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Tales of Extrenix


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Chapter 1
Sanskrit found herself in the middle of a battle. The night sky flashed with lightning up above, as she dueled Angonce with a sword, the two blades cutting and slashing in the rain. The road was slippery and…
“Sanskrit! Wake up please.” An alarm sounded, in her ears and in her mind, forcing her to sit up groggily. Her eyes registered the regal form of Zox Tomana standing by the door, holding a lamp in his hand that cast an eerie glow over the bookcase on the far wall. Annoyed, she made a gesture and the room brightened, electric lights and computer screens springing to life. Intruders…second floor core breach…
“Sanskrit, please,” Zox said firmly. “Heremus is badly injured, up to the point that I need your help.”
My help. Heremus? No, please not Heremus. She dismissed the computer screen and activated its security with a wave of her hand, hoping that would be good enough. She hugged her legs as her death sense ability flared to life, searching for the presence of the death force. Immediately she gasped.
A death near, recent, close. Not Heremus, but one of his guards, named Salvertak. The rawness indicated violence, but not the sharp piercing glint of a stabbing. This was blunt, a hit with an object, an object not intended for the purpose of killing. The killer…
“Sanskrit.” Zox Tomana said.
Sanskrit held up her hand. The killer was not a Great Being like her or Zox. The death force around him was swirling and edgy, covering him like one of the beings from the Matoran Universe. That force was hungry, unsatisfied, unlike the calm peace that surrounded her and Zox Tomana. This being had killed before, and if he did not get what he wanted, he would again.
She found her hands on the keyboard, typing in a rush, putting all that in. Unit would want to know about it for his investigation.
Her hands came off the keyboard. Heremus…
The force of death lurked next to him, but Heremus was pushing it away. “Heremus will live,” Sanskrit said.
Zox Tomana sighed. “That wasn’t why I came.”
Sanskrit turned to Zox Tomana and tilted her head, refusing to give the older and wiser Great Being the satisfaction of her having to inquire of the real reason of Zox Tomana’s arrival. 
The two Great Beings sat in silence for several seconds, neither willing to speak.
Zox is a healer. He’s here because Heremus is injured, and...”You think my Kanohi may be of use.”
“I want a safety net, just in case,” Zox looked nervously out the door. While the healer in front of her was not so prone to pride like some of the other Great Beings, it was clear that he wished to inspire confidence in his ability to heal, not that he made a habit of relying on an eccentric young Great Being.
However, having the Great Beings’ leader die on his watch would be far worse. 
Sanskrit gritted her teeth as the last traces of grogginess faded. “I would much rather be helping Unit,” she said, rocking back and forth on her knees and making her chair creak.
Zox winced. “And if Heremus dies and you did nothing to stop it?”
“My power can only keep him alive for a few minutes. And he isn’t dying.”
“But if I don’t heal him, he soon will be.”
“Then do it.”
“It’s not that simple,” Zox said. “I have to do a procedure that could endanger his life more. He could tip over the edge. I need you to hold back that edge.”
“Alright, Healer Tomana. I hope this goes quickly. I really want to talk to Unit.”
* * *
Vakama was sitting by the Sacred Fire in his room in New Atero when a white and menacing figure broke down the door with a large crash. The Turaga of Fire immediately activated his mask of concealment and jumped down to the floor as a burst of light fired over his head.
He scrambled around the fire to the other side of the room, hoping to stay out of view, only for a burst of light by the door to reveal his shadow slanting across the walls. He barely managed to get out of the way before a laser split the space where his head had been just minutes before.
“Give it up, old man,” the voice hissed. “The Matoran and Toa will always be under my rule.”
“Never.” Vakama said, moving around the room. “We deserve a new place, a new start, away from tyrants like you.”
“You know who said that to me last?” the Av-Matoran said. “A stupid Matoran named Voltex, right before I-“
He was interrupted by a vicious punch to the jawline, followed shortly by a kick in the stomach. Mazeka grabbed White One’s laser rifle and pointed it at his jaw, only for a burst of light to nearly blind him. This caused Mazeka to fire the rifle, punching a neat hole in the Av-Matoran’s armor before he countered with a laser of his own.  The shockwave of the two bolts hitting echoed in the narrow corridor, causing a whole bunch of Matoran to wake up and come to the scene. But by then, the tyrant assassin had activated a teleportation device and was gone.
Mazeka shivered as he accepted Toa Smoke Monster’s hand up, and heard someone in the distance mumble something about pancakes.
Vakama shook his head. “We must embrace the three virtues – unity, duty, and destiny.  First, unity, which means that we must all be together, not fighting among ourselves. Duty – we must not harm each other – that is not our duty to the Great Spirit. Destiny – we must embrace the destinies of ourselves, but most importantly, we must accept the destinies of others.”
“Yes, Turaga,” chorused all of the Matoran in the corridor.
“Good,” Vakama grumbled. “At least someone listens to me around here.”
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Chapter 2
Botar’s Replacement was sitting in the back of a New Atero bar, the glasses clinking and people telling tall stories, when he saw the beautiful attractive Vortixx sitting across the room.
“Don’t even think about it,” Mazeka said. “She’s trouble. You get too close, she’ll turn you into a turtle.”
“Relax, man, it’s cool. I got this.” Botar’s replacement said with a grin. “You’re always such a downer, Mazeka.”
“Getting your village destroyed, losing the valuable information you worked your entire life for, and losing the opportunity to take revenge on him to a bunch of loser Great Beings in an alternate dimension will do that to you,” Mazeka said. “Screw dimensional balance. I should just go back into the dimension that he is in, fight the Great Beings down, and kill that spawn of Karzanhi.”
“Do I hear a revenge plot brewing?” the Vortixx said, walking over. “I so enjoy those.”
“An impossible revenge plot,” Mazeka said.
Botar’s Replacement shrugged. “Sounds like an adventure.”
“One will that soon end in your death. Who knows what technology that the Great Beings have in our dimension, let alone the one I visited.”
“Maybe, there is a way to find out.” Botar Replacement’s addled mind finally recognized Roodaka standing next to Mazeka.
“Maybe there is a way to travel to the stars too,” Mazeka said. “Forget what I said. It’s hopeless.”
“Not so,” Roodaka said. “There are many ways in which revenge can be achieved.”
“Stealth, breaking in…” Botar’s reply drifted off.  
Mazeka settled into his seat two feet away from the person he despised most in the world.
“…ready to take that expedition to the North to find the Great Beings and complete your revenge on Vultraz?”
Before Mazeka could tell him no for the 50,000th time and regale him as insane, another being stood up to speak. “Greetings, fellow brothers and sisters of Spherus Magna.”
“Get out” Mazeka said immediately. While the stranger didn’t look exactly like the person who tried to murder Vakama in cold blood earlier, Mazeka knew better than to be fooled by any sort of disguise.
“On whose authority?” the upstart said, smirking.
“My own,” snapped Mazeka. With a few swift motions he disarmed the speaker – only to be slugged in the stomach by strength he wasn’t expecting. He was much stronger than he looked – even through his hood fell off to reveal a wildly insane Turaga. There was an intake of breath from those around the bar as they recognized the figure, and a few exclaimed curses.
However, Mazeka’s perception was short-lived. Bright light shone in his eyes, forcing the Matoran to close his eyes and roll away from his opponent, getting to his feet, only to feel a laser trying to cut into his chest.
Then nothing.
He opened his eyes to see Botar’s replacement standing next to him outside the bar. He wiped at the burn mark. To be honest, it could simply have been an attempt by his opponent to slice him in half, and admittedly the mark barely showed in his collection of dents and burns from fighting Vultraz and other enemies, but Mazeka could not escape the sense that he had been marked for something.
“Excuse me,” said a genteel voice behind them. The two turned to see a female Ko-Matoran, rolling up a fishing stringer in one of her hands and looping it into her belt as she walked past. The faint smell of raw fish tickled the pair’s nostrils.
Mazeka immediately noted the collection of fishing poles across the Matoran’s back and the shotgun at her hip.
“Hey,” Botar’s replacement said. “What’s up?”
She just shrugged.
Mazeka shivered, putting his hand on his sword.
Her eyes followed the movement and she quickly entered the bar in a blink of fear. Mazeka’s eyes narrowed in suspicion.
Then he hauled off and punched Botar’s replacement in the gut. The replacement howled in pain.
“Don’t mess with my fights,” the Order of Mata Nui member said. “I almost had him, but you had to get in the way.”
“It’s more important to figure out who he’s working with,” Botar’s replacement said.
“It’s more important to put him behind bars,” Mazeka snapped. “Otherwise he could go after Vakama again.”
“Not White One,” said the Replacement. “He wouldn’t be going after Vakama just for the sake of going after Vakama. There’s some plan behind it. Put him in jail, and we will never figure it out.”
“What sort of tactics is that?” Mazeka said. “Put him in jail, his plans are stopped.”
“I doubt it.  Rulers like him always have minions.”
“Fat chance of that ever happening, idiot.” Mazeka said. “After White One oppressed us for as long as he did – several thousands of years of rule in the southern convenient, and a few thousand on Metru Nui before Makuta overthrew him, nobody would ever want to work for him again.”
* * *
Captain Tronameg awoke in a dim room, lit by a flicking torch. All would have been normal, except he was lying on a rug in the middle of the room, when previously he had been lying on a bed. That, and he was surrounded by plants, when previously he had been surrounded by mere stone. And…
“Aye,” a robed being was saying, lifting a cup of some warm beverage to his lips. “The opinion among the Great Beings was and is divided. Some of us believe that we should treat the Matoran and Toa with the kindness and respect that they deserve, while others believe that the Toa pose too much of a threat and should be eliminated. And there are many opinions in between, as you might expect, but I fear the extreme viewpoints may prevail in time.”
A lime green Bo-Matoran sat across from him. “I think they can solve their disagreements,” he said with wide eyed innocence. “They are Great Beings, after all.”
The hooded being smiled. “This is a good drink, Letagi.”
Captain Tronameg made an effort to get off the floor, an activity that was significantly hindered by his peg leg. “ ’xuse meh, mates,” he interjected. “I be ‘aptain Tronameg. Where be my royal arse today, since it not be in foul cultist prison nor on me hearty ship?”
The Bo-Matoran immediately looked past Captain Tronameg. At first Captain Tronameg thought said Matoran had no idear what in da blue blazes he be speakin’ about, but then he realized that he was looking at something behind Tronameg’s glorious muscular form, a capital insult to his good looks.
Quickly Tronameg turned himself around to see what was more interesting than himself, only to see an Onu-Matoran sleeping quite soundly on a bed, looking quite happy indeed.
Well, ain’t this the briggin’ tale, he thought as he moved to shake the Matoran awake.  
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Chapter 3
Sanskrit briskly walked into the medical room on the first floor, only to see that Unit was already there. The Great Being looked somber and depressed, a notable slight change from the usual calm and analytical self that Sanskrit found amusing and useful at the same time.
“He will live,” said Sanskrit.
Unit did not look impressed with Sanskrit’s reassurance. The sounds of labored breathing diverted the young Great Being’s attention, and she turned to view her leader, clearly in pain. “She shouldn’t be seeing this,” Heremus said, looking over at Sanskrit.
Sanskrit did not say anything, feeling no need to defend herself. Instead, she walked over to see the x-rays under the light box. These, which the Great Being interpreted to be Heremus’, showed a broken sternum and several broken bones in the rib cage. It was readily obvious that breathing was painful for Heremus as a result.
Zox Tomana said nothing either, probably because he felt no need to defend himself or his medical practice. Instead, he beckoned for two of the medical bots in the bay to roll up and perform the appropriate sterilization, central line, and anesthesia, running through an ancient checklist on the subject and checking it twice.
Sanskrit watched, fascinated, for a little bit, imagining Zox Tomana’s knife going into Heremus the wrong way and carrying Heremus out of existence. But after a few minutes passed with no sign of blood, Sanskrit turned back to Unit.
“I was there,” said Unit. “I saw it happen.”
“Who did it?” Sanskrit said.
“It was a Toa,” Unit said. “One of the creations we built.  It took an iron tank of ours in the mechanical room and hit Heremus with it. It stole the Olmak we had hidden in Section 4, and it ran into Heremus and me on the way out.”
“Why didn’t it hurt you?”
Unit shrugged. “Heremus was closer, and he moved to get the Mask back. I was too stunned to do anything. I thought about sending the iron drones or getting a different Mask, but by then he was gone. Then I called Healer Tomana.”
“Sanskrit,” said Zox Tomana. “Please come over here, and stop blathering.” He then turned to the medbot in tired exasperation, as two more appeared to attend the procedure. “Scapel.”
* * *
Turaga Vakama took a sum of money out of his private stash, and handed it across to the bounty hunter in front of him.
Xyron looked disinterested. “And this ‘White One’? How is he a criminal?”
“He tried to murder me, and he’s building a following to attack the Toa,” said Vakama. “Attempted murder is certainly a crime.”
Xyron shook his head. “I want no meddling in your intergovernmental quarrels.” He stalked out of the room, leaving the Turaga alone.
Smoke Monster opened the door. “We’re ready for the journey to Ta-Koro, sir,” he said.
“Just…give me a minute to consult the Sacred Fire,” said the elder. I hope he doesn’t see the money on the table.
“Yes, Turaga,” said the Toa. “Please don’t take too long though. We’re ready.”
As soon as the Toa shut the door, Vakama quickly hid the money and went to go stand by the flames for a moment before walking out the door and locking it behind him.
He then walked through the dim streets or hallways of New Atero. The area was dimly lit by flaming torches as he walked the short distance, out of the cool shelter of stacked giant robot parts and into the warmth of Solis Magna.
“Really,” Vakama said, looking up at the crazytoran on the top of the mounted Tahtorak. Nearby, about ten or so gray Matoran were spread between three other steeds.
“You got the big Kazoo to go with us?” Ghidora said. “I was looking forward to lettuce sprouts.”
In the distance, a roar of an explosion could be heard. A plume of smoke reached the sky.
“Bunny,” said the crazytoran excitedly, steering his Tahtorak toward the explosion. Toa Smoke Monster was still holding the reins however, so it didn’t go very far.
That made Vakama’s decision. “Running toward danger is an incredibly foolish idea, and incredibly inconsistent with the Three Virtues.”
“Red eyes are candy,” said Ghidora.
It didn’t matter, because Smoke Monster picked up the protesting Turaga and shoved him on the mount. “This isn’t what the Great Sprit would have wanted!” Vakama said.
Ghidora blew on a tube, and three party horns went off on the top of his head. The three steeds started running – Turaga Vakama was surprised to notice that the Toa had made it on the mount behind him.
Massive boulders rolled into the steed’s paths, causing them to buck. Toa Smoke Monster maintained control, forcing the beast to evade.
“Order must be preserved,” a sea of voices proclaimed. “Disorderly influences must be removed.”
Another explosion sounded in the distance as the beasts bolted and ran. The forest in the distance burst into flames, but the beasts kept running.
“Isn’t starting a fire and throwing boulders creating more disorder?” said Toa Smoke Monster.
There was no response, only a river of deadly acid that appeared in front of them that the beast jumped in fear. Scorched and unhappy, the Tahtoraks bounded across the desert.
“White One likes cotton candy and 007,” said Ghidora.
“He also wants power,” said Vakama. It was in that moment that Vakama realized that he had left his door unlocked. “We have to go back.”
“Why?” said Smoke Monster.
“White One will soon invade New Atero,” said Vakama. “It is his destiny.”
“And you should be safely out of harm’s way.”
“No,” snapped Vakama. “There are things in that city that need guarding. Things more important than me. Now take me back. Ta-Koro can wait. That’s an order.”
* * *
Xyron absentmindedly wandered the streets of New Atero, when he saw a familiar Vortixx disappear around the corner. The criminal Roodaka had been wanted by the Order ever since she had escaped from the Pit back in the Matoran Universe.  
He gave chase, only to stumble into an empty street. Had he simply been imagining things?
No, this way was a dead end street. There was no way the Vortixx could have easily fled. That meant that she was in one of these huts.
The end hut probably wasn’t it. Three Matoran and a Glatorian were having tea in there, and one of them was being difficult, but nothing that required his attention. The other huts Xyron knew – a weaver and a herbalist healer, neither of which were likely to be harboring wanted criminals. That left the hut that was strangely dark. A whirlwind easily broke the door down, and Xyron walked in, torch in one hand, and swords at the ready. Immediately, he sensed a terrible cold draft, and heard mutterings, like a gagged Matoran. The room smelled of dead Rahi and Sulphur.
An instant later, he saw why. Near the corner of the hut, several Rahi corpses were stacked on top of something that drafted cold air and made his torch flicker. Moving the torch back around the hut revealed a Matoran, bound and gagged and chained to a bed.
The bounty hunter removed the gag of what he now recognized as a Bo-Matoran, but didn’t untie him. He could be just as bad as the criminal he was after.
“Toa,” the Matoran muttered. “Help.”
“Who are you?” Xyron said.
“I’m an assistant to farmers,” the Bo-Matoran said. “I work in food preservation.” He coughed, trying to aim his head to indicate the ice on the other side of the hut.
"What do you know of Roodaka?" Xyron said. 
"She tied me up, and told me that if I told anyone about what she was putting into that area, she would turn me into a troller worm." 
Xyron sighed, and used a small amount of earth to scatter the dead Rahi off the entrance to the icey realm below. But the bounty hunter did not enter. Instead, he readied his boomerang and sword and settled in to wait for the Vortixx to return. 
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