This article was written by CaptainLandr0ver. Please do not add to it without the writer's permission.
|Next||The Feral Plains|
Ruthos walked down the metallic halls as fast as he could. Even in times of need, running or even jogging down the hallway to Father’s Room was prohibited, and punishable by a severe smelting. Maybe for the general of an army, and in times of need, breaking the rule could be forgiven, but no, Father insisted otherwise. Ruthos seemed to be the only one of his kind who didn’t have complete trust in Father. Maybe it because his operating system was built for strategic planning in times of war, or maybe it was because by default he spent more time discussing things with Father. There were other bizarre rules Father had… don’t refer to Father by his real name, always respect Father and his leadership, and don’t enter Father’s Room unannounced without good reason. Luckily Ruthos had a good reason and hoped Father agreed with him on that as he pushed the steel doors open.
“Father, we must act quickly,” said Ruthos quickly. “The Toa have their defenses up! They’ve anticipated our next attack!”
“Your next attack,” replied Father. Ruthos looked confused. “Remember, General? You planned this attack.”
“You assisted me in planning it,” Ruthos argued, “You know much more about Toa than I do.”
“Really?” asked Father.
“Father, I’ve never seen a Toa before. You have.”
“Is that why you’ve decided to interrupt my time alone?”
“Oh, well then, hounds, you can back away. Let him die another day.” Ruthos had been so keen on warning his leader that he had not noticed the Energy Hounds that were ready to rip his mechanical body apart at the flick of Father’s fingers. Fortunately, they were backing away into the holes in the floor they had been summoned from.
“So what shall we do about the Toa?” asked Ruthos.
“What shall we do?” replied Father. “That’s a very good question, and a bit unworthy of storming into my room about. Maybe I’d have an answer if you could, you know, specify a bit more?”
“They have a Toa of Iron.”
Father looked displeased and leaned forward in his chair. “What? Since when has that happened?”
“We know not,” said Ruthos, “but we do know that he would be a massive threat to our airships.”
“Then we don’t use airships,” said Father, leaning back comfortably into his seat. “Simple as that.”
Ruthos chuckled. “Such a simple answer comes with a simple problem: we can’t attack. The Brotherhood has not supplied us with sea ships, so unless we use airships we simply cannot attack them.”
“Not airships,” said Father, “Airship. Singular.”
“Father can be so enigmatic sometimes. Maybe if he’d get to the point more often we wouldn’t have problems like this.” Ruthos thought to himself. Then he said out loud, “What damage is one airship going to do?”
“I can read your thoughts, you know,” said Father. “And you know the rules about respecting me.”
Ruthos began shaking in fear of what Father would do to him. “Yes, yes I do. Now, back to the airship…”
“My associate Drakah has invented a new… gadget, they said,” Father continued, “and she'd like me to test it out. She says that in order to get 'true results' it can't be tested anywhere except in the field of battle.”
“What does it do?” asked Ruthos.
“My thoughts exactly,” said Father. “Load it onto the smallest airship and drop it on the island.”
“And Ruthos? You better make the best of this. This is going to be your last operation, of course.”
“Why would that be, Father?”
“Well, you should know the rules well enough by now. And if I were you, I’d go down along with the airship. A much more honorable death, I’d say, than being smelted for breaking a rule, especially for someone as high up as a General. Wouldn’t you say? Now get on with this operation.”
Ruthos saluted and nervously left the room. He decided to run back down the hall, seeing as his fate was already sealed.
“It’s much foggier than usual, brother! Are you sure that they’re coming?”
“Certain,” Vandir replied. “If we were wasting time, I’d know it right away. It’s my least favorite thing to do. Plus, I do trust someone who can read minds, isn’t that right my sister?”
Norhi, Toa of Psionics, nodded back with a smile. “The Brotherhood really needs to invest in something other than artificial life. Entering one of their minds is like catching a dead fish!”
“What?” yelled a confused Hatar across the battlefield.
“It’s really easy to do, of course!” Nohri said back. “Are you not able to notice an expression when you see-”
“Ears peeled, sister!” Vandir interrupted. “They could come at any moment.”
Nohri watched as the gray waves emerged in packs from the gray fog and scooted up and down the gray sand. She adjusted the way she had propped her blaster onto the gray rock she was hiding behind.
She then looked back and said, “You ready, rookie Toa?” The novice Toa of Iron behind her nodded. His hands were shaking as if it were a bioquake.
“I remember my first day on the job,” Nohri thought to herself. “I was even more nervous than he is right now. I never even talked to some of the other Toa until weeks after I joined the team. I think Hatar was the last one I talked to… he was always big and intimidating. Vandir said he was nice, but that’s like saying to pet an Ash Bear just because it’s not awake…”
A subtle but startling noise made it’s way to her ears. It came from behind her, and she reckoned that whatever made that noise snatched the Toa of Iron too.
“I think they’re here!” she telepathically said to Vandir. “Rookie’s gone, and something doesn’t feel right!”
Vandir noted this and made hand signals to fall back. They entered the capital city of Leskya Nui, carefully examining the streets and alleys for any evidence of the forces of Makuta. They began hearing signs of an airship, and finally came across a group of Brotherhood soldiers standing at the city square.
“What are they doing?” Vandir thought.
Nohri read this from his mind and replied, “It could be a trap. I’ll see if there’s anything odd lying around.”
She activated her Akaku, and scanned the catacombs underneath, and there were no other soldiers. She looked into the buildings, through trees, anywhere that they could be hiding something, and she found nothing.
“I didn’t find anything,” she thought to Vandir, “But I’m putting my widgets on it being a trap. Even robots with their processors fried wouldn’t stand around in such a way!”
“If it is,” Vandir thought, with Nohri reading it, “Then I don’t know what they would trap us with. The airship we heard sounded like the cargo type, not an attack type. Maybe I’ll bug one of them and see what happens.”
“Alright,” Nohri thought. Vandir carefully used his air powers to nudge one of the soldiers. It looked around and raised its weapon at another soldier. Surprised, the other soldier pushed its fellow soldier into another, and it pushed it back into another, and within the span of a dozen seconds they were all quarreling and pushing each other. Nohri took the opportunity and used her telekinetic powers to squash all of them together into a heap of mechanical parts.
One soldier barely survived, and yelled as loud as it could before falling to the ground. Vandir and Nohri snickered from the odd noise it made.
“Ruthos, we’ve picked up the signal.” said the pilot. “Shall we initiate phase two?”
“Y-Yes,” said Ruthos. “I suppose. Turn up the thrusters to full throttle, and aim this ship correctly. It’s time we finally got rid of these Leskya Nui things. Dreadful creatures, Matoran are.”
The pilot did so, and the airship began careening faster and faster through the fog. He looked at the scanner at least twice a second, as not to miss his target.
On the ground, Vandir yelled to take cover. There was no time to stop the airship, which indeed was the cargo type. It struck the spire of the Toa Temple before violently impacted into a Matoran housing building. What was left of the structure caved in onto the cockpit, and the pilot shut down crushed under a pile of bricks.
Before Vandir could signal to approach the ship, the still-running left thruster burst apart, sending hot metal flying in the air. From the color of the explosion, he reckoned that it had been shot by a Brotherhood soldier blaster. A dark red figure tumbled out of the ship’s bay door and looked up at the Toa. What confused Vandir was that it stood there for a long amount of time.
“Read it’s mind!” Vandir ordered. Nohri did so, and her jaw dropped. “What is it, sister?”
Nohri stood in silence for a bit, and then looked at Vandir and said, “Run.”
Vandir looked confused. “Run away? We are Toa heroes, and we never surrender-”
“Run!!” Nohri yelled. Now Vandir could make out the dreadful beeping noises from the airship. He and his team began running away from the city center as fast as possible. Hatar used his Mask of Tunneling to zip through several buildings on his way. Vandir glided over any obstacles in his way, and Nohri simply blasted them apart with her mind.
Suddenly, Vandir tumbled down to the ground. His leg was in pain, and he realized that a grappling knife had been shot into it. He yelled to Nohri as he began slipping back into the city, and she used her powers to pull him back. The force pulling Vandir was incredibly strong, likely from the the airship itself, and so Nohri scooted him sideways in front of a building.
Vandir caught the lip of the structure’s pillar and was able to dig the knife out of his armor. He looked up at Nohri and signaled for her to keep running. When he found himself unable to stand up, Nohri came running back to help him up. Even for a Toa of Air, he was quite heavy. Armor on Leskya Nui needed to be thicker than usual to protect against the cold and snow. The Toa of Psionics decided that she couldn’t carry Vandir all the way.
“Hatar!” she yelled. The Toa of Gravity stopped running and looked back. With his attention, Nohri said, “He’s hurt, and I can’t carry him, alright?”
Hatar nodded and ran to Vandir, lifting him up. Just then, they heard the bloodcurdling cry of a Ga-Matoran.
“That’s Itira!” said Nohri. “I’ve got to go help her, okay? Hatar, you carry Vandir to the beach, okay?!” Hatar nodded, and Nohri sprinted off.
When Nohri found the source of Itira’s screams, she gasped. There stood a tall, crooked Makuta with black armor mixed with a shade of sickly bright green. In his left hand he held the novice Toa of Iron, now unconscious, and in his right, he held the Ga-Matoran, with a blade in her abdomen. Nohri was appalled at the sight.
The Makuta pulled the blade out, dropped the Matoran’s body, and said, “I’m sorry to say that it was, indeed, a trap, my dear. Have a nice day, now.” before vanishing.
Nohri ran to the Ga-Matoran, and saw that she was already going into shock. Nohri attempted to stop the wound from bleeding, whilst trying to ignore Itira’s nightmarish pre-death babblings.
After a minute of doing so, she gave up and cradled the blue corpse in her arms. Before she could cry out in rage, a blinding blast of white burst through the windows.
Hatar finally dug his brother out of the rubble. Like his own, Vandir’s armor was hot to the touch. The Toa was unconscious, likely from head trauma. Hatar hoped that he would be okay.
The Toa of Gravity stood up and saw a completely different world. It was incredibly hot, the air was full of ash and smoke, and every building in sight was flattened. He trudged along with the Toa of Air limp on his shoulders, trying to find anything that had not been destroyed.
It was now that Hatar noticed small fires along the streets (or at least what looked to him like streets). He stopped and looked down at one, and then attempted to stomp it out. This was successful, but only temporarily, as soon after the fire began once more. Hatar was distraught at how any of this was possible. How could the Brotherhood have crafted such a weapon? It seemed like elemental energy, but it couldn’t be. In addition, it baffled him as to why the Brotherhood would need such a weapon. He assumed that it was created by some insane Makuta, who found more pleasure in destruction than in logic or common sense. Of course, that was a typical trait among them.
In his searching, he stumbled on something round and metallic. After laying Vandir down, he turned around to find a charred and very warped gold mask. The only recognizable feature that had not been melted into the rest of it was the large scope, and he realized that it was an Akaku and dropped it in shock. He dug through more rubble and found pieces of blue and gold armor, most of which were welded onto the stone in indistinguishable clumps. It came to him that his wisecracking Toa of Psionics was no more.
Hatar kept the mask, picked Vandir up again, and continued tromping down toward the beach, as he was hearing the distant sounds of Matoran. When he arrived, there was a group of Matoran waiting outside a large sea vessel. He saw Jeko, Merdana, Nepto, Shensii, Yedrin, and some others. In total, he counted twenty-two Matoran. Many of them were ones that had helped him and his team fight.
“Is this all?” Hatar asked. Jeko nodded.
“We tried to collect the survivors,” said Merdana. “This is all we could find.”
“Our population originally had thousands of Matoran,” said Hatar in a strict voice, and laid Vandir down. “There is no way that only twenty of you guys survived.”
“If not, then that soon will be true,” said Jeko. “I’ve reckoned that the increasing temperature will kill anyone else left. It’ll kill us too if we don’t get going.”
“Going where?” Hatar scowled. The Matoran all looked at each other. Nepto shrugged and said “Somewhere, I guess.”
“Precisely,” said Hatar, “which is why we’re staying here and collecting every last Toa and Matoran who is still breathing!”
“Like I said,” Jeko replied, “the heat here is increasing rapidly. It’s probably a death-zone at the area where the weapon was used. If we stay here for much longer we’ll perish.”
“Except for some,” argued Hatar. “Where is Tura? We could use him. As a Ta-Matoran, he could survive this ‘extreme heat’ you’re talking about.”
“I’m afraid Tura has been injured,” said Ga-Matoran Yedrin. “You should come inside and see him.” Hatar hesitantly boarded the ship.
Tura was lying in the infirmary, with his left hand covered in bandages.
“What happened?” asked Hatar.
“My hand,” said Tura.
“What about it?”
“Gone, obviously.” He began unwrapping the bandages to show Hatar, but Yedrin told him that they were not ready to come off. After much arguing, Yedrin allowed him to take them off, but “only for a short while.”
“Mata Nui,” said the Toa of Gravity, “the wound’s been burnt shut!” Indeed, the place where Tura’s hand had once gone was now a stub, no gore to be seen.
“The correct medical term is cauterized,” piped Yedrin, and Hatar gave her an annoyed look. Then his face showed a skeptical look, and then one of vexation.
“Is this craft moving?” he said loudly. Yedrin nodded shyly and rebandaged Tura’s arm. Hatar stormed outside.
“Who said we were leaving without finding more Matoran?!” he roared.
“I did,” said an awakened Vandir, sitting on a stool with his leg propped up and bandaged. Normally Hatar would have been embarrassed for disrespecting his team leader like he did, but not in such a situation as this one.
“Brother,” said the Toa of Gravity, “I assure you that there are still Matoran on that island.”
“I know,” replied Vandir. Hatar waited for an additional remark, but none came. Underneath Vandir’s mask was a forlorn expression.
Hatar picked something off of the ground that he left there.
“Well, one day we better come back,” said Hatar, and he threw a deformed Akaku into Vandir’s lap. “Maybe as a requiem of those who we abandoned.”
The water surrounding the craft was noticeably darker than the water around it, as soot from the exploded island was sloughing off of it and into the ocean. Ga-Matoran Shensii was up early, and began sweeping the ashes off of the ship. She might as well get it done now because otherwise, Hatar would probably have her do it at a later time anyway. Plus, she didn’t like when things were dusty or sooty at all, so it was partially an act of self-centeredness.
As far as she knew, nobody else was up now. The skies and sea were quiet, with no signs of life aside from her. The sunrise was completely blocked by a thick cover of smoke and ash, which only allowed a directionless flow of depressing rust-colored light to glow. It was only light enough for Shensii to see where there was and wasn’t ash on the ship.
As Shensii brushed off more ashes, she uncovered something on the deck. It was a small, scraggly engraving in the floorboards, which consisted of a flower and the words “Adventure is Forever” written in Matoran. Underneath was a more official looking line of text which read “RV: HB”. If she remembered correctly, this stood for “Research Vessel Horizon Breaker”, one of the ocean crafts created for a postponed sea expedition.
Shensii remembered having built the ship, eager to hear of what it would find once it launched. As a dock worker, Shensii had heard many stories from the foreigners that had come to Leskya Nui to trade. Some of these stories included strange populated islands, full of wild Matoran, vile plains and odd weather systems. She had always been curious about these accounts, and had decided to work extra hard in order to make enough money to one day explore the ocean. This work included working on this very expedition craft, the construction of which had been supervised by Nohri herself. As such, the vessel became associated with the Toa of Psionics.
Of course, the attacks from the Brotherhood of Makuta, lead by a mysterious Makuta named “Antharahk”, delayed the expedition quite a bit. After two weeks of fighting, the expedition as a whole had been canceled in order to fund all of the resources that went into fighting, severely crippling Shensii’s hopes of becoming an explorer.
And now, in the wake of that war, here were those same dreams of hers, rotting in the ashes of irrational conflict, laid side-by-side with the dreams of every other Matoran and Toa on that island, dead or alive.
Vandir had valiantly commanded his team against Antharahk, along with a battalion of Matoran who he regularly fed inspiring words of determination and freedom. It seemed as if those same words had been used to fuel the fire that had now burned their cities to the ground and scattered their ashes into the heavens.
The raging fire which many called war.
She couldn’t be a part of this. Not any more. If she was going to help, it would be by any means except through combat. She was not going to continuously aid any more wars that began from this point on. In fact, she would do the opposite. She never wanted to see her friends die in the name of warfare ever again.
“You up early too?” said an icy figure from behind her. Shensii was startled and almost slipped in the ashes.
“Sorry, I scared you there…” said the figure, who Shensii recognized as Jeko.
“Oh, it’s okay,” said Shensii. “What got you up?”
“It was really warm inside the sleeping quarters,” said Jeko. “It got pretty uncomfortable for me, being a Ko-Matoran and all.”
“Same here,” replied Shensii, “although it was more the dryness. It’s probably so hot because of the…” she stopped speaking when she realized what she was about to say.
“Because of the what?” Jeko said with a confused look.
“Well, you know,” Shensii said, and she pointed in the direction of Leskya Nui. It was easy to tell which direction it was in because the ash clouds that were closer to the island were visibly thicker.
“Oh, yeah…” said Jeko as he looked behind him at the island. “I was about to say, it was nicer for me back there because it was much cooler.”
Shensii stood, unsure of what to say. One word that Jeko had said was repeatedly going through her mind: “Was”.
The island was cooler.
The island was full of dreams.
The expedition was going to happen.
The island was alive.
The island is not alive.
A dead island.
Nobody can return, as Jeko said.
It’s gone forever.
Along with everything else she had cared about.
All of the dreams that were never fulfilled.
All of the plans that were never done.
All of the ships that never sailed.
All of the events that never occurred.
All of the friendships that were never made.
All of the villagers that never survived.
All because of Antharahk.
All because of war.
Vandir woke up to see an empty bed beside him where Hatar had slept. Apparently his Toa brother was up, the only brother he would ever see again.
A golden Akaku laid on the floor next to the head of Vandir’s bed. He had dropped it in his sleep, having had it on the sill of the viewport next to him.
He sat up in his bed and looked out of the viewport. Beyond the scarce ashes on the glass, he could see the Matoran. They were not playing anymore, and he saw no smiling or happiness. He realized something.
The battalion of Matoran he had led was made up of Matoran who were from all over the island. Since they had had their minds on training and fighting, they never got to know each other. All of their friends were back where they came from, in different areas of the island.
Now all of their friends were gone, destroyed along with the rest of the island. All of those surviving Matoran were not only shaken, tired, unsure and scared, but they were also lonely, their lives devoid of anyone they really knew.
As was Vandir.
Unlike the Matoran, Vandir felt another thing that had changed about him. He had a burden of some sort, an unspoken promise to the Matoran that one day he would avenge their island. He couldn’t back down from this. He knew that it was now his duty to take revenge against Antharahk.
- An unnamed Toa of Iron
- Makuta Antharahk (Also referred to as "Father")
- Drakah (Mentioned)
- Several Brotherhood of Makuta soldiers
- Dirge is CaptainLandr0ver's first serial.
- Dirge is one of CaptainLandr0ver's more violent and tragic tales. While other stories will be dark, they will not be full of death and destruction like Dirge is.
- Originally, Antharahk was not mentioned by named and Drakah was not mentioned at all. After some time, Cap decided to mention Antharahk, as he saw that keeping "Father" a mystery would only cause confusion and was unrelated to much else.
- The name was inspired by Hatar's line at the end of Chapter 3, as requiem and dirge are synonyms, and CaptainLandr0ver thought "Dirge" would be a more creative and unique title than "Requiem".