This article was written by Toa Pozico. Please do not add to it without the writer's permission.
|Setting||Cities of Spherus Universe, "Kahu Koro"|
|Date set||102 years after the Reformation of Spherus Magna|
|Next||Deception of Honor|
Mastery's End is a short story written by Toa Pozico describing Coprollex's final mission before giving up his Toa powers to Karov and Pozic. It will have five chapters, which will be released beginning in April 2017.
Coprollex nudged Mulian, his expression a cross between happiness and sorrow. For this was his final mission before he would return home and give up his power forever. He couldn't know if he would ever see his teammates again. Well, all except for Mulian, the Toa of Plasma who walked beside him, whose home was the same as his, Matoro City.
In the twenty five years they had been a team, all six Toa had become the best of friends, and had developed a sense of unity that was likely unrivaled. They were the oldest of the five United Toa teams on Spherus Magna. Each team consisted of one representative from each of the five major cities, and one additional from Matoro City, which was considered by many the “Capital of the World.”
Each Toa team would start at the bottom, as the youngest team of five. Every five years, the oldest team would cycle out, and the Toa in it would give their powers to a new generation of Matoran, who would enter the cycle. Eventually, everyone would have their turn to become Turaga and donate their powers to a new team. For Coprollex and his friends - he refused to simply think of them as teammates - now was that time.
But first, they had a mission to complete. It would not be difficult, it was meant mostly as a time for the team to be alone together, and relish the time they had left. They were to travel to a remote village and deal with a rogue Vortixx weapons dealer before she could cause any harm. The Toa had no doubt in their abilities. They had all dealt with many a criminal before, and they saw no reason why this one should be any different.
The group consisted of three male Toa and three female. Coprollex, a Toa of Stone, was considered their leader, but he felt as though any decision that they made should be made by the whole group. Still, he served as the tiebreaker the few times it was necessary.
Niren and Lethia, Toa of Lightning and Water respectively, were both fierce opponents in battle and had spent years mastering many forms of combat. They had come from the cities of Tesara and the Great Hand. Together, they could usually overpower any opponent.
Someone less considerate may have called her the group's “secret weapon.” She generally stood in battle, not raising a finger, but mentally working her way into the mind of every opponent. Her skills were so honed she could often bypass mental barriers.
Once she possessed the thoughts of the opposing forces - well, Coprollex wasn't even sure of what she did, but he had seen its effectiveness first hand.
Coprollex knew that her strange and powerful abilities didn't kill those that they were used on, which made him respect Rereta even more. She seemed much more experienced than him in the art of accessing her element, even though they had both been Toa for almost exactly the same amount of time. Coprollex sometimes thought that she should be the leader of the group, but she didn't seem like the type who'd be interested.
This was the group who walked confidently across Spherus Magna, knowing that they had nearly achieved their destiny. There was no obstacle that they, united, could not overcome. They all trusted each other with complete certainty. But they would soon have to be separated for who knows how long.
Their journey had begun at the “Hollowed Ankle”, but they now were nearly a mio away. They had been driven in an old fashioned - but effective - Agori transport, accompanied by two skilled pilots for a large part of their journey. But had chosen to continue on foot for the rest of the way. The Agori pilots hadn't wished to leave them, but these were Toa, and high ranking ones at that, and a Toa had much more authority than they had.
They now travelled through a small area of Bota Magna. Its lush and colorful plantlife, combined with the happy sounds of many a creature scurrying through the undergrowth kept all of their spirits high. There was nothing to fear here.
“Hey Coprollex, still no Toa Tool?” Chuckled Mulian. The others laughed as Coprollex smiled at his friend's sarcastic question.
It was a running joke among the group that Coprollex was so dim-witted that it had been twenty five years and he had still not chosen a Toa Tool, when in fact he had intentionally not taken one so as to focus all of his efforts on hand to hand combat, but most importantly, perfecting his elemental powers. His team knew this just as well as he did, but they all appreciated the comical question that Mulian still continued to refer to.
“Anyway,” asked Niren, seriously, “I wasn't given a full explanation of the situation we're dealing with. I was a bit late to the meeting.” She playfully grinned at Lethia, who grinned back.
Coprollex had noticed that the two Toa had an attitude towards each other that he could not fully understand. They often bickered and got mad at each other for seemingly pointless reasons, but usually seemed close in a way that was unlike the relationship between any of their other teammates.
It was Derethi who answered the Toa of Lightning's question. “The Vortixx has gathered many supporters in the village of Kahu Koro. Many of its citizens have fled, but some are trapped inside. The Vortixx intends to distribute high quality and dangerous weapons all throughout Spherus Magna, to any petty criminal who wants them. If left unchecked, this operation could cause a sort of chaos that has not been seen for decades.”
Niren nodded, but said nothing. The whole group knew how dire the situation could become, but they also knew that if they were unable to deal with it, it was too late anyways.
The group continued to tread through the vines and bushes that were gradually thinning, being replaced by thin, dry brush and grass. Not far from the group was a stone path that had run parallel to the forest and appeared to lead to Kahu Koro.
A hill blocked the village from view, but if Coprollex remembered correctly, they were less than one kio away. He could feel apprehension in the air as they began their ascent. Not apprehension for the potential coming battle, but the fear that came from knowing that this was their last mission.
The team reached the summit of the knoll, and looked down at Kahu Koro, “Hawk Village.” A lake lay just to its north, and had the vague shape of a large bird with its wings spread wide. Docks lined the lake's south and west sides. They were all deserted.
There was a large barricade surrounding the town. It seemed to have been constructed recently, and appeared to be made of any resources that had been available. Matoran and Skakdi patrolled the border, large Xian firearms in hand.
The village had been transformed into a veritable fortress. The situation was worse than they had imagined.
“How old was the information we were given?” fumed Derethi. The Toa of Fire was, in general, quite calm, but when it came to something that messed with his strategizing abilities, he had no patience. “At the briefing, nobody said anything about physical modifications being done to the village!”
“Well,” Coprollex said, in an attempt to calm his friend, “the Hollowed Ankle is extremely far from here. Any scouts that they sent would have returned to the city many days, if not weeks, after visiting here. Even if we had ridden in a transport the entire way, we would have taken about six days, and that's with the highest priority and the best pilots.”
Derethi growled, “This will set us back a long while. Who knows what else has happened that we hadn't expected? They could already be exporting their supplies! If the Turaga Councils want us to deal with a problem, they should send us before it's too late!
“Anyways,” Derethi took a deep breath, “Let's set up camp. We have a map of the area, yes?” Coprollex nodded. “Great. I will begin to arrange our attack method.”
The team nodded as one, and began to extract the needed materials from their satchels.
The group of Toa, like usual, divided themselves between four tents. Derethi usually had one to himself, one filled with maps, unreadable notes, and occasionally, a set of models representing each member of the group. He had offered on several occasions to share his tent with another, but no one had been willing to endure the clutter, so the Toa of Fire slept alone. If he even slept at all.
Coprollex and Mulian shared a tent. Theirs was probably the most neat, as Coprollex didn't have weapons to store within it and Mulian kept his twin axes in a corner to free up space. The Toa had very few other supplies in their packs, so the tent was decorated by nothing more than two bedrolls.
Lethia and Niren's tent resembled Coprollex and Mulian's, except that theirs housed a large pile of assorted weapons. Other than that, a few beds, and a small, foldable table, their tent was empty.
Coprollex had never entered Rereta's tent, so he could not be sure what she kept there. Her bag was light, so he could only assume that the tent was as empty as his, but he had no real evidence to support his theory.
Night was quickly approaching. The Toa had set up their camp behind the hill upon whose summit they had previously stood, but they still didn't risk starting a fire. Its light could very well climb up over the hill, and even if it didn't, lookouts at Kahu Koro would still be able to see the smoke.
Coprollex finished inserting the tent stakes, and entered to see Mulian already fast asleep. Coprollex felt somewhat hurt that his friend hadn't even bade him goodnight, but he knew that Mulian had third watch, always the most difficult, and would need as much sleep as he could get.
Coprollex crawled into his bedroll, and forced himself to sleep. He would be woken by Niren for the final watch just barely before the sun rose.
He told himself that there was no need to worry, and that Derethi would fabricate a plan to lead them to victory. He trusted his team with his life, but that didn't mean that they were perfect. It was very possible that they would need to send for help from one of the capital cities, or even that they may be killed.
Coprollex pushed these thoughts out of his conscious, and closed his eyes.
He was tormented in his sleep by dreams that mixed his fear of what was to come the next day and the sadness that came from knowing that this was his last mission as a Toa.
As he had expected, Coprollex was woken by a drowsy Niren, who nudged him twice before silently exiting his tent, probably intending to get some sleep before helping execute whatever convoluted strategy Derethi had composed. Coprollex reluctantly rose, and strode outside.
The sky was still dark, but the world was lit by a pale gray sunlight. Twilight. A time many others hated, as many eyes were unable to adjust to it. Coprollex, however, found it strangely calming. It was not the inky black of the night that smothered one's eyes and turned every snap of a twig into a threat. Nor was it the sickly bright yellow of day, that turned everything the eye could see into a shining flame.
Rather, it was a cool medium. Ironic, that the most beautiful things never last. Coprollex knew that the sun would soon rise, erasing his inner peace and replacing it with stronger, more volatile feelings.
He noticed nothing unusual during his hour-and-a-half long watch. At one point, he made his way up the hill and peered down, unseen, at the “Hawk Village.” Guards still patrolled its walls, armed with many different weapons, all, as Coprollex could tell even from such a great distance, originating from Xia.
These foot soldiers didn't look like they'd be much in a fight, but there were definitely enough on the walls to cause a lot of trouble for the Toa, and there were most likely many others inside the village.
Coprollex decided not to think too much about how they would enter the stronghold. After all, that was Derethi's job.
When dawn finally came, Coprollex woke his other teammates one by one. Mulian, Lethia, and Niren he had to shake awake. Niren looked especially disgruntled, having just gone back to sleep. Rereta had exited her tent of her own accord, probably having heard his thoughts, and when Coprollex entered Derethi's tent, he found the Toa of Fire already awake, scratching his thoughts onto a paper with a pen and a near empty jar of ink.
He ignored Coprollex's greeting, glanced down at the dry glass capsule he held, saw that it was empty, and tossed it over his shoulder where it landed in a pile of its used kindred, many of which had shattered.
Looking around him for more ink, he finally spotted Coprollex. Without even blinking, he began rummaging through one of his many bags, stopping only when Coprollex placed a hand on his shoulder.
“Look for it after you've explained your plan to us,” the Toa of Stone said. Seeing the rest of the Team behind Coprollex, Derethi sighed and nodded. Casting his pen on the ground, he lead them into his tent.
It was a tight fit. Rereta was forced to the back, where she was unable to see Derethi's maps and lists over the heads of her taller companions. Coprollex knew that this didn't matter, and that she would understand Derethi's strategy perhaps even better than the Toa of Fire did himself.
“So, I was looking through past reports,” Derethi began, “And I realized that there is a tunnel leading from the bottom of the lake, all the way to the center of the village, where there is a well that provided water for the village.”
“Great!” Mulian enthusiastically responded, “So we swim through the tunnel and enter the village through the well. Simple.”
Derethi shook his head in frustration. “Provided, I said. Note the past tense. Seven years ago, the well was sealed when Rahi would use it as a nesting ground. If my sources are correct, there is now a blacksmith's hut built atop the hole. But the basic shape is still there.
“Lethia,” He continued, “You will wear and use this Mask of Corruption to break down the foundation of the blacksmith's.”
The entire group flinched as Derethi drew the Kanohi Jutlin from his satchel.
“I'm not wearing that!” The Toa of Water retorted, anger in her eyes. Coprollex agreed. Such a Kanohi was immoral, and was usually used for bad. Coprollex wondered how his teammate had even managed to obtain one.
“Yes you are,” the Toa of Fire replied impatiently, “You are the only one of us who can breath underwater naturally. The rest of his will have to wear Kaukaus.” His anger seemed to sap away, and he spoke calmly, “Don't worry, it'll only be for a few minutes. I promise, you will be using it for nothing but good.”
“So,” Mulian spoke again, “That all seems pretty simp-” He was cut off by Derethi.
“But,” continued the Toa of Fire, “They have sentries all along the walls. If we're spotted, this whole thing is hopeless.
“Thankfully, the guards switch every hour, so that's when we can make our way toward the lake. Their switches take about thirty seconds to a minute each, so we'll have to be quick.” Coprollex wondered how long Derethi had observed the village last night, and if he had even slept.
“There are three gaps that we will have to cross while the guards are switching. The first is between two of the larger hills. The second leads to the hill closest to the lake. Those two we can cross together. The gap between the hill and the lake however, is far too long to cross in the time we have.
“I discovered a small crevice in between the lake and the hill. It will be the last stop before the lake. The problem is that it is only large enough for one of us. So once we reach the last hill, we will cross one by one, one of us each time the guards change, to the crevice, and then to the lake. We have masks to breathe underwater, so we can stay at the bottom and never be seen.”
“So,” Lethia inquired, “The guards switch once every hour. There are six of us. One of us crosses every time the guards switch. So it will take us six hours to journey to the lake that leads into the village?!”
Derethi nodded, clearly not sharing Lethia's attitude of utter disbelief. Coprollex, once again, had to agree. “Well, sorry, not quite,” said the Toa of Fire, “It will actually take nine hours. Two for the first two gaps, and seven for the last bit, as it is a two part journey. Thankfully, as one of us travels from the crevice to the lake, another will travel from the hill to the crevice, so our time won't be doubled. So, all together, yes. Nine hours.”
“But couldn't we just,” Lethia glanced back at Rereta.
“No,” spoke the Toa of Psionics, “I am sorry, but there are two many active minds in there. Many of them are those of the innocent prisoners, and at this distance I can't tell them apart. I also detected at least one that is shielded strongly enough that even I can't enter them. I am sorry, but we'll have to follow Derethi's plan.”
Lethia sighed. “Fine. One last thing; what do we do when we get inside.”
“Head for the observatory tower. That is where our target is.”
It was going to be a long day.
It may have been a long a complicated one, but Derethi’s plan worked exactly as intended. Coprollex was second to enter the lake, just after Mulian. He would be followed by Rereta, then Lethia, and then Niren. Derethi would be last, as he had wished to make sure his plan worked as intended.
Coprollex sat at the bottom of the lake, using his powers to weigh himself down. Mulian was having a more difficult time, having to hold onto a stone to keep himself from floating, but he seemed quite calm, not at all frustrated.
Both Toa, as well as their comrades who had yet to enter the lake, wore a Kanohi Kaukau, Mask of Water Breathing. It took a massive amount of concentration to keep the Masks active for so long. Coprollex had been at it for half an hour, and he knew Mulian had had to focus for three times as long as he. They would have to hold this mental state until Derethi arrived, in over five hours.
Once all six Toa were present, Lethia would use Derethi’s Jutlin to decay the top of the well, and they would enter the village. Hopefully the blacksmith’s hut they would pass through would be empty, but if it wasn’t, they would probably be able to dispatch any sentry that waited there without being noticed.
They would then replace their normal Kanohi, and would travel, hopefully unnoticed, to the observatory tower where the Vortixx weapons dealer was hiding.
So far, things were going well. But Coprollex still had hours left to wait. Hours in which anything could go wrong. Knowing that his friend would alert him should something go wrong, Coprollex closed his eyes and let his mind wander, entering a state of meditation and tranquility as he waited for the rest of the team to arrive.
Coprollex only fully awoke once he saw Derethi plunge into the water. He could see the water around the shivering Toa of Fire writhing with heat. He could imagine just how uncomfortable his comrade must be right now, being submerged in the element that naturally trumped his own.
Derethi peered around, verifying that everyone was present, before nodding to Lethia, who wore his darkly colored Mask of Corruption. The Toa of Water understood the message, and began to swim through the submerged passage that lead into the village. The others quickly followed.
The passage travelled diagonally downward for several hundred Bio, before swiftly switching to a straight tunnel upward. There was no light at the top, so it was clear that Derethi had been right and the well had been sealed at the top.
After a brief pause, Lethia began the ascent. Niren moved to follow her close friend, but Derethi held out his hand, stopping her. Rereta’s voice rung in everyone’s head, “Derethi says to wait. The Jutlin’s power could cause rubble to fall, and we’d best be out of the way.”
The Toa of Fire cast an angry look towards Rereta, who quickly muttered an apology inside everybody’s minds. Coprollex knew that Derethi hated having his mind read.
After several short minutes, they heard Lethia's faint, echoing voice from up the watery tunnel, “I've done it! It's open!” Hearing this news, the others began to make their way up the old well after the Toa of Water.
Coprollex felt several pieces of stone fall past him as he swam, but none made contact. Lethia seemed to have done her job very cleanly and subtly.
When Coprollex reached the opening of the well, he found Niren, Lethia, and Derethi waiting in the blacksmith's hut, which thankfully seemed to be empty. Derethi was shivering as he used his power to remove every drop of cold water from his armor. All three of them had returned their regular Kanohi to their faces.
Coprollex removed his Kaukau and returned it to Derethi. It felt good to feel the presence of his familiar personalized Rau.
Once Rereta and Milian had climbed out of the well, Derethi addressed the group in a low whisper. “My plan worked. We’re in. But I'm a thinker, not a leader. Now it’s your turn, Coprollex.”
The Toa of Stone nodded, and began to speak just as Derethi had. “So, as we know, our quarry resides within the observatory tower. We could just try to rush it, or we could move with stealth. Personally, I prefer the latter.” The others nodded in agreement. Despite Coprollex being the leader, the team functioned as a democracy.
“So that's settled,” said Coprollex, “Clearly, this dwelling is deserted, and I’d assume that there’ll be others like it. Many of their owners must have been taken prisoner or managed to escape. Again, I'd prefer it if the latter was true, but I doubt it.
“So, we can make our way through the buildings, and with nobody inside of them, we shouldn’t be noticed. Everyone understand?”
There were mutters of assent from around the room.
“Let's get to it.”
It took the group nearly another hour to reach the base of the tower. Guards patrolled nearly every large street, constricting the Toa to nothing but decrepit allies and empty households.
The tower's doors were attended by two massive Skakdi, wielding bloody spiked cudgels. There was no way around them, so for the first time since they had entered the town, the team would have to fight.
They didn’t stop to plan. There was nobody else around to see them, so they simply rushed towards the Skakdi guards, who didn’t even get a chance to cry out. In a matter of seconds, both were unconscious on the ground, with not a drop of blood spilled by anyone.
As the others sheathed their weapons, Coprollex glanced around to ensure that they hadn’t been seen. When there was absolutely no doubt left in his mind that they had gone entirely unseen, he beckoned the others forward, into the tower.
It appeared as though it would normally be occupied by scholars, philosophers, and astrologists, but at the current time it was deserted. Some unused weapons lay on tables, perhaps implying that the thugs in the village would use this room as a barracks, but none were currently present.
A spiral staircase lead the group to the next floor, which was also empty. It was only when they reached the fifth story that they saw anything else that breathed.
This floor was filled with makeshift cages and chains, all holding one or more villagers captive. Most of these were either Matoran or Agori, but some held Glatorian, Steltians, Vortixx, and even some Skakdi. Five Mercenaries patrolled the room, two of them Skakdi, one Glatorian, one that Coprollex couldn’t recognize, and one that looked suspiciously Toa-like.
But their target wasn’t on this floor, and doing anything now would risk revealing their position, so the team continued to make their way up the tower. Thankfully, an ornate wall blocked them from the thugs’ view.
Finally, after passing two more stories filled with prisoners, they came to what seemed to be the highest floor. It didn’t contain any cages, and appeared mostly empty. But after several moments, a tall Vortixx emerged from some sort of office, followed by an Agori and a small hooded and masked being. Coprollex noted two odd things in this scene.
Firstly, the Vortixx was white. Pure, bright white. Coprollex had never seen this trait before, and wondered why this was. Secondly, the small hooded figure that followed the Vortixx didn’t seem to have eyes, just a blank, characterless mask.
Coprollex knew this Vortixx’s name; Hadrika. It was her they were after. She was the one who was organizing a massive weapons dealership, to provide any rogue denizen of this world the firepower to cause serious damage.
“I just need to clarify that you have the weapons!” The Agori was saying to Hadrika, “The guild masters are ready to send people to acquire them, but they need proof that the journey would be worth the risk!”
“Do not worry,” the Vortixx replied, her voice smooth, yet threatening, “I will have some of my best men show them to you on your way out,” A pause, “Now go! What are you waiting for? The prices are set! I will not accept any less!”
With a quick nod and a “Yes Ma’am,” the Agori made his way toward the stairs where the Toa stood, hidden. Coprollex suddenly realized that they would be discovered unless they acted quickly, so after several quick orders, Niren positioned herself next to the exit that the Agori was headed towards.
When the Agori stepped around the corner, Niren grabbed him by the neck, with one hand muffling his shout of surprise. She held him above the ground, while Derethi knocked him out with the pommel of his sword.
The small cloaked being had reentered Hadrika’s office, but the Vortixx stood still in the center of the room. It seemed as though she may have heard them.
Knowing that it was time to act, Coprollex beckoned to his teammates. They nodded as one, and simultaneously lept into the room, all drawing their weapons and preparing to fight.
Hadrika spun to face them, drawing a small firearm that she aimed towards Lethia, who stood closest to her. However, she did not fire. She seemed to understand that she could not win this fight.
She lowered the weapon, and slowly dropped it and raised her hands in surrender. “Alright,” she said, “You got me. But before you kill me - or don’t, you Toa have strange morals - just listen to what I have to say.”
Coprollex didn't say anything. He knew that this could be a trick, but he trusted his team to be able to work their way out of that trap.
“I’m not the one you should be after,” Hadrika spoke, “I don't claim to be innocent. I've done illegal things, but hey,” she smiled, “that's just a living.
“All this weapon smuggling, that’s not my plan. I'm just being paid to do my part. Once I'm done with this, you won't have to worry about me. I'm not a threat. I don't want to fight.
“I'll say no more now. Find someone with information on this sort of thing. Ask about The Assassins’ Guild.”
“I think you’ll be the one we question,” Coprollex started.
“I wouldn’t count on it,” the Vortixx replied with a smile.
All of a sudden, the Toa’s ears were confronted with two loud crashes in quick succession, one as Hadrika leapt backwards through the decorative stained glass window she had stood against, the other as a hulking figure came crashing through the wall that separated the spiral staircase from the room.
The team leapt once more into battle positions, facing the newcomer. Mulian ran to the window, peering out after Hadrika. He turned back to his comrades, calling “I’m going after her. Rereta, come with me!” The Toa of Psionics hesitated before following Mulian. Coprollex heard her mentally mutter an apology.
Coprollex felt flustered. Never before had he seen Mulian take charge in this way, nor had he seen Rereta act so quickly without a plan. He supposed that this was just the beginning of the many changes to come.
Now only four Toa stood against the figure. Based on his rugged armor and the large firearm he carried, Coprollex assumed he was some kind of bounty hunter. However, this weapon was slung across his back and in each hand he held a two-sided blade. He stood at about twice Coprollex’s height and wore green and silver armor.
For a moment, the Toa stared at the figure, who stared back. It was the bounty hunter who made the first move. He lunged towards Derethi, swinging one of his blades down towards the Toa’s head while deflecting a blow from Niren’s spear with the other. Derethi narrowly avoided death, and was forced to drop to the ground and roll away.
Coprollex was able to land a few swift kicks to the mercenary’s back, but was sent flying by a blow from the flat edge of one of his opponent’s blades. Both male Toa were temporarily out of the fight, leaving Niren and Lethia to combat this unknown foe.
The Toa of Lightning and Water fought in perfect unison, leaping and slashing at just the right times. They were able to prevent their attacker from landing any blows, but they were slowly being forced back and were unable to subdue the bounty hunter.
Derethi returned to his feet and rushed into the fray once more. He faked a strike to one side but swiftly swung his sword the other way, managing to force his adversary into a less than ideal position.
Coprollex, hoping to benefit from this lapse in the bounty hunter’s defense, hurled a large chunk of stone from the shattered wall towards the mercenary. He was unable to rise from his position on the floor, but he continued to use his powers to aid his teammates.
Coprollex could suddenly hear Rereta’s voice in his head, “We got her. We’re on our way up!” The Toa of Psionics sounded uncharacteristically energetic.
Sure enough, the two Toa burst through the hole in the wall and joined the others in their fight. Aching, the Toa of Stone lifted himself off of the floor. He couldn’t quite find the strength he needed, but he knew he had to help his team. He too ran towards the bounty hunter.
Even with six against one, the Toa’s opponent seemed to have the upper hand. His combat expertise matched even Niren and Lethia’s, and his superior size and strength gave him the ability to fling the opposition away with ease, giving him more time to recuperate.
The Toa soon began to tire, but their opponent showed no signs of fatigue or of injury. One by one, they were forced to leap away to avoid the mercenary’s attacks. After narrowly avoiding one particularly nasty slash, Coprollex found himself lying dazed on the floor beside four of his comrades. Niren continued to fight, not seeming to notice that she was alone.
“Niren, retreat!” Yelled Lethia. The Toa of Lightning turned, electricity crackling around her. She opened her mouth to respond, but received a powerful kick from her opponent and was launched towards Coprollex and the others.
Without any Toa to stop him, the mercenary drew his rifle from his shoulder and aimed it towards Coprollex. The Toa of Stone tried to move, but his muscles felt numb. He braced himself, sure he would be killed.
He heard the blast of the gun firing, but didn’t feel any impact. He realized he had been holding his eyes shut, and opened them to see a semi transparent round shield surrounding the Toa. At its center was Rereta, her Hau alight and her eyes shut with concentration.
Their opponent fired several more shots. Energy rushed towards the Toa, but scattered as it hit the shield. The group was safe from the mercenary’s assault, but for who knew how long. It seemed to take an immense amount of effort to keep the Mask of Shielding’s power active, and Coprollex was unsure how long Rereta could keep this up. They needed to decide upon a course of action, and quickly.
“Okay,” Coprollex addressed the group, “This isn’t working. We need to think of a new plan of attack.” The other Toa nodded. All the while, the green-clad figure paced back and forth, waiting for Rereta’s strength to run out.
Coprollex continued, “There’s no way out of this village while he’s still here,” The Toa of Stone gestured towards the figure, “And our goal shouldn’t be to escape. We’ve pushed our mental, physical, and elemental capabilities to their extremes, yet we still failed. What more can we do?”
“We could form Kaita,” Mulian suggested, his voice raspy and weak, “Or at least try. I can’t think of any other option.”
Coprollex considered this. Oddly enough, the team had never formed Kaita before. It was strange now that he thought about it. It seemed the best method they had to potentially defeat their opponent. His only worry was that joining bodies and minds required great focus from all participants, and he wasn’t sure if they were in any state for that. But what other option did they have?
“We’ll do it,” Coprollex said to the group. Everyone nodded, save for Rereta who muttered a mental “yes” but kept herself focused on maintaining the shield that surrounded them.
Coprollex closed his eyes and cleared his mind. Only one goal remained in his head; to join his powers with his teammates. Instinctively, he had moved towards Mulian. Now he stood between the Toa of Plasma and Rereta, and could feel their powers mixing with his own. Niren, Lethia, and Derethi stood together several Bio away.
Coprollex felt a sort of mental tug. It was as though a door in his mind had opened, and Rereta and Mulian had walked in. But at the same time it felt as though he had entered their thoughts.
Coprollex could still feel himself focusing with all his effort, but he simultaneously felt that part of himself being left behind. He was rising up, joining with his comrades.
All of this happened in a few short seconds.
The Toa of Stone opened his eyes and looked down at himself. Except he wasn't a Toa. He no longer wore his silver and tan armor. He no longer controlled only one element.
He was a Kaita. He stood at over twice his original height. He now wore armor of a variety of colors and controlled the elements of Stone, Psionics, and Plasma. And he was no longer just himself.
The being that had previously been Coprollex, Rereta, and Mulian thought to himself. Somewhere in his deep mind he found a name. His name. Tuhanar. Yes, that sounded correct.
A glowing beam of energy crashed into the wall behind Tuhanar, reminding him of the presence of the mercenary. He dove gracefully out of the line of fire. As he landed, he felt a shield held in his back, and reached around to retrieve it.
Across the room stood Riluya, Tuhanar’s sister. She held a spear in two of her four hands, and was poised to attack their opponent.
The green armored mercenary fired another volley of energy at Tuhanar. The Kaita focused his mind, activating his new fusion Kanohi’s powers. An illusory figure burst forth, round shield in hand, and absorbed the threat without even flinching.
Tuhanar used a part of his Elemental powers, the part that had previously been Rereta’s, to scan his opponent’s mind. Even now with increased elemental prowess it was nearly impossible to learn anything from the mercenary’s masterfully shielded thoughts, but Tuhanar was able to grasp several shreds of information, including the bounty hunter’s name. Or at least what he liked to call himself; Extinguisher.
Several Bio away, Riluya seemed to have decided that it was time to attack. She vaulted forward, covering the distance between her and her opponent in one leap, and engaged Extinguisher in a fierce melée. The bounty hunter parried her strokes with his blades, but the Kaita quickly got the upper hand, swapping her weapons between her four arms and giving Extinguisher no time to react.
However, she did not land a single harmful blow upon the mercenary. She was still a Toa, several Toa, and Toa respected the Toa Code.
Tuhanar joined his sister, summoning spikes of stone from the tower’s walls and superheating the air around his hands. All the while, he continued to pressure Extinguisher’s mind, trying to gain access to its secrets.
Extinguisher attempted to strike Tuhanar, sensing what the Kaita was doing to his thoughts, but missed, his balance compromised when Riluya landed a powerful punch to his abdomen. Tuhanar took the opportunity to take his dual sided sword in hand and send a surge of plasma through it.
The iron blade melted immediately. Extinguisher released the molten metal, but not before his hand lit up with heat. His armor smoked, and his hand withered. The bounty hunter nearly screamed, but with what must have been extreme physical discipline kept himself calm.
He leapt away from the two Kaita, still wielding one blade, clearly intending to die fighting. Both Kaita knew that that must not happen. They needed the information Extinguisher could provide about this “Assassin’s Guild” that the Vortixx Hadrika had mentioned.
Riluya approached Extinguisher once more, slashing at him with her spears. Out of desperation, the mercenary began to spin his weapon in hand, hoping that it would better allow him to block the Kaita’s attacks. This was a mistake. His grip was weakened, and a light blow to his wrist by Tuhanar sent the sword flying out of his reach.
Before he could reach for his gun, Riluya landed a kick to his middle, sending him flying backwards. He crashed into the wall, but before he could bounce off or fall to the ground, stone encased his remaining hand and his feet, leaving him pinned several Bio above the floor.
The two Kaita slowly approached. Although he was currently incapacitated and without weapons, Tuhanar knew that Extinguisher was still a threat. Riluya stood, spears at the ready, waiting for Tuhanar to act.
Extinguisher’s mental shields had weakened, probably due to the pain the bounty hunter was most likely experiencing. Tuhanar was finally able to worm his way inside the mercenary’s mind.
He found himself in a maze, full of rooms containing treasure troves of information but no clear way to reach their doors. Even without mental shielding, this would be difficult.
He turned a corner and found himself staring at a door. An old, worn door, covered in locks. This is what he sought.
He heard a sound a turned around to see a figure staring at him, his eyes full of terror. The figure resembled Extinguisher, but he was smaller, and wore armor similar to that of a Matoran.
Tuhanar found himself once more in the real world, facing the real Extinguisher. The bounty hunter shared the same terrified look as the illusion had in his mind.
In an instant, Extinguisher brought his charred, curled hand to his chest, tore off a piece of his armor, and slammed his hand down on a small tank of deep purple liquid.
The two Kaita moved to stop him, but it was too late. The liquid began to flow through small pipes that lead all over the bounty hunter’s body. They could only watch as the life drained from his eyes and his head hung.
He had prevented the Toa from learning his secrets. At the greatest cost.
Coprollex and Mulian left Rereta at the crossroads, and continued the trek along their homeward path. They had made their farewells, as they had with Derethi, Niren and Lethia. The Toa would see their brother and sisters again, but they did not know how long they would have to wait. Each of them would soon have new responsibilities in their Cities’ respective councils, and would not be left with much time to catch up with old friends.
Four days had passed since Extinguisher had ended his life to prevent Tuhanar from learning his secrets. After the tiring battle against the bounty hunter, the Toa of Stone’s team had had to rid the village of the many warriors Hadrika had stationed within its walls. Reinforcements had been sent, and the village was being rebuilt at that very moment.
The Vortixx Hadrika had been held in a prison she had built herself. She had been silent since Rereta and Mulian had captured her, simply staring at her feet. She now walked between Coprollex and Mulian, hands and legs bound by protosteel cuffs.
Although a small group of Agori enforcers was dealing with the thugs back at Kahu Koro, it was the job of Coprollex and Mulian to escort this high-priority prisoner back to their home city. She was to be held in a high security vault, unlike many of the petty criminals back in the village, who would reside in a small jail for several years before being released.
The two friends had already completed the bulk of their journey to Matoro City. The others had gradually split away, taking their own paths to their own homes. It was strange, Coprollex thought, having finally gotten to fully understand them all, how they thought, how they felt, and then to have to part ways. Nothing was stopping them from working as a team forever, not really, but they all knew that they had fulfilled their destinies, and that their time as heros was over.
The sun would set soon. Coprollex and Mulian, along with their prisoner, would take shelter in a nearby town before completing their trek in the morning. Although the Great Spirit Robot’s torso could be seen on the horizon, towers and buildings sticking out of its surface like pins from a cushion, the Toa of Stone knew that it was still very far away, and that they would need to rest before finishing their journey. Especially with Hadrika in tow. Although she remained downtrodden and skulky, Coprollex was sure that she would take any opportunity to escape.
Coprollex suddenly realised that he was just as silent as the Vortixx. He opened his mouth, ready to crack a joke, or ask a question, or do anything to break the silence, but in the end he couldn’t bring himself to. It had been a long day. As had been the previous day. And the day before that. Coprollex was tired. Mulian surely felt the same way. It would take time to adjust to their new life.
Coprollex mentally shook himself. Wasn’t his life still the same? He was still a Toa, was he not? He had not yet given up his power. But at the same time he knew that never again would he go on an adventure. Never again would he fight alongside his group of amazing, wonderful friends.
Once again, he shook himself. It was not as though he had lost his teammates. They were all still here. Well, not here. Not where he was. Except for Mulian. He smiled. Mulian wasn’t going anywhere. They would soon return to Matoro City and walk through the colorful, noisy streets. Together. They would report to the high council, the council that they would soon be joining. Together. They would attend the great ceremony, where the next generation of Toa would be chosen, the very same ceremony they had attended twenty-five years earlier. Together. They would gift their powers to two new, specially chosen Matoran. Together.
They would live the rest of their lives attending meetings and helping run the greatest city on the planet. Together, as they had been for who knows how long.
Before long, the Toa had arrived in the town. They had found a small inn, and Mulian had booked rooms. He had made special arrangements to have Hadrika kept in the building’s small cellar. The innkeeper had initially been reluctant to allow this, but Mulian explained the situation and payed the Agori generously.
After an hour of eating by a small fireplace and discussing recent events with Mulian, Coprollex entered his bedroom and lay down on the bed. It was a small room, with a dusty window above the bed and table supporting a crystalline lamp beside the door. Several old tomes sat in a neat pile in the corner. Coprollex examined them. “The Rise and Fall of Makuta Teridax” caught his eye, but three pages in he realized that his exhausted mind had not taken in even a single word.
He replaced the book, disrupting the thick carpet of dust that lay around it, and returned to his bed. Night had fallen, and Coprollex switched off the lamp, leaving him in almost total darkness, with only the faint green glow of heartlight illuminating a small portion of the room around him.
Coprollex thought to himself the same sort of things he had been thinking all day. Sad thoughts. Gloomy thoughts. Thoughts about the boring life that lay ahead. ‘At least Mulian will be with me,’ he mused to himself before dozing off.
When Coprollex awoke to a bright sun shining through his window, he realized that he had slept late. He wasn’t worried, he wasn’t on any kind of time limit, but he was annoyed with himself. He figured that with his new, boring life, there’d be a whole lot more sleeping in and sitting around.
He rose from his bed and stepped out into the hallway. The door to Mulian’s room, which lay across the hall from his own, was wide open. The room was deserted. This did not concern Coprollex. Mulian was probably waiting outside for Coprollex to wake up, or getting something to eat in the inn. Nevertheless, the Toa of Stone thought it best to find Mulian as soon as possible.
Coprollex entered the main room of the inn. Several Matoran sat at one table, an Agori and a Skakdi at another. There was no sign of Mulian in here.
Coprollex strode over to the innkeeper. “Can you tell me where I could find my comrade,” the Toa of Stone asked, “You know, the other Toa.” The Agori nodded groggily, “He was up ‘bout an hour ago. Took that Vortixx out of my basement.” After a pause, he continued, “Told me to send you out to meet him when you were up.”
Coprollex thanked the Agori and made his way out of the inn and onto the street outside. It took several moments of peering around to spot his companion. Eventually he located Mulian and began to walk towards him. Mulian stood in the shade of a small, round hut halfway down the street from the inn. Hadrika stood behind him, leaning against the wall, downtrodden as ever.
The Toa of Plasma waved as Coprollex approached. The Toa of Stone nearly tripped as he walked past a group of Matoran making their way down the street. Mulian let out a small laugh that Coprollex could hardly hear. “Nice,” the Toa of Plasma called to his friend, “Sorry I didn’t wait for you.
“I thought you’d already be up, and I couldn’t fall back asleep so I started looking around and getting things ready. Hey, guess what? I found out that the Matoran who lives ba-” He was cut short as Hadrika leapt towards him, a small knife held in her cuffed hands, and slashed at his face.
Mulian let out a yell of surprise, but was unable to lift his shield in time. The Voritxx’s first strike sliced through his neck, and was followed by several quick blows to the Toa’s chest. Coprollex acted on impulse, raising his hand and activating his elemental powers. A stone pillar erupted from under the Vortixx, sending her sprawling backwards. But the damage was done.
The Toa of Stone rushed towards Mulian, who had fallen to his knees. His expression was still one of surprise. As he ran, Coprollex bound Hadrika’s hands with stone, pinning her to the ground where she had fallen. She snarled in anger, but did not attempt to break free.
Coprollex knelt next to his friend. Blood stained the ground under him. He grabbed Mulian by the shoulders. “Come on, Mulian. Just stay calm, you’re going to be fine. Please say something, please!”
Mulian smiled weakly, “I messed up, didn’t I,” his voice was faint, hardly audible, “Well, I’ll try harder next time.” He chuckled with what seemed to be all the strength he had left in him. His eyes closed, his heartlight went dark, and he slumped forward into Coprollex’s arms, dead.
Coprollex wrapped his arms tightly around the body of his friend and wept. Out of the corners of his eyes he could see villagers crowding in, but he payed them no attention. He could feel himself muttering something but had no idea what he was saying. The world around him ceased to exist. He could have sat there for hours or mere seconds; he did not know or care. All that mattered was that Mulian was dead. Murdered, in front of him. And he had done nothing.
This seemed impossible. Mulian had been a Toa, a hero. This was not a hero’s death. A hero went down in the heat of battle, overwhelmed and outnumbered yet still holding back the enemy until the pressure became too great. Maybe a hero challenged a villain much more powerful than himself, and fought until the bitter end. Or perhaps a hero sacrificed himself in order to save his friends, or his village, or the entire world.
But this was different. There was no honor to be witnessed. No valor, courage, or heroism. Mulian’s end had come when he let his guard down and had found himself impaled on the blade of a small knife. His attacker had come from behind. There had not even been a fight.
Coprollex learned more that day than he had throughout the past year of missions.
Eventually, Coprollex found the strength to rise to his feet. He gently placed his friend’s body on the ground. He saw townsfolk all around him, some with weapons in hand. He turned to where Hadrika lay.
Hatred and anger surged through Coprollex. It had been her! She had killed Mulian! His best friend. He wanted to hurt her, to make her pay, to make her feel the pain he felt. To kill her.
His hands clenched into fists. The stone around the Vortixx’s arms and legs shifted, and she winced in pain. ‘You like that,’ thought Coprollex, ‘I can keep going. How about if I crush your limbs to a powder? Or drive spikes through your neck? Maybe then you’ll regret what you’ve done!’
But he stopped himself. It did not matter what he did to her now. It was too late. He could not bring Mulian back. He glared at the Vortixx, who stared blankly back. He realized that he was panting.
He turned back to the villagers. “The situation… is under control,” he could hear his pain in his own voice, “You may return to your activities.” Several townsfolk stepped forward, asking if they could help.
“Just… help me lift him,” Coprollex let out a sob as he gestured to the body. Two burly Glatorian came to his side, their faces somber.
Several hours later Coprollex left the village, followed by a cart pulled by a trio of Mahi. Within this cart was its owner and driver, a lanky Le-Matoran, as well as Hadrika, her arms bound within a thick layer of stone. Beside them lay Mulian. The body was wrapped in a large cloth; there had not been much available in the way of coffins, and his mask lay on top.
Coprollex had begun the journey home accompanied by his five greatest friends in the world. He would have to finish it alone.
- The two guards outside of the observatory tower
- Various unnamed thugs
- Extinguisher - Deceased
- The title "Mastery's End" refers to the fact that the story details Coprollex's final mission before he must give up his powers and become a Turaga
|The Cities of Spherus Universe Storyline|
|Short Stories||Mastery's End|
|Full Stories||Deception of Honor|