This article was written by Tavok. Please do not add to it without the writer's permission.
|The Setting Shadow|
The Setting Shadow
The Setting Shadow is a story written by Tavok.
Prologue: A Story
The island was a small one; in fact, it could barely be called an island. All that it contained was a brown dead field and a circle of seven large stones. At the edges of the field were large cliffs, that were several thousand feet above the ocean.
A lone Turaga sat on one of these, looking out at a vast ocean of protodermis that was dotted with several small islands. He had teal armor, and carried a Makai Staff that was used both as a weapon and as support. His only companions were a small telescope and a slightly pulsating mask.
My home was once over there, he thought as he put the telescope to his eye and surveyed the ocean. Before the great Shattering. Before the shadow time." Lost in thought, he picked up the mask and began walking towards the circle of stones nearby. As he reached the circle, he saw a small figure approaching from a nearby part of the field. The only Matoran left in the entire universe. Langu walked up to the Turaga, calling his name.
"Thought you were going to start without me, Turaga," said the Le-Matoran jokingly. "You can't heal the world without me present, you know."
"You don't remember, Langu," said the Turaga. "You don’t remember the war or the Toa."
"What’s a Toa?"
"Sit here, my boy," said the Turaga, "and I will tell you a story. A story of heroes with incredible powers. A story of heroes with the darkest of destinies..."
Chapter 1: The Knowing Will Come
As the Stadium’s wall loomed in front of him, he increased his speed. When Kenar reached the huge doors, he pushed them open and saw all the Matoran of Talla Nui seated before him. Then he started the arduous search to find a seat.
"Kenar!" a voice called out.
Kenar looked up and saw his best friend Langu waving at him. He hurried up the steps to Langu. As soon as he got there, the holoscreen activated, displaying the Toa Vohksi. Then Jakop, Toa Vohksi of Ice, started to speak.
"As you know, the Dark Hunters have been ravaging the borders of Talla Nui, and are starting to close in. We regret to inform you, but the Western Factories and Koros must be shut down in preparation for...”
The Matoran in the Stadium shouted so loud that it nearly busted Kenar’s ears. “What?” shouted several Matoran, “Leave our homes and our businesses for the Dark Hunters to raid and to use? We don’t think so."
“If you want to be killed by the Dark Hunters,” said Toa Jakop, “then so be it.”
The Matoran were left speechless by these words, and one by one they began to exit the Stadium. Kenar and Langu left the Stadium in silence. Neither wanted to voice what was on the other’s mind. They both knew what it was, though.
The war. The Second Toa-Dark Hunter War had been raging for hundreds of years now. It had started when a Dark Hunter was killed by Toa while trying to enter Karda Nui. This incident had escalated into a full scale war. At first, the Toa seemed poised to win. They had the numbers and the supplies. Then the Dark Hunters began to use Proto-Cloning techniques, and it went downhill from there.
The Toa fell one by one. The Toa Nuva, the Toa Mahri, the Toa Hagah, and even Toa Krakua and Toa Takanuva all fell to the might of the Dark Hunters. Only the Toa Vohksi remained, and even they were starting to wane. The Dark Hunters now ruled a vast empire. Only Karda Nui and Talla Nui stayed out of their reach. Karda Nui had mysteriously lost its entrance, and it was rumored to be guarded by Great Beings.
That left Talla Nui. Talla Nui was not called the Floating Fortress for nothing though. All the Matoran left alive, except those in Karda Nui, were gathered in Talla Nui, and, along with the Toa Vohksi, were able to man the walls quite well.
But then the shut-downs began. First the Eastern, and then the Northern, and now the Western Factories and Koros were closed down as Matoran gathered closer and closer to the Stadium.
Kenar’s train of thought ended as he and Langu parted ways. He pondered how long the Toa would be able to hold the boundaries. Lost in thought, he bumped into two pillars that certainly weren’t there before.
No, not pillars, he thought. Toa legs.
Standing before him was Roka, Toa Vohksi of Air. His bright green armor shone brightly in the setting sun. Roka took the package that he was holding and handed it to Kenar. He looked Kenar straight in the eye and said, “The knowing will come.” Then, like a flash, he headed straight towards the Southern Border.
Kenar was quite puzzled by all of this, but as he looked at the small round package he had received, he felt a sense of knowing. He didn’t know exactly why, but he knew he needed to head to the Ring of Stones.
A dark being walked through the green lit hallway of the place that he was calling home. He carried with him a single Kraata.
He opened the door in front of him and stepped into the Cloning Center. A small, hunched-over Shadow Matoran approached him and bowed low.
“The leeches are ready, your Majesty,” he said. “Have you brought the Kraata?”
“Yes, I have,” said the being as he handed it to him. “Be quick about it now. I haven’t got all day, you know.”
“Of course,” said the Matoran.
The Shadow Matoran took the Kraata and dropped it in a vat filled with a clear green liquid. The vat multiplied itself, until there were an uncountable amount of vats in the large room. Then a flash activated, and the Kraata began to morph. The Rahkshi Talla emerged from the vats and were outfitted with Tridax Pods.
Unnoticed, the being slipped out into the hallway and locked the door behind him. He listened to the Shadow Matoran’s screams as they echoed around the hallway. Then it was silent.
He activated a small panel in the wall beside him. He heard the latch open and his troops march forth. The Rahkshi had been unleashed, and Talla Nui would soon fall.
Kenar ran towards the Ring of Stones as fast as he could. He knew that he had to be quick about whatever he was supposed to do.
As he neared the Ring of Stones, he saw six other Matoran already there apparently waiting for someone. An Iro-Matoran walked up to greet him. “Hello!” he said. “My name’s Tavok and these are Ehller, Celtune, Corik, Auxus, and Macura.”
“Can we get on with whatever we are supposed to be doing?” complained Corik, “I’m a researcher and I have to get back to the lab soon. I was in the middle of a breakthrough.”
Without another word, each Matoran placed their package inside of a stone in the Ring of Stones. Pure energy flowed from the stones into each of the Matoran. Kenar could feel his body growing and changing.
When the energy cleared, Kenar looked around and saw not other Matoran, but six other Toa. He himself was also a Toa. The seven Toa Durna touched the tips of their weapons. As they did so, a pillar of light shone up into the sky, causing fear in the hearts of the Rahkshi Talla and the Shadowed One. The Shadowed One might have thought that it was the end of Talla Nui. No, it signaled only a beginning.
Chapter 2: Energized Protodermis
The Toa stood there, admiring their transformations and testing their weapons.
Kenar flexed his proto-claws and stretched his new wings. Ehller was making sharp jabs with her staff and testing her Cordak Blaster’s range. Macura showed his proficiency with his Blade-Claws, while Tavok used his Kinetic Blade and Proto-Drill in a mock battle with Corik and his Rhotuka-Staff. Celtune looked quite imposing with his huge sword, enhanced Kohlii Staff, and Zamor Launcher. Auxus hovered in the air with his propeller and hover pack wile he took aim at the ground with his new disk launcher.
A sudden explosion rocked the earth that the Toa stood on. Pillars of smoke were rising from the nearby city and Kenar could hear the screams of Matoran in need. All at once, the Toa raced towards the city.
When they arrived, Kenar could hardly recognize the city at all. Buildings were smashed, and Matoran lay dead amongst the rubble. Tears filled his eyes and he began to run. He didn’t know where he was going; he only knew that he needed to get away from all of this. Blinded by sorrow, he bumped straight into a patrol of Rahkshi.
“What have we got here?” said the patrol leader. “A little Toa, I think?”
Kenar was scared to death. He knew what Rahkshi were, but he didn’t know that they could talk, and he definitely didn’t know that they carried Tridax Pods with them. All he wanted to do was blend in with them. Something that was hard to do when they have you caught.
“That’s not a Toa, sir,” said another of the Rahkshi. “That’s one of us. Besides, we killed all the Toa.”
Kenar looked down at his feet. He indeed looked like a Rahkshi from head to toe.
“Why were you separated from your patrol?” said the leader.
“The leader sent me after a Matoran that was annoying him, and I was returning to my patrol,” said Kenar, as calmly as he could.
“Return to your patrol and don’t break curfew again,” said the patrol leader as he let Kenar go.
Kenar raced off in the direction that he was heading before and then circled back to join the other Toa. He had realized while they had him captured that his mask had made him look like a Rahkshi. So I have the Mask of Illusion, he thought. That should be quite useful.
He deactivated his mask as he went to join the other Toa. As he approached, they were making a fire to burn the bodies of the dead Matoran that they had found.
“I wouldn’t do that if I were you,” said Kenar to the other Toa, “There’s a Patrol of Rahkshi heading this way. I just ran into them.”
“What do you mean?” asked Macura.
Kenar told them how he was captured and of his escape. “They probably saw the fire, and are coming at us right now.” finished Kenar.
The Toa quickly doused the fire and launched into speculation about their own masks. Kenar knew that this was pointless, and tried to get them to be quiet. Kenar closed his eyes in frustration.
Suddenly, they stopped talking. Kenar was incredulous. He opened his eyes cautiously. Then he quickly closed them again.
Surrounding them on all sides were three patrols of Rahkshi Talla. They were closing in, and he felt claws grip his shoulders. He felt himself being lifted up off the ground. Kenar tried opening his eyes again. What he saw didn’t make sense. He and the other Toa were in the arms of several flying Rahi.
Ehller shouted out to all of them: “It’s OK. They’re on our side.”
“How do you know?” asked Corik.
“I can speak to them through my mind,” said Ehller, “I think it’s my mask.”
The Rahi were flying them towards the Stadium. Kenar and the other Toa were dropped lightly on the ground. As they flew away, Ehller remarked, “They said that we would find our greatest allies here."
On of the Rahi stayed, clinging onto Auxus’ shoulder. “I think he likes me,” said Auxus.
“Well, that’s one ally," joked Celtune.
The Toa laughed. Then they became sober. “Our greatest allies, huh?” pondered Macura, “But the Rahkshi said all the Toa are dead.”
“Not exactly,” said a voice from behind. And out from the shadows stepped a Turaga and twelve Matoran.
The squad leader walked lightly down the hall toward the Shadowed One’s office. It’s not every day you have the possibility of getting a promotion, thought the Rahkshi.
When it reached the door, he knocked lightly until a voice said “Come in.” The Rahkshi came in and sat down in the chair by the desk. The Shadowed One turned to look at him.
“You are a squad leader, correct?”
“Yes, sir,” said the Rahkshi.
“Today, you led three patrols against a group of seven rogue Toa, correct?”
“Yes, sir, I did.” The Rahkshi was more wary now.
“And you let them escape.”
“Yes, sir, I did.” The Rahkshi was nearly in tears.
“Do you know what Energized Protodermis is?”
“Yes, sir. It is a substance that either kills or mutates anything that comes in contact with it,” said the squad leader.
The Shadowed One stood up and pulled out a small dagger that he had recently coated in the very substance that they were talking about.
“That is correct,” said the Shadowed One, “but did you know that if it comes in contact with the internal organs, it makes for a deadly and efficient acid that can kill in a matter of minutes?”
The Rahkshi was trembling in its seat. It knew what was about to happen.
“You may go,” said the Shadowed One, with his back turned. “This interview is now over.”
The Squad Leader was relieved. It sprang from its seat and raced towards the door. The Shadowed One suddenly whirled, and with perfect accuracy, threw the dagger straight at the Rahkshi’s back. It took the Rahkshi a moment before it realized what had happened. It began screaming and writhing in pain as the acid ate it from inside out. Amidst all of this, the Shadowed One quietly resumed his paperwork.
Chapter 3: Fulfill Your Destiny
The new squad leader was proud of its new position. So when the Shadowed One called it to his office soon after his promotion, it came gladly. Now it wished it hadn’t come.
"You will coordinate with Sentrahk in order to break into the Stadium,” the Shadowed One was saying. “He and several others, who will remain unnamed, will be drilling from underground, while you and your squad will prepare to meet them when they exit. Do you understand?”
The Squad Leader looked at Sentrahk and then at the Shadowed One. “Yes.”
“If you fail or displease me in any way, well...” The Shadowed One gestured to a jar containing the bubbling remains of the former squad leader.
“Yes, sir,” said the Rahkshi.
“Leech the Matoran and kill the Toa, but I want the Turaga alive. We have some tests that we need to run. Now go and alert the other squad leaders.”
“Yes sir.” said the Rahkshi. It raced out the door, and after alerting the other squads, went to its own.
“Troops, we’re going out for a bit of recreation,” said the squad leader to its troops.
“What kind of recreation, sir?” said one of the patrol leaders.
“Toa hunting,” replied the squad leader.
The maniacal laughing of the Rahkshi echoed through the base and was a dark omen of what was about to occur.
“I am Turaga Jakop, and these are the Matoran that were spared from the attack,” said the Turaga. Turaga Jakop introduced the Matoran to the Toa. A couple of them Kenar knew, such as Hafu, Pohta, Macku, and, to Kenar’s joy, Langu. Then there were some that he didn’t know, like Onepu, Kapura, Gorom, Dilza, Tifir, Duron, Weyre, and Ratora.
The Toa stared at Turaga Jakop and the Matoran incredulously. “But how did you become a Turaga?” stammered Celtune.
“I was helping these Matoran to safety when they surrounded us,” recalled Jakop. “Several flying Rahi helped the matoran to safety. By the time they returned for me, all my Toa power was used up fighting the Rahkshi.”
“Well, can you tell us about ourselves?” asked Corik.
“No. I can tell you nothing about your masks or abilities. You must discover them for yourselves," said Jakop. ”But I can tell you that we need to get out of here as soon as possible.”
“Why?” asked Ehller.
“Don’t you feel that?” said Turaga Jakop.
The approaching squads of Rahkshi and the drilling of Sentrahk could be felt by all of them as the ground trembled violently. None of them knew what to do. Suddenly, a portal opened in the middle of the Stadium, and out stepped a huge figure.
“My name is Brutaka, and I am here to help you,” said the figure. ”Jump through the portal while I hold them off.”
The seven Toa and the Matoran hopped through the portal. Jakop lingered long enough for Brutaka to whisper in his ear and give him a small shard of Proto-Glass. Then he too went through the portal. Sentrahk’s Drill Rusher broke through the surface of the Stadium’s floor, and the Rahkshi started swarming into the Stadium. The battle raged on until there was a large pile of dead Rahkshi and the Drill Rusher was reduced to bits.
The Shadowed One was notified of this, and came down to the Stadium to succeed where his army had failed. When he saw his army severely weakened and Brutaka still fighting, he aimed his eye beams straight at the warrior’s chest. Brutaka fell in slow motion onto his knees. Before the portal closed and the darkness came he said, “To fulfill your destiny, enlist the help of the Keton...”
Then all was silent.
The Toa, Matoran, and Turaga looked in the portal before it closed and saw the death of a great warrior. Kenar did not know Brutaka, but he had saved his life. How Brutaka had known that they needed help was a mystery to him.
Kenar’s eyes welled up with tears. He turned away from the others, not wanting them to see. As he did so, he saw before him a stairway to the skies. He turned back and gestured at the stairs to the others, and they all began to climb to whatever awaited them.
Several great Rahi watched the party climb the stairs. Their yellow armor gleamed in the sun. The Rahi turned back to their city.
One of them went to the elder of the city, and asked to see the legend. After reading the legend, the Rahi knew it was time. They didn’t want to get involved — this was a Matoran’s war — but it was their destiny. Their legends had foretold it.
All they could do was wait.
The Shadowed One called both Sentrahk and the squad leader that he had met with before to his office.
“We fought a great battle today,” he said, “but we failed on several counts. Isn’t that right, Rahkshi?”
"Yes, sir," said the Rahkshi.
“Name a few for me, please,” said the Shadowed One.
“Several troops, a Drill Rusher, and we lost the Toa, Matoran, and Turaga,” said the trembling Rahkshi.
“We also lost you,” said the Shadowed One.
The Rahkshi knew what was going to happen. He was going to be turned into bubbling green goo like his comrade.
“Sentrahk,” said the Shadowed One, “You know those tests that we were going to perform on that Turaga? Take this buffoon down to the testing center and tell them that a Rahkshi would do just fine for their tests.”
Sentrahk picked up the protesting Rahkshi and walked out the door. Suddenly, the Rahkshi wished that it had been turned into goo.
Chapter 4: City of the Clouds
Kenar and Langu used the arduous climb to catch up on the events of the past day.
“There I was,” said Langu, “with three Rahkshi surrounding me. I swung my ax and they scattered just like that. And then I ran after them, shouting at them to come and fight, but they ran and I continued shouting until...”
“You did not,” corrected Dilza. “You went and hid in an alley until Jakop came and fought the Rahkshi off." Everyone laughed, even Macura.
Gorom was the first to reach the top of the staircase. “Guys! You have to see this!” shouted Gorom from the top of the stairs.
When Kenar reached the top, he was awestruck. It was the most beautiful city that Kenar had ever seen. The buildings were completely white, and the streets were paved with gold. Hulking yellow figures went about, running errands and the like. Something about these figures looked like something out of a legend.
“Amazing!” said Turaga Jakop. “I thought that they had died out.”
“Exactly what are you talking about?” asked Hafu.
“Why, Keetongu, of course!” said Jakop, “Legends have told of Keetongu cities like this, but they were supposed to have been destroyed during the Great Cataclysm. We’re probably the first beings to see this in thousands of years.”
One of the Keetongu walked up to Turaga Jakop and spoke to him in a series of grunts. “He says to follow him.” said Jakop.
“You speak Ketongu?” asked Weyre.
“Of course.” said Jakop. “It’s not a hard language to master.”
The group followed the Ketongu into the village center. All along the way, Kenar was stunned by the beauty of this Keetongu city. He knew that they were Rahi, but he also knew that they were Rahi that were far more intelligent than was previously thought.
The Keetongu led them to a small hut at the center of the village. Inside was a very old Keetongu, seated on several pillows. Turaga Jakop translated every word that he said.
“Welcome, friends,” said the old Keetongu. “I am the village elder. I keep the legends and records of this city. Our legends have foretold your arrival."
“What do you mean?” asked Jakop.
“Let me show you,” said the elder.
The old Keetongu rose from his seat and went into a back room. He came back carrying a stone tablet, which he handed to Jakop. Jakop read the legend aloud to all of them.
"When darkness covers the land below and all is but lost
When the stairs are found to the sky-land
When the secret light no longer fights
Ye will know the end is near
Call the hidden tribes together; in glory they march forth
The armor will be used again until the fight is done
Gather the seven shining stones; they hold the key
Find the secret light and bring them back to fight
If ye do these the world will sing
The reign of shadows will then end
The time of peace to come again”
“What does it mean?” asked Tifir.
“It means that the Ketongu will help us fight,” replied Kapura.
“Yes,” said the elder, “We will organize the tribes and aid you in battle. But,” the village elder looked at the Toa, “your destinies lie apart.”
The Keetongu snapped his fingers, and two portals opened. He gestured for the Matoran and Turaga take the one on his left, and for the Toa to take the one on his right.
“Goodbye, my friend,” said Kenar to Langu. “Don’t get eaten by Rahkshi.”
“Rahkshi!” exclaimed Langu, “Those punks. I like an actually fun battle, Kenar. Not some boring Rahkshi brawl.”
Langu and the rest of the Matoran went through their portal. Turaga Jakop took out a small drawstring pouch and handed it to the village elder. As Turaga Jakop stepped through his portal, it closed, leaving the Toa to go through theirs. Kenar was the last one to go through.
When he arrived, he found himself and the other Toa on a windswept plateau with a sheer drop on all sides. To his surprise, the portal was still open. The village elder stepped through and closed the portal. “Now we begin your training,” said the elder.
There are some things that should inspire fear in everyone. One such thing is the Hall of Makuta. The Hall of Makuta is the place in the new Dark Hunter base on Talla Nui where the entire Brotherhood of Makuta is stored in stasis tubes. It is where the Dark Hunters get the antidermis for use in Proto-Cloning Techniques. The Makuta are supposedly all asleep, and it is also supposed that they cannot break out of their tubes. Therefore, it is quite irrational that one would be afraid of losing his life there. However, everyone was afraid. That is, everyone except the Shadowed One.
The Shadowed One was in the Hall of Makuta, extracting antidermis from the Makuta. He had killed so many Rahkshi due to uselessness that he needed more antidermis in order to keep cloning. He extracted some several vials of antidermis from Mutran and started towards the door. As he went to the exit, he passed the tube housing the Makuta of Metru Nui. The Shadowed One stopped to talk to his old enemy.
“How does it feel Makuta?” said the Shadowed One, largely to himself. “How does it feel to be second to me? How does it feel to know that your rule is crushed? How does it feel to know that every time that I come here, I siphon away the smallest portion of your being? But you can’t hear me, can you? You can’t see the fact that I have accomplished everything that you dreamed of, and more. In fact, I pity you. You were once a mighty being. Now you are reduced to a mere resource.”
The Shadowed One finished his taunting of Makuta and stepped out the door. For a time, nothing moved within the Hall of Makuta.
Then the Makuta of Metru Nui opened one dark red eye.
You can taunt me all you want, Shadowed One, thought Makuta, But know this. Your empire will soon fall, and on the day it does, I will be there to reclaim what you have taken from me.
Makuta closed his eye and all was still, for now.
- In the story, the Rahkshi are capable of conscious thought.