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Nato G

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  1. IC: T’harrak – Fleeing Fort Garsi "We gotta go back. She's still got breath in 'er'." T’harrak stumbled as if she’d been shoved, the insane suggestion striking her with all the force of a physical blow. She glanced back behind her, spotting the figure Sohmak was referring to. Jojax, stooped on the edge of the battlefield, battered but still alive. But she also saw one of Fort Garsi’s riders parked by a mound beyond the spikes. She was hurling words their way, and the grenade in her hand made it all too clear what she’d be throwing next if they doubled back. She was alone for now, but there were still snipers out there somewhere, and other Fort Garsi survivors were making their way through the spikes. There were probably even more warriors still waiting inside the Fort, fresh and ready to fight. The Fort Razorfish group had already lost or left behind so many today. Zanakra, Seeker, Ahuum, others whose names T'harrak had never known. And they would lose a lot more if they threw away their one clear chance for escape to go back for just one person. “I’m sorry,” T’harrak said, tears of shame shining in her eyes, “Her life isn’t worth all of ours.” And then she kept running. @Techn0geist @ARROW404 @Smudge8 @Mel
  2. You can't fit the whole story in a limited medium like that. Same reason the movies skip a lot of story.
  3. IC: Avinus – Tajun Streets The arrival of another native Glatorian in the town square didn’t escape the notice of Avinus, who was in the midst of inquiring with some newly-arrived Ice Agori about one of her preferred traders from Iconox. He hadn’t shown up in town yet, and the group she was speaking with appeared to be pretending very hard not to know who she was asking about so they could push their own wares on her. “Thanks for your time,” she said, stepping away, “Gotta go.” She vaguely recognised the other Glatorian. Luke… Lucky? Somethin’ like that. The burly blade on his back was a memorable weapon, slightly more so than the Glatorian himself since he’d only been training for a few months. (At least as far as Avinus could recall. She admittedly didn't pay that much attention to Glatorian of her own village most of the time, since they weren't the ones she usually spent time fighting). Still, his shiny armour and inquisitive interest in the crowds seemed to indicate that he was still fairly new to all of this. “Quite the spectacle, innit?” Avinus said, falling into step beside the younger Glatorian, “All this for five minutes of fightin'." @Emzee
  4. IC: Somok - Precipere "Obviously, it would be in our best interests to make sure at least some of them get to where they're going and make it back alive," Somok said, "But don't put your own lives at risk unnecessarily. Just make sure they understand we had nothing to do with whatever happened to Ferrum." @Geardirector @Toru Nui
  5. IC: Gayle - Vulcanus Arena "I don't have a deathwish, if that's what you're asking," she replied warily, "I'm not ready to go. But it's an occupational hazard I accepted a long time ago." She glanced at the other Glatorian, trying to gauge from their reactions if they'd been so bluntly asked the same vaguely-threatening question, "Besides, if I don't make it, I don't have any family for your village to compensate." @a goose @Burnmad @oncertainty @~Xemnas~
  6. IC: Gayle - Vulcanus Arena "Oh dear, we're not off to a good start, are we?" Her tone, and the disapproving head shake that accompanied it, was one of mocking disappointment, "Are you this quick to judge everyone you meet? Here I was thinking you'd be more appreciative of someone voluntarily offering up her time to help." In the Glatorian's defence, Raanu's message had specifically asked for Glatorian. But Agori could fight in the arenas as well as any Glatorian, and Gayle had more experience in the wastelands than career Glatorian who never left the safety of the villages and well-travelled roads. "I mean, how many Glatorian were you actually expecting to get during tournament season?" @a goose @Burnmad @oncertainty @~Xemnas~
  7. IC: Somok – Precipere “I doubt we have anything to fear from the scavengers,” Somok replied dismissively. Not only would the Bone Hunters have difficulty bringing a fighting force up the narrow stairwell to Precipere, but they’d find little worth looting when they arrived. The Ash Tribe's greatest treasure was its history, and such things held no material value to the savages of the wider wasteland. “Now, you said we needed to discuss your ‘approach’ before you left. Go ahead.” @Toru Nui @Geardirector ______________________________________________________ IC: Gayle – Vulcanus The teal-and-green Agori was the next to arrive in the arena, whistling to herself as she wandered in. “Looks like I’m the odd one out,” she remarked to no one in particular, noting immediately that the rest of the gathered group were all Glatorian. "I look forward to working with y'all." @~Xemnas~ @Burnmad @oncertainty
  8. I've seen a lot of different people in the community pushing this one in recent months, even Faber himself, and it's fantastic to see it make it to review. I've got my fingers crossed that this one makes it through to production. It's the first Bionicle-related Ideas project that's really piqued my interest, and it'll look great up on my display shelf right next to my GWP Tahu & Takua.
  9. Looking at the description, the wording of the power is very strange. The way you talk about it in your question I thought it was something in the vein of Rahkshi Anger/Fear powers, forcing a target to feel a different emotion. But looking at the description in the Encyclopedia - "it also brings understanding, turning anger into peace and enemies into allies" - it sounds like something different. Based on that wording, it sounds more like the mask is meant to help ease disagreements, resolve disputes, etc. by somehow giving the parties involved a mutual understanding of one another, and it's through that understanding that peace is achieved (rather than the mask somehow "curing" people of selfish or cruel desires). If all the mask actually does is "spread understanding", then I'd argue that someone who already understands that what they're doing is morally wrong, and are choosing to do it anyway, would be completely unaffected. Addressing the actual question, all of the other powers in canon that effect people's emotional states are temporary, so it stands to reason that the Avohkii's would be as well.
  10. Nuva masks can share powers anyway, so there was never really any need for any of the Toa to use their spare masks later in the story because they were almost always together.
  11. IC: Skrall - Roxtus Stables "Dignity," he spoke the word slowly, chewing on its syllables as if they were gristle. "If the prisoner's feelings are such a priority to you, I would ask that he be placed on your carriage, under your care." It went without saying that Skrall intended to place himself on the other chariot. If their guide wanted to risk the success of their mission to spare the prisoner's self-esteem, he could bear the responsibility and consequences. @a goose @skrall
  12. Bear in mind that the Matoran evacuated the village because it was under seige from the three screeching snake demons, not because they knew it was going to sink. Even if they did somehow know ahead of time that the damage was going to be so severe that the village would collapse, the populace would've been far too preoccupied with running for their lives to waste time trying to carry a massive stone shrine out of the city.
  13. IC: Skrall - Roxtus Stables His brow furrowed as he pondered the response. "Allowing the prisoner to keep his weapons increases the chance of our fallibility." @a goose
  14. IC: Skrall – Roxtus Stables With the situation now seemingly resolved, Skrall offered nods of acknowledgement to those who had aided in apprehending the rogue, before turning his attention to the Special Forces Skrall who had spoken earlier. “I request… clarification,” his tone was tentative as he sought the right words to express his confusion, “We were told that this is a commodity, not a comrade, one that we are to trade to the Bone Hunters for supplies and safe passage.” Their mission wasn’t even underway, but Skrall already felt like he was missing something. Why had Tirveus allowed this disgraced warrior to retain his weapons if he was to be sold into slavery? Why was their guide demanding they give respect to one whose cowardice had cost the lives of other Skrall? And why was Skrall himself being regarded as unreasonable for wanting the prisoner to be unarmed? Though more unwieldy than a blade, a Skrall shield was certainly sharp enough to cut through rope bindings. The fact that this shamed Skrall had been willing to put up a fight against a half-dozen others, in the middle of Roxtus where he stood no chance of survival or escape, made it all the more likely that he would attempt to fight or flee later in their journey when the odds were more in his favour. “Did Tirveus instruct your differently?” @a goose
  15. I think Christian Faber's recent videos on the earlier plans for G2 mapped out some really good concepts. I wouldn't go so far as to rope in every pre-existing constraction theme like some of those concepts did, but I think there was some great groundwork there for a reboot. I'd go with the initial idea of a villain using the Mask Of Time to travel to the past and change history. This would allow the reboot to revisit and reintroduce old characters and locations in a way that's accessible for new and returning fans alike. Similar to G1, the story would gradually expand, peeling away layers of mystery by moving to a new location and focusing on a new group of heroes every year or two. New fans would get to experience that same sense of mystery and maturity that G1 had, while old fans will encounter some fun surprises as familiar ideas are interpreted in new ways. The main thing I'd change is condensing or streamlining the story in some way. G1's biggest barrier to entry for new fans was the way the sprawling, complex story was spread out over comics and serials and movies and novels, each with pieces that the others didn't have. A potential G3 should limit the story to one or two media options at most, and have significantly less side content. With many recent Lego themes seeing success with animated TV shows, I think that would be the best route to go with Bionicle, with novels or web serials being used to keep pace with other important events, or characters who aren't the main focus of the year's story. Similarly, my G3 would either have villains being definitively defeated at the end of the year, or returning in new forms a year or two down the line like the Toa often did. Much of G1's sprawling side content was due to new villains with centuries-long backstories being introduced every single story arc, and these villains constantly surviving and their histories and ongoing actions needing to be explained. Having teams of recurring villains would help alleviate some of these issues, keep the story more focused, and provide more character development for both heroes and villains across multiple years of story.
  16. IC: Somok - Precipere "Nothing of note," Somok answered absently, finally setting aside the tablet to focus on the two beings before him, "Have there been any developments in the other villages, beyond the fate of Ferrum or the coming Tournament?" Somok considered himself a big-picture person. His duty was to the village as a whole, and as such he paid little attention to the coming and goings of a lone healer who chose to roam around supporting the people of other villages instead of their own. He quite honestly had no idea how long Xyde had been gone this time, or what they were or weren't aware of, and he didn't care enough to ask. They weren't here for small talk. @Geardirector @Toru Nui
  17. IC: Vazaria – Hanaloi With a resolute nod, the vulture activated her Kadin and flew forth from the fortress, duty-bound to deliver devastating annihilation to the island beyond. * * * Vazaria was free. Fate had long ago forced her to shed the shackles of caste and clan. Zataka had dispelled the doubt and despair from her mind. And now the burden of her harrowing history had been lifted. She had allies. She had a cause. And now, she could finally have her revenge. Caana had suggested three locations on the island for her to target, but with the lightning kraata now offering a way for her to spark fires without even having to stop, she decided to make some adjustments to the plan on the fly. As she flew along the same course that had brought her to battle hours earlier, the kraata cradled in her arms sporadically strafed the treetops with lashes of lightning, scattering spot-fires in Vazaria’s wake. The wind whipping in her face offered her no opportunity to smell the smoke, but the ominous, growing glow at her back told her all she needed to know. The towering tree that marked the position of the Observatory flitted by in the dim distance as Vazaria continued on her way. She soon reached the first of the locations Caana had identified, and flew down through the foliage to land at ground level, lingering only long enough for the kraata to set the undergrowth alight before taking off again. Onwards she went, intent on repeating the process at the remaining two targets before her own wildfires caught up with her. She wondered how many of the island’s inhabitants were in the forests below, flailing in the flames. All of them, she hoped. This victory would feel hollow without casualties. Deep down, though, there was a small, selfish part of her hoped there would be survivors. She wanted the empire to hear whispers of what had happened here, of the night that Zataka's sickly star had streaked across the skies of Hanaloi, slashing its forests asunder with fiery light.
  18. IC: Somok - Precipere "Not here yet," Somok mumbled absently, not looking up from the desk. He extended one of his legs to feebly nudge out one of the chairs on the other side of the table. "Take a seat, if you wish." @Toru Nui
  19. Any and all inclusions are welcome. You can absolutely send it my way.
  20. I'm very much in the camp of pretending the Earth Tribe doesn't exist, due to how awkwardly it was crammed in, and how contradictory it all is. Frankly I'd drop the Sand Tribe too if I could because the Earth/Stone thing is confusing enough without adding Sand into the mix. As for the rest, the tribes on Bara Magna seem to be fairly arbitrarily named after where they lived, or the resources and trade goods that were abundant there. So sonics, air, magnetism, plasma, gravity, light, psionics, and shadow wouldn't make any sense. I could maybe see a tribe that was sitting on top of a mine of shiny rocks calling themselves the Crystal Tribe, or a group with more advanced tech calling themselves the Electricity Tribe, or a group living in the peaks calling themselves the Mountain Tribe. But I don't think any other tribes that might have existed would have necessarily correlated with the Matoran elements.
  21. IC: Gayle – Vulcanus Streets The huntress had been idling in Vulcanus for two days, waiting for parts to be delivered to the garage that was currently in the process of patching up her Cendox after her last mission. The Vorox tribe had decidedly not taken kindly to her traipsing through their territory and dragging off their leader. The trader who’d lost three caravans to their ambushes, on the other hand, had been appreciative enough to pay Gayle a little extra to help cover the repair bill for her vehicle. What her pay didn’t cover, however, was the time she was wasting wandering around town instead of heading out on another mission. At least, she’d thought she was wasting time until word suddenly came down that Raanu was putting together a mission to investigate the fate of Ferrum. Now, Gayle had a very lucrative reason to stick around. She set off into the city streets in search of the place to sign up. __________________________________________________________________________________________________________ IC: Skrall – Roxtus Stables For a man who was said to have abandoned his allies to die, the disgraced warrior was putting up far more of a fight than Skrall had expected. With the shield coming to him in a way he very much didn’t want, he deactivated his implant and sprung to the side to avoid the charge… and then he backed away, still not reaching for his own weapons. For the first time in his life, Skrall didn’t know what he was supposed to do. His instincts and instructions were contradicting each other, and try as he might, he couldn’t find the middle ground. He was under attack. He was trained to kill attackers. But he’d been ordered to deliver this attacker to the Bone Hunters. And the Bone Hunters wouldn’t pay them anything for a corpse or a cripple. The Special Forces Skrall was ordering them to let the prisoner keep his shield. But the prisoner clearly couldn’t be transported safely until he was disarmed and restrained. Yet it was equally clear that he wasn’t going to surrender his shield and weapons without a fight. Skrall wasn’t strong enough on his own to overpower the prisoner, and his weapons were ill-suited to disabling him without also inflicting injury. So Skrall stayed back, content to let one of the others come up with a plan or make an attempt against the disgraced warrior. At least this way, if the goods were damaged it wouldn’t be his fault. __________________________________________________________________________________________________________ @a goose @BULiK @oncertainty @Vezok's Friend @Burnmad @Toru Nui
  22. Chapter 10 – Sword And Shield – is now live. This is actually the first story I wrote for this project. Moreover, it’s the reason this project even exists. It’s an encounter I’d wanted to write long before the game even ended, but the nature of the game of course made it very difficult to execute. It took me a long time to finally be in a headspace to write it the way I wanted to, and I’m super happy with how it’s come out. The Sword And Shield speech was a conversation that had a massive impact on Xara’s journey throughout the game, and I’m so grateful to have had this opportunity to bring that character arc to its conclusion. This is the last story of mine that'll appear in this project aside from the eventual epilogue to wrap it all up, but my fellow collaborators still have a few in the works. Keep an eye out in the coming weeks for more instalments.
  23. Sword And Shield (By Nato, with excerpts from Corpus Rahkshi by Wyrd Bid Ful Araed) As long as my life has been, I still vividly remember my first days at Corpus Rahkshi. As much as I felt like a misfit back then, there was an innocence to those early days that I’ve long since lost. I remember my ambitions from that time, simultaneously simple and grandiose. I’d sought to understand what we were, why we were, and even after all this time I’ve never found an answer. Nowadays, I settle for remembering who we were, who we wanted to be… and who we became. Our makers didn’t know what to do with us. Our nature wasn’t intentional, our creation random and unpredictable. To some Makuta, we were a problem to be solved or a fault to be corrected. To others, we were a new resource to be cultivated, and to others still, we were simply the latest unexpected step in whatever strange evolution their species was undergoing. But in the end, whatever ambitions they had for us had died with them, as did any hope of continuing our species. Or perhaps not, if a tale Xara once told me holds any truth… * * * Xara The Island Of Odina, Makuta’s Reign As a Power Scream shattered the rock around me and a blistering beam of laser light furrowed the ground at my feet, I ruminated on the fact that maybe hiding out on the former island of the Dark Hunters hadn’t been my brightest idea. But, since the mercs who were still alive had all buggered off to Xia, and Teridax’s Rahkshi had razed and ransacked their fortress, we thought it’d be the last place anyone would look for a group of new breed Rahkshi runaways. The thought of any Rahkshi ever coming here would’ve been near-inconceivable not so long ago. In times past, one lone Dark Hunter, Phantom, had been more than most of our kind could handle. It had taken a kaita and a cave-in to stop him, and even that hadn’t been enough to kill him outright. The idea of trying to take on the entire Dark Hunter force was laughable. But now here we were, making camp in the ruins of their once-mighty fortress. Unfortunately, it’s hard to hide anywhere for long when the guy you’re hiding from is literally the universe itself. Since Teridax’s takeover, we’d had to keep moving every few days, and on the rare occasions I’d crossed paths with some of the other rebels, they gave similar stories. Fortunately for us, Teridax was evidently too preoccupied with terminating Toa and subjugating civilisations to give us his full attention or commit a large force to our apprehension. We weren’t heroes, challenging his rule. We weren’t rebels, actively threatening his plans. We were just survivors, trying to remain free. And that meant we simply weren’t worth old Terry’s time. For now, at least. So instead of energy blasts raining from the sky or the ground simply swallowing us up, we were contending with a three-strong old-breed Rahkshi capture team – consisting of Laser Vision, Power Scream, and Stasis Field – along with their half-dozen Exo-Toa escorts, and a mysterious robed figure who seemed to be leading the group. The Stasis rahk was easily the biggest threat, having incapacitated our perimeter guards in the dead of night before they’d even had a chance to raise the alarm. My current group of charges were all young new breed rahks, low level, most of them having been spawned shortly before Teridax slaughtered their sires. They weren’t ready for a battle like this. Luckily for them, capturing any of Corpus Rahkshi’s surviving star pupils seemed to supersede the hunter’s other objectives, and it hadn’t taken much work for me to lure them away from everyone else. It's funny, I used to enjoy being the centre of attention. Not so much anymore. Hopefully I was buying enough time for the others to free those who’d been stasised and get everyone to our boat on the other side of the island. They wouldn’t wait for me. They knew where to go and who to find there. They’d be in safe hands, with or without me. My duty now was ensuring that no one would follow them. As I darted over the debris I heard another Power Scream ring out, this one shredding the soil beneath my feet and sending me tumbling forward, ears ringing and eyes watering. My mouthparts filled with dirt as I slammed face-first into the ground, and before I could even try to rise I felt the flat feet of Rahkshi on either side of me slam down atop my hands. Another set of feet – armoured in blue and black, the hues of the Stasis Field rahk – stopped before me. The hands of a fourth being pulled the swords from my back and the bandolier of throwing knives from my chest. “Where are the other rogue rahks?” A voice demanded, speaking in the unique kraata-speech used only by the new breed rahks and the occasional Shadow Kraata who’d bothered to learn it. The voice came from behind me; likely belonging to whoever had disarmed me. It had to be a new breed rahk leading the group, then; no regular Rahkshi would bother with a cloak. The informal shortening of Rahkshi to rahks was something mostly unique to our kind as well. And there was something familiar about that voice… “Even if I knew, I wouldn’t tell you,” I retorted, sounding less defiant than I would’ve liked given that I was talking through a mouthful of dirt. “Not knowing where they are is how I keep them safe.” “I don’t think you’re lying. You’re just careful with your words,” the voice pondered. “You don’t know where the rogues are in this moment, but you know where they will be, or how to contact them. You wouldn’t have sent your little friends out into the world without your protection unless you were confident that they could find help.” She was right. Almost too right. Like she knew how I thought… “We’re going to follow your friends on the boat anyway, once we’re done with you. If you tell me where they’re headed I’d be willing to go straight there and ignore the runaways for another day. It’s the ringleaders we really want.” I wasn’t paying much attention to their words. What I was listening to instead was the clanking footsteps of the Exo-Toa as they caught up with their Rahkshi companions. Exo-Toa who I very much wanted to acquaint myself with. “Tempting, but you’re going to have to settle for me,” I replied. “I never had many friends. I’m not going to betray the ones I have.” “We’ll be settling for pieces of you,” the voice replied, the Laser Vision rahk unleashing a beam next to my pinned hand to emphasise the threat. “Last chance.” The clanking grew closer. Close enough. Gadgets and machinery had never been of much interest to me, back in my school days. What use was a gun when I could already summon lightning? But I’d learned a thing or two about Exo-Toa since Teridax had started fielding them as his main fighting force. Taller than a Vortixx, strong enough to tank a punch from a Pakari, and with melee weapons that could crush most opponents in a single blow, they were formidable foes. Unfortunately for them, their standardised ranged weapon put them at a severe disadvantage against someone like me. Electro-Rockets were a poor choice against an opponent who could command electricity. I reached out with my powers, silently stoking the embers of trapped energy within their weapons and ammo storage. Electricity sparked and surged as the missiles began to activate, loosing freely from their launchers and exploding wildly against whatever they struck. The Rahkshi pinning my hands reacted as I’d expected, moving to dodge or duck, and I snapped my hands forward to seize the ankles of the Stasis Rahkshi still before me. It did exactly what I’d been hoping it would, freezing me in stasis the instant I touched it. A split second later, the missiles still stowed within the Exo-Toa’s storage compartments detonated, evaporating the droids in conflagrations of searing sparks and sizzling steel. Rubble and robot parts rained down, bouncing harmlessly off the stasis field that was both trapping and protecting me – and had expanded around the Stasis Rahkshi itself, I now noticed. For a few seconds more, we both remained as we were, stuck in place, as the creature considered whether to free us both or leave us both frozen. And then the choice was made for it as a dark shadow passed over us, somehow breaching the stasis field and taking the rahk’s head from its shoulders. The field dissipated, and I rolled to the side as the twitching shell collapsed to the ground in a steamy spray of acrid ichor. “Sorry,” I sighed, spotting the smouldering remnants of the other two rahks as I rose to my feet, “It’s not your fault.” They weren’t the first I had felled, and they likely wouldn’t be the last. “Why the remorse?” The voice sneered from behind me. “They didn’t feel anything. They’re not like us.” I whirled towards the sound to see the cloaked figure still standing strong right in the middle of the Exo-Toa crater. Their cloak was aflame, flaking away in flickering ribbons, but the figure beneath appeared utterly unharmed. Their armour was hued in iridescent green, etched with a pattern like serpent scales. Their legs were modified to possess a second set of knees and clawed feet, adding to their height and enhancing their ability to leap and climb. And as the hood fell away, I saw the Rahkshi’s eyes were violet, just like my own. “They didn’t have a choice, Vyper,” I snapped, finally recognising my younger sibling. “We do.” “Defiance is a luxury you’ve abused for too long, sister,” she snarled, tossing my swords to the ground before me, “The Makuta made us. They own us.” “So why aren’t you fighting to avenge ours? Instead of following the orders of the one who killed her?” “My loyalty is to the Brotherhood, not any individual members.” “But… there’s only one member left now?” “Shut up!” In a blur so swift I scarcely saw it, her collapsible staff was in hand, extended to its full length, and scything towards me. I darted to the side, catching a glancing blow to my faceplate, and tensed to spring once more, only for Vyper to now back off, giving me room to take up my own weapons. “I thought you were an assassin,” I challenged, snatching up my weapons and shifting into a defensive stance. It hurt to talk. Her blade had sheared right through my armour to scratch the mouthparts of my kraata itself, “Why the sudden chivalry?” “Are you complaining?” And then she was on me again, staff flicking forth. I parried with one blade, retaliated with the other, and was deflected by the retractable wrist blade sheathed in the armour of her right hand. “Back at Corpus Rahkshi-” sparks flew as her staff skittered off my sword, “-everyone said you were one of the best-” the wrist blade jabbed for my throat, “-but you ran away!” I ducked below the blow and launched a kick at her legs, forcing her to back off, “I never got the chance to find out which one of us was better!” “Seriously?” I wavered midway through a sword swing, “Who the karz cares?” “I do!” The response shook me more than the blow that accompanied it, which I barely managed to block with my crossed blades. I hadn’t known Vyper especially well during our time at school. She first arrived long after I did, and I left not long after she arrived. And that had been more than a thousand years ago. But during that period of time where we’d both been there, she’d avoided me. She hadn’t wanted to be compared to me. She’d walked her own path… so why was she acting like this now? As I backed up, she sliced her staff towards me again, and this time she brought her powers into play. As I parried her weapon, I felt my sword drawn to her staff, gravitised against it. She brought her staff sweeping wide, pulling my arm to the side and forcing me to release my grip on the sword as she swept her wrist-blade at my outstretched arm. “You don’t have to do this,” I pleaded. Arcs of electricity danced along my remaining blade as I took it in both hands, bringing it slicing horizontally towards her face. She leaned back, blinking against the brightness, and I brought my foot up to kick her in the chest. She fell back, but her feet never budged, gravity holding her to the ground. “Has that line ever worked on anyone?” She sneered, snapping back into an upright position in a way that belied both physics and biology. Her angular faceplates aligned in a smile as she summoned an antigravity updraft that sent me soaring backwards, to slam against a lump of rubble that had once been a building. And then her staff was flying straight at me, soaring like a spear towards my stomach. Lightning lashed from my armour, rending the staff asunder in midair before pursuing its owner as she scrambled for cover. I didn’t let up, flinging bolt after bolt at her, obliterating rock and rubble but somehow failing to so much as singe my sister. But it seemed enough to break her concentration, for the gravity pinning me in place soon abated, dropping me back onto level ground. I raced after Vyper as she ran, pausing only to pick up my fallen second sword. I swiftly lost sight of her amidst the rubble, but her distinctive claw-toed tracks remained, winding their way down a slope towards the mouth of one of Odina’s canyons. It was the perfect place for an ambush, but I didn’t want to risk her going after the boat if I didn’t play her game. So down I went, adopting a defensive stance as I started to work my way through the winding walls of ragged rock. “Why do you fight so hard to protect them?” Vyper’s voice greeted me, seeming to echo from everywhere and nowhere. “Our way is strength. Those who aren’t strong enough to stand on their own should be left to fall.” I glanced back the way I’d come, then towards the open sky high above me, anticipating an attack from above or behind. That was the preferred tactic of an assassin, after all. “By that logic we should all be wiped out,” I barked back, “We’re snakes. We literally can’t stand without these suits. From the moment we’re spawned we need help and protection.” “So aggressive. Always seizing any opening you can find, whether you’re in conversation or combat.” “The two tend to go hand-in-hand for me.” “You still have a warrior’s mind, Xara” she taunted, “Why have you become this, instead of the soldier you wanted to be?” Her voice… somehow it sounded different. And the way she said my name- “Someone asked me a question, once. If I saw myself as a sword, or a shield. A sword, to stride out into the field and slay the Brotherhood’s foes, or a shield, to guard and shelter those who didn’t have the strength to protect themselves.” Silence was the only response. “I spent a long time believing I was one, never believing I could be the other, and then too long looking for a third option, trying desperately to be neither.” “Who asked you this?” “Palma. You remember her, right? The school nurse.” “She wasn’t even new breed,” Vyper’s voice scoffed. “Why take her words to heart?” “Because she was wise, wiser than I think any of us ever gave her credit for,” I smiled, “She chose her words so carefully, and it took me so long to really hear her.” “What words?” Her voice softened, tempered by what sounded like genuine curiosity. “A sword is someone who is sent into the field to seek out the Brotherhood’s enemies and destroy them. Perhaps you will meet them in battle, perhaps you will be tasked to assassinate them. But you must be sharp, you must be swift, and people will fear you when you are unsheathed.” “She asked if I wanted to be a Sword for the Brotherhood.” “A shield is, in many the ways, the opposite. You react to threats, rather than forcing threats to react to you. You will use your strength to guard and shelter those who lack the strength to defend themselves.” “But she never said the Shield had to be theirs.” That was the choice that I’d made, to shield others not for the Makuta, but from them. It had been the right choice when I’d made it, and even more so now that the only remnant of the Brotherhood was one merciless madman who embodied the very worst traits of their kind. Or at least, that’s what I’d thought until now. “So… is my answer satisfactory to you, mother?” The canyon quavered, the rock roiling before pulling away from me like retreating waves. Vyper stood across from me, but she was different now. Taller, broader, somehow more organic, like a reptile mimicking a Rahkshi rather than the other way around. Her eyes were the same vibrant violet, but were now full of affectionate recognition. It was really her. My mother, Makuta Aemula. Her voice, when she spoke, was deeper now, conveying age and gravitas that had been lacking before. It was a voice I remembered all too well. “How long did you know?” “Until about two seconds ago, I really wasn’t certain. But I… I really hoped it was you,” old instincts kicked in, holding me back from even attempting to lie. I’d learned long ago that you can’t deceive someone who can read your thoughts, “After you shrugged off the explosion and lightning without a scratch I knew something was wrong. Even on my worst days I’m not that bad.” “No, you’re not. You always had good instincts.” “Why are you here?” I asked, returning my swords to their sheaths, “How are you here? You’re supposed to be dead.” “Are you truly surprised, my child?” She tutted as she stepped closer to me, “Our kind have known of the Plan for a very, very long time. You might recall that the Brotherhood was once forced into a war against the Dark Hunters because Teridax killed two of their operatives for his own short-term gain. Those of us wise enough to see past our own egos were well prepared for the possibility that Teridax might turn on us as well if he actually succeeded in usurping the Great Spirit.” “So… there are other Makuta out there?” I asked, truly unsure whether to be excited or terrified by the possibility. “I’m not so narcissistic as to believe I was the only one who could find a way to survive, but I don’t know for sure. Any who survived are no doubt in hiding, just as I am.” “So why show yourself now? Why me? It’s been centuries since we last saw each other.” “I wanted to ask for your help, with a matter that is very dear to me. But first I needed to be sure that I could trust you, that you were fighting for the right reasons.” “So the fight, the interrogation, it was all for show? You sacrificed three rahks just to test me?” “Those weren’t my rahks. That was a real team of hunters. I just… took an opportunity to tag along.” “What opportunity?” “Vyper,” she sighed, “She’s dead. Slain two days ago trying to eliminate Order Of Mata Nui members on Teridax’s behalf. I arrived too late to… save her from herself.” “So you impersonated her,” I realised, “To get close to the hunters who were looking for me.” Vyper’s death didn’t surprise me. It didn’t even upset me. I could count on one hand the number of times I’d met her, and those had all been a very long time ago. She was just one more in an exhaustively long list of casualties that the Makuta had claimed. So many had lost their lives that it was hard for me to feel anything for the dead anymore. All I cared about now was the living. And unexpectedly, it seemed like that was something my mother and I had in common. “Exactly,” she said, her voice cracking, “I already failed one child. I couldn’t… I didn’t want to fail another.” “Just the one?” I sneered, “I’ve met some of the siblings you made after me. They told me how you made them fight each other, even kill each other. Wasn’t it the life of a brother that bought Vyper her ticket to Corpus Rahkshi?” “I pushed them too far. Once that line was crossed I couldn’t take it back. I couldn’t look like a hypocrite. I had to stay the course. I had to…” her head tilted towards the ground, her eyes refusing to meet mine, “…I wasn’t a good mother.” “No, really?” I jeered, wincing slightly as I did so. My jaw ached. Trails of blood trickled from my injured cheek. But despite the pain, I felt strangely strong, now that I knew she didn’t want to kill or coerce me. She wanted my help, perhaps even my sympathy, and after all these centuries of pain I finally had the power to pry some truth out of her. “I don’t get it. Why do you care? You trained us to be weapons. You had to know how that was going to end.” “I trained you to survive, and to strive towards something!” The confidence only a Makuta could command was back in a flash as her eyes snapped up to meet mine, “You’re the one who chose to make being the best fighter at Corpus Rahkshi your goal, remember? I didn’t tell you to do that.” I blanched. She wasn’t wrong. “And when you reached that goal, you realised it was hollow. So you chose something else to stand for,” her hand reached up to brush my cheek. “And I couldn’t be prouder.” I flinched, recoiling from her touch, “I don’t understand. What is this? What do you want?” Though I was quick to pull away, her Quick Healing was faster still, repairing the rend in my armour and flesh before I’d even finished speaking. She stepped back, waving her hand and telekinetically pulling two small boulders towards us. She sat down on one, and gestured for me to sit down at the other. “What do you actually know of the Makuta?” “You used to rule lands, make rahi, scheme to conquer the universe,” I replied, reluctantly taking a seat, “How’s that working out for you?” “We were made to create. That was our purpose, to populate the barren universe with flora and fauna, to nurture life and make this world a paradise for its populace,” she said. “And that’s what we did, at first. So much beauty. The wonders we wrought in our virus vats…” “Seems like you made a lot of monsters along the way.” “Power corrupts. Especially when you’re cursed with an infinite lifespan to succumb to your worst urges. Many Makuta grew jealous and bitter, watching the Matoran blindly worship their Great Spirit when it was our kind who did most of the work. Others lost their way, realising they could use their power to create living weapons. I lost my faith for a different reason.” “What reason?” “Despair. I dreamed of being able to create intelligent life, not mere beasts. But every attempt the Makuta made to meddle with sapient species ended in evil. Spiriah’s experiments with the Skakdi… Chirox creating the Visorak… and when we reached within and tried to create life from our own essence, the kraata we created could only desecrate and destroy.” “Until the new breed.” “A miracle.” “I don’t believe in those.” “But I do,” her hands reached out to gently take one of my own. “You were my very first, did you know that? You can’t imagine the joy I felt when I realised what you were. What you could be.” “And then you made me a soldier anyway,” I snarled, pulling back my hand. “What were you just saying about not being a hypocrite?” “The world our kind made, the world I knew you were going to be flung into… you had to be strong to survive that. And I made you strong, didn’t I?” There was vindication in her voice now, and I had no ways or words to counter it. As much as I resented her for what she’d turned me into, she wasn’t wrong. Me being here, having survived some 1100 years of conflicts and cataclysms, was all the proof she needed to empower her point. “But strength wasn’t why I sent you to Corpus Rahkshi,” she continued, “I sent you there to learn, to grow, hoping you’d change for the better beyond my shadow.” “I didn’t, though. I hurt people. Physically. Emotionally. I did awful things to people who didn’t deserve it because I thought it was what you wanted, what the world wanted of me.” “Look what your regret has turned you into,” she said softly, “How many lives have been bettered by your remorse?” “Get to your point,” I mumbled, “What do you want?” “I want you to do exactly what you’ve already been doing, but for me.” “I don’t understand.” “I’ve lost so many of my children over the years, Xara. The immature and infirm slain by their stronger siblings, my best and brightest co-opted for Brotherhood campaigns, the smartest and most skilful striking out on their own,” she pointed at me, “I lived with the losses by telling myself I could always make more, but with the way the world is now I don’t have that luxury any longer.” “I’m still waiting for the punchline.” “When Teridax took over, he destroyed Destral and levelled the lairs of every living Makuta. Most of my spawn didn’t survive… but I saved those I could.” “How many?” “Seven. Your little sisters, likely the last lives I’ll ever create. I’ve been keeping them safe as best I can, but if Teridax learns that I live…” “…they’re not safe with you. They never will be,” I nodded, finally understanding what she wanted, and why it meant so much to her, “So you want me to look after them.” “More than that. I want you to be a mother to them, in the ways I never could,” her hands took mine once more, and this time I didn’t fight it. “Like I said, I wasn’t a good mother. Maybe you won’t be either. But you’re better than me, and I believe you can make them better than both of us.” “I’ll try.” I felt her push something into my hands as she let them go. A scrap of paper containing a partial map of the Southern Continent, with a scrawled circle marking a specific spot by the coast. “They’re waiting for you, there,” she said, as she rose to her feet and turned away. “I’ll find them,” I said. “I promise.” There was no question of not complying with her request. It wasn’t a trap. It was truth. And I’d be a bigger hypocrite than her to deny help to my surviving sisters when I was already risking my life to rescue rahks I had no relation to. “We often wondered how and why the new breed came to be,” my mother said as she began to walk away, “My race made so many mistakes, Xara. But I think your kind are our way of making up for them. You can learn from our mistakes, be better than we were.” She raised a hand, aglow with teleportation energy. “The best parts of me live on in all of you.” And then I was gone, suddenly standing on the upper deck of the ramshackle boat me and the rest of the runaways had been using. We were well out to sea now, the ocean stretching out around me on all sides, Odina somewhere behind. The other rahks were likely somewhere belowdecks, with the only living thing in sight being my pet shallows cat Sand perched on the railing before me, not even reacting to my abrupt appearance. “Hey girl,” I said, reaching out to brush my fingertips over her fur, “Let’s go find my family.” * * * Xara has been a lot of things over the years, but I’ve never known her to be a liar (save perhaps for her outlandish stories about being spirited away to participate in multiversal fighting tournaments). And her telling of this tale left her raw and emotional in a way I’ve never seen in her, before or since. Our makers were imperfect beings, each unique in their vices and vile deeds. But not every Makuta was part of the Plan. Not all of them supported it. Not all of them were completely evil. And if Makuta Aemula could survive, perhaps others did too. The Student Register was never an exhaustive list of all the new breed Rahkshi. Some Makuta never sent their spawn to the school to begin with. Some kept their most promising progeny to themselves. Given that there was no known way to predict or prevent our random creation, most Makuta continued to sire more of our kind during the centuries after the academy closed. Scouts and scavengers have encountered numerous new breed Rahkshi still living in the ruins of the Matoran Universe over the years, lost souls who knew nothing of the new world beyond. Others have been encountered roaming the distant corners of this expansive planet, having fled during the battle or the evacuation to start afresh elsewhere. Who’s to say that some of these undocumented Rahkshi aren’t younger than they claim? Perhaps there are still some Makuta out there, bringing more of us into being… whether simply for the sake of creating new life as they were once duty-bound to do, or as part of some grander plan. With their abilities to change shape and teleport, how would we ever know if Makuta still walked among us? Maybe a time will come when they, like us, will be welcome in this new world, but until then it’s probably for the best that we don’t know for sure. Xara claims not to have knowingly met her mother since that day, over a decade ago. Not that she’s been looking for her. Xara has taken to this new world with an enthusiasm only her indomitable daredevil spirit could ever possess, exploring and fighting and leading her sisters into all kinds of trouble. Every few months she’ll stop by to regale me with her latest exaggerated tale, insisting I scribble it down for posterity. But amidst the adventures there are times, she’s told me, when she’s locked gaze with an unfamiliar face in a crowd, exchanged glances with a stranger on the street, seen a distant figure watching her intently, or gotten an unexpected word of encouragement from a passer-by, and each time felt an unshakeable sense of recognition. I should be happy for her, I suppose. I’m happier that I’ve never felt my own father’s presence.
  24. IC: Somok - Precipere "Yes?" Came the voice from within the hut, the word accompanied by a stifled yawn. Upon stepping inside Xyde would find the hut sparse and spartan, devoid of decorations or displays. A rickety rocking chair sat by the open window, a matted mattress lay against the far wall, several shelves piled with parchment and stone tablets were propped against the wall on one side, and storage cupboards for food and belongings were against the other. A simple wooden desk with two chairs on either side was in the middle of the room, the stains and score marks on its surface indicating it was used as much for preparing food as it was for paperwork. The latter purpose was what the desk was currently being used for. Somok was slouched over a tablet, scratching away at its surface with a rusty chisel. @Toru Nui
  25. By definition, yes. But who can or can't participate generally falls to whoever organised it. For example, I'm currently running a collaborative series of short stories over in the Epics forum, but only people who played a particular game on the RPG forum a few years ago can contribute since it's about characters from that game.
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