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BIONICLE: Battle for Spherus Magna


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A little piece I've had stewing for a number of years now, meant to serve as a conclusion to the Generation 1 storyline of Bionicle. I've incorporated a number of elements revealed by Greg since the conclusion of the serials, though in some cases altered things purely based on my own preferences and ideas I conceived of before Greg shared the information. There are also a few details-such as Spherus Magna's Earth Tribe-that I included before learning that Greg had debunked them. You may also notice a few elements from other sources...
EDIT: Here's a link to the review topic. http://www.bzpower.com/board/topic/21962-battle-for-spherus-magna-review/

EDIT: Made some revisions to reflect recent revelations regarding the Element Lords and Earth Tribe, as well as rethinking the classification of some characters-namely Order of Mata Nui members-who have previously not been identified by gender.


Location: The island of Daxia, some time before the death of Makuta Teridax.
The assault on the heart of Makuta's Rahkshi production had gone surprisingly well so far-in fact, it had gone better than most operations Tahu had been involved in since their universe had fallen under Makuta's domination. Undoubtedly this was due to several factors-multiple resistance forces striking at other parts of the universe, Makuta's lack of familiarity with his new powers, and the fact that Daxia had been so well secured that Makuta felt no need to monitor it personally. However, the force that had assembled to cut off Makuta's most numerous army at the roots made up for its lack of numbers with skill and sheer power.
Tahu had led his small squad from Karzahni with Onua in tow, using a small vessel upon which Kopeke had remained while the rest of them made landfall on the island. There they found Pohatu and Takanuva, recently arrived from the island of Destral having failed to get its Dimensional Gate generator working again. With them were the Dark Hunters Charger and Subterranean and a tribe of Frostelus, whom the former Matoran had convinced to join forces with the resistance. Some distance away from where they met, the menacing Dark Hunter Kraata-Kal lay battered on the sand, apparently oblivious to his surroundings*. However, to the surprise of both parties, a tall figure in black armor emerged from the sea to approach them.
The eyes of all three Toa Nuva had narrowed and Johmak's had widened at the sight of a familiar figure from the distant past: Hydraxon. The Order of Mata Nui member who had trained the three Toa acknowledged them and Johmak with a curt nod, his eyes narrowing at the sight of beings he would have gladly locked away under different circumstances. However, his purpose in coming was the same as theirs, though instead of Frostelus he brought a different force: a small group of Maxilos robots that had previously patrolled undersea routes to Daxia and thus escaped Makuta's attack on the Order headquarters. Following them, whether at Hydraxon's invitation or their own volition-the Pit jailer never said-came a pride of Shallows Cats.
The motley force left Kraata-Kal on the beach and descended upon Daxia's defenders: a legion of Rahkshi, Exo-Toa, and-of all things-Vahki, the latter having been produced on Nynrah at Makuta's orders. The Order agents, Subterranean, Lariska, and the Frostelus set upon the former Metru Nui order enforcers with a vengeance, destroying them with ease. Takanuva, Krahka, and Charger attacked the Rahkshi with the aid of the Shallows Cats, who seemed to crave Rahkshi as much as their Muaka cousins. The three Toa Nuva contributed wherever they could, unleashing elemental attacks on various foes while the Maxilos clashed with the Exo-Toa.
It wasn't long before the trio had worked their way to the center of the island, where a crude fortress-undoubtedly the best that Rahkshi and Vahki could put together-had been erected over the Energized Protodermis pool. Curiously, no Rahkshi issued forth from its gaping portal, but a shadowy figure emerged to challenge the three Toa. For a moment Tahu thought it might be some huge Visorak, until he recognized the Vahki components making up the six-legged monstrosity.
"A Kraahu? Of course the Makuta wouldn't confine his army-building to the standard Vahki units. Let's make quick work of it!"
Unfortunately, this proved easier said than done, as the six legs separated from the body and took to the aid, pursuing the three Toa and delivering painful electric shocks. When all three fell stunned to the ground, the legs reconnected with the body and unleashed a cloud of gas. Luckily, the Adaptive Armor worn by the three Toa modified their masks to filter the paralyzing agent, though not before they began to feel some of it's effects. Unaware that they were still capable of moving the Kraahu advanced, only to be driven back by a surprise fireball from Tahu.
Forcing himself to stand, Onua looked at his two brothers. "It seems we underestimated this construct, brothers. It's ability to function as separate parts or as a whole is truly impressive. But have we forgotten our potential to do the same?"
In answer, a glow surrounded the three Toa, whose Adaptive Armor transformed to match their original Kanohi Nuva and equipment in anticipation of what was to happen next. The glow grew brighter until the three were lost to sight, finally fading to reveal a single massive figure. For the first time since the battle of Mangaia, Akamai-now Akamai Nuva-opened his eyes to regard a foe with thinly veiled disgust. "It is well for Makuta that he can manufacture monsters and machines, for no being with Valor in their heart would stand with such a being! Have at thee!"
Having deduced the ineffectiveness of its gas, the Kraahu reverted to its previous tactic, separating its limbs and launching them at Akamai. However, the power of the Aki Nuva gave Akamai the speed to evade the attack and the strength to strike back, shattering the limbs with blows of his Kodan Claw hand. Before the Kraahu could process the loss of its components, it joined them, with the twin blades of Akamai's sword rending metal like hot magma burning through stone. His foe defeated, Akamai walked over its smoking remains and through the gate of the fortress.
Inside, a startling sight awaited the Toa Nuva Kaita of Valor. A glowing pool of silver liquid-one that the massive hero and his three components recognized well-sat at the center of a large chamber. Around it rested three masses of charred black armor, with no evidence of their former inhabitants remaining in them. With a shock, Akamai realized that they must have belonged to fallen Makuta, forced by their former ruler to produce Kraata for his army, only to be eliminated as brutally as the Order of Mata Nui agents who had been on this island when Makuta attacked it.
There was little time to process this, however, as the surface of the pool stirred and rose. A figure Akamai knew only from tales of the past emerged, though not in the form that the Turaga of Mata Nui had described. Instead of the features of a Toa Metru, its form resembled that taken by Makuta Teridax during his battle with Takanuva, but cast in silver with glowing red eyes. It regarded the Kaita with an expression that could almost be called curiosity, clearly having never encountered a being of such a nature before.
"Intriguing...to think that such a transformation is possible without my power to aid it. Though I have touched those three who compose you before...such a unique opportunity that was. Far more interesting than the unending production of Rahkshi."
Eyes narrowing, Akamai caused his sword's blades to glow with heat. "If you dislike the task so much, then why do you contribute to the creation of Makuta's minions? Does the fate of the universe you inhabit mean nothing to you?"
"Ah, Toa-I had forgotten how small your minds are, even when three are joined together in one. I produced Makuta's creatures because it was their destiny, but no longer-the last Kraata that was meant to undergo this process has done so. That is why Makuta destroyed his captive brethren-they had outlived their usefulness. Did you not wonder why there were not more Rahkshi here? They have been dispatched to the various lands Makuta seeks to conquer, with many of them marching on the southern islands under the leadership of the Skakdi Nektann for reasons I do not know-not that I care to."
"You are a monster!"
"And you are a construct born of three 'heroes' who have fulfilled their destiny. I wonder-could it be your destiny to feel my touch again?" The entity followed this up with a stream of energized protodermis that flew at Akamai, only to sizzle and evaporate as it struck the shielding power of the Hau Nuva. Keeping the mask power in place, Akamai moved backward slowly, knowing that there was little he could do against such a powerful being.
For it's part, the protodermis entity seemed more bored than disappointed. "I suppose I shall never know-Makuta will undoubtedly destroy you once you have ceased to be amusing to him. Still, there are other experiments to conduct, and other islands waiting to feel my touch."
"Indeed? Then allow me to eject you from this island...courtesy of the local volcano."
A short time later, the attackers watched as Daxia was consumed by the fury of a volcanic eruption unleashed by Akamai's powers. By all accounts it would not destroy the Energized Protodermis-that substance would make its presence felt elsewhere in the universe. However, the resistance forces had little time to worry about that-there were other matters to be seen to.
"You recall your instructions, Hydraxon?"
In response to Pohatu's question, the jailer nodded. "I am to find the Toa Mahri, who are undoubtedly making their way south from Metru Nui after kicking Nektann out of it. I'm to let them know that he's leading the Rahkshi south, and we want them to see that none of the other Skakdi warlords are following suit."
"And don't forget to mention the missing Piraka-of all beings in the universe they should be made aware," noted Johmak, who had personally made the unnerving discovery that the five Piraka previously imprisoned on Daxia were not to be found among the ruins of the Order base. Hydraxon nodded before departing, while the remnants of the assault team went their separate ways. The Dark Hunters and their Frostelus allies set course for Xia to link up with the remainder of their kind, though they would look for signs of Kraata-Kal along the way given his disappearance upon their return to the beach of Daxia. The Order agents, Krahka, and the four Toa, on the other hand, would be heading south after Makuta's army in hopes of finding out what the tyrant was up to, and hopefully picking up reinforcements along the way.
One thing they all knew for certain: this war would get worse before it got better.
Location: Xia.
The Shadowed One was a being known for his confidence and pride, not for his fear. In all the long ages of his existence he had only been truly afraid of anything on a handful of occasions. The most recent had been over a thousand years ago, when Makuta Teridax had attacked him in a rage and left him a victim to the powers of his own minion Voporak. Nothing since then had truly brought fear into his heart, not the destruction of his Odina fortress by Pohatu Nuva or even the awe-inspiring power of Toa Helryx, leader of the Order of Mata Nui.
However, as he stood in a Vortixx laboratory, watching several carefully cultivated and combined viruses reacting violently on a clear build to an explosion, the Shadowed One began to feel the old sensation come to him once again. This experiment had been about bringing down Makuta Teridax, just as the new ruler of the universe had brought down his predecessor. With Makuta weakened, the Shadowed One had intended to join his "allies" the Barraki in marching against Metru Nui and securing his rightful place at the head of creation before offing the upstart warlords. Unfortunately, it seemed that Makuta Kojol, or Teridax himself, or whatever mysterious party had hidden the viruses on Xia so long ago, had taken precautions against any tampering by unwanted parties.
Grabbing his staff, the Shadowed One turned to flee, though in his heart he knew he would never run fast enough to escape what was coming. It thus came as a complete surprise to him when he was enveloped by elemental darkness that cut him off from his surroundings. As it drew him into oblivion, he was unaware that his "shadow"-the Dark Hunter known as Darkness-had vanished from sight the moment the energy appeared. Both were thus spared as the explosion occurred, which could not be said for the Vortixx unfortunate enough to be in the vicinity.
When the Shadowed One could see again, the landscape before him was the last thing he ever expected-or wanted-to see again. Dark clouds obscured whatever light sources might be in the sky, while the land as far as could be seen was covered in ice and snow. The frozen water formed strange shapes in all directions-only a being who had been here long ago, as the Shadowed One had been, would know that it covered the ruins of a once thriving civilization.
Without warning, a voice hissed from behind him, jolting the Shadowed One out of his reverie. "Enjoying the sight of your old home, Shadowed One? The place is certainly little better for you having left it-the war you started consumed the land and destroyed what little good ever resided here. Most of the inhabitants were wiped out-the few that are left have either fled for other lands or are hiding out in what still passes for shelter here."
The Shadowed One turned around slowly to regard a figure he hadn't seen in quite some time: a skeletal being armed with numerous blades. Moreover, he now recognized what power had saved him from almost certain demise back on Xia. "Shadow Stealer...I've been wondering when you would be darkening my door once again. So you decided to wait until Makuta claimed the universe as his own before staking your claim to the Dark Hunters?"
"Please-I have no interest in ruling over your band of filth. Has it escaped your notice that I've been slaying your underlings in every corner of the universe where I've found them vulnerable? You are simply the latest in a long line of monsters I have made it my goal to destroy."
Perturbed, the Shadowed One took up a ready stance, wondering when his opponent would make a move. "A curious notion. I assumed you were destroying my Hunters as a challenge, in preparation for your eventual confrontation with me. You sound almost 'heroic'-I thought you hunted Toa as readily as Dark Hunters."
"Oh no, Shadowed One-though they replaced my comrades and I in the Hand of Artakha millennia ago, I bear true Toa no malice. It is those who have abandoned the cause of light for darkness, those who have decided that peace is achieved through tyranny-those are the ones that I have destroyed. Has it also escaped your notice that not every Dark Hunter I could have destroyed along my path has fallen? Those whom you have blackmailed into your service by leaving them with the delusion that they have no other options but to serve you have been spared-the same cannot be said for you!"
Anticipating the strike, the Shadowed One let his disintegration eye-beams fly at the same moment Shadow Stealer hurled a bolt of darkness towards him. The two collided, unleashing an explosion that would have thrown two lesser beings apart. Weathering the shock wave, Shadow Stealer countered with a wall of shadow, seeking to prevent the Shadowed One from training his eye-beams on him. However, the Shadowed One responded by launching a stream of crystalline protodermis through the field, sweeping it up, down, and across in an effort to cover his foe and prevent him from moving.
In response, Shadow Stealer disappeared into the ground, using his own shadow to teleport. Before the Shadowed One could react his foe was behind him, emerging from his own shadow before unleashing a mass of shadow. Caught in the cloud of darkness as though the vines of the Morbuzakh had seized him, the Shadowed One was hurled through the air, smashing through the nearest ice-covered ruin. Half-stunned, he managed to unleash a Rhotuka from his staff, only for Shadow Stealer to launch a ball of darkness that cancelled it out. A gesture of his blade brought a tendril of shadow up to snatch the Shadowed One's staff from his grasp; Shadow Stealer's other arm moved and arms of shadowy energy closed over the Shadowed One's limbs like chains.
"A fitting end for a criminal such as yourself-cut down in the land that you brought to ruin in your arrogance and greed."
The Shadowed One said nothing, merely glaring hatred at his enemy and knowing that his eye-beams would be swiftly blocked by Shadow Stealer's powers. Wary of just such an attempt, Shadow Stealer kept his attention on the Dark Hunter leader...and was thus unprepared when another being struck him from behind. Whirling quickly, Shadow Stealer lashed out with his blades, only for them to clash with the weapons of Darkness, whose eyes gleamed with malice that shook even the veteran slayer of Dark Hunters. Unfortunately, his divided attention proved insufficient to maintain his grip on the Shadowed One, who swiftly recovered his staff.
Madness gripped Shadow Stealer's ancient mind as the Shadowed One's Rhotuka Spinner struck him. Visions of fallen foes-Dark Hunters, corrupt Toa, and other monsters alike-filled his mind, the legions of his dead enemies swarming him in a vengeful horde. By the time the nightmare faded, Shadow Stealer found himself covered in crystalline protodermis; only his head had been left free. The Shadowed One loomed over him, with Darkness watching them both from a short distance away.
For the briefest instant, something almost resembling respect was visible in the eyes of the Shadowed One-then it was replaced with crackling energy.
Turning away from the empty space where Shadow Stealer had stood bound but seconds before, the Shadowed One turned to regard his unlikely rescuer. "Surprises abound today, Darkness. I know many a Dark Hunter who would have let Shadow Stealer finish me before striking him down themselves, but you-you acted to insure that I would survive. Why?"
"The time for my purpose has not yet been fulfilled, Shadowed One. Until that day comes, you are the ruler of the Dark Hunters, and I serve to eliminate those who would dare disrupt your rule. Now, I believe we should return to Xia-your Hunters await you."
Location: Spherus Magna, some time after the death of Makuta Teridax.
Deep in a wooded area of Spherus Magna, long bereft of the presence of any forms of sentient life, there stood a fortress composed of crystal and iron. Aside from its facade it was a twin to the ancient fortress located at the center of the Valley of the Maze, and for good reason: both had been created by the Great Beings. And it was to this fortress that those legendary creators-or destroyers, in the eyes of some-returned after their 100,000 year exile.
Striding boldly through the forest of golden banded trees, the Great Being known as Heremus surveyed the ancient fortress with a wistful expression. It had been a long time-time he had spent using the inherent abilities of his kind to travel from place to place to explore nearby moons and adjacent pocket dimensions. Now at long last he was back on his own world, ready to reunite with his kind and hopefully build the paradise they had all so often dreamed of. Throwing back his cloak to reveal his gleaming silver armor, he made his way towards the bridge leading up to the fortress.
Once inside, he found many of his brothers and sisters in the midst of a reunion, many greeting each other for the first time since the Shattering. Many greeted him as they recognized him, and he returned their salutations as kindly as he could while making his way for the council chamber. At last he entered the vast chamber, which-unsurprisingly-was already occupied by several others. However, as he advanced, he couldn't help but note the absence of some who should have been there.
Hearing his footsteps, one of the Great Beings turned in his direction, and Heremus couldn't help but groan inwardly as he recognized the orange-armored female. Her eyes narrowed at the sight of him, and before he could say a word she spoke to the other three Great Beings on the dais with her. "Well, if it isn't the great Heremus come to grace us with his presence! Disappointed that there's no longer a habitable landmass named after you in creation?"
"The majority was in my favor in the matter of naming the Southern Continent inside Mata Nui, dear sister. The fact that your name was assigned to a smaller island is hardly cause to hold a grudge. Or is there something else you'd like to lay at my feet, Odina?"
One of the others spoke up, a burly figure who had long ago been one of the Great Beings assigned to hide the Kanohi Ignika beneath Voya Nui. "There certainly is, Heremus. It is true that at long last Spherus Magna has been restored to its former glory-in fact it is in better condition than we have ever known it in terms of its environment. But that does not change the fact that it still bears scars of our previous labors, or that we now face the unexpected consequences of the destruction of the Matoran Universe."
"Cheerful as ever, aren't you Zakaz," remarked a second female Great Being, the golden-armored Daxia. "True, the fact that our nanotech creations remain inexplicably active is disturbing, but I would hardly take it as cause for alarm. We created Marendar for just such a development, and by the readings on our equipment it is already active."
Before Zakaz could respond, Odina addressed her sister with little less venom than she had used with Heremus. "And what if Marendar goes beyond our control, sister? What if it becomes a terror worse than the Element Lords or the Baterra? For that matter, what proof have we that our old blunders do not still menace this world?"
A sharp retort from Daxia was cut off by the last Great Being in the room, Xia, who had been Zakaz's companion on the mission to hide the Ignika. "Precisely why we created only one, dear sister. Besides, the Baterra performed their ideal function-the fact that we could not shut them down was unfortunate, but perhaps will be a benefit; a war is unlikely to break out in a world patrolled by such machines. As for the Element Lords, they were willful and power-hungry, and it is not our fault that our intended regents chose to make themselves tyrants."
"Perhaps...but do we not carry some blame for appointing regents in the first place out of our own disinterest in the affairs of our world?" Zakaz's words were met with silence, for even haughty Daxia couldn't deny that the thought had crossed her mind more than once over the ages. Seeing no reply was forthcoming, he continued. "Now that we have returned home, brothers and sisters, I fear we must make a decision: whether to abandon this world again, this time forever, or to finally face the burden of our past actions."
Another silence fell, but was quickly broken as the doors to the council chamber opened again. As one the five turned to regard the open portal-and were stunned by what they saw. Standing there, clad in pink armor, was another Great Being whom none of them had seen since even before the Shattering. However, something about him-his posture, the lack of recognition in his eyes as he regarded them, and the way he seemed uncertain of his own movements-told them a change had come over their old friend.
"I'm sorry, but...could one of you help me? I've been stuck in this fortress for so long, all by myself, in this strange body. Oh, I'm sorry-I should introduce myself. My name is Velika."
To be continued...
*This is a little nod to Descendant, an awesome BIONICLE fic by ALVIS.

Edited by Makaru
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Well, nobody's said anything about the prologue as yet, so we'll move right on to chapter one. As stated previously, I will be adhering to a few of Greg's reveals, but I will also be taking a few liberties.



Chapter 1


Location: The Red Star


"I keep telling myself that, someday, the universe is going to run out of surprises for me," remarked Pohatu, Toa Nuva of Stone.


Kopaka, Toa Nuva of Ice, looked at him and with just the slightest hint of humor in his voice, asked "How's that working out for you?"


The pair had entered a large chamber, one that almost reminded them of the underground village of Onu-Koro on the long-gone island of Mata Nui. There were a number of differences, however, that made the comparison a loose one. First, the entire space was brightly lit, making it easy to see in all directions even without the Akaku Nuva. Second, most of the visible surfaces were made out of protodermis or other metals with which the two Toa Nuva were unfamiliar. And third, instead of being peopled solely by Onu-Matoran-though a few were present, including their guide-the chamber was evidently home to a host of beings of every shape and size, their only commonality being their status as former residents of the Matoran Universe.


As Mavrah, their Onu-Matoran guide, had explained, there was a special emphasis on the former in that description of this group. Everyone aboard the Red Star-with the exception of the malevolent Kestora overseers and the two Toa Nuva-had come to the Red Star only after perishing in their universe, only to awaken to a new life inside the strange construct. Mavrah would have explained more, but fearing the Kestora he had opted to lead the two Toa to a place of relative safety where they could meet others. To that end, he had brought them to this space, and was even now leading them towards a large structure at the center.


Pohatu certainly had every right to be stunned by these revelations-it was beyond even the revelation that the world in which they had dwelt was in fact the interior of a massive robotic being, and that it had been constructed over 100,000 years ago by the Great Beings. The fact that they were being led by Mavrah, a Matoran from the tales of the Turaga of Mata Nui who had died over 1000 years ago, was simply one more shock on top of many. However, being a veteran Toa had taught him to bounce back quickly from such things, and so he followed Mavrah wordlessly-normal for Kopaka, but definitely a stretch for him.


The trio of beings entered the structure to find a small crowd already gathered-but what a crowd it was! At least twenty Toa of various elements stood in a semicircle, their eyes trained on the newcomers with tools held ready in case of trouble. A handful of other recognizable beings stood among or behind them-a male Vortixx, a Ko-Matoran whose form resembled Mavrah's, and even the Order of Mata Nui members Botar and Hydraxon, though the latter's presence was somewhat puzzling. However, there were also some who were unrecognizable standing with the Order agents: a four-armed figure wielding a multi-bladed axe and three twisted beings who seemed an amalgam of different creatures. Two of the latter trio wore Kanohi-a Huna and a Matatu-while the third had a fiery head resembling that of a Tahnok Va*.


Directly opposite the door to the structure sat a small number of Turaga, most of whom the two Toa didn't recognize. Of these, one wore a Noble Kanohi Kadin, the Mask of Flight, and sat with a distressed-looking Onu-Matoran resembling those from Mahri Nui. However, seated to his right-and thus the left of the new arrivals-was the regal figure of a Turaga of Fire. His golden-tipped Firestaff matched the familiar golden Mask of Shielding on his face-the very mask that the Toa Nuva had left in the care of the Order of Mata Nui.


"Turaga Lhikan!"


A Toa of Water, standing behind the addressed Turaga, quickly tensed, but Lhikan raised a hand to steady her. By her side stood a Po-Matoran of similar design to Mavrah, whose eyes had filled with intrigue at the obvious recognition displayed by the Toa of Stone. For his part, Lhikan regarded the two Toa silently for a moment, before gesturing for Mavrah to come to stand beside the Po-Matoran. Then the legendary hero of Metru Nui smiled and bowed his head in greeting.


"Welcome, my brothers-it is a pleasure to have you join with us here. Your arrival is quite unexpected-you came in a fashion quite different from most of us, and even among the Toa assembled here it is evident that you are unusual. Then again, in a place such as this, where the dead breathe again and a Turaga can be unexpectedly reunited with his old mask after a thousand year wait, such is to be expected. Please, tell us how you came to be here, and how our universe has fared in our absence."


To Pohatu's surprise, it was Kopaka who replied-admittedly with the expected bare bones style of explanation that was common among Toa, Matoran, or Turaga of Ice. Sometimes the Toa of Stone wondered if the cold had an effect on their ability to speak, but it didn't seem to change even when they visited desert climes, so he was inclined against that suggestion. When Kopaka had finished-right up to their discovery by Mavrah-many in the room began to whisper among themselves, their tones varying from incredulity to suspicion. Once more a Turaga raised a hand to halt it, but this time it was the Kadin wearer sitting beside Lhikan.


"Your news is a great deal to take in, mighty Toa-and I am sure there is even more to it than you have said. I am Turaga Jovan, formerly of Voya Nui; once I was leader of a team of Toa who recovered the Mask of Life the first time that it was needed. Of the six of us who embarked on that journey, only one remains a Toa, while all others who lived through it became Turaga-we are all members of this council. Sadly, one of our brothers was called upon to make the ultimate sacrifice, as was your brother Matoro-sadly, neither stands with us here this day."


Pohatu, surprised, addressed the Turaga of Magnetism. "How can that be? Are not all the fallen of our universe here?"


"Both regrettably and fortunately, the answer to that question is no," remarked a Toa of Lightning who had been standing behind Jovan. "While this place does seem intended to return life to the dead of our universe-and at one point could even return them to the midst of the living-there are certain exceptions that appear to exist. For example, no Makuta have ever appeared here, though from what has been reported by many who have come in through the ages that is no reason for sorrow. Additionally, some are apparently prevented from appearing here by the means of their death-specifically if they die instantly or leave behind no remains."


At her explanation the Onu-Matoran beside Jovan began to tremble uncontrollably, and Jovan put a steadying hand on his shoulder while Lhikan took up the explanation. "Nikila is correct, and is lucky to be among those here. She and her teammates, as well as my brethren from the Toa Mangai and my first Toa team, suffered agonizing fates before awakening here. Fortunately, it seems that such villains as the Dark Hunters Nidhiki and Krekka, or the one I once counted as my sister, Tuyet, have not appeared here due to the means of their demise."


"And fortunately so-we have enough tyrants running around our universe, even with the Makuta destroyed," rumbled the four-armed Order of Mata Nui agent. Noting the lack of familiarity in the expressions of the two Toa Nuva, he continued. "I am Morbuzakh, who fell trying to prevent Voporak's theft of the Mask of Time. You've met Botar and Hydraxon, of course; these other three are agents who were assigned to monitor the islands of Mata Nui, Metru Nui, and Mahri Nui before meeting their ends at the hands of various evils."


This time it was Kopaka's turn to ask a question. "Morbuzakh? Wasn't that a plant creation of the Makuta that attacked Metru Nui?"


The four-armed giant's eyes narrowed. "Yes, Makuta stole the name of my race, which I have taken as my own. We were a proud people, who in battle used our multiple arms to crush opponents and obstacles much as the vines of Makuta's accursed greenery threatened Metru Nui. Few races fared as well against Visorak invaders as did my brethren and I-until that Stelt slime Sidorak appeared and used his accursed Rhotuka to turn half of our army against the others. He at least is imprisoned here with us, and I look forward to the day when I can introduce him to my axe."


"Sidorak is here? Surely he is not among you?" Pohatu's disgust at the very thought actually brought a few chuckles to the room, the first levity they had seen since entering the building.


The Toa of Water standing behind Lhikan answered on this occasion. "Sidorak is on the Red Star, Toa Pohatu, but you may rest assured that he is not in our midst. I am Naho of the Toa Mangai, and I can assure you that such filth would not have been tolerated in our midst even had Sidorak arrived here in his right mind. Given his madness, it is even more vital that he be kept out of this place."


"Madness?" Kopaka's query brought back the previous stern atmosphere of the chamber. Looking around, the Toa of Ice could see haunted looks in the eyes of many of the council members. When the silence was finally broken, it was by the Ko-Matoran he had noticed earlier.


"Yes, noble Toa: madness. The process by which we awakened here after perishing-one that I am at a loss to explain-is not a pleasant one, to put it mildly. Coupled with the ways in which many of those who reside here departed from our old home, it can be quite traumatic. Reysa, the Onu-Matoran who sits with his old Turaga, Jovan, is one of the more recent arrivals, and was killed by a monstrous squid. Many of the more vile denizens of the Red Star live separate from us, both because of their character and because many of them are little more than savage beasts.


"Sadly, our neighbors and the Kestora have been less than kind-many of us granted a second chance at life have been cut down by them, and of those none have returned to life-or if they have, it is not in this place. We of this settlement have been fortunate in that many have been through the agony of the revival process and recovered, and were thus blessed with the means to help others do the same. Even more fortunately, they have chosen to share that knowledge and thus live with the glory of Mata Nui within, rather than living with as little spirit as a block of protodermis."


The Matoran's words stirred memories in the mind of Kopaka, ones all but buried in the never-ending chaos and change that had consumed his life and that of the other Toa Nuva since the rediscovery of Metru Nui. One was of the icy peak that had been his home for the year that he had lived on the island of Mata Nui, and the name it had been given as related by Turaga Nuju through Matoro. The other was from the all-too brief stay in the city of legends when, in a moment of quiet, Matoro had again served as Nuju's mouthpiece as the Turaga explained who the mountain had been named for, and why.


"You are Ihu, aren't you?"


Surprised, the Ko-Matoran nodded his head. "You have heard of me? I am surprised-to know of Lhikan is certainly to be expected, but how did you come to know of me?"


"From an old student of yours-one who I'm sure will be most pleased to hear your wisdom again."


The Po-Matoran beside Naho and Lhikan had been taking notes silently for the duration of the meeting, but his head jerked up at this observation. "How can that be possible, Toa Kopaka? Oh, forgive me-I am Kodan, once Chronicler of Metru Nui and the Toa Mangai. But as you have heard, we are trapped here on the Red Star with the Kestora and and the many vile beings who have been revived here over the ages and not yet fallen again. Is there truly a way for us to return home?"


"Well, Kodan-and it's nice to know where that name came from at last-we believe it is possible," replied Pohatu. "Not to Metru Nui or the universe you left behind-as we have told you it is no longer habitable. But the world of Spherus Magna lies below, with as many of your old friends who still live dwelling on it and new allies to be made as well. We came here with a being who could teleport, and if there are those among you who can do the same-as I know friend Botar can-getting us all down there should be quite doable."


Unabashed hope shone in the eyes of the assembled council, who had clearly never dreamed that such an escape might be possible. As they went on to explain to the Toa Nuva, the Red Star had once had the power to send beings back into their universe-some had made the trip more than once-but had inexplicably lost that power many thousands of years ago. Whatever had happened had not impacted the arrival of new denizens, or even of items-Lhikan's old Hau had inexplicably arrived a short time ago, coinciding-though he hadn't known it-with the Makuta's conquest of Daxia. Botar and other teleporters had been asked to consider the possibility of escape before, but had been firm in reasoning that, with no firm knowledge of their present location, it would be impossible to transport themselves or others safely back home.


Now it seemed it would be a simple matter of Pohatu and Kopaka sharing their X-Ray Vision powers with Botar and others who shared his abilities to show them Spherus Magna. Kopaka couldn't help but feel relieved at the opportunity to use his power for something more pleasant than his most recent experience-he had viewed the carnage that the Kestora and others had apparently wreaked on the Red Star down through the ages, and it wasn't something he wished to dwell upon. So eager was he that he was about to activate the power of the Akaku Nuva when a trumpet-like sound reached the ears of the council. The two Toa Nuva spun around just in time to see a Toa of Plasma stumble in through the door, his Toa tool smoking from recent use.


Lhikan rose from his seat, a grim expression on his face. He knew this Toa well, in fact had served on his team long before leading the Toa Mangai. However, they had been separated long ages ago after their base was destroyed due to its unfortunate placement in the midst of a Frostelus settlement. That tragedy, and the prominence of this Toa in it, had led to his name becoming the Matoran word for "cursed place," and eventually being given to Voya Nui's temperamental volcano. "What tidings do you bring, brother Valmai?"


"The worst news I think I've given you since I ordered you to flee with the Makoki Stone, Lhikan," the out-of-breath Toa replied. "Our revived enemies are attacking-but this time they're organized! Our scouts have reported that the Kestora have bolted themselves away in their holes-this has even them scared!"


Had the tales he had heard from Turaga, Matoran, and others not been enough to convince him that he stood in the company of heroes, Pohatu received proof as the council took action. The Toa Mangai and Toa Cordak-a group of fifteen Toa in total-immediately formed an honor guard around the Turaga and the Matoran as the other members of the council marched for the door, with Kopaka and Pohatu falling into place beside them. Much to the Toa of Stone's awe, the elders and villagers kept marching with the procession, not seeking places of greater security but choosing to stand with their protectors. As they traveled back along the path Mavrah had led the two Toa Nuva in on, they were joined by the other denizens of the settlement, all of them either armed for combat or prepared with supplies to provide aid for any defenders who might fall injured.


At the edge of the settlement they found a hastily erected wall, high enough to provide cover but low enough that the various guards could launch energy blasts, Rhotuka spinners, Kanoka disks, and other projectiles over it as well as through a series of small slits and windows built into it. With Kopaka and Pohatu in front and Naho and Nikila bringing the rear, Turaga Lhikan and Turaga Jovan ascended the structure to get a look at the battle. The Toa Nuva of Ice was forced to duck a blast of shadow, and for one terrible moment he feared that at long last a Makuta-perhaps THE Makuta-had arrived on the Red Star and taken charge of its more unsavory denizens. However, as he now found himself focusing his Akaku Nuva on the opposing side, a sight greeted him that made him wonder if they wouldn't have been better off with the rebirth of the Master of Shadows.


Some distance from where the varied noble denizens of the Red Star stood ready, an even more motley assemblage of vile beings were advancing in a terrifying display. Every kind of weapon imaginable was in evidence among the attackers, from Cordak Blasters to Hagah Plasma Cannons and from Impact Crystal Launchers to Vortixx Rhotuka Battle Axes**. But more terrifying than the arsenal were the beings who wielded it, an assortment of monsters and lunatics that would have given the Brotherhood of Makuta, Dark Hunters, or the Order of Mata Nui reason to pause even at the height of their respective powers. Many were unknown to the Toa Nuva, but those they were familiar with were chilling enough to look upon.


As they had been told, Sidorak was among them, his crimson figure towering over many of his fellows as he bellowed like a wounded Kanohi Dragon. Alongside him were the fallen Dark Hunters, Guardian and Tyrant, and the former Pit prisoner known as Nocturn. At the vanguard of the assault was a truly terrifying spectacle: a force of Shadow Toa, the party responsible for the shadow attacks raining down upon the defenders. Almost as chilling as the sight of these corrupted heroes was the fact that each and every one of them wore, at least for Kopaka and Pohatu, the face of a friend: each was a dark reflection of Takanuva.


However, there could be no question as to who led this dreadful army, and his identity was all the more disturbing considering how recently the two Toa Nuva themselves had seen and even handled his fallen body. He was an ancient titan in black and gold armor, with gauntlet-clad hands that gripped a chain alive with flames. The gauntlets themselves crackled with the energy of his Kanohi Mask, a bizarre construct that looked as though it had been welded together from four others-though it had recently been broken, it seemed that the Red Star had the ability to restore it as it had its wearer. However, more chilling than the mask were the black eyes behind it: eyes that seemed to grasp what they beheld with unnerving comprehension, as though the usually mind-breaking revival process had instead made this resuscitated tyrant more sane than he had been in countless millennia.


"Go forward, my legion, and bring death anew to these fools! Let them fear the name of their conquerors, and the power we have become! Let the Red Star be seized...by the Claw of Karzahni!"



Location: Spherus Magna, just outside the prison of the Cursed Great Being.


Unaware of the events transpiring in the Great Beings' fortress elsewhere on the planet, "Velika" put the finishing touches on his memorial tablet for Brutaka, Helryx, Axonn, Miserix, Artakha, Tuyet, Hafu, Vezon and Kapura. After a few moments of thought, he added a few words for Destral, the Great Being who would perish along with the dangerous individuals currently in audience with him. It was unfortunate, he reflected, that his brother and the two Matoran would have to perish as well-but then, Destral had been imprisoned for millennia and would undoubtedly welcome his fate. As for the Matoran, they were only machines-machines with heightened awareness, but machines nonetheless.


All was going according to plan-Lewa Nuva had even befriended the previously hostile Agori by using his Elemental Power to drive off one of Bota Magna's less charming reptilian denizens. True, the Toa of Air still had no idea what his new friends were saying to him, but if all went as planned he wouldn't have long to worry about it anyway. The soon-to-be murderer of ten oblivious beings was feeling quite pleased with himself when he suddenly sensed a presence behind him.


The purple-armored figure who had emerged without warning from the undergrowth looked upon the interloper with an experienced eye, and knew instantly that this was no Po-Matoran he looked upon. His small and twisted form and the weapons he carried were not what informed him of this; it was the glint in the artificial eyes, so different from what he remembered from the Matoran he had worked with so long ago. Moreover, he had seen this particular Po-Matoran before-albeit not so deformed or displaying the strange attributes he perceived now-and he remembered who had created it. As such, the Great Being known as Angonce, whose name had long ago been given to the Northern Continent of the Matoran Universe, wasted no time in getting right to the point.


"I might have known it was you, brother. I found it puzzling when after you went on your 'exile' that I could find no trace of your presence on any of the three planets created by the Shattering or of your passing to another realm or world. Then I began noticing strange things while I was looking for Marendar, hoping I might be able to stop it in some fashion. A Toa of Air robbed of his weapon, which was then used to slay Karzahni, not to mention the ease and precision with which Tren Krom met his end. Only someone intimately familiar with all three could have achieved such a thing, not to mention finding one of our weapons labs and making off with several explosives...someone like you, Nynrah."


The Great Being in the body of a Po-Matoran stiffened as he heard his name, the first time he had been addressed by it in over 100,000 years. However, he quickly recovered, drawing one of his Power Carvers while using his other hand to lift a remote. "Clever as usual, Angonce-but not clever enough. Now if you excuse me, I have some menaces to our world to eliminate and a planet to subjugate."


Angonce responded by drawing a lance capable of emitting energy bursts and training it on Nynrah's remote. "I always pegged you as an eccentric, Nynrah, but never a murderer-or a would-be tyrant. Then again, I don't recall you being a Po-Matoran, and certainly not such a small and twisted one. Nor do I recall us creating the Matoran or other inhabitants of the Mata Nui robot with the liveliness I have seen them display since their arrival on this world."


"What you call murder, I call pest control-and mercy, in poor Destral's case. You call me a tyrant-I say I am simply taking up the position our kind so readily abandoned to the Element Lords so long ago. As for my appearance, you may thank Karzahni for that-his botched repair work and lack of regard for those entrusted to him made it quite satisfying to eliminate him first. Tren Krom had outlived his purpose; he should have been honored that one of his creators saw fit to eliminate him instead of leaving him to rot inside that robot.


"As for our creations, I did grant them heightened intelligence and emotions some time after Mata Nui departed this planet. I wanted to see if they could grow beyond mere nanotech constructs, and indeed they did, though some became dangerously erratic. Still, they too have fulfilled their purpose, and their eventual demise is a foregone conclusion. All that remains is to ensure that their remaining existence and the means by which they meet their ends is turned to cementing my rule over Spherus Magna. Even now, my agents on this world are in the process of accelerating my plans."


Looking into the eyes that now served his disturbed brother, Angonce could see nothing remaining of the Nynrah he had once known. Gripping his lance, he regarded the false Po-Matoran with grim resolve. "Then when I have stopped you I will have to find and deal with them. I did not wait for 100,000 years to see this world restored to watch you or any other mad being tear it apart. And if Great Being must war with Great Being for the first time in the history of our kind...so be it."



Location: Spherus Magna, the Bone Hunter camp known as the Gatherers Hideout.


The Shadowed One smiled as he looked upon his growing forces with pride. The crude encampment of Spherus Magna's Bone Hunters had been transformed into a veritable hive of activity as its long-time denizens and newest arrivals armed themselves for war. The alliance between Dark and Bone Hunters had been a natural one, taking place shortly after the Matoran Universe's mercenaries took their leave of the Toa and other so-called "heroes." Now the two criminal powers were one, and every day more of the vilest beings from the Matoran Universe and Spherus Magna were being welcomed into their fold.


Of course, the growing army of villains was too large to be confined to a single settlement, and were spread throughout the tunnel networks of the Black Spike Mountains. But the Gatherers Hideout was its heart, where the leaders of the dark movement held council and oversaw the production of their most powerful weapons. Vortixx weapons masters plied their craft in malevolent earnest as slaves-Agori, Glatorian, male Vortixx, and others-hauled materials to and from their forges. All the while more and more of the planet's scum filtered in to pledge their allegiance at the feet of the Shadowed One, the Bone Hunter council, and others in power over the shadowy alliance.


Fero, one of the senior Bone Hunters, approached the Shadowed One boldly and without a hint of deference. While he was leery of the Dark Hunter leader and his powers, the veteran Bone Hunter had long ago learned that fancy abilities could be trumped by superior skill. As such, he regarded the Shadowed One as a useful ally-but one that he would trust about as far as he could throw Skirmix.


"Shadowed One, the elders wanted me to inform you of some new arrivals-"


"Very good, Fero," the Shadowed One replied, fully aware of the Agori's lack of respect for him. He would teach the Spherus Magna natives soon enough, but for now he would let them entertain their delusions of equality. Rising from his chair, he followed Fero to the central area of the camp, the traditional place for meeting visitors-or viewing new slaves.


The figures who greeted the Shadowed One's eyes as he entered the space would undoubtedly have made fine slaves-if anyone could have subjugated them to such. Tall black armored figures armed with an assortment of blades and clubs, they looked like they had been through a war, but as if they were eager to move on to the next one. Foremost among them was a burly figure with spiked armor whom the Shadowed One sensed would be even more dangerous than his brutish appearance suggested. Seeing the Shadowed One approach, he moved forward to greet him.


"Greetings, Shadowed One-I am Stronius, elite warrior of the Skrall. I understand that many of my tribesman have already thrown in their lot with your alliance, and have brought those who have joined with me to do the same. All Skrall with any sense of honor will answer to me, and I will lead them as you lead your Dark Hunters and Fero leads the Bone Hunters. Together we shall crush the weaklings of this world, and the strong shall rule as was always intended."


With a predatory smile, the Shadowed One extended his clawed hand to Stronius, who after a brief pause took it as the Skrall were welcomed with cheers from their new dark brethren.


To be continued...


*A few repurposed "Kabaya" combiners, specifically of the Turaga and Bohrok Va.

**This description of the weapons is actually the current BIONICLEsector01 layout for the "Xian Weapons" Template.

Edited by Wiriamu
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Chapter 2

Location: Spherus Magna, some distance north of the Matoran/Agori camp.

Lesovikk cursed the strange environs of Spherus Magna as he continued his way north, looking for the escaped tyrant Karzahni. He had been trailing the evil being for days now-or so he thought-trying to find him so that he could bring no harm to any other innocents. He might have caught up with him before now, of course, had it not been for a bizarre incident some days previously, in which he had been attacked and left unconscious. Upon waking he had found both his attacker and his Air Sword gone, and paused only a short time to wonder at the strange theft before moving on. Of course, Lesovikk had no way of knowing that Nynrah, the Great Being who had long posed as the Matoran Velika, had stolen his weapon to frame him for Karzahni's demise, and neither were aware that the tyrant had been reborn aboard the Red Star that hung in orbit above the planet.

After searching through the newly fertilized regions surrounding the fallen Great Spirit robot, Lesovikk had made his way further north into the icy region known as the White Quartz Mountains. It was difficult terrain, but for a-in his own mind-former Toa who had traversed much of the length and breadth of the Matoran Universe with all the locales therein, it was easier to traverse than most would have found it. Intent on looking for any signs of Karzahni's passing, Lesovikk almost didn't sense the presence of other beings, and it was only a well-honed sixth sense that led him to turn his gaze away from his path.

Behind, above, and below him on the mountain, strange four-legged creatures had appeared to surround him in a rough semicircle that left him with considerable space around him-too far for him to reach them in a hurry, but not the other way around. They might almost have resembled Kavinika, the wolf-like Rahi with which he was familiar, had it not been for the unfamiliar metals that composed much of their body and the strange organic tissue that the rest consisted of. Knowing that their teeth and claws would be dangerous to deal with, and not wanting to harm the local wildlife if he could manage it, Lesovikk started to move forward only for more of the creatures to appear on the path ahead. Now completely surrounded, he was preparing to use his Air powers to lift himself out of their midst when a strange new figure appeared behind this final group of creatures. Lesovikk tensed, reminded unconsciously of Hydraxon's tales of the Barraki, but soon found himself intrigued by the late arrival.

A humanoid figure, clad in white armor like a Toa of Ice, the being walked with a limp and used a walking staff to stay upright. However, his body was obviously strong and battle-scarred, and beneath his ragged cape a formidable looking dagger lay sheathed at his hip. Spikes protruded from much of his armor, while in place of a Kanohi Mask he wore a curious helmet that obscured his face. As his eyes met Lesovikk's, there was an unspoken feeling of kinship, of understanding-though from different worlds, here were two beings who knew well the feelings of loss and isolation.

"The world gets stranger and stranger, it seems," muttered the newcomer. "First two giant machines shake the world, then the moons disappear from the sky, and now strange beings journey through these mountains as though pursued. Or perhaps it was the only the first who was pursued, and you are his pursuer? Either way, I do not know that I care to let another of you pass through this realm."

Lesovikk readied himself to unleash his powers, but decided to try talking his way out first. "I don't know how well it would go for you if you tried to stop it-your friends are many, but I have powers I doubt you would care to challenge. My name is Lesovikk, and I have come here seeking a being who had done much evil in his time. Let me pass, and I will see to it that he does not violate your home again-and neither will I."

"My home? Yes, I suppose you could call it that, though even after thousands of years I have little love for the place. Still, I like you, Lesovikk-it has been too long since I met a warrior with the same fire in his heart that once coursed through my blood. Perhaps you can tell me what you know of the strange happenings on this world of ours, while I help you with your hunt. Ah, I see you worry I will slow you down-the largest of my Iron Wolves can bear me, and his mate will consent to carry you if I bid it. Come along, and tell Surel your tales."

And so the unlikely duo and most of the Iron Wolves set out, with a few of the hunting adults remaining behind to watch over the young and elderly of the pack. As they rode, Lesovikk and Surel shared their stories, and were not surprised to find that they both had tragic experiences in common. Surel could tell Lesovikk little of his world since the Shattering, having been isolated in the White Quartz Mountains for millennia, but what he could share he did. For his part, Lesovikk spoke of his destroyed home in the universe contained within Mata Nui, and of the mingling of its inhabitants with those of the reformed Spherus Magna. Both digested the new information silently, with Surel wondering if a place existed for him in this new world while Lesovikk pondered how to best inform the other Toa of the possible threat of the Element Lords-once Karzahni had been dealt with, of course.

With the speed of the Iron Wolves it wasn't long before their southward track brought them within viewing distance of their quarry. Much to Lesovikk's surprise, the distant figure, though familiar, was not the tyrant he had set out after, but another one entirely: the Barraki traitor Takadox. Lesovikk had been present when he and Carapar had been escorted from their cells by Hydraxon and teleported away with Botar, but what had befallen them afterwards was unknown. Still, he was a menace in his own right as much as Karzahni, and stopping him was just as much a priority.

"That is not who I have been tracking, but another menace entirely. Are you still willing to come with me on this hunt?"

Surel looked at him, and for the first time since they had been traveling together the barest trace of a smile was evident as the ancient warrior spoke. "He may not be who you were expecting, but he is still the one who violated the territory of my pack. I had planned to help you bring Karzahni back to the Agori and Matoran and surprise my old comrades-why not a treble surprise, with my continued existence and my part in the capture of two tyrants?"

Despite himself, Lesovikk chuckled, and the pack quickened its pace in pursuit of Takadox. Though the gap between them and their quarry narrowed swiftly, Takadox disappeared from sight among some low hills in the distance, one of a few pockets of desert left in the former Bara Magna. As they rode in, the Iron Wolves began to tense, and both Lesovikk and Surel sensed danger though neither could pinpoint its source. Finally, in the midst of the hills Takadox's tracks ended abruptly, and signs of a struggle were evident in the sand. The victor had then apparently dragged the loser to a nearby spot where the sand became tossed and disturbed, as though something had been buried.

Sensing that Takadox had run across an unfamiliar denizen of this world who had proved unfriendly, Lesovikk and Surel gently urged their mounts to turn back the way they had come. However, the sand exploded upwards in all directions, and the Iron Wolf pack was surrounded by a roughly even number of creatures unfamiliar to Lesovikk. Though mostly humanoid, they possessed scorpion-like features and other traits that defied description, and the looks in their eyes were of savagery and hatred. Around the edges were smaller creatures, their tan armor a match for their larger brethren, who eyed the Iron Wolves hungrily.

Before either veteran could react, they spotted another figure emerging from a cave atop a nearby hill. Surel's eyes widened in recognition at the sight of a muscular figure in crimson armor, with claws that trumped even those of the Iron Wolves. Lesovikk, for his part, saw only the burning madness in the eyes of the being, as terrible as the beasts he obviously led. So demonic and beastly was his visage, as much as the maddened Karzahni's had been, that Lesovikk was taken aback when he spoke.

"So, that unappetizing interloper has brought more prey into our midst! Hopefully you will make a better meal than that blue beast-he was not fit for the mouths of Bone Hunters, let alone the mighty Vorox and Zesk. Still, it was amusing to see him try and sway my pack with his strange eyes. If you are as unappetizing as he, will you at least try to provide Malum with as much sport?"

Location: Spherus Magna, some distance south of the Black Spike Mountains.

Tahu and Ackar were silent as they rode their Sand Stalkers towards the Black Spike Mountains. The purpose of their journey was two-fold: the continuing search for a new location that the Agori, Matoran, and others could call home, and the tracking of various parties that had journeyed northward without leave of the loosely organized alliance between the former Matoran Universe inhabitants and those of Spherus Magna. The latter groups included the Dark Hunters, Vortixx, and various unsavory natives of Spherus Magna as well, and both the Toa of Fire and his Glatorian counterpart were wise enough to recognize that leaving such beings to run free on Spherus Magna was a disaster waiting to happen. Additionally, if the united forces of the Order of Mata Nui, surviving Toa, Glatorian, and villagers couldn't reign in the various threats, the most secure location possible would have to be sought for them to establish a place of refuge and defense.

"Kind of a big job for the two of us, don't you think?" This was the fifth time Ackar had asked Tahu this since they had set out, and in his less-experienced days Tahu would quickly of tired of it. However, his days leading the Toa Mata/Nuva and later the resistance forces of the Matoran Universe against Teridax had taught the Toa of Fire patience. As such, he merely sighed heavily before replying just as he had four times before.

"There aren't that many Toa-and even fewer Glatorian with Elemental Power-to go around, Ackar-we all have to do what we can. You going with me shows that we're trying to include the Glatorian and Agori and not keep anything hidden from them, something that is essential if any semblance of harmony is to exist on this world. Besides, we're both veteran warriors with more than enough experience to tell us when to turn back if we run into too much trouble."

Looking at the Toa, Ackar kept going. "It's that 'too much trouble' bit that worries me, Tahu. I know you don't go on about it, but I know you took on a whole lot of power when you destroyed all those Rahkshi the Makuta unleashed on the planet. You aren't worried that so much power will make you overconfident?"

Tahu looked back at his comrade, and a pensive look appeared on his face. "Ackar, I don't have to look beyond what happened to Mata Nui to know that immense power is no guarantee of victory."

The two fell silent after that, both of them left with their thoughts of the dormant Great Spirit. It was hard for either of them to conceive the other's picture of Mata Nui: to Tahu he had been a ruler and a charge to protect, while to Ackar he had been student and friend. Now he was dormant within the Kanohi Ignika, Mask of Life, and each Fire warrior felt the burden of leadership he had left behind.

A loud noise soon broke the two out of their reverie and they made their way to a low rise. Leaving their Sand Stalkers waiting at the base, they crawled to the top in order to look out over the barren region between their location and the not-too-distant mountains. A cloud of dust rose from the flat lands, obscuring the source of the thunderous noise. However, as it drew closer, the two warriors were able to see through the haze-and quickly regretted it.

Marching across the wastes from the direction of the Black Spike Mountains was an army of fierce-looking constructs, each of them as tall as a Toa or Glatorian and looking twice as deadly. Their silvery armor, to Tahu's astonishment, was composed of protodermis, with glowing blue eyes that matched their sharp, claw-like blades. Line upon line of the monstrous figures advanced across the flat terrain, never deviating from a course that could lead to only one place: the camp of the Matoran and Agori.

"What are those things, Ackar?"

"...something that I haven't seen since before this planet broke apart, Tahu-and hoped I'd never see again. They appeared during the last days of the Core War-striking from shadow and disappearing back into it just as quickly. The only reason I can imagine that they would appear in the open like this is that they no longer feel reason to fear any enemy-and given their numbers, I can understand why. When they destroyed my brothers and the armies we had fought against, they had no name, but I understand that the Skrall gave them one later. They are...the Baterra."

The dread with which Ackar spoke the name was palpable, and Tahu couldn't recall ever seeing anyone look so hopeless before. For a moment, he was tempted to strike at this new enemy and unleash all of his powers against them. However, he had followed such impulses to disastrous ends often enough to know that to attempt such an all-out assault was to invite disaster and death. Better, he thought, to warn the camp of the coming threat and face them with all the strength they could muster before resorting to such drastic actions. With that, he pulled Ackar back down the rise, where they remounted their Sand Stalkers and rode them back towards the camp for all that they were worth.

Location: Spherus Magna, just outside the Valley of the Maze.

For the first time in over 100,000 years, the Element Lords met in council, this time outside the place that they had been warring over since escaping their imprisonment. Despite many attempts to penetrate its defenses-and destroy each other-none of them had succeeded in doing so. And, not so long ago, a mysterious warrior-one who resembled their former subjects but belonged to no tribe over which they had once ruled-had entered and departed, taking with him the power they had so desperately clashed over. And so they came together again, though none was so foolish as to think it was for reconciliation.

Once upon a time, six of the Element Lords had considered each other brothers and sisters, while the other-the Element Lord of Rock, imperious ruler of the Skrall-had been regarded more as an ill-tempered neighbor by the others. With the discovery of the Energized Protodermis spring and the beginning of the Core War, that had swiftly come to an end. Six of the lords and their tribes had gone to war over it, unaware that the Element Lord of Earth and her tribesmen had engineered the conflict in order to enable their own advancement. The Shattering had left all seven trapped, and in that confinement the Lady of Earth had come to hate her former comrades as much as they hated each other. Now each would be satisfied with only one thing: the complete dominion of Spherus Magna under his or her own respective rule*.

However, their struggles over the past months had taught them a valuable lesson: between the seven of them, none could hope to achieve victory over the others. They knew each other too well and were too equally skilled in their respective elements to gain any advantage. Moreover, so strong was their hatred after 100,000 years of warfare and imprisonment that the idea of even a momentary truce to achieve victory over another Element Lord was repulsive. However, they knew that something was needed to tip the balance, and to their surprise it was the Rock Lord who had convened a meeting to discuss the matter.

Looking over his fellows, the Lord of Rock narrowed his eyes. Unbeknownst to the others, he had a strategy already in mind, suggested to him by one of his own former subjects who had stumbled upon him and renewed his pledge of loyalty. The Rock Agori Atakus had also brought his rediscovered master up to speed on the state of affairs on Spherus Magna, including the fact that each of the seven tribes had named their settlements after the Element Lords, in order to insure that they never forgot the mistakes of the past. As such, he was able to call his former brethren by their names, which none of them had used in millennia; indeed the isolation had affected some to the point that they had forgotten everything about their foes except their Elemental affiliation**.

"Fire Lord Vulcancus, Ice Lord Iconox, Jungle Lord Tesara, Water Lord Tajun, Sand Lord Atero, and Earth Lady Likus***! For so long we have warred among ourselves, seeking to claim the powers of this world and the rulers who left it to us so long ago! And in that time we have accomplished little, other than increasing our own hatred for each other! Now we have found ourselves forced to face the truth of our stalemate-and the only means by which it may be broken!"

Atero, her body a mass of shifting sand, growled impatiently. "Get to the point, Roxtus! I would endure a another 100,000 years of fruitless battle if it meant not having to listen to your pontificating!"

His eyes narrowing dangerously, Roxtus forced himself to speak calmly-a true effort when he wanted nothing better than to remind Atero that her element was merely the crumbs of the crushing might of Rock. "You can have your wish, and much sooner, Atero, if you will heed my words. In days gone by only six tribes of Agori and our former brethren fought at our command; the Earth Tribe and others chose to exclude themselves. This time, every being and weapon on this world will march under one of our banners or die, and we shall see who conquers!"

Despite themselves, the other Element Lords raised a roar of approval, seeing at last the means to end their long war. From his hiding place near the meeting site, Atakus allowed a smile to appear on his face. In truth, his renewed allegiance to Roxtus and the Rock Lord's plan were all part of a much wiser stratagem orchestrated by his true master: Nynrah, the disguised Great Being who had spent 100,000 years inside the massive robot constructed by his kind. With luck, the Element Lords' ambitions would lead to their own destruction and that of many of the targets Nynrah sought to eliminate-and any who survived would undoubtedly be blamed for the tragedy. Spherus Magna would be cleansed...and it's inhabitants would bow to their rightful ruler and his loyal lieutenants.

To be continued...


*After learning of the recent recanonization of the Earth Tribe and the establishment of the "Lords" of Earth and Sand as females, I decided to edit the story to reflect these new developments.

**My explanation for certain inconsistencies in the history of the Element Lords, such as Jungle referring to five brothers when it's now been established that there are two females and seven Element Lords in total.
***Naming the Element Lords after the villages-or vice versa, as the case may be-was my idea; the Lady of Earth is named for a scrapped Ice Glatorian from the similarly scrapped Bionicle 5. Originally I named the character Umarak, but after she was established as a female I thought a change was in order.

Edited by Wiriamu
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  • 4 weeks later...

Chapter 3


Location: Spherus Magna, Bota Magna Region.


The past few days had not gone well for the Glatorian of Ice named Gelu. First, he had been assigned the task of leading three Toa on a mad quest to find the Great Beings. Second, the four of them had run into a pack of Bota Magna Vorox, just as hostile as their Bara Magna cousins but with greater cunning and advanced weaponry such as a device that could disable the powers of a Toa. And to top it all off, the Toa of Psionics known as Orde had determined that the Vorox leader, Kabrua, was currently in communication with a Great Being who had been hiding inside the Matoran Universe for 100,000 years and was now eager to make Spherus Magna his own.


Stripped of their weapons, the group of four had split up in order to evade their Vorox hunters, only to run into each other again on their separate paths. Realizing that the Vorox would track them down regardless of where they turned, Gelu urged his unlikely comrades onward through the dense jungle. There was no real plan in his mind, only a hope that they might be able to find some kind of help or a defensible position where they could make some kind of stand against their pursuers. He had faced death many times before as a warrior-if he had to die, he would make sure that the Vorox would remember the event with pain.


Unfortunately, it seemed he would get his chance all too soon; he could hear the Vorox crashing through the undergrowth behind them, screaming their hunting cries. So distracting was the noise that it took Gelu a moment to notice that he and the three Toa had emerged from the undergrowth into a clearing, and that in the clearing was a village. The sight, when he finally took notice, brought him up short, even more so as dozens of Agori in strange armor resembling metal fused with plants moved to meet him and his comrades, gripping primitive weapons as they faced the weary warriors. The four were forced to halt, and then turned with growing dread as the Vorox emerged from the undergrowth behind them.


Kabrua's smile was predatory as he regarded the village the warriors had unwittingly discovered. "My tribe shall feast well indeed tonight! You four have provided good sport, and even led us to some fools hiding in our midst. It will be a pleasure to drag you all back to our brethren!"


Chiara stepped forward and tried, futilely, to activate her elemental powers. "Big talk for a scum who won't even give his enemies the chance to fight back!"


"This is no battle; it is a hunt. Besides, do you truly think I would be so foolish as to face enemies with powers such as you carry, without a means of disabling it?" Even as he spoke, Kabrua lifted a small device in one hand, sneering at the impotence of the three Toa. The expression was brief, as a sphere of blinding light suddenly struck the device and exploded, throwing Kabrua back into the jungle and startling his fellow Vorox.


Reacting quickly, the three Toa lashed out with their elemental powers: Zaria yanked the force sphere launchers from their enemies' hands, allowing Chiara to destroy them with blasts of lightning more powerful than she would have used on a living being. Orde then struck with his telekinetic powers, lifting one Vorox and slamming him into his two comrades. The strange villagers, realizing that the Vorox had been stripped of their most powerful weapons, charged en masse, and even the powerful hunters were forced to give way. Pausing only long enough to pick up the stunned Kabrua, they charged back the way they had come.


While the Toa recovered their weapons and Gelu's, which the Vorox had dropped in their flight, the Glatorian of Ice turned to face the direction from which the unexpected attack had come. There stood a tall warrior clad in green armor, with a sword poking out from behind his back and a launcher Gelu was unfamiliar with held in one hand. Though he had never seen him before, it was clear to Gelu that he was looking at a Toa. The stranger looked at him curiously-he had probably never seen a Glatorian, Gelu realized-and then spoke, but the sounds that issued from his mouth were incomprehensible.


Before Gelu could even venture a reply, the new arrival suddenly put a hand to his head with a cry of pain. Turning, Gelu saw Orde slump over, with Zaria barely managing to catch him before he hit the ground. Before Gelu could wonder what had just taken place, the stranger spoke again-and this time in Agori, though with the curious phrasing Gelu had noticed with Toa of Air and their respective Matoran and Turaga. "Mata Nui, keep-stay out of my hurt-head! First Tren Krom, then Artakha, now some mindmelter who ambush-attacks me for quicksaving his life?"


"Consider it a payment of my debt," Orde muttered, recovering himself enough to stand. "Apparently whatever Mata Nui did so that we could understand and speak Agori, it didn't affect you. It's not exactly easy to rewrite your brain's running language-less easy when I have to translate that annoying chutespeak."


Recovering his blade from Chiara, Gelu gave the Toa of Psionics a look. "Next time, how about you ask before you just reach into somebody's head? Otherwise you're liable to end up losing your own. My apologies, Toa of Air-my name is Gelu, and these are my companions: Chiara, Toa of Lightning, Zaria, Toa of Iron, and the oh-so-charming Orde, Toa of Psionics."


"Well-met, friend Gelu; I am Lewa, Toa Nuva of Air" the Toa replied. "But what matter of Toa-hero be you, and what is this mysterytale regarding Mata Nui that Orde speaks of?"



It was a few hours later before Gelu's party set out again from the Agori village, this time accompanied by Lewa. The Toa Nuva was still trying to process the many revelations he had received regarding Mata Nui and the world he now found himself on, Spherus Magna, but had willingly agreed to help the four heroes in the task set them by Tahu. First, however, they had seen the Bota Maga Agori off on their journey to join the encampment on Bara Magna, a journey that they had reluctantly agreed to undertake after being convinced that the Vorox would soon return in greater numbers. This particular group of Agori had long since forsaken technology, blaming it for the catastrophes that had befallen their world, and so were less than eager to reunite with their technology-dependent brethren in the south. However, they knew there was safety in numbers, and had dispatched messenger birds to other Bota Magna villages inviting them to join the march.


Lewa and Gelu's party came across many of the refugees as their party continued north: Agori of various tribes and even a handful of Glatorian, though none that Gelu recognized. However, they learned with concern that the male and female Skrall of Bota Magna had departed the region already-the idea of more of the Rock Tribe warriors loose on Spherus Magna wasn't comforting. But the five of them could do little about such a development, and so they set their course for the fortress Lewa had departed from some time ago, hoping that the cursed Great Being might be able to provide some insight into the whereabouts of his brethren. Of course, having been told what else awaited them in the fortress, the other three Toa were less than enthusiastic.


"The last Makuta in existence, Artakha, two psychotic Toa of Water, a pair of Order of Mata Nui members who have tried to kill each other several times over the past year, a lunatic half-a-Skakdi, and a Great Being who makes everything around him come to life," Zaria mused. "Why exactly did you think it was a good idea to leave two Matoran with them?"


"Figured it was as sure-safe as anywhere in a new jungle-place," Lewa replied.


Chiara snorted at the observation, remarking, "Yeah, that sounds like Toa of Air reasoning."


"Let's just hope he was right," Orde said.



Location: Spherus Magna, Bara Magna region, some distance from the Matoran-Agori camp.


Onua Nuva and the Jungle Glatorian Vastus were grim as they examined the remains of Tren Krom. After not hearing from Pohatu and Kopaka for some time, the Toa and Glatorian had agreed that someone should be sent after them, and the Toa Nuva of Earth and veteran Glatorian had been selected. For his part, Vastus wasn't sure what they could do if two Toa Nuva had fallen before some unknown threat, but the other Toa and Glatorian were all occupied with tasks of their own that were equally if not more important. And so he found himself riding a Sand Stalker along while Onua flew ahead with his Adaptive Armor, until the trail of the two Toa had led them to this grisly scene.


"It looks as though they found some other being, and then all three of them just vanished," remarked Vastus, the superior tracker of the two.


Onua nodded agreement, his wise eyes filled with worry. "I just hope they didn't run across whoever did this. Any being that could kill Tren Krom could defeat a pair of Toa with little difficulty. The only good news is that there's no sign of their remains here."


"Which could mean that whatever killed this Tren Krom of yours decided to finish them off somewhere else...or that they helped him kill Tren Krom and then all three of them took off."


Looking at his companion, Onua shook his head. "You suggest that my brothers would kill Tren Krom? It is against the code of the Toa to kill."


Vastus gave Onua a hard look as he replied. "So you say, but we have only your word on that. Besides, even if this is so, I'm sure we've both met beings who have betrayed the code that they once lived by. You'll forgive me if I'm inclined to believe your 'brothers' had a hand in this."


"Guilty until proven innocent is a hard view to have, Vastus, though I imagine your life on Bara Magna hasn't helped with that. Still, we are trying to find my brothers; perhaps we can learn the truth of this matter along the way." With that, Onua activated his jets, and started to lift into the air to see if he could spot any further sign of his brothers. Unfortunately, all he saw was an uprooted tree flying through the air towards him.


Onua's flight experience enabled him to evade the full impact, though the tree still struck with enough force to knock him to the ground. Despite his suspicious attitude, Vastus rushed to the side of the Toa Nuva of Earth even as loud footfalls reached their ears. Onua had just managed to reach his feet when their source emerged from the trees: a hulking humanoid machine, roughly twice the height of a Toa or Glatorian. Both readied their weapons, though the sight of their attacker left them uncertain that anything they could do would stop it.


The towering construct known as Marendar looked down upon its prey with cold machine eyes, analyzing the two puny foes that stood before it. In its sight Onua was aglow with elemental power-the very force by which it had tracked him here-while Vastus' energies were confined to his venom staff. Still, Toa power was Toa power, and Marendar had been created to destroy Toa. As such, it ripped another tree out of the ground before advancing towards the two heroes with lethal intent.


Having fought countless battle, Vastus wasn't easily shaken, and he was quick to put his recently gained elemental power to use. With a roar he generated a cyclone that lifted Marendar high into the air, an effort that he strained to maintain. Following his lead, Onua used his own powers to rip open a deep chasm beneath the flying machine. Relieved, Vastus let his cyclone dissipate, causing Marendar to plummet into Onua's hole, which the Toa of Earth quickly sealed.


Thinking the threat ended, Onua moved to assist Vastus-and was promptly knocked flying as Marendar ripped its way out of the ground. Showing no sign that it had just fallen into a massive hole and then dug its way out, Marendar advanced on the stunned Toa. Vastus, still weak from his efforts, managed to launch a Thornax at the giant, but the explosion did little other than turn its attention to the Glatorian. However, it gave Onua enough time to arm his Nynrah Ghost Blaster, which formed energy bonds around the machine.


Seeing that Marendar wouldn't be held long, Onua ran over to Vastus, whose Sand Stalker had fled in the commotion. Activating his Miru Nuva, he prepared to take off using its Levitation powers to help Vastus. However, before they could depart, a shadow fell over them-but not from Marendar.


It seemed impossible that the delicate wings of a Nui-Rama, even as large as these particular specimens were, could hold aloft such a massive creature-but the Rahi Nui was a creature of impossibility. Virtually everything about it was deadly, from its Muaka body and Tarakava arms to its Nui-Jaga tail and Kane-Ra horns. It had recently escaped the Matoran Universe onto this new world, and been sniffing around for its prey of choice: Toa. Now it had found one of the most powerful Toa in existence, and was eager to satisfy its gnawing hunger.


Roaring in exultation, the beast dove, its jaws gaping wide in anticipation. At the same time, Marendar burst from the Nynrah Ghost Blaster's energy and charged towards the pair. Thinking quickly, Onua switched to his Kakama Nuva, Mask of Speed, and then braced himself. Just before he and Vastus could be crushed between the two behemoths, they shot out from between them at super speed, leaving the Rahi Nui to crash into Marendar.


Onua and Vastus stopped briefly several meters away, their eyes locked on the awe-inspiring struggle. The Rahi Nui was larger than Marendar, and the robot had no discernible armaments. However, it soon became apparent that the various weapons of the monstrous Rahi were doing no more damage than had the efforts of the Toa and Glatorian. Moreover, Marendar's mechanical body showed no signs of tiring, while the biomechanical beast was just as subject to weariness as its intended prey. Deciding that they would be better off as far away as possible when the mechanical menace finished its unexpected battle, Onua switched to his Miru and took off.


So swift was their flight that they were long out of range when the Rahi Nui's roars were forever silenced by a loud crack as Marendar's fist struck its head.



Location: Spherus Magna, Bara Magna region, between the Matoran-Agori encampment and Aqua Magna.


The monstrous Zyglak had only recently departed from the Matoran Universe, refusing to accept help from the beings that they despised with all their nature. Finally they had found an exit and made their way out, a great horde composed of every Zyglak left in existence. However, they found themselves in a strange world, where the only beings they came across were too like the hated Matoran and Toa for comfort. Killing those who had not the wisdom to flee their approach, the Zyglak made their way towards the great sea, drawn to it as they always were to those regions where no other living thing dared dwell.


Then had come new allies-allies who shared their hatred for the Toa and other inhabitants of this world. Like the Zyglak they were exiles, beings who had no place in the societies of this world whether native or newly arrived. But unlike the Zyglak, they knew this world, and could help the Zyglak cleanse it of the hated ones-perhaps even of the Great Beings themselves. And so, as some of their number previously had with Makuta Spiriah, the Zyglak linked their fortunes with a fallen tyrant: Tuma of the Skrall and his unlikely lieutenant, the former Ice Glatorian Strakk.


Holding his great sword aloft, the disgraced Skrall leader roared out to his new army. "Enemies of the Great Beings, today we strike! Strakk has found a fortress for us to make our own, full of the filthy creations of our enemies! We shall take it for our own, and then we shall use it to launch our campaign against the others who have wronged us!"


The Zyglak roared in exultation, waving their weapons in the air as they cheered Tuma's plan. Strakk, for his part, smiled eagerly at the thought of these creatures unleashing their wrath upon his former tribesman, and the chance to exact his revenge on Ackar and that accursed Mata Nui for interfering in his plans. He might not have been quite so eager had he known that, a short distance away, two Toa were watching these proceedings with grim expressions. Gali Nuva looked upon the monstrous horde and its new leader with thinly concealed disgust before turning to regard her companion, Takanuva.


"So that's the 'mighty' Tuma the Glatorian told us of-cast out by his own people, and now leading an army of Zyglak. I thought the Skrall were all about their superiority, but it seems beings without honor are quick to discard their scruples when given the chance for revenge. It seems he was even willing to team up with an exiled Glatorian for the sake of improving his situation."


Takanuva nodded, his eyes narrowed. "Reminds me of how Makuta recruited Ahkmou to help him in his twisted plans. Tuma may not be as powerful, but from what the Agori and Glatorian have told us he's got the same black heart. What do you make of that story about a fortress?"


"I don't know-Raanu didn't say anything about a fortress in this direction, but I suppose anything's possible. We'd better get back to the camp and warn them about this-I get the feeling that our victory against Makuta may have just been the first battle we'll have to fight on our new homeworld." With that, the pair of Toa turned and headed back towards camp, unaware that the threat they were carrying word of was just one more facing the peaceful inhabitants of Spherus Magna.


To be continued...

Edited by Wiriamu
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Voicing your opinions with tact is the best way to keep a discussion from becoming an argument.
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G1 Battle for Spherus Magna - G2 A Lingering Shadow

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  • 3 weeks later...

Chapter 4


Location: Spherus Magna, Aqua Magna coast.


"How many legion-armies must we flee-run from!?" Kongu's question was further punctuated as he fired one of his Cordak Blasters at the Skakdi mob racing along behind him and his companions. The hideous grinning faces had been a constant in the rear view of the Toa Mahri since they had escaped their fortress a short time ago, having reclaimed their weapons and regained their senses following a confrontation between the Skakdi's new leader and the ancient menace Annona. Unfortunately, the Skakdi had been quick to notice the flight of their once obedient Toa slaves, and were eager to recapture them-or, failing that, enjoy the sport of hunting them down.


"Aw, come on, Kongu, it's only the third one!" This came from Hewkii, who used his Kanohi Garai to bring down a number of large boulders in the path of the Skakdi from a nearby cliff. He soon had to duck as a blast of heat vision came flying over his roadblock and narrowly missing putting a hole through him.


"Fourth, Hewkii," Nuparu yelled, opened a fissure in the sand behind them with his Toa powers. "First it was the Zyglak, then it was all those sea creatures, then it was Makuta's Rahkshi, and now this!"


"The Rahkshi don't count-we turned around and drove them out!"


Hahli's power slammed a wave into the Skakdi frontrunners as she scanned the horizon for any signs of cover or a way up unto the seemingly endless cliffs that wouldn't leave them as sitting targets for their pursuers. Her legs were burning from the effort, and she knew that the Mahri couldn't keep this up much longer. "Whatever makes you feel better, Hewkii. Personally, I don't see us doing the same to these monsters!"


"You'll never do anything again Toa!" This shriek, coming from a cackling female Skakdi in orange armor, was followed up by a most unexpected noise: a whizzing noise as several Rhotuka spinners came flying through the air. As they struck, various effects came over the Skakdi, with a number of them suddenly moving much slower while others were affected in different ways. Before the Skakdi could react, a new attack came in the form of six streams of elemental energy that knocked the villains backward.


Hardly daring to believe it, Jaller came to a stop and turned his eyes towards the top of a nearby cliff, from which the surprise attacks had come. There, clad in their gleaming armor and carrying their Elemental Spears and Rhotuka Shields, were the Toa Hagah, who were continuing to launch Rhotuka and elemental attacks from behind a low wall erected top the cliff by Pouks. Turning to his teammates, he smiled for the first time since the all too brief celebration at the end of the Destiny War, before the Reign of Shadows. "Hahli, for the first time in my life, I'm glad you're wrong about something."


"So am I!" Sharing Jaller's grin, Hahli turned with the others and joined in the Hagah's assault, unleashing elemental power and Cordak missiles at the off-balance Skakdi. Facing the combined might of eleven Toa, the grinning horde began to fall back, unable to retaliate with their weapons or even their own elemental abilities. For a moment, it seemed that the two teams of Toa would turn what had been a murderous mob into a fleeing crowd.


Then, from around the cliffs, a fresh wave of Skakdi appeared, and with them the figure the Mahri had dreaded seeing again: the golden-skinned monster who had previously enslaved them. It's grin was nearly as chilling as those of its minions, and the Toa Mahri shuddered at the knowledge that their old enemies the Piraka were behind that smile. Worse, they knew that defeat was virtually inevitable, for even eleven Toa couldn't hope to stand against it's might. However, they weren't about to give up without a fight, and so the two teams unleashed their full elemental might against the beast.


Mere feet from the fusion, the attacks dissipated as though they had never been. Shaking its head as though expressing disapproval of misbehaving children, the large creature advanced towards his foes. "Have you so quickly forgotten that I bring dreams to life, Toa? My people have dreamed that I cannot be harmed, and thus it is so."


However, before it could move any closer to the heroes, a massive form suddenly leaped down to land behind the fusion. The golden being spun just in time to receive a slash from the pick axe weapon of Keetongu. Reeling back from the wound, the creature looked down at the rapidly healing gash before turning its eyes to regard the massive golden Rahi. The two were equal in size, but even the sight of the legendary Rahi did little to inspire hope in the Toa Mahri.


The fusion, however, appeared visibly distressed by the appearance of this new rival. It's smile faded, and it's green eyes widened in shock. "What have you...what have you done to me?"


Keetongu regarded the monstrous being, seeing a hideous side to its nature that only he could see. His unique sight could see the swirling darkness within the beast: the greed and treachery of the Piraka, the festering hatred of the Zyglak, the dumb rage of the brute from Stelt, and the desperate horror of the Vortixx. The vision was sickening to the noble Rahi, who set his shields spinning at he replied. "You can bring dreams to life-my dream was that you could no longer do so. Such power is too great for mortals, especially those as depraved as you."


"Very well then, beast," the creature growled. It's green eyes blazed with energy, and Keetongu was knocked backwards as the combined vision powers of Hakann, Zaktan, and Reidak slammed into him. The fusion advanced on Keetongu and dealt a blow with strength such as Keetongu had not faced since his ill-fated battle with Makuta over a thousand years ago.


The Toa Hagah and Mahri were about to attack the fusion to aid their Rahi ally, but were forced to engage the recovered Skakdi as they counterattacked. Several began scaling the cliffs while the rest launched various attacks at the Toa both atop the rocks and on the beach, forcing Nuparu and Hewkii to erect protective barriers. However, even Jaller's fire couldn't stand against the renewed fury of the Skakdi, particularly the vanguard of female Skakdi in various colors. Slowly but surely, the Mahri were forced to retreat further back along the beach, while the Hagah noted with growing dread that the Skakdi were encroaching on their position.


With a wave of it's hand, the fusion created protosteel bonds around Keetongu's arms, pinning it's pick axe and shields to its sides. "I wanted to bring enlightenment to this world, but you have robbed me of that ability. If I cannot rule over it as a liberator, I shall be a conqueror. You have taken away my ability to breathe life into dreams, but now I shall give life to a legend: I shall be...Irnakk!"



Location: Spherus Magna, Great Beings' fortress.


Heremus' expression was grave as he looked at the pink-armored figure-one he recognized as belonging to one of his long absent brethren-who had just introduced himself as Velika. Around the room, his fellow Great Beings showed similar concern in their visages. Zakaz wasted little time in marching up to the newcomer, grabbing him by the shoulder, and lifting him into the air with little effort. "Is this your idea of a joke, Nynrah? I would have thought 100,000 years would have given you time to prepare better material!"


"Please, don't hurt me-I'm telling you the truth! Nynrah is the one who did this to me, after he did something that made me...different. I was his lab assistant, but I remember when I was little more than an obedient machine. Then Nynrah did something, and I became aware of myself as a living being-shortly before I found myself in his body and he wound up in mine."


Daxia, her eyes narrowed, moved forward to look up at Velika. "Nynrah took up the body of a Matoran? To what end? And how did he do so?"


"I know not why he did it-truly, I do not, though I have spent many ages wondering why. Each possible explanation seems stranger than the last. As for how he did it...the answer lies with she who lives in the depths of this fortress. I have not dared even approach her lair, for I know not what a being of her power is capable of."



Heremus led the way into the catacombs of the fortress, leaving Velika in Zakaz and Daxia's charge while Odina and Xia accompanied him into the depths. They knew of the creature that Velika had spoken of, though in their wanderings they had almost forgotten her existence. Unlike the unfortunate Matoran they felt no reason to fear this being, but they weren't quite sure what to expect. As such, the trio drew their weapons before entering a chamber with walls made out of the same crystal as the outside of the fortress that shone with a soft light.


The chamber's only inhabitant turned to regard them with eyes that shone with the same gentle white light as the cavern, which complimented her light blue skin. Her only limbs were long tentacles that trailed behind her and fanned around her body, adding to her beauty. Were it not for these limbs and her purely organic nature, no one would have guessed at a connection between her and the monstrous Tren Krom. However, her thoughts-though they lacked the snake-like hissing of the late figure of Matoran nightmare-entered the minds of her creators in the same way that his had entered the minds of Lewa, Brutaka, and others.


"So, after all these millennia, you have returned to the lair of Papa Nihu*."


Heremus detected the note of reproach in the soft mental voice, and knew that it was more than a little justified. Papa Nihu had been created for the same purpose as Tren Krom: to sustain the functions of an artificial universe contained within a giant robot. However, she had been intended for a robot that the Great Beings had never built, intended to assist Mata Nui's original body in restoring Spherus Magna. The events of the Core War and the rapid onset of the Shattering had prevented the construction of that automaton, however, and now...


"And now the very reason for my being has been fulfilled without me. Do not be surprised, Heremus-I can read your thoughts as easily as you hear mine. Though I have not left this place since I was left here by Nynrah, my mind has reached out across this world, and I am aware of all that transpires. I know that Spherus Magna is whole...that you and all your kind have returned to this world...and that he who was to be my companion has perished."


"Tren Krom is dead?" Odina's gasp drew Papa Nihu's eyes, and she regretted speaking aloud her surprise.


"Yes, dead...and without even knowing of my existence, except perhaps as a concept. We could have celebrated the completion of our missions...but mine was never begun, and now would serve no purpose. And now Tren Krom is dead at the hands of Nynrah, and I am not only bereft of duty and destiny, but also the chance for unity. Such is the price to be paid for having been created by the 'Great' Beings."


Doing his best to ignore the scorn in her voice, Heremus cleared his throat. "You seem to have regarded Nynrah highly enough to help him with his bizarre plans. Do you know why he had you switch his mind and that of the Matoran Velika? Such a thing seems beyond me."


"He wished to know how the universe he helped create would unfold from the perspective of one of it's inhabitants. However, he also believed that the Matoran were capable of being more than mere machinery, and thus altered Velika's core programming. It is a change he intended to spread to other Matoran within the Great Spirit robot, and one that he modified the assembly lines on this world to replicate as well. Of course, whether or not his efforts were successful is unknown even to me, as the Matoran you created for the robot I was to help control remain dormant."


Xia's expression turned grim, and he turned to his two companions to see if the look in their eyes mirrored his own. "So there's a second population of Matoran on this planet with the ability to think for themselves...and they're just waiting to be turned on. Not to mention that Nynrah is running around among the already functioning Matoran, and has apparently developed a killer's instinct. I don't know about the two of you, but I think perhaps we would have been better off waiting another century or so before returning home..."



Location: The Red Star.


Kopaka's face was characteristically grim as he surveyed the attacking army, a force that even the assemblage of Toa and other beings they had found on the Red Star would be hard-pressed to counter. However, before he could start formulating any sort of strategy, a powerful tremor shook the entire area. The Toa Nuva of Ice recovered quickly, but then noted that Turaga Lhikan and his compatriots appeared aghast. "Something tells me that tremor means more to you than it does to me, noble Turaga."


"Indeed, brave Kopaka-it came from the direction of the facility where the fallen are restored to life here on the Red Star. It would seem that our foes, or the Kestora, have decided that the Red Star has become crowded enough; no more inhabitants of our universe can be revived now. If there is any knowledge that can undo this evil, it belongs to the Great Beings or some source of wisdom beyond my own."


Pohatu put a hand on the Turaga's shoulder and surprised Kopaka by smiling. "Then we have no reason to stick around, wise one. Let's get started evacuating everyone to the surface of Spherus Magna, where we can link up with with the Matoran and Agori. I'll help Botar and the other teleporters with my Kanohi Akaku Nuva-think you can hold off the enemy while we get the civilians to safety Kopaka?


With a grim smile, Kopaka nodded, and Lhikan called to his fellow council members. After brief deliberation, it was decided that a small party would teleport to the surface as a precaution against any hostile presence. Morbuzakh volunteered to the lead the party, who would be teleported by Botar and include the other Order of Mata Nui members: Hydraxon; Flammik, the Tahnok Va-headed operative; Bumonda, the Huna-wearing operative; and Uganu, the Matatu-wearing operative. Lhikan insisted upon accompanying them, and was thus joined by the Toa Mangai: Naho, Toa of Water; Hura and his best friend Mafa, two Toa of Ice who wore a Calix and a Rode, respectively; Tiro, Toa of Stone; Marn, Toa of Earth; Kanae, an Ice Toa with a Kanohi Kaukau; Motara, a Toa of Ice who wore the Kanohi Kuuls, Mask of Conjuring; and Fau, a Toa of Jungle who wore the Kanohi Agarak, Mask of Healing.**


As Pohatu went off with this group, Kopaka was left with Valmai and Nikila and their respective Toa teams, as well as various other defenders including a Vortixx. Valmai's teammates included another Toa of Plasma named Rangi, who carried a flail; Papu, a Toa of Magnetism who wielded a mace; and Pala, a Toa of Jungle. Nikila's companions were Uxar, Toa of Iron; Ikir, Toa of Fire; Akida, Toa of Water; Terak, Toa of Sonics; Ketar, Toa of Stone; and Melum, Toa of Gravity***. The heroes quickly moved to the defenses, employing various weapons and powers against the approaching forces of the Claw of Karzahni.


Standing beside Nikila, Kopaka noted with a raised eyebrow the almost ecstatic expression the Toa of Lightning wore behind her Kanohi Vizuna****, Mask of Possibilities. Spotting his look, she laughed as she continued to send lightning bolts flying from the prongs of her trident. "Why so glum, Kopaka? We're getting out of this dump, and teaching some of the universe's foulest scum a lesson before we go!"


"Just a little overwhelmed by the day's events I suppose, sister. I am quite grateful to have found you and the others here, and that we'll be able to take you home. But I must say that it's not the sort of day I expected to have when Pohatu and I set out to track down Toa Lesovikk."


To the surprise of the Toa Nuva of Ice, the heads of the Toa Cordak turned as one to fix stunned gazes upon him. Nikila was first to recover, and quickly barked to her teammates to return to the task of countering the incoming blasts of the Shadow Takanuva army. However, her gaze remained intent on Kopaka. "You were looking for Lesovikk? He still lives?"


"Yes...you knew him?"


A winged creature, bolder than his comrades, shot through the air towards the defenders' bellowing a battle cry. Nikila responded by unleashing a blast of lightning that sent him hurtling back towards his comrades, though a good deal crispier than he had been before. "He was our leader...and my best friend. In all the millennia since we came here and regained our sanity, I have dreaded that our final battle left him unable to appear here. When this is over, I shall help you find him-and woe to any being who stands in my way."


Before Kopaka could reply, the Vortixx sent a Rhotuka spinner flying from his battle axe, which struck a Shadow Takanuva with pinpoint accuracy and left him immobilized. Impressed, Kopaka complimented the male, who half-smiled at the praise. "I am glad I still remember how to use this weapon; it was developed by my brother Rhotuka, who was responsible for creating the artificial spinner launchers used by so many. Sadly, he was one of many to be devoured by the Mountain after our society descended into barbarism under the rule of cruel matriarchs. I only hope that this new world will mark a change for the better for my people."


"What is your name, warrior?"


"Zamor-designer of the Zamor Sphere Launchers. Sadly, the design was stolen by the same treacherous Vortixx who left my brother to be devoured and sold to the Nynrah Ghosts. I have no love for Sidorak, but he and I have one thing in common-we would love to see Roodaka brought to justice. Of course, I would also see justice done upon the Shadowed One, who stumbled upon me in my efforts to recover the viruses I hid on Xia after the death of Kojol."


As Kopaka learned more about his new comrades in arms, on the other side of the battlefield Karzahni watched with malice in his black eyes. Turning to Tyrant, he questioned the former Dark Hunter regarding a report he had made. "You are certain some of the enemy are missing?"


"Yes, Karzahni-that Toa of Ice is unfamiliar to me, but there are fewer Toa than there should be on the wall, and other beings appear to be missing as well. Furthermore, our scouts have apprehended a being who some of our number recall being here before, long ago. Perhaps he can shed some light on the matter." With that, the crimson-armored being led Karzahni towards the rear of their lines, where a Skakdi and a member of Krekka's species waited with the prisoner. After eying the strange newcomer, with his multiple limbs, wings, weapons, and Mask of Shielding, he spoke to him.


"Tell me, newcomer...how did you come to be here?"


"My name is Gaardus, and I have been to this place twice. The first time, I perished; this time, I teleported here from a planet which this place hangs above. I came with two Toa, but we are not allies; I came seeking vengeance upon those who made me this way."


The last bit of Gaardus' speech was lost on Karzahni; when he had spoken of Spherus Magna, Karzahni experienced a curious flash of memories. He recalled-vaguely-an alien world in which he had briefly wandered, before suffering the death that had brought him here. His memories of the event were confusing-he had visions of being stabbed by one of his own failed repair attempts wielding a sword carried by that strange Toa Lesovikk-but it seemed that Gaardus was telling the truth. "Tell me, friend...could you return to the planet below? And show others among us who can teleport how to do so?"


"I suppose...but why should I?"


Karzahni had long ruled through intimidation, such as using his repaired Kanohi Olisi to compel the inhabitants of the Red Star to form his new army. However, he sensed that on this occasion there was a simpler solution, and one that could be considerably more rewarding. "You spoke of vengeance, Gaardus, upon those who made you the way you are. Who was responsible for these changes?"


"A group of Matoran-exiles from the Nynrah Ghosts."


Tyrant, who had been observing silently spoke up. "There is a group of former Nynrah Ghosts in our ranks, Karzahni-perhaps the very ones Gaardus speaks of. They have been providing us with weapons, but there are others in our midst who could perform that task as well. As such, I believe that we can offer Gaardus what he seeks in exchange for his services."


Gaardus answered with a predatory grin.


To be continued...



*Papa Nihu is named for Papa Nihu Reef on the Island of Mata Nui; I wanted to use the name, but given that it didn't really fit for a Matoran, Toa, or other biomechanical being (all the one word names and such) I thought it would be interesting to introduce a counterpart to Tren Krom.

**The various new Toa Mangai are named for locations on the island of Mata Nui-a nod to Naho's naming origin-with masks as revealed by Greg Farshtey. I took the liberty of naming the Mask of Conjuring after a concept/misprint name for Kualus, and the Mask of Healing after one of the ancient Protectors from Generation 2.

***Valmai's teammates are named for a location on Mata Nui and two characters mentioned in the Mata Nui Online Game whose role was apparently scrapped. If you couldn't guess, the Toa Cordak besides Nikila are named for the Elemental Creatures from Generation 2.

****Nikila's Mask is named for the current Protector of Jungle.

Edited by Wiriamu
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  • 3 weeks later...

Chapter 5


Location: Spherus Magna, site of Tren Krom's demise.


While the heroic inhabitants of the Red Star and Pohatu made planetfall elsewhere, Gaardus teleported with a small group to the very grove of trees from which he had departed Spherus Magna with the two Toa Nuva. Satisfied that he had spoken truly, several other members of the group with teleportation powers joined him in returning to the Red Star to retrieve other members of the Claw of Karzahni. This left Sidorak, Guardian, and Nocturn to secure the area, which Gaardus had departed from so quickly that he had failed to notice the signs of recent battle or the corpse of the Rahi Nui. Fortunately for the villains, Marendar had departed in search of its true prey, unaware that the site of its first kill would soon be welcoming many Toa: mostly Shadow Takanuva, but with a scattering of others whose darkness was of their own choosing.


Satisfied that travel to their new object of conquest was safe, Karzahni and Tyrant appeared with the third group to arrive, well aware that the Red Star was rapidly being depleted of all inhabitants but the Kestora. Tyrant soon began to muster the eager assortment of rogues and monsters into some semblance of a camp while Karzahni looked over the world he had so recently departed with sane eyes for the first time. Some sixth sense he couldn't quite identify told him that his creators had been here: this world had felt the touch of the Great Beings. He had little time to consider the thought as the last of his troops arrived, bringing with them an extremely pleased looking Gaardus.


"Well done, Gaardus! Quick and efficient, I see-you shall make a fine lieutenant to the Claw of Karzahni. Now let us set about taking this world for ourselves, and visiting our wrath upon those who have dared to oppose us!" Karzahni's words set up cheers and howls from his horde-which were abruptly cut short as the ground from which Marendar had exploded during its brief clash with Onua and Vastus rose up and took humanoid form.


Likus, Element Lady of Earth, looked over the motley assemblage with approval, her eyes eventually settling on Karzahni. "You are the leader of this band, I take it?"


"I am Karzahni, and this is my Claw-who may I ask are you?"


"I am the Element Lady of Earth, the rightful ruler of this world of Spherus Magna-but to rule, I require an army. I came here in response to a troubling stirring-a power over Earth that may well rival my own-but I never expected to find such as you. You spoke of vengeance...I, too, and looking for revenge; perhaps we can take it together?"


A Shadow Takanuva, consumed with the desire to destroy, responded by launching a bolt of shadow at the Element Lady of Earth, creating a hole in her torso. The insane Toa laughed triumphantly, but soon stopped as the hole filled and disappeared as completely as though it had never been. Likus regarded the hapless wielder of Shadow for a brief moment before gesturing towards it-unnecessary theatricality, given her oneness with her element. The ground beneath the Shadow Takanuva rose up and covered its entire body up to the neck and then sank, dragging the dark Toa down until he was left with his head sticking out of the ground and the rest of his body restrained.


"You should keep a tighter grip on you Claw, Karzahni...unless you want me to break it."


Even the most deranged members of the Claw of Karzahni now knew to fear the power of the Element Lady of Earth; unbeknownst to them, someone else did as well. Bumonda, the Huna wearing Order of Mata Nui operative who had long ago perished while investigating the Island of Mata Nui, trembled at the sight of Likus' power. She had been cautious before Makuta Teridax had taken her life before, and the mental discipline of the Order had enabled her to retain those memories despite the trauma of being awakened on the Red Star. As such, she made sure to move as quietly as possible to a safe distance before deactivating her Kanohi and beginning a swift run to where the Toa Mangai, Lhikan, and the other Order members waited with a growing force of heroic escapees from the Red Star.



Location: Bota Magna region, Destral's prison.


Angonce looked into Nynrah's mad Matoran eyes and knew instantly that his former brother wouldn't hesitate to set off the explosives he had rigged around Destral's prison. Though he knew that most of them could be quite dangerous if allowed to roam free, Angonce also knew that allowing Nynrah to destroy them would be a violation of everything the Great Beings had once stood for, and that he liked to think he still stood for. And so, hoping that any wrong done could be mitigated later, Angonce swiftly moved his lance and targeted not the remote, but one of the explosives it was connected to, and fired. The resulting explosion was enough to shake the fortress containing the imprisoned Destral, but not destroy it; more importantly, the surprise move threw Nynrah off balance long enough for Angonce to lunge forward and knock the remote from his hand.


Inside the fortress, the assembled group of Matoran Universe inhabitants were shaken by the unexpected tremor in the midst of their discussion over what to do about the imprisoned Great Being. Artakha lunged to grab Kapura and Hafu while Helryx, whose armor had returned to normal, quickly seized Vezon to prevent him from leaving. The half-Skakdi was not as quick-thinking as Tuyet, who surprised Axonn with a blast of water before diving through a nearby wall using her Kanohi Narmoto*, Mask of Intangibility. She was unpleasantly surprised to find a sheer drop waiting outside, but surprised again when Miserix-who had used his own mass-shifting power to pass through the structure-appeared and took her by the arms in his talons, sprouting a pair of wings as he flew off with the Toa of Water in his grip.


This surprising sight distracted Angonce long enough for Nynrah to take off into the surrounding jungle, his Matoran form quickly taking him into undergrowth that Angonce simply couldn't follow him through with his larger form. Realizing all three villains would have to be dealt with later, he turned his attention to the fortress, which had stabilized but still looked shaky. Sensing that the time for concealment had passed, he reluctantly entered the structure and made his way to Destral's chamber, which had been specially built to prevent the entry or exit of a Great Being using their inherent powers of transportation. After a few agonizing moments, he entered the room to find Artakha, Vezon, Destral, the two Matoran, and the three Order of Mata Nui members waiting for him.


Destral's eyes narrowed as he recognized the purple-armored form of his brother. "So, Angonce, the Great Beings have returned at last. Have you come to put down the lunatic you left here so long ago, or simply to rob me of my hopes of escape?"


"Neither, Destral, though your imprisonment was only for your own protection," Angonce replied. Looking over the beings he had helped to create, Angonce took a steadying breath before addressing them. "One of our brethren, a Great Being named Nynrah, has apparently been posing as a Matoran from inside your universe. He sought to destroy this fortress and all of you with it, and it was only quick action that prevented him from doing so. However, he has escaped me, and your two fellows have escaped as well-might I suggest we go after them?"


"Certainly, Angonce, but if you'll permit me," said Artakha, "there is something else that must be done."


Artakha turned his attention to the other former Matoran Universe inhabitants in the chamber and exerted a small fraction of his telepathic abilities before returning his gaze to their creator. "Now my fellows can speak in the language of this world, a change I daresay Miserix will work on himself and Tuyet once he recognizes the need for it. From what I can sense Mata Nui has worked a similar change over many of your creations, including those who were aboard the Red Star."


"Aboard the Red Star? What does he-"


Hafu was cut off as Brutaka put a hand on his shoulder. "There will be time for that later, brave Matoran-first we must attend to other matters. Not least of which is your brother, oh Great Being-are we to leave him here as he suggests you would wish?"


Looking into Destral's eyes and finding-surprisingly-greater sanity present than in Nynrah's, Angonce shook his head. "The Great Beings have returned or are returning to Spherus Magna, and our creations have come home as well-including the Mask of Life. Destral's imprisonment may have been necessary, but perhaps the Ignika has learned something of wisdom in its 100,000 years of absence from this world and will consent to lift his curse. However, to insure that the power flowing from him does not cause trouble, I believe some form of containment is in order."


Hardly daring to believe that he was being released, the yellow-armored Destral was silent as Helryx, Axonn, Brutaka, and Artakha moved to stand around him, though far enough away that they were unaffected by his powers. At Angonce's instruction, Brutaka used a new power granted by his fusion with the essence of the Makuta to create a stasis field around Destral, breaking his chains in the process. Axonn then fed his own healing energies into the field, in hopes that it would prevent the essence of life from seeping out. Helryx then formed an orb of water around the stasis bubble that Angonce froze using an energy beam from his lance; Artakha then lifted the entire affair onto his back, keeping a mental link with the Great Being so that he could alert his teammates of any failure in the makeshift container.


And so it was that two Matoran who had seen more in a year's time than many of their kind had seen in millennia were treated to the latest in a series of strange experiences: the procession from the now empty fortress of the Great Beings. Angonce and Helryx took point with Hafu and Kapura right behind them, while Axonn marched along with Vezon-his dimensional powers deactivated again by Angonce-slung over his shoulder and gagged. Artakha walked behind him with the burden of Destral, while Brutaka hovered along in the rear, his enhanced senses alert for any approach. An impressive array of power, but with at least one mad Great Being, a malevolent Toa, and the last Makuta now numbering among the countless unknown dangers of this new world, the sculptor and Guardsman who had once joined the Chronicler's Company wondered if it would be enough.



Location: Bara Magna region, east of Matoran-Agori camp.


Tarix was a veteran Glatorian, one who had survived the Core War, countless arena matches, and the battles with the Skrall and the armies of Makuta. He had fought countless battle, winning many and making sure his few losses were costly to his opponents. Just a short time ago his ancient, battered blades had been renewed, bringing with them the power to create and control water for battle and for other uses that he never would have imagined. With similarly empowered allies like Kiina and Gresh behind him, he would have been slow to run from just about anything.


Except, perhaps, the massive army of Skakdi, Vorox, Zesk, and other unfriendly inhabitants of Spherus Magna that they had been unfortunate enough to stumble into.


It had started out innocently enough-while the Shadowed One had taken his allies old and new north towards the Black Spike Mountains, the warlords known as the Barraki had set out for the east while the Matoran, Agori, and their defenders were busy establishing a temporary settlement. It would have been bad enough that every surviving member of the fallen League of Six Kingdoms was heading off with his old partners in tow, but they had also taken a number of prisoners with them, including the Skakdi warlord Nektann and his diminished but still sizeable forces. The idea of half or more of the surviving Skakdi being recruited-willingly or forcibly-into the ranks of a new army led by the Barraki had been enough for Tahu to send three trusted Glatorian out to track them down.


Wishing for the sixth time in as many minutes that he wasn't so good at his assigned task, Tarix blasted an ex-Dark Hunter with enough force that he did a double back flip before landing heavily on the ground. Kiina and Gresh then unleashed a water cyclone at a cluster of attackers who were trying to cut them off from in front, scattering the hapless villains with relative ease. Unfortunately, Vorox and Zesk exploded from the ground in the distance, and enough of them materialized that the three Glatorian quickly realized that they wouldn't be able to fight their way through before the others caught them. With no more room to advance, the three quickly moved back to back, elemental weapons and Thornax launchers held ready for what they assumed would be their last stand.


For a long minute their pursuers settled into a ring around them, with the Vorox and Zesk forming an entire wall while the remainder was made up of Skakdi and other villainous beings. Harsh laughter greeted the trio from all sides, but then stilled as the ring parted from the side the two parties had come to admit six formidable figures. Though they were as monstrous as the army they led, the six moved with a bearing that bespoke their superiority and strength. Even Tarix, who had faced many formidable enemies in his time, couldn't help but feel that fighting a Skopio with a stick would be preferable to taking on any one of these six.


To Tarix's left walked Nektann, fully recovered from his defeat at the hands of Tahu, in the company of Ehlek, whose claws glinted in the Spherus Magna sun. On the opposite side a powerful-looking Vorox carrying an energy weapon Tarix hadn't seen the likes of in millennia strode alongside the black-armored Mantax. In between these duos strode another pair: red-armored Kalmah and white-armored Pridak. The latter fixed his empty shark eyes on the three Glatorian before smiling his shark-toothed smile.


"So, the Toa have sent their new Glatorian friends to do their dirty work-a pity they sent so few. In times past I would have had you three executed for daring to spy on our operations...but I am feeling magnanimous today. You three may go, and spread the word: the League of the Six Kingdoms has been reformed, with new members. I'm sure you're familiar with Nektann, but our latest member is one I doubt you'd know given that he's as recent an arrival to this world as we are: Kabrua, leader of the Bota Magna Vorox. We found him after he crossed paths with one of your fellows and a handful of Toa, and he was all too happy to accept our invitation to take the spot of lost Carapar."


Kabrua raised a hand and made a fist, and the wall of Vorox and Zesk quickly moved apart to let the three Glatorian pass. The trio moved slowly and cautiously, never once letting their weapons dip as they moved through the snarling ring of enemies. They then kept their eyes on the hostile forces until they were well away from them, at which point they took off running. The Vorox leader watched them go before turning to regard his new partners.


"Are you certain we should have let them go?"


Pridak turned to regard the Vorox with the same smile still on his face. "Of course, brother Kabrua-victory will be so much sweeter when their hope melts in the face of our mighty army. An army that will only grow mightier when you have led us to more of these weapons your 'benefactor' was so generous as to inform you of."


To be continued...


*The Mask of Intangibility is named for the current Protector of Fire.


Note: In case anybody remembered, I originally said Xia had yellow armor-Destral was actually meant to have that. I imagine Xia and Zakaz as being Combiner figures made from three of the other main Great Beings in the story: Zakaz is made from Angonce, Destral, and Odina while Xia is made from Nynrah, Daxia, and Heremus.

Edited by Wiriamu
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Voicing your opinions with tact is the best way to keep a discussion from becoming an argument.
So far as I'm aware, it's pronounced like this: We're ee ah moo.

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G1 Battle for Spherus Magna - G2 A Lingering Shadow

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  • 1 month later...

Chapter 6

Location: Bara Magna region, Malum's Vorox den.

Lesovikk and Surel assessed their current situation with the tactical eyes of veteran warriors-and it wasn't good. Surrounded on all sides by Vorox, with the crazed warrior Malum eager to unleash his pack upon them...each had been in worse spots, but couldn't spend time contemplating them. Their only hope was to upset the situation in their favor, hard to do when there were easily as many Vorox as there were Iron Wolves. However, they did have at least one thing on their side that Malum-given his lack of familiarity with beings like Takadox and Lesovikk-probably wasn't aware of.

He was soon enlightened as Lesovikk thrust a fist in his direction that was accompanied by a cannon blast of air that knocked Malum back into the depths of his cave. The Vorox, just as surprised as their leader, took their eyes off the Iron Wolves-and soon wished that they hadn't. With howls of rage the Iron Wolves leaped upon their enemies, locking claws and teeth with stingers and blades. Their savagery was stunning, even to a hardened warrior like Lesovikk-who was even more surprised when the wolves upon which he and Surel rode suddenly turned and bounded from the Vorox den with all the speed they could muster.

The sounds of bestial battle had faded in the distance by the time the Iron Wolf alpha pair came to a stop. Lesovikk's surprises were to continue, as Surel slowly dismounted and laid a hand on the back of his carrier, the eyes of Ice Tribe warrior and Iron Wolf meeting for a long moment. Sensing that a parting was about to occur, Lesovikk dismounted as well, and then watched as the pair of Iron Wolves ran off in the direction of the mountains where he had met them and Surel. Surel watched them go until several minutes after they had vanished from sight, before turning his attention to his only remaining companion.

"It seems we must return to our peoples with no tyrant in tow, Lesovikk-only the tale of one's death preceding a brave sacrifice."

"What happened back there, Surel? Why did the wolves carry us away, and why are they heading back to the mountains?"

Surel didn't answer right away, but instead began stumping along towards the south, relying on his walking stick to support him. Finally, as Lesovikk began walking alongside him, he responded in a tone that spoke volumes about his sorrow over what he was relating. "My Iron Wolves remember the Sand Tribe warriors well-more of the pack fell before their strikes than before those of any other tribe. Thus, they were glad to throw themselves into battle against them, though the alphas would not commit you and I to their battle. Thus they carried us to safety and now make their way home...for they know that none of the others who ran with us shall be returning, though it will cost Malum and his Vorox."

Had Malum been able to hear Surel's words, he would have agreed with his old enemy right before he tried to strangle him. The former second Glatorian of Vulcanus had emerged from his cave to find his Vorox and the Iron Wolves locked in mortal combat, and even the feared desert dweller had felt no shame in retreating back into his lair and letting the carnage play out. When at last the noise of battle ceased, he emerged to find a mere handful of Vorox and wolves alive, though each was in sorry condition and would soon be among the dead. Realizing that the chances of finding another Vorox pack and securing leadership of it-particularly with strange new beings like that green warrior around-might be next to impossible, he wondered how long it would be before he would be joining them.

Suddenly, Malum noticed that it was getting hot-even for the desert of Bara Magna. A heat shimmer appeared mere feet from him, intensifying until it was replaced by a flickering flame. That flame soon reformed into a humanoid shape of similar dimensions to Malum-a shape that the Glatorian realized he had seen before, a long, long time ago. Vulcanus, Element Lord of Fire, looked upon the former commander of his armies, and the bright points of flame that formed his eyes narrowed in what passed for his smile.

"Well, well...I hadn't expected to see you again so soon, Malum. I thought that I would see you brought before me in chains when I claimed this planet as is my right-I should have expected that Raanu and the others would have cast you out. Once you were the most feared warrior in my army, for at least Ackar and Perditus treated captured enemies with respect and mercy-I now wish I had valued your brutality more. To see you like this, living among the Vorox in the wastelands...it's rather sad."

Fully aware that his old leader could burn him to ash, Malum chose to stand on his feet and show no fear. "You didn't exactly do me any favors getting yourself trapped at the end of the Core War. Raanu and the rest of those fools ended up in charge, making nice with the other tribes instead of crushing them and taking what we were rightfully owed. I played the good little warrior to millennia, until Strakk got just a little too impudent during a battle in the arena."

Chuckling-a noise that sounded like coals popping-Vulcanus extended a friendly hand to his old lieutenant, though fully aware Malum couldn't touch him without being badly burned. "Then it seems we both owe our old tribesmen and the warriors of Ice some payback, old friend. I have been seeking warriors for a new army-perhaps you would like to be the first? We can pay Raanu, Ackar, Strakk, and all the rest back for their treachery and weakness, before we lead Spherus Magna into a glorious new age...one in which the strong rule, and weaklings and fools provide sport."

Vulcanus wasn't sure what scared him more: the grin his words brought to Malum's face, or the fact that his new general reached out with a clawed hand to clasp his outstretched one.

Location: Matoran-Agori camp.

Tahu and Ackar rode into camp swiftly, earning a few angry looks as they narrowly avoided Matoran, Agori, and others going about various tasks. Not willing to stop to leave their mounts at the pens, they rode right for the large tent at the center of the camp where the leadership council of the settlement held their meetings. Fortunately, word of their coming had preceded them, and new friends Nuhrii and Kyry were waiting to take the reins of their mounts near the entrance to the tent. The pair of fire warriors entered the tent, only to find that the council was already meeting with two others: Onua and Vastus had the floor.

"It was massive-taller than Tuma and looking like it could have broken his sword in one hand! It had silver and yellow armor*, and though it carried no weapons I doubt a legion of Glatorian could have brought it down." These panicked words from Vastus were stunning to both Tahu and Ackar-neither had ever known the Jungle Warrior to be so shaken, though Tahu had only known him for a short time.

Onua nodded in terse agreement before adding his own comments. "It withstood both our attacks with ease, not to mention that of the Rahi Nui-and I think I would have faced that beast alone rather than stand unaided against this monster. It had a head like a Toa, but with empty sockets and no mask to cover its face-like a skull. Whatever this thing is, I fear the consequences if it comes here."

"Unfortunately, this menace you speak of may only find a ruin," Ackar said, breaking in. This drew the attention of both Onua and Vastus, along with the council members: the seven Turaga of Metru Nui; Trinuma, the highest-ranking member of the Order of Mata Nui who had been found since Makuta's demise; representatives from a handful of friendly species from both the Matoran Universe and Spherus Magna; and the Agori leaders Raanu, Tarduk, Kirbold, and Scodonius. All were silent as the veteran warrior of Fire continued, "there's an army heading this way from the north...an army of Baterra."

"Impossible!" Raanu cried, horror evident in his features. "Those beasts haven't been seen since the Core War-surely they cannot still live!"

"An ironic statement from someone who was already over 100,000 years old when that war broke out and has lived in all the time since," Tarduk remarked.

"Whatever the menace, we must not cause a panic," urged Dume. "We have new allies incoming from all around this world and from the Matoran Universe as stragglers emerge and our rescue parties continue to find isolated pockets of inhabitants who have been unable to escape on their own. Kopaka, Pohatu, Takanuva, Gali, the Hagah, the Mahri, and Tarix's party should be returning soon-surely between all our forces we can defeat these threats!"

Kirbold, who like Raanu had fought in the Core War and witnessed the Baterra first hand, and likewise seen the fear in Vastus' eyes and felt it kindle his own, looked at the aged Turaga with no hope evident in his expression. "I pray you are right, Dume-for all our sakes."



Location: Gatherer’s Ridge, Black Spike Mountains.


Voporak had followed the scent of his master for some time, his untiring grasp holding tight to the Vahi. His road had taken him from Metru Nui to Stelt** and the lair of Makuta Bingzak***, his creator, and from there to the surface of this strange new world. Now at last he was closing in on the Shadowed One's location, eager to deliver the prize he had been remade to seek. As he neared the new stronghold of the Dark Hunters, however, he saw that a great body of unfamiliar beings stood between him and his destination.


The crowd was made up of many black-armored beings on foot or astride red-colored, bipedal mounts. The beings themselves were of varying sizes, from armored warriors the size of Toa wielding clubs or swords to figures more similar in stature to Matoran. A sizeable number were clad in robes as well as armor, and appeared slimmer than their counterparts; however, the way they carried themselves told Voporak that they would be no less dangerous. At the head of their number stood a massive being, as large as Voporak himself, with a body composed entirely out of black rock and one of the smaller beings standing beside him wielding glowing blades.


Facing this horde of beings was a group that was even larger and more varied, though Voporak noted that many of the club and sword-wielding warriors and their smaller companions were also present among this group. Intermingled with this second group were other unfamiliar creatures, but also a great many that Voporak recognized. Vortixx, Steltians, members of several other species, and hundreds of Dark Hunters stood with weapons ready in the face of the interlopers. And at the head of this second assembly stood several individuals, but foremost among them was the Shadowed One himself.


"I must admit I admire your boldness-Lord Roxtus, was it? You certainly have an impressive array of Stone Tribe warriors at your command, including the infamous Sisters of the Skrall I have been warned so vehemently of by Stronius. I understand that they are telepaths-do they simply respect you so much that they don't employ their powers against you, or is your skull of stone impervious to such things?"


Stone eyes narrowing, Roxtus addressed the leader of the Dark Hunters with a tone that sounded like sharp stones grinding against each other. "Even were such powers effective against me, the Bota Magna Sisters never possessed them, and the Bara Magna Sisters have lost them. Fortunately the animosity between the Bota Magna Skrall and Sisters never reached the level of the Bara Magna groups, and the Bota Magna Sisters have welcomed their kin into their midst with open arms. I seek to reunite the Skrall and bring this world to heel-perhaps there will be a place in it for you if you assist me in doing so."


"Listen carefully, you overblown excuse for a lava rock-I assist no one. I am quite confident my forces could crush your Skrall even if Stronius and his ilk decided to rejoin you; however, that would be a waste of time and valuable lives. There are enough enemies on Spherus Magna for a united force such as ours could be to crush; if you feel that your world isn't big enough to share when we are done, we can settle the matter then. It is up to you: shall we try to destroy each other now, or save the contest for when the victor shall reap the greatest benefit?"


Roxtus was silent for a moment; then his rocky mouth turned upwards in a cold smile. "You have cunning worthy of a Skrall, Shadowed One. My forces shall join with yours, and our army shall crush the other Element Lords and their pawns. Once that is done...we shall resume this discussion."


With that, the two sides lowered their weapons, and Roxtus' Skrall moved to mingle with the forces at Gatherer's Ridge. Many of the Bara Magna Skrall appeared quite pleased to be reunited with their Bota Magna counterparts, even among the Bota Magna Sisters of the Skrall. So caught up were they in this unexpected reunion that they didn't notice as Voporak made his way towards where the Shadowed One stood watching the Element Lord of Rock depart among the uneasy looking Skrall commanders. Having noticed his minion's approach, the Shadowed One didn't address him until the Rock Lord was a good distance away.


"Voporak, my faithful servant-I had feared you might have been lost with the fall of the accursed Makuta. It is good to see that you remain as formidable as ever. I trust you have my mask?"


In answer, Voporak held out the Vahi to the Shadowed One, who to his surprise merely looked if over without taking it from him. However, a cruel smile lit the would-be tyrant's face, and he looked out across the newly expanded army of villains from both Spherus Magna and the Matoran Universe with anticipation. Gesturing for Voporak to follow him, he began making his way into the caverns where his quarters and the weapons forges were maintained. Once they were alone, the Shadowed One began to laugh.


"That fool Roxtus doesn't know it, but the outcome of our eventual confrontation is already determined. With the Kanohi Vahi at my disposal-and you to wear it for me, as the Great Beings did not see fit to grant my kind the power to wield their energies-he shall be aged to dust. But by that time we shall have conquered Spherus Magna, and neither those insufferable Toa or their Glatorian allies shall be able to stop us. The time of the Dark Hunters is over...the time of the Shadow Horde**** has begun!"


To be continued...


*I envision Marendar as being a combo model of "Toa Mata Nui" and the Kaxium V3.

**A reference to Alvis' "An Even Exchange."

***I decided to assign the name of the Jungle Okotan from Island of Lost Masks to the nameless Makuta of Stelt.

****Greg indicated that the Shadowed One would rename his organization given their change from a mercenary group into a conquering army, and I decided to employ the name used for the group of Elemental Beasts under Umarak the Destroyer. Originally I was going to call them Shadow Spawn after Umarak's beast clones, but decided Shadow Horde was a better name.

Edited by Wiriamu
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  • 1 month later...

Chapter 7

Location: Aqua Magna coast.

It was hard to say which party was more surprised by what happened next, the two teams of Toa and their Rahi ally or Irnakk and his Skakdi horde. A chilling howl split the air-more chilling to the Mahri than to others present, for they had heard it before. The source soon appeared as an army of Zyglak came charging from the direction opposite that from which the Mahri and their Skakdi pursuers had come and crashed into the Skakdi. The first wave was soon joined by another, and the Hagah were stunned to recognize an Ice Tribe Glatorian in their midst along with a massive Skrall that they recognized from what they had been told of Spherus Magna's history as Tuma.

Tuma noticed the multicolored heroes as well, but his Zyglak allies were too busy to notice the Toa. Their sights were set on the Skakdi, whom they were eager to wreak vengeance upon for the destruction of those Zyglak who had united under Spiriah to attack Zakaz. In truth, the fleet had been decimated by members of Ehlek's people acting on instructions from the Order of Mata Nui, but the Zyglak had no way of knowing this. All they knew was where their fallen brethren had been going, and they were eager to deal out their own version of justice to the grinning hordes.

Irnakk, stunned by this turn of events, was caught off guard as the Toa took advantage of the distraction. Hahli and Gaaki pooled their powers together, creating a wave that swallowed the golden creature and dragged him out to sea. The two Toa of Water kept up their efforts until Irnakk was out of sight, an exertion that left them quite weak. As such, Jaller supported Hahli as the Mahri turned their attention to scaling the cliff to join the Hagah, with Kualus taking charge of Gaaki while his teammates endeavored to help the Mahri up the steep surface.

Not eager to see such powerful potential enemies escape, Tuma began advancing towards them-only to be bulled into the cliff some distance away by Keetongu. With Irnakk's concentration broken, Keetongu's bonds-conjured through Avak's powers-had dissolved, leaving the mighty Rahi free. Using his unique sight, Keetongu had looked upon the disgraced Skrall leader and seen evil-though not power-rivaling that of the fallen Makuta. Unable to tolerate such wickedness, or to stand by while he menaced the weakened heroes, Keetongu had charged the black and green titan.

His red eyes narrowing as he faced Keetongu, the villain raised his black sword in challenge. "So, another gold-armored interloper seeks to interfere with the mighty Tuma! I may have lost to that runt in the fancy mask, but I will not lose again!"

With that, Tuma charged Keetongu, and the Rahi was forced back by his impressive strength. However, Keetongu had power to spare, and struck with his pickaxe tool at the Skrall leader. Tuma was forced to block the strike with his sword, but Keetongu's power caused him to stagger backwards. Roaring, he lifted the Thornax launcher in his other hand and fired it at Keetongu, and this time it was the noble beast's turn to be surprised by the strength of the attack.

Sneering, Tuma fired off another Thornaxx, but this time Keetongu was ready with his whirling shields. Their spinning absorbed the force of the blast, which ran through Keetongu's armor and into his Rhotuka launcher. His chestplate soon opened and launched a spinner at Tuma, which exploded with the force of the Thornaxx. The attack knocked Tuma off his feet and destroyed his launcher, and the stunned Skrall was barely able to get his sword up in time to catch the next strike of Keetongu's pickaxe.

Recovering, Tuma leaped upon his attacker, slashing at Keetongu's golden armor with his black blade. A deep scratch was left in Keetongu's chestplate, but Tuma was then driven back as Keetongu swung his whirling shields at Tuma. Cursing in the Skrall tongue, Tuma found himself longing for his Saw Blade Shield, but contented himself with another slash at Keetongu. The strike flew surprisingly true, knocking Keetongu's pickaxe from his grip.

Tuma had not long to enjoy his unexpected success, for Keetongu's free hand closed into a fist that soon swung towards him. Winded by the blow-the strongest he had ever felt-Tuma was lifted off his feet and knocked flying into the nearby cliff face. The power of the strike, combined with the impact of Tuma's back against the cliff on the very weak spot Mata Nui had discovered during their battle, proved too much for the warlord's tolerance. With a final groan, Tuma toppled forward, his red eyes already dark as he hit the shallow water and lay there unmoving.

His task done, Keetongu moved to the cliff face which the Mahri had successfully scaled and climbed it with little effort to join his allies. Only Strakk watched him go, as the Skakdi and Zyglak were still fighting viciously with no care for anything else. However, before the Ice Tribe exile could contemplate the situation long, another wave came billowing towards shore, but instead of crashing rose higher and higher above the battling hordes. The sight was enough to halt the clashing monsters, and they were even more stunned as Irnakk emerged from the wave completely unharmed by his underwater adventure.

Stunning as that was, it paled in comparison to the wave suddenly changing shape, taking on a roughly humanoid form. At the top of it's body was formed a massive bubble filled with more water, in which a shadowy face with gleaming yellow eyes became visible. Strakk gaped, recognizing the form of the Element Lord of Water, which he had not seen in over 100,000 years. The towering elemental looked down upon the awestruck armies in silence for a moment, before speaking with a voice that boomed like the crash of a wave.

"Greetings, newcomers to my world-I am Tajun, Lord of Water, and the rightful ruler of this planet. The power of the ones you call 'Toa' drew me to this place, and I discovered the leader of you Skakdi out at sea. We have spoken and he has acquainted me with your two races and the conflict between you, which I wish to dissuade you of. You both have common enemies far more worthy of your hatred, and your enemies have allied with mine. We can achieve vengeance together...or you can join that dead Skrall in a watery grave."

Strakk weighed the Element Lord's words carefully and soon came to a conclusion: if he tried to lead the Zyglak himself and refuse Tajun's offer, he would perish. If he sided with the former leader of the Water Tribe and the Zyglak refused to, he would at least have a chance of surviving with Tajun and the Skakdi to protect him. As such, he stepped forward and knelt before the towering figure of Tajun, holding out his ice axe in a gesture of submission. "I, Strakk, once of the Ice Tribe, pledge myself to the Element Lord of Water! If the Zyglak would see their own dreams of vengeance fulfilled, I advise them to do likewise!"

For a long moment the Zyglak and Skakdi remained silent, leaving Strakk wondering if battle would soon resume. However, the Zyglak eventually bowed and held out their weapons in imitation of Strakk's gesture, signifying their own allegiance to the Element Lord of Water. The Skakdi, who lacked such protocols, contented themselves with shouting in exultation, firing weapons and elemental and vision powers into the sky. Keetongu and the two Toa teams, still near enough to witness the display and hear what had transpired, began moving again at double speed for the Matoran-Agori camp.

Location: Bota Magna wilds.

Mazeka, the only Matoran ever inducted as a full member of the Order of Mata Nui, shook his head at the sight of his unlikely ally sitting in the midst of a growing crowd of biomechanical reptiles. Teridax-an alternate version of the identically named Makuta who had briefly ruled Mazeka's universe before being defeated by Mata Nui-seemed as happy as the Ko-Matoran had ever seen him, speaking in gentle tones to the beasts. Almost as stunning, the creatures seemed to understand him readily, and even natural predators and prey seemed at ease in the noble Makuta's presence.

"Do you always go looking for new pets after you kill corrupted Toa, or is this a special occasion?"

Teridax frowned at his ally, laying a hand upon the head of a docile Bota Magna creature whose eyes doubled as scopes for a pair of cannons fused to its back. "You speak so callously of our recent conflict, Mazeka. I took no pleasure from slaying Toa corrupted by my foul counterpart-they were not in their own minds, and under other circumstances would undoubtedly have stood with us against our fallen foe. As for my affiliation with these creatures, my kind were created to give life and care to their brothers in my home universe, though it saddens me to see these twisted into instruments of war."

"All of which means exactly nothing in terms of hooking up with my friends-or even other Matoran, for that matter," muttered the impatient Order operative. He and Teridax had emerged from the inactive Great Spirit robot some time ago and moved into the Bota Magna region, but so far they had not had any success in locating other inhabitants of the Matoran Universe. Given all that had apparently transpired since he and Vultraz had departed their home reality, he was eager to hook back up with the Order of Mata Nui and get up to speed. So far all he had learned was that his Makuta ally was more annoying that he had previously believed, and that he hated this miserable jungle.

Suddenly, Teridax's "pets" tensed and began making various noises of distress, prompting the white-armored Makuta to rise to his feet and produce the warhammer that was his primary weapon in combat. Mazeka drew a dagger and moved as close as he dared to his towering associate. Though he couldn't see what had disturbed the creatures, he knew that anything capable of unsettling such creatures-some of them 40 feet tall or larger and equipped with enough ammunition to have leveled the fortress on Destral-was worth worrying about. Sure enough, the skies above them were suddenly lit with a blast of fire, and its source came into view with terrifying swiftness.

Mazeka groaned as he recognized the long serpentine form covered in scales resembling Masks of Power from the work Rahi Beasts previously contained in the Daxia library: the Kanohi Dragon, twice over the scourge of Metru Nui and the longtime unwilling resident of Xia. He recalled hearing reports of the beast's release after Botar had rather sadistically teleported a Tahtorak to that industrialized nightmare of a city, but would have expected it to be recaptured. Clearly it had not, and had made it's own escape from the Matoran Universe to make it's way to this jungle. Now it seemed that their new world would feel its wrath, and the devastation would undoubtedly be great as it's natives retaliated with their own devastating power.

With swiftness belying its massive size, the Kanohi Dragon landed a short distance away from the cluster of reptiles around Teridax and Mazeka, a low growl emerging from it's throat. Mazeka tensed, fearing the seemingly inevitable firestorm to come-and was surprised when Teridax began moving slowly towards the great reptile. Bota Magna's native giants growled and hissed as their newfound friend made his way towards the strange newcomer, but did not make any movements as Teridax came to a stop mere feet from the creature. Teridax looked the Kanohi Dragon right in the eyes for a long moment before willing his warhammer to disappear back into his substance and reaching out to lay a hand on the beast's snout.

"You have been through much, mighty beast, and your heart is angered-yet you are not malicious, merely a predator who has been unfortunate in your hunting grounds. This world might be just the place for a creature like you, where there is space for you to hunt and to be left in peace by those who would otherwise feel threatened by you. However, you must be safeguarded from those who would seek to exploit your power for their own purposes."

"Strange words from one who would seem like just such an opportunist," came a voice from nearby. Startled, Mazeka whirled while Teridax turned himself slowly to regard another newcomer, one who looked like many of the other reptilian residents of Bota Magna. However, this illusion was shattered as the reptilian form twisted and changed, resolving into the form of a Toa of Water wearing a Mask of Translation. For the second time, the Ko-Matoran groaned as he recognized another Rahi spoken of in the Rahaga's encyclopedia.

"I thought you were trapped in the Zone of Darkness over a thousand years ago, Krahka. Did you bring the Kraawa with you, or is there some other rare and dangerous Rahi waiting to emerge from those trees?"

Raising an eyebrow at Mazeka's knowledge of her identity, Krahka spoke again. "You are a curious one, Matoran-I would know how you came by your knowledge. For now, though, I think that you and your curious companion would be more useful outside of this strange jungle. Your fellow Matoran and many of the other denizens of our universe are imperiled, and while I have no great love for them, I would rather take my chances with the foes I know than with unfamiliar enemies."

"And if we are not of a mind to accompany you?" This question came from Teridax, whose tone raised the hackles of the Kanohi Dragon and the Bota Magna natives. Krahka looked around at them for a moment, and then her form began to change yet again. When it was done, the form of Toa Nokama had been replaced with a monstrous behemoth, it's body composed of elements from each of the six Toa Metru.

"You'll find I can be...argumentative."

Location: Great Beings’ fortress.


The fortress of the Great Beings had changed from a scene of reunion to a scene of panic in a rapid amount of time as word of Nynrah's actions in their absence was shared by the council of Heremus, Odina, Xia, Zakaz, and Daxia. The unfortunate Velika stood alongside them in Nynrah's pink-armored body, nervous at all the piercing stares that the other Great Beings were directing his way; it felt uncomfortably like being on a dissection table. Even Papa Nihu had followed the three Great Beings who had come to visit her out of her cavern, and her creators could tell that the discomfiture her revelations had caused was pleasing her more than a little. However, Heremus was determined not to let the organic being have the last laugh, and spoke to his people with authority.


"My brothers and sisters, hear me! It is true that the revelations of Papa Nihu and the being who now wears our brother Nynrah's form are troubling, but we must not give in to panic! We have always been beings of calm and rational thought, acting as we thought best-and look at what has come of it! Our shattered planet has been restored and imbued with greater life than it ever possessed-shall we allow one malcontent and his activities to drive us off it once again?"


A chorus of "No!" rang up from the crowd, much to Heremus' pleasure. However, his improving mood was spoiled as Papa Nihu "spoke," with her voice filling the minds of all present. "A noble sentiment, Heremus-until you consider that those blessings have come to this world more in spite of you than because of you! As usual, you pride yourselves on the positive consequences of your actions, forgetting all the while that such things have been entirely beyond your control! And of course, you seek to downplay the negatives, even though time and again they have brought about greater disaster than any you have managed to avert!"


If there was anything worse than having to admit-at least to himself-that Papa Nihu was right, it was that Odina soon spoke up in support. "Papa Nihu speaks the truth, Heremus! You have ever been one to speak of grand ambitions and success, when most often our 'victories' have come by pure chance! What might have happened, do you think, had Mata Nui not discovered our prototype robot, or had he not been able to make it function? The one sentiment you have expressed that I agree with is that we must not panic, but neither must we act as though there is no cause for concern!"


"Dear sister, how you love to undercut others," remarked Daxia. "Do you honestly believe that one Great Being-even one as brilliant as Nynrah-in the body of a Matoran can possibly pose a threat to us? Even if he can assemble some force-whether of the rabble of Spherus Magna or the inhabitants of the Mata Nui robot-we know all their weaknesses and have the means to exploit them. There is nothing to fear, I say-nothing at all!"


Daxia's words evoked a response that no one could have predicted: a single, cold voice laughing hysterically. Though it was coming from an artificial throat, the voice was disturbingly familiar; everyone present had heard it before, though not for a very long time. As one, the Great Beings turned to regard the being who had entered their fortress unnoticed, without setting off any of its defenses. His form was that of a small, twisted Po-Matoran with two Power Carvers held ready in his hands-but the light in his yellow eyes made it clear that something else lurked inside that mind.


"Oh, you have great reason to fear indeed, my dear Daxia-unless you side with me. For, my friends, I am not your enemy-not at all. I am the one who will lead us into a glorious new age of peace and prosperity, in which our creations and the inhabitants of this world-our subjects by right and virtue of our great intelligence and power-shall serve us as they were always meant to. Even now, my plans unfold to insure that the most dangerous are eliminated, while the remainder are left in no condition to oppose us. Join me...and we shall take back what is ours."


For a long moment, silence reigned in the chamber, as the Great Beings struggled to process what their deranged brother had said. Then Zakaz stepped away from the other council members, perhaps purposefully taking a position nearer to Velika and Papa Nihu. "Nynrah, you were my brother once-the work we did together brought joy to my life when it was for the benefit of others. But clearly the past 100,000 years and whatever you have endured in that Matoran form have changed you into a would be tyrant, every bit as depraved as the Element Lords. I will not side with you, and I will stand with all others who are willing to defy you!"


Without pause, Odina walked over to stand with Zakaz; however, the trio of Heremus, Daxia, and Xia stayed where they were. The crowd of Great Beings looked up at the clear division between those they had always looked to for leadership, clearly uncertain how to react to the situation. Nynrah's eyes narrowed, and with a wave of his hand he opened a window in the wall of the chamber. Curious, all the Great Beings and the two outsiders in their midst turned their attention to the aperture-and an audible gasp was heard.


For outside, surrounding the fortress, were thousands of Matoran of every color, equal to the largest number that had ever existed within the Matoran Universe. Among them were hundreds of Toa and similar numbers of Turaga, all of them looking up at the fortress in expectation. It would have been an awe-inspiring sight to anyone, and more so to those who had inhabited the Great Spirit robot. For though divided into every tribe found in that robot, these Matoran, Toa, and Turaga were reversed: all the Ga-, Vo-, and Ce-Matoran and their accompanying Toa and Turaga were male, while the other tribes-minus the mixed Av-Matoran-were all female.


The expressions and feelings of those within the fortress were varied: Velika's eyes filled with tears at the sight of true members of his own kind for the first time in over 100,000 years, while Papa Nihu's expression became almost tender as she looked at the beings who would have inhabited the universe she would have helped bring to life. For the Great Beings looking upon the massive crowd below, feelings ranged from pride to astonishment to dread. But for Nynrah, the only feeling that seemed to exist was a sense of triumph-irrefutable triumph.


"Perhaps you wish to reconsider your choice, Zakaz? After all, it was I who awakened the legions who now surround this fortress, and it is I that they wait for. If you side with me, they can be the army that helps us to bring the rest of this untamed world of ours into line. If you remain...disagreeable...then yours can be the first body that they march over as I lead them to victory."


To be continued...

Edited by Wiriamu
  • Upvote 2

Voicing your opinions with tact is the best way to keep a discussion from becoming an argument.
So far as I'm aware, it's pronounced like this: We're ee ah moo.

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G1 Battle for Spherus Magna - G2 A Lingering Shadow

Short Stories

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Mask Hoarder, Desert Scourge

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  • 2 weeks later...

Chapter 8

Location: Bota Magna region.

Gelu and the four Toa were nearly to the fortress when they met another party heading away from it: the Order of Mata Nui members, Great Beings, Matoran, Artakha, and Vezon. Kapura and Hafu ran to Lewa, relieved to see the Toa of Air even in such strange company. Gelu was less than thrilled to see Angonce and Destral, even with the latter contained in an ice-covered stasis field. "So, the Great Destroyers are still alive-worse luck for everybody."

Most other Great Beings would undoubtedly have bristled at Gelu's slur, but Angonce could only hang his head at the words of the Ice Glatorian. "More than you know, Glatorian of Ice. Perhaps if the Agori had called us by that name, we would have stopped our mad path long ago. However, we have no time to waste-one of my brethren does have his sights set on destruction, and all of Spherus Magna will suffer if he is not stopped."

"Typical-Mata Nui asks us to seek out the Great Beings and let them know that all is well, and we find them only to learn that we're about as far from well as we can be," Orde muttered.

"You have seen Mata Nui? He still lives? You must tell me everything-immediately!" Helryx's tone, a mixture of urgency and her old voice of command, didn't sit well with Chiara, particularly directed at Orde, whom she had gotten to know in their brief time together.

"If you want information you can start by asking politely, Puddle-maker! Leader of the Order of Mata Nui-or what's left of it-or not, you don't have any more say here than any of us." Helryx bristled, and the two female Toa would undoubtedly have come to blows had Zaria not stepped between them. Chiara would still have been glad to give the arrogant Toa of Water a taste of her Lightning, but she'd been on the receiving end of Zaria's Iron powers before and wasn't eager to repeat the experience.

Hoping to alleviate the tense situation, Artakha cleared his throat and adjusted his hold on the icy orb containing Destral. "Might I suggest that we compare accounts and determine what course to take from there? We would not be well served fighting amongst ourselves while the other inhabitants of this world are in danger, which we know they are from our own experiences."

Artakha's suggestion was grudgingly agreed to be a wise one, and the two groups soon had the full story shared out. It wasn't long before they were all sitting in silence, mulling over the unpleasant revelations they had all come across. Finally Zaria, who had been silent during the confrontation between the two groups, spoke up.

"It would seem that the best course is to split up again. Gelu, Chiara, Orde and I will continue our search for the rest of the Great Beings, to see if we can enlist their aid against this Nynrah. Lewa, I think it best if you take your...friends...back to the Matoran-Agori camp. That way Helryx and her comrades can link up with the rest of the surviving Order members, the Matoran can be reunited with their comrades, and Artakha and the Great Beings can converse with the Turaga and Agori leaders."

"Your plan is a good one, Zaria, but I must insist upon one change," Angonce replied. "I will join your party and lead you to the other Great Beings-I know where they can be found and can get you past any defenses they may have set. I do think that Destral should be taken to the camp, however; that is where the Ignika is, and it is the only thing which can free him from his curse. I only hope there is still time to stop Nynrah's machinations, before this planet and all its inhabitants pay the price."

And so the two parties split up, with Lewa taking the lead as they followed the directions of Gelu's party to make their way towards the Matoran-Agori camp. It was slow going, as Artakha was unable to teleport the group due to not being familiar with their destination; furthermore, the group was concerned about Destral being left behind if they teleported while he was in the stasis field. On top of that, Axonn was still suffering from his experiences in the Southern Islands of the Matoran Universe and had not fully recovered; Brutaka had also endured a veritable gauntlet but his contact with the Makuta pool had increased his power and resistance to damage along with his recovery abilities. Still, their progress was somewhat aided by Lewa's Kanohi Nuva masks, which allowed him to share the powers of speed and levitation with his teammates in turns.

Soon they were in the region known as Bara Magna, but came to a sudden halt as they spotted a large gathering of strange-looking figures. Curious, Lewa activated his Akaku Nuva, allowing his companions to share his enhanced vision as they peered at the group. The vast majority were silver-armored figures with glowing blue components and sharp claws; though no one in the company but Destral was able to recognize the Baterra, they could see that the mechanoids were designed for combat. Stranger than them, however, were the two figures who didn't match their appearance: a small, white-armored, Matoran-sized figure that Lewa recognized as an Agori; and a roughly Toa-sized figure whose body appeared to be made entirely of Ice.

As the group watched, the icy being addressed the crowd of mechanoids while the Agori rubbed his hands together, apparently quite pleased with proceeding. Unfortunately, the mask didn't allow them to hear what the strange creature was saying; the results were quite apparent, however, as the frozen being turned and and began leading them in a march with his smaller companion running to keep up. A loud pounding filled the air as the machines followed in their path, with their course taking them south. With a groan, Lewa realized that they were heading for the Matoran-Agori camp.

Unexpectedly, Brutaka spoke up-still speaking as though his words were those of a group rather than an individual-as the group all came to the same conclusion. "Destral has communicated with us via telepathy-Axonn's energies have allowed him to remain conscious despite the stasis field. He says that those machines were created by the Great Beings to end a war on this planet only to run out of control-they attack and destroy anyone who carries what they consider to be a weapon. The Agori was unfamiliar to him, but he recognized the leader as the Element Lord of Ice, one of the former rulers of this planet. Apparently the machines weren't programmed to recognize Elemental power as a weapon, and thus they will respond to his orders-particularly if he's telling them where to find armed combatants for them to destroy."


"And between the Toa, Order Members, and other beings amassed at the camp, there will be plenty of 'armed combatants' the way they're heading," Axonn muttered darkly.

"Then enough think-talking; time for quick-running!" Lewa's words soon produced action, and the group arranged themselves in the best formation possible. Lewa took charge of Kapura while Helryx lifted Hafu, while Brutaka took Vezon from Axonn to make the coming rush easier on his friend. With that, the companions allowed Lewa to fill them with the power of his Kakama Nuva before shooting off across the wilds of Bara Magna. They quickly outstripped the Baterra, the Agori Metus, and the Element Lord of Ice, but all knew that they would only beat the marching army by hours at best.

Location: Bara Magna region, camp of the League of the Six Kingdoms.

Nektann the Skakdi warlord looked upon the growing hordes of the League of the Six Kingdoms and smiled the toothy smile of his kind, pleased by what he saw. The villainous hordes the Barraki had assembled while still in the Matoran Universe had been joined by other monstrous forces from across Spherus Magna, those who wanted no part of the Shadowed One and his new Shadow Horde. Among them were many of Ehlek's old minions from his own race, who had been granted the ability to breathe both air and water by Mata Nui, and more Skakdi who were rallying to Nektann's banner now that his alliance with Makuta was no longer in force. But by far the most pleasing addition were the many savage Bara Magna Vorox and Zesk that their Bota Magna brethren had been gathering from the wastes and marshaling them into a monstrous legion.

Kabrua, too, seemed pleased with the progress made by his forces, with his brethren having secured the loyalty of their savage cousins by defeating the assorted pack leaders in contests of dominance. As he inspected his energy cannon, he regarded his Skakdi ally with his own savage grin. "Quite the sight, is it not Nektann? Soon we shall be ready to march upon the fools who have dared to oppress us, and shall conquer this planet with the aid of the great Nynrah!"

"Hopefully your friend the Great Being proves as useful as you claim, Kabrua," Nektann replied, honing his Crescent Scythe on a nearby rock. "Your weaponry is certainly impressive, but I note that he hasn't put in an appearance since before you joined our forces."

Before Kabrua could reply, a loud sound drew both their eyes to the horizon, and their mouths dropped open in shock. A massive cyclone of sand was making its way towards the camp, driving before it what had to be every Vorox and Zesk that hadn't yet been gathered by Kabrua's forces. The four Barraki and other members of the horde spotted the approaching storm as well and braced themselves for it, though the Barraki had never encountered such a phenomenon. It was thus all the more shocking when the gigantic funnel began to shrink and decrease in power, allowing Kabrua and Nektann to travel safely to join up with their colleagues.

Slowly the cyclone continued moving forward until it was only a short distance from the Barraki, who gripped their weapons despite knowing that their blades could do little against the apparently windswept mass. However, they then watched in shock as the flying sand resolved into a humanoid shape, equal in stature to the six leaders. Almost featureless, its head was decorated with several spikes, framing the gleaming orange eyes that matched the stares of the Barraki. However, before the figure could speak, Kabrua moved forward and stunned his compatriots by kneeling before it.

"Lady Atero-by the sands, I never thought to see you again! When we lost track of you before the planet broke, we thought you had been lost forever! I do not know if you remember me-I am Kabrua, once one of your highest-ranking captains. How is it that you have come to be here?"

Surprised but pleased, Atero addressed her loyal servant. "I am pleased that the millennia have not made you forget your loyalties, Kabrua. I was trapped within the Valley of the Maze with my accursed rivals, the other six Element Lords, for many thousands of years until we were able to break free. Now we have agreed to finish our ancient feud by assembling armies to battle once more-I just didn't expect that my tribe would be reunited under my banner."

"Our people have suffered greatly, Lady Atero," Kabrua responded. "Many of our brethren from Bara Magna have been driven savage by the harsh conditions and treatment they have endured at the hands of the other tribes. But those of us who were on Bota Magna retain our wits and have been gathering them for the battle, and we have joined with others who have been maltreated by their enemies. On top of all that, I have been in contact with Nynrah, one of the Great Beings, who seeks to bring our reunited world to order.

"As the rightful Lady of the Sand Tribe, I offer you my place in the League of the Six Kingdoms alongside these mighty allies. I will gladly serve as your captain once again, and follow you into battle against our hated enemies. With your power and wisdom at our side, we cannot fail!"

Obviously pleased by Kabrua's praise, Atero turned to regard her new "peers," who slowly nodded their agreement to Kabrua's proposal. She then gestured for Kabrua to rise before speaking again. "So be it-the League of Six Kingdoms shall march now against the rabble assembled by the other Element Lords and all others who dare to oppose us. As for this Nynrah...I will give him the chance to prove his usefulness. But if he fails, he shall meet the same fate as all others who have no place in my-forgive me, our-world."

As the Sand Tribe warriors roared their approval, Nektann and the four Barraki shared uncertain looks. They weren't so sure of the sincerity behind Atero's correction in her last statement, and wondered just how long her world would have a place for them once they had helped her to crush her enemies.



Location: Bara Magna region, Iron Tribe ruins.


Toa Tuyet could hardly believe the sight that greeted her as she looked down from the entrance to the mine that she, Miserix, and their new allies had claimed as their temporary base. Around the small mountain that housed the complex, stretching out as far as the eye could see in all directions, was a mass of Rahkshi and Visorak of every imaginable color. The former had apparently answered a summons from Miserix himself, small bits of shadow drawn to a far greater concentration, while the latter had been drawn by a glowing crystal that sat in the ground at the mountain's base. Miserix had called it "the Heart of the Visorak," after he had created it using knowledge obtained from Spiriah and Bingzak, the two Makuta he had consumed before the fall of the Matoran Universe.


It was still strange to Tuyet to find herself in such company, but Miserix had argued convincingly after the pair had traveled a safe distance away from the fortress where they had left Helryx and the others. Now that Makuta Teridax was dead and Mata Nui unaccounted for, Miserix sought to return to his old purpose of bringing order to the creations of the Grat Beings, particularly those who had come from the Matoran Universe. As such, he and Tuyet had common cause, and-unwelcome as they were among the former natives of their old universe-were well-served to stand together. And so they had set out to gather an army, one that would aid them in bringing the surviving inhabitants of their former home and their new world into line.


Feeling restless, Tuyet drew her barbed broadsword and swung it experimentally, enjoying the familiar feel of the weapon. Long ago taken from her by the Order of Mata Nui, it had apparently survived the destruction of their fortress on Daxia and been picked up by a Rahkshi. That particular specimen had kept it as a kind of bizarre trophy-right up to the moment that Tuyet took it back. The display had not only served her in reclaiming her old weapon, but also in sending a clear message to the other Rahkshi that they would do well to heed her commands.


Of course, their assemblage of the Rahkshi and Visorak wouldn't have gone as well as it had were it not for their unexpected new allies: the Iron Tribe Agori Sahmad and the Element Lord of Jungle. They had found Sahmad and several of his tribesmen from Bara Magna and Bota Magna on their way to their old home, and quickly determined that the Iron Tribe had little to offer in way of resistance. However, their experience with the planet, it's inhabitants, and metallurgy had quickly demonstrated their usefulness to Miserix, who had used his telepathic abilities to enable Tuyet and himself to speak Agori. Now the tribe were at work on Miserix's armor and weapons for the horde, some-such as Sahmad-willingly embracing the opportunity to seek revenge and rule over their former neighbors. Other Iron Tribe members had proven less willing, but against the power of a Makuta and a Toa they had little choice but to comply.


The Element Lord of Jungle had come later, as the Rahkshi and Visorak had started to gather in significant numbers, answering the call of their new masters. Having seen in Tuyet and Miserix beings with power he would do well to take seriously, Tesara had wisely suggested that they join in alliance as well, with he and Tuyet to oversee the sapient races from their respective domains while Miserix ruled over the Rahi and creatures of Spherus Magna. The Element Lord had departed some time ago, promising that he would bring additional forces to join their horde, but had yet to return. However, constructs of his will-trees or other plants twisted into humanoid form-had marched in time and again at the heads of groups of Rahkshi, Visorak, Iron Tribesmen and other Agori and Glatorian before reverting to their former states.


Tuyet's reminisces were halted as Sahmad approached, greeting her with a nod. The Iron Agori wore his sword and Thornax Launcher on his back, while his whip was coiled and hanging from his belt. Despite his diminutive stature and lack of Elemental or mask powers, Tuyet had a healthy respect for him; she could sense that there was more that was Iron about Sahmad than just his lineage. There was a hardness about him not unlike her own: both of them had lost people they'd cared about, and were eager to dish out their own justice upon those they deemed responsible.


"Well, the Visorak and Rahkshi are behaving themselves for the present, though I don't envy whatever gets in their way when we get started. How are things coming along with Miserix's makeover?"


"Surprisingly well-your tribesmen, willing are not, pick up Matoran metallurgical techniques surprisingly well," Tuyet responded. After they had settled in the Iron Tribe ruins, Miserix had decided that the time had come to make the same improvements to his armor that had been made to that of his fellow Makuta after their abandonment of their inner light had caused them to become beings without flesh. Using knowledge of the process obtained from Bingzak, the Makuta of Stelt, he had created a formula that smiths of the Iron Tribe were even now following, melting down tools collected by Rahkshi-such as Tuyet's sword-and adding iron and exsidian to create an alloy they believed would be even more powerful than protosteel. Miserix had been forced to vacate his armor while this was taking place, but had found an excellent substitute: the Skopio XV-1, abandoned by its late owner Telluris but found by other Iron Tribe Agori and repaired.


"Well, the ones on Bota Magna actually enjoyed a relatively peaceful existence in which to hone our old craft in the past 100,000 years, while the Bara Magna ones kept it up as a means of surviving-it kept food in their bellies and held their sanity together. There were plenty willing to pay for any sort of professional weapons repair during the lean years, just as there were plenty willing to pay for Agori slaves in my trade," Sahmad noted with a smirk. "Anyway, we have a potential new recruit who wants to meet with the big lizard. Looks like a real piece of work to me, but I'll bet he could break a Toa or Glatorian or two in half for us."


Intrigued, Tuyet followed the Agori, though not without commenting. "I wouldn't call Miserix 'big lizard' to his face-he's got a bit of a temper. Besides, from the thoughts he's been sending my way I don't think he plans on keeping that look once his armor's finished."


Shrugging noncommittally, the orange and black Agori continued leading the way to a spot near where the Heart of the Visorak sat. There, surrounded by hissing Rahkshi and Visorak, stood a hulking figure that looked as though someone had gone overboard modifying a set of Rahkshi armor. It was predominantly black, but with some red elements as well as silver claws and a blade of similar color on the end of its tail. One long arm ended in a red fire sword that glowed with power, clearly ready to ignite in the event that the Rahkshi or Visorak attempted to strike at its wielder.


The red eyes of the creature narrowed as it regarded Tuyet, who stared back without the slightest trace of intimidation; she had to suppress astonishment, however, as the visage so like that of the other Rahkshi smiled-and spoke! "My my, will wonders never cease? I am Kraata-Kal, and I came here to see what drew so many of my brethren away from the fallen form of our master*...and I find them in the company of spiders, beings too much like Matoran for comfort, and the most infamous Toa never to serve as a Dark Hunter. Yes, I recognize you, Tuyet-Devastator, Gladiator, and Triglax spoke often of how they were thwarted in their efforts to capture you and your Nui Stone for the Shadowed One.


"Don't be alarmed-I am no longer affiliated with the Hunters, and indeed have not been for some time. I was created by Makuta Teridax to be the first of a new, superior breed of Rahkshi, but I destroyed his plans to make more of my kind. I served with the Hunters for centuries but left them when Makuta came to power, only to find that I had no place in his plans. But if you are gathering the leavings of Makuta for some purpose, I am greatest among them, and therefore have place in this agenda. I would see Makuta Miserix and have him judge my worthiness-if he has no use for me, then I would die fighting a Makuta!"


For the first time in her life, Tuyet found herself truly speechless-she had never encountered anything along the lines of this being. At last, she nodded, and turned to take him back the way she and Sahmad had come. However, before they had taken more than a few steps Sahmad cursed; the exclamation apparently didn't translate into the Matoran language, for Tuyet was unfamiliar with it. She soon saw the reason for his shock, however, and very nearly repeated his outburst.


The Visorak and Rahkshi hordes were parting, fear in the eyes of the creatures as a new presence entered their midst. The mass of shapes resembled the plant creatures that the Element Lord of Jungle had sent among them before, but with a crucial and shocking difference: visible in the entrapping trunks and limbs of the moving trees were the forms of trapped Agori and Glatorian of every tribe. The faces of a few were visible, locked in expressions of agony or horror at what had been done to them. At their head marched the being responsible for their condition, as though he had been trying to create more like himself but only partially succeeded: Tesara, the Element Lord of Jungle.


As he arrived at the Heart of the Visorak with his monstrous addition to their forces, Tesara looked upon his allies with eyes that smiled at their discomfiture, as though he had played some grand joke upon them. "Are you not pleased, my friend? This is the Forest of Blades-I made it as a prison for those who dared to defy my will during the Core War who were unlucky enough to fall into my hands before that conflict ended. Now it's inmates have a grand opportunity to earn their freedom...by wielding their weapons against their former comrades as they help us to bring Spherus Magna to order."


To be continued...


*A nod to Alvis' fic Descendant, a masterful work that truly makes a character out of Kraata-Kal.

Edited by Wiriamu
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Voicing your opinions with tact is the best way to keep a discussion from becoming an argument.
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Chapter 9


Still filled with revulsion at the Element Lord of Jungle's horrific army, Tuyet left him and it at the base of the mountain as she, Sahmad, and Kraata-Kal continued on their way to the entrance of the mine where Miserix waited. Entering, they followed the sounds of machinery to a large cavern where the hulking mass of the Skopio XV-1 stood watch over several Iron Tribe Glatorian and Agori as they worked on Miserix's currently empty Makuta armor. The targeting systems of the war machine shone with a ghastly light, reflecting the presence of Miserix's antidermis essence within. Even knowing that, the trio of newcomers took a step back as the machine turned it's gaze on them.


Ah, Tuyet and Sahmad, came the voice of the Makuta, telepathically transmitted; the Skopio had no sound-producing systems of any kind. You are just in time to witness the completion of the improvements to my form that will enable me to appear as a true Makuta again, rather than the bestial form I was forced to assume for some many centuries. Bingzak's knowledge of the process has proven most helpful, and the quality will be far superior to the work done by the rogue Nynrah Ghosts who refitted Spiriah's armor. Of course, I don't think that even the Fe-Matoran could have produced such fine work as your Iron Tribesmen, Sahmad.


"Happy to serve, Lord Miserix," the orange armored Agori replied with a bow. "It's good to see my people recognized for what we have always been so good at, and to be able to ply our craft for the first time since that beast Annona made us a feared and cursed race on the verge of extinction. It is fitting that my brethren have made a recovery on Bara Magna, for soon all of Spherus Magna will know the wrath of the Iron Tribe as we pay them back for our injuries of these many years. Never again shall we be homeless vagabonds, and our lost ones will be avenged upon those who refused to help them."


Sahmad's words were greeted by a clang as one of the Glatorian laboring on Miserix's armor threw down her tool and advanced as far towards him as the chains that attached her ankles to her workstation would allow her. Unlike Sahmad and some others, this Iron Tribe member retained the original blue and gray armor of her tribe, rather than the orange and gray or black embraced by those who had attempted to pass for members of a lost tribe after the plague. "You really think that Melea* and the others would have wanted this, Sahmad? They were people of peace before the plague drove them mad, and they would never have condoned the path of vengeance you and the likes of Telluris set out on!"


Quick as a snake Sahmad had drawn his sword and had its tip at the Glatorian's throat, his eyes filled with venom. "You always were free with your opinions, Tera**-it made you an aggravating busybody even before the plague. And maybe you're right; maybe my beloved Melea wouldn't have wanted this. But then again, I doubt she wanted to die a painful, meaningless death that might have been avoided if the other tribes had come to our aid instead of worrying about their own hides!"


Despite the obvious willingness of Sahmad to employ his blade, Tera didn't bat an eye; despite herself Tuyet couldn't help but admire the Iron Glatorian's grit. Tera had impressed her before when they had first met, having led an Iron Tribe exodus to Bota Magna, where they had lived in peaceful isolation since shortly before the Core War. After the planet's healing she had led her people back onto Bara Magna in hopes of reclaiming their ancestral homeland, only to run into Iron Tribesmen who were more of Sahmad's mentality along with Miserix's growing army. She had quickly rebelled at the thought of helping the last Makuta, only acquiescing when he threatened others of her tribe with death if she refused to cooperate.


Obviously uninterested in the squabbles of those he considered his inferiors, valuable or not, Miserix turned his attention towards Kraata-Kal. You...you are an aberration; I sense greater power in you than any single Rahkshi has ever been gifted. And your essence...I have encountered thousands of Rahkshi since my escape, and none have stunk of Teridax as you have. Tell me, creature-why should I not use either my natural powers or those of this crude but mighty war machine to tear open your armor and flatten the Kraata within?


"Mine is no Kraata, great Makuta-it is Kraata-Kal," the former Dark Hunter hissed in reply. "You are correct in sensing my link to Teridax: he was my creator, my...father, if a Rahkshi can be said to have such a thing. I was born from a Shadow Kraata exposed to the energies of Kal, the beginning of what was to be a new, grand army. I refused to be one among many, and so I destroyed the energies that would have allowed Teridax to birth more like me. Since then I have wandered in exile, serving the Dark Hunters but knowing that my true place was with the Makuta...and now you are the last. I would lead your Rahkshi hordes into battle for you, and command them in enforcing your will once this world falls."


The Skopio's targeting systems remained fixed on Kraata-Kal, as though weighing the words of the unlikely mutant Rahkshi. Then, with a mental laugh, Miserix's antidermis emerged from the Skopio and floated over to his armor, which Tera's colleagues-volunteered and pressed alike-had completed work on. Within seconds, the armored being rose from the massive worktable upon which it lay, showing no hesitation as it stood upon its feet. "Then lead them you shall, Kraata-Kal, though not alone."


Miserix towered over his allies, at long last restored to the regal Makuta form he had so long ago been forced to abandon. His Kanohi Artidax, Mask of Mutation-for which Krika had named his island prison-resembled a cross between a crown and a snarling bestial visage. It was cast in gold that matched the claws on his fingers, sharp armor plates on his arms, rounded plates on his knees and thighs, and a gold and purple decoration that hung from his waist. The rest of his form was a mixture of black and purple, with formations that resembled rib cages on his shoulders and arms.


With a smirk of satisfaction at the awe in the faces of those who stood before him, Miserix reached over and took up his banner in his right hand. The long staff ended in a large shield with a grisly visage in the center and several ancient runes legible only to the Makuta himself, behind which was draped a purple cloth. Decorating its lower half were a set of ancient golden masks, which various Rahkshi had collected before departing the Matoran Universe.In his left hand he carried a short but lethal-looking weapon, with gold blades that emerged from a jagged purple crystal that sat on the handle of the tool, while at his right side was belted a wicked looking axe. Then, as though struck by inspiration, the Makuta flexed his shoulders, and two black wings emerged from each to complete his new appearance.***


The ground seemed to shake and the shadows seemed to gather as Miserix strode up out of the mine, followed closely by Tuyet, Sahmad, Kraata-Kal, and the Iron Tribe workers now that their task had been completed. Silence fell over the massive gathering-hissing Rahkshi, chittering Visorak, creaking trees containing captured Agori and Glatorian, and Iron Tribesmen who were either girding on armor or laboring in chains-as they caught sight of the dark giant who, whether they wanted it or not, was their ruler. The only exception was Tesara who, having stood alongside six other Elemental Lords with massive powers of their own, was not so easily impressed.


"Greetings, my army! Look upon my new form and tremble: Makuta Miserix has regained his former glory! Sons and daughters of the Makuta, Stealers of Life, Iron Tribesmen and sundry inhabitants of Spherus Magna, the time has come for us to march upon the fools who have so long denied us our rightful places in the universe! But before I lead you into battle, I must introduce you to my commanders! Tuyet, Sahmad, and Lord Tesara you know-now meet the others!"


Puzzled, Tuyet turned to see that a group of Rahkshi had moved to stand beside Kraata-Kal: a pair each of Turahk, Kurahk, Lerahk, and Panrahk, and a Guurahk and a Vorahk. At a nod from Miserix, they formed smaller groups; their armor then flew apart, reassembling into larger forms assembled from the various Rahkshi. When it was done, four beings almost as lethal-looking as Kraata-Kal stood alongside the former Dark Hunter, who took an unconscious step back from the united beings. Miserix smiled behind his mask, and gestured to the four with pride. "Behold those who shall lead my Rahkshi hordes: Kraata-Kal and my Rahkshi Kaita!"


The four were swiftly identified: Kaita Xi, a red and brown figure that wielded a Staff of Fragmentation; Kaita Cu, a gray, green, and white figure with large claws that carried no staff; Kaita Ul, a red, blue, and black humanoid who wielded two staffs with different ends; and Kaita Ye, a brown, white, and green figure with Staff of Poison ends emerging from his shoulder blades and bladed ridges on its forearms****. With his commanders proclaimed, Miserix took to the sky, with the Rahkshi hordes assuming flight mode and following him, Kraata-Kal and the four Kaita at their head. As Tuyet mounted the Skopio XV-1 to lead the ground forces, she smiled grimly in recognition of Miserix's brilliance. By creating the Kaita, he had given himself additional powerhouse warriors to lead the charge against the Agori, Matoran, and their protectors...and insured that Kraata-Kal would have quite a fight on his hands if he proved treacherous. However, he would find her a far more dangerous opponent if he tried to betray their alliance, Tuyet thought with a smile, and revved the Skopio's engines in the direction of the Matoran-Agori camp.



Location: Matoran-Agori camp.


Takanuva, the Hagah, Gali, the Mahri, and Keetongu had made their way back to camp, bringing with them word of the Skakdi and Zyglak threat coming towards the camp. With this news on top of the approaching threats of Marendar and the Baterra, the camp was a hive of activity as the Toa, Glatorian, and others prepared for the coming onslaught. Their greatest advantage was the fallen form of the Makuta robot which-as form or fate would have it-had fallen close to the former location of the villages of Tesara. Between them, the inhabitants were able to move the limbs of the massive figure so that the ancient tree trunks that had marked the villages were surrounded on three sides by the fallen robot and on the fourth by the valley of the hot springs. Travel to and from the camp was easy enough, but each approach could be easily defended from various points, while the tops of the tree trunks provided a vantage that allowed the leaders of of the camp to spot any approaching force.


Tahu stood grimly atop one of those very trunks as he looked out across the wide expanse of Bara Magna. Though no longer all lifeless desert, the region was still quite flat, but there was still no sign of any approaching force. The Toa of Fire could hardly recall a time when he had felt more uneasy, even though their defenses were many and well manned. His thoughts were on those in the camp, some of whom were unable to fight or who would be unlikely to last long in any confrontation, let alone against the relentless menace that the Baterra were reputed to be. There was also the matter of the still absent Lewa, who hadn't been heard from since before Makuta's fall, and Pohatu and Kopaka, who had left in search of Lesovikk and not been heard from.


"It is troubling not to know where our three brothers are, isn't it?" This question turned Tahu around to see Gali approaching, her Nynrah Ghost Blaster holstered across her back. Before he could say anything, she raised a hand. "You do not have to say it, Tahu-you worry for them as I do. Especially Lewa-the Toa Nuva of Air seems to find trouble without trying at times."


"Indeed, sister," Tahu replied, turning his eyes back to the horizon. As he did, he noticed something that made him start: two small groups making their way towards the camp. Gali noticed them as well, and without being bidden activated her Akaku Nuva, sharing its powers so that he could join her in identifying the newcomers. The first group consisted of a pair of figures: one was an Ice Tribe Glatorian that neither of them recognized, but the other's green armor and Kanohi Faxon quickly identified him as Toa Lesovikk.


The second group was larger, and several familiar figures were apart of it, though neither recognized the giant carrying the sphere of ice large enough to contain a Toa. However, the battered forms of Axonn and Brutaka were quite recognizable, and they had heard enough about Vezon from the Toa Mahri to recognize the insanely grinning figure that Axonn carried over one shoulder. Other faces were known to them by sight: Toa Helryx, Kapura, and Hafu, all of them long missing. But the most wonderful sight to the pair of Toa was a bright green figure who, assisted by his Miru Nuva and the Adaptive Armor he wore, flew ahead of the small group with speed that no one could equal without a Kanohi Kakama.


"Talk of the Makuta, and he appears," Tahu said with a smile, though Gali had already taken to the air and flown down to meet their brother.



Lewa's group was greeted warmly, particularly the Toa of Air and the two Matoran; Helryx and Axonn excused themselves and left Brutaka in charge of Vezon as they conferred with Trinuma and other members of the Order. Helryx was aghast at how few of them were present among the defenders, and questioned Trinuma regarding it. "Where are all of our comrades, Trinuma? I see you, Krakua, Johmak, and Hydraxon, and I've learned to tell when Jerbraz is present, but where are the others? What of Mazeka, or Tobduk, or Botar's replacement Axato*****?"


"Axato is out with others capable of teleportation, my lady, scouting out escape routes in the event the coming attack forces us to evacuate. As for Mazeka and Tobduk, we have not seen them since before the Metru Nui assault; they went to Destral together, but Mazeka returned alone with Shadow Stealer^ to pick up the Swamp Strider. I must inform you that Shadow Stealer has not appeared since we arrived on this world either. The Shadowed One has made it known that Shadow Stealer attempted to kill him, and claims likewise to have destroyed him. Many others fell with the destruction of our fortress at Daxia, but those that survived are here and ready to fight."


"So, Tobduk, Mazeka, and my old friend Owa^^ all went in search of vengeance: one after a Makuta, one after a Ta-Matoran with a heart black as coal, and the last after the accursed leader of the Dark Hunters. The third failed...and even if the other two succeeded, I find it doubtful that they lived to celebrate. No matter; the will of Mata Nui must still be done, and we shall defend the Matoran and their new allies to our last agent. Hydraxon, see that Vezon is put aside with whatever other prisoners are being kept here, and see to Axonn and Brutaka's injuries."


While the Order of Mata Nui welcomed back their lost comrades, Lesovikk explained what had befallen him since his departure from the camp to Tahu, and was informed of Karzahni's demise. Satisfied that the Toa of Air had not violated the Toa code and was eager to help defend the Matoran, Tahu returned to him his Air Sword. Thus satisfied, Lesovikk turned his attention to Surel, who was being welcomed back by surprised and astonished members of his tribe and the other Glatorian. Ackar in particular couldn't stop shaking his head as he regarded his one-time enemy. "Long time no see, Surel-in fact, last time I think you were trying to put my eyes out with that dagger!"


"Only because you tried to take my head off with your sword, though by the looks of things you've since had it replaced. Ah well, that was back when it was try to kill each other or face the wrath of the Element Lords, wasn't it? They're still a problem, but with all these new friends you've made-and the old ones too-we might just have a shot at them. Say, where's my old friend Gelu? His is about the only face I could see around here that I haven't tried to bury today-minus that Jungle squirt you're hanging around with Kiina."


The other Glatorian laughed as Gresh bristled, though admittedly the sight wasn't as funny as it would have been a short time ago. Gresh had recently had the armor and weapons he had fought with during the battle against Makuta forged together with his old Glatorian weapon; the resulting look more closely resembled his appearance from the Battle of Roxtus, but both armor and weapons were now much stronger. Unwilling to rise to Surel's bait, he moved to join Takanuva in heading for the defenses; the Toa of Light had reclaimed his Power Lance and Midak Skyblaster feeling them superior to the Light Lances he had wielded during the battle against Makuta. Artakha, meanwhile, had lowered his burden to the ground and stood waiting calmly, trying not to draw too much attention to himself; not easy considering that he was ten feet tall and wore a mask and armor more ornate than any that the various bystanders had ever seen before.


The Turaga, awestruck by the massive figure, stood at a distance; Nokama was the first to work up the nerve to approach him. Her Kanohi Rau allowed her to decipher the runes decorating his Kanohi Mask, and incredible as it seemed she realized he could only be one being. "So, it seems you did not fall with your island, great Artakha. Your people have worried greatly over you since they were liberated from the Makuta-they will be pleased that you have returned."


Though he was more than three times her size, Artakha bowed his head in deference to the hunched over figure. "Thank you, Turaga of Water; I have worried for them as well. However, my...cargo is of great importance, but I don't believe that this is the best place to be talking about it. If there is somewhere we could adjourn-"


Without warning there was a loud explosion and shouting, and a broken Thornatus came flying through the air. With uncanny speed for a being of his size, Artakha drew the large hammer he carried on his back and swung it, smashing the vehicle to land in an empty space in the camp some distance away. He then turned his attention in the direction the flying chariot had come from, and saw a horrific sight: several Toa unleashing elemental blasts against the towering silver and yellow menace of Marendar. Seeing the attacks washing off the monstrous construct-who had so easily made its way undetected into the Matoran-Agori camp-Artakha doubted there was much he could do against it...but that wasn't going to stop him from trying.


With a roar Artakha charged, swinging his hammer and catching the robotic menace a heavy blow that staggered it. However, it quickly recovered and came for the crafter with incredible speed; only an instinctive teleport saved him from a fatal blow. It also served to give the other Toa a field in which to attack, and they unleashed a hail of Elemental Blasts at the robot. Unfortunately, Marendar took the blows as though it was standing in a gentle rain, and advanced swiftly and terribly towards the helpless defenders.


From the top of one of the tree trunks, Turaga Dume-the only one of that group who hadn't gone to meet the arriving parties-watched grimly as the Toa, Glatorian, and others tried to halt Marendar's advance. Fearing that he already knew how it would conclude, Dume raised his eyes to the horizon-and felt his heartlight seize. For even as Marendar battled the Toa, Iconox the Lord of Ice had appeared on the horizon with Metus at his side and a horde of Baterra marching behind him. Feeling every bit of his tens of thousands of years, Dume wondered if they had survived Mata Nui's brush with death and Makuta's rule only to perish on this alien world.



Dume's despair and the fear and anger of the other inhabitants of the camp were felt some distance away in a small cave. It was not large enough to serve as a dwelling, but with a rock rolled in front of the entrance it made for a suitable vault for the Kanohi Ignika, Mask of Life. The Matoran and Agori had agreed to place it there until a more fitting resting place could be found, hopefully in a New Atero. At almost the same time they made the decision, a most fitting guardian appeared: Umbra, the very construct of the Great Beings whose purpose was to protect the mask. As such, he stood guard alone, though no being who approached was challenged to a battle as he had done for so long on Voya Nui.


It was not Umbra who sensed this turmoil, however, but rather the spirit within the mask he guarded: though he had secluded himself within the Ignika, Mata Nui was very much awake and alive. He had vowed after Makuta's demise that he would not interfere in the destinies of the people of Spherus Magna, whether native born or created by the Great Beings or their works. Even though he had sensed the dark powers of the planet growing stronger, he had remained firm in his conviction to stay dormant and let events continue to transpire without his presence. However, now he could sense the evil he had long felt building converging on the camp-and with Marendar menacing the Toa, his friends and people were in no position to meet it.


And so, as it had done not so long ago when the Toa Inika had taken it from Vezon, the Ignika rose into the air. In a flash it smashed through the boulder, taking off in the direction of the battle between Marendar and the Toa. Umbra watched it go; then, sensing that a greater purpose awaited him, he took off after it, raising a cloud of dust behind him as he shot across the flatlands. As it turned out he was wise to leave, for the area where the now empty cavern sat was soon crawling with the hordes of the League of the Six Kingdoms as they made their own way towards the Matoran-Agori camp.



Lesovikk hurled the strongest cyclone he could muster without causing harm to anyone else at Marendar-like so many other attacks it had no effect on the monstrous machine. Wishing fervently that he had thought to take his Sky Sled's Cordak Blaster with him on his hunt for Karzahni, Lesovikk began contemplating summoning a whirlwind beneath Marendar's feet to knock it off balance. Before he could put his plan into motion, however, a pair of Light spheres flew in from above to strike Marendar, followed by a bolt of lightning that split into eight forks to strike Marendar's shoulders, elbows, knees, and ankles. The sight was hauntingly familiar, though Lesovikk hadn't seen it in countless ages, and he quickly turned to discover the source.


Kopaka and Pohatu Nuva were flying in, their Midak Skyblasters already unleashing another pair of spheres at Marendar; the Light attack actually seemed to stun the robot, as though it had not anticipated facing that particular Element. But what rocked Lesovikk to his core was the figure hanging from Pohatu's ankle with her trident held straight, sparks flying as she prepared another Lightning attack. Every instinct told him that he had to be seeing things, that it wasn't Nikila coming to join him in battle once more. But then he remembered her signature attack-a bolt with forks representing all the members of their team-and saw the same disbelieving joy that he felt welling up inside himself mirrored in her eyes.


The barrage of Elemental attacks striking Marendar suddenly doubled, if not tripled, as the Toa who had been revived on the Red Star came to stand alongside their brothers and sisters and the Glatorian. Surprise and outright shock were the unifying emotions among the Matoran, Turaga, and Toa as they recognized former comrades or legendary heroes long since lost. The Turaga of Mata Nui in particular wept as they recognized the Toa Mangai adding their power to the onslaught, Vakama nearly fainted away as Lhikan appeared next to him with a grim smile as he watched his comrades fighting the menace. The Order of Mata Nui and other races were similarly shocked as Morbuzakh, Hydraxon, other Order agents, and Zamor appeared to add their efforts to the attack.


Under assault from so many parties-with the number increasing as the surprise arrivals allowed other defenders to get their bearings and join the attack-Marendar was trapped in a veritable maelstrom of energy. Though none of it seemed to do much damage, Marendar found itself in a situation for which it had never been prepared: facing an army attacking from all sides, leaving it with too many targets to choose from. However, its finely tuned sensors at last settled on Tahu, whose reserves of power far outstripped even his fellow Toa Nuva since his use of the Golden Armor against Makuta's Rahkshi horde. With grim purpose it began moving towards him, slowed but not stopped by the sheer weight of force being directed against it. And Tahu, seeing the empty sockets turned towards him, realized that he might have to unleash all his power to stop it.


It was as he was pondering this terrible option that the Ignika came flying in and collided with Marendar, unleashing an explosion of force that halted the Elemental blasts and blinded all who were looking upon the towering machine.


To be continued...


*I decided that Sahmad's lost love deserved a name, and thought I'd utilize one from a minor G2 character.

**Tera is named for a scrapped character from Bionicle 5 who was also a Glatorian; that's about the end of the similarities.

***Miserix's Makuta form is one of the Makuta models featured in the Makuta Contest Video, which I thought was too good not to appear in story. As for The Journey to One's official Makuta design...wait and see. :devil:

****My Rahkshi Kaita are named for the two Kabaya Rahkshi Combiner models and the two "Inspirational Model" Rahkshi Combiners; Xi is named for the Fragmentation Kraata, Cu for the Anger Kraata, Ul for the Disintegration Kraata, and Ye for the Poison Kraata, similar to how the official Rahkshi Kaita are named for their controlling Kraata.

*****I figured Botar's replacement could use a name, and thought the title of the Skull Raiders' leader would work well.

^A nod to Alvis' The End of the Brotherhood.

^^I decided to give Shadow Stealer a name given his unique status as a Dark Hunter and a former member of the Hand of Artakha, and decided to use a prototype G2 Protector name.

Edited by Wiriamu
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Chapter 10

Kiina waited a moment, arm held in front of her eyes to shield them, until the blinding light faded from the air. Hoping that it was now safe, she lowered her arm and found herself looking upon an awe-inspiring sight. The towering figure in the center of what had been a variable barrage of energy still stood, but it was no longer wholly Marendar. It's armor was now a mixture of yellow and gold, with a familiar pair of shoulder fins and other elements that she recognized. The Kanohi Ignika, gleaming golden upon the titan's face, was no longer in the shape of a Glatorian helmet; but she saw in the eyes behind the mask the familiar golden glow she had seen in the eyes of the prototype robot when her friend had taken it as his new form.

"Mata Nui...*"

Her disbelieving whisper drew the golden eyes to her, and the face behind the Ignika smiled. "It is good to see you again, Kiina-I trust you have been taking care of Gresh?"

"We've been taking care of each other," Gresh said from Kiina's side, earning a smile from the Water Glatorian. However, any further exchanges between the reunited comrades were quickly halted as the former Matoran Universe inhabitants-who had recovered from the sudden shock of Mata Nui's new appearance-all dropped to one knee, heads bowed towards the former Great Spirit. Mata Nui's face fell, and he quickly reached out to catch Tahu, who was midway to kneeling, by the arm.

"Do not bow to me, my friends-I am not worthy of such honor," the golden armored figure rumbled. "I am sure many of you would protest, given what I did to help thwart the threat of the Skrall, end the reign of Makuta, and bring new life to this once broken world. But in all of these actions I was simply doing what was my duty and my destiny, and making a beginning at repaying a debt owed by me and my creators to this world and all the peoples who now dwell upon it. If my deeds can be called heroic, it is only because they mark the realization that I have long sorely neglected many of my responsibilities, something I am determined not to allow to happen again."

The humility in Mata Nui's words, taken with the sorrow in his face at their show of obeisance, brought many back to their feet in a desire to respect his feelings. However, he immediately noticed one who remained down on one knee, and moved forward to find Helryx kneeling with Trinuma at her side, his eyes staring straight ahead at attention through the eye-holes of his Kanohi Kumu**, Mask of Charisma. Ignoring him, Mata Nui stared intently down at Helryx until she was forced to lift her eyes to meet his, the Kanohi Ignika looking down upon her Kanohi Leva*** of Psychometry. The Toa of Water was silent for a long moment, and then rose to her feet to address the being she had served her entire existence.

"It is an honor beyond words to finally meet you, Mata Nui; it is beyond even receiving the task of falsifying evidence regarding the Toa Metru. Though you are no longer the ruler of the universe in which we live, the Order of Mata Nui-what remains of it-is yours to command. Give the word, and we shall carry out your instructions to the letter." Helryx looked up at Mata Nui expectantly, wondering what he would say.

"Then my first order to you upon this world is also my last, Toa Helryx," Mata Nui replied. "As of this moment, your 'Order of Mata Nui' is disbanded, and to await trial for the crimes you have committed in my name."

Helryx was left speechless; it thus fell to Morbuzakh, who with the other Red Star Order operatives had mingled with his fellows, to confront Mata Nui, his eyes expressing disbelief from behind his Kanohi Udapo**** of Incomprehension. "What crimes do you speak of, Mata Nui? We have all dedicated ourselves to carrying out your will, both inside the robot you once inhabited and here on this new world! I fail to see how such service constitutes a crime!"

"Those words...'my will'...are condemnation enough. Though it shames me to say it, for countless millennia I had little concern for whether or not 'my will' was done within the Matoran Universe. As I did not deign to offer you instruction, I fail to see how Helryx-or any of you-could know what MY WILL was! It was only in the desperation I felt, as Makuta's insidious virus caused me to plummet towards Aqua Magna, that I reached out to you with instructions to create evidence that suggested that Matoran other than Vakama and his teammates were meant to be the Toa Metru.

"It was in so doing that I accessed technology the Great Beings had installed to monitor my interior workings and saw the acts you had perpetrated in my name throughout the ages. Allowing the deaths of Toa, Matoran, and other innocent beings to preserve your accursed secrecy! Holding Toa Tuyet captive in the hopes of creating duplicate Nui Stones, when one stone was enough to bring death and misery to so many! Contracting deals with the Dark Hunters, and slaughtering everyone even suspected of knowing the location of Artakha, even within your own organization!"

Before the Order members could offer any objections or arguments, Artakha himself stepped forward and focused his own gaze on Helryx; finding herself under the watchful gaze of two towering figures stepped right out of myth was intimidating even for the ancient Toa. "I might have known you would have committed such an atrocity, Helryx! I asked you to destroy maps of the island's location and insure that no one learned of its location. Any who already knew it could have been dealt with by other means, rather than having them killed!"

Helryx was still shaken by Mata Nui's words, but Trinuma was made of sterner stuff. "Fine of you to talk, Artakha! Perhaps if you had joined the Order in its efforts instead of hiding away on your private island the task might have been accomplished to your satisfaction! And you, 'Great Spirit,' are in little place to condemn us by admission of your own neglect!"

Mata Nui could easily have struck down the impudent giant-hardly a giant compared to himself-but refused to sink to such a level; instead he turned to regard a pair of Order agents who were facing each other warily. The Hydraxon who had emerged from the Great Spirit robot after Makuta’s fall was facing off with the Hydraxon who had come down from the Red Star, each of them holding their weapons in ready position. The other Order members weren’t quite sure what to make of the sight, and held their own weapons loosely, ready to strike if it became necessary. However, Mata Nui could hear a faint whispering-the voice of the Kanohi Ignika itself-and thus possessed its insight into the matter.


At Mata Nui's request, the Mask of Life sent some of its power flowing through his new body down to his right hand, which began glowing with the energy. Stepping up, he laid his hand on one of the pair, and the energy shot through that Hydraxon's frame, transforming his entire form into golden light. The image then shrank until it was the size of a Mahri Nui Matoran-several of whom were present-upon which the light faded away to reveal a very shaken-looking Po-Matoran. Dekar was soon surrounded by a crowd of astounded and joyful Matoran from his former village, who had believed their former comrade dead, never suspecting that he had in fact been remade by the Ignika into a copy of Hydraxon.


The transformation stirred a memory in Mata Nui, and he turned again to regard Kiina. As though sensing he was being looked for, the Scarabax named Click came crawling up onto her shoulder, his small green eyes looking up at his now much larger companion. With a smile, Mata Nui dropped to one knee and held out his left hand to the beetle, who hopped over to Mata Nui. Residual energy from reverting Dekar back to his original form flowed to the beetle, and with a flash of light Click had transformed once more into a shield. However, this one was much larger, with blades resembling mandibles to either side of a Thornax launcher having been incorporated into it.


As Mata Nui admired his friend's new form, Ackar came walking up carrying another familiar sight for Mata Nui: the sword he had gained after the Ignika had reshaped the broken tail blade of a Vorox. Wordlessly Ackar held it out to him, and Mata Nui reached out and took it, knowing that the time to use it would come all too quickly. A last flash of power from the Ignika coursing through him made the sword shine, and when it was done the weapon had a golden handle and more closely resembled Jaller's Power Sword. Together with his shield, the weapon made Mata Nui look ready for battle, and few would have dared to face the golden titan so armed.


Turning his back on the now defunct Order of Mata Nui, Mata Nui made his way towards the ancient tree trunk from which he had previously viewed the reconstruction of the prototype robot, and was followed by the all the Turaga present and at least two members of each Toa team besides Tahu's, all of whom followed him. Brutaka and Artakha followed as well with Vezon and Destral in tow, while Axonn remained with his other former comrades. Fau, Toa Mangai of Jungle, turned his Kanohi Agarak towards healing Axonn's injuries, and the thus immobilized warrior was left unable to do anything but watched as Morbuzakh, Trinuma, and Helryx began conferring in Mata Nui's absence. Meanwhile, Mata Nui and his companions reached the top of the trunk and looked down-and the view was anything but beautiful.


Dume's pointing arm showed all the approach of the Baterra army led by the Element Lord of Ice, but that wasn't the only foreboding mass on the horizon. From the direction Mata Nui had flown from while still confined to the Ignika, the hordes of the League of the Six Kingdoms were approaching, with the hordes the Order of Mata Nui had assembled for the Barraki mingling with Skakdi, Vorox, and Zesk. Jaller, Hahli, Norik, and Iruini groaned as they spotted another horde of Skakdi, this one mingled with Zyglak, marching towards them from the direction of Aqua Magna with Tajun, Irnakk, and Strakk at its head. A line of mingled Dark Hunters, Skrall, Vortixx, Bone Hunters, and other villains stretched forth from the Black Spike Mountains as Rock Lord Roxtus and the Shadowed One advanced towards the Matoran-Agori camp.


Still another force darkened both land and sky as it approached: countless Rahkshi flew with Venom Flyers and other monsters above the massed captives of Tesara, Visorak and associated Rahi, and Iron Tribe warriors. Almost as terrifying as the forces of Miserix was the Claw of Karzahni and the assembled Earth Tribe, with the tyrant himself and Lady Likus leading the way. However, the eyes of the watchers couldn't help but be drawn to the burning figure of Vulcanus, Element Lord of Fire. Malum strode beside him, savage grin upon his face, while behind them marched a motley horde of beings from the Matoran Universe. They were all former Pit prisoners: some had been left behind on Aqua Magna after the Great Spirit robot awakened, while others had been part of a group sent away from the Matoran-Agori camp with a Maxilos escort that had proved to be no match for Vulcanus' powers.


Raanu shook his head as he beheld the awful sight. "There's no way we could evacuate-they're coming from every direction, and any or all of them would catch us before we could make our escape. Even if they are going to fight each other first, the battle will likely cause so much destruction that the camp will be caught in it. And whoever wins...if anyone does...will soon set their sights upon us."


"Then we must not wait for them to come for us, Raanu; we must take action," Mata Nui replied. With the same swiftness as Marendar he swung his sword and cleaved through the ice sphere and stasis field containing Destral, leaving the Great Being in full view of those present. He then reached out with the arm upon which he wore his shield and put it upon Destral's shoulder, and the pair were enveloped by a golden light stemming from the Ignika. When it was done, Destral looked down at his hands, tears coming into his eyes as he realized what had happened.


"I'm...free...after so many long ages I am free!"


"Indeed Destral-but there is no time for celebration. You must pick up the trail of Angonce and the others-the Ignika has made me aware of all that has been transpiring on this world-and find the other Great Beings. You must tell them that those whom they have charge over are in danger, and you must persuade them to come to our aid. If you cannot persuade your brethren, then you must try to persuade those who await their orders to march."


Destral looked at Mata Nui questioningly, but only for a moment before nodding; his gratitude overrode any confusion he felt at Mata Nui's words. Quick as a flash he was gone, leaving Mata Nui to address other matters, beginning with Vezon. The Ignika's light shone again as he touched the Skakdi's face; when his hand lifted away it was holding a Kanohi Olmak, Mask of Dimensional Gates. Vezon looked at the mask briefly before commenting, "Well, that's nice for you-you get that crazy Kanohi and what do I get left with?"


"A gift that you will find most enjoyable, Vezon," Mata Nui replied. Seeing the skepticism in the crazed being's eyes, he pointed towards the approaching Skakdi-Zyglak army. "You see that golden giant? Well, it is actually made up of several beings, including your old 'friends' the other Piraka. I've given you a power that will protect you from their abilities, and allow you to make an end of that giant."

It hardly seemed possible, but Vezon's trademark Skakdi grin seemed to grow even wider, and he rubbed his hands together in gleeful anticipation. Jaller and Hahli quickly took charge of him, while his former carrier Brutaka was the next to be confronted by Mata Nui, who held the Olmak out to him. The floating being shook his head, refusing the offering. "You are most kind, Mata Nui, but our Olmak was destroyed by Makuta, and I believe this one has another owner."

"As a matter of fact it does," came a voice from among the assembled Toa. A Toa of Psionics stepped forward, wearing a Kanohi Epolim of Sensory Aptitude which she removed and handed to a Turaga wearing a Kanohi Elda. She then accepted the Olmak from Mata Nui, and grinned as it turned blue upon settling on her face. "Look like my old self again, don't I Aliswa*****?”


“Indeed you do, Hapka^," the blue and white Aliswa replied, smiling fondly at her old teammates Hapka and Jovan. She had been reunited with both her old friends following the arrival of the Red Star heroes, having once fought alongside them as a Toa of Lightning^^. “However, it does seem unfortunate that Brutaka must go without a Kanohi Mask.”

“I believe I can help with that,” Artakha said, drawing out a brick of solid protodermis. He held it in his hand and stared at it intently, and his Mask of Creation began glowing. An identical glow surrounded the brick, and in moments it had transformed into another Kanohi Olmak, which Artakha then held out to Brutaka. Lewa stared at the newly recreated mask, and then regarded Artakha with a raised eyebrow.

“Could you not have done that quick-sooner?”


Before Artakha could respond, Brutaka suddenly shuddered and with a crackle of energy a cloud of antidermis separated from him, leaving him back in the form he had been in during his long millennia on Voya Nui. The antidermis floated in the air for a moment before settling into a small depression in the top of the tree trunk. There it formed a pool and sat motionless, giving no indication that it had ever been anything other than a simple body of liquid. Brutaka stood up, apparently fully recovered, and spoke. "The antidermis has left me; while it supports our cause, it does not wish to endanger the knowledge of the Makuta should I fall in the coming battle."


"A wise precaution-but hopefully a fear that it need not harbor," Mata Nui responded. Before he could say anything more, however, Krakua suddenly came running up, having stayed behind with the other Order of Mata Nui members. He was speaking loudly, but his words were completely unintelligible to anyone. Fortunately, Turaga Nokama was able to understand him once she activated her Kanohi Rau, and her eyes widened in shock.


"He says that Helryx has taken the Order of Mata Nui members and is going to attack the army of Pit prisoners! He and Axonn refused to go along with her, but Axonn was still being healed by Toa Fau, and Morbuzakh used his Mask of Incomprehension on Krakua. Then Trinuma used his Mask of Charisma to sway any others who questioned the decision to their side: they're charging, and they're taking the Mana Ko with them!"


The assembled Toa, Turaga, and other beings looked down; sure enough, the entire population of Mana Ko-no more than a hundred or so-that had survived the destruction of the Matoran Universe was trundling across the flatlands, with Order members riding atop or flying over the monstrous Rahi. Mata Nui shook his head as he watched them go, knowing that he could hardly have expected otherwise: they had dedicated themselves to protection of the Matoran Universe's inhabitants by their own method, and even the edicts of the one they professed to operate in the name of could not stop them. Though he couldn't condone their rebellion, it at least freed him up from worrying about them and ensured that Vulcanus' army would be occupied. Indeed, few beings of the Matoran Universe were better qualified than Helryx to take on the Lord of Fire, and the one Mata Nui would have sent would be well suited to another task.


Working quickly, Mata Nui began organizing the forces who, though he might have wished it otherwise, placed themselves unreservedly at his command. Those capable of fighting among the Bara Magna natives were marshaled together under the leadership of several Glatorian-Ackar, Gresh, Kiina, Vastus, Tarix, Surel, and Perditus-and at their own request were to face the League of the Six Kingdoms. This force was joined by Umbra at Mata Nui's instruction, as he felt that Umbra's speed and light powers would make him a formidable foe for Atero, Lady of Sand. Additionally, the members of the Barraki species who hadn't joined with their former masters or-in the case of Takadox and Carapar's peoples-their masters' former alliance, gladly joined the Glatorian and Agori as well.


Keetongu and the Toa Hagah were quickly assigned to confront Miserix's army, and the force recruited to join them was indeed a myriad: members of virtually every known Rahi species were part of the force, along with members of sapient races-such as Tobduk's-who had suffered the mercies of the Visorak. The march south had enabled Miserix to recruit a number of the massive Skopio for his forces, but the Hagah were prepared with their own titanic force: a small army of Tahtorak. Much to Tahu's surprise, he was asked to lead this force into battle and more specifically to engage Toa Tuyet, with the power he'd been granted by the Golden Armor being the best counter to the Toa Power she'd collected with the Nui Stone. To counter the fact that she rode upon the Skopio XV-1, Nuparu presented the Toa Mata of Fire with a project he'd been working on in his free time since the Mata Nui Matoran had returned to Metru Nui: a raptor-like mech built from leftover components of the Exo Toa that had been destroyed by the Bohrok-Kal.^^^


The mention of the Kal prompted Mata Nui to send Kopaka to find the Bahrag in the camp below, while he assigned Gali to lead the force against the Skakdi-Zyglak army. Her subordinates would include the Toa Cordak, as well as various members of the species from which Amphibax, Axonn, Botar, Brutaka, Hydraxon, and Nocturn had sprung. Artakha and Onua were then placed in charge of a scattering of other Matoran Universe inhabitants-including many of the former denizens of the Red Star-that would meet the Claw of Karzahni and the Earth Tribe. The remainder of battle capable beings or machines-among them the surviving Exo-Toa, Maxilos robots, the remaining Toa, and virtually every Matoran capable of fighting-was assigned to a force that would march against the Shadow Horde under the leadership of Brutaka, Axonn, Pohatu, Takanuva, and Mata Nui himself. The sole exception was Lewa, who would join Tahu and the Hagah in Order to confront Tesara, pitting the Toa of Air against the Lord of Jungle


Kopaka soon arrived back with the Bahrag in tow, who ignored all others present in favor of Mata Nui, whom they had been created to serve. Gahdok, red armor shining in the sun, spoke to the golden being in reverence. "Mata Nui, we have come at your call-what do you require of the Bahrag?"


"For you to employ the power it was hoped you would never need to use. The Baterra are coming towards this camp, and I cannot in good conscience send any Toa, Glatorian, or other beings against them. But you can command a horde that can match them...one whose sensors cannot be fooled by their camouflage. If the Agori, Glatorian, Matoran, Toa, and all other decent inhabitants of this world are to survive, then the Bohrok must remove this obstacle to their safety."


"And so they shall," blue Cahdok replied, as a crackling field of energy surrounded her and Gahdok. They disappeared in its light, and when the energy faded a strange new form was left behind that incorporated bits of each of them^^^^. With four legs, a blade-ended tail, and a monstrous jaw, it looked like a horror beyond words-and yet it was intended to contribute to to the salvation of the planet. It soon opened its mouth, and two voices spoke from it to address Mata Nui. "We are the War Queen...and our decree is that the Bohrok shall march with the Kal at their head."


The beast let out a screech, long and loud, that traveled to the fallen Great Spirit robot and echoed throughout its massive frame. In answer, dozens of nests came alive with Bohrok and Bohrok Va, who came marching out line by line at the call of the War Queen. Small groups of the swarm turned to each other, and with flashes of light Kaita were born: Kaita Ja born from Kohrak, Lehvak, Gahlok, and their respective Va, and Kaita Za born from Tahnok, Pahrak, and Nuhvok and their own Va scouts. One of each breed, equipped with Krana Vu, came flying up to the top of the tree trunk and landed in front of the War Queen, carrying with them a unique burden: six Krana-Kal, recovered by the Bohrok during cleansing of the island of Mata Nui after they had been left behind by the Turaga. At some unseen signal, they opened their faceplates to dump their own Kraata upon the ground, before placing the Krana Kal in the empty spaces left behind.


Again the War Queen screeched, and brilliant energies emerged from its mouth and enveloped the six Bohrok. The energy interacted with the Krana-Kal, and shimmered over the entirety of the robotic forms. When it was done, six new Bohrok-Kal stood ready, every bit as formidable as the ones the Toa Nuva had defeated. The War Queen seemed to stagger slightly, and the Kal actually moved in as though to assist it before it righted itself. "I never thought I would need to recreate the Kal energies-a curse upon Makuta's spawn for destroying the pool within our main nest^^^^^!"


Looking over the great horde that had so quickly emerged at his call, Mata Nui only hoped that they could do what he needed them to do. He turned his gaze to Kopaka, and the two pairs of golden eyes met in silent understanding: Kopaka would march with the Bohrok, in order to pit his powers of ice against Iconox. With a final word to the Turaga, who were to remain behind with all those unable to fight, he began marching forth with the Toa and other warriors. He could sense other parties at work on this world, yet to arrive at the battle, and hoped that they would arrive in time to help...and not merely to bury the dead.


To be continued...



*Mata Nui's new form is based on the "Toa Mata Nui" set from Toys 'R' Us.

**I named the Mask of Charisma after the Kumu Islets on Mata Nui; in my head canon the islets were named for the mask.

***The Mask of Psychometry is named for Mata Nui's Leva Bay; see above note.

****The Mask of Incomprehension was given one of the ancient Protector names.

*****Epolim is another name associated with the G2 Protectors, while Aliswa is one I came up with based on Alistair Swinnerton, one of the Bionicle G1 writers.

^Named for the original BIONICLE Chronicles author, C.A. Hapka.

^^I picture Aliswa's Toa form as a second model created from the pieces of Inika Nuparu, Hahli, and Hewkii-one Toa from three is a rip.

^^^Three guesses what this is.

^^^^Sound familiar?

^^^^^Another nod to Alvis' fan fiction, Descendant.


EDIT: Originally Jovan and Hapka's teammate was named Rokreng, a G2 name, but I decided to change it.

Edited by Wiriamu
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Chapter 11

Gali would have felt a lot better if there were more beings she knew well under her command; as it was, she was familiar only with the Toa Mahri, and that five-man Toa team was in a grim mood, accompanied as they were by the mad Skakdi Vezon rather than their fallen comrade Matoro. The Toa Cordak were somewhat comforting; the idea of fighting alongside the first ever Toa team was certainly nothing to sneeze at, though it was a little unnerving to realize that seven of them had died thousands of years ago. However, the rest of her unlikely army was composed of various figures-all as tall as a Toa or taller-ranging from lean and acrobatic to burly to downright monstrous. Of course, considering the horde of howling Zyglak and grinning Skakdi they were going to face, she couldn't really complain about any allies willing to join in the fight.

The enemy force wasted no time, charging forward to meet the unexpected opposition with wild abandon while Irnakk, Tajun, and Strakk hung back. Weapons of all kinds and energy blasts filled the air as the two forces charged each other, meeting with a loud crash. A number of Zyglak managed to break through and charged the Toa, eager to destroy their hated adversaries. Some of the Zyglak had been among those who had slaughtered the Toa Cordak millennia previously, and though they were surprised to see familiar-looking Toa it wasn't enough to slow them down.

The sight of both Cordak and Mahri drawing Cordak Blasters and aiming them at the advancing horde was another matter.

As Lesovikk blew away the resulting cloud of smoke with a conjured breeze, Vezon slipped away and soon pounced upon Strakk, who was trying to avoid the heaviest part of the fighting. The unfortunate Ice Glatorian found himself set upon by a Skakdi who, though unarmed and without power, was a skilled fighter with manic strength. Spotting Vezon's escape, the Mahri went after him only to find themselves engaged by more Skakdi and Zyglak.

Gali employed her Adaptive Armor to fly forth to face the Element Lord of Water; Tajun regarded her warily, sensing in her power to rival his own. Realizing there was little to gain by holding back, he called forth a wall of water and sent it rushing towards her, sending some of his own minions flying in the process. Gali responded by calling forth a geyser that split the wave, and then directed the stream of water to strike the Element Lord. Though powerful enough to have felled a Muaka, the powerful blast was simply absorbed by Tajun, who promptly countered by creating a sphere of water that he hurled at his nemesis.

Feeling no desire to get involved in the elemental struggle, Irnakk set his sights on the Toa Cordak, whose teamwork-rediscovered after millennia apart-was easily the most formidable force in the clash apart from Tajun or Gali. Accordingly, the golden being advanced towards the assembled Toa, green eyes narrowing as the Skakdi grin appeared on its face. The Toa spotted it coming, but the Cordak had faced some of the worst menaces in the universe short of the Makuta, and weren't about to back down. After a quick discussion, the eight Toa fanned out, creating a loose crescent facing the advancing Irnakk.

Ikir, Toa Cordak of Fire, was the first to act, employing his Kanohi Korgot* to grow to twice his normal height, putting him eye-to-eye with Irnakk. He then drew his Burning Sai weapons, a pair of short daggers designed for melee combat, and surrounded them with fire before moving to meet Irnakk. However, he was caught off guard as Irnakk unleashed a pair of Thok's powers, staggering Ikir with spellbinder vision before enveloping him in a cloud of ice, the elemental powers of all six Piraka unlocked due to their union within Irnakk. However, he was soon stunned when Akida and Nikila, the female members of the Toa Cordak, combined their powers to strike him with a stream of electrified water.

Enraged, Irnakk attempted to use Vezok's powers to treat the Toa of Water and Lightning to a taste of their own medicine. However, he was completely stunned when the energies materialized but reacted violently with each other, treating him to a second dose of water crackling with lightning. It didn't take long for him to read Nikila's mind and realize that her Kanohi Vizuna of Possibilities had been in effect, increasing the chance that attempting to employ two different powers that had been absorbed at the same time would backfire on him. Before he could treat her to one of Hakann's mental blasts in return, a loud screech filled his ears courtesy of Akida's Kanohi Arthron. The Toa of Water followed up her sonic assault with a swing of her Tsunami Sanjiegun** aimed at Irnakk's head, but the beast caught it easily.

Before Irnakk could attack Akida, a recovered Ikir slashed his arm, forcing him to drop the sanjiegun end. In the second time in as many minutes the fusion found himself hit with a blast of Sonics, this time from the Resonance Kama held by Toa Terak. Shaking it off, Irnakk unleashed a blast of Vezok's impact vision that threw Terak back, only to catch a blow from Ikir that knocked him back as well. Annoyed, Irnakk used Reidak's powers to open a fissure beneath the tall Toa, only for Ikir to float above it. The culprit, Toa Melum of Gravity, used his Twin Tonfa to float Ikir safely away from the fissure; before Irnakk could strike again, his comrade Ketar, Toa of Stone, struck the ground with his Tectonic Tekko causing the rock beneath Irnakk to crumble.

Livid, Irnakk drove the Toa back with a barrage of elemental power, only to feel a sharp pain in his foot. Looking down, he saw that a large snake had bitten him, having appeared apparently from nowhere. The source of this attack became evident as he looked back and saw a Kanohi Zatth on the face of Toa Uxar, who smirked at his opponent. However, the Toa of Iron was ignorant of Reidak's recovery power, and Irnakk crushed the Talon Snake beneath his foot without hesitation as he stalked towards the hated heroes.

Just as the Toa Cordak began to think that they had bitten off more than they could chew, a loud screaming reached them. Vezon, cackling like mad and swinging Strakk's Ice Axe, came charging through at Irnakk. Irnakk had the presence of mind to blast at him with Hakann's heat vision, but Mata Nui's "gift" rendered Vezon invulnerable. Before Irnakk had time to process this unexpected development, Vezon had leaped into the air and landed on the golden giant, axe raised for the kill. It was not to be, however, as the mad Piraka was suddenly enveloped with golden light and drawn into Irnakk's very form, leaving Strakk's axe to fall to the ground just as its owner had.

Taking the strange occurrence for a victory, Irnakk turned its attention back to the Cordak-only to be consumed by the same light that had enveloped Vezon.

Perditus, vehicular combat champion of the Fire Tribe, had not seen such a horrific melee since the long ago Core War, and had hoped never to see such again. As he blasted a Vorox with his Thornatus' force blasters, he could see Ackar out of the corner of his eye locked in combat with Kalmah, doing his best to use his flame sword to keep the Barraki's tentacles at bay while he countered Kalmah's own weapon with his shield. Not far away Ehlek was locked in combat with Vastus, the Eel against the Snake, and the often unstable amphibian was being driven to greater rage as Vastus' skills enabled him to evade protosteel talon slashes with his eyes shut. The field all around them was a mass of green, as members of  Ehlek's species fought either against or alongside members of the Jungle Tribe, depending on whether or not they had rejoined their former leader.

Before he could see how the other Glatorian were faring, Perditus was alerted to an approaching enemy by the sound of an engine revving. Turning, he saw a red-armored figure coming up alongside him on a two-wheeled vehicle, laughing as he spotted the Glatorian's attention. Unbeknownst to Perditus, this was Triglax, a Dark Hunter who had deserted the organization upon the fall of Odina. He had journeyed to Destral and come across his vehicle, which had once belonged to Makuta Antroz, and adopted Antroz's form in order to sow terror among his prospective enemies. Afterwards, he had joined up with the Barraki's new army, hoping that through their protection he would be safe from the wrath of the Shadowed One.

"Your vehicle has some nice armaments, Glatorian-too bad it's so slow!" Triglax emphasized his point by revving the Destral Cycle's engine and easily passing the Thornatus, before turning around and heading back towards the more cumbersome vehicle. He shot past it on the other side at blinding speed, clearly reveling in his perceived advantage over the Glatorian. However, his exultation quickly ended as the Agori Crotesius, Scodonius, and Kirbraz appeared around him on their Cendox and Kaxium vehicles.

Hemmed in by the trio and unable to escape due to their armaments, Triglax was forced to travel in the direction in which they were driving him. This led him straight towards Perditus, and he found himself running roughly parallel to the Fire Glatorian but slightly behind. Then, with maneuverability he would never have anticipated from the slower vehicle, Triglax watched as the Thornatus abruptly turned and came right at him, too quickly to him to get out of the way. With a cry he abandoned the Destral Cycle, shapeshifting into a Cliff Screecher and flying away as the empty vehicle was rammed by Perditus, whose Thornatus left a shattered hulk of the former Makuta vehicle.

Perditus watched the ex-Dark Hunter flee before waving to his fellow pilots in gratitude as he turned back towards the battle. "My old Dune Chariot may be slow, but she's sturdy."

Spotting the Glatorian's victory, Kabrua readied his own force blaster and took deliberate aim at the Thornatus. As he was about to fire, however, his weapon was suddenly knocked out of his grasp by an unexpected blow. Reacting quickly, Kabrua turned to face his assailant and found himself looking at Surel, the Glatorian of Ice, who gripped the walking stick he had used to knock Kabrua's weapon away tightly in both hands. Despite himself, Kabrua laughed at the spectacle of the former leader of the Iron Wolves. "You should be more careful with that staff of yours, Ice Warrior-were I to snap it in two, you might have some trouble getting around."

"Maybe in the past, Kabrua-yes, I know who you are-but not anymore. I made some new friends recently, and one of them was kind enough to use one of those strange masks of theirs on my leg. It feels good to walk without help for the first time in 100,000 years-let's see if I still remember how to fight, shall we?" Adjusting his grip on his staff so that he held it in only one hand, Surel drew his trusty dagger with the other and held both in readiness for the Vorox warrior.

Kabrua responded by drawing a sword-similar to that carried by many Vorox-and charging Surel with a guttural roar. The sword moved with incredible speed but was intercepted by Surel's staff, whose ancient wood was impervious to any blade. Kabrua's tail whipped forth just as quickly, only to be countered by the dagger, which held the stinger at bay. Thinking he had gained an edge, Kabrua kept a grip on his sword with one hand and lunged for Surel's throat with the other, only for the Ice Glatorian to leap backwards. Showing no signs of his old injuries, Surel held his weapons ready in another invitation to the Vorox elite, who bellowed yet another war cry before charging again.

Not far away, Nektann and one of his Skakdi-a female with the power of Jungle-were locked in battle with Gresh and Kiina. The two grinning warriors were a formidable team, their elemental powers unlocked by their alliance. Nektann had also acquired another Crescent Scythe, and was using his water power in combination with freezing beams fired from his eyes to keep the two Glatorian on their toes. When coupled with the fact that his strength increased by double if he were struck by water, it seemed unlikely that the two Glatorian could hope to triumph. However, Kiina and Gresh fought like two parts of a whole, Kiina focusing primarily on Nektann's partner while Gresh faced the Skakdi warlord, only employing her powers to divert Nektann's water attacks harmlessly away from Gresh and from himself to prevent his power increase.

Mantax was busy trying to direct his own forces and those of his allies, all of whom were occupied. From his post he could see Pridak and Tarix locked in what might have been the most awe-inspiring sword fight that Spherus Magna or the inhabitants of the Matoran Universe had ever seen. Having determined that his water attacks were of little to no effect against the Barraki leader, Tarix had fallen back on what he knew best, his twin blades weaving a delicate pattern of death. Pridak gave as good as he got, having kept his combat skills sharp through the eons spent trapped in his cell in the Pit. Some distance beyond them, a mass of swirling sand filled the air, with sections occasionally being lit up by flashes of light as though a sandstorm had met a lightning storm; in fact it was Umbra and Atero, the Element Lady of Sand, locked in terrifying combat.

Despite his incredible speed, Umbra sensed that he could not win the battle through his usual means: his light blasts could do little damage to the formless Atero, who likewise made her way over or around the solid light projections Umbra created with his Rhotuka. While he was fast enough to evade Atero's attacks, Umbra knew that evasion would not fulfill his mission-he had to find some way of halting Atero's onslaught, as surely as he had halted many a would-be possessor of the Kanohi Ignika. Realizing what it would require, he steeled himself and launched into action. Several Rhotuka flew from his launcher, but instead of being aimed at Atero, they formed a ring around Umbra. When they struck the ground, walls of light came forth, meeting and merging until they converged over him, creating a glowing dome of energy.

Fearing-and justly so-what Umbra might accomplish were he given time, Atero gathered her substance and began smashing at the light barriers, which flickered under the pounding of limbs made of sand. Umbra knew that Atero would break through before long, but he believed that he had the time he needed. With that thought in mind he closed his eyes and concentrated, focusing his formidable Light in a way that he had never attempted before-and never would again, whether or not it succeeded. His laser lance shown with with power, and his body began to glow with blinding light as he sensed Atero's growing desperation.

With all the force she could muster, Atero molded her sand into a great ram and smashed it into Umbra's dome, which shattered under the impact. Any sense of victory the Lady of Sand felt was quickly robbed from her as Umbra came into view, radiating such brilliant energy that even the former Vorox had to shield her eyes. Caught off guard by her foe's appearance, she could only stand as Umbra gave one final cry. "None can stand before the Light!"

And with that, Umbra shot forward, transforming into pure light one final time: a bolt of Light that struck Atero with shocking force that sent up a cloud of sand and smoke, blinding to all who looked upon it. Glatorian, Barraki, Vorox, Skakdi, and Agori alike halted their clash long enough to stare and behold the results of Umbra's final attack. Umbra's body lay lifeless on the ground, drained of all light but still clutching the Laser Lance. Mere feet from where it lay stood Atero-still living, but transfigured into a sculpture of glass by the sheer heat generated by Umbra's attack.

The stunned silence lasted a moment, perhaps two. Then a pair of miniature Skakdi-one red with yellow weapons, the other black with a silver hook***-threw themselves at Tarduk and Kirbold, and the battle was rejoined in earnest.

Location: Great Beings’ fortress.

Life had been one unpleasant series of surprises for Angonce over the past few months or so. From the Mask of Life landing on Bara Magna, to Makuta's arrival in control of the Great Spirit robot, to Marendar's emergence after Makuta's defeat, to Nynrah's reappearance in the body of the Matoran Velika. But even he was rendered speechless as he, Gelu, and their three Toa companions emerged from the jungle surrounding the fortress of his brethren to see a massive gathering of Toa, Matoran, and Turaga surrounding the structure. The three Toa were almost as astonished: seeing female Toa of Iron and male Toa of Lightning was a first for Zaria and Chiara, while Orde had never expected to see another male Toa of Psionics.

It didn't take long for the crowd to spot them, and the assorted beings began murmuring in surprise, fear, or wonder. For many of them seeing the three Toa was much like what the three Toa were experiencing, though without the weight of tens of thousands of years of different expectations. All they had were the words of Nynrah regarding their distant brethren, and now-actually seeing them in person-they couldn't help but wonder whether their crazed creator was right about the need for their destruction. Angonce's presence certainly made the matter all the more questionable, though Gelu's attachment to the party was more a curiosity than anything.

Recovering swiftly, Angonce spoke out in a loud voice. "Creations of the Great Beings, I am one of those who created you-let me pass, for I must speak with my brethren. I suspect that a battle is to be joined between us-if that is so, I would ask that you abstain from taking part, that my brethren and I may settle our feud between us; enough innocents have had their hands dirtied by our mistakes."

With that, the purple-armored Great Being strode for the causeway leading up to the fortress, leaving Gelu and his three companions to wait at the edge of the mass of Matoran, Toa, and Turaga. The crowd parted willingly for him, some showing deference, others obviously fearful. Given what he suspected awaited him within, Angonce knew that such fear was well-justified. Knowing that he might be spotted by his enemy at any moment, he threw caution to the wind and unleashed a blast from his lance at the door, following close behind using the power of swift transit available to all Great Beings.

The door shattered and Angonce passed through the rubble, coming to a stop even before the debris had hit the floor. The sight that greeted him was a source of sorrow, to say the least: the various Great Beings split into two groups, with Nynrah in the body of Velika, Heremus, Daxia, and Xia standing at the head of one. A small measure of relief came from the sight of Odina and Zakaz at the head of the other, backed by Velika in the body of Nynrah and Papa Nihu. Both groups of leaders turned at the noise of his arrival, and Odina's face lit up at the sight of him, a stark contrast to the hatred of Nynrah that filled the eyes of Velika's body.

Determined that this would remain the affair of the Great Beings, Angonce sent a silent signal to Papa Nihu, whose eyes smiled mischievously at his suggestion. Before anyone could act she had reached out with a pair of her tentacles, one wrapping around Nynrah's body and the other around Velika's; it was the work of a moment to undo what she had done at Nynrah's behest so long ago. Suddenly the golden eyes of the Matoran were filled with surprise, while it was the pink-armored Great Being who now glared hatred at his former comrade. Papa Nihu swiftly drew Velika, back in his body after countless millennia, over to her side while she none too gently hurled Nynrah's body-once again inhabited by its rightful mind-back at his faction of Great Beings.


Nynrah got to his feet quickly and turned his attention again towards Angonce. "You should have taken greater advantage of your surprise entrance, Velika, and not wasted your energies with such a pointless exercise. Now I need not worry about the limitations of that Matoran form...and I can crush you with ease."


In answer, Zakaz unlimbered the energy-producing pickaxe he had used such a long time ago to carve the steps leading from the surface of Voya Nui down to the Mask of Life's chamber and unleashed a blast of incredible power that Nynrah was forced to deflect by producing his own signature instrument, a shield that resembled a buzzsaw. A melee soon broke out as the rest of Zakaz's comrades charged Nynrah's group, a sight that filled Angonce with sorrow and horror. Despite this, he turned to Papa Nihu, who had extricated herself and Velika from the conflict. "Get yourselves out of here!"


With a nod, the organic creature slithered swiftly through the entrance Angonce had blown open, dragging Velika behind her as she did. Angonce watched them go briefly before turning back to the melee and wading in with his lance. Outside, the thousands of Toa, Turaga, and Matoran watching were awestruck at the appearance of Papa Nihu, despite the obvious urgency in her pace. As Tren Krom had been created with such ugliness that only the strongest-willed inhabitant of the Matoran Universe could have looked upon him without madness, so Papa Nihu was a creature of such beauty that all such beings who looked upon her had their minds sharpened and brought into the greatest harmony of which they were capable.


Papa Nihu carried Velika to where the three Toa from the Matoran Universe and Gelu stood waiting, with the Glatorian of Ice somewhat unnerved both by her appearance and its apparent effect on his comrades. Before he could say anything, however, another figure suddenly emerged from the forest: Destral, panting with the effort of the distance had just traveled. Seeing Papa Nihu and those around her, he did his best to compose himself before speaking. "The Matoran...the Agori...the Toa...the Glatorian...all the noble beings of this world who have gathered together...they are under attack. Seven armies march on their camp, and any two of them might be enough to slaughter all."


"Then we must tarry here no longer," Orde said, turning to Papa Nihu. "Lady, I know not where you come from, but I sense the power within you-will you give my message to those who are gathered here?"


Papa Nihu nodded, scanned the mind of the Toa of Psionics at his invitation, and then broadcast his plea to the army of biomechanical beings. "Creations of the Great Beings, hear me! Your creators war within the fortress, but their battle is not your battle. You must concern yourselves with a battle taking place elsewhere, one which threatens to destroy all of your kind who do not stand here along with many others undeserving of such a fate. Your creator Nynrah intended that you should destroy the survivors of this battle...but those Great Beings truly worthy of your regard and your own brethren call upon you to join it."


As one the assembled beings raised weapons and tools the air in a loud affirmation, having seen the truth of matters thanks to Papa Nihu's influence. They soon formed ranks and faced in the direction of the battle. However, realizing that these beings were unfamiliar with the terrain across which they would march, Orde turned to Gelu. "You led us here, Gelu...can you lead them back?"


"I suppose I don't have much choice-but after this I'm retiring from escort duty," Gelu muttered. Moving swiftly he made his way to the front of the army, and Orde and Papa Nihu soon conveyed orders to the force that they were to follow the Ice Glatorian. Destral watched them as they started marching, before turning his attention towards the trio of Toa and Papa Nihu, Velika having joined the ranks of the Matoran marching behind Gelu.


"I must remain here to offer what aid I can to Angonce and any of our brethren who haven't sided with that lunatic Nynrah. However, while this army will be of great service, there is something else that will also be of use. Papa Nihu, you are capable of teleportation? Good-take yourself and the Toa to these coordinates within the fallen Great Spirit robot." Papa Nihu processed Destral's telepathic communication in an instant and was gone with her three companions, leaving Destral to turn his gaze towards the fortress where his brethren-and the battle to decide their destiny-awaited.



Location: Near the Matoran-Agori camp.

Mata Nui felt a strange mixture of admiration and grief as he watched the Matoran charge into the Shadow Horde, attacking by their various means. The Gukko Force, which now included Vican and a number of Av-Matoran under Tanma, broke away to attack Miserix's flying Rahkshi and Venom Flyers, though a handful-led by Boreas on Kongu's old Gukko Ka-engaged the small number of Dark Hunters and other beings in the Shadow Horde such as Airwatcher, Phantom, and Poison who were capable of flight. Orkahm, meanwhile, had left the Gukko Force and was riding his faithful mount Pewku, who despite her age scuttled into battle bravely alongside Onepu's Ussalry, Kotu's Keras riders, and a band of former Voya Nui Matoran under Dalu who had managed to tame Rock Ussals. Many Matoran marched into battle piloting Boxors, whether the original model or a modified form that was built taller****, while some of the former Guards of Ta-Koro, the Ko-Koro Sanctum, Ga-Koro, and Po-Koro marched into battle with their tried and true tools alongside the armed Matoran under Garan, Defilak, and Kirop. In their midst marched various Toa, most notably the Toa Mangai.


The Dark Hunters, Skrall, and other villains were more than ready to meet them, most of them clearly eager to start slaughtering the smaller combatants approaching them. They were destined to be disappointed-those surviving Matoran who had never fought had remained behind at the camp with similarly unskilled Agori and all the Turaga. Of those they now faced, many had spent the past thousand years or longer fighting for survival against superior enemies or the forces of nature within their old universe. Few were a better example than Dekar, who seemed to have retained a few of Hydraxon's moves as he leaped upon the startled Skrall Warrior Branar. Atakus rushed to aid the larger Rock Tribe warrior only to run into the recently reunited Sarda and Idris, though he wielded his dual blades fearlessly as he faced off with the two Matoran.


Mata Nui's focus, however, was not on the bravery of the villagers and the Toa at his command, but on his own personal target. This was not Roxtus, Lord of Rock, who was busy trying to bring Pohatu Nuva out of the sky only to have his hurled boulders answered with Midak Skyblaster spheres, nor Stronius, whose spiked club had met its match in the Melter Morning Star wielded by Toa Valmai. Sentrakh would gladly have taken up the challenge, but found himself unable when the recently healed Axonn appeared to block his path to the towering figure of Mata Nui. All of this was observed by the Shadowed One, who stood with Voporak some distance back from the heaviest fighting, watching with a grim smile as Mata Nui approached his position.


"So, the 'Great Spirit' deigns to address his rebellious former subjects in person, does he? I might almost respect that, were it not for Makuta's success in unseating you from your place at the head of the universe. You never did care for your people-my race remains a prime example of that-and you couldn't even hold on to what power you had. It's not even by your own merit that you inhabit the Mask of Life-I heard how Makuta forced you into it before he jettisoned you from the universe like so much trash. Still, I must admit it will be a pleasure to cut you down by my own hand."


Mata Nui regarded the leader of the Dark Hunters with a mixture of regret, disgust, and...was that pity the Shadowed One saw? "I am indeed guilty of many offenses, Shadowed One, and should have done more for all under my care. But I seem to recall that it was your ilk that instigated the civil war that tore your homeland apart, and it has been your own will that has perpetuated such evil wherever the air has been fouled by your Hunters. Nowhere is that more true than on your former base of Odina-or did you not see those you once terrorized among my forces?"


Surprised, the Shadowed One scanned the nearby combatants, and did indeed recognize some of those whom he had terrorized so long ago: four-armed beings and their four-legged pets*****, looking anything but the helpless natives he had driven from Odina with Ancient's help so long ago. However, he feigned boredom, regarding Mata Nui with a sneer. "Am I supposed to be terrified that you've marshaled some of my old victims against me, Mata Nui? Many a would be avenger has come after me down through the ages; I am still here, while their bones litter Odina. Perhaps I will add yours to them, after I add the Ignika to my collection of Legendary Masks."


"For you to do that, your minion-the one who carries the first of your 'collection'-must best me," Mata Nui replied, gesturing to Voporak. Without a further word to the Shadowed One, the golden warrior turned to face Voporak, who at the Shadowed One's instruction had donned the Kanohi Ignika. The Shadowed One would gladly have struck at Mata Nui for what in his eyes was an affront to him, but quickly realized that a battle of primal forces was about to take place and that he would be best served by departing. With that in mind, he signaled to some of his most loyal hunters and a handful of other Shadow Horde members to follow him, and set his sights on a spot that the advancing armies had been forced to ignore: the Matoran-Agori camp. One of the non-Matoran inhabitants of Nynrah, a twisted being with the head of a Lehvak Va^, dared to move into his path and paid for it; the Shadowed One did not even pause before walking through the empty spot the now disintegrated being had previously inhabited.


Hoping fervently that Takanuva and the other Toa in his force could deal with the rest of the Shadow Horde without him, Mata Nui warily circled Voporak, who in characteristic fashion remained motionless, as though he could care less about the towering golden being. For his part, Mata Nui wasn't sure how much of a threat he did pose to Voporak-he might have been the taller of the two, but Voporak's powers had been formidable without him donning the Vahi. Though the Ignika had the same amount of power contained within as the other mask, Mata Nui was uncertain whether it would be enough to enable his success. Knowing, however, that he had to try, he spoke to the Ignika, silently pleading for its aid.


Loyal to Mata Nui and still as eager as ever to prove itself noble in honor of its late wearer Matoro, the Ignika responded by reaching out with its powers towards Voporak. Life met Time, and the air between the two giants crackled as the Ignika's powers interacted with Voporak's defensive field, which had been enhanced by the Vahi's powers. The Ignika struggled against the impediment, but could make little headway, and grimly reported to Mata Nui that the only means of affecting Voporak was to get a lot closer. It warned him-not that Mata Nui needed the reminder-of the possible consequences to Mata Nui's form, and that even the Ignika itself might not be immune. Coupled with the damage it had suffered in the mutagenic waters surrounding Mahri Nui, this temporal effect might well spell its doom-and all of Spherus Magna would suffer.


Mata Nui took this all in, knowing that he could scarcely imagine a world shaped by the Ignika's destruction: one in which everything that did not currently possess life would be awakened, from the smallest atom to the tallest mountain and perhaps further. However, recognizing that not to try would be to allow Voporak to unleash the power of Time upon the planet-and possibly wreak even greater horrors than the Ignika's destruction would-Mata Nui steeled himself. Sharing his resolve, the Ignika sent its power flowing through the form that had once been Marendar, making Mata Nui glow as he had before using the power of Life on Dekar, Vezon, and Destral. Shining with this light Mata Nui stepped forward towards Voporak, whose masked face betrayed the first trace of surprise as his glowing opponent reached the edge of the time field-and reality itself shuddered in response.


To be continued...


*I named the Mask of Growth after the G2 Protector of Earth.

**The traditional three-section staff, an Asian weapon; this is the Chinese name, while in Japan it's also known as the sansetsukon.

***The Piraka-headed "Bad Guy" sets from 2006; I figure they should get a role in the story.

****The Boxor alternate model.

*****A pair of alternate models created using the 2003 Matoran.

^One of the Kabaya Bohrok Va Kaita.

Edited by Wiriamu
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Chapter 12


From high above the ground, surrounded on all sides but at some distance by flying Rahkshi, Venom Flyers, and their various opponents from the forces arrayed against him, Miserix looked down with grim satisfaction at the surging mass of his army battling the forces of Toa Tahu. Though his forces faced formidable beasts-Muaka cats, Ash Bears, Kane-Ra Bulls, Kikanalo, Tarakava, Catapult Scorpions, and countless others-the Visorak and Rahkshi hordes were advancing steadily, capturing or dispatching some foes and forcing others to retreat. Likewise, Tesara's army of moving trees was steadily advancing with Iron Tribe warriors in their midst, while the Skopio they had gathered in their march to battle were locked in a grapple with the Tahtorak herd Keetongu had assembled. Seeing that the massive red and green beasts were apparently equal in numbers gave Miserix a flash of inspiration, and he sent a telepathic command to one of his Kahgarak.


One darkness infused spinner later, and a massive new threat appeared on the battlefield that scattered Rahi and Rahkshi alike: the Zivon, showing no signs of the injuries it had sustained on Metru Nui one thousand years prior due to the recuperative effects of the Zone of Darkness upon its monstrous frame. The time it had spent trapped had also done little to blunt its appetite, and it soon advanced towards the cowering Rahi that had fled its initial appearance. With all the Tahtorak occupied fighting Skopios, the stalker in the shadows had no equal among the remaining Rahi fighting against Miserix's force. The only consolation the defenders had was that none of the other members of Miserix's horde were eager to get too close to their "ally," meaning that a large portion of Miserix's army was at least temporarily prevented from continuing the assault.


However, Miserix's force wasn't the only one with tricks up its sleeves: as if to emphasize the point, a massive figure rose up from the midst of the Rahi force and began advancing towards the Zivon, gripping a massive shield and spear. Miserix instantly recognized the 60-foot Toa of Earth as one of the Toa Hagah he had encountered beneath Metru Nui, and his keen vision soon spotted the other five advancing quickly in the wake of their massive companion. Realizing that these six had the potential to trap his Zivon with a Toa seal, Miserix decided that it would be best to deal with them himself. And so, even as Bomonga unleashed a gigantic Rhotuka spinner that made the Zivon's armored shell crackle with chain lightning*, Miserix teleported down to appear right in front of his running companions.


"So, we meet again, Toa Hagah. First you fell easy prey to Teridax's illusions and were prevented from providing even meager assistance to me against him, and now you come forward to interfere with my army. It seems I made a mistake saving you from the lava beneath Metru Nui...or at least in not dispatching you myself once I learned everything of value you had to tell me. Fortunately, it seems that destiny has given me the chance to make up for my error in judgment-a shame for you!"


To their credit, the Hagah recovered from Miserix's surprise arrival and his change in appearance quickly, and soon sprang into action with the exception of Bomonga, who was ignorant of this development due to his focus on the Zivon. Pouks unleashed a Rhotuka at Miserix, creating a stasis field around the Makuta; unfortunately, Miserix's own stasis field powers allowed him to dissipate it. Kualus fired his own spinner and an ice blast; Miserix's dodge power took him away from the former but into the path of the latter, just as calculated. Kualus' spinner inadvertently struck a Visorak, its Accuracy power disabling the Visorak as it struck its weakest point; sadly, his ice attack was nowhere near as effective, merely creating a thin covering that Miserix shattered with little effort. Miserix then struck at the Toa of Ice with his laser vision, leaving Kualus on the ground and badly burned.


A pair of spinners flew from Norik and Gaaki's shields to strike Miserix, leaving the Makuta slower and more confused. Norik and Pouks then combined their weapons to unleash a stream of lava that Miserix barely evaded, only to run into a stream of water unleashed by Gaaki. The attack did little damage but did shake Miserix out of his disorientation, just in time to spot Iruini firing a spinner that restored Kualus to health. Annoyed by the gesture and realizing that the ability of the Toa of Air to heal his comrades could make this fight much more difficult, Miserix decided to address the matter and flew at Iruini at top speed. Iruini disappeared from his path using the Kanohi Kualsi, forcing Miserix to turn towards his new location only for Iruini to repeat the maneuver when Miserix was almost on top of him.


Unfortunately for Iruini, Miserix had learned greater control over his temper after learning of Teridax's fall; no longer was he filled with blind rage that could easily overcome his sense of judgment. As such, he was able to use his telepathic abilities to sense where Iruini was teleporting to, and unleashed a cyclone at the spot. Upon materializing, Iruini instinctively called upon his elemental powers to counter the Makuta-produced wind...only to find Miserix above him with his spiked weapon raised high. The last sound the Toa Hagah of Air heard was the shattering of his own Kanohi, the pieces of which flew into the air before falling to the ground around Iruini's lifeless form.


Miserix's sense of triumph was short-lived, as he was struck by a blast of laser vision courtesy of Pouks' Kanohi Nilkuu**, which he had used to copy Miserix's attack on Kualus. Norik followed this up with a blast of white hot fire, the most intense he had ever produced-rage at Iruini's cruel demise was feeding his flames. However, even the hottest flames were little threat to a Makuta, who shot through them and knocked Norik to the ground. He looked almost disappointed as he raised his weapon for his second kill in as many minutes-but disappointment turned to shock as he realized that his weapon was suddenly 100 times heavier than it was supposed to be.


Noticing the Makuta's unexpected difficulty, Norik turned and spotted the source: a Toa of Gravity rushing towards them with a Toa of Psionics following close behind. The Toa of Fire froze, for he suddenly realized that he knew both of them from long ago. The Toa of Gravity, still sending his power flowing towards Miserix through his Gravitation Gauntlets, was Mamuk***, who had once led Norik's previous team of Toa. And the the Toa following behind him...was Varian.


Miserix, intent on his prey, used his own Gravity power to counter Mamuk's, and raised his weapon again for the final blow on Norik. However, he was then subjected to a very different form of interference: a mental assault from Varian that was like the screams of a dozen Klakk. Reeling, Miserix teleported away, deciding that taking on a set of six Toa by himself was an unwise move to make. This left Norik free to rise to his feet, just in time to be caught in a crushing embrace from Varian that he did his best to return.




"Varian! All these centuries, I thought you were gone forever-I thought that the Dark Hunters had killed you!"


The mention of her former captors made Varian shudder with horror, bringing concern to Norik's face; she quickly explained. "No, the Shadowed One took me alive-and you too, though you don't remember it. He wanted a Toa of Psionics to add to his collection as a living trophy; our friend 'Grey' was one of his minions, a shapeshifter named Triglax. I was locked in stasis for centuries, barely aware of anything...and what little I could sense was the evil of the Dark Hunters and the torment of their captives."


Wordlessly Norik drew his friend close again, and for a moment they just took comfort in their reunion. Then Varian pulled away sheepishly, before turning to regard their former commander. "Mamuk was in charge of the salvage operation that found me; I must admit, it was a pleasure to see a friendly face again."


The purple and black Toa smiled, and he and Norik bumped fists as they greeted each other. "I was as pleased as you were, Varian; even more so when we learned that Norik was here. Sadly, I think we three are the only survivors of our old team, and we've arrived too late to save you from losing another. But Varian and I are ready to fight, if you'll have us."


"We would be honored," said Gaaki as she, Pouks, and Kualus came up to stand with Norik. Before they could move to aid Bomonga, who was doing his best to fend off the Zivon with his spear, a loud roar split the air. As one they turned to look, and were stunned to see the Kanohi Dragon swoop in to attack the Zivon, raking at its armor with its massive claws. However, that shock was soon eclipsed by an even larger surprise: the sight of a massive horde of other large Rahi and the creatures of Spherus Magna charging into the rear of Miserix's army.


Miserix was almost as shocked as his Toa foes: first his ancient masterpiece, the Kanohi Dragon****, had miraculously appeared only to start attacking the Zivon, and now his other forces were being set upon by beasts both familiar and new to him. At their head were a Matoran of Ice, a massive creature resembling a bizarre mismatch of differently colored components, and a figure in white armor wielding a great war hammer. This last riveted Miserix's attention, for though the being was unleashing attacks of Light, he wore the Kanohi Kraahkan of Shadows. His was gold, as the one Miserix had previously known had been so very long ago...before it turned as black as the heart of the one who had worn it.




The cry was carried on a Power Scream that drove Mazeka and Krahka from Teridax's side; the white armored warrior looked up just in time to see Miserix's black-armored form come tearing through the sky to crash land some bios from where he stood. Taking the standard he had been carrying, Miserix planted it in the ground and then drew the axe-like weapon he had been wearing at his side before stepping forward to confront Teridax doubly armed. For his part, Teridax was stunned by the appearance of another Makuta, having believed that his fallen counterpart would have destroyed all others upon his ascension. And just as Miserix had recognized him as an alternate version of that Makuta, Teridax soon realized that he had known a version of this Makuta as well.


"Miserix...I cannot believe that it is you. In my world you were the noble leader of our kind, loyal servant to the Great Beings. Sadly, you sacrificed yourself in order to stop the Element Lords after they became mad with power and sought to control the planet of Spherus Magna. But that was the Miserix of my world...here it seems you have allied yourself with one of those very Element Lords in order to conquer the planet for yourself."


"Conquer? No-merely bring an order that would already exist had it not been for the arrogance of YOUR counterpart. Still, I must say it pleases me that you've arrived here. I was cheated of revenge upon the Teridax who betrayed me, but one Teridax is as good as another in my book! And this time there will be no interference, so if you would survive my wrath you must best me alone!"


With a grim nod Teridax hefted his hammer, and all other combatants in the area wisely dispersed to give the two Makuta a wide berth in which to face off. It was a true clash of opposites: the only similarity between the two was that both wore gold masks. Miserix was a towering demon, quivering with rage and savage in his appearance; Teridax was the image of a determined protector, ready for battle but obviously regretting that he had to take part in one at all. With the briefest of pauses, the two combatants charged at each other, the prelude to a fearsome clash.



Not far from where Zivon fought dragon and Makuta fought Makuta, Toa Tuyet was overseeing the battle from atop the Skopio XV-1, and the more she saw the grimmer she became. Bomonga had left the Zivon to the Kanohi Dragon, and was now using his increased size to aid in attacking Miserix's air forces. The other Hagah-now joined by Varian and Mamuk-had set their sights on the Rahkshi Kaita and Kraata-Kal on the ground, with Mamuk using his Gravity powers to make all five heavier and thus slower. This allowed the other five Toa to take on their foes individually, with Kualus using his Kanohi Izotor to pit the Archives Beast against the Kaita Xi, whose Fragmentation powers were countered by the shapeshifter's ability to randomly reconstitute its form. He was thus freed to go to the aid of Gaaki, who had reluctantly activated her Kanohi Kivoda***** in order to keep the Kaita Cu from infecting her with Anger but now found herself gripped in a vision of the devastation that would be unleashed by the battle.


Varian faced off with Kraata-Kal, who was more than a little unnerved to face the Toa he had seen so many times frozen in stasis in the Shadowed One's personal chamber. Varian's Calix enabled her to dodge his fire, shadow, and water attacks, but he had no such defense against her Psionic attacks. Pouks was kept busy countering Kaita Ul's Disintegration blasts with his stasis Rhotuka while he attempted to emulate those powers with his mask. Norik was thus left to deal with the Kaita Ye, hitting it with fire blasts while evading the creature so as to escape its Poison touch.


Not far away, Tuyet saw Tesara struggling against Toa Lewa, the Master of Jungle against the Master of Air. It was a fairly even contest, as Lewa's speed enabled him to evade Tesara's plants, but his winds were hard pressed to do much damage to the plant life Tesara commanded. However, Lewa's Midak Skyblaster made things more difficult for Tesara, particularly when exploding light spheres produced fire that threatened the former Glatorian. Sahmad was in even worse shape: two of the attacking Rahi, a pair of Lava Apes with grey and gold faces^ had engaged his Spikit and smashed his chariot. Worse yet for him, the confusion had allowed Tera to escape her bonds, and the Iron Glatorian was pursuing the Iron Agori with grim determination and a metal bar.


Before Tuyet could decide which of her compatriots to aid, however, she caught sight of an Electro-Rocket flying towards her vehicle. Working quickly, she directed her force blasters at the projectile and fired, creating an explosion that sent the Skopio XV-1 skidding back across the ground. Recovering quickly, she spotted her assailant through the smoke: Toa Tahu astride his Exo-Raptor, its launcher still smoking from the deployment of the Electro-Rocket. With a smile of anticipation she converted the Skopio into it's treaded mode and began roaring towards Tahu even as his Exo-Raptor began loping in her direction.


Tuyet fired with abandon, sending force blasts and Thornax flying at Tahu, who blocked the attacks with his Kanohi Hau even as he piloted his vehicle towards hers at greater speed. Tuyet didn't waver, revving the Skopio's engines until smoke rose from the craft as it sped towards the Exo-Raptor. The two met with a crash and an explosion, with debris scattering over a wide field. When it cleared, the two Toa stood in the midst of the wreckage completely unharmed due to the respective powers of their Kanohi masks.


"Such a shame, Tahu-you should have gotten a bit closer before firing off that rocket. Not to mention that you had it aimed to disable my vehicle, rather than to eliminate me. I really expected more from a legendary Toa of Fire created to safeguard Mata Nui. Then again, seeing you now, I shouldn't be surprised-it's the same sort of foolish decision that Lhikan would have made; perhaps all Fire Toa with golden Masks of Shielding are alike."


"Toa only kill as an absolute last resort, Tuyet-something you forgot long ago, by all accounts. Still, I suppose I shouldn't be surprised that you don't act like a hero, given that you seem to fancy yourself some kind of empress. But you'll find no rule here, so I suggest that you surrender now. Your crimes have been great, but if you cooperate we may be lenient with you."


Drawing her barbed broadsword, Tuyet chuckled maliciously. "You really are just like Lhikan-but I don't think Lewa's going to be able come to your aid as Nidhiki did his. You may know of my last encounter with them, but you don't know what's happened since-like how the Nui Stone was repaired, and how I've spent years traveling from dimension to dimension using it to absorb power from other Toa. You are a candle, Tahu...and I am the rain!"


To prove her point, Tuyet swung her sword, and a tidal wave materialized and washed across the ground towards Tahu. She fully expected that he would employ his Hau to protect himself, and was thus completely caught off guard when Tahu turned and unleashed a massive blast of Heat Vision that turned her wave into a cloud of steam. Eyes still glowing with power, Tahu turned to look at her; this time the resemblance between him and Lhikan was chilling, for even at their parting of ways Lhikan had never looked at her with such contempt as Tahu did now. His voice was as hard as his gaze when he finally spoke again, drawing his sword as he did so.


"You're not the only one who needs to catch up, Tuyet. You may have the Nui Stone, but I have the Golden Armor, and with it the power of many of Teridax's fallen Rahkshi. Not all-your own troops are proof of that-but enough that my current power dwarfs even that which I held as a Toa Nuva. So we are both more than ordinary Toa-the difference is that I gained mine doing what a Toa should do, while you stole yours. Let's see whose power holds up."



Even as one clash between Fire and Water was unfolding in the midst of the clashing armies of Miserix and Tahu, another was taking place in the battle between the Order of Mata Nui and the former prisoners of the Pit. Unlike Tahu and Tuyet, Helryx and Vulcanus wasted no words, but immediately began attacking each other with their respective elements. Walls of flame were extinguished by geysers of water, while cyclones of water were vaporized by balls of fire. The area around the two combatants quickly turned into a cloud of fog that grew to envelop their armies, forcing the two forces to battle in obscurity.


A handful managed to escape the flame, such as the winged Order operative Etoku and her opponent of choice, a winged monstrosity with a sharp blade in one hand, sharp claws on the other, and two red eyes that glared out from a yellow face with two multi-pointed horns. Jerbraz, meanwhile, found that the mist created an outline of his invisible form that, while still imperceptible to most, was quite visible to the massive green eyes of a blue brawler whose twin swords clashed again and again with Jerbraz's transparent blade. Trinuma, who had rarely encountered a foe to equal him in size or strength, found himself facing a tall, sinewy green figure with giant pincers and a head chillingly reminiscent of the late Barraki Carapar. Botar and Axato fought back to back, the one against a black and silver humanoid with gaping jaws and a vicious scythe, and the other against a white and green figure who wielded a deadly harpoon.^^


Johmak, the black-armored female Order operative, watched the battle from a vantage point that allowed her to see the shadowy figures in the fog. Apart from her battling comrades, she could occasionally make out the massive form of a Mana Ko blasting at a cluster of Pit prisoners, or else roaring in agony as they clambered over it, weapons seeking out any vulnerability in their armor. Hydraxon, who had joined Helryx's crusade only to see Pit prisoners stopped, found himself facing an altogether different foe in Malum, whose millennia of arena combat made him a tricky foe even for the skilled guard. A blast from his Thornax launcher took out Hydraxon's Cordak Blaster, and then the pair were going at it claws to blades.


"Quite the mess out there, isn't it?"


Turning, Johmak saw that Lariska had come up behind her, holding a protosteel dagger loosely in each hand. Some distance away, the brawling Shadow Horde and Mata Nui's forces were moving ever closer as their conflict intensified. A number of Skrall in the former were living up to their name, as Makuta had bestowed some of his Shadow power upon them after witnessing their attack on the Glatorian and Toa during his clash with Mata Nui. However, they were getting as good as they got, as their Shadow attacks were countered by the Light bolts of the Av-Matoran and the Elemental Powers of various Toa.


"How long before all of these armies are one chaotic mass of conflict, do you think? At this rate we'll have the Shadow Horde fighting Pit escapees, Toa fighting Order members, and who knows what else? This is turning into a battle that no one can win, but that we might all lose."


Bringing her shield to bear, Johmak replied. "So what are you proposing? That we try to stop the fighting? Or get out of here and leave everyone else to finish each other off?"


"Oh, nothing so grandiose," replied Lariska with a grin. "I figure if we're going to die, we might as well make sure that the Shadowed One dies first. Last I saw him he was heading towards the camp, which is probably where all the helpless dregs you and your kind have sworn to protect are hiding. With all this mess I could probably take him out...but I could use some help."


"In other words, you want a scapegoat in the event that your plan goes awry," Johmak replied. "Sorry, but I don't make deals with scum like you."


With a shrug, Lariska hurled a poison-tipped dagger at Johmak, who instinctively dissolved into her black crystal form. Like lightning Lariska lifted her mechanical arm and fired a small device from it, which exploded in the midst of Johmak's scattered form. The blast completely consumed Johmak, leaving nothing behind. Lariska, as callous to her latest murder as she had been to so many over the ages, calmly walked over and retrieved her dagger before turning in the direction of the Matoran camp.



Metus had not wished more to be someplace other than where he was since he had been caught in the confrontation between Annona and Irnakk with Sahmad insisting that they intercede on behalf of the monstrous golden creature. He had been looking forward to a swift-if messy-revenge on the Glatorian and Agori, with Iconox and the Baterra making quick work of the fools. Best of all, the Glatorian would probably all have perished, ignorant of the fact that the Baterra would ignore them were they merely to drop their weapons. With that, Iconox would swiftly have claimed rule over the paltry remainder of the Agori and other inhabitants of the planet, leaving Metus as his “loyal” governor while he dealt with the other Element Lords.


Unfortunately, they had never anticipated anything like the strange mechanoid creatures that had come forth to meet them. Coming in similar sizes to Agori and Glatorian and in the colors of their tribes-minus Earth and Iron-the insectoid beings marched on relentlessly, with some of their number joining together to form larger machines to attack. Their Elemental Shields were apparently weapon enough that the Baterra attacked them relentlessly, and it seemed the Baterra were better designed for combat. However, they lacked the Elemental Powers of the enemy machines, and the more colorful machines were clearly better at working in tandem.


Some Baterra fell before red hot flame, while others were frozen in blocks of ice and still others disappeared into pools of acid. Some managed to evade blasts of water only to be crushed by boulders or fall into fissures, while others disappeared beneath masses of smaller machines wielding staffs, picks, katana, hooks, hammers, and claws. The really unfortunate ones had their systems fried by lightning or scrambled by sound waves, were thrown in every direction by vacuum or magnetic forces, or annihilated by plasma blasts or crushed by gravity, all courtesy of the Bohrok-Kal. As if that weren't enough, those few Baterra who could make their way through the enemy hordes found themselves faced with a monstrous blue and red creature that seemed to possess all twelve of the elemental powers wielded by the Bohrok and Kal, making quick work of the enemy robots.


Had Iconox been able to unleash his winter storms on the Bohrok, things might have gone his way. However, for the first time in his existence the Lord of Ice found himself facing a foe as cold as he was, though in a different way: the freezing rage of the former Glatorian met the icy resolve of Kopaka, Toa Nuva of Ice. Flying above his opponent, Kopaka endured Iconox's powers without flinching, only exerting his own powers to keep the snow and hail from reaching the Bohrok and preventing them from fighting the Baterra. Having seen the power of an Element Lord for himself many times, seeing it so easily countered had Metus more than a little unnerved.


"This is seriously going to cut into my profit margin. I think it best to cut my losses-he who quits and runs away lives to swindle another day."



Narrowly avoiding a Shadow blast, Artakha dealt a stunning blow from his hammer to the Shadow Takanuva who had attacked him. Fortunately, the rest of them were busy fighting a group of noble Vortixx who had formed under Zamor, who was likewise doing his best to subdue the corrupted Toa without harming them. The rest of the fighting between Artakha's force and the Claw of Karzahni was much more intense, with neither side granting the other any quarter. Of course, some of Karzahni's mad minions-such as Sidorak-had broken away from the Claw before the two sides even engaged and charged into the midst of the other armies.


Suddenly, a Rhotuka spinner struck the ground beneath Artakha, causing a mass of rock to erupt and cover his legs up to the knee. Caught off guard, Artakha dropped his hammer, and the rocks prevented him from bending so as to reach it to free himself. The thought of teleporting himself free suddenly occurred, but before he could implement it he spotted an unwelcome sight: Guardian, the very being responsible for his current imprisonment. He looked at Artakha briefly before lifting his Rhotuka staff and firing another spinner, this one infused with Earth power; it struck the ground and sent a fissure ripping through the ground towards Artakha.


Without warning, Onua landed on the ground in front of Artakha, and with a thought halted the fissure's progress. He then fired off a bolt from his Nynrah Ghost Blaster, which trapped Guardian in immobilizing energy. He then took up Artakha's hammer and with a single blow-aided by his Pakari Nuva-shattered the rock imprisoning the crafter's legs before returning the tool to him. "I get the impression that you're not used to a battlefield."


"I have fought but one true battle in my time, Toa; I have spent millennia at my forge. My island's defenses were enough to deal with most invaders, save for that accursed Makuta Kojol. I was prepared to do battle to stop Helryx, Miserix, and Axonn from destroying our universe, but it seems I would have fared poorly."


"Don't sell yourself short, noble Artakha-the right cause can bring out surprising strength in a being. But I'm afraid I won't be of much further help to you; I must seek out the Element Lady of Earth and see what I can do to stop her. I think you would best served seeking out your brother and seeing if you can put an end to his quest for dominance, whether by reason...or by force."


Artakha nodded grimly, and the Toa of Earth shot off in search of Likus. Lacking the speed and aerial view granted by Onua's armor-which made him wish he had thought to craft a set for himself-Artakha closed his eyes and reached out with his most formidable power, his mind. It swept over the clashing force, brushing minds of noble intent and insane evil. At last, it came across a single mind that was both clear and dark, which Artakha immediately recognized; though almost as lucid, Tyrant had left Karzahi's side during the battle on his own agenda.


With a mere thought, Artakha teleported to within a short distance of his long estranged brother, who didn't turn at the sound of Artakha's arrival. His appointed bodyguard Nocturn, on the other hand, bellowed insanely and charged at Artakha, swinging both of his blades. Gripping the handle of his hammer like a staff, Artakha caught the twin swords along its length. Nocturn responded by reaching for Artakha with his other pair of arms, each sporting a tentacle; his rebirth aboard the Red Star had restored the one that Pridak had long ago taken from him.


Having neither the time nor the patience for the monstrous predator of Razor Whales, Artakha decided his mind was his best tool yet again, and sent a wave of positive mental energy into Nocturn's mind. The green and blue being shuddered, and his crimson eyes became startlingly clear for a moment before he fell over, unconscious. Knowing that the villain would awaken as sane as he had ever been-and not knowing whether that would be a good thing-Artakha gripped his hammer more tightly as he moved towards Karzahni. Even with Nocturn fallen, it was a moment before the black and gold armored tyrant turned to regard his grey-green armored brother.


For Artakha, it was like he had gone back in time 100,000 years; Karzahni looked much as he had on their last, bitter encounter. His armor was mostly black, but with gold plates on the shoulders, an ornate circular plate on his chest, golden forearms and kneecaps, and golden lining on the skirt of armor he wore around his waist. There were also a number of red elements, including the base of his neck, his claws, parts of his legs below the knees, and his torso beneath the golden ornament. However, two elements were present that Artakha didn't recall: on his left gauntlet sat a pair of blades while a length of chain stretched down from his right shoulder and around the opposite side of his waist, and hung on it like trophies were several different masks.^^^ Of course, none of them were as bizarre as the mask Karzahni wore upon his face, through which his eyes glared balefully at Artakha.


"So, you still wear the Kanohi Ekimu that should have been mine, brother?"^^^^


"I won the right to this mask long ago, Karzahni, in the contest set for us by the Great Beings. You were given the Olisi instead, which was intended to help you in your chosen labor. It was meant to help motivate poor workers by helping them see the good they could accomplish in Mata Nui's service or the bad that might result from their idle or rebellious nature. But instead you chose to use it as a tool of terror and fear, making the Matoran who were entrusted to your care lose hope and the will to resist the cruelty to which you subjected them. Perhaps if you had answered my telepathic calls instead of shutting me out, I could have helped you fulfill your true destiny."


Karzahni unlimbered his Flaming Chains, restored to him by the Kestora, and set them alight, swinging it at Artakha, who barely managed to duck. "You think I would have accepted your HELP after what you did to me? You humiliated me in front of our creators, claimed the Legendary Mask of Creation for yourself-you have never been a brother to me! And all through the ages since you have mocked me with your successes in the face of my failures, when I might have succeeded had I been granted the Ekimu instead of you!"


This was followed by another swing, which Artakha evaded by teleporting behind Karzahni. He then swung his own hammer at Karzahni only for his brother to initiate his own teleportation, rematerializing out of range. "Our masks and weapons are different, brother, but otherwise we share the same powers! Or were you so content in your island palace that you didn't notice when I departed my realm in pursuit of those accursed Matoran who became Toa! Yes Toa, just like the ones who freed my subjects and then destroyed my realm fighting the Makuta who was assigned to protect it but ignored me and my Matoran-just like you!"


"Surely you are not blaming me for the actions of Icarax? Would you have preferred to have Kojol invade your island, threatening your subjects and stealing one of your prized creations? Besides, my realm was left desolate as well, my Matoran forced to flee from a marauding army of Rahkshi. The difference was that my people were leaving a safe haven that had become a place of fear...while yours left a land that had never brought them anything but fear and misery. I would gladly have spared them that, but you decided long ago not to receive my help, though I offered it time and time again."


With a roar, Karzahni struck out with a telepathic attack, hoping to leave his brother broken. But Artakha's mental defenses rebuffed the strike, and he looked pityingly at his anger-filled sibling. "You never did put enough effort into your mental powers, brother; you were content to use them to command your realm and rely on the Olisi to impose your will. Had you looked outward into the universe, you might have honed them in such a way that Makuta would never have been able to destroy your last shreds of sanity in Mahri Nui. Because contrary to the hate-filled lies you told yourself, I did sense it when you left your realm, when Makuta crushed your army...and when he showed you what happens when you attempt to claim a destiny never meant for you."


The Flaming Chains lashed out again, but this time Artakha grabbed them and, despite the pain, yanked them from Karzahni's shocked grasp. He then held the weapon in both hands and, with a cry of exertion, pulled the chains as tight as possible until they snapped apart in his grasp. Throwing them on the ground, he then hefted his hammer again, grim resolve evident on his face. Too terrified to think, Karzahni reacted instinctively and activated the Olisi, and thrust himself and Artakha into a vision that he thought would prove that he had been right all along.


In their minds, both brothers went back 100,000 years, to the end of the battle they had fought for the right to wear the Kanohi Ekimu. But this time, it was Artakha who lay defeated on the ground as Karzahni stepped forward to claim the Mask of Creation. With exultant laughter he took up the gold-colored mask, covered in runes on three of its five horns, above the brows, and on the four ridges that extended outwards from the face. As he donned it, it changed color, but instead of becoming grey-green as it had when Artakha donned it, it became black like most of Karzahni's armor.


From that moment, things progressed: once again Artakha chose to rule over a place where hard-working Matoran could labor in peace on some of the most important items in the universe, while Karzahni chose to establish a place where Matoran with injuries or poor attitudes could be repaired or reformed. Karzahni watched in anticipation, expecting to see history unfold as he had long imagined it would. But to his shock, this alternate history unfolded much the same as the previous one had: while the Ekimu allowed Karzahni to repair Matoran properly, he grew tired of  losing subjects whenever he sent Matoran back to their homes, and thus began keeping them from leaving his realm. Without the Olisi, he relied upon his mental powers and Manas to enforce his will; for those Matoran who were still defiant enough to resist him, the price was banishment to the area that would become Voya Nui. Thus many of the Matoran who had ended up there in the true reality ended up there in this alternate reality as well; Karzahni also remained isolated because he felt he needed no help from anyone.


From there it continued: Lesovikk's attempt to break into Karzahni's realm to save his banished friends, the universe's decline while Karzahni remained ignorant, and eventually the coming of the Matoran from Metru Nui and Karzahni's pursuit of them. But this time, when the time came to confront Makuta beneath Mahri Nui, Karzahni's mental powers were developed to the point that he was able to thwart Makuta's mental assault. And so, rather than defeating him with a mental attack, Makuta chose to simply dispatch Karzahni. And with that, history continued onward...with the Kanohi Ekimu consigned to the seabed of Aqua Magna.


The vision dissipated, Karzahni wracked with disbelief. All these years, he had imagined that things would unfold differently...but all that would have happened if he gained the Ekimu would have been its loss. Caught up in his stupor, he failed to notice that Artakha had likewise emerged from the vision and was advancing towards him. Before he could realize his danger, Artakha had swung his hammer and, with a single blow, knocked the Olisi from Karzahni's face.


Karzahni fell flat on his back, obviously stunned by the blow. However, he remained conscious, and was able to lift his head enough to stare at Artakha, his eyes filled with something that could have been hatred for his brother or for himself. Then he triggered his teleportation power and was gone, leaving the Kanohi Olisi where it lay. After a moment, Artakha walked over and picked up the misshapen mask, staring at it and thinking of his brother and the millennia he had wasted-and could have wasted even if things had turned out differently. Then, feeling twice as old as his 100,000 years, he stowed the Olisi and began walking towards the site of Mata Nui and Voporak's clash, sensing that he was more badly needed there than leading the battle against the now leaderless Claw of Karzahni.


To be continued...


*I realized that Norik and Iruini-the only Hagah whose Rhotuka powers have been revealed-each have a power wielded by the Makuta, and thought it would make sense for the other Hagah to possess them as well.

**The Mask of Emulation is named for the Protector of Stone.

***I named the former leader of Norik and Varian's team after an ancient G2 Protector of Fire.

****A nod to Alvis' An Even Exchange...at least one of the versions.

*****I named Kualus and Gaaki's masks after Protectors as well.

^The "Inspirational Models" of 2003 made by combining Pahrak-Kal with Onua Nuva and Nuhvok-Kal with Pohatu Nuva.

^^Etoku, who is intended to be the female Order operative from Journey's End, is based on the Nuhvok and Kohrak combiner model from 2002 and takes her name from G2. The enemies faced by her and the other Order members were the winning entries of the Prisoners of the Pit MOC contest.

^^^Barring the Olisi and the current absence of a certain tool, Karzahni's appearance is based on an official alternate model...can you guess which one?

^^^^ :afro:

Edited by Wiriamu
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Chapter 13

Location: Great Beings' fortress.

The fortress of the Great Beings, once one of the peaceful centers of invention and innovation on Spherus Magna-along with the Valley of the Maze-was now a place of battle. The Great Beings were divided, with half of them supporting Nynrah's aspirations of world domination, while the others stood with Angonce in recognizing that they had much to atone for due to their previous "rule" over Spherus Magna. Now the question of their path was being settled in conflict, and the fortress shook as weapons of great power clashed or unleashed their energies. The majority of the Great Beings were battling in the great entrance chamber where so many of them had reunited and where the fight had erupted, but individual clashes had broken away into separate areas of the fortress as well.

In the council chamber, Zakaz's pickaxe gave out a loud clang as they struck the crossed claw tools wielded by Xia, a tragic meeting since both tools had previously been used to secrete the Mask of Life beneath Voya Nui, though on that occasion their owners had traded tools. As Zakaz staggered back from the impact, Xia swung his tools like clubs, striking the smaller Great Being and knocking him even further back. However, Zakaz recovered quickly and unleashed a bolt from his pickaxe, and it was all Xia could do to raise his tools to block the energy attack. His face grim, Zakaz advanced, wishing that the same regret he felt over the clash were reflected in Xia's eyes instead of cold contempt.

Across the vast chamber, Heremus was locked in battle with the most unexpected arrival, Destral, who blasted away at him with a pair of energy pistols he had found discarded in one of the fortress' labs. Unnerved by Destral's appearance-and the disturbing eagerness with which his former brother attacked-Heremus countered with a force rifle of his own design. The walls were soon pitted with small craters and scorch marks from the weapons, as was what cover was available to the pair of combatants. Heremus managed to blast Destral in one shoulder, but when he started moving towards his fellow Great Being to finish the fight Destral surprised him with a blast from the pistol in his good arm.

The corridor to Papa Nihu's crystal chamber had become another battleground, as the female Great Beings Odina and Daxia were fighting to go to the aid of their respective leaders. For these two Great Beings above all others the desire to support was personal-Odina had long been fond of Angonce, while Daxia's devotion to Nynrah was not unlike that which Makuta Gorast had once displayed towards her leader Teridax. Add that to the venom that had long penetrated the relationship between the two women, and it was unsurprising that Daxia swung a massive bladed shuriken at her enemy with abandon*. However, Angonce had passed his lance weapon to Odina, and she wielded it with speed and skill that enabled her to deflect the weapon with ease.

Inside the chamber itself, spinning blades clashed against each other with loud screeches and sliced through the beautiful crystal formations, leaving the cavern floor a ruin. Angonce had taken up a chainsaw like weapon to answer Nynrah's buzzsaw, and it was only swift movement on the part of both combatants that had prevented serious injury on either of their parts. However, adjusting back to his old body had left Nynrah somewhat weak, and he hesitated just long enough for Angonce to sweep his weapon at the buzzsaw that Nynrah wore like a shield. Both halves of the buzzsaw fell to the ground, leaving the handles in Nynrah's startled grasp, while Angonce cast aside his own ruined weapon.

"Please, Nynrah-let this go no farther! Enough damage has already been done, and will continue to take place if we do not stop! There is still a chance for us to aid the Agori, Matoran, and all the others that we have wronged, but only if you call off those who have joined you in this madness!"

"What you call madness, I call passion-passion for my cause," Nynrah replied as he and Angonce circled each other warily. "Do not talk to me of wrongs, Angonce-you know nothing of the cruelty of Karzahni, or the horrors to which I bore witness inside Mata Nui. It was there that I came to realize that we had created monsters, and it was best to let them destroy each other! Of course, I will admit to giving them a little help-it was no coincidence that the Dark Hunters found the operative they call Ravager on 'my' home island, nor that 'Devastator' rose from the depths of Karzahni after I was exiled there. Of course the Matoran were simple in those days-they couldn't comprehend that I was taking time off for my own experiments, rather than being idle."

"And yet you saw fit to give them minds of their own, and to do the same to the ones who were left behind here for the second robot we were never able to construct. So instead of machines being damaged, you have created life that will be extinguished, and soldiers with hearts and minds instead of weapons without souls. What do you think will happen when those Matoran cease to be simple, Nynrah? Will they be overcome by horror-or will you rule over an army of the very monsters you claim you wish to destroy?"

Livid, Nynrah rushed at Angonce, only to be felled by a swift series of blows. As his former brother fell senseless to the floor, Angonce mused sadly that it was fortunate he had "borrowed" the Book of Certavus from its hiding place during his long isolation on Bara Magna. After restraining Nynrah in such a way as to prevent his escape whether by foot or his powers, he went to see how his comrades had fared. He only hoped that they could settle their own conflict before the results of Nynrah's schemes left Spherus Magna so broken that a hundred robots like Mata Nui would be unable to repair it.

Location: Near the Matoran-Agori camp.

The light that had enveloped Irnakk faded, and in its wake several figures were left standing: a Steltian brute, a Zyglak, a Vortixx, and six Skakdi. The latter of these were particularly awestruck-not only were they no longer fused together with each other and the other three, but the mutations they had suffered from the waters of the Pit had been reversed, leaving them humanoid once more. Vezok and Zaktan were even more astonished, for they were whole once more: Vezon had been reabsorbed by his original self, causing the separation of Irnakk into his individual components, while Zaktan was no longer a mass of protodites. However, the scheming Skakdi all quickly realized that, with the exception of Zaktan-whose scissor and Zamor Launcher had been formed from his substance and now unexpectedly recreated by Mata Nui's curse on Vezon-they were bereft of weaponry.

Before anyone could react, the Zyglak took up Strakk's fallen axe and hurled himself on the unfortunate Vortixx, while the brute charged off to join the melee going on around them. The Toa Mahri and Toa Cordak moved quickly to intercept the Piraka, whose eyes met in unspoken agreement of what needed to be done. And so, as they had so often before, the Piraka put aside their mutual hatred in order to achieve a common goal. Hakann, Zaktan, and Avak moved closer together even as Vezok, Reidak, and Thok did the same, and a new, different light surrounded the two trios. When it faded, a pair of Kaita**, resembling the depiction of the mythical Irnakk, stood grinning down at the horrified Toa teams.

Thok's Ice powers froze Ikir before he could attack, and Akida's Sanjiegun came to life in her hands and wrapped around her like a constricting snake. Terak was left dazed by a blast of spellbinder vision, while a Vezok's impact vision knocked Melum off his feet before he could bring his Gravity powers to bear. The blue Piraka's Water power then came to bear as the Kaita he helped form turned the ground beneath Uxar's feet into mud that the Toa of Iron sank into, with Reidak's power allowing the giant to similarly trap Nikila. Lesovikk's Air powers quickly lifted the pair to safety before he unleashed them against the Kaita, only to have an equally powerful blast of Air strike him as Vezok's power copied his.

Ketar lifted a massive rock from the ground and prepared to hurl it at the Kaita menacing his teammates, only for the Hakann-faced Kaita to blast him with heat vision. A mental blast then struck Jaller as he attempted to aid Ketar, and Hahli was hit with Zaktan's laser vision before she could help him. Hakann and Avak's elemental powers then created a ball of lava that he hurled at Hewkii, who was only able to stop it by employing his Kanohi Garai to erase its gravity. However, he was unprepared for the Kaita's follow up attack, which surrounded him with a field of energy that turned his own mask's powers against him, leaving him completely helpless.

Avak's Stone powers then came into play, creating a dome of rock around Kongu that prevented him from employing his Cordak Blasters without risking harm to himself. Zaktan's Air power then struck Nuparu, the suddenness of the attack leaving the Toa of Earth with no chance to counter the strike with his own powers. Laughing wickedly, the pair of Kaita were preparing to strike down their helpless foes when a pair of lightning bolts came flying to strike them. Staggering back, they soon beheld their attacker: Bohrok-Kal Kaita Za, the fused form of Tahnok-Kal, Pahrak-Kal, and Nuhvok-Kal. While the other elite Bohrok continued to battle the Baterra, their comrades had spotted the plight of the Toa and joined together to offer aid.


Before the Piraka Kaita could retaliate, Kaita Za used its power over Gravity to lift the fusion of Vezok, Thok, and Reidak into the air while simultaneously targeting the other Kaita with a stream of Plasma. Hakann's Fire power enabled the Kaita to endure the extreme heat, but it had no such defense as Za moved the other Kaita into the air above him and then used his Gravity powers to increase the monster's weight, sending him crashing down upon his partner. Unfortunately, the two Kaita recovered quickly, and fired off Zamor spheres-one using Zaktan's launcher while the other had created one from the components of the Piraka composing him-that contained the mixed energies of the Piraka composing each Kaita. Hit with a maelstrom of Fire, Ice, Air, Water, Stone, and Earth, Kaita Za was hurled backward, its individual components splitting up.

Leaving the three Kal where they had fallen, the pair of Kaita waded into the battle, setting up cheers from the other Skakdi and Zyglak as they tore through the various races aligned against them. So intent were they on their mission of destruction that they failed to notice the Toa Mahri and Toa Cordak rising and helping the trio of Kal to their feet. With grim determination, the group of sixteen went to the aid of their allies, hoping against hope that an alternative means of battling the Piraka Kaita would present itself.

With a shocked hiss, Ehlek fell to his knees, his protosteel talons falling uselessly to his side as the venom from Vastus' blade coursed through his system. Once he was certain that the Barraki was not getting back up, Vastus turned his Venom Talon on a charging band of the now late Barraki's army and unleashed the weapon's other power: sending a hurricane force wind flying at the amphibious creatures that threw them backwards. Those of their kindred who had united against Ehlek charged forward alongside Agori and Glatorian from the Jungle Tribe, with Vastus running alongside them. With their leader down and none of their "allies" in a position to offer aid, it didn't take long for the warriors to raise their talons in surrender.

Kalmah's army was being forced into similar retreat, the squid-like warlord having been subdued and restrained by Ackar; to Kalmah's chagrin, the weary Glatorian of Fire sat down on his defeated enemy's back, sword held ready in case he needed to defend himself, and watched as the Fire Tribe and Kalmah's own people charged into the ranks of his army. The nobly-aligned members of Takadox and Carapar's races were locked in bitter combat with their villainous kindred and the Skakdi and Vorox who had joined the League of the Six Kingdoms, while the Water Tribe and Pridak's people were battling the army under the Barraki's self-appointed leader. This left the Ice Tribe to join with Mantax's people against the black-armored Barraki's hordes, though with Surel engaged with Kabrua it fell to Kirbold to direct the Ice Tribe's offensive.

Near the front of the Water Tribe lines, Berix found himself using his Water Sword and shield to ward off a pair of strange marine insects***-a silver one with four legs and a two-legged back one with a strange launcher-that had been part of a swarm inadvertently granted the ability to breathe both air and water when Mata Nui had bestowed that power upon the Pit prisoners who had been stranded on Aqua Magna. Due to their former service to Takadox, they had fallen in with other villainous members of his kind, but were now attacking anything unfortunate enough to get in their way. Fortunately, Berix had been training with Kiina, Ackar, Gresh, and Tarix ever since his injury on the journey north with Mata Nui, determined never again to be a burden to his friends. As such, he was able to handily dispatch the creatures, but his elation at the victory turned to horror as he heard an unearthly howl of victory.

Pridak held both of his blades in the air in triumph, while at his feet lay the mortally wounded Tarix. Despite the Water Glatorian's skill, the savagery and strength of Pridak had gained him the upper hand, and now the Shark rejoiced. His cold eyes looked down at the fallen warrior mockingly, and he called out to his dying enemy. "How does it feel, Glatorian? To know that you have been granted a merciful death rather than slavery at my hand, once this world is mine to rule!"

To Pridak's surprise, Tarix started laughing, though his injury obviously made the act an agony. "You don't know...how many times...I've heard that speech...or one just like it..."

Irked, Pridak advanced, eager to silence the Glatorian even more swiftly than his wound would. Unfortunately, his anger made him forget a basic rule of combat: anger made you blind. It was this blindness that prevented him from seeing that Tarix had managed to grab one of his Water Blades, and by the time he realized the fact it was too late. The tool shown with power-the last of Tarix's ebbing strength-and unleashed an explosion of water that slammed Pridak into a nearby boulder. It wasn't enough to kill him, but it would be a while before he'd be getting up again.

The blade fell to the ground as Tarix's arm went dead, and his head fell to the side; by chance his darkening eyes happened to meet Berix's. The old warrior surprised his old ally by giving him one final smile...and then his eyes closed for the last time. Eyes filling with tears, Berix folded his fallen comrade's arms over his chest and placed the dropped Water Blades in his hands. He then took a length of cable that he used to attach his own sword to his back-making it harder to lose if he happened to drop it-and used it to tie Pridak to the very rock that had knocked him out, making sure that the warlord's teeth could not reach the bonds and that his Shark Tooth Blades were well out of reach. Then, sword in hand, he charged back into the fight, determined to honor Tarix's fall by doing what he could to bring about a victory for their people.

Having seen his three long-time comrades and Atero the Sand Lady brought down in rapid succession, Mantax was understandably nervous as he did his best to marshal his remaining minions in battle against the Agori, Glatorian, and their allies from the Matoran Universe. To make matters worse, two voices cheering wildly together brought his eyes to Kiina and Gresh, who were standing over the fallen Nektann and his female ally and congratulating each other. Realizing that the active leadership of the League now consisted solely of himself and Kabrua, and seeing the Vorox still occupied with Surel, Mantax sounded a call for retreat. He couldn't win this fight, but if he pulled out now he might be able to salvage enough of the League's army to achieve victory another day.

It was a smart plan, and it might have worked...had an army of Toa, Turaga, and Matoran not come charging up from the very direction that the League had come from in its march to the battle with a white-armored Glatorian and a small but well-armed Po-Matoran leading the way.

The League's forces had been losing-now they were being completely overrun, though more from shock and surprise than by any display of skill on the part of the new arrivals, who had never before fought. However, the newcomers were fresher than their newfound opponents, their forced march not having left them as tired as the battle had left the warriors; moreover they were coming to aid their fellows, rather than seeking conquest or vengeance. In short order they had surrounded all enemies still fighting, who were either forced to surrender or went down fighting. Disarmed and restrained, the prisoners were then left under the watchful eyes of the Agori fighters and the Turaga who had arrived with the army.

Velika and several Toa soon broke through Mantax's bodyguard, leaving Gelu a clear path to face the Barraki. Mantax vainly tried to hold the Glatorian off with his single pincer, but his weakening resolve was no match for the grim determination of the Glatorian. In less than a moment Glatorian had knocked Mantax off his feet and then used his Ice Slicer to cover the prone figure in ice from his neck down, leaving him pinned. He turned around to see if he could spot his next opponent, only to see the last fighting member of the League's army go down. This time it was Gelu's turn to freeze, from shock-not just at the sight of Kabrua staring sightlessly at the heavens, but at the sight of the warrior who was still breathing hard from the effort.


Hardly daring to believe it, the old warrior looked up from his defeated enemy and spotted his best friend walking slowly towards him, as if afraid he would vanish. The old friends looked each other over for a moment, taking in the changes that had come over them since their long ago last meeting. Then Surel smiled-really, smiled-for the first time since before the Core War. "Gelu, you old fighter-you look terrible! Haven't you learned how to bathe in 100,000 years?"

"You're one to talk, you old knife-thrower; you smell more like an Iron Wolf than a soldier! Not that there was much difference, there at the end of the war, was there? We've got a lot to catch up on, but from the looks of things we've got a few more battles to win. You up for more scraping, or do you want to stay behind with Ackar and watch the prisoners?"

"Barely back together and you're already trying to put me out to pasture, eh? Forget it; I can lick twice as many as you can and still take that double-ended icepick of yours from you with one hand tied behind my back!" And with that, Surel joined Gelu and the other Glatorian-aside from Ackar and a few who were injured-and the Toa, Matoran, and other artificial beings still in fighting shape in marching towards the other armies, eager to aid their allies. They hadn't gone far when a loud roar filled the air from the direction of the fallen Great Spirit robot. It was soon drowned out by a cheer when the marchers recognized three Toa aboard swift-flying vehicles-Zaria aboard the Rockoh T3, Orde aboard the Jetrax T6, and Chiara aboard the Axalara T9-shooting through the sky above to tear into Miserix's flying forces.

Though he was one of the most loyal of Dark Hunters, Eliminator had not accompanied the Shadowed One's entourage as they set off for the Matoran-Agori camp; too much chance that some of his "allies" would take advantage of the confusion of battle to try and gang up on him. The long-time troubleshooter of the Dark Hunters was content to aid other members of the Shadow Horde and look for the chance to curry further favor with his leader, or even with the other Dark Hunters who so despised him. The sight of Mata Nui and Voporak surrounded by swirling energies that made the very air crackle caught his attention immediately, and he advanced quickly into the area most other combatants had vacated. His keen mind analyzed the situation-particularly the Kanohi Ignika on Mata Nui's face-and quickly hit upon a strategy to eliminate the foe and secure another prize.

Carefully selecting his disks, Eliminator began to combine their powers: reconstitution at random, teleportation, weakness, and enlarging. As he knew from past experience, this combination had the potential to eliminate a target while leaving any objects it might be carrying-such as a valuable weapon or Kanohi-completely unscathed. His fingers began crackling with the building energies, and with a cruel smile he lifted them and aimed at Mata Nui. Just as he was about to fire, however, he suddenly found himself encased in a thick coating of ice.

With only his eyes free to move, Eliminator sought the source of this attack-and was stunned to recognize Hura, Mafa, Kanae, and Motara, the Ice Toa of the Toa Mangai. The four had been legends-Hura and Mafa a virtually unassailable team, while Kanae and Motara fought in ocean and desert surroundings unlike most Toa of their kind. But all four were dead over a thousand years, struck down by Eliminator's own hand, and he couldn't begin to fathom how they could have returned. He had not long to ponder the mystery, however, as his powers-left with no other avenue-turned back upon him, causing an explosion that vaporized the Dark Hunter and his icy prison.

The four Toa of Ice were stunned, but had little time to worry over the fate of their former executioner; their teammates Naho, Fau, Marn, and Tiro were being attacked by the savage Hordika Dragons, whose lightning attacks and great physical attributes were a challenge even for the veteran Toa. Fortunately, Naho's Kanohi Lahka of Adaptation had altered her form to make her immune to the electrical bursts, while Tiro's Kanohi Owaki of Rebounding**** allowed him to hurl his hand hammers at the beasts and then call them back to his hands after each strike. Still, the addition of the four Toa of Ice-bringing the odds to eight against eight-was welcome, particularly when Motara used the preselected power of his Kanohi Kuuls to draw the Hordika Dragons' lightning to him. Catching the energy on his Ice Pike, he drove one end of the weapon into the dirt, grounding out the attack.

Mata Nui could not take the time to admire the skill of the former defenders of Mata Nui, however, as he and Voporak were surrounded by a swirling maelstrom of energy emanating from their respective Legendary Masks. The sight of the flowing energies was so captivating that Mata Nui was only dimly aware of the Ignika glowing as the damage it had suffered was repaired by the golden streams that flowed from it to the Vahi and back again. However, even more awe-inspiring than the gleaming light were the visions that shimmered in and out of view. Alternate realities, scenes from the pasts of Spherus Magna and the Matoran Universe, and shadows of futures that could have been or might yet be appeared briefly and then were gone.


Among these phantoms Mata Nui glimpsed some that were familiar, such as a diminutive Le-Matoran who wore a Kanohi Volitak of Stealth and a flight pack consisting of a pair of spinning blades; this was none other than the late Nidhiki prior to his becoming a Toa. Still another figure moving through the past resembled Tahu Nuva with strange white and silver elements before it erupted into flame, revealing itself as the fire entity that Vakama had battled in Mangaia*****. This scene disappeared and was replaced with an image of a Turaga Nui, composed of the six former Toa Metru, accompanied by two Matoran Kaita: one composed from Jaller, Hewkii, and Onepu, and the other from Kongu, Macku, and Matoro. All three were locked in battle with a Tunnel Stalker, which had emigrated to the island of Mata Nui from Metru Nui only to become a threat to the Onu-Koro highways.


Turning his eyes from this view, Mata Nui found himself looking upon another scene, which he somehow sensed was from a future that could have been, in which a massive red and silver figure with black wings clashed with a poisonous green figure who carried a massive weapon in each hand. Without knowing how he knew, Mata Nui recognized the being as a Makuta named Akutahn, and his opponent as a malevolent Glatorian who had stumbled across weaponry of the Great Beings. Other figures were also visible in the midst of this battle: a green and gold-armored version of Teridax from a universe similar to the one which Mazeka had visited wielding a mighty spear against a blue and silver giant; a black and yellow armored Makuta Icarax wearing a gold Kraahkan as he faced a winged, hunched monstrosity who wielded Brutaka's Rotating Blades; a multi-colored version of the Kanohi Avsa-sporting Makuta Kojol, using multiple wings to evade the snapping claws and searching spear of a blue Glatorian who had been mutated with crustacean features; and Makuta Spiriah, facing a red and silver warrior equipped with various launchers and blades with his own blades, claws, and a Thumper tool.^


"Fascinating, isn't it?" Startled, Mata Nui turned his attention to Voporak, who seemed just as enraptured by the visions and energy surrounding them as he had been. Energy flowed from the Vahi towards the Ignika and from the Ignika back to the Vahi, which had regained its original gold coloring. Curiously, energy was also flowing between the two masks and Voporak himself, whereas Mata Nui was not thus affected. "Time and Life...two of the most fundamental forces of reality...joined together and begging to be shaped."


"Such power is not meant for us, Voporak! Just mixing these energies is dangerous enough, but attempting to manipulate them-even the Element Lords are not so mad! Is your loyalty to the Shadowed One enough to cause you to risk the destruction of the very world he would rule?"


To Mata Nui's surprise, Voporak laughed-a cold, hollow laugh. "The Shadowed One-in the face of this power, he is nothing to me. I was willing to hand over the Vahi to Makuta Bingzak if only so I could at last fulfill my mission...little realizing the true value of what I sought to claim.^^ With the Vahi's power added to my own, I will claim this world-beginning with the Ignika you wear. But how to do it?"


Voporak gestured, and a cluster of images appeared in the air before him: the same strange sense from before told Mata Nui that he was looking at incarnations of Makuta Teridax, his fallen foe. Four revealed a hulking figure in red, silver, and black, with a humanoid upper body and a spider-like lower body with wheels on the front legs; a gold, black, and purple warrior with towering blacks spikes and a massive sword; a silver titan with a blue cape, gaping jaws, and a mask hanging on a chain around his neck; and another tri-colored giant, this time with a tentacle-like beard and a spear. More images depicted a slim, silver warrior with horns, a scythe, and chest armor that resembled a demonic face; still another warrior with red-tipped spines and a hammer; an ebon figure with a necklace adorned with purple crystals; and a slim warrior with red and black armor with a thin spear strapped across his back. Next in line were a winged black and purple figure with wings, a Kanohi Kraahkan, and a tri-tipped spear; a gold and black monster with a hunched back and numerous claws; a gold and purple giant who sat atop a throne adorned with various masks, holding an alternate Mask of Creation in one hand; and another in black, gold, and red, wielding a hammer and bearing wings that resembled axe-blades.^^^ Voporak scanned these and a few others-including a centipede-like beast whose body was a mass of tan and brown, with some yellow and silver elements between the two massive silver pincers at either end of its body^^^^-before waving them all back into the swirling energies.


"So many options...but a classical approach is always best, don't you think?" Voporak waved his hand again, and this time the energies to his right parted to admit a towering figure. The figure was skeletal but obviously powerful, with blue armor covering its legs and torso while green armor composed its arms. Each arm ended in a massive claw: the right was red and black, while the left was a mass of silver claws. Four pairs of wings towered over its back, framing a head with a gaping maw topped with a black mask, behind which gleamed two red eyes.


Despite the warm glow surrounding him, Mata Nui felt very cold as he looked upon his reborn enemy.


*Based on one of the Dark Chi Warrior Weapons from Jackie Chan Adventures.

**Based on Korean exclusive retail sets.

***The 2007 and 2008 "Bad Guy" sets.

****A couple more unnamed Kanohi, given concept names for Iruini and Kualus.

*****Repurposed the 2008 "Good Guy" and a Tahu Nuva+Kohrak-Kal combo model.

^The first prize winning MOCs of the Makuta Building Challenge, Grand Prize Winning MOCs of the Makuta Building Challenge, and grand prize winning MOC of the Battle For the Golden Mask contest.

^^Yet another nod to An Even Exchange by Alvis.

^^^The winning MOCs from The Makuta Challenge.

^^^^My entry to said contest, seen here: https://www.flickr.com/photos/143590374@N03/albums/72157668994096123.

Edited by Wiriamu
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Chapter 14

Miserix had faced other Makuta before, but never in such an intense struggle. His brief duel with the Teridax of his own reality had been halted with the vote of the Convocation, which had ended in Teridax's favor. The cowering Spiriah had fallen without a struggle, as had Bingzak of Stelt, and he would have easily crushed Teridax in Mata Nui's mind had it not been for the interference of the Order of Mata Nui, Tren Krom, and Artakha. But against the Teridax of the Melding universe, he faced an altogether different foe.

The white-armored Makuta was a master combatant, using his hammer to attack Miserix or deflect the villain's blows with its long handle. Sparks flew as the protodermis handle caught the blade of Miserix's axe, and Miserix's mace was then knocked from his hand as Teridax swung the massive hammer. The weapon soon flew back into Miserix's hand as he called upon his powers of Magnetism, which he then directed against Teridax only for the noble Makuta to counter the effect with his own energies. Similar stalemates resulted as Miserix unleashed his Electricity, Power Scream, Chain Lightning, and Stasis Field powers. In a rage Miserix unleashed a blast of Heat Vision that Teridax countered with a blast of Laser Vision, unleashing an explosion that threw the two apart.

Recovering quickly, Miserix took to the sky and used his mace to unleash a beam of Plasma at his opponent, who teleported out of the way. Teridax then called upon his Weather Control powers, creating a fog to envelop Miserix, who unleashed his Cyclone powers to disperse it before directing the swirling winds towards Teridax. The power of Vaccuum nullified the attack, and Teridax fired off a burst of Sonics that Miserix barely countered with his power of Silence. Both combatants then disappeared from view, Miserix employing the power of Chameleon while Teridax concealed himself with Illusion. However, Teridax was able to sense Miserix's location using his Mind Reading power, and employed his Sleep and Gravity powers to bring his foe to the ground.

Shaking off the sensation, Miserix responded with Slow and Confusion powers, forcing Teridax to drop his cloak, before unleashing Molecular Disruption. Teridax's hammer dissolved into nothingness, but Miserix's victory was brief as Teridax shot a blast of Disintegration from one hand and one of Fragmentation from the other, destroying both of the evil Makuta's tools. Miserix soon employed his Rahi Control powers to bring a platoon of Visorak charging against his foe, only for Teridax's Insect Control ability to bring in a group of Metru Mantis eager to feast on the savage spider creatures. Enraged, Miserix flew at Teridax, using his Density Control powers to harden his fist before slamming it into Teridax's torso, only for the blow to be deflected by Teridax employing his Limited Invulnerability power. A spiderweb of cracks appeared over the offending limb, but Miserix's Quick Healing power soon repaired the damage.

Teridax then employed his Elasticity powers to throw his own blow at Miserix, who shape-shifted into a gelatinous creature and trapped Teridax's punch. Miserix then employed his Hunger power in an effort to drain Teridax's strength, only for Teridax to employ his own power as a counter, creating a cycle of the two drawing strength from each other. Annoyed, Miserix reached out to infect his foe with Poison, only to be thrown back by a power he had not expected: Telekinesis. Thrown backwards, Miserix returned to his armored form and regarded his nemesis with a new wariness.

"How did you do that? No Makuta has the power of Telekinesis!"

"Not in your world, perhaps, but in mine we did things differently. For example, we lacked the power of Poison, though I wouldn't call it much of a loss not to be able to harm other living things in such a fashion. There are other powers I suspect are in my arsenal but not in yours-let's see what you make of them!"

One thought from Teridax later, and Miserix felt the strangest sensation of Peace come over him, a feeling he had not known in countless millennia between his responsibilities leading the Brotherhood and the rage that had consumed him after he had been deposed. Realizing it to be his enemy's work, Miserix did something unprecedented and turned one of his own powers against himself, unleashing the Anger of Kurahk to rekindle his own fury. He then called upon the powers of Turahk, and sent a wave of crippling Fear flowing into Teridax. Against a lesser foe the attack would have been enough to end the battle, but Teridax had spent years in meditation, seeking enlightenment and self-mastery. Taking a page from Miserix's book, he invoked his own power of Courage to cast aside the energies of Fear, before calling upon yet another power that Miserix could not claim: the energy of Light.

A tidal wave of Light washed towards Miserix, who barely managed to call upon his own Darkness powers in response. After a long moment's struggle, the two opposing energies cancelled each other out, leaving the two Makuta facing off yet again. Now bereft of weapons, their armor covered in scratches and dents, the two Makuta contemplated each other, having exhausted the majority of their vast power arrays. On an impulse, Miserix unleashed the powers of his Kanohi Artidax, but Teridax's Dodge power enabled him to evade the blast, which struck the one surviving member of Miserix's Visorak platoon and transformed it into a Water Wraith. More disappointed in the failure of his effort at poetic justice against a version of his former lieutenant than in the loss of his soldier, Miserix used his Plant Control powers to grow a tangle of thorns that entrapped the white-armored warrior.

"You have proven a most formidable adversary Teridax-your accursed counterpart could not have done better. But now the time has come to end this battle, and I know just how to do it. The Makuta of your universe were more civilized than those in mine, more's the pity. But savagery does have it's uses, as I learned in my long exile."

As Miserix had spoken his voice had become more and more guttural, and his already massive form began to swell. His Shadow Hand ripped out of his chest and flew past the trapped Teridax to seize the nearest available unfortunate: Kraata-Kal. Torn away from his clash with Varian, the former Dark Hunter had little time to ponder his sad fate before he was drawn into Miserix's form. The four Rahkshi Kaita heeded Miserix's unspoken command and rushed towards him, and were soon caught in a second Shadow Hand. With the power and substance of his five minions drawn into himself, Miserix grew to forty feet tall and assumed a red and silver armored form that would have been familiar to Brutaka, Roodaka, Vezok, and Lariska had they been present to see it.

"Now, Teridax...know the wrath of the true Makuta race. From the depths of our Shadow, each of us can draw forth a form that embodies primal rage and matchless power. Even the power of Light cannot save you...from the Makuta Nui!"

With that, Miserix employed a power unique to his new form and unleashed a blast of flame from his new set of gaping jaws. It consumed Teridax and the vines surrounding him, burning with an intensity that only Tahu or Vulcanus could have surpassed. For long moments he breathed, a fire of rage and hatred, channeling his contempt for the fallen Teridax of his own universe against the alternate Teridax. At long last he ceased, and peered eagerly through the resulting heat haze to spy the charred remains of his foe.

Contrary to expectations, Teridax was quite unharmed, having been protected by the natural Makuta powers of Fire Resistance and Adaptation allowing him to endure the fiery onslaught. Dusting off the slightest signs of charring on his armored frame, the white Makuta regarded his foe with a smile that was almost pitying. "Your Makuta were a sad race indeed, Miserix, if they were forced to resort to such tactics. The power you have found in Shadow can be found also in Light, and it does not require consuming others to bring about your own increase."

With that, Teridax concentrated, invoking a technique that the Makuta of his world had employed only rarely. Drawing Light from his surroundings-which the bright sun of Spherus Manga supplied in abundance-he converted its energy into matter. His form began to grow as Miserix's had, but his features changed in a fashion differently from those of Miserix; while the dark Makuta's form had become reptilian, Teridax's took on an ursine shape. In moments, the dragon-like Miserix found himself faced with a creature that resembled a massive Ash Bear, not unlike a large specimen that the Toa Metru had long ago faced in Mangaia*. Indeed, though Miserix did not know it, it was also a reflection of the form his universe's Teridax would have taken had he transformed as Miserix himself had.

"Makuta Nui, meet Makuta Nui...and let us end this!"

Glowing with energy, Tahu's Fire Sword and Tuyet's Barbed Broadsword met with a thunder producing clang, which was repeated again and again as the blades crossed in battle. With a roar Tuyet leaped back and hurled a blast of Water at her nemesis, only for Tahu to ignite his blade and vaporize her attack before responding with a a stream of fire. She countered with a stream of her own Elemental Power, the two meeting in a deadlock between the battling Toa. For a long moment the contest wore on, each straining against the other with their considerable might.

Realizing that there was nothing to be gained by the continued clash, Tuyet used her Narmoto to fade into the ground, and Tahu was forced to dissipate his flames. Before he could fully process what had occurred, a massive geyser erupted from beneath his feet, sending him flying high into the air. In the midst of the attack Tuyet emerged from the ground, laughing as she sent the fiery Toa flying high into the air. Her laughter faded as Tahu called upon his powers of heat to slow his fall, creating a warm cushion of air the turned what could have been a fatal fall into a rough landing.

"You're going to have to do better than that, Tuyet."

"If you insist," she muttered, and with that she began unleashing blasts of water at rapid speed, swinging her sword so that the attacks flew at Tahu from different angles, leaving him unable to rely upon his Hau to protect him. Instead, he created an aura of flame around himself, one that turned Tuyet's projectiles into clouds of steam. He then increased the aura's size and power, throwing off a wave of heat that even the ex-Toa Mangai, who had faced the Kanohi Dragon, had no choice but to give way before.

Grimly Tahu advanced, intent on ending the fight as quickly as possible. However, Tuyet wasn't about to go down without a fight, and brought the Nui Stone up and into contact with her Barbed Broadsword. Calling upon every ounce of power contained within her treasured artifact, Tuyet began to glow with power, more even that Tahu had sensed within Gali just before she unleashed a Nova Blast upon the realm of Karzahni. Remembering that devastation, and realizing that an even greater one awaited Spherus Magna if Tuyet's attack was unleashed, Tahu realized there was only one course open to him.

Extinguishing his flames, Tahu threw all of the power he had gained from the final battle against Makuta into the pieces of the Golden Armor; then, using the tiniest trace of Magnetism, he removed them from himself and sent them flying at Tuyet. The three armor plates, sword hilt, shield, and Hau fell into a rough ring around the Toa of Water just as her energies reached critical mass and began to explode outward, only to be halted by a ring of light that was created as power radiated outward from the six artifacts. For a long, anxious moment the malevolent tsunami strained against the Great Beings' long conceived countermeasure against solid antidermis. But, however narrowly, the energies of the latter proved greater, and at last the clashing energies ceased with a flash of light.

Tuyet's Barbed Broadsword and the Nui Stone both fell to the ground, charred and utterly ruined; after a moment Tuyet joined them, still alive but utterly drained of strength. The Golden Armor pieces floated in the air slightly longer, but then fell to the ground, turning black and lifeless as the last of their power faded. With a heavy sigh that embodied both regret and relief, Tahu drew his red Kanohi Hau from where he had carried it on his back and placed it over his bare face. Fortunately, Toa Mamuk-relieved of his part helping the Hagah against the Rahkshi Kaita by Miserix's actions-came up and took charge of Tuyet. Satisfied that Tuyet, even if she recovered, would be well handled by the Toa of Gravity, Tahu set off in search of his teammates.


Morbuzakh's axe smashed into the staff of the Dark Hunter known as Conjurer, who was so overwhelmed by the vengeful warrior's attack that he didn't think to activate the Disintegration powers of his weapon. The revived Order agent's onslaught was terrifying to behold, particularly as Conjurer had only recently recovered from a coma induced by his attempted thievery of the powers of Makuta Bingzak. However, the memory of that clash helped Conjurer regain his bearings, and he soon hurled the mighty warrior away from him using his telekinetic powers. Aiming his staff, he then fired off a blast of Disintegration, but Morbuzakh neatly evaded the strike. The attack flew past him to strike Airwatcher, who had been attacking all combatants with abandon, and just like that the virtually mindless Dark Hunter ceased to exist.


Annoyed, Conjurer fired off a Rhotuka spinner, and this time Morbuzakh was too slow; suddenly his great strength was gone, and the sight of Conjurer looking more powerful than ever leaving him with little doubt as to where it had gone. The former island monarch charged forward and dealt Morbuzakh a blow that sent him flying, leaving the four-armed operative to land heavily some distance away. Getting shakily to his feet, Morbuzakh watched as the villain slowly advanced on him, a smirk evident on his face. Knowing well his own strength and sensing what Conjurer had by his own right, the Order of Mata Nui agent found himself wondering if he was about to meet death for a second time.


Looking around, Morbuzakh realized that no help would be forthcoming for him. Trinuma lay fallen upon the ground, while not far from him sat the body of Jerbraz, which had regained visibility upon his own demise. Their former opponents were even now ganging up on Botar and Axato, who now found themselves dealing with four to one odds; Etoku and Hydraxon, meanwhile, remained busy with their own foes. Just as Morbuzakh gripped his axe in grim resignation, there was an explosion from the area where Helryx and Vulcanus had been battling. A plume of smoke rose into the air, and water fell like rain across the surrounding battlefield.


Conjurer was doused, and to Morbuzakh's astonishment his entire body began to smoke. Screaming with pain, the villain tried to run for cover, but the flat land afforded no protection from the unexpected precipitation. Finally, he fell to the ground, and within minutes his body had dissolved into a pool of organic protodermis sprinkled with bits of Conjurer's armor**. Morbuzakh stared for a moment, wondering what sort of experiments the fallen Dark Hunter had been subjected to-by his own will or that of others-to produce such a hideous result. However, remembering the source of the explosion, he instead ran towards the epicenter to investigate.


Two forms lay there, one of them a smoldering humanoid that bore little resemblance to the Element Lord of Fire; Vulcanus it was, still alive but more grievously injured than he had been in all the millennia since his fusion with his element. Not far from the weakened Element Lord lay Helryx, her blue armor smoking from the force of her own Nova Blast and the answering power of Vulcanus. The area around her heartlight in particular was blackened, and the light itself pulsed only faintly. Despite this, her eyes opened as Morbuzakh came to stand over her, his savage visage softening at the sight of his dying leader.


"So...this is how it ends for me, Morbuzakh. I hope that this service will atone somewhat for my failures; I now see how wrong I was to assume the will of Mata Nui. If any of our comrades survive this battle, Morbuzakh, it will fall to you to lead them." Grimly, the four-armed warrior nodded, and then watched as Helryx extended a hand towards a small pile of stones that lay nearby. Blue light flowed from her hands into the rocks, until her frail body shrunk down and became that of a Turaga; as the last of it left her hand, her heartlight went dark.


Morbuzakh bowed his head, hardly able to believe that the First Toa was dead. Having witnessed her final act, however, he knew that she had left her power for others, and hoped that there would be a chance to provide the Toa Stones she had created to worthy Matoran. Realizing that his strength had returned to him in full, however, he decided that for now he had other business to attend to. Hefting his axe, he began running towards the beleaguered Axato and Botar, anticipating evening the odds against their opponents.



Though he had witnessed much conflict in his time, Onua was sick at heart as he watched the massive battle unfolding around him. In particular, as he moved towards the location from which Likus, Element Lady of Earth, had chosen to direct her troops, he was aghast at the sight of Agori so closely resembling his own beloved Onu-Matoran being menaced by various members of his and Artakha's army. Granted, he had learned from Raanu and other leaders that the Earth Tribe had manipulated their fellows into a war that had ravaged their planet and eventually torn it apart, but that didn't make it any easier to watch as Agori and Glatorian of Earth were menaced by beings resembling Eliminator, Jerbraz, Guardian, Johmak, Lariska, Etoku and various others. Fiercest of all their assailants, however, were savage red and brown two-legged beasts whose agonized-sounding cries marked them as the long unseen Sand Screamers of Voya Nui***.


However, the tumult surrounding him did not distract Onua from his objective: Likus, whose earthy form stood silently awaiting his approach. The two masters of Earth regarded each other for a brief moment, each gaining a sense of the other's power and realizing that they were near equal. Recognizing this, and remembering what he had heard of the Lady of Earth’s intelligence-devious though it was-he decided to try the path of reason. “Lady Likus, I know from the members of other tribes that you are a being of intelligence-can you not see that this conflict is pointless? Why sacrifice your people in a senseless effort of conquest when we can make peace?"


"You Toa truly are simpletons, aren't you? Doubtless you think your power was given you to protect your people. Mine was given me that I might rule, and my people exist to be ruled-and if that calls for their sacrifice that I might achieve my empire, then so be it! I am Earth, and Earth commands all; it smothers Fire, consumes Water, surrounds Rock, feeds Jungle, and hides beneath Ice and Sand! There is no escape from it, and it has no equal!"


With a wave, Likus sent a surge of Earth towards Onua, who watched it come with no emotion. Just as the moving soil would have struck him, it parted, the display of Likus' power giving way to Onua's. "And with that power comes a stewardship that you cast aside with contempt. Earth is meant to work as part of a balance, not to rule over all. I had hoped you had the sense to see that, but it appears I was wrong. The depths hide great treasures, but they also hide filth-and you are living proof!"


Quite suddenly Onua was gone, descending into the depths of the Earth he protected, with Likus following him almost immediately. Their clashing armies were oblivious to this until the ground upon which they fought began to shake, throwing them off balance. The ground continued to rumble, and in places to sink, as the two warriors of Earth warred within the heart of that from which they drew power. Onua would have been glad-though LIkus wouldn't have cared-to see the two forces cease their battle and flee the area, putting an end to at least one portion of the massive battle unfolding across Spherus Magna.


To be continued...

*At long last, the Makuta Nui of 2003 appears in storyline-and is also the Ash Bear.

**Given Conjurer's self-proclaimed "magical" status and his fear of water, I thought a Wicked Witch of the West type demise would be appropriate.

***Given their association with Voya Nui and lack of a physical form, I thought it would be fitting to have the Avak/Hakann combo model serve as the Sand Screamer.

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Chapter 15

Turaga Dume and Raanu stood watching grimly as the Shadowed One led a small band of his Shadow Horde towards their camp, taking advantage of the absence of Toa, Glatorian, and other warriors who had marched off at Mata Nui's direction to battle the approaching armies. A pair of former Voya Nui Matoran fired off Rhotuka Spinners from launchers built into their chests while a pair of modified Fire Drones* fired off their own at the advancing villains. However, the weapons did little against the Dark Hunter known as Phantom, whose green and black Skakdi-like form** easily smashed the Fire Drones, sending the Matoran running for cover. Unlike the ex-Matoran, the massive form of Tracker was not above harming the villagers, which he demonstrated by striking a diminutive Matoran and shattering his mask. The victim was none other than Agil, the Toa canister builder encountered by Jaller's team in Karzahni, who found that the absence of his mask left him unable to stand on his recently repaired but short legs, and it fell to the Ta-Matoran Dezalk to drag him to safety with one arm as he wielded his sword in the other***.

"We must put a halt to this somehow, Dume!"

"How, Raanu? There are no other warriors to us to call upon, even with the unexpected arrival of that strange army of Matoran, Toa, and Turaga. With all the evil there is to be countered, there are none to be spared to help us...assuming there are even enough to see that even a few of us survive this battle. Do what you feel you must, my friend."

The Fire Agori gave the Turaga a long look before nodding and departing, leaving Dume alone atop the great tree trunk. As such, he was not present to see a Necrofinch, that bird of Zakaz who resembled a Zamor Launcher with wings, swoop down towards Dume. Not so long ago this bird had changed its shape from that of a Cliff Screecher, and as it landed it assumed another form, a hulking brute with a Zamor Launcher on each shoulder. Covered in blue and white armor, the figure's head was a grinning skull with massive claws and large webbed feet. Though he had never met this particular being, Dume knew him by reputation, and thus addressed him: "So, Triglax."****

"So you know of me, little Turaga? Good-it is nice to be recognized. I fled the Dark Hunters some time ago, but I'm sure that the Shadowed One will be forgiving if I bring him the Kanohi of the Turaga who has caused him so much trouble. Some of the most feared Hunters have failed to kidnap or kill you, Dume-imagine the acclaim I will gain for succeeding."

Dume had faced death on countless occasions as both a Toa and a Turaga, and had never given any villain the satisfaction of seeing him afraid. As such, his expression remained calm even as the two launchers trained on him, knowing that his old and small frame could not carry him away from the villain fast enough. With some surprise, he realized that his greatest regret was that he had not had more time to learn from the former Toa Metru. His fellow Turaga had often been a mystery to him...but he couldn't deny that the Matoran had benefited more from their leadership than from his. That thought was his last, as his mind and body were then caught in an explosion of force.

Triglax looked down on the smoking form of the fallen Dume and chuckled-until he heard heavy footsteps behind him. He turned to find a being roughly his own height with a hodgepodge collection of armor facing him, with a double-bladed katana in one hand a Firestaff in the other. He looked at the body of the Turaga and then at his killer, his eyes narrowing in contempt. "Scum like you are the reason I helped Tuyet make her escape. Hope you enjoyed that, because Buzkayo is going to make sure that you never take the life of a defenseless victim again."*****

As Matoran, Agori, and other civilians scattered before the Shadow Horde invaders encroaching on the camp, Turaga Onewa stumped his way towards a small opening in the fallen form of Mata Nui's original body. Passing through it, he entered a sizeable chamber where the leadership council, himself included, had ordered a number of valuable artifacts to be placed for safekeeping. So far as he could remember, there wasn't anything that could really be used as a weapon, but anything had to be better than his trusty but powerless hammer. With that in mind, Onewa set the Stone Hammer aside as he regarded the small group of guards who remained to protect the artifact chamber.

The guard detail was a motley one, to say the least: it consisted of a single Order of Mata Nui member and a handful of Matoran. Jagiri, once the Order of Mata Nui Agent charged with observing Zakaz, towered over her fellows and wore a Kanohi Mahiki; her armaments consisted of a short trident held in one hand and a staff resembling Matau's Badge of Office in the other.^ Her four comrades in arms were Kalama,second-in-command to Kapura in the Ta-Matoran Guard; Gavla, the blue-colored Av-Matoran who still bore the signs of Makuta experimentation; Taipu, the simple but strong Onu-Matoran; and Ahkmou, Onewa's own traitorous former comrade. The former "Turaga" had volunteered for the responsibility, claiming he wished to make amends for his foolish loyalty to Makuta; Onewa had supported his assignment more to have him somewhere close at hand than through any belief in his supposed repentance.

Jagiri looked down at Onewa, her head inclined in respect. "Turaga, what brings you here? Does the battle go well?"

"It goes ill, Jagiri, despite the brave actions of your comrades and others. I have come hoping that there might be something amongst the leavings of our former universe that can help turn the tide, and quickly; the Shadowed One himself is invading the camp with his minions."

Before any of the guards could react to Onewa's words, the space behind him began to twist and warp, and the Turaga of Stone turned just in time to see a hulking figure emerge from it. Though bereft of a mask, Karzahni remained an imposing sight, towering over the six other beings in the room. He regarded them with disinterest, before turning his eyes towards an artifact that floated above a pedestal in the center of the room. It was a long staff with two curved prongs at its base, while at the opposite end there sat a gigantic mechanism that appeared to be intended for allowing its head to rotate. The head itself was topped with an array of three blades that resembled flame, but colored in green, each sitting atop a curved black piece resembling a claw that curved around the cylindrical head of the artifact.

"The Staff of Artakha...it reeks of my brother's touch. Makuta spoke of it in the Pit, when I faced him and was promptly punished for my rash actions. Artakha has taken my mask, so it is only fitting that I claim his precious staff!"

With a roar not unlike those of the Tahtorak she had interacted with on Zakaz, Jagiri leaped upon the black-armored tyrant, striking with her weapons in a desperate bid to strike him down. Kalama rushed to aid her, only to be knocked flying by a boot from the mad tyrant, who soon threw Jagiri aside as well. The impact left her stunned, and Karzahni stepped forward to claim the Staff of Artakha. Desperately, Onewa prepared to employ his Kanohi power against the villain-only for Ahkmou to throw a punch that knocked the mask from Onewa's face.

"Sorry, Onewa, but I owed you some long overdue payback. Yes, I remember Metru Nui-Makuta saw fit to restore my memories as a reward for my services, even if your precious Chronicler thwarted our plans. I was going to play nice with you and your Glatorian friends...but I think I just found a better alternative."

Smiling wickedly, Karzahni took the staff, and contemplated it for a moment; the three blades then changed from green to red in color^^. "Interesting-it seemed my brother gave his creation the power to repair and to destroy, though only a being of our abilities could unlock its full potential in either. No wonder that Makuta sought to claim this for himself. You are wise, little Po-Matoran, and you shall indeed be rewarded in my service. Would any of the rest of you care to join me?"

Despite Karzahni's size, Taipu braced himself, ready to fight in defense of Onewa and the other artifacts in the chamber. However, the attack came from a place he hadn't expected: behind him, as Gavla's claws pierced his back. Feeling weak for the first time in his life, the Onu-Matoran slumped to the ground as the Av-Matoran regarded him coldly before looking at Karzahni and Ahkmou. "I don't owe these losers any favors; count me in."

Still wearing his cruel smile, Karzahni nodded, and with a thought caused Gavla to vanish, teleported a good distance away from the battle raging outside. He then turned his attention to the rest of the room, examining the artifacts to see if there might be anything else of value. Assuming that his new master would call for him if needed, Ahkmou walked over and picked up the Stone Hammer before turning to regard the unconscious form of Taipu and the prone Onewa, who looked up at him with thinly veiled contempt. Gripping his newfound weapon, Ahkmou swung it experimentally, shattering Onewa's Komau with ease.

"Time for that payback, Onewa-and since Hafu isn't around for me to settle accounts, I suppose his Onu-Matoran twin will suffice."

As his Shadow Horde minions terrorized the inhabitants of the Matoran-Agori camp, the Shadowed One smiled malevolently at the sight. Though he was looking forward to finishing off any Toa and other annoying interlopers, for the moment terrorizing the diminutive villagers was proving most amusing. However, he could see a group of Turaga rallying the Matoran and Agori, creating a barricade and manning it with Kanoka Launchers and various other weapons. The sight of Lhikan among them was more than a little disturbing, but the Turaga of Fire who stood beside him swiftly drew the Shadowed One's attention.

Moving with grim purpose, the Shadowed One advanced on the redoubt, sending a stream of crystalline protodermis at a Kanoka Launcher that one of the Matoran dared to swing in his direction. He then addressed the being who had proved such a nuisance to his schemes a thousand years previously. "So, Vakama, you've survived; I would have thought a noble fool like you would have perished interfering in my war with the Brotherhood of Makuta long since. Still, I suppose you were on Metru Nui when Voporak claimed the Kanohi Vahi-I wish I could have seen the look on your face as he claimed the mask that you robbed me of."

With an expression of confusion, Nokama turned to regard her colleague. "What is he talking about, Vakama?"

"...something I should have shared with you and the rest of our brothers long ago, Nokama; the full history of what befell me when I returned to Metru Nui for the Mask of Time."

Before Vakama could say more, however, the noise of battle reached the Shadowed One's ears, and he spun around to see what was happening. To his alarm, a band of Order of Mata Nui members and Toa were charging back into the camp and engaging his forces. Valmai's teammate Pala engaged Charger, using his Kanohi Izotor of Rahi Control to halt the mutated Kane-Ra, while Primal was forced to block Bumonda's weapons with his spear. The Magnetism Toa Papu narrowly ducked a blast from Spinner before waving his mace to send the Dark Hunter's weapons flying, while Uganu found himself being pressed by Ravager's furiously striking shield and sword. Papu's colleague Rangi was forced to melt a barrage of boulders before being set upon by Devastator, while Flammik used her red staff to entangle Amphibax's whip before swinging her hook at the Dark Hunter, who caught it on his claws.

However, the Shadowed One had little time to process this conflict, as Takanuva was flying towards him atop a vehicle that, had the Dark Hunters been aware of events on the island of Mata Nui, he would have recognized as the Ussanui. Nothing of the vehicle's history, whether it's use against Makuta or its subsequent repair by Nuparu, was known to him. Of course, the main thing that mattered was that it was currently hurtling towards him at high speeds with no indication of slowing down. The craft slammed into him and kept going, carrying the leader of the Shadow Horde higher and higher as Takanuva steered it towards the top of the great tree stump. Finally, Takanuva decelerated the vehicle, sending the Shadowed One flying to hand heavily atop the stump.

Setting the Ussanui to descend slowly towards the ground, Takanuva leaped from its seat to land on the stump facing the Shadowed One, who had already recovered and risen to his feet. Both warriors circled each other warily, staffs held ready in preparation for their expected battle. Intent on each other, they barely noted the lifeless forms of Dume and Triglax and the senseless Buzkayo. Only Takanuva, who had been present when the substance had separated from Brutaka, spared a glance at the pool of Antidermis.

"At long last we meet, Toa of Light. You know, there was a time when I respected and even feared you, for I believed that you had done what even I failed to: bested Makuta in battle. Of course, that was before he seized control of the universe and proved that he had played you as he had played all of us. Still, a warrior of Light is an uncommon thing, and your destruction will certainly cement my reputation as the greatest warrior on this planet."

With a humorless grin, Takanuva replied. "You seem awfully confident in your ability to beat me; let's put it to the test!"

Simultaneously the two opened fire with their staffs, crystalline protodermis flying forth in a stream to meet fountain of pure light that erupted from Takanuva's Power Lance. The two powers strained against each other, stretching out into bizarre shapes and forms as they clashed. At last the two combatants halted their attack, and were stunned by the result: a glimmering spire of crystalline protodermis that shone with captured light.^^^ However, the Shadowed One recovered quickly and darted to one side, sending a Rhotuka Spinner flying at Takanuva only for the Toa to fire off a blast from his Midak Skyblaster. The two projectiles collided, exploding and shattering the crystalline tower, fragments of which the two enemies were hard-pressed to evade.

Eyes crackling with power, the Shadowed One launched a pair of his eye beams at Takanuva, only for Takanuva to use create a scoop of Light in his free hand to capture the blast, a trick that he had learned from his old friend Solek after being reunited with the Av-Matoran. Much as he had during his Kolhii battle with Makuta, Takanuva swung the scoop towards the Shadowed One, forcing the villain to evade his own destructive energy bolts. Before the Shadowed One could attack again Takanuva struck out with a power taught him by Radiak: using his light to engender feelings of peace and contentment within the Dark Hunter leader that slowed his movements to a crawl. However, the Shadowed One's force of will enabled him to fire off another Rhotuka Spinner; caught off guard, Takanuva found his mind awash in chaos, forcing him to release the villain from his attack.

Taking advantage of his foe's weakness, the Shadowed One charged, only for Takanuva to recover enough to hit him with a double dose of Av-Matoran power: using techniques learned from the noble Kirop and the standoffish Gavla, Takanuva struck the Shadowed One with a Light blast that both blinded him and threw off his sense of balance, causing him to topple forward onto the ground. As he struggled to his feet, Takanuva unleashed Photok's power, shooting forward at light speed and dealing the Shadowed One a blow that would have staggered a Makuta. Before he could do more, however, he was disturbed by a voice calling from nearby. "Master, save me! I am not meant for battle-though Spiriah certainly seemed to think I was when he left me in charge of his Visorak platoon on Zakaz!"

Up the path that was the most common route to the stump came the Recorder, a twisted figure with red, green, and black armor who wielded a long blade in one hand and a shorter one in the other and had a head that was red and almost featureless^^^^. However, he was swiftly pursued by a figure riding a Kanoka Disk and wielding a launcher: it was none other than Kodan, the Chronicler who had invented the sport of Akilini on Metru Nui. With the practiced hand of an able sportsman-something he had not lost while on the Red Star-Kodan fired off a disk in his launcher, striking the Recorder dead center in his back. Overcome by the disk's Weakness power, the Recorder stumbled, allowing Kodan to snag him under one arm and fly off with his captive.

The display, while impressive, had the unfortunate effect of taking Takanuva's eyes off of his enemy long enough for the Shadowed One to recover. Though he could not match Takanuva's speed, the Shadowed One had great strength of his own, and demonstrated it by slamming his staff into the midsection of the Toa. Power Lance and Midak Skyblaster alike flew to either side as the blow knocked Takanuva backwards, and before the Toa could even think of recovering the Shadowed One had struck him again. The bladed end of the staff struck again and again, until the battered Takanuva was knocked to the ground before the onslaught.

Laughing triumphantly, the Shadowed One raised his staff towards his foe, its tip glowing as it prepared to release crystalline protodermis. His eyes also crackled as his disintegration eyebeams began to build, ready to strike the Toa of Light down. Takanuva looked up at his enemy, and realized with regret that there was nothing he could do to escape his foe-the Shadowed One had struck too quickly and savagely, and now he had no means of stopping him. Resigned to his destruction, the Toa of Light closed his eyes-and then opened them again at an unexpected sound: the Shadowed One crying out in pain. His staff fell to the ground, and the villain was soon on his knees, revealing the form of his attacker behind him:


The two Piraka Kaita had led their hordes of Skakdi and Zyglak in a savage counterattack against Gali's army, forcing the various former Matoran Universe residents to flee before the onslaught of destructive weapons and powers wielded by both vicious races. Many were left sick or otherwise incapacitated by the diseased touch of the Zyglak and the various powers of the Skakdi, and those who couldn't get to safety under their own power or with the fortunate aid of their comrades were cruelly cut down. Those few beings brave enough to challenge the advance force were struck down by the might of the two Kaita, who were proving just as great a threat as their former merged form, Irnakk. However, on the vast and ever-changing battlefield, the tide could change quickly-and it did.


Kopaka and Gali, though weak from battling the Element Lords of Ice and Water, unleashed a freezing rain upon the evil force; though the Zyglak and some of the Skakdi were immune to it, many of the latter were not, and the torn up ground of the battlefield became a sodden mire that slowed down those few whom the rain did not hamper. Then, even as Gali's forces cheered their unexpected rescue, Kopaka's forces moved in. While the battle with the Baterra had thinned their ranks somewhat, enough Bohrok and Bohrok Va had survived to mount a massive charge against the Zyglak and Skakdi. Using their various Elemental Powers, the Bohrok challenged the similar might of the Skakdi, while the Zyglak found their disease-spreading touch ineffective. Despite this, they eagerly struck against the Bohrok, recognizing them as the carriers of the Krana, organisms whom they remembered as hated "siblings" preferred by their creators, the Great Beings.


With the Bohrok and Va keeping most of the Zyglak occupied, Gali's forces were able to regroup and launch their own counterattack, driving furiously into the ranks of the Skakdi. Suddenly less sure of their success, the two Piraka Kaita retreated, leaving their minions behind to guard their escape. However, in the face of the efforts of the Toa Nuva and the Bohrok Swarm, the two giants had forgotten about the Toa Mahri, Bohrok-Kal, and Toa Cordak. They were promptly reminded as Nikila, Tahnok-Kal, Terak,  Kohrok-Kal, and Uxar unleashed their powers on the Kaita formed from Hakann, Avak, and Zaktan, while the other Kaita was set upon by Gahlok-Kal, new arrival Valmai, Pahrak-Kal, Melum, and Nuhvok-Kal.


Reeling from the onslaught of Elemental Powers, the two Kaita attempted to respond with their own. However, Hakann's flames were checked by Jaller and Ikir, Thok's attempts to conjure cold were blown away by Kongu and Lesovikk, and Zaktan's Air was absorbed by Lehvak-Kal's Vacuum. Akida and Hahli seized control of Vezok's attempt at a flood, Ketar and Hewkii shattered the Stone Avak attempted to manipulate, and Nuparu quickly acted to thwart Reidak's attempt at an earthquake. So effectively stymied, the Kaita were defenseless as the Toa and Kal unleashed another attack; overwhelmed, the two giants split apart.


Hakann, Thok, and Reidak rose to their feet while their comrades remained on the ground, unconscious. Even faced with a group of thirteen Toa and six elite Bohrok, the three Skakdi refused to back down. With a roar, Hakann employed his mental blast power as never before, unleashing a wide attack that left the Toa disoriented as he charged at Kongu, eyes blazing as he prepared a heat blast. Thok used his animation powers to animate the nearby fallen forms of Bohrok and Baterra and direct them towards his foes, while Reidak rumbled towards Jaller, who had taken the heaviest brunt of Hakann's attack. Still weak, Hahli watched in horror as the black Skakdi charged towards her friend, and foun