This article was written by BionicleChicken. Please do not add to it without the writer's permission.
|United But Not One|
What many seem to forget about our history is the terror that was once the Skull Raiders. Compared to the body horror that was the Mask of Ultimate Power and the embodiment of envy that was Makuta, this gang of bandits from unknown lands paled.
From the vast oceans that surrounded the island of Okoto came the bandits. We never sought to explore, since we weren't curious enough to attempt such a stunt. Okoto provided enough for all of us, and we were fine with not knowing what laid beyond the blue horizon. The one time our imagination ran wild with the undiscovered was when they came.
Those we dubbed the Skull Raiders arrived in hastily built ships, all of which were dented with signs of battle and retaliation. At first, one would expect the entrants to have fled from some oppressive regime. They were refugees from a tyrannical dictatorship, having managed to escape the persecution and unfair laws of their homeland in search of a more peaceful shelter. Not even a moment after we Okotans met them did we see their true colors.
No, they were not refugees or victims. They were criminals, seeking new booty when they found that they were no longer to be tolerated from wherever it was they were exiled from. They eventually came upon Okoto, a fresh land full of resources and, much to the Raiders' pleasure, gold.
And when they saw the City of Mask Makers and its golden structure, they knew what they wanted in the time they were to reside on our home. We already were not fond of the Raiders, but the final straw was when they laid siege on the City. The Raiders and their leader, Axato, attacked the City for twenty years. We had not experienced such brute force in all our years living on Okoto, so not only were we uncertain of what to do, but afraid of what we were faced with.
Once again, we have our thanks to give to the Mask Makers, who introduced to us a brand new discovery: Element Pellets. These were condensed minerals carved from the Elements themselves. For the moment then, we had but Ice. Those with the best eyes were given weapons and were unleashed on the Skull Raiders.
The battle was difficult and ultimately fatal for the unskilled warriors who used then freshly invented Ice Pellets and the bows used to launch them. But we succeeded. The Skull Raiders were defeated and humbled, forced to migrate to the mountain ranges of Okoto. There, they perished, as they were inexperienced as to how to survive there. All that are left of them are their skeletons, thus living up to their monikers.
It is said that they remain up there to this day...
"And yet, we're going with the theory that we are fighting against them as zombies," huffed Izotor, Protector of Ice, as he and the other Protectors walked through the dusty and moss-covered gates of the City of Mask Makers. The formerly shining golden surface was now a muted yellow courtesy of said moss and dust.
The village leaders paused their approach in the center of a square. "See those buildings?" said Korgot, Protector of Earth. She pointed at the structures surrounding them. "Looks to me like we're standing in what used to be a marketplace."
"So where do we go from here?" asked Narmoto, Protector of Fire. It seemed like daytime when the Protectors had fought the Lord of Skull Spiders, a giant arachnid they bested by making it slip off the bridge into the City. But not it was getting darker. The sky was turning orange and purple, and the unfamiliarity the Protectors had with the City of Mask Makers didn't help quell their confusion.
Narmoto felt his mask tingle. It was strange, feeling the immense power latched onto his face. It was the Mask of Toa Tahu, Master of Fire. He touched the golden object as it pulsated with the energy of a thousand flames. He also felt a connection to his fellow Protectors, who he sensed were also feeling similar sensations from their own Masks of Power. Like ferrets to danger, the Protectors snapped their attention towards a singular direction.
For a brief moment they were silent, whelmed by whatever force was making them perform this motion. "Uh, what are we looking at?" asked Kivoda, Protector of Water.
Nobody had a straight answer save for the expected grunts. Nilkuu, Protector of Stone, opted for something more direct, as he often did. He stepped forward and aimed his Sandstorm Blaster towards the ground. As per his methods of utilizing his Element over Stone, Nilkuu fired a Sand pellet into the surface he and the other Protectors stood upon.
A rumble from beneath their feet came soon after. Accompanied by a burst of dust, a large protrusion of rock emerged from where Nilkuu pointed his blaster. A ramp to bring the heroes to a higher level. Nilkuu grunted and motioned for the others to follow him up the ramp. His insistence and impatient attitude often annoyed his fellow Protectors. But not as much as the clairvoyant trickery of Vizuna, the Protector of Jungle.
Reminded of this, Narmoto looked over to his Jungle counterpart as the Protectors ascended up the newly formed ramp. The green-armored Protector usually had a clear grasp on what was around him. A trait that he took pleasure in using to his advantage to mess with those without a sensor tail like his, which allowed him to see briefly into the future. For once, he looked lost. He was disoriented, as if unsure even of which foot to step forward with in fear of what misfortue might befall him if he made the wrong choice.
"Vizuna," Narmoto called. "You alright?"
"No," said Vizuna bluntly. "This place feels off."
Narmoto remembered the Protector's words not too long ago, where he had admitted a discomfort with the City of Mask Makers. "Well come on, let's get a better view of the land," the Protector of Fire gestured towards the others above them.
The Protectors looked across the Cityscape. The sun was dropping fast.
"It's a literal maze," lamented Izotor. The Protector of Ice wasn't wrong. The way streets and alleys criss-crossed was not unlike a labyrinth any of the Protectors could conjure up in half a heartbeat. If they were genius masterminds.
"Who the hell designed this place?!" cried Kivoda as his eyes darted from street corner to street corner. "How did anyone live here without problems?"
"Evidently, they didn't, since we'd all be living here right now," said Korgot as she scanned the City. The Protectors felt their masks tingle once more and turned their attention to a structure in the distance. Just barely poking out from behind some buildings, was an anvil shaped edifice.
"There's a fire in there," remarked Narmoto. Sure enough, the Protectors all noticed the faint glimmer of orange and yellow flickering from where they assume the entrance to the building was.
"The forge of Ekimu?" inquired Korgot.
"But then, who's using it if the City of Mask Makers had been abandoned for years?" asked Izotor. "...No zombies."
The other Protectors remained silent.
"No. Zombies," said Izotor.
"Zombies," said Vizuna, pointing to behind them. His counterparts turned to where he gestured, and beheld a battalion of undead skeletons at the end of the ramp, raising their bows. Their armor, while rotted and covered in cobwebs, retained a small cyan glow. Their bows, which held a cannister of familiar pellets, also glowed the same color.
"Ice?" recognized Izotor, with an eyebrow raised.
The skeletons fired, a hail of ice pellets descending rapidly towards the heroes.
"Ice!" shouted Izotor, raising his Ice Saw. A wide left swipe sent an arc of white energy at the incoming pellets. The power of Kopaka's Mask was within the energy, causing many of the pellets to burst into clouds of frost. However, not all of the projectiles were destroyed, and Narmoto took care of the rest with a blast of heat. The contact with the heat vaporized them almost immediately before they could strike the Protectors, merely splashing them with light moisture.
"The ice," said Izotor, feeling the moisture surrounding them. "It's old. It hasn't been used in a while. Oh, Kopaka, I think those might be the warriors that fought the Raiders those years ago."
"Gali, this is disgraceful," muttered Kivoda.
The skeletons reloaded their Ice Pellets and aimed once more.
"Get ready," said Narmoto. "As soon as Izotor and I take care of the pellets, we all charge. They've got to be fragile since they're skeletons and all--"
The skeletons fired their projectiles. But the pellets weren't aimed at the Protectors, rather the ramp they all stood on. The impact instantly turned the base into complete ice. The weight of all the stone and the Protectors appears to be too much for the ice. It shattered, sending the Protectors falling forward.
What happened next was a blur. As soon as the dust settled from the destruction of the ramp, the Protectors collected themselves. They picked themselves up and waved away the dust, coughint it up and blinking to regain their vision.
"Oh, great," thought all of the Protectors at once.
Each of the village leaders found themselves either alone or with someone else. Narmoto found himself with Izotor. Korgot with Kivoda. Vizuna by himself, as well as Nilkuu. And they were not in the same place.
The fall must have sent them into various corners. The maze-like design of the City would make it difficult for them to find each other. Narmoto cursed himself as he looked around in confusion. He felt the other Protectors' presence through their Masks, but it didn't enable them to connect telepathically. The Protector of Fire took a deep breath and calmed himself as best as he could. The last thing he needed was to leave his son Bitone without a father or even without inheriting his position as Protector. That and having his counterparts killed by skeletal archers.
"Everyone!" Narmoto called out. "If you can hear me, make your way to the, uh, Anvil place! We'll meet up there. And try not to die!"
"Thanks!" replied a distant Kivoda.
Narmoto turned to Izotor, who was wiping away the dirt from his legs. "You alright?"
"Yeah," said Izotor distantly. The Fire-wielder felt a sense of disappointment from the Protector of Ice. Narmoto sensed that he was the last person Izotor wanted to end up alone with. "So how do we want to do this? Rooftops or get lost in the streets?"
The two Protectors heard screeches from above. The sounds of feet landing on stone echoed throughout the empty city. Ancient armor pieces clanking emanated from the roofs.
"Streets," said the two Protectors at the same time before rushing away.