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Into the Depths
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Into the Depths is the second story in the Shadowed Continuity. It takes place after the events of Shadowed.

Prologue[]

The Makuta called Miserix stared intently at the chess board, taking account of his current situation. Across from him sat a golden-armored being of great power, chained to a large stone seat. Miserix could feel the Great Being's strength; it made his skin crawl. The Great Being was a master chess player, although Miserix had already captured three of his opponents pawns, without consequence. But a sacrifice had to be taken, if his plan was to succeed.

"Bishop to D-5, takes pawn."

Tornak glared at Miserix, then turned his gaze to the board. A fifth pawn was in danger, but its doom could be prevented. "Rook to D-5, Rook takes Bishop."

The red Makuta frowned. "A regretable loss, but necessary. Queen to A-6. You would really like to kill me right now, yes?"

"If- and when- I escape these chains, I will kill you," Tornak replied. "Have no doubt, you will loose this war."

"The battle is just beginning, my friend," Miserix laughed, "but my victory is already certain."

And with that, the Makuta turned and left the dungeon.

Chapter 1[]

Metru Nui

The green-and-black assassin known only as Ragon stalked through Ga-Metru, drifting from shadow to shadow, invisible to all but the keenest eye. His prey, a Ga-Matoran called Hahli, was several yards ahead of him, walking with another Ga-Matoran, deep in conversation. Laughing, Hahli punched her friend in the arm and they parted ways, Hahli turning down a narrow allyway, and her friend continuing on towards the Great Temple.

Now is my time to strike, the assassin thought.

He prepared his short blade and stepped out of the shadow of a lowlying house. Silently, he approached, raising his blade.

He struck at the Matoran's neck, severing her spinal cord. With a sickening Smack!, her head fell to the ground.

"Four down," Ragon murmured, "two to go."


Hewkii glanced nervously over his shoulder. It wasn't safe to walk alone, especially in a dark, lonely sector of Po-Metru. After the murders of several of his friends, the entire city was waiting, on edge. Their sole protector, Toa Lize, had left days ago with a mysterious Vortixx, and several 'accidents' had taken place in his absence. Or at least, Turaga Dume said they were accidents. But Hewkii knew better.

It's not like Kongu's heartlight ripped itself out, is it? he thought morbidly. And Hahli's head didn't just fall off.

Matoro and Nuparu also died under suspicious circumstances: Nuparu had been killed in an unexplained cave-in under Onu-Metru. His body was never even found. And an enormous icicle had fallen off of a Knowledge Tower, impailing Matoro. Four murders, four different Metrus. The Matoran were only connected by one thing: they all were friends of a Ta-Matoran named Jaller, who was being kept safe in a secret underground room in the Coliseum.

Just like me, Hewkii thought nervously. He picked up his pace slightly, breaking into a run. I'm not safe here.

He was almost to the Sculpture Fields when a tall red being, carrying a longsword and a Rhotuka Shield, dove out from behind a low hut, knocking Hewkii to the ground. The Po-Matoran screamed as a shadowy figure leapt over them, swinging a black sword wildly.

"Onepu, now!" Hewkii's red-hued saviour shouted.

Hewkii gasped as a tunnel mouth appeared twenty yards ahead of them. With a roar, a black-colored Toa wearing a Kanohi Kadin burst out of the cave, firing a Rhotuka spinner from his black shield. The Rhotuka struck Hewkii's would-be murderer, who was only just regaining his feet after falling to the ground after missing Hewkii. As soon as the spinner struck him, he froze. The assassin seemed unable to move, as if trapped in stasis.

"You're safe now," Hewkii's saviour said, standing. "I'm Toa Tallin, this is Toa Onepu."

"Hewkii."

"We know who you are, Hewkii," Tallin replied. "And we know why Ragon here-" he waved his hand in the assassin's direction "-wanted to kill you. You need to come with us."

"Where?"

"To get Jaller," Onepu said, staring at Ragon. "Hey, Tallin, you think this sword would work?"

"He took yours. You might as well return the favor."

Onepu grinned behind his Kadin, and grabbed the black blade from Ragon. "It's nice, great balance. It should do."

Hewkii stared at the assassin, a mixture of fear and amazement in his eyes.

"What did you do to him?" the Kakama-wearing Po-Matoran asked.

"My Rhotuka froze him in time," Onepu replied. "The effect should last for an hour or so, and that gives us enough time to get Jaller and leave the city."

"Where are we going?"

Tallin and Onepu exchanged glances.

"It's a place called the-" Onepu began, but Tallin interrupted.

"We'll tell you later. We need to get Jaller. Now."


Unfortunately, Jaller wasn't in a possition where he could easily be 'gotten'. The Hau-wearer was currently sitting in a large room, in a tunnel system far under the Coliseum, with two Vahki Nuurakh standing at the ready by the entrance to his chamber. Jaller couldn't believe that his friends were gone; Nuparu, Matoro, Kongu, and, worst of all, Hahli, all dead in under a week. Hewkii was his last close friend left alive, and Turaga Dume was doing nothing to find him.

"You are our top priority," the elder had told him. "Hewkii isn't stupid. He'll find somewhere to hide."

More like he'll die trying to find a place to hide, Jaller thought bitterly. Turaga Dume never did like Po-Matoran.

Rising, Jaller approached the Vahki. "Hey, Makuta-bones," he said, tapping one on the shoulder. "Take me to Turaga Dume!"

The Nuurakh regarded him coldly, but didn't respond. It rose one of it's pincer-like staffs threateningly, as if it was going to strike. Jaller hopped backwards, and the Vakhi turned its back on him. Jaller cursed quietly, looking around the room. About forty feet in diameter, the square,sandstone chamber was empty, besides Jaller, a desk and a few chairs in the back left-hand corner. No one was allowed in.

Or out, Jaller thought.

He walked over to the desk, pulled up a chair, and sat, waiting.

After half an hour, he heard voices down the tunnel. He identified one as Turaga Dume, but he didn't recognise the other. It sounded like it belonged to a younger being, but sounded to deep for a Matoran. The voice, Jaller realised, reminded him of Toa Lize. He moved towards the front of the room, trying to listen in on the conversation, but even as he came close to the Vahki, his attempts became pointless.

"I don't give a damned Makuta's backside what you say, Tallin, Jaller isn't going anywhere!" Turaga Dume's voice boomed through the tunnel. He was clearly furious. "

Tallin, Jaller frowned. Now where have I heard that name before?

"I'm not asking permission!" the other voice, presumably Tallin's, retorted loudly. "I'm telling you what I'm going to do!"

"Get him out of my sight, and take the Matoran in with Jaller," Dume said, his voice quieting somewhat.

After that, the conversation's volume dropped to a point that Jaller could no longer pick out individual words. He was just about to move back to his desk when the Vahki moved aside to admit a bronze-colored Matoran.

"Hewkii!" Jaller exclaimed, rushing forward to meet his friend.

"Jaller! Thank Mata Nui you're alright!" the Po-Matoran said, bumping Jaller's fist with his own. "I thought Ragon might have attacked you, too."

"Who's Ragon, and why are you covered in dirt?" Jaller asked.

"The assassin that just tried to kill me. Tallin and Onepu saved me."

And with that, Hewkii explained the story of his attack, and subsequent rescue from Ragon.

"First Hahli and the rest, now you," Jaller murmured. "All of my friends are being attacked, and for some reason, it's my fault."

"What? No!" Hewkii exclaimed, shocked. "How could any of this be your fault? You didn't do anything to start this!"

"All the same, it's only my fr-"

A loud screech interrupted Jaller, followed by a bang and a crash. Jaller and Hewkii hurried to the Vahki guarding the door, preparing to run. Just as they stepped forward, a crimson and grey warrior approached, pointing his longsword at the Vahki.

"Back up, you two!" the Toa ordered.

Jaller was only just beginning to move when Hewkii, anticipating what was coming, tackled him sideways, away from the door. They were just out of range when an inferno of white-hot flames blasted through the door, melting the Vahki and skyrocketing the temperature in the room. Jaller pushed Hewkii off of his back and sat up, coughing as the smoke in the room filled his lungs.

"Come on," the Toa said loudly. "We've got to get out of here; more Vahki are coming."

Jaller helped Hewkii to his feet, and they stumbled towards the smoking remains of the two Nuurakh.

"Nice shot, Toa Tallin," Hewkii grinned.

"I do my best," Tallin replied. "But hurry. Onepu's opening a tunnel for us; it's a shortcut. We've got to get out of Metru Nui."

"What? Why?" Jaller demanded.

"I'll explain later, but for now, you need to trust me," Tallin told them. His tone softened slightly. "I know this is sudden, but it'll make more sense later. Let's go."

And with that, he led the two Matoran down the tunnel, towards their eventual escape.


Jaller panted as he and Hewkii trailed a short ways behind Tallin. Onepu, the Kadin-wearing Toa of Earth, followed behind them, in case Vahki came from behind. The small group went as fast as they could, but slow enough that Jaller could keep up as they ran through the twisting, narrow tunnels beneath the Coliseum. It wasn't long before they heard it: the loud clang of metalic Protodermis striking stone. Due to the fact that the floor was made up by as much dirt as stone, the sound could only be heard every few seconds, but there was no doubt. The Vahki were on the march.

"Keep going!" Onepu said. "I'll take out the Vakhi and catch up!"

Jaller was tempted to protest, but he wasn't keen on the artificial protectors of Metru Nui capturing him. In his many years dwelling in Metru Nui, the Ta-Matoran had heard horror stories of what Vakhi did to their victims. A Ko-Matoran caught slacking had been struck by so many different bolts of a Keerakh's mind-numbing powers that the effects had yet to wear off, thirteen years later. And an Onu-Matoran who was regularly caught stealing tools from the archives had been apprehended and influenced by Rorzakh that his sensory imput had been damaged to the point that he was nearly deaf and completely blind. So Jaller continued running, afraid of what waited for them ahead, but even more terrified of what lay behind. He made the mistake of looking over his shoulder, where over a dozen Vahki were behind them, engaging Toa Onepu in battle. It wasn't going well for the Toa of Earth. With his short sword, Onepu's reach wasn't nearly as long as the Nuurakh's, and they were slowly forcing him to retreat.

"Run!" the Ta-Matoran shouted, panicking.

Going into a full sprint, Jaller passed Hewkii, and began nearing Tallin. He had almost drawn level to the Toa of Fire when a wave of exhaustion came over him, catching him unaware. At the rate he had been running before, he could have gone on for hours, but his small Matoran body was made for Mask-making. He could deal with long hours of sitting at a forge, working at a slow, but steady, pace, but if a Ta-Matoran tried to hard, he would tire quickly.

"You okay, Jaller?" Hewkii asked, slowing as he came closer to the Hau-wearer.

"Fine," Jaller replied. "I have an idea to slow them down," he said, pointing over his shoulder.

"What's that?"

"Give me your Disk Launcher," Jaller ordered.

Without waiting for a reply, Jaller reached into his friend's pack and pulled out the metal tool. "Do you have any Kanoka?" Jaller demanded.

"A few," Hewkii replied, coming to a stop and pulling out a disk. "Toa Tallin, wait up!"

The Toa of Fire turned and sprinted back to the Matoran.

"What's wrong?"

"I have an idea," Jaller explained. "Can you get Toa Onepu away from those Vahki?"

"It's done," Tallin nodded, rushing back down the tunnel.

Taking Hewkii's Kanoka, Jaller inspected its code: 356. The disk was made in Po-Metru, with the power to enlarge anything it struck. At the power level of six, it was slightly stronger than most Matoran would generally carry, but with the recent attacks, the citizens of Metru Nui were taking extra precations.

Perfect, Jaller grinned.

As soon as the Ta-Matoran saw the two Toa break contact with the Vahki and start their retreat, he took aim. Carefully selecting the Vahki nearest them, he fired at the larges his target's chest. The disk narrowly missed Toa Tallin, flying barely six inches from the side of his Kanohi, and struck the Nuurakh. As soon as the Kanoka made contact, its enlargement power took effect, causing the Vahki to grow uncontrolably. The Nuurakh quickly grew taller and wider than either of the Toa, its head scraping against the ceiling of the narrow tunnel. Soon, it was to trapped, its shoulders wedged into the walls of the passage. Jaller's smile widened. Just as he'd planned, the oversized Vahki formed the perfect cork, blocking off the tunnel and forcing the rest of the Nuurakh to come to a halt.

"Nice shot," Hewkii said.

"Thanks, but we should keep going. Come on!"

Jaller handed the Po-Matoran his Disk launcher and started off at a steady trot away from the trapped Vahki. It wasn't long before they reached the end of the tunnel. Unfortunately, by that time, the enlarged Nuurakh had returned to its regular size, and the Matoran could hear their persuers following them once again.

"Almost there," Toa Tallin announced encouragingly. "I can see sunlight. Onepu, take the Matoran and fly them to the meeting point. I'll- AH!"

Grasping his side, the Toa slowed to a halt. Onepu stopped beside him, his eyes wide with worry. Tallin removed his hand from his side. It was covered with blood.

"How bad?" the Earth Toa said.

"It's deep, but I've had worse. Remember the Krahka?"

"As if I'd forget."

"Keep going. I'll hold them off."

Onepu nodded, waving for the Matoran to follow him. Jaller glanced worriedly at Tallin, whose left side now bore a deep gash, which had appeared without warning. The Toa of Fire caught his glance and smiled reassuringly.

"I'll be fine," Tallin said. "It should heal in a few minutes."

Unconvinced, Jaller still refused to move. "We can't leave you here, not when you're hurt."

Tallin opened his mouth to say something, but stopped. The look on his mask was, yet again, oddly familiar.

"Have I met you before?" Jaller demanded. "You seem so-"

"No. You might have seen my face, but we've never met."

"What are you talking ab-"

"I'll explain later."

The Vahki were getting closer; Jaller could hear their weapons striking stone once again. He reluctantly turned, and began jogging after Hewkii and Onepu, who had started heading towards open air. Tallin checked to make sure that the Matoran wasn't coming back, and summoned his Mask Power. Glowing brightly, Tallin's Kanohi shimmered, sending phantom images of himself into the air. After a few seconds, the images solidified, forming into exact clones of the Toa of Fire.

"All right, boys," Tallin said as the Vahki rounded a corner in the tunnel and came into view. "Get to work."


Chapter 2[]

Jaller tripped slightly as he exited the tunnel, his foot catching on a small moun of dirt. Yelping, he fell to the ground, landing hard on his face. Snarling, he rose to his feet and continued jogging after Hewkii and Onepu. The Earth Toa was forging ahead at a slow, but steady, pace, leading them away from the tunnel and into Metru Nui. They had surfaced in a large field in Po-Metru, where several Po-Matoran were hard at work, building a giant statue of Lize, Toa of Light. As the trio approached the construction site, the bronze Matoran ceased their work and began focusing their attention on the newcomers.

"Um, Toa?" Jaller said cautiously.

The Earth Toa slowed, coming to a stop about thirty yards from the statue. "Yes?" Onepu inquired, his deep voice hushed.

"They could turn us in to the Vahki," the Ta-Matoran pointed out.

"Don't worry about that," Onepu laughed slightly. "We won't be in Metru Nui much longer. Anyway, we've got a squad of Toa waiting at for us, ready to fight if needs be."

Jaller nodded, but a nervous fear began to rise within him as he yet again thought of the Vakhi and their powers. The thought of the enforcers was enough to encourage him to pick up the pace slightly. After passing the statue, they continued to travel towards a sector of Po-Metru passed the Sculpture Fields, where the generally flat terrain of the Metru changed into a jumble of cliffs and hills, studded with caves.

"Do you know where we're going?"

Jaller jumped as the Po-Matoran spoke.

I'd almost forgotten he was behind me.

"Yes," Onepu replied.

"Then you know that the Endless Cliffs are home to lots of Rahi, and they're not all, you know, friendly."

Yet again, the procession came to a stop.

"We can walk from here," Onepu said, his voice worried. "We're not far."

As they drew near to the Cliffs, Jaller became aware of the sound of Rahi- lots of Rahi- screeching in the distance. They were almost to the cliff when the Ta-Matoran became aware of an odd smell, like rotten meat.

"What is that?" Hewkii asked, waving his hand in front of his mask.

"Dead Rahi," Onepu replied. "It's mating season for troller worms, and the females will bring the males the carcasses of Kikanalo as gifts, or rather, bribes."

Hewkii grimaced. "And we're going towards the Kikanalo-killing monsters?"

"No. We're here."

Onepu stopped and pointed to a small cave entrance in the side of a cliff. It was maybe eight feet across, and five feet tall. While the Matoran could enter without difficulty, the Toa of Earth was forced to stoop as he entered the small cave. The Earth Toa led Jaller and Hewkii into a slightly larger cavern, connected to the first by a narrow tunnel. The entire system was lit by a series of torches connected to the wall, giving off enough light so that the trio could see any obstacles in their way, but not enough to make out the expressions on the others' faces. Jaller looked around the cavern, his eyes adjusting to the low level of illumination. In the middle of the cavern sat six speeders. All of them had the same basic shape, but none were exactly the same. Their color schemes varied greatly, from brown and yellow, to red and lime green.

"These are you way off this rock," Onepu explained. "You're going to have to leave without me. There's another tunnel over there-" he pointed to the farthest corner of the cave "-that leads you out of Metru Nui. Keep flying in that direction until you reach the Silver Sea, and wait for us there. We'll find you."

"What about you?" Jaller demanded. "We can't just leave you here."

"Sure you can," Onepu laughed again. "I'm a Toa. I can take care of myself."

"But-"

"Go! I'll be fine."

Jaller opened his mouth again to argue, but a look from Hewkii shut him up.

"Let's go, Jaller."

"Fine."

Onepu's smile melted as the two Matoran climbed aboard two of the speeders, ignited their engines, and fled down the tunnels.

They'll make it, he thought. But Tallin and I might not be so lucky.

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