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So it’s been a while since I posted a story here. Today however is the last day of Six Kingdoms Apocalypse, the final part in the trilogy of RPGs that brought me back to bzp. It’s been a wild time, met friends for the first time in nearly a decade, made some new ones, it’s been fun. And to celebrate, I figured I would post a new story. This one for once does not star Kanohi, this is about a PC I might use in the future for an RPG. This is a story about Matoran, and the flaws of their society. It takes place after the last canon pieces of Bionicle Gen 1, in a future after Marendar and Velika had been fought. Hopefully you folks enjoy this story, and here’s to Six Kingdoms. It’s been a fun ride. … Ko-Ka glided across the shattered streets, her feet sliding atop a cushion of ice. The cross-wired Ga-Matoran kicked her feet out as she skated, her hands outstretched as her fur-lined cloak billowed behind her. Blasts of light lit up the sky, frost covered the ground in unnatural patches. The very earth was a powder glued in place by a thick layer of ice, the city’s buildings crumbled under their own weight. Ko-Ka adjusted her hood to shield her optics from the light show as the city crumbled and cracked around her. The Matoran of Water hugged her cloak to her body with her left hand, even as she held her right hand outstretched, her servos fidgeting. Up ahead she could see a building crumbling, and she crouched to skate quicker. As she dived at it she clamped her hand around the walls, and from her hands frost erupted, plastering over the cracks in the concrete. Her vocal processor scratched as she screeched, “Get out of here, the building is collapsing.” Matoran and Agori piled out of the home, running out and tripping over their feet. She used her left hand to haul one up, shouting, “Take care, head for the south side of the city.” The Su-Matoran nodded and sprinted away, the group hurrying away. The building creaked as more of it cracked, and Ko-Ka planted both hands against it, solidifying it under a plaster of ice. Her optics narrowed as she continued to freeze over the wall commune home, even as explosive blasts of light hurled through the air. … Kofoka’s optics widened beneath her blue Noble Akaku. The Matoran of Water was crouching on her knees, pleading up to her Vo-Matoran friend. “Please, Vokarda,” The Ga-Matoran begged, “imagine if we could become Toa. Well, not Toa, but still. We could be heroes like the Voya-Nui Resistence. The Chronicler’s Company. Even Kanohi.” “Kofoka, a lot of weird people are mixed up in Project Mangai,” Vokarda sighed, “Vortixx, Dark Hunters, former servants of the Brotherhood—” “And a Turaga and a member of the Voya-Nui Resistance.” “Balta, who never even noticed one of his five closest companions was a total monster. If he had stopped Velika, maybe we would still have Toa.” “…Marendar killed the Toa.” “And Velika killed many too,” Vokarda shook her head, “no, Kofoka. I can’t join you. If you want to mutilate yourself for a chance at power, I won’t stop you. But I am not going to be experimented on with whatever they are planning. For one thing. Me and Mahrika have a date tonight, and I don’t want to risk crumbling her to bits.” “…F-fine. I will go alone,” Kofoka swallowed. … The lab of Project Mangai was a small Knowledge Tower, located on the north side of Metru-Nuva in the district of Ko-Metru. Ko-Matoran and De-Matoran eyed Kofoka as she walked through the frigid quiet streets, she was humming to herself, her wrists flapping at her sides. The buildings were marble white, with trace silver decorations. The windows were cyan, and the bulk of the buildings were crystalline, covered in harsh angles. Kofoka shivered as she walked, but was still too excited to complain. She eager clasped the door and slid it open, before happily walking into the building. Ko-Matoran eyed her as she approached, a few huffing in her direction. If she noticed their annoyance, she did not react. Instead she approached the front desk and said, “Um, excuse me, I am here to become a hero. Um, I mean, I am here for today’s K-Test.” She pulled a metal card out of her pocket, and passed it over. “Rrrrright,” the Ko-Matoran receptionist rolled his eyes as he handed the card back, “yeah, it checks out. Head back, third room—” But Kofoka was already gone, hurrying to the room. She knew the way. She hurried inside, only for someone to shout, “Hold it, Subject Ga-7.” She stopped as a Ko-Matoran technician approached her, and pointed outside, “wait out there. Subject Ce-3 is having her final K-Test now.” “Yeah, get out of here,” the Ce-Matoran spat. The blue and gold Matoran wore a dark blue Noble Kaukau, the navy translucent mask glinting. She was magnetized through electricity to a tight translucent metal container, which had a large slot in its back. A Ko-Matoran stood besides the slot, holding a large disk roughly the size of her mask. “Oh come now, there’s no harm,” offered Turaga Nuparu as he adjusted a few dials, “she’ll be undergoing the same kind of test shortly, she might as well be prepared.” “Agreed,” the Vortixx grinned a serpentine grin as traced their fingers against the Kanoka Blade that hung to their side, “but do not worry, friend. I will not let harm to to you.” Kofoka curtsied in thanks and sat cross legged on the floor, waiting. The Ko-Matoran sighed before lifted up the disk and dropped it into the machine’s slot. A lid slid over the slot, and the disk was pulled by mechanical arms into position in the machine, “Okay, beginning fusion process now,” Turaga Nuparu smiled as he flipped a few switches, and the machine began to tremble. Steam began to vent out of it as it compressed, and the disk began to to ripple. The Ga-Matoran watched with awe as the mechanical arms began to push the disk against Ce-3’s back, and she immediately let out a gasp in pain. She clenched up as tubing inside the machine began to pump a brightly glowing liquid, dripping into her body and the disk. Waves of energy emitted from inside the machine, bombarding Ce-3, the liquid and the disk. The Matoran of Psionics screeched out as the power pounded against her, and Kofoka stood up. “Is … is she going to be okay?” As Ce-3 shuddered the disk was pushed against her back, and slowly it seemed to stretch and squeeze into the cracks in her metal chassis. The Matoran of Psionics let out a moan as the disk sunk through her armor, gasping out loudly. Kofoka reached her hand towards the machine. “A-are you okay?” She asked, as Ce-3 shuddered inside the machine. “F-fine,” The blue and gold Matoran spat, even as the machinery began to hiss. Chunks of the chamber began to crack, and her body began to crack too. Her armor grew jagged as parts of it crumbled away, and her mask began to dissolve. The Vortixx lunged off from their platform, rushing to the chamber. Kofoka was not far behind, springing at her fellow Matoran. With their long arms the Vortixx forced the chamber open and tore Ce-3 free, dropping her on the floor. “Careful, friend.” Kofoka reached the other Matoran even as her mask crumbled to pieces. The dust fell onto Kofoka’s lap, and she cradled her. The Ce-Matoran’s heartlight had already began to fade. So soon? Matoran of Psionics were usually more resistant to loosing their masks. The Ga-Matoran swallowed and pulled off her own mask, wrenching it free of the magnetic pull of her metal face. She swayed, already getting woozy. It … it almost looked like the Ce-Matoran’s gold body was shining… Before she could hand her mask over, the Vortixx shoved it back onto her head. They says simply, “you need your mask, friend. I do not.” The much taller Protoderm pulled off their mask and put it onto the Ce-Matoran, whose eyes began to glow again. “What … what happened to me?” Ce-3 managed, putting her hands on the ground. Immediately the floor began to crumble, only stopping when she lifted up her hands. “Replacement mask of friend is not crumbling,” the Vortixx noted as they eyed her, “the initial empowerment may have been the cause. Friend’s chassis seems heavily damaged, will need repairs—” “No,” the Ce-Matoran answered quickly, shoving them away, though with their massive size she failed to move him. Ce-3 stood up and walked forward, cracks appearing in her steps. But with each step, the cracks diminished. She paused in front of a mirror, looking at her jagged rusted armor. She traced her finger in her reflection, only for the mirror to crumble. Ce-3 smiled. “It’s perfect.” … “No, we are not continuing this experiment.” “Vican, I know you are nervous, but the Kanoka machine is fixed and had been reinforced.” Turaga Nuparu explains as he leaned against his drill-shield, “It was just a minor miscalculation. Please understand Kanoka are not a new technology, Matoran have had them for over fifteen thousand years. This is just a variant on the Kanoka Blades of the Vortixx.” “It’s completely different when you give that kind of power to a monster,” snapped the mutated Le-Matoran, his claws flexing, “Giving the power of a Kanoka disk to a sword is completely different than fusing the power of a Kanoka to a Matoran. Matoran don’t even have the mental strength to use Kanoka Blades. We just hurl disks at each other.” “You didn’t object before,” Balta said quietly, “in fact you were the one to suggest using Kanoka technology instead of Viruses. What changed?” “Well you clearly didn’t vet the Matoran you tested on.” “Is something wrong with Kra?” “Is something wrong with ‘Kra?’” Vican was incredulously, “she…” He paused and said quickly, “well she enjoys her power too much for a start. First thing she does with it is shatter a mirror, refuses to have her armor mended. and she’s had a Jutlin as her replacement mask. She clearly loves destruction.” “We only have five test Kanoka, Protodermis is too tightly regulated. The Disk of Weakening had to go to someone. And she’s a Matoran, barely tougher than an Agori. She’s just unused to having power.” Vican scowled and said, “I will fight you on this.” “As will I,” a voice said in the room, though the speaker was not in sight, “I know too well what happens when Matoran experiment on people with no care for sense.” “Phantom and Vican vote to stop. Nuparu, Collector?” The Turaga said, “I trust in our Matoran. The work continues.” Collector nodded as well. The purple Vortixx’s fingered their Kanoka Blade, whiffs of frost coming off the cyan sword. Balta sighed, “I vote to continue too. We are too vulnerable right now. Without our Toa, we need something.” “You once said you don’t need to be a Toa to be a hero. Voya-Nui existed without Toa for a thousand years.” “I still believe that. But people still need heroes. The Matoran need hope. And the Kanoka Mangai will give them hope.” … “I am surprised you agreed to come back,” Turaga Nuparu said as Kofoka stepped into the machine, “No one would have blamed you if you left.” “I-I know, but I want to be a hero. Like the greats. Kanohi, Balta, Piruk, Macku, Tanms, Solek, Dalu, Kazi, Takua…” She forced a smile as she continued though her fingers drummed against the metal nervously. “Hey, you can’t be in here—” “Shut it,” A familiar gold and blue Matoran walked into view, looking up at Kofoka. Ce-3 eyed her and said “you ever punched someone before?” “Um, n-no, but I used to pretend I had claws like the great scout Piruk.” Ce-3 rolled her eyes, “okay, weirdo. Remember how it felt to tense up your ‘claws,’ holding them back to prepare to slash someone’s throat? And then how it felt to slice them through the air?” “U-um, yes?” “Tense up to hold your power in, remember the sensation of slashing to release it. There, we are even now,” Ce-3 marched off as quickly as she entered. “W-wait, thank you.” “We are even,” Ce-3 retorted as she left Kofoka’s sight, leaving the Ga-Matoran alone. “Activating the current,” Collector interrupted, and a surge of electricity set Kofoka’s jaw rattling beneath her mask. Her biomechanical fingers magnetized to the handholds, and her body rigidly locked into place. She was lifted into the air, as the machine locked into position. Behind her she could hear arguing, one of the Ko-Matoran was fighting with a Nynrah Ghost it seemed. “…She doesn’t deserve this power.” “None of your breed have wanted to take the risk, not after Ce-3. So until a Matoran of Ice is willing to take the risk, this Matoran is the closest to a match we have. So, are you volunteering…” Kofoka winced, she wanted to drum her fingers, to fidget and burn off her growing anxious energy. But her body was magnetized shut. Thump. She could hear the machine clung behind her. She wished she could turn around. Fluid began to pump into the chamber, the harsh glow of Energized Protodermis beat into her optics. She tried to close them tight, but the magnetism had locked them open. She couldn’t flinch, couldn’t brace herself, couldn’t even cry. She wanted to shuddered as she felt lukewarm liquid oozing into her, only for the fluid to suddenly drop to a harsh cold. Then came a blinding light as energy pounded into her. Her optics begged for release, to cry from the overstimulation. Then she shivered as cold embraced her. It was a harsh chill, making her biomechanical muscles stand on end. She felt frost creeping across her hands, chest, and mask, plastering them white. Her jaw chattered from the cold as ice began to form over the translucent wall of the room. Finally the machine slide back down and released her. Kofoka tumbled to the ground, her eyes leaking frozen tears as frost spread out of her like a web. There was a large crash besides her as Collector slipped on the ice, falling on their back. Shakily Kofoka tried to stand up, only to slip on the ice and fall too. Her mask hit the floor first, she felt it urgently, was it broken like Ce-3’s? “R-right,” she swallowed as memory hit her, and tried to tense up her body. She imagined herself in a dense jungle on Voya-Nui, hunted by the Piraka. The thick brambles locked her in, she would need to cut through them with her claws. She held her arms back in preparation, and the frost lofting off her diminished. The cold decreased. Shakily she crawled on the floor towards Collector, even as they stood up. “Are you alright, friend?” “I think so.” Cold air still embraced her chassis, but her tears no longer were froze, dripping as vented fluid. “I … I think I have a hold of it. And um, you can call me Ko-Ka.” The Spirit of Ice. … Ko-Ka imagined herself a spring as she released her tense and then restrained it again, frost emitting from her feet as she attempted to skate across the test track. Away from her Ce-3 was sculpting a slab of rock by weakening it in key areas, crumbling away chunks of it to shape it. The design was beginning to twist into a bat-like visage. “You are doing great, Jutlin-Ka,” encouraged Ko-aka as she skated past. “Just call me Ce-3,” the Ce-Matoran answered, “I’m not ‘the Spirit of Weakening.’” “I don’t know, you break that rock with such ease, folks might think you were a Turaga.” Ce-3 huffed in annoyance, right as Ko-Ka slipped on the ice and smacked on her back. Ko-Ka lay there dazed, before feeling a hand clench hers and lift her up. “Focus,” muttered Ce-3, “you are giving us a bad name.” “Oh um, sorry,” Ko-Ka looked away, shaking her hands in a frenzy. They felt numb, though not as numb as her feet, “it’s exciting isn’t it? Getting the chance to be heroes.” “Don’t want to be a hero,” muttered Ce-3 and she released her grip, dripping Ko-Ka to the ground, “this wasn’t what I was expecting, that’s all.” “Well, okay.” Ko-Ka stood up, before shaking out her numb feet, letting the frost shake off of them, “Thank you again for teaching me how to—” “Shut it, just focus on skating,” answered Ce-3 as she went back to sculpting, her fingers tracing lines in the statue. … Ko-Ka skipped across the sidewalk of Metru-Koro, dancing to herself as her rings strummed the air. Finally she was allowed to go home. It had been long enough, they had done so many tests. And she needed to return to Project Mangai first thing tomorrow. But for now, she was free to see her roommate. Boom. She stumbled as a rush of heat even penetrated her wall of cold air. Ok-Ka turned to see smoke billowing out of Av-Kofo, the small neighborhood for Matoran of Light. Was it a fire, she had to help. Quickly she began to skate over, ice propelling her across the ground. She ran forward as Av-Matoran retreated, some of them flying away on their jetpacks, others, blasting the ground with bolts of light to dig a trench to prevent the fire from spreading. Ko-Ka skated over the trench and began to sweep her hand over all the fires. Her fingers winced where the burn of the flames met her frost bitten fingers, and what ice she spread immediately melted. But despite the heat, the melted ice still extinguished the flames. She skated along, dousing the fire, before spitting a familiar sight. “Ce-3, good to see you. Quick, can you help deepen the trench? Sever some structures that could spread the flames?” The Ce-Matoran flinched, before grunting, “yeah, sure.” As she ran down the trench, her feet and hands widened and deepening it, Ko-Ka smiled. Good to see another empowered Matoran had responded to this crisis. And Ce-3 had said she did not want to be a hero. Ce-3 continued to widen the break in the ground, as Ko-Ka skated about, extinguishing more flames. She pirouetted as she went, happy to burn herself as she helped her fellow Matoran. Av-Matoran were the strongest Matoran. Not only could they change their colors to disguise themselves as other breeds, but they were the only Matoran to have any access to their elements. They could fire bolts of light, not as strong as a Toa, but still, it was impressive. It was strange that no Av-Matoran were allowed at Project Mangai, it seems like they would be a natural fit. The skating Ga-Matoran dived suddenly, her chest producing ice to slid on. With a scoop she caught a falling Av-Matoran, before lowering him to the ground. “Um, thanks you. How did you do that?” “Ko-Ka,” she smiled, “I’m a hero.” And then she skated away. Finally the fire sizzled out, and Ko-Ka skated over to Ce-3. “We did it, sister,” she shouted, holding out her hand for a fist bump. Ce-3 sighed, but fist bumped her regardless. “Excuse me,” a Av-Matoran squeezed forward, wearing a Noble Akaku, “Chronicler Solek here. Who are you? How did you do those things?” “I am Ko-Ka, and this is Ce—” “Jutlin-Ka,” interrupted Ce-3 suddenly, though she kept her head down and looked away. “Right. Anyway we are part of Project Mangai, an attempt to infuse Matoran with the power of Kanoka disks. I have Freezing, she has Weakening, there are three others, though they aren’t ready to leave the building yet.” “Incredible,” Solek clapped his hands, “a new breed of Toa, saving Av-Kofo. This is just like the Toa Mata saving us from the Avohkah. What can you tell us about yourselves? Why did you want to heroes?” A few Av-Matoran shook their heads at his excitement, but he ignored them. “Oh well, I am a Ga-Matoran from the isle of Mata-Nui. Used to have the name Kofoka, but ‘Little Spirit,’ doesn’t quite fit me now. Jutlin-Ka—” But as Ko-Ka turned Jutlin-Ka was already gone from sight. … “Part of your contract was not to reveal your powers. That was up for us to reveal,” Vican said angrily, “now every Matoran will be demanding powers.” “There was a fire, I had to do something. Turaga Nokama and Gaaki would be at the other side of. Metru-Nuva, I couldn’t wait for them.” “You did more than save them, you had an interview, boasting of your powers. You probably caused that fire in the first place.” “I … I would never.” Ko-Ka stumbled back. Did … did he really think so little of her? Had she done something wrong? “You are as cross-wired as they come. There is no limit to the justifications you could invent.” “Vican, she may be cross-wired, but she is not you,” Turaga Nuparu said quietly. Vican flinched, and looked away, his bat-like wings tucking behind him. “Sorry,” the Le-Matoran sighed, “Despite what our wise Turaga thinks, we still don’t understand most of this technology. It would be too easy for it to get out of control, or for it to be abused. We need to be careful. Understand?” “R-right,” she nodded, then swallowed, “b-but if people need help, I will help them. It’s what heroes do. But I won’t take more interviews.” “The cross-wired freak could have done worse,” interrupted a voice. Ko-Ka turned to see a solid white Ko-Matoran approaching, wearing a Great Akaku. “Councilor Konui. I was not expecting you,” Vican said as his claws stretched. “No? The stunt was across every telescreen in Metru-Nuva, and several outside it. Everyone has seen the power of Ice.” Councilor Konui did not match eyes with Ko-Ka, though he glanced at her curiously. “I believed we agreed a Ko-Matoran would receive the power of the first element.” “Ice was not the first element,” Collector interrupted, “the first Matoran were Av-Matoran, the first Toa was a Toa of Water.” They were crouching, struggling to fit in the Matoran sized hallway. “Silence, schemer,” Konui said, and Collector winced, their hand going to their Kanoka Blade, “Mata-Nui is dead, the Great Beings died in their Civil War. I only trust in the Cold Truth of science.” He thumped his staff to the ground, making the snow globe in his Spector shake. “It … if you check the records and date all Matoran—” “That is lie! Told by your kind, Vortixx. The first Ko-Matoran were silenced, to prevent the Cold Truth from being known. Even in the records, the first to make a Kanoka was a Ko-Matoran, and the only basic disk to have an influence of an element is Ice. Ice is the core, from the cold all life began, until cold engulfs the world.” Phantom interrupted, “Your cult aside—” “We are no cult, unlike the mad scientists who made you. The Cold Truth are the only reason your project exists. It is the only reason you have access to any Protodermis, let alone disks. Shall I revoke our support, and put your Protodermis towards making the Great Mothers?” “Yes.” Phantom answered simply and firmly, like a sledgehammer to an opened hand. “No,” Konui said slowly, “no. No, I should just remove you from the project. We don’t need a former Dark Hunter in our midst. In fact yes, you are gone, silenced! Begun from my sight, heretic.” “Fine. I needed to resuming guarding the city anyway. Since until your project is done, I am the best protector this city has.” Heavy footsteps echoed away, not with anger but with a coldness. “Now, where was I?” “I-I had not screwed up too badly?” Ko-Ka swallowed as she looked at Konui’s chest. She couldn’t match eyesight on her best days, and his anger, his many words, she’s felt suddenly very small. “No,” Konui muttered, “though I appreciate how even a Ga-Matoran with agony leave, of frost is more useful than the Matoran of Light. Then more clearly he said, “I remember, tell me, why was she given the power of Ice?” “Freezing is not true Ice, it lacks elemental energy,” then before Konui could interrupt Turaga Nuparu continued, “and it was because no Ko-Matoran were willing to undergo the enhancement. Not after one of our test subject’s mask turned to dust from the power.” “You lie again. Any noble Ko-Matoran would have trust in the Cold Truth. Let me first. The next Matoran you empower will be a Ko-Matoran with the power of Ice. If fact, I will go first.” “Fine. If you can supply us with more disks.” “I have been saving a level eight disk of Freezing for this purpose.” Collector coughed, their hand still grazing against their Kanoka Blade, “friend—” “You are no friend of mine. And if you try to strike me with the oversized knife, you will find your exiled to the Vorox.” “I … I understand. But a Level Eight Kanoka is as strong as a Great Mask. A Matoran cannot use the power of any masks, a Turaga can use Noble, and Toa, Makuta, and Vortixx can use Great masks.” “I know how masks work.” Collector seemed to shrink and looked away, but now Bakta was speaking, “Do you? Level eight disk are as powerful as a disk can be. Only a Great Disk would be stronger. That much raw power, you would not handle it.” “But I can, and I will. If a mere Matoran of Water can wield Ice, I can master it.” … “Hey Jutlin-Ka,” Ko-Ka skated up, though Jutlin-Ka did not turn around. “Yeah um, what do you know about the Cold Truth?” “Don’t mess with them,” Jutlin-Ka cut her off. “Yeah, Konui seems … intense. I know they were a recent religion—” “Ha. They are a bunch of idiots desperate to be important,” Jutlin-Ka laughed bitterly, “their god not only got usurped by the Makuta, but under this real sky they can’t ‘see the future.’ They are terrified they don’t have a purpose, that they are as weak as any Agori. People like Konui gives them meaning, tells them they matter. A higher purpose. He gives them someone to blame, ‘the other Matoran lie, they are just jealous. ‘Have you ever seen an Av-Matoran until the Makuta took control? They are imposters and usurpers, robbing your glory. They drain resources from Ko-Metru with their light shows, and they are arrogant, think they are better than you.’” She shook her head, “he’s not lying there.” “Point is he gives them a target and a meaning. Ans they would do anything for that meaning.” She paused, “Lot of folks are like that I suppose. Desperate to belong. Or maybe just to lord power over others. Av-Kofo is a bit smaller for the number of Matoran living there.” She gestured to the cramp complex of communal houses. “Well, is it so bad to want to belong?” “You want to belong, huh? Be a hero, be important?” Jutlin-Ka laughed, “trust me, you that desperate to be important, you’ll fall for anyone who promises you that kind of glory. Anything that contradicts that importance you reject, violently.” “They are violent?” “Don’t go in Ko-Metru at night is all I will say. They tolerate De-Matoran because they are quiet, but you start showing off your command of ‘their element?’ They won’t take it well. Not when their only connection to their element is ‘resistance to low temperatures.’” She laughed again. “I … I mean, I just have better lungs and better swimming skills,” she paused to shake out her numb metal feet. That cold resistance did not feel that dismissible to her. She continued, “All Matoran have pretty limited ties to our elements. Except Av-Matoran.” Jutlin-Ka was silent for a time. Finally she said with a coldness far sharper than Ko-Ka’s frigid feet, “…Why did you try to give me your mask?” “Well you are a Matoran, you need your mask.” “And so do you. So, why? You did not know me. All you have seen of me is a freak who hates everyone and loves destruction. Why care?” Ko-Ka paused, “well, I am cross-wired. I am a freak too.” “You have a condition. I am just a jerk. Why care about me?” “I don’t know. Because it’s the right thing to do, I guess.” “Right thing to do,” scoffed Jutlin-Ka, “well that’s not in my nature. I don’t do the right thing. Just make things worse for everyone else. You should avoid me.” “You saved Av-Kofo.” “Yeah, and I broke the generator to start the fire.” “…Don’t joke about that.” “Karzahni, you really are cross-wired. I served the Brotherhood of Makuta. Willingly. I served the Makuta when he usurped your ‘god’ Mata-Nui. And if the Makuta returned, the proper Makuta, I would serve them again.” “A-a lot of people served the Makuta. S-so did Vican, if the rumors are true—” “Look, I am evil!” Shouted Jutlin-Ka and a scorching light erupted from her hands. Burning radiance slammed into Ko-Ka, knocking her to the ground. There was a quiet gasp, but it did not come from Ko-Ka. The ‘Spirit of Ice’ groaned as her chest ached, before pushing herself upright. In the distance she could see Jutlin-Ka sprinting away, her armor a bright gold and pale white. … Ko-Ka stood up as Solek approached. She had been helping cool the backup generator of Av-Kofo, it had suffered damage in the fire. Or maybe it had been damaged before that event. “Amazing, do you tire of doing that?” “Not really. It’s pretty easy I … I am not supposed to talk about my powers, that’s supposed to be for Project Mangai to announce.” She stood up and shook out her hand. Not just to fidget, but because the frost had started to plaster over her servos. “Hey I am the Chronicler, I record history for all of Metru-Nuva. New heroes are my business.” “I … Chronicler, do you know of an Av-Matoran who might have done this?” “An Av-Matoran? Pretty sure we aren’t to blame,” he sighed, looking to a group of Ko-Matoran laughing as they threw rocks at the district’s edge. Ko-Ka flinched at the sight, her hand reaching towards them. B-but a hero wouldn’t fight Matoran. Would they? And they weren’t hurting anyone, just breaking windows. “Whoever did it vanished though, they could have changed color.” “Rather not blame my own,” he sighed, “but I know of one Matoran of Light who would. Unless she had a disk of weakening though, she couldn’t get far. And disks are harder to get nowadays, we are still hoarding the remaining Protodermis for the next generation.” “M-maybe she got one though. Who was she?” “Gavla. She always was an outcast in Karda-Nui, quick to anger, a bit weird. Most of the Matoran of her village avoided her, kept her busy away from them.” “She was friendless?” “I suppose so. Then the Makuta came. She was the first of us drained of our light, converted into a monstrous Shadow Matoran. She led all the Shadow Matoran, raiding our villages to convert more of us into monsters. Without the Toa Nuva, the element of Light would be extinct.” “…So she had been corrupted, she wasn’t in control.” “That’s a nice thought. But when Takanuva cured her, she rallied against him. She said she had finally found a place to belong, the Makuta found her useful. Treated her better than we did.” He sighed, “maybe we should have been more understanding of her.” “Do you think she could change? For the better?” “Only if she had the chances and took it. Can’t force people to be better.” Ko-Ka was quiet, thinking “If you want to know more, there’s a Le-Matoran who could help. His name is Vican, he was the first Shadow Matoran to be cured, though he refused to have his physical mutations undone. He had agreed to be mutated by the Makuta in order to have adventures, and I think he kept them to remind him of his past mistakes.” “…Thank you,” she nodded, then paused. “Chronicler?” “Yes?” “I constantly produce freezing temperatures. If I don’t want to freeze everything I touch, I have to hold the power in. I have to use a special heated bed, so I don’t get frostbite.” “You aren’t immune to the cold?” “I am a Ga-Matoran. Not a Ko-Matoran.” … “Oh um, Jutlin-Ka,” Ko-Ka’s optics widened as the ‘Ce-Matoran’ walked out of the training hall, “you … you are still here?” “Don’t talk to me,” Gavla huffed and pushed past her. Her body was blue and gold, still disguised as a Matoran of Psionics. “Um, okay. Sorry I was weird about it,” Ko-Ka waved after her, “if you need someone to talk to, I can try my best.” “What, trying to ‘play Agori?’” remarked a Ko-Matoran, “disgusting.” Ko-Ka winced, but then bit her metal lip. “It c-costs little to b-be nice. She seems very lonely.” “Yeah, so you can squirt fluids on her. What a Ga-Matoran. That power is wasted on you,” he walked away, and Ko-Ka slumped to the ground. She shivered. She … she didn’t like rejection. B-but she shouldn’t just cower. She should be willing to stand up and fight cruelty. Even if it m-made her an outcast. Th-that’s what being a hero should be. She walked into the training hall, to see Kualsi-Ka teleporting around the chamber, vanishing in a flurry of light before reappearing elsewhere. As he blinked across the room he grunted in frustration, and she nodded in sympathy. Disks of Teleportation teleported the user randomly. Controlling it was difficult. A bamboo disk hurled from a launcher at him, and he punched into it, teleporting the powerless disk away. Back down the hall she heard a large crash, before shouts of anger. “H-hey,” she walked up, “you doing okay?” “No, Kohlii-head,” the Su-Matoran grunted, “can barely control this power.” “Oh, um, is there a way I can help?” “You know anything about disks? Masks?” “Well no but—” “Then don’t bother,” Kualsi-Ka teleported away, before reappearing five bios off the ground. He fell with a thud, muttering, “you know, not all of us won the lottery like you and Jutlin-Ka.” He gestured to a nearby stone wall. Small handholds had been gouged out of the stone, Jutlin-Ka was a strong climber. “Y-yeah,” Ko-Ka swallowed, “s-still, if you want someone to talk to.” “Don’t need you finding weakness of mine,” he answered. “Weaknesses? Why?” “You really think all five of us are going to get to be in the limelight? We are just the prototypes. If they get test subjects who respond better, or are more charismatic, we probably end up sent to some backwater Koro to protect. Me, I’m not getting exiled to some Karzahni-forsaken village like a Spiriah.” “It … it would still be being a hero, helping people.” He marched over to her, his feet clanking on the hard floor. Finally he said in a cold voice, “I’m going to be part of the new breed of Toa. I’m not going to be some footnote.” He punched her in her frost-coated chest, and she teleported away. … “S-stop,” Ko-Ka skated up towards a few Ko-Matoran. They were chucking rocks at an Av-Matoran who had fallen on the ground, the Matoran of Light looked bruised, their chassis dented by the hurled stones. A rock chucked her way and she flinched, starting to tuck into a ball. But she resisted she … she should stand up for people. “Wh-why are you hurting them?” “It intruded where it did not belong,” one of them said, picking up a stone and facing her, “I’m a reasonable man, if these lying freak keep to themselves, I ignore them. But when they start parading in public, opening flaunting the upgrades the Makuta gave them. Well, I “I-I didn’t even use my light. And it’s not from the Makuta, they tried to wipe us out..” “Oh sure everyone believes your lies, but we are smarter. Never saw one of your breed until the Makuta took over.” One of them kicked the Av-Matoran. “S-stop,” Ko-Ka skated between them, her arms outstretched, “they did nothing wrong. And I r-remember seeing them before the Makuta took over. I am from Mata-Nui, our Chronicler was an Av-Matoran who became a Toa of light.” “Sure, a savage Mata-Nui girl would say that” a Matoran of Ice laughed, “you folks can barely use stone,” then his eyes narrowed, “you are that heretic who stole our powers aren’t you?” She swallowed and said shakily, “I-it’s not really ice, just Freezing. “Yeah? You even know what freezing is? You know how it differs from Ice? You know the temperature differences” She shivered, her kind was struggling to think as the Ko-Matoran advanced on her, cocky sneers on their faces. “You stole our birthrights, polluted our Destiny, we aren’t going to let you go,” There was a glint in one of their hands and she skated backwards, just as a knife sliced the air. She backed up further and further, shaking. Behind the Matoran of Ice, the Av-Matoran had shakily stood up, and was limping away. G-good. She could bait the mob away. As one swing she ducked and picked his mask, forming a layer of frost on his Anthron. He staggered and snarled, his fingers flexing like claws. She skated away slowly, and they pursued, hurling stones at her back. Some tripped on her ice as she led them away, others merely staggered on it. Few of them refused not to run on her trail. … “Um, Collector, do you have a moment?” The genderless Vortixx spun around and swung open the door, nearly tripping on their long legs. Ko-Ka stepped in, eyeing him. He was more than twice her height, it … she didn’t see many Vortixx in Metru-Nuva. At least, see them outside of Ta-Metru. They frequently worked in the technological districts. “What is wrong, friend?” They smiled creepily as they bent over to fit in their own room, but she chose to ignore that. She had her freezing powers, though her back was still bruised from the hurled rocks. She had plastered first behind her as an icepack though. And even if she was far weaker, she still remember how they rushed to help Gavla and herself. “I … are you okay? When Vican was lecturing me, and Konui came, he was … very unkind to you. I … I should have spoke up then. But I will speak up now.” “Oh um, I am okay. It’s not like he spoke wrongly. I’m a conniving thief, selfish and obsessed,” he laughed, but Ko-Ka didn’t. “You really think that?” “Of course. Vortixx are the lowest of the low, cruel and ruthless in pursuit of money and prestige. No one wants to be a Vortixx. Save monsters.” “You didn’t seem ruthless when you rushed out to help me when I had no control over my powers. You moved so fast you slipped on the ice.” “I … I did not realize you would remember that.” “It was very scary for me. It felt good that someone tried to help,” she paused, “why did you want to make us Matoran stronger?” “Because I want to be a Toa.” “You … you want to be a Toa?” “I know, it’s impossible. Vortixx are not part of your breed’s lifecycle. We do not transform as you did. But I want to be a Toa. And Project Mangai could let me do it.” They licked their lips with their long formed tongue. “Why do you want to be a Toa?” “Matoran love Toa. Toa are the greatest heroes, the greatest people. They have statues, stories, friends. And friendship cannot be taken from you. Not even if you are a freak.” They smiled eagerly, and drew their Kanoka Blade. Ko-Ka tried not to flinch as they showed her. “Toa Kopaka was a Toa of Ice, as cold as they come. But he still had a dear friend. Pohatu and him were always together, supporting each other, never abandoning each other even in the worst moments. Some say they were such dear friends they understood Agori emotions.” “You wanted to be like him?” “I want to be a Toa of Ice,” they nodded, “and through the hard work of Noble Matoran like you, it’s possible.” They beamed, before sheathing their blade. Though they still fidgeted with it, their fingers tickling the glove that was built into the Kanoka Blade, eternally gripping the hilt. Her optics eyed that gestured, and she understood. “Hey, if you ever want to study me when I’m trying to help the city, maybe you could tag along. Maybe help some people too?” “But I am not a Toa.” “Neither am I. You don’t have to be a Toa to be a hero. And it would be fun to hang out with someone who also wants to be a hero. And Vokarda, my roommate, she loves like Agori too. Maybe she would want to hang out with you?” “Fun. Um, okay. Sure. I um, Sure,” their face turned maroon beneath their Great Akaku, and they could not match her gaze. “Alright. Sounds good. I look forward to hanging out, friend.” … Ko-Ka skated down the sidewalk, dressed in a thick fur coat, with heaters strapped to her torso. Her mask, chest, and hands were permanently bleached white, she looked like a Vo-Matoran. But at least now more of her body wouldn’t suffer the same level of damage from the cold. Besides her Collector walked, their legs taking massive strides. The telescopic lens on their Akaku adjusted and focused on everything they passed, even as the mask let them see through the many walls and buildings on the village. “Do you know if Konui wears a Akaku to be like Kopaka?” She asked abruptly. “I … I don’t know. I did not think to wonder. Though given what he is planning I doubt it … ignore that.” “Okay,” she nodded, “how is my body holding up?” “Less burns, there is overall less corrosion from the ice. My apologies, I knew you were suffering damage, I did not realize it was constant. And I am sorry for making Vokarda uncomfortable, I will consider trading my Akaku for a Pehkui. I might be less imposing shrunken.” “It’s okay, you are helping now. And it’s not your fault. I forget sometimes she’s from Xia.” “Poor Vo-Matoran. No one should live in Xia.” She cleared her thought, trying to change the subject, “so, have you ever tried using your Kanoka Blade to skate?” “Um, no. Too clumsy.” “So was I at first.” “...” “Sorry, don’t worry about it. If you want to try, you can, but don’t let anyone pressure you until you are uncomfortable, okay?” “I don’t understand this very well,” Collector admitted, “we are friends. You own me, and I own you. Why are not you forcing me?” “Friends are not possessions.” “They aren’t? Then what are they?” “They … they are a lot of things. They are part of the Virtue of Unity, they are sisters and brothers. They are supporting someone through rough times. They are being willing to tell someone when they are wrong, and help them when they are in trouble. They are respecting that they are not an extension of you, but without them, you aren’t complete.” “I don’t understand. But I wish I did.” “Well, maybe we can figure it out together.” … “And Ga-7 isn’t asking you for information?” For anything?” Vican rubbed his brow. “No, I am learning a lot with our time hanging out. About friends, and about harnessing the power of Kanoka, the drawbacks and the like.” “So she doesn’t know what Councilor Konui wants?” “No. Well, I suppose she remembers he wants freeze powers. But she is unaware of his adjustment to the plan.” “Two disks,” Vican shook his head, “what kind of maniac wants to put two level eight disks inside him?” “It makes sense to a degree, Toa have both a mask power and an elemental power. The best successes we have had is with Weaken and Freeze.” “There are variables he doesn’t know about,” snapped Vican. “I know, it is dangerous. Fusing disks in mask making can create a different power. An Akaku is made from disks of Regeneration and Teleportation. Mixing two disks in a body could have unpredictable results. Likewise Ko-Ka is not immune to her own powers, and neither is Jutlin-Ka. While his breed quirk of cold resistance might help him if he used a disk like Ko-Ka’s, there is not guarantee it would be enough to handle the power of a level eight disk. Similarly, he has no protection against weakening. That is why I insist we at least delay his treatment for another three years at least.” “He won’t wait that long. And he refuses to use weaker disks, or to use only one. A Ga-Matoran wielding the power of freezing? It makes his doctrine look less stable. Most are buckling down, denying her as a hoax. But he’s feeling pressure to show how powerful a ‘true Matoran of Ice is.’” Vican sighed, “We are in too deep. I … it has to work. It has to be worth it. It has to work.” Then quietly he asked, “Do you trust Ko-Ka?” “With my life.” “Okay. I’ve told Phantom to be in the building when we empower Konui tomorrow. With his strength and flight he can possibly get him out of the city if he goes volatile. Do you think Ko-Ka can be on hand as well, to help anyone caught in his power?” “I … her own powers hurt her. The heaters I develop compensate for most of it but against a level eight disk, she could die.” “I know.” “I will ask her.” “And the idiot will say yes,” a voice spat quietly. Vican startled and Collector spun around, hitting their head against the low roof. Vican scrambled over his disk and slashed through the door with his claws, searching about. But no one was in sight. “Here,” Collector interrupted, pointing at the wall, “there is a thin hole cracked from one side to the other. “Karzahni,” Vican screeched like an Ice Bat, slashing through the wall his his claws. Collector flinched at the display, even as Vican’swings began to flap, and he flew down the hallway. … “What’s happening?” asked Ko-Ka as she flapped her wrists to fidget. Her Vortixx friend was staring at the test chamber, their lens zeroing in as they stared through the wall. She was to stay hidden until things went wrong, if things went wrong. And Konui, he was happy to no longer have the Vortixx in his presence. “He has stepped into the machine, and it is turning on,” Collector made a laugh, “you know, I suspect he does not believe in the Cold Truth, not really. He had me make miniaturized heaters, smaller ones shrunken inside his armor. He does not fully trust his cold resistance.” “Well, at least he won’t die. What’s happening now?” “They are preparing to insert the first disk,” they fingered the glove their Kanoka Blade, ready to brandish it at the first sign of trouble. Ko-Ka meanwhile flexed her fingers and toes, readying herself to unleash as much of her freezing power as she could. “Attention guards, every guard, we need backup now!” A radio crackled to life besides the two of them, and Ko-Ka almost tackled it, struggling to hold it in her hands. “Hello, what is it?” “An Av-Matoran snuck inside, she was posing as a Ko-Matoran, got to the third basement before one of us realized she matched Ce-3 description. She’s hurling light bolts — Aaaaaaaaaaaaaah.” The radio transmission cut off. “Why were they looking for Jutlin-Ka?” She looked at Collector. “I don’t know, the crack. The person listening in to the meeting must have been her. But then—” “Yes, she’s an Av-Matoran. I think she disguised herself as a Ce-Matoran because they are harder to detect, only ability they have is their mental shielding, and few people this days have Psionic powers.” “…The variables,” Collector Ussal-crawled their way to the door, swiping up the radio as they did with one hand, “Vican said there are variables we do not yet realize regarding using disks of weakening. And he was furious when he found out she was in the project. Given his history as a Shadow Matoran—” “He knew her,” Ko-Ka stood up, “he knew who she was. But why didn’t he say anything?” “I do not know,” Colkector crammed into the hallway, “But if Jutlin-Ka is an Av-Matoran, this changes everything. Her physiology would be vastly different from most breeds of Matoran, her ability to not only change her colors but to harness her element, it’s likely that her practice wielding powers beyond most Matoran how she was able to control her power of Weakening so precisely and so quickly. There may even be a biological element to it. And like you she only had a level four disk fused to her. But a level eight…” “He won’t be able to control it,” Ko-Ka skated past them, “we need to get there now. Where are they in the process?” “They are inserting the second disk, and the first is merging with him,” Collector slid their hand into the glove of their Kanoka Blade. The glove unfolded to form an arm-guard up to their shoulder, even as a cyan light glowed in the pommel of their sword. Mist began to loft from their Kanoka blade and its conjoined arm-guard, the moisture in the air freezing it its touch. They smiled briefly, feeling the power of freezing in their arm. Then they shook their head and spoke into the radio clutched in their left hand. “Hello, Turaga Nuparu? Vican? Balta? Phantom? Ce-3 was an Av-Matoran in disguise. The fusion process is not safe. Do not fuse the disk of weakening into him. Karzahni, they must have activated the force field. No signal can get in now.” “Please let us not be too late.” Ko-Ka closed her eyes as she skated ahead, carving a frozen path behind her. Her arms outstretched as her cloak billowed behind her, hurrying towards Konui and the scientists and engineers about to empower him with a dangerous mistake. … “M-maybe it will be fine. Maybe it will be fine,” muttered Vican shivering, “it … it will be worth it. It has to be. It will be fine.” “Beginning the next stage,” Balta interrupted as he toggled more switches. The machine was completely coated in ice, but it was holding for now. They had reinforced it in preparation for this experiment. It had to be modified anyone to hold more disks, and all of them knew Konui’s inner circle would follow soon, albeit with level seven disks. “Pumping Energized Protodermis to begin the transformation.” Vican shuddered, his claws nervously scratching at his armrests. Then ripping through the arm came a screen like a telescreen bursting into static echoed through the chamber. Vican bolted up, diving to Balta, “It’s killing him, we have to—” “It’s gone too far, we can’t stop or risk a meltdown. Our employer will … will just have to deal with it. Sending fusion waves.” The ice-coated chamber seemed to tremble and shake among the screaming, like a Brakas throwing a fit. And then like a tree branch coat in snow blasted by a Toa of Air, the machine crumble into a fine powder. Grains of frost, Protodermis, and everything in between sprawled across the floor, leaving a Matoran screaming in the center of the pile. His mask was constantly shifting, shattering in an instant and in the same freezing back together. He stood on all-fours, the pile around him constantly solidifying into a single mass and then crumbling again. The pile, his mask, and his body seemed almost to pulsate, moving like the beating of heartlight. The Ko-Matoran shrieked in pain like an iceberg shredding a boat, even as more and more of the room shattered and froze together. Vican shoved off his seat, taking off into the air as Balta drew his Repellers and Turaga Nuparu’s mask activated, and he faded from sight. Vican swooped down as the technicians sprinted to the bulkheads, thumping desperately on the armored walls. As they struggled the floor weakened and froze, violently churning. Many Matoran were ensnared in the ice, before their legs shattered. The Matoran gasped out, wheezing even as they were ripped apart and reassembled into ice sculptures. The mutated Le-Matoran froze in the air, but not from the cold. People, people were dying. People were dying because of him. Then came a new scream, and a rip of metal. Vican stared to see a large twisted arm manifest in the air, only visible from the ice plastered on it. Then the ice shattered, and oil, coolant, and lubricant spewed from the sky, before there was a loud thud. Vican swallowed and dove at the source of the thud, tackling the ground. With shaky hands he felt for Phantom, following the oozing puddle of coolant. “You? You dare come here? It is your fault, you did this to me!” a screech echoed through the chamber, and Vican turned to see Councilor Konui staggering upright. On trembling legs he waded through the powder ground from ice, Matoran, and machinery, pausing only when the pile around him froze solid. His body continued to deform and twist, he was growing thicker and wider, while his body remained the same size the ice coating only grew. “You. You bot-him!” Konui shrieked words were monosyllabic and broken by the screeching in his voice synthesizer, “you did this!” “I … I didn’t—” Konui lunged at Vican, only to strike Balta’s Repellers. The crossed blades glowed from the impact, before hurling Konui backwards, his body completely caked in ice and cracks. “Thank … thank you,” Vican swallowed as he looked at the Ta-Matoran. Balta’s blades crumbled and cracked, the silver tools completely caked in ice. The Le-Matoran stammered, “I-I d-didn’t meant to.” “It’s okay, I can rebuild them,” the Matoran of Fire dismissed, before he stepped back. Vican followed his gaze, even as Konui stood up, his crumbling body now roughly made of ice. He was taller and wider, his legs almost mounds of debris. “You … you did this!” Konui dived at them, only to hit something invisible. Vican swallowed, he could see the outline of Nuparu, relying on his Mask of Stealth. Konui flailed and struggled to push past his similarly camouflaged drill-shield. “Sorry,” Nuparu said quietly as his drill began to spin. Chunks of Konui were sent flying as a hole was torn through his abdomen, but still the mutated Ko-Matoran waded forward, now clutching his rapidly shredding arms around the Badge of Office. “Karzahni,” muttered the Turaga of Earth as the drill began to shudder and stall, “I hoped the Protosteel would hold.” Then the drill exploded, hurling the camouflaged Turaga and Balta backwards. Vican watched them fall, his heartlight pounding. He swallowed, tightening. Then with some strain he shouted, “Look at your cold truth now, Councilor.” “SILENCE! You did this. You’re weak-in disk did it.” “I did,” Vican nodded, rising into the air, “and you know how I did? The Ce-Matoran who successfully bonded to the disk of weakening? The greatest success? She was a trick. Just a Matoran of Light posing as a Ce-Matoran.” “You swore! Those hair-a-ticks would not be in-vol-ved!” “Why? Because she shows just how pathetic you cult is? That the cold truth is alive” Konui shrieked and rose higher, his ice plastering more and more of the powder of corpses, frost, and machinery into himself. He towered above even a Vortixx as he swung his arm at Vican. The Le-Matoran dived underneath the arm as it crumbled apart, a before flying in front of the bulkhead. The mutant waded after him and hurled his fist at Vican. Vican dived, letting the hulking fist smash into the sealed door. The barrier cracked and crumbled before freezing back up in roughly the same shape. Vican hovered to look at the damage, even as Konui shrieked. “Hey, Ko-Hordika,” he called out, looking at this half-beast of ice. Konui hurled his fist at Vican, but as the Le-Matoran dodged the arm snapped off, spinning in the air. The shoulder slammed into Vican as it revolved, knocking him to the ground. Vican gasped out, pinned under the severed arm. He shivered as frost crawled over his body, cracks digging into his armor. And then a strong kick knocked through the bulkhead. … Ko-Ka glided past Collector through the hole they had kicked in, skating into the room. She wheezed as she entered the room, something about the air. As she coughed Collector focused their mask, looking for more weak-spots to target. The empowered Ga-Matoran skated up the hill of frozen debris, streaking past Konui. She wheezed again, the air, her fingers felt so strange. S-still, there were lives to save. Clearing her throat she ready to taunt him, but lo9ing at his mask constantly crawling as it broke and froze back together, she could only stumble. “You … I am so sorry. That looks painful,” she finally said, and he roared on rage. “Lie-Err,” She wove between his legs even as she crouched on her skating feet. As she bent low she press her fingers to the floor, spreading frost like a spiderweb. She almost immediately hacked as the air grew stale, her skin crawling. As she slid underneath Konui the mutated Ko-Matoran swung his fist, striking behind her. She pirouetted and turned away, continuing her path of frost. As she skated away he began to move his long crumbling mounds of legs, beginning to chase. But as he moved he slipped on her eyes, and the pile off parts that made up his body swayed. With an explosion of parts he tripped and smacked into the ground, chunks of him flying wildly. Ko-Ka glided away from him, reaching Balta. With a press of her hands she froze the ground below and in front of him, before shoving off to slide them across the sleek ice. They glided across the ice as she lead the path, pushing them through the hole in the bulkhead. Collector grabbed the Ta-Matoran and moved him to safety, even as Ko-Ka gasped out. The air was so much better out of that room. She breathed shallow at first, trying to flush out the awful texture, before taking a few deep breathes. She slid back into the testing chamber, holding her breath. This was no ocean, but her natural Ga-Matoran physiology would help her avoid this awful air. With strain she grabbed the Turaga and the surviving technicians one at a time, and began to shove them through the gap. Each time she took another breathe, before diving back in. She ducked suddenly as Konui’s colossal arm lunges after her, hurling itself off of Vican. She … had not seen him, he looked so pale. As she skated away the arm struggled to reattach itself. He was taking so longer to reassemble, his body seemed to struggle to freeze its part back into one piece. As Ko-Ka skated towards Vican, she stumbled. She skidded to a halt, breathing slowly. “Moisture,” she muttered in realization. Almost all the moisture in the room had been used up by Konui’s freezing powers. The air was become dryer, it was harder to breathe. There was less moisture to freeze too, her fingers tricked out less and less frost. Konui seemed to realize it too. His body was continuing to crumble, but he was struggling to pierce it back together. He dragged himself like a crumbling pile of sand, slamming into the opposite wall of the testing chamber. He pressed all over the chamber, and it began to crack and crumble. The Ga-Matoran reached Vican just as the wall crumbled into a fine powder. As it collapsed the crystalline ceiling cracked and shattered, debris hurling down. Konui was no longer able to freeze without moisture, so his weakening power was unrestrained. The sound of icebergs slashing each other echoed around her, as a huge gash was cleared into the chamber. Konui sighed as fresh air flowed into him, and began to freeze back into a vague shape. But as air rejuvenating Konu Ko-Ka oils only stare up in horror as debris plummet into her and Vican. … Ko-Ka opened her optics and looked around. Debris had them pinned, Vican’s wings had spread around her, supporting up the rubble. The only light came from their eyes and their heartlights. And Vican’s heartlight was starting to flicker. She coughed, “Vican are, are you okay?” “Don’t talk, just breathe calm and slow. You … maybe you can make it until help arrives,” he wheezed, and she nodded. “I … I had served the Makuta willingly. Makuta Mutran offered me the chance to go on greater adventures, and I didn’t care what the price would be. I regretted it, but Gavla, she was turned against her will. I chose to serve.” “Even as a Shadow Matoran I hated these claws,”he said, “I thought ic I servedMutran and his brothers, he might give me a Virus to undo it. I was loyal, faithful, doing whatever he said for the promise to be healed. And in the end, an experiment of his went wild, and its rampage restored my mind.” “I … I couldn’t accept Mata-Nui’s final gift. After all I had did for Mutran, after my lust for power and to matter, I … I needed penance. So I remained a freak, to not forget. But I think I did forget.” He coughed, and Ko-Ka said nothing, just reaching out to offer her hand. He grasped it in his claws, cutting her finger. He recoiled, but she kept her bleeding hand outstretched to him, still silently focusing on breathing. “I … when the Great Being Civil War was fought, so many great heroes were lost, dying to Marendar or Velika. In the end the Last Toa and the Makuta of Light slayed them both, but by then so many were dead.” “I … Dark Hunters and more able-bodied Turaga stepped up to protect us, but Turaga were often better leaders and the Dark Hunters, most just wanted payment. Phantom was … lucky … for us. The Nynrah … the Ghosts built Fohrok and Vahki to … defend us, Bohrok were … were … were repurposed, but none of them could … understand the … the … th-the Virtues or the Principles. And so many Matoran were lost … lost in … in spirit, with our g-gods dead and no way to make more Matoran…” Something wet splattered on Ko-Ka. She felt it, before flinching. That oozing fluid was not melted water. She reached for Vican, but he pushed her hand away. “I … Konui … he… promised redemption,” he wheezed, “Did … he did not talk as much … talk about the Cold Truth. At first. Just wanted to make heroes. Inspire people, reassure them. The right way, using Matoran … Matoran tools. Not Hordika Venom, not … not Viruses. I mean not … not Viruses. Sorry. But we would be careful. Carefully selected Matoran. They would not be Toa, but far better than nothing.” The rubble shook, rocks ripping and deforming his wings. Vican spread his claws wide, before gasping out. His heartlight’s glow grew fainter and fainter, beat slower and slower. He swallowed, more coolant dripping into Ko-Ka. His voice was barely a whisper as he continued, “Banning Av-Matoran almost made sense when he said it, prevent them from getting more powerful, letting it go to their heads. But things kept changing. As he got more of his followers in the building he got more theatrical. Worse people were experimented on. And when I realized Gavla had snuck in, I knew he would blame me. And I…” “It’s okay,” Ko-Ka said quietly, just as more debris shifted. Then the Ga-Matoran whispered, “s-sorry.” Her hands wiped the coolant off her hands and smeared it against the concrete debris, freezing some of the stone together. Vican made a bitter grin, “Glad I … I could help.” Then with a clunk the Le-Matoran went limp, the rocks collapsed save where she had frozen them. Ko-Ka sat alone in the dark, her heartlight beginning to pound. Holding her breath was harder now, she could feel the Vican’s drippings oozing on her, secreting and freezing against her body. Her fingers shivered, it was all so wrong. And then a large chunk of rubble was hurled away. She looked up as Collector extended their hand, and she took it. “Th-thank you,” Ko-Ka shivered as she was pulled free, and hoisted onto Collector’s shoulder “Jutlin-Ka did the heavy digging,” the Vortixx dismissed, “she destroyed a lot of the debris, before she left. Nuparu’s connection to earth and my Akaku helped guide me.” “Did … did she say why she was here? Jutlin-Ka I mean.” “She said she had wanted to take Konui’s spot in the chamber, get that power.” “Do … do you think she was telling the truth.” “She wasted a lot of time digging up all of us,” Turaga Nuparu said quietly, “and according to the news, she’s still attacking Konui. Despite the fact that those disks and the machine are now gone.” Ko-Ka nodded, then her optics widened and shoved herself upright. “They are fighting? Where?” “You are hurt.” “Where?” Collector held up their hand, thinking. Finally they said, “I will tell you. But if I do, please do not fight him. You are out of breath, you are bruised, do not fight him. I know you make your own choices, but I will not let you kill yourself. Please avoid the main battle. The Chronicler and other Av-Matoran can help Jutlin-Ka enough. And the Turaga have a plan.” “I … okay. But I will rescue people?” “Okay. He’s in Av-Kofo, attacking any Av-Matoran and Su-Matoran in sight.” Ko-Ka dipped her head and leapt off them, breathing in the humid air. She began to skate on a cushion said, “would you like to help?” “I will. Go ahead, I have to hurry to my lab first. Nuparu will need the radio, he needs to coordinate with the Bohrok handlers, and to get me some equipment.” “Right, Tahnok?” “Yes. We only have some many in the city, most are in New Atero. But they are our best weapon.” Ko-Ka nodded and quietly whispered, “stay safe.” Before skating away into the city. … The Ga-Matoran hero focused, her frost spreading across the walls of the building. As she plastered it together she could hear whirling as Av-Matoran zipped on their jetpacksl hurling bolts of light into the titanic monster. The light had little heat, but it still disoriented him, and knocked aside chunks of his body. Konui was a blob of rubble now, barely any structure was left to him. He towered over the city, roughly the size of a Tahtarok. He slithered other Av-Koro, shattering and absorbing the landscape into himself. Behind him a few Ko-Matoran walked, hurling rocks at the Av-Matoran they could reach. Ko-Ka ducked as a chunk of the commune collapsed near her. “Anyone in this commune?” She called out, listening. There was no response. She hesitated, before seeing Konui’s long arm plowing through another commune, hurling Su-Matoran wildly. She swallowed and whispered, “sorry,” before skating over, streaking atop her freezing power. As the ‘Spirit of Ice’ glided and weaved among the destruction more of the city crumbled and collapsed, folding in on itself. As he swung suddenly Konui’s remaining arm ripped off, hurling through the air. Ko-Ka dived and slid underneath, gliding on ice underneath the crumbling meteor. The Ga-Matoran turned around, the arm collapsed into debris and rubble, whatever consciousness that had held it together had faded. She looked back to his body, he was beginning to reform his arm, but wait. She strained to look, she had no telescopic lens, but it almost looked like a blue Matoran was holding to his body where his arm had fallen off. Slowly she shoved back onto her feet and resumed skating, hurrying towards the smashed home. Ko-Ka glided up and began to freeze the buildings walls, try to prevent more of the home from collapsing. As ice glued the cracked building together she swung around to a chunk of a roof and skated towards it. She launched herself off the artificial incline, landing inside the commune. Ko-Ka skated through the damaged building, her feet freezing over the crumbling floor. Her optics searched about, before spotting a patch of orange buried by debris. She glided over and pressed her palms to the debris, frost spreading from her fingers. She swallowed and focused, the ice expanding in the cracks and gaps in the rubble. Her relish on tore through it, shattering the chunks of roofing. The hero pulled the Matoran of Plasma free, looking over his injuries. As she search him he moaned, “s-should have stayed in Ta-Metru. Thought Av-Kofo would be safer.” “Don’t talk,” she said quietly, before helping him to his feet. She skated to a jagged hole in the home and froze it, plastering a smooth slid to the city plaza. “Hurry,” she said, before skating past him to search the rest of the house. “Th-thanks, Ko-Ka,” he said, still dazed, before sliding down out of the house. … Ko-Ka walked out of the commune, holding an Av-Matoran on her shoulders. As she balanced him she winced at the wall of heat, the Tahnok and Fohrok were being pushed back past the commune, backing away from Konui as the living landslide tumbled after them. Their Fire Shields were flamethrowers, sending torrents of Fire into the giant pile of debris. His ice evaporated into plumes of steam under their onslaught, even as his one arm flailed to swat away the five red Bohrok. Chunks of him crumbled away without the frost holding him together. He no longer looked like a Matoran or an Agori. Let alone a Toa. Just like a heap of rocks swinging around a long tendril. He didn’t even seem to have a mask anymore. “If he doesn’t have a mask, he shouldn’t be conscious. His body has been torn apart some many times, it’s constantly shattering and plastering itself together. He can’t be alive.” Ko-Ka tensed up, gripping her passenger tight, before skating out of the destroyed commune, streaking down the ice before tumbling on the snowy powder that had once been a plaza. She checked over their body again, before glancing towards the moving mound. He was pursuing the Tahnok, driving them back into Av-Kofo. Was he still targeting the Matoran of Light? Or was he only targeting the heat? Or was he just moving aimlessly? His arm seemed to flail wildly, no longer targeting anything in particular. And he had no visible head, so it’s not like he could see. Was Konui even still alive? Or was this now something else? She rubbed her head, “I don’t know … it doesn’t matter. That’s not my part in this. I need to rescue civilians, get people to safety. That’s the kind of hero I need to be. I don’t need to be a star.” The Ga-Matoran hero leapt down and began to skate, heading past the bug-like robots towards the trail of destruction. As she glided across the landscape Ko-Ka shook her head. This much destruction, all over the need to belong. The Great Mother of Metru-Nuva was being built in Po-Metru, it wasn’t directly caught in this, but even still, all the repairs, the injuries. It might take another hundred years before the New City could finally begin manufacturing new Matoran. It might even slow down New Atero and the other major cities too. As she ran there was a crash, and a Ko-Matoran ran out of a commune, wielding a stolen Power Sword. He laughed and swung it wildly as she ran up. “S-stop, you can’t even use that.” “Shut it freak,” he swung the blade at her but she ducked underneath him, before pressing her palm to his mask. Frost coated over his eye holes, he lunged at her only to overshoot and fall to the ground. The Power Sword clattered away, and he pulled himself up, scratching at his eyes. His resistance would keep him unharmed, but he would find it harder to loot the shattering district now. As he cursed her Ko-Ka skated away. She streaked behind the Bohrok and Fohrok, only to suddenly stumble and winced. The raw heat of the Tahnok and their imitations, her ice melted so quickly, it was more of a slushy mess. She began to run the rest of the way, it would be slower and more tiring, but it was stabler. Project Mangai rarely had tested for the limits of her freezing power in heat, same as, nor its limitation of moisture. She knew her limits better from responding to disasters, from research that Collector had done. But the project… Her feet pounded as she wondered how much of that was Konui’s doing. Or his followers. Maybe they just had not wanted to hear the weaknesses of their ‘Ice’ elemental powers, or maybe they had been just setting up the Matoran of Water to fail. Finally she could feel the wall of heat fade as the Tahnok were pushed farther back, and she began to freeze the cracked streets once more, swooping over the landscape like a Gukko on a thermal. As Ko-Ka glided up there was a rumbling, the East of Av-Kofo seemed to tremble and shake. She kicked her legs to skate faster, even as Av-Matoran and Su-Matoran scrambled to get to safety. Behind them she could see Ko-Matoran shouting and hurling rocks at them, a number of Av-Matoran returned fire with bolts of light, one even shattering a Ko-Matoran’s mask. She swerved towards the scene, her fingers wiggling wildly. Mist lofted off them as she skated to the crowd, before she began to crouch low. This … the so called Cold Truth was monstrous. This rampage had been unintentional, but … Konui targeted Av-Kofo at first, his followers threw rocks at businesses, attacked Av-Matoran who left their distract, and that was even before this calamity. Her arms touched the broken ground as she skated, now shifting to a squat. As she slid ice spread from each of her limbs, sealing up some of the broken ground. As she did a Ko-Matoran shouted, “it’s the Karzahni-kissed thief. Get her, boys.” They ran at her, but she continued to skate, twirling and streaking across the ground. One lunged for her, only to slip on her trail of ice. He tumbled and smacked to the ground, and she looped back around. With a wipe of her hand she smeared his mask with ice, obscuring his vision. A rock slammed into her back, knocking her into stumble. But she had fallen a lot when she was learning to grasp her powers, she still fell now on occasion. As she fell she caught herself on her hands and kept gliding on her cushion of frost. She swooped back around as she shoved herself upright, before ducking beneath another hurled stone. A Ko-Matoran charged at her with a broken blade, cracks running down it. How close had he been to the living landslide? She skated right up to him before veering away, letting him slip on her ice. From behind him a blast of light slammed into another Ko-Matoran, knocking him to the ground. Ko-Ka skated up to blind him, frosting over his mask before pivoting and doing the same to the latest Ko-Matoran to trip. The rest charged after her, stumbling and wading through the thick layers of shattered ground and powdery ice. She stretched her legs to widen her ice slick, the Ko-Matoran quickly scrambling into the solid ground she had formed, only to slip hard to the ground below. As she skated away she looked towards Konui. What was left of him was incoherent, the supporting ice melted by the mechanical warriors. He struck out wildly with his arm, he didn’t even seemed to roll anymore, just held in place flailing. Boom. His arm slammed into two Tahnok, hurling them back and shattering them. Ko-Ka winced, most of the Bohrok were either in the New Atero Defense Force, acting as labor or spare parts for the Great Mothers project, or had been rebuilt into Boxers. They could still make more Fohrok though, if they could acquire the Protodermis for it. Without the Tahnok Konui’s ice began to regrow, but still he stayed in place. His pile was pulsating again, constantly exploding into shards and then freezing back together. It looked like his non-ice components became small and smaller, turning into dust. Ko-Ka’s optics focused in on his body. It might be still, but it was still growing. How did it have this much power? Great Masks weren’t this powerful, even if you got a Toa Disk, radiating the actual element of its creator, that disk would be limited. A Garai would not even work on its user. A thought brushed against her. Energized Protodermis was mutagenic, transforming or destroying almost anything it touched. It took ages to discover a way to handle it safety. Perhaps when the Weakening disk was beginning to fuse to him, his lack of control damaged the containers holding the EP, and it splashed into him, completely transforming the abilities and physiology him and his disks. It didn’t make much of a difference, he was still dangerous. She skated closer, only to see a trench emerging around him. She poked overhead to see Gavla carving a moat in the ground around him. “Trying to contain him like the fire?” “Shut it,” Ko-Ka nodded at the reply. She would worry about Gavla later. For now she skated around the moat, searching for anyone in the danger zone. She found a few soon enough. A few Ko-Matoran lay mangled, their bodies shattered and froze in a patchwork, fluids drooling out of their broken bodies. “This … this is all wrong,” one of them groaned as she skated up. And then he added, “he’s hurting the wrong people.” Ko-Ka stopped short, and found herself wondering if she should actually save these Matoran. She shook her head of those thoughts she … she should give a try. But not for the Virtues, these Ko-Matoran did not hold Unity with her. Just because too many were dying already. She skated over towards him, hand outstretched. With a press of her palms she plastered his cracked body with ice, sealing up his injuries. Or at least that was why she had intended to do. The empowered Ga-Matoran gagged at the feeling of coolant on her fingers, and began to shake her hands wildly. Not to stim, but just to shake off the foul liquid. Her mind reverted to being buried alive, she could see Vivian in her eyes, his body pierced by rubble and dripping fluid into her. She shuddered as she could almost taste the goop, feel it squirming down her metallic skin. “Get … get away, freak,” she was brought out of her revulsion by the Ko-Matoran. She … she had to stop more death. She swallowed and reached for his other injuries, but he weakly battered her hand away. “Help.” She spun around a the call of a familiar voice, before spotting Collector. Their Kanoka Blade was still attached to their arm, but the sword was pointed at the ground below them. Ice spread from its tip, and they were struggling to slide across that frost. Ko-Ka skated up to them, “y-you need any help?” “Yes,” their long legs quaked, before falling onto their back. They groaned as she offered her hand, and they pushed on her as a support. They managed to shove back upright, brandishing their Kanoka Blade in front of them. It was roughly half as long as Ko-Ka was tall, though the arm guard still covered the Vortixx’s full limb. It’s pommel was cyan, and it’s cross guard was the shape of a five-pointed star. From the pauldron to the blade a faint mist lofted from it, constantly chilling the air. Ko-Ka listened as Collector pulled free a series of large brick of machinery from their back. “This is based off the heater technology that helps you avoid frost bite,” they said, “it will let us constantly melt the ice, make him loose form. Though I will need to get close to use them.” “How are they going to stay together? That blob, it shatters everything in each.” “Yes, well,” they paused, “Nuparu was able to reach New Atero, and the council agreed to help. I was able to acquire a level eight disk of regeneration. I have incorporated it into this device, along with a level four disk of enlarging. When it activated, it will constantly heal, and will grow large enough to affect his whole body.” “But we still need to get close to him to insert it,” she looked back towards the pile of rubble, “Gavla is still there, she could cleave a hole for us and we could then drop it down into his core.” “That should work. Can you skate that way, stabilize the earth and give me a trail to follow? I can protect you from debris, I just not good at balance.” “Of course,” she crouched and began to skate, forming a thick path below her.. the Vortixx ran besides her, their Kanoka Blade clutched tight, held in front of them like a lantern in the dark. The ground pulsates and cracked as they drew closer, Ko-Ka plastered it together as best she could, while Collector swung their blade at chunks of rubble flung from the shattering earth. Some debris the Vortixx batted away with their blade, other chunks of rubble they sliced in half, the falling shards of rock plastered in frost. Their sword whirled through the air, swung with precision and speed. “Is that Protosteel?” “No, merely Protodermis,” they answered as they split a flying chunk of debris, knocking its two halves to fall harmlessly on either side of Collector and Ko-Ka. There was something in their voice, a certain speed to it, like when they said they wanted to be a Toa of Ice. “You are very graceful with that sword, you must train a lot.” “Oh um, yes. I … I have practiced with it some,” they blushed, looking away. Ko-Ka smiled faintly as she skated slightly in front of them, freezing the ground together to keep it a bit more solid. She shook the smile off her face quickly though, it was … it was not right. Not when the city was crumbling to pieces. As she plastered together the ground something whiroefnout of the corner of her optic. She turned to see a chunk of stone hurling at her, only to be battered aside with a clean blow of Collector’s Kanoka Blade. The now frosted rock tumbled away, before shattering on the ground. “Thank you, I … I hope you get your chance to become a Toa.” “I doubt it,” they sighed, “After this, I doubt Project Mangai will be allowed to continue. The priority will be rebuilding and the Mothers. If they need people capable of wielding the elements, they might just build more new Fohrok, since those are well tested. But fusing Protoderms to Kanoka Blades? I doubt the council will let it continue.” “I am sorry.” “It is the right decision,” they answered, briefly sprinting ahead of her as a large chunk of scaffolding crashed in front of them. They sliced at it with their blade, having through it before helping Ko-Ka through the gap. Collector sighed at they ran, “I wish it was not so though. I clearly did not deserve the power and friendship of a Toa. Too greedy.” “I wanted to be a hero too.” She said as the two of them reached the edge large mound of rubble. The debris that made up Konui was a fine powder now, the metal and rock shattered and froze together so much it only looked like a grayish blue wall of ice. Every second the mound shattered, and in the next it froze back into a solid mass. “D-do you think he is in pain?” “He screamed when he first was empowered. I cannot imagine if he is conscious, that this form is pleasant,” admitted Collector. “What are you doing here?” They turned to see Gavla pressing her palms against his edge, shattering chunks of his body. “I have a weapon we can use to prevent him from freezing back together. If I can embed it inside his body, it will keep the mound too solid to break, and device will be able to regenerate its injuries.” “You want to go inside that thing,” she turned to look at them, “you will die doing that. His weakening power will grind you into paste.” “Well um, yes, but—” “What, you can’t do that,” Ko-Ka rounded on the Vortixx, you can’t die, the city needs heroes like you.” “Hey, fake-corpse,” Gavla shouted over them, “Fohrok, or whatever you are called? Get over here.” “What?” Ko-Ka turned to look in confusion. The Fohrok clicked its mandibles and rolled up, before unfolding. As it towered over Ko-Ka and Gavla the blue Av-Matoran Frieda bolt of light into Collector’s leg. The Vortixx fell to their knee, and Gavla snagged the weapon off them. Ko-Ka stared in shock as Gavla began to shout at the mechanical creature. Finally she shook free of her daze and ran to Collector, helping them back to their feet “You … you didn’t have to do that.” “You’re heroes, probably would have gotten yourselves killed trying to be noble. Let the walking imitation of a corpse handle it.” The Fohrok indeed hooked the device around their right arm, a s began to roll straight at the mound. “Imitation of a corpse?” “Bohrok are dead Av-Matoran,” Gavla spat, “if the idiots don’t become Toa, their corpses transform into mindless machines. And the idiots think that’s a great honor. Part of the ‘Virtue of Destiny.’” “I … was not aware that Bohrok were once Matoran.” “Yeah? As much as they say it’s an honor, they still shut up about it with outsiders.” Ko-Ka shivered as the orange-yellow and blue robot rolled onto the top of the mound, before unleashing a focused torrent of fire from their shields, aimed directly below them. They began to sink into the structure as the ice and metal components turned into boiling fluid. “…How did the Nynrah Ghosts make Fohrok? H-how did they know how they worked?” “Dissections of Bohrok I believe. Though whether or not they knew what they handling, I do not know. But, I suppose if Av-Matoran can still transform without Toa Stones, it might open up new possibilities for recreating Toa,” they winced, “sorry, greed.” “It’s … okay,” Ko-Ka dismissed, even as the mound began to shudder, “how is it doing?” “It’s roughly at the center of the mound, and I believe it has activated the device.” Immediately the mound seem to squirm, she could guess it was the enlarging disks activating. “I feel like I should be doing more.” “Then let’s do more.” They nodded, and the two of them stepped back and began to circle the mound. Ko-Ka skated across the cracked and shattered ground, plastering it together. Running in the opposite direction Collector did the same with their Kanoka Blade, freezing the ground stable. As they ran past each other to keep circling, the mound crumbled. Steam vented off of it as the ice evaporated, forming plumes of rapidly fading vapor. The increased moisture in the air only fueled their mending of the cityscape, supplying them with ice. Finally the two of them rested, as the mound was reduced to a heap of fine powder. “I-is he dead?” “He likely was as soon as he breached the lab,” Collector offered, “as for if the power of the disks have stopped, I do not know. Would be best to keep watch, monitor the situation.” Ko-Ka nodded and glanced around for Gavla, but already she was gone, leaving only the Ga-Matoran, the Vortixx, and a bunch of mechanical life-forms. … “You can’t be serious,” Ko-Ka almost snarled, skating in front of Collector, “they helped save the city, their plan stopped the living landslide. They warned the group it would work.” Turaga Dume shook his head as the Bohrok approached, “Project Mangai has been found culpable for the destruction of Av-Kofo—” “W-well than why not blame Turaga Nuparu? Or Balta? O-or the technicians, almost all of them were in the cult that—” “Silence,” Dume thumped his Badge of Office to the ground, “Collector is Vortixx, a greedy race of arms dealers. They joined the group just to have power. It is clear where the fault lies.” “Y-you are wrong,” she said as she blocked the Bohrok, frost drifting from her hands. “That’s the problem with you Mata-Nui Matoran, you forget yourselves,” the ancient Turaga sighed, then said firmly, “this is how it has to be.” “No, it does not. The Cold Truth is to blame. They even looted buildings and attacked people during the chaos—” “I cannot blame Matoran for this disaster,” he said quietly, “it would not look good. Phantom is still recovering, so I only have one option.” “Th-this is monstrous. You … you are going to make Collector take the fall, just b-because of potential backlash? And the Cold Truth suffers nothing. This is wrong.” “I-it’s okay,” Collector offered, shaking, “I … I should have been wiser. Maybe I made a mistake that led to this, an error in my judgement. And besides, if they try anything,you will be there.” “You are not to harass them,” the Turaga spoke as harsh as a sandstorm against an Agori’s skin, “Later, when we have a new generation coming, maybe then we could afford to discuss it then. But not now. Not while we are so vulnerable.” “Would you have b-bent to the whims of the Makuta so easily?” The Turaga’s eyes seemed to burn at that comment, and his staff began to lit with fire. He tapped his staff and three of the Bohrok swarmed together, forming a single colossal being. “They come with us, end of discussion.” … Collector hated this warmth, this lukewarm feeling on their metal skin. Their cell was built for Matoran,too small, so they had to sit scrunched up. Their hand kept flexing and fidgeting, thirsting for their Kanoka Blade. The calming cold. “Heard about the Cold Truth temple that got attacked?” “Yeah, someone used a disk of freezing to erode it until it collapsed, right?” Collector’s optics pivoted to listen more as the guard continued, “all their servers were also shattered by ice.” “I mean the Council are trying to suppress news of it, and the Cold Truth can’t make up their minds who to blame and whether to actually mention the ice, but well, you know who they—” And then the lights inside the chamber shutdown. “What the Karzahni—” A shadow swooped through the darkness, striking both Matoran in their masks. They moaned as something reflective covered their heads, plastering their optics shut. One of them spun around, thrusting their Electro-Blade, only to clutch his hand in pain and drop his short sword. He fell to the ground, before ice spread to his hand, sealing him to the floor. The other guard fell down the same way, managing to shout, “h-help, s-someone—“ and then ice plastered over his jaw, silencing him. Collector struggled to look as ice sank into the forcefield’s controls, and the translucent barrier shimmered out of existence. They wearily stepped out, asking, “Ko-Ka?” “Here,” the cross-wired vigilante handed over a Great Akaku and a familiar blade, “we need to move quickly. They will have the Fohrok up and running again shortly.” “You … can’t do this,” they said as they stared at their personal items, “They will blame you, say you were driven mad by the disk, lost control.” “L-let them. Doing the right thing is more important than what the Matoran say,” Ko-Ka said firmly, “and we are friends, aren’t we?” Collector shakily nodded as they crawled out of their cell, standing up. Slowly they plucked up their mask and Kanoka Blade, slotting them on. Their telescopic lens immediately began to adjust and extend, probing through the walls. “Fohrok approaching, and Vahki.” “Th-then let’s go,” Ko-Ka began to skate, and Collector followed after, head bent, “we have a lot of work to do.”