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 two guards outside of the observatory tower
- Various unnamed thugs
- 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
- It is mentioned in Mastery's End's sequel Deception of Honor that Mulian (referred to as "Coprollex's partner") was killed before they returned to Matoro City for the events of Deception of Honor. Whether or not this event takes place in Mastery's End is not yet known.
|The Cities of Spherus Universe Storyline|
|Short Stories||Mastery's End|
|Full Stories||Deception of Honor|