|Deception of Honor|
Deception of Honor
|Setting||Cities of Spherus Universe, Various locations on Spherus Magna|
|Date set||103 years after the Reformation of Spherus Magna|
Prologue: Foreboding Return
Keosi strode through her fields of Mahi, a hand full of seed to grow the grass that fed the large beasts. The plant was not accustomed to the ever-changing climate of Spherus Magna, with is varying seasons, from a blistering summer to the deathly cold winter months, and thus had to be replanted every several weeks to keep the Mahi healthy. The Great Spirit Robot had controlled such annoyances as the climate. Many Mahi had died as they had traveled to the city, and many more when the frosts came. She cursed Makuta Teridax, for ruining her life and taking so many others’.
The body of the Great Spirit, the last body of Makuta Teridax, lay on the distant horizon. Its surface was now inhabited by thousands of Matoran and Agori, as if it were simply another mountain on the vast surface of the recently reformed great planet. How ironic, Keosi thought, for that robot to have killed so many, and now be the greatest city in the entire world. She thought of her home, The Great Hand, a city, but it was nothing in comparison to that.
Keosi started when one of the Mahi bumped against her shoulder. She had been lost in her thoughts again. Typical, she thought, of a Ce-Matoran, always thinking rather than actually doing. She was always asked why she had taken up Mahi farming rather than a job more fitting for her element, such as chronicling. But she preferred her simple hands-on job, even if it was a little dull. That was the way she had lived for hundreds of years, and she saw no reason to change that now.
She began spreading the grass-seed once more, occasionally patting a Mahi as she passed it. Four long shadows, the fingers of The Great Hand, stretched across the ground as the sun set along the horizon. Keosi realized how long she had been away from her house. Her farm lay several Kios from the larger buildings, and it took nearly an hour to travel between them. She finished planting, and put the sack of seed into her storage shed, carefully locking it behind her. She retrieved her spear from where it lay in the grass, and began the long trek back to her home.
She was about half a Kio away when she realized that something was wrong. There were none of usual sounds from the city, no shouts, none of the usual marketplace bustle. It was nearly completely silent, except for the occasional terrified shriek. She gripped her spear more tightly. What could be happening? In the first months after the world reformed, the Matoran and Agori had had some disagreements, but a treaty had been signed to end the fighting, Tanma’s Treaty. Since then, neither species dared defy its rules and start an all out war between the Toa and Glatorian, and the races had got to know and understand each other.
None of the townsfolk would start a fight, the risk for them would be too high. But who else could it be?
Keosi inched forwards, and saw bodies in the tall grass. All matoran, all with weapons in hand. This had certainly been the scene of a fight, but against who, she couldn’t be sure. There were no other corpses appearing to be enemies.
Keosi looked ahead, towards the city, and gagged. On the path lay Toa Defilak’s mutilated corpse. One of his arms was several Bio away on a rock and his chest had been torn open. There was a massive gash on his shoulder, where he had obviously been stabbed. His mask appeared to have been melted over his pale lifeless face. The ground all around him was sprayed with fresh blood. Keosi felt sick. Defilak had always been considerate, even to his enemies. But whoever had done this had obviously shown no mercy. His eyes bore the look of having died slowly, and most likely painfully. His remaining hand held his sword over where his heartlight had been. The blade was covered with black blood. He seemed to have injured his attacker.
Keosi began to walk away. She felt as if she should bury these bodies, but was sickened by the thought of them, and besides, she needed to return to the city to see what had transpired. There were more Toa there, and perhaps together they had been enough to hold back this unknown attacking force.
When she stepped through the gate to the marketplace, she knew that the Toa here had had no hope either. The fragments of their bodies were scattered among the corpses of the helpless Matoran and Agori. Makeshift weapons littered the ground, most of them snapped in two. Keosi shivered. She recognized many of these people. They had been her comrades, her friends. A tear rolled down her Kanohi. At least they had been spared the suffering the Toa had had to endure.
Suddenly, a hand grabbed her from behind. With immense strength, it carried her towards the pedestal where the Turaga stood when speaking to the public. Whoever held her slammed her down as the reached the top of the stone stairs. She quickly flipped up and looked up at her capturer.
She froze in terror. She stared into the eyes of a towering mechanical wonder, an amalgamation of circuitry and heavy yellow-orange plating, with a small, seemingly amphibious creature emerging from the top. Behind it stood the figure that seemed to have carried her. An immense green and yellow monstrosity covered in blood and scars. Its long yellowed teeth protruded from its mouth, and it flexed its clawed fingers in a beastly fashion. It stared hungrily at her with its merciless eyes, one of which was milky white with a fresh scar running through it
The creature inside of the tripedal mech leaned forward and addressed her. “Poor thing. Alone with all your friends dead. I suppose Gortak must have missed you.” He sneered, “Where could you have been. Well, I always have liked having a story to tell.
“You may wonder why we killed your friends. They were in our way. We would have spared them had they stood aside. Or I would have anyways,” the creature cast a sidelong glance at the one apparently called Gortak, “For we needed this place. You must know that the ground we stand on is a part of the last great body of Makuta Teridax. No, I suppose you Matoran are too ignorant to know such a fact.” He snarled, and spat, “And we have the honor to begin the great quest to retrieve our Master’s soul from death, and return him to the world in which he deserves to rule. Makuta Teridax will have life once more,” the creature’s eyes were wild with excitement.
“Now, Matoran, did anyone else survive? Did anyone else have the chance to escape and spread the word? Tell the truth!” Keosi was filled with shock and remained silent. “ANSWER!” bellowed Gortak. His voice was hoarse and he spat blood when he spoke. The creature in the yellow mech spoke again, “Fine then, if you will not answer willingly, I will force it from you mind.”
Suddenly, Keosi’s head split with pain, and she screamed. She knew the creature was trying to enter her thoughts, but as a Ce-Matoran, she was naturally shielded from such powers. The pain finally stopped, “A Ce-Matoran, eh?” hissed the creature. He seemed exhausted from what he had just done. “Guess we’ll need some other way to deal with you.”
Gortak spoke once again. “Nobody escaped. She is the only one. Let me kill her like I did the others!” And before Gortak could be stopped, he had grabbed Keosi by the throat and legs and ripped her in two.
The Ce-Matoran couldn’t even scream. She could only see red. A red that slowly darkened, until it was just black.
Chapter 1: Inevitability
“No, no, it’s fine,” said Karov as he took another piece of Nui-Choco out of Pozic’s hand, “I don’t need any more, I’m not hungry.” He chewed loudly. Pozic stared blankly into his masked face. “But you’re taking more than I offered anyway? Great Beings, sometimes I can never comprehend the depths of your insanity.” Karov looked up at his Rau wearing friend. The two of them had known each other for as long as they could remember. Karov was a blacksmith, and Pozic was there to help out if he was in a tough predicament.
“Hey,” Karov asked as he swallowed the last of Pozic’s food offering, “want to go to Dimous’s? I heard they’ve just came out with a new dish!” Pozic looked up, “Fried Muaka? Yup, I’ve heard about it.” Karov glanced onto Tahu’s Street. He sighed, “You ever miss Metru Nui? Not that it’s bad here or anything, but...” His voice trailed off.
Pozic rested his hand on the Ta-Matoran’s shoulder. “I miss it too, but I always felt trapped there, like I was a Muaka in a cage, wanting to be free of its burden.” He stared off into the clouds, “But you know what? I’ve never felt so alive here! With the unification of everything, I finally feel free.” He paused. “Let's go. Lunch’s energy is already starting to fade from my stomach.” The two friends set off down the street towards Dimous’s Diner.
Tahu’s Street, as were most of the streets in Matoro City, was packed. Matoran and Agori strode about, tending to their day-to-day business. Occasionally, a Glatorian would walk by, towering above the crowd. The streets were lined with tidy, well kept shops with shining window displays. Mahi driven carts were parked on the sides of the large road, carrying goods from all over the vast world of Spherus Magna, from exotic foods to expertly made weaponry.
Dimous’s lay at the less crowded end of street, not getting as much business as some the other, larger chains, but it was Karov and Pozic’s favourite joint in their section of Matoro City. They pushed their way through the last few Matoran crowded around a nearby armour display and stepped through the door. Several faces turned as they entered, and a few called greetings. Dimous, the Onu-Matoran who ran the place, glanced up from the bar to welcome the two. “Ah, my two favourite customers! What’ll it be today, fellas?” The two of them sat down as Dimous went back behind the counter. “I’ll have my usual, thanks,” replied Karov jovially. “All right, coming right up!” said Dimous, polishing a glass. He turned to the back door to the kitchen. “I need a Kane-Ra burger pronto! Let’s move it folks!” It only took a matter of minutes before Karov’s order was out on a platter, smoking.
“All right! Thanks, Dimous.” said Karov before he dove into his burger. “Always a pleasure feeding you two, boys.” He paused, looking troubled. At the sight, Pozic stared intently at him. “Something bothering you?” He asked, with a worrisome expression. “It’s just that, erm…” Dimous replied, seeming lost in his thoughts. “Did you hear about The Great Hand?” He asked. “Supposedly Toa Defilak hasn’t been replying to the Council’s calls. I don’t know. Something about it just doesn’t feel right…” The Onu-Matoran was yet again lost in his thoughts. He snapped back to attention when one of the waiters placed down another order.
“Anyway, on a lighter note,” He said after having a quick discussion with his co-worker, “I heard that the Council is going to announce the next candidates for Toa tomorrow. I’m excited to see who’ll be chosen.” “Old Coprollex giving up his powers?” Asked Pozic, “He was always a great Toa. It’ll be sad to see him retire as one of our protectors.” Karov looked up from the remains his freshly devoured burger. “Ditto on that front. Say, you think there’ll be any chicks-” Karov’s Kanohi Arthron was then smashed into the table by Pozic’s fist. “Well, I’m out,” Said the Fa-Matoran as he stood up, “By the way Dimous,” He scowled at his green and black clad friend, “You forgot to ask me what I wanted.” He strode through the door, slamming it behind him.
When Karov arrived home, he could hear some of the other residents arriving from their work. Karov were free of work that day; the furnace at where he worked was out of order, so him and Pozic had the day off. He found Pozic lying on the sofa, half asleep. “I’ll be making some Thornax pudding for dessert, ya want some?” The Ta-Matoran’s old friend looked up drowsily, “Sure.” He looked out their apartment window, slowly falling asleep again after a long day. Their apartment was small, but they made the most of it.
Karov entered his room; there were several posters from his old residence in Metru Nui, a dresser littered with old food wrappers, and a picture of him and some of his old friends. They had all parted ways after the Great Spirit Robot was destroyed. His bed was surprisingly neat next to the floor, which had old mask fragments and tools splayed about. His desk had blueprints and stencils laying about. Karov sprung into his comfy bed, exhausted from a surprisingly hard day of freedom. He sighed. ‘Well, Toa nominations are tomorrow,’ He thought. ‘I wonder who’ll be chosen…’ He then drifted off into a deep sleep, dreaming of the following day.
Pozic, however, did not sleep. He sat awake, polishing the large, jagged axe that he had forged for himself. He was going to have to go after that Matoran tonight. He had seen him at Dimous’s, and had followed him when he had left. He hoped vaguely that Dimous wouldn’t take offence from his abrupt departure.
The Matoran, it seemed, had a large supply of weaponry formerly from Xia, and planned to assassinate several Turaga during the announcement of the new Toa. Pozic did not know the Matoran’s name, and had had no idea of where he lived until that afternoon, so he hadn’t had the chance to report him to any Toa or any of the other law-enforcement. Pozic wasn’t completely confident about his skills in combat, but his target did not seem to have much skill in fighting, and would probably only be a threat if he was forewarned of his approach. And he wasn’t.
At least he hoped so.
He opened the door as silently as he could so as not to awake Karov. Although he trusted his friend, but didn’t want to bring him with him. Firstly, he didn’t want Karov to pay for any mistakes he made, and more importantly, Karov was too honorable. He would not approve of Pozic’s approach, and would want to challenge the Matoran to a fair fight. But Pozic didn’t want to fight. He wanted to kill, to give the assassin no chance to react and turn the tables, as he knew would be easy in a risky situation such as this.
Pozic made his way carefully and quietly down Tahu’s Street and into the back alley where he had previously followed the Matoran terrorist. He shuffled sideways with his right side forward and his axe in front of him. He could never know if a trap was about to be sprung. He crouched when he passed under windows. Once or twice he thrust the blade of his axe downwards at a noise he heard, but it was just a small Rahi scurrying as it sniffed for food.
After a walk of nearly a half-hour, he reached another somewhat large road. Though it was a pitch-black moonless night, there were still Matoran about, some heading home after a long day at work, others trying to get the best prices at the few stores and booths open at this late hour. It was down this street that Pozic’s destination lay. It was an unextraordinary dwelling, with simple circular windows on the front and sides, a plain black front door with a heavy bolt holding it shut. It was only a one-story building but Pozic assumed that it would have an underground basement.
His suspicions proved correct as he mutely snuck to the back, where he found a trapdoor. It had a large metal strap on top attached to a lock with two keyholes, and it would probably be bolted on the inside as well. At least, he thought, an axe was good for more than just combat. There were several metal bins by the back door of the house behind his target’s, and he knocked sent these clattering to the ground to mask the sounds of his axe hacking slowly through the barred hatch. Though it was well made, his axe was of protosteel far superior to the inexpensive iron used in the crafting of the trapdoor.
After about five minutes of tedious work, he was able to pry the panel open and drop down to the floor below. As he had expected, there were crates everywhere, several open and full of different ranged weapons and explosives. Several were empty. Pozic, thinking it may come in handy later, picked up a large blackened gun with a massive chain of ammo attached under the barrel. He found a strap to mount it on his back, and then, after a final look around to see if his target was actually down here, proceeded up the stairs.
He found himself in a small, plain room, with several chairs around a small table. There was a cupboard containing an assortment of foods, and a radio in the corner. This appeared to be one of two rooms in the house. There was no bed in the one in which he currently stood, so the other must be where the assassin slept.
He made his way to the door with caution, knowing there could easily be a trap waiting for him. As he put his foot down in front of the doorway, a calm voice spoke, “Take another step and you’re dead.” Pozic didn’t reply. “You heard me, drop your weapon and step into the doorway.”
Pozic threw down his axe, making sure to do it very audibly, and moved half into the doorway, his hands held up in such a way so as to hide the gun on his back. His target stood next to a bed, a large rifle in hand, facing him. He was a Le-Matoran with yellow, beady eyes and an old Kanohi Huna. When he saw Pozic, he let out a slightly nervous laugh. This assassin, Pozic knew, had a lot to learn.
As a fast as the current space would allow, Pozic drew the gun from behind him and lunged for the Le-Matoran. With his free hand, he grabbed his target’s wrist and squeezed as hard as he could. The Le-Matoran grunted in pain and dropped his gun. Pozic continued to grip him by the arm, and brought the barrel of his large automatic rifle up to his throat. The Le-Matoran gulped, a look of terror on his Huna-clad face.
Pozic slammed the Matoran through into the living room, breaking a table in the process. “What were you planning to do at the ceremony tomorrow?” The assassin remains still, a look of denial on his face. Pozic pressed the gun into his stomach, “Answer me!”
“N-nothing,” stuttered the helpless Matoran. Pozic scowled, “Then why is your basement overflowing with weapons?” The green figure gasped slightly, “Just- just in case I needed to defend myself.” Pozic slammed the hilt of his axe into the his arm. He was quite sure he heard the snap of his limb breaking. “Defend yourself? In this city?” His voice had risen without him noticing, “You’re the most dangerous thing to come here in years!”
The Le-Matoran had been panting and whimpering, but when he heard Pozic’s last words, he let out a small, pained laugh. “I- I’m not- It’s not just me here. I have a friend. He’ll finish his job. And he’ll save me. You’re a Matoran. You’ll hand me over to the Toa, and they’ll just lock me up. And you’ll be dead, like the rest of the city!”
Pozic scowled. He knew that he would get no more out of the Matoran now. He seemed to be losing consciousness. He was infuriated to have failed, unless the assassin was lying about having an accomplice. He looked down at his whimpering captive. He was too dangerous to be left alive. “You’re wrong,” Said Pozic, his voice dangerously quiet, “I won’t hand you over to the Toa.”
He pressed the barrel of his gun to the Matoran’s Kanohi, looked away, and pulled the trigger.
He tried not to think about what he had done as he returned to the weapon-filled basement. He considered blowing up the supply, but couldn’t risk the possibility of an explosive chain reaction, so left the boxes intact. He climbed the ladder, and travelled as inconspicuously as he could back to he and Karov’s dwelling, trembling all the while. When he saw his reflection he realized that he was covered in blood. Not even bothering to wash it away, he collapsed into his bed, and fell into a nightmare-filled sleep.
He feared for the day to come, not knowing what the other assassin could have done.
Chapter 2: Offer of Greatness
“Wake up sleepyhead!” Pozic sat up with a start, seeing Karov’s mask inches from his own. “It’s almost time for the new Toa candidates to be announced! We’ll miss it if we’re not there soon. Besides, I’m usually the one to sleep in!”
With a grunt, Pozic rose from his bed. Karov, thankfully, didn’t notice the bloodstains on the darkly colored sheets. “Let’s go then,” said the Fa-Matoran, his voice expressionless. As they stepped into the hall, he picked up his axe from where it lay on the floor. Karov looked at him as if to ask why he needed a weapon, but didn’t put voice to his question.
The streets were just as cheerful as normal. Pozic felt slightly more hopeful. Though the gathering had yet to happen, he was sure word would have gotten out if the Turaga had been attacked. But he still remained vigilant. The other assassin could be planning to attack today. He searched the crowds for a Toa to whom he could report his knowledge. He realized now that he should have told someone the previous day about the assassin, but he had not thought there was enough time.
He shivered slightly at what he had done to the Matoran yesterday. Maybe he should have given him to the Toa. But they would’ve asked too many questions, and what good would it have done?
Looking ahead, Pozic spotted Rovrun, a Glatorian, towering above the crowd. He immediately started forward, desperately trying to reach him. He knew he wouldn’t see any Toa before it was too late, there were very few in the city, but a Glatorian could still help. They usually acted as security during events like this due to their size and strength. Pozic had spoken with Rovrun before, and knew he could trust him.
“Meet me around the left side of the gathering area,” he called back to Karov as he ran off.
He caught up with his quarry after a few minutes. The crowds were dense, and he was only able to find Rovrun because the Glatorian was so tall. When he reached him, he tapped him on the highest part of his back he could reach. Rovrun turned and looked down at him.
Pozic had always looked up to Rovrun, both literally and figuratively, as he did to most Glatorian. Although most of them were probably younger than him, they seemed to have seen and done so much, whereas Pozic had just done his small amount of work in Metru-Nui. He also knew that Rovrun could be trusted.
Without hesitating, he told Rovrun that he had heard of a plot to attack the Turaga at the choosing ceremony. He didn’t mention the assassin he had killed. Rovrun listened to every word, and questioned nothing.
“I will inform the Turaga,” he said when Pozic had finished, “I’m not exactly in their inner circle, but as far as I am aware, nothing has happened yet. I will find you after the gathering to talk more, but I must be off now.”
Glad that he had managed to do something right, Pozic sped towards the announcement podium to find Karov. Most of the important gatherings were held in the Kohli stadium near the center of town. The seats that lined the arena were filled with the thousands of residents that lived in the city. Those who had not had the privilege of purchasing tickets were able to watch the event at their homes. Karov had been waiting at one of the several entrances, holding a small satchel of widgets in his left hand.
“There you are!” Said Karov jovially. “Our seats are right through this entrance to the left, okay?” Pozic stared towards the concrete floor on which he stood. “Uh, hello?” Karov waved his hand in front of Pozic’s face. “You dozing off there, buddy? Jeez, you must of had a rough night.” ‘You have no idea,’ thought Pozic, wishing he could be away from his overly-cheery friend.
The duo walked a short distance along the stands, squeezing past already seated Matoran and Agori. Moments after they sat down, the crowd rose up, applauding, as the Turaga filed out onto the podium. With them walked to Glatorian in fancy gold armor, and Coprollex, the Toa of Stone who was to give up his powers to a new generation of Toa.
The system was simple. There were five major cities throughout Spherus Magna. Every five years, six Matoran were chosen to become a new team of Toa, two from Matoro city, and one from each of the other four. The six would train together, complete assignments together, until they eventually returned to their city to pass on their power. There were four teams at a time, the oldest team would have its members return home when a new one was chosen.
Coprollex had been the leader of his team of Toa. Normally, each Toa would give their power to one single Matoran, in order to make them stronger, but Coprollex’s partner from Matoro City had been killed shortly before returning.
The Turaga began their speech. Just something about the “most pure and noble Matoran” being chosen and how they would “keep the peace and prosperity brought to us by the Great Spirit Mata-Nui.” Karov barely listened, having heard it all before. He was really here to see who was chosen. He glanced over towards Pozic, about to mention how he wished they would hurry up, and saw his friend watching the Turaga intently. He was taken aback. He had never known Pozic to have time for such things as speeches.
“And now,” Spoke Kahume, the Turaga of Fire who led the council, “We shall announce those chosen to inherit power and title, of Toa!” The crowd cheered. “Those chosen shall be,” The cheering died down instantly. Nobody wanted to miss even one word. “Vuli, the Ce-Matoran, and Danuku, of the Elemental Power of Ice!”
The cheering rose again faster than it had stopped. Pozic noted that it was the loudest noise he had ever heard. Two Matoran stood and moved towards the space between the seats. They were patted on the back all their way down the stands. They climbed the steps of the podium, and stood before the Turaga. After several quick words, they turned to the audience.
The cheering peaked as the two Matoran held an ornamental staff, much like those of the Turaga. Together they raised to the sky, presumably to accept their position as Toa.
Suddenly, Karov could tell something was about to happen. He had no idea what, but he knew it wasn’t something that was supposed to come to pass.
Danuku collapsed, his hand still holding the staff. Blood dripped onto the ground all around him. Vuli instantly let out a scream no one could hear and dropped to her knees beside him, shaking the Ko-Matoran. The crowd’s cheers became shrieks at what had happened. Everyone watched as Vuli’s Kanohi spun off as something pierced it. Coprollex leapt towards her, seeing what was happening. Something seemed to speed past him and hit one of the Glatorian behind the Turaga.
Guards rushed through the crowds. The few Toa there were seemed hardly able to contain their rage and power. Pozic cursed and drew his axe, but did not stand up. He wouldn’t be able to do anything, but he was furious with what had happened. He should have reported this earlier. He had told Rovrun that the Turaga were in danger. They had not thought to protect the Matoran to be chosen.
A Glatorian announced to the screaming crowd to remain calm. They would not be able to leave until the guards found a trace of whoever had killed the two Matoran. Pozic and Karov did not speak for hours.
The Glatorian told the crowd that they had discovered a Xian sniper lying abandoned near the top of the stands. They concluded that it was the weapon used to kill the Matoran and that the assassin had cast it aside before escaping.
Rovrun walked over to Pozic. “I’m sorry,” he said, “I told the Turaga what you told me. I did my best.” Pozic looked up at him, “It’s my fault. I should have reported it earlier. Anyways, I gave you the wrong information. I said the Turaga were in danger. You didn’t know that the Matoran would be attacked. I should have.”
Several minutes after Rovrun left, the same Glatorian announced that they could return to their homes, but there would be a search that night and the following day.
Karov was still shocked by the attack. He hadn’t known the two Matoran very well, but they had been acquaintances, and now they were dead. He pondered why someone would want the candidates to be eliminated. Unless they were working for someone else behind the scenes… Karov heard a knock at the door. He figured it was just some sketchy salesperson. He decided to ignore it, until he heard another knock not too soon after, and harder, like it was really important. Karov sighed as he rose from his Matoran Fashion magazine and opened the door. Outside he was astonished to find that Coprollex, the Toa of Stone was standing, or crouching due to the low ceiling, before him.
Startled by this, Karov yelped and slammed the door in his face. ‘What the?!’ Karov thought. ‘Why is he here?! Am I going to get arrested?’ He swallowed. Hard. He then went to open the door to a cross-legged Coprollex, appearing to be meditating. He opened his eyes, looking at the Ta-Matoran with patience. “I was hoping if I could come in.” He spoke solemnly. “The Turaga wanted me to talk to you about the shooting and the Toa candidates”.
'Oh jeez,' Karov thought. 'Does he think I killed the Matoran? Oh Mata Nui oh no oh no!' Karov fell to his knees. “I didn’t do it, mister Coprollex sir! I give you my word!” Coprollex looked puzzled at the Matoran’s reaction “Nonsense!” He replied in an old, soft tone. “ I just wanted to talk to you and Pozic about something.” He waved his hand into their house. “Shall we have some tea?”
As Karov rushed off to the kitchen, Pozic stepped into the hall to greet the Toa. “Toa Coprollex, I’m sorry about what happened,” he mumbled, his eyes downcast and his voice blank. The Fa-Matoran could feel the Toa of Stone’s green eyes staring at him. “You were the one who told Rovrun about the assassin, were you not?” Pozic nodded. “When you heard him talking about his plans, did you see what he looked like, or who he was talking to?”
Pozic’s froze, suddenly realizing that he hadn’t known who the criminal was talking to. He could only assume that it had been his partner, but he hadn’t seen him. He also wasn’t sure how to describe the assassin. He decided to tell something close to the truth.
“He was in a corner, so I couldn’t see him all that well. In Dimous’s pub,” He added, “I couldn’t tell what Kanohi he wore, but I think he was a Matoran. He had some gray armour I think.” Pozic knew that nearly every kind of Matoran wore some gray, so this probably wouldn’t be a lie. “He was talking to a Le-Matoran. They didn’t seem to like each other. The assassin was threatening him.” He hoped that when they discovered the Le-Matoran’s body they would assume that the assassin had killed him.
Coprollex listened patiently, not speaking a word until he was sure Pozic had finished. He said nothing to show that he hadn’t believed the story, but there was a look in his eyes that made him appear to know that not everything was as it seemed.
“Okay,” The Toa spoke at last, “Let’s go talk to your friend Karov.”
Pozic led him into the kitchen where Karov stood, pouring steaming tea into three cups. He turned as they walked in, and immediately addressed Coprollex. “The tea will be ready in a minute. What was it you wanted to talk to us about?”
Coprollex leaned against a counter. His manner suggested that they would be talking for quite a while. “As you both know,” He began, “We are missing two Toa for the new team. I do not wish to simply replace the two dead Matoran, but we need Toa to keep us safe.”
“But Coprollex, sir,” cut in Karov, “You are better than any two Toa! I mean,” He shuffled his feet awkwardly, “No disrespect meant to Danuku and Vuli.”
Pozic understood what his friend said. Why couldn’t Coprollex remain a Toa? The simple fact that he had planned to divide his power between two Matoran proved that he was extremely powerful.
“Yes, Karov, I assume you... do have a point,” Coprollex replied, not making an attempt at modesty, “Or you would have had a point had you said that a couple years ago. I have grown older. My power, while I still have it, is becoming harder to control. It will do much more good to pass it down to newer, fresher Matoran. And besides, I can still be useful as a Turaga.”
“So anyways, to get to the point, the council wanted me to ask if you two would become Toa.”
Karov’s eyes widened. Pozic froze. Becoming a Toa was what most Matoran wished most. No one would ever refuse the offer.
“Of - of course, Coprollex,” Karov stammered, “It’s every Matoran’s dream. Do you really need to ask?”
Coprollex shifted his weight from one foot to the other. “Well, you see, that is how we ended up asking you. No offense meant, but you two weren’t exactly at the top of our list, but none of others we asked wanted to risk it, after what happened to Danuku and Vuli. We just wanted to see if you’d be willing.”
The room was silent for a minute. Then, to break the silence, Karov spoke, barely controlling his voice. “Yes! I’ll gladly accept!” He looked over to Pozic. “It’s alright if you don’t want to, Pozic. You can support me from the sidelines, if you want.” The Fa-Matoran sighed, “Yup sure, I’ll become a Toa.”
Coprollex’s Kanohi Rau twisted into a smile, “Excellent! I am sure you will be great heroes!” He turned to the door, “Now come,” He said, “We must go to the Turaga.”
Chapter 3: Into the City Below
The three of them made their way through the city. Karov attempted several times to start up a conversation with Pozic, but the Fa-Matoran ignored him and continued walking forward at an even pace, his eyes fixated on Coprollex.
It took them several minutes to reach Central Tower. It was an extremely large building which contained the council’s hall and other such rooms. Neither Karov nor Pozic had ever been inside.
However, Coprollex led them not to the entrance of the Tower, but to one of the smaller surrounding buildings. Some appeared to be quarters for the few Toa that resided in the city, but others, like the one to which they were headed, seemed unremarkable. In fact, this building was a simple stone dome with a rectangular door.
Coprollex drew out a key from a small satchel he wore, and unlocked the door. The inside was as plain as the exterior had been, without even a single piece of furniture. Three members of the Turaga council stood there, Nokaru, Kahume, and Nurili.
The room was hardly big enough to fit all six of them, and Coprollex had to bend down to avoid the ceiling. Both Karov and Pozic wondered why the Turaga had chosen to see them here, rather than inside the heavily fortified tower.
Their unspoken question was answered at once by Nurili, “You may wonder why Coprollex brought you here, to this simple,” she looked up at Coprollex, “and rather cramped structure. Well, we thought a wise choice that may help us to avoid the assassin’s notice. The Central Tower, while heavily fortified, is too complex of a structure.”
“Although the guards are excellent and would undoubtedly do a brilliant job of deterring any intruders, I worry that our assailant may have entered the building ahead of time and lies in wait of us.” Nurili had been a tactician before giving up her power, and in the past had seemed able to understand an enemy’s plan with ease. The Turaga of Water smiled, “I doubt he, or she, will think to consider to a dwelling as vulnerable as this one.”
“But as I say,” She continued, “We are vulnerable here. We must make haste. I presume Coprollex has explained why we requested your presence?” Both Matoran nodded in unison. “Good,” Nurili looked to Kahume, the Turaga of Fire.
“As you know, you are to become Toa. You were our top picks for the job, due to your nobility and - ” Coprollex cast him a stern glance, “Alright, perhaps you were not our first choice, but you are certainly fit for the job.” Kahume didn’t seem to want to continue after having his speech cut off, but white-clad Nokaru continued for him.
“Are you two certain you want to become Toa? There’s no turning back, once you have transformed, you will be honor-bound to serve Spherus-Magna and its people until you draw your last breaths.” Karov nodded instantly, “I swear to protect Matoro City.” Pozic waited several seconds before stating his agreement.
Nokaru nodded solemnly, “So be it.” Silently, Coprollex drew from his pouch two Toa Stones. He handed one to each Matoran, and took a step back.
Pozic and Karov, knowing it was time, pressed the Stones against their heartlights.
The two Matoran could feel the enormous amounts of power begin to course through their own veins. The were getting noticeably taller, while the seasoned Toa of Stone diminished in size. Their Matoran armor stretched to fit their expanding bodies, becoming sleeker and more refined, including their masks, which transformed into their greater counterparts.
Then, after the flowing energy subsided, two new figures stood. Coprollex now measured half his former height, and stood stooped alongside the other Turaga. Both Karov and Pozic had to lean forward to avoid the low ceiling. Karov noticed that they were considerably taller than Coprollex had been.
Finally, the silence was broken by Pozic, “Well, what happens next?”
Kahume smiled, “You are now Toa, heroes, protectors of Spherus Magna. It is your duty to protect not only the Matoran of the world, but all its many noble inhabitants.”
“We have a mission for you, but you must first be given your new Toa Tools. There is an armoury beneath the Tower and the entrance is several buildings away. Coprollex and I will bring you there, and explain your quest.”
Nokaru held the door open for the two new Toa. The sun hurt Pozic’s eyes after having been in the shadows for so long. Now that he was able to stand up straight, he realized he was more than three times his original height. The Turaga around him barely reached his waist
Nokaru and Nurili continued to walk forward, towards the Tower’s doors, but Coprollex and Kahume took them on a path to their right, towards another one of the dome-shaped buildings. As they reached the door, Pozic realized that it existed purely to cover a set of stairs leading downwards towards the Tower.
The four of them strode down in silence, Kahume occasionally mentioning something about the experience of being a Toa, but no one payed attention. The Toa had to stoop to fit through the tight tunnels at the end of the stairs.
Eventually they entered a large chamber, filled with statues holding excellently crafted weapons in every shape and size. On one wall there was a shelf filled with more Kanohi than either Karov or Pozic could name. When both of them started forward, wanting to admire the enormous chamber, another figure stepped from the shadows, armoured in white and silver, wearing a noble Kanohi Iden. His form seemed rather unsubstantial and translucent, and it shimmered like thousands of ice crystals in the dim lighting.
“Ah, Matoro,” said Kahume, like seeing a presumed dead and legendary figure was a normal thing to expect.
Both Toa stood, puzzled looks on their faces. They both recognized Matoro from the numerous portraits they had seen, but in those he had not been a Turaga as he was now. They supposed he must have given his power at some point. But still, how was he alive? Or was he even alive? His mirage-like form made it difficult to tell.
After a quick word with Kahume, the being that resembled Matoro turned to Karov and Pozic. It smiled widely, “Greetings. It is always so uplifting to meet new generations of Toa. My name is Matoro. You may not have heard of me.”
Karov started, “Of course we have - !” But Matoro’s smile told him that it had been a joke.
“The Ignika helped keep me alive,” began Matoro, answering the Toa’s unspoken question. “I had enough time to retrieve my old Iden, and enter this spirit form. It takes all my power to retain it. That is why I now appear as a Turaga.”
My body is dead. I cannot return to it. But I now serve as the watcher and protector of the City’s Kanohi Collection. I prefer not to think of it as my City, although it is named for me,” he added as a side note.
“Follow me,” the Turaga’s spirit continued, “If you are to be our protectors, you will need the equipment.”
Matoro lead them through the halls, pointing out various masks and Toa Tools. Karov rejected any offers to exchange his mask for any of those on display, but Pozic stopped at a Kanohi Sanok.
“Could I take this one?” He asked Matoro.
The Turaga smiled and nodded. As his friend took the mask and exchanged it for his own, Karov couldn’t help but wonder why Pozic would need a mask of accuracy. He shrugged mentally, knowing that the Toa of Magnetism would have his reasons.
As they continued to progress through the halls, Pozic noted how large the chamber was and how many hundreds of thousands of Kanohi and Weapons must be stored here. He didn’t think he could name a weapon or mask that this place didn’t have. Except perhaps something like…“The Kanohi Ignika!” Karov exclaimed. Unable to hold in his excitement, he rushed towards it.
And sure enough, it was the legendary Mask of Life, sat atop the armour that could only belong to the Toa Ignika. The mask’s gold tinge appeared faded as it sat upon the face of an ancient golden suit of armor, engraved with runes and symbols neither Karov or Pozic could recognize.
“I can see you’re curious about this armour, aren’t you?” Matoro jested. “Well, the Great Spirit Mata Nui left the Kanohi Ignika in the posession of the inhabitants of this planet. Not long after, it reconstructed the body of the Toa Ignika. It has since been dormant.”
After several minutes of silently admiring the legendary mask, the fellowship decided to continue moving. The new Toa had yet to choose their new tools.
Eventually, to nobody’s surprise, Pozic reached for a large, cracked axe. He mounted it on his back, where his smaller one had previously resided. He silently turned and nodded as he noticed that the rest of the group had stopped to watch him, and they continued on their way.
The group stopped again when they saw Karov stop at a large greatsword. “Pretty recent, that one,” chimed Coprollex. “It gains the abilities of it’s wielder, so if you’re a Toa of Ice, Ice attribute. Air, Air attribute, and so on.” Karov stared inquisitively at the blade, analyzing every detail, then taking it off it’s hinges and attaching it to his back. “Fits like a charm,” he stated finally, breaking the silence.
“Now then,” Kahume said after a brief quiet. “We should depart, now that you have selected your weapons of choice. Once we have reached the safety of the Central Tower, you shall be given your first task as Toa.”
“So let us ascend, to the city above,” said Coprollex, smiling jovially.
Matoro’s spirit raised a hand in farewell before turning and disappearing into the mass of shining weapons that so resembled his pale colour. The other four continued without him, soon reaching an enormous spiral staircase, each step several bio wide. Kahume gestured for Pozic and Karov to go ahead, and so the Toa, now equipped with their tools, began their slow progress towards their first step in protecting their city, their world, from evil.
Chapter 4: The Bigger Picture
“One thousand four hundred seventy eight. One thousand four hundred seventy nine.” Pozic wasn’t sure how long he had been mentally counting the steps, only that the spiral staircase seemed to have no beginning and no end. He wasn’t even sure if he had noted every step, or if his total was a mere portion of the unfathomable mass of protodermis tiles that wound up and up towards the center of the city.
Nobody had spoken in what seemed like hours. Even Coprollex had given up telling jokes when he had received no response for several minutes straight.
Lost in thought, the Toa of Magnetism realized he had lost count of his steps. He nearly cursed out loud, but settled instead on a long sigh.
“One. Two. Three…”
After seeing the same repeating spiral pattern for nearly an hour, it was unnerving to see it disappear into a ceiling that appeared to mark the beginning of a complex of rooms. Great glass windows gave offices a view of the abyss from which the group of four had come. Turaga and Matoran sat calmly inside, reading messages and conversing with their colleagues. Glatorian in smooth, shining armour stood at every door, calm, but alert.
When the group was level with the rooms, Karov and Pozic saw that another spiral staircase waited in the center, although this one was considerably smaller than that which connected the Central Tower to the Great Armoury. It seemed that their destination lay above them still, so they followed the Turaga to the staircase.
Karov’s legs were beginning to object to their lengthy use. He wasn’t sure he could go much farther without resting, but he didn’t want to make himself look bad in front of the Turaga.
Thankfully, they stepped off the staircase at the next landing. Karov could see a plaque displaying Kahume's name on a door near the end of the hall.
Their destination in sight, the group covered the remaining distance in a matter of seconds. The Turaga of Fire drew a large key from within his robes, unlocked the iron-entwined wooden door, and it swung open.
Inside was a worn desk with several tall piles of documents, almost as tall as the Turaga himself. With that, Kahume walked around the desk and rested himself, pleased, on the luscious chair behind him. “Now then,” The wizened Turaga said. “We have something of importance for you to look into.” He slid an auburn file with the word urgent stamped on it in red ink.
“We’ve received no response to any of our messages sent to The Great Hand for over a month, and we have begun to fear the worst,” Kahume continued. “That is why we’re sending you two, along with the other members of your team to rendezvous there. We are unsure of the dangers you may face, so the council has decided that it is best that you meet them as a united force.”
Karov and Pozic looked at each other, concerned. What might have happened that ceased all of The Great Hand’s communication? It worried both of them to a certain extent.
Coprollex spoke for the first time since they had entered the room, “I figure you know the basic geography of our continent?” Both Toa nodded. “That is well, but I shall nevertheless be providing you with a navigation kit. The deserts that lay between our city and your destination are harsh and dangerous, and many of the greatest warriors have met their demise out there. Alone.
“As you will notice,” continued the Turaga of Stone as he passed the duo a map, “The route I have marked is not as direct as it could be, but it keeps you away from the barren flatlands at the center of the desert.
“I trust that you will not be reckless and decide not to heed my instructions. As you know, the other Toa have much longer distances to travel, so you will arrive at The Great Hand simultaneously, making sure your task is completed as it should be. Together.”
Coprollex’s eyes were as serious as either Toa had ever seen them, but there was a shadow of something else reflected in his shiny yellow-green eyes. Was it… sadness? Nostalgia?
It was only there for a second, but both Pozic and Karov knew it had some meaning.
But Coprollex smiled once more. “But, I'm sure you'll both do as instructed. After all, you were chosen because you had many of the qualities we were looking for, not the least of which are loyalty, honesty, and responsibility.”
Kahume spoke up again. “Now that you have received your noble weapons and have your destination in sight, it is time for you to set out on your valiant quest. Do you wish to be accompanied to the gates?”
The two Toa entered their home for what could very well be the last time. They had opted to not be escorted to the gates, and had instead hurried to their dwelling after the Turaga had bid them farewell.
They had drawn a lot of curious looks from Matoran and Agori on the streets. Their towering figures were like a free spot of cool in the heat of the afternoon, as it had been several hours since their beckoning by the council.
Several of the onlookers knew them personally, and all whispered to their companions. Pozic couldn’t have begun to guess what they were saying, but he hoped greatly it wasn’t bad. There was always a chance the citizens somehow blamed them for the deaths of Vuli and Danuku.
Being inside of a building again brought much relief to the Toa of Magnetism. Now they needn’t worry about the gossip of their former fellow Matoran, and probably would not ever again.
He tried to mentally prepare himself. He was leaving the city for the first time in many years. He was now a protector, not protected. Most of all, he was about to enter a city who had ceased all communications with the rest of world, along with five companions, four of which he did not know, and none of which had any real experience.
The world was counting on them to do this.
The two of them didn’t speak as they moved through the rooms, occasionally picking up items they might want to bring with them, but mostly just pretending to be busy as they thought about what was to come.
Karov had a clear view of his friend as Pozic entered his bedroom. He watched the Toa of Magnetism reach down behind his bed and retrieve a massive gun, the likes of which he had never seen anywhere, let alone in his own house.
Karov thought for a moment about what he should do. 'Where did Pozic get that kind of weaponry?' he thought. He decided against questioning his friend.
He reached under his bed to lift two duffel bags filled with supplies. Now it was Pozic’s turn to be surprised. “Just in case we ever we wanted to leave the city, I’ve had these ready.” Karov explained with a smile. The two had always dreamed of leaving the city on their own, yearning to explore the vast world outside. And now, they were. In a sense, at least.
The two exited from their abode, feeling a sense of nostalgia s they closed the door. 'Was this the last time, they’d ever set foot there again?' they thought to themselves. They couldn't know for sure. But they the knew the task ahead of them would be a daunting one, and both were aware of the chance of them not returning.
They strode once more through the streets. There were considerably less Matoran and Agori about, perhaps having journeyed inside to discuss the news, Pozic thought, or perhaps he was just being paranoid, and not one citizen had spared their becoming Toa a thought. They had only a short distance to walk to reach the gates. They were more than halfway there when they turned as they heard someone calling their names.
“Pozic! Karov!” It was Dimous. He seemed to have run a long way to reach them.
“Dimous,” said Karov, sounding confused, “what are you doing here? Shouldn’t you be at work? At your pub?”
“I heard that you had become Toa,” the Onu-Matoran replied, “and that you were about to leave. I wanted to see if it was true. I’ve been following you for a while, but it’s been hard to keep up. With your new long legs, and all.” He smiled, almost laughing, but his eyes were filled with worry.
“I wanted you to know,” he continued, “that wherever you go, whatever battles you fight, I will always stand by you. Me and many others. You may not have a way of calling me, but if you are ever in need of help, I will be there.”
The group stayed silent for a moment, until Karov knelt down and hugged the Onu-Matoran. Pozic did the same.
Dimous gulped, “So, seeya, I guess.”
With that he turned, sadness in his eyes, and walked back in the direction of his home.
“He’ll be fine,” Karov said as he laid a hand on his friend's shoulder. Pozic could tell that he was smiling underneath his mask. “We should get going anyways.” He continued.
The gate was a place that the two of them had visited often, with it’s towering, protodermis walls which seemed a bit smaller now that the two were Toa. The two got only brief glimpses of the world outside the gargantuan metal doors, but it appeared to be quite a lush forest and a glimpse of a golden yellow on the horizon.
Upon seeing them, the Glatorian guards waved to the lookouts on the ledges several stories above them. Karov and Pozic heard the gears clicking and whirring as the great doors swept outwards to the world beyond.
Karov looked at his friend, partner and brother. Pozic looked back and the two nodded at each other. And with that, the two newborn heroes began their journey looking forward to every step of the way.
Chapter 5: The Perilous Wastes
Karov was not enjoying his journey so far.
The sandstorm was dreadful, and the sand seeped into the cracks in his armor. It was coarse, rough and got absolutely everywhere. Pozic looked like he was having the same trouble, but the both of them kept pushing forward against the raging sandstorm.
The lush plantlife directly outside the gates of Matoro City hadn’t lasted long, quickly transforming into the barren deserts of what had been Bara Magna. Although Coprollex’s map didn’t lead them through the desert, they were still well into the great expanse of sand.
The desert was surprisingly cool. Although the sun shone, the winds blew, keeping the Toa at an ideal temperature. But it was these winds that had caused most of their problems along the way. Although they usually blew gently, there were times when they dashed through the skies at unbelievable speeds, reducing the temperature to unbelievable lows.
Yet the Toa pushed on. The desert lacked obvious landmarks, but they had so far been able to follow Coprollex’s map with little difficulty. For the four days they had been travelling, they had only lost track of their position once, and had quickly found it once more. Pozic’s internal compass had helped.
It was on this fourth day, though, that things started to get worse. The winds had been blowing for the entire day. There had been times when the Toa had thought they saw a figure in the far distance, the sand forming an orb around him, refusing to touch him but constantly orbiting around him. Neither had discussed this sight with the other. They knew that the sand could play tricks on their eyes
It was nearing dusk when the storm began to cease its wrath, yet it still raged on. The two were beginning to feel their energy depleting faster and faster as what was visible of the sun began to fade, and the temperature began to drop rapidly.
Karov, struggling to trudge on, begam to see unnatural movement behind a ridge of sand. Curious, he stopped for a moment to look over. When he did, he was met with the face of a snarling humanoid creature which sent the Toa of Fire reeling into another mound across from this one.
As he regained his stability, he closely inspected the creature; it appeared almost like a Glatorian, but with more tattered armor, mandibles and a tail. Briefly startled before drawing his sword, Karov stood up again, only to be knocked over again as he rose.
Pozic finally turned around to see his friend flying towards him. He thought the noises his friend had been making as his occasional frustrated grunts. But now he realised the danger of this situation. Seeing the two large, hunched figures, he recognised what they were. “Vorox!” He yelled.
Knowing it was time to act, Pozic drew his axe from the strap on his back and stood between the beasts and his friend. Karov seemed to be conscious, but dazed. Pozic would need to buy him the time he needed to recuperate.
To his dismay, more Vorox were mounting the ridge. ‘Should have figured,’ the Toa thought to himself, ‘I knew they hunt in packs.’
The creatures circled, not yet charging in at their prey. Pozic knew that they were trying to surround them, and decided to act first.
He rushed at the nearest creature, his axe held above his head. As he reached it, he brought the weapon down, driving through with all his momentum. There was a sickening crunch, and the Vorox died before it could even begin to fight. Its head fell to the ground, split in two, as was much of its upper torso.
The second creature leaped towards Pozic. He barely avoided its first blow, and blocked the second with the handle of his axe. After a quick struggle, he managed to push it back.
With a flurry of strokes, he managed to cut his foe down. Two corpses lay at his feet, but several dozen more Vorox were approaching rapidly. He backed towards Karov, who he feared leaving alone. Thankfully, his friend had risen to his feet once more and seemed to have regained his balance. Weapons in hand, they stood together as the pack reached them.
The two swung their blades, felling the beasts one at a time. Pozic swung his axe in wide arcs, often sending his foes flying. Karov’s sword was more elegant, twisting, stabbing, but still leaving the Vorox dead or bleeding. Pozic noted that his friend seemed able to channel small amounts of his element through his blade, as some of the wounds his sword left smoked and sizzled.
But the pack kept coming.
A group of Vorox converged around Karov. Pozic took the opportunity to draw his Xian gun from his pack. It was already loaded. He stood back, and fired into the cloud of creatures.
Three dropped dead immediately. Some scattered, but others continued their assault on Karov. Pozic fired again. Among the screeches of pain, Pozic heard Karov shout.
The Vorox seemed to have realized that Pozic was the real threat, and abandoned Karov to leap at him.
Pozic tried to send another flurry of bullets at the pack, but his ammunition clip had run out and his replacements were in his pack, which he had discarded as he had fought, and which now lay out of reach.
The wind howled ever louder, and panic flooded Pozic’s mind. The Vorox were upon him. The first one threw him to the ground and leaped at him. He blocked its stinger with the bulk of his gun, and managed to throw the creature back.
Suddenly, as two more of the beasts flung themselves at him, a blur of silver collided with the creature’s heads. As their bodies crumpled in the sand from the critical wound, a brown and silver figure came running after it, and into the pack of Vorox. If he was simply mad, Pozic didn't know, but he new that the figure was sure to die.
But they didn’t.
They took down three with mere punches, before the blur from before appeared again from the sand, falling into the figure’s hands. Pozic could see now that it was a hammer, and that now the real show was about to begin. They took two swings and seven Vorox were nothing but dead husks.
Just as Pozic thought they were done for, the figure yelled forcibly as he slammed his hammer into the ground. The force of the blow created a massive storm of sand and rock, obscuring Pozic’s vision and burying him in the wave caused by it.
Pozic could only wait, and after what felt like more than an hour, he saw light returning once again to his vision. As he coughed and spluttered, spitting out the horrendous taste of sand, he could see his saviours; Karov, and the mysterious figure pulling him out from his possible tomb.
Karov appeared to be alright, all things considered, but it was the massive figure, who he could now discern as a Toa, that Pozic was more concerned about. His armor looked scratched, dented, among other things. His eyes gave a stern glare to the two of them, before sighing.
“Guess I shouldn't be surprised. Someone was gonna be attacked by those things sometime soon.” He spoke in a fairly gravelly voice. He looked tired, as if he had been wandering the desert for centuries, which, now that the Toa thought about it, he may as well have been. “Look, I don’t want your gratitude or anything. I’m not a hero of any sort. While a may be a Toa, I don’t follow the code.” He continued. “But, that doesn't mean I won’t help you get to your destination. Where to, fellas?”
Karov and Pozic glanced at each other. Who was this Toa and why was he out in the desert, not following the code, among other things? And why was he helping them?
“Well, um, guy… what’s your name? This is kinda awkward…” Karov asked sheepishly. The Toa laughed in a loud voice, making it seem like he was even larger than he already was. “Call me Jevan. Now then, what’s your destination? We don’t have all day before more Vorox show up.”
Karov nodded, and stammered out: “Th-the Great Hand.” It was when he finished that Jevan’s look became more somber. “Should’ve figured the Council would get suspicious anyways.” He muttered under his breath. He sighed. “Sure. Follow me, you two.” The two rookies nodded, and followed the grand Toa of Stone on their journey.
Karov was falling behind again.
It had been a day since they had begun following Jevan. His route was certainly different from the one given to them by Coprollex, cutting through the perilous center of the desert which they had been told to avoid. The sandstorms had gotten worse towards the center, but they Jevan appeared to be holding them back, so that an orb of calm air with a radius of several bio surrounded them.
But Karov seemed unwell. He hadn’t spoken in several hours, so Pozic could not be sure of what was wrong with him. Jevan didn’t seem aware, but as he pressed on, Karov seemed to be straining himself to keep up. Pozic knew he’d have to tell the Toa of Stone.
He quickly covered the distance between them. “Jevan!” he said, not quite shouting, but making sure Jevan heard and knew that it was important. “Something is wrong with Karov. Can we at least stop for a moment and let him rest.”
The veteran Toa turned to see Karov for the first time in hours. He seemed genuinely surprised at how far behind the Toa was, so far that he was close to leaving the barrier around them. “I’ll go have a look.”
Pozic turned and followed Jevan, reaching Karov several seconds after him. Jevan told Karov to lie down, and the Toa of Fire obeyed so quickly it seemed as though he had been holding back the urge for a long while.
Jevan examined the younger Toa for a time, before standing up and reaching for his bag.
“What’s wrong with him?” Pozic asked. Jevan pulled what seemed to be a bottle of healing salve from his pack, “Let me show you.
“Most of his wounds are from Vorox claws. They are shallow, and need not be tended to. But here...” Jevan pointed out a gash along Karov’s side, “This is different. It seems to be… a gun wound would be my best guess. But do either of you have one?”
Pozic pulled out the Xian gun from his pack, a feeling of guilt creeping through him.
Jevan nodded. “Well that mystery’s solved. The wound isn’t infected, so it just needs a little patching up, and time to heal.” He began to apply the lotion to the gash. “We’ll have to wait here for a day.”
Pozic pulled out his map. “Will we arrive on time? We have a mission, and we were told to arrive at The Great Hand in two days from now.” Jevan put down the bottle and glanced at Pozic’s map. “The route you were taking would have been several days slower. If with a day gone, my route will get you there a day early.”
Pozic nodded, and pulled his camping gear, which consisted of a simple lantern and a torn bedroll, out of his bag. He sat and watched as Jevan wrapped a bandage around Karov’s middle.
The Toa of Stone, who seemed to have done all he could, turned to Pozic. “Get some rest, I’ll take first watch.”
Chapter 6: Blood-Soaked Truths
Karov was feeling better since his wound was bandaged.
He was able to sleep the entire night, and when he did ever open his eyes, either Pozic or Jevan was keeping watch. That assured the Toa of Fire that he was safe. The following morning was rather calm, and the trio kept trudging through the sands. The storm from the day before had subsided, allowing them to take their time in their travels.
The sun was a new threat, however, and it’s heat was cooking Karov alive. ‘If only I could will the heat of the sun to degrade itself a little…’ He thought to himself. He also reminded himself that his time of complaining was over. He was a Toa now, and Toa were virtuous, and remained just for all. Except, those who are unreasonable.
“Well, here we are, fellas. The Great Hand!” Jevan announced as the group reached the summit of a pile of sand. The view astounded the both of Pozic ad Karov. The enormous hand’s palm was barely visible, but the fingers protruded as if large pillars, also serving as protection for the township. The forearm of the Great Spirit Robot appeared to go on forever, but they new better.
But the streets appeared quiet as they took a closer look, almost like an unnatural force sweeped up all the residents… Thus concerned, Karov was troubled by this. Instinctively wanting to look for people, he dashed down the other side of the hill, surfing down it. This spiked pain into his leg, but he fought the pain. He knew Toa didn’t show weakness naturally, so he pushed onward.
And then he fell, miserably.
He tripped and stumbled, slowly turning into a ball, before spreading himself outward at the foot of the hill. Shocked by this, Jevan and Pozic hurriedly followed ensuite. The Toa of Fire groaned as he regained his balance, clearly looking dizzy from the fall. “I didn’t slip…” He muttered to himself.
The other two Toa caught up just as Karov felt that he had fully recovered his balance. Karov was relieved that neither of them mentioned his fall, and that they simply waited for him to be ready and continued on towards the city at a brisk pace. They both seemed as concerned as he did about the City’s empty appearance, but they didn’t seem to think running in these conditions would be necessary. After all Jevan knew the sands better than Karov and Pozic, and if he thought this pace would suffice, Karov had to agree.
A stream cut through the course ground around one Kio away from the Hand. Plants grew on the opposite bank, a sight that none of them had seen since for many days. The sands were less common here, the ground instead consisting of rough, course earth and large stone patches.
The plantlife extended up the side of the huge robotic limb, making it appear to be more of an oddly shaped mountain than a hand. It was a place that looked to be full of life, yet it was eerily still.
Jevan reached the stream first, and began to wade through. Pozic followed suite, but Karov was more hesitant. Would the water hurt him? He did possess the element of fire, after all. He mentally slapped himself. The City was in danger, and he was afraid of getting wet? He trudged through the stream after his comrades.
It did feel extraordinarily cold, especially when compared to the heat of the desert. Thankfully the water only reached his knees, and the stream was narrow enough that it took a mere 10 seconds to cross.
Karov stepped onto the bank, where the other two had waited. Pozic was checking his pack, while Jevan scanned the horizon, seeming to be on the lookout for something. But why, Karov was unsure. He appeared to be on more of an edge than usual. He thought he might have even heard the Toa of Stone curse under his breath. This puzzled Karov to a degree. Did Jevan have something to do with this unnatural quiet?
“We should keep moving,” said Jevan sternly, as if an order, and moving at a faster pace towards the center of the village. The two new Toa looked at each other, intrigued and mildly suspicious of his behaviour. Cautiously, they followed.
As they began to climb the metal hand, the houses began. They were scattered, at first, as few Matoran and Agori wished to live this far away from both the safety and the bustling activity of the town square and the main City. But the farther the three Toa rose, the more houses there were.
But they all were deserted.
The Toa’s path soon intersected with a large road, surely constructed to allow any merchants who lived on the outskirts of the city to easily bring their wares to the markets. The Toa silently agreed to follow it.
It was on this roads that they saw the first signs of the missing townsfolk. Several shards of merchandise lay scattered on the path, as well as a discarded dagger. It was coated in blood.
“We need to hurry,” growled Karov. Jevan looked like he wanted to object to this, but the expression on the Toa of Fire’s face seemed to discourage any argument he might have had.
At this point, the incline of the path was nearly gone, and the Toa began to run, following the path that would certainly lead them to the center of the City.
Before long, the entirety of the path and much of the ground around it was soaked with blood. The marks on the ground seemed to indicate that a great battle took place here. Or a slaughter.
Yet there were no bodies.
They were finally nearing the part of the town that usually housed a large market. All three of them held their weapons, ready for a fight. Jevan’s face was emotionless, but both Karov’s and Pozic’s faces showed nothing but disgust, anger, and hatred towards whatever had caused this massacre. For although there was no sign of the dead townsfolk, it was very clear that many, if not all of them, were dead.
They passed through a gateway, and were met with a grisly sight. In the middle of this square, a place of celebrations and prosperity, lay a pile of corpses that stood taller than the three of them combined. Lifeless Matoran, Agori, Glatorian, and even Toa and Turaga, were twisted and crushed under the weight of thousands of their deceased friends and comrades.
Some were torn apart, some showed no visible signs of injury. The ground around the pile was littered with masks who had fallen from their wearers. The entirety of the square was soaked in blood.
There was no sign of an attempted fire. It didn’t seem that whoever or whatever had done this had been trying to dispose of the bodies. And there had clearly been blood throughout the City, so these weren’t here to be hidden, either.
Whoever had done this left this as a message.
Karov was visibly trembling. Jevan stared at the ground. Pozic’s eyes remained fixed upon the thousands of corpses, but he seemed not to see them.
After what seemed like hours, Pozic spoke, “Why would someone do this.”
Jevan looked at him. “I don’t mean that in a sentimental way,” Pozic continued, “I mean literally. There has to have been a reason for this raid to have happened. “Think about it. This place is too far removed from anywhere else. This isn’t mockery, or a threat. At least not entirely. Whoever did this wanted something from this place. Something they could take with them. “Look around. This place is empty. Any force capable of taking down multiple Toa and many Glatorian, not to mention thousands of Matoran and Agori, could easily defend this City from an attack. Yet they fled. Had they wanted this as a stronghold, a strategic position in whatever sick war they fight, they could have had it. No. They came here for something they could take with them. It wasn’t prisoners, that’s for sure,” he nodded towards the rotting pile of death. “So what was it?”
Jevan opened his mouth, seemingly reluctantly, and answered Pozic’s question. “There was - is, a great Kanohi chamber, hidden inside The Great Hand. It has thousands upon thousands of masks stored there. Even those that have been dismissed by some as myth. Its entrance is hidden, and heavily guarded. Few Turaga even knew of it.” “Then how did you?” Karov growled. He had turned towards the others, and still seemed both horrified and enraged by the sight of the carnage that had taken place. Strangely, his anger was now directed at Jevan. “How did you know about the Kanohi chamber? It’s hidden, is it not? Yet you know of it? A filthy, outcast, rogue Toa who won’t tell us anything about himself? “Was it you? Were you one of those who came here, who murdered all these innocent citizens? Just for a couple pieces of metal?”
“Karov, wait!” shouted Pozic, as his friend quickly approached the Toa of Stone.
Karov shoved Jevan to the ground, and drew his sword. Before he could strike, Pozic had grabbed his wrist.
“You’re making a mistake. We have no idea how Jevan knows this. Let him explain,” Pozic explained to his furious companion. When the Toa of Fire seemed not to listen, Pozic swiftly through an uppercut his way, simultaneously kicking his feet out from beneath him, dropping him to his knees. “Karov!”
Relieved, Jevan began to rise. His bag had fallen from his where it usually hung around his waist, and he leaned to pick it up. As it rose, a metallic shape tumbled out of it. It seemed to be a mask. It didn’t take long for Karov and Pozic to recognize it.
It was the Kanohi Avohkii, the Mask of Light.
Karov rose once again. Pozic drew his axe from where it hung on his back. It was clear now, to both of them, that Jevan had taken part in this. Pozic walked to the left, Karov the the right, and together, they began to circle the Toa of Stone.
Jevan seemed on the verge of panic. He scooped up the Avohkii, and pulled out his hammer. “Look,” he said, “You don’t understand. You don’t have to do this. I’ll explain.”
The other two ignored him. Jevan tightened his grip on his weapon, realizing that he would have to fight. Simultaneously, Karov and Pozic lunged.
Karov slashed at Jevan’s torso, but he blocked the blow at an unnatural speed, deflecting it with his hammer. The force sent Karov backwards in the blood-soaked dirt, but he remained standing. Pozic went in with his axe, swinging lightly in one direction as a fake, and forcefully upward as Jevan prepared to block his feint. Somehow, Jevan blocked the blade when it should have gashed his chest.
Straining to comprehend what had just happened, Karov came back in, lunging like a furious Kane-Ra. Jevan parried again, but the Toa of Fire came back swinging again and again. Karov hadn’t felt it in his fury, but he now began to feel himself tiring. ‘Don’t let up, Karov! You need to kill this son of a Kavinika so those matoran can rest in peace!’
Karov slammed his sword at Jevan, nearly bringing it to hit him. But the Toa of Stone had the sword held between his hands, it ever so gently scraping against his Kanohi Rode. With a burst of adrenaline, Jevan pushed the sword out of Karov’s grip, causing it to go flying, finally skittering across the bloody ground.
Karov began brawling with his hands, but clearly Jevan was more adept at hand to hand combat. He blocked the Toa of Fire’s blows, then when there was a weak point, grabbed his forearms, and spun him around. The inertia caused Karov to lose consciousness, but Jevan laid his body down gently, as if the fight had never happened. But he couldn’t rest, as the shadow of Pozic came looming over the large Toa, and the Toa of Magnetism came at him, swinging his axe with accuracy.
“Wait just a minute, dammit!” Jevan yelled. It was clear he was truly beginning to get angry. “I’m not here to kill you. If that was my plan, you’d be long dead. Do realize how many opportunities I’ve had?” He spoke as he dodged Pozic’s continued assault.
“Look,” he said, throwing his hammer off to his side, “I’m not here to fight you. I spared your friend’s life, when he clearly would’ve killed me. Just give me a minute. Let me prove that I’m on your side!”
Pozic stopped swinging, but still held his battle stance, “and how are you going to do that?”
Jevan tapped his battered Kanohi Rode, “I have a spare one. Borrow this, and you’ll know I’m telling the truth.”
Still not trusting the Toa of Stone, Pozic thought to himself. Finally he spoke. “Fine, but I want you sitting on the ground away from your weapon.”
Jevan reluctantly complied, removed his mask, donning a Kanohi Kakama as he did, and slid the Rode across the blood-stained ground to Pozic.
Pozic removed his Sanok, and replaced it with the Mask of Truth. He had not had any success accessing the powers of his Sanok, so he was surprised to feel the effects of the Rode immediately flowing through his body. He couldn't really explain it, but it was as though everything he heard was filtered. He still heard the same sounds, but there was definitely a difference.
Jevan seemed to understand what Pozic was experiencing. “You feel it, don’t you?” he said. His voice quivered with exhaustion.
Pozic nodded his agreement before speaking, “So, let’s get to the point. Were you the one of those who killed these citizens?”
“But you did come here? You did steal that mask?”
“Yes, but that was many tens of weeks ago. This was much more recent. I’d wager… four or five weeks.”
Pozic nodded once more. Jevan’s description fit with what the Turaga had told him. He continued to question the Toa of Stone. “Why did you steal the Avohkii?”
Jevan sighed. “I told you, I don’t follow the Code. I’m a rogue Toa. I wouldn’t attack any Matoran, believe me, but I have to make a living somehow. I was passing through when I found out about the hidden stockpile of Kanohi. It was an opportunity that I couldn’t miss.
“I broke in. I didn’t hurt anyone, I swear. I snuck past the guards, and found where the Avohkii was hidden. Whoever built that place was smart about it. They kept all the Kanohi of real value separated. I didn’t manage to find any other masks worth taking.”
Pozic could tell the Toa of Stone was telling the truth. The Rode seemed to agree with everything Jevan said, and Pozic knew it was right. He removed the mask of truth, replacing it with his own Sanok. He threw it back to Jevan.
“Alright,” he said, “I’m sorry we suspected you. Don’t start thinking that I agree with you about stealing that mask, but it may have been a good thing.”
Jevan looked confused. Pozic continued, “Those who attacked this place must have been here for the Kanohi. I mean, what else is there? And you took what could have been the most powerful Kanohi here, so whoever it was who came here to steal it didn’t get what they were looking for.”
Jevan got up, and walked over to Pozic. “I’m sorry,” he said, “I wasn’t honest with you. It’s my fault that you suspected me. And I’m sorry about knocking out Karov. I know his type. He wouldn’t have listened. He should be okay, just a bit dizzy.
“If you’d like, I can bring you to the Kanohi chambers. We can find out if you’re right.”
“But first,” said Pozic, “we wait for Karov to wake up, so we can tell him what we’ve figured out.”
Chapter 7: A Union of Heroes
“So let me get this straight. You’re sure he’s telling the truth?”
Pozic nodded for what seemed like the hundredth time to Karov. “I was wearing a Kanohi Rode. He couldn’t have lied to me.” Pozic held Karov’s sword at his side, still not giving it back in case Karov decided once again to attack Jevan.
“Okay,” said the Toa of Fire, sounding hesitant. It seemed like he didn’t want to believe that he had wrongly attacked a fellow Toa, and he still seemed to want someone to blame for the mass killing of the Matoran.
“Alright, I believe you,” continued Karov, “and him, too.” He tilted his head in Jevan’s direction. “So, you said he’d bring us to the Kanohi stockroom?”
Jevan nodded. “Its entrance lies near the base of one of the fingers of the hand,” he explained, “the one in the North-East. I’ll show you how to find it when we arrive. Oh, and before we go,” he pointed to the pile of corpses, “Karov, can you access your Elemental Powers yet?”
Karov shook his head. “I’ll give it a try, but I haven’t yet been able to focus hard enough.”
He walked up to the massive stack of bodies, holding his hands so that they nearly touched the nearest dead Matoran. He closed his eyes, and focused. He pictured fire, bursting from within him. He pictured the brilliance of the flame, a true Toa, a hero for the Matoran.
With that, he nearly began to weep. All these people had died, in many horrible ways, and what had he done to protect them? As they had fought for their lives, he had sat happily in his home, not even sparing a thought for those whose lives hung in the balance. And now, when he was asked to do a simple service for the dead, he had failed.
With that thought, anger boiled within him. Hatred, not just for those who had done this, but for himself. He wanted to burn. He wanted to burn the murderers who had set foot here. He wanted to burn until he fizzled and died, like the failed Toa he was.
And finally, in his anger, flames erupted from his hands. Small at first, and a weak red color, they soon strengthened until his entire arms were coated in fire.
The fire leapt from his hands onto the bodies, spreading through them, creeping towards the top.
He stood back, alongside Jevan and Pozic, and gazed at the magnificent funeral pyre he had created. Although the day was bright, it was far brighter. Although the day was hot, it was far hotter. It was, Karov realized, not simply the brightness of flames, but of departing souls.
A tear rolled down his Kanohi. He could feel Jevan patting him on the back, or maybe it was Pozic, he wasn’t really sure. He was proud of what he had done. Not only had he reached into himself and extracted the powers that he had held for his entire life, but he had also given rest to those who had died here.
He swore to himself that he would never forget a single one of them. But he swore, too, to find who had done this, and not rest until they had felt the same pain they had inflicted upon these citizens, this City, the entire world.
They walked in silence to where the entrance to the Kanohi chamber lay. When they arrived, Jevan showed them its hiding place among some rocks, and how to open it.
The sun was setting, and the great pyre still burned in the distance. The other Toa would be here the next day.
They descended down the path that had been revealed by Jevan. At first, it reminded Karov of the armory in Matoro City, but the farther they went, the more it seemed to differ. Instead of straight aisles, it was full of winding paths. Kanohi lay on pedestals, and didn’t seem to be organized in any way. In fact, they seemed to be placed in intentionally confusing ways.
Jevan had told them that he would first lead them to where he had found the Avohkii. This location seemed to be on one of the higher up levels, as they had not travelled down any stairs since the initial descent.
Many Kanohi seemed to be missing, others scattered on the ground, some in pieces. Based on the lackluster appearance of the pedestals, it didn’t look like the intruders had found any masks of value here.
Finally, they arrived at an ornate, metallic stand. A plaque was set on it, reading ”Here rests the Kanohi Avohkii. Be wary of its power should it fall into the wrong hands.” The Avohkii, was missing from it, although they all knew that it rested safely in Jevan’s pack.
Five paths led away from this point, one of them being the one they had entered through. Jevan broke the silence, “So, which one do we take? I vote second to the left.”
Karov pointed to the path on the far right. Pozic stated his agreement with Karov. After all, the Toa of Fire wore a Kanohi Arthron, which whether he knew it or not, could be giving some idea of the direction they needed to go.
Jevan nodded, and started down the path on the right.
It was hard to keep track of time down here, with no sun in sight and no progress seeming to be made. They could have been travelling in circles, for all Karov knew. There were no landmarks down here. Perhaps each mask was distinctive, but there was a uniform randomness to the place that made each one impossible to remember.
There were fewer missing masks down here, and no sign of any rare Kanohi. Karov was unsure whether or not to be glad of this. After all, if there were no powerful mask then those who had come here to steal hadn’t found what they were looking for.
Suddenly, Karov bumped into Jevan, who had stopped in his tracks. The Toa of Fire quickly moved to stand beside Jevan, and Pozic did the same.
The plaque on the pedestal in this chamber read simply; ”Kanohi Olmak”.
“I suppose we know why they came here,” Pozic said, his voice low.
Karov seemed slightly confused, “What could they want to do with a Kanohi Olmak?”
Jevan smiled grimly, “What couldn’t they do?”
“We have to warn the council in Matoro City!” Karov seemed on the verge of panic, “Jevan, can you get us back out of here?”
Jevan nodded but seemed unsure. He turned and slid past the other two, retracing his steps along the path.
Karov could remember the last few turns they had made, but soon became unsure whether they followed their initial path. Jevan seemed equally confused, but also seemed determined to follow his instincts and find the exit.
As time passed, the group grew more and more confused. Jevan no longer even pretended to know where he was going, and simply took whichever path was closest when they came to an intersection.
Once again, like he had when he discovered the Olmak’s pedestal, Jevan froze. In his haste, Karov tripped over his foot and fell, sprawling, across the stone floor. As he lifted his head, he saw something that made him unable to speak or move.
The plaque on the empty pedestal read; “Here rests the mask of Makuta Teridax, the Kanohi Kraahkan.”
Karov felt an icy coldness in his heartlight. How had the Kraahkan, the Mask of Shadows, been found? He had heard that it had been lost. And why had it been here? He supposed that this place was well hidden, but it didn’t seem at all protected.
Jevan and Pozic appeared to be having similar thoughts. They all knew, however, that whoever had taken the Kraahkan and the Olmak now had more power than anyone else on Spherus Magna.
None of them new how long it took to find the exit, but they all felt inexplicable relief upon finding it. They knew that they would have to leave The Great Hand at once and tell the Turaga Council in Matoro City of their findings here.
They walked through the empty streets, fast approaching the place where the now blackened pile of corpses still smoked.
As they entered the square where they had first witnessed that grisly sight, three figures emerged, all with weapons in hand and ready for a fight.
Karov suddenly remembered; these could be the Toa who were to be their team. He rushed forward, re-sheathing his sword and calling out, “Wait, we’re the Toa from Matoro City! We’re here to meet you!” He hoped he was right and that these weren’t some thugs that had remained after the battle here.
Thankfully, the three Toa showed signs of understanding and believing him, but they didn’t put down their weapons. Karov stopped as he got close, “I’m Karov. The Toa of Magnetism is my friend, Pozic. We were sent here to investigate and rendezvous with you, and we arrived a day early thanks to Jevan, the Toa of Stone, helping us.”
The Toa of Lightning put away her staff and stepped forward. “How can we know you’re telling the truth?” Her voice had a kind, optimistic ring to it that Karov hadn’t heard in a long time, especially not from his current travelling companions.
“Jevan wears a Kanohi Rode,” he explained, “I’ll get it from him. If you put it on, you’ll know that I’m telling the truth.”
She nodded, and Karov swiftly turned and walked to where Pozic and Jevan still stood, watching the exchange. “I’m going to need your mask,” he said to the Toa of Stone.
Jevan sighed and said something along the lines of: “Second time today,” but he handed the Rode over nonetheless. Karov scooped it up and returned to the Toa of Lightning. She held out her hand as he drew near. Karov gave it to her, and stood back as she removed her own Faxon.
Once the mask was secured on her face, Karov said once more, “We are the Toa who are to join your team. Pozic and I were sent here from Matoro City.”
She nodded. She didn’t seem to need much information to be convinced. She replaced the Rode with her Faxon once more, and handed the Mask of Truth back to Karov.
“Alright, you’re telling the truth” she said, “I’ll go fetch the other two.”
Pozic and Jevan advanced to where Karov stood. The three of them watched as the Toa of Lightning spoke briefly to her companions, before she returned with them close behind her.
“I’m Jeynah,” she said, “from New Tajun. This is Tusidi,” the Toa of Air waved energetically, “and this is Terifol,” the Toa of Earth smiled.
“She’s not lying,” Jevan muttered to Karov and Pozic, “these really are the other Toa from your team.”
“So,” Jeynah continued, “if you two are from Matoro City, is he, Jevan, from here, The Great Hand?” She seemed rather confused.
“No,” Pozic spoke for the first time, “We met him as we travelled through the desert. He saved us, and offered to show us a faster route to the Hand. He’s stuck with us after what we discovered here.” He gestured towards the charred pile, which was barely recognizable. The other three grimaced. They had clearly realized what it was.
“There is no way that our teammate who lived here survived this slaughter,” Pozic continued, “I suppose that something will be arranged after we consult the Turaga, but until then, we are a Toa Team of five, haunted by the lost soul of a companion whose name we didn’t know and whose fight ended before it had even begun.”
“After we consult the Turaga?” Tusidi spoke for the first time, “But we’re going after whoever did this. We’ll find them, and make them pay for what they’ve done!”
“But the Turaga councils will need to know what has happened,” retorted Pozic.
“And what will they decide? To send a team of Toa after the murderers? If we go now, we can find them much faster. We can report back once we’ve dealt with the threat!”
“I’m with Tusidi,” said Karov, catching everyone by surprise. “Whoever did this is dangerous. We haven’t yet told you, they stole a Kanohi Olmak, and the Kraahkan! We have to do something before it's too late!”
The three newcomers looked shocked and terrified at this news, but none of them said anything.
Jevan stepped forward. “I’m coming too,” he said.
Everyone seemed shocked to hear this, except for Terifol, who also stepped forward, nodding his agreement.
“That’s a majority,” Karov said to Jeynah and Pozic, “We’re going, at least the four of us.”
“It would be more prudent to tell the Turaga,” said Jeynah, thoughtfully, “but if you’re going to track these people down, you’ll need all the help you can get.” She too stepped up, leaving only Pozic.
The Toa of Magnetism shrugged. “What choice do I have.”
“So it’s decided,” said Karov, his voice full of finality, “We’re all going.” Everyone stated their agreement, some with more enthusiasm than others, and they all began to walk towards the path that would lead them back to the outside world. They were unsure of their destination, but they knew that they would find it in due time.
As the others passed through the gate of the town square, Karov held Jevan back. “Y'know, you don't have to be a rogue Toa anymore. We’re down a member, and you've proved that you care about duty. Why don’t you join our team?”
Jevan paused for a moment. “I'll think about it,” he said, before turning and walking away with the others.
Chapter 8: Paths and Destinations
It didn’t take them long to find tracks.
Not far from where they first stepped off the hand, there was a great trail in the sand leading off into the distance. Evidently, there had been a great number of attackers, as not even the wind could disguise the collective mass of footprints they had left behind. Pozic was surprised that he, Karov, and Jevan hadn’t spotted it upon their arrival.
The Toa discussed their options, but everyone agreed that this was the path they should follow, and that searching for others would waste valuable time. After all, what else could have made this?
None of them were trackers, and even if they had been it would have been impossible to make out any individual footprint on the trail. So until they caught up with their quarries, they would have no idea what they were dealing with.
Karov had struck up a conversation with Terifol, asking him about his past. From what Pozic could hear, it seemed as though Terifol had known for many years that he would become a Toa, and so had been trained constantly in the ways of combat. He knew how to use many weapons, but he carried with him a “Battle Pickaxe” of his own making.
He could hear the two female Toa in the group having a conversation as well. Apparently, Tusidi was one of the many guards protecting the Emerald Princess from New Tesara. She had been chosen to be a Toa by the princess as an ‘act of kindness’ from the royal family. She was renowned with her “Zamor Crossbow”, and was a crackshot with her weapon.
Jeynah, the Toa of Lightning, was again talking in the cheery way she did. Pozic was concerned if perhaps that joy was shield for something darker, but the young and innocent look in her eyes made him sure she was not another threat to deal with. Her weapon of choice appeared to be a simple staff, but Pozic knew that she would be able to channel her lightning powers through it, making her a deadly opponent to whoever crossed her.
Pozic, however, walked on his own. He hadn’t spoken to any of the newcomers since they had met, except for a few quick words when they had discovered the tracks. He now walked a few Bio behind Jevan, who led them.
He still thought it a bad idea to have chosen to follow these attackers. They were clearly stronger than his group, as there had been more than six Toa at The Great Hand, and they would have been much more skilled than anyone here. Well, except for maybe Jevan.
He wondered if his group had any idea how they would deal with this threat. As far as he knew, Karov was the only one who had learned to access his elemental powers, and he doubted that any of them could yet focus enough to use their Kanohi. He wondered if any of the others had given this any thought, or if they had just rushed into it, hoping to prove themselves and perhaps even “have fun.”
Pozic tore his mind away from these pessimistic thoughts. It was too late to change their decision. They were going, together, as they should. And he would help them in any way he could.
At that very moment, he spotted a figure in the distance. He couldn’t make out the details from here, but they seemed to wearing darker armor. None of the others seemed to have seen it yet.
Pozic rushed forward and nudged Jevan. “Is it just me,” he said when he had the Toa of Stone’s attention, “or is there someone up ahead of us?”
Jevan looked up with a start. He seemed to notice the figure as well, and immediately called back to the others, “There’s someone up ahead. We need to catch up! Hurry!”
They all began to run, Jevan quickly pulling ahead of the rest of the group. Now that he was closer, Pozic could see that the figure was Toa sized, and wore red armor. They didn’t yet seem to notice the group of Toa running toward them.
It was not until Pozic could see every scratch in their quarry's armor that he turned and saw their approach. Pozic could now see that he was a Skakdi, and he could see the panic in his eyes when he realized that he was being hunted.
The Skakdi began to run, but soon seemed to realize that he had no chance. He was limping, and seemed to be injured. He stood facing them, and drew out some sort of handheld energy blaster.
He fired at Jevan, who was closest to him. The Toa of Stone ducked down and rolled to his side to avoid the shot. The Skakdi kept his weapon trained on him, but it seemed to take time to charge up. Realizing he would not get to fire again before the Toa reached him, he discarded it, and drew out some sort of oddly shaped axe. Its blade shone a light green color, and emitted a menacing crackling sound that Pozic could hear even from a distance.
Jevan lept towards the Skakdi, throwing his hammer as he did so. It spun around its head, travelling at a speed faster than any of them could run. The Skakdi barely managed to avoid it, and it buried itself in the sand behind him. Moments later, it burst from the sand at Jevan’s feet and into the Toa of Stone’s outstretched arm.
By this point, the other Toa had arrived at Jevan’s side, with the exception of Jeynah, who was a mere few Bio behind. They paused, momentarily, as the Skakdi glared at them, before charging together.
Pozic could tell that this Skakdi could fight, and probably fight well, but he was no match for six angry Toa. Jevan forced his weapon out of his gnarled hands before Terifol tackled him, his pickaxe still on his back. After a brief struggle, the Toa of Earth was cast away, but Jeynah held the Skakdi from behind, her staff around his neck, and Karov held the point of his sword directly between the Skakdi’s eyes.
Pozic took a step forward, bringing himself level with Karov. He looked directly at the Skakdi, making sure it had his attention. “Who are you?” He spat, “What are you doing here?”
The Skakdi gulped. “I’m Ahknot,” He replied, “I’m - well, I’m a Skakdi.” It was clear that Ahknot wasn’t particularly bright. “I am - was, part of a - a trading group.”
Pozic brought his axe close to Ahknot’s face. “Don’t you lie to me,” He growled.
The Skakdi nodded quickly, wincing. “I was part of a team. We were sent to get some masks from some hand city. The one over there, I think,” He pointed, stupidly. “The Matoran - no, were they Agori? Y’know, the little ones. Anyway, those guys didn’t seem to like us. They told us to leave. So we killed them. That’s it.
“One of those little freaks put a blade in my leg. I couldn’t walk very fast, so my team left me here, to get better.”
Pozic almost pitied the Skakdi, who didn’t seem to realize he’d been left for dead. But anger for what had been done to the Matoran kept him talking. “What is this ‘group’ you spoke of? Why did they want the masks?”
The Skakdi seemed to be thinking of what to say. He quickly glanced at the blades in front of him, and decided to tell the truth, at least what he knew of it.
“My group is called, uh, the Cult of Teridax. Yes, that’s it. We are the only ones who know the truth. Makuta Teridax was a god, and was forced out of this world by an evil demon. But no one else knows what our leader knows. He is still alive, and we need his mask to bring him back.”
Pozic looked around at his comrades. They all appeared to be as confused as he was. Makuta Teridax was dead. It was that simple. Or was it? This Skakdi may not know what he was talking about, but then again, Pozic didn’t know anything that specifically proved him wrong.
He turned to Ahknot once more. “If we follow this trail, where will we end up?”
The Skakdi responded quickly, almost proudly. “To our temple. I helped build it. It’s where Teridax will step foot in th’ world once again. It’s where the ritual’s gonna be. I haf’ta hurry back if I wan’ta see it.”
Again, Pozic looked around. It was clear that all six Toa agreed that they would have to hurry if they wanted to stop the ritual that Ahknot spoke of.
Pozic addressed one final question to the Skakdi, “How many other Skakdi are in this Cult?”
Ahknot laughed, “Not only Skakdi, there are the Glatorian-fighters. There are Vortixx, and Stelt people. There are even some of those little ones. We can’t be stopped. Even by every one of yer smelly, noisy cities. Teridax is unstoppable, and so are we!”
Pozic nodded, barely listening to the Skakdi’s rant. He looked towards his fellow Toa, “What do we do with him?”
Terifol shrugged. Jeynah and Karov didn’t seem to know what to say.
“What use is he to us?” Asked Jevan. “He killed so many Matoran. I think he should join them.”
“No!” Karov objected, “That would go against The Code! Toa never kill their enemies.”
Pozic put turned to Karov. “You too know what he has done. He who takes more lives than his own is worth loses any value he had in this world. This guy certainly fits the bill.”
“Enough debate,” Cut in Tusidi, “If you’re too naïve, Karov, I’ll do it.” She pulled Ahknot to the side, drawing her Zamor-Bow.
Karov started towards her, but Jevan held him back. Tusidi stood above the cowering Skakdi, the bowstring pulled back as far as it reached. She turned to Karov, “I’ll make it quick,” Before releasing.
There was a surge of energy, a flash, and Ahknot fell to the ground. Karov breathed heavily, but didn’t say or do anything else.
There was an awkward silence, that was broken by Jevan saying, “We should keep following these tracks.”
Chapter 9: Looming Threats
They could see the “temple” Ahknot had spoke of from several hundred bio away. It seemed to have been built in a crater of some sort, and pillars emerged from the top. Although they seemed to have been built there, the rest seemed to be natural.
The tracks seemed to spread out as they approached the site of the ritual. They led straight to the crater, but split up, seemingly so the members of the Cult of Teridax could take multiple different paths into the foreboding crater.
They had decided to make their way to the top of the crater so they could look down and verify the scale of what they were dealing with. They had previously noticed a small village on the horizon, several kio away. They had decided that they would survey the Cult of Teridax before seeking shelter there. Since they unaware of the nature of the ritual designed to revive Teridax, they had not yet thought of how they could disrupt it.
All six Toa could feel nervousness creeping through them as they got ever closer to the crater. They had no idea what they could face. There could be sentries. They could be noticed by someone down below. For all they knew, they might have to fight an entire city-destroying force on their own.
The Toa, namely Karov, felt as if something about this place was darker than it seemed; as if a dark, malevolent presence was watching over the site of the ritual. Eventually, Karov would know otherwise that the evil was not what he believed, but in truth something far more sinister.
“Okay everybody, we’re here!” Jevan yelled from up ahead. Where he was, the ground had began to become more cracked, and the sand began to mix with a substance reminiscent of ash. As the group reached the ledge where the Toa of Stone had briefly stood alone, they discovered the crater was only at first very jagged and spiked, but as it neared the center, it began to soften and became smoother and more defined than the outer layer.
And in the center lay a large, circular stage. Rows of seats surrounded it, supported by the pillars that the Toa had seen earlier. Some tents lay beyond these, but there didn’t seem to be any other sort of dwellings. It didn’t seem at all like a temple, as Ahknot had described it.
Skakdi, Vortixx, Steltians, Matoran, pretty much every sentient species Karov could name (except for Toa, thank Mata Nui) moved through the bottom of the crater. They didn’t seem to be completing any tasks, merely going about their lives.
Karov could also see five figures standing on the stage in the center. He squinted, trying to determine what they were. They seemed about Toa-sized, but one of them had large, spiny wings. He reluctantly came to the conclusion that these must be Makuta.
As he looked more closely, he could see that there were only four Makuta conversing on the stage. The fifth seemed to be some sort of statue. The first Makuta, the one that the other three faced and appeared to show respect towards, wore green, black, and gold armor. He was covered in spikes and wore a tattered cape, but was the smallest of the group.
To his left, there stood a winged figure, covered in silver armor and a twisted, grinning Kanohi. In the center, there was what appeared to be a small, organic-looking yellow creature sat within a large, three-legged robotic suit of armor. It’s whirring was barely audible from their distance, but the massive cannons, blasters and claws it boasted had Karov conclude that it would prove difficult to deal with.
Finally, there was an immense a colorful beast. It reminded Karov of the pictures and art some Earth Tribe merchants from the north had brought with them. Karov remembered looking at its features in only brief detail. The beast carried a spear of larger proportions to the Toa of Fire. One of its four cunning and reptilian eyes was a pale gray and white, and appeared to have a slash across it, which made it looked like it stared everywhere at once.
Jevan silently lead them away from the outcrop where he stood and into a small crevice, where they could no longer see the going-ons within the crater, but could also no longer be seen by its inhabitants. After looking around, in case they had been followed, the Toa of Stone addressed the group.
“Okay, so we’ve seen this place. We need to get word back to one of the cities. I think Matoro City is closest. We’ll retreat to that village Tusidi noticed earlier. Maybe someone there can act as our messenger. Any ideas on what to do then?”
Pozic stepped forward. “Okay, so just listen for a minute. We may be Toa, but there is absolutely no way for us to beat this cult. Even if we had full control over our powers, the odds aren’t in our favor. And I choose not to go against the word of math.”
“Aren’t you just full of hopeful thoughts,” Cut in Tusidi.
Pozic raised his arm in mock celebration, “Pessimism, for the loss!
“Anyway,” the Toa of Magnetism continued, “This ‘ritual’ doesn’t quite look ready to start. Why don’t three of us go to that village and alert its residents of what’s happening. If they have someone willing to send the city a message, that’s good. If not, one or more of us can do it. Three of us will stay here, and do our best to stop the ritual after it starts. Maybe then we’ll catch them by surprise, and they won’t be able to react.”
“And what happens to the three of us stuck at the village?” Jevan asked, “It won’t feel good just sitting there while our friends risk their lives.”
“They can prepare the residents of the village for a fight.” The others looked shocked, so Pozic continued, “We can’t expect these cultists to just let us go. They’ll come after us, and we’ll need someone to help us fight. With any luck, more help will arrive from Matoro City, so we’ll just need to hold them off for a while. And don’t worry, I won’t make anyone fight who doesn’t want to. They can escape if they want.
“I know this is a foolish plan. But I’ve covered as many loose ends as I could. At the very least, the Turaga council at Matoro City will be aware, and at best, we’ll stop the ritual and destroy this cult. It may not work, I get that. But who’s with me?”
There was a pause, before Karov, Jeynah, and Jevan all stepped forward, quickly followed by Tusidi and Terifol. Karov put a hand on his friend’s shoulder, “We’re a team, a Toa Team. We do this together, or not at all. And I agree, this is probably the most optimal solution.”
The others nodded in agreement. Pozic smiled, before speaking once more, “With that out of the way, we’ve another choice to make. Who stays and who goes?”
Everyone immediately began to list the reasons why they should stay and break up the ritual. The noise level grew so loud that Pozic had to silence them lest they be heard by the cultists below. When the group was completely silent, Pozic began again.
“I personally think that karov and I should stay. We’ve known each other the longest. No offensive, but the rest of us only met, what, two, three days ago? This is my plan, and it could well get one or more of us killed. I’ll put myself first on that list. And I’d rather have with me someone I know I can trust. Again, no offense.”
“I’ll stay too, I can help,” said Jeynah, “The Makuta in the mech suit looks like a real force to be reckoned with, but my powers should be able to take care of it now time. I’ve been practicing, you know.” She held up her hand, and sparks appeared at her fingertips.
“Good idea,” replied Pozic, “Karov, you good with this? I didn’t exactly ask permission before volunteering you,” he finished guiltily.
Karov raised a hand, “I’m fine with it. I wanted to stay anyways.”
“So… we, the rest of us, are going to that village, sending a message, and getting them ready for a fight?” Inquired Jevan. Pozic nodded. “Sounds good to me.”
“Okay, that's settled,” Said Jeynah, “Now, why don't those of us who are staying set up camp. We may have a long time to wait. Those of us who are going to the town should probably get moving. We’ll need reinforcements as soon as possible, and they aren’t going anywhere ‘till they get wind of this.”
Jevan, Terifol, and Tusidi all nodded in unison, bode their friends farewell, and set out across the blooming sands that lay between them and the village that would hopefully be their salvation. Meanwhile, Pozic, Jeynah, and Karov ruffled through their bags, hoping to find something that would prove useful for setting up camp.
Hours later, the three of them sat within a small crevice, covered with a large, gray cloth. It wasn’t much, but it would at least keep them dry and mostly hidden. Karov sat sharpening his sword on a rock. Jeynah flicked her fingers, summoning sparks as she did. Pozic sat in silence, his eyes closed, but still appearing conscious. Karov could tell that even though this had been the Toa of Magnetism’s idea, he still did not look forward to executing it.
Karov was thinking to himself. This journey had been one heck of a ride for him. His dream of being a Toa had finally come true, not to mention having his best friend right there by his side, and having met such an interesting group of individuals that was his team.
Jevan, the rugged, yet gentle giant of the team. He was there when Karov and Pozic were in peril because of a pack of vicious Vorox. He had saved their lives. Karov would always be thankful for that encounter, as it helped him begin to harness his powers.
There was Terifol the jovial Toa of Earth. Regrettably, Karov hadn’t talked to him very much since their first meeting as Toa. The Toa of Fire was happy to trust him, and would always be willing to help him whenever possible. Within reason, of course.
And Tusidi, Karov had almost gotten her mad when he had mentioned Brakas near the young Toa of Air. Karov was too speechless after the rant she had then gone on to have asked why. He figured he’d find out eventually.
And then there was cheerful Jeynah. Karov had accidentally tripped her when he was struggling to see his feet in the sand, but she was fine with it happening, and had said that accidents happen. Karov was amazed that someone could stay that positive, it seemed unnatural at times. Maybe there was something Karov didn’t know about the Toa of Lightning, but he wanted to help as best he could, if there was something wrong.
Karov laughed, breaking the silence of the cavern. His two group members looked up towards him, and seemed rather surprised that the Toa of Fire was laughing. Karov relaxed, his citrine yellow eyes tearing as he began to smile underneath his Arthron.
“Mata Nui, where would I ever be if hadn’t met you guys? I don’t know, and I don’t care. But I do care that I got to meet everyone like I did and not any other way. So, can I ask you guys to do something for me?” Pozic and Jeynah both nodded. Karov exhaled as he began to ask his favor.
“No matter what happens now, I want us to see each other again, be it by winning or losing.” Karov’s tears began to flow down his eyeholes. “And I want us to always stick together, as a family, no matter the consequences!” Karov sighed. The Toa of Fire wanted to go on, but the three of them heard what sounded like drums over the wind.
The ritual had begun.
Chapter 10: White-Hot Rage
Pozic was the first to exit the tent. He was immediately met with what seemed like an entire ocean being blown in the wind in the form of rain. He staggered backwards, nearly toppling Jeynah, who was emerging behind him.
The three of them crawled on their stomachs to the edge of the crater. Torches illuminated the stage where the green Makuta now stood alone. The walls of the crater seemed to block out the wind, so most of the fires survived the storm.
Skakdi beat massive drums with large metal rods. Matoran and Agori cheered wildly. Pozic had never seen such madness. The grey Makuta stood to the side of the stage, but the other two were among the audience.
The green clad Makuta held the Kraahkan in his right hand, and the Olmak in his left. He seemed to be preparing to place the Mask of Shadows atop the headless statue that stood in the center of the stage.
Pozic knew that it was time to act. They appeared to have mere minutes left until the ritual was completed, possibly less. They had let their guard down. They weren’t ready.
Pozic turned to the others. He didn’t bother keeping his voice down. Who cared if they were discovered now? “I’m going to jump. You two make your way down slowly, save your energy. I may not be able to fight them on my own, but I can delay them.”
Before Karov and Jeynah could object, Pozic left off the ridge and into the crater below.
His legs caught on a Skakdi’s head as he landed, slowing his fall. He twisted, landing on his side and rolling to absorb the force. He tried to rise to his feet, but his right leg was unable to support his weight. Cultists surrounded him. The silver Makuta stood over him, smiling cruelly.
Pozic let his head fall to the ground, but raised it again as he heard a thud beside him. Karov had lept down to his aid, although this gave Pozic no reason to be relieved. The Toa of Fire was quickly disarmed by the cultists and soon was held in a choke-hold by the grinning Makuta.
“Dacciah!” a voice called out. The silver Makuta - or Dacciah, Pozic supposed - turned to face the stage. “Let our guests go,” the voice belonged to the green clad Makuta, who had halted whatever he had been doing to watch.
“Toa,” the Makuta continued once Karov had been let go and Pozic had managed to rise to his knees, “I am Lekrosu, Makuta Teridax’s chosen! It will be I who brings our god back into this world! Teridax had spoken to me! He lives on, despite your race’s efforts to destroy him! Gods are eternal!”
Lekrosu’s voice rose and fell in pitch as he spoke. His eyes seemed unfocused, and he trembled. It was clear to Pozic that he was completely delusional.
“Tonight,” he continued, “Teridax will live once more! He will return, more powerful than ever before! He will possess not one, but two almighty ancient masks of power, and will be offered two Toa, to appease his eternal hunger!”
Pozic looked up at the wall of the crater. Jeynah stood there, a look of terror on her usually calm, happy face. She looked ready to leap down and aid them, but Pozic shook his head. She nodded, and tightened her grip on the rock face.
“Now watch and learn, Toa. You will see true perfection, and perhaps you will understand why your ancestors were wrong to erase such a being from this world!”
“Wait!” shouted Karov, “If we’re gonna die, at least tell us how you survived! I thought Teridax killed all other Makuta?”
Lekrosu looked confused. “I am his chosen,” he explained in a strange, low voice, “He told me in my dreams. He sent these others to aid me.”
Dacciah had a strange look upon her face. It did not seem as though she believed the story Lekrosu told, but she said nothing.
“Anyways, it does not matter!” Lekrosu shrieked, “Let the revival of Makuta Teridax commence!”
Both Pozic and Karov tried to rush forwards, but were restrained by the cultists around them. The cultists that had remained seated cheered madly. Lekrosu chanted and screeched in a language that Pozic had never before heard. Energy was building. Pozic could tell that they were nearing the climax of the ritual.
Lekrosu raised the Kraahkan above his head, and brought it down upon the statue. It connected itself, and began to glow. Lekrosu fell into a deep bow, as did each and every cultist in the crater, including the ones holding back the two Toa. Pozic, however, did not move. He felt frozen in time, helplessly watching whatever was about to happen. Karov seemed to be frozen in the same way.
Out of the corner of his eye, Pozic could see the yellow Makuta in the tripedal mech climbing out of the crater, dragging the colorful, monstrous Makuta with him. He had no idea why they would leave when the ritual was this close to being completed, and he didn’t spare it a second thought.
The Kraahkan had been glowing for nearly a minute now. Pozic felt strange. Surely, something should have happened by now. This was being dragged on for far too long.
He rose to his feet. His leg seemed to have recovered, at least a bit, so he was able to stay standing. He recovered his axe from where it lay on the ground, at loaded a fresh pack of ammunition into his Xian chain gun. And waited.
Waited for something, anything, to happen.
Karov continued to stare blankly at the Kraahkan atop its pedestal. Any second now, Teridax would reborn, and he would die fighting a hopeless battle against the greatest Makuta the world had ever seen. He held his breath. He gripped his sword.
He glanced towards Pozic, expecting to see in his friend a similar sense of anticipation. He was shocked to see the Toa of Magnetism casually leaning on the hilt of axe, his expression bored, tapping his foot in impatience.
“Y’know you’ve been at this for like, three minutes,” he said lazily, “nothing’s going to happen. The other two Makuta had the right idea, and skedaddled right outa here.”
Karov let out his breath. He hadn’t realized how long he must have been going without air. Now that he thought about it, it seemed like Pozic was right. The ritual had failed.
“Oi, ‘Teridax’s Chosen,’” Pozic sarcastically shouted, “It’s not working. Your ‘God’ isn’t coming back. I’m sure even he likes to sleep in sometimes.”
Karov grimaced. This was unlike his friend. He agreed with Pozic, but he didn’t think that this kind of taunting was necessary.
Lekrosu had risen from his bow. The Kraahkan was slowly dimming down to its regular, matte black color. The green and gold clad Makuta had such an angry look on his face that Karov winced. He spat as he shouted at Pozic, “I’ll kill you for this! Both of you! I’ll kill you! I’ll kill you!”
Pozic shrugged, “and what good will it do? You failed. I’ve succeeded. Teridax isn’t back. He’s not coming back. And you’re off your rocker. Great job, ‘Teridax’s Chosen.’” He gave three slow claps, before his facial expression suddenly became more serious, “but just because I’ve already won doesn’t mean I’m not gonna try for overkill.” He brought his gun up to chest level, preparing to fire at the still bowing cultists.
Lekrosu seemed to have calmed down slightly, “No. Listen, Toa. It is your fault! Your fault that Teridax could not arrive here! You stood upon the sacred ground of his place of rebirth! I should have known. I should have killed you before.
“But now, I, as Teridax’s champion, must challenge you both to single combat! I must purge you from this world! Only then will my God return to me!”
Pozic shrugged again. Karov wondered what had gotten into him.
“I wouldn’t exactly call two against one ‘single combat,’” the Toa of Magnetism said.
“Nonsense! I am more than a match for the both of you! Draw your weapons!” Lekrosu reached into a sheath behind his cape, and pulled out two weapons. One, a simple broadsword, the other, a large, ornamental staff.
Pozic glanced at his Xian gun, before mounting it on his back and instead raising his axe. Karov was glad that his friend a sense of honor for fights such as these. ‘This,’ he thought as he drew his sword, ‘is the way of a true hero.’
The two Toa faced the Makuta. The cultists cleared a space for them near the central stage. Many of them seemed to want to join the fight, but they respected the word of Lekrosu.
Pozic was the first to approach. Karov could immediately tell that he would struggle in the coming fight. Although his axe was much heavier and much more dangerous, it slowed him down enormously compared to the sleek weapons of Karov and Lekrosu. He managed to knock Lekrosu’s staff from his clawed hand, but had to retreat from the Makuta’s swift retaliation. He swung several times, but his strong weapon was no match for the Makuta’s speed.
Karov aided his friend as best he could. He could tell that whatever sanity Lekrosu lacked, he made up for in combat prowess. The Makuta was lightning fast, and seemed to make no false moves. He seemed to have moved most of his attention to Karov, and was ignoring many of Pozic’s failed attacks.
The Toa of Magnetism seemed to take this as an opening, and threw all his weight at the Makuta’s back. Karov swung his blade at Lekrosu, trying to distract him from Pozic, but Lekrosu parried his stroke and sidestepped Pozic’s, before driving his sword deep into the Toa of Magnetism’s chest.
Time seemed frozen. Pozic dropped his axe, and fell to his knees. Lekrosu pulled his blade free, and blood began seeping from Pozic’s wound. He seemed unable to remain conscious, and fell, face first, onto the cold, hard ground.
Karov didn’t give Lekrosu the chance to finish the job. Angered roared within him as the cultists all around cheered at his friend’s defeat. His blade ignited, as well as most of his arms. He swung with all the ferocity he had, and surprisingly, even more precision than he’d had before. It seemed that rather than forcing him into a state of panic, this series of events had cleared his head of everything except for one goal: beat Lekrosu, and do it well.
Lekrosu had worn a grin upon his twisted, mad face ever since he had impaled Pozic, but that grin had now diminished into a the beginning of a look of panic. He was unable to advance, and was being forced back by Karov. Karov’s sword grew hotter with each swipe. It was now white-hot.
Lekrosu was facing away from the center of the crater, so was unable to see the edge of the stage until it caught his knees and sent him stumbling backwards. Karov raised his sword overhead, and swung downward, using all at once the power of gravity, the strength in his arms, and the weight of his whole body. Lekrosu parried the blow, but the heat and force that came from Karov’s blade was enough to break his into several curling pieces that flew to either side. The Makuta was left with nothing but a smoldering hilt.
Karov didn’t pause dramatically. He didn’t wait for Lekrosu to say any last words. He simply struck. And struck again. He reduced the Makuta’s torso to shreds, shattering his heartlight along the way.
Once he was sure that the job was done, he turned and walked away. The cultists were silent now. They didn’t move. They seemed convinced that what they had just witnessed was nothing short of impossible. All except for Dacciah.
She stood, facing Karov. One hand, an axe. The other, a sick, twisted claw. Even her shredded, skeletal wings seemed poised to strike.
Karov didn’t think he could win another fight. He had used more strength than he knew he had fighting Lekrosu, and right now all he wanted was to make sure Pozic was okay.
A white and blue blur caught his eye. It was Jeynah, who had appeared to have made her way down to his aid.
She caught Dacciah by surprise, shocking her with her elemental powers and sending her reeling with her protosteel staff. She quickly grabbed Pozic by the arm, and rushed to the side of the crater. Karov turned to the stage once again, and spotted both the Kraahkan and the Olmak lying on the ground where Lekrosu had left them. He scooped them up, tying them to his back with a piece of torn materiel from Lekrosu's cape, before sprinting to Jeynah's side.
The cultists finally seemed to be regaining their senses. Some of them rose, but many of them were sitting too close together to act immediately, giving the Toa time to escape to the top of the crater’s walls.
Chapter 11: A Clash of Wills
Is he going to be okay?” Karov panted.
Jeynah was inspecting Pozic’s wound, while Karov lay in the mouth of the cave they had entered after leaving the crater. It had taken an extreme amount of effort to escape as fast as they had, but thankfully, the cultists didn’t seem to be pursuing them.
At least, not yet.
Instead they had rallied around Dacciah, who seemed to be making plans for whatever they were to do next. It was clear that she had their respect, and had probably been Lekrosu’s highest ranking lieutenant.
The two Toa had decided to look at Pozic’s wounds as quickly as they could, hoping that Pozic could be back on his feet when they made their escape to the nearby village.
“He’s not good,” responded Jeynah, “I’ve patched up the wound, but that doesn’t seem to be the problem anymore. He’s lost so much blood, and his vital systems are slowing down.”
“Is there anything you can do?” asked Karov, his Arthron creased with worry.
“There… might be. I have no idea if this will work. I don’t know if it will help, or just make the problem worse.”
“Do it,” said Karov.
So this is what death feels like. So empty and dark, like the embrace of a shadow hand, choking so hard it’s impossible to breathe. This feels like it’s going to last forever. Mata Nui, I’ve screwed up. I let them down. Everyone. Karov, I’m sorry. I guess this was my destiny; to sacrifice myself so you could live. I hope it wasn’t in vain.
Jeynah pressed her hands to Pozic’s dull heartlight. Sparks crackled all around her arm, and her fingers began to glow. Suddenly, arcing bolts of electricity leapt from her fingertips and spread all over the Toa of Magnetism’s chest. His entire body writhed and seemed to raise of the ground. His heartlight flickered, nearly going out.
Wait, what's that light? It feels so nice to feel it again. Wait, am I breathing again? Oh for the love of --
For a second, Karov was worried that Jeynah had failed, until the stone lit up once more, brighter than ever. Pozic shuddered, and opened his eyes. After several seconds, he sat up, gasping as he did so.
Pozic winced from the sudden shock that jumpstarted him awake. How was he still alive? Surely, he had been killed by Lekrosu. He had screwed up, which resulted in his death. But then how was he still here? Perhaps destiny still had more in store for the Toa of Magnetism…
Pozic brought himself out of his daze, and found that Jeynah’s hands were still crackling lightly with electricity. ‘So that’s how,’ He concluded. ‘Jeynah jumpstarted my systems again by sending a shock through them. I guess that’s why it’s good to have a Toa of Lightning on your team,’ he thought.
He looked out past the panting Jeynah to see Karov, his eyes dark and a worrisome expression on his face, tear marks prominent on his mask. Karov had looked up when Pozic had gasped for air to fill his lungs, and ran to embrace his friend, nearly rendering him unconscious and dead again.
Karov crawled over and away to where he had sat. “How do you feel?” he asked, worriedly.
Pozic looked around, and then down at his bandaged chest. “Like I’ve been through a meat grinder. Karov, what happened?”
“Well, you were stabbed. By Lekrosu,” Karov timidly replied.
“Yes, yes, I know that. What next?”
“I beat him. Slashed him up into little bits. I got the masks, Jeynah got you. We escaped. The Cult seems to be planning its next move. That other Makuta, Dacciah, is leading them now. I don’t know what happened to the other two Makuta.”
Pozic smiled painfully, “They deserted. I watched them climb the crater’s walls when everyone else just sat there, waiting for something to happen. Y’know, when Lekrosu failed the ritual.
“Shouldn’t we be on our way soon?” continued the Toa of Magnetism, “You said the Cult is planning their next move, which will probably be killing us and getting back their precious masks. I wonder why they didn’t already come after us?”
“You’re right,” it was the first time Jeynah had spoken since she had revived Pozic. “We wanted to make sure you were okay, but now we need to get to our teammates. Pozic, can you walk?”
Pozic nodded hesitantly.
“Great. Let’s be on our way then.”
The desert around them was covered in large spiked rocks that jutted out from the sand. Hopefully, this would make it difficult for the Cult to pursue them, as well as giving them a place to hide, should it come to that.
Pozic wasn’t able to run at his full speed, but he was able to manage a jog for several minutes at a time. The village wasn’t far away, and Pozic doubted that he would tire before they got there, even in his injured state.
They hoped that the Cult wouldn’t know where to look for them, but none of them expected this to be the case. The desert was open enough that they were sure to be spotted unless they knew to hide.
The group was about halfway to the village before the cultists emerged, with Dacciah in the lead. They were moving at a pace about equal to the Toa. They wouldn’t catch up in time to prevent their arrival at the village. Pozic wondered why Dacciah had chosen this course of action. Perhaps she wished to be sure that the Cult followed her lead, rather than letting them do whatever they chose.
Maybe she had been waiting for her chance to seize control?
If that was the case, Pozic understood why she would pursue them to the village. If she was more tactically inclined than Lekrosu, then she would want to secure the area surrounding her base of operations. It did seem foolish of Lekrosu to have set up camp so close to an active village.
Before long, Pozic could make out the individual houses that made up the town, even some of the individual windows that lined their walls. He hoped that the villagers would welcome them, and that Jevan and the others would be ready for a fight.
Thankfully, Pozic’s prayer’s were met, as their three Toa companions rushed out to greet them as they arrived. Some Agori and Matoran stood in lines, weapons in hand. Others gathered together as they hid in their homes or vacated the town in Rahi-pulled carts. It was clear that they accepted the upcoming fight, and they had all made their choices.
Pozic was surprised when a Turaga of Stone emerged from a hut, leaning on a staff but still seeming to have the energy that he’d had as a Toa.
“Turaga Coprollex?” Pozic inquired as he marched over to greet the Turaga, “What are you doing here?”
The former Toa of Stone smiled, “Your friend, Dimous, brought me here. When word of this Cult and its activities reached Matoro City, Dimous and his crew headed here right away. I managed to get away from my paperwork and join him.”
“What do you mean, Dimous and ‘his crew?’” Pozic asked.
The answer came as a certain Onu-Matoran emerged from a hut, followed by Rovrun, as well as many other Matoran, Agori, and Glatorian that Pozic felt he might know from somewhere.
“Guess I’m pretty popular.” said Dimous smugly. His beady crimson eyes flickered with a sort of eccentric madman. He had a small toothed shoveling tool sling over his back, while Rovrun was equipped with the Thornax Launcher and long curved hook Pozic had seen him with the day of the Toa’s announcement. He wore a stern expression, but his eyes looked calm, and merciful.
As Dimous advanced to Coprollex’s side, the Turaga of Stone explained. “Dimous and Rovrun got a team together to back you up. They started just after you two left the city. When they got wind of the problems here, they decided that they would be your backup. As I said before, I joined them.
“But,” Coprollex continued, “I see there are more pressing matters at hand.” He pointed towards the horizon, where the cult could be seen through a haze of dust.
“I reckon we have about two hours until they get here,” said Jevan. “Many of the villagers are going to help us fight. The others are evacuating. They are prepared. Unless you have anything to add, it’s just a matter of time.”
Pozic shook his head, and saw Jeynah and Karov do the same.
“Alright then,” the Toa of Stone continued, “I’ve put myself and Coprollex in charge of the villagers. Dimous and Rovrun will lead their team. Us Toa, we’re probably the most important asset in this fight. You’re free to do what you want, but don’t go getting yourselves killed. That’s an order, and as I am the most senior Toa here, you should respect it.”
All six Toa, as well as Coprollex, Dimous, and Rovrun, seemed to agree. After some brief farewells, the Turaga, Matoran, Glatorian, and Jevan all took their places among those they would be commanding in the coming battle. The other five Toa spread out along the line of villagers. Karov and Pozic took places only several Bio away from one another. Karov busied himself with sharpening his sword, as Pozic swapped out the clip for his Xian gun.
The air was thick with apprehension. The villagers here had chosen to fight, but it was clear that none of them really wanted to. Pozic supposed that many of them were having second thoughts.
Pozic supposed that he, too, had second thoughts.
Jevan had been wrong. It only took the cult one hour to reach the village. Pozic felt as though this was to their benefit, however, as it gave the villagers less time to doubt themselves.
The cult stopped about fifty Bio away from the village. Dacciah advanced to the front of the group, and addressed the village.
“Toa!” she shrieked, “Surrender yourselves, as you should have back in our temple!”
No one answered. Dacciah seemed to invoke fear into everyone her gaze fell upon. Pozic felt as though his stomach had imploded when her eyeline passed over him. He could see a sort of glow emanating off her twisted grinning Kanohi, and wondered if she was perhaps using its powers to achieve this effect.
After a minute of silence, one of the cultists, a skakdi, broke away from the lines, and charged towards the village. Dacciah spread her wings, and leapt upon him. She thrust her Bio-long claw through his middle section, and decapitated him with her axe shaped hand.
As if nothing had happened, she returned to her previous place, in front of her army.
“So, Toa, you choose to fight? Very well, you may fight. It will be worse for you. I would have spared you the pain had you surrendered.”
Without giving anyone any time to react, she raised her clawed hand, pointing towards the village, and let out a primal shriek.
The cultists surged forward to meet the villagers, who did the same. They met somewhere in the middle of the space that had formerly been devoid of beings.
Pozic stayed back, taking aim with his Xian gun and mowing down cultists from a distance. He could see Karov in the midst of the melee, slashing at the crazed Skakdi, Vortixx, and even Matoran with his flaming sword. He must of pitied those villagers who had been swayed away from their Three Virtues and the Light, Pozic was sure of it. The Toa of Fire would always try and find a way to figure things out peacefully.
But peace wasn’t an option in a war like this. If it could even be called war. Pozic had no former experience of great battles such as this. He had always imagined war to be on a much grander scale than this, with tens of thousands of warriors clashing in the midst of a war torn land.
This was not the battle of his imagination. Although neither team could be considered small, they certainly weren’t massive. About five hundred villagers stood against a couple hundred cultists. Neither side seemed particularly capable in battle, with the exception of some Glatorian, several of the larger Skakdi, the Toa, and of course, Dacciah.
The silver clad Makuta waded through the villagers in the frontlines. One swing of her axe shaped hand took out several defenders. Her Matoran-sized claw shredded swords and severed limbs, while her sharpened skeletal wings took out everything that attempted to approach her from behind.
Pozic stood at the far back of the action, taking out enemies from afar with his gun, alongside villagers who did the same with their bows or other projectile weapons. Suddenly, he heard his name shouted.
He turned to see Jevan running towards him. “We’re going to have to take out Dacciah! The Toa, I mean. Nobody else in any match for her, but if she’s out of the way, we can crush them! We outnumber them, two to one!”
Pozic nodded, and watched as Jevan ran towards Jeynah and Terifol. Tusidi had clearly already been informed of their plan of action by Jevan, as she quickly approached Pozic from behind. The two of them started towards Karov, who was nearing Dacciah but seemed unaware of it.
The crazed Makuta seemed to notice Karov, and began making her way to the still oblivious Toa of Fire. Seeing this, Pozic cried out his friend’s name.
Karov heard just in time to fling himself out of harm’s way, crashing down on a Skakdi cultist not far from Pozic and Tusidi. Before Pozic could react, Tusidi had shot a burst a Zamor at the shocked brute, killing him instantly, and giving Karov time to return to his feet.
They had little time to rest, however, as Dacciah was swiftly gaining on them.
Pozic shouldered his gun, and unsheathed his axe. He stood beside Karov, preparing to meet Dacciah head on. Tusidi stood behind them, firing Zamor at the approaching Makuta. Jevan and the others were nowhere to be seen.
When Dacciah was about ten Bio away from them, she leapt and spread her wings, as she had done when pursuing the disobedient cultist. Karov and Pozic had to split apart to avoid her strike, and Tusidi had to fall flat to save herself.
Before the Makuta had time to land, Pozic and Karov were upon her, slashing left and right with their weapons, trying to force her to go on the defense. However, her two arms as well as her deadly wings were enough to keep them at bay. Tusidi was attempting to get to a safe distance to aid with her bow, but a group of cultists were giving her trouble.
Just when the whole thing seemed pointless, Jevan, Terifol, and Jeynah came rushing in from the front lines. Dacciah’s four weapons weren’t enough to defend against five attackers, so she swiftly backed down, trying to avoid being surrounded.
The Toa would not let this happen. Karov and Terifol quickly circled around the Makuta, blocking off her retreat, while the other three continually slashed, stabbed, and pummeled her from the front. All the while, Tusidi sent a constant barrage of Zamor arrows at Dacciah with pinpoint accuracy.
They seemed unable to lose. It seemed as though the first of the Three Virtues was all they needed to succeed: Unity.
Suddenly, Dacciah curled her arms and wings in upon herself, presumably to shield against the blows the Toa were dealing her. Pozic assumed that she had given up, and that she knew she couldn’t win.
When she spread her wings once more, she let out a deafening shriek. Pozic saw for an instant that her Kanohi shone brightly, and that a red glow emanated from her eyes. Then, he didn’t see anything anymore.
He felt himself screaming. He couldn’t hear it, but surely everyone around him was screaming too. He felt fear, raw fear, coating him, inside and out. Surely, he would drown in this blackness. This endless, dark pain.
He felt alone. Entirely alone, yet surrounded. The stench of death, the taste of blood. And yet, many, perhaps infinite, other feelings. Things he did not understand. Yet.
But one, bright thought breached the darkness of his fears. He had seen Dacciah using her Kanohi, and he had felt her induce fear earlier. It was only logical that this was her mask’s power. And with this knowledge came a strange thought. Pozic didn’t understand why it mattered that he knew this, but he knew that if Dacciah had been desperate enough to use her power like this, she must fear them.
Why should he fear the thing that feared him?
With that thought, Pozic came back to his senses. It seemed that only seconds had passed since he had lost his senses, although it had felt like hours. All around him, the other five Toa, lay screaming, clearly still being affected by Dacciah’s powers.
The Makuta, however, still seemed to be recovering, and appeared to be using all of her strength to keep the Kanohi active. She didn’t notice that Pozic had awoken.
Now was the time to end her.
- Keosi - Deceased
- Karov - Transformed
- Pozic - Transformed
- Danuku - Deceased
- Vuli - Deceased
- Various unnamed Matoran
- Several Matoran at Dimous's Diner
- The Le-Matoran assassin - Deceased
- The Le-Matoran's partner
- The Matoran Crowd at the Toa ceremony
- The many deceased Matoran at The Great Hand - Deceased
- Defilak - Deceased
- Coprollex - Transformed
- Mulian - Mentioned, Not Mentioned By Name, Deceased
- Matoro - Deceased, Spirit Form Only
- Various Guards
- The "Emerald Princess" - Mentioned
- A pack of Vorox
- Ahknot - Deceased
- Members of the Cult of Teridax
- The beginning scene of Chapter 1 is based on a true interaction between Toa Pozico and Karov Kurad.
- Some chapters are written from the perspective of Karov, while others are from the perspective of Pozic. Other character's perspectives are generally not shown.
- There may be some points in the story that seem strangely written, due to the fact that some parts of the story were written by Toa Pozico and others by Karov Kurad, who have different writing styles. This may cause a slight disconnect in the flow between certain paragraphs.
- A major difference between the Cities of Spherus Universe, the Universe in which Deception of Honor takes place and the Main Dimension is several minor issues that ever so slightly delayed parts of Teridax's plan. This is what caused the continued existence of the Olmak that Teridax would have destroyed in the Main Dimension.
- This is also what caused the Great Spirit Robot to fall in such a way that enabled the creation of several major cities, such as Matoro City, that didn't exist in other dimensions due to their lack of this phenomenon.
- This delay may have also slightly altered Icarax's fate, as, after his death, the Kraahkan was found on Spherus Magna.
- Deception of Honor is in the top 50 longest pages on this wiki, a fact that both Toa Pozico and Karov Kurad are very proud of.
|The Cities of Spherus Universe Storyline|
|Short Stories||Mastery's End|
|Full Stories||Deception of Honor|