity was all I needed to turn this around.

His next counterattack was aimed at my head, and I blocked high, seizing the opportunity to put my sword’s unique properties to use. I shifted the blade, angling it to meet the light filtering in from outside, causing it to flare with blinding brightness.

Exxan flinched, screwing his eyes shut and turning his head away. It was a momentary, instinctive reaction, but in the time it took him to realise his mistake and turn back, I’d already made my move.

I reached back to yank a broadhead from my quiver with my free hand, and plunged it down into elbow joint of his sword arm.

His expression turned to one of his panic, his eyes widening in pain and surprise.

Irritatingly, he didn’t cry out.

He dropped his sword, and I brought mine down with both hands, hacking into his right shoulder. He grunted, trying to feebly grab at my weapon with his injured right arm. I pushed downwards, leaning my full weight onto the blade, driving it deeper.

It didn’t occur to me to wonder what his left hand was doing until it was far too late.

 

Exxan

Sliver had always been predictable.

She was all ego and empowerment.

She thought she was better than everyone else, and when circumstances seemed to vindicate that belief, her arrogance blinded her to the truth of what was truly happening.

I didn’t have much of a chance to react. But I could’ve tried. When I saw her bringing down that arrow, I could’ve tried to stop her. I could’ve tried to blast her weapons from her grasp. I could’ve tried to retreat from her reach. Instead, I let her hit me. I gave her exactly what she wanted. I gave her the power, the superiority, she thought she already had.

I let her blind herself.

And then, I blinded her myself.

As she sneered down at me, I smiled up at her, slipping Blossom from its sheath and driving it up into her right eye.

A cloud of illusory flowers exploded into existence between us. Sliver screamed, and I twisted the blade, wrenching it downwards and snapping the tip off inside her skull.

 

Sliver

My world became pain and petals.

I struck out with the full might of my Level 6 powers, hearing Exxan’s cry as he was battered backwards.

For once, hearing him scream didn’t make me feel better.

The physical pain was beyond anything I’d ever felt before. What hurt worse than knowing my eye was gone was the excruciating, all-encompassing sense of wrongness I felt at what had just happened to me. I was a Prefect. I was untouchable. I was all-powerful. I was everything this school wanted me to be, and more… but he had hurt me. Exxan the bookworm. Exxan the coward. Exxan the worthless, wretched waste of antidermis, who had spent his whole existence cowering in my shadow… he had hurt me.

I slashed and swore at the petals, my blade passing harmlessly through the illusory mirages until I flung it away in frustration.

After several moments, they began to dissipate, and I stormed forward, blinking the tears from my good eye, and swiping away the blood dripping from my ruined one.

Exxan lay sprawled on the stones of the Chirox Causeway a fair distance away, dazed, and struggling to prop himself up on the wave-slicked stones. Beyond him, the last rays of day were being swallowed up by a storm brewing over the mainland, menacingly illuminated by sparking spears of lightning. The wind was already beginning to whip waves against the isle of Corpus Rahkshi, salty spray reaching all the way to where I stood, making my wound burn all the more.

I drew my bow, loosing a barbed broadhead down at Exxan’s face.

Eye for an eye, brother.

 

Exxan

The arrow missed, of course.

She’d just lost an eye, and she was firing into the wind.

But as her arrow shattered weakly against the crags several bio away from me, Sliver let out an incensed screech, staring at me as if I was somehow responsible for her own stupidity.

She drew another arrow, fired, and missed again.

She fired again.

She missed again.

I rose to my feet, snapping off shaft of the arrow she’d stabbed into my arm. My elbow wouldn’t bend, and I could barely make the fingers of that hand move, but the pain of the wound was more distracting than debilitating.

It didn’t hurt as badly as being strangled by the searing hands of a plasma rahk, or being buried alive in a tunnel full of enraged Visorak, enduring the rage of a slighted Makuta, or being abandoned on the beach by someone I thought I might have actually loved.

One of Sliver’s arrows finally fell close enough to be concerning, so I drew one of my daggers and flung it up at her.

She didn’t try to do anything stop it, being either too maddened to care, or operating under the mistaken assumption that if she couldn’t hit me, I couldn’t possibly hit her.

The dagger buried itself firmly in her upraised hand just as she was taking aim at me again, and both bow and arrow sprang out of her grasp as she howled in pain.

I flung another dagger, and this time she summoned a wave of air to swat it aside.

She ripped the other blade from her palm, raised both hands, and suddenly I was no longer on the ground, but being whipped around in the air by a miniature cyclone that had abruptly materialised around me. A cyclone that rose higher and carried me further down the Causeway, adjusting course to fling me towards the most imposing of the pillars. I repelled myself away from the rocks with air blasts of my own, eventually managing to weaken the cyclone enough to break free of it.

I went into freefall and switched to flight mode, landing atop one of the pillars that lined the Causeway. For the first time since this fight had begun, I felt afraid. To be able to control her powers to this extent, Sliver had to be a Level 6… or something even worse. She’d done it. She’d become exactly what this accursed institution had wanted to create.

Unlike me, she had no qualms about killing. If I didn’t stop her here and now, I wasn’t sure anyone would ever be able to.

I drew upon the breeze of the brewing storm, and directed a concussive blast of my own towards my sister. She simply ripped it apart with her own powers before it could reach her, before switching to flight mode and speeding towards me.

I tried throwing another dagger, only for it to be rent asunder by a miniature cyclone that then whipped the fragments back at my head. I raised my wounded arm to shield my eyes, feeling shards of shattered steel pierce my forearm.

When I lowered my arm, it was just in time to see Sliver’s feet flying right at my face.

 

Sliver

I stopped on top of the pillar to watch him fall.

Reeling from the impact, he wasn’t able to enter flight mode, and instead ploughed into the rock below with enough force to crack both the stone and his armour.

It was indescribably gratifying to watch him brought low, both literally and figuratively. He’d scraped and struggled, and survived so much, but his luck had finally forsaken him. There was no escape for him this time.

He was mine.

I’d wanted to kill him quickly, but after what he’d done to me, after all the times he’d cheated death before, he didn’t deserve an easy end.

He deserved something exquisite, extravagant, and extremely excruciating.

The last time I’d come this close to killing him, I’d actually regretted it.

“Yes, of course, but… the others… I nearly killed Exxan. They'll hate me.”

“Hate, or fear? Do you really want to be the victim of their prejudices, or would you rather be the queen you were always supposed to be?” 

“A queen?”

“Yes. A queen. A ruler. A conqueror. So tell me Sliver, what are you?”

I knew what I was.

There was no regret now.

I opened my satchel, and emptied the mirror shards within down towards him. They crashed and shattered on the rocks, a million glinting fragments weakly reflecting my own bloodied visage. I summoned up another cyclone, swallowing up both Exxan and the glass, letting the windstorm rage for a few moments before sending it wafting further down the Causeway to crash and scatter against a pillar.

Spreading my arms wide, I called upon the lashing winds of the brewing stormfront, drawing them towards me, weaving them together into four colossal cyclones, two on either side of the Causeway, mightier than anything I’d ever managed before. They whipped at the water, tearing detritus from the bottom of the bay, shearing sloughs from the rocks of the Causeway. Robbed of their supports, several of the pillars cracked and crumbled, cascading chaotically into the frothy water below.

With the roar of a thousand crashing waterfalls, the four swirling storms moved as one towards where Exxan lay, tearing asunder all that lay in their path, growing in ferocity as they drew closer.

The cyclones converged, forming together into worst weather event the island had seen since Gorast had annihilated Phantom-on-the-Water.  

Nothing, I was certain, could survive in the middle of that.

 

Exxan

A common cliché I’d come across in my reading was that people see their whole life flash before their eyes in the moments before death.

For me, struggling to stand, a split-second away from being swallowed up by Sliver’s simultaneous cyclone, it wasn’t my life I saw, but the beings who’d been in it. Faces hovered, wraith-like, within the walls of wind, the faces of friends and foes alike who’d forsaken me. Omega, Mahrika, Vaalku, Squid, Fang, Kat, Phogen, and plenty more besides.

"I...didn't choose a side Exxan. I..I....didn't. Fang...is..my....friend....was...just...protecting.........him."

They were all gone, dead or departed.

"I... Was just trying to do what was right... I never have before... And now... They're all gone... You were the last p-person I know."

I was never going to see any of them again.

"I want to see my sword again.”

I was alone, as I always had been.

"You killed another student, tricked his friend into making you a poisoned sword, drew that same sword on another of his friends... you've become a monster, Exxan. Our father would be so proud of you."

It was what I deserved.

Death in of itself is not a tragedy.

The death of a scientist is, because they leave with discoveries yet to be made.

The death of a scholar is, because their torch serves to ignite others.

The cyclones descended upon me, vicious winds tugging in every direction, shrapnel battering me from every side. I couldn’t see, couldn’t breathe, couldn’t fight back.

The death of a hero is, because the pain of their sacrifice is as unfading as the hope it provides.

The death of a friend is, because it is woefully rare to find one true and fitting.

Back to the wall. No way out. End of the line. I’d been here before, more times than I could count.

I supposed, in a sense, I was in my element.

The death of Exxan was tragic. But in it, he was freed.

For that, us charged with his memory are thankful.

Wait… I’m literally in my element…

 

Sliver

As I watched, I imagined all of the ways Exxan would die.

As I watched, I wondered if there would be anything left of him.

As I watched, I felt my joy and jubilation swell at the thought of my triumph.

As I watched, I saw the most savage cyclone I’d ever summoned falter, fail, and fade.

What? The cyclone unravelled. How? The debris fell into the waves. No. A figure stood among the dwindling winds. No! A figure whose black armour bore streaks of orange, and trickles of ichor from innumerable lacerations. NO!

Exxan stood firm, eyes as green as my own staring up at me. He was shaking, his entire body seeming to vibrate as he struggled under an unseen weight. Wisps of wind wove their way around him like wafting steam.

In a moment of soul-chilling clarity, I understood what had happened. My cyclone hadn’t disappeared. He’d absorbed it, siphoned it away as Vacuum Rahkshi did.

But that much power couldn’t be stored indefinitely. It had to be unleashed, and I understood with grim certainty what my brother was going to do with it.

It wasn’t fair. It wasn’t right. But it was happening nonetheless.

I didn’t try to run.

There was no point.

The only victory I could claim was denying him the satisfaction of seeing me afraid.

 

Exxan

For a split second, in spite of the searing strain of holding the maelstrom within me at bay, I hesitated. She was my sister, wrought of the same source, the one being in this universe who was most like me.

I wanted to be better than her.

I wanted to show her mercy.

I always offered a choice, a chance to walk away or find a new way.

Omega hadn’t taken it, but so many others – Alpha, Fang, Kat, Phogen, Omicron, and plenty more besides – had seen some semblance of reason.

A part of me wanted nothing more than to offer Sliver that same choice, to release this power harmlessly into the ocean and let my sister walk away.

But she had gone too far astray, beyond reason, beyond rehabilitation.

I already knew what choice she was going to make, so I made it for her.

Raising my uninjured hand, I opened my palm, and set her ending free.

A colossal, cataclysmic column of concentrated cyclonic chaos cascaded from my hand, spearing upwards through the ether and striking Sliver’s pillar with a sound like a thunderclap.

Her obliteration was instantaneous, so swift and complete, that I didn’t even see her die.

In one instant, she was standing atop the pillar, looking down at me with eyes full acceptance and… regret? The next, she and the top of the pillar were gone, reduced to less than dust.

I sunk to my knees, my entire body aching in a way I’d never felt before. The clouds had broken, and cold drops of icy pain were beginning to beat at my back and shoulders. I felt exhausted, not just physically, but psychologically as well. I was tired of it all, of the life the Makuta had forced upon us, an existence of endless servitude that could end only in our annihilation.

It was wrong. All of it, so karzing wrong.

Sliver had been my sister. Everything else aside, she had still been my kin. Kin that had sought to kill me, and kin I had killed in turn. We’d had the same parent, the same upbringing, the same education. We’d gone to the same school, participated in the same assignments, met the same people. How had she gone so wrong? What had made her into such a shallow, shattered thing?

In the end, though, I suppose Sliver finally lived up to her name. As the winds I’d unleashed finally dispersed, the incomprehensively miniscule motes of what had once been her physical form drifted like dust down upon the school she’d hoped to rule.

She was free, one with her element.

If there was a life beyond death for Rahkshi, I hoped she would find peace in it.

There would be no peace for me in this one.

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Legends Don't Last Forever

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This was a great read! I had never explored Corpus Rahkshi when it was active, but I do remember seeing the name. It sounds very much like what I imagine a school for intelligent Rahkshi would be like. It reminds me of a Sith Academy. I admit I was genuinely unsure who would win and was enraptured by the musings of Exxan as he reflected on his victory. The characters also remind me of Gorast and Krika. Was that a direct inspiration at all?


"You are an absolute in these uncertain times. Your past is forgotten, and your
future is an empty book. You must find your own destiny, my brave adventurer.
"
-- Turaga Nokama

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On 3/1/2021 at 11:50 AM, Master Inika said:

The characters also remind me of Gorast and Krika. Was that a direct inspiration at all?

Not intentionally. Both characters were more a product of circumstance as the game went on.

I originally created Exxan to be more of a booknerd who was interested in learning more about the new breed of Rahkshi, but in-game events slowly hardened him, and turned him against the Brotherhood of Makuta. Sliver started off being just a jealous sibling who was meant to be a bit of an ambitious bully, but over the course of the game she was repeatedly rewarded for her ruthlessness, which cemented her loyalty to the Makuta. 


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