Gyotaren had never been much of a ladies' man. If he had been, perhaps he wouldn't have had six girls trying to kill him now.
He had quickly learned their names and powers: Suhirai, the sky blue Rai of Ice; Gakorai, orange Rai of Stone; Yichirai, purple Rai of Earth; Jiskrai, navy blue Rai of Magnetism; Sajerai, ebony Rai of Gravity; and Mitsorai, ivory Rai of Sonics.
Aside from differences in color, they all had various physical abnormalities related to their elements. Suhirai's armor was covered in ice spikes. Gakorai had a cloud of sand floating around her at all times. Yichirai had no physical abnormality on her body, but wherever she stood for more than five seconds, the earth would form a shield around her. Jiskrai's body gave off a magnetic field, causing small metal filings to cling to her body. Sajerai did not walk; she levitated. And Mitsorai's audio receptors, normally on the inside of a biomechanical being's head, were external.
Gyotaren had burrowed into some kind of underground palace. It reminded him vaguely of the Earth Temple back on his home island, Dyteeli. On the walls were carvings all over that depicted a strange story--a titanic being sitting on an island smaller than himself and snatching up every tiny little traveler going by the island and squashing them with his finger. It was disturbing, but Gyotaren had no time to ponder it--Mitsorai had let out a shriek that shattered the sound barrier and knocked him off his feet.
The other female Rai were moving in. Gyotaren's reply was sending a wave of earth smashing into his opponents and throwing them against the wall. He counted their stunned forms, one, two, three, four, five...where's the sixth? Which one is missing? Gyotaren was about to realize that it was Yichirai, the Earth Rai, when she blasted out of the ground and sent Gyotaren flying upwards. He hit the "palace" ceiling with such force that he stuck, his back held tightly by the dent it had made in the ceiling.
Gyotaren had an idea. Activating his Kakama, he began kicking his legs at lightning-fast speed. He blew holes in the ceiling and it eventually collapsed, destroying the entire chamber and burying the six Rai--and himself--under a mountain of dirt. He knew that it wouldn't hold them for long, but it would work long enough for him to get away. He burrowed out of the chamber into another room of this underground palace.
There were more carvings. These were painted in vibrant colors. They depicted a jagged, obsidian island, and a tall purple-armored being standing on it before thirty beings which must have been Ayomeii natives, as well as seven Matoran. On the next tablet, only the Matoran remained, now different colors (one blue Matoran was wearing an Iden--if that Matoran had been depicted with a twisted leg and shorter than the rest, it would have looked strikingly like Feyain), and Nizarkha and the twelve Rai stood among them!
On the next tablet, the Matoran were shown escaping the island by ship while Nizarkha and the Rai flew off on a dragon. Gyotaren was so lost in thought that he didn't notice the fact that the room was getting colder.
He quickly figured out that Nizarkha, the Rai, and the dragon had flown from that island to this one, and probably found it uninhabited except for the tall being he himself had run into. From there, they...
Gyotaren began pacing in thought, but he slipped on something.
As he hit the ground, he finally noticed that it was slick with ice. Suhirai stepped out from behind a crumbling column. "I was wondering when you would notice," she said with a smirk.
"What are these carvings?" asked Gyotaren, trying to get up but slipping again. He created a wall of earth from ceiling to floor, keeping Suhirai from attacking him but allowing her voice to come through.
"Nizarkha says that it is what happened to us in the past," she said, "but all my life that I can remember, I've been on this island..."
"Hm," muttered Gyotaren. "What is this place anyway?"
"It's our home," she answered. "Nizarkha was wise to build us our home so close to the core."
"Well, once your friends get here, I'm sure you'll find out," she said.
"I thought you meant to kill me."
"The others do," she said with a little giggle. "I'm smarter than them, and I know that Nizarkha has plans for you."
"Tear down the wall that separates us, and I'll explain," she said. Gyotaren shrugged and complied. Even if it was a trick, he could handle a Rai one-on-one with ease.
That was the second action that day he regretted immediately.
As he tore down the wall, he saw that while Suhirai had talked, the other five had joined her. The battle continued...
Elsewhere, Feyain's headache had ceased. More specifically, she had fallen asleep. Onathei was looking after her, and working on keeping her as comfortable as possible. It was slow, boring, and lonesome work.
Onathei's thoughts drifted back to the moment when he had killed "Kusurai". Onathei had been forced to choose between Gyotaren and Feyain.
Gyotaren was his best friend in the universe. Aside from Xironu and more recently Feyain, Gyotaren was pretty much Onathei's only friend. And Gyotaren's only friend was likewise Onathei.
But Feyain? Gyotaren could never replace the gap that Feyain's death would've left in Onathei's heart. He had no idea what it was, but he felt different about Feyain than he did about other friends. While her strange pattern of talking and the tendency to recoil from others were annoying to Gyotaren, Onathei found them some of Feyain's most endearing qualities. They made her seem young and scared, and...
That was it! Onathei knew what was different about Feyain. Gyotaren could fend for himself, and Gyotaren depended on Onathei for nothing. But Feyain needed Onathei, for protection and friendship. Onathei meant as much to Feyain as she meant to him.
That was what he liked about her. Feyain was the first person who gave Onathei something to fight for aside from silly Matoran disputes. Feyain was the first person who gave Onathei a reason to exist.
He looked at her peaceful sleeping face and couldn't hold back a smile.
Gyotaren, meanwhile, was far from smiling. His battle was going well, but not as well as he would've liked. His armor was nicked and damaged badly from a spray of ice needles Suhirai had launched at him. Gyotaren had managed to knock her out after that attack with a Kakama-powered kick.
Yichirai was down too--Gyotaren and her had tried to manipulate the earth in the room against the other, and Gyotaren's will had won. The act of rendering Yichirai's elemental powers useless had been enough to make her faint--as it seemed, the Rai's life force seemed to be deeply intertwined with their elemental power, and they would faint or die if they ran out.
Now Mitsorai, Gakorai, Jiskrai, and Sajerai were left. Gyotaren was simultaneously dodging boulders, trying to stay conscious against sonic assaults, managing to move while gravity had increased around him, and trying to ignore the discomforting feeling of having his armor slowly collapsing in on his organics through the power of magnetic fields.
It had now become obvious to Gyotaren that Jiskrai would need to be taken out next. Magnetism was far too dangerous of a power to be kept around any longer. Gyotaren activated his Kakama and dashed away from the group of attackers. He ran straight up a wall, having it secure each footstep with an earthen foothold. He stopped his jog hanging upside-down from the ceiling by his feet. Then he spun around, still using the Kakama, while generating a wall of dirt around him.
The result was something in between a tornado and a missile. In any case, it slammed down on the group, landing directly on Jiskrai. The other girls escaped with minor wounds, but Jiskrai was unconscious with wounds a bit more serious. Gyotaren made a mental note to provide care for her later.
"Three down," he said, smirking, "three to go."
While Mitsorai continued to pelt Gyotaren with sonic blasts and Sajerai continued to disturb Gyotaren's gravity, Gyotaren hardly cared. It could only get less painful from here, he reasoned. But despite that, he was getting reckless, flinging attacks in every direction and missing more than half of the time. He tried to focus on one Rai, and...
A wall of earth slammed Gakorai into a wall again and again. When it had stopped, she had gone limp. Only then did he notice that in his carelessness, he had snapped her neck. She was dead.
Gyotaren stared at the lifeless body in horror. The attacks from the remaining two Rai either ceased or Gyotaren had stopped feeling them. For a long time, he couldn't tear his eyes away. Water welled up in them and blurred his vision.
A thought occurred to Gyotaren then. What Onathei and Feyain had done wasn't so bad. It was so easy, so fragile, to break a life under the heavy weight of a Toa's power combined with his anger.
Gyotaren thought back to what Onathei always said: "You can't change the past, only the future." Despite Gyotaren's own protest that this was essentially justifying your mistakes by saying you can't fix them, it was very comforting now. He had a moment of clarity, and he told himself that it was wrong, that there was nothing he could do in the future to take this back. But he smothered the clarity with the comfort, smothered a growing hate for himself with acceptance, smothered what would have otherwise led to insanity.
He turned to finish off Mitsorai and Sajerai...but they were gone. He tended to Jiskrai's wounds, buried Gakorai, and moved on, deeper into the Rai's home.
Feyain stirred. She moaned, wondered aloud where she was, and then saw Onathei's smiling face in front of her and smiled back. She sat up.
"Is your headache gone?" he asked her.
Feyain looked puzzled. A headache? She couldn't remember such a thing. She thought back...and nothing. She couldn't remember anything at all.
And yet, she did remember Onathei. He had saved her from...something, and he was the most important person in Feyain's world. As of now, he was also the only person in Feyain's world.
"I don't remember," Feyain said at last. "Anything."
"Not even me?"
"I remember you, Onathei," she said smiling warmly. Onathei smiled back in relief.
"Do you remember Gyotaren?"
"I guess not," said Onathei with a sigh. "That headache must have wiped your memory... But maybe you'll remember when we meet up with Gyotaren soon."
"Sooner than you think," came a third voice from the distance. Onathei tensed and turned his head slowly to see a blue Rai approaching. Where he stepped, the ground turned wet. So it was probably the Rai of Water. "The name is Mezirai," he said gruffly. "You two are coming with me."
Onathei, by now, had had enough of being led by Rai. He stood up and assumed a fighting stance. Feyain remained sitting on the ground, looking puzzled.
Onathei used his power to grow a small fruit-bearing plant. He had a few of the fruits in his hand by the time he was done. "These are Madu Cabolo," he said. "They blow up. I suggest you stay away from us."
Mezirai didn't flinch. Onathei threw one of the fruits...
Mezirai reflected it back before it hit him with a jet of water. It fell to the ground uselessly, cracked open, and its volatile contents spilled and soaked into the earth.
"You can throw the next one now," he said. "But it will end up the same way." His voice was cool, calm, and patient.
"You think you have this situation under control, huh?" said Onathei, his voice hot with passion and his words spilling out quickly and clumsily. "How will you handle this?"
A nearby tree shot forth a new branch headed straight for Mezirai's head. He jumped as it extended underneath him, grabbed it with one hand and swung around and over it. He landed on his feet, bowed in mockery of Onathei's effort, and then went back to his still, patient stance. "That's how."
"How are you doing that?" Onathei demanded.
"It's a side-effect of the experiment that allows me to live on this island," he explained. "When an attack is thrown at me, time slows down from my perspective. While you just shot that branch at me, from my perspective, I had about fifteen minutes to figure out how to dodge it and another five to actually pull off the dodge. You saw it as a couple seconds, didn't you?"
"Yeah," said Onathei absently, still trying to make sense of the explanation. "But in that case...how could anyone hope to defeat you?"
Mezirai grinned. "They can't. So follow me. I don't want to hurt you, yet, or else I would have already. I'm going to take you to Gyotaren, and then we can fight."
"Gyotaren?" repeated Feyain, still in the dark as to what this unknown word referred to.
"Yeah," said Mezirai. "He's in a lot of trouble, last time I checked. The six girl Rai were standing in a chamber waiting for him to burrow up from an underground tunnel he made below. If he did...we can only hope they were smart enough not to kill him."
Onathei sighed. "Let's go..."
Nizarkha sat on his throne in complete darkness, contemplating. Gyotaren was coming, and would be here in minutes. Onathei and Feyain, led by Mezirai, would be here shortly as well. Kakirai, Kusurai, and Gakorai were dead, killed by Feyain, Kaanyui, and Gyotaren, respectively. Suhirai, Yichirai, and Jiskrai were unconscious courtesy of Gyotaren. Mitsorai and Sajerai had escaped from Gyotaren and would be here, in this chamber, about ten minutes before Onathei, Feyain, and Mezirai got here. Nuterai and Kesshrai were elsewhere in the palace, unaware of the battle going on around them.
All of this Nizarkha simply knew. As a result of his modification, he had picked up this power... The power to psychically track the twelve Rai and those who had come into direct contact with them. From here, his highly-developed brain could make educated guesses as to what would be happening when--in a sense, Nizarkha's power allowed him to see into the future.
Nizarkha's thoughts were interrupted by footsteps. "You got here so quickly, Gyotaren," said Nizarkha.
"How did you know my name?" demanded the Toa of Earth. "Who are you?"
Nizarkha grinned maliciously, and used his power of flame to light the torches on both sides of his throne. "An old friend." The light from the flames was blue as Nizarkha's brand of fire always was, giving an eerie atmosphere to the large chamber.
Gyotaren shuddered, but didn't hesitate to turn the dirt throne Nizarkha was sitting on into dust. Nizarkha replied by hurling more blue fire at Gyotaren. The Toa of Earth dodged easily, and a second fireball was blocked with a shield of earth.
"You're far too slow for me," said Gyotaren tauntingly, activating his Kakama and dashing away from a third bolt of flame. "I can just keep dodging again and again, and I bet you'll get tired before I do."
Nizarkha laughed. It was not a taunting laugh, or an insane laugh, but it was as if Gyotaren had truly said something funny. When he had calmed down, he began to speak: "Your power comes from your own elemental energy reserves, as well as your own willpower. When you run out of those, you won't be able to fight anymore. My power comes from this island's core. I'd have to suck the core dry to exhaust my power, and I would grow old and die before I could make so much as a dent. You see, the core has a finite amount of energy, but it is such an unfathomable amount that for all intents and purposes...my power is unlimited."
Gyotaren grimaced and prepared for the worst.