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|One Final Effort|
One Final Effort
|Setting||V Osade Alternate Universe|
|Date set||Unknown, (V Osade during Great Cataclysm era)|
One Final Effort is the conclusion to the V Osade storyline, leading to the final battle between the Unity and the Lykos Kinsman Republic. Vulf, an inter-dimensional traveling Toa of Psionics belonging to the Agency of the Olmak must lead her team fresh from the Siege of Metru Nui and the Void to, Exusia, the Lykos homeland and make her way into Yermo. Fighting against superior odds, Vulf must make her way to the centre of the Capitol in order to locate the leader of the Lykos Kinsman Republic: Polemistis, the Ultra Director and put an end to the Timeless Siege which has seen so much destruction made.
This is the last effort to stop what would otherwise be extermination, this is one final effort to end it all.
The Warmaster's Plot
The Councilroom, Metru Nui...
The large domed room whispered with echoes as the voices of several individuals spoke, the brightly lit chambers were helped only by the massive crater found in the dome. Black streaks and dots decorated the otherwise white pillars and the emerald floors, freshly added from a fierce battle that had only won a day or two earlier.
The chamber nonetheless was secured as much as it could be, as guards from a variety of species protected a select few that had been sitting in elevated thrones. Banners had been unfurled above the heads of each race they represented, singed or torn from the battle—but remained still despite the fresh breeze which had made its way through the hole in the dome.
They were incredibly lucky to even be able to reclaim this place, in the opinion of the Toa of Psionics that stood quietly on the left-hand side of the Turaga which had been chosen to be a representative of this meeting. The assault had nearly seen the destruction of the entire island of Metru Nui, and left much more of the life that once inhabited the industrialised land nearly extinct.
The Toa of Psionics, Vulf, had wondered how it could have ever become possible that such an attack could have ever been amassed; especially in the brilliant defence of the Line. The Lykos Kinsmen were indeed brilliant fighters and engineers, but being able to break the Line? It had become even more obvious that if the Line couldn't prevent a Lykos assault, then nothing could ever hoped to be manufactured to stop what the next siege would have in store.
Vulf looked around to the rest of the Councillors that had been gathered for the meeting. The Vortixx Councillor had been replaced by someone else, a sure sign that the Vortixx had lost theirs in the assault. The representative of the Dark Hunters was noticeably absent, and even the Mersion Councillor had been missing. Vulf's eyes moved over to the single Councillor that the the entirety of Unity had grown to either despise, or to fear. Surprisingly enough, despite being at war with the greater Republic—a revolutionary Lykos Warmaster known as Machitis had been granted the position as a Unity Councillor.
Machitis was a figure that Vulf had a difficulty of trusting, given his nature to be manipulative, threatening and a hard-barginer. The Toa of Psionics had to give Machitis credit, because despite his contempt for the other species in the Unity and his disdainful attitude with her: he had been a very hard-willed and determined individual. Machitis was successful in uniting the anti-Republic Lykos into a revolutionary group known as the Red Flags of Soyedmevos, and doing so was able to convince the Unity Council to promote him to a Councillor.
But the Warmaster was talented at blackmailing and manipulating the rest of the Councillors, and due to his promotion was given the greatest power anyone could hope to have in the Council: the veto. If he disagreed with any legislation, it could be counted on that he would veto it. The only way to successfully convince him to allow for a vote was to assist him in passing his own agenda, which made things only more difficult for the rest of the Councillors.
Reading the psionic energy in the room, Vulf could almost tell that the rest of the Councillors had wanted that attempted assassination plot to have killed Machitis. She looked over his burnt golden cloak, and the blackened armour and skin of his figure. Vulf had even noticed that one of his mandibles had been blown off, leaving only seven left. Machitis was lucky to have survived the Siege, but Vulf bargained that this would only make him more difficult to deal with. She watched as he fiddled with a metal cylinder, seemingly disinterested with the current conversation, watching his eyes as they turned to her. Vulf looked away quickly, and returned her thoughts to the conversation going on.
"Yes," it seemed as if the new Vortixx Councillor had spoken for the first time, Vulf finally finding interest there. "But what about the security of the Line? We are wide open to even more attacks now that the Republic has burned through our defences! It should be our priority to reinstate and secure our only shield against whatever the Lykos will throw at us!"
The Steltian Councillor replied almost immediately: "I agree. Before we refocus on repairing our factories and our weapons, I suggest we use whatever scrap we have left to build up the Line again."
"We need the factories to refine the metal for a wall that size!" Turaga Dume exclaimed, "our priorities should be preparing the factories and defending the Matoran so that we can then refocus on securing the Line, but until then—"
"The Matoran shouldn't be the priority here, what about the Vortixx and our technological developments? We should instead focus on the Vortixx, the Line, and then the Matoran!"
"Neither the Matoran or the Vortixx should be the concern here, fellow Councillors! We should just focus on the Line!" The Steltian spoke up. The room fell silent almost immediately, as Turaga Dume shook his head in disappointment.
"Fine, but we still need the factories prepared to refine the metal that we harvest."
"But if we do that," the Vortixx Councillor replied yet again, "then shouldn't we then focus on manufacturing a defensive fleet? Unity only has an six ships left, one destroyer, two galleons and three sloops. Other than that, we have nothing but cargo and trade ships. We need to reestablish patrol so that the Lykos don't sneak in anything that could be even worse than the siege."
"We have seven ships." Machitis finally spoke. Attention shifted to him nearly instantly, as the Warmaster continued to fiddle with the metal cylinder in his hand. The Steltian Councillor shot a glance towards Turaga Dume, who looked back only for a brief moment before returning attention to the Warmaster. "What do you mean, Machitis?"
"I mean our Vortixx Councillor is very bad at counting, Dume. Perhaps we should seek for someone the least bit experienced in these matters?" Machitis spoke with a slight grin. Vulf looked towards the Vortixx Councillor, who appeared to shake with anger as she nearly spoke out in protest. Turaga Dume was able to prevent this, shaking his head as she reclined back in her seat—muttering to herself. The Steltian Councillor was able to reply: "Well... neither I or the Turaga Councillor have heard of this either, Lykos Councillor. Can you explain this seventh ship to us?"
Machitis looked towards the Steltian Councillor, his gaze having an effect that made the Councillor shrink back in his chair. And Vulf understood why. The Lykos were absolute beasts in size compared to most other races, a head or two taller than a Toa already. They were well built in terms of strength and speed, enough to break a stone with their hands alone and to outrun most others. But alas, they were incapable of manipulating any elements or using Kanohi-masks, unless they be forged to fit within their armour.
"My ship, the Dancing With Blades. I have kept it in a hidden harbour in Mishria upon my arrival to the northern world. The Republic's own Flagship, following its and my own supposed destruction at the Battle of Daxia. It is in disrepair, but given refined materials it may be restored to its glory once more as a Lykos Weapon of War."
The room fell completely silent once more, as Machitis returned to fiddling with the object in his hands. Vulf was awestricken by such a statement. She knew fully well the capabilities of a Lykos Warship, as the weapons were capable of gutting other warships with a simple barrage and still have the armour to take many times that punishment. But the ships she had seen were only fast responding scouting vessels, and that only made her fear what a Flagship would be capable of.
"And you hadn't decided to share this with us?!" The Vortixx Councillor exploded with anger, slamming her fist into her thrones armrest. "Think of what we could have prevented if you had only thought of bringing it into action!"
Machitis smiled, as he cooly replied: "As I have said, Councillor. It is in disrepair. And quiet so, I like the way it looks when stowed in harbour."
About to speak again, Dume prevented the Vortixx Councillor by speaking first. "Well if you can spare your ship for patrol, it would be much appreciated."
"I am not going to let my ship be used to circle islands, Dume."
"Then what do you intend to do with it?"
"I intend to go to war with it."
Silence again. Vulf looked in awe at Machitis as much as everyone else in the room, as the Warmaster finally stopped working with the small object in his hand. He lifted it, so that all the Councillors in the room could see the cylinder. Machitis finally broke the silence, keeping the object raised in the air: "Our enemy nearly sacrificed their all in order to attack the Line and to try to destroy us. We were dealing with an army that was designed to win in either scenario."
"What do you—" the Steltian Councillor spoke.
"If they hadn't conquered us, they would have had a written testament of our strength. The Republic's intelligence gathering is much superior than our own, their devices are centuries, and their tactics well designed. We have, and will be dealing with a threat that is better suited for adapting to everything that we design against it. They want us to rebuild, fellow Councillors and in fact—they are counting on it." Machitis replied, looking around the room at everyone.
«Ad,» Machitis scoffed, "and you were nearly about to play into their hands."
Vulf questioned what the Warmaster had said, about to speak up herself before biting her tongue. She knew better than to speak out during a Council session, especially if not spoken to. But she wondered what Machitis actually intended to do having said the Lykos were expecting almost anything. Turaga Dume looked down at her, before seemingly knowing what to ask: "What do you propose we do then, Machitis?"
"We do what the Lykos know we won't be doing."
"Which is?" The Vortixx Councillor asked.
"We invade them." Machitis spoke, gesturing for his Honour Guard to retrieve the object in his hand. The Honour Guard took the object from his hand, as she slowly made her way to the centre of the chamber. The Warmaster watched her carefully, as the Honour Guard activated the object as a holographic display shot into the air. It formed the island of Exusia—the Lykos homeland—as it began displaying a number of Lykos letters.
Vulf read them carefully, glad that she was finally able to pick up on the language so that she wouldn't need others to translate for her.
Our enemies fleet shall be guaranteed as significantly reduced. Given that we have dedicated the majority of our holiest of Fleets to exterminate those who believe not in the Road of Life, we shall be guaranteed victory even should they push us from their diseased lands. They shall rebuild only to be destroyed by another of our Fleets better prepared for their end. As they rebuild, we shall plot their demise again.
The Warmaster began to speak as the other Councillors finished reading from the display. "We are only allowed victory should we strike at them while they rebuild their own fleet. We are guaranteed only ruin should we wait for them to attack once more, with an army many times more powerful than the last. Do not underestimate their industry, they will have a working fleet within the next few rotations—and we will only have a portion of a wall!
"We cannot stall and hide in corners, and hope that we have a chance to break their assault once more. Because I can confirm it will not work! We have only once a chance to end our good struggle now, fellow Councillors. And this is the way it will be done!"
Machitis straightened himself in his chair as his Honour Guard returned to his side, taking the cylinder from her hands. He then kept his mouth shut, looking around to the Councillors. "What do you propose we do?" The Steltian Councillor asked.
"We take our ships, head to Exusia... and reclaim Yermo. Take it from the hands of the Ultra Director and end his war for our benefit." Machitis replied, looking to both the Vortixx and Turaga Councillors. "But we need to agree this is the thing to do. So I suggest we get it done quickly."
Turaga Dume shook his head and sighed, before looking back up to Machitis to give his vote: "As much as I would want to disagree, unfortunately I have been shown it is irresponsible to. I trust you will end this war for us, Machitis. Mata Nui only knows how many have already been claimed by it."
Machitis turned his head towards the Steltian, waiting for his vote as the Councillor finally gave in. "I am in favour with your plan, Warmaster. I just bid that you will be able to stop the Republic from ever being in the position to destroy us ever again."
All attention shifted towards the Vortixx Councillor, watching as her breath began to increase. Drawing in a breath, she closed her eyes as she uttered her response: "Fine. But please make sure that we will actually win this battle."
The Warmaster smiled, rising from his chair as Vulf watched in amazement as the Lykos announced his plan: "So it is then decided. Prepare the Unity's ships for combat, and reassign your greatest repairs to Mishria. We have a victory to plan, fellow Councillors. And your vote has just helped to realise that."
The Toa of Psionics shook her head in disbelief as the Warmaster exited the chamber with his Honour Guard, examining the rest of the Councillors before he headed through the great doors and out into one of the many hallways of the facility. Vulf knew that Machitis had been successful in getting other Councillors to vote for his propositions, but this one actually managed to go through without any noticeable threats or blackmail.
But the thought of invading the Republics own homeland had frightened her. The idea of heading to the motherland of this Universe's greatest threat, after witnessing all it was capable of would be enough to convince others not to do so. Turaga Dume placed his hand on her shoulder, as he talked quietly: "Best prepare your team, Toa Vulf. We will need every last warrior for this battle."
Vulf nodded her head, responding to the Turaga in an equally quiet matter: "Understood, Turaga Dume."
The Encampment, Metru Nui...
As Vulf approached the encampment, she found the scene to be as distressing as it had been only hours before she had left. The desperate complex had been set up on the burnt earth after the defeat of the Republic only two days before, as rubble strewn the scene added an equally unnerving edge to the ash scattered across the floor of the camp. The Toa of Psionics looked back up into the sky to find it grieving, the grey clouds over the camp looked to be near the point of storming. She looked back down to the ground, towards the camp that her and her team have been provided with. The red cloth had a few holes and tears in it, adequately repaired with mismatching patches which varied in colour.
In a metal crate next to the camp sat Vulf's largest ally, a member of the Red Flags of Soyedmevos sat on top of it as the crimson armoured Lykos went through with cleaning his heavy plasma rifle. He looked up quietly towards Vulf, before the Lykos closed the hatch which allowed the user to access the inner mechanics to it.
"Then so, Vulf?" The red-clad Lykos asked, "The meeting has progressed?"
"So," Vulf replied, "it has indeed, Yarvok. Where is the rest of our team?"
"Inside the shelter, I have imagined."
"Follow me, Yarvok. We have a matter to discuss."
Yarvok grunted, folding his massive arms before he fell behind Vulf quietly. Vulf always knew that Yarvok had been by far the largest Lykos she has ever met, being a head taller than most already. He was the most talented of the group in the ways of Lykos warfare. His heavy armour and its rugged condition spoke much of his past as a warrior for the Red Flags, a variety of patches of misshapen and discoloured metal not even belonging to the same set of armour. Vulf could say that they were hasty repairs made to make sure the armour would function properly, by the wearer had always preferred the term being 'modifications'.
Lifting the tent flap, Vulf stepped inside to the shelter as she looked around for the rest of her team. Counting over them, she found that she had one more Lykos, a Matoran and a Toa under her lead. She inhaled sharply, realising that they were all here. The Toa's attention snapped back to Vulf almost instantly, as a smile marked her greeting face. "Welcome back, Vulf." She said, as Vulf nodded her head to the young Toa.
It was a young Toa of Light, by the name of Raskuyu. Vulf had always been intrigued by this young Toa, for her adaptability and her stubbornness. Raskuyu was kind, and generous to say the least and had an air about her that seemed to ease everyones nerves. Vulf remembers how Raskuyu as a young Matoran led the her and another team through the Forgotten Shores of the southern world, tracking down essential materials that the Lykos had been confiscating in order to forge sets of Kanohi-infused armour. There she was able to find the Mask of Light, and transform herself into a Toa of Light. She was relatively inexperienced for a Toa, but she had proved to be a vital asset from time to time.
"Thank you, Raskuyu." Vulf replied, looking to the other Lykos in the room.
He looked back at her and scoffed, before returning back to whatever he had in his hands. Vulf had been accustomed to this Lykos' irrational behaviour since the first day she had met him. Kvar was his name, and he was one of the most arrogant and self-centred individuals that Vulf had ever met. Once a message interceptor for the Lykos Republic, Kvar was captured by Machitis and Yarvok following their engagement with a Lykos Commander known as Predavis. He had softened to the opposition following having been fired upon by his own comrades. Vulf couldn't completely dismiss Kvar, as he had been able to help her understand the Lykos language. He was important for translating in a day and age where the enemies cunning was hidden through a veil of misspoken words.
Vulf finally looked at the last member of her team in the room: a small Ga-Matoran who was seemingly misplaced considering her size compared to the rest of the members of the team. Her name had been Elisis, a rather interesting and complex Matoran that had long served as the teams Chronicler. Vulf understood that Elisis was responsible for defeating a rogue Lykos Commander at her homeland, and had been before she met her a guide along the Road of Life: a path which escapees who had fled the Republic's destruction could find peace once more. Elisis wasn't the strongest combatant of the team, but she was still a capable one.
"Hello, Vulf." Elisis stated, looking over her shoulder as she detailed the ending of the Siege on a tablet. She turned around to face Vulf as did Raskuyu and Yarvok. Kvar who had his back still turned to the rest of the team was forcefully turned around to pay attention by the much stronger Yarvok. Kvar sighed, before he cast his gaze up to the Toa of Psionics. "How so the meeting, Heretic?" Kvar asked grudgingly.
"We have a plan of action now," Vulf quietly said, looking around the rest of the room before continuing: "But I am sure the details (of which there are few at the moment) need to be shared with you."
"What so are they?" Yarvok questioned, "And how so shall we act?"
Vulf drew in a deep breath, closing her eyes for a brief moment. Her team had already been through plenty following the Siege, and even before then the team had experienced the darkest horrors they could have ever bargained to face. The Void. Vulf never tried to dawn on the memories of the Void, with the screams of the prisoners and what the Lykos have done with those imprisoned there. Tortured, torn from their own bodies and trapped in the shell of metal skins that they then used to fight for the Republic's wars. She looked back up, and it was obvious to the rest of the team what she was thinking.
"We are headed down to the Republic." She finally replied, as the team seemed to contort their expressions into either confusion or disgust.
"You mean," Elisis asked, "we are headed to Exusia?"
"The Warmaster was able to convince the rest of the Unity Council to go along with his decision to invade Exusia. He claims that the Republic is already expecting us to attempt to rebuild our defence, and they were not considering the possibility of us invading them back."
Kvar scoffed, "Then we march to our deaths? Can the Council not even understand that Exusia is our best defended land? The shortsightedness of the Unity will be the death of us all!"
"The Republic must have put in all of the strength it musters to assault the Line!" Yarvok growled, "Should any know best, it would best be the one who worked as an actual Commander of the Republic, Kvar."
"Yarvok is right," Raskuyu hopefully said, holding her hands behind her back as she returned her gaze to Vulf. "The Warmaster has the most experience with the Lykos, and if what he said is true—we have an opportunity to end this war."
"But what if this assault fails?" Elisis finally speaks up, "Look, we have been fighting this war and we have seen terrible, terrible things. Remember what we saw at the Void? We are fighting our tortured friends now, people that lost their will because of the Lykos. We fail, and we will become them."
Vulf hadn't been willing to consider this point until now. But she remembered, O, how she remembered as the Lykos had extracted the organics and will of their prisoners before they forced them into the frames of robot warmachines. The organics screamed from the inside, trying to work against every movement that had been automated for them. She remembered what the Guardian of the Void—Likor—had told her: "It is the grandest hell I could have ever dreaded. I ask to move, but all I can do is scream. This misery I make others face, is from my failure. Fail no more anyone, fail no more what left there is to protect."
Vulf looked back to the rest of her team, as the silence that they made told her all that she needed to know: they were thinking back to the Void as well. She sighed, looking up to her team before she spoke again: "Maybe that is why we have to take this opportunity, Elisis. Because if we don't, we would fail everyone and everything that we have left. We saw terrible things at the Void, we have to take what we saw in order to understand what we need to protect."
"The Lykos have nearly destroyed everything that we have, Vulf." Elisis replied, before drawing a sharp retort from Yarvok: "The Republic, not the Lykos."
"The point I think Vulf is trying to make is that we need to defend what we have left, Elisis." Raskuyu responded, as she reached out to put her hand on the Ga-Matoran's shoulder. "You've told me your story, how you managed to stop the destruction of that Matoran village?"
"Yes?" Elisis asked, interested as to why Raskuyu would try to be making this point as the Toa of Light continued: "You had to take back your village from a hostile force. Think of the Southern Continent, you protected your home. But now think of the rest of this world, what would you sacrifice to protect it all?"
Elisis fell silent, looking down to the floor before she looked back into the calming blue eyes of the Toa of Light. She nodded her head, a tear drawing down her Kanoni before she replied: "I lost my friend, Raskuyu... I just want to make sure that the Ultra Director will never be able to take away from anyone as they have taken away from me."
"Then what do you think? We need to do this to stop them from doing so to anyone anymore." Raskuyu replied, squeezing Elisis' shoulder in an attempt to comfort her.
"But what if we fail, Raskuyu?" Elisis asked, as Vulf introduced herself to the conversation once more. "Then let us make sure we don't fail, Elisis."
Yarvok kept his arms folded, quiet as the Toa and Matoran tried to settle the conflict between them. The large Lykos sighed, muttering in his own tongue as the Toa of Psionics picked up on what her team member said, "We fail and our salvation will be our destruction."
Kvar nodded his head, as the second Lykos retrieved a plasma pistol from one of the many crates inside the tent. "Then we head for Mishria, Toa and like-kin." Yarvok spoke. Raskuyu patted Elisis shoulder as the Toa of Light retrieved the Matoran's Chronicler Staff and handed it to her. Vulf watched as Yarvok picked up a crate and forced it into the hands of Kvar, who muttered quietly: "Prevent yourself from doing this, I bid thee!"
Vulf watched as Raskuyu moved past her through the tent, the Toa of Light resting her soft hand on the shoulder of the Toa of Psionics. Vulf returned the gesture, before making way for Yarvok, who lifted a large metal crate as he moved past Vulf. The Toa of Psionics looked back inside the tent, finding it nearly empty now—she closed her eyes and tried to think back to the good times the team had before. She closed the flap to the tent, looking back toward her team which had prepared their path for out towards the docks. Vulf sighed, before turning to set pace to join her team.
The Hidden Harbour, Mishria...
Within the moderate island chains, there was a break in the grey clouds to which light gleamed on the waves of the ocean which met the harbour found. The harbour had been very well concealed, hidden within a forested inlet which had only been enough to keep the large vessel stored there.
The green trees had reduced the visibility from both the air and from along the coast, leaving the impressively sized vessel only visible from the waters which led into the inlet. The dock which had been abandoned for several years had now begun to become a much more active force. Cargo ships had brought in a series of supplies which until this time, had been dedicated to fortify walls and other strongholds.
Artillery, reinforced armour plating and point defence turrets have been brought into the harbour to be installed into the massive metal behemoth which was the once Lykos Republic Flagship: the Dancing With Blades.
Red Flag Lykos have been active since the Unity's Council's decision to restore the vessel in order to provide the force needed for a scaled assault against the Lykos Kinsman Republic.
Among the Lykos were the finest engineers that Unity had to spare in order to ensure the reconstruction was progressing according to plan, as teams of Matoran, Vortixx and Mersions have begun to attach what appeared to be artillery to each side of the ship. Armour was being reinforced with the thickest sheets of protosteel available for the work. Vulf cast her gaze around the sight, spotting several teams of Unity species being organised for boarding both the Dancing With Blades and the other Unity ships.
Yarvok smiled brightly as he rested his gaze on the Dancing With Blades, seemingly lightening his step as he spoke with a great passion for the object. "There she rests, the Dancing With Blades!"
"By the Pantheon," Kvar mutters, adjusting the weight of the crate in his hands before he continued, "your Warmaster did indeed secure the Republic's Flagship!"
"A grand thing, is she not?" Yarvok replied, looking down to his Toa and Matoran compatriots beside him. Raskuyu was almost in a trance as she looked over the black and silver armour plating of the Lykos ship, watching as crimson symbols are painted over the hull and bow of the ship. Elisis looked up to the series of banners being rung up high into the sky, belonging to the Red Flags of Soyedmevos as they fluttered from the gentle breeze guiding itself into the inlet.
"You know the ship?" Vulf asks, watching as the second artillery piece is lowered into position on the deck of the ship. The Toa of Psionics found it odd that land artillery designed to destroy enemy fortifications was being added to the ship, was it possible that it was meant to be an assault platform from the waters to land? Vulf couldn't even try to answer the question for herself as her thought was interrupted by Yarvok.
"«Aj», young blood of kin. Our vessel is a voyage as powerful as time and steel's influence! It sails well, and its power is beyond compare! Lo, there be the platform's station upon all I have stood!" Yarvok exclaimed, supporting the heavy create for a moments notice to gesture towards what had appeared to be a plasma cannon. Vulf examined the design of the cannon, thoroughly impressed with it.
"Powerful, you say?" Raskuyu asked, looking over the same cannon that Vulf and the others had been examining.
"Very much so." Yarvok replied, "it moves as that of 40 knots, the armour was and now is twice a yul—a third a metre in the measuring of that your kin. Cannons of which burn the sky, and if permitted—this our artillery shall bring more than just destruction of sky and earth!"
"Powerful indeed," Elisis mutters, "so what happened to it before? Why does it need repairs?"
"Not much power behind it, that it seems." Kvar replied.
"The battle of which we claimed your land, this which you call that of Daxia. It was dragged under that water of which your kin may command of, but alas, it was spit out of it as we approached this which you call that of Mishria. Still a piece, not ever destructed." Yarvok growled in response.
"So it was sunk, then?" Raskuyu then asked, holding her hands behind her back as she continued to look around the frantic harbour.
«Aj.» Yarvok muttered. Vulf smiled as the Lykos grudgingly accepted that the mighty vessel had once been sunk in combat. "Well it is still very impressive, Yarvok." Vulf replied, reaching up to pat the shoulder of the Kinsman.
"I'm sure that the Ultra Director would fancy reclaiming it from the bottom of this our ocean," Kvar spoke in a stark manner, "it was after all his own flagship, mind you know."
"Indeed, I have heard the same thing." Vulf replied, "Think he'll be upset to know that we stole his ship from him?"
"I think it would be a great surprise," Elisis answered, "and I hope it will be enough to defeat the Ultra Director."
Reaching a part of the compartment loading dock, Kvar and Yarvok rested their crates in line with the other materials being prepared to move into the cargo hold. Two Red Flag guards looked over them with an eye of suspicion, as one removed a strange device and ran it over the two crates which were put before them—scanning them for any materials which could destroy or damage part of the ship. The second looked over the weapons that the team had.
It spoke in clear Lykos, "Hand us your weapons, nothing offensive shall be held by anything but Red Flag!"
"What did it say?" Elisis asked, holding on to her Chronicler Staff—eyeing the Red Flag guard with suspicion. Raskuyu pulled the two light blades which she had sheathed on the sides of her utility belt as she handed them to the Lykos. "Don't loose them." She spoke, as she walked slowly past the rest.
Yarvok joined her, as the two Red Flag guards recognised him as part of their order. Vulf looked over the two Lykos, as they locked eyes on her. The Toa of Psionics knew they probably wouldn't recognise her gauntlets as a threat, considering they matched her Olmak-infused armour. Her preferred weapon were these gauntlets, as they were a step up in terms of the the rest of the armour sets the Agency of the Olmak have ever provided.
These gauntlets allowed her to channel her elemental energy and to shape them into anything she would need whilst in combat. Knives, shields and energy projectiles could be formed if she channeled her elemental energy properly. Instead, she drew what had once been the choice weapon of the first Lykos Commander she faced: Predavis. The plasma blade was highly detailed, marks that looked like feathers etched into the metal plating. Vulf handed the blade to the Lykos, who pulled it from her grasp and set it onto a weapon rack along with Raskuyu's blades.
They looked next towards Elisis, who held onto her Chroniclers staff as the Lykos muttered a phrase: "Give unto me your weapons."
Vulf looked towards the Lykos, trying to think of what to reply. Slowly, she uttered in Lykos: "Have her keep this staff."
The Red Flag guard smiled with what seemed to be with malcontent: "She bears a weapon still, lo, her dagger."
Vulf looked down to Elisis, gesturing towards the knife the Ga-Matoran had in her possession. The Matoran looked up, hesitant at first, before she finally drew the knife and handed it to the Lykos. The second Red Flag guard was dealing with Kvar, who was unwilling to relent his plasma pistol. Vulf shook her head, before she walked over to Yarvok and Raskuyu.
Yarvok shook his head upon Vulf's arrival, "You have spoken wrong."
Vulf looked up to her Lykos companion with confusion, before the Kinsman explained: "You spoke: «Ebah eis linna sotrudniki», when thou should speak «Ebah eis pitaeae sotrudniki»."
"O. I see." Vulf replied, looking back to Kvar who finally had the plasma pistol yanked from his possession. He stormed over to the rest of the group in anger, "They allow you to that your weapon!"
"But see that I am a Red Flag, you cannot." Yarvok replied.
Kvar was about to reply, before there was a booming cheer coming from down the harbour. Vulf and her team instantly turned to face the noise, as she spotted the Warmaster standing above the rest of the Red Flag crowd, as he spoke with a loud and ferocious tone: "We stand here this day, my fellow Kinsman to mark that which centuries blood has been broken to form this that our Republic—a ruined Republic—may be formed to keep our Paketo's peaceful, and to make this our path to prosperity!
"But this will has been violated by this, the most abominable and the most ill-sanctified! That our broken Ultra Director—that which is Polemistis—has dared to enslave us his people and ensure that our destruction come, that he may climb our corpses to enforce his will! We shall stand this no more, for the Red Flags of Soyedmevos have formed once more to break an Empire! To free this, you people!
"We march to Exusia this day to take back that which is ours, to seize which has been built upon the bones of our ancestors! We shall break this, our fallen Ultra Director—and upon his grave—build a new Exusia, that we may construct a new Yermo!"
The Lykos crowd cheered, as did Yarvok. The massive Red Flad Lykos threw his arm into the air in the form of a fist as to cheer. Raskuyu clapped gently, and Kvar and Elisis stood still. Vulf folded her arms, nodding her head as she agreed with Machitis for what seemed to be the first time. It was indeed time to end this conflict, and free this universe from the misery it has forced others to experience. She looked back to a finished Dancing With Blades, seeing the vessel which would bring Unity the victory it so desperately needed.
It wasn't a time for celebration, but it was indeed nearing one.
The capitol of Yermo for the first time in months had been gifted with but a few clouds and the sunlight from above. The metal structures gleamed in the sunlight, reaching high into the sky as the streets below were covered in the shadows of these structures.
The streets and foundries below were busy constructing the weapons of war, and busy were the marching guards who were checking the progression of the construction of these weapons. But the largest building—the Superstructure or Supercapitol—stood in the centre of Yermo. It reached high into the sky, cutting through the clouds as the sun gleamed on the top of the structure—the silver top radiating to appear as that of a second sun.
From within the structure, the open window allowed the rising sun into the Council Chamber. The light spread across the dark interior of the chamber, as it danced across a holotable—a variety of Lykos in seats wrapping around the table. From the head of the table, the gravity throne was rotated around to face out of the window. The Ultra Director clasped his hands together as his fellow Directors conversed.
He had been uninterested in the conversation following the development speed of vehicular weapons, nor had he been too interested in the conversation about the development of new War Colleges in the land of the Second Paketo—the one he had terminated for the treachery and betrayal of one of his former Directors: Zilotis.
"Perseverance and honour shall bless all," spoke the Director of the Honour Guard, tapping the holotable as he turned his head towards the back of the chair for the Ultra Director.
"My Ultra Director? Shall you gift us with your input for the development of these War Colleges?"
Polemistis rotated his gravity throne to face the rest of his Directors, looking along the table as he reclined into his chair and sighed afterwards. "I imagine what could been said, has been said. We have our focus clear, and I believe that we shall be seeing a rising generation of warriors."
The Directors nodded their heads, in unanimous agreement with their Ultra Director. The chamber was silent, and the Director of Armour attempted to speak up before Polemistis motioned for him to be silent. The Director nodded his head, as the Directors returned their attention to Polemistis.
"May I ask," Polemistis started, "what news may we bring from the latest of our Timeless Siege? How happens the assault of our enemies capitol?"
The Director's chambers fell dead silent in response to the Ultra Director, no one willing as they usually are to answer his question. He raised his gauntleted fist to rest his head on, keeping his elbow locked to the armchair. Time dragged on as no one dared to respond, and this angered Polemistis. He dropped his hand to the armrest of his throne immediately, tapping his fingers across the control console of his throne.
"Shall no one tell me?" He asked again. The silence continued, and Polemistis shook his head in disappointment. He closed his eyes and shook with his temper, as he looked back up to his Directors and exclaimed: "So you shall fail me?!
"These years we have been playing a gambit! I have had to lead our Republic through the tragedy of it all, through our lost commanders and through their lost sisters and brethren! In order to drive this plague from our land, I sacrificed our wellbeing—and when I ask—when I command you to win me this one battle, the one battle we must succeed to finish this Siege... you fail me."
The Directors in the Council appeared to shrink, as they hid their faces from the wrath of their Ultra Director. Suddenly, the Director of Airships—the Flotskya Director—finally motioned, as she drew the attention of Polemistis to her. He knew well of Mayraka, the Flotskya Director and her loyalty to him. He motioned for her to speak, as she looked to the rest of the Council before continuing: "We have indeed failed, my Ultra Director. We managed to break their Line, and assault their capitol... but they managed to force us out, and for that I have failed you."
Polemistis looked at her cooly, as he sighed before he replied: "«Nada», you fail me not. For you can speak, and tell me of what I have asked."
A second hand made a motion, coming from the Director of Special Operations—the Verkhov Director. Polemistis looked towards him, and knew him to be Spetvedka. Spetvedka had been a good ally to Polemistis throughout the entirety of the Timeless Siege, open with council with him as he protected the Ultra Director even during Zilotis' betrayal. "My Ultra Director, I can second with what Mayraka has said. We find that they were weak, but they had been prepared for our assault. We managed to exhaust their industry and most of their armour, but with what they had left—they managed to force us out."
"My pilots managed to find that their is a counter-Republic organisation as well, the members of which are Lykos," Mayraka continued, pausing—as if reconsidering—before she continued: "A group known as the Red Flags of Soyedmevos."
"The Red Flags of Soyedmevos." Polemistis repeated, before he looked around to the rest of his Councillors. "Fantastic. And the rest of you stay silent."
He looked over the Council once more, before he applied his hand over his face as if to hide his disgust. "Then this, my Council, shall be the last time we meet."
"My Ultra Director!" One of the Directors exclaimed, trying to grab the attention of Polemistis before he continued, "our strategy was set for victory even if we were pushed out of their territory! We significantly weakened their force, and were ready for a second strike!"
"You left us vulnerable!" Polemistis hissed, slamming his fist on the armrest of his throne. "Even if we can produce another Fleet of Seas, it will be several months! Shall you use the hammer, when we have the precision of the blade?! You have failed your title, you have failed your Republic and most importantly: you have failed me!
"Now you shall pay for your failures, you shall redeem this doomed Republic with your deaths! You refused to admit your faults, with the exception of our Verkhov and Flotskya Directors! I forgive whom I may, but shall you conceal your failure, I shall have you pay dearly for it!"
Polemistis motioned to his Honour Guards, as they approached the Directors with the exception of Mayraka and Spetvedka, and seized them. A few struggled to be escorted outside of the chamber, as those who did indeed struggle were struck already with a plasma blade.
The Director of Tanks nearly fell to the floor dead, and the Director of Seas was significantly wounded in the fray. One Director of the Honour Guard tried to break free, believing his influence of the Honour Guards to be stronger than the Ultra Directors, but in the end was stabbed in the back by one of the Lykos he trained. Their blood spilled across the scene—those who struggled—as the blood boiled hot from touching the plasma of the Honour Guards blades.
"Take them to the world, my Honour Guards." Polemistis commanded, "make them examples of this Republic's failures."
Mayraka and Spetvedka sat in their seats still, petrified with what they saw. Mayraka looked up to Polemistis with specific horror, as he waved his hand—dismissing this. "We shall find stronger Directors, ones more capable than this lot of animals. You, Mayraka and Spetvedka shall remain. An example of why this Republic remains strong."
He rotated his chair around to face the outside world, the sun still gleaming inside the chamber of the Councillors. "You are dismissed to return to your duties." Polemistis replied, as he heard the shifting of the chairs and the steps that led them outside of the chamber. The grand doors behind him closed with a mighty sound, as the Ultra Director motioned for his Honour Guards to leave the chamber as well. The door closed a second time, followed by silence.
He slammed his armrest again, the console recognising this as the window before him was barricaded to relieve the room from the bright sunlight. The artificial lights turned on, as the Ultra Director removed his helmet and held it in his hands. He shook physically with pain, frustration, confusion and fear. Pain from the betrayal of his Directors.
How could they fail him? How could they keep this vital thing a secret from him? But not only the pain of this betrayal, but it was the pain of his betrayal. How could he fail them, his Republic? Was he not strong enough to lead? Was his power he once held starting to weaken?
Polemistis was told he would accomplish many great things from the prior Ultra Director, change the path of the way that they would function and how they would survive. A better future.
His frustration was understandable, but in his position of power he should have been capable of successfully ending this war. He was angered that his Directors were unable to channel his powers to defeat their enemy, to destroy and end this conflict for good. But he was also confused by this. Confused as how he could allow himself to do this great wrong.
The Ultra Director had just slaughtered nearly all of his Directors out of anger. He was confused how he could before this, allow for beings just like him to be broken down and turned into mindless machines.
The Khodka would never allow him to do this, it would never permit him to treat these beings like animals. But at the same time, the Khodka commanded for the destruction of all impure things in the sight of the Pantheon, it commanded him to win this great struggle. But what is this contradiction? This unearthly contradiction!
Polemistis shook as he considered all this things. The hurt. His frustration. His confusion. And for the first time in decades, in the quiet and loneliness of his chambers he wept.
He didn't know what was to follow. And it made him afraid.
From the Heavens to the Earth
The dark chambers which lingered within the husk of the metal ship, albeit large enough to allow larger beings passage through them, added a sense of confinement which hadn't been so well experienced by Vulf. Of course the Toa of Psionics had known dark chambers before, but the experience of the rolling oceans which the vessel traveled upon brought a great uneasiness on her. The artificial light powered by plasma ran along the ceiling; but either due to disrepair or intentional disruption, the light was incredibly dim.
It was as if a giant metal rahi had swallowed her and the rest of her team, dragging her along back to the home of which it was spawned. She kept sitting on the metal bench provided for her and her team in the chamber. They had tried to get rest before the operation officially began, but from the running minds of her team—Vulf understood that they hadn't been able to rest completely. Yarvok was the closest to being asleep, but even then it seemed he had one eye still opened—piercing into the darkness for any offending person or thing.
A bright beam of light appeared within the palm of Raskuyu's hand, as she held up what was an orb: bright enough to illuminate the entirety of the chamber. Vulf looked with awe towards the light, seeing that Raskuyu had been making progress in successfully controlling and forming a small amount of light. She felt the need to compliment the young Toa of Light, "You are learning to control your element well, Raskuyu. Impressive that you can form that, a little light."
The Toa of Light looked up, encouraged by what Vulf had said. She continued to sustain the energy required for keeping the orb alit, before she turned to the Toa of Psionics and replied: "Thank you, Vulf. I have always been able to create flashes of light, but I have never been able to shape these until recently."
She turned her head, before looking back to Vulf to ask a question: "How long did it take you to shape your Psionic energy?"
Vulf smiled, before extending her gauntlets out for Raskuyu to see, the young Toa of Light eagerly examining the fine details of the shaped metal gloves. Not finding an exact answer to her question, Raskuyu reached out with one hand to feel the gauntlet with her hand. She brushed gently over the fine details, before raising her eyes towards Vulf again, who had prepared an answer for her question.
"Psionic energy isn't usually formable into anything particularly tangible, Raskuyu. You see these gauntlets? They allow me to shape this energy through the powers that they contain. A sort of enhancement that can allow the wearer to shape their element into a shield or a dagger— depending on what the wearer desires."
"So can it manipulate light?" Raskuyu asked in a sort of excitement. Vulf laughed shortly, before replying: "It can indeed. But it works as a sort of extension of your own abilities, meaning that in order to use them effectively—you must be experienced with your element?"
"O." Raskuyu replied, as she released her hold on Vulf's gauntlets. Still, the young Toa of Light seemed fixated on the devices—and Vulf could tell that she had been considering what she could be capable of if she could use the gauntlets.
Vulf lowered her eyes as she thought about this as well, before she quickly covered her emotions by looking over the rest of her team. The Toa of Psionics had wanted it to be a possibility that Raskuyu could be considered for enlistment by the Agency of the Olmak. The organisation could always use someone of her power in its ranks, but then again it took a variety of factors to consider her for recruitment.
Vulf knew of a couple: such as that if the recruit hadn't been native to the Vudrai alternate universe, they had to make sure there wasn't any other alternate versions of the recruit—they couldn't run the risk of having an Agent encounter themselves in another universe. The agents were also sworn to secrecy, and had to be willing to keep the Agency a secret and leave a universe after their mission was complete, even if they were to be recognised for their success.
As the Toa of Psonics was considering these things, Raskuyu had returned to her orb of light. Looking towards Elisis, Vulf found that the Ga-Matoran was busy looking over a few paper-based records. She knew that Elisis was uncomfortable heading to Exusia, even if it meant the end of the war. Vulf could tell that even though the Ga-Matoran was familiar with Yarvok and Kvar, it didn't exactly mean that she trusted them. Vulf understood the way that Elisis felt about the Lykos, but it was disheartening to know that she distrusted her closest allies. And even for being a Ga-Matoran, Elisis was nervous with being on a ship over the sea—especially one that had been recently repaired.
Looking towards Kvar, Vulf found that he was in his typical way of being overly reactive of current situations if it meant him running the risk of slightly being discomfortable. He was upset that his weapon had been stripped, while Yarvok got to keep his heavy plasma rifle. Kvar's eyes were scanning over the rest of the team, searching for anything that could be of particular interest to him. Finding nothing, the Lykos growled as he folded his arms and turned away from the rest of the group. Vulf shook her head, as the eyes of the Lykos turned to her with a sharp cunning.
Finally, Vulf focused on Yarvok—who kept his arms folded as he leaned into the metal bench. He seemed to be at peace with where he was, satisfied in the way that the ship had been swaying in the sea. It was as if he had been at home. Elisis looked towards the peaceful Yarvok, staring at him with a sense of awe before she turned towards Vulf and spoke softly: "I don't understand how our deckhand here can stand this ship."
Yarvok turned his head towards Elisis, an odd expression on his face as he grunted in a dismissive fashion before he tried closing his eyes. About to say something, to the surprise of all inside the chamber—an alarm sounded. Yarvok was the first to snap to attention, as he stood up tall. Raskuyu stood up next: followed by Vulf, Elisis and finally Kvar.
"This sound is that of a preparation alarm!" Yarvok exclaimed, opening the hatch to the chamber as he turned his head back to explain: "We are summoned to participate in that of a planning meeting!"
Vulf looked around as the Red Flag Lykos lead them into the hallway of the ship, as she then told him: "Lead the way, Yarvok. I imagine you would know this ship much better than me."
Yarvok nodded his head quickly, jogging through the maze-like hallways through to where the meeting chamber was meant to be. Unless Vulf was a Toa of Psionics, she would have been lost through the labyrinth that was the Lykos ship. Other mixed groups of races moved through the hallways as well, typically lead by one of the Lykos moving through the hallways.
Slowly, the group was lead into the planning room by Yarvok—who pushed through a few other beings to make way so that he and the team could hear what was going on. Vulf became instantly familiar with a room that she was in, thinking of it as she has a sort of lecture theatre that was prominent throughout her earlier years as a student. Her eyes fell instantly down towards the centre of the room, as the meeting was being headed by the Warmaster himself.
His eyes slowly scanned the rows of warriors which had been filed to attend the preparation meeting for the assault on Yermo. As one one the last beings filled into the room, Machitis slowly began to speak:
"«Ollah», my comrades. As we head to Yermo this day, we take our first steps into breaking the treacherous Republic which has been so active in destroying all of which we have prospered. We were enemies, blades at each other’s throats, defending what we believed to be the most prosperous ideals. But we have now been bonded together from the abuse of this, our Republic. Should we end this war, we shall have to stand together for at least these following moments. We fight for the survival of our kins, our Paketos—and most importantly—our right to govern ourselves as we should always be able to!"
A small applause came from the crowd, Vulf looking around to see most Lykos clapping in unison. A few claps came from other individuals from separate races, Vulf finding that Raskuyu was applauding as well, but otherwise the other races seemed to remain silent.
"Let us begin then! Assaulting Exusia is no easy task, and this is especially true for its capitol: Yermo. Their defence is strong, and our offence is especially limited considering our most recent events. But the Republic has its own cracks that we must be sure to exploit. Firstly, their navy shall have shallowed in terms of their usual firepower.
"They will be the first response force to our opposition, and will try to target us as soon as we enter their waters. The Republic dedicates a small number of ships to Yermo specifically, but otherwise the rest of their defensive navy will be running patrol around the island. We shall take our chances when this patrol is on the other side of Exusia."
Machitis raised his hand, activating a projected hologram of the island of Exusia as small triangles rotated around them. Vulf marvelled of the size of the island—wondering what it would look like, especially since the Lykos were more technologically advanced than most, if not all other races. He motioned towards the triangles rotating around it, making it clear that these were the patrol ships.
"Their fleet has been significantly reduced since the Siege of Metru Nui, meaning their typical defence size shall be much smaller. When we engage them, a certain number of things must happen. When in engagement, we must get the Dancing With Blades as close as possible in order to maximise our damage output. Our artillery and other heavy weapons will have to be used to engage and eliminate our enemies, so getting as close as possible must be a priority for the fleet. The rest of the Unity ships will need to engage in combat with the defence fleet to reduce the possibility that the enemy will target only the Dancing With Blades.
"As we engage the defence fleet, we must have unarmed cargo ships disengage to land our troops into the Yermo harbours."
A hand shot up, as a Toa of Fire questioned: "Why unarmed? Would that not increase the chances of us being engaged and destroyed?"
"Not so," Machitis replied, "it is against a Lykos' honour to kill those who are unarmed. Instead, they will hope that the armoured harbour will keep you out. Which it will not. Airships will need to be used to destroy the blockades which defend each harbour from being docked by undesirable ships. The goals of these airships will be as mentioned before, and to try to close ground towards the Anti-Aircraft turrets which will be active to defend the Supercapitol.
"We must be cautious that these airships are not destroyed, nor are they engaged by the Fleet of Skies, but we need to open up those harbours for our landing crew. We must then fight for every street in Yermo, and push our enemy back to the point of their destruction. We must target foundries that will mass-produce heavy armour in attempt to prevent our assault. Either claim them or destroy them, but once on the ground: we must destroy the AA defending the Supercapitol. Our only way of getting in will be through their hangar.
"Once we get inside their hangar, then our victory is nearly guaranteed. Although we must be cautious of the Honour Guards, we must still push through to the Ultra Director. When we find Polemistis, he shall become the priority target. Eliminate him no matter the cost, only then is our victory guaranteed. The damn Republic will be crippled by the loss of their holy Ultra Director, and will so open up negotiations or armistice for us. And peace, we shall know once more!
"We are on the brink of a new Era, a new Age my brothers and sisters! And shall we lead through the Seventeenth Age of Peace, allowed by the shed blood and broken bones of our fallen Ultra Director!"
With these words, all the races united in either a cheer or an applause. The Warmaster smiled as the crowd which gathered for his words accepted his plan to take back Yermo from the Republic. Vulf recognised he was still more interested in their use as foot soldiers for his plot, interested in their service to help him end this conflict to reclaim the remnants of the Lykos Republic to be under his servitude. She narrowed her brow as Machitis drew the applause to a close, raising his hand slightly to bring silence around the chamber once more.
"We shall reach Yermo in seventeen more cycles." Machitis finally spoke, "prepare yourselves for combat and understand your objectives. We only have one time to make this, our conflict end for us and not for the Republic. Luck is with you, Warriors of the Unity and the Red Flags. Let is bend your time and enhance these our powers!
"For we seek to do what is for all."
Dancing With Blades approaching the Exusian shore...
Allowed outside on the deck, Vulf leaned against the railings which prevented the crew aboard to be tossed off into the cold and stormy sea below. She looked out into the open sea, the silver waves becoming increasingly black as the clouds above prevented much light to ever escape from the sun legions above. A slight drizzle had begun, washing away into the sea and bouncing along the metal exterior of the Dancing With Blades and the several wooden-steel clads which followed the Lykos ships. She ignored as the exhaust from several ports along the ship puffed black smoke into the sky, trying to ignore the rugged movement of the recently restored Lykos ship.
The Toa of Psionics had imagined that it would be cleaner in movement like most other Lykos ships, cutting through the untamed waves of the ocean with little difficulty. But the Flagship seemed to trudge along with much effort, unsure about the path it was following along to its destination. "This our rain means good passage from our land, to that is my homeland." A voice spoke from behind Vulf, as she turned her head back towards whoever just spoke: spotting him out to be Yarvok.
"Usually bad weather while sailing means that it is a bad passage, Yarvok." Vulf spoke, quickly reconsidering another option: "Why does it mean safe passage for you?"
"As the sky is filled with that element of water, and below our ship is that of element... then the tides shall bring a blessing into making our passage into thar which is quick. The waves, they push us to our destination."
"Typically, (at least in the Matoran culture) rain and storms would mean increased possibility of capsizing the ship."
"Capsize?" Yarvok asked, his eyes drifting over towards Vulf in interest: "What should that word mean?"
"It would mean sink, Yarvok. Flipped over due to storms."
"Impossible! Our ships shall only sink once permitted by through honourable combat!" Yarvok exclaimed, looking at the waves with a hint of suspicion. Vulf smiled as the Lykos remained defiant to this idea, as she replied: "Possibly, that is the only way then."
Yarvok folded his arms as he looked over the side of the ship as he then sighed, quietly changing the subject: "I was told that this our next time that we should arrive to this, my Yermo shall be when my kin shall have won the war. Now, we head to it to rage this our war."
Vulf turned her head to look at Yarvok again, quietly examining his features as she replied: "Is this not winning the war? We are preventing the Lykos from exterminating everything we shall ever know."
"Shall it be? We ask that this ourselves, a war is won by extermination of either force on oppositions sides. I made an oath to protect this my land, no matter which consequence to my raged war shall make."
"Is this not protecting your land?"
Frustrated, Yarvok spoke in his own tongue—an attempt it seemed to make things clearer for Vulf: "Let no unclean thing taint this our land."
Vulf listened to these chilling words, as she then tried to understand what Yarvok had said: "You can't allow us, to step foot on your homeland then."
«Aj,» Yarvok replied silently. "It is a grand sin for us to allow this our opposition on our land. The Khodka forbids this, lest they be compliant to our faith."
Vulf closed her eyes as she understood what her Lykos comrade had said, her hand tightly squeezing the railing which she had been leaning upon for quite some time. She looked up towards Yarvok after a time: "So then, it is heresy for you to let us step foot on your land?"
"Indeed, my Toa of Psionics." Yarvok replied, "I understand that this is our chance of which we shall end this bloody conflict. But understand this, this has now become very much so a war of defending ideals. Republic, and even Red Flags shall protect the one principle we share to protect—even if we have been separated by other ideals. But this battle? This unruly battle? Shall be pitted even against you, Vulf. And this you must understand."
The Toa of Psionics remained silent as Yarvok said these things, closing her eyes as the Lykos turned away and headed back to his station. She looked up as she considered the things that Yarvok had to say about the situation. Vulf understood that she was running a risk by being a part of this operation, a larged risk than she bargained for. The most zealous of Lykos would turn on her, even if they were her allies: the Red Flags. She hoped that Raskuyu and Elisis would understand this as well, because Vulf couldn't imagine the tragedy of either being killed by an ally they should be able to trust.
Vulf looked up to the horizon again, spotting for the first time in some while an island. Squinting, Vulf found that several beams were standing tall from further into the island. It didn't take her long to realise what this island was: it was Exusia, the Lykos homeland. Along the railing, a cry from one of the many Lykos aboard the ship alerted the rest of the hands aboard: "Lo! Exusia lay directly ahead of this our ship! Alert our Warmaster!"
Vulf took her hands off the railing as the rest of the hands aboard the ship were drawn to their stations, preparing the many Lykos plasma cannons aboard the ship. The Toa of Psionics nearly jumped as the large barrel of one of the artillery cannons lifted into a prepared position, as a horn was sounded to notify the rest of the Unity Fleet to prepare for battle.
Raskuyu stepped slowly behind Vulf, placing her hand on the Toa of Psionics shoulder. "It is time, Vulf." She softly spoke, "we will be within proximity of Yermo at any time now."
"Indeed," Vulf replied as she looked back into the eyes of Raskuyu, "and that makes me a little more nervous."
Raskuyu nodded her head, as she then looked back towards the crimson and gold clad Machitis' armour as it stepped on the deck of the ship. He looked towards a rough five objects in the water around the shore of Yermo, as these objects instantly took a strong formation against the approaching Unity Fleet. His eyes scanned cunningly over the shapes of the ships in this formation, a smile approaching on his face. One of his Harbingers kept a spyglass in her possession, looking over the ships as she turned back towards the Warmaster to report: "My Warmaster, the Fleet of Exusian Defence are formed against us and on approach! Standard response, a double-fronted assault, typical armaments and positioning!"
"And their ships?" Machitis clicked in the Lykos tongue, quietly considering the details shared with him.
"Three destroyers vessels, Ranka-class! Followed by two sloops, light armament!"
Machitis laughed in a mocking manner, putting his hands together as he turned back to his Harbingers. "Then it shall be an easy fight! Order the Unity Fleet to prepare a pushing front, we will make their line an elastic front—break it apart. Prepare the cargo ships and the airships! If we do so too late, we give them a sudden advantage!"
«Aj,» the Harbinger spoke as she placed her hand over her heart, "May the battle be swift!"
Yarvok jogged over to Vulf and Raskuyu, followed by Elisis and Kvar as the team looked at each other—turning back to the Exusian Fleet. Looking back towards their mode of transportation, the group found a slim Lykos Airship prepared for their use. Not very heavy in armament, (despite being the equivalent of a floating tank) Yarvok turned back towards the group as he spoke silently, "Shall it fly well? So shall I do my part, forward! Team, my kin of young blood—now is the time to change our doomed fate. Join me then, let us defeat this our fate!"
"Well said, Lykos brother," Raskuyu said as she patted his arm, jogging towards the light airship, "let us decide our future!"
"Can you even pilot this our aircraft?" Kvar asked, seemingly concerned about his own safety as he fell behind the rest of the group.
«Aj,» Yarvok replied, "therefore I have piloted many of this our ship before!"
"Just don't do anything stupid," Elisis stated as she found herself to the ship first, "please?"
Yarvok smiled as he stepped inside the vehicle, climbing into the pilot seat as he looked back towards the small Ga-Matoran: "I shall permit myself to try so my best!"
Machitis stepped inside the control bridge of the Dancing With Blades, taking a seat in the gravity throne that had been prepared for him as his Harbingers prepared the flow of information for their Warmaster. The screens inside the ship glowed brightly, scrolling with Lykos text as the Harbingers called out the status of the ship for Machitis.
"Main sails are online!" Called a Harbinger, followed by another: "Weapons are heated and ready for firing!"
"Communications are operational!" A third spoke, as a forth prepared to speak: "Hull integrity is steady."
"Then we are good," Machitis replied, smiling as he placed his hands together. Looking through the main display, the Warmaster watched as the Exusian Fleet moved into line against the Unity Fleet, which stood its position in the ocean. Two horns were sounded from the Exusian Fleet, a short tone followed by a long, another two short horns playing as Machitis quickly translated the meaning. It stood for PYR, an abbreviation for the term: Prepare Your Retreat!
"Prepare your retreat!" The Communications Harbinger called out, looking over his shoulder towards the Warmaster. "How shall we respond?"
"Shall our fleet be in position?" Machitis replied, looking at the Fleet Organisation Harbinger who looked over her shoulder and replied: "Indeed, my Warmaster. They wait for your word!"
Machitis laughed coldly, as he turned towards his Communications Harbinger as he prepared his response. The thrill of naval combat revived his being, it seemed. Challenging enemy positions, breaking otherwise unbreakable lines and eliminating the head of the Fleet's serpents. It was a game of shmakha, and the pawns were in his hands.
"We sound them war, my Communications Harbinger. Weapons! Lo, prepare the first barrage to the first of their fleet, cut their damned head off and let them scatter!"
"You word, my Warmaster!" The Communication and Weapons Harbingers replied in unison, placing their fists over their hearts as they punched in their commands. One short, long and then short horn sounded from the Unity fleet. Three short bursts sounded then, followed by two short horns. WSR. We Shan't Retreat. Machitis smiled, reclining in his chair.
Following the bursts from the Unity fleet, Vulf felt a wrenching feeling in her stomach as the airship she was in lifted up nearly immediately; Yarvok exclaiming from within the pilot’s chamber with a sense of pride. Kvar grunted, as Elisis closed her eyes. Raskuyu stayed the calmest of the entire team, looking outside the port side of the airship towards the outside world. Vulf looked over as well, looking as green plasma boiled from nearly all cannons on the Dancing With Blades. They aimed directly at the enemy fleet, as horns from the head Destroyer tried to sound what seemed to be one more warning.
The response couldn't even finish as the Destroyer was struck from nearly all angles by the Dancing With Blades. The hull exploded in a fume of energy, as the ship was crushed by the pressure and the heat experienced outside and within the ship. It could barely handle a single barrage from the Flagship, as Vulf watched terrifyingly as the ship slowly pulled under the seas. It still glowed brightly, even when consumed by the dark sea below it. The airship lurched forward as Yarvok accelerated with it, the majority of the team watching through the sides of the ship as the battle below soon disappeared.
Vulf closed her eyes, praying that her and her team would manage to survive the battle. She was frightened with the possibility that the Anti-Air would evaporate their airship in a single shot, as the Dancing With Blades just did with the destroyer. The vessel sailed through the air as Yarvok checked and double-checked the plot correction of the vehicle. The sea soon parted as the harbour below became very clear, the large barricades slowly closing as a loud alarm was raised around the port. Yarvok growled, as he adjusted the pitch of the aircraft as he targeted the blockade.
Other airships moved slowly into position, charging their cannons as they prepared to destroy the harbour gates. The black and silver metal shined as the green light reflected off the barricade. Shots from Lykos aboard the harbour attempted to hit the ships with their rifles, but nothing affected the metal hull of the airships. Strapped into her harness, Vulf tried to ignore the swaying movements of the airship as Yarvok positioned it for the shot.
"Get me killed and mark my tongue, Yarvok—you shall see not of the Road of Life!" Kvar exclaimed, holding tightly on his seats belt system. Yarvok laughed in reply: "Nay, I will be ascended above it!"
Vulf felt as a hand felt its way to hers, as she opened her eyes to look over to Raskuyu as she tightened her grasp on Vulf's hand. Somehow, this had begun to calm the Toa of Psionics nerves. Raskuyu looked towards Vulf, with a sense of peace as she helped comfort the Toa of Plasma. Vulf was beginning to wonder if this was actually an effect of her Avohkii, or if it was natural from her good will.
"Permit me to destroy the harbour!" Yarvok cried as he fired the main cannons from the front of the ship. The beams of plasma splashed and detonated across the gates to the harbour. Without the combined efforts of the several airships, it would seem as if it would take several hours to successfully break it. Thinking that the operation had been progressing according to plan, Vulf was slowly easing back into being confident in the operation.
She allowed herself to examine the cityscape of the Lykos capitol, as she was instantly in awe over its design. The structures over the entirety of Yermo were clean in shape, tall and imposing structures which littered the horizon. It was as if a city was built on top of another city, as Vulf noted several levels of ground formed from the metal and stone. But the air around the city was dirty, blackened through the centuries of using plasma as the main element to power the entirety of the capitol. But she noticed one building in particular, standing legions above the rest as it cut through the the stormy clouds entirely.
Elisis looked towards the structure as well, seemingly familiar with the tall and imposing shape as she turned to Vulf and Raskuyu. "Reminds me of a picture a friend had shown me. That is the Supercapitol, the home of the Ultra Director. Machitis wants us to cut through the city to get there."
Raskuyu looked on with interest and awe, her eyes scanning over the entirety of the capitol. It seems as if she was about to say something, before there was a loud boom that sounded in the harbour below. Yarvok exclaimed in triumph as he tried to turn the ship towards the the capitol as he hit forward on the thrust.
Raskuyu breathed in, and released it as if she was relieving herself from tension. About to continue, there was another explosion right off the starboard of the aircraft. Looking around to the source of the explosion. Kvar's eyes widened as he realised that the explosion belonged to one of the Red Flag ships. "Lo! They have surface-to-air weapons! Yarvok, I bid you move!" He cried, as he tightened his straps securing him to his seat.
Vulf tightened her grasp on Raskuyu's hand, as the Toa of Light tightened her grasp in return. She seemingly ignored Vulf's gauntlets, as she closed her eyes in hopes that they wouldn't be targeted. Elisis held on tighter to her harness, as Raskuyu also placed her hand over the Ga-Matoran's in an attempt to comfort her. Yarvok suddenly pulled a hard right, as suddenly a plasma round detonated right off the left wing's engine. The craft entered a deadly spin, as Yarvok swore something in his own language.
Kvar began to mutter things in Lykos as well, as the ship took a steep dive towards the ground below. "Lucky shot!" Yarvok attempted to explain, as he tried to straighten out the vehicle. The engine on the left side failed, as the vessel suddenly dipped down on the left side. Vulf's breathing became more rapid, as the fatal failure warning started to flash and sound. To Yarvok's credit as a pilot, he managed to somewhat straighten out the aircraft.
But the craft still traveled at dangerous speeds towards the streets of Yermo below, and without the power of the left engine—it would seem impossible to slow down the speed of the Lykos aircraft. Yarvok pulled up on the joystick, lifting the nose of the craft as he attempted to focus on landing on the tail instead. But the vessel only started entering a spin once more, as the Lykos then breathed in as he started counting down to when the vessel would crash.
Ten seconds... The Lykos counted, as he took the joystick in his possession once more, preparing to correct the course.
Seven seconds... Yarvok slightly adjusted the vessels pitch as he turned the vessel towards an up-left.
Three seconds... As he tightened his grasp on the joystick.
Two seconds... Yarvok drew in one final breath as he quickly rotated the right engine downwards, lifting the vessel: forcing the body up as the tail dropped towards the ground and impacted.
One second... and the impact happened, the tail snapping off the rest of the aircraft as the body slammed the tip forward. The aircraft entered a roll, the team losing their sense of up and down as a fire sprouted from the right engine as it detonated. Vulf was tossed around several times, before her vision began to fade into a chilling black.
And her mind entered a different place.
The Supercapitol, Yermo...
The chamber within the Supercapitol remained darkened, as the scene from a few rotations earlier was cleaned from the blood stains and burns. The table was removed from the room, and instead there was a velvet carpet was lain out leading out to the Ultra Director. Two lines of Honour Guards lined the chamber, as two stood by the side of Polemistis. Resting in his gravity throne, the Ultra Director held in his hand a metal chalice with a drink of Exusian Kvass as he sipped from it lightly. He rubbed his face with his free hand, trying to work off his emotions that had been eating at his own being since the day he ordered a purge of nearly the entirety of his Directors Council.
A holographic projection opened up several passages of the Scrolls of Polkis, having over the last couple of days having been reading them to try to find an answer to the contradictions of the Khodka. But there were only two responses: defend at all costs, and cherish all life, no matter its standing. He read all the passages he knew of in both subjects, but he found no direct answer for these contradictions. He wanted to lash out curse everything the Khodka stood for, but he couldn't within the presence of his Honour Guards.
His expression contorted into something Polemistis couldn't explain, as he downed the rest of his Kvass and slammed the cup down on the left armrest. He put his hands together as he covered this expression, trying to force himself to wear another face in attempt to appear stern and powerful. He was the Ultra Director, and the Republic expected these qualities from him. But he couldn't feel these now, after what he had recently done.
Those Directors did not deserve to perish! A side of Polemistis mind told him, as it tried to drive this thought deeper: they had a strategy even if they failed! Should they be punished for allowing themselves to win, whether they succeeded or lost?
These damning questions! The Ultra Director looked up towards the Scolls of Polkis as he waved the projection away. He turned his throne to look towards the closed windows, as he tapped the command which allowed them to open. The armour slowly whirred, as a servant approached his throne. Polemistis heard her light steps, as he turned his head to examine the servant.
She didn't wear any of the warrior armour that most Lykos was required to wear, instead she had on a detailed tunic. She appeared to be young, and she had likely been connected to the higher family of a Paketo, given the golden weave in her dress."My holiest Ultra Director," she asked, falling to a knee in order to address the leader of the Republic. "Shall I bring you more kvass?"
«Nada,» Polemistis replied as he turned his throne around to face the servant. He looked over her posture, seemingly finding it odd that she should now be bowing before him. He could no longer find himself worthy to be bowed before, as he closed his eyes and waved the servant to stand.
She looked up at him, puzzled as she slowly rose to her feet. She stood tall, but tried to avoid the gaze of Polemistis. He could never stand this behaviour, he could never stand how people subjected themselves to him. But neither could he stand the possibility of someone being equal to or greater to him, due to his position of the Ultra Director.
What is this cruel position he is in? Where did he belong? And why? O why should he be trusted as an Ultra Director or even a leader for this sake!
He tried to forsake these thoughts, but he found himself staring now at this his servant. He blurted out his question, seemingly giving in to his thoughts: "What is my place?"
The servant looked uncomfortable, as she looked away from Polemistis. She looked scared, as if the Honour Guards would act against her if she spoke whatsoever. But she tried to ask, "I apologise for my lacking, but what do you mean my holiest Ultra Director?"
Polemistis closed his eyes, knowing that he must continue with the conversation. He let his thoughts take control, as he slowly explained: "It is not your fault, my servant—rather mine. Where do I stand on this earth? And where do I stand in our kin?"
"You are faultless, my Ultra Director!" She replied almost instantly, before continuing: "And you stand over all the earth and our kin, there shall be none greater until the next shall be blessed by you!"
"Answer me, do you truly believe this?"
This question! What is he saying? Polemistis looked around the rest of the room, feeling as if something was haunting him and prodding at his being and forcing him to confess a sin he knew not of.
The servant jumped, stuttering in her response: "«A-aj»! I should imagine none greater than you, my holiest Ultra Director!"
Polemistis became angered with himself, angered that he should allow himself to frighten someone below him. He was meant to be a beacon to those below them, showing them the path that they must follow. But what had be become now? A tyrant?!
"Fear me not I bid thee!" Polemistis cried out, "Shall everyone that serves me be afraid of me? Then so, shall they spill my blood and find someone more fit to lead that is more reasonable than I!"
The servant looked oddly over the Ultra Director, unsure of his behaviour—but all she could feel for him was pity. She watched as he empowered himself not to weep, as he placed his hand across his face to hide his emotions. "Tell me, what shall your name be?"
The servant shifted her feet, as she looked back up towards the Ultra Director: "My name chosen is Paladis, my holiest Ultra Director."
"Paladis," Polemistis repeated as he lowered his hand to look over the servant once more. He motioned for her to approach him, as Paladis looked one with a sense of confusion and a hint of fear. Honour Guards eyed her with a hint of suspicion, as she approached the gravity throne and kneeled just before it. Polemistis shook his head, as he motioned for her to stand
Paladis stood up near instantaneously, allowing Polemistis to look into her eyes as he finally asked: “Have I failed, Paladis? My reign has seen nothing but utter destruction, everywhere I search in the Scolls of Polkis I see that this is failure.”
“But the destruction of the impure—” Paladis tried to say before being interrupted by Polemistis, “Is justified by them! What does this mean, Paladis? We are taught to purify that which is unclean, even if they are resistant! Why then, should destruction be justified?”
Paladis fell silent, as she looked down towards Polemistis. Incapable of answering this question as she looked towards the chalice which had been resting on his armrest until this moment. Polemistis reached out to grab her wrist, as the servant pulled away and looked towards the Ultra Director. Paladis looked into the Ultra Director’s eyes with a sense of shame for what she did—as she then permitted him to touch her, scared that the Honour Guards would execute her otherwise.
Polemistis couldn’t permit himself to do so anymore, as he slowly spoke: “So I do indeed make you afraid. I know not of my people any longer! You are permitted to leave, Paladis. But I bid that you answer me my question before thou leave. And speak true, as you shall offend me not."
Paladis sighed, as she looked back towards Polemistis: “My holiest Ultra Director. I believed when you declared war, that you would have brought back our Pantheon as was prophesied in the Khodka. I thought you could have been the next Grand Prodak that Polkis had been. But when you purged the Second Paketo, and now the Director’s Council… I believe, my holiest Ultra Director that the time has come for a new age. To end this conflict which had claimed so many lives because of it. I trust you, my Ultra Director to do the right thing.”
Polemistis nodded his head, clenching his fist as he listened to what Paladis had to say. "Then so, you are dismissed my servant. I bid thee thanks for what you have shared with me."
Paladis bowed, holding her fist above her heart as she left the chambers. As she moved through the doors, the golden-clad being of a Commander walked down the line of carpet that led up to the Ultra Director. He fell to his knees, bowing before Polemistis as the elder Lykos placed his fist below his heart. This allowed the golden clad Lykos to rise.
Polemistis was the first to speak, giving the order as Polemistis saw the doors behind Paladis close. "What shall you report to me, my Commander?"
"My holiest Ultra Director, the Republic grows restless from the purge of these cowardly Directors! They have entered in a stage of revolt, and plan to take thy power by force lest you do as they demand!" The Commander spoke.
"So it is true," Polemistis muttered to himself quietly before he returned his attention to the Commander. "Shall this be? The people tire of my lead!"
«Aj, niem Ultra Director!» the Commander replied, as he bowed his head even lower. Polemistis nodded his head, clenching his fist even tighter as he looked up towards the Commander with a scowl of anger marking his expression: "Then assemble the Forged, I shall no longer tolerate this betrayal! Extinguish this revolution by force if necessary—"
The Commander nodded his head, shaking before he looked back up to add a second matter to the discussion: "Even wise words, my Ultra Director... but I fear that is not all!"
Polemistis looked on, "What so?"
"Warnings from the Fleet of Exusian Defence have alerted us that they are being engaged by a heretic fleet, comprised of this Unity and the Red Flags of Soyedmevos. They have begun an assault on our harbour, opening us to amphibious engagement." The Commander reported, as he lowered his head even more.
Polemistis struck his armrest as he swore in his tongue, shaking with fury as he then considered that maybe he was justified in the purging of his nearly all of the Director's Council. "Even so... we must prepare for what may be our end."
The Commander looked up, confused by this statement as the Ultra Director continued. Polemistis thought back to what Paladis had said about considering the start of a new and prosperous age, as he quietly looked down to the Commander. "Prepare us for battle. Find me my servant, Paladis. She is wise, and must be considered for a position better than she is. I thank thee, my Commander. And please, permit yourself to do this one final thing for me."
"Understood, my Ultra Director." The Commander spoke with a fist over his heart as Polemistis continued: "I have a plan for this our future. For the preservation of the Republic."
"For the preservation of the Republic." The Commander seconded, as he turned to leave the chambers.
Polemistis watched as the doors closed for a second time, and slowly he turned back to the window to look outside the Supercapitol: down towards the what should have been busy streets below. Instead, he saw the beginnings of a fire starting in the streets. And when he looked out into the ocean, he saw the incoming Fleet. He closed his eyes as he considered what Paladis had said.
He saw no way out of the struggle he was pitted against. The fall of his choices indeed brought serious consequences of what he had done. Why should he have done these cruel things? Should he be as the forth Ultra Director, slaying the slightest opposition in hopes of bringing back the Pantheon by cleaning the lands as Polemistis had hoped with destroying the races northward? What should he ever be remembered for?
This cruel, cruel fate! It permitted him no options, and only allowed him the choices that would mean accomplishing the only things which would result in the same end as the others! His mistakes had broken the Republic, the choices he had made to make a better future had broken his rule and made those that should have trusted him begin to doubt, and even call for his blood!
Should one even in the power to do so decide the fate of an entire Universe? Polemistis didn't even know if the his power and choices should ever be more valued than the will and strength of the people!
And then, he understood. He understood what Paladis had meant. He understood what, and how the beginning of this new age should begin. The cleverness behind it all!
And so, he closed his eyes. And plotted his solution.
The Foundaries, Yermo...
The metal streets which had stacked up high within the capitol continued to be pounded upon by a heavy rain. Thunder happened in the dark sky above, the lighting which happened in the clouds burning as bright as the fires in the streets below. The crashed Lykos airship was smoking from the damage that had been caused by the crash, the fire no longer blazing after having been extinguished by the rain. Vulf could hear the rain, but she couldn't feel it.
What she could feel was her aching body, the sore muscles and the feeling of blood. But how could she not feel the rain, if it was pouring so actively? Vulf slowly opened her heavy eyes, an effort in itself to even do that as she found that she was placed in a recovery position underneath a shelter of sorts.
Looking around the scene, the Toa of Psionics found her two Lykos comrades fishing through the wreckage of the airship for whatever useful materials there were left. She watched as the only red-clad Lykos pulled a long and blocky object from the wreckage, priming the device as it glowed with a blue energy. The black-clad rummaged through the rest of the wreckage, pulling out what appeared to be a hard-cased package as he set off towards the shelter.
Vulf tried to push herself off the ground, as she felt a set of familiar hands help her to a sit. Looking up, Vulf saw that Raskuyu was helping her up slowly. The Toa of Light was gentle as she helped Vulf rest against the metal wall of the structure that they were using as shelter. "Careful," Raskuyu spoke softly: "how do you feel? Anything feel misplaced, Vulf?"
"I feel sore all over, but I think I can move." Vulf replied, grinding her teeth as she stretched her legs and the arms. They hurt all over, as the Agent grunted in a form of thankfulness. Feeling terrible after a crash was usually a good sign, and best of all: she could work her limbs fine.
"That's good, Vulf." Raskuyu replied, watching as Vulf stretched. "Anything hurt on the inside? Does it feel as if something is torn?"
"No, no... I think I'm fine, Raskuyu." Vulf answered, as she tried to push up and stand. Raskuyu grabbed her by the waist, supporting the Toa of Psionics as she tried to stand. Once on her feet, Vulf started to stumble—but Raskuyu was able to help her stay standing. "You sure?"
"Yes," Vulf breathed painfully, "thank you Raskuyu. I think I can stand now."
Raskuyu moved her arms smoothly up towards Vulf's shoulders, helping her stand there as she soon released her grasp entirely. The Toa of Psionics took her first few steps carefully, fully stretching her legs as she did. It was painful, one of the most painful feelings she ever had. She looked over her Olmak-infused Armour, finding several more dents, scratches and scuffs over the surface of the golden armour. She found that her skin over under the set of the Olmak-infused and her Adaptive armour was bruised and broken in several places, but it seemed as if the bleeding wounds had been clogged and started to repair themselves.
Vulf signed, but smiled as she understood that she could survive this crash. The Agency, especially the engineering division of the the Agency wouldn't be to happy with what happened with one of their most advanced sets of armour. But hopefully they would understand, considering it had been in the Toa of Psionic's nature to damage sets of armour.
Yarvok and Kvar started to approach the shelter that Vulf stood underneath, as they appeared to lookdown towards an object that was in the corner under the shelter. Vulf turned towards Raskuyu, finding that the Toa of Light was examining her. Vulf's mind instantly focused on something else, as she looked towards the wreckage and then back to Raskuyu. Elisis. Where was Elisis?
Vulf continued to look behind her, as she soon asked her question: "Where is Elisis?"
Raskuyu's expression of friendliness soon changed into one of sadness, as she motioned for Vulf to look at the Ga-Matoran laid in the recovery position. Raskuyu drew in a deep breath before she replied: "She is breathing just fine, heartlight is still on. Awake, too. But I fear at the angle the airship descended, more pressure was put on towards her end. Broke a leg, I believe."
Vulf moved slowly over towards Elisis, as she crouched and looked over the small Ga-Matoran. Elisis looked up towards her, as she tried to help herself up to face the Toa of Psionics as Vulf helped her to sit. "You feeling alright?" Vulf asked as she placed her hand on the Ga-Matoran's shoulder. "Yeah. Can't move my leg though... I think it is broken, Vulf."
Vulf looked over as Yarvok shouldered his heavy plasma rifle, pulling Elisis' Chronicler Staff from a holster he had around his utility belt. The Ga-Matoran took it from the Lykos' position, as she allowed the Toa of Psionics to help her to stand. "Thank you, Vulf." Elisis said as she used the staff that Yarvok provided her to stand. Kvar was the last to join the group, as he placed down the crate he had been carrying.
Yarvok flipped over the lock which had closed the metal crate, opening it as he flipped off the lid of the container. Looking through the contents, he removed several plasma cores from the box as he strapped them over his utility belt. "Nothing remain which shall be that of use to us," Yarvok said, "but thou are permitted to check this yourself."
Raskuyu nodded her head, as she lowly moved over the crate to look through it. She pulled free a thin-sheet document that appeared to be a map over a district of Exusia, as she turned it around to reveal a series of codes. Interested, she folded up the sheet as she pocketed it.
"It is really raining," Elisis states as she looks further down the street. Vulf laughed shortly, patting her shoulder as she replied: "I imagine you can handle it, Elisis. You are a Ga-Matoran, after all."
"Doesn't mean I have to like water." Elisis replied, as she hopped forward with the help of her staff. Yarvok pulled the hood of his scarf-like cloak over his scratched and dented helmet, lifting his rifle as he spoke quietly: "Nevertheless, we shall move! The enemy shall track us lest we leave this our ruin!"
"I agree with the beast," Kvar replied as he drew his plasma pistol. Charging the core within the weapon, it heated a brilliant orange as he looked up the incline path which would lead the team towards their objective.
"Can you walk, Elisis?" Raskuyu asked, as the small Ga-Matoran nodded her head. Vulf's eyes slanted with a sense of sadness, as she looked as the small Chronicler paced along. She knew it would be difficult for Elisis to move now, and that could be incredibly dangerous for her. They were in one of the places that Elisis wanted to be the least, and in her condition—it must have been terrifying.
Yarvok looked back, as he seemed to have a similar understanding to the situation, as he slowed down his speed. The Lykos always knew that the Toa, Vortixx and especially the Matoran were not as durable as they were. The Lykos were difficult to break unless you had a heavy or sharp weapon, and often was hand-to-hand a suicidal method of engagement.
He fell in line with the Matoran as he seemed to help provide himself as a sort of guardian for Elisis. The Ga-Matoran eyed the Lykos with suspicion, but eventually allowed Yarvok to be by her side.
The Lykos looked down towards Elisis, as he tried to start a conversation with the Matoran: "Where shall you originate from, young blood of Elisis?"
Elisis turned her head towards Yarvok, as the Lykos tried his best to show an encouraging smile. "Bo-Koro, from the Southern Continent." She replied, looking back to the path she was following down.
"Shall it be a beautiful place?"
"It was, before it was destroyed." Elisis replied in an indistinguishable tone. Yarvok looked on, persistent in the conversation. "Describe what you shall to me."
Elisis sighed, as she used her free hand to stroke her black hair as the Ga-Matoran looked back towards Vulf. The Toa of Psonics gave her an expression encouraging her to participate in the conversation. But Vulf could feel the strong emotions coming from Elisis concerning her old village, the pains from the people that she lost from the Lykos assault.
She spoke softly, "It was a beautiful place. Found near the foot of a mountain, great green trees and fresh blue skies. Our huts were built with finer materials, very comfortable in a sense. The other Matoran were very kind, the community got along very well—a place where everyone knew everyone. I was a Chronicler, it was my duty to keep and add to the records of my village. I enjoyed it—I enjoyed exploring the forest—I enjoyed staying in my warm hut, when it rained heavily... I just can't believe it is gone now."
Yarvok nodded his head, as he listened to what Elisis had to say about her village. As she finished, he slowly spoke to formalise the conversation: "I was born about that a small boat carver within the Kavost, that of a lake region within the powered grasp of the Seventh Paketo. Speak of their Paketo, the title of Vocem'drastis lands on the flats among the overside of this our Ice Shaft. Shall it permit to snow often, away from that fires of Vocem'drastis Keep—we heat stones to keep in our «doma». I found fine in that our workshop, a vast coast of that our lake whether frozen, or whether it runs warm."
Elisis looked back up to Yarvok, with a sudden interest as he talked about where he came from. It seemed as if she never really realised that a Lykos' earlier life was a much more relaxed one. "You built boats?" Elisis asked, "How then did you become a warrior?"
Thunder rolled through the sky as the team stepped under a bridge, the rain stopped from pouring on their heads for the first time in several minutes. Yarvok carefully considered his response, as he was soon to reply: "There was a Revolution, the first bearers of title Red Flags of Soyedmevos had been set to overthrow the Lykos Empire. My father joined the movement, as he desired his sons such as I should as well. We successfully did so, and so thus the Red Flags of Soyedmevos created the Lykos Republic.
"My country was transformed into that of a larger ship yard, and so as the Red Flags goal—near all shall be allowed to become warriors. And so, my desire to be a warrior was forged after a near century of my «dahksha». Never shall I have imagined how I missed my life that ran before this. I desire now to return to Vocem'drastis, after we break the fallen Republic. See this my lake once more."
Elisis was about to reply to this, as Vulf detected that the Ga-Matoran had found an interest in this part of the Lykos culture at least. But Yarvok became attentive, as he raised his fist to motion the group to stop as he raised his heavy plasma rifle towards what appeared to be a ruined armoured transport vehicle. Elisis slid behind cover as Vulf and Raskuyu moved away from the red-clad Lykos and Kvar. The black-clad Lykos raised his plasma pistol, as Vulf motioned for Yarvok to approach slowly.
The Red Flag Lykos nodded his head, as he slowly approached the centre of a plaza as the wreckage of the armoured transport laid in ruin next to a flagpost and traffic conduit as he looked around the rest of the plaza, spotting nothing that could have done this. But suddenly Yarvok found something that surprised him, as he motioned the rest of the team forward.
Reluctantly, the Lykos and two Toa moved forward towards Yarvok as they laid their eyes on what interested him. Four smouldering Lykos bodies laid in the rain, their black armour twisted and distorted from an inexplainable heat. "What could have done this?" Raskuyu questioned, surprised as she looked over the the dead bodies of the Lykos. She had seen death before, but Vulf found that the degree of any death still had an affect on the young Toa of Light. Raskuyu couldn't handle the sight of death, especially to this degree.
Elisis moved up slowly, back into the rain as she continued to use her Chroniclers Staff as a crutch. She looked at the bodies, before turning her head away in disgust as well. Yarvok shook his head in disbelief, turning towards Vulf: "I find not that our Unity or Red Flags shall be here before us, for within the Warmaster's plans they shall only land now!"
"Perhaps they are fast," Kvar replied as he began to lower his plasma pistol, "heretics never cease to disturb me."
"Couldn't be a Toa or Vortixx, a Lykos maybe?" Raskuyu asked, as she pointed out the killing wounds: "Lykos plasma burning, must have to be a Red Flag. Unless it is friendly fire, which I doubt."
Vulf was about to reply, before her armour's sensors began to dig into her skin once more: the system's warning that potential danger is approaching. The Toa of Psionic's attention instantly turned towards an elevated position somewhere, as she soon exclaimed: "Watch out!"
Vulf dove behind the cover provided by the armoured transport, as a plasma round struck where she would be standing. Raskuyu rolled behind cover as well, dodging a second round as a third round fired and struck Kvar in the shoulder. The Lykos exclaimed, as he soon sprinted for cover as he grabbed the wound. Yarvok's strategy found himself beside Elisis as he helped cover her as the Ga-Matoran took cover behind the armoured vehicle.
«Ad!» Yarvok exclaimed as he turned towards the lane over to where Kvar was standing, as he soon asked in Lykos: "Shall you recover?"
"It struck my shoulder armour, protected most but still cut through! It burns!" Kvar hissed, as another round tried to track him through his cover. "We shall have a concealed marksman!"
Vulf nodded her head as she soon began to understand the intensity of a situation like this, having had her first experiences in this universe being tracked by a master huntsman. She was in the same situation nearly the entirety of the team has been through with her before, with the exception of Raskuyu.
The Toa of Psionics turned towards Raskuyu, who appeared to be trying to calm herself as her blue eyes soon looked back up to Vulf. A mellow expression on Raskuyu's face was shown, as Vulf soon spoke quietly: "I need you to locate our enemy, Raskuyu. Yarvok: be prepared to take the sniper out as soon as Raskuyu gives you a location."
Raskuyu slowly nodded her head, as she slowly slid up from her sitting position as Yarvok grunted in a low tone. The Toa of Light dared not to peak, lest the concealed shooter find a target. Thinking quietly, Raskuyu tried to find a way to solve the problem her team was put into.
It was slow, but soon Raskuyu started testing her solutions until the young Toa of Light found a solution that would fit her needs to helping her team. Vulf found that Raskuyu was also doing this for another reason, seemingly that she wanted to prove herself. But the Toa of Psionics was at a loss for what? But before Vulf herself could find an answer to her question, the Toa of Light suddenly began to form an orb of light.
Concentrating sincerely, the orb of light started to grow in size as the intensity of it became very intense. Vulf had to turn away, as Yarvok closed his eyes in order to protect his optical sensors. Reaching a fairly sized orb, Raskuyu rolled from cover as she let the energy collapse: resulting in a huge and nearly blinding flash of light as a pained yell was heard from one of the elevated positions.
Taking this opportunity, Yarvok stood up from his position as he held his heavy plasma rifle towards the noise made: finding an opening in a walkway between the buildings as he charged and fired off a powerful plasma shot. The bolt seemingly connected, as there was a small-scale explosion that resulted in the body of the concealed shooter to fly out of its cover, plummeting to the ground as the shape was consumed in a plasma fire.
The team released a sigh of relief, as they disengaged from their cover as they looked towards the burning fire. Kvar rolled his shoulder, as he tried to fix its positioning. Raskuyu looked towards the Lykos, before she looked back at Vulf as she soon asked: "Did I do good?"
Vulf nodded her head, as she placed her hand on the shoulder of the young Toa of Light and replied: "You did very good, Raskuyu. Well done, you are beginning to do very well in solving these issues and overcoming your enemies."
Raskuyu seemed to blush, as the younger Toa replied: "Thank you, Vulf." The Toa of Psionics watched as Raskuyu moved away, looking back towards Vulf as she soon returned her attention to Kvar. Vulf watched in mild amusement, as she turned back towards Yarvok, who approached the corpse he had just created—as Elisis followed shortly behind him.
Vulf approached the Lykos and Matoran, as the rain soon managed to extinguish the flames which were consuming the body of what certainly was a Lykos Kinsman. Yarvok crouched, as he looked at the armour of the Lykos Kinsman as he began speaking of what he had recognised: "Armour does not belong to the Republic, nor shall it belong to the Red Flags."
Vulf looked over her shoulder, as Kvar allowed Raskuyu to examine his injury. She looked back towards Yarvok, as she soon realised what this had meant: "Does it belong to a rouge Lykos? Possibly he was operating alone."
«Nada,» Yarvok replied as he shook his head, "then the Republic shall have crushed it already. Nae, there is a larger group at work here. A second revolutionary group planning to destroy the Lykos Republic."
"Are you sure it isn't Red Flag?" Elisis asked, Yarvok turning his attention instantly towards the Ga-Matoran. "You Red Flag's wear different styled armour, red is usually a decoration to show your allegiance."
"No, couldn't be." Raskuyu joined in, walking up to the rest of the group as Kvar followed behind her. "Why would a Red Flag open fire on Unity and Red Flag members? And besides, the ships have barely landed as Yarvok has said."
"True." Elisis sighed, as she looked at the rest of the group. Vulf shook her head, as she then concluded: "Whatever group this Lykos belonged to, they were aiming to destroy both Republic and Unity and Red Flag. Yarvok is right: we do indeed have a second revolutionary group. We need to be careful, watch for similarly armoured Lykos."
Raskuyu nodded her head in agreement, as she replied: "Yes, I think that is the wisest thing to do Vulf. We need to be careful, Yermo is going to be filled with surprises. And I think this may just be our first one."
As the team moved further into the city, the metal structure became even larger and larger. Layers upon layers began to stack as they moved up into what seemed to be the second city built upon the next. Buildings were visible from the ground underneath, showing there to be a sort of slums underneath the ground of the second city. But as the buildings rose, they cut through the steel and stonework of the ground under the teams feet as to show as if it was a regular city. The team moved up the incline that led into the second city, approaching what appeared to be a military checkpoint with an open gateway through the middle.
Two stone carvings of Lykos mounted each side of the gateway which lead into the first over-city, each statue bearing a series of symbols which translated into what Vulf considered to be typical religious jargon as they scribbled: "And shall that your keep not reach the heavens of our Pantheon, permit yourself to build a keep on that your last—until you provide yourself with a mountain."
The team read over the symbols, as Yarvok and Kvar made a hand motion in order to appease their religious fervour. Raskuyu took the head of the team as she was able to provide an adequate lookout, spotting out pathways which appeared to help progress towards the Supercapitol—allowing Yarvok and Kvar to either confirm or deny these theories with their knowledge of the capitol.
It would make sense for either Yarvok or Kvar to lead, but it seemed to Vulf that Raskuyu wanted the experience of leading the team through properly: placing a spotter, and a leader to help direct the team. But the Toa of Psionics found the city to be very underpopulated in the areas they moved through, especially considering it to be a Lykos Capitol. How odd it was indeed.
Vulf looked to Kvar, as she soon asked why this may be: "Kvar, the capitol seems to be empty. You know why that may be?"
The Lykos grunted, looking suspiciously over Vulf as he soon detailed what he knew: "Of course. The Capitol has a procedure in case of attack: fallback to «strategum», a term for strongholds placed throughout Yermo. Defend the Forging Ring, a long installation of factories that shall begin to mass produce weapons, armour and vehicles in that of during attack. And hold steady unto the powerful weapons, the Anti-Air and Artillery positions. Spotting stations help target and pinpoint attackers and will help decide if the force should be pushed out, or wait for them to attack a stronghold before destroying them. The largest line of defence—the Operat Fyltornat—is around the Supercapitol, a combination of all the above."
"But we are a pretty small team, Kvar." Vulf pointed out, "Shouldn't they begin to target us and destroy us if possible?"
«Aj,» Kvar growled, as he soon followed-up on the question: "But you yourself claim there to be a resistance already moving through this our captiol. Perhaps they are preoccupied by that assault, instead of ours."
"Would explain why instead of firing upon us," Yarvok began to add: "they ordered us to retreat."
Elisis looked up with disbelief, as she soon asked: "Wait, they ordered us to retreat?"
"«Aj», the prepare your retreat sound was played." Yarvok answered with a nod of his head.
Raskuyu looked back as she turned a corner through the street, Kvar nodding his head to confirm that it was the right direction which they were headed. "Explains why they didn't attack from a distance either. They didn't want us to attack because they were already dealing with the resistance here." The Toa of Light spoke, as she paused before continuing: "Think the resistance has already started to break the Republic?"
«Nada,» Kvar replied with a shaking of his head, "It is unimaginable!"
"But they are more focused on the resistance than us, you said so yourself Kvar." Vulf replied.
"Perhaps they just haven't realised that we are getting so close." Elisis remarked, looking towards an odd dome-shaped building which popped out out the ground; obviously belonging to a building on the city below the second.
"With that their destruction of their Fleet?" Yarvok asked, "and with our breaching of this their harbour? They certainly know we are here."
"But they must think that they are in the lower capitol," Raskuyu suggested, "perhaps why that isn't why we got as much as a response that the other resistance has."
"Still, I'd imagine—" Vulf was about to say before she was cut off by the sound of water, fire and plasma being exchanged. The rest of the team heard it too, as Raskuyu motioned towards the right-side fork in the road; the direction where the noise was coming from. "Sounds like fire and water!" Raskuyu suggested with a hint of despair, "there must be Toa over there!"
"Sounds of this plasma, too." Yarvok growled, "If these be Toa, they found themselves within distance of Lykos rifles!"
Raskuyu looked around, spotting what appeared to be a third incline that led to a long line: an outpost of sorts which provided a lookout from the steps provided close to the plaza where the sounds of conflict were coming from. Pointing this out to the Toa of Psionics, Vulf nodded her head as she spoke quietly: "Raskuyu: move up with Yarvok to get a height advantage and inform us of their positions! Be prepared to aid those Toa!"
The Toa of Light nodded her head, as she jogged towards the position—removing her light blades as the Red Flag Lykos hefted his heavy plasma rifle around. Grunting, he finally set of after Raskuyu—catching up to her with ease as they found a ladder-like contraption. Yarvok was the first to ascend the ladder, doing so with quick speed as he soon grappled the top and pulled himself over. Lowering his rifle as he reached the top, he watched over Raskuyu carefully as she made her way up.
As they both reached the top of the watchtower, Raskuyu and Yarvok slowly made their way over towards the lookout over the plaza to find where their allies could possibly be. Using the combine scope on his rifle, Yarvok spotted several combatants in the plaza below: most noteworthy was a team with a wounded Red Flag Lykos, two Vortixx and two Toa, a Toa of Fire and a Toa of Water. He motioned towards Raskuyu to confirm the visual he had, as the Toa of Light looked over the edge back down towards Vulf, Kvar and Elisis.
Motioning with a thumbs up to confirm the visual the team had, Vulf moved slowly up the alleyway towards the corner which lead into the alleyway. Activating her mask of X-Ray vision, the Toa of Psionics spotted through the walls of the building they were behind a team that certainly belonged to the Unity. But where were the Lykos Republic Guard?
Looking around, Vulf found nothing that resembled any of the Exusian Guards that they have seen before. Were they in marksman positions? But Vulf knew that could be a possibility. After all, as her team discovered when on the Forgotten Shores that the Lykos had developed armour specifically designed for their marksman to counter the Mask of X-Ray.
But then, there was a most horrible sound: a scream like a disturbed spirit as the Toa of Psionics discovered a large ball of plasma crash to the ground. It detonated as a series of colours flashed, leaving large impact marks which threw plasma energy all around the scene. The Lykos were trying to flush out the other team using a mortar cannon, and had successfully cornered the group. That is why they heard Lykos gunfire, the Red Flag member was fried and so began to open fire with her weapon.
In the watchtower, Yarvok looks back in terror as the remaining energy from the Lykos mortar shot detonated in other places. But another sound made him lift his rifle, the sound of a march. Raskuyu watched along with him, as the sleek metal frames of machines filed into the plaza in a designed order. Each unit had four red optical sensors, and appeared to be slimmed down Lykos Kinsmen, with their digitigrade structure. Built into their arms were rifles which projected separate types of elemental energy, and within the bright core located within their chest seemed to be a screaming essence.
The noise, the terrible noise began to fill the plaza as these machines screamed with what seemed to be utter horror and desperation. Raskuyu's eyes filled with utter horror as she realised what they were, and from peeking out of her cover: Vulf knew what they were too. They were the Forged, beings that once served the Unity or the Red Flags that were captured by the Republic and sent to the Void to return to the world like these machines.
Vulf could hardly handle accepting the fact that she ultimately had to destroy the machines that once contained her own allies. Something in her senses was trying to prevent her from doing this, from destroying these once-allies in order to save her allies. Yarvok growled with frustration, as ultimately he made the first decision to open fire on the Forged. Charging up a shot from his heavy plasma rifle, Yarvok released the trigger as a brilliant beam of blue light splashed from his weapon and detonated within a large mass of the Forged.
The plasma burned their metal beings and began to react with their essences as the machines started to explode or become useless. The survivors of the blast instantly turned their attention towards Yarvok up in the watchtower, as they began to fire their cannons at the Lykos and Toa of Light. Vulf and Kvar rushed from cover as they charged at the remaining frames—the Toa of Psionics forming an elemental shield with her left gauntlet, and a sword in her right gauntlet. Cutting through the Forged on the right side to her, the machine screamed with pain as it tried to swing down at her its weapon arm.
Blocking the strike with her shield, Vulf amputated the leg of the machine as it hobbled around on its remaining leg. She struck it with her shield as it fell to the ground, exposing the core which contained the molten down essence of the being it once was. Vulf hesitated, staring at the core in fear and frustration as she then finally decided to slam her sword into the core. The essence gushed out, as the machine turned offline with a dying shriek.
The units suddenly divided their attention towards Vulf and Yarvok in an equal number, as another heavy plasma shot broke another two frames. One of the frames turned away from Vulf and refocused on the Red Flag Lykos as the remaining three units kept advancing towards the Toa of Psionics. A flash of light damaged the optical units of a few of the Forged, as Raskuyu hopped down from the watchtower to join Vulf in combat. Removing both arms from one of the units, Raskuyu prevented the machine from using any offensive method as she knocked it to the ground.
A unit from behind Raskuyu instantly turned on her, lowering its weapon as Vulf was capable of blocking off the elemental shot from striking her in the back. Using the Toa of Psionics as a distraction, Kvar lowered his plasma pistol and fired rapidly on the Forged machine as the unit fell to the ground in an useless state. With one Forged unit remaining, the Vortixx from the other team lifted her rifle and blasted the machine to bits. With this, the assault ended as the scream from the Forged machine notified both teams that at least this wave was done.
Removing themselves from cover, the Toa of Fire and Toa of Water approached the other team alongside their Vortixx comrade. About to speak, they nearly jumped out of their armour as Yarvok jumped down from cover and approached the group behind Vulf. Elisis followed Yarvok, as she left from the corner she was watching from in order to join her group as well.
"Thank you so much," the Toa of Fire spoke as he examined the rest of Vulf's team, "after these robots appeared from cover I thought we were done with."
"Of course, you are very welcome." Vulf replied, lowering her gauntlets as the elemental golden projections of her sword and shield collapsed and disappeared. Raskuyu sheathed her light blades, placing her hands on her hips as she examined the other teams conditions.
Spotting the Red Flag Lykos and her injuries, Raskuyu rushed forward as she lowered herself in order to attend to the Lykos' wounds. Vulf watched Raskuyu carefully, somewhat proud with the Toa of Light for being so willing to help others with their injuries. Raskuyu was a good soul, Vulf considered as she looked back towards the Toa of Fire.
"How did you get here?" Vulf asked, "were you in one of the aircraft?"
"No, we were one of the teams that landed from the harbour." The Toa of Fire replied, slowly considering another point before he added it: "We were a recon team, responsible for mapping out a path for the rest of the Unity or Red Flag members."
Yarvok lowered his rifle, looking back to the Toa of Fire as he soon asked: "Is it so? Have you seen the outcome of the of this our naval battle? What shall happen to this, the Dancing With Blades?"
The Vortixx tilted her head, responding before the Toa of Fire: "Yes, although just barely. Unity lost half their numbers, and the Dancing With Blades was gutted pretty bad. But it has been able to defeat what there was of the Exusian Defence Fleet."
Yarvok grunted, turning his head as he lifted his rifle again. Kvar was rummaging through the remains of the Forged, checking to see if the elemental cores was still intact. "Are you moving towards the AA?" Vulf asked, as she looked back to the three other team members.
The Vortixx nodded her head, as she replied: "Everyone's objective is, the problem is the strongholds throughout Yermo. That mortar cannon must belong inside one of these bases, but it should have fired minutes ago. Perhaps they need to replace a plasma core?"
Vulf shrugged, as she then looked towards Raskuyu. The Toa of Light stood up slowly, as she played a Lykos gesture: a half circle with one of her hands, pause, tapping each of her shoulders, pause, and placing her hand over her heartlight with a bow. Raskuyu looked back sadly at Vulf, as the Toa of Psionics realised what this gesture soon meant. The Red Flag Lykos had died, and Raskuyu was unable to keep her alive. Looking back, Yarvok was about to join Raskuyu in the ritual before he heard something.
There was a low humming, that grew steadily louder from one direction. All attention turned towards the roadway where the noise was coming from. Kvar slowly retreated towards the rest of the group—raising his plasma pistol as Yarvok and the Vortixx lifted their weapons as well. The Toa drew their weapons, as Elisis found a spot where she was allowed to witness what would be turing the corner. And then, the large and terrifying shape turned the corner as the blocky shape was lifted into the air by four individual thrusters on each corner of the block shape of the device.
Stacked on top of the large vehicle was what appeared to be a large cannon, two spotlights on each side of the barrel of the main cannon; glowing with a mad energy which appeared to be large eyes. The cannon turned towards the group as the barrel began to heat with a rich plasma energy, as Vulf's eyes widened in shock and surprise. Raskuyu grabbed the shoulder of the Toa of Psionics, as she exclaimed a: "Watch out!"
Pushing her to the ground, there was a thunderous roar from the barrel of the tank as light seemed to fade. There was a terrible ringing noise, which seemed to help confuse all the senses with the aide of the blinding light.
A House Divided
The ringing continued, like the sound of a triangle which continued to he played right into Vulf's audio receptors. She couldn't understand exactly what was going on, as her body began to act like a machine for her—running an automated process which Vulf could only name with a single word: survival. Her sore legs were helped to gain their footing by her even sorer arms, who helped push her off the ground. Her eyes began to allow colour unto her world again, as she spotted what had appeared to be suitable cover as she set off: running for her life.
Each stride of her legs pumping something that felt alive into her veins. There was yelling, but Vulf couldn't distinguish who was saying it or what is was about. All she could hear was this ringing. The damn ringing. But soon, another sound was completely overpowered the ringing in her ears. It sounded like the roar of any beast, mechanised but constant. Like the growl of a [Lion] or the roar of a [Bull], as Vulf finally dove behind cover. Her body hit the floor, grunting in pain as she slid along somewhat with the aide of the water pushing her along. Finally getting up to her feet as Raskuyu, Elisis and the Toa of Water joined her.
There was a steady stream of plasma fire which tried to track Vulf from around the corner, but didn't do very successful. Some shots were able to bend the corner, but wasn't able to hit any of them. But she felt the heat, she was panting as she tried to peak around the corner. There was a plasma fire at the site of the first shell shot, as the ring began to subside.
The Toa of Psionics spotted her two Lykos Kinsman allies, Yarvok preparing his rifle as his heavily modified plasma railgun as he spotted Vulf from across the way. She made a motion as if to tell Yarvok to prepare his shot, and that she was going to distract the point-defence gunner. The Lykos Kinsman nodded his head, as he looked over to Kvar to take the point of watching the rear for Yarvok. He placed the shot on stand-by as he found his hands helping himself up a ladder towards the given vantage point.
As he scrambled across the rooftop, Yarvok took an immediate crouch to lower the chances he had to be spotted by the defence gunner operating the tank. Vulf looked from behind cover towards the Tank that slowly crept forward, seemingly aware that it was risking the possibility of being struck by a heavy shot. It was very rugged in design, bearing a black and silver detail as it had sharp edges which seemed to be there in order to prevent people from boarding the vessel to fast in case there hadn't been a gunner on the top of it.
But she knew that most Lykos tank units had a very exceptional design flaw: they placed their plasma core towards the back of the vehicle. This usually meant it would be easy for someone to get behind them and destroy them from the rear. Vulf looked back towards her team as another plasma shell detonates closer to their position, the bright explosion being prevented its blinding effect as the team is able to successfully cover their eyes before the blast occurred.
"There is a unit on the back of the tank," Vulf started, "it contains the plasma core to it! If we want to disable it, that means we need to destroy the core!"
The Toa of Water looked towards Vulf, seemingly understanding what the Toa of Psionics was saying. She looked towards Raskuyu, before she proceeded to speak: "I had the same idea! If the unit uses any sort of coolant, I should be able to destroy it without much difficulty."
Raskuyu nodded her head, looking down as Elisis as the Toa of Light helped pat off some grime off her shoulders and off the cheek of her Kanohi. Seemingly more interested in formalities, Raskuyu asks: "What is your name, Toa of Water?"
The Toa of Water looked oddly at Raskuyu, before she answered the Toa of Light's question: "My name is Maya. I come from a village from the Northern Continent before the start of this war. Might I ask what your names are?"
Raskuyu answered on behalf of Vulf and Elisis, despite the Toa of Psionics being prepared to speak first. "My name is Raskuyu, the Toa of Psionics is Vulf and our Ga-Matoran is Elisis."
"Pleasure to meet you," Vulf said, before she motioned back to the tank, "but perhaps we can settle this matter later? We have a tank right behind us."
Raskuyu blushed under her Kanohi slightly, as she nodded her head as Maya soon nodded her head as well. "In order to get behind that tank, we need to first kill the gunner. The tank won't have any other way to defend itself after then. Maya, if you can get behind the tank and destroy the tank—that would be great. We need to get a distraction in order allow Yarvok to get a shot on that tank without it realising he is there."
"Perhaps Raskuyu can blind the gunner," Elisis started, "like the tank did to us in the first shot."
Vulf considered this, nodding her head as she looked towards Raskuyu. "That is a good possibility. Afterwards, I should be able to temporarily disable the gunners mind. Yarvok will be able to get a clear shot on him afterwards, and that will allow you to get behind the tank Maya."
"Sounds like a plan," Raskuyu replied. "Lead the way, Vulf."
The three Toa stood up slowly, as Raskuyu drew her dual light blades as she prepared to clash them together. When the two light blades touched, they caused a blinding flash which anyone in front of the blades. Vulf was always in awe when she beheld the craftsmanship of the two light blades. They were created in the Toa of Light's first moments, from the two daggers she held as an Av-Matoran. Purified, in a sense as Raskuyu touched them for the first time after her transformation.
Maya removed a long chain from her utility belt, as a scar was shown on her thigh as she removed the chain. Ignoring this, Vulf prepared her her gauntlets as they prepared their move. Yarvok watched from his perch, preparing his angle on the gunner. However, the gunner opened fire on the Red Flag's position as he was forced to retreat into cover.
"Move!" Vulf exclaimed as she formed an elemental shield with her gauntlets, running from cover with Raskuyu who used Vulf's energy shield as cover. The gunner instantly focused his attention on the pair, as they got too close for the main cannon to be used at their proximity. The plasma gun started to chip away at the elemental energy used by Vulf's gauntlets.
Vulf understood she would have to time it right, or else both Toa would be torn up by the gun that the Lykos was using. Raskuyu prepared her blades, ready to strike them together in order to produce their blinding light. Vulf recognised this movement, as a large portion of her shield broke away from the plasma fire. The heat! O, the heat!
Vulf had became too familiar with the feeling of the burning of the Lykos plasma in this cursed universe, but she never learned to stand it. And she doubt she would ever learn to be able to. From the corner of her eye, Vulf watched as Kvar removed himself from cover. Aiming his plasma pistol, Kvar began to open fire at the gunner as the Republic Guard adjusted his cannon towards the traitor Verkhov. He shrunk back behind cover, as Vulf finally took this time to drop her elemental shield to give Raskuyu the chance she needed. "Now!" Vulf exclaimed, as Raskuyu struck her blades together, as a clean sound was made and a blinding white light produced in the direction of the gunner.
The Republic Guard exclaimed with pain, trying to find his gun to fire at whoever he could. Wrenching it up, the Guard managed luckily to bring it up towards Yarvok to force the Red Flag Lykos behind cover again. Vulf finally thrust forward her gauntlet, temporarily shutting down the vulnerable Guard's mind. The gunner fell forward, still firing the gun down towards the main cannon as the barrel soon became damaged from the constant stream of plasma fire from its outside.
Yarvok finally removed himself from cover, aiming his charged plasma rifle shot as he fired the shot. The detonation blew the Lykos Kinsman to bits, the weapon on the top disappearing along with the gunner in a secondary flash. Plasma flames grew from the top of the cannon, as the tank soon released a horrifying shriek with a proximity alarm. Confused, Vulf and Raskuyu looked over the tank with an odd expression as a hatch soon released. It swung up, as a heavy armoured Lykos removed itself from the tank.
The Lykos roared, as he removed a plasma blade and activated the device as it stomped its foot on the outer shell of the tank. The alarm continued, as the Lykos managed to roar over the loud alarm: "You dare challenge me?! I am Rakoris, the Tankmaster! You damage my vessel, and attempt to storm on this holy capitol with your filthy feet? You shall pay for your trespass! You shall fall on my blade!"
Yarvok and Kvar stood by, incapable of challenging Rakoris after he specifically challenged both Raskuyu and Vulf. Dropping down from his tank, the Tankmaster directed his plasma blade towards the pair of Toa. Vulf removed her claimed plasma blade from her utility belt, igniting it as Raskuyu readied her light blades as well.
"So you draw!" Rakoris exclaimed in a sense of joy, "then come, challenged!"
The Tankmaster charged with the incredible speed of the Lykos, already raising his blade in the air in order to strike Vulf. The Toa of Psionics projected her elemental shield with her gauntlets once more, the force and intensity of the blow managing to crack the shield already. Vulf nearly bellowed under the blow, as Raskuyu threw her blades with a hard right.
Rakoris moved to block the blades, tearing down Raskuyu's defence with her dual blades as he kicked her away from the scene. Vulf managed to be angered after this, as she used this opportunity to thrust her her own plasma blade up into the chest of Rakoris. He dodged, and rolled away as he turned quickly to spot a small team of the Republic Guards move into the scene.
They lifted their rifles towards Kvar and Maya, not yet able to spot Elisis as she seemed to disappear behind cover. Yarvok shifted positions, disappearing from the line of sight as well. Rakoris laughed, "Meet your fate here, heretics!"
Raskuyu found herself to her feet, swinging her blades as Vulf was allowed to get to her feet as well. The Tankmaster's gauntlets begun to glow with a corrupted energy, as he raised his plasma blade in order to strike again. Of course, Rakoris had the Mask of Strength forged into his armour in order to increase his strength.
Empowering a Lykos, Vulf knew that Rakoris would be able to cut her in half in a single blow. Terrible things happened when you gave an incredibly strong being access to a mask that made them even more stronger. And the Lykos were no exception, as Vulf had seen countless time.
The other Exusian Guards tried to open fire on both Kvar and Maya. Maya was successful in dodging the barrage, hiding behind cover as the Guard became bound to kill Maya before he targeted anyone else. Kvar opened fire on the Exusian Guard that targeted him with a plasma pistol, taking an entire charge to tear the Guard apart with plasma energy. A second Guard pursued, as a Hau-field was produced from his chestplate to protect him from the pistol fire.
"You fire upon me with a pistol?" The Guard laughed, "Meet this, my rifle!"
"Shall not matter!" Kvar replied, "I shall conquer thee, as I be the greater combatant!"
Vulf dodged as Rakoris swung, rolling across the wet floor as the Lykos laughed. Turning his back to Raskuyu, the Toa of Light swung her dual blades towards the Tankmaster as they cut through his armour. Rakoris exclaimed with pain, as he swung backwards in attempt to drive Raskuyu away. She was pushed back, hitting the floor as Vulf cried out. She swung her plasma blade as Rakoris managed to parry it, turning to face his enemy.
The heat between the two blades could be felt by both Rakoris and Vulf, and they stood their ground and stared at each other. Rakoris tried to break the parry, as Vulf used this opportunity to strike at him. The Tankmaster managed to throw his gauntlet in the way, as Vulf struck the gauntlet exposed to her and broke through it.
Rakoris growled in pain as he lunged back, his blood running free as he stuck his own blade against the wound—managing to cauterise his own wound. He clicked his own mandibles, as an energy field began to form around him. The Tankmaster laughed, as he directed his blade towards Vulf again. The Toa of Psionics bit her own tongue, as she realised that the field only added to his endurance, and she needed a plan—and fast.
Quickly, she reached out to Maya and Raskuyu mentally with a half-baked plan she was sure would only end horribly. But it was all she had to work off with now, as she reached out to Maya: I need you to trick the Guard that is pursuing you into firing at Rakoris.
How do you— Maya asked mentally, as soon Vulf could sense a realisation that Maya had. Reaching out to Raskuyu, Vulf commanded: I need you to be ready to blind Rakoris, Maya is going to open up an opportunity—but I need the Tankmaster blind.
Raskuyu nodded her head, as Vulf turned back to Rakoris—who was preparing a charge against the Toa of Psionics. Vulf dodged, preparing a parry if necessary as she turned her back to her Toa of Light. As Rakoris attempted to swing back at the Toa of Psionics.
Kvar found that he was cornered by the Lykos with a rifle, as he hid behind cover as the Guard slowly approached the turn. "A greater warrior?" The Guard mocked, as Kvar continued to shrink behind cover. He honestly thought his life was going to end, as he ejected his last core from the weapon before inserting one of the last few he had. About to turn the corner and empty one last core, there was a large explosion and a terrifying scream as the rifle of the Guard was tossed towards Kvar's feet.
He picked it up, as he looked back up towards the sky where Yarvok was standing, ejecting his four shot core from his heavy weapon before he slammed in another plasma core. "Not the greater warrior," Yarvok spoke in a mocking manner as well, "for I am greater than you!"
"We shall speak not of this ever again!" Kvar exclaimed, as the Red Flag Lykos chuckled and disappeared from the rooftop again. Kvar past the remains of the Exusian Guard, kicking the arm of the being that had cornered him.
Rakoris stared at the two Toa, as he tried to prepare another charge as Raskuyu hit her two blades together towards Rakoris to producing a blinding light. Covering his face, the Tankmaster stumbled around as he stood blinded. As Maya found herself face-to-face with the Exusian Guard once more, she used her Kanohi power to gain access of the being as she turn the Guard on a heel towards Rakoris.
With a very simple command, Maya ordered the Guard to open fire on the Tankmaster as the energy field protecting him soon chipped and broke away. In a final effort to end the fight between them and Rakoris, Vulf swung her plasma blade at the arm of her enemy—hacking it off as the Lykos screamed with agony, his arm dropping to the ground with the blade in his hand. Raskuyu charged forward with her dual light blades, breaking through the detailed chestplate of the Tankmaster as he fell to his knees.
Drawing her blades from the Rakoris, he stayed hovering for a while before collapsing to the floor. His last breath left him, as he laid still then. But the battle wasn't done yet, as the Guard was shaking off the control of Maya as he tried to open fire on her before he was shot dead from another position. The scene nearly fell silent, before another Guard appeared behind Maya in order to open fire on the Toa of Water.
The Guard cried out his victory, trying to pull the trigger before he exclaimed in a sudden pain as he fell to the ground. Elisis stood behind him, having struck him at the bend of his digitigrade knee with her Chronicler Staff as another shot from the concealed position ended the last Guard. The Ga-Matoran put her staff down on the ground to help her balance again, as she looked back up towards Maya as she soon asked: "Why is it that the Matoran always have to save the Toa?"
The Toa of Water frowned in a playful sense, knowing this to just be a comedic jab—albeit with a sharp, truthful edge. Footsteps were heard behind the team, as it was revealed to have been belonging to a group of Red Flags. They examined the team of Toa, Lykos and a Matoran as the leader of the Red Flag team turned her attention towards Vulf, as she spoke with a cynical tone: "I thought we have been informed that this, the Unity should be able to handle themselves. I see this is not so, not without the aide of the Red Flags."
Maya was about to speak up, before Vulf was able to speak first: "We thank you for your help, Red Flag. What is the news from your Warmaster?"
The Red Flag nodded her head, as she soon replied: "We prepare to move our own tanks through for a final assault on Yermo's Anti-Air weapons. Only then can we gain access to landing at the Supercapitol."
"There is a «strategum» position not too far from here," Vulf started, "We were attacked with a mortar before a team of Forged were deployed, and then the eventual tank was sent."
"Then we'll need to take it," the Red Flag motioned, as she looked back to the rest of her group. "It will provide an adequate position for us to wage our war."
"That is one objective," Kvar started, "but there shall be another."
The two teams looked towards the black-armoured Lykos, as he adjusted his rifle's plasma core. The Red Flag group leader looked at him with a specific interest, as she approached him as she soon questioned: "And what would that be, traitor Lykos?"
"There is a foundry not too far from here, likely what is producing the overwhelming number of Forged and what provided the tank." Kvar said, as he drew attention towards the metal frame of the weapon of war, "it was in new condition. Seemingly just constructed. For me, and for thee—it must mean one thing."
"A foundry," she replied, as she rubbed her chin. "That would need handling as well."
"We can take on the stronghold," Vulf suggested as the Red Flag returned her attention towards the Toa of Psionics. "That way you can capture the foundry and make the proper adjustments."
The Red Flag nodded her head, as she turned back towards Kvar and motioned towards him. "Very well, but we shall need the traitor Lykos to accompany us in the assault. We will need a proper guide, after all."
Vulf was about to reply, and dispute this idea. But she soon saw that Kvar had already joined the side of the Red Flags as he looked back towards the Toa of Psionics with a sense of longing. Despite his vengeful attitude and sense of disruption and antagonism, Vulf found that Kvar had been a good ally to her and the rest of her team. He had his way in operating, but he always came through for the rest of the team despite it being against his interest.
Long ago, Vulf would have been willing to give Kvar away at a moments notice—but now? She was having a difficulty of deciding to do so. She nodded her head slowly, excusing Kvar as the Red Flag group began to depart. Kvar stood by, looking at the rest of the group. Yarvok stood by, placing a fist on his heart to show an equal respect for Kvar.
Kvar replied with a fist below his heart, predictable as it was usually his attitude to do so. Yarvok then removed a bag from his utility belt, empty but tossed it to Kvar as a gesture of insulting. Kvar eyed Yarvok, as he then replied: "Thee? Shall be the first I forget!"
Kvar looked next to Vulf, the Red Flag group waiting for him now as he soon gave her a bow of his head. "Lead well, Vulf." Kvar spoke, "As you lead further towards the Supercapitol, thou shall be faced with incredible challenges. They will need you now more than ever, heretic."
"I will, thank you Kvar." Vulf replied, placing a fist on her heart as Kvar replied with a fist below his heart. "Stay safe."
He grunted, as he turned away from the group and left for the Red Flags. He turned back one last time, looking over the group before he set off with the rest of the Red Flags, and disappeared around the corner of the street. Vulf turned her head back towards the group, as Raskuyu was the first to address the Toa of Psionics: "Well then, we have a «strategum» to take."
"Indeed," Yarvok replied. "Let's go." Elisis finished, as Yarvok turned to take the lead of the group towards the position of the supposed stronghold.
Strategum Chetyeri, Yermo, Exusia...
The wide and open streets soon converted into narrow and closed alleys, walls raising higher and higher into the cloudy skies. The heavy rain was beginning to better, with less water falling from the gloomy heavens. Yarvok kept his weapon at an alert carry, as he helped guide the three Toa and single Matoran towards their objective. Vulf was beginning to wonder if the metal and stone labyrinth would ever lead into the Strategum base.
"Yarvok," Raskuyu finally questioned as she looked around the narrow passage, "how did Rakoris bring his tank through towards the plaza? Is there a second passage for vehicles?"
«Nada,» Yarvok replied as he raised his rifle, coming towards the end of one of the passages. "All passages to this our world is the same. The walls are formed to become appropriate for moving this their heavy armour through."
"What do you mean?" Elisis asked, examining the walls to try to figure out what the Lykos could have possibly meant.
"We are in that of the living capitol, young blood of Elisis. The walls are that of engineering wonders, to allow whatever size passage if given this, the proper authorisation." Yarvok replied, "Rakoris shall have these keys which allow him to trespass this place."
Raskuyu moved slowly down the alleyway, directly behind the Red Flag Lykos as she looked over the walls. Almost as if with a fearful interest, the Toa of Light soon asked Yarvok: "Does that mean the Lykos can crush us with these walls?"
Yarvok looked over his shoulder, as he quietly replied: "«Nada», these are that of the closest the walls shall join."
The group quietly led its way towards what appeared to be the street which formed a T-intersection with the alleyway, as a large silver gate appeared directly in front of their path. Vulf looked over it, and could tell that the gate was some ways away from where they were at—and that possibly there was another section they would have to make their way through. Yarvok eventually led the way out of the alleyway and out into what appeared to the top of a bridge held over a large crevice.
Vulf looked down into what appeared to be the canyon below, strolling close to the edge of the wide bridge that the team was crossing. Looking down, the Toa of Psionics saw that the city below the city they were traveling through. Dozens of support beams cut across to help support the structure of the Second City, as several horizontal rails drew along the path. A cart belonging to one of the rails was stationary, seemingly damaged and ablaze—but Vulf couldn't tell what purpose the rail could have had. Given the size, the Toa of Psionics concluded that it was a sort of material transport system similar to the ones found in the factories of Ta-Metru.
But looking further down into the darkness of the First City, Vulf saw the seemingly increased gloom of the city streets below the Second City. They looked much like a slum, structures thrown together hastily to provide a sort of temporary shelter. Vulf looked at the booth-like shape of these scrap buildings. They seemed more like an abandoned marketplace, one place that could have once been fairly active—but lost its numbers with a riot.
Yarvok glanced over as well, scoffing as he looked over to Vulf to seemingly explain: "A «magazin», a servants place."
"Servants place?" Maya asked, looking over to Yarvok as the Lykos replied: "Indeed. Those too weak to be rated as that of an honourable warrior are sent by the Paketo's to attempt good business. Most? Live in the «magazin», thieves and cowards among the rest of all."
"Thieves lead pretty good lives," Raskuyu remarked, "assuming they aren't caught."
"Typical that Raskuyu would say something like that." Elisis replied, as the Toa of Light looked back with a grin: "I speak from experience. I was only caught once."
Vulf knew what Raskuyu and Elisis were talking about, slightly smiling herself as she remembered how she first met the Toa of Light. Raskuyu was an adventurous Matoran, who set out to explore the Forgotten Shores in attempt to reclaim anything left behind by the Matoran and other species who left their villages following the Lykos invasion. Raskuyu had barely escaped her own village, before the Lykos finally attacked. Her friend Takua was killed in the attack, and made Raskuyu promise she would return to collect the item he said would have helped summon the Toa of Light prophesied to end the war.
Raskuyu was able to convince the Unity to bring Vulf's old team along with her in order to find this thing which Raskuyu promised she would find. Turned out it was the Mask of Light, and in a moment of desperation to help Vulf against the Lykos Commander who had claimed the island: Ukronis put the mask on herself. Vulf guessed it was just Raskuyu's destiny to where the Avhokii, and help the Unity to defeat the Lykos Kinsman Republic.
Yarvok reached the end of the bridge, finding the large and imposing gates which kept the team outside of the strategum. There was a loud explosion elsewhere, followed by a staccato of gunfire. Vulf turned her head towards the direction of the noise, as Yarvok muttered something in his own language: "The Republic's Unification is our separation, shall it seem."
About to reach for the console to begin a breaching protocol, the gates of the massive fortress began to open slowly. The Toa, Lykos and Matoran levelled their weapons in preparation against whatever was about to escape from the opening doors. The gap between the doors slowly widened, as Yarvok kept his rifle aimed down the range. The doors stopped opening, providing the team with ample space inside the strategum.
"I don't think I like the idea of heading through those doors," Maya muttered as she prepared her tidal chains. Raskuyu kept her blades ready to strike together, as she slowly replied: "Not like the Lykos to be willing to open up."
Yarvok nodded his head in response to this, as he looked back over to Vulf as he stood up to prepare his way in. "Only once a way to discover this our mystery. I shall lead us to truth."
"Careful, Yarvok," Vulf cautioned, as the Lykos grunted in response. Pushing his way through the gap, Yarvok was quick to check his corners to ensure there was no one ready to assault him. He found a being crouched in the darkness of the left corner near the control console, leaning against it as blood splattered the walls around him. About to squeeze the trigger, Yarvok quickly prevented himself from doing so—as it was against his honour code to disgrace a dead body of a warrior.
"Clear," Yarvok muttered, "allow yourself inside!"
Vulf closely followed, as Elisis and the other two filed into the strategum. The Toa looked around the scene to discover that the entire place was blackened with plasma burns, smoke rising into the atmosphere as the glow of hot plasma was stained against the walls and the floor. More bodies of both Insurrectionist and Republic Lykos scattered the scene, along with the frames of several Forged.
"What the..." Elisis muttered as she looked away in a moment of shock. Yarvok cast his gaze around the scene, looking at the burnt bodies of the Lykos within the small roadway. "This is disgraceful!" He remarked, lowering his rifle.
"What happened?" Vulf questioned, as she slowly approached a body of one of the Insurrectionists. The chestplate of the Lykos was boiled away, the internals inside the body melted away. She found a carved inscription into the metal harness of Insurrectionist, as she read it out loud in Lykos first and then into Matoran: "Seek Destiny."
"Seek Destiny, and thou find sweetest Liberation, Truth and Knowledge." Yarvok replied, as he made his way past. "We indeed are not lone in seeking freedom."
Raskuyu nodded her head slowly, as she moved up the street as well. She tried her best to ignore the dead bodies scattered around the scene, but eventually found the broken frame of one of the Forged. She stopped and inhaled slowly, allowing Elisis to approach her side. "Who could this be?" Raskuyu asked.
Vulf and Yarvok looked towards the Toa and Matoran, Maya looking over the destruction from afar. Yarvok shook his head, seemingly disgusted that the subject was brought up. And the Toa of Psionics understood how he felt, ever since he traveled to the Void and saw the horrors that happened there he refused to recognise the Forged. He wanted so much to see them as machines, but he was disgusted by the fact his people were committing such atrocities as this.
It just seemed like another driving force for Yarvok to defeat the Republic. He wanted to defend the Lykos name, the honour that it had but seemingly lost. Yarvok wanted to prove that this honour still existed, and that the Republic—not the Lykos were responsible for these horrors. But every time it was brought up, it seemingly made him much more bitter.
Vulf looked away from the rest of the group, clenching her fists as she looked around the empty space. Elisis moved close to Raskuyu as she looked over the broken frame as well, as the small Ga-Matoran looked up to the Toa of Light a similar expression of sadness marking her Kanohi as she slowly muttered: "I couldn't guess, Raskuyu."
"It doesn't even matter if they have done anything horrible anymore. They didn't, they couldn't do anything to deserve this. No one could ever deserve this." The Toa of Light replied. "I wouldn't quite say that, Raskuyu." Elisis replied, "for his own crimes, I hope that damn Ultra Director shall share a same fate."
Yarvok decided that he had enough of this, as he looked back over to hiss: "Quiet thou selves! Allow yourself to remain back to our task at hand, lest we be—"
Yarvok suddenly cried in pain, his mandibles pulling apart the furthest they could possibly be as a continuous beam of plasma energy cut through his left shoulder. It instantly melted his armour as the vapour of the metal, hide and blood soon began to enter the atmosphere. Vulf looked over to him, knowing that Yarvok would soon be killed if she didn't act fast.
Sprinting as fast as she could, the Toa of Psionics slammed herself into the Red Flag Lykos to help her ally out of the way of the beam of plasma. She could feel the heat radiate off the being of Yarvok, as he pulled his mandibles back together to stop himself from yelling in pain again. Vulf looked up to see that Maya had entered cover, and opposite of her position hid Elisis and Raskuyu. Motioning to Maya, Vulf instructed the Toa of Water to try to locate the hidden assailant—as the Toa of Water tried to peak her head out just to narrowly miss a beam of plasma trying to trace her.
Maya looked back to Vulf, shaking her head as she refused to peak her head out of cover again. The Toa of Psionics turned her head towards Raskuyu and Elisis, motioning for the Toa of Light to be prepared to blind the assailant. Vulf closed her eyes as she then tried to locate the Lykos sniper, as she became incapable of detected any Psionic energy with the exception of her own teams. She knew what this meant: she was being attacked by a Verkhov Lykos, the most dangerous and unpredictable of the Lykos rank.
Yarvok coughed, as the Lykos' black blood drooled out of his mouth—as the giant tried to force himself to stand. Vulf placed her hand on the Lykos' shoulder, commanding the Red Flag to remain resting. Vulf closed her eyes, summoning the power of her Mask of X-Ray as she looked towards where the Lykos seemed to be. Slowly, the outline of the invisible Lykos found form.
Opening her eyes again, the Toa of Psionics motioned towards Raskuyu to give the Toa of Light a direction to where the Verkhov Lykos was hidden. Raskuyu nodded her head, as she dove out of cover and thrusted her right hand before her: summoning a beam of light to strike the Verkhov Lykos. The Verkhov cried with surprise, as Vulf removed herself from cover along with Maya to face the Lykos.
The Verkhov suddenly, and in a very jarring matter suddenly split into two separate beings. Vulf's eyes widened as the clone of this Verkhov seemed to be consumed completely with a tangible darkness, having difficult finding the exact shape of the one it was cloned from. Vulf knew that not all of the Lykos' recreations of Kanohi worked exactly as they should have, but the Toa of Psionics could definitely tell what Kanohi was being mimicked here.
The Verkhov was using a Mohtrek, or a Mask of Time Duplication to summon another version of himself. "That Lykos is using a Mohtrek!" Maya cried out in surprise, as the shaped darkness snapped its head in the direction of the Toa of Water. The entirety of the shadows face pulled apart as it roared, before twisting itself towards Elisis with its weapon.
Attempting to land a hit on the Matoran, Vulf dove in the way of the shot as she activated her gauntlets to form a shield to protect the Ga-Matoran. The dark energy managed to curve around the shield, as a pain became very real in the gauntlet of Vulf as the Toa of Psionics cried in pain. The Verkhov Lykos laughed as it focused its rifle on Vulf then. Elisis suddenly tackled Vulf behind cover once more, as the Ga-Matoran quietly muttered: "Can you not try to get yourself killed when trying to help me?"
Raskuyu struck her blades together to blast a blinding light in the way of the two Lykos again, as the dark one completely vanished. The Verkhov cried, as it then summoned three other dark frames of itself—each which roared in a fashion to which its face completely broke apart. Vulf paced her breathing, as she slowly stood as her armour began pinching her to alert her of more than just the Mohtrek Lykos. More Verkhov's were inbound, as Vulf turned her head in the direction of one that was approaching with a ferocious velocity.
It held two plasma blades in its hands, as it suddenly appeared right in front of her. Catching her off guard, Vulf thrust up her shield as the Verkhov swung both blades at her shield. The Toa of Psionics rolled with the blow, as she gained her footing again and faced the Verkhov. "You dare violate our lands with your presence!" The Verkhov exclaimed, "Then I shall break you!"
Vulf removed her own plasma blade and activated it, looking into the Verkhov's eyes with similar contempt. But the Lykos laughed at her, as its being soon turned completely invisible. "So be it!" It laughed.
Vulf's suit warned her of the danger to her left flank, as she instantly threw her blade up to parry the offensive blades of the Verkhov. It broke this parry, and swiped Vulf to her back with its kicking leg. Vulf grunted as she hit the floor, but remarkably rolled out of the way as the Verkhov struck downwards in order to finish her. But as soon as she gained her footing, the Lykos challenged her again.
With one blade, the Verkhov forced Vulf's own plasma blade out of her hands. Moving in with the second for the kill, the Toa of Psionics narrowly dodged by a millimetre. She could feel the heat of the blade now, and it was intense enough to feel as if she was actually stabbed. Throwing a psionics blast into the forearm of the Verkhov, Vulf attempted to kick the Verkhov in the stomach.
But the Verkhov was clever, as he dropped his blade in the arm that Vulf attacked as he seized her by the throat. Vulf could feel a bit of the air drain from her lungs as the Verkhov used this grab to slam the Toa of Psionics into the ground. All the air drained from her lungs, as the Verkhov released her from his grasp. Ramming his boot into her midsection, Vulf cringed with pain as it nearly felt as if he had broken her.
The Verkhov laughed with a wicked enjoyment of this pain, as he moved to collect Vulf's plasma blade. Looking over the details, he noticed instantly who the original owner of the blade had been. "So, blade-thief... you collect this blade from Predavis, the Hunter? Then shall it be on my honour to collect this blade from thee!"
Activating Vulf's plasma blade, he raised the weapon in the air as to finish the Toa of Psionics. A shot rung out, as the fur hood the Verkhov had been using suddenly caught ablaze. Dancing around with surprise, the offensive Lykos pulled the cloak free as he turned his eye towards the offensive person. He spotted Elisis, who was holding his own blade as she fired a projectile from it in attempt to activate it for herself.
Vulf tried to get to her feet, as the Verkhov suddenly walked slowly towards the brave Ga-Matoran. "What dishonour is this?! You blood shall pay for this hideous crime!" The Verkhov exclaimed in Lykos, as he moved to strike down Elisis. Vulf kept her eyes glued on to the situation, and cried out in shock as suddenly the Verkhov was challenged by another plasma blade.
Vulf looked towards the challenger, as she was surprised to see that it was another Lykos wearing armour similar to the other Insurrectionist group. The challenger unpaired the blade with the Verkhov, as the Verkhov then used his other plasma blade to disarm the Insurrectionist. The Lykos cried in pain, and soon his head was removed.
The Verkhov was about to exclaim victory, but was interrupted as a plasma blade from behind him cut into his back. Now crying in agony, he used his mass to spin around and kill the second Insurrectionist to challenge in with blazon revenge. Elisis used this opportunity to drive the blade in his back further in, as the Verkhov fell over. He cried painfully as the blade cut further into him, as suddenly he stopped struggling and eventually gave into his injuries.
Elisis recollected her Chronicler staff, and pulled Vulf's blade out of the dead hands of the Verkhov. She returned slowly to Vulf, as the Toa of Psionics slowly got to her knees as Elisis offered the blade back to Vulf. Taking the blade, the Toa of Psionics slowly spoke: "T-thank you. You saved my life."
Elisis rolled her eyes, and spoke sarcastically: "No need to thank me. I'm just doing my job."
Vulf heard the sounds of gunfire, as she looked down towards Elisis in an effort to let the Ga-Matoran know where she was going next. Vulf sprinted to where she last was, finding a few Insurrectionist Lykos dealing with the remaining two Verkhov Lykos. She looked up to where the sniper used to be, finding that Lykos to be dead—as a plasma blade was driven through his back similar to the last Verkhov. Looking back down, the Toa of Psioncis sprinted towards the last two Verkhov Lykos, as one was in the middle of fighting both Raskuyu and Maya.
The other was dealing with three Insurrectionist Lykos, as he was absolutely dominating the battle between the three. It was almost as if Vulf was watching a dance, as the Verkhov was very fluid in motion. All its strikes connected with something, whether it be blades or actual flesh. One of the three Insurrectionists fell dead, overcome with a strike to the chest.
The one Verkhov that Raskuyu and Maya were dealing with was almost as effective with the two Toa. It kicked up and forced the Toa of Water back several metres as it turned its attention towards Raskuyu next. Vulf used her gauntlet to fire a psionic blast, as the golden energy broke harmlessly around the Lykos' armour. Closing the distance, the Verkhov suddenly turned to face her as he swung his blade wildly towards Vulf. Dodging out of the way narrowly, a red energy suddenly surrounded the Verkhov as it laughed in a mocking tone.
Vulf knew this to be a protective barrier created by the Hau the Lykos was using, and knew it would be futile to challenge this Lykos know. However, Vulf did know that the Verkhov would have a projection port somewhere around the armour she would need to destroy in order to challenge the Lykos once more. She ran her psionic powers in an attempt to find such a port, trying to detect in the memory of the Verkhov where it could be. But alas, it failed due to the Verkhov's protective armour to be incapable for psionic energy to breach.
It had become a dodging game now, Vulf would have to evade the weapon of the Verkhov until she found the weakness in its armour. Parrying the blade of the Verkhov just barely, Vulf activated her gauntlet to project a shield once more as she used it to block another strike. A sound of victory came from a single Insurrectionist as the dying scream of the second Verkhov finally sounded after having been dealing with three Insurrectionists.
This Verkhov used this distraction to his advantage, as he used his strength to break Vulf's shield. The Toa of Psionics looked up with shock, as she evaded out of the way of another strike. Raskuyu finally got involved with the fight, using her duel light blades in attempt to disarm the Verkhov. However, this Lykos was clever and curved his blade in a way to pop one of Raskuyu's blades out of her hands. Using the strength of his next strike, he forced Raskuyu's last blade out of her hands. Threatening to bring his blade up to take the Toa of Light's head clean off, the Verkhov suddenly side stepped and parried the blade of the final Insurrectionist.
As if with a single movement, the Verkhov removed the head and both hands from the Insurrectionist—as the overly proud Lykos tried to bring his blade above his head to smash it down on the Verkhov. It laughed as Vulf tried to swipe her blade up into the hand of the Lykos, as the Verkhov simply grabbed the pure-plasma composed blade. It didn't even sear his skin, as the Verkhov twisted her blade out of her possession.
But then there was the most horrible of noises, as the Verkhov exclaimed in sudden pain as the shielding disappeared around its being. A blast of plasma flew through its head not a moment afterwards, as the plasma blade it had by the sword itself suddenly burnt straight through its hands. Reclaiming it, Vulf looked up towards the figure where Yarvok was laying down—the barrel of his heavy plasma rifle forming with a smoke.
But footsteps approaching the group suddenly brought Vulf's attention towards the shape of an Insurrectionist followed by a group of other Lykos, lowering its rifle as it approached. "What mess should this be?" It spoke in a rough Exusian accent, almost similar to Yarvok's. Raskuyu spotted Yarvok, as she excused herself to go tend to the Red Flag Lykos.
The Insurrectionist watched the Toa of Light, as after a while it returned its attention to Vulf. "Heretic, answer me you must!"
"We are members of the Unity, our Lykos friend here is of the Red Flag of Soyedmevos. We were trying to clear out a mortar position here when we were attacked by Verkhov Lykos." Vulf replied, before quickly adding: "Thank you for your assistance."
The Lykos scoffed, as it motioned for its Insurrectionists to loot the bodies of their comrades and of the Verkhov. "You know not of the danger of being here. I pity you exceedingly."
Vulf raised her eyebrow under her Kanohi, before she replied: "I know plenty of the danger of being here."
The Lykos stared at Vulf with a seeming distaste, as he soon turned his head towards the rest of Vulf's team. He looked over the two other Toa, the Matoran and the Lykos. He looked squarely at Yarvok, as he turned back towards Vulf to ask: "You permit this, a Lykos to accompany you?"
"Indeed." Vulf replied, as the Insurrectionist turned to approach her once more. He spoke sternly: "I thought you to mock us when you speak of Red Flags of Soyedmevos! Never should I thought that they shall permit such sacrilege! Permit this name of this their Warmaster!"
Vulf watched as Yarvok pushed Raskuyu aside, stumbling to get to his feet. His shoulder was still a mess, and was bleeding quite profusely—but the Lykos still found strength to stand. He lifted his weapon with his good arm before resting it on his shoulder, drawing the attention of the rest of the Insurrectionists.
These Lykos knew neither whether or not they should suppress Yarvok or not, but the massive size of the Red Flag Lykos was enough to ward off the rest of the Insurrectionists; despite his injuries. He approached the seeming leader of these Insurrectionists, as he spoke in his native tongue: "Allow the name of Machitis, our Warmaster to process!"
The Insurrectionist looked in awe at Yarvok as the Red Flag named the Warmaster of the Red Flags, turning his body towards the gap separating Yarvok and Vulf. "Machitis?" The head Insurrectionist questioned, "But he should be destroyed at the Battle of Daxia!"
«Nada,» Yarvok replied, "this be not true. Who do thou belong to?"
The head Insurrectionist turned a suspicious gaze between both Vulf and Yarvok, sighing as he then replied—albeit seemingly unwillingly. "We serve a liberation clan of this, the Destiny Seekers. To overturn this regime to find sweetest Liberation!"
"Liberation from what?" Raskuyu asked, as she entered the conversation. She looked concerned as she examined Yarvok's wound once more. But the Toa of Light was quick to meet the gaze with the head of the Destiny Seekers, as the Lykos spoke: "From an ever cruel Ultra Director! The cowards slays all whom oppose him!"
"That has been the course of most of his actions," Yarvok grunted as he faced the head opposer as well: "What shall he have permitted himself to do this time?"
"Purged!" The Lykos exclaimed, "destroyed the near entirety of the Director's Council for failing him!"
Yarvok's eyes seemed to be kindled with a fire near equal to the other Lykos, as he bursted in anger: "Blasphemy! This Ultra Director shall break this the joins of our mutual bringing! Polemistis shall be damned by the Pantheon!"
The other Seeker Lykos seemed to growl in agreement with Yarvok, as the head of them agreed with his fist clenched and with a low growl. "Spoken true!" He replied solemnly.
"Then we have grounds to help each other," Vulf interjected, "are you the head of this, our Destiny Seekers or shall someone else bear the honour?"
The Lykos stared at the Toa of Psionics with a suspicion, as he eventually gave in. "Aj, a Warmistress leads the Destiny Seekers. But how shall we trust thou?"
"May our Warmaster," Yarvok replied, "and thou Warmistress meet. We shall bring fall to Tyrants with the will of both!"
The head of the group of Destiny Seekers, closed his eyes momentarily—as he quietly considered this. Returning his gaze over the rest of the Toa, and the Matoran he finally sighed and gave in to the concept. Nodding his head only once, he motioned for Vulf's team to follow him.
"Follow then, you shall. For much is our need to discuss this our matter."
The Airfields, Yermo...
The two groups moved down towards what had been the First City, heading down a different path through the labyrinth of metal and stone. It had become increasingly cold since the team first landed in Yermo, as the storm clouds above turned even darker—as if it had become night. Vulf wouldn't have been able to see a thing if it hadn't been for the help of the plasma torch that one of the Destiny Seekers had, as they led the group further into the Capitol.
There was the occasional sound of gunfire or yelling, but for the most part the two groups had been avoiding the main combat zones which were slowly enveloping the Capitol. Vulf watched as a speck of ice drifted slowly towards the ground. It had been the first time in a while that she ever saw something as magnificent as a snowflake, as she watched as it danced carefully to the ground.
Raskuyu was walking close to the side of Vulf, as Elisis and Maya were somewhat behind them. Yarvok was heading their group, following carefully behind the Destiny Seekers as he kept his weapon lying against his good shoulder. Raskuyu eyed him with a suspicious look, seemingly aware of the actual extent of the injuries that the Lykos had experienced. The Toa of Light glanced towards Vulf, letting her know of the severity of the condition.
Vulf sighed, looking away for a brief moment as Yarvok looked back to examine the Toa of Psionics and Toa of Light. The Lykos most certainly knew what the two were thinking of, as he narrowed his two eyes to form a frown of sorts to show his disgust of the subject. And Vulf had known why, it was dishonourable for a Lykos to be wounded in combat and to live. They would rather die than be wounded and left to live, and Yarvok had been unwilling to accept this condition.
The group suddenly came to a halt, as Vulf looked ahead to spot what appeared to be a dead end. Yarvok turned his head back forward to carefully ask: "Is this our destination?"
One of the Destiny Seekers looked back and gestured something odd with his fist, as Yarvok looked back to deliver the news to the rest of the group: "We shall have arrived to their operations. I bid thee to watch yourselves, for any obscene gestures shall sure spill the end of this our compromise!"
Vulf nodded her head, as she looked back towards Maya and Elisis. The Ga-Matoran and Toa eyed the Toa of Psionics with a sort of understanding of what they were to do as Yarvok explained to them. Vulf looked specifically at Elisis, as the Ga-Matoran stared back at the Toa.
The sound of doors opening brought the attention of both parties forward, as the Harbinger of the Destiny Seekers moved through the doorway first. The two parties transformed into a unified single-file line as they moved through the doorway towards their objective. As Vulf stepped through, she was in awe of the vastness of the place before them. A large collection of buildings stood in the centre of the space, as near everything else was an empty, concrete-covered space.
Several airships scattered the empty space, as many more ground-based vehicles moved around the scene. There was a second wall which was held together by several guard towers. Vulf could see the marksman in the top of the tower, watching them carefully as the group approached the entrance to the airfield. A heavily armoured guard stood by, watching both groups as it raised its hand to stop both parties.
The guard Lykos motioned for others to surround both parties as it spoke in its native tongue: "What shall this be, Harbinger? Why shall you bring them forth?"
"These are members of the Unity, with one belonging to the Red Flags of Soyedmevos! They scurry here in attempt to unify their efforts with ours!" The Harbinger replied, as one of the guards scanned over the allied Lykos with a strange device.
"That does not mean bring them forth!" The guard replied in a stern tone, as he approached Vulf and her team. He went for Yarvok, staring at the injury the Red Flag bore as the guard continued: "Shall you be of the Red Flags of Soyedmevos?"
«Aj.» Yarvok replied as he looked down towards the guard, the Destiny Seeker still standing its ground as it added: "Therefore, what is your reasoning for being here?"
"To ally," Yarvok replied, keeping his weapon on his shoulder as the guard motioned for him to put down the weapon. The Red Flag stood stubbornly against this command, as Vulf looked towards Yarvok. He glanced back towards here, before he snapped his mandibles and put his weapon down to the floor. "This shall suffice as our trust, Destiny Seeker. Now you may let us proceed."
"Not quite so!" The Guard snarled, as he looked over the rest of the group with disgust. "You shall bring Heretics to our land! Therefore how can we trust you?"
"We are here to deal with the Ultra Director," Vulf replied as the guard suddenly snapped his attention towards the Toa of Psionics. He approached her slowly, looking down into her eyes before he proceeded to speak: "How dare you speak in our tongue!"
"That shall be enough!" A voice cried out, sounding almost feminine as all attention suddenly shifted towards the figure who called out. The guard instantly turned towards the voice, fell to his knee and held his fist above his heart as he spoke quietly. The rest of the guards did so as well, along with the group of Destiny Seekers that Vulf had met.
The Toa of Psionics looked towards the voice that called out, as the slim figure of the Lykos approached Vulf and her team. This Lykos was accompanied by two Honour Guards near similar to the ones that Machitis had, as she closed distance between her and Vulf at a slow pace. This Lykos' interest however was not in Vulf, but with Yarvok as she looked towards the Red Flag member.
Yarvok instantly placed a fist above his heart, as the other Lykos placed a fist below hers: a sign of respect for Yarvok as a lesser. Yarvok was then allowed to put his fist down to his side, as the Destiny Seeker Warmistress soon questioned: "Shall you be the one that belongs to the Red Flags of Soyedmevos?"
«Aj.» Yarvok replied, "I shall assume you to be the Warmistress of this our Destiny Seekers?"
"Indeed I am, Red Flag." The Warmistress explained, as she looked over Vulf and the rest of the Toa. "And these shall be members of your Unity?"
«Aj,» Vulf replied before she continued, "It is an honour to be blessed with your presence, Warmistress."
The Warmistress looked over Vulf with a particular interest, as she slowly approached the Toa of Psionics. She looked over the features of Vulf, as Vulf did with her. The Toa of Psionics saw the armour she wore was a light green, detailed to basically be aerodynamic.
The Warmistress of course appeared to be a lot more slim and curved than the rest of the Lykos, given her gender as she held her hands behind her back. The glare of the Warmistress had a sense of cunning, but at the same time one of respect and dignity.
"So it is." The Warmistress replied, before she looked back up towards Yarvok to ask: "Where be the Warmaster of the Red Flags of Soyedmevos? Shall he still be aboard his ship?"
"Indeed I believe so, my Warmistress." Yarvok replied. "But I imagine shall proper message arrive, we shall be allowed to meet."
The Warmistress looked over Raskuyu, Elisis and Maya before she turned away towards the entrance of the facility as she took a few steps away from Vulf's team before she turned back towards Yarvok. "Shall it be so, I will permit the use of communication." The Warmistress finally said, "However, I believe you shall understand if we are necessarily cautious of your being here. Guards, bind them."
"Aj, our Warmistress!" The Seeker Guards replied, as they prepared metal wiring to bind Vulf's team. Yarvok willingly took the metal bindings, as another Guard collected his weapon. Unsure for a moment, Vulf found that there was no other option. Usually she would attempt to resist, but the Unity needed the assistance of these Destiny Seekers.
Seeing that Vulf was willingly bound up, Raskuyu allowed herself to be detained as well by the guards. Elisis was a bit more resistant, as she tried to back away from the guards—but eventually allowed herself to be cuffed by the Lykos. Maya eyed Vulf with a suspicion, but eventually allowed herself to be bound as well.
The Warmistress smiled as she saw the willingness of Vulf's team, as she motioned the group forward and spoke: "Come then, warriors. We shall see whether your Warmaster arrives."
"Let's hope so." Vulf muttered quietly, looking back towards the rest of her team as she stepped forward first. She cared about her team, and even though she knew Unity needed this assistance; she wanted to make sure that her team would be safe from any possible harm. And being bound up like this made it increasingly difficult to defend her comrades, she found.
A few hours passed, as the sky had grown even darker as snow began to fall gently towards the ground. There was a thin layer building up already, and the intensity of the snowfall seemed to be increasing. Vulf had noticed it has been increasingly cold over Capitol Yermo. She closed her eyes as she remembered the philosophy she was taught about the seasons of any place, remembering very well that the cold was representative of both sadness and courage.
The Toa of Psionics knew very well that the elements were indeed working in the favour of her team's courage. They were fighting valiantly to overthrow the regime which imposed the possibility of extinction for all races that dared to oppose the Lykos' religious ideology.
But there was its share of sadness as well, losing many to the assault on the Line. They nearly saw their own destruction at the battle of the Line, and the casualties experienced had been reason enough to be saddened. Unity's own raid on the Capitol Yermo has seen tragedy as well: Maya had lost her team, as countless others may have as well. The deployment of the Forged and their depressing origins. And even Kvar departing from their team to join the Red Flags in an assault against the industry of the Republic.
Vulf tried to draw this attention back to their courageous actions, to doing the right thing and defeating the Republic once and for all. But Vulf was also required to see both sides of a conflict. The Agency of the Olmak's history was rooted deep in being a mediator, a negotiator to settle both sides of a conflict. These politics were always interesting for Vulf, she had been taught to appreciate all—to see the good in everything.
It was the way their Founder wanted it to be: to help shape and develop other universes to benefit all. But the Founder knew that not everything could be settled peacefully, and so the Founder was wise to implement a rule. In the eye of the accounting Agent: chose which side be the most morally justified and assist them.
Vulf always thought that her actions were benefiting the more morally justified of the two groups; but it hasn't been until now that she had considered what the perspective of the Republic has been. The Toa of Psionics only knew that the Republic was responsible for being the disturbance in this universe, and that they believed in the ethnic cleansing of all who oppose them.
Of course the Republic were religious ideologues, even the Red Flags and seemingly the Destiny Seekers appeared to be adherent to the same religious ideology. But what had been their justification for ordering this purge? Had Vulf sided with the side she was more familiar with? If she had, it would have meant she was biased towards one side and could no longer be capable as an agent.
Vulf hadn't even studied into the Khodka, so how was she allowed to have the bias that they Lykos were unjustified? She couldn't, and it was quite possible the Republic wasn't the aggressor—but rather Unity was the aggressor and the Republic was trying to defend all it knew. She did know that the war was started over the assassination over a Lykos Ambassador, after all. And the title of Ambassador proves that the Lykos were open to dialogue. So was the Republic once peaceful? Did the Unity despise the Republic? Or was the Republic truly the one to blame for the course of this war?
Vulf's thoughts were cut short as an impressively sized airship approached the airfield, near the station which Vulf and her team were stood waiting. The red lights of the vessel shined brightly from the crystal snow, as the thrust from the engines spread the snow from the ground to the rest of the scene. The airship lowered, as a gravity well was produced from the bottom of the ship to allow three pairs of Red Flag Honour Guards down to the ground.
The Honour Guards quietly scanned the scene, before they spotted Yarvok and his familiar Red Flag armour. Seeing no present threat, they tapped the sides of their helmet as to beckon the Warmaster to come forward. And so he did, as from the gravity well projected down the shape of Machitis. His golden cape fluttered from the power of the engines and of the wind, as he walked carefully forward through the defensive lines of the six Honour Guards who allowed their fists to be placed above their hearts.
He walked past them as he approached the Warmistress, as he examined the female Lykos before he played a gesture that Vulf had not ever before seen. The Warmaster and Warmistress placed their right hands on the others shoulders, as the then held each others left in the centre of their chests before they pulled closely together. The Toa of Psionics looked over towards Yarvok for an answer, as the Lykos kept his eyes locked on to Machitis and the Warmistress.
As the bonds were pulled loose from her wrists, Vulf massaged them as she did not realise quite how sore they had become. Looking towards Yarvok again, she looked for an answer from the Red Flag as he soon whispered quietly to her: "Affection."
Vulf instantly understood what Yarvok had meant, Machitis and the Warmistress had one point been lovers—only she could wonder as to what seperated them. The Warmistress soon pulled Machitis along with her towards what appeared to be the Airfield's Command Centre. The Destiny Seeker guards nudged Vulf's team to follow the two as she walked in a double-file line towards the gates entering the facility. The air instantly turned warm, as the hallways leading inside to the Command Centre were decorated with war-prints and plasma torches which provided an eery light.
The ground was made of smoothed marble, and soon converted into a metal grating of sorts as the group walked into what appeared to Vulf to be the Briefing Chambers. The Toa of Psionics again felt as if she was back in a lecture theatre, as she was brought to wonder if it was designed this way to familiarise Lykos soldiers with the environments they were in at War Colleges. Machitis and the Warmistress took places on opposite sides of a holographic projecting table, with their respective honour guards taking each others flanks.
The Red Flag Warmaster was the first to speak: "Delighted to meet with you again, Mayraka. I am quite surprised to see you here, moving against the Ultra Director as I am—given you were his trusted Flotskya Director. How has this changed?"
"After he purged the near entirety of his Directors Staff, I stood only with his Verkhov Director. I decided that this shall no longer be permitted, I could not stand idly by as the Ultra Director lay waste to us all." Mayraka replied, as she leaned against the holotable to look across at Machitis.
"So shall we then take his throne from him?" Machitis inquired, as Mayraka soon pulled up a projection of the massive installation protecting the Supercapitol: the Operat Fyltornat as Kvar had mentioned. The Warmaster examined the installation as he waited for Mayraka to reply, as she soon did.
"Aj, I shall believe so Machitis." She replied, before directing their attention towards the three major anti-aircraft emplacements surrounding the Supercapitol. Vulf awed at the size of this weapons, nearly seven times larger than the ones she has seen before. And Lykos AA was already super effective, and it made her increasingly concerned what these ones would be capable of.
"Here we are: the Polemistis Anti-Aircraft Weapons. Can engage up to three targets in an individual salvo. Tracking enabled due to magnetic acceleration of the plasma missiles deployed. Near impenetrable on the outside of each unit. The Ultra Director ensured that his own named weapons were top of the line, and the same is true with this Anti-Aircraft weapon." Mayraka continued, as she highlighted the three units covering the airspace of the Operat Fyltornat.
Machitis growled, "That means rolling through with our heavy armour to attack on ground level, does it not?"
Mayraka shook her head, as she continued: "That is the point, Machitis. The Republic have designed a system to lock out attacked moving up into the Third City. There is no way to destroy these weapons without flying and landing right next to them."
"And they are Anti-Aircraft..." Machitis muttered, shaking his head with disappointment. "This is near suicide, Mayraka. If we are truly going to attack the Supercapitol, we will need to use airships to disable the Polemistis weapons. How even are we going to destroy them if they are unbreakable?"
"Easy, Machitis. We destroy them from the inside, as the Polemistis weapons have an exposed." Mayraka explained, as Machitis soon asked: "Shall we use plasma charges then?"
"Tank shells, Machitis." Mayraka continued, "We will have to fly close, deploy a team and use rigged tank shells that we can detonate from a distance. Destroy the facility completely."
Machitis scoffed, massaging the place where his eighth mandible used to be as he looked back up towards Mayraka. "Indeed, and that means we need aircraft. But luckily for us, you have an Airfield at our disposal with the brilliant and lovely efforts of yourself; Mayraka."
Mayraka chuckled quietly, before she returned her attention back to the subject: "Indeed so, Machitis. But I am not foolish enough to use only my ships in this assault. I trust that you will at least spare one of your airships in this assault."
Machitis stared from across the table at Mayraka, as he eventually nodded his head to admit the use of his own Airship. "So it shall be, Mayraka. So then, how shall we go about to finish this our objective?"
Mayraka edited the holographic table, to provide a simulation of the plot she had schemed with Machitis to destroy the Anti-Aircraft guns. The three ships flew low towards the weapons, before they soon ascended within the safe area around the Polemistis weapon's themselves. She paused the simulation to explain: "A flaw in their design is that they can only engage aircraft on their level or above them. We shall fly close over the Second City, before we ascend within range of the platforms themselves to engage the targets.
"Afterwards, we deploy our teams to fight their way into where the core for these weapons are. As we are dealing with the Operat Fyltornat Line, we shall be expecting very heavy resistance. Verkhov's, the Forged..." Mayraka paused a moment, before adding the last team defending the units, "Honour Guards. If we are lucky, we will be able to reach the cores and use our rigged tank shells to destroy the platforms."
Playing the animation, the three airships took off as an explosion occurred around the sites where the three weapons were located. "We get out of range, back to our airships and then detonate the shells. Afterwards, there is a timer for the lockdown of the aircraft landing bays within the Supercapitol. We will need to make it there before they lock down permanently if we want a chance at defeating the Ultra Director."
Machitis listened to Mayraka and watched the simulation, as he soon calculated their chances at actually completing the mission in his mind. He narrowed his eyes, as he soon nodded his head to accept the challenge of the mission. "So be it," he spoke softly, "I shall prepare the Red Flags of Soyedmevos for this one final operation."
As he said this, he turned his gaze towards Vulf and her team. Vulf watched as he locked his eyes specifically on her, as she felt as if he was cutting straight through her with his gaze alone. "I shall do the same with the Destiny Seekers," Mayraka spoke quietly as she then looked back at Machitis. "And thank you, Machitis for what your shall do for us."
The Warmaster bowed his head near simultaneously with the Warmistress, as Mayraka soon left the chambers as she was followed by her Honour Guards. Machitis looked away from the table, as he soon walked up the stairs opposite of the direction that Mayraka was headed. He kept his gaze locked on to Vulf, as he soon called out in her language: "Follow, Heretic."
Raskuyu looked up towards Vulf as the Toa of Psionics soon pushed past the group, seemingly wanting to join her as Vulf shook her head in response. The Toa of Light looked saddened, as she looked back up to Yarvok in an attempt to excuse what she was feeling at that time.
Vulf soon walked through the doorway, and moved slightly down the hallway where she soon saw that Machitis was waiting for her at the end of the chamber. He kept his arms folded, as he straightened his stature and pushed back his cape to reveal his own finely detailed plasma blade. The Toa of Psionics wasn't moved by this action, as she knew Machitis constantly did this whenever he wanted to talk to others. It was his way of intimidation, and most of the time it worked.
But Vulf wouldn't allow herself to be affected by the Warmaster, as she stared straight into his glowing eyes. He seemingly scoffed at her ignorance of his attempt to frighten her, as he clicked his mandibles as he soon spoke: "Pray this be the last time we meet, Heretic."
"Why so?" Vulf inquired.
"Gladly, I will see to it that you are deployed to attack the third weapons platform. You are the least bit capable of doing so, I imagine."
"If you are doubting I will be able to do it, I am sure you will find someone else to."
Machitis stared coldly at Vulf, as he approached her slowly. She had to tilt her head back quite a bit in order to still meet the eyes of the Warmaster, as he slowly spoke: "Luck for you, most of my own are still battling in the streets. Do not interpret this as trust, Heretic. Shall I have had this my way, you should have been dead already."
"Luck?" Vulf asked. Machitis smiled before he continued, "The airships were meant to be destroyed, Heretic. Those aboard were meant to be lost, and the vast majority are. You are an outlier, Heretic."
Vulf's eyes widened into disbelief, not even she thought that Machitis was capable of systematically choosing who was meant to die in the original assault. Emotions nearly overpowered her to allow her to outburst, but at the same time there was a burning pride in her breast. She was glad that Machitis hadn't gotten his way, she was glad her team all survived the crash. The Toa of Psionics could tell that the Warmaster could read her emotions as clearly as he would a book, and so he smiled.
"Finish this for me, and I will be impressed." Machitis continued, "if you want an end to this war you shall perish for the sake of destroying that weapon. This, or the rest of your pitiful species die. So if I were you: I would make sure I did complete the objective, even if it did mean I died."
"Why should I help you know?" Vulf questioned, "Unity and the Red Flags are partners. You should value our lives as much as we value yours."
"Until the end," Machitis replied with a growl, "I will spare you. But allow me chance, it will be your head. You know a battle, but I know a war."
And with that, the Warmaster half-faced as he motioned his Honour Guards to move through the chamber with him. Vulf watched as he left to the outside world, as she stood still—feeling defeated. She closed her eyes in an attempt to keep her peace, but she felt as if she was nearing the verge of lashing out in anger, frustration and fear.
She breathed in, and exhaled. And hoped she could keep her peace.
Lights continued to flicker within the dark chamber that Polemistis had dedicated himself to ever since the purging of his entire Director Staff, the lime-colour seemingly flickering in sequence to the sound of explosions in the streets below. Ever since his Commander had delivered him the grave news of the stirring resistance, and his discussion with his servant—he had been left in the growing darkness and the ever growing sound of chaos. The Ultra Director heeded no other noise that the coming resistance, keeping his eyes closed and his fingers pressed together as he let the sounds grow closer to him.
To Polemistis, he was truly alone to make what he would out of the sounds of his overthrow that were steadily approaching him. There was no one he could talk to, as even his Honour Guards stood as motionless statues that heeded not his questions but rather worked by his commands. Why should he mind his tone if he now desired to speak ill of Khodka, and the Scrolls of Polkis? Not even his own guards would mind him, it was as if he was a prisoner subjected to solitary confinement till he shall meet his certain death at the hands of those who grew tired of his rule!
Polemistis' emotions boiled hot within him, but the Ultra Director appeared physically to be nothing but a cold and empty husk. He would have certainly at this point rather had taken his chances to dismiss Khodka, scream it throughout the entirety of the hall as certainly no one would hear him—but the echoes, who would certainly yell back the same curse! Did it truly matter if he perished now? Nae, it didn't! Should his Republic fall, Polemistis would rather have met his own demise before seeing everything he had built to be destroyed and witnessed by him!
Placing his hand on the command console on the armrest of his throne, Polemistis rotated his throne to face the entrance of his Hall again. The statues of his Honour Guards remained standing, quiet and oblivious to the motion that stirred in the Ultra Director's Hall. He turned his head towards the Honour Guard closest to his right, speaking with a low and hallowed tone: "Allow yourself to bring me my symphony! This silence makes me ill!"
The Honour Guard stood still, seemingly not affected by the voice of its master—before it suddenly stomped its foot and marched in the direction towards the exit of the hall. It waited for the two other Honour Guards to make their motion of looking sharply at one another, stomping and moving to open the gates leading outside the hall. The ordered Honour Guard stepped out, before the doors were sealed again.
Polemistis pressed his hand against his face again, sighing audibly as he struggled to keep up appearances. He had felt increasingly weak, and at several points throughout any given day he would be uncontrollably shaken. It sickened him that he has allowed himself to become as much as this, as he clenched his left hand to form a fist. He needed rest, something to relax to—to ignore the pains Khodka had brought him, and become deaf to the sounds of the approaching war.
The Ultra Director was wondering how the sound of war instead of bringing him great energy and resurgence, has now become the bane of his existence. It would be foolish of any Lykos to not anticipate the sound of war! And he, being the Ultra Director should be the one formulating a cunning plan that would allow the Republic to win the battle decisively! It had been his duty to do so ever since he took the pledge to be the Ultra Director—and o how he so remembered signing the Writ of Siege to lay waste to all his enemies!
But now? How cruel reality had been to him! Where were the days he would effortlessly lead suicide charges against his Paketo's foes, destroying their Keeps and breaking their defences? Where was the day he found unity with the seven other Paketo's to destroy the third entirely? Where was the day he destroyed the Lesser for trying to defy their roles as servants to the Domo? They had vanished before Polemistis had ever the opportunity to truly understand how this victories had shaped him!
Damn this cruelty! Polemistis trembled with a concoction of anger and hatred, hatred for how his role has abandoned him and left him in the wake of his Republic's destruction. He closed his eyes, rotating his throne to face outside the window—before opening them again. The Ultra Director allowed himself to look upon the snow-ridden chaos of Yermo below: plasma fires beginning to sprout and grow, the sounds of explosions legions below him. The battle was so bright, that even in the cover of the night Polemistis could see it as clear as day.
Yermo was bleeding, and Polemistis was incapable of stopping it. And for this, he cursed his reality. Should the Republic fall, he was appalled by the thought of returning to his Paketo—back to his Domo. The collection of wives and inheritors he had been loyal to, and the antagonisms and rivalries which were declared between his wives and inheritors to claim his position of being the Major Domo of the Paketo.
Although his role as Major Domo within his own Paketo was made nearly absent due to his role as the Ultra Director of the Republic, the competition for his favour was of constant concern of his wives and children. They fought just as he had to become the Major Domo, to become the great leader of the Paketo who they were nobility to. Polemistis had always been taught to embrace this, to embrace the violence among his children—for evidence who was truly the strongest and greatest. In duels, he should have demanded for one of them to take the others life. And when the strongest grows old enough, to take Polemistis' life in a duel to show who was greater to continue the cycle of nobility.
He would have had to kill one of his own children to appease the principle that had been set by his ancestors. He would have to be willing to also be slain by one of them to continue this senseless cycle. Polemistis was nearly gratified that he was an Ultra Director, so that his life could potentially be taken by someone else to pass on the rank. But even then, he was abandoning his position to be the Major Domo—witness his children fight and kill each other, his wives argue and bicker for their child's sake... and quite potentially be killed by his own kin. So was Lykos Honour, to kill your brothers and sisters—and eventually kill your father and mother, so the same could be done to you.
This wasn't even a game of shmakha, it was a game of daggers. What used to excite Polemistis, had now disgusted him. Was he even a Lykos anymore? Or had he allowed his mind to betray his form and capture something else?
The sound of the massive doors behind him being opened brought Polemistis back to reality. There was a sound of instruments being filed into the line, directed by the Honour Guards who ordered them around like rahi with a silent extension of their statued arms—as air and drum instruments created a formation along both of the long walls of the chamber, entering the bleachers that would have otherwise been occupied by the Republic Council. The grand gates were closed, as the Honour Guards took formation to monitor the behaviour of the symphony.
Polemistis drew a breath in, relaxing himself as he prepared for a movement of the Republic to be preformed for him. Whether it be the 7th Movement, or his very own 13th Movement was up to the symphony—all he desired was good Exusian music to be played to improve himself. The room quieted, as the servants of sound prepared their instruments to preform for their Ultra Director. The Soundmaster prepared his arms, instructing the symphony to prepare to play their song.
The deep trumpet sounds were the first to sound, continued by a powerful deep draw from the larger air instruments. A drum began to be beat, creating a powerful sound as a series of these instruments soon came to life. It soon began to form what was the Hymn of the Republic, the powerful and intimidating sounds becoming more and more realised.
Polemistis reclined in his seat, enjoying the sound of the instruments being played as he tried to force his attention of this instead of the matters at hand—as it would have been foolish to do otherwise. As the hymn progressed, it evolved and slowly became more and more intimidating. The sound increased spectacularly, and the noise coming from the instruments began to become ever more powerful. The Ultra Director was following every note of the song, muttering to himself the chorus of the hymn.
Shall the Republic stand, shall it endure! Shall we carry its banner, defend our writ and deliver firm decree of our might! Shall we bring the knowledge of our fore bearers, and enforce the will of this our Holy Land! Stand strong our Republic, for we uphold you!
The hymn was slowly being brought to an end, as an instrument soon jumped off the sound of the song being played. Polemistis opened his eyes again, turning his head towards this instrument as it preformed a solo operation of the 1st Movement. The Ultra Director wanted to excuse this as a mistake, but it was becoming increasingly clear that this was intentional on the performers part. The performer was standing the closest to Polemistis, as the rest of the instruments closed the final verse of the Hymn of the Republic—all fellow performers looking quizzically towards the single Lykos continuing to play by herself.
Polemistis knew the First Movement very well, but what he didn't understand is why she was persisting to play it. And then he suddenly realised, the name of the First Movement had made it very clear.
The Red Flags of Soydemevos' Triumph.
The Ultra Director waved his hand towards the one performer, for his Honour Guards to take action against this resistance. But she saw this movement, as she drew a concealed plasma pistol, announcing in a shout that petrified the rest of the chamber: "I stand not to tolerate this totalitarian no more! Glory for the Red Flags of Soyedmeovs, and glory to the name of Warmaster Machitis! Death to the Republic, and the Traitor Polemistis!"
Polemistis felt a sudden urge to lash out, to call her out on what he would usually consider a lie. But now? He sat motionless in his throne, staring coldly at the performer as the Honour Guards sprung to action to end her. The Ultra Director already knew she wouldn't have the ability to kill him, and so he watched as the Honour Guards charged her with their Plasma Staves. She tried to take aim and fire, but the Honour Guards closed in on her and forced her to turn her attention on them.
By the time she had refocused her aim on an Honour Guard, it already thrust its weapon into her side. The traitor cried in pain, dropping her pistol as the Honour Guard efficiently speared her—blood pooling at her side as she is forced down to the ground by the Lykos Guard. Polemistis watched emotionlessly, placing his fist on his chin as he watched the scene unfold. Able to get the attention of his Honour Guard, beckoning the Guard to bring the traitor forward. He looked out to the rest of the symphony, as he slowly spoke to himself: "So even these simple things, I have been forbidden."
The Soundmaster approached the throne of Polemistis, falling to his knee as he searched for the apology of his Ultra Director. "My holiest Ultra Director! I apologise greatly for this trespass of your safety! I should have been more aware as to the security of our situation!"
Polemistis only nods his head, before he slowly replied: "Excuse yourself, I bid you. And bring me hymns no more."
The Soundmaster looked up, seemingly terrified of what his Ultra Director met. He slowly placed his fist over his heart, as he slowly stood up and trudged away towards the door—filed with the rest of the symphony with the now alert Honour Guards guiding them. Polemistis watched as the few standing closest to the traitor was separated, lined up and executed on the scene.
He watched on, closing his eyes painfully as he understood why these executions were made. Although, the Ultra Director couldn't excuse why their lives are being taken on the account of inaction and thus being a co-conspirer. What could they have really done to prevent the traitor from acting, when they were unarmed? Why should their lives be ended for the safety of his?
He opened his eyes again as he saw the struggling and bleeding body of the traitor dragged over to his position, as he looked over her weakly structure. Polemistis slowly rose from his seat, tossing his cloak out in order to flare it as he slowly approached the bleeding body of the traitor. She tried to removed herself from the spear she was attached to, as the Honour Guard helped to keep her pinned to the floor.
"Y-you... you let them kill innocents?!" She demanded, as Polemistis continued to analyse her. "These 'innocents' were inactive to the threat, and thus conspiring against the Republic."
"Yes, they were inactive... they had no part in your overthrow!"
"Inaction is conspiracy." Polemistis repeated.
"You honestly cannot believe that! Otherwise your wouldn't be inactive to the rest of the Republic's struggle!"
Polemistis paused, turning his head to one side as he stopped himself from suddenly speaking out his usual rhetoric for when he addressed any traitors. Usually, it was easy for him to ignore their statements as pure stupidity. But now? Ever since he has really begun to think about the situation? He couldn't dare to say he had indeed not been inactive against the Lykos' struggle.
The heretic must have taken this silence to mean Polemistis was really considering what she was saying. "You would see us all destroyed to keep yourself in power! Kill the very own people that trusted you!"
"I have felt every step of our Republic's direction! Dare not to speak I know not their condition!" Polemistis replied sharply.
"The Ultra Director we have now never had to make a difficult decision!"
"Indeed I have, heretic! You think I never once had to consider the safety of our Republic? You believe I never made a choice for the betterment of our Kinsmen, but rather for my own benefit? Then pray tell, heretic! What decision have I made for only myself, but not for the Republic?"
"The Timeless Siege itself!"
Polemistis paused, looking towards the heretic as she continued to drive in the point: "You needed a way for you to be remembered! A reason to look back to you and know who you were and what you would have accomplished! But your cruelty against our people have shown you never minded us once, but rather your own legacy of destroying the heretics! A task you have failed!"
"You gave me this power to do so!" Polemistis spoke, "You cheered for me and permitted me to do so! Then, hypocrite: you failed to bring your own legacy by my death!"
The heretic laughed, nearly to the surprise of the Ultra Director as he brought his gauntleted fist across the side of her head. The strength of his blow broke nearly all the mandibles on the side of her head, as she cried sharply with pain. She couldn't speak anymore, but Polemistis could sense her mockery—and seemingly so did the Honour Guards.
This frightened Polemistis, as he knew that the Honour Guards were meant to be more machine than biological. Chosen and abducted at a young age, the Honour Guards were trained to serve a singular purpose: defence of the Ultra Director. They were near invincible, as they felt no pain—as many times he saw plasma eating away at their chest, but they didn't even flinch. Of course there were exceptions when they received fatal wounds, but that was unlikely.
The Ultra Director could feel the Honour Guards beginning to question him, as one turned its head towards him uncharacteristically. Perhaps his own guard were questioning their loyalty to him. Polemistis felt fury as he suddenly gestured for the Honour Guard who had the heretic on the end of his stave to end her. The Honour Guard twisted the stave, turning the stave as she screamed with agony. Drawing the stave up towards the air with her on it, the Honour Guard used gravity to pull the body of the heretic straight down the weapon.
Polemistis approached his gravity throne, tapping the holographic frame on the side as there was an audible click. A sound played in the streets below, the first few noises of the Republic National Anthem. He sat down in his throne, as a small machine soon entered the chambers. It was a circular device, with a singular black eye as three blades rotated within the device—keeping it afloat. The Ultra Director beckoned the Honour Guard with the heretics body forward, as a red light soon flashed on the machine.
The Airfields, Yermo...
The Airfield was incredibly busy, as supplies were ferried around the site and materials were being loaded into a collection of airships. Everything from munitions to fuel were being placed inside the massive frames of these ships. The snow was beginning to pick up, the howling wind creating something akin to a snow storm. But this didn't impede the progress of the preparing war machine, as the Destiny Seekers and Red Flags moved around restlessly.
Vulf watched from under the cover of a tarp as these Lykos worked busily, keeping her armed folded before she looked back towards her group. She looked over towards the shapes of Raskuyu and Yarvok, watching for a bit as the Toa of Light attempted to clean and repair the wound made by the Verkhov sniper not even hours ago. The young Toa of Light worked as quickly as possible, but worked much to the distaste of the Lykos.
"If you don't struggle as much," Raskuyu allowed herself to say, "then it shouldn't take long for me to repair this wound!"
Yarvok muttered something, as the Toa of Light moved back to provide the Lykos with space. Vulf saw his wound for the first time really, as she looked upon the hideous mark. It had cut through deep enough for it to be of serious concern, as it exposed his bone and muscle clearly. She was surprised that the Lykos was still moving as much has he had been, because she knew a wound like this would have likely left her out of service—or even dead.
"I need not medical attention!" Yarvok replied, "I am forced to live with this wound!"
Maya looked over towards the Lykos from the crate she was sitting upon, before she asked her larger acquaintance: "Why is that? Why do the Lykos refuse to have their wounds tended to, but at other times demand they are repaired."
"Honour!" Yarvok cried, "Should an opponent who is honourable add the wound, then should the wound be kept for all to see! But shall an opponent with no honour deliver the blow, then shall they be treated surely!"
"How to the Lykos judge honour, then?" Elisis asked, as Yarvok pushed himself off the floor—tossing his cloak over the wound in attempt to keep it protected from the elements as he muttered. "Shall the Lykos be of higher command, then shall they be of honour. But shall they not? Then they are no better than the peasants of the land!"
"Predavis was of a high rank," Vulf finally spoke as attention was drawn to her because of the name. She knew that the name and title of Predavis, the Huntswolf had touched more than just the Northern Continent. It had become much more like the devil, a horror story told to frighten those who lived outside the Line to find safety within it. She remembered too well how he burnt down the illegal settlement in the mountains before the Line, sent hundreds running and pleading for their lives. Vulf didn't regret giving him the miserable demise he deserved, cutting his throat with her psionic blade. Left to suffocate before Machitis decided it was enough and beheaded him.
Vulf drew in a breath, before she continued: "But should he be honourable?"
"I pray not, young blood of Vulf." Yarvok muttered, seemingly about to add more before suddenly a music engulfed the entirety of of the Airfield. Vulf couldn't distinguish what was playing, but from the expression given by Yarvok—it was enough to cause him to growl. The Airfield became chaos as cries were being made frantically, Vulf translated to the best of her abilities: "For it be the Ultra Director!"
Time suddenly began to freeze for her, as did the air around the entirety of her group as the music stopped playing and a voice began to speak. It was cool, calculated and cynical—carrying with it a power tone which demanded respect, an offensive voice which struck to her very core. It felt to her skin much like frozen water, causing her to shake from the sound of it. She listened carefully as it spoke, not even addressing itself.
"What shall this ungodly sight be unto me? Shall we have permitted our hearts to turn to that of our greatest foe? Shall these things of darkness violate the land which has been so sacred unto our people? Then by the religion that is the Khodka, may the Pantheon be departed from all who shall swear allegiance to the honour-less and bloodless cowards who dare to stand against the holy Republic! Shall they who provide assassins to spill my blood in the most dishonourable and most despised way be burnt from the fire I shall pull from the heavens!
"I shall see to it that every heretic shall be burned—shall be cleansed for their conspiracy against the Republic! And for those of uneven foot, those who have dwelt in darkness dare to stand within our Republic to work in service of their dead Grogus Sarkus, then shall I lay siege to their world a thousand more times! Tell me those who served their alleged 'Great Machine', what have you lost? What has been pried from the dying grip of your friends who have spouted lies and believed in the shadows of this realm that shall be worth speak?
"You shall find silence. You shall find they were nothing more than Rahi trapped within a cursed metal frame! You seek to win so your sad excuse for a species may survive, but you shall find only your end. But shall you find a way unto me, then bound am I that I shall welcome your presence within my court. And then, shall I present a solution. I await eagerly, Mayraka and Machitis. Disappoint not your Ultra Director. You are bound with honour to show me you shall actually be a worthy adversary."
Silence across the entirety of the Airfield, as the announcement came to a halt. Vulf looked around to the rest of her team as she sensed they had been shaken quite well by the announcement. Yarvok was trembling with something that was close to distaste of being challenged the way he was. Maya was trying to relax herself, likely along one of the many who lost a friend in this conflict. Elisis and Raskuyu seemed to be especially infuriated by the remarks. But while Raskuyu was trying to calm herself of this emotion, Elisis looked up and swore.
Vulf knew Elisis didn't speak Lykos, but it didn't take much to guess what had been implied by the threatening tone of the announcement. "I'm guessing that is the Ultra Director," Elisis spoke sourly, "and should it be—I can't wait for it to be a voice which is silenced!"
Yarvok shook his head, muttering something that Vulf couldn't translate properly. He looked over to his weapon, lifting the heavy thing up before he also took possession of the rigged tank shell which had been left to the team for their operation on the assault of the Operat Fyltornat. He mounted it to a hardpoint of his armour, as he shouldered his heavy pulse rifle. Morning was beginning to break through the thick snow clouds, marking the time beginning for the operation.
"Then we don't need to wait long." Raskuyu spoke softly, as she packed up her small medical supply case. Vulf stepped out from under the tarp, looking further inland towards Yermo. She was taken aback by the level of destruction which happened in a just a day and a half, as most of the city was up in flames. The only thing which wasn't completely engulfed by the destruction yet was the Supercapitol. The Toa of Psionics turned her head up towards the three massive Polemistis-class Anti-Air turrets. They were managing to evaporate many of the targets at the time, destroying any aircraft that approached them on their level or above their heads.
Raskuyu placed her hand on Vulf's shoulder, before she pushed by gently to help lead Vulf towards the large Red Flag Airship: the Ambitious Blade. It was a craft large enough to store a tank within it, and still provide adequate space within for troops to be aboard. Machitis waited for their group, watching Vulf with a mocking gaze as he challenged her to try anything. She didn't, but the rage marked her eyes as she stared at him.
He smiled, before he waved them inside as he took a side by Vulf. "Lo, heretic. We have been challenged by the Ultra Director himself."
"You worried?" Vulf asked, as the Warmaster laughed: "Please! The royal throne sitter?! What have I to fear?! I've won duels against those with more skill than the Ultra Director! But I worry for you, heretic. I wonder what shall happen to you at the Operat Fyltornat."
Vulf furrowed her brow, looking away from Machitis as the Warmaster laughed to himself. "You understand your mission, heretic?" Machitis finally managed, as Vulf simply nodded her head before he continued: "Then make sure you succeed, heretic. Your people are relying on you, now. And I will be busy enough myself, so I can't concern myself with your survival as I always have to."
"I will succeed, Machitis." Vulf finally replied, "But you will have to make sure your forces won't expend themselves trying to make it through."
Machitis scoffed, seemingly ignoring this sentiment before he soon asked the Toa of Psionics: "You know of the Honour Guards, do you not?"
"I know about honour guards, but only the ones you use Warmaster. What should I be concerned about?" Vulf replied.
"Then perhaps you should understand an ugly truth, Vulf. Honour Guards are perhaps going to be the most dangerous thing you face this day, unless you meet a Director. Verkhovs can hardly compare. Deadly warriors programmed simply to defend their Ultra Director. They do not feel pain, nor do they obey emotion." Machitis explained.
"You feel the need to warn me?" Vulf asked, critical of the Warmaster. She didn't trust him ever since he revealed he intended her and her team to die in the assault, but the Lykos scoffed even more. Despite being one of the most vile individuals she ever meant, Machitis was at least charitable enough to provide her with simple information that most leaders would have left as a side note to pages worth of more important information.
"I just want to let you know what you are likely to be killed by, heretic." Machitis said, looking to the rest of Vulf's team. His eyes narrowed, before he turned away from Vulf. The Toa of Psionics shook her head, before Machitis caught her attention again. "You'll need to make your way into the core of the weapon to detonate the shell, for it shall be the only place where the explosion would matter to destroy it! Permit yourself to do so, even if it means your death!"
The Warmaster broke off with his Honour Guards, heading to his own personal ship: the Personal Gambit as he was lifted into the large Red Flag airship through the gravity lift on the belly of the ship. Vulf looked back to her group, as she approached them. Raskuyu stood patiently by the gravity lift being projected under the belly ship, allowing Vulf to enter before she did.
It was an odd feeling standing under a gravity lift, as you slowly were lifted off the ground and accelerated into the sky. Vulf could feel the pressure being out on by the gravity lift, as she felt a slight bit uncomfortable. Lifted into the Ambitious Blade, Vulf soon found her feet on the deck of the airship. Elisis and Maya were waiting within the ship, as was Yarvok who took a seat on the odd seats that lined the walls of the airship. Raskuyu landed up right beside Vulf, as the young Toa of Light companion looked at the Toa of Psionics.
"Any word from our Warmaster?" Yarvok asked, as he checked the charge on his heavy pulse rifle. Vulf nodded her head, speaking for all members of her team to hear: "Machitis wants us to challenge one of the three Anti-Air guns around the Opernat Fyltornat. It is essential to take these out should we want to push on to the Supercapitol... and the Warmaster made it clear that he would want us to sacrifice ourselves if needs be."
Elisis sighed, before muttering audibly: "Of course he does. Whatever works for the Warmaster, I guess."
Yarvok growled to this, but refused to say anything as suddenly the ship moved from under their feet. It was taking off, as it adjusted its pitch and moved forward. The Red Flag Lykos bowed his head, before rising slowly to his feet. "Come shall you should you wish to see what remains of our capitol." He spoke with his Exusian accent, inviting the team forward.
Vulf looked around, before she quickly followed under Yarvok's lead. She heard footsteps behind her, making them out to likely be Raskuyu as they approached the side of the ship—as the deployment hatch was swung open, allowing them access outside of the ship. Vulf looked over the capitol, watching as the burning city passed underneath her.
The white blankets of snow and the burning green fires made an awful spectacle, as the Toa could spot several combatants in the street below. A few Loyalist Lykos tried to use their rifles to attack the line of three airships sailing across the capitol, unable to find their mark as Vulf looked towards the approaching Opernat Fyltornat. The line was tall and imposing, as a line of guns made it around the ring of what was the Fourth City. It was an impressive military installation, and Vulf could have spent hours observing the design for it during a time of peace. But now? It was her greatest obstacle.
The airships sailed below the target range for the AA along the wall, as Vulf could nearly step off onto the skyscrapers in front of her harmlessly. Yarvok finally spoke, looking over his shoulder to the rest of the team: "Prepare yourselves for what storm shall brew against us! For it shall not be a charitable one!"
"Are you sure you are ready for this, Yarvok?" Raskuyu asked as she looked at her largest ally with concern. The Lykos looked back, his eyes nearly saddened before he spoke: "My father, brothers and lo I have spilled blood into forming this our Republic. We trusted that we shall have a thousand lifetimes of peace, free from the terror of war. But now shall I rage this our war against the very thing I have aided to be born? I live as I have feared to live, a traitor and a heretic."
Vulf looked down as she took in what Yarvok was saying. Her ally was sacrificing not only his life, but his honour and reputation for working against the Republic. The very thing he swore to uphold and protect, what they thing he sought to bring down and destroy utterly. He had more to prove than any of the others, he had to prove to himself what he was doing was for the best of everyone.
"You are saving us for doing so, Yarvok." Elisis spoke softly, looking up to the Lykos. Yarvok simply bowed his head, looking as turrets suddenly locked the position of the Ambitious Blade and began to open fire. Explosions occurred right off the bow of the airship, only a few metres away from Vulf and her team. But they stood strong, watching as the Personal Gambit and the Destiny Seeker airship broke from the formation to head to the other two Polemistis-class Anti-Air guns.
The explosions and the noises became much more intense, as the ship sailed through what was an equivalent of hell. Raskuyu bowed her head, muttering something to calm her nerves—as Yarvok spoke for all to hear: "Then permit us Tyrant's Fall!" The Ambitious Blade turned suddenly, as the pilot of the ship turned the starboard towards a docking station—moving slowly to permit Vulf and her team off of the ship.
The Toa of Psionics leapt, landing on the dock along with Yarvok, Raskuyu, Maya and Elisis. They stood, looking down the isle which branched out into a series of staircases that added to the many layers of the Anti-Air gun. A smaller placement weapon soon opened fire on the Ambitious Blade, pestering the airship as the Red Flag tried to pull away from the dock unharmed. A loud siren suddenly sounded, as the Red Flag ship fully pulled upwards to escape without having to navigate through the dangerous skyscrapers once more.
Bad move, as suddenly the Polemistis weapon adjusted itself towards the massive airship. The coils within the superweapon soon heated, as a straight beam of plasma shot and splashed across the Ambitious Blade as a large explosion rocked the airship as the burning frame spun out of control and collided with several skyscrapers. The buildings broke under the pressure, and began to collapse as the loud crashing sound echoed around the capitol.
Vulf watched on in horror as this happened, caught by the moment as everything seemed to fade around her. She looked back towards the Anti-Air gun, and so towards the facility wrapped tightly around it. Raskuyu motioned Vulf forward, as the rest of the group were already headed towards the complex. The Toa of Psionics shook her head, focusing on the reality as soon the sound of plasma fire began to echo across her audio sensors.
She charged forward with the rest of the group, watching as Yarvok charged his heavy pulse rifle—as a single shot utterly obliterated a plasma turret and its operator in a single shot. The team paced towards the facility at an incredible rate; ignoring the gunfire, explosions and siren warnings sounding around them. Vulf removed The Huntsblade from her belt, activating the plasma blade as soon two hulking figures in ceremonial armour burst from the entrance of the facility.
They were unlike any Lykos soldier she had ever seen, as the black and gold designs they were marked by were detailed with a sort of engraved writing. Yarvok froze in his place, as Raskuyu soon halted as well. Elisis and Maya stood, examining the two Lykos that opposed their charge. The two Lykos drew their plasma blades, activating as a bright orange burst from their blades instead of the traditional lime green plasma.
Then they stood still, much like statues before they waited for anyone to dare challenge them. It was a standstill, as Vulf soon realised what the hulking figures really were: they were the Honour Guards. They started stepping forward slowly, forming a phalanx-like formation as they increased their closeness to Vulf's team. Yarvok was the first to react, charging another plasma shot as he aimed towards one of the Honour Guards.
It dodged with lightning speed, as the Honour Guard soon charged the Red Flag Lykos. Vulf always thought that Yarvok was the biggest Lykos she had ever seen, but compared to the Honour Guard she would have sworn he was a dwarf. The Honour Guard moved swiftly, throwing its blade towards Yarvok as the Red Flag dodged and aimed his weapon as he let out a pulse from his rifle.
The Honour Guard absorbed the shots without even flinching, as it soon tried to skewer Yarvok on its blade. Raskuyu parried the blade just in time with one of her lightblades, swinging the other towards the Honour Guard's burnt chest. It clinked harmlessly against the armour of the Honour Guard, but Vulf couldn't bring herself to watch as she saw just in time the other Lykos was moving against her.
Throwing The Huntsblade up just in time, she parried the potentially fatal blade as she threw her Psionic gauntlet into its chest. The nerves of the Lykos hardly seized and drew a reaction from the Honour Guard, as it then struck Vulf as she collided with the ground. This was the hardest she had ever been hit by a Lykos, as her body instantly screamed with protest. The Honour Guard instantly brought itself closer to Vulf's body, swinging its blade as she rolled away with effort.
Maya came from behind the Lykos, swinging her Tidal Chain across what should have been the Honour Guard's back. But the thing moved with uncanny speed, grabbing the chain as it yanked it out of Maya's possession. The silent thing then looked back to try to see Vulf, but soon felt the plasma blade try to work its way through the Lykos. It grunted with discomfort, as Vulf tried to drive the blade deeper.
The Honour Guard seized her by the arm, looking down at her as it raised its blade to strike her down. Vulf then watched in surprise as out of the corner of her eye as Elisis climbed up the massive Lykos, pulling its arm back with all her might before the Honour Guard tried to strike her down. Elisis grunted with pain as the Lykos drew its blade closer into Vulf's head—somewhat struggling with the positioning the Matoran had on it.
Maya soon came up from behind it, gaining possession of her Tidal Chain yet again as she secured it around the digitigrade structure of the Lykos' leg. She yanked, as one would when trying to uproot a tree as the Honour Guard refused to be uprooted from the position it had. Centimetres were closing slowly between Vulf and the blade, as she soon and desperately tapped into her Psionic power. She found the mind of the Lykos, as she soon attempted to break the mind of the Honour Guard—the only thing she refused to do unless absolutely necessary.
But now instead of just physically battling with the Honour Guard, she was dealing with it mentally. This Lykos was clever, as it soon forced its mind into some religious rhetoric that would make it difficult to find the source of its physical power. Vulf drove her plasma blade deeper into the stomach of the massive Lykos, as it soon began to grunt with pain. It was like trying to cut through a rock, the armour was providing too ample of a defence for a clean cut through it to end the Lykos.
Its mind briefly went through the flurry of tactical thoughts and registration physical pain, but it went by too quick before Vulf could have exploited it properly. The Honour Guard soon kicked Vulf powerfully in the chest, sending her flying back as it stumbled around for a moment before gaining stability with its two feet again. Maya's pulling while using all her effort, wasn't working as intended. Elisis continued to wrestle with the beast, as the Lykos then used its free arm to pull her off it effortlessly. It flung her like a cloth, as the small Matoran fell close to where Vulf was.
The Toa of Psionics was amazed by the durability of the Honour Guard, as it still operated with an activated plasma blade within its side. It turned suddenly; using its plasma blade to cut cleanly through the Tidal Chain, breaking the weapon as it slowly approached Maya. Its mind soon turned towards physically projecting itself again, a perfect opportunity presented to Vulf.
Through the power of Psionics, the Toa breached the Honour Guard's mind as she began to shut down whatever essential processes she could, as the Lykos began to stumble around. The thing still swung, despite slowly losing control of its legs as it soon turned towards Vulf. It tripped, but still moved forward as Vulf soon began to shred the things mind like paper. It swung still, foaming from the mouth as Vulf began to witness the descent of the poor Lykos. It fell to its knees, garbling as the Honour Guard soon lost its ability to breath and to see.
It fell forward, driving The Huntsblade more into its side as the blade soon broke through the other side. It kicked, obviously feeling the pain as Vulf soon stripped the Lykos of its advanced thinking capabilities. She couldn't believe what she was doing, as the Honour Guard soon became definitely braindead. The Toa of Psionics looked away as its mind soon shattered, signalling that it was down dead. Maya went over to Vulf, trying to help the Toa of Psionics up as she waved the Toa of Water off to help Elisis instead.
Vulf turned her head, looking at the battle between the second Honour Guard and Raskuyu and Yarvok. The Lykos was on fire, having absorbed several charged rounds from Yarvok's pulse rifle—as it still spun to counter the blades of Raskuyu. Vulf looked over to the body of the dead Honour Guard, drawing The Huntsblade from its dead body as she soon charged to join the fray. The Honour Guard parried her blade with its own as a sudden plasma projection fired from the weapon to catch Vulf's blade.
The blades were caught, as the Honour Guard twisted its blade to disarm the Toa of Psionics. This was done, as the melting body of the Honour Guard opened its side to Raskuyu—as she thrust her blades into the melted armour of the Lykos. They sunk straight through, as the Toa of Light cut through as she severed its spinal column through the breaks in the vertebrae. The Honour Guard fell over, still trying to move despite its considerable injury. Before it could dare to do anything, Yarvok lowered his rifle and placed a charged shot through its head. It blasted to pieces, as the Red Flag Lykos stumbled around.
Vulf spotted that there was a tear through Yarvok's chest, a clear sign he had been struck by the Honour Guard's plasma blade. But he pushed past Vulf, limping over to where there was an entrance for the Anti-Air gun. Raskuyu looked towards Vulf, wearing a concerned expression on her face before she, Maya and Elisis formed a group around Vulf. The Toa of Psionics was visibly worn and concerned, watched as Yarvok stumbled forward towards the facility. The poor Lykos likely refused his injuries, incapable of believing he had been injured yet again in combat. How long did Yarvok have left? He couldn't have very long if he continued at the rate at which he was going.
Vulf couldn't deal thinking about this—Yarvok was their strongest ally, it was unlikely that he would let these injuries get the best of him. But even then, this was the weakest she had ever seen him. She held back tears, as she approached Yarvok. The Lykos nearly collapsed against the doorway into the facility, leaving bloody prints across the side of the doorway. Yarvok waved her off, grunting as he continued further into the facility.
The base of Anti-Air was remarkable in its size, as a large energy pillar moved to the top and to the bottom of the weapon. Vulf looked around, trying to spot any more Lykos Honour Guards that would have likely been there to prevent them from moving further into the facility. But surprisingly, the facility was notably absent from any Psionic signatures. Vulf moved through cautiously nonetheless, keeping her plasma blade primed as she scanned the facility slowly. Had the Lykos abandoned their posts? Many terminals that should have been occupied had been abandoned completely. Perhaps the Lykos retreated from their positions, or were ordered to move into vantage points to engage Vulf's team from.
But then there was a horrible cry from within the facility—a mechanised cry—that shook the foundation of the Anti-Air weapon. That is when Vulf spotted the large frame of the Forged machine, one that rivalled the size of the Likor Forged machine as it stumbled forwards. Two massive arms were already held out from its sides, but an additional two unraveled from their position as the machine roared with fury. Yarvok levelled his weapon to fire a charged shot, but the thing moved with remarkable speed as it aimed a fusion cannon and blasted the Red Flag Lykos in the chest as he was tossed back.
Vulf cried in anger, throwing forward her hand as she used her Psionic Energy to try to peel away the armour from the machine. The armour didn't budge, as it soon turned its weapon towards Vulf to fire upon her. Dodging out of the way just in time, the blast still tossed her a reasonable distance. Raskuyu appeared by her side, helping Vulf up as she muttered: "Look at it's back! It is connected to the facility, likely it is controlling it!"
Vulf looked back towards the Forged machine, spotting the several wired connections keeping it in place as it shrieked again. If they wanted to destroy this Anti-Air facility, they would need to destroy this Forged machine. "Maya!" Vulf shouted as the Toa of Water looked back towards her, "You'll need to remove this machine's coolants if we want to destroy it!"
"Armour is going to be a problem!" Elisis observed, but the Ga-Matoran soon pointed towards a station. "Perhaps we can remove the armour with this terminal?"
"Worth a shot, the thing is wired into the facility!" Raskuyu added, as Vulf nodded her head. The Toa of Light approached the terminal, as she accessed the machine and began to type in Lykos characters in hopes that she would find a way to disable it. The Forged machine roared, as Raskuyu exclaimed a triumph against the machine. But instead of the armour peeling away, the wires holding it in place fell from its back—freeing it as its powerful legs soon strode forward. The Forged machine laughed, seemingly at the foolishness of the Toa of Light.
"Wrong button!" Elisis exclaimed, as the Ga-Matoran watched the approached Forged frame. Vulf looked briefly over to the Toa of Light, as the machine soon focused its fusion cannon towards their position. Charging the weapon, Vulf picked Elisis up much to her surprised and ran out of range of the blast. Helping her down, the Matoran looked up before she spoke sarcastically: "I don't believe I gave you permission to do that, Vulf!"
Vulf shook her head, as the Forged frame stomped forward as it tried to locate its targets. It howled, as the many optical sensors soon began to rotate independently as it attempted to run a scan on the facility. But before it could do anything else, the Forged frame exclaimed in mechanical pain as it was struck from behind with a powerful plasma blast. A green fire sprouted from its back, as it moved its armour plating in order to provide ample cover to its exposed spot.
The glowing essence of the soul trapped inside the machine was shown, as right above it was its coolant storage. Seeing her chance, Maya removed herself from cover and thrust her hand forward to manipulate the liquid inside the coolant storage. The machine growled with pain, as soon the pressure became too great and the storage burst—spraying the substance around the chamber. The Forge machine then screamed in pain, as the fire soon overtook it completely. Its limbs collapsed and crumpled, as eventually the entire frame was overtaken by the burning green blaze.
Its sound synthesiser went on repeat, before it shut down entirely. Raskuyu removed herself from cover, looking towards Vulf before she muttered quietly: "Sorry, wrong button."
Vulf shook her head, as the Toa of Psionics pushed past the rest of her group and the burning Forged frame. Heading down the ramp towards the centre of the chamber, she spotted the limp body of Yarvok. She was taken aback as soon as she saw the sorry state of her Lykos comrade: his entire chest blown open as the mechanical and organic innards functioned slower and more painfully, many of them bleeding or torn as plasma smoke rose from his chest.
Vulf help back her tears as much as possible, as Yarvok turned his head over painfully towards her and the rest of his team. Elisis only took one look at the condition of her ally, before she turned away from the horrible sight. Maya folded her arms, and bowed her head as she looked away as well. Raskuyu slowly approached his side, crouching as she looked over the damage helplessly. Yarvok lowered his weapon, dropping it to the ground as Raskuyu delivered her report: "I-I can't do anything... this isn't treatable!"
Yarvok coughed, expelling some blood before he muttered in a fading voice: "T-this is good."
Everyone turned to him in surprise, as the Red Flag Lykos coughed even more painfully. Vulf was about to say something, but Yarvok waved off this remark, before he explained while he still could: "For I... a lower Lykos moving through... moving through the Supercaptiol would mean... they will not be permitted to walk the Road of Life."
"No," Vulf simply stated, "you aren't a lower Lykos, you are as honourable any of the majors!"
"I-I am not born to be so..." Yarvok replied, "even so, permit this shall be the end of my... warriorship. Let this, death, take me."
"You were a great warrior and a great ally, Yarvok." Raskuyu stated, trying her best to be as calm as possible. "You taught me a lot, sacrifice your safety for mine... and have been a friend I had never expected to find in a Lykos. You are honourable, more so than me. You have an easy passage to the Road of Life, for fighting for what mattered most."
The young Toa of Light placed a fist over her heart, showing her upmost respect for Yarvok. Elisis looked back up to Yarvok, a sad expression marking her Kanohi as she seemingly began to realise that she had found a friend and trusted ally within Yarvok, even if she didn't know it until now. "Yarvok," Elisis started, "before I knew you, I thought the Lykos were all twisted and cruel. Because I have lost so much to this war... and I believe this is why I realised now I have been treating you unfairly. You provided your friendship even when I turned my shoulder to you, provided me a perspective of the Lykos I never knee until now. I want to thank you for everything you have done, for showing me that not all Lykos are the way I thought they were."
She placed a fist over her heart as well, as Maya nodded her head. She didn't know Yarvok that much, but she spoke what she could: "From what I hear, Yarvok... you were a great ally, and although I did not have the opportunity to know you as I should have, I want to thank you for helping us fight the Republic."
Attention shifted to Vulf, as the Toa of Psionics closed her eyes painfully. She opened them, looking down at Yarvok before she began to speak: "This is difficult for me, Yarvok. Ever since I've gotten to know you, you treated me as a peer, and when we were being hunted by Predavis—you were my guardian. You provided me a hand whenever I needed one, and covered my back whenever we were together. You taught me to appreciate your culture, taught me your history and your language. You always sacrificed your wellbeing for others, even when you were at odds with them. You were one of the best of us, Yarvok—always had your focus on the objective, and one what mattered most. I just can't bring myself to say goodbye."
Vulf placed a fist over her heart, as Yarvok coughed and brought his own fist above his beating organ for her. Vulf drew in a stuttered breath, tears welling at the corners of her Kanohi as the Red Flag Lykos looked up once more and spoke: "T-then receive your way out... face the Ultra Director... and free my people..."
Vulf nodded her head, as Yarvok brought the rigged tank shell to his side. He sat there peacefully, waiting and watching as his team slowly left him. Vulf looked back to Yarvok, hesitant to leave as she thought it would have been ill of her to leave her friend here to suffer. But she knew this would dishonour him, and make his sacrifice mean nothing. She left with her team, moving outside as they ran towards the airdock station—where the Personal Gambit was near ready to drop off Machitis and his Honour Guards.
When the Warmaster saw Vulf, Maya, Raskuyu and Elisis his expression grew into a scowl but still allowed the four to run and jump aboard the platform leading onto his ship. Machitis looked over to Vulf, not saying a word as he demanded to know the reason that they did not destroy the placement nearly as fast as he did. But noticing that they lost the last Lykos of their group, he drew his own conclusions.
"Pilot," Machitis commanded as he stood by the side port of the ship, "it is damn near time we launch our assault on the Supercapitol, the torch has been lit for us to burn our tyrant Ultra Director at the stake! Join us with the Destiny Seeker Airship, and allow us to launch a final assault on his stronghold! This day shall mark the victory of the Red Flags of Soyedmevos over the fallen Republic!"
Red Flag members cheered as Machitis finished what he was saying, leaving Vulf and the rest of her team standing in silence. As the Personal Gambit pulled away from the dock and began to head towards the Supercapitol. Vulf looked down towards the Polemistis-class turret, as it turned in attempt to track the Red Flag airship—but within a matter of seconds was blown to bits with a bright green explosion. The Toa of Psionics felt as if a bit of her heart broke, as she closed her eyes painfully with the rest of her team.
Machitis stood by, staring at Vulf as he soon turned away and looked down towards the destroyed AA turret. "He was a talented warrior, to say the least." Machitis spoke, "Good-willed. His sacrifice was a significant contribution to our scheme. May his soul journey the Road of Life."
Vulf looked up to the Warmaster, stupefied as so to why he would say what he just said. He explained: "We draw near unto our objective, the reason why we invaded Exusia. I shall honour who I will before I shall take the Ultra Director's throne from him. I lost warriors in this battle that matter to me, heretic. Do not mistake this as a condolence unto you."
Vulf looked away, as Machitis turned towards the horizon of Yermo. She should have predicted what he had said, but she thanked him for whatever service he provided Yarvok. She looked over the war torn horizon of Yermo, as the airship pulled up towards the Supercapitol. It still burned bright, with black smoke rising in pylons i to the air. But the sun began to shine over the city, giving Vulf a hope for what could potentially be a bright future.
A lot was about to change. For better, or for worse.
The Supercapitol, Yermo...
The Personal Gambit began to rock from side to side from the turbulence of the snowstorm, and as a precaution to avoid the several plasma rounds which detonated off its hull and to the sides of it. The canopy on the starboard remained open, as the dark clouds the airship cut through allowed its occupants to watched the exchange of plasma fire. Condensation began to collect around the ship, as it continued its advance.
Vulf looked out with the rest of her team, shaking as the cold air found its way into the ship. Raskuyu stood behind her, holding her shoulder as the Personal Gambit shot through the atmosphere. Footsteps were heard from inside the ship, as Machitis soon joined the side of the three Toa and Matoran, watching over their shoulders as the ship slowly drew towards an exposed hangar in the side of the Supercapitol.
The Warmaster laughed; pointing towards the entrance as metal plating began to slide down it, showing that it was trying to close the hangar to prevent the Red Flags or Destiny Seekers from breaching the facility. "Fools! Manage to believe they shall prevent us now?!" Machitis spoke, "Raise the Plasma Cannons! Burn us a way in!"
The three massive cannons lining the starboard bow of the Personal Gambit adjusted slowly, as the tips of the weapons slowly began to heat with a plasma energy. It burnt away the clouds as it did, before a volley of seven plasma bursts erupted from the three weapons. The plasma rounds tracked, slamming themselves into the hangar gate as a sizeable explosion rocked the side of the Supercapitol. The gates burnt away in a flash, as several bodies on fire jumped from the hangar and plummeted through the clouds into the street below.
Vulf watched helplessly as this happened, awestricken that Machitis was willing to do something as cruel and as violent as this. But she knew the Warmaster was on the edge of being able to take power away from the Ultra Director, and he was willing to go to any extent to do so. "By Mata Nui..." Maya muttered silently, closing her eyes as the Personal Gambit turned to file into the hangar.
Vulf watched as the massive airship moved out of the storm and into the fire, as the burning plasma flames passed by quickly as the ship slowed to a hover inside the massive and spacious hangar. There were several floors to the facility, and along the wall were several Lykos Fighters which were docked. Republic deckhands ran around the centre floor and the others in a panic, as Red Flag Lykos began to open fire from their elevated positions. They struck the deckhands dead in mere seconds, as the cannons from the Personal Gambit charged again and opened fire on the row of airfighters kept in station.
They exploded with the fury of a dozen suns, as shrapnel and frames shot in many directions. They pelted the deckhands without mercy, as they also hit the sides of the Red Flag airship, but deflected off harmlessly. Vulf watched as a wing slammed into a deckhand below, crushing him under its weight as it soon burned the Lykos alive. This almost seemed too easy of a fight, as the Red Hands crushed their opposition with exceeding force.
That was before the gunfire was returned. The massive frames of the Honour Guards filed into the hangar with confidence and an odd peace. They raised their heavy weapons, charging shots before they released a devastating counter offensive against the Red Flags. Vulf watched as a plasma round stuck to a Red Flag without it detonating. The Lykos cried in fear and for help, as suddenly Machitis came from behind his own guard and pushed him off from the Personal Gambit.
Vulf would usually find this uncalled for, but she suddenly realised why Machitis did what he did. The Lykos struck by this plasma round soon exploded, as several other plasma discharges rocked the floor of the hangar. "Push into the hangar! They hold their line they will destroy us surely! We will not let their confidence get the best of us." Machitis commanded.
Vulf couldn't see how any reasonable being would willing to push straight into the fray, especially against brutes as strong as Honour Guards. But the Toa of Psionics was surprised to see as every Red Flag member leapt from the ship in a bloody charge, yelling in unison as they raised their weapons and targeted individual Honour Guards. Machitis removed his two own legendary plasma blades, The Blades of Soyedmevos.
He scoffed as he passed Vulf, jumping down into the fray as his line of Honour Guards followed him. Vulf looked back to her team—drawing in a deep breath as she looked over the mix of confusion, fear and a want for vengeance. She looked back into the hangar, as she dropped from the ship as well, drawing The Huntsblade. As she primed the plasma blade.
She watched the chaos as the line of Honour Guards kept back the Red Flags with relative ease. For every one Honour Guard that was conquered, it took with it five Red Flag members. Through blades or through gunfire, the black blood which spilled on the ground and boiled from the heat of the plasma fire was a definitive sign that this battle would be the most brutal one so far. Vulf looked up, spotting a line of Honour Guards that were on a floor above the rest of the fray as they opened fire into the crowd below.
Many Red Flag Lykos fell victim from the advantageous position that these Honour Guards had over them. But Vulf then heard the booming sound of the cannons from the Personal Gambit, as the rounds evaporated the Honour Guards overhead with a single barrage. The Toa of Psionics then looked to the front of the line, as a Republic Honour Guard found itself challenged by the Warmaster.
Machitis spun his dual blades, as the Honour Guard drew out its own plasma blade and ignited it. Throwing its blade down onto Machitis, the Warmaster parried the blade before he threw its double into the leg of the Honour Guard—cutting through cleanly as the Honour Guard still stood tall. It broke its parry as it attempted to drive its blade through Machitis. The Warmaster used the divide between a Blade of Soyedmevos, as he used its twin to cut cleanly through the wrist of the Honour Guard, removing its hand as the now useless thing fell to the ground.
That was when Vulf realised there was a sizeable chink in the Honour Guard's armour around their wrists, allowing any offensive blade to break through and penetrate. The Honour Guard stumbled back, seemingly unaffected by the fact its hand was removed as it continued to dodge the fury that was Machitis. However it eventually lost its dodging game, as Machitis thrust both of his plasma blades into the throat of the Honour Guard—burning through cleanly as he tore each blade to either side as the head of the massive Lykos soon fell to the ground. He looked back to the progress being made by the rest of his Red Flags: seeing that only ten of his personal Honour Guard remained, along with a single Republic Honour Guard.
The lonely Republic Lykos stumbled around without both of its hands, using its legs to strike at those who would get too close. A Red Flag was lifted into the air by a savage blow, as three more moved in to attack the single Republic Lykos. It had no way to escape, as soon it was stabbed from all angled by the remaining nine Red Flag Lykos. It tripped around a bit more, until it eventually collapsed as it gave in to its wounds unwillingly.
Machitis looked back as several Destiny Seeker Lykos soon joined his Red Flags within the chamber, Mayraka heading their group as the Warmaster bowed his head with respect to the Warmistress. "Wherefore, remind me were shall we find the Ultra Director's end?" Machitis inquired, deactivating his plasma blades.
"He shall be concerned with his safety, and has barred himself within his own Hall. I would have had access to the chambers, but that shall be terminated." Mayraka replied, placing her hands on her hips.
"Then how shall we reach this?" Machitis replied, looking over the many bodies of the Honour Guards, deckhands and the Red Flags spread across the floor of the hangar. The Warmistress thought for a moment, before she looked back towards Machitis and replied: "We shall have to gain it from Spetvedka."
Machitis growled, seemingly displeased with the revelation before he looked over to Vulf and her team. "Then we shall hunt the coveted key that shall gain us access to the Ultra Director from the dying grasp of perhaps the grandest warrior of the Republic. Lo, then Heretics! We shall make out way to the Hall of Champions to take from Spetvedka his key!
"Gather, what remains of my Red Flags! For we prepare for a hunt against this, the Verkhov Director! And prepare yourself, Mayraka—along with your allied Destiny Seekers! I shall give you the honour to lead this charge towards the Hall of Champions, but we shall face the Director together."
Mayraka nodded her head, motioning for her green-armoured warriors to lead a way through the still open gates of the Honour Guard's counter offensive. They ran through the way leading to there, as Machitis looked back to Vulf as motioned her forward along with his Red Flags. The Toa of Psionics stepped forward, before jogging towards this entrance along with Raskuyu, Maya and Elisis. They followed the sound of the Seeker's footsteps, moving through the dimly lit halls towards what she hoped to be the way to this Hall of Champions.
Suddenly the sound of gunfire echoed through the chambers, as several cries of pain started from just around the corner. Reactivating her plasma blade, Vulf slipped from behind cover along with Raskuyu and Maya. At the end of the hallway, there rested several dead Destiny Seeker bodies—the door beyond it still open as the small Toa team slowly crept through the doorway. The entrance to the next chamber was incredibly massive, as fifteen stone statues of Lykos beings stood carved along a line of pillars.
They were several metres tall, and at the bottom of them read a small inscription within the Lykos language:
Nalvoka, the Thirteenth Ultra Director, Age of Prosperity.
Yalvis, the Tenth Ultra Director, Age of Understanding.
Looking further down the Hall of Champions, there rested several relics seemingly from the past of the Republic: retired banners, the personal weapons of each Ultra Director, chancellery items. The statues of all these Ultra Directors held their carved weapon down low and an carved item that marked what their contribution made to the Age of which they lead. A sixteenth still in construction station stood with a similar design, as the object it held out before it was a carving of a broken Kanohi Hau. In the engraving under it read: Polemistis, the Sixteenth Ultra Director, Age of Conflict.
Vulf stopped as she witnessed the few remaining Honour Guards fighting against the incoming Destiny Seekers, carefully moving around the relics inside the Hall of Champions. But the Destiny Seekers had no such obligation to protect these relics, as they danced around accurately and forced each Ultra Director into a corner at which they were gunned down with the fifteen rifles that opposed their one. Many survived the barrage of shots, but were in such a wounded state it would be impossible for them to do anything.
Mayraka already beheaded one of the final remaining Honour Guards, as the body of the giant Lykos fell over—still seemingly trying to move as to kill the traitor Flotskya Director. The Hall of Champions fell silent as the Destiny Seekers soon moved to secure the chambers, right as Machitis and the Red Flags entered the room. "Where is Spetvedka?" Raskuyu asked, looking towards the Warmaster and Warmistress.
"He should be stationed here," Mayraka spoke, "why he is not is beyond me."
"Perhaps he has fled?" Vulf inquired, as she looked over the plasma burn marks now within the Hall of Champions. Mayraka shook her head before she answered the question: "Nada, for he was designed to be the next Ultra Director. Perhaps our extermination shall be his trial, and so with that will please the Ultra Director to ascend."
"Was Polemistis the Tyrant realising of his end?" Machitis asked mockingly, as there were grunts of agreements from both the Destiny Seekers and the Red Flags. Vulf looked around, as she thought she saw a vibration ripple through the air.
Before the Toa of Psionics had time to react, a grenade was produced in the large crowd of of Destiny Seekers. Panic ensued as the plasma grenade detonated and evaporated most of the Destiny Seekers, as there were yells from both the remaining Red Flags and Destiny Seekers.
A chilling voice rose from the chaos, not belonging to anyone visible as Mayraka appeared to shutter from it. "Nada, but you shall feel the blade which shall break all who shall oppose it."
Suddenly the bright blue shimmer of a legendary plasma blade was produced from thin air. Slowly, the air unraveled itself and shaped into a tall and imposing figure who donned black and silver armour. The armour was slick and sharp at several edges, looking enough to be able to cut through whoever dared touch them. The red eyes of the being locked on the Warmaster and Warmistress, before they cunningly turned towards Vulf and her team.
"Yet, you bring filthy heretics among us!" The Lykos growled, "And yet, I would expect as much from two traitors!"
"You dare challenge all of us?!" Machitis laughed, "Permit yourself to preserve your honour! It shall be less embarrassing then your lack of sense and warriorship!"
"Step forward then, heretic!" Spetvedka challenged, as the Warmaster approached with his dual blades.
Swinging one of his blades, Spetvedka deflected the first before crossing the second. The Warmaster spun his blade in attempt to fork it, which would permit him to disarm the Verkhov Director—but the talented Lykos managed to reverse this role with Machitis, removing one of his blades. Before the Warmaster had a chance to bring forth the double, Spetvedka managed the block.
Using his own crafted blade, the Verkhov Director pinched the first blade of Machitis before he disarmed the double from possession of the Warmaster. Perhaps it was his overconfidence, or perhaps it was that the Verkhov was a much more decisive warrior. But without a moment to spare, Mayraka already brought her blade between the killing blow and the Warmaster.
Spetvedka's eyes instantly locked on hers, as he broke the block and swung upwards. The clever Warmistress repeated this move, catching the Verkhov Director in a tricky spot. Spetvedka jabbed at Mayraka with his blade, as she deflected the quick movement. By this time, Machitis gained possession of both of his blades and quickly moved against the Verkhov Director.
With a single swipe, Spetvedka manages to defend himself against all three blades. Vulf shook her head, realising that the only way to stop the Verkhov Director was to place pressure on him. Gesturing forward, the Toa of Psionics moved with her other two Toa comrades.
Vulf swiped from the flank of the Verkhov Director, which the Lykos blocked with a quick spin. Raskuyu quickly followed this with her two lightblades, catching Spetvedka's blade by forming an x-shape with her own. Mayraka then quickly moved to remove the arm off the Verkhov Director—but the slippery Lykos managed to evade this capture. Vulf jabbed his side with The Huntsblade, which moved between a gap in the armour as the Verkhov Director grunted in pain.
Trying to follow up this attack, Machitis swung one of his blades and burnt through the forearm armour of Spetvedka. The Verkhov Director growled, as he landed a lucky blow to one of The Blades of Soyedmevos. The base of the weapon melted as the projection ports for the plasma blades shattered and sprayed plasma everywhere. Machitis roared in anger, as he spun his own blade through another chink in the armour of the Verkhov Director.
Blood gushed from the wound inflicted upon by Machitis, as Spetvedka challenged the now single blade with his own. Mayraka tried to intervene, but found her blade was challenged and she was pushed back from the fight. Vulf swung to the now exposed back of the Verkhov Director. Some of the armour melted, as it cut through to the skin of Spetvedka.
He roared, spinning as he broke The Huntsblade free from the possession of the Toa of Psionics. Throwing his leg up, Vulf was struck and was lifted off the ground as her back collided at the feat of the statue of Polemistis. "Heretic!" Spetvedka yelled, "You dare challenge me? For what mistake you have made, I shall surely correct with your death!"
Vulf detected the rising level of anger coming from somewhere else in the room, as the Toa of Psionics spotted what appeared to be Raskuyu: approaching the Lykos from behind. As Spetvedka readied himself to spear Vulf on the end of his weapon, he suddenly felt the size of Raskuyu mounting his back as she drove both of her blades into either side of his neck.
The Verkhov Director spun in confusion and pain, stumbling around as he reached up in order to tear Raskuyu loose from his back but had no success. Blood soon poured freely from these two wounds, not being lapped or dissolved by a plasma energy of any kind. Turning around and away from Vulf, a blade of plasma erupted from out of his back as a plasma blade penetrated him from the front. Falling to his knees, Spetvedka continued to claw at Raskuyu as he slowly lost a grip on reality.
Falling forward, the Verkhov Director twitched on the floor; but had no success in rising from it to continue any fight. Raskuyu soon stood, drawing her two blades from the neck of Spetvedka as she immediately turned back to Vulf and joined the Toa of Psionics side. But what happened next surprised Vulf, as she felt the two arms of the Toa of Light wrap around her in order to form an embrace.
Vulf found herself comforted by the gesture, as soon she slowly wrapped her arms around Raskuyu. It felt like something more that just a comforting gesture now: it felt like a tighter bond or connection in which she only seemed to be able to form with this Toa of Light.
"I won't let them hurt you again, Vulf." Raskuyu whispered in the audio receptor or Vulf, tightening her embrace with the Toa of Psionics. Vulf slowly spoke as well, "Neither will I let them hurt you."
Raskuyu looked into the eyes of Vulf from the closest the two have ever been to each other, with a sense of curiosity and longing. The young Toa helped Vulf to her feet, as they kept each other in their arms. Vulf cast her eyes down to the shape that was Spetvedka, before drawing her eyes around the rest of the room to make out the shapes of Elisis and Maya standing close by.
Elisis seemed to keep an expression of sincere surprise, not exactly capable of forming a solid expression on the matter. Maya seemed to keep an expression that remained rather neutral. Drawing her eyes across to Machitis and Mayraka, Vulf found that the Warmaster and Warmistress had then just deactivated their plasma blades. Machitis narrowed his brows at the sight of Vulf and Raskuyu sharing an embrace, before he commanded: "Then so we shall have our key! Heretic, retrieve us this key and prepare the lift!"
Vulf felt Raskuyu's arms pull from her sides unwillingly, as the Toa of Light simply smiled in a manner more than just friendly. Vulf slowly approached the body of Spetvedka, as she ran her hands over the body to find anything that could be potentially related to a key. Running around the utility belt, she removed a flat-disc like object. Rising carefully to her feet, the Toa of Psionics examined the object carefully to ensure it was a key-like device.
Looking around the room, the Toa of Psionics spotted something that seemed to be akin to blast doors. She slowly approached them, as the key in her hands began to hum and vibrate. The closer she got to the door, the intensity of which the object increased until she stood in front of it. Suddenly a holographic projection appeared in front of the door, appearing to be to hold the disc within and to open the door.
Slowly, she inserted it into the keyhole as the holographic device spun and opened the blast doors in a snapping motion. Normally, Vulf would have waited for any other suggestion that Machitis would have made—or wait for her team to join her... but something drew her to step into the room. Slowly, she obliged this feeling when she realised that this room was an elevator of sorts.
But as soon as Vulf stepped onto the lift there was an even louder humming sound. The ground below her slowly began to glow, as this brought all attention over to Vulf. Suddenly, she felt as if her body ceased to move entirely as a clear door shut itself between her and the rest of her team the Lykos. There was an exclamation from Raskuyu as she bounded over, pressing herself against the glass as she watched helplessly as the obstacle kept her from Vulf.
The Toa of Psionics was within struggle, as she too wanted to join with Raskuyu to be by the Toa of Lights side again. Slowly the shape of Machitis marched up, as he looked through the glass and towards Vulf. His typical scowl marked his face, as he stood by patiently for Vulf to be moved up. But then the Warmaster did something Vulf had not expected to happen. He placed his fist on his heart, seemingly with difficulty as he showed a feeling to mutuality.
Slowly, Vulf began to lift up further into the Supercapitol as Raskuyu remained pressed against the glass helplessly. Vulf closed her eyes painfully, as she awaited what was to come next as the gravity lift drew her upwards. Slowly, she drifted until she saw the top of the elevator as she was slowly pulled forward onto the floor in front of her. The Toa of Psionics' boots touched the velvet carpet under them, as suddenly she spotted a row of six Honour Guards an a large blast door. The door to the elevator behind her closed, as Vulf closed her eyes and went for her plasma blade.
But the Honour Guards stood in place, keeping their staves at their sides as they stood perfectly still: much like statues. This made the Toa of Psionics very unnerved, as she found herself incapable to work to fight against them. It was as if they had not minded her presence. Petrified, Vulf watched as the two Honour Guards on the other side of the chamber slowly opened the blast doors opposite of her position, allowing her passage into the next room.
She walked forward cautiously, hand on The Huntsblade as Vulf stepped into what was perhaps the most impressive room she ever stepped into. The high walls and decorated ceiling, rows of seats along the walls to her right and left. A series of projectors within the ground, showing several holographic symbols. The continued roll of carpet until it reached a row of seven steps up into an elevated position. Several holographic displays flickered around the large throne-like object facing away from the Toa of Psionics.
There was now a row of twenty four Honour Guards on either side of the carpet, standing as perfectly still as they had in the entrance before. Vulf slowly continued forward, until all holographic displays suddenly switched off—warning the Toa of Psionics not to continue for now.
Her optical sensors soon locked onto the throne shaped object before her, as the same terrifying voice from the loudspeaker before soon spoke: "You continue to press forward? Perhaps then you shall think yourself brave and able to stop what I dedicated myself to, and disrupt the will of the Pantheon be done to appease your species survival. Then so, perhaps you shall be foolish while I pray thee to be wise. Then so, shall I conquer thee and take back this world which hath belonged to me since our divine creation. Then so, I may meet bitter defeat at greater hands for a future dominated by insurrection and foolishness. Then so, warrior..."
The throne slowly turned, as within it sat the massive figure of what was perhaps the most terrifying being in this universe. Clad within a well designed and fashioned armours, the being of the one whom Vulf hade come to fear the most sat right before her. And she was standing within his hall. Under normal circumstances, this wouldn't have had been so terrifying for Vulf. But now? She faced what to her was an actually credible threat. His red eyes locked on to her, as he finished what he designed to say while Vulf was caught in her petrified state.
"Have your resolution."
Antagonist and Antagonist
The silence that preceded after what the Ultra Director had said left Vulf feel at a loss of air and warmth. The words of the mighty Lykos drained all sense of confidence from the Toa of Psionics, seizing her completely as his eyes bore deeply into the her person—scrutinising everything she was doing. Vulf couldn't feel or do anything other than stare back at the details of Polemistis, as he calculated everything she was trying to decide and express.
But much like an artist under examination, Vulf couldn't decide what and how to decide and express what she was going to do. Polemistis was criticising every move she made now, and that made her even more nervous. So to him, she appeared nothing more than just a blank canvas.
Usually she would have been more confident under her conditions, but usually she had a team of trusted friends and comrades beside her, all ready to act to protect her and work with her against any obstacle they went up against. But Yermo stole her friends one by one from her—leaving her only with two left: Raskuyu, Elisis and Maya who were now trapped behind metal gates as to stop their progression into the Ultra Director's chambers.
Kvar had disappeared with a team of Red Flag's to aid in the destruction of a manufacturing plant, never to be seen by Vulf again. And Yarvok? He sacrificed himself to ensure his friends could move on to face Polemistis, which now created an obligation for Vulf to not let his sacrifice be in vain.
Vulf wasn't about to let Yarvok's or Kvar's sacrifices be forgotten and she wasn't about to fail Raskuyu, Elisis or Maya. She needed to do what needed to be done, and the way to do so sat right in front of her. Pride and anger burned within the Toa of Psionics, as she used her powerful mind to extinguish her fury in attempt to remain visibly calm to Polemistis.
The Ultra Director remained seated in his gravity throne, his Honour Guards still motionless as he waited for her to move or to speak. Vulf stuttered to begin, but she focused her energies to announce clearly: "I am here now: Polemistis, Ultra Director of the Lykos Kinsman Republic."
"Indeed," Polemistis replied in his cool tone, "and yet I am at a loss for what you are. I perceived there would be the insurrection at my gates, prepared with gnashed teeth and angered hearts as to destroy me entirely. But never had I expected a lowly Toa to come before me. Pray tell me, what have you hoped to achieve by standing before me—ready to draw my blood?"
Vulf felt as her body shook, as Polemistis challenged her for standing against him. For someone who has faced the most terrifying beings of any alternate reality—but for the first time, she was genuinely afraid.
The Lykos were the most alien threat she could ever face, and for every Makuta she has faced she never had a threat quite like the Ultra Director and the Republic. She tightened her fists, looking into the eyes of Polemistis in an attempt to feign a sort of bravery.
"Should I be required to, Ultra Director." Vulf started, "My only goal here is to ensure a peaceful resolution to this war that has already destroyed so much."
"Peaceful resolution?" Polemistis sighed, shaking his head for a brief while before he looked back up to Vulf with a very apparent cynical expression. "Shall peace only be found after a ceaseless battle! How should you know peace without war? Then tell me, Toa: what should peace be?"
Vulf found herself at a loss for what could be the answer to Polemistis' question, as she quickly rummaged through her memory storage for an answer that would potentially satisfy the Ultra Director. She pulled something from her philosophy lessons, trying to apply it to the situation: "Peace should be when all find mutual ground, Ultra Director. Nothing opposing as to prevent senseless bloodshed and violence."
Polemistis smiled, seemingly amused with this answer before he scoffed a response: "Then by your definition Toa, I was indeed on the path for peace. What you resolve with no opposition was what I sought, for the introduction for a singular state with will to eliminate all who shall oppose them!"
Vulf was left speechless by the statement made by the Ultra Director, having not considered this point before she answered his question. The Toa of Psionics quickly formulated a response to the best of her abilities: "So then, you find peace in the destruction of those who simply held different ideals to you? Have you exhausted your efforts to negotiate before you marched into war?"
Polemistis' smile soon began to fade, before his scowl returned as he allowed himself to turn his head away from the sight of the Toa of Psionics. "Aj, my greatest consequence for ensuring a long and prosperous future for my people! But so for every wrong I shall have made to the course of this war, I will have made yet another peace for near eternity!"
"Have you even tried to negotiate, Ultra Director?" Vulf pressed, drawing Polemisits' attention back to her.
"Shall I speak to those who refuse to listen, as if they were deaf? They willingly dismissed our religion, and refused to repeat unto the Pantheon! Servants of Grogus Sarkus, the corrupted one of our Highest!"
"So you ordered a purge on them?"
"Lo, they mocked a people who until this point in time knew only of the Khodka! From the Scrolls of Polkis, we were told we were the most divine creations of the Pantheon—that the whole world shall bow and pledge loyalty to us!" Polemisits replied sharply, "But instead they contrasted our beliefs and challenged all we have ever known, defied the Khodka and instead implied that we were as lowly as them! Should I have known of the likes of you before this, perhaps I should have responded much differently than I have now!"
Vulf was taken aback by such a statement, as she tried to make sense of what Polemistis just said. The Lykos didn't know the other species existed? Developed an isolated culture where they were the centre of everything?
The Toa of Psionics began to wonder the exact implications of a truly isolated people: they only knew and tolerated a single society. Strange then that the Lykos only seemed to exist in a single universe. Perhaps this isolationist policy meant that they were not yet discovered in the other universes which she traveled to?
"You were isolated from the rest of the world..." Vulf quietly said, "How could you have known that there were other peoples if you were kept behind a thick veil of a belief you were a singular entity?"
"Cruel, isn't it?" Polemistis asked. "The world of which is so bitter to those who stand away from the rest. Challenged supremacy? A challenged belief which allows us to so easily demonise our foe? Truth for us has been clouded under this mystery! I cannot bring myself to believe any more!"
"It is a very cruel work, Ultra Director." Vulf replied, "I'm deeply sorry it should afflict you so. But what should you not bring yourself to believe anymore? The Khodka?"
The statues which were the Honour Guards shifted when Vulf offered such a sentiment, bringing her back into the reality that she was deep into what had been her enemies territory. She couldn't believe she was speaking to the Ultra Director himself, the one she founded to be her greatest enemy.
But now because of this, she was losing the sight of him being some sort of cruel monster—but rather as an opposed philosophy which she eagerly wanted to understand. Was this it? Sympathising with the very one who had been determined to destroy her?
Polemistis became visibly distraught when Vulf brought up the Khodka in such a light as this, as he slowly turned his throne to hide this emotion. She could tell he was struggling in his belief, but she couldn't tell why exactly he was.
"Speak of the Khodka, and you find only the most abominable of contradictions! My people to be missionaries to those who understand not our ideals, to help convert those who refuse to learn! But then it speaks it is an abomination unto the Pantheon not to know of the Khodka, and so destroy those heretics who do not understand!" He spoke sharply, "Then so, what shall I follow?"
"Why is it you could not continue to be missionaries?" Vulf asked.
"We are a warrior species, one that strives on the thrill of conquering our foe! One that works to destroy those who are weaker than us! We pray to follow this pact of honour, but only can we through the war!" Polemistis spoke, "And for us to be inactive to the cries of war?! Heresy! Why even teach one lesson, should another override it and mean we are destroyed anyways for not following this principle?"
"The oddest of contradictions, Ultra Director... though should you be warriors, why not strive for being warriors of peace? Conquering through teaching, rather than through destruction?" Vulf asked.
"They hear not a word we speak!" Polemistis replied with a sharp tone, "they turn deaf ear to our preaching, speak forever ill of our Pantheon! It is on our honour we defend the Khodka and uphold it zealously! Then, teaching means nothing to our Pantheon should they dishonour it and us!"
"They refused to accept your culture." Vulf drew as a conclusion, thinking what the consequences would have been for both sides involved. The Lykos would remain isolationist, and hold contempt for all who refused to accept their ideals.
The Unity would lose the opportunity for connecting with the Lykos and creating stronger relations between all. Vulf closed her eyes, actually considering what the Ultra Director has said. "But still, this justifies not your response."
"Nothing ever will." Polemistis muttered, drawing his eyes down to the floor before he sighed. "Sometimes I wonder whether I should feel this guilt. I offered the best solutions I could, but still they refused our peace. I started a war to exterminate what I should consider an abomination! But then I authorised the grossest violation of the Khodka, and imprisoned the souls of fallen warriors into these metal frames! Then I called for the execution of those who I have trusted, for they failed me only once!"
"You feel sorrow for what you have done?" Vulf asked, a bit surprised as the Ultra Director returned his attention to the Toa of Psionics. She wasn't sure what to feel, whether it be surprise or relief, given that this was quite possibly the first time she ever engaged her foe in conversation where this foe would express regret for everything they have done.
"How could I not?" Polemistis asked, "I have betrayed my religion, my honour..."
He rotated his throne, gesturing to outside the window as Vulf looked outside from the position she stood from. It wasn't difficult to understand what the Ultra Director was motioning too: it was the chaos happening in the Capitol below them.
He continued: "My family... and now the people I have sworn to lead and protect. They rally against me, Toa—hoping to use my blood to bath the streets with, a hope of which they can clean all that has been such grievous sin. I am as good as dead, Toa. There shall only be my legacy now, a legacy of which I shall be known forever as a failure."
Vulf stood silent as he said this, Polemistis placed his hand over his face to seemingly hide his emotions from the Toa of Psionics. She could quietly translate what the Lykos felt: a loathing, disgust and a resentment of who he was and what he had done. He turned towards the Toa of Psionics once more, as he spoke with a chilling tone: "Then so, I have relieved my burdens to one who has known nothing but my wrath! Cemented a reason for why I should be destroyed, by the hand of one whom I nearly destroyed! Then so, Toa. I bid that if you shall take your blade against me, that you make so quick."
Vulf stood still, looking into the eyes of the Ultra Director as she quietly judged him. The Toa of Psionics has long believed that those who have realised the consequences of their actions and have admitted to their crimes should be given mercy by rule. This is what Polemistis has done very willingly: accepted the blame for what he has done and was willing to accept the fall as consequence for these actions.
Vulf then shook her head, saying: "It shouldn't be up to me to decide your fate, Ultra Director. You admitted your faults unto me, and by that I am no longer obligated to do so."
What was she saying? If the Agency of the Olmak ever understood that she willingly let a problem go unresolved, that she would face some sort of disciplinary action herself. She was putting her reputation within the Agency at risk for not taking this chance to pacify this universe permanently. But she still had to abide by her moral principles: it wasn't her duty as a third-party to decide the fate of this universe, it was now up to the opposition.
Polemistis looked on confused, as he spoke with a questioning voice: "Why should you refuse to take your opportunity to put me down as a Rahi—a grave sin which I have done against your own people?"
"It is within my morals, Ultra Director." Vulf replied, "I am no longer able to decide your fate."
"Should it then be at the hands of these Red Flags and these Destiny Seekers then? If so, then I shall perish along with the rest of my Paketo for crimes against the Republic and its people!" Polemistis cried out, "I face it as an end, then. Perhaps fitting that the ones who should give me the power within the place I received it, shall now have it pulled from my dead hands in the place of his death."
"They will destroy your Paketo?" Vulf asked in surprise, having not taken an outcome like this into consideration.
"Aj, for it is tradition to destroy the family of tyrants to ensure there shall never be another rise from the offending Paketo." Polemistis replied, "But even should their innocence be shed, I cannot bring myself to mind it. They were nothing but pain for me, a reminder as to what I was and what I should have become."
"The family war." Vulf spoke softly as Polemistis nodded his head. He closed his eyes for some time as Vulf allowed herself to understand that the Lykos family was doomed to a cycle of repetition to seek to destroy and be destroyed. It seemed to her to be senseless cruelty: the closest relations one should have are forced into a cycle of betrayal and hatred.
"Speak of me your name, Toa." Polemistis soon asked Vulf, as he looked up to her. "I should know one who should seek to know me, rather than know my blood."
"I am Toa Vulf." She replied, looking into the eyes of the Ultra Director as she came to realise that she forged a sort of intellectual bond with the one who she thought was her enemy. He took her in to be civil, and allowed her to understand him better. It seemed too odd to her now, being an agent from another universe entirely to decide the fate for this one.
Polemistis bowed his head, before he replied: "Vulf. I have finally come to a name of your race that I may now respect."
"Likewise, Ultra Director." Vulf replied, before she carefully attached a request of hers: "But there is one question that I would like to know your answer to."
The Ultra Director looked intently at her, before he spoke calmly: "Of course."
"Do you believe it should be the sole responsibility of one being to decide the fate for the rest of the universe?" Vulf asked, seemingly having a burden lifted from her shoulders as she asked this question.
Polemistis placed his gauntleted fist under his chin as he thought of the answer, looking squarely at Vulf as he contemplated his response in full. He finally spoke, in a way that seemed to draw all attention to him: "If you should ask this question, then I shall provide you a single example."
"And what would that be?" Vulf asked.
"I want you to know of me." Polemistis replied, "For I took upon myself to cure the illness which has seized this universe, and to purify it. I took upon myself the responsibility to change all, according to the way I have perceived which way to be right. Was I justified to do so?"
Vulf turned her eyes away for a moment before she looked back to Polemistis, realising he had been asking a question. "In this way, you wanted to destroy entire races to see your end."
"Then all is the same for the one being who shall take upon them the right to change entire worlds." Polemistis replied. "They shall be permitted to ignore the cries of their opposition, to see only what they want to see through self-imposed blinders. There are no heroes, no absolutes which have the moral high ground—because there is an opposition to all things. For the hero your perceive yourself to be, you shall appear villainous to another. For the morals you believe to be the mighty, there shall be others conceived to believe it evil."
"So there is no given right to do so, then?" Vulf asked.
"Even as tyrants live." Polemistis replied, "Allow this to come from one who has been actively trying to do as I have just described."
Vulf stood silently as she considered what Polemistis had to say. If he had spoken true, then everything she had worked for was out of mere self-interest to impose a biased system in a universe that was consumed by total war. With this, how could she justify what she had done against the Lykos Kinsman Republic? Polemistis denounced his belief that he was supposed to change things for the better, as he was corrupted by self interest. Should she do the same?
Suddenly the Ultra Director took a stand, rising slowly from his throne as he allowed his boots to touch the velvet-carpeted floor underneath him. Vulf wasn't exactly sure how to react, but she held still and allowed Polemistis to approach her slowly as he passed through the middle of the two Honour Guard rows. He stopped only metres from her, before he slowly spoke.
"And because of it, I must allow my name to live in infamy for what I have done against your people. Suffer whatever consequences may come my way." Polemistis added, "Forever shall I be known as Polemistis, the Tyrant. And it shall have to be embraced between my dead arms and chest."
"Could you not just call for a truce?" Vulf asked, as Polemistis seeming laughed—but in a way which seemed pained. "Mercy is not a tool of the Lykos."
Vulf looked down to the floor and accepted what this meant for the Ultra Director and his fate. It seemingly saddened her that he was now so willing to surrender all that he knew over to those who sought to end him, primarily because she had grown to understand him. For all these months she considered him a foe.
But now? He was an intellectual, a fellow scholar among her arts. She could no longer bring herself to despise him, because he could not despise her. And because of this, she had a responsibility to share her guilt as he had with her. She was betraying her code doing so, but Vulf would rather suffer consequences than let the Lykos suffer shame alone.
"I was sent her to end the war here, by choosing a side that seemed to be the most morally justified." Vulf started, "I am an Agent from another realm. Designed to decide the outcome of this universe."
Polemistis looked at her oddly, at first unsure as to what the Toa had meant. But slowly he began to understand what she had meant, as he soon replied in a cooling voice: "Then you stand on a ground opposing me, yet within a footing similar to mine. How curious indeed."
Vulf looked away for a brief moment, as she was soon brought back by the attention of the Ultra Director as he quietly asked: "But even so, I shall be an antagonist to those even outside of my world?"
"Even as I am with you, Ultra Director."
"Antagonist and antagonist." Polemistis concluded, as he drew in a deep breath before releasing it. He looked back towards his throne, and out through the window to the white world beyond him.
"And this shall be an end to all, your mission complete and my regime having been conquered." He added, before looking back to the Toa of Psionics.
"Perhaps it was destiny." Vulf spoke softly.
"Perhaps." Polemistis replied.
Vulf looked back up to the Ultra Director, as she quietly thought about what would happen after this end. Would she even have time to be united with Raskuyu once more before she should have to depart back to her home universe? Would it be the kindest thing to do if she could do so? Would there be a possibility that Raskuyu would be invited to join the Agency should she fulfil the requirements?
But what if none of these were applicable or morally just? Perhaps she was running out of time in this universe. Perhaps the kindest thing for her to do would be to disappear from these chamber as if she was dead. Likely Raskuyu didn't fulfil the requirements to become part of the Agency. This was very troubling to Vulf, who quickly had to decide what her fate should be.
"So should you surrender? Or shall you meet your end with a blade drawn?" Vulf asked, looking up to what appeared to be a being now at peace.
"I shall not surrender. I know what I must do, Vulf." Polemistis replied grimly, "I must accept my defeat and death by the hands of my people."
"I see." Vulf replied, "Mind if I shall make one last request?"
"Should I be permitted to see it through, then shall I see it through." Polemistis spoke, looking quizzically at the Toa of Psionics. "What should you require?"
Vulf looked at him for a while, painfully making her decision before she spoke: "I believe my time has come to leave this universe. I have friends, loved ones in the chambers below. Should they arrive here, they shall wonder where I went."
Polemistis tilted his head to a side, seemingly figuring what the Toa of Psionics would want before he soon lowered his head in reverence. "You require a reason to be gone, I see."
The Ultra Director slowly approached his throne, opening the holographic armrest before he tapped on a command which didn't at first seem to do much. However it soon became evident what was happening as a loud whirring sound was heard. Vulf looked towards what had been a massive window wall as slowly it seemed to pull apart at invisible seams in the clear wall. Quickly the winter air soon breached the chambers, followed by a howling wind—Polemistis' cape beginning to flutter from the disturbance before he turned back to face the Toa of Psionics.
"Here," Polemistis spoke, "I shall claim to have cast you from my chambers after your defeat. This is the best I can do for you, Vulf."
"It shall be enough." Vulf said, bowing her head in respect. "Thank you, Ultra Director."
Polemistis nodded his head, before looking towards the rows of his Honour Guards before he sighed audibly despite the loud wind. He turned his way in a sense of shame, before he looked back up and spoke in a way that was downcast: "Then I shall prepare for my end as well."
The Ultra Director than turned his tone down into a stern command within his own language, speaking specifically to his own Honour Guards: "And at the end of a Ultra Director's reign, shall there once again be permission to preserve the honour of the Honour Guards."
Vulf nearly jumped as suddenly the statues that were the Honour Guards came to life, as they all drew their plasma blades and activated on command. If they plotted to come against her, there would not be enough time to find a way to fend them off before anything in her favour could happen. But oddly, they did not draw their blades against her—but rather against themselves as they turned their plasma blades in towards their chests, driving it through themselves as few exclaimed in pain.
In succession, the Honour Guards collapsed to their knees and became incredibly weak. Few fell over completely before they had a chance to fall to their knees, slowly and painfully dying as all their blades remained active for the entire thing. Vulf was horrified with what was happening all around her, not entirely sure what they were doing before she allowed herself to reflect on what the Ultra Director had said.
... to preserve the honour of the Honour Guards.
Vulf then turned her head back towards where Polemistis stood, watching as he stood still by what he allowed himself to do to all his Honour Guards. It was a mixed emotion of relief and grief, knowing that they would be spared the humiliation of his eventual downfall—but at the cost of their lives.
Vulf turned her head aside as well, realising fully what had been done and what it had meant to Polemistis. She was going to look up and give her condolences to the Ultra Director, before there was a succession of three claps of thunder that echoed loudly throughout the chamber. Vulf didn't exactly process what was happening, taken by surprise as she saw the shape of Polemistis fall to his knees as he exclaimed agony—before falling forward to the floor. The Toa of Psionics looked up, trying to spot who had intruded in the chambers as she soon locked eyes with a familiar being.
"Crovin?!" Vulf cried out in shock, looking at the Toa of Sonics as he lowered his weapon and looked back at her. "What are you doing here?!" She quickly demanded as Crovin stood his ground, his yellow glowing eyes seemingly looking straight through her before he managed a smile.
"Vulf, thank Mata Nui that this is all over!" He exclaimed, "You have liberated this forsaken universe, ended a Tyrant in a matter of months! It's deserved that you can finally return back to Vudrai!"
"Why did you kill him?!" Vulf shouted, "He was surrendering, letting his people deal with him! He didn't need to be killed by us!"
"Vulf, he was a coward and a liar!" Crovin replied, "He was just going to kill the opposition the moment they got in here—he would have killed the friends and family you have made here! And he was going to kill you too!"
Vulf's eyes narrowed with criticism as she looked at Crovin, not exactly believing what the Toa of Sonics was saying. "He wouldn't do anything like that! He was honourable! He had doubts about what he was doing—Crovin, he admitted what he had done was wrong and that he should be held accountable for it!"
Crovin looked sharply back, the features of his Kanohi shifting to form a sort of cynical scowl. He spoke gently, as the wind seemingly fell silent to the words of the Toa of Sonics. "He was lying, Vulf. These beasts always lie. Look, I understand that you may have been mislead by whatever little ruse he had been managing—"
"Mislead?!" Vulf protested, cutting off the Agent Handler before he sharply replied back: "Yes, Vulf! Mislead! I should have seen this coming, but I am beginning to think you are compromised!"
"How dare you say I am compromised!"
"Don't you remember our rules, Vulf? An Agent is prohibited from speaking about the Agency to anyone who belongs outside our realm! And what have you willingly done?!"
Vulf fell silent, shocked to understand how Crovin managed to discover that she was discussing her role in the Agency with the Ultra Director. The Toa of Sonics discovered this expression, seemingly translating it as he laughed what what Vulf could figure was only due to what he considered her ignorance: "You thought you were the only one who could use the Olmak infused armour to tap into this element in other realms, even when not present?! Please! It is one of the simplest things an Agent can ever do!"
"You were able to use your Sonic ability here, when you weren't even inside this universe?"
"Yes, I can! How do you think I know you were discussing the Agency with this foul Rahi? How do you think I have been tracking your progress, Vulf?"
Vulf bowed her head in a seeming shame as Crovin revealed this unto her, as he shook his head slowly. "Vulf," he paused, "I know you are quite confused as to what is going on. You see, with our newest Agents we have decided it best to sugar-coat the reality of what we are doing. Only when we believe they are ready to accept the truth of what we are doing do we send them against one of the greatest and foulest threats to ever be conceived in any Universe."
"And what is that?"
"Why, haven't you figured?" Crovin smiled, "The beasts? The foul Rahi? I speak of these things here, Vulf! These Lykos Kinsmen!"
Vulf was shocked by what Crovin had to say, as he kicked the limp body of the Ultra Director at his feet. He looked back up to the Toa of Psionics', seemingly predicting her question before he allowed himself to reply: "Why are they a vile thing, you may ask? Simply said Vulf, they were designed to be as unpleasant as they are! Designed to be ruthless war machines meant to exterminate anything deemed to be an extreme threat to any universe!"
"But what are we doing that is such a threat, Crovin?!" Vulf demanded, looking squarely at the Toa of Sonics before he slowly shook his head in disappointment.
"We sugar-coat things, Vulf. We aren't here to bring peace, we've come to expand into a universe with considerably more resources readily available! Peace is only a bonus of what we are doing here!"
Vulf stopped in her tracks as she looked horrified, staring directly at Crovin as she tried to find words to use. She couldn't believe what she was hearing. She was aiding a hostile force take more land? Everything she was doing wasn't for peace, but rather to push across some cruel agenda? Vulf felt ever more sick, as she soon allowed herself to force out: "B-but why?"
"Because our universe is dying, Vulf! We've reached the absolute end of our universes time! We are running low on resources! Would you rather see whatever peace we have devolve into senseless violence and barbarianism as it has here? What we are doing for these people is a gift, Vulf! We are liberating them from things like this and giving them something better in return! How is this cruel?"
"You are allowing yourself to remove their freedom of choice, Crovin!" Vulf cried, "You are doing something that is just as bad—if not worse—than what Polemistis was doing!"
Crovin's expression soured, as he looked with contempt at the Toa of Psionics. "And you helped us every step of the way, Vulf! We just had to cover it up as a fight for peace, and you were all over it! You were a perfect example of loyalty without question for so long! Our perfect warrior from the Third Realm that we conquered, we just needed to disillusion you and we were set to use you as the tool you were designed to be!"
Vulf looked back at Crovin, staring in defiance as she allowed him to raise his weapon towards her as he allowed his finger back on the trigger of the weapon. "But I am sure the Agency will understand your termination. If you aren't with us Vulf, then you are against us!"
Vulf was about to accept this, standing her ground as she waited for Crovin to pull the trigger and end her. She wasn't going to be a part of this cruel organisation anymore, and even if it meant her death—she at least knew that she was doing the just thing. But suddenly, the ground shifted from under Crovin as there was a mighty roar within the chambers.
The Toa of Psionics heard the distinct sound of a plasma blade being activated as the frame of the Ultra Director stood up from off the ground and approached the Toa of Sonics. Crovin turned around quickly, hoping to put a round in Polemistis before the Ultra Director had time to react—but it was to no avail. He was very suddenly struck to the ground, as Polemistis hovered directly over him and prepared his plasma blade to impale Crovin.
The Lykos roared and the Toa yelled, as Crovin managed to wedge his weapon between him and Polemistis before he squeezed the trigger in rapid succession. This however was not enough to prevent the falling action of the plasma blade, as the weapon cut straight through the Toa of Sonics. Crovin screamed in pain, doing everything he could to escape the blade that was melting his innards. But his attempts soon became feeble, as his movements soon slowed and became ever so weak—to becoming completely devoid of action at all. And Vulf soon knew why: for Crovin had been slain by Polemistis.
The Ultra Director suddenly fell weak, as he collapsed over the body of the Toa of Sonics before he rolled off to one side to lay flat on his back beside the being he had killed, and the being who had killed him. His breath was audibly becoming weaker, as Vulf soon found herself by the Ultra Director's side as she placed her hands over his many wounds—finding no way to be able to treat them.
Polemistis turned his head towards Vulf, painfully lifting his arm up to her shoulder as he rested his heavy gauntleted hand on her. His mandibles clicked, as he painfully allowed himself to talk between the coughing up of his blood or the temporary loss of breath: "Vulf..? A-allow me to speak to you only once more... before I shall be gone from this realm forever.
"W-we first spoke of what was right..? We both agreed... we understood it was wrong for the will of a single being to decide the fate of an entire people... to decide for an entire universe."
"We did." Vulf spoke softly.
"T-then I bid you keep me one last promise... allow no one to ever hold enough power to decide the fate for all who reside in it... deny them this power, deny them a chance where one like me shall rise ever again!"
"And promise me... you shall end this Agency for whom you once served... stop them from also erasing the will of all."
Vulf bowed her head reverently, before she spoke softly concerning this request: "This I will do, Ultra Director."
Polemistis coughed painfully, drawing in what was perhaps the last few breaths he would ever be allowed to breath again: "Then take my blade, Toa... it has touched only one realm... in memory of my will, and your promise: allow it to touch a thousand more."
Vulf nodded her head, incapable of speech as she placed a fist over her heart to show the Ultra Director that she would honour this promise. Polemistis weakly preformed the same gesture, his fist over his heart before he coughed rather violently and slowly began to suffocate. Incapable of drawing anymore breaths from this world, his mighty chest refused to move and the body of the Ultra Director was now and forever commanded to be still. And Vulf knew why: for Polemistis had been slain by Crovin.
The Toa of Psionics looked up to the brilliantly designed blade, perhaps the most intricate and unique in design that she has ever seen from a plasma blade. The guard was designed with a black, silver and gold design and the hilt was customised to seemingly fit and adjust to the wielders hand much like a glove. The shape of the projected blade itself was incredibly, managing a more curved—but allowed to be more brutal and sharp.
Approaching the body of Crovin, Vulf placed her hand around the comfortable hilt as she soon pulled it free from the body of the dead villain. It was indeed the best fitting blade she ever had the honour to wield, as she allowed herself to read the inscribing that was a necessity to any custom blade: The Blade of the Honourbound. Deactivating it, she reluctantly placed it on her utility belt—still wanting to be allowed to feel the hilt of such a magnificent blade.
Vulf looked back to the body of Polemistis, realising that there was no turning back on what she had to do now. Her promise was now to one who had left this realm understanding that it was immoral to try to change the course of an entire universe to accompany his will. And now, she was required to allow what was now her blade touch a thousand realms to ensure that nothing like this should ever happen again—either by the hands of an individual, and especially by the hands of an organisation so corrupt as the Agency.
There was then a sound of struggle outside the gates to the chambers, as Vulf looked back. She knew this would likely have been Raskuyu, Maya and Elisis along with Machitis and the rest of the Red Flags, but she knew that her destiny couldn't allow her to meet with them again. Vulf looked back to Crovin's body, picking it up as she walked towards the edge of the opened window wall which Polemistis would have used as an excuse for her original disappearance.
Everything demanded she stayed her, to be with Raskuyu more. Vulf felt an obligation to be with the one she had come to known as the Toa she was the closest to, one that she loved and who loved her back. It hurt her that she would have to betray the young Toa of Light that put so much trust in her at this time, but Vulf knew that her duty was to ensure the Agency wouldn't ever be able to threaten anyone again. To be allowed to threaten her again.
With the pounding against the gate to the chambers becoming louder, Vulf looked down into the body of Crovin she held in her arms as she slowly let them fall limp on as she stood on the edge of the drop down into the streets of Yermo. The body fell, going through the clouds which have gathered around the midsection of the Supercapitol. The pounding on the gate became louder, sounding as if it was about to give in and allow the people on the other side through. Out of all the voices she could detect, Vulf sensed the voice of Raskuyu. And with that sound, she took in a deep breath—the final she would take in his universe.
Vulf now closed her eyes, activating her Olmak infused armour as the energy surrounded her being and her mind. The light from the outside enveloped her completely, consuming her person entirely as soon she felt her boots touch the floor below her no longer. A chilling sensation surrounded her, as she felt the voices of a thousand strands whisper past her audio sensors. And with that, the Agent disappeared from the world. And with the flash of all the light that remained, she disappeared.
Nothing but white remained.
Yermo, five years after the Timeless Seige...
The wind pushed through the rubble filled streets with a seeming effort, breaking through whatever cracks and holes it was provided from the series of ruined structures which now littered the capitol. The black dust from the destroyed buildings was pushed along by the wind, along with the pure white snow which fell heavily from the dark clouds above. There was a flash of purple lighting above the city, followed by the sound of a cracking whip.
A series of banners were fluttering in the wind, marking a territory for an entity which resided in the carcass that was Yermo.
The rugged armoured figure of a Lykos paced carefully over the piles of rubble that were still there after years of combat. He wore an external filter, which did its duty to scrub clean whatever breathable air was left. It was foolish to try to move through the remains of Yermo without a filter, the destruction of the Supercapitol ensured that the entire capitol was plagued by deadly amounts of plasma energy left to circulate through the air.
This Lykos knew better, he knew that he would die from asphyxiation in a minute or so.
He was wise in everything he was doing to keep himself alive, but the only foolish thing he did was move through an active war zone. The several factions spread throughout Yermo tore at the body of the once great capitol, clawing for any piece of land they could pull from the dying grip of their enemies before they were killed by a greater foe.
But he owed allegiance to none of these, because he served only himself and interested parties who sought to pay for whatever junk he could dig out of the rubble. He was a musorik now, and that was all that mattered to him. Not even a name was he allowed to have, just the title. Musorik.
He kept a weapon just in case he was assaulted by any of these rogue factions, or by any competitive musoriks. He was trained well in the art of the sword, as his past before all of this permitted him.
The two hours of sunlight he was provided for the Yermo winter began to dim on him, as he was soon required to activate the plasma shoulder-lamp he had mounted to his armour. The bright green light broke through the black and white clouds, as he looked up to the closest banner that was held stories above his head.
A black banner with the Lykos symbol for the letter 'F' marked it. It appeared as if this faction had made a recent territorial acquisition. The musorik was fully impressed, any faction able to push back the Red Flags deserved their honour—especially with a faction as despised by all as the Federal Mark of Chesokis.
They were an ancient brotherhood of conspirers against the old Red Flags of Soyedmevos, who used the Empire's dying pleas to cement their power as the monarchs should the revolution have failed. Perhaps they were trying to be poetic to the banner of Soyedmevos, but that mattered not to the musorik.
The Federals would have likely been hostile to him should they have spotted him, but luckily he was smart enough to strip bodies of each warrior faction to provide an addition to his cloak to disguise himself to appear to belong to any faction whose territory he crossed.
Sticking his hand into his pouch, he removed the addition and tied it around his bear's cloak. The musorik crossed into the territory, as he removed his map of Yermo to make the addition of the Federals recent acquisition of Red Flag territory.
He drew his attention to an area on the map marked with a cross, his most recent area of interest from which he hoped to be able to plunder it and sell it to any beneficiary. If he was right, it would have been a very expensive discovery.
Taking it without the consent of the Federals would likely lose him his head, but then again he was a smart and quick musorik. He would have been in and out in no time, walking away with something that would potentially earn him thousands.
The risk was well worth the reward.
The musorik turned his eyes towards the entrance of an old Lykos temple, one of the hundred which were locked around the Second City of the capitol. And to think, this would have been a magnificent holy place to his people before.
But now? The temple was as good as a barracks for anyone who moved through or controlled the district, where warriors bled, died, stole and killed.
But he couldn't blame them, he knew the Khodka was dead anyways. It had been dead since the end of the Timeless Siege, only the foolish followed the archaic honour system that their species so zealously followed.
And to think he once so blindly followed the Khodka, that he allowed it to influence him like so many others. The musorik could nearly laugh at his own stupidity, should it not have been himself. He moved through the temple, seeing the back wall had been blown out by what would likely have been artillery fire many years before.
There were a few Lykos corpses, adorning the robes that disciples would have worn. The musorik looked over the material for a short while, before judging that they were relatively worthless.
Proceeding through the exit provided to him, the musorik found a dead body of a warrior that appeared to belong to the Federals. He looked over it quickly, spotting two extra filter charges hanging loosely around his belt. The musorik's hands moved quick, pulling the two extra charges from the belt as he soon stuffed it into a pouch around his harness. He took in a deep breath, before checking the charge life he had for his filter.
The blue liquid indicator was very low, appearing to be a tenth of a full charge. He would need to change it very soon, but for now his hands found themselves around a plasma pistol. He quickly checked the battery of the plasma weapon, seeing that it was full before he pulled it and holstered it around his harness.
He stripped the body of other worthwhile materials: a few coins and a torn portion of scroll. The musorik didn't mind to read what was on the paper, but he folded it and pocketed it anyways. He enjoyed reading while he could, even if it was nothing more than codes or frequencies to any Allchannel communication systems. Paper was valuable to him, because it felt different from the rest of the metal, rubble and grime.
Standing up, he continued his march towards his target—stopping only once to ensure the staccato sound of gunfire in the distance wasn't growing any closer to him. Satisfied that it wasn't, the musorik continued his path until he found a plaza. He looked around to spot any banner he could through the white and black storm, but found no banner. This was trouble indeed.
A no banner plaza typically meant an active war zone, meaning two or more factions were engaged with each other. And for the musorik, it wasn't difficult to tell from the red bodies and the black ones that the two combatants were the Red Flags and the Federals. This would be a nightmare to cross through, even when then there was an absence of gunfire. But he knew what this meant very well: snipers.
The musorik eyes danced around a plaza, spotting that a bridge from the Third City above lost its support beam and collapsed in the street below. Perhaps he could wear the colours of the Red Flags of Soyedmevos on his left side, and on his right he could wear the colours of the Federal Mark of Chesokis?
Nada. One or the other would wonder why their enemy hadn't opened fire on him, and would eventually take a shot at him. The musorik would need adequate cover if he would ever want to find his way across the plaza. Or, he could try to get above the snipers.
Looking to either of side of the small alleyway he was trapped in, he found what appeared to be a very sturdy ladder on which he could ascend. The musorik tried one of his hands on a step of the ladder, as the rod of metal soon broke free. It seemed as if everything was working against him today.
Perhaps he could use his newly acquired plasma pistol and pretend to be on one side and just open fire in some random direction? It was a good idea, if he wanted to be killed. It was a time like this the musorik wish he hadn't sold the Verkhov stealth drive that he was incredibly lucky to come across.
Maybe they wouldn't care if a musorik was crossing through the land, given he was no threat to them at the moment—and it was an active war zone after all. He could take whatever he needed to take, and sell it to them for a cheaper price because he was 'trespassing' on their land. But in reality he knew that the Red Flags or the Federals were likely to kill him the second they saw him.
Was it worth the risk? The risk was well worth the reward.
The musorik took a few confident steps out into the plaza, peering his head about in an attempt to spot any sort of indication that there was a sniper hiding in some elevated position. Carefully he scanned up into the still standing buildings, only finding a single grey flag fastened to the pole on his right—something he wasn't able to see behind his cover. It wasn't distinguishable as any sort of banner belonging to any of the factions, in fact it seemed almost out of place.
Nothing fired yet, meaning it was probably safe to proceed further into the plaza. The musorik now found himself close to the bodies which scattered the centre, as he looked over what they had in order to judge whether or not they were even worth looting. Plasma ate through their armour, damaging most of the equipment that they had with the excess plasma radiation.
He puffed out a white and blue cloud from out of his filter, as he then looked up towards the opposite end of the plaza once more. He slowly started stepping towards the entrance to the building directly in front of him, thinking it was just a few more yul's before he removed himself from the war zone.
But the musorik should have known it was never going to be that easy, as he heard the distinguishable sound of a plasma rifle being activated right behind him. He froze where he stood, keeping his arms locked to his sides and his gaze ahead of him. Hopefully, he would be able to talk his way out of this one.
"I warn you," the voice spoke behind him, tinged with an air of distaste. "You try one more step, or try to turn around—you'll be missing a part of your head."
"This is an active war zone," the musorik tried, "aren't you putting yourself at risk being out here?"
The voice laughed, "Nada. It is not, we just have yet to replace the banners. Didn't realise that it is the perfect lure for musorik's, though."
"No jurisdiction, no rules." The musorik replied, "Allows us to take valuable things without thinking about the consequences."
"New decree from the Warmaster bids that every musorik be brought before him. He will decide your consequence for entering our sights."
"Can you not let me off? I am sure I will be no trouble to you anymore."
"It is your head, or mine." The voice spoke again. The musorik felt his hand involuntarily slowly go for the hilt of his plasma blade, a movement which seemingly seemed to be very detectable. How would he know this? By the sounding charge of three more plasma rifles.
His hand ceased to move, as a second voice commanded him: "Remove your blade and your pistol and place them on the ground, or mark my word... you will not even have time to breath."
The musorik sighed, before securing his hands on his plasma blade and plasma pistol before slowly setting them on the ground before himself. The voice laughed, before it spoke mockingly again: "Now, turn around and step close to us. Stop when you reach a yul in distance."
He drew in a slow breath, his filter making a small whirring sound notifying him that he was nearly out of the purified air. It was a bad time to be running out of a filter, as he prayed to the nonexistent Pantheon that he would be allowed to recharge—and that he was being detained by anything but the Red Flags. Closing his eyes, he turned around slowly as he opened them again.
But before him stood four members of the Red Flags—their plasma rifles pointed directly at him as he slowly stepped forward. Step by step, he closed a distance before he was a yul from them: just enough for the barrel of their rifles to be directly in his face.
"Just shoot me." The musorik announced, drawing only laughter from the Red Flags.
"Now kneel." The voice demanded, as he reluctantly obeyed and lowered his knees to the cold and grimy ground. The snow, rubble and radiation mixed as it clung to his knees as a grey slush. "Raise your hands above your head."
"May I change my filter first?" The musorik tried, but was met with only a rifle close to his face. Reluctantly, the musorik obeyed again.
Lifting up his hands to present to one of the Red Flags. They lowered their rifle, allowing the sling to suspend it as they removed a tight bond and secured it around his wrists. Suddenly, a black bag went around his head as he felt his figure being seized by many of the Red Flags.
Lifted to his feet, the musorik felt his way being forced by the Red Flags as they guided him on a predetermined path unbeknownst to him. It was quite terrifying if he was being completely honest with himself, but he couldn't allow himself to show that physically. This was simply the end of his time as a musorik, and his mistake? Allowing himself to pursue a reward that was well worth the risk.
After a few minutes of being guided through the cold slush and rugged landscape, the musorisk could feet his boots soon begin to touch a harder and cleaner surface. Footsteps were no longer muffled by the crushing of the snow and stone, but rather it was snapping across a cleaned stone surface. He heard more voices, the sounds of welding and other equipment being operated.
This was quite odd, given the musorik didn't find it quite possible that such equipment could ever be operated again. But this was simply due to his lack of experience inside one of the factories fortresses. Doors were heard opening, as he was shoved into the seemingly warmer room.
His boots touched a softer material now, as his filter sounded again to warn him that he was about to run out of breathable air. The musorik started to panic, beginning to struggle before he felt the barrel of a rifle be pressed against his back. This stopped his squirming, as he felt himself be shoved to the floor again.
The Red Flag's relieved possession of him, as their hands soon ran over his body to yank off all his pouches and satchels as they made sure no foreign object other than his armour and cloak be removed. He heard as the were opened, searched through and the contents of which were tossed to the ground without much heed given.
The musorik heard the voices in the room converse quietly, as footsteps moved silently around him—as he perceived they were examining him to ensure he wasn't going to try anything, or that he wasn't hiding anything. Suddenly, a commanding voice echoed through the chamber: "Remove the bag from this things head. I perceive it is no threat to me."
Quickly, the bag was pulled free from the musorik's head as he was soon permitted to see once more. He looked up to examine the interior of the room, seeing that the room was decorated with several hundred banners that lined the ceiling, walls and floor. Plasma torches were lit on either side on the walkway up to an elevated position—allowing several guards to see within the chamber.
But soon his gaze turned quickly to a being that stood before him, donning gold and red armour as an imposing fur cloak ran down his back. The being stood tall and powerful, with an intricate design added to his armour. His left arm was however replaced with a silver prosthetic, free of the armour that lined his remaining right arm. His face was nearly hidden by his filter, which seemed to be more unique in design compared to any model he has ever seen before.
The musorik knew who it was... who couldn't know who this Warmaster was? It was Machitis, the Warmaster of the Red Flags of Soyedmevos. He eyed the musorik carefully, as he motioned towards one of his guards. The guard kneeled down at his side, reaching for the musorik's filter as he tried to pull free—but found that he was incapable of doing so.
Removing it with a twist, the guard quickly replaced it with a second before the musorik could be poisoned by the radiated air. Twisting it into place, the guard stood back up and took its place behind him.
"Mind you this shall be the only courtesy I shall show you, musorik." Machitis finally spoke, as he soon took hold of one of the satchels presented to him—allowing his prosthetic to run through it to search its contents. "What do you hunt for?"
"Curious items." The musorik simply replied, as the Warmaster eyed him with a suspicion before he removed thick scrolls of paper and looked over the contents of each page.
"Aj, curious items such as Allchannel frequencies... you mind telling me why you have possession of these documents?" The Warmaster asked, as the musorik remained silent for quite some time.
He knew Machitis knew this material was worthless, and he knew he was prying for more than he was letting on. The Warmaster scoffed, before he threatened to hold the paper over the plasma flames—seemingly detecting his weakness in finding a intangible value in those sheets.
"Stop!" The musorik cried, "I have them to read! Just for pleasure, nothing more!"
Machitis smiled, as his fingers danced through the sheets of paper before him. Suddenly, he stopped as he found his fingers locked across a page of paper which he soon removed from the rest of the stack. He looked over it oddly, before he quietly asked: "Still have some old Republic propaganda, I see."
"The printing stopped immediately after Polemistis' overthrow... these are relics from another time, Warmaster." The musorik spoke, as Machitis looked back down at him.
"Indeed. Relics that need to be burned, musorik." Machitis spoke, "After all, the start of my age saw that all of this be destroyed. It is useless, is it not?"
"What age did you bring, Warmaster?!" The musorik snapped, struggling with his bonds as he kept his eyes locked on to Machitis. The Warmaster stared back in a sense of hatred, but seemingly he was able to decipher what the musorik was feeling as he allowed himself to look away for a moment.
"That is a question, musorik." Machitis simply replied. "First the liberator who all acknowledge, next? The one who everyone shall cast their hate on."
"A lot of us trusted you, and the next thing we know you are operating by daggers—" the musorik attempted, before Machitis flashed with anger again as he protested: "Enough!"
The musorik fell silent, allowing himself to remember what happened exactly after Machitis seized power from a dead Polemistis. He announced that their would be a government operated by the people. But being as clever as he was, he artificially placed in representatives that were friendly to him—and used the dagger to remove his foes quietly.
It didn't work so well, as eventually the Lykos figured this out and revolted. Machitis tried everything in his power to stop the resistance, mobilising units to put down everyone who dared to resist. This didn't prove to work so well, as soon he lost favour with the Warmistress: someone who once proved to be his lover—and was soon pitted against dozens of counter factions led by more Warmasters or Warmistresses.
Eventually, the damage sustained to the Supercapitol after months of fighting was too much for its plasma generators. They overheated and exploded, collapsing the structure and engulfing the island in a permanent poisonous cloud and winter season.
"So you plan to do what, exactly?" Machitis asked, "After you secure whatever insignificant wealth you can from this?"
"I plan to leave this island, head north to better conditioned islands." The musorik hissed, as the Warmaster laughed.
"You don't know, do you? There is no 'better' island, everything from south to north has gone to hell my musorik! The plasma which was used to burn the islands north have accumulated enough in the skies to make the air unbreathable! There is no better life beyond here!"
The musorik couldn't believe it, as he shook his head in refusal. The Warmaster simply laughed, continuing through the pages before he suddenly found a map upon which was inscribed the details of every mission the musorik had made in Yermo to secure some wealth. Machitis paused, reading over the scroll carefully before he paused completely.
"So, you planned to head to the Chetyeri Strategum?" Machitis asked, "planned to make away like a thief the things which I should have stored there?"
"From what I remember, Warmaster—you only stored ruined equipment there. Why should it matter if you lose a few things there?" The musorik replied, the Warmaster looking back down at him.
"I store relics from our liberation there, my dear musorik. Perhaps if you had a taste of our history and the importance of our liberation, you may have respected whatever was laid to rest there."
"Our temporary liberation, may I remind you. And should it mean the difference between my survival or not, I would gladly disrespect whatever you have there." The musorik snapped.
Machitis looked at him oddly, before turning on a heel as he held the map over the plasma flame and incinerated it right in front of the musorik. Hate filled the musorik's eyes, just waiting for whatever chance he had to inflict serious damage to the one who worsened everything for them—even if it had meant his death.
"You seek freedom." Machitis simply restated. "A thief seeks freedom to a land as desolate as the one he is trapped on. You want to know how pathetic that is, musorik? You steal, you lie and you kill to try to find peace somewhere else—a place where there is none. You want to know what happened to Unity?"
"I'm guessing it had to do something with you."
"Ironically, that was the way I thought it was going to go." Machitis laughed, "Nada. It is amusingly pathetic how quickly their friendships soured after the fall of the Republic. Their single unifying cause disappeared overnight, the only reason they weren't busy tearing out the throats of each other. I pulled out of Unity as soon as the Republic fell, because I knew it was doomed to fail. The Vortixx were too ambitious, the Matoran were too stubborn and the Steltians were too stupid to do anything but cower. The Mersions lost their leader, and before they could recover they were invaded by the Vortixx.
"It was spectacular to watch from afar as they slaughtered each other. Fuelled by the hatred of each other, and the fear that I would side with either of them. I was requested return by the Steltians, but I gladly declined. I would simply wait for them to kill each other and then take their lands. It was the waiting game Polemistis did not understand, but it was the game I understood. However, turns out that wasn't meant to happen. The plasma which had burned many of their islands before seemingly accumulated and intensified. What air we have here, is the same air they have there. Wiped out the ones not smart enough to survive."
The musorik listened in horror as Machitis explained all of this, not wanting it to be true. He wanted a way off of Exusia, a way to a better life where he would be accepted. But seemingly, this wasn't meant to be if he was to trust was the Warmaster was saying.
"We just need to face the reality, musorik." Machitis concluded, "Our air is unbreathable, the water is shrinking and becoming sour and our peace has been shattered. This is the destiny of our people, the destiny of all people: to suffer. Has been ever since Polemistis' reign, and shall be forever. You are just unlucky enough to be alive for it all."
"Spare me, then." The musorik replied helplessly. This only drew a mocking laugh from Machitis.
"You are a thief yes? A hunter?" Machitis asked.
"A hunter isn't quite accurate."
"But you find and you take, musorik. And that is what I need, with a simple request in mind."
"I will never serve you," the musorik growled, "You betrayed our people, made them suffer more than they deserved! You made me suffer from your dictatorship you were planning to implement! You will take my life, or I will take yours!"
"I plan to help you, musorik." Machitis coldly replied, "You want a way off this island? I shall present you with one."
The musorik was about to reply, but eventually found he could not. He stared back at Machitis, as the Warmaster continued to explain. "Interesting you were heading for the Strategum which I keep my relics at, musorik. However, there is one thing which I have stored there which I had promised to return back to something who cared about it deeply."
"And what would that be?"
"A body." Machitis stated. "Some young Toa of Light desired that I should return to her the body of a fallen comrade should I ever come across it. I agreed because I pitied the thing, never expecting to really find the body in the first place. However, it only took us a week until the body found its way into our possession."
"And it has taken you five years to return it?"
"I haven't returned it because one of two reasons. The first reason is particularly simple, I couldn't bring myself to care too much about the loss—and I wasn't going to waste a trip to honour the body of some stupid Toa. The second reason is a bit more complex. The armour of this body which I have found was a perfect match, but the body itself wasn't."
"What do you mean?"
"Simply the person wearing the armour at death had not been the same person wearing it at life, musorik." Machitis explained, "So either a thief like you took it, or simply there are duplicates of the armour. Either way, I shall present you with an opportunity: either you can accept your death here... or you can deliver this body to the one who requested it, and die out there. I shall even provide you with a small ship which you can take upon the fiery sea. Your choice, musorik—because either way I am satisfied."
The musorik looked up at the Warmaster, judging for himself whether or not to do this thing which he was asked to do. On one hand, he didn't like the idea of helping Machitis in the slightest—and thought it better to have his death. But on the other, he had a chance of freedom away from this hell which he had inhabited for five years of his life. Machitis could have been lying, and there was life out there—but what if he hadn't? He would only be returning to a similar hell out there.
Closing his eyes, the musorik decided on what he was going to do: "Alright. I shall do this for you, Warmaster."
Machitis smiled, motioning for the guards to cut the bonds which held his wrists together. They did, and then helped him up to his feet as he felt his wrists afterwards and looked into the eyes of the Warmaster.
"The person who you shall deliver this to is named Raskuyu." Machitis detailed, "She was involved in the Ultra Director's overthrow. And for a time, she was an ambassador for Unity before it collapsed. Now? I have no idea where she should be, and now it's not my concern. It's yours."
"Where is the ship?" The musorik asked. Machitis laughed, "Where do you think? It's at the docks. But because the water level lowered, its a bit further out—a simple walk through the now-valley. But you will get their, eventually."
"I'm not sure whether or not I should thank you." The musorik replied, as Machitis answered for him: "You will when you leave my sights. Now leave."
The musorik nodded his head, turning on a heal as soon he felt a bad tighten around his head as guards forced their arms around his. They forcefully attached his equipment back on them, as he was pushed through the noisy facility once more. Actually anticipating this was all one huge ruse, and that he was about to be executed—the musorik struggled a bit.
He heard a door open as he was forced out into the cold, being guided for another while before the bag was torn from his head and he was pushed forwards back out into the streets of Yermo. "We will be walking you to the Strategum," a voice from behind him called, "turn around and you are shot. Listen to our directions, or be shot."
Despite these threats, the musorik smiled and continued. Because now he had a chance to leave Yermo—leave Exusia and head to a place where he may potentially be much more free. For once, he did not have to worry about surviving the warfare between the factions—worry about a Warmaster or Warmistress taking power and authorising another regime to rule over the Lykos again.
For now, he did not have to bear the title of musorik anymore. He was allowed to give himself a name now, give himself something that distinguished him from everything else. And so, he thought of a name that he should now be known by—a name which everyone should respectfully call him.
- The Unity and the Red Flags of Soyedmevos
- Lykos Kinsman Republic
- Polemistis (Antagonist)
- Zilotis (mentioned)